Almost two years ago, I bought my first Brass Locomotive, a 1976 vintage CNR O-18a 0-6-0, a small switching locomotive that would have been seen in Liberty Village before diesels took over. Brass locomotives are made in small runs in Korea and Japan, and for many years were the only way to get really accurate models of a lot of different types of equipment. They are however, notoriously bad runners, and require work to be useful on a modern Digital Command Control operated layout, but this is fine, that work is both a learning opportunity for me, and a chance to offer friends who are more skilled than me a chance to make some money to do the work for me! That is a bridge for another day.
Apparently the CBSA didn’t buy he declaration from BrassTrains.com and felt the need to open my package and confirm it was in fact a model train.
So what have I bought for my layout? I hadn’t planned on buying any more brass, but I came across a locomotive that was too perfect and too needed to pass up, a Canadian Pacific Railway U3e 0-6-0 steam switcher, imported by Van Hobbies and made by Samhongsa in Korea in 1975 for an outstanding price, and it is painted. That may or may not come to matter whenever it gets taken apart for a new motor/wiring and DCC&sound installs, but for now, it at least looks good in photographs!
Opening up my “new” CPR U-3e Switcher
After patiently waiting over three weeks from when the order shipped until it arrived at the post office for me to pay duty and collect it. Once I got it, as you can see, apparently the Canadian Border Services Agency didn’t believe that a large light box could contain a model train, they opened it up to take a closer look. Based on the taping at least though, they don’t appear to have gone into the locomotive, I guess once they got it opened the x-ray was clearer without the packing inside the big box to convince them the only thing I was getting was a toy train and not contraband!
Already looking at home in Liberty Village, even though I can’t run it on the layout as it doesn’t have DCC.
This is now my second U3e, Thanks to the generosity of a friend I have a Walthers Proto2000 USRA Standard 0-6-0 locomotive, and I found the right brass CPR tender at a flea market to kitbash it into a passable U3e. The first will need some work, and I see some dimensional differences more clearly now, but the Walthers conversion will still be a fun project some day to do the work of modifying it, but now it will mean that hopefully, I will end up with a pair of U3e’s that can run on the layout.
Comparing the Brass U3e with the Proto2000 USRA 0-6-0, and the CPR u3e with the CNR O-18-a.
With the comparisons and looking at it done, it was time to see if it actually runs at all. As I noted, brass locomotives are notoriously bad runners, and this one is no exception, it does run, but its power pickups appear to be terrible, as you can see from the video below, it needs some convincing to stay on the rails and draw power. There is nothing there that can’t be resolved, but clearly this will be a complete new motor/driveline/gearbox job as part of the conversion to allow DCC and sound. Not a big deal, just more work!