Archive for the ‘Locomotives’ Category

Getting Them Running

I started in earnest this week to get my Digitrax DCC control system wired up and working.

I started in earnest this week to get my Digitrax DCC control system wired up and working.  I have to say that the learning curve on this stuff is as steep as Mount Everest, but I just keep telling myself that I’m taking baby steps on Mt. Everest, and that if I can master just one aspect of this each day, eventually I’ll know what I’m doing.  This week I’ve successfully wired everything together, and learned how to “address” my locomotives.  With Digital Command Control, you can run locomotives, and therefore trains, independently of each other.  Each locomotive has its own distinct “address”, and you use the throttle (right foreground) to send digitized “packets” of information which tell the locomotives what to do.  Sounds simple, doesn’t it?   🙂   I do have to say that Digitrax not only makes a great product, but their tech support is phenomenal!  I have been working with a fellow named Rich at their Tech Support Depot, and each time I e-mail him with a question, he gets back to me on the phone within 5 MINUTES!  Digitrax web site says that this support is available 24/7/365.  I hope Rich doesn’t have to work all those hours!

This is the current roster of steam locomotives on the Denver, Durango & Silverton.

This is the current roster of steam locomotives on the Denver, Durango & Silverton.  All are On30 made by Bachmann.  Six are DCC controlled, and two of those have Soundtraxx Tsunami sound decoders, so they make many of the sounds that real steam locomotives make.  Eventually I want to have all my motive power set up this way.  I still have five engines that run on DC or direct current.  I will get these converted to DCC sound, or trade them for ones that are.  DCC locomotives can be “addressed” so I have assigned my DCC engines two digit addresses.  These will correspond to the engine number painted on the cab side.  My two Moguls already have three-digit cab numbers, but those will change to two-digit when I get them outfitted with decoders.  DC locomotives can technically be run on a DCC system with address “00”, but it is not recommended.

The other addition this week has been the "Topside Creeper" ladder from Micro-Mark.

The other addition this week has been the “Topside Creeper” ladder from Micro-Mark.  It will enable me to reach the far side of that four foot wide section of the layout, which means I can tie it into the narrow end of the room, and finish work on it afterwards.  The platform on the specially designed ladder is adjustable from 44″ to 68″.  Once the Durango yard is situated, I can proceed with track laying along the low side of the room (on the left here).

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A Wooden Cab for a Shay

Banta Model Works makes great laser cut wood kits for wooden cabs for various locomotives. These are specifically designed to fit certain brands of locomotives, and I’ve always found the fit to be perfect. A wooden cab can back-date a locomotive a little bit, and gives some nice visual variety to the look of the engine.

This is another Shay that I have which will serve as the example of how these Bachmann Shay cabs look right out of the box. I’ve done one of Banta’s Porter cabs before, but the Shay cab is fussier because there are so many pipes running through the cab face. All of these have to be carefully removed, and re-threaded back through the wooden cab face before you put the roof on.

Here’s the roof-less wooden cab in place while I re-install the piping. Banta suggests making grab irons from wire, but I found I could remove the Bachmann grabs from the old cab if I did it carefully. They look a lot better than a piece of wire.

In some cases I made new pipes from wire. Most of the Bachmann pipes are plastic, and not all of them survived the removal process. The small L-shaped pipe below the whistle pull is a new one I made from wire.

I’ve always liked red-roofed cabs, so that’s what I did. The roof was the last element I added, in order to preserve cab access for as long as possible. Even the engineer and fireman were positioned in the cab before the roof was added.

Here’s a good shot of the Bachmann grab iron on the engineer’s side of the cab.

The engineer and fireman have her all fired up and ready to go. I think I’ll use this coal-fired Shay in my mining district, which will have few trees, and the other Shay, which is wood-burning will work my lumber camp area.

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Video and Sound!

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Wood Tender for a Porter

I have modified one of my Bachmann Porter locomotives with a Banta Model Works wood cab replacement, and a scratch-built wooden tender.  The Bachmann model comes with several stacks, so I have used the one that would be appropriate for a wood-burning locomotive.
In one of my magazines I had read about the idea of scratch-building On30 scale tenders for small locomotives, like the Porter, using HO scale 4-wheeled (“bobber”) caboose frames for the base.  I do volunteer work for the Minnesota Transportation Museum, and one of the things we do is go to train shows to promote the Museum and the Osceola & St. Croix Valley tourist railroad, which runs along the St. Croix River just north-east of the Minneapolis/St. Paul area where I live.  At one of the train shows, I looked around, and soon had some HO “bobbers” at bargain prices with which to work on this project.
The first step is to strip the caboose down to its bare frame and under-carraige.
I had considered using parts from a resin kit for the tender body, but the solid resin casting would not have allowed me to add a DCC decoder or speaker, if I wanted to convert this locomotive to DCC and sound. I decided to scratch-build my tender body so it could be hollow.
The original model had plastic wheels, so I changed them to metal wheels. Metal wheels which are insulated from each other will be better to facilitate the DCC/sound conversion.
The plastic cab on the Bachmann model is easy to remove. Here is the beginning of the laser-cut wooden cab.
I changed to position of the engineer’s left arm.
Wooden cab with roof installed. Pin hole is for brass whistle.
I opened up the center of the rear of the cab, so the fireman could bring the wood into the boiler. I stained the outside of the cab and used Testor’s Gloss-Coat to get a varnished wood look. The interior of the cab is painted a light green, which I have seen on many locomotives of the period.
I reconstructed the framing around my new cab opening, and added a couple of grab-irons .
The tender now has a wooden deck, and has been permenantly draw-bar connected to the locomotive.
Here, the tender box is finished and filled with wood which I made by splitting little quarter-inch slices of pine. A Kadee #5 couple has been added to the rear of the tender, and metal strapping, using my painted/dimpled plastic technique. A fireman has been added to toss the wood into the boiler firebox. See how the bobber under-frame gives an unusual, home-road look to the tender.
Overhead view of the fireman at work.
The switching pilot has been painted to look like wood, and the cylinders and smoke box have received new paint jobs.  I’ll be using locomotives like these at the Cascade Lumber Camp, The Mining Area, and in both of my yards.

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