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Thread: Builder's Railroad Project: in the Beginning...

  1. #1366
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    Engine Repair

    Went to Michael's today and bought another sheet of Strathmore Bristol 4 ply for the reaming streets I'm replacing, but I didn't do any more work on the streets. What I did do was finish repairing my friend's cab forward engine.

    The corrected eccentric crank cured well and I reassembled the valve gear.

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    I decided to see if I could power up a PS-1 MTH engine with the tender from a 3rd Rail J1-a. Since they both used QSI control boards I made the (correct) assumption that the pinout would be the same in the connectors. The AC-5's drawbar attachment point and the J1a's drawbar are not compatible so I used a twisty tie to temporarily draw them together and do a test run. It worked.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVK0dy_XY8E&t=21s

    But it was thumping along terribly. It's not only completely missing a traction tire on one driver in the front-fixed engine, but the other one on the same axle was half off the rim. I went to the local train store and they had the correct MTH traction tire for this engine.

    I do not recommend changing tires on an engine like this for the faint hearted, especially if you're working on the first axle in the set. You must take the engine apart. The rear-articulated engine must be removed, then the chassis must be dropped from the boiler. Then you have to remove the cylinder assembly and finally the main and side rods.

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    Disassembly and tire replacement was not difficult. When I removed the old tire, part of it was adhering to the groove while other parts were half off the wheel which is what was causing most of the bumping. That being said, getting it back together was a bear!

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    You have to get both crossheads on their guides almost simultaneously. Then you have to get both piston rods into their respective packing glands, and before you slip in too far, you need to get the valve rods into their respective packing and then slide the cylinder casting home and align the screw holes. This took me 20 minutes (or more) and was very frustrating. I'd get one side in, but the valve gear or crosshead was binding on the other side. I'd fix that side and then the previous side would be screwed up. And so it went. I finally removed one of the main rods completely so the crosshead had more travel to manipulate it into position. And, of course, with all this manhandling, the J-B Weld joint on the fixed crank failed and it's now on the bench curing again. In use it should not fail. It was my twisting and pushing of the linkage that torqued it excessively. I know it was excessive since the connecting link was again deformed and needed straightening. I'm sure that the folks assembling these engines in Korea (or wherever) have a better way to do it. For me it was just brute force.

    So… I learned how to change steamer traction tires on a complicated articulated engine.

    I also learned that any QSI powered engine shares the same connector pattern. I chose a J1a since 3rd Rail big engines also have big Pittman motors in them so the current draw would be similar. It was.

    I decided to hold off on buying the Y6b for now. When I was at the train store I had the proprietor put it on the test track and run it conventionally, since I don't have TMCC. It ran okay, but you do lose some control with conventional. I was not happy with the headlight. It was very dim, even in TMCC. But the main reason is I'm going to in two weeks with my wife and didn't want to spend my money before going. Why go if you're not going to buy anything. My commission check came today from RMC for Part 1, so I have the funds to buy the engine. I'm just not so sure yet. Besides, it's not going rush off the shelves. It's a big engine and requires big curves and most fellas don't have them, so my guess is that it will be there if I decide that it really should be on my railroad.

    I find that MTH digital engines run better in conventional than TMCC engines. I have 3 PS-2 engines that run and sound just fine in conventional. I only have one TMCC engine and this would be #2. I don't know if two engines are justification to buy TMCC. I've wired my entire railroad with home run wiring so if and when I decide to get DCS I just have to plug it in. I suppose I could get DCS and run TMCC through it and then I'd be ready to go. I also may convert some of my older systems to digital… maybe.

  2. #1367
    Senior Contributor Builder 2010's Avatar
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    P&PRR Street Repair, etc.

    Put the 3rd coat of brush-painted artist acrylics on the road material. It turns out a tad darker than the connecting streets so it will look like a freshly paved street which is quite normal. I also started fixing some other delaminated areas that are not being replaced. I bought some Liquid Nails Project Adhesive to glue the Bristol to the foam substrate. I checked to make sure it didn't affect the foam. Some construction adhesives do. In the image, I just threw the streets down to see how they fit.

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    They a bit glossy and they needs some weathering which I'll do with the airbrush off the layout. The water-based acrylic caused the Bristol Board to curl a bit, but I'm sure that the adhesive will hold it down. I think I'm going to tape the four road pieces together so they'll be aligned before gluing to the layout.

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    There was a spot in front of the Idaho hotel that was delaminated about a scale foot. I first tried Aleen's but it didn't really hold to the foam and after I took the weight off of it, it popped up again. I then used the Liquid Nails and it held nicely. The street is no longer at the height of the porch steps.

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    I finished repairing the Gravely Building by putting in a rectangular piece that filled in a notch in the base plate and then repainted the total paving to sort of match the Nighthawks paving color. I then added one more telephone pole and replaced the fire hydrant that had broken loose. The arrow shows the new base piece.

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    I wanted to move the passenger train out of the way to give more access to the town area. When I powered it up, there was a short. After investigating, I noted that the tender coupler's uncoupling thumbtack on the Big Engine was dragging on the center rail. What was going on? When I lifted the tender I found that the coupler mounting bracket had broken loose…AGAIN. I had epoxied this years ago when the solder joint failed. This time I'm using J-B Weld. It's curing now and we'll be all fixed tomorrow. I also replaced the temporary masking tape coupler fix with a more permanent small cable tie to keep the couple from opening…ever. It's a good joint since it has tabs the extend into the tender's frame.

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    Tomorrow I'll finish up the street job and put the S-1 back in service.

  3. #1368
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    P&PRR Street Repair Project Cont.

    Mine too. I didn't put in an interior on that one. You really couldn't see it anyway, but it would have been fun.

    The J-B Weld fused the coupler bracket cured perfectly, only one problem. I installed it backwards. There is a notch on one side. I saw the notch, but it didn't register why it was there. When I tried to re-attach the coupler, I found that the round shank end bumped into the bracket and wouldn't let the screw align with their holes. So… that's what the notch was for. I needed about 3/64" more travel. A little time with the Dremel and a small sanding drum created a half-moon shaped relief that let the couple settle in where it belongs. I then ran the engine around and around and it worked perfectly. It's one of my two most repaired engines which doesn't help their resale value, but I really like them so they're not going any where.

    I was then able to park the Big Engine (really… that's what PRR called the S-1) on the high line and out of the way of all this road work.

    Speaking of road work. I erased all the center pencil lines and touched up any white area that has some masking leak. I then taped all four pieces together, laid them out on my big cutting table and air brushed first some Model Flex Refer Gray down the entire street to add some variety to the texture and then with some Tamiya Rubber Black but this time paying more attention to the driving lanes.

    I couldn't find the sticker sheet I had made of manhole covers so I had to go to the MacBook Pro and make some more of them. I had kept the JPG file that had the images, but had to re-size them in CorelDraw and print them out again on Avery Label paper. After printing I shot them with some artists fixative spray.

    I sized them to 30" after doing a quick research project on Google to find out "What size are manhole covers?" 30" is 5/8" in O'scale, so before sticking them on the road, I drew circles of that size opposite the storm drain inlet location. I used this circle as a guide to paint a gloss black circle around it and the sewer inlet openings that would simulate the tar sealant around the edges. Then I stuck down the manhole covers.

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    I found my "XING" stencil I used years ago when laying the streets the first time. I put some MicroMark PVA on the back to give it some stick, put it in place and masked around it with some newspaper and rattle can sprayed it with Tamiya Matte White. I did this on both ends of the street.

    With the road all taped together I put it back on the layout. It's curling pretty bad with being painted on just one side. The color matches pretty well now.

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    Tomorrow I have to figure out how to glue it all down. I'm not worried about the construction adhesive being able to counteract the warped paper. What I am concerned about is the sequence of gluing it all down. I will probably take the street apart since I don't trust the tape to hold those critical seams. That will make it easier to put each piece in place since I have to work it from both ends since I can't lay across the whole layout from one side. The layout is open in a little portal between the two bridges at the opposite end of the street in this image, but I have to get to it by scooting under the layout on my creeper and coming up in the opening. I start laying the road from this end since it's fit back into the space is critical and the entire street is spaced from this end. The hardest piece to glue down is the long middle one (obviously).

  4. #1369
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    P&PRR Street Repair Project Cont.

    I bought a new Pasche compressor from my LHS on Friday when the 40 year-old Badger finally stopped behaving. But I'm having a problem with the new one. Air seems to be bleeding out of the pressure gauge at a rate high enough to prevent the compressor from bringing the reservoir up to shut off pressure. I will shut off if I set the pressure regulator to zero, but as I increase the pressure setting on the gauge the bleeding air increases linearly. There's quite a breeze coming from around the housing at 40psi. Does anyone have experience with these Chinese regulators? I'm bringing it back to the hobby shop tomorrow. They have another regulator in stock so we can change it out if it's defective. The compressor is very quiet compared to my Badger which made a heck of a racket when running (which was continuous whenever spraying).

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    Meanwhile, I did get a rare Sunday "work" session on this chilly, drizzly October day. I glued 2/3 of Main Street into position. I would have got it all glued, but I ran out of heavy stuff to gravity clamp it all down. I didn't want to rush the drying time since it was so critical that the edges really glue tight. The edges were warped upwards and took a bit of pressure to ensure that they were down tight. In the first second I used my mechanical heavy objects. As I moved along I used some of my bricks.

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    Here's the opposite view.

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    The Liquid Nails seems to work okay. I did have to reinforce the very forward edge of the first piece near the tracks with some thick CA. Upon closer inspection, I may have to go around and add some strategic CA to keep the edges in place.

    Once all the glue is set, I'll use some filler and clean up all the junctions. The new streets are just a tad narrower than the old. I thought I was tracing them as carefully as I could, but some error crept in. Better too small than too large.

    Tomorrow, I'm taking back the compressor tomorrow and then finishing up the street job.

  5. #1370
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    P&PRR Street Repair Project Cont.

    This morning I got the last piece glued down. It wasn't set enough this afternoon to take all the weights off, so it will stay put until tomorrow. I did start spackling the big seams between the old and new streets. I masked the line work near the gap to cut down on the cleanup. That too will be dry tomorrow and will need another coat since this stuff shrinks. I thought I had some light weight spackle laying around, but it was gone so I used joint compound.

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    I took the compressor back to Scale Reproductions, Inc. to evaluate what was going on with the regulator. The regulator was non-functional due to the leaky pressure gauge. We replaced the regulator and problem was solved. The unit rises to set pressure, fills the reservoir and then shuts off as it's supposed to. You use the air brush for a minute or so and the compressor turns on to make up the air. It is very quiet. On the shelf under my workbench where the old one used to be, it is barely audible.

  6. #1371
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    P&PRR Street Repair Project Cont.

    The compressor is working as it should and cuts off when the reservoir reaches operating pressure. I am getting air leakage from somewhere since it cycles on more frequently than I would expect with no airbrushes running. I have three guns tied to the unit. I may go back to a single gun and see if the leakage persists. I don't hear any air escaping.

    Today, I sanded the first coat of spackle and removed all the brick holding down the last piece of street. I needed to add some CA to a couple of edges, but the road seems well adhered. We're see how long it lasts. Tomorrow I'll sand it again, and probably have to put on a skin coat. Then I'll mix up some gray to match and re-touch the paint and I'll be ready to put the Nighthawks in its final location. The street's already getting a bit beat up and has a lot of brick debris that needs to be vacuumed up. I'll do that when I vacuum the spackle dust. The color almost matches perfectly, and you really won't be able to tell that it's a completely new road surface. I've spent a lot of labor on these streets and I'm not sure the result is worth the effort. If I ever did this again, I would find another way.

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    One of these days, I'm going to install a highway bridge across the ravine in the back and connect the two sides of the railroad. That bridge would have to be easily removable, and should be since it won't be supporting working track and power. I have to come up in that opening to get to that ravine part of the layout which is unreachable otherwise.

  7. #1372
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    P&PRR Street Repairs Complete

    The streets are fixed and Nighthawks is in place and wired. I worked all afternoon painting the patches, putting in storm water inlets and getting the buildings that were moved re-situated.

    I got a pretty good color match on the artists acrylics to do the spackle painting. I masked the white lines so they wouldn't get painted over. The new streets look just as beat up as the old ones, only they're not all delaminated and actually are flat. It's actually a better match than I expected. Those very light areas were cleaned up with a damp paper towel after I took this image.

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    And here's Nighthawks all lit up and where it belongs. These are iPhone photos.

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    This is the last post for awhile. We're taking our annual York Show trip and then onto Philly to visit friends and family.

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