Category Archives: how tos

Mehano/RSO 2-8-2 Mikado #9353 “The George Washington”…

A growing air of normalcy is slowly settling in as I pull out a remotoring project purchased before the move.  The motor was toast, giving me the perfect opportunity to shoehorn this massive German coreless motor that’s been sitting around, waiting for a job to do.  It outweighs the original motor by at least twice the original’s weight.  The torque of the motor is high enough that it will likely blow apart the gear box before it even heats up under load…sweet.

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Mister Roger’s ‘Trolley” in HO scale…

…using two Bachmann San Francisco cable cars and some well placed razor saw cuts. Prototype fidelity was not as important to me as capturing the overall look of his famous trolley…five vertical posts, the overall light and airy look (very hard to handle for awhile there as it was exceptionally fragile).

I’ve found at least three different variants used over the years, the original having a black body with gold trim, green seats and red roof–even poles. My inherent orneriness would have me paint it that scheme, but most would remember the later one so I’ll stick with that. I’m happy with where I’m at at this point…

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The project is at this point waiting for seats and final paint, but will have to sit on a back burner for now as we concentrate on our new home…

UPDATE: I was truly surprised to find out that there were those who did not know of Fred Rogers or of his television program–a medium he despised by the way, feeling it was a greatly wasted resource–. His was one of a very few…and I mean very few…children’s programs where I could put down the remote, knowing that there were no untoward surprises awaiting my child that I did not want them to see. A truly remarkable man whose presence is sorely missed today…

Atlas N scale turntable modification…

Freebies are good, but sometimes they come with bugs that have to be surmounted. This one was working fine actually, the bug being built into it by Atlas.

The table’s wiring is very simple, each rail has a spring loaded brush that contacts a plate underneath that is divided for track polarity. As the table spins, the polarity is corrected automatically for the roundhouse leads, so that locomotives travel on and off the table without have to worry about direction of travel. A simple and effective device, its one flaw being the location of the dividing point. In this case, the location placed two of my five roundhouse leads with polarity opposed to the track on the table…

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Undaunted, I fearlessly drilled the rivets, thinking I will just rotate it 90 degrees and all would be right in the world…thinking being the key word here…sigh

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Alas, those rivets carry current to the contacts, so another plan was devised…by replacing the strip contacts underneath with wires, reattaching one and relocating the other (noted in green), I was able to remount the contact plate…

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I then soldered jumpers to the original breaks (in yellow) in the plate, and cut new breaks (in green) in by scoring the metal with a knife. This placed the circuit in a way that powered all my roundhouse leads properly, so that the locomotives could roll onto and off the table with the necessary polarity issues straightened out. I made sure that none of these new connections interfered with the path of the sprung brushes…

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Speaking of those brushes…

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…the best way I’ve found to reinstall them was to put them in their respective holes…

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…and…while holding them in place with a piece of paper, carefully flip the table right side up, place it into the pit circle and, while pushing down firmly but carefully on the table, slowly slide the paper out. This ensures that the brushes remain assembled and in place when you secure the table to the pit ring…

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IHC HO scale Fairbanks Morse C-Liner…

The best improvement one can make to low end motive power is to increase power pickup, thus sending pure, unobstructed juice to the already handicapped motors they come with. Fortunately, IHC made it easy to do…they simply were too chintzy to put an extra set of wipers and wire in. They did however, put in all the necessary details to add a set yourself…

Note the bracket holding the stock wiper…

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…is present on the sides with no wipers…

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…making it simply a matter of fabricating another pair, mounting them like the stock ones, and wiring them in…

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…just make sure to clean the excess flux of the soldered joints…

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…and that your wiring is properly oriented.

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The results are fantastic, it crawls through plastic turnout frogs without stalling and has much better low speed control. Because it now has eight wheel pickup, it is also not as easily affected by dirty track.

Mantua HO scale 4-6-2 Heavy Pacific, circa 1980…

…a nice runner–when you can get juice to the motor–they are plagued with contact issues that come from a combination of zinc castings, steel axles and brass wheels working against each other by their various corrosion and rust abilities. The older ones have a separate bell and hanger that protrudes over the smoke-box and headlight. They are now offered under the Mantua Classics name by Model Power.

One way to improve pickup is to remove as many contact points as possible, bringing the electricity to the motor is as directly as one’s abilities and materials on hand are able to muster. I made these pickups with some strip brass, 2 round terminals that fit around the bolster and some wire…

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Knowing modelers will immediately see the impending screw-up–since fixed–…unknowing modelers get to find out on their own…

The fix works great, completely bypassing the zinc floor of the tender and the trucks, though the original source points of power remain. Adding 3 ounces of lead helps it stay in contact and track better.

Athearn HO scale Hustler diesel, Yellow #60…

…and then there were three in my stable. This one, a recent online purchase, shows what NOT to do when re-wiring an Athearn locomotive. Like most Athearn owners, the modifier replaced the metal clip contacts with more direct wiring to the motor from the frame…

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Unlike most modifiers though, they left the brush clip on the plastic motor frames, essentially melting them into the motor…sigh…

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It runs, but maintenance will be a kick…

UPDATE: New upper clip, new wire and terminal, a soldering job that would make my 8th grade shop teacher proud…much better.

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