Van Hobbies brass CNR N-5-d 2-8-0 rebuild

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by WReid, Sep 19, 2008.

  1. WReid

    WReid Member

    I hope this is the right place for this topic. Seeing as it is not a kitbashing or scratchbuilding project I decided to post here.

    Ever since I got into model railroading ( 30 years ago ) I have always been intersted in CNR steam. My dream was to eventually own a couple of HO scale brass CNR steam locomotives. Up until a few months back my other hobbies and a modest hobby budget has made it just that, a dream.

    Well a few months back the dream became a reality with the purchase of my two first brass CNR steam locomotives off ebay. Two CNR N-5-d class 2-8-0s. Both were purchased for a little more than I was hoping to get them for but still a lot cheaper than some new in the box never run ones I have seen in hobby shops.

    Once I received them I was shocked to find out the sellers description was sugar coated. Both had seen lots of running time and had never been taken care of. The paint was heavy and very poor and they were filthy. The pictures below are of the first one I have decided to work on and the one that will be the topic here. It was the one in the best shape and seemed like the logical one to start with and get back into operation first.

    The following are pictures on #1 as I received it.

    The pilot was off but was included.

    Attached Files:

  2. WReid

    WReid Member

    A few more pictures.

    Attached Files:

  3. WReid

    WReid Member

    I am not going to go into fine detail on all that was done to restore the locomotive and tender but I will touch on a lot of what was needed to be done to get it back into service. Everything from a new can motor, new gear box, frame repairs, driver replacement, drive setup, painting + decals and even a Soundtraxx Tsunami sound decoder install. For the most part a total overhaul.

    My first move was to remove the paint, oil, grease and dirt from the locomotive and tender. I first unscrewed the boiler/cab assembly from the drive and the tender shell from the tender bottom. They were then placed in a jar of lacquer thinner and let soak for an hour. Most of the paint fell off like an old skin. The rest was scrubbed of with and old toothbrush.

    The drive had everything that was screwed on was removed. I used a plastic tray with seperate compartments to store all the parts. Every part and screw was label to show where it came from so it could go back in the same spot. Everything except for the drivers, motor, gear box was given the same lacquer thinner bath. No parts that ore insulated or have plastic should go in the lacquer thinner as it will destroy the platic and insulation.

    Once clean I was happy to see that it looked a lot better with the paint and dirt gone. I was also shooked to find a few details had come unsoldered sometime in the past and had been glued on. :curse:The lacquer thinner ate the glue and I was left to fish detail parts off the bottom of the jar.

    Removing the paint from the tender showed the damage was bad but possibly repairable. The original owner liked a coal tender more and he had removed the oil bunker. The oil bunker was bent in places and was the tender top deck where it was mounted. He had mounted a coal bunker from a brass CPR engine in its place and covered over the rest of the large hole with paper and some glued down coal.

    I did not take any pictures of the paint removal process as it was a messy and stinky job.

    Seeing as the locomotive would need a usable tender I decided to start with it. After a lot of careful bending, test fitting and two evenings worth of effort I was able to piece the tender back together. The pictures below show the repaired tender. The repaired parts were test glued back together to check the fit of the parts. Once I was happy the glue was removed with acetone and the part soldered back together.

    I am actually very pleased with the results.

    Attached Files:

  4. WReid

    WReid Member

    The frame was then removed from its lacquer thinner bath and rinsed off. Once agin I found some parts had been glued. wall1 A couple of the leaf springs were at the bottom of the jar and the brass plate between the front of the frame sides that the pilot mounts to was unsoldered on one side.

    These were for the most part easy repairs. All the soldering was done with my homemade resistance solder unit. It made quick work of all the solder joints. I will post a few pictures of the soldering unit tomorrow and give a description of how it was made.

    Below are some pictures of the repaired frame. The first one shows it right after paint removal and the rest are after it was repaired.

    Attached Files:

  5. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Wow...!!! You received a dog of an engine and are turning it into a real beauty...!!! That's some VERY nice work...That nice shiny brass is enough to get the juices flowing...

    Can't wait to see further progress...:thumb:
  6. WReid

    WReid Member

    Thanks. When I received them I was not even sure I was going to be able to get them running again. Once the paint was removed things looked more hopeful.

    I will be posting more over the next few days as most of the work was done over the last couple of months. Right now the boiler/cab assembly and tender shell as well as a few other parts are ready for sandblasting to remove the last few traces of paint and the tarnish from handling the parts( Badger sandblaster with baking soda ) and then they will be getting some paint.

    The drive needs a few minor adjustments still then it will be taken apart for cleaning and painting. The tender floor is awaiting my Tsunami sound decoder and speaker to show up. I need the speaker to figure out where to drill holes in the tender floor to let the sound out.

    Wayne R
  7. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Well, judging by the fine job you've done on the tender, you should have a great looking (and running) loco when you get finished. The alterations and repairs done by the previous owner kinda make you wonder, though, why someone would treat what would have been an expensive loco in such a manner. I certainly see nothing wrong with altering any loco to suit one's requirements, but the work should be done in a manner befitting the original.
    I'm looking forward to seeing the continuation of this rebuild.

  8. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Wayne R, use a wire basket for the parts when you soak the other one. Expect to have parts glued on that one also. A friend of mine use to be a custom painter here in So Cal before he went to work as a quality control manager for Athearn. As with most really good custom painters, most of his work for customers was done on brass models. His own models were plastic with a high level of added detail. One of his biggest complaints with brass was that every single brass engine he started on had details that were victims of cold solder joints. Invariably, he would open the box and find details laying in the bottom of the box that had fallen off the model. He soldered all of the details back on the model as well as cleaning up sloppy factory solder connections on some details that did not fall off. It would appear that the previous owner of your models was afraid of soldering so he used glue to put the details back on the model. From the looks of his work, I think you were lucky that he was afraid to solder!
  9. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    It may have started out rocky, but it will be all yours when you're done. Looking forward to your work.
  10. WReid

    WReid Member

    Wayne I had wondered the same thing. With the price of brass most of all models of Canadian steam it was strange how he had modified it without a care in the world to how it looked and not even try to keep it looking like the full size version. All that was needed to have a CNR coal tender was to shop around. I know of at least two hobby shops who have a few new ones on hand.

    As for the glued parts I am glad he did not try soldering them back on. I have done lots of soldering but never on a brass locomotive and I found it to be a learning experience. I did a little practice soldering on some scrap brass first.

    Here is another picture of the tender before paint removal with the damaged oil bunker removed. It was actually just sitting on top the tender in the other pictures.

    damaged tender.jpg

    I was actually lucky that the oil bunker was not damaged any worse. It took a lot of careful work to remove the bends and get it to look as it should.

    Next I decided to inspect the drivers. The were supposed to have moderate wear and they did. After cleaning them of the old sticky oil and dirt I placed them back in the frame to do a roll test. Right away it was clear by the bouncing wiggle the frame had when rolled down a section of track something was wrong. Careful inspection soon showed the axle holes on a couple of the wheels were not centered. One was of center by 0.025". I had planned on replating the original drivers but now replacing them was the only option. So I ordered some new 63" drivers from Greenway Products.

    old and new drivers.jpg
    A couple of the new drivers beside an original one. The original ones had cast white metal center and the new ones have cast brass center. I like the brass better.:) I also believe the new drivers have either solid nickel silver tires or stainless steel tires. Either way they are not plated.

    When the new driver set arrived I was faced with a new problem. The counter weights were all the same ( small ). I was unable to get new drivers with medium and heavy counter weights that had the same side rod screw spacing from the center of the axle. The pictures below show the new drivers with modified counter weights.

    modified drivers.jpg

    I added some plastic to the counter weights on two driver sets to give me medium and heavy counter weights. I wanted to use brass sheet stock but the spokes made it to hard to get the brass sheet to lay flat and look right. Plastic was my next choice and it came out nice. Once the wheel are painted it will be hard to tell there is plastic there.

    modified drivers 2.jpg
    This photo shows the four new driver sets.

    Seeing as the original driver springs were way to stiff I decided to add some new ones. NWSL light springs were added to all four axles.
    driver springs in frame.jpg

    Here is the frame with the new modified drivers, light driver springs and the side rods in place.
    frame with new drivers and side rods..jpg

    A rolling test showed the new drivers were a big improvement. The frame now rolls very smoothly. The bouncing is gone. While installing the drivers in the frame I noticed some of the axle bearings fit loose in the frame slots. They had front to back play. I used strips of brass shim stock to correct this and made sure the axles stayed 90 degrees to the frame and the axle center spacing was the same on each side. Once I completed adding the shims further rolling test showed it rolled even better.

    I forgot to take pictures of the bearing shims but will do so when the frame is taken apart for final cleaning and painting.

    Wayne R
  11. jesso

    jesso Member

    You are doing incredible work! I am really impressed with what you are doing and I am enjoying watching your progress. It is really amazing to see how far you have come with this locomotive.
  12. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    Starting to look great. Can't wait to see the finished project!

    By the way...Does that ruler say The Torrington Company?

    I used to work there a couple of years ago at their(DUH!) Torrington plant. Before they were bought by Timken and RBC.
  13. WReid

    WReid Member

    Yep the ruler does say The Torrington Company. For some reason it is hard to find steel rulers in this small town. One day I was in the office supply store and they had five of the metal rulers on the shelf. I bought three of them.

    Wayne R
  14. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    Beautiful work so far. The ability to restore such a great model is a talent that I wish I had.
  15. sgtcarl

    sgtcarl Member

    What Glenn said!!:thumb::thumb::thumb::thumb::thumb:
  16. WReid

    WReid Member

    To be honest this is my first brass steam locomotive restoration. I have worked on plenty of plastic locomotives doing detailing and painting. Before I even started I researched what tools would be needed and read as many articles I could about brass steam locomotives. Once I had made a list of what was needed I ordered everything. After that it has just been careful work and thinking things through as I go and working slowly. I have actually found working on brass steam locomotives is not all that different than their plastic cousins. The biggest thing I found is you need proper soldering tools and to be able to solder good.

    I found having a good stock of the following items made things easier:

    -metric or standard bolts ( 1mm, 1.2mm, 1.4mm, 1.7mm and 2mm )
    -replacement driver springs
    -replacement gearbox ( NWSL 28:1 or 36:1 )
    -new can motor ( 100 times better than the open frame motor )
    -some drive couplings and drive shaft stock
    -brass sheet, brass wire, brass shim stock ( various sizes )

    For tools:

    -tools for cutting brass
    -good measuring tools ( ruler and micrometer )
    -a good screwdriver set
    -small nut drivers
    -good solderong iron or two ( I have a 40 watt and a 100 watt )
    Even better is a resistance soldering unit. They are expensive so I built me own. Cost me about $75. Works great and has the power to solder 1/4 brass.

    I also bought a puller for removing wheels off axles, a quartering jig for requartering drivers and some alignment tools to make sure the drive gear is 90 degrees to the axle when it is pressed on. Seeing as I plan to stick with steam locomotives for my motive power the last few tools will come in really handy. All were purchased from NWSL.

    I have been using lacquer thinner for paint removal but I also bought a Badger sandblaster. It is small and easy to use but messy so I use it out doors. It makes quick work of removing paint and tarnish. I do not use the sand that comes with the sandblaster. I use baking soda. It works just as well and will not harm the brass. It also gives a nice dull finish to the brass which will help the paint stick better. It also does not harm the enviroment so I either hose it off the driveway or let the rain take it away. Later I plan to build and sandblasting booth using a laundry tub so I can reuse the baking soda few times before throwing it out.

    Wayne R
  17. WReid

    WReid Member

    I managed to get some more done today. The boiler/cab assembly, smokebox front, pilot, tender shell and a couple of other small parts got sandblasted with baking soda. I did this to remove any tarnish from handling and the last traces of stubborn paint that remained. It also left a nice dull textured finish that the paint will stick well to.

    Sorry no photos of the parts right now. As of right now the blasted parts are in zip lock baggies awaiting a final dip in lacquer thinner and a wash in soap and water. They will then be ready for painting.

    I am still trying to decide if I will prime them first or just spray the black directly on the brass. I am not sure if the primer is needed as the sandblasting gives a good surface for the paint to stick to. I am going to be using Polly Scale acrylic paint. All my painting is done indoors and my paint booth does not vent outside so I avoid using solvent based paints. I have read Polly Scale sticks to brass well and some tests on some brass sheet have shown it does. I also plan on drying the parts with a hairdryer on high to help bake it on.

    As mention at the beginning of the thread I am using a new NWSL gearbox with a 36:1 gear ratio and a new NWSL can motor. Strangely the original gearbox had one side axle slot worn. So much so the gearbox would lean over against the frame from the motor torque. It also made a lot of noise.

    Installing the new gearbox means changing the axle gear on the geared driver set and requartering all the drivers sets so they match each other.

    axle with new gear.jpg
    Here is the axle with the new 36 tooth gear pressed on. Both wheels were removed in order to use a set of machined metal blocks to check to make sure the gear is 90 degrees to the axle. Any wobble will make for a noisy gearbox again.

    gear alignment.jpg
    These are the blocks used to make sure the gear is square to the axle. You can use one block while pressing the gear on the axle. I placed the gear on the block with the hole in the gear over the axle hole in the block and press the axle through the gear. For a press I used my drill press with the axle in the chuck after I made sure the table on the drill press was 90 degrees both ways to the chuck. Careful work payed off as the gear was perfect when checked with both blocks.

    This is the puller I used to remove both wheels from the geared driver set and one wheel from each of the other driver sets.

    quartering driver set.jpg
    Here the geared driver set is being quartered with my NWSL quartering jig. This tool is a must for driver quartering. Works very well and makes the job easy.

    quartered driver set.jpg
    The geared driver set is now quartered and the wheel gauge has been checked. The brass pins screwed into the crankpin holes are the pins needed to use the quartering jig. The pins go into slots on each side of the jig and give an exact 90 degree quarter to each driver set. For a smooth running steam locomotive the driver sets must all have exactly the same quartering angle.

    original motor and gearbox.jpg
    The original open frame motor and gearbox. Next posting I will post a picture of the new gearbox and motor.

    Wayne R
  18. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    I was recently referred to this site. For what you're doing, it's right up your alley!

    Nice work so far, can't wait to see the finished product.

  19. WReid

    WReid Member

    Galen Thanks for the link. I have actually visited his site a number of times. There is a great article on his site that goes into detail on how to assemble the NWSL gearbox kits. I followed the article as I did mine and it came out great.

    The article can be found here:

    Wayne R
  20. WReid

    WReid Member

    Well if finally found time to resize the rest of the pictures. Once I post what I have I will have posted just about all the work that was done over the last few months.

    motor and gearbox kit.jpg
    Here we have the motor and gearbox kit I will be using to replace the open frame motor and the worn out original gearbox.
    The motor is rated at 10,000 rpm. The gearbox is a 36:1 ratio. This combination with the scale 63" drivers should give me a scale speed somewhere around 65mph. I am not too worried about top speed but I do want the locomotive to have good smooth slow speed.

    old and new motor mounts.jpg
    This photo shows the original motor mount and the modified mount.

    modified motor mount.jpg
    I modified the motor mount to except the can motor by bending a piece of 0.010" brass sheet to match the curvature of the motor case. Next I took another peice of 0.010" brass sheet and made a U channel. It took some measuring to figure out how high to make the sides of the U channel so the curved brass sheet section would touch both sides of the U channel and the bottom of the U channel at the same time. Once everything fit the way I wanted it I soldered it together and to the original motor mount. A simple and sturdy motor mount.

    While I was resizing some more photos I found a couple of more of the repaired tender.

    repaired tender  front view.jpg
    This is the front of the tender and it shows where I had to add a small piece near the top front. When the original owner removed the oil bunker he cut the front wall off just above the raised front side sections on the tender. This left a small gap. The good and bad news was when he removed the oil bunker off the tender belonging to locomotive #2 he cut the front wall a little lower on that tender so with a little filing the piece from tender #2 was made to fit this tender. The bad news is the oil bunker for tender #2 was totally wrecked when he removed it.:cry:

    repaired tender right side.jpg
    Here is another right side view of the repaired tender. The only thing missing is a ladder at the rear of the oil bunker going from the tender deck to the top of the oil bunker. The tender has lost its shine and has started to tarnish from all the handling.

    CN 2760 Chwk Mar 15 47 Keith.jpg
    A picture of the full size #2760. The photo shows it with a coal tender. The N-5-d class were actually built with six wheel trucked vanderbilt tenders. CN swapped the vanderbilt tender for coal tenders from the S2 class Mikados. The S2 class got the new vanderbilt tenders. The coal tenders given to the N-5-ds like the one pictured above were later modified to except the oil bunkers as the N-5-d class were all converted to oil burners later in their life.

    Wayne R

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