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

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Lionel OO Gauge Hudson for the Santa Fe

Back a few articles ago I was working over the tender trucks for a two-rail Lionel 4-6-4 that came to me in a very sad state. It had been on the roster of the Greenbrook of the late David Sacks but had been stored in an unfavorable location which left the paint and decals in poor shape, and also he had modified the model to the extent that the motor was in the tender, and the universals he had used were brittle and unusable after storage.

This is what the entire locomotive looks like now. It still has a lot of that Lionel OO look, but it has been modified in several ways. All significant modifications to this 004 two rail Hudson were done by Sacks, who among other things had rather heavily painted the engine blue. I stripped the blue off the boiler and tender (protecting the original 004 stamp in the cab, though) so those areas have a nice sharp finish. The boiler front is also now painted in the appropriate color for ATSF and it has a number plate added.

In this closer view of the locomotive you can see more of the details. Parts of this model I did not strip and opted to paint over, and there is some visible rust on the side rods. I replaced the damaged original pilot with a reproduction part but reused his modified coupler mounting with a modified Scale-Craft coupler. The big challenge for me was mechanical, as his big modification was removing the original motor entirely and replacing it with a large, DC can motor.

To make it work he put the motor in the tender. His connection involved older style universals that had cracked with age and probably heat damage. My solution was to use modern Athearn HO drive parts. There is a fixed point at the back of the cab, at the center of the system I set up, and from there two sets of universals go out, one set to the back of the drive itself and the other set to the tender. The whole thing is set up in very nearly a straight line with the motor angled to match. It is a bit odd but the bottom line is this locomotive runs well on my layout, much like a HO diesel actually, and has very good pulling power.

The big can motor is an operational plus for DC operation and I think the reason Sacks did his conversion. I opted to hide the motor with an oil tender top. The cover, while freelanced and built specifically to hide the motor, does a lot toward making the locomotive have more of a Santa Fe look. The real 3450 is in a museum in California and looks a bit different. Still the model is pretty effective as it is and I have really enjoyed running it with freight trains the past couple weeks (imagining it is a 4-8-4 or similar freight engine – for sure I am not the first OO gauger to imagine the same thing).

I won’t be doing this conversion to another model and frankly would not recommend it, but I certainly am glad to have what was a fairly hopeless looking junker in poor condition running well and earning its keep on my layout. That the drive still works well and that this model is as attractive as it is speaks to the quality of the original 1938 Lionel product.

No comments: