HO Railroad

While looking  for something to occupy myself during an early summer heat wave I happened to remember an HO locomotive kit that had been tucked away in the cupboard for 30 years, a very demanding and complex kit that I had started long ago but put aside due to its difficulty. What better retirement project to do in air conditioned comfort! So I pulled out the Roundhouse two-truck Shay that was also in storage and gave it the once-over. Some of the original glue had become brittle so the Shay got an overhaul before tackling the more complex task.

The Allegheny kit by Master Creations is, as I found out on the Internet, one of the toughest kits to build that ever produced and many suffered from problems with a poor metal alloy that caused them to deteriorate with age so very few of them were built or survived to present day.

Thirty years ago I had built the tender and begun the engine chassis but put it aside because of difficulty with binding in the drive train so the first task was to correct the original problem, a task that took a number of days.

After the initial binding was solved, I began the task of fitting the side-rods, another finicky task that was to occupy me for DAYS!

This kit was plagued with problems - poor quality casting, lack of adequate instructions, missing & wrong parts. One of the problems was that there seemed to be no parts, instructions, or even hints for getting power pickup from the rails. After considerable deliberation I decided to pick up power from the tender truck where the power pickup would not interfere with other parts. Pickup shoes were fabricated from thin brass sheet and glued to the truck frame with a plastic insulator on the 'hot' side and directly to th truck frame on the 'ground' side. This would also provide mounting space for the (digital command control) decoder within the tender.

Meanwhile, I took some time to install a DCC decoder in the Roundhouse Shay

... and built a couple of buildings for the future layout, a station and an office for the sawmill.


Back to the Allegheny .... I put pickup fingers on the 'ground' wheels, connectorized the connection from the truck to the tender, mounted a terminal block inside the tender, and provided a 4 pin connector for motor power and the front light on the locomotive (if I ever install one).

Next task is to figure out how to build the cab ('cause the parts don't fit!) and figure out how to make and attach a drawbar between the engine and tender. The cab is assembled but not finished so it was possible to route and secure the wires (and paint the black to look like pipes) and make a drawbar from brass stock.

(The green & yellow wires are for a headlamp if I decide to add one)

Whoever packed my kit back around 1980 gave me to left halves for the firebox and no right half!

So I had to make a firebox from styrene. Details will be added after cleaning up the boiler and cab with body filler, filing, and sanding. Due to the poor quality of castings and poor fit, there is a LOT of filling and filing required!

and finally it gets a coat of paint!

Meanwhile, out in he bush, it was time to assemble the portable sawmill and build a shelter for the small sawmill that would provide timber and planking needed to build the railroad. Sheet and square styrene would do the trick.


The completed Bush Mill

I acquired a really cute little Santa Fe 10-wheeler vintage 1980

Of course it needed cleaniing and oiling and was not equipped for DCC so it was necessary to isolate the grounded motor terminal from the frame but cutting the bond on the motor.

The only room for the DCC decoder was in the tender so the motor and light wires were routed from the locomotive into the tender along with connections from the engine frame (right rail) and tender frame (left rail).
I prefer to use a terminal block so that either the decoder or the locomotive can be disconnected without pulling out all the wiring.


Finally the decoder is connected to the terminal block, tested, and programmed and the conversion is complete.

More to come ... assuming progress is eventually made! ;)

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