Category Archives: Christmas Trains

Intermountain HO scale 33″ replacement wheelsets…


…my product of choice for most of my rolling stock. I try to replace all plastic wheels with metal ones because the metal ones work as they roll to clean the track, just like the real ones.

A short circuit that showed up recently had me momentarily baffled until my alter ego, CAPTAIN OBVIOUS came to the rescue. One of the last cars I converted was an older Athearn 50′ reefer with its original metal sprung trucks. When I lifted the car off the track, all my power was back.

NOTE TO SELF: When installing metal wheelsets, get into the habit of checking the insulated side of the axles to make sure they are all on the same side of the car. That way, self is not inadvertently creating a short circuit through the metal truck…duh. Bonus points are gained by making sure both trucks are insulated on the same side in metal framed kits.

NOTE TO NEWCOMERS: The insulated side is the one done in a non-conductive plastic, usually black. —>Can you believe they used paper or varnish not too long ago? The varnish breaking down over the years is the more likely reason Grandpa’s old trains aren’t working for some right now…that creates a dead short, leaving folks to believe that the motor is toasted.

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WRONG WAY

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RIGHT WAY

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Dundalk Firehouse Christmas Garden…


I love my new home state but…man…they don’t know nuthin’ about Christmas Gardens. Growing up around Baltimore, THIS is what you looked forward to every year. Get a bunch of firefighters to bring together their trains, clear a truck out of one of the engine bays…a couple of tools, some adult beverages and a plump member of the station to be Santa’s helper…and, WA LAH!…a high voltage Christmas that would give a coronary to any unwitting Fire Inspector…

Click on the pictures for more….

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Bachmann HO scale MDT Plymouth 3 axle switcher….


Like most of their Products during the 1980s, these suffered from a poor grade of plastic used in the drive train that was prone to cracking—even while sitting on the hobby store shelf.

This one was no different but I found a fairly easy fix for the mechanically minded individual with a pin vise and some drill bits.

I ordered the axle sets currently offered on the Bachmann parts page, hoping that they were a drop-in fit. Alas, that was not to be—note the difference in the bearings on the two wheelsets…

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Note also that the newer gears (in black) are helical cut for meeting with a worm gear and not cut for the spur gearing of the older locomotive…sigh…more on that later.

Of course, Bachmann couldn’t leave well enough alone and made the newer wheels with smaller axles, making a simple swap out of the question. What I ended up doing was carefully enlarging the axle holes in the new gears to fit the older wheels. By stepping up to the next size drill bit rather than going for the whole smack in one shot, I was able to keep the new axle holes properly centered with no wobble…

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Note that they also had to make the new gears narrower…a problem overcome with a snug fit and an NMRA wheel gauge for uniformity.

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The helical cut on the new gears mesh well enough with the spurs and, since Botch…er…Bachmanns aren’t noted for their quiet drives at this market level, the slightly elevated growl isn’t any more noticeable over any other locomotive of the period.