Monday, May 10, 2021

A Plastic Shay?

 Yes! A plastic On3 Precision Scale Shay! I picked this up for a steal on eBay a few years ago thinking, well, if it doesn't work I at least get a Falhaulber 50:1 motor. I recently completed another GrandtLine Porter, this one for On30 and had such a fun time assembling it that figured it would be a great time to try my hand at this project. The Porter is disassembled in the paint shop, photo's eventually.......

Generally, (note not always) the instructions are excellent. You definitely want to read a few steps ahead to see what else they say before doing anything. The trucks are the first assembly. I found them easy to construct, using plastic model building techniques. Make sure you don't make a mistake with alignment or parts orientation as you don't want to have to take them apart (there's no way to unsolder as with brass). The person I bought the kit from had started the trucks and made a MESS. They used ACC glue instead of a plastic specific glue. Knowing this, I ordered some new side frames from PSC before they changed hands. You'll note in the picture that I started the frame at the same time. One thing about plastic models, you often have to really wait till the glue has dried completely before proceeding, therefore, I had two to three components being assembled at the same time. Glue a part, move to the next assembly, etc.

Here are some of the sub-assemblies moving along nicely. I added a Wisemann Model Services sand dome as most of this sized shay had the more modern domes.

 Here is what I have ready before painting. The decoder, speaker and headlight bulbs have not yet been added. I figured I would paint it first. Handling this thing difficult as the plastic is very fragile and flexable. In my humble opinion, the frame is too flexible. I added a second screw to hold the boiler on. There was only one, in the front! Yikes!
Huston, we have a problem! I've used this style of drive on all my shays, it was designed by GrandtLine and works fairly well. On this model, the gear is already mounted on the axle when you open the kit - DON'T TRUST THE MANUFACTURER! They put mine on backwards! Yup, after assembling the entire model, I found out the gears didn't align!

Note the large gap between the gears. The small brass mounting does not have the plastic gear centered, it is slightly off centered and needed to be mounted the OTHER WAY! But wait, this model was GLUED together.......

So, I carefully added some solvent glue to the cross bracing, brake hanger and bottom tie hoping I could remove the drivers without braking the whole thing. Well, all those little hanger broke, but sheared off, which meant I could glue them on again and hope for the best; however, the main bolster and rest of the truck stayed together.  After disassembling, pulling the driver, re-orienting the drive, I put it all back together and IT WORKS! I'm happy that it worked but was I not happy that I trusted the folks who put these together at PSC, maybe they contracted that to someone......

So, plastic shay a good idea? Hmm, easy to build using typical plastic model building skills. Build a model tank or something first. A few problems: plastic breaks easily. The frame is very flexible. There is little weight but lots of room to add weight. I added lead bird shot in the boiler and some small lead strip in the truck bolsters. The hardest parts to build - the fine detail with the eccentrics for the engine was tough. One of my eccentrics had a broken tab, making the fit impossible. I drilled and glued a brass rod on but it wasn't fun. The second hardest part - the universals that attach to the engine. The ones for the trucks were easy but the ones for engine were a bear.........

These originally sold for $275, if you can find one, it's worth the build. I wouldn't pay more unless you are a real fan of this engine. Save up and get a brass one. Once I get this painted, DDC, sound and lights, I'll post on it's running qualities. 


Wednesday, March 31, 2021

New Gon for the DC&L

I recently finished a Leadville Designs Bill Meyer and Small gondola kit that I received for Christmas a few years back. Bill Meyer and Small made equipment for narrow gauges here in the east as well as the more famous ones out west. I really like the look of these 28 foot cars and built one from plans back in high school. 

Below is the Leadville Designs kit as built. A nice kit with underbody detail. I modified it slightly, adding through bolts on the sides.

Here are the two cars side by side. The Leadville Designs kit was nice, being a laser kit, most of the parts fit well without much work. The exception being the stake sides- that WAS a pain and mounting the couplers. There is a nice slot in the car ends for Kadee couplers or some kind of couplers. However, the instructions did not cover their installation and I had to heavily modify the Kadee's to fit. The kit, priced at $79+ shipping is nice and has more appropriate stake pockets, 3D printed and a pain to clean out. However, I think my scratch built car from 20+ years ago looks pretty good and given I cut all my own strip wood, was  a real bargain! They'll both run on the DC&L. Stop by sometime and compare for yourself.

Monday, March 8, 2021

The Arroyo Shay No. 2

 After sitting in multiple pieces for quite a while, I have finally painted Arroyo Tram No.2. The project started out as a way to make a freelance version of Gilpin Tram No.2 out of a Bachmann 2 cylinder, 2 truck shay and a Wiseman Models backdate kit. So, it's mostly painted. I still have some details to add, like the injector water line that broke off, bell cord, etc. I'll post again when done.

 Modifications - Lengthen the frame, boiler, and tender

I had to figure out if the cylinders could be dismantled and the drive shaft modified from a 2nd engine. Looked like it could be done........

The moment of truth, cutting the shaft with a razor saw..............

 Lining up the shaft to drill a hole for the portion of the shaft and valve gear for the third cylinder

Carefully drill the hole. Yep, that's a big hole in a little rod.

Assembled on the lower portion. Use your best adhesive here.....

Test run to see if it works, yes, it does.........

Then take it all apart and paint it a few years later........

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Boxcar 312 and Shadow Box for the Arroyo

WW&F On2

I recently finished my version of WW&F boxcar 312. The car was one that had it's roof raised and there were lateral side boards on the top of the car on one side and the other had them only on one side of the door. Interesting kitbash. I started with a TrainTroll WW&F 309 boxcar kit and modified it a little. Why? Well, I thought the kit was great and would make a great Christmas gift. I think it came out quite well.

Arroyo Tram On30

I have also been working on getting the much needed backdrop up on the Arroyo Tram. I've added LED lights and and a "Shadow Box" style valence. Lesson I learned the hard way: I tried to get the same LED's as used on my WW&F module. Oops! I got ALMOST the same thing. Turns out these are 60 LED per meter not 120 per meter! Makes a big difference in the brightness. Too many variables with these things. Type of LED, color, dimming, and how many per meter. Regardless, having something blue in the background really looks much better than cinder block wall and the painted valence makes it look for finished. More backdrop painting to come. Mountains and stuff. Maybe I'll procrastinate a while...........

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Learning from Others: More brains the better

I attended an On2 Zoom meeting the other night, hence the turntable post earlier - a little explaining how I did something and comments on how to improve. Got me thinking......uh, oh.

There are very, very few narrow gauge modelers around where I live. None model On2 or On3.With all the moving to online meetings this year, a few friends started Zoom sessions to share information. I've also  I recently joined a group of two foot modelers who Zoom on a frequent schedule. It's been really eye opening to see the flow of information. I'm slowly seeing the appeal that I've heard others talk about regarding the gathering of like minded groups in the hobby.  Zoom and whatever is next, I think, will only help increase the interest in Narrow Gauge Modeling. We'll see what happens....

Thought I'd share an example of how discussion on these groups can lead to layout improvement. While presenting information the Albion modules, I asked about how others deal with car cards? How to keep them off the top of the layout and off the scenery. I've seen some ideas online but wasn't really pleased with them and some would take significant efforts to attached. Lee Rainey, quickly provided the idea of what he did on his layout. Chris Mchesney followed up with the idea to keeping it high enough to be able to easily pick up the tops of the cards. The technique was simple, elegant and quick to build. Took me less than an hour to build these two. I'm happy with the results. One question, an answer and an improvement suggestion. Quick and easy! Thanks to Dave who put the session together, Lee for having a great solution and to Chris for adding an improvement. Pete Leach shared some ideas on backdrop painting, and.........Looking forward to how this can improve my modeling skills.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Powering the Albion Turntable

The question arouse on how I powered the Albion turntable. While NOT the ideal solution for a DDC system, this seemed like a simple solution and one that I find works well enough for my small layout operation. The idea for building the spider and powering the turntable originated from and article by Russ Watson in the 2010 On30 Annual.


I had to read the article VERY carefully and several times on how to set up the telescoping tubing. I think I did use slightly different sized tubing or a slightly different arrangement in the tubing.

Here is a picture of the spider I built. Only difference from the article is aluminum tubing and brass wheels.

Here is a video link to how it works and the associated momentary"short" that occurs. Not ideal but seems to work. May not be so good for system that uses a motor to turn the table. Two suggestions to stop the short would be: 1) a larger insulated gap between the split brass tubing and 20 smaller diameter wire. With Stay-Alive capacitors, I think a bigger gap would not cause a problem. One more thing to try........


Here is a video of the spider and tubing:

I hope this helps those who asked about it. For those who have a better solution, I'd love to hear about it, please leave a comment.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Albion Get's a Flanger!

 Just in time for winter snow, Albion has a new flanger. The WW&F always kept a plow and flanger in Wiscasset and in Albion just in case. While this particular flanger usually stays in Wiscasset, today its in Albion. The flanger started out as a Sandy River Car kit but most of the scribed siding had to be replaced as it was improperly cut. I added interior details based on the drawings in the WW&F book set. I think it makes a nice addition to the scene. Now, to make those small side windows......