From the first day an American Flyer train set was unpacked, perhaps on a Christmas morning, flat cars and gondolas were subject to having custom loads inserted. Likely loads inserted by children, were perhaps toy cars, marbles or maybe army men. Basically, anything small enough to fit in or on the car, and handy enough to represent a railroad car load, at least in a kid’s mind. As an adult, our sense of scale and practicability rule out the child-like loads of marbles and army men to more sophisticated tastes of better scaled loads and something more in tune to what a railroad might actually haul. In this short series we’ll be looking at a few loads I have created, and how they were placed onto AF cars in a manner American Flyer would have done from the factory. These loads may not be totally true 3/16” scale or use prototype railroad securement methods. The guys at American Flyer took liberties with scale and securement to engineer “play value” into these loads – my aim was to follow their lead. In this first installment we be looking at three simple loads, all using American Flyer items in a different way to create believable “American Flyer” car loads.
First is a simple gondola car load. This load could be called either a scrap metal load or a work train car load. This load consists of retired AF cross ties gleaned from old track sections. Simply pry open the tabs that hold the rails in place, remove the rails and the fiber insulation the cross-tie, and flatten out the tabs. The car shown has about 20 ties in it. This number of ties does not make the car too heavy, fills it to the top, and can be loaded or off-loaded with a crane magnet.
If you are a collector of AF items, you are bound to have retired rail cars or accessories that are kept for their parts. This next car is a flatcar loaded with a crane boom assembly. These booms were widely used through the AF line for early wrecking cranes, the magnetic crane and even used on an early station platform. Having an extra crane boon in my parts bin, I placed on a flatcar and noticed this could have been something American Flyer could have easily done from the factory. To secure the boom to the flatcar (here using a die cast car) I cut strips of sheet tin to the match the width of the flatcar floor slots (about 3/16”), bending the strips around the boom and threaded the ends through the floor slots. Once satisfied the load would be securely attached to the car, I cut the strips to length and folded ends tightly to the underside of the car.
The third load in this installment started with an auction purchase of a bunch of AF items. In the box purchased was a 25515 U.S.A.F. flatcar. Missing was the motorized rocket sled, but the bracket to hold the sled was in-place. Acquiring a rocket sled could be costly, so a search for something appropriate for an Air Force flatcar was on. The brackets have slots intended to hold the rocket sled’s axles (likely the same bracket to hold trailers for the 24550 Monon piggyback flatcar), and will readily hold other axles.
Painting a pair of American Flyer piggyback trailers to U.S.A.F. was considered. But a more likely load of Air Force Jeeps would be more believable. I had two Tootsie Toy on hand, and these seem to fit the bracket well. The bracket was left unmodified, including the tall tab at one end (that nestles nicely in the Jeep’s engine compartment area), as someday I may locate a rocket sled.
The Jeeps shown will be painted or replaced with others (with matching wheels), perhaps painted with Air Force blue color. Tootsie Toy (and others) have made over the years all sorts of armed forces wheeled pieces that may fit this car even better.
But, for the purpose of this article, you can see what can be done with a little thought, little money, and a bit of imagination.
Tags: Main Line
Many American Flyer S Gauge hobbyists enjoy restoring their vintage equipment. For me, restoring these old worn items back into their original operating condition has always been one of my favorite parts of the hobby. Let’s look at a homemade tool used to assist servicing American Flyer steam engines, and how with a little effort and a few simple parts, you can construct your own.
Several drawings, both in-print and on-line, have shown the standard 4-wire connection of AF steam engine’s rear of cab electrical jack panel; where to place a jumper wire on the panel, and where to apply the power leads when the engine is not connected to the tender and its reversing “E-unit”.
One on-line resource Port Lines displays some very nice wire schematics of the standard 4-wire and the 5-wire engine/tender connections, along with the other 2-wire type tender connections; each noting the jack panel wire locations leading to the various connections on the engine drive motor, smoke and headlight connections, and the tender and reverser wire connection points.
After a search for information on how to create a four or five-wire steam engine test wire harness; one that attached directly to the engine’s jack panel, none could be found. So I created on my own.
Ben’s Test Wire Harness for American Flyer Steam Engines
The accompanying drawings show first, a 4-wire test lead utilizing a simple double-pole-double-throw (DPDT), center-off toggle switch to create a forward/off/reverse option.
Switch “A”: The motor direction switch, being a double-pole double-throw, center-off switch. This switch performs the same function as the tender mounted reverser.
The next drawing adds a second DPDT switch to the circuit, making it switchable from a four to five-wire engine/tender wiring design. An optional on/off switch may be used to make a connection to the smoke unit and headlight for engines with the 5th tender wire connection.
Switch “A”: The motor direction switch, being a double-pole double-throw, center-off switch. This switch performs the same function as the tender mounted reverser.
Switch “B”: Also a double-pole double-throw; used to compensate for the difference in the 4-wire to 5-wire connections to the motor brushes/field coil.
Switch “C”: Optional single-pole on/off switch; connecting the smoke unit/headlight to the power source through the direction switch.
The four wires to the jack panel were soldered to a salvaged male plug off an unused tender chassis.
The 5th wire for the smoke/headlight connection may be connected to the engine by using a small covered alligator clip or similar device. On my engines, this 5th wire connection typically is converted from a factory soldered connection to a homemade 1/16-inch jack plug and socket using brass tubing; thus for servicing, the tender can be easily and totally disconnected from the steam engine.
This wire harness assembly will allow you to leave the test leads attached during servicing work. And it comes in handy when the engine is turned upside down, as an attached tender’s reverser will not work in this inverted position.
In all, this is a rather simple electrical circuit (if I can figure it out – it’s got to be simple), with all of the components coming out of my parts box. I used colored wire, but any color of flexible light-gauge stranded wire would work. I found the color and polarity of the two power lead wires doesn’t matter if you’re using AC current.
To keep things neat and flexible in use, I braded the wires from the switches to the male plug, and slipped on a bit of heat-shrink tubing before soldering the final wires into place, but tape could do the same. The toggle switches used were of the tiny sub-miniature type. These toggle switches were small enough to mount all three into an old style empty AF control box; and would be handy if you wanted to mount the control box to your workbench.
This harness, by isolating the tender from the engine, may aid in diagnosing an electrical problem. For example, if the engine runs fine on the harness, and not when connected to the tender, obviously the tender has an issue.
Also, do not attempt to operate a 4-wire engine on the 5-wire switch setting (or visa-versa), as the resulting electrical short may damage the engine or power source. Labeling your switches will help avoid this situation.
The bit of work to assemble this test wire harness assembly may save time and hassle on your next steam engine service work. And best of all, it cost just a few dollars to make.
Tags: Main Line
It is not real often anymore that I find new content for the catalog section, but thanks to Larry E. Long I have posted some new old Gilbert paper “Dealer Tips Booklet D1834“. These are high quality scans so I hope you enjoy them!
Tags: Main Line
I would like to welcome guest author Ben Swope to MyFlyerTrains.org. Ben wrote this great article on kitbashing an American Flyer 761 Semiphore. I hope you enjoy it!
Tags: Main Line
As intending to signal a large single track loop for multiple train operation, I wanted to keep the layout pure American Flyer, so the obvious choice is to use AF’s # 761 semaphores. To keep the six signaled controlled blocks at an even length, one signal is required to be placed in a long hidden section under benchwork. Here the overhead restriction would be too low for these tall semaphore signals, standing 9-inches tall with the blade in the “clear” position.
The solution to this problem came in the form of a train show junk box find, were a # 761 semaphore was purchased so cheaply, experiments could be made without concern if the signal was destroyed in the process. However the first attempt at modification resulted in such a success, I thought other AF enthusiasts would be interested, and perhaps offer another signal option for use on your own pike.
This junk box purchased operate quite well, though it was not in perfect appearance, and had a few parts missing. This made it a good candidate to convert to a dwarf signal, yet once modified would operate identical to standard versions.
Start the modification by removing the semaphore blade, ladder, bulb socket, finial from atop the mast, and the coil & blade activation rod assembly from the base. At this point all you’ll have is the base casting, the signal head casting, both connected only by the hollow mast tube.
Using a small punch and hammer, carefully drive the mast tube out of the base from inside of the base casting. Work the punch around the tube’s end to avoid cocking the tube within the casting, as damage the base structure may result.
Once removed, measure and mark the mast tube 1-inch from the bottom of the signal head and cut the mast tube off squarely (I used a common hacksaw). De-burr and true-up the ragged cut to prepare resetting it back into the base casting. If done correctly, a few taps on the top of the signal head (using a block of wood to protect the signal head casting from the hammer blows) will set the mast back into the base casting. If necessary, some glue may be used to secure this connection. Ensure the signal head is located in its original orientation to the base.
This process should make the now exposed distance from the mast tube of the base structure to the bottom of the signal head about ¾-inch. This is about as short you’d want to allow for easy removal/insertion of the bulb and socket assembly.
Next is the activation rod modification (the rod that rides inside the tube). Place the coil and activation rod assembly back into the base and fasten with the original screws. Of course, this rod will now extend far out the top of the mast and signal head at this point. Push and pull the rod to its extreme motions while sighting through the signal head. Observe the rod’s end movements though this crescent shaped hole and mark its end strokes with a small felt-tip marker.
Remove the coil and rod assembly again. Note the marks on the rod and find the middle of the extreme motion marks. Remark this point with a different color marker (or score with a file, etc.), and replace the assembly to check the center marked point prior to drilling. Pear again in the signal head hole to double check its location as being the best point to drill a new hole for the signal blade pin hole and thus rotate the signal blade correctly.
Once satisfied of the location, remove the coil/rod assembly once more and drill a new hole sized for the pin that rotates the blade and de-burr. Follow this by cutting the rod to length just above the newly drilled hole and de-burr.
For my dwarf signal, I chose to shorten the signal blade as well; removing about ¼-inch off the fish-tailed end. At this point, it’s your choice to make this cut flush, recreate a fish-tail end or simply not shorten the blade.
Lastly, I chose not to replace the finial atop the signal head (as with a shortened signal blade, it looked too “busy”). I instead modified an old AF freight car truck rivet, and with contact cement, placed it in the same hole the filial once was, acting as a button cap to keep dust out.
This signal, once reduced in height, looks to have been an item Gilbert would have produced and advertised as a working dwarf signal, perhaps used in conjunction with power switches at the end of a passing siding, branch line junction or yard lead.
This entire modification took about two hours to figure out and perform. With these simple instructions, your time may be less. If you choose to do the same, your efforts will yield an interesting new addition to the many American Flyer accessories on your layout.
Tags: Main Line
Last Saturday a good friend was due to visit, and was bringing his grandchildren to see my American Flyer Trains run. I have to admit I have not run any trains recently so I needed to get the tracks clean. Some years ago at the York Train Show I made an impulse purchase, a Trackman S-2000 cleaning car. For a lot of years this car has been faithfully shining up my rails, even in the hard to get places like tunnels. For those unfamiliar with this product, it basically drags a piece of scotchbrite around the track. It really does a good job, and I have gotten used to having and using it.
I hooked the cleaning car up to an E grade 293 engine, and started the construct around the track. I watched it approach a standard Gilbert switch, and to my horror the engine fell over, and it and the cleaning car went 3 foot to ceramic tile flooring. I have no idea why it happened, the switch was all the way in position, and the train crossed the switch in the direction that would not normally cause derailments. The 293 suffered a broken pilot wheel, and the front driver and axle are damaged. I will have to find good used parts to make these repairs, not too big of problem, and there doesn’t seem to be any significant cosmetic damage to the engine.
The larger problem for me, is the track cleaner car which has a broken truck. The side broke off, and maybe it can be glued, but probably not. The truck is unlike anything I have on any of my other rolling stock, so I am not sure what my next step is. I could use some help if anyone knows who makes the Trackman S-2000 cars. I searched the Internet and emailed one vendor who replied to me “Sorry sold out and backordered”, nothing else. I am not sure if that reply was for an entire cleaning car, or just the truck I was trying to purchase. I can’t seem to locate the manufacturer’s website. If anyone knows who the manufacturer of the Trackman Cleaning cars is or where parts can be purchased, I would be very grateful for the information!
The story of the train hitting the floor takes me back to Christmas day 1955, when I got my first American Flyer Train, with an Atlantic engine. It was set up for me in the basement on a 4×8 green painted sheet of plywood, complete with 2 switches. I ran my train over the switch, which was in the wrong position. The engine went to the concrete floor, and the plastic shell broke off. My father used some Duco cement to glue it back together, and I was running again, until I sent the train to the floor a 2nd time. The cement came out again, and I am pacing the floor waiting for it to dry so I can play with my new train that had gone from mint condition to Fair in one fall! While the cement was setting, my father cut two strips of wood that he fastened along side the switches, so if the train derailed, it stayed on the table. The fix worked, as I tried to send the train to the floor later that day, but it just tipped over, but stayed on the table. From then on, if my childhood switches were mounted near the edge of a table, they always had that strip of wood next to them. Maybe I should add that strip of wood to my current layout!
One Last Note: As some of you have noticed, Stumpy has taken a well deserved break from his kitbashing articles. We look forward to having him back in the future!
Tags: Main Line
With the boiler shell/cab construction complete, we need to add a tender before running the loco through the paint shop. Probably the best tender to use to back date this engine to the “Turn of the Century” look would be the American Flyer “Franklin” tender. About the only thing you need to do with one of these is to add a coal pile in the opening left when you remove the wood pile. Many locos of the Nineteenth Century had short, low sided tenders, somewhat like the common 4-4-0 tenders. However, Franklin tenders are often hard to find.
The next “oldest looking” American Flyer tender is the one from the 0-8-0 switcher. You might want to remove the back up light, as these didn’t become common until the Twenties, but it’s not really necessary because your Ten Wheeler could have been “upgraded” during it’s years on your railroad. But again, these are hard to come by.
Next in line to give and old look are tenders from some of the cheaper Marx steamers or Lionel “027” steam locos. Look for the ones with the squared coal bunker like the Flyer 0-8-0 tender. Lower cost Marx and Lionel engines had these and they are cheap when you find them. Often you can just buy the shell, which is all you really want anyway.
This shell can be fitted to the Pacific or Casey Jones tender frame by cutting the tender chassis in half and shortening it to fit under the shell. As an alternative, you can make a floor/chassis out of plastic or wood and use American Models or S-Helper/MTH tender trucks and coupler. Just remember the tender weight must be used on any tender for good tracking and to help with electrical pick up.
The last alternative for a tender in the more modern American Flyer common plastic tender. This could be used as is to represent a later tender use dto give the Ten Wheeler added range. (This WAS done as water towers were removed toward the end of steam operations, and some small locomotives pulled tenders as long as the locomotive!) You could also back date the common tender by cutting off the fuel bunker above the main body, adding a deck of plastic sheet and building a coal box on top (it would be made to look like the 0-8-0 tender, only longer.) Shortening the tender would back date the look as well.
In the case of my Ten Wheeler, I used the Marx tender already on hand from the “Prairie Dog”.
Once you have the tender ready that you want to use, it’s time to make up a drawbar to connect the Ten Wheeler locomotive to it’s tender. I’ve had good success using craft sticks for drawbars. They are remarkably durable in use, electrically insulated, cheap, and easy to work.
Since there is no trailing truck to work around, making a drawbar is very straightforward and simple. Measure the distance between the trailing truck screw and the front screw/rivet hole of the tender drawbar. Mark where your screw holes have to go on the craft stick to connect the trailing truck screw and the rivet/bolt hole in the tender or tender drawbar, depending on which tender you’re using.
Because the craft stick wood is very hard, drill the holes and THEN cut the craft stick beyond them. This eliminates any splitting of the wood that some times happens by drilling too close to the end of a stick. Use a file to round off the ends of the new drawbar and paint it black. Test fit and you’re ready to “couple up!”
The final step is to test run the finished loco and work out any problems. Once everything is working correctly, the locomotive and tender go to your paint shop. Even though I started with the “Prairie Dog,” I sanded and primered the loco again. Then I painted the boiler and cab black. The cab roof and tender rear deck were painted boxcar red.
The smokebox and firebox were painted silver to represent a fresh coat of graphite. (Graphite was used on areas not covered by asbestos and jacketing where the high heat would burn paint off quickly.)
The bell and parts of the safety valves were painted gold to represent brass, and so were the handrails on the boiler and the grab irons on either side of the cab. As was popular in the old days, I painted the window frames of the cab red. Finally white stripes were painted on the bottom edge of the cow catcher and along the running boards of the boiler.
As is the “policy” on my railroad, a number was decaled on each side of the tender, but no other markings applied. Then the engine and tender got a coat of Testor’s Gloss Cote to give them a nice shine, as if right out of the shop. Last but not least, and engineer was placed in the cab.
The Ten Wheeler is a sharp reminder of the long past glory days of steam railroading.
Tags: Main Line
I wanted to use the Casey Jones pilot (cow catcher) on the front of the 4-6-0, so after some trimming and filing, I glued it to where the Pacifc pilot was removed. A couple of pieces of plastic strip filled in the ends.
The last thing that we’ll be fitting onto the modified plastic Pacific shell is the cab. Before doing this, cut the fake firebox area off the bottom of the cab since it won’t be used on this project. As we considered in the last part of the project, the top of the cab should not be higher than the stack. With the fake firebox gone from the cab, the bottom of the Pacific shell and the bottom of the cab will line up to put the cab at a nice height.
The opening in the front of the cab and the outside diameter of the boiler shell is close, but not the same. To make this connection point a bit stronger, I used a piece of plastic sheet glued to the front of the cab and cut out the inside of this sheet to closely match the boiler opening.
Test fit the cab to the back of the boiler before gluing them together.
On engines without a trailing truck under the cab, as much space as possible was needed for the firebox. In many of the Ten Wheelers the firebox extended all the way to the back of the cab. This was know as a “deckless” cab because the engineer squeezed in between the side of the firebox and the inside wall of the cab with the fireman doing the same on the other side of the boiler, if he had time to sit down at all.
In our case, the Casey Jones cab has an enclosed rear bulkhead with narrow doors for the engineer and fireman. This was a rare style of “all weather cab” popular on many roads operating in cold climates, so we can use it. If the motor doesn’t clear the back of the cab, you can open the center area between the doors, as most deckless cab arrangements were hand fired from the front deck of the tender.
As an alternative, you could also open up the entire back of the cab to clear the motor and then use cab curtains to disguise the motor. Cab curtains were used in cooler weather to enclose the back of the standard cab type to keep the crew warm. These were made of heavy canvas, one on each side of the cab, and arranged on a slide so that they could be tied back at the sides of the cab while not in use or pulled around to enclose the open rear of the cab. I make these out of used dryer sheets glued together and cut to size, then painted an off white or tan color and use them to hide the back of the exposed motor. Install cab curtains (if used) after attaching the cab to the boiler.
Once you’re satisfied by the fit, glue the cab to the boiler. Be careful to keep
everything in alignment, blocking everything into position while the glue sets. It’s a good idea to allow extra time for the glue to set as this is an important structural connection. Once set, I added extra strength by mixing up a little epoxy and spreading it liberally along the joint, then let that set overnight.
Once the cab is on, test fit the complete chassis and do any minor cuts or filing to adjust the fit. If there are any openings between boiler and cab, use some putty the fill these and then file and sand these areas smooth. As with our previous projects use gray primer to check your “body work,” then sand and repaint as necessary.
As I said before, many of the Ten Wheelers had a deckles cab because the firebox extended to the back of the cab. To help disguise the gap between the back of the drivers and the end of the cab, we’ll add this firebox under the cab. I started by adding a piece of plastic strip ¼” wide by 2 1/4” long to the bottom of the cab on each side, front to back. To this I glued a piece of 1/8” wide plastic channel material along the edge closest to the opening under the cab. Once the glue sets I used a ½” wide by 1 7/8” long plastic strip standing on edge to go below the bottom of the cab to block side view of the motor. This makes a “L” shape under the cab on either side. I left the front and back open for clearance when installing the chassis to the shell and to allow wiring to exit below the cab. It will also not interfere with the drawbar to the tender.
A firebox has hundreds of rivet heads appearing on it, so the represent these, I used card stock with “rivets” rolled on with a Ponce wheel. Ponce wheels are hand held tools used in sewing and other craft work. They consist of a small handle with wheel at the end that looks like a tiny saw blade. You place a piece of 1/2”x 1 7/8” card stock on a soft surface such as sheet balsa, rubber, or soft plastic. Then you roll the Ponce wheel along the card stock lengthwise making about four straight lines 1/8” apart. When done, turn the card stock over and you have lines of “rivet heads” sticking out on the other side!
Make a second such sheet for the other side and glue each to the ½” x1 7/8” plastic firebox structure. This makes for an easy and inexpensive firebox under the Ten Wheeler’s cab. When the glue is dry give this a light coat of gray primer.
With the boiler modifications complete, we’ll move on the adding a tender.
Tags: Stumpy's Station
We’ve run the “Casey Jones” shell “through the scrap line” and salvaged useful parts. Now it’s time to make few serious cuts to the plastic Pacific shell.
For the major cuts, I use a Dremel Motor Tool with the cut off wheel and then go back and dress up the cuts with a file. Filing to final form allows you better control to make sure parts are straight.
We’ll cut off the Pacific’s pilot (“cow catcher”) along the straight vertical line of the front of this part, the thickness of the front of the pilot, leaving the two wedged shaped area intact to help strengthen the replacement part. The pilot removed from the Casey Jones and the cut line of the Pacific shell should be filed to fit tightly. The pilot of the Casey Jones is a slightly narrower than the Pacific pilot deck, so carefully center the Casey Jones pilot when gluing. We take care of the excess deck on each side later.
The next cut is the important one. We’ll be cutting the cab and firebox of the Pacific away to make room for the Casey Jones cab. Turn the Pacific shell over and locate the rear chassis mounting posts. Mark a line just behind these all the way around the shell because this is where we’ll make the cut to remove the rear portion of the Pacific shell.
You can either cut right on the line, or a little rearward of it to give yourself extra material to work with if you need to. The plan here is for the Casey cab to just cover the back of the motor. There is a slight difference between using a can motor and an original Flyer motor so measure twice and cut once!
Once again, file the cut lines of both the Pacific shell and the Casey Jones cab to fit tightly. I like to use some gray primer in all areas where modifications are to be made since working marks will show up better, and the gray allows you to see how your “body work” is as you build better than the normal black plastic.
At this point I had to turn my attention to how high to mount the cab as well as make sure there was enough length to cover the motor. On an old Ten Wheeler, the stack, domes, headlight, and cab would sit well above the boiler. Those old locos had smaller diameter boilers than later engines so vertical clearances were not as important. However, in our case, we must build the locomotive to fit the S gauge clearances of tunnels and bridges.
In this case, I wanted the top of the stack to about the same or a little taller than the cab roof. I used the stack height I had used on the “Prairie Dog” project since that had been set to clearances for tunnels and bridges, so the stack would be ½” above the top of the boiler. While looking things over
during the planning this project, I decided to just go ahead and use the Prairie’s shell to build the Ten Wheeler! The Casey Jones stack is about a ½” tall anyway! This also let me skip the steps to make a stack and headlight during construction, but I’ll describe them here for you.
I cut the original headlight and stack off the plastic Pacific shell and filed these areas flat. The hole where the headlight was can be filled with plastic rod or wooden dowel and touched up with putty. I like to make a few punch outs of card stock with a paper punch, glue them together in a “stack” of punch outs, and then glue this to the front of the boiler to represent a number plate.
A new headlight will be mounted to the top front of the boiler, typical of older style locomotives. This headlight will be made of a piece of plastic tubing 5/16” inch outside diameter. Cut a round piece of plastic to fit the diameter of the new headlight and glue it on the “back” of the tubing.
Next, drill a 3/16” hole in the top of the boiler as far forward as you can. Then drill another 3/16” hole in the “bottom” of the headlight that aligns with the hole in the top of the boiler.
Leave the inside of the headlight white or paint it silver to reflect the light from the light bulb in the front of the engine. If you can, use the original Flyer headlight lens. A short length of clear plastic rod that fits inside the new headlight will also make a good lens, but a flat piece of plastic cut to fit the “front” of the headlight will work too. Do not install the lens until after the locomotive has been painted so you don’t accidentally get paint on it.
Once the headlight is installed, you can add the Casey Jones stack at it’s full length. This will be a simple and straightforward installation.
Since the bell will be moved, carefully pry the original metal bell out of it’s hole with a small screwdriver. The bell is just pressed in. Fill this hole with some putty.
I wanted to use the Casey Jones safety valve turret to help back date the Ten Wheeler, so I filed off the three safety valves at the back top of the cab. This is where the Casey Jones turret will go. The Casey Jones bell will go right in front of the rearward dome. File the parts to fit tightly and attach.
Tags: Stumpy's Station
One locomotive that I have always wanted in S gauge is the 4-6-0, known as a “Ten Wheeler” because it had six drivers and a four wheel lead truck. As a direct “upgrade” of the common 4-4-0 “American,” the 4-6-0 wheel arrangement gave the superior high speed tracking of the “American” with the four wheel lead or pilot truck to help turn the locomotive, and the tractive effort of six driving wheels. Most “Ten Wheelers” had as big a boiler as the technology of the time and the space available could provide.
Most railroads used 4-6-0’s interchangeably for both passenger and higher speed freight traffic. In later years, these locos avoided scrapping by being downgraded to lesser assignments such as local freight and passenger trains, work trains, and even switching duties. Many 4-6-0 locos could still be found in daily operation to the end of steam on the mainline railroads because they were easy to maintain, and light weight enough to work on the lightly laid rail and light bridges found on branch lines. Short lines and tourist lines loved smaller locomotives like them for the same reasons.
Of course American Flyer never made a 4-6-0. But during the sixties and seventies when S scale guys had little to work with aside from old Flyer, a LOT of custom rebuilt locos appeared and the “Ten Wheeler” was one of them. Generally, these were made from Atlantics by a bit of modifying of the frame and adding a third set of drivers where the trailing truck would be.
A few guys used the Pacific because all you had to do to get the 4-6-0 wheel arrangement was remove the trailing truck. The problem was to somehow cover the long gap under the firebox/cab area or disguise the motor sticking out of the back of the cab in full view of anyone. Few got it right.
I’ve been giving this project some thought for years, and this series will follow my “Ten Wheeler Project” kit bash of a common Flyer plastic Pacific into a 4-6-0.
The biggest problem with this kit bash is to do something about covering up the motor while at the same time shortening the shell enough to look fairly realistic. The only actual chassis work will be taking the trailing truck off and making a longer drawbar to connect the tender. As usual, I made a new drawbar out of craft (popsicle) sticks because they’re durable, an electrical insulator, and easy to work with.
As part of this conversion, I decided to back date the Pacific shell to look like a typical early Twentieth Century loco that had been updated from time to time and worked right up to the end of steam. There are two ways to do this: buy brass castings of various parts, or cut up an old Flyer “Casey Jones” shell.
Castings can quickly become expensive, while a common “Casey Jones” can be had complete and running for about fifteen dollars, a bare shell for one might go for five dollars. You can’t buy detail parts for prices like that!
The Pacific used for most kit bash projects can be pretty scruffy looking because it’s going to get some cosmetic work anyway, just be sure the mounting posts are in good shape. You might consider buying a Pacific shell for customizing if you have a nice Pacific on hand, and you can swap the customized shell onto your nice loco’s chassis.
Another consideration is the tender. A Franklin tender would be perfect to help back date this project. The tender from behind the 0-8-0 would make a nice slightly more modern choice. You also might consider a Marx or even “027” Lionel tender shell on a Flyer tender chassis. In some cases you may have to shorten the chassis to make this work. Yet another option is to get a common Flyer plastic tender (use the one from the “Casey Jones” you buy for the boiler shell) and cut the fuel bunker sides off even with the top of the tender tank. Add a sheet of plastic to cover the remaining hole and build a coal box on top to get that older tender look.
Once you’ve decided what you want to do and gathered the various tid-bits, it’s time to start. I began by salvaging parts from the “Casey Jones” loco shell. Using a Dremel motor tool with a cutting wheel (a hobby saw works well but is just slower,) I cut off the cab, stack, bell, safety valve turret, headlight, and pilot (“cow catcher.”) I also removed the two domes by cutting into the shell rather than cutting the domes. This gives you extra material to work with for this and other possible projects. After all, once you remove the cab, the rest of the shell is pretty much scrap anyway. I keep a number of parts and “junk” boxes for possible future use and therefore a project is less often stalled for lack of parts.
We’ll be using the cab in this project, and one of the ugly things about the “Casey Jones” is solid cab windows. These can be opened up by drilling a series of small holes all around the inside of the windows and then cutting between them to remover the plastic. Dress the windows up with a file.
Next time, we really get started with the project.
Tags: Stumpy's Station