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Stumpy’s Station – “Out of the Woods” Part Two

April 4th, 2014 · No Comments

We’ll get started by building those unique wood based Skeleton Log Cars. Two lengths will be built, the 22 foot “shorty” cars and the more common 36 foot cars. All will be of the basic style using lots of wood with trucks and hardware made or iron or steel. Not only did the Car Building companies build them this way, but they supplied trucks, couplers, and assembly hardware to timber outfits to build their own cars as well.
An interesting note here is that many log cars had no brakes. When parked, the wheels had to be chocked to keep them from rolling. Those with brakes often had the brake staff and wheel removable to clear logs, or had these parts moved to the side of the car for clearance. For logging operations in the days of steam machinery, safety was often given only a passing thought! Even today, it remains a dangerous occupation.
The basic design will be the same for both 22’ and 36’ cars, only center beam dimensions will differ. The long “bunks” which actually hold the logs in place across the car will be of the same dimensions for both cars, as will the “bolsters” where trucks are mounted to the car.

You’ll need two pieces of 1/8×1/4 inch strip wood or balsa 1 ¾ inches long and a piece of 1/8×1/8” wood 1 ½” long for EACH bunk. The 1/8×1/8” will be glued between the two 1/8×1/4” pieces to form a “U” shape if seen from the end. All three pieces are 1/8” wide, but the center must be lower than the two outside ones and 1/8” shorter at each end.
The 22 foot Skeleton Car will need two bunks, and the 36 foot car will need four bunks.
The center beams for the Skeleton Log Cars will be made of three pieces of 1/8×1/4” strip wood or balsa glued together side by side standing on edge. For the 22’ car, cut these 4 3/16” long. For the 36’ car cut them 7” long. This will make a heavy center beam that will act as the car’s “frame.” You might score the edges of each board the enhance the appearance of being separate timbers.

Once the center beam glue is dry, you can add the “bolsters” which are made of two pieces of 1/8x 3/8” strip wood cut ½” long for each bolster. (Do NOT drill holes for the mounting screw yet!) The bolsters will be glued to what will be the “bottom” of the center beam. The beam is 3/8” wide, so the half inch length of the bolster will be along the beam, not across it.
In the case of trucks with couplers mounted on them (such as SHS) you’ll want to round off the end of the bolster facing the end of the car for clearance
of swing. From the end of the beam to the bolster’s rounded end will be 9/16”. Do this measuring from both ends. Only after the glue attaching bolsters to the beam has completely set will you drill a 1/16” pilot hole through the bolster and into the center beam. The hole will be in the center of the bolster (¼” from the ends and 1/8” from the sides.) The reason for drilling after gluing is to limit possible splitting of the wood of the bolster.

Once the bolsters are secure, turn the center beam over to mount the log bunks. In the case of both lengths of cars, glue the bunks 11/16” from the beam ends. This will put them over the drilled holes. The bunks should be glued on with the middle 1/8×1/8” piece against the center beam. This leaves the “open center” side up.
In the case of the longer car, you’ll be mounting two more bunks to the center beam. Each of these will be mounted 1 ½” from the end bunks. You may wish to move these two “middle” bunks to make either the look of equal spacing or make them be a bit closer to the end bunks. Some loggers added a fifth bunk, while others used only three bunks instead of four, so there is some latitude in being realistic.
Okay, the basic car is now ready for trucks and couplers, and this simple design allows for either Hi-Rail or scale mounting. Scale modelers may want to use a spacer between the bottom of the center beam and the coupler box to get correct height. The threaded portion of the truck screw can usually be up to 1/8” in diameter without causing splitting problems. Smaller screws are better. Use a small washer between the bolster and the truck. If your screws are too long, uses washers between the screw head and the under side of the truck but beware of rail clearance.
Now take the screws, trucks, (and Hi-Rail couplers) off. You’re going to do some work in the model Blacksmith Shop now to make the various hardware that is supposed to hold the car together. Fortunately, you don’t have to fire up a forge to heat iron because we’re going to use card stock! More about these details next time.
For cars like these, you may find it a good plan to build a few at the same time, almost like an assembly line way.

Stumpy Stone

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Stumpy’s Station – “Out of the Woods” Part One

March 2nd, 2014 · No Comments

One of the more neglected layout themes in S gauge is logging. Few have done extensive logging sections on their layout, or at least a portion of a large layout. This is partly because it is not a widely known theme in S, and partly because everyone equates logging with geared locomotives such as the Shay, Climax, or Heisler engines. These were available only in brass some time ago and quite expensive.
The geared locomotives were very popular in the timber industry during the steam era due to their high power to size ratio, ability to take sharp curves, and operate on poor track. They could be found from the Sierras to the mountains of West Virginia trundling long trains of Skeleton log cars or flatcars converted for timbering uses.
The vision is well known and accepted by most people as the way logging was. Without a Shay and a string of brass log cars, most folks feel that they can’t do logging on a portion of their layout, let alone develop a whole layout around such a theme. But that is just plain wrong!
There were several logging operations that used side rod locomotives to get timber out of the woods. Probably the best known of these was the Rayonier Company which used large (for short lines) 2-6-6-2 articulated locomotives and low drivered 2-8-2 Mikados. There were several other “side rod loggers,” and these used steam well into the diesel age. In fact, these side rod logging engines survived to go on to second (or third or fourth) careers on tourist railroads and in motion pictures, including lots of screen time in “Emperor of the North.”
Where distance and terrain made geared engines much too slow, side rod steam locomotives ruled! And they weren’t always big engines. Locomotives as small as the 8 ton Porter 0-4-0 tank loco found use in smaller operations. And the Porter Locomotive Company built a huge number of side rod type locos for the logging industry, many tank engines and heavy 2-6-2 and 2-8-2 tender types with very small diameter driving wheels for power and traction. Many lower budget loggers snatched up whatever used motive power they could buy from mainline railroads.
The second problem most folks run up against to portray logging is the lack of log cars, particularly the Skeleton Log cars, so named because they are a center beam with cross arms at 90 degrees to the center line. They take their name from their look of a human back bone and ribs.
Skeleton Cars were built in length as little as 22 feet long to 36 and 40 feet. The numerous Car Builders not only made complete cars, but supplied trucks, couplers, and various other parts to logging outfits who built their own cars. Generally the earlier cars were wood, and timber companies saw little reason to change when they could build as many cars as they needed from wood they already were cutting!
Another way to get log cars was for these companies to buy used mainline flatcars and convert them for their own use. There were hundreds of well worn 36 foot wood cars on logging roads all over America. In later years companies bought the sturdier steel frame 40’ flat cars.
Flat cars were often modified with Log Bunks near both ends and evenly spaced in the middle. In this way, odd shaped logs could ride without having to be loaded flat to the car’s deck. These could be removed to use the car for other purposes such as hauling various supplies, or equipment like a “Donkey Engine” (a steam powered winch on skids) so named because they replaced animals for dragging logs to the railhead.
Usually, cabooses were not used on log trains due to the lack of switching and little real need for them. However, some operators built shacks on flat cars and there were others built on a four wheel frame called “Outhouse” cabooses because of their similar appearance to that well known “facility” of the day.
In this series, we’re going to build log cars and an Outhouse caboose to depict the timber industry in S gauge. For motive power, you could use a 2-6-2 Prairie similar to the one we recently built in STUMPY’S STATION, or a Gilbert 0-8-0, a Flyonel 2-8-2 or Docksider, the SHS 2-8-0, or any of the older “hood unit” diesel switchers, to bring the timber out of the woods and to the sawmill.
You don’t even need a huge sawmill or a thousand trees. I built a 34×48 inch S gauge Mini layout with 15” radius curves several years ago that depicted a logging line in between the actual tree felling area in the woods and the sawmill. I used only a few smaller “new growth” sized trees and several tree stumps because the line would naturally pass through areas where the timber had all been cut! The few structures were small wooden ones. A Putt Trains 0-4-0 Dockside, and 2-4-4 Suburban worked the line pulling scratch built Skeleton cars.
In this series we won’t “break the bank” to bring timber “out of the woods!”

Stumpy Stone

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Stumpy’s Station – “Little Red Caboose”

February 3rd, 2014 · No Comments

I have no idea how many of their regular center cupola caboose (a.k.a. “Northeastern Style Caboose”) American Flyer made, but there have to be THOUSANDS of them! The same shell was made in different colors and road names in later years, but American Flyer Lines was by FAR most common. These cars are dirt cheap in battered condition, and not too much higher in good enough shape for bashing.
Really nice ones with lights even sell relatively inexpensively, and working “operating” cabooses with brakeman in this style are usually higher, but not out of line financially. I got two complete #930 lighted cabooses at the last Spree for ten bucks each. The vendor GAVE me a junker for parts as well! One caboose had a broken step and the other a chipped roof walk end, but the lights in both of them worked. Therefore, these are an excellent customizing project.

I started, as always, with disassembly. These two cabooses had the body mounted by pins in each corner which must carefully be pried loose and then pulled out with needle nose pliers. The body then almost falls off. Inside, there are a couple of sheets of what was probably white paper at one time, to “diffuse” the light from the single center light bulb. (Actually, the paper looks better from the outside in its aged color than new white paper, so I saved it to use again!)
The window “glass” is thin, clear plastic cards attached to the body, which most also be removed. They are glued onto the body, but age and heat has made the glue less than secure and you can carefully peal the windows off.
The brass end railings/ladders are held by two bent tabs (top and bottom) at each end of the body. Just straighten the tabs and the end parts will pull off.
Other than clean the wheels and electrical pick up tabs, the chassis was set aside to concentrate on the body.
These are fairly plain cars, so you can make a lot of visual impact with a few easy changes. I’ll start with the roof. You might have noticed that there are no roof walk platforms on opposite corners where the brakeman would climb from the ladder to the roof walk itself. I made these out of 1/8” scribed balsa sheet, which is about 1/16” thick with lines scribed 1/8” apart. This is very close to the roof walk plank spacing. I cut the pieces ¼” wide by 5/8” long with the planks,
running the same direction as the roof walk itself. They were then glued into position above the ladder at each end of the car.
I then decided to add roof ribs on the plain roof to give it some texture. These were made out of strips of card stock a little less than 1/8” wide and 13/16” long. They were spaced from each the end of the roof 9/16” apart toward the cupola.
Something I debated, but didn’t do, was lay ¾” wide masking tape on the roof to give the texture of roll roofing.
The last roof top modification was the steel pin stack. This needs a top on it to stop rain from going right down the stack and put out the fire in the conductor’s stove! I used a small piece of brass tubing to create a “T” top for the stack. Small diameter plastic tubing will work too.
On the sides of the car, I made window shades out of 1/8×1/8” strip wood, filed to a triangular cross section and glued above each window. On the cupola, I used a single shade for both side windows. There were no shades for end windows.
Setting these modifications aside, I moved to the stamped end railings/ladder parts. These appeared to be stamped brass, and might have looked really good polished up, but I fought the urge to do that. Unlike very expensive locomotives or flashy passenger cars, cabooses were often rated as barely above freight cars by the railroads. In the era when cabooses were assigned to crews permanently, the men sometimes dressed up “their” cars though.

I decided to match the ends to the rest of the car and paint the railings and ladders a more realistic “Safety Yellow.” The brake wheels were left black, and since the curved area of the railing next the brake wheels are actually supposed to be chains, I painted this area black too. This area could be cut out and scale chain placed where it is supposed to be.
The platform and roof tabs on these parts were painted black as well to match my color scheme for the car.
On this one, I decided that my version of a Baltimore and Ohio red car with black roof and platforms would be nice. No, not all of B&O cabooses wore this paint job, but it was very common in the forties and fifties. Handrails on these cabooses were “Safety Yellow” making for a colorful, yet traditional looking “Little Red Caboose.”
The finished paint job was decaled and then given a coat of Testors “Gloss” before re-assembly. The car looks like it is fresh from a shop rebuild (which it is!)
Compared to the original Flyer 930 caboose, the differences are striking!

Stumpy Stone

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Stumpy’s Station – “Prairie Dog” Part Five

December 31st, 2013 · No Comments

Well, our project is into the later stages now. It’s time to paint the loco and tender shells. Obviously, the basic color will be black as was traditional from the late 1880’s onward, except for special passenger train and streamlined locomotives. This trend was started by Vanderbilt on the New York Central to cut cleaning costs required by the earlier, fancier locomotives.
The cab roof and tender deck (behind the coal bunker) was painted Pennsylvania Tuscan red. Actually, The Pennsy did this for rust prevention when putting locomotives into storage. They just left the Tuscan alone when the loco went back into service. Other roads started using it as an appearance thing.

The smokebox was painted gray to give a dull graphite look. Paint burned off areas where the boiler was not covered with insulation and jacketing; the smokebox and firebox. Therefore spreading graphite on these areas protected them. Depending upon how the graphite was mixed, applied, and how long the engine had been in the weather, the graphite could range from a nice silver to gray to a dirty white color, this last being either engines long stored or neglected. Many roads also mixed carbon black with graphite to make the boiler a uniform black color.
The running board edges and lead truck rims were painted white to match the “wide white wall” driver tires. White driver tires were a maintenance habit to help crews spot cracks in the tires.
To “back date” the loco, the railings along the sides of the boiler, the lens ring around the headlight lens, and the number plate in the center of the smokebox front were painted “brass” color. The headlight itself is black, mostly to make it show up against the gray.
After all painting was done, and the locomotive’s number decaled onto the tender sides, everything got a coat of Testors “Gloss” to protect paint and decals. It was then set aside overnight to fully dry.
The next day, the locomotive was reassembled and photographed.
This was the first time I saw the two wheel lead truck on the assembled engine, and I had feared that the spacing between cylinders and front driver would look ridiculous. But comparing photos of real 2-6-2 Prairie Locomotives and the “Prairie Dog,” I think it looks passable, and makes the typical Pacific look a bit different.

But then a problem cropped up. The two wheel lead truck worked fine in testing, but when I started to run it on my portable layout at Christmas, it began derailing! After close observation, I noticed that the truck was lifting off the rails on a switch, slid over to one side, and turned all the way around! This cannot easily happen with the full four wheel lead truck, but is a hazard I hadn’t foreseen with the two wheel “half truck.” Inspection of the switch produced no problem with it.
After careful consideration I decided to limit the side to side travel of the “half truck.” Now that this is no longer a four wheel truck, the pivot point doesn’t have to slide sideways nearly as far! Limiting sideways movement was accomplished by drilling out the rivet that holds the truck to it’s stamped metal “valve gear” frame and replacing it with a small bolt and nut. Since I started with a bit longer bolt than was necessary, I added washers until I got just the correct up and down movement. These washers must go “above” the metal frame so that the nut won’t be below the rail heads to clear switches and crossings.
Next I added a large diameter washer to limit side to side travel on the slide by the washer bumping into the screw posts. This would limit the truck swing to almost a pure “pivot point” as normal for two wheel lead trucks on most model locomotives. While I was modifying the truck pivot, I added a 1/2×1/2” square of 1/16” thick sheet lead weight to the truck just to “hedge my bet.” The whole process took about twenty minutes of trial and error to sort out the modification, less glue drying of the weight.
This worked out fine and ran through Christmas without problem. My nearly four year old grandnephew was down to visit several times and the “Prairie Dog” fascinated him with choo-choo and smoke. Even his six year old sister watched the train go round and round! Well, at least until the wife called a halt to the fun when the smoke alarm went off!
And so, that brings the “Prairie Dog” project to a close. Next time, we’ll look into a bit of customizing the common Flyer “Northeastern” caboose.

Stumpy Stone

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Stumpy’s Station – “Prairie Dog” Part Four

December 3rd, 2013 · No Comments

Older locos had taller stacks because boiler diameters were generally smaller and there was the need to raise the smoke above the cab. Later locomotives had larger diameter boilers to increase power, so to fit the clearances of tunnels and low bridges, the stack got shorter.
To raise the stack, we’ll use a piece of plastic tubing to match the outside diameter of the original smoke stack, just a tad smaller than 1/2inch. (You can always file the diameter the small amount to match the original stack diameter.) We’re adding just 1/8” to the stack, so you’ll be carefully cutting a “ring” from the plastic tubing. Glue this to the top of the stack.

Another thing that was a hallmark of many old locos is a pronounced flange around the top of the stack, called a “capped stack.” This can be made in two ways; 1. Use very thin model auto pinstripe tape wrapped around the stack until a ring is easily visible (about three rounds.) 2. Get a small rubber O-ring from the home supply or auto parts store with a slightly smaller diameter than ½” and stretch this over the top edge of the stack. Mine came from the NAPA Auto Parts and is 3/8” Inside diameter and 1/16” thick. I dabbed glue on the stack extension and stretched the o-ring on. Once the glue is set, paint with a couple coats of gray primer to “seal” the work.

There is an alternative to making these “back dating” parts. Find a Casey Jones loco shell and cut off the headlight, stack, number plate, even the bell and cowcatcher for parts to graft onto the “Prairie Dog.”
The Casey Jones, like the F-9 diesel, are examples of a failing American Flyer going “on the cheap” to survive. Both are poor running and poor looking locomotives (particularly the F-9), a sad farce of the quality and semi-scale fidelity American Flyer had been known for.
The common Casey Jones can be had from parts boxes under tables at train shows, or whole, running locos and tenders can be bought for $10. to $25. Paying more is robbery. The exception is the better #21168 Southern version which had smoke and reasonably correct side and main rods. These often demand $70. to $120. depending on condition. Cutting one of the Southern Casey Jones up for parts will have lynching parties of collectors at your door.
It seems a shame to “waste” a locomotive, no matter how poor, but there is always something else you can make out of “parts.” For instance, you have a plastic tender for customizing or up dating a Franklin project.
The boiler without stack, headlight, bell, cowcatcher, boiler front, domes, and cab can be reworked with a few internal pieces made from card stock and a good coating of “rust” colored paint to be a “scrap boiler” beside an engine house, or as a flat car load.
Even the chassis can be stripped of the drivers so they can be used parts or scrap too. Keep that pilot truck for other uses too, like a track “Speeder” chassis topped by a card stock or plastic body. Again it’s scenery detail you might pay good money for that you can build yourself far cheaper.
One of the things I like to do on all my locomotives is to put an engineer at the throttle. This icon of the steam age, arm on the window, watching the track ahead, brings “life” to your locomotives.
On the Flyer Pacific, it will be necessary to remove the bar in the center of the cab window to get a figure in there. I like to use figures by “Fun n’ Games” miniatures. Their website is: http://scalefigures.com/ . I like their S scale numbers S223 or SA005 Engineers. It may be necessary to bend or cut off a leg to get them in and still clear the motor, depending on if you’re using the Flyer motor or a DC can motor.
I have used a number of the Fun n’ Games figures in three scales and they are nice. The standing figures have a pin cast into one foot so that you can mount them anywhere on the layout and they remain standing. If you don’t want to use the pin, it pulls right out with a firm tug with needle nose pliers.
You can also place a fireman on the other side of the cab by the same process. On stoker fed boilers, the fireman spent more time on his seat watching gauges, for signals on his side of the boiler, and attended to feeding the fuel and water to the boiler by use of hand controls.
On non-stoker equipped locomotives, he would spend a lot of his time hand shoveling coal into the firebox. Depending on how much steam the engineer, load, and schedule demanded, he would get little “seat time!”

Stumpy Stone

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New Erector Set Model – Falkirk Wheel

November 27th, 2013 · No Comments

I recently took a cruise to the British Isles, and one evening at dinner met a delightful fellow whose hobby was restoring Erector Sets. The next day, I ran into Rich Hooper again at an excursion to The Falkirk Wheel, which is a very interesting tourist destination in Scotland. I mentioned to Rich that a Falkirk Wheel that moved train cars instead of boats, might be a fun build. Rich has built a model from his Erector sets that certainly displays the idea behind the real thing. (I have yet to make my train car mover accessory version, maybe later!)

So tonight I get an email from Rich, announcing his Falkirk Wheel model, which is displayed in his photo album on this website. I suggest you take a look at Rich’s photo album, and in particular his photos of his Falkirk Wheel, and then you might want to Google Falkirk Wheel and take a look at this engineering marvel.

Thanks for sharing Rich!

Chuck Harrington

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Stumpy’s Station – “Prairie Dog” Part Three

November 4th, 2013 · No Comments

If you have built last year’s “Project Atlantic” you will find much of the following to be old news. We’re going to move some details around to give the locomotive a different look.
We’ll start by removing the cast metal bell from the plastic shell. These are pressed in, not glued, so you can pull them out. Work carefully so as not to damage them. A little firm prying with a screwdriver is better than the crushing grip of vice grips!
Next, we’ll remove the bell mounting bracket by carefully cutting it of with a hobby saw. File and sand the remaining area smooth to make it look like there was never a bracket there. This will destroy the bolt detail, so you’ll have to “make” replacement bolts. This step will be better done after the headlight is removed.
Next, remove the headlight lens (you can often just place a small screwdriver behind it inside the shell and pop it out) and cut the headlight and bracket off. Fill the headlight hole with a piece of plastic rod, wooden dowel, or putty, and sand smooth. For all such “body work,” use gray primer to bring out the surface to check your work. Sand/paint/sand/paint as necessary until smooth just as auto body shops do to make car body surfaces smooth.
Stand the shell up so that the boiler front is flat and use a toothpick to place small dots of white glue in place of the missing bolt heads. This takes a steady hand and patience. Start small, allow to dry completely, and build up the glue dots until they are about the same size as the original ones. Use gray primer to check the placement and size each time and also to seal the white glue.
With the shell standing on end, you may also want to place a “number plate” in the center of the boiler front. You can buy these as detail parts or make your own quite easily and cheaply. I use a common paper punch and punch-out three to five circles of cardstock (3×5” file card, available at office supply or craft stores very inexpensively.) I glue these together in a “stack” and then glue this “number plate disc” to the center of the boiler front. Paint with gray primer to “seal” the part.
Next, drill a 1/16 inch hole atop the boiler between the domes for the bell, but don’t glue it in until all painting is done.

By the way, Duco Cement from the home supply store, or Walther’s Goo from the hobby shop work well for adding such details.
To back date the engine somewhat, we’re going to mount a headlight on top of the boiler. Up until the Turn of the Century, placement of the headlight high up was in vogue because they were kerosene fueled. The need to get as much light as possible on the tracks ahead pretty much required such a high mounting.
However, with the use of electric lights, powered by a steam generator, some railroads began mounting the headlight on the upper smokebox front or in the center of the boiler. Therefore, a headlight mounted high atop the boiler gives the engine’s profile an older appearance.
Quite possibly an early 2-6-2 would have a square headlight atop the boiler. However, since we’re representing our “Prairie Dog” as it would be later on, after years of upgrades, we’ll use a cylindrical headlight.
So that we can use light from the regular headlight bulb, drill a 1/16” pilot hole in the exact center of the top of the boiler shell about a quarter inch behind the boiler front. To get this right, it is easier to measure and work from the inside of the boiler shell. In this way, you don’t drill into the thickness of the plastic of the boiler front and block some of the light off.
The actual finished light accessing hole would then be drilled to a “loose” 1/8,” and no more than 3/16” inch.
We’ll make our more modern headlight from a piece of 5/16” outside diameter plastic tubing, about the same diameter as the cut off headlight and big enough to put the original lens in. This plastic tubing should be 1/2“ long.
Drill a hole in what will be the “bottom” of the headlight tubing so that with the headlight protruding slightly in front of the boiler front, the hole lines up with the hole in the top of the boiler shell. This will allow the light to enter the headlight and be channeled through the plastic lens like a crude form of fiber optics. The inside of the headlight tubing should be white to further help the light on it’s way by reflection.
Cut a piece of flat material (plastic, wood, even cardstock) to the back of the headlight, or putty the back of the headlight tube closed. File the “bottom” of the headlight tube slightly flat and glue it into position on the top of the boiler.

When the glue is set, paint the headlight and entire smokebox with gray primer. You will insert the lens later after all painting is done.

Stumpy Stone

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Stumpy’s Station – “Prairie Dog” Part Two

October 3rd, 2013 · No Comments

We’ll start off by removing the boiler shell from the locomotive chassis and tender shell from the tender chassis. To build our “end of steam” version of the 2-6-2 Prairie, you’ll want to get a later American Flyer Pacific 2 wheel trailing truck with the outside bearing frame, or order one of these from LBR Enterprises at: lbrenterprisesllc.com
Of course, the first thing we have to do to change the AF Pacific into a Prairie is to remove one axle from the four wheel “pilot” or lead truck of the Pacific. Remove the front truck/valve crosshead assembly from the engine. This assembly generally has the truck riveted to the crosshead with a coil spring between crosshead and truck frame.
Turn this assembly over until the underside of the truck frame is “up.” Cut the truck frame about half an inch from the center spring/rivet so that you have just a two wheel lead truck assembly. While you can hand saw, I have found a Dremel tool to be far better for this. The rapid cutting motor tool will heat up this part quickly, so work in spurts or wear gloves!

The frame and wheels still attached to the crosshead is now the two wheel Prairie “lead truck” and the cut off piece goes to the scrap/parts bin.
If you had a cast lead truck frame for this, you’ll probably not need any additional weight between the coil spring and front axle. If you have the stamped steel pilot truck frame, a bit of lead weight will be required. In either case, the strength of the spring will often determine if you need weight and how much. I like to use the lead sheet available at hobby shops as it can easily be bent and cut. Tungsten is a new material that is popular in Pinewood Derby racing because of it’s heavier weight for the size, but is VERY hard to cut and work.
Now, lets go to the rear of the locomotive chassis. Since the old 1910 locomotive would probably been upgraded from it’s inside bearing trailing truck at some point, you’ll want to get an outside bearing trailing truck. You have three options; 1. Find an original American Flyer later Pacific two wheel trailing truck. 2. Get the two wheel trailing truck from LBR Enterprises. 3. Get a two wheel truck COVER from LBR to use on the original tender drawbar if you use the 4-6-2 tender. If you change tenders as I did, you’ll need option 1 or 2.
If you use the LBR two wheel truck cover, you simply attach the part over the original trailing truck. If you use the complete trailing truck option, you’ll have to remove the original truck wheels and axle by grinding off the rivet. Once this is done, the complete truck will fit right in the hump in the drawbar left open with removal of original wheels and axle.
Another option would be to remove the entire original drawbar by grinding off the rivet on the tender and making a new drawbar from wood, metal, or heavy wire. This would allow you to get the tender prototypically closer the locomotive cab too.
I have successfully used Popsicle (craft) sticks cut to length and holes drilled for a bolt and nut to attach to the tender. At the other end, an old Flyer or LBR two wheel trailing truck can then be placed in position, and if the truck casting at the pivot point is filed down, the original mounting screw can be used.

In the case of this project, I had the make a slightly different wood drawbar by doubling the Popsicle sticks at a point where the drawbar went over the trailing truck. I then filed the portion of the “lower” stick away over the trailing truck. The drawbar now had a “hump” in it for clearance.
This will also work with changing to a Franklin style or other tender because you have to make a new drawbar anyway and allow the engine trailing truck to pivot separately. Changing tenders makes an instant visual change to the appearance of any locomotive, particularly the more common Flyer ones everyone is so used to seeing.
On my locomotive, I decided to use an old Marx 3/16 size tender. This required that I come up with a new floor for the tender shell to mount S gauge trucks and couplers.
There are two options for this. 1. An AF tender floor cut down, or 2. Make your own new tender floor.
An old Flyer tender floor was too long, so I cut equal lengths from both ends until the floor fit under the Marx tender. Holes for mounting screws were the only other modifications.
On an earlier project where the tender floor was badly rusted, I made my own floor out of sheet balsa and strip wood and used American Models trucks and with their electrical pick ups. I only needed a coupler on the rear truck of course.

Stumpy Stone

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Stumpy’s Station – “Prairie Dog” Part One

September 1st, 2013 · No Comments

With this, we begin another multiple part locomotive kit bashing project of a comparatively common American Flyer steam engine, the plastic boiler shelled (#282 etc.) Pacific. You can find these in junk boxes almost as easily as the plastic boiler Atlantic. Even one purchased complete and running off a vendor’s table can be had for between $50. and $70. Any higher price than that takes it beyond “bash quality.”
If your engine doesn’t come with the later, common plastic tender, get one of those too, or a Franklin tender, or a Marx tender.
In this series I will turn the common plastic Pacific, which pretty much represents a “modern” engine built in the twenties and thirties, to a Turn of the Century locomotive not commonly seen. This was the 2-6-2 Prairie.

Let’s start with some history: By 1890, the railroad car builders had begun using a lot of steel because this stronger metal was able to support longer cars and heavier loads than the wood which had been used until then. This led to the cars themselves also being heavier. Increased traffic required longer trains.
The engines mostly in use at this time were the 4-4-0 American, 2-6-0 Mogul, and 2-8-0 Consolidation wheel arrangements with the fireboxes between the driving wheels. (Unlike most people’s guess, the 2-8-0 Consolidation, not the 4-4-0 was the most produced locomotive in history.) To pull the increased weight and length of trains, boiler and firebox size had to be expanded. For this reason, locomotive builders and the railroads themselves began considering the placement of a larger firebox behind the rear drivers and as wide as the clearances allowed. To carry the addition weight, a “trailing truck” would have to be used.
On the earliest of these experiments this “trailing truck” did not move laterally and increased the wheelbase of the locomotive. By making the rear truck “swing” the locomotive could operate more reliably through tighter curves such as those found in rail yards or on branch lines.
With the firebox moved back, the boiler size could also be lengthened. This provided longer flue length, hence more water evaporated into steam, and the added weight created more traction. In the first experiments the 4-4-0 American became a 4-4-2 Atlantic, and the 2-6-0 Mogul became a 2-6-2 Prairie.
The 2-6-2 Prairie was built as both passenger and freight type engines, the size of the drivers being the deciding factor. The Prairie was also the first engine to be seen by many roads as a “Dual Purpose” locomotive when equipped with “medium size” drivers, being used for passenger locals and fast freight service interchangeably. As they were demoted to low grade service in later years this trend continued, and on some small roads was expanded. The 2-6-2 also became the “big power” on many logging, mining, and industrial railways.
Unfortunately, in this era of “cut and try” technology, many of these early 4-4-2 Atlantic and 2-6-2 Prairie engines had stability and balance problems. The railroads themselves made running changes, and this led to a second generation of wide firebox/trailing truck locomotives.
By proving the concept, the Atlantics and Prairies were soon relegated to secondary service or sold off to smaller railroads to make room on the roster for the 4-6-2 Pacific and 2-8-2 Mikado. The last Class One railroad to use 2-6-2’s was the Nickel Plate Road, which used them as branch line power into 1957. For this reason, the lowly Prairie can be placed on your railroad right up to the end of the Steam Era.
Our “Prairie Dog” project will depict a Prairie which might have been built in about 1910, and updated over the years to run until the end of steam, probably on a Class Two or “Shortline” railroad.
There will be changes to the lead and trailing trucks on the locomotive chassis, and the tender. Most of the customizing will take place on the plastic boiler shell to backdate it to that early 20th Century look. I’ll use weathering to age the older style engine to look as it might when it was last operated in about 1957.
To speed up the whole process, I’ll forgo the information on purchasing, cleaning, inspecting, and repairing the locomotive. This can be found in the “Project Atlantic” series here on the My Flyer Trains website, Stumpy’s Station section. More information can be found in depth in the “Guide to Kit bashing American Flyer Steam Locomotives,” also here on My Flyer Trains.

Stumpy Stone

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Stumpy’s Station – “The Junkyard” Part Five

August 2nd, 2013 · No Comments

We have the cars, we have spare parts to place, we know what a small yard was like from the earlier parts of this series, but how do we make our own scene?
First of all, how big an area do you have, or need? The junkyard that I built about ten years ago in O scale for the modular club could have been 8×21,” in other words, almost a whole module except for track area. In that much space, even in O scale, I could have built a sizable yard!
As it was, I chose to do a small yard, just enough to give a flavor of such an operation, not a full scale representation. I used a piece of thin wood veneer as a base and made it 6×12” which allowed a two stall garage, a gate shack, and room for just a few cars.
In S scale you could go a bit smaller. Or of course any size, if you really enjoy this project and have built a dozen or more cars. Perhaps build a large yard with all kinds of salvage besides automobiles, and run a siding into it equipped with a magnetic crane.
A small junkyard could have about six junkers spread around with spaces between a couple of them as if a car or two had been stripped out completely and cut up.
Almost all of the old yards I’ve been in used corrugated metal sheeting for the perimeter fence with wooden posts and stringers. Making the wood part could be done with scale lumber, but being basically cheap, I bought a whole pack of kabob sticks for under two bucks at the grocery store.
Scale corrugated metal panels are available and expensive, but I stumbled onto a “Corrugating Tool” in the Scrap Booking area of a local craft store. Using common card stock (3×5” file cards, also from the craft store) I “rolled” my own corrugated metal fencing. I cut the cardstock to 8 scale feet high and sent it through the tool. This was laid on the work table and the kabob sticks cut to 6 scale foot lengths and glued on as posts. These posts go from the “ground” to a point below the top of the fencing. Other kabob sticks go between these horizontally as stringers. Actually, the stringers are much heavier than they should be in S scale, so perhaps scale lumber would work better for them.
I made enough fence to surround the yard and decided to do my garage the same way. It had no windows or doors, the “front” was open so you could see the structure and vehicle and junk inside.
All timber on the fence and in the building was painted with a dark wood stain I had left over from a furniture project, and then the corrugated sheeting was painted with gray primer. After the primer had dried, I dry brushed rust streaks down it and in some places did a “wash” of rust color over the whole surface. As with all weathering, less is more, it is very easy to overdo! After this weathering, the fence was glued in place and the garage was assembled and placed.
For the gate shack, I used a small shed kit and painted and weathered it well. The gate itself was built similarly to the corrugated fence and glued in the open position.
I spread some light gray ballast at the entrance to the yard, inside and in front of the garage building. The rest of the yard was painted tan to represent dry dirt. Around the fence (on both sides) I dabbed green paint. Once I decided which junk cars would go where, the most stripped ones had green dabbed where they would go, under the “active” cars were left “dirt.”
I next placed the junk cars and glued ground foam weeds in the green areas along the fence and around the older, more stripped cars. Fenders and doors, tires and wheels and bits of painted aluminum foil “sheet metal” bits were then randomly placed to create debris. A stack of tires was put near the garage as was an engine. Placing “clutter” can be an art form.
I did not glue my “Pole Truck” in place so that I could move it from time to time. I made it from a die cast Model AA stake bed truck with the bed cut off and the tripod made of Plastruct plastic “pipe.” This also was “dented” and had lots of rust spots and grime on it.
If you add people, you’ll have to do some painting on available figures, but this will be adding smudges of oil, or dirt. Customers would be common male figures in t-shirt nad blue jeans. You might want to paint bib overalls on a couple of them to represent “Pa” and his helper. “Ma” could be out of sight inside the gate shack, counting money.
For many of you a few junk cars behind a gas station would be enough, while I know of at least one S gauger who turned such a project into a large operation loading scrap onto gondola cars with a crane!
Turning toy cars like “Hot Wheels” into realistic ones, or creating junk cars can be addictive once you get into it, especially if you like cars to begin with. Adding such a “sub-hobby” to trains can be lots of fun!

Stumpy Stone

Next month we start another locomotive project!

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