Dedicated to the S Gauge American Flyer Trains of A. C. Gilbert! header image 2

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: . 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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