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Has anyone tried to modify the All Nation 4-6-0 mechanism to sprung drivers?  I have an unbuilt drive and the frame pieces are 1/8 thick brass.  I found some .05 and .06 diameter springs from Precision Scale.  They are pretty stiff for their size and I think they will work even with the weight of the diecast boiler.

Before I modify the frame I wanted to see if anyone had tried doing this already.

If anyone has tried this could you share what you did and how it came out?

Last edited by Tom D.
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Mine is not the "general opinion."  I routinely build my own and test them.  About 3/4 of my engine beds have provisions for coil springs, but I now just stick cork cushions in there.  The spring cavities are machined in, so whoever winds up with my locomotives can add springs easily.

I can find no difference in tracking, appearance, or pulling power.  My first ten or so have fully functioning sprung drivers.

My "OGR" switchers don't even have driving boxes - just U shaped slots in the frame.  See early 1990s OGR.

Maybe sprung drivers isn’t what I need.  I have several steam engines I run on my layout and on a club layout.  The Williams 2 rail and other brass locomotives run very well.  I have two captured axle engines that are both converted Lionel engines.  They both clunk on the switches and when coming off a grade.  They don’t derail, but there is a noise and you can see the lead driver losing contact with the rail.  One is a 4-8-2 the other is a 2-8-2.  I’ve just assumed that was because of no springs on the drivers.

I was trying to avoid that with the All Nation engine. But perhaps that’s not how to fix it.  Thoughts?

With the cold and snow here I've been running trains more.  I have an All Nation 4-6-0 already put together and the clunk, clunk, clunk on the switches got to me and I dug out this mechanism.  I don't have a lot of metal working tools so I used a new hand file to enlarge the openings in the frame by about 1/16 inch then drilled holes for the springs and temporarily put the frame together and put two axles in the bearings.  I'm a long way from a powered track test but I confirmed the wheels have a little spring flex in them, and I pushed this across the switch and didn't hear the clunk.  But then again it has almost no weight on it. If you look closely you can see the small gap and the spring.

It's not that I doubt Bob's comments, he has much more experience than I do, this is just a curiosity and something I wanted to try.

Does anyone have a copy of the mechanism assembly instructions?  I bought mine used and with no instructions.

Next step is to install a modern gearbox.


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If this is an issue with multiple locomotives on the same switch, it's probably an issue with the switch, not the locomotives.

Here's the mechanism instructions that came with my General Models Pacific, hopefully the photos are legible enough.



By the way, if you remove any original parts with the gearbox conversion, I'd be interested in them. Spare parts are always good to have.


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Last edited by Johnbeere

Those are great photo repros.

I am not "against" sprung drivers.  It is a hobby, and you should enjoy it your way, not mine.  I am just pointing out that I personally can find no difference in noise, pulling power, or general operation.

I started out in O Scale with sprung everything.  Most of my Lobaugh steamers are sprung, some so lightly that you can see them rock a bit.  My first four or five scratchbuilts have springs in them.

All of my recent steam models have slots for axle bearings (driving boxes) and depressions for coil springs.  That is so when I croak a new owner can spring them in a half hour flat.  Boom.  The springs just don't seem to help, so I put cushions in there.

When Babbitt bought the AN line, they converted the mechs to sprung frames.      They also put in enclosed gear boxes.    BTS owns the line now, and has announced it is up for sale.

A Rigid frame loco will make more noise going a switch depending on the switch and the loco weight in my opinion.     The heavier the loco, the more likely to make noise when hitting  a gap in the rails.     Switches have a built in gap at the frog.    On some there is a wider space for the opposing flangeway than others.     I use Old Roco Switches and some locos make more noise than others on these.     ON my handlaid switches with tighter  specs for the frogs and flangeways, and generally stuff is quieter on these.  

Also if a loco is nose heavy, it will dip when it hits that gap and make a clunk.   If it is balanced and has a long wheel based, it will span the gap without dipping in.  

NOW, if gap is wide enough, a sprung driver will also drop in, and then clunk coming out.

So springing the drivers will not compensate for bad track work in my opinion.    It may help some to quiet the running, but not a catch-all.

Johnbeere -- thank you for those scans, it will help a lot.

bob2 -- I appreciate your insight (as always).  And you are right, it's a hobby.  This is something I've wanted to try for a long time.

prrjim -- all very good points.  I have a mix of Atlas switches, the 2 piece Roco switches and Signature Switches.  There are no clunks on the signature switches.  They are really very nicely made.  And while the Roco switches aren't in the same league with the signature switches, the engines don't make the clunk of them either.  It's on 2 of the Atlas switches where I suspect the gap is a little bigger.  I'm making a change to the mainline that will replace one of the offenders with a signature switch.  But I think it is also what you said about balance.  The three brass engines I have go across all the turnouts with minimal noise.  They are a Sunset decapod, a Sunset Mikado and a Williams Mikado.  I have two converted Lionel engines (2-8-2 and 4-8-2) and the All Nation 4-6-0 that are diecast and a lot heavier.  The Lionel 4-8-2 and the All Nation are the two that really make the noise.  They don't derail, so it isn't a problem operationally.

Given what has been said, I suspect that 90% of this is track work and not the engine.

Actually the sprung drivers were a secondary thing.  I never liked how the old open frame motor projects out of the cab of the All Nation engine.  So when I bought this mechanism, the plan was to build it with a NWSL gearbox and shorter drive train and shorter motor.  I picked the mechanism up pretty cheap since a lot of the envelopes were open and there were essentially two boxes of mixed parts and no instructions.  Luckily, the valve gear parts were still sealed in their envelope.

Thanks everyone.  I'll see how this goes.

So I know this is late to the thread, but I had the same clunking problem on an mth USRA 0-6-0 switcher that had been converted to 2 rail by Joe Foelkrob.

It would clunk, the front driver would lift up, and sometimes even derail.

I finally figured it out. The first set of drive wheels were too close together. THEY WERE OUT OF GAUGE! So it would hit the frog and pop up, always clunking when it dropped down, and derailing at speed. I took a screwdriver and pried the wheel out ever so slightly. Problem solved! No more clunking, no more derailing!

I never thought to check for gauge problems because it was a Joe F. Conversion and he does amazing work. But that was the issue.

So before going to the trouble of putting in spring drivers. Check the gauge of the drive wheels is my suggestion!


The Roco two part switches are what I have the most.    They are I think what the Europeans call "coarse" standard as opposed to "Fine" standard.     The frog flangeways are pretty wide but do not cause me problems.   The switches do come with an insert piece to put in the frog so the flanges can ride on the insert as in the older Lionel switches.    I had those in, and have now removed most of them.

Making gradual progress.  I've cleaned and painted the brass frame, installed the drivers, the gear box, the crank pins, cleaned off the flashing and extra parts of the side rods and installed them.  I was surprised how rough the drivers and side rod castings were. They took a lot of time to round off and clean up and I'm still not finished.

The crank pins were tapered, but not sufficiently tapered to go into the wheel which was needed to engage the nut on the back.  I turned them down slightly using a file and turning them in a drill press.  This kit dates from somewhere between 1945 and the mid 1950's.  I don't know for sure since that predates me by a while, but I doubt many people had ready access to the jewelers type tools you'd need to complete this engine, let alone a drill press.  I think that explains why I've seen several of these engines with pretty rough valve gear.  I suspect it could have been pretty frustrating to build them back then and probably why this one was still open but um-assembled in a box.

I have a can motor I plan to use.  Mounting that and working on the rest of the valve gear will be next.


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It sounds like you're having more difficulty than is normal with the drive train, assembling mine went fairly smooth, though I did find out I had to file off the bottom of my bearings as documented here:

Your drivers have a much rougher appearance than mine, what are they made out of? Mine are Zamak die castings.

I didn't have to do anything special to my crank pins, a good tap with a hammer locked them in place and the nut went on without any extra effort.

I assume yours is a later version - maybe 50s or later? It has cut outs in the rear of the frame which weren't present in the early ones. Mine came in its original GMC boxes, so it dates to the late 40s.

I tried to lightly press the crank pins and they wouldn't budge.  Since there are no spare parts readily available, I didn't want to bend the crank pin or damage the wheel.  Maybe tapping them with the hammer would have worked; I was afraid to try so I tapered them some more.  It was still a very tight fit.

The drivers and rods are what was in the box. I am replacing the stock drive with a NWSL gearbox and am going to use a can motor.  The goal there is to get at least most of the motor out of the cab.

This probably sounds excessively negative and I don't mean it that way.   I know this is an older kit and would require a lot of filing and fitting.  I think this would have been a very challenging first kit.

Last edited by Tom D.

Perhaps the machining on your crank pins or drivers wasn't done as far as it should have been, wouldn't be that far of a stretch. In general, the mechanism for my Pacific was very easy, and I didn't have to really do anything that difficult. The boiler, though, has proven to be much harder. The tender may be even harder - all of the holes have been pre-drilled... In the wrong locations.

Anyway, I wish you luck, hopefully you don't encounter more big issues.

A while back I spent some time trying to get a coil sprung suspension to add rolling quality to a particular Sunset steam loco. I had lost the factory springs when the engine was apart for painting. I had high hopes, and made a serious effort with some NWSL springs in this pursuit, but I was never satisfied with the results. In the end I found that blocks of a Papermate desk eraser cut to fit the space where the original springs were located served the purpose just fine and this loco has many satisfactory hours of operation on these erasure blocks. They are all but invisible in the completed assembly, and as such do not detract in any way to the locos appearance.

Last edited by flanger

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