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

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A Fleischmann Baldwin Switcher, Modified for American OO

Back a couple years ago I posted an article on two different “HO” Baldwin Diesel switchers that were oversized for HO, one by Garco and one by Fleischmann. In that article (here) I noted that the Garco engine was probably around 1/80 scale and the Fleischmann was even bigger but a mixture of scales really.

In that article is seen one of the Fleishcmann models decorated in the “C&NW” scheme. Actually, these models as shipped have no lettering other than the number cast into the side of the cab, 1340. I have two of these, the other Fleischmann was somewhat modified and had the black version of the paint scheme. A prior owner had removed the silver stripe that would have originally been on the frame and had added basic ATSF decals (but no zebra stripes) and Kadee couplers.

Those modifications gave me an idea. Sitting it on the layout periodically, it did “work” as a 1/76 model, the length and width are pretty much on, the model is just short in height. In the fall I ordered the Microscale decals and over the holiday break I went forward and completed the conversion for operation in OO.

My first step was to disassemble the model and soak it in water until the decals a prior owner had added lifted off. Then I went to work on a drive. The drive uses the powered truck and motor from an Athearn geep, combined with the unpowered truck and truck sideframes off an AHM SW-1. This model is also over scale for HO (more here), and for this Baldwin provided nice switcher trucks that are the correct length for OO.

The drive took a lot of cutting and fitting but I got it all in and running; the only negative being that the wheel diameter is a bit under. So then I turned to applying the decals, which took quite a while. My goal was not to repaint the model at all but just use the decals -- and to use them to draw your eye away from the main visual problem of this model, which is that huge step in front of the cab. In the actual ATSF scheme sometimes there were zebra stripes on that box, but not always, and I left them off. I also purposefully left off the stripes above that box. The result is that under normal lighting, operating on the layout, the box nearly disappears from view! (As in the first photo).

It really is a fun model to run around, it pulls 5 free rolling cars around with ease, and I would note it has a headlight as well. Two minor negatives to note. First, the number 1340 is not correct for an ATSF Baldwin, and the font of the number is not correct either, but keeping the number seemed the best option. The other negative is it runs backwards, and there is no easy way to correct that so I will have to just live with it. This was is a function of using part of the original Athearn frame, which also left me with a fuel tank that is not the correct shape and off center. Which I can live with.

I have decals to do at least one more zebra stripe scheme too. I don’t plan to modify another of these, so next up will either be a Schorr RS-2 or a Kemtron GP-7. But not for a while, lots of projects underway and the coming months will be busy ones.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Rebuilding a S-C 4-6-0 by Mr. Pierre

I have a number of models by Pierre Bourassa, and this recent eBay purchase was certainly one of his engines that came south to the USA when he sold his layout.

The price I paid was a steal and it looked like a great model as it had a can motor—it looked like a model that had been run recently! So this Scale-Craft model gets here and there are some problems. Hooked up to a transformer it would turn over wheels but only barely due to a couple issues. One was one driver had separated from the axle which is no small problem, but also the drive he worked out was sort of a mess really. He connected a small can motor to a cut down S-C gearbox and even when I got things lined up perfectly and on a different frame it was clear the motor did not have enough “oomph” to even move the engine down the track! Which was especially sad as Pierre added lights and some nice details to the model. I don’t think he was pleased either with the drive.

I will spare all the ugly details, but where the engine is now is it runs fine! I converted it back to a vintage S-C motor connected to a rectifier, a vintage installation that came to me from yet another eBay purchase. (seen in updates III and IV to this article). It is also rolling now on Nason trucks, with the bronze sideframes, which are operationally an upgrade from S-C trucks -- important, as all power pick-up is from the tender trucks.

The process was instructive for me for sure. I ended up getting out and resorting all of my S-C 4-6-0 parts and motors and projects. I now have things set out again to build up two more models over time and also a 0-6-0 (which uses the same motor and tender setup).

One part of the process was trying to bench test the motors I have, which worked better connecting them to a rectifier mounted in a tender than the method in this article. One bottom line of that was that some S-C motors I have just don’t work, even if they look OK to me visually in every way. My theory is something not visible is messed up in the windings after all the years of storage and variable handling.

Anyway, the big vintage motor is very smooth and powerful, if somewhat noisy and the four big wires are not real pleasing visually either (and, in the last two photos, the drawbar is not hooked so the enlarged distance between the engine and tender is enhanced). Still, I have improved my skills with these models and will keep plugging away at rebuilding others over time. It is a pleasure to see a nice vintage model running again. I will plan to touch up the paint a bit (noting that he must have lightened his black paint to a gray), and one final tip: it is a good idea to change out the lead truck wheelsets, change them to HO 36” plastic. As now seen on this model. Eliminates problems.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Another S-C Gas Electric, Modernized

This model was an eBay purchase a few years ago. It was partially built but not complete, missing a drive truck and the roof. I was not really needing another S-C Gas-Electric (see here for my first one), but still the model spoke to me and I started in, working on it slowly for a couple years.

The two big challenges were the drive and the roof. The roof was more of a challenge than you would think as it turns out that this model uses a unique roof stock, different than on their other passenger equipment. I found, finally, a piece in my parts supply but it was not long enough. The solution I came up with was to mate it with a piece of Picard "Wagon top" roof stock, imitating the modified roofs seen on some Gas-Electrics late in their service life, after repowering. Parts cut from the shell of a Tyco GP-20 were augmented with parts box items for the roof details.

That solved, there still was the drive. I puzzled over this a very long time, I really wanted to use a pre-war S-C drive unit but finally figured out it would at best be not much more more than a shelf model with that drive. (More on that drive unit here). So I moved on and found I could use an Athearn drive truck without modifying the original truck mount! This was a great solution, and I could also with some cutting and a new sub-floor utilize an Athearn motor and flywheel.

For the rear truck I used a single, orphan truck I had that is of the rare, S-C plain bearing passenger truck. I have more here; the spin when introduced was it was for the Gas-Electric, and this one (“opened up” by a prior owner) looks nice in this application. I wired it for pick-up, so the model has 8 wheel power pick-up.

The model could have a few more details added (taking the photos I noted there is no front coupler) but I am liking this car. I like Gas-Electric cars for operation on my little layout as they fit on my staging track well and make a nice balance in operation, I can run a longer freight train into the passing siding and run the doodlebug. Still, I won’t be making any more for the Orient, my layout is not nearly big enough to need any more. A bigger layout would be nice…