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Author Previous Topic: Another new toy.... Topic Next Topic: MDC 2 truck shay rebuild
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Engine Wiper

Posted - 12/20/2010 :  5:22:05 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Happy Monday Friends,

Amongst the holiday preparations, I was able to squeeze in a little more work on the American this weekend.

First off I completed the bolsters on the tender frame. These were fabricated from 0.020” styrene. The kingpin bearings from the truck kit were used along with an 0-80 bolt for the kingpin itself. It took a little fiddling to get the thickness correct so that the coupler would be at the right height.

Next I started work on the headlight. I am building an oil headlight for this engine. Even though electric headlights were starting to make inroads on the standard gauge lines by 1905, all pictures I can find from this time period show oil headlights on narrow gauge equipment. I used drawings found in the 1909 edition of the Locomotive Cyclopedia from Google books. The drawings are of a Pennsy prototype, but the general dimensions are close enough for me.

What I’m working towards is this from a AT&SF 2-8-0 on display in Topeka, KS.

I had first cut out the front, back and 2 sides from 0.010” styrene sheet. I used a pair of dividers to layout a hole in the front of a size to be a snug fit for a piece of ¼” Styrene tubing. Using my Dremel tool, I turned a 0.080” styrene plug to be a snug fit inside this tubing. This will be used as a mandrel to hold the tubing to turn the headlight rim. I lopped off about 1/4” of tubing and acc’d it to this plug.

I then squared the end of the tubing and laid out lines .0020”, 0.040”, and 0.060” from the squared end of the tube. Then using a small ½ round needle file I turned steps down from the end. This was then cut off and sanded down until it was about 0.070” thick. I kept rotating the rim as I sanded it so that it would sand evenly. I then acc’d the rim into the front piece of the headlight.

As soon as I figure out how to make a reflector I’ll be back. Take care and thanks for stopping by.

Bill Allen
Arbor Creek & Middle River Valley Railway

Country: USA | Posts: 214 Go to Top of Page

Engine Wiper

Posted - 12/22/2010 :  5:21:14 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Just wanted to wish you all a happy holiday season, what ever you celibrate, whenever you celibrate it. Thanks for being here.

Take care,

Bill Allen
Arbor Creek & Middle River Valley Railway

Country: USA | Posts: 214 Go to Top of Page

Engine Wiper

Posted - 01/04/2011 :  2:49:27 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Happy New Year! I’ve had a good vacation and got a lot done on the ole’ American.

On with the headlight:

I left off on the last post with wondering how to make a reflector. After putzing around in my shop for an evening this is what I came up with. I started with a 3/8” dowel and a 1x2 scrap piece of oak. I turned the end of the dowel into a eye-balled parabolic shape, and then drilled a hole slightly bigger than 3/8” in the oak, say around 7/16” about 3/8” deep. Sorry I’m a little vague. I was still experimenting at this time and didn’t note the exact dimensions of the hole. But these are pretty close. I then took some 0.030” copper sheet and heated it with a torch until it was red hot and let it cool to anneal it. I then quite simply placed the annealed copper sheet on the 1x2, lined up the dowel with the hole and in good Neanderthal fashion gave it a whack with a hammer. This resulted in a shallow dent in the copper with wrinkles around it. While not deep enough this seemed to me to be going in the right direction. I flattened the wrinkles and then re-annealed the copper and whacked it again and repeated 3-4 times. This ended up with a nicely shaped (to my eye anyway) rough copper reflector.

The rough reflector was then chopped out of the surrounding copper sheet with tin snips and soldered onto a piece of 1/8” brass tubing. Keeping in mind the diameter of the rim I turned the reflector until it was just a little larger in diameter than the rim.

While still mounted in the Dremel tool I polished the inside first with a medium sanding stick proceeding through finer grades until finally it was polished with a Q-tip and Simichrome polish. A drill press was used to bore the holes through the reflector while it was still on the brass tube. After remounting the reflector in the Dremel tool, I then used an Xacto knife to carefully cut the reflector free from the brass tube.

I used a silver plating powder to plate the reflector. I’ve had this around the shop for years. I think it was made by Details West. I just dampened a Q-tip and dipped it in a bit of the powder and rubbed it into the reflector. The more one rubs the more silver it gets.

I finished assembling the box of the light and built a simple bracket to hold the reflector and the rest of the innards so that it would drop into the box and the reflector would line up with the opening.

Next came the top. The headlight I’m building is based on some drawings I found on pages 317-318 in the 1909 edition of the Locomotive Cyclopedia of American Practice that can be found (and downloaded!) from Google books. It is a little different than many oil headlights in that the top is simpler without the reverse curve. To my eye it seems to have more of a Tudor look rather than Victorian. I like its differentness plus the top is easier to make. Bonus! Anyway, I hand filed the top out of .040” styrene and added the chimney (1/8” square styrene tube) and chimney cover and handles and a bit of trim around the chimney(0.005” styrene sheet). Since I might need to access the inside for light replacement I cemented a 0.020” piece of styrene to the bottom of the top which is a snug fit inside of the box.

Then I tested fitted the parts.

I turned a burner from very small brass tube, and a globe from clear plastic sprue. Sorry I forgot to take pix of this. Pretty simple turning though. I then filed a notch in the bottom rear of the globe to accept a Ngineering nano super incandescent LED (Item N1038-2) the wires were routed through the brass tube burner. Side and back access doors were added as shown in the drawings and the light was done for now. After painting a lens made from a microscope coverslip will be added.

And here it is sitting on the engine

That's all the time I have now. Thanks alot for stopping by.

Bill Allen
Arbor Creek & Middle River Valley Railway

Country: USA | Posts: 214 Go to Top of Page

Engine Wiper

Posted - 01/04/2011 :  6:34:24 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Greetings All!

Another little bauble I worked on this past week is the whistle. I wanted this engine to have a simple single chime whistle. However all I had in the scrap box was a 5-6 chime whistle. I had found some drawings of whistles in the previously mentioned Locomotive Cyclopedia and found that a plain whistle base was similar in size to the chime whistle base I had on hand. So I set out to see if I could modify it.

First I sawed off the chimes

I filed the cut surface smooth and as square as I could by hand and drilled a 0.020” hole as close to the center as I could. I then soldered a 0.020 rod into the hole.

I then found some ~3/32” brass tubing that gave me an outside diameter about right for a scale 5 1/2” diameter whistle. I turned this to square the end and thin the wall at the end, polished it and cut it off about 9 scale inches long. From 1/8” brass rod I turned a cap to be the same diameter as the outside of the tube and then turned a step to be a snug fit inside the tube. Finally I bored a 0.020” hole in the center and cut off the disc about 0.020” away from the step. I smoothed and thinned this on fine wet/dry sanding paper on a glass plate. I then turned the top knot from 0.040” brass rod, leaving a 0.020” mounting lug on the bottom.
I then turned a 0.040” styrene disc to fit snugly inside the whistle tube to allow the base and the tube to join. These were then joined, allowing a 0.030” gap between the base and tube.

Since I wanted to portray this whistle as being attached to the side of the steam dome, I plumbed it with 1 ½ brass elbow, union and shutoff valve.

And that was that. See you in the funny pages!

Bill Allen
Arbor Creek & Middle River Valley Railway

Country: USA | Posts: 214 Go to Top of Page

Neil M

Premium Member

Posted - 01/04/2011 :  7:35:36 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I love what you are doing. Keep up the progress pictures

Built a waterfront HO layout in Ireland http://www.railroad-line.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=22161 but now making a start in On30 in Australia

Country: Australia | Posts: 2485 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 01/05/2011 :  04:55:16 AM  Show Profile  Visit andykins's Homepage  Reply with Quote
this is really neat, i dont often wonder out fromt he darksie of the forum, *cough* you should have posted it in there *cough*

looks great so far, the rivets you've added look really good, and make my spine shiver. i have enought trouble with larger and fewer ones!

Country: United Kingdom | Posts: 4279 Go to Top of Page

Engine Wiper

Posted - 01/05/2011 :  6:50:22 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Greetings to all from sunny, if chilly, Iowa.

Thanks Neil M and Andykins for the encouragement and comments. It feels good to hear that my babbling and pix is of interest to others.

I’m really glad you wondered into the Roundhouse Andykins. Why didn’t I post on the On30 forum? Actually when I was starting this, I debated which forum would be most appropriate. While it is about rebuilding an On30 steam locomotive, I decided that the main point was more about rebuilding a steam locomotive than the gauge of that locomotive. So it just seemed to be a better fit in the roundhouse. Anyway…

On to more “What I did on my Christmas Vacation”

What I spent most of my time doing this past week was getting odd jobs tied up so the engine would be ready for painting. Because I hate to try to mask around plumbing and I really hate it when while painting I knock off some detail, or after painting I find areas such as behind the airpump that didn’t get any paint at all, I paint the major subassemblies before all the junk is hung on the engine. But, so that I’m not then messing up a perfectly good paint job by scribing location lines and/or miss drilling a hole, I try to locate and drill mounting holes for many of the parts such as the cab front, air pump, feed water lines etc.

The first assembly I worked on was the pilot. Sometime last year I had already built a new pilot and deck. This was done to raise the pilot so that the coupler would be at On3 height. This required some frame modification, a wooden pilot beam and some really fiddly geometry to work out the slats of the pilot. I came darn close to just giving in and giving it a footboard pilot. After several tries I kinda got it. Also at this time I was planning to model in the 1890 time frame which required link and pin couplers. At the end of this the pilot looked like this.

Since then I’ve moved the time frame into the 1900’s (I still can’t decide 1905 or 1918) so a knuckle coupler is in order. I started by modifying the coupler box to accept a San Juan Car Company MCB Sharon Coupler that itself had been modified by shortening and thinning the coupler shank. I then replaced the grab iron I had added earlier with a combination flag holder and hand rail. I had a set of Precision Scale flag holders on hand, so I just drilled a 0.020” hole opposite the marker bracket on each flag holder and inserted a piece of 0.020” brass rod. Also the Sharon coupler required a cut lever. The brackets for the cut lever were made from 0.100” styrene channel, 0.040” rod and NBWs.

I then added a cut lever and hand rail on the rear tender beam as well.

Next were the cylinders. I had started these last year. I built new valve chests that were more correct in size and detail. I also added piston and valve rod packing glands. I turned fancy do-dads (sorry can’t think what they’re called) for the center of the cylinder covers. At that time I had made flanges with bolts for the center of the cylinder assembly. Many engines of this time had the cylinders cast in halves then bolted together. But these flanges interfered with the mounting of the cylinders and the new pilot deck so off they came. At this time I made a set of cylinder drain cocks from styrene 0.030” hex rod and some 0.010” x 0.020” plastic strip for the actuator bar. Here’s what they looked like when done then:

Since then I managed to knock off one of the packing glands and destroy a set of cylinder drain cocks. So firstly this week I replaced the missing parts. When I replaced the cylinder cocks, I also replaced the actuator bar with some 0.005” x 0.020” strip as the previous one did look too heavy to my eye.

I then made some cylinder relief (snifter) valves for the front of the valve chests. These were made from bits of round and hex styrene rod based on drawings in the Cyclopedia page 160.

I then added these to the cylinders, as well as lubricator line attachments to the top of the valve chests and brackets for the cylinder drain cock levers to the front of the cylinders.

Let’s see the other odd things I did to the tender: using bits of shim brass I made hinges and a handle for the water hatch on the tender. I made wooden coal extensions, new grab irons, stirrup steps, the brackets for foot boards, located the feed water shut off valves, located the hand brake. Located holes for the tender air brake tank on the rear of the tender tank, decked the tender frame and built the coal boards.

On the engine I located the pop valves and steam take off on the steam dome, located the handrail stanchions, marked and drilled the feed water holes, located the turret in the cab. Then it was time to stack it all together to see how it’s fitting up.

And that was the end of my Christmas vacation. I sincerely hope all of yours were at least half as fun. Thanks for stopping by.

Bill Allen
Arbor Creek & Middle River Valley Railway

Country: USA | Posts: 214 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 01/09/2011 :  08:59:29 AM  Show Profile  Visit LandNnut's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Top notch. That whistle is especially nice.

Edited by - LandNnut on 01/09/2011 09:01:00 AM

Country: USA | Posts: 1608 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 01/09/2011 :  10:13:57 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

I just had a chance to read through this. Normally in the On30 thread so I'm glad I came here.
What a fine job and I hope you post more photos as you complete the loco.

Country: USA | Posts: 6688 Go to Top of Page


Premium Member

Posted - 01/09/2011 :  10:49:21 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Fantastic conversion, I am with Andy if you had posted in the ON30 forum you would be getting many more reads and comments. Most of the ON30 guys have so much to read in that forum that they do not get out much. I posted a link up in the ON30 lounge.

My current build:

Edited by - BigLars on 01/09/2011 10:52:31 AM

Country: USA | Posts: 11333 Go to Top of Page

Frederic Testard

Premium Member

Posted - 01/09/2011 :  10:51:36 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
What a beautiful work, Bill. These posts are really motivating. It's great to see the fine results you get starting from relatively simple materials. Thanks for sharing and hoping to see more.

Country: France | Posts: 17652 Go to Top of Page


Premium Member

Posted - 01/09/2011 :  12:04:13 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Bill, you should consider turning this thread into a Model Railroad Hobbyist "how-to" article. I'm learning a lot, both techniques and prototype details.


Modeling 1890s (because the voices in my head told me to)

Country: USA | Posts: 7686 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 01/09/2011 :  12:54:33 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Like Dave above says. Chris Lane at Carsten's On30 Annual is always looking for articles like this.
There are some good ones in the 2011 Annual and yours would fit right in.

Country: USA | Posts: 6688 Go to Top of Page

Crew Chief

Posted - 01/10/2011 :  11:47:14 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks for the link Larry. Amazing stuff to look at and read about. Waaaay too small for my hands, but the ideas are stimulating.

Thanks for sharing.

Country: USA | Posts: 826 Go to Top of Page

Engine Wiper

Posted - 01/12/2011 :  6:59:26 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Greetings friends. I haven’t been able to access the forum for a few days as I’ve been under the weather and then snowed in. I have to say I was surprised at the number of responses since I was last on. Thank you all so much for your comments and encouragement. Thanks Larry for posting the link on the On30 lounge. If I do this type of thing again I will certainly post to that forum. Newbie mistake I guess. Anyway back to the engine…

This past week I’ve primed the engine and tender, added the Archer rivets and then painted the engine and tender and started assembly.

Earlier in the topic Cody asked about the Archer rivets. I can now say that they are pretty good. However, I discovered there are a few tricks to using them. While I used fine tweezers to get the row of rivets on to the model, I found a damp paint brush to be best at moving them around for final positioning. After they are in final position, I found it best to blot them dry and then pretty soon after apply Solvaset. This seems to help them adhere to the surface. At first I didn’t do this, planning on doing this after all the rivets were in place when I noticed that after a few had completely dried were in the process of falling off. Like any other decal, after they dry, check and make sure that there are no air bubbles. I missed some and later found some “extra rivets” on the tender. Finally as they come off the sheet they are difficult to get to go around a curve such as found on the top of a tender. I found that by using Solvaset and a couple of pairs of fine tweezers, I was able to get them to stretch around the curves. Also, in some places the decal film is visible after painting when viewed closely.

Here are the “screw heads” on the boiler lagging

And rivets on the tender

I then painted the parts. I know it’s heretical, but I mix my paint mixes up by eye just before I spray. The boiler, cab, tender tank are all painted a very dark gray (basically engine black with several drops of aged white). The running gear and tender frame and trucks are painted a more weathered black (engine black with more white and some roof brown). All these are Poly Scale paints. Before I painted the wooden tender frame (BTW, I didn’t prime the wooden parts), I had covered some areas with rubber cement. After painting I removed the rubber cement, and scraped the edges until it looked natural for areas of peeling paint.

Here’s the tender after painting:

I also assembled the tender trucks with brake rods. The saw slits in the bolster will be used for phosphor bronze power pick ups.

On the engine, I hand painted the smoke box. I want to represent an engine that is well cared for but well used as well. Since the smoke box is a high heat area, and high temp paints of the early 1900’s weren’t real effective I wanted to show rust starting to come through the paint. I did this by brushing washes made with random mixtures of Poly Scale Milwaukee orange, roof brown and Milwaukee maroon. Basically these were mixed on an old lid using dabs of the brush to mix small amounts. They were then thinned to wash consistency using…eh…well…some really cheap bad whisky of have lying around. It’s so bad I can’t stand to drink the stuff, I got it to use in water color painting some years ago. I’m sure denatured alcohol would work as well. I find that doing washes using alcohol allows them to dry faster. After it looked like a rusted smoke box and was dry, I then went over it with washes of silver mixed with black until most of the rust was covered but a little was still visible. After the smoke box was painted and dry, I added the running boards. These are the stock pieces that have been thinned and over-laid with bird’s eye maple veneer (I like its grain pattern and sometimes has scale size knots).

Lastly, I added the fire door.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading.

Bill Allen
Arbor Creek & Middle River Valley Railway

Country: USA | Posts: 214 Go to Top of Page
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