The online magazine on the history and operation of vintage scale model trains in American OO gauge

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Pair of Fleischmann FA-2s re-gauged for American OO


A few years back I posted an article on the Fleischmann FA-2. It is a collectable HO model, but one that is substantially over scale for HO, approximately 1/82 scale, longer and wider than HO for sure but HO in height. In that article multiple views of the stock model are posted in comparison to HO and OO F and E unit models.

A colleague had his eyes out for one of these that was not as valuable as a collectable, and this pair came up for sale. The drives were out of the models and damaged, the fuel tanks were missing, and a prior owner had put on an overspray as well. This left the windows a little fogged but on the plus side for my purposes that overspray had preserved the decals, which tend to flake off. And I am a fan of the Santa Fe.

The model itself is a handsome one, even if the Santa Fe owned no FA-2 locomotives. The body is all metal and has screens in the sides that you can see through, a nice detail. The pilot skirting does not extend back as far as the prototype, probably to accommodate the original drive.

This model has been converted to OO operation before. Another conversion of this model may be seen in this article (third photo down) by Bill Johann. He seems to have kept the original fuel tank area on his models, and it is not at all obvious from the photo how he managed the drive conversion.

In my case the fuel tanks were missing and the stock trucks were unusable. In terms of the fuel tanks I referenced a scale drawing and came up with a good approximation of the prototype. Also note the steps in the middle. Having these parts was either destiny or pure luck, but the parts I used are vintage Kemtron lost wax castings that were in some parts obtained from the late Pierre Bourassa.

The drive also was either destiny or luck. I had on hand a pair of drives that would serve very well in the pair. I had purchased them at a meet inexpensively as they had been modified to power boxcars! The prior owner had converted his steam locomotives into free running models with no motors, and the boxcars pushed them around (and pulled the trains). This pair has huge can motors and used Athearn drive parts, which are easy to convert to OO. One of them I had taken the drive parts off of (to use on these AHM S-1 conversions) so I had to rebuild it with fresh drive parts off yet another meet find. That drive is visible in the last photo, as is the inside of that body shell.

For sideframes I could have used Athearn U-Boat side frames, I have some on hand, but I felt that they were too finely scaled and noticeably small in OO. Instead I used AHM sideframes, which are heavier in size and have as a bonus a feature that they block the wheelsets. Why this is a bonus in our case is the wheelsets are undersized, so it is nice that they are a bit hidden by the sideframes.

Both models got extra weight added up in the roof area so as not to block the view through the middle of the model. With the big can motor and the flywheels and the extra weight these models pull like crazy, easily pulling around a 12 car train of Scale-Craft die cast cars on Scale-Craft trucks. That is some pulling power, they will pull anything that I might want to put behind them.

I don’t know that I will ever convert any more examples of this model but for sure this model is fun to run and will log many miles for me on OO gauge track. The only limitation is that while I was able to compensate for the height a bit with the mounting of the body to the drive I still feel if you put a full height boxcar behind them they do look a bit short, and you also can’t MU them with say a dummy Schorr RS-2, the RS is noticeably taller. But if one was modified with usable trucks these Fleischmann models would match the Hallmark-Lionel F-3 model very well, they are also a bit short in OO but otherwise close to scale.

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