Mystery Engine

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Bob Collins, Aug 15, 2001.

  1. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    There is a fellow here I know who is in the process of converting from HO to O gauge. Apparently he is cleaning out the closet as everything of his I've seen has been neatly packed away in original boxes, etc.

    The prices are right, so I've bought about everything he has produced... a couple of GP 18's, one with a custon Frisco paint job and the other a N&W, a Frisco F-7A and a variety of rolling stock (a dozen unopened) and this mystery engine. I know what it says on the box, I've just never heard of it before....... it is a New York Central Alco C 628, built for Model Power by PMI in Yugoslavia. Is green with black walkways and hand rails and along the engine cowling in big white letters is P & L E. The engine # is 6685.

    Does anyone have any idea what I spent my $5.00 for? By the way, it runs great! Also, where the GP 18 is about 8" long, this baby is about 10"

    Bob
  2. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Bob, You've already stated what it is, a C628 lettered for Pittsburgh and Lake Erie, aNYC subsidiary. Other than brass, the only 628 available till recently, when Stewart came out with one. I have four of the Model Power units which I bought new about 20 to 25 years ago. They cost me $3.50 from a mail order house! I never understood why they were so cheap. They have their obvious faults, the gearing is really fast, they have three pole motors (but they actually run well) the "headlight" lights the entire cab and the handrails are quite large. Also, if I recall correctly, the couplers are mounted on the trucks, with the required large opening in the pilot. Having noted all this, I really wanted C628's (not brass) so I body mounted Kadee couplers, filled in the pilot and added hoses, remotored and added flywheels in an effort to slow the thing down (while performance improved, speed did not go down noticably, the gearing is the culprit here and I deemed it beyond my ability to change it) I added quite a bit of weight and the unit pulled quite well, but I could not mu it with other locos. A year or two ago I installed a decoder in one of the units and use it now as motive power for my track cleaning train. I used an economy decoder which does not have user adjustable speed tables, I intend to replace the decoder with a higher end one so i will be able to get the unit to run the same as other locos. I will also change the handrails. With the Stewart unit available, I don't know if all this is worth while now. But for $5 versus $100, it's a great deal!

    Gary
  3. LC

    LC Member

    From what I can gather Alco built 181 C628s in late 1963, they were 2750h.p.

    LC
  4. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    Thanks to both of you for the info. I had no idea what the P & L E stood for, so that too is a revelation.

    I see what you mean about gearing or power or whatever. Each time you want to start it moving or to climb evn the slightest grade it wants to spin the wheels. I too may just put it into track cleaning when I get to that stage:) I haven't purchased a track cleaner yet, so am open to suggestions.

    I started on this model railroad idea with steam in mind. I have purchased a 2-8-0 Consolidation and a 0-6-0 switcher for that purpose. At the same time, and never for more than $5.00 a pop I have picked up six diesels, all sporting different rail names except I do have two Friscos, a GP 18 and an F-7A. All of this stuff is in wonderful condition, but hasn't been run for sometime so assume all need to be oiled and lubricated.

    Two more short pieces ( right in the hardest spot to get to, of course) and I will have laid all of the mainline. I figure that to be just slightly over 100':D

    Bob
  5. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Hey Bob!
    The C628 was part of Alco's Century series. The C stands for Century, the 6 is the number of axles, & the 28 means 2800 hp.
    I believe this engine was first produced about 1965 or 66. (I might be wrong, but not by much)
    You mentioned spinning wheels. I believe this may be that the engine doesn't have enough weight to give it traction. This was a common problem with Model Power, & AHM locos. It shouldn't be too much trouble to add some weight to the chasis.
    BTW, $5.00 is a good deal, no matter what you got!
  6. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    Thanks Charlie. All good information. The engine feels fairly heavy, but probably not for the power being generated. I'll do some testing to see what happens.

    My other "find"that cost me a whopping $1.00 was a Birney Trolley. It doesn't fit anything I am doing, but I grew up riding on these things and I sure couldn't pass it up.

    The model runs just like the real ones did, almost as much motion side to side as a head :)

    I see that the instructions and the model I bought show/have a hitch on the back to tow another car. If anyone out there in trainland happens to have the second, un-powered car, I'd like to negotiate with you :D

    I also picked up for nothing about 50 pieces of Atlas track, turnouts and crossovers. I think I'll look into building the test track I saw in either MR or RMC that looked great and very functional.

    Bob
  7. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Bob, As I recall, the unit was very light, I added weight using 1/4 ounce self adhesvive weights, a lot of them! The unit is large and has a lot of room inside. Not much room on the floor (I sawed some of the weights to fit available space there) but plenty of room on the shell, particularly under the roof. Mine haven't fallen in over 20 years. You can get the unit pretty heavy (I think it is probably the heaviest unit I own) and the wheels will still slip if you hold the unit while under power, so you needn't worry about burning the motor out if the unit stalls while going upgrade with a long train. Mine will haul 20+ cars up a 2% grade on a 30" curve, very respectable.

    Another problem with the unit which I had forgotten is the truck assemblies. The three axles are not to precise in their mounting. Only two axles are powered, with the innermost axle being unpowered on both trucks. On two of my units, if you look at the wheels while sitting on a length of track, you may see the center wheel slightly above the rail, due to the outer axles being slightly lower. If this is the case, one of your powered axles is doing virtually nothing, compounding the tractive effort problem. I disassembled the truck and filed the slot for the unpowerd axle deeper so it would no longer prevent the center axle from fully contacting the rail. this helped the adhesion, but if you do this be careful, as you can create a different problem(as I did). If you file too much, the wheelset will derail often as it has no means of staying down on the rail other than gravity. Hence, it will float up and derail on turnouts or any uneven areas of track. I considered installing a spring of some sort to exert some downward pressure, but at this point I decided a $3.50 loco was getting way too much attention and decided to just use the 2 units which did not exhibit this problem. However, if your unit has the problem with the center wheels off the rail, you really have nothing to lose in an attempt to file the slot as described, just go slowly and check often.

    I saw the trackplan you are building in a post by Shamus, it seems like quite an ambitious project if it is your first pike. Good luck!

    Gary
  8. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Bob, In regard to track cleaning cars, I first purchased the Centerline model and while the fabric on the roller got impressively dirty in use, I found the rails weren't really all that clean. So I also bought the "clean machine" form Tony's (www.ttx-dcc.com). This works really well with the exception that the fabric pad occasionally picks at turnout points and starts to shred. I should add that this is due to my early attempts at handlaying turnouts, when I hadn't realized I should taper down the ends of the points and frog. I have no problem with picking at commercial turnouts, or my more recent handlayed ones. I now clean my track with a dedicated track cleaning train, consisting of my C628 pushing the clean machine (which is a tank car dispensing fluid of your choice onto a corduroy type pad which rubs along the track) followed by the Centerline car ( a roller with handy wipe type material around it). The Centerline car serves to dry the rails as well as pick up additional grime. This works well for me, but is a rather expensive way to clean! I've heard that people use masonite blocks with 10 penny nails glued to them, which fit into holes drilled into the bottom of inexpensive boxcars and just float on the track with their own weight. Several cars like this can be run as part of your everyday trains and always provide clean track. Seems like a workable idea. Let us know what you decide to do!

    Gary
  9. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Hey Bob!
    Whenever I have something that doesn't run well, or doesn't really fit what I'm modeling, I'll use it to build a diorama. You can usually build one in a weekend, & model a wide range of themes & eras, without interfering with your layout. It beats having a bunch of junk in a drawer!
    Here's one I built a couple of years ago with some N scale "junk" I had laying around. It's built in a shadow box, & measures about 12" wide, 8" high, & 4" deep.

    Attached Files:

  10. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    Here is a pix of the Alco C 628 that I picked up for $5.00.

    Bob

    Attached Files:

  11. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    Sorry, I'm learning. Here is the pix of the Alco C 628 that I picked up for $5.00. Is at least half again as long as any of the GPs

    Bob

    Attached Files:

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