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

Stumpy’s Station – “Ten Wheeler Project” Part 1

August 28th, 2014 · No Comments

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.

…Stumpy Stone

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