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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Nason Hudson 38 Pulling Tonnage Again!

In a trade not long ago I received this Nason Hudson locomotive. A classic pre-war model (introduced two years before the comparable Lionel OO Hudson) this one was built up nicely but I could do nothing but bench test it as it lacked a tender. But in recent weeks I put a tender together from parts and this engine is a beauty.

First off, here it is. The number on the cab is 38 and it is painted what I at first took to be grimy black, but actually it is more of a gray color. Real glass is in the cab windows and a crew in the cab. Normally, to rebuild something for my Orient, I would strip a model. But this one really seemed too nice to strip.

That Kadee coupler mounted on a spring mounting up front is just one evidence of the craftsmanship of this model. Looking in the back you would see that this Hudson has a big Pittman DC motor but also note the four prong plug visible at the back of the model. This locomotive was fitted with an electronic sound system of some sort and has contacts under the locomotive that would generate the chuffing noise.

And there was no tender.

I did figure out which pin on the plug would make the engine run (and 12 volt DC, perfect for my layout) so a key thing was making a female receptacle to mount on the tender. And of course I would have to put together a tender!

While I have a kit for a Nason Hudson tender (see this article for photos) I decided to leave that with an unbuilt Nason Hudson kit and build up a tender from parts. The body is a Lionel tender body that had been modified a bit by a prior owner. I had to make a floor and add trucks and other details. The trucks are Scale-Craft tender trucks (for their 4-8-4) with NWSL wheels, and the coupler end beam is modified from an Eastern part. In short my main goal was to make a working tender without too much heroic effort and see how the model actually ran.

Note that the tender is painted grimy black. It is a little darker than the locomotive but I can live with that, it is close but different enough to know it is not original to the model.

The locomotive runs great on my layout -- one of the very best locomotives I own -- but only clockwise! Facing the opposite direction the lead truck derails constantly, something about the geometry of my 28” radius curves and clearances on the model itself. Years ago I chose 28” as it was the maximum I could fit in the space my layout originally occupied and was bigger than the 26” radius suggested as a minimum by Scale-Craft back in the day. If I rebuild the layout I would go for 36” radius. Perhaps someday.

I still have a bit of quandary how to letter the tender and it may stay blank for a while. My Orient is possible but all my other steam models are black. It is tempting to letter it for the “Beaver River” like the Nason Hudson photo in the Nason catalog; anyone looking at the model should be able to tell very quickly that it is not the same model as in the photo, Lionel tender body and all, just a model inspired by it.

One last thing to note is the original tender for this model must be out there somewhere. It should be really easy to spot, a sand cast Nason Hudson tender with a sound system unit and speaker in it, painted gray, and with a four pin female connector on it.

If you have it, be in touch! This locomotive runs great now but really should be reunited with the original tender, and it would be that much better with the sound system fired up if it still works. Maybe we can work out a trade.

UPDATE: I opted for the Union Pacific. I tossed around a lot of options but the things that tipped things in favor of UP were I have a couple of UP heavywieght passenger cars and also the lettering on the locomotive is a yellowish off-white. Of course, the UP did not have a 4-6-4 that was number 38 but at the least the engine is running again and looking good.

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