I have a Lionel 8516, 0-4-0 switcher, 1984-6 MPC that has a DC can motor and electronic E-unit in tender, a metal body, smoke and has an operating front coupler. My Lionel 8310, 0-4-0 switcher has a plastic cow catcher on front with no coupler. I believe it was made for Sears in 1973-74, has a standard post war 4 wheel metal frames motor and standard E-unit, no smoke and has the same metal body as the 8516 but was cheaper without a working front coupler. Both run very well and are great small switchers.
Lionel 8310, 0-4-0 switcher
A front pilot step frame is available for the 8516 but 8516 has metal steam chest assembly including the piston housing and pilot. The 8310 has a cheap plastic piston housing, pilot and cow catcher. To convert the 8310 to have an operating front coupler like the 8516, a piston housing, pilot, front step and operating front coupler will have to be purchased. All these parts probably will cost more than I paid for the Lionel 8310. I decided to make these parts one that will fit the 8310 as I have a spare operating coupler.
I measured the thickness of the front pilot step (5/128”) of the 8516, with a Vernier caliper, and found an old metal book shelf to be the same thickness. I found I could barely cut the metal with a pair of aviator shears. I measured up the pilot front pilot step on the 8516 and sketched the pilot and front step and cut it out of the metal. I could not cut the front step bar to be attached to the pilot and made a bar and soldered it on.
I uses a small piece of 1/8 thick Basswood make the metal pilot thicker and J W welded the together.
I then added pieces of a popsicle stick to add extra thickness on the outside edges. I drilled holes in the pilot to match the holes on the engine.
I measured out how tall a pedestal of 3/8 dia tubing was needed to mount the operating coupler in the middle of the pilot and front step and match the height of the coupling on a Lionel car. I J B welded the tubing pedestal to the pilot and installed the coupling with washers, a long screw and two nuts.
I found the front hand rail of the 8615 was 5/128” dia and found a large paper clip was the same, straightened it and installed it on the pilot. I painted the pilot with Krylon satin black spray paint.
Actually the new coupler 8310 looks more handsome than the 8516, whose metal pilot and piston housing looks like bare metal, but I dare not paint it cause its value would be reduced!
This little project took lots of measuring and testing and required a week of a couple of hours each day, and allowing over night to fully cure the J B Weld several nights. It took way more effort than I first thought but was worth the time and I think it turned out very well. I enjoyed turning cheaper, ugly 0-4-0 engine into a great running 0-4-0 switcher with an operating front coupler.