HOn3 locomotive shops

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Model Railroading' started by Bill Nelson, Dec 16, 2009.

  1. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    MDC shays

    I was very much saddened to see the kits disappear. I have 5 Ho standard gauge shays, #15 a PFM 25 ton Hillcrest shay, which has been rebuilt with a gear reduction motor and improbed electrical pick up, A PFM B2 Shay that has been rebuilt with a NWSL regear kit to reduce it's maximum sped down to a prototypical 12 mph, a PFM Cherry River 3 truck shay, also with the NWSL regear kit and I also have two heavily modified MDC 2 truck shays.

    In the logging mining and industrial section there is a thread on MDC shay, and I say my piece on them there, but let me say here that, while they need more maintenance than my PFM Shays do, My #8, a MDC Shay with a honking big gear reduction motor, a NWSL partial re gear kit, a NWSL bull gear, a Walker conversion boiler, and a modified electrical pick up runs as slow and smooth as my tiny 25 ton unit, and can pull the walls down.

    Dr Tom Grabinstien (DR G over in the logging section) has the misfortune of having operated my RR more than anyone but me, and when he is allowed to select a locomotive he picks #8 more than any of the many other logging locomotives I have collected and modified in the last 42 years.


    here is a link to a video of #8 in action on Iron Mountain. In the video there are some glitches , and a whirring noise; These are from the cheap camera, the locomotive, when it is tuned correctly, is extremely smooth and quieter than most of my other shays.

    # 7 is very similar, except it has a cannon copier motor in it instead of the massive gear reduction motor, It runs a smoothly (when it is tuned correctly) as #8, but is a little faster.

    there are lots of tricks needed to make these critters run well, but once one is built right they are very satisfying locomomotives. Had I known they were being discontinued I'd have bought two 3 truck kits (to kitbash into a four trucker), and another two two truckers, with the intention of putting my brass on the shelf. The old MDC was very good about keeping parts available. I doubt that Horizon (who purchased MDC), will continue that tradition.

    The Hon3 versions of the MDC shay are humongous locomotives, basically standard gauge machines on narrow gauge trucks, and so I have not been interested in them.

    Bill Nelson
  2. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    SML action @ Gegokayppsa.jpg ore cars in service!

    I got six of those Tichy train group ore cars modified to Hon3, and in service. I have two more in the car shops, but they are going to stay there for a while, as i am out of the Blackstone HOn3 trucks, that look like they will be the new HON3 standard.

    I have some old brass trucks, but they don't roll well, and with the steep grade, I want to keep rolling resistance to a minimum.

    with the six State line ore cars, and the four M & N G Tweetsie style ore cars, I have ten ore cars @ home (I have some at the club too), that is about half the minimum number needed, and about a third of the ideal number, so I have a lot of work to do. I'd like to have this many ore cars at the ore transfer, and some more in a train going up or down the mountain.

    Bill Nelson
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2014
  3. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    SML A-1 0=6=0T cb dtl.jpg SML A_1 l &P C.jpg SML 0=6=0t.jpg SML A-1 0=6=0T cb dtl.jpg impulse purchase

    The year has just started, and I went and blew a large portion of this years train budget on an impulse purchase. I occasionally go to Caboose Hobbies, and troll thier website's listings for HON3 locomotives.

    Usually this is a boring exercise, yielding mainly D & R G Mikados, which are huge locomotives, much to large for my taste, some C-16s, (nice locomotives, but I have one, and some FED 2-6=0s and the occasional Fed 4-4-0 ( I have one of each) seldom does much else show up, but last week they had a Precision scale 0-6-0T, and little HON3 locomotives are rare, and I had always liked this design, so I bought it first and thought later.

    The good news is this is an extraordinarily well detailed model, with full cab interior. It has a good can motor, which fills the entire boiler, and is comletely hidden this design allows a motor almost twice the size you could use on a normal set up, and still hide.

    Precision scale goes to stupid extremes with authenticity, and while I can appreciate that on the intellectual level, I find this locomotive equipped with link and pin couplers, and no provision made to easily substitute KDs. I like the approach that PFM used to take with thier logging locomotive. they had a slot built in for a KD, and a casting with the link and pin receptacle that came screwed in place, so you had the option of unscrewing the 100% correct coupler pocket and easily installing a KD. this one will take some serious filing, and there will be no returning it to stock.

    The locomotive runs ok, with a slight bind, where a crank pin on the lead wheel contacts the back of the cross head once per revolution. On a lesser locomotive one would just bend the cross head holder out, but this locomotive is too finely detailed to make that a good option. instead I have taken some very fine sandpaper, worked it between the crank pin and cross head; moved the mechanism to the tight spot, and worked the sand paper to try to thin the back side of the cross head and round it's corners to reduce or eliminate the bind. I'm making progress toward that.

    One difficulty is with the motor in the boiler, one can not run the mechanism with the superstructure off, and there are lots of pipes and other details to sort out when assembling and disassembling the locomotive If and when I get couplers on it it will be even trickier.

    I remember looking at the castings that Kemtron used to make for this locomotive in the catalogs when I was a kid, and I promised myself I'd have one. this is a lot finer than the kemtron kits built up to. I think I may have enough locomotives now.

    Bill Nelson
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2014
  4. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    SML A-1 coupler isssues #3.jpg it gets worse!

    I got my KD Hon3 coupler height gauge out, which has a neat feature. the back side of the fixture has a piece that sticks out that show just how high end beam of a car needs to be to stick a coupler on it, or if there is a cast coupler pocket, how much you need to shim or file to get the car body just right.

    Using that function of that tool I found out that the frame on this locomotive is low enough to prevent proper placement of a KD coupler.

    so putting KD's on these will require frame modification. GRRRR

    another option is to cut down and modify some dummy coupler, or a KD (harder) into something that can be fitted into the link and pin socket with a pin.

    Right now I'm leaning toward leaving the link and pin in the rear alone, , cutting the frame in the front, and saving the factory pilot beam untouched and making a new one with a KD installed. This is a switch engine, but mostly I see it pushing cuts of ore cars to the ore reload, or cuts of log cars to the log reload in Ridgemont.

    In the background is my Bachman 2-truck Climax, also in the Shops. It runs again, after a bout a year of fiddling, as many new parts as were available from Bachman, and some other parts scrounged from some of DR Tom's old dead Bachman Shays. This locomotive runs beautifully again, but it's transmission is so delicate, it won't get much work, and what it does will be light, probably 2 car trains from Terrapin to the Gizzard on my standard gauge.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2014
  5. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    You are aware that NWSL is working on a regear kit for the Bachmann Climax.

    That is a beautiful switcher - too bad about the couplers.
  6. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    I jumped on this one too fast without research or even thinking hard.

    Precision scale takes no prisoners in making the scale locomotive. Other importers might have fudged the dimensions some, or made the whole locomotive 15% oversize to get working couplers.

    The electrical pickups of the insulated wheels are plunger types, and completely hidden. The one on the front insulated wheel doesn't work real well, and there is no room for one on the rear insulated wheel, so as soon as I can get a work around the minor bind I still have I will need to build better electrical pick up. that is not surprising , as most brass needs similar treatment, especially older locomotives.

    I have the wheels and rods moving smoothly when the gear tower is removed. When the gear tower is installed there is a bind approximately every three wheel revolutions. This indicates it is probably in the gear tower, or between the gear tower and the axle gear. sometimes if a gear or two is slightly out of round, or the center is off, they will run for a while without a bind until the two high spots end up engaging each other.

    I have fixed similar problems by shimming the gear tower enough to give the gears a little more clearance, or even taking a round file to the cover plate, allowing the axle to move downward to get past the tight spot.

    I'm going to work on the bind first, If I get it gone, then I will try to plan better electrical wipers, even if they show, and or necessitate covering up or removing some details. Lastly, if and when the locomotive runs well, I will consider butchering the fuel bunker and pilot . It is possible that some parts are available, or I could scratchbuild slightly different parts, that would allow couplers, and save the originals in the locomotive's box, so it could be unconverted later should a subsequent owner disaprove of my modifications.

    It will not be the first time I have hacked up brass locomotives. My standard gauge #21 , a 2-4-4-2 came with a cowcatcher, which was cut off an replaced with homemade freight pilot with a working coupler #22, another 2-4-4-2 had cowcatchers removed from both ends, and my NWSL Sierra RR #18 lost a cowcatcher in favor of a functional freight pilot, and a steel cab in favor of a wood one.

    The main thing will be to be sure that the locomotive runs well enough to use before chopping it up.

    Bill Nelson
  7. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    Bachman Climax problens and souloutions

    The last time I talked to the NWSL folks about the Bman Climax, they said they had made the little bevel gears, but they had not made them available yet, as they did not have a solution for the tiny short universal that is another common problem. In my estimation Bachman erred toward scale size appearance with these parts, and could have/ should have cheated some, and beefed the parts up, and possibly made some compromises under the locomotive to lengthen that front universal some, and used a single shaft with worms to drive the axles. If the front universal was longer, there would be room to cheat, and put a cardigan shaft in in place of the universal. I'd rather have a good looking stout locomotive, than a perfect looking locomotive whose drive train is weaker than it's pulling power.

    My Climax did fine in light duty. Untill the day I decided to see how many cars it could push up the Gizzard's 8.5% grade, and the locomotive broke it's drive train in several places before it got to full slip. That's poor engineering. Bachman now sells a 3 truck Climax with DCC and sound. I want one for the club with a passion, but don't want to spend that kind of money on a locomotive that is likely to explode it's drove train. Bachman has some parts available, but mine blew some parts that are not. I used some Parts from Tom's dead shays to cobble something together.

    My 2 truck Bman Climax is a beautiful model, and a sore disappointment. Tom has two, and I have one; and all three died after just a few years in our possession. I killed mine trying something that would not hurt any of my other locomotives, both of Tom's broke in storage, after he tore up his RR.

    My recomendation, if you want a climax, save up a boat load of money, and wait forever until you can find a PFM/United unit . Mine has been in service for 15 years, with no repairs needed, pushing trains half again the size of the one that broke the Bman Climax.

    Bill Nelson
  8. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    SMLA-1 0-6-0T  elect #1.jpg let the desicration begin

    Naturally I could not find my motherload of blank PCB material, which is getting harder and harder to find, both in my workshop, and at stores, but I did find a PCB tie in my track work supplies box, and that will do.

    I cut a small square, thinned the epoxy backing with a file, and glued it in place on the insulated side fo the frame between the center and rear driver. Next time I work on it I"ll solder a fine insulated wire and a thin phosphor bronze wire that will span between the rear two wheels, touching the treads on the top, to make an electrical pick up. I also have a rectangular piece cut that will fit behind the cylinder sadle and the spring detail on the front driver. there isn't much room to work in there, so I'll solder the phosphor bronze wire and the electrical wire onto that piece of PCB board before I glue it in place. It will make a pick up for the front driver.

    Right now the center insulated driver has excellent electrical pick up, the front driver has mediocre pick up, and the rear driver has none, and this averages out to ***poor electrical pick up on the insulated side. These modifications ought to get me up to good electrical pick up on all three insulated drivers, and that is vital for good performance, especially for these tiny HOn3 critters.

    I will try to document each step of the process, as improved electrical pick up is the 1st thing most mechanisms need.

    Bill Nelson
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2014
  9. gbwdude

    gbwdude Member

    I'm going to need to do the same thing with my #12, the Athearn 0-4-2T. I may have to work something out too where the trailing truck conducts electricity so it'll have less of a chance of stalling on a turnout or a crossing. The thing that I wish I could correct on the mechanism on that beast is the drivers, it has brass wheels and it seems like everytime I do run it I have to clean it. In order for me to replace the drivers I'd have to find a way to make the axles big. [​IMG]
    As in the picture, the axles are HUGE and would be hard to replace. NWSL has nothing, but I did email them to see if their 0-6-0 kit will work with the 0-4-2T.

  10. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    Brass drivers

    Micro Mark sells a home electro plating kit and solutions for plating in copper and nickel silver. It might work for fixing brass tires, and worn nickel silver plating on tires on well used brass. I can show you how to get the pick up off the trailing truck, the main trick is having wires that are flexible enough.

    I like the look of the little Monster. I have a similar project for the club, an ancient Mantua 2-6-2 that Dave got at a yard sale for $5.00. and handed over to me to see if it could be salvaged . Mantua made these things in two grades, one with valve gear, ad one without. This one has the valve gear, and by carving off some of the cast detail, and replacing it with separate patrs it will make a semi respectable logging locomotive; that no one will be able to recognize humble origins of . The the biggest problem will be replacing the hugely inefficient open frame motor of the lost ark with something more modern , which will be necessary to do the DCC thing.

  11. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    Looking at that exploded diagram made me wonder weather that locomotive started out as a rubber band drive, and was later altered to gearing, I can think of no other reason for the humorously fat axles

    Bill Nelson
  12. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    SML elcpk up #1.jpg SML elcpk up #2.jpg SML elcpk up #3.jpg electrical pick up progress

    I got some electrical pick up on the little 0-6-0T . Need to add wires to hook them in to the insulated motor pick up, and then test them.

    The size of the phosphor bronze wire is critical the smaller stuff is springier, bu tmakes less contact the heavier stuff carries more current, but is less springy, and thus causes more drag.

    Micro mark carries phosphor bronze wire, and I bought some of each size , this phosphor bronze wire is leftover from a Tichy Train group car kit where it was provided to make brake trainlines that I neglected to put on.

    in the top photo the PCB pad has been tinned with solder, after testing with a multimeter to insure it was still insulated from the frame, a piece of phosphor bronze is soldered to the pad. to get some tension I partly unscrew the cover plate so the driver wheel sets can drop down some. then I solder the phosphor bronze wire on flush with the top of the wheel sets, so when the cover plate screws are tightened I puts some tension on the electrical pick ups.

    If they end up being too tight, causing stiffness in the mechanism I can loesten the cover plate screws slightly, or replace the wipers with smaller stock that will be springier.

    In the bottom photo you can see the set up for the wiper for the front axle, and one of the Lassa Appso hairs that are every where in this establishment.

    Next I will add the needed wiring to hook these up, and study some of the piping under the boiler, some of that detail night interfere with the pick ups, and if it does I'm cutting it off I love detail, but I won't let it interfere with operation

    Bill Nelson
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2014
  13. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    SMLA-1 wres.jpg Adding wires

    I am Adding wires. while adding wires I may have found my illusive bind. it was binding once every 4-15 revolutions in either direction, but the bind was a little worse in reverse.

    While tucking a wire out of the way, I noticed that the main rod on the fireman's side was not perpendicular to the ground the top edge was kicked outward. the amount varied, and when it was at it's farthest out, it would bind on the crankpin at TDC (top dead center).

    A little tweaking of the guide rod for the cross head got the main rod closer to vertical, and I haven't felt the bind working the wheels through about thirty rotations both directions turning the gears with my thumb to gauge for any resistance.

    Bill nelson
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2014
  14. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    back to the drawingboard

    after hooking all the wires up. I was ready to assemble the locomotive. I had a rare good thought, and tested the locomotive with a multimeter before proceeding , and once everything was hooked up I have a dead short. time to strip it all off, and start again.

    Bill Nelson
  15. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    SML A_1 found parts.jpg Not a total loss

    The short was apparently caused by the stiff wire I used. It put pressure on the insulated contact point between the boiler/motor, and the frame, which has some float; causing a short either there , or upstream in the stock insulated electrical pick up circuit.

    Looking for some smaller more flexible wire, I found a stash of locomotive details that may come in handy, including some Rio Grande Models deer antlers, that this locomotive desperately needs, a number plate for the firebox door with a #2 on it, which will be much more appropriate for either of my 3 foot lines than the 102, that this one carries now; and several link and pin coupler pockets some of which have dummy couplers mounted in them that fit very well with HON3 KDs I may be able to swap the dummy couplers right into the sockets on the locomotive, and not have to alter anything, Or I can easily put a dummy on the rear, and build a new front pilot with a KD, if I decide that it is worth the trouble.

    The number plate has been chemically blacked. a couple passes with an emery board, and the #2 with a raised circle around it will stand out in brass.

    Bill Nelson
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2014
  16. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    SML A-1  cplrs.jpg coupler problem solved

    I went with the dummy couplers that are outfitted for link and pin couplers. these are scale size for Ho, and couple nicely with the KD # 14's that are slightly oversize for HON3
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2014
  17. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    SMLA-1 weing 2nd try.jpg SMLA-1frnt cplr.jpg Second time is the charm

    With the finer more flexible multi-strand wire, the second attempt at wiring up the pick up seems to have worked. I have excellent pick up off of all three of the insulated drivers which is a big improvement, as from the factory the rear insulated driver had no pick up, and the front insulated pick up did not work very well.

    The wheels can be turned by thumb with the gear that is driven by the worm with no sign of a bind from both directions, so unless a problem in introduced when the boiler is put back on It is almost ready for the final cosmetic work.

    a side view shows the dummy coupler solution, which works aesthetically, although coupling and un coupling will be a pain

    Bill Nelson
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2014
  18. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    SMLA-1its alive.jpg it's Alive!

    It's together and working, runs pretty well to next to run the dog out of it and see if it runs it self in without the toothpaste treatment.

    Bill Nelson
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2014
  19. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    m SML 0-6-0T w  Lg cr.jpg SMLA_! 0-6-0T n sndrs Grg bridge.jpg Getting there.

    It has made it up to the RR room for testing and is doing much better. it has an occasional very short hitch, that may be a very brief short, as I heard a sound like a spark makes once when it occured. will have to run the locomotive in a dark room to look for that ( an excellent way to hunt for momentary shorts, or interruptions in continuity- two problems that can mimic each other in DC).

    I wanted to on in onto the flimsy siding for the log reload in Ridgemont. I had thought about using it at the ore reload, but that is way off in the background, and the log reload is in the foreground. If this locomotive can handle the kinked up code 55 track , and the rough as a cob narrow gauge standard gauge crossing on the log reload track, it will be a natural to bring logs from the Georgia staging to the log relaod.

    unfortunately that rough ass siding has a dead short right now, and will require repair before I can see if this teakettle is suitable for working that siding. I'm currently working that siding with a Keystone/NWSL Shay, but it's detail is much cruder, so if the tank engine can reliably handle the bad siding, the cruder Keystone Shay could work the ore reload in the background, and all would be well.

    I did attempt to double head this locomotive with an FED 2-6-0, unfortunately this locomotive is wired bass Ackwards from akk if my other HON3 locomotives, and since the can motor is completely concealed in the water tank, it will be a bloody **** to reverse the motor's polarity, but I guess I'll have to start thinking about that, but I'm not likely to do anything about it just yet.

    Bill Nelson
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2014
  20. gbwdude

    gbwdude Member


    Good to see #2 beginning to earn you some HO scale money on your pike. I like the antlers mounted on the headlight, always a good touch. If I had that lokie the only thing I couldn't stand is the non-working couplers, I would have tried to find a way to make it work with a #58, #5 or a #714, depending what you use. Like you mentioned earlier, I'd rather have something oversized and functional than something scale sized and inoperable (or easy to fix, etc.).


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