7mm US model dabblings

Discussion in 'Area 51' started by Jordan, 8 April 2013.

  1. Overseer

    Overseer Western Thunderer

    'Kept up' wouldn't have been the term which sprang to mind for Cincinnati Union Terminal station after hearing at an APT Conference in 2018 how many millions were spent just fixing the leak in the fountain out the front. (APT is the Association of Preservation Technology) They didn't squirt a bit of sealant around. Instead they demolished the original fountain and concrete bridge structure and rebuilt it completely. The justification was that a recurrence of a leak over the road passing underneath would be difficult to address. I think they could have been a little more conservative.

    Losing the link to the train concourse takes away a lot from these stations in my opinion. This is Buffalo Central Terminal, where some of the conference events were held -
    Buffalo conc.jpg

    And from the outside, showing the demolition of part of the pedestrian concourse to provide additional height clearance on the couple of remaining tracks.
    Buffalo cut.jpg
    A bit like going to a theatre with no auditorium beyond the lobby.
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  2. mickoo

    mickoo Western Thunderer

    More distractions arrived today.

    It was a random bid, base price and I was left with it after being the only bidder. I was really after a C630 with their humped back (West Colton nick named theirs Buffaloes) car body; instead I ended up with the smaller C628.

    I did toy with just flipping it as is and recovering whatever I could. I've not seen many 2 rail Alcos either, so that had a bit of a sway in the 'bid now' button click, as did it being in the UK already.

    As an added bonus it's already DCC and sound fitted but I've not tested or heard that yet, if it's anything like the recent GP60 then it's best not talked about....but I'll give it a starting chance and fire it up in due course.

    I kind of changed my mind once I opened the box and it was on the desk, you can't not love an Alco, even the baby C628 is massive and SP ran a reasonable fleet of them, even rebuilding them for hump service at West Colton, quite often paired with a C630. Microscale decals had already been ordered for SP anyway :thumbs:

    It's an east coast PRR version and differs slightly from SP, the production PRR units had snow shields over the dynamic brake intakes and the production flush (reasonably) triple section slatted radiator intakes with horn mounted on the cab front.

    SP production units did not have the snow shields and mounted the horns on the roof, the vacant space being filled with their unique red emergency red (MARS) brake light unit. They also had an extra set of twin sealed beam lights fitted to the nose, an easy addition.

    However, SP also purchased the three original demonstrators, these were fitted with snow shields, cab front mounted horns but demo two section slatted raised radiator intakes. They also fitted said same twin beam headlights on the nose and had twin sand fillers on the nose.

    Each variant requires a little work so I'm not sure which one to head for just yet, the demo is just ahead by a nags head, simply for their individuality, I doubt there are many modeled, but if none of them worked in So Cal then all bets are off, more research required :cool:

    The real engine dynamic brake intakes are also very open, the mesh is fine and you can see the intake tunnel structure behind, it'd be nice to whip that moulded grill off and model the intake behind and cover with a new etched mesh. I may also consider an new etched cab but might try a different tack here and see if I can get thinner flush glazing in the existing frames; thinner etched steps and treads is another consideration.

    The model already has the pilot foot boards favoured by switching operations, that's one aspect that doesn't need changing.



    Last edited: 15 July 2021
    David B, Jordan, Rob R and 3 others like this.
  3. JasonD

    JasonD Western Thunderer

    1981: train-chasing in NYS, following a D&H w/b frt, lots of GPs, down there in the valley, get ahead and go down onto Route 7 ... where's aceess to the tracks, up that dirt slope, phew made it. How'd it get down there, bah! west of Nineveh Jct. Oh sh...what's that? E/B coming ... pair of 628s ... I'm in love.

    Later on I got a pair of Atlas C628s, foolishly sold one to a pleading fellow D&H O-scaler. Where did it go when he died? Still in love.
  4. mickoo

    mickoo Western Thunderer

    Gratuitous RTR froth. Generally I'm a GE GEVO fan, but have a secret lust for EMD's big muscle, in this case the SD70ACe.

    Try as I might an Overland brass one never seems to come up for sale, at £3K plus they're not cheap but it's their latest model and in O gauge pretty spectacular. Several RTR companies produce one, most I've walked by, even this one by MTH, yet this one on Ebay caught my eye, maybe it was the clear photos provided, anyway it was worth a punt and it arrived today.

    For RTR it's actually not that bad, in fact it's pretty good to be honest and I'd only contemplate a few modifications, Frank and his mate Stein will have to go, as will the big green motor cover in the cab, motor as well. Truck side frames need narrowing and the ditch lights are coming off.

    Attached a couple of shots from the last vacation in Cajon pass, the high angle shot (8660) is from the outcrop at Drawbar flats, good if you want to be temporarily deafened and have your senses assaulted with hot diesel fumes ;) (thoroughly recommend to get you in the right mindset for US Railroading) The lower angle (8637) is down near Keenbrook as the grade steepens up the Palmdale cut off.





    UP 8637.jpg

    UP 8660.jpg
  5. JasonD

    JasonD Western Thunderer

    It does look good. I picked up a 2-rail MTH ES44AC at the Chicago Meet a few years ago and the usual feeling of guilt and regret quickly passed. Well I am a D&H late 70s/early 80s, blah, blah, blah ....

    Is that one a factory 2-rail? Too early in the day for me to be certain. I had a quick search on e**y and only found 3-rail versions. Don't know if it's deliberate, but on one of them the sideways-on pics have the trucks sloping up towards the ends so the 3-rail daylight gap doesn't show, like it does in all the unforgiving catalogue art. Oh sorry, old man's unrelated memory recall coming ... Mind The Gap ... 60 years ago/Northern Line tube/new school commute. That's better.

    The coupler pocket and hole are nearer to scale than the 3-railer pics show, so I think I've answered my own question. Is the part no. given? My ES44's part no. finishes -2E and it's 2- or 3-rail switchable with scale wheels. Only 3-rail with unwanted daylight seem to be around now, so '2-rail capable' versions must be offered on a separate schedule. I'll fall back on my usual criticism of their stamping long bits of handrail so you see the folded under bit, but they've included loads of pipe so only picky people can still see it.

    Nice looking model.
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  6. mickoo

    mickoo Western Thunderer

    Funny how that happens when you open the box :))

    Regarding MTH serial numbers, as far as I know MTH codes depend on the first two digits, I wasn't aware of the last digit, which in this case is just 2.

    Normally if it starts with 20 then it's three rail, if it's 22 then it's two rail and 30 is three rail Railking the truncated shortened versions that go around your Xmas tree.

    My MTH ES44AC starts with a 20 and also ends with a 2 and is factory 2R with scale wheels, this also starts with a 20 and ends with a 2 and again looks like factory 2R. It has the full height fixed pilots and full length front handrails.

    The only 22 codes I've seen are the special paint jobs, George Bush plus the heritage ones UP did. I was tempted as they pop up frequently in 2R, but it's a lot of work repainting them and they usually fetch top $$

    Two rail versions of SD70ACe are quite rare I find, this being the first in UP that I've seen and initially I was put off by the 20 code, but it seems that may now all be incorrect, or incorrect to some extent.

    One thing I did notice last night was the engine number, it's too high for a solid nose, solid noses ended at #8620, from #8621 the isolated cab was fitted. It's not as though there's a shortage of numbers to choose from, 8309 to 8620, yet MTH went and stuck an isolated cab number on the model :rolleyes:

    You may or may not know but there are regional Ebay sites, searching on the UK one often misses stuff on the US one, I also have the German one and the Austrian one, ironically I used buy my German steam engine pictures off the Austrian one as it does not (as yet) automatically add Brexit taxes?

    Now I just a digital copy buy direct from the seller at a slightly reduced cost, forsaking the 8" x 10" glossy pictures, they're nice but rarely get looked at.

    52 8039-1.jpg

    Anyway I digress, there is a real risk that the new workshop layout could easily slip into the DB/DDR Euro zone :eek: In fact, thinking forward, I could forsake a few feet of work bench and possibly have two layouts of slightly smaller size.....that's opened a can of wriggle things for sure :cool:
    Last edited: 22 July 2021
  7. JasonD

    JasonD Western Thunderer

    Yes, I was briefly an MTH dealer back in the 90s when they did more 2-rail (even a Big Boy) and the part numbering methods mushroomed after that. Maybe I should bluff my way back, so we can get early knowledge of factory 2-rail, or even better stimulate 2-rail. No, I shouldn't kid myself, even Atlas have just made tempting new 2-railers (AKA ageing HO modellers) more difficult.

    You obviously get more of a kick from modelling favourite prototypes in O, so don't spend too much time on the hazards of layout building ... you know the helpful "they didn't have phone boxes like that till 199x." I've looked at Maine 2ft-ers, in 16mm, still do, but ...er, no chance. Nope!
  8. mickoo

    mickoo Western Thunderer

    Yup, too many anoraks in my closet to have any sort of authenticity layout wise, I'll not mix continents though ;)

    There is a solution to the phone box nerds though, don't put phone boxes on your layout :))
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  9. Rob R

    Rob R Western Thunderer

    It's taken me an hour or so but I have just worked out what is wrong with the Cajon photos..

    NO CLOUD :cool:

    How did you manage that?

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  10. JasonD

    JasonD Western Thunderer

    NMRA British Region Summer Meet
    Oxford Belfry Hotel, Milton Common, OX9 2JW
    31 July 10.00-16.00

    Haven't seen this mentioned elsewhere so ....
    I'll have some O-scale stuff and there may be ... er, HO and N (did I get that right?) and books, etc.

    mickoo likes this.
  11. mickoo

    mickoo Western Thunderer

    I did see that mentioned on Facebook I think, might pop over but having sprung for two (maybe more) Lionel JLC GG1's (details on planned reworks and issues to follow) I may not have sufficient funds to relieve you of some goodies :))
  12. mickoo

    mickoo Western Thunderer

    Yes, 'that' cloud was every present....but I was faster....most of the time ;) The amazing thing is they bubble up in minutes as the warm desert air mixes with the cool breeze off the Pacific ocean, they can equally dissipate as fast.

    To be fair I did have some days where the weather was lovely, problem then is the on shore breeze tends to push the LA smog up Cajon pass so your best photos are very early morning or late in the evening as it cools off.
    Rob R likes this.
  13. JasonD

    JasonD Western Thunderer

    I saw the meet had been sent to the Belfry so a strange feeling overcame me, of course ... the friendly smiles on the fellow O-scalers, oh and the rest!

    GG1s!?! Don't worry you're not the only madman, nobody else saw that ad on the GOG(!) website for a D&H Challenger. Just need 80 2-bay hoppers now. No, no more than 80 or I'll have to look for another steamer to be strictly accurate. Ooh I know, how about 'found in a long, thin shed, excursion passenger cars being overhauled' :thumbs: Who said mantelpiece!!

    Anyway it's probably not the only American 2-rail O-scale stuff at the Meet, so much for 'the best kept secret', scrape the decades of dirt off now, pay later :cool:
  14. mickoo

    mickoo Western Thunderer

    Not a member of GOG anymore so missed that, did D&H have challengers, probably, don't recall ever seeing them but then D&H is low on the radar.

    Long before I was a UP/SP anorak I was into PRR, still have all my books and reference info but that closet has remained shut, simply because there's little decent RTR kicking about, mind there are some good brass M1 and I1's around.

    All GG1's I'd seen were dumpy O-36 radius, never took much notice of Williams and MTH and presumed they were dumpy or still shortened versions. The other day day I came across the JLC one and Pandoras box was opened, the best by far is the 3rd Rail version, but that was a very limited run and near impossible to find. Next up are the JLC versions, the Lionel Legacy follows close behind, they're a spin off of the JLC but changes were made to the truck design to allow much tighter radius curves....pretty much the same design as Williams and MTH. That's about it for scale length GG1's.

    I've not seen many Legacy ones but the articulated (bendy) truck really doesn't do it for me, the JLC is much more scale like and appears to have a clever but small articulation that isn't so obvious. The only problem with the JLC model is Zinc rot, it destroys the truck side frames, only around the drivers though, the rest of the truck is fine. There are no spares, Lionel will not produce them....they can't because the truck master mould was modified for the follow up Legacy models.

    Last year a small company got together with fellow hobbyists and with Lionels agreement (they used a good casting to get new moulds from) started producing plastic copies, problem is they only manage about 10 a month, so the waiting list is long.

    It is a bit hit and miss which copies have Zinc rot, by far the worst effected seem to be the PRR Congressional silver with red stripe, I have one of those coming and one truck frame is basically dust, I knew that when I bought it but a JLC GG1 for the price of a good family meal out was not to be passed up.

    The other versions seem more robust and less prone to rotting, but it's still a lottery, never the less, another stupidly low priced green with single stripe dropped on Ebay a few days later, the trucks look okay (you never know until you inspect first hand) so we'll see how it goes when it gets here. I've also got my eye on some spare (possible future aids to scratch building) bodies, sans pantographs.

    The plan (master plan.....muhahahar) is to draw up new trucks and 3D print them, some changes can be made to add more detail, as they stand the trucks take most of the drawbar forces so I may have to add a brass etched inner frame to take said forces. I'm not overly happy with the plastic front end (I think it's plastic on the JLC versions and screws to the zinc castings) and if you're doing a new set of frames you may as well do a new front end, the plan there will be a new etched metal front end, pilot, frame extension and bogie bolster.

    The next step is the 3R wheels, they're going in the bin, by chance I have some donor Slaters wheels here. A cup and spider drive 3D printed overlay can be fitted over the Slaters wheels, you need to chop six of the twelve axles out and possibly trim the other six (it'll be clearer once I have the 3D prints to show what I mean) but I might forsake that to begin with. Not sure what diameter the Lionel axles are and the gears will need transferring across, I might opt for new axles and alter the Slaters wheels or sleeve the Slaters ones to suit Lionel bearings.

    If you think 80 hoppers is far fetched, imagine Zoo Jct in O gauge :eek:
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  15. JasonD

    JasonD Western Thunderer

    My first trip to Nth Am in 1974 finished up with an Amtrak train from Washington to New York behind a GG1. Despite it still being all-black with PC lettering this was an unforgettable trip. The window in the leading passenger car's vestibule door was clean enough to see the huge beast making a noiseless, effortless, twisting run at high speed. Lovely.

    D&H Challengers were built to the same specs (inevitable detail differences) as UP's first build and Clinchfield.

    Zoo Jct? Wow, 3 fiddle yards!
  16. mickoo

    mickoo Western Thunderer

    The first of the JLC GG1's arrived today, the second should be here this week.

    This one was sold as spares or repair, the owner opened the box the other week and the truck frames collapsed, he didn't even take it out of the box, not even for the photos on Ebay, boxed it up and sold it bitterly upset.

    I can see his upset, this is a $1000+ model when introduced, reduced to a paper weight to all intents and purposes.

    The problem is the Zinc used in the trucks, over time it just degrades and collapses, some models are worse than others, the silver Congressional version seemingly the worst. There are models out there with no ill effects but most owners know it's only a matter of time before they succumb.

    To make matters worse, Lionel refused to help or offer replacements, they couldn't, by the time the issue raised it's head they had modified the truck moulds for the Legacy models which followed.

    Out of the box we have this mess, actually more than some owners whose trucks have turned to dust, at least there were some parts left, sadly one of the etched truck data plates has gone missing, i'll have to see if I can get a replacement one done somewhere.


    The truck consists of two parts, the main zinc part which goes around the drivers, at the rear is the bulbous section where the two trucks join, not scale or authentic in shape but serves a purpose as a light blocker. The frame attaches to the motor block back here and at the front on a tab, both long gone. The zinc truck then travels forward as it tapers and forms the pivot for the articulated pilot, there being a nicely hidden swing section up there. The bogie is attached to the swing pilot.

    I tried to pose some shots with what I could salvage, hopeless task.



    A close up detail shot of the nose, which better shows some of the other issues with the JLC model, it's good but there are areas for improvement. Conversely the more modern MTH shell is much better, but it's plastic and suffers in details elsewhere. The ideal would be a MTH shell with JLC components where possible.


    The pantographs are pretty good for a 3R, the head is a bit clunky and floppy, it's also plastic so a nickel silver replacement is in order, how to deal with the floppiness is another matter, it won't, or shouldn't be an issue when up against the wire as the broad two contact design should level it. It's jus the going up and down bit where it'll look odd.

    The JLC model has the option to raise and lower the pans but it's linked into their DCC and I think is simply direction controlled, how, or even if I retain that is another problem solving exercise for another day.

    The other niggles are the grill, not really GG1 ish are they and technically the broad strip engines should have a corresponding blanking plate where the stripe is. There are of course several types of grill and toward the end of PRR extra ones were added up on the nose below the pans, sometimes the body side ones were retained, some times just plated over, much later ones has the original opening totally smoothed over.

    I'd like at least one with high nose filters, many cry sacrilege as it spoils the clean lines, but the filters were an important improvement to keep them running during severe east coast blizzards.

    Moving back a bit we have the sand filler hatch just below the cab screen, too clunky, should be smooth (something the MTH model replicates better). It should be too hard to remove these extras and plate over with a small etch.

    Cab side windows are a bit clunky, part of the cast metal shell remit I suppose ,but there might be a way to add a little fidelity in here, why there are two window bars is a bit odd as these went out of favour quite early on. The top one will come out, the lower one replaced with something a bit finer.

    Cab doors suffer from jam jar bottom glazing, they are opening which is probably why they look a bit clunky, easy to replace for something a little thinner and more detailed. The steps are actually quite good and have the distinctive kick in under the body, something only higher end models have, they are sadly marred but the little divot in the frame to clear the hand rail....no idea what they are supposed to be but I've called them donuts. These need to be removed and the resultant holes filled and smoothed to match the body and door opening. As a result the opening isn't quite the right profile but that may be a task too far.

    Wheels, well they are 3R biscuit tins but the centre casting and cups is actually quite good, it might be possible to extract them off the axles and thin the rears once the tyres are pulled off, I'm quite happy to sacrifice Slaters rims and stuff them on if the centre can be machined to accommodate them. Otherwise it'll be plan B with 3D prints over modified Slaters wheels and then work out how to get the gears on the axles. I'm hoping the axle gears are not part of the centre spoke and cup casting.

    There are three types of wheel casting, JLC covers none but isn't a bad representative. I cannot ascertain which or where certain types were fitted, could be two types for each side for example, could be production runs or even replacements, not sure yet. Most of the differences are around the spokes and cup rubbing plates plus the small triangular pair of spokes.

    On top of all that I need to work out how to add 2R pick ups in there somewhere as well, if I can insulate the power trucks then I could simply have opposing live ones each side, something to explore as the floor/frame is a simple plate sheet metal affair.

    To be honest, a very quick look at the wheel centres did seem to suggest that there was an insulating rim between the axle and centre casting on some of the axles, possibly on the same side as the traction tyres.

    Next step was to split it all down.


    Lot of gubbins going on in there, most of it will be junked and flogged on Ebay, I don't have a Lionel control system so all the DCC stuff is basically junk. There is no cross cab corridor as the cabs are half shells to hide the pantograph raise and lower motors. If I don't keep them then I'll work up a new cab unit, if I do keep them I'll also work up a new cab unit as the one here can be improved even within the restricted area we have.

    The trucks have been split down and the hidden swing joint up front can be seen, I also took out the over scale claw couplers, in fact they were already broken (at the rear end of the coil where it meets the fixing) and given something that's supposed to take a bit of battering they were pretty poor to be honest.

    This is what we have left to work with after the initial tear down.


    In reality the pilots and that part of the truck frame attached to them will go as well, it'll be an all new etch set up from the coupler to almost back to the leading driver, it may well even go all the way to the rear and wrap around with the cosmetic 3D overlays and rear end wedge and socket bulges modeled to. I need to ascertain which end the socket frame is and conversely the bulge end.

    I haven't delved into the power truck too much just yet, I'll do that once most of the interior is cleaned out and I can see what is going on, my gut feeling is that the truck rotates around the motor which is why the front ends swing out so much and require the extra joint up front for the swing pilot. The real truck pivot point is actually ahead of the leading driver, it would be nice if I could move it and replicate that; it'll have an impact on weight distribution I suspect unless I can support it at the rear on the slides like the real thing.

    Finally a look down inside.


    The two pantograph motors are self evident, whilst the pantographs are sprung the screw jack has a two pronged yoke which means they are either fully up or fully down and locked there in. It should be possible to remove the lug that holds it locked up and rely on the springs to keep it up, keeping the lower lug pans the pan will be free to float to the required height until the motor lowers where upon the lower lug will catch the striker and lower the pan.

    If I keep the pan motors then they probably won't stay there, I'll extend the shafts and move them near to the body centre. The shafts should clear the flywheels, if not I'll machine them so they do or even remove. Not even sure what traction motors Lionel use, could be some exotic AC type, in which case alternatives will be required.

    The boiler steam (smoke) generator will go, to a new home hopefully and i may keep the speakers, not decided yet, not even sure if anyone else like Loksound do a GG1 sound set.

    Now it's a waiting game to see what the next one turns up like, hopefully with intact trucks, not sure why as they'll be swapped out, if they're in good condition someone might pick them up as spares.
    Last edited: 4 August 2021 at 01:06
    David B, richard carr, Rob R and 2 others like this.
  17. JasonD

    JasonD Western Thunderer

    Are the truck sideframes good enough to use as casting masters for zinc death replacements?