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

Friday, November 23, 2018

Putting a drive in a Hallmark Lionel OO F3

I have four of these Hallmark Lionel F3 models (more on this model here), a static display model produced in 1999 that is 60% of the size of the classic Lionel O gauge model. Other than being slightly short it is almost exactly 1/76 in size.

Seen here now with a drive, one of my models a prior owner had started converting to have a working drive, so whatever collector value it might have had was already somewhat reduced. I’m not sure what drive they were thinking to use, and they stopped work on the model after a few initial cuts to the front truck.

At a recent train show I purchased several junker Athearn Diesels to use for drive parts and with the GP35 scored, because I realized that the frame could be used to power this F3 with only modification of the gauge. That process is outlined in this article. The trucks are a bit small visually but then again you hardly notice them in reality as they are black, your eye is drawn elsewhere.

The following photos outline the process of the conversion.

The first step, after getting the drive set up, is to disassemble the Hallmark model and cut the plastic frame to fit the drive. The model will sit on top of the Athearn drive. Mark things carefully, you don’t want to cut more material out than you have to. The original fuel tank will be completely removed, the one cast into the Athearn drive will be the one visible on the finished model. About half the cuts were done with the saw but the rest were with the cutting wheel in a rotary tool. Work slowly!

This shows the drive after the cuts. There is one other notable modification to the plastic frame of the F-3, I carefully drilled holes from the inside to match the mounting lugs cast into the sides of the Athearn frame, and those hold the frame on the model. Also, up inside the metal F3 shell, you have to remove the cast on fins that would hit the motor. They broke off easily with locking pliers.

Finally things are almost done. The plastic frame is held onto the metal body with screws in the original mounting holes. The rear coupler has a Kadee coupler mounted at the correct height and the front coupler mount is used to hold the pilot of the F3. This part has to be carefully cut off the front truck of the Hallmark model and I used the coupler hole to mount it on the Athearn frame. It sticks out a little too far and I'm pondering fixing the issue. It would involve developing a different way of mounting the pilot, fixing it to the locomotive. Doing so would also involve eliminating the gap inherited from this being a miniature version of a toy train locomotive.

Also notable in the last photo of the frame, I glued the steps on below the frame. The ones over the trucks have to be removed from the original trucks and slightly modified to clear the drive.

This is not an easy conversion, but it is straightforward, the hardest single step being to be cut the frame out carefully. If I personally do another conversion or not I don't know, but it is a good looking and running unit.


howlin' hoosier said...

Could an older Mantua/Tyco Blomberg truck mechanism be widened for OO use? Mantua's early Blomberg's were too long (the sideframes details are a bit goarse looking compared to more recent versions from other manufacturers).


howlin' hoosier said...

Have you considered trying to widen a Mantua Blomberg truck for OO use? The early version is too long for HO scale (the sideframe detailing is kinda crude compared to more modern versions of the EMD truck).

John Ericson said...

Yes, I have done this conversion before. But after one conversion I have stuck with using the unpowered truck off the Mantua models (GP20 and F7) on dummy models. You are correct about the wheelbase though and that the sideframes are OO on these models.