Anyone ever repowered an Atheran RDC?

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Ralph, Feb 19, 2006.

  1. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    I bought one of these at my LHS on close out sale and found it runs pretty well with its old rubberband drive but when I purchsed an unpowered RDC and attempted to run it as a two unit commuter the powered unit didn't have the guts to move both cars up an easy grade. My hobby dealer said he might be able to get a repowering kit for it but didn't know too much about it. Any one done this? What's it like?
  2. Pete

    Pete Member

    Ernst offers a re-gearing kit that gets rid of the rubberbands and makes it direct-drive similar to the majority of their diesels.
    I saw one hack job where someone used an F/GP powered truck in one, but the wheelbase was wayyyy off.
    A third option is the hard-to-find PFM SPUD unit, a Self-Propelled Underfloor Drive unit that eliminates the stock drivetrain altogether and leaves the interior open for detailing. Neat little rigs, they'll run on their own on the track, but are expensive ($40+) when you can find them.
  3. shortliner

    shortliner Member

    Yup - bin there, done that. I rebuilt one with a SPUD and it runs fine. I wrote an article about it for Model Trains International magazine, complete with diagrams. The bit that was fun was cutting away the chassis to make room to fit the SPUD - that stuff is HARD!
    SPUDs are available here in UK from Branchlines in Exeter for GBP28.50+P&P. No connection apart from a satisfied customer(service was superb!). contact me direct if you need info on the conversion chacmool at lineone dot net
  4. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    bowser makes a can motor drive for repowereing interurban cars that might work on a rdc.
  5. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Thanks guys! I think my dealer was talking about the Ernst kit which didn't sound too difficult to work with. I'll check with him this week. Thanks for the other options as well. I've found some photos of two RDCs running off-peak passenger operations during Penn Central's time and wanted to add this small but neat looking train to my scheme.
    Makes a good static display on a siding right now! :)
  6. Ray Marinaccio

    Ray Marinaccio Active Member

    Hi Ralph.
    I installed the Ernst kit in one of mine.
    It wasn't hard and runs nice.
    I also changed the motor and modified the drive shaft because it was the older version with the early 60s motor. Not necessary if yours has the newer motor.

    Attached Files:

  7. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Thanks for the description and pics Ray!
  8. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Great shots, Ray. I have a power/dummy set myself that I'm looking to repower.
  9. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    Ralph have been seeing the P2k RDC's going on ebay for 30$ and under :)just a thought.
  10. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Thanks Jim. I like the two Atheran units I have, currently lettered for the New Haven. I've seen photos of RDCs as late as 1974 still in NYC paint so it seems the Penn Central maybe didn't take much effort to re-letter the RDCs (?) Any way, the New Havens seem a plausible set to run on a PC layout.
    I talked to my hobby dealer today and he discovered that the Ernst units are currenlty out of stock and may take a little while to reach me. He wondered if the rubber bands on the powered unit might be ancient and offered me a new pack of rubber bands which I purchased in the mean time until the repowering kit arives. We'll see if new bands help. He mentined that "in the old days" F7s came with rubber band drives and were able to pull a string a frieght cars so my poweed RDC should have no problems pulling just one other unit.....stay tuned!
  11. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    Ralph one of the tricks that I was shown(some time back) for the hifi drives i forgot till now
    was to find rubber tubbing of the right internal diameter. and slide it over the drive rod making it larger diameter thus slowing the unit down a bit and not slipping :)
  12. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    That's a great tip Jim! I'll look into it! Thanks!
  13. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Think I'll snag that idea too, Jim:thumb: While it's true I can snap up a P2K RDC that's the right length and paint scheme, it jist ain't the same.:D No school like the old school...
  14. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    When I was on school vacation, I actually rode an RDC from Danbury, CT down to where ever it connects to the New Haven mailine on the coast. This was 1972, just before Amtrak got going. Then it was regular service along the coast line from New York to Boston. I remember the RDC being quite comfortable.

    yours in training
  15. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Well, fresh rubber bands made the difference! Both RDCs are happily zipping around the layout. I detect some slippage and like the idea of installing the tubing Jim mentioned above. I was wondering if building up a layer of masking tape around the drive rods would work as well? Obviously that might create a sticky problem if I wanted to remove it later.

    Fred, it was neat to hear from some one who has ridden in an RDC. Thanks for the story!
  16. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Another possibility would be to pick up a few pieces of heat shrink tubing in various sizes. Put the smallest size on that will fit and then shrink it with a Bic lighter. then put on the next size, and repeat and so on until the size is built up to the size you want.

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