Okay, let’s makes junkers! Plastic cars are harder to find in 1/64 scale, but are easier to disassemble and mangle. For the most part, we have to use die cast cars. Cheapest are the cars from Big Box stores or Dollar stores, which are often clones of those “Hot Wheels” or other toy cars. I try to avoid mangling the better 1/64 scale cars that are very nice and rather expensive, but occasionally that may be necessary.
The first thing you’ll want to do is play junkyard owner and strip your cars. Die cast cars are usually held together with “rivets” underneath. You can drill these out or grind them off with a Dremel tool. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and the car was assembled with screws! Take the car COMPLETELY apart, and set all the parts aside for later use. If the car has working hood or doors, remove them as well. We’ll be doing most work on the body shell and chassis.
In a real junkyard, you would find FAR more cars that have just died and been towed in, than cars that have been wrecked! We’ll start with the “dead” cars because you’ll do most of the same steps to wrecked cars too.
If the headlights and taillights are cast on, cut them off, leaving holes in the fenders. Remove any cast on bumpers. If you want to depict a car with the “front clip” missing, cut that away carefully, saving everything behind the line of the hood and fenders. If you want a door off, cut it away leaving as much of the body as possible. File all ragged edges.
Remember you want the body shell to LOOK like someone unbolted these parts! The removed parts can be kept for a scrap metal pile. Sometimes you can buy toy cars so cheap that you can buy two the same, cut them apart differently, and have hood, fenders, and doors leaning against the body in the yard. The parts you ruined in cutting them off and the body shell you ruined cutting off the “removed parts” become odd wrecked bits for the scrap metal pile.
Another good trick is to cut doors and hoods off carefully, ruining the shell. Next use layers of aluminum foil bent around the part, trim it, and you have a duplicate foil body part! Handle carefully of course. This foil “body panel” can be bent to depict wreck damage and glued onto a ruined shell, or the panel can be lying nearby. Undamaged body panels could be leaning against the wall of the garage or shed.
Most die cast cars cheap enough to mutilate don’t have an engine, but some do. If you cut away a “front clip” you can use an engine sitting there on the chassis. Just paint the engine black as if coated with oil and grime. Use a piece of paper or clothes dryer sheet painted a dull gray over the top of the engine as if it was a cover to keep rain from going into the motor. Otherwise, there can be a group of engines lined up and similarly protected by a cover beside the garage building or inside but visible to onlookers.
Most of the time you won’t need the interior of the die cast car, and some don’t even have one. Most real junkers might have a dashboard still in them, but seats are generally gone or rotten. You might have a few “later model” cars with the front seat inside just for variety. Interiors were most often a lighter or darker color than the paint job, or were black or gray.
You’ll want to “wreck” some cars too! Most people get out a propane torch and have at it. But it’s very easy to go too far with many of the cheaper die cast toys. Just what kind of crash turns a car into a blob?
To get an idea what cars really look like, start watching TV and taking notes, or better yet, hunt down old crash pictures on the Internet. Most wrecks are frontal impacts with trees, walls, or other vehicles, or roll over accidents. In the old days, Rescue crews didn’t cut roofs off, they pried or cut doors open, so you won’t want any roofless cars in your “old” yard.
Use a small torch carefully to soften the metal just enough to bend the metal with pliers. However, if you don’t want to use or don’t have a torch, “cold bending” is very effective too. The idea here is to work slowly using little force. I have done a bit of bending, then let the car sit for an hour to let the metal somewhat “stabilize,” then bend it a bit more. I repeat until the bend is enough, or the part becomes over stressed and breaks.
Breaking off a part is not the end of the line as you can glue it back on, in the “crash” position, and round the edges with a file and body putty to make it look bent.
More “wrecking” next time!
Tags: Stumpy's Station
Last time we learned what cars of the twenties through early sixties looked like as manufactured. This time, we’ll step through the gate of a small junkyard typical of the early sixties. Being a “Car Guy” of that era, I was a denizen of the junkyards of the day while looking for parts to restore old cars, build hot rods, or keep Stock Cars running. About ten years ago, I built a small O scale junk yard for a modular club I was in.
Most yards were known as “Mom & Pop” operations. They were far smaller and less business–like than today’s yards! Today’s salvage yard operators will not let you into the yard at all, but you go to a building and ask for parts like a common auto parts store. And you pay a high price for that as well.
Not so in the sixties. In fact if you wanted a part, “Pa” (often in scruffy overalls or blue jeans and dirty t-shirt, would tell you where cars were that had such parts. Sometimes he had a similarly dressed “helper” with fewer functioning brain cells. You carried your own toolbox into the yard and took the parts off yourself! Back at the gate, you’d haggle over a price with “Pa,” and then pay “Ma” at the shack at the gate. Sometimes she would even give you a receipt!
Most yards were surrounded by either a high board or corrugated steel fence with tall weeds growing along it. There was always a gate with a small building of some kind, and not far from it was a garage building, shed, or lean-to, where car stripping was done, bumpers, body parts, and tires stacked, or yard equipment was kept. This structure was generally built like a pole building using the same material as the fence, but sometimes an old barn or other permanent building had been taken over.
Usually, there was a set of cutting torches, a big work bench, and a wall with tools hanging on it. Various jacks and large wood blocks (bits of railroad ties were VERY popular) were nearby to lift and hold up cars.
Junkyard machinery was usually an old farm tractor, a pick up truck at least ten years old, and a “Pole Truck.” The “Pole Truck” (in this era was generally a WWII military surplus “six by”) truck with the bed gone and a tripod of steel pipe welded on. A winch behind the cab supplied a cable that went up over the top of the tripod and ended in a hook. It was a home built “wrecker” to drag and lift cars.
Pavement was virtually non-existent inside the gate. Often, there would be slag or gravel around the gate and building, but otherwise the grounds were just hard packed dirt.
Cars that had been there a long time and were pretty well “picked clean” had tall weeds around them and were generally solid rust in color, their paint long stripped by years exposed to sun, wind, rain, and so on. Often they were missing the hood, which was probably the first thing to go so that the engine could be more easily reached. The interiors were had long rotted away because the windows and doors were open or gone.
More “active” cars would generally be surrounded by trampled, dusty ground. They’d be missing wheels or blocked up with those wheels, concrete blocks, or old railroad ties. The hood would be ajar, up, or gone, as would doors, trunk, and windows. Headlights were prized as were taillight lenses, so the fenders had blank holes where those parts had been.
Cars were usually stripped randomly, depending on what parts were needed. Mechanical parts were the most common thing to go first, but front fenders and hoods would sometimes sell quickly as well because most auto accidents damage the front end. Sometimes the entire “front clip” would be gone; hood, fenders, bumper, and radiator support. The rest of the car would be there, with chassis and engine exposed!
Cars could be found on their sides so that chassis parts, transmissions, gas tanks, rear axles, and so on, could be more easily removed. Once in a while, there might even be one upside down! Cars stacked on top of one another was usually done in bigger yards and those cars had been well stripped before they “went on the pile.”
Glass was also a hot item. Old safety glass would turn milky or bubbles would appear between the layers of the glass as it aged. And, of course in the days before seat belts, victims would strike or go through windshields and other windows even in minor accidents. Good glass was always in demand.
Wandering a junkyard was a great lesson in automotive engineering, history, and how cars crumpled in accidents. It could be a real education while you got parts cheap.
Tags: Stumpy's Station
Way back last Fall, there was brief discussion on the S Trains Yahoo group about making junk cars out of 1/64 scale die cast cars. I gave the subject a brief overview, others added their ideas and experiences, but there is far more to the subject. While admittedly of interest to only a small group of hobbyists in S gauge, it nonetheless is an interesting subject because there are so many other things to be learned on the way to the junkyard.
For instance, before we even get ready to put up the corrugated fence and drag in junkers, there are questions to be answered and a LOT to learn about real cars in order to make the yard as authentic as possible. We’ll start with a very basic question: What year is your layout set in?
When the junkyard scene takes place, you have to have an idea of the era involved. Obviously a junkyard, or the entire layout for that matter, would not have eighties era automobiles in a fifties era scene! We don’t have to be exact here, because setting a time for your railroad can quickly involve the types of buildings you must use and even the billboards will “date” a layout. You wouldn’t have dozens of steel buildings in the early 1900’s or cigarette advertising on a modern day operation!
Nothing sets the era of your railroad better than automobiles, especially in North America! After the end of Model T Ford production, car styling changed every three years, with “facelifts” in between. Therefore your time window could be as narrow as three years! That certainly narrows down “when” your railroad is set in time.
But it need not be quite that precise. Since most “Baby Boomer” modelers like the era when steam was on the way out and diesels were becoming mainstream, let’s say that our sample time frame is the early sixties. This gives you the widest range of railroad equipment to choose from, but also gives you quite a range of automobiles too.
Your streets and roads can have several early sixties cars, and fifties cars in large numbers. Late forties cars will be fewer, and pre-WWII cars will be there, but rare. Anything older than the mid-thirties will be most unusual by then.
However, in a junkyard, there will be some twenties autos, a lot of thirties and forties cars, early fifties cars and maybe a few late fifties cars. Having anything in a small junkyard as modern as three years old was rare then because specialist salvage operators grabbed them.
Cars built in the twenties and thirties will generally be one color, almost always a dark one. Black, Maroon, or dark blue, green, or brown were common. Autos of that era in “two tone” were always the higher end cars, but the combination was usually black or dark color fenders and running boards with lighter body color. The lighter colors were often a medium blue, green, or brown, but sometimes tan, cream, or light green would appear. Sometimes wheels were painted different colors, with red, yellow, and tan being favorites. Vehicles for police and fire departments, or specially painted commercial vehicles would be different of course.
Just before World War Two, some cars started to be painted with the body and fenders a dark color and the tops a lighter color. This style continued into the fifties. But by the mid-fifties, better paint and more color was available and some companies went wild with two and even three tone paint jobs, often in tasteless, even bizarre combinations. Most disgusting of all was a FOUR tone 1958 Nash (Rambler) Ambassador station wagon I saw painted white, yellow, pink, and black from the factory! I certainly hope it was a special order beast! In the early sixties, cooler heads prevailed and paint jobs returned to those designed by Earth people instead of Martians!
Full wheel covers were extremely rare until about 1950 and were uncommon until late in that decade. Most cars had “hub caps” as they had since the twenties to cover the lug bolts that held the wheels on. Some cars from about 1935 onward had “trim rings” which were thin chrome or stainless steel rings around the outer edge of the wheels.
White sidewall tires were limited to high cost cars or as owner purchased replacements until after the war. Those huge “rim to road” white walls were found on late twenties and early thirties Cord, Lincoln, Packard, Cadillac, Auburn, Pierce-Arrow, and Duesenberg cars, but you didn’t find these cars in small junkyards! Otherwise you just didn’t see many white wall tires on older cars in junkyards. If they had them when they were dragged in, and they had any tread left, the yard owner snatched them up right away!
Painted bumpers were standard until the thirties except on high end cars, or by special order. Chrome bumpers on pick up trucks were rare into the late fifties. Even then, they were optional and most pick ups had no rear bumpers unless the owner added one.
Tags: Main Line
Well, we have reached the point where it is time to paint and reassemble our locomotive. I decided to make the changes to the headlight in the middle of the smokebox (boiler front) and firebox more obvious by painting them light gray. Actually, this is the “primer” paint.
Smokeboxes and fireboxes were often coated with graphite because the paints of the day would burn off due to the high heat in these areas of the locomotive. Depending on several variables, this graphite could look silver or silver-grayish to start with. As it was heated and time passed the silver would become gray and eventually almost white. Due to the film of the day, many smokeboxes looked white in color, which means either the graphite was older, the color correction of developing of the film was off, or the photo has aged.
The rest of the locomotive and tender were painted black, using Polly Scale’s “Steam Power Black” which is close to old American Flyer’s color. The cab roof and tender deck were painted “PRR Tuscan,” the handrails, headlight front, bell, whistle, classification lamps on the smokebox, and tender ladder were painted “Old Brass.” (“Gold” will work well too.) The lenses of the classification lamps were painted white to denote that the locomotive was running as an “Extra” train. The wheel rims of the pilot truck were painted white to match the white driver tires.
The cab roof and tender deck painting was used by a number of roads, particularly the Pennsylvania and the Southern. The actual color can be almost red to dull brown, depending upon the original paint used and how it weathers. It adds a bit of color to all those dull black engines. An old Pennsy shop man told me that the painting of cab roof and tender deck on that road was started to protect engines going into storage from rust!
Painting the bell and whistle, handrails, and classification lamps “Brass” actually might be a throwback to an earlier era than this locomotive appears to be. It would be correct on the #300 type Atlantic, which also has the extended smokebox and capped stack of the late 1800s/early 1900s. I think it looks classy!
A word here about paint; I use as much acrylic paint as possible these days. Early on, these were pretty poor, but today they are as good as anything available. And they are safer than using solvent-based paint.
Before good acrylic paints became available, I was a firm believer in Floquil “Railroad Colors,” the best paint of its day, and something I had used since the sixties. I liked its flow rate with a brush and it covered just about any type of surface or material in a single coat.
Unfortunately, it was Toulene based, a chemical that has more recently become known to cause nerve damage and can be absorbed through the skin! I can’t tell you how much Toulene I have absorbed over the past fifty years, both from model paint and the thinners used to clean up after it! Some folks already consider me a babbling idiot, so I decided to go with acrylic from now on.
After the painting was done and well dried, I attached the bell, whistle, headlight tube, and put an engineer in the cab window. Sometimes I add a fireman on his side of the cab or on the tender apron. But the cost of good figures is high, so I just pretend that he’s in the middle of the cab firing the boiler. By the way, I like use Fun ‘n’ Games figures by Allen Pollack found at http://scalefigures.com/ . He has a nice line of quality S figures in metal.
Next, I used decals to number the tender. I follow this practice, which many railroads used. This way, I don’t have to put a road name on the tender, so it could conceivably be pulling the train of any railroad.
All that is left after this is to give the locomotive and tender shells a coat of either Gloss or Flat coating to seal the paint and decals. I use Testors sprays for this. If you want the loco to look right out of the shop, go with gloss. If it has “miles” on it, a flat coating is desirable. You may even want to do a little “weathering” before spraying “Dullcoat.”
I allowed 8 hours for the spray coating to dry and then carefully reassembled the locomotive to the chassis and tested it. She’s a gem and certainly “one of a kind!”
By the time you read this series, ”Project Atlantic” will already be running at train shows to display just what can be done to dress up the common old American Flyer steam engine! While rabid collectors may cringe at the thought of Kit Bashing or customizing old trains, operators almost always like the changes made, especially if they are knowledgeable of steam era railroad practices. What’s old can be new again!
Tags: Main Line
And now we do some serious work that many of you may wish to pass up. In this installment, we will go beyond the point of no return on this project by sectioning two old shells into one! This modification is time consuming and requires you to work slowly and carefully.
We’re going to change the project locomotive by removing the wide “Wooten” firebox and the cab and replace it with the firebox and cab of a junk plastic 280 series Pacific shell. The mounting points for the Atlantic shell are not going to be touched, eliminating a complicated procedure, and the portions cut off both shells will be the same length. The key is finding a junk Pacific shell with the firebox and cab area intact. Usually this will be one with the mounting posts broken and unrepairable, which are not needed for this project anyway!
We will cut the Atlantic’s shell right at the front of the wide firebox, which is a bit behind the rear mounting points. To make sure you cut as straight as possible, measure back from the boiler front because the firebox front is not exactly vertical. You want to cut at the bottom of the front of the firebox, which actually is slightly forward of the rest of the front of this firebox and not “straight up.”
Measure the removed firebox and cab section and cut the Pacific shell firebox and cab the same length. Once the two are removed, match the front of the Atlantic boiler shell to the rear of the Pacific boiler shell. You’ll find that the Pacific boiler is a bit wider toward the bottom than the Atlantic boiler, and that the various pipes and lines molded on the boilers will not line up.
I filed and fitted the two shell sections as closely together as possible, and then turned my attention to removing the running boards and other detail cast onto the firebox area of the Pacific shell. I left the details on top of the firebox and the steps on the side intact, but removed the rest. It is much easier to do this removal now than when the two sections are
glued together. Do not use putty or primer paint on the mating surfaces because you’ll need them “clean” to glue together.
You’ll find yourself doing a LOT of very careful cutting, filing, and sanding these details off and smoothing the scratches and damage made in the
removal. It will not be perfect. Because the lower part of the boiler is wider than the Atlantic boiler, you’ll want to file some angle into this area
to help it mate closer in width. However, there will be some bulge at this point which cannot be avoidable. All this takes the most time of all the things you’ll do on this part of the project and I used a LOT of primer paint and sandpaper on this step. I never did get it “show car” nice.
Once the Pacific shell section is ready, it’s time to glue the two shells together. In this case I used J B Weld, an epoxy with a slow setting time for maximum strength. Faster epoxies are available, but generally the strength of the slower ones is better, and the slower setting time allows you to make adjustments before the glue sets. I used the J B Weld with the 15 to 24 hour curing time and allowed a full 24 hours.
To start with, I prepared the work table with several layers of old newspaper to catch any dripping epoxy. Next, I blocked the Atlantic shell into position, making sure the blocking was not too near the area to be epoxied. Then used masking tape to tape the top of the boilers together, allowing the Pacific portion to be swung away for gluing.
Then I applied the epoxy to the Pacific section and swung the part into position, making sure that I aligned the top of the boiler and got the sides as close as possible to square, using the tape to hold the Pacific portion in position. I slipped some blocking into place where the epoxy wouldn’t get to it and left the work table and project until the next evening.
J B Weld is sandable, filable, drillable, and so on, so anything that might get stuck by accident can be cut or filed away. This is also good if some epoxy squeezes out of the joint to where you could see it on the completed model. Cut, file, and sand this. The inside doesn’t have to look as good, just clear the chassis and motor when you attach the shell to the chassis.
To fill the gap where the two sections go together, use model putty and do the sanding, primer painting, sanding, painting cycle until the joint is invisible. The gray primer will show up any imperfections.
If you do choose to make this radical, tough, and time consuming modification, it will be well worth all the worry and effort when people notice your “one of a kind Atlantic” for the first time!
Tags: Stumpy's Station
On this project, I wanted to update this engine from the “Turn of the Century” look of the inside bearing trailing truck to the later outside bearing trailing truck. This will require two things; a five digit Pacific two wheel trailing truck and a new drawbar.
In this case, I didn’t have a late Pacific truck in my parts boxes, so I ordered one from LBR Enterprises (www.lbrenterprisesllc.com). It is part number R23 a “2 wheel trailing truck A+P” (Atlantic and Pacific) and is a nicely done repro part.
However, the drawbar was something else. There are two ways of coming up with a usable drawbar.
1. Usually you can use the original drawbar by cutting the rivet that holds the original trailing truck wheels and axle to it. The later trailing truck fits there and pretty much covers the now empty “upside down U” in the drawbar. However, just are all plastic tenders are not the same, neither are all drawbars.
2. Make your own drawbar of either metal or wood. Use the original drawbar for the length and screw hole placement dimensions.
Since I like to work with wood because it’s easier, I chose to do what has worked for me before and used a Craft Stick, a.k.a. Popcicle Stick. Amazingly, these work fine, although not as durable as metal. A metal drawbar is done by just duplicating the original without the “U” area for the original truck. So, I’ll go into a bit of explanation of the wood trailing truck construction should you wish to try that.
If you do break a wood one, they can be glued right back together until replacement can be accomplished. How do I know this? At the first Spring S Spree where I displayed a layout, my first semi-streamlined Pacific derailed and dove 400 scale feet to the floor! There was damage to the plastic running board skirt, the streamlined pilot, and the drawbar broke in two. I glued the drawbar back together with Elmer’s white glue and ran the damaged loco the next day! The re-glued drawbar was still on the locomotive when I sold it two summers ago.
There are some tricks to working with Craft Sticks. First of all, drill any holes and do any filing on them working to the center of the stick lengthwise. After the holes are ready, use a Dremel with cut off wheel to
cut the extra length from the ends.
The reason for this is the way the sticks are made. They have a tendency to split if you drill too close to the ends and cut the sticks with a hobby saw.
For the Atlantic drawbar, you’ll need to drill two holes 3 3/8” apart for the drawbar screws. The locomotive screw requires a 1/8” hole. I used a bolt and nut for the tender end. Make sure the bolt and screw can move freely in their holes, then cut the excess length of the drawbar off.
Of course, to use the replacement drawbar, you’ll have the cut off the rivet that holds the original drawbar to the tender and replace it with a bolt and nut. Test fit the new drawbar to the loco and tender and then paint it black.
The screw on the engine end of the drawbar is long enough to hold both the new drawbar and the trailing truck. Using the Craft Stick drawbar, you may have to file away some of the thickness of the trailing truck around the screw hole to allow for free and up and down movement. I had a problem with only one such change of drawbar and trailing truck with this long screw backing out from the vibration of running. I solved it by putting a glob of paint on the threads of the screw then running it through the drawbar and truck and into the engine. After allowing this to set for a few hours, the screw never came loose again. Unlike some thread locking products, this screw will come back out with light twisting of a screwdriver if need be.
I placed the drawbar on top of the tongue of the tender truck, used a very short bolt and nut on the tender end, and did the paint glob thread locking trick on it just to be sure. You need tighten only to the point that the drawbar can just swing freely. You can now put chassis and tender together for some test running without the engine or tender shells, if you wish to.
Normally, we’d be ready to start the painting and lettering of the Project Atlantic. However, there is one more modification I want to tell you about that takes us into the realm of major custom building.
For this, you’ll need a junk plastic 280 series Pacific shell. The screw posts inside can be totally destroyed, but you want one that looks decent on the outside. Next month we’ll remove the wide Wooten firebox from the Atlantic and graft on the standard firebox and cab of the Pacific! Warm up your Dremel and buy a package of good epoxy if you want to try this!
Tags: Stumpy's Station
Often times when I’m waiting for paint or glue to dry, I move on to another project, many times the tender of the locomotive that I’m working on.
The post-“tin tender” Atlantics were followed by the common plastic Gilbert tender. These appear to all be the same, but they are not.
The drawbars used to attach tender to loco were different lengths, and those tenders behind the “Casey Jones” engines did not have the trailing truck. Even the trailing truck set up on the drawbar changed from the three digit engines and the five digit engines. Later tenders of this type featured a shell attached by a tab at one end and screws at the other instead of a screw in each corner. These were mostly PikeMaster era tenders.
I have even run across some tenders where the rear of coal pile humps slightly above the fuel bunker sides, while on others, the coal is even with the sides. Some tenders have holes for the marker lights at the rear of the tender deck, while on others, these holes were molded flat.
The tender is often overlooked by Kit Bashers, but can help give a different appearance to the loco-tender combination. I often swap tenders form loco to loco during a project, using the K-5 or Hudson cast tenders behind Atlantics or Pacifics.
One of the easiest changes you can make is to “convert” your coal tender to oil. You start with a piece of plastic or balsa sheet 2” wide by 2 5/8” long which covers the fuel bunker top. If you have one of the tenders with the higher hump in the coal, file it down until level with the tender sides.
To make a oil fill cap, you can cut a ¼” thick or about that piece of ½” diameter dowel or plastic rod or tubing. You next cut a similar thickness piece of ¼” diameter stock to represent the vent cap. Sand these smooth and set them aside for the moment.
This next step isn’t really necessary, but I think it adds to the appearance of the “oil tank” and will show you a trick long used by scratch builders.
You’ll need a piece of thin card stock, 2” by 2 5/8.” Thin card stock is really just a plain old 3×5” “file card.” They’re cheap and I bought a pack of these some years ago and they lasted for over ten years of modeling projects!
Another investment in you box of hobby tools is to buy a Ponce wheel. You
can get them from Micro-Mark or any craft or sewing store. They are used to mark sewing projects, but we’ll use them to press “rivets” into the card!
On the cardstock, draw lines 1/16” along each edge of the card stock. Then draw two lines, each 5/8” from the sides running the long length of the card. These are you guide lines to press the rivets with the Ponce wheel.
Place the Ponce wheel’s roller on a line and then roll slowly along the line, staying as straight as possible. It doesn’t take a lot of pressure, but you must exert some. You might wish to practice on the remains of the file card which you cut the part for the tender from to get the “feel” first.
By rolling the wheel along, you will find neat rows of equally spaced “bumps” on the other side of the card stock which look very much like S scale rivets!
The next step is to glue this rivet sheet to the top of the tank top sheet you cut at the beginning. When dry, smooth the edges, removing any overhang of card over the base.
Now let’s install the oil filler and vent caps. As far as I can find, there was no uniform arrangement for these, but the best look is to place the larger fill cap between the center and “front” of the oil tank, and the vent aft of the center of the tank along a centerline of the long length of the tank top.
I cut two small strips of cardstock for “hinges” for the fill cap. To show the “bolt heads” I press these with a ball point pen in the same way we used the Ponce wheel. The pen makes a larger “head” impression. These are then glued to the cap and tank top.
You can glue this permanently to the top of the coal bunker, or do as I do and use Walther’s “GOO” or a silicone adhesive, which will allow you to remove it later if you want to.
Most oil tanks were painted black to match the locomotive and make spills less obvious. However, I have seen photos of engines where they were painted some lighter color like gray. If you chose a lighter color, this would allow you to paint black “spills” on the tank top to show usage.
Of course, with a Wooten firebox, you’d certainly not be burning oil! So you may want to skip the oil tank idea and add more scale coal to the coal pile.
Tags: Stumpy's Station
The changes being made are for demonstration purposes. You may want to leave the loco as it is in some cases or come up with other modifications. You’ll notice that in the photos, sometimes the areas being worked on will be painted primer gray while other times the work area will be black. This is only done to make the work stand out for the photographs.
Using “primer” paint is an old auto body working technique to highlight any very small dents, sanding scratches, or other imperfections. You sand and primer, sand and primer, spotting bad spots and filling scars until the surface is up to standard. Gray primer works best for most model projects. During cleaning the shell, I removed the bell, whistle, and headlight lens. They are all just a “press fit” into the shell with no glue having been used. Light prying with a small screwdriver will usually pop them out. The headlight lens is most stubborn, and the best way to remove it is to put a small screwdriver or dowel inside the cab and push it out from behind. Sometimes it will need the help of a small hammer to knock the screwdriver or dowel ahead to push out the lens.
The bell was originally located between the stack and front dome on the boiler top. But I’m going to move it to a spot between the domes. The bell can be moved simply by drilling a 1/8” hole in the top of the boiler between the domes. If you stop the drill before full penetration through the shell, a press fit will be enough to hold it in position. You’ll want to file off the “ring” around where the bell was, fill the hole with putty, and sand it smooth. At this point however, we’ll not install the bell because these small parts will go on after final color is applied.
The whistle was originally mounted above the firebox area of the boiler shell, and on the original Atlantic is just fine. But most engines had the whistle straight up and near or on the steam dome, and that’s where it’s going. I drilled a 1/16” hole (some whistles have a 1/16” mounting pin and some have the 1/8” pin, so check which you have first) right behind the dome between the dome itself and the boiler band behind it. Cut and file off the original whistle mount on the boiler. For now, don’t install the whistle either.
Now, the first big cutting begins by moving the headlight from the top front of the boiler (smokebox) to the center. Using a hobby saw or Dremel tool with a “cut off wheel,” CAREFULLY remove the old headlight. Do as little damage as possible to surrounding bolt heads, smokebox door lugs, or classification lamps. Smooth the area with sandpaper, but work carefully as you’ll be repairing any damage you do.
Fill the empty hole with a piece of plastic rod, dowel, or putty it closed and sand smooth. To represent the bolts around the boiler front and damage to the smokebox door lugs, I use drops of white glue from a toothpick. It may take some practice to get these just right, but it works well. A couple of coats of primer seals these to the boiler.
Next, drill a 1/16” hole directly in the center of the boiler front where the new headlight will go. This is a “pilot hole” to make sure you’re located right, you next drill a 3/16” hole in the same spot. You’ll need a piece of plastic or metal tubing at the hobby shop or online that fits the original headlight lens. This will be 3/16” ID (inside diameter).
Depending on what you use, you will sometimes have to file the inside of the tubing and the hole in the boiler front a bit, or fill it a little to get the right fit.
In a pinch, I have used plastic drink straws split and wrapped in layers around the lens stem and it works amazingly well! A friend used to make headlights in HO scale out of black electrical tape wrapped around plastic rod to make headlights!
Use a small piece of plastic or strip wood stock to make a headlight bracket to go under the headlight itself. Glue the bracket to the bottom of the headlight and when that dries, the whole assembly to the front of the boiler shell over the hole. You want a nice tight fit to the boiler front. I find typical home improvement store adhesives which “glue anything to anything” fine in most cases.
If you were able to use the tubing method, leave the lens out for now. If you used the wrap method, use masking tape to cover the lens so you won’t get paint on it.
Okay, you’ve changed the profile of the locomotive somewhat, but there is more to come!
Tags: Stumpy's Station
The first thing to do when you have your project engine is to disassemble the locomotive partially by removing the tender from the engine and taking the shell off the locomotive. If you plan to install a DC can motor while you’re at it, you’ll want to take the tender shell off as well.
Depending on the condition you purchased your locomotive in, you’ll want to clean and inspect the chassis and all working components. It will not be necessary to take everything apart, in fact unless you have to, a good cleaning of the assembled chassis and mechanism with a used tooth brush is a good way to do the job. Unless the seller has done a good job, you’ll find most of these engines dirty and oily under the shell, often with a nice collection of lint. Most of this crud was attracted by lubricants.
Don’t use soap and water on the chassis and mechanisms. A good spray electrical parts cleaner or WD-40 can helps the toothbrush. Both the pressure from the can and the solvents themselves help get tight spots clean and will dry/evaporate cleaner with no residue. If you’re working with junk box parts that are rusted, PB Blaster or any good penetrating oil will work, but they leave oily residue that must be removed.
Flip the locomotive chassis over and do the bottom too! Take the gear cover off and look at the mess in the gearbox! Usually years of old grease and oil have hardened into a nearly solid mass that is no longer doing any lubricating, but IS attracting dirty and small metal particles. If you find steel wool “hairs’ this could spell real trouble for motor, gears, Choo-choo unit, and even create hard to find short circuits.
Clean the gearbox out (a very small screwdriver is useful) and use electrical parts cleaner and a small cloth to get as much of the inside of the area clean as possible.
Inspect the engine and tender chassis’ closely after cleaning. While the actual Kit Bashing is mainly “cosmetic,” you want the finished product to run as good as it looks don’t you? Any repairs should be done now.
You should also re-lube the gearbox with a good lubricant. A Teflon “grease” is my favorite because it will last a long time and doesn’t attract crud as easily as the all petroleum products. Just a heavy smear on the axle gear is enough. Don’t use grease anywhere else. You can also use oil
if done from above where the worm gear of the motor touches the axle gear. Again, Teflon oil is available and worthwhile.
Lube the gear and lever for the Choo-choo unit with oil, but DO NOT lubricate the unit’s piston and cylinder unless it is dry and binds, and if you do, put oil on your finger or a Q-Tip and spread it around thinly. Oil the axles, side rods and such to complete the lubrication.
If the plastic boiler and tender shells are dirty, another used toothbrush and plain old soap and water are the way to go. Dirty parts are a mess to work with, and paint won’t adhere to oil or dirt.
If you’re installing a DC can motor, remove the old motor field and armature from the chassis. You will have to cut or de-solder the wires to the smoke unit and headlight. The brushes will spring out if you can’t hold the armature inside the field, so work over a tray or pan to catch flying parts! You will find tiny washers where the motor shaft goes into the chassis. Save these to put back in with the can motor. Remove the reverse unit in the tender as well. I just leave the motor and unit wired together, even if there is a plug board between.
Installing the can motor is straightforward and simple. Put the tiny washers on the shaft and slide the worm gear shaft in slowly while allowing the axle gear to turn and mesh. Use the screws that come with the replacement motor, but do not over tighten them. Some engines like at least one just a tad free for best gear mesh until the gears are broken in. To complete installation, solder the smoke and headlight wires and positive and negative wires for the tender to the lugs on motor. Use a very flexible wire for the motor to tender connection.
If you’re going to run straight DC power all you have to do is solder wires from each tender truck to each wire coming from the motor. If using an electronic reverse unit to run AC track power, follow the instructions for that unit carefully. I like to put a miniature connector between engine and tender for ease of uncoupling for later service or repair.
Okay, the engine is clean and in top condition running wise. Now the real butchery can begin!
Tags: Stumpy's Station
Beginning this month, I’m returning to Kit Bashing old American Flyer locomotives as the subject. I have gotten some requests from those who have read my “Kit Bashing American Flyer Steam Locomotives” guide and still feel hesitant to try it, to do a series that takes the process step by step.
For those of you who have not read the guide, it is available right here on MyFlyerTrains in the photo Albums.
Much of this series will cover ground I’ve already covered in the “guide” but perhaps doing it a step at a time will make the process clearer. I’ll add photos to further remove the “mystery” of doing what collectors might consider a “black art.”
To start the process, you can do as I often do and start looking through junk boxes at train shows or ask to see a hobby shop’s junk boxes. As I have said before, sometimes you’ll be surprised at what you find, and often you can buy the whole box for the same price as one or two items. Keep any usable items you find for a future project you haven’t even considered yet. You only badly need something when you don’t have it!
If you don’t feel comfortable in repairing and rebuilding, then perhaps purchasing a complete and running steamer of less than pristine appearance would be the way to go. In this case, a common Atlantic is the target project locomotive, and these are plentiful and cheap in running condition.
When looking for a usable engine, you’ll want to know what you are looking for. The Atlantic covers virtually the entire production history of American Flyer from the end of World War Two until the demise and purchase by “hated competitor” Lionel in 1966. Therefore it came in many variations, but certain ones are more desirable than others when it comes to Kit Bashing.
I avoid the pre-1952 #300, 302, 302AC, and the early 1952 #300 Atlantics because they have a metal boiler shell. Most of these early Atlantics also do not have smoke and Choo-choo because the reverse unit was commonly in the boiler. Only the 1950 #302AC with the single piece metal shell has these desirable items.
It’s up to you, but I also discount the early engines because of the sheet metal tenders with the link style couplers. Beware that early 1952 production had “tin” tenders, while later ones had plastic tenders, but both had links.
If you like the “extended smokebox” look of the early #300 with the four piece metal shell and extra valve gear, and don’t want to do anything more than paint and decal it, you can get smoke and Choo-choo by swapping a later chassis into the early shell. You might have to drill out the inside of the smoke stack of the metal shell to do this too.
There are many later Atlantics with the plastic boiler and tender shells. I like plastic because it is MUCH easier to cut, drill, sand, and glue than metal. However, some of these plastic boiler shell engines don’t have smoke units or Choo-choo, some don’t even have a headlight!
Of these later ones I avoid the 1953 #301 because it has no smoke unit. The same goes for the rare #299 of 1954. The #307, #308 and 21160 are also without smoke.
The #303, #21100, 21105, and the #21107 were all equipped with headlight, smoke, Choo-choo and knuckle couplers, making them my choice. Note that from the later #21105 of 1958 on, the boiler shell had the whistle and bell molded on, not separate. The #21107 had PikeMaster all plastic trucks and couplers.
Of course the #21160 and #21161 are priced beyond reach and shouldn’t be used as Kit Bashing fodder because of their rarity. The desirable Atlantics for Bashing (#303, 21100, 21105, and even the lowly #21107) are all inexpensive in running condition, with $50. just about the upper limit for our needs. $25. to $40. is a good price for bashing stock. However prices are ever climbing.
People ask why I don’t bash the cheap and common “Casey Jones.” Well, I did two of those, and found them to be poor candidates. The cabs are well out of scale, being more suitable for 027 Lionel. Worse yet is that they are poor runners, a “bargain basement” of cheesy design and construction. The tender is useful for other projects as it is the common “fits all” plastic one. I also have cut up the boiler shells to get the pilot (cow catcher), stack, headlight, and domes to “back date” other projects. When the price of an entire running locomotive and tender in nice shape is less than a good boiler shell for an Atlantic, that should speak volumes!
Okay gang, now you know what to look for, let the hunt begin! Next month we’ll tear your new victim apart and get started!
Tags: Stumpy's Station