A CPR U3e 0-6-0 Switcher – A Project for Liberty Village

I mentioned back in April in a post about learning how the railroads served Liberty Village that a friend had gifted me half a Walthers/Life-Like Proto 2000 0-6-0 steam locomotive that very closely matches the dimensions of the CPR U3e class that worked in Toronto in the 1950’s.  I say half, as he wasn’t able to give me a tender.  Today, at the Mississauga Model Railroad Flea Market, I was able to buy a correct CPR Tender for the U3e locomotive.  Another vendor had a brass CPR tender that was missing the locomotive.  Put the two together, and I now have a plastic locomotive that I can strip down and modify the details on, and a brass tender that I can disassemble to add electrical pickups and a DCC decoder into.  I’ve been assembling the needed detail parts for the locomotive and to build the tender from scratch, but now I don’t have to scratch build the tender. I can focus on the engine and the electronics to make a reliable operating engine.

Brass_TenderIt looks something like a U3e, and will look a lot more like it by the time I’m done modifying it. May be while still before it gets to the top of the to-do pile, but it will get there.

It was a nice find at the show, and at a price where using it was light years better than the time and effort to build one in this case, as when I start working on the project in earnest, it has another big head start with the tender I now have.



Modern HO Scale Vehicles for 587 Yonge St.

One of the bigger gaps in the model railroad world is modern (really 1980’s onwards) cars for layouts.  If you model the 1950’s and 60’s, finding cars and trucks to populate your scene is relatively easy in terms of both ready to plant cars, and a variety of models in white metal or resin.  For the diorama of 587 Yonge Street I am building, its set circa 2016 before the building was demolished.  This poses a bit of a problem, as suitably generic cars appropriate for the era can be hard to find.  I’ve never bought any as my previous and future layout as planned are set in the 1950’s.  The only modern car I have ever bought was an Atlas 1996 Ford Taurus, and that’s only because my 2nd car was a used silver 1996 Ford Taurus my parents helped me purchase me in university to replace a life expired hand me down 1986 Mercury Sable!!

IMG_4949.JPGYup, I bought this years ago when I owned a silver 1996 Ford Taurus. Now it has a home on a diorama project.

So, with that, I’ve been searching online and at shows in recent months for a couple of more modern vehicles.  One was easy, one of the Rapido Trains GMC “New Look” buses in the modern TTC Scheme.  While these were retired by 2016, it’s a high quality modern transit vehicle that helps clearly set the scene as being Toronto.

IMGP4954RawConvNothing says Toronto like the TTC. A Rapido “New Look” bus in the modern TTC paint scheme.

While thinking about options, I decided that I wanted to have a modern police car in the scene.  After some searching, I found a few sources for Ford Crown Victoria’s, which currently form the backbone of the Toronto Police’s fleet, though they are slowly being retired after production of the Crown Vic ceased in 2012.  The Toronto Police retire cruisers after 5 years, but they bought a big surplus of Crown Victoria’s in 2011 and their last “new” one entered service in 2015, so they’ll be gone by sometime in 2020 if things go to plan.

IMGP6865RawConvModern Ford Crown Victoria Police Car in HO Scale from “Cop Car Collection”

There are a few different models in HO Scale for the Crown Victoria out there.  They represent different variants of the car, as there were subtle design changes over the years.  I was also looking for one that would be easily modified to add LED lighting to the car.  I figure why make the effort if I wasn’t going to go all out with it.  I eventually settled on a model from a company called “Cop Car Collection”, and found an eBay seller with old new stock of them going cheap.  When it arrived, I was both pleasantly surprised by the quality of the car, but the ease with which the all plastic car came apart, and the room inside for hiding lights and wiring.  All pluses for my project!!

IMGP6869RawConvCop Car Collection Crown Victoria stripped down to its parts for paint stripping the markings off the car

The car easily pulled apart, with nothing being glued together, its all pre-fit tight parts.  This meant I could put the body into some paint stripper, and the police markings quickly came off.  For lights, I ordered a set of pre-wired flashers from Evan Designs in the US.  The set contains a pair of headlights and taillights, and a pair of bulbs for the roof.  You can request different colour combinations for the roof.  Over the past few nights I’ve been slowly working on figuring out how I am going to get the LED’s installed and set in place.  The following videos show the work and the lighting effect better than pictures can.

Working on getting the LED roof lights into the right position for the roof light bar.

Re-assembled with the roof light bar installed and being held in place while the glue sets.

Flashing front headlights installed.  Just the rear tail light flashers to go, then I can get the wiring adjusted for installing on the layout.

I’ve got the front headlights and roof light bar installed.  For the light bar, I’m using a set sold by Herpa to hold the LEDs in place, when they aren’t on it looks like a modern light bar, and disguises the LED’s a bit.

I have decals on order from a small supplier of custom printed police decals for modellers to get the Toronto Police graphics onto the car.  In order to minimize handling after the decals are on, I wanted to have the lighting installed first.

I think for the diorama I want one more modern vehicle.  They are surprisingly difficult to find generic everyday cars.  Everything is either a truck/work vehicle, or a high end luxury car.  Good thing I’m not in any rush.  Sooner or later at a train show somewhere in the province I’ll find one.

EDIT: Update 1 March 8@9:30am

I hate being ham fisted.  I broke one of the battery leads off the wiring last night after installing the rear lights (and it looked so good with all the lights in too, didn’t get a video before I broke it 😦  ), and my initial efforts to fix it clearly didn’t work.  I’m waiting to hear back from Evans if my attempt at re-soldering the lead has somehow potentially melted something else in the wiring. Depending on their response, I’m either going to need to order a new set of lights, see if I can solder it back together right, or pass it off to one of my more electrically inclined friends to see if they can fix is.  Blah.

Damaged lead on left after cutting away heat shrink protection on lighting rig, and my re-soldered but now not working repair attempt on the right.

Update 2 March 8@3:30pm

Got an email back from Evan Designs. Basically what I screwed up can’t easily be fixed, that’s why the wiring rig is so heavily glued and protected with heat shrink (aka I broke it good, stupid fumbling around).   Going to get a replacement sent though, so my project is only setback and not killed.  The great customer service is appreciated as Evan Design is really fast at replying to queries on my orders in the past, and now my self caused issues with the product. Nice to know that there are still companies out there willing to help their customers!

Research Research Research

Model Railroading is a hobby of research as much as it is of doing.  At least it is if you area “Prototype Modeller” who wants to ensure their models are as accurate a representation of what we are modelling as can be achieved in a scale model.  I spend a lot of time in libraries, archives, scouring online for information and pictures about models that I’m working on.  This is OK, as I love research and gaining knowledge.  It keeps me inspired to do better at my modelling by having as much information as possible before I start a project.

This means that modellers tend to have a lot of books and photographs around, as we are constantly looking for information and references for what we are building.  Last week while I was out to dinner with a group of modellers, a potential simultaneous build project to modify a ready-to-run steam locomotive to be more accurate to its Canadian National prototype came up.  With motivation, I finally went out and bought a book that I should have bought when it came out in 2013, “Canadian National Steam”, a book which provides as complete a history as likely will ever be possible of every steam locomotive owned by Canadian National Railways.

IMG_4436.JPGCanadian National Steam published by Railfare DC Books.  This is Volume 1, an overview and details on different aspects.  Volumes 2-8 are detailed rosters of different wheel arrangements, with lots of pictures and details of when major modifications to the locomotives were made.

Budget considerations dictated that for the moment, I bought Volume 1 and one roster book, though I should have at least 6 of the 7 roster books eventually.  I’m not sure I need Volume 2 on oddballs and Newfoundland.

Like most modellers I know, the last thing I need is another project to be added to my pile, and I’ve written about my stack of projects in the past.  Despite that, this would be a different project, a chance to collaborate with a friend on something I’ve wanted to do for a while with the locomotive I already own.  I only need to settle on which specific locomotive I am going to model, then find the appropriate detail parts to update and improve the model.  As part of this project, it will give me the opportunity to work on my electronic skills as well, as the headlight LED in the locomotive is a sickly shade of green light, and I’ll be installing DCC and sound, once I make sense of the non-standard 9 Pin plug on the locomotive and how to re-wire it for an ESU Loksound decoder!

IMG_4435Fergie “helping” with my research in one of the Roster volumes of Canadian National Steam. I think she felt it was bedtime and I should stop reading and start providing a place for her to cuddle in the night.

The good news is that I am contemplating this project the weekend before one of the larger train shows in the area, the Hamilton & Ancaster Model Train Show (formerly the TH&B Society Flea Market).  This show happens twice a year, in January and November.  The next two are Sunday November 12, 2017 and Sunday January 28, 2018.  I try to go to both, but winter roads can make the January one iffy, so whenever possible I go to the November Show.  I went with friends last year and hopefully will do so again.  The show is a good chance for me to start searching for detail parts and supplies for new and ongoing projects, as the show tends to have lots of these available.  I’ll post somewhere in the future about the specifics of the locomotive project I’m going to be working on.  For now its just the research phase!!

Talyllyn Takes Shape

After last weeks successful first trip to the paint shop, I made another on Friday night, primarily to spray gloss black on my OO9 Gauge Talyllyn locomotive, which is a conversion of a Bachmann Thomas and Friends locomotive to the actual Welsh narrow gauge locomotive Skarloey in the Thomas world was based on.

imgp6071rawconvPainted Body shell, in gloss black and grimy black.  Ready for detail painting and re-assembly.

With the major components painted, I could start putting the locomotive back together.  Getting it apart had been a slog, the motor and metal weight are a tight fit, and the wires are very fine.  Once I got the running plate back into position, and re assembled the valve gear, it had a discernible wobble running and an audible tick.  It took probably 45 minutes of running back and forth and adjusting the positioning of parts to find the cause, and solve it.  When I reassembled the slide bars, the didn’t seat in the right place, and the piston and motion were making contact they shouldn’t have been.  As I didn’t use the parts of the Narrow Planet kit I bought to replace the cylinders and motion with 3D printed and etched parts, I was re-installing the overscale plastic parts from the original locomotive.  I decided the soldering and work to assemble the etched gear was beyond me at the moment, and rather than muck it up, leaving it off and untouched means I can come back to it in a year, two years, five years, ten years, whenever I feel like it.

imgp6069rawconvGetting the Mechanism back together.  It took me a while to diagnose how the slide bars were not back in the right place, it ran, but had a major wobble and audible tic, but eventually it got sorted and runs smooth again.

Once everything was running right, there was a list of details to add to the locomotive.  I had to finish the 3D printed backhead I designed to fill the cab space, install the new smokebox door (sans Thomas face), install a brass handrail on the smokebox, install the air pump, add back the couplers and buffers, put real coal in the bunker, and touch up the paint.  As I was going through these steps, I also kept putting the body on and test running to look for anything I was doing that was binding

imgp6075rawconvTesting as pieces go back on.  Showing the 3D printed smokebox door and a brass air pump mounted on the smokebox.

Once everything was reassembled, it was on to adding decals.  The real Talyllyn has worn a number of different paint schemes over the years.  I decided that I am doing the black with BR style lining that it carried until recently.  This was for a few reasons, simplicity, but I also like the look.  I ordered decals from DTB Models, who did a custom set of lining to fit this conversion in either the black or the current red schemes.  I could have done the lining from sheets of individual pieces that I have, but having pre-designed panels makes it much better looking.

Lined out and detail parts installed.  The only remaining parts to install are the etched brass nameplates, builders plates, and number plate.

I’ll make one more post wrapping this project up with finished pictures once I install the nameplates and builders plates in the coming days. For now, the decals are setting and then I need to make sure they are well settled before putting the plates on.  Then it will be on to finalizing the design for a little narrow gauge layout/display/test track for it to run on!

oo9 Talyllyn – 3D printed bits and Stripping paint

The joys of model railroading, chemicals and things which can stink up your apartment really good (not to mention what they can do if you ingest them) if you aren’t careful.  Being aware of the potential dangers of different paints and glues, and being responsible with using them is a very important part of the hobby.  You need to make sure you read and follow the safety instructions on every product you use.

As part of the project to convert the Bachmann Thomas and Friends Skarloey to the Talyllyn Railway “Talyllyn” (see here and here), I need to remove the existing paint from the Bachmann model.  The paint is really thick, especially on the plastic parts.  So much so, that when i started stripping the paint, I didn’t realize there were rivet details cast into parts of the plastic cab and parts of the diecast body!  The good news is, I don’t seem to need to resort to any really crazy chemicals that modellers use like Automotive Brake Fluid or EZ-Off Oven cleaner that other modellers swear by for stripping paint.  A can of Testors Easy-Lift-Off that I had has quickly cut through the Bachmann paint.  Unfortunately, this is still a stinky chemical product.  Which means wearing gloves when handling parts (a good idea anyways when painting or using adhesives) and fumes, which push the work out to the balcony of our apartment for ventilation, even with a mask on.  It’s been a cold couple of nights on the balcony in mid-November with a plastic tray and a collection of brushes removing the paint, but it’s worked, and with a minimum of sanding for intransigent paint, I’ve reached a point where I was ready to put primer on to start the re-painting process.

Bachmann Skarloey, mostly stripped of paint revealing the surprising amount of detail beneath a very heavy coat of paint on the Thomas & Friends model aimed at younger folks.

I’ve primed the stripped locomotive body as well.  I’m not happy with the coverage on the cab, there are a couple of spots where the primer went on a bit heavy and ran, which means I’ll probably wind up stripping it and re-priming it, but that won’t take very long.

Skarloey in primer after completing stripping the original paint.  Note the new wire handrails on the water tank replacing the cast in bumps form the original version.  I forgot to put the 3D printed smokebox door on for the photos.

In my most recent Shapeways order, I received the print for the boiler backhead I drew up to fill the cab and make it look a bit better.  Once the body of the locomotive is re-painted and assembled, this will be installed in the cab to make it look a bit more realistic, rather than just a big open space.  Along with a driver/fireman figure in the small cab, this will fill the space and make it hopefully look a lot better.

img_32613D printed backhead for Talyllyn’s cab.  Clear styrene painted with transparent blue paint will be inserted between the two sets of large rectangles to model the water glasses on the boiler.

I’ve also got a brass casting for a Westinghouse Air Pump to mount on the side of the smokebox, and brass stanchions and wire for the smokebox handrail.  Once I’m happy with the priming on the parts, It will be off to the paint shop to spray glossy black over most of the locomotive, with a dull/grimy black smokebox, and cream cab interior.

Once Talylln is complete, the next narrow gauge task on my to-do list is to finalize the track plan for a small shelf layout with OO9 gauge track so I have somewhere to display and run the finished Talyllyn and some OO9 freight cars I’m planning on ordering.  I fortunately discovered I have a stash of extra Ikea shelf’s we aren’t using in the apartment (yay cleaning!), so at least I know I have somewhere to work, I just need to come up with a functional track plan and purchase track.