Monday, March 31, 2014

Just 1 more pic of my Tyco Golden Eagle Super 630....

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Super 630 Power Torque Golden Eagle

The deed is Golden Eagle is ready roll.
First up is the wiring I did for this unit.  Super bright LED's fore and aft and 2 purple neon LED's for ground effects.  I used a rectifier and a 1k resistor.  I wish I had added a capacitor, but down the road a bit and I will:

and here it is.....

Gold Snowplows on the front and back, brass handrails and gold trucks.  And it runs very smooth...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Tyco Golden Eagle C630

Here it is before I started working on it:

How to repair and restore Tyco Power Torque Trucks

1. Completely and carefully disassemble everything without losing anything
2.  Carefully wash the shell and sideframes with dish soap

3.  Using the wire brush on the lowest speed of your moto-tool polish every place a moving part goes
4.  Polish the axle wells and sides where the trucks contact the frame

5.  Polish the surface of the motor where the brushes make contact

6.  Double check the axle wells and polish again

7.  Polish every wheel and axle
8.  Use the plastic brush and some Brasso or Simichrome and polish the wheels and axles again

9.  Polish every metal piece you can find
10.  Replace the traction tires with new ones
11.  Carefully reassemble and add some grease to the gears

Now you can test everything to make sure it works and goes in the right direction
The Tyco C630 can be easily converted to DCC, I might get around to posting a link to the guide on how to do this later.

The power torque motor is one of my favorite motors to restore because it live up to its name.  This motor can pull.  Of the locomotives setup this way, the Power Torque is probably the best and most reliable.  Bachmann and Life-Like pancake motors are kind of like this and they have some power.  Also the Pemco SD35 is a lot like this and it has some torque.  But overall, the Tyco Power Torque is the smoothest running and most powerful.

The other thing I like about Power Torque motors is that I can repair even the most serious damage.  Power Torque's never die.  The last one I did was on an SD24 that had the pins for the gears broken off.  I was able to very easily fix that by drilling a hole and inserted a small nail and then cutting it off at the proper length.

As you can see, I painted the sideframes gold and a gold snow plow.  I'll also be adding brass handrails that look like gold.  Then I plan to add a rectifier and some super bright LED lights.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Field Expedient Flywheel

So I had an idea about adding flywheels to an AHM GP18.  It occurred to me that it might be possible to take washers of precisely the correct measurements and mount them as flywheels.  So that's what I did, I measured, went to Lowe's and measured washers....what I found out was that quarter inch flat washers had exactly the correct measurements.  With a little masking tape and mounting the motor just bit higher I got this:

and it works with no a huge boost in performance, but a smoother operation.

The Golden Eagle

I found a 1980 Tyco Golden Eagle C630 on ebay for almost nothing....check this out:

I love the power torque trucks, these locomotives can really pull, which is what I like.  All of my rolling stock is quite a bit over the weight standard so I need the fleet to have about 30-40% of the locomotives equipped with either traction tires or blue box athearn.  What I can do with this C630 is pair it with a slightly modified C628 where all wheels pickup power.  This makes for a very reliable consist.  The C628 slips due to its super smooth wheelsets and it only has 4 powered axles.  By getting power from the additional 2 axles a C628 generally won't stall which will keep the C630 from stalling and that's how I get nice match-up of motive power.....more about my consists and torque tester later.

My plan for this Golden Eagle is to add shiny brass handrails, change the trucks to black, add maybe a blinking led on top with an on/off switch, kadee's and just a bit of weathering.  I know that is all sacrilege for a Golden Eagle, but I intend on using it a lot, so I need to pimp it out...I also have a plan to add neon ground effects which will be totally bad ass....

Next I got another's in bad shape, doesn't run, broken all over, but it's a blue box....

I can't resist a cheap DD40.  I already had 3 of these, but as long as they are as cheap as this one was, I can never have too many....there is no such thing as a blue box Athearn that can't be fixed and restored...

I did my first set of brass handrails.  They aren't perfect by any means, or prototype or even straight.  However, now that I know how, my technique will start getting better.  I have made tons of piano wire handrails that turned out awesome, but brass is new to me.  I like it and I'm going to do more of it.

So I got rants and all kinds of other cool stuff for a little later....

Monday, March 24, 2014

So I finished up my high nose GP38-2 and weathered it with my airbrush.  I will admit I like the way weathering turns out with the airbrush.  I have been handpainting everything since I did my first car and first locomotive.  But I've painted 2 locomotives with the airbrush now and I'm starting to like it.  The only thing I don't like is how much paint the thing uses.

My M450 and M650 are down to just handrails now.  I'm trying to learn the brass handrail making business and so far I'm liking that too....I got much more to say a little later, especially about the Golden Eagle and DD40 I just scored on ebay...

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Scratchbuilding HO Scale Hand Rails using brass wire

There it as most of you know it's really tough these days to make your own handrails because Athearn no longer sells stanchions.  Gone are the days when you could bend some piano wire and attach some stanchions and you were good to go....

I've tried a lot of stuff to make handrails.  I've done a lot of using the nearest next best locomotive handrails and making them fit.  It's not pretty.

I finally stumbled across this:

That is the way I'm proceeding in my M650 project.  I started with some brass wire and found that this technique is much easier than I expected.  If it turns out to be as good as it looks so far, I'll be posting a video about how I did it....

For those of you searching for a solution, this is probably going to be the one.....

Friday, March 14, 2014

What's on the workbench right now.....

Well I decided to take this project that was started from an AHM C628 and a safety cab and turn it into something bizarre.  It's going to be my M650 project....

So here is where it's at along side a GP38-2 that is getting close to complete...
That's the state it's in right now.  It has 1 minor operating problem right now in that it derails going forward through a #4 switch.  I know the cause and will fix it's how it evolved... this is the finished wiring after the total rebuild...NOTE that I don't have DCC, I'm still deciding on that one, but this setup is prepared to accept DCC with plenty of room to spare.

Here's how the wiring basic part was done:

Here's the motor and 1 truck

Here's a truck - I extended the wipers so the third axle draws power

Now as you can see I like stiff wire.  Yes it is tricky to get it to move freely and not bind up stuff, but the solid core wire is worth it in that I only need to move the power up to 15 on my Tech II bench power supply instead of the 25 that it normally takes for these AHM motors.

Why do I mess around with stuff like this and pancake motors and old Tyco motors?  Because I like it and I can do whatever I want with worrying about wrecking some part of a $250 locomotive.  I like fabrication and scratchbuilding, rather than investing lots of money into something that's too expensive to touch.

I have over 150 locomotives, mostly Athearn Blue Box from the 80's and early 90's.  I also have lots of AHM, Bachmann and Life-Like that have been heavily bashed.  But the thing is - at any given time I only have around 10 locomotives that are down for maintenance and around 5 in my salvage bin.

Slowly but surely I'm getting all of them ready for DCC... but what system to get still baffles are my requirements:

1.  MUST be wireless network, and I don't mean radio or infrared.  I mean standard 100mb wireless.
2.  I will be using smartphone apps as throttles.
3.  I will be managing my system with a dedicated computer network - I've got plenty of extra computers
4.  must support 100+ locomotives, not run them all at once, but they will be parked on a siding somewhere
5.  must do very well with consists
6.  locomotive number will be used as the address
7.  must be a system that has built in future upgrading - I'm not buying old technology or stagnant tech

so far that's what I'm looking for....

Thursday, March 13, 2014

So this last week I've been getting ready to start hand-laying switches.  The toughest thing I needed to do to get ready was figure out a quality control scheme to make sure the switches I make are done correctly and have no trouble spots.

My plan consists of 16' of double track with a crossover in the middle.  As I create the switches they will be placed into the crossover and tested with a checklist of equipment.  Here's my initial checklist of things to check:

1.  Everything will have to go forward and backward 10 times at least
2.  My super low clearance M430 without derailing at high and low speed
3.  a lashup of 3 DD40's both fast and slow
4.  a group of 40' cars
5.  a group of 57' cars
6.  3 86' cars
7.  a lashup of C628's that only pickup from 4 axles
8.  a lashup of locomotives that only pickup from a single axle
9.  a lashup of locomotives that only pickup from opposite sides on opposite trucks

That will be my initial benchmark that I will work from to refine and find the problems as quickly as possible....

Monday, March 10, 2014

Some old business first...

Heljan B807 Brewery and The AHM 5820 Grusom Casket project is located here:

The video is located here:

So anyways I decided to finally try my Royal Airbrush AB 130 today....  I got a pristine high nose GP38-2 with the old Bachmann pancake motor and decided I would turn this unit into a patch for my MCBR line that I've been modeling.  2 eyedroppers of Testor's flat red and 3 droppers of paint thinner.

For this project, I did not strip the paint off the existing model, I just painted over it with the finest layer of red I've ever done, and here it is so far.....(4 hours after painting)

I like it, good enough for my project and so I'm proceeding with the next few steps and plan to knock this project out in less than 2 days....

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Well I finally encountered an old motor that I'm not going to use.  After completely rebuilding the motor, which came from a Tyco C430 built before the metal pancake motors came out, I decided that this one wasn't going to be worth the payoff.

Now I know what I said earlier, and it is really hard for me go back on my own promise to myself to make this thing work.  But here's what I found: this motor is a 5-pole super smooth runner.  But it has a worm gear on each end that goes directly to the axle of the power trucks.  This would be great if the wheel sets had traction tires, but none of them do.

The real issue is power transmission from the rail to the motor which has to pass through a brass fitting that doubles as the housing for the axle.  This makes the power truck extremely unreliable.  That plus the fact there are no traction tires means this project is over.  The finished product just wouldn't have any actual utility on an operating layout.

This is one of those very rare cases where the piece of equipment is ultimately not usable.  The other 2 prime example of locomotives that I have that will not be brought up to DCC are an Athearn rubber band drive GP9 which is too weak to be of any use and my Athearn Hustler diesels which are interesting, but not really usable.  All of them are in perfect working order, but just not really good enough for service conditions.

This brings me back again to the case for pancake motors.  Just like a GP9 in the real world, these locomotives actually work and are still useful to be put in service.  Plus I still like rebuilding them.  I like adding as much extra power pickup as I can and some heavier weight to really let them lug.

In my collection I recently found an Athearn dummy GP9 that I added a Bachmann plastic pancake motor to the front truck. I don't remember doing this and it looks so convincing that I didn't realized what it was until I weighed it.  It was over the weight my scale could measure.  That's when I noticed the traction tires.

I'll post some pictures of this thing pretty soon....

Sunday, March 2, 2014

So I made a rule when I took all my locomotives out of storage about 6 months ago....everything I made back in the 80's and 90's would be repaired and essentially restored to include DCC, but I would not bash any of my old stuff and remake it.

I have now decided to break that rule with 2 locomotives that I just don't like.  1 is a Mantua C430 and the other is an AHM C424.  I've just never liked either of them and it's been bothering me lately that I had no ideas for them but I did want to do something.

So what I did was to go on ebay and order 3 Dash 8-40BW cabs.  I plan to cut the cabs off the C430, C424 and also a C628 that I have yet to do anything with.

Do I care that it represents no known prototype?  Yes, that's why I'm doing it.  I've decided that pretty much everything I make from now on will be some sort of monstrously ridiculous creation made of parts that don't totally match and new parts fabricated from other materials....after all that's what makes this fun in the first place.

I'll post some pictures in about a week....

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Let's get started....

I've been building model trains since 1976 (I was a kid back then) with my set, an AHM Spirit of 76 GP18 and come cars and Tyco Santa Fe Crane and Tender from Gramma and Granpa....

By 1994 I had accumulated about 250 freight cars and 100 locomotives and then I had to pack it all up and store it until November 2013.

Needless to say that things have changed.  I used to think $50 was my upper limit on just a couple of my best locomotives.  I scratch built a massive fleet of CNW diesels regardless of being prototype or not.

So where I'm going to start is here:  I don't have DCC yet and I'm trying to decide what I'm going to get...also I haven't started a layout yet, just lots of locomotives, rolling stock and structures, but more about that later.

Today I'm addressing the fact that I put a lot of work into some very low quality locomotives way back when and have recently rebuilt most of these...I'm talking plastic pancake motors from Bachmann and Life-Like and metal pancakes from Tyco along with rubber band drives from Athearn (plus lots of models before fly wheels came out).

I intend to convert every locomotive I have to dcc (with a few exceptions).  I love pancake motors, especially the tyco all metal housing motors.  When overhauled properly and coupled with another kind of locomotive, the result is quite pleasing.

My lashup of a Pemco SD35 and an Atlas SD35 makes for a nice powerful set that can pull some heavy weight.

I also have a really sweet lashup of a Tyco SD24 and an Atlas SD24.

I just performed major machining on a Tyco pancake motor and now it is just running so sweet.  It's going into a C630 and I might have to lash it to my Genesis SD70M which has absolutely zero power.

By zero power, I mean on my torque tester.  I attached a plain jane rubber band to a dummy coupler and numbered the ties past the hookup, which is power level 0.  The SD70M does not make it to level 1 without slipping.  By contrast, my SD35 lashup makes it to 10 and 3 Athearn blue box GP9's can make it to 16.  And for those of you rusty in physics remember that each additional number is harder to achieve than the previous.  Rubber bands increase pulling resistance with each additional stretch....but more on that later.  I'll refine it and study it in more depth to interpret it's true meaning of Christmas....

Anyway, I have also reached the 50% mark on my double Heljan Brewery B807 which you can see here on youtube: Heljan B807 Brewery and Grusom Casket

And on

Ok that's all for now...