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!