Cheap diesel, soup it up??

I like to tinker, and I have a nice looking and running Lionel rs-3 I got from Craigslist for less than $25. I don't know the model number, it's an older one from a set with a single motor, electronic e-unit, and basic horn with the speaker in the cab. I was thinking of adding a second powered truck, and maybe sound...

I can probably get a powered truck from the bay for cheap, and wire it in series with the other motor, but will the e-unit be up to the job?

What options do I have for sound? I'm used to HO where there are sound decoders from several manufacturers for pretty much every Diesel engine ever made, but what about in O?

I'm pretty sure I'll add the second motor as long as the e-unit can handle it, but the sound might be another story depending on cost...IMG_3655



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Original Post
Steaming Jon posted:

Would this truck work if I swapped the side frames?IMG_3657

bluelinec4 posted:

That truck will not work   The RS3 had the motors inside the truck  Little can motors.  The truck in the pic is for a Pullmor type motor

That truck should work, it is the motor-in-truck design. The side frames, steps, & coupler mounting are all one part and will have to be switched out with your dummy truck parts to match the powered truck.

You can see how these are assembled by disassembling your power truck down to the power block(it may be just 2 screws - going by memory) and confirming that your dummy truck components match up and fit the power block.


I like these low-end Lionel RS-3's more than I should; while they will run at the speed of light, strangely they are also capable of running at reasonable, if not creep-y, speeds. Good body tooling; the frame could use some - a lot - of sprucing up. I prefer the ones with the metal handrails, though.

I have painted 2 of these in the past; one day I am going to fix those pilots and close that horrible gap. And the fuel tanks.

One of my favorite things about this design are the little "traction motors" in the trucks; plenty powerful in tandem, they are much more prototypical in design arrangement than either the vertical can motors or the fancy-schmancy single motor/driveshaft schemes. They are truck-mounted traction motors, like the real thing. Pretty much.

ERR command control would be an easy upgrade, too. Some weight is definitely a requirement.

I have an RS4-D that I was going to do the same exact thing to. Certainly was an anemic puller with its single motor. I have a "donor" loco with the same motor/truck configuration to use for the conversion. My only concern is if there is enough clearance under the long hood for the motor to fit.

Here is a pic of the engine...




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Thanks for all the replies!

I do plan on adding the second motor for sure, but the finance department said no to the truck listed on eBay until Friday, and the listing ends tonight... oh well, maybe one will come up with Alco sideframes...

Not sure if I will add the sound, but if I do I'll use the ERR commander, that looks like a good deal...

For now I'm just going to see if I can figure out how to get rid of the wobble this thing has... There's a lot of rocking motion allowed in both trucks, and I think if I add some bolsters to one truck it will shore it up while still allowing the engine to work ok on less than perfect track. That's always worked for me in HO scale anyway... 

Steaming Jon posted:

...I do plan on adding the second motor for sure, but the finance department said no to the truck listed on eBay until Friday, and the listing ends tonight... oh well, maybe one will come up with Alco sideframes...

Oddly enough, you may be better off on bidding on another GN RS-3 for the motor truck and parting it out. Lionel made a large number of these in that starter set.


For gosh sakes lower the fuel tank, unless you plan on taking that thing off-road!  (Insert a biscuit of wood painted to match between the frame & the fuel tank.  Add a little lead in the tank while you're at it.)

Mark, another motor should fit inside the long hood of your RSD-4.  The only issue I can think of, is that if the truck doesn't pivot centered on the motor, then it might hit the inside of the shell.


Creep, coast, and pull.  We're not talking about cold fusion here.

I have that exact same engine. It couldn't pull more than a couple cars and the horn sounded like a sick goat.
I'm following this thread with interest- 

Would love to do something with this otherwise useless engine.

Don't take it too serious- they're just toys...

IMG_3660IMG_3664IMG_3659IMG_3661IMG_3663Ok, so I decided to do some exploratory surgery on the engine. This will be a straightforward swap. The trucks come apart very easily, and the only difference I see in the sideframes is cosmetic. The only difference I see between the powered and unpowered trucks is that the unpowered one is missing a motor, a few gears, and pickup rollers. The axles even have gears on the back of the wheels (but no grooves for traction tires). That means all you really need to convert this one to a two motor diesel is a motor, gears, and a few scraps of wire (and axles with traction tires and pickup rollers if you want them).

I also added some bolsters to the powered truck while I had it apart... took a bit of trial and error to get the right height, I made them too thin at first and had to add some shims, but the engine tracks well and doesn't wobble at all anymore!


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I wouldn't go overboard, as the bearing surfaces are plastic.  4 to 6 ounces, maybe 8 oz max but I doubt you can fit that much.  Since both trucks will be powered, all the weight is now on driven axles- your pulling power will automatically double.

Creep, coast, and pull.  We're not talking about cold fusion here.

These locos ride pretty high.  Depending on the quality of the wheels and tires, they tend to wobble and that motion is exaggerated by the loose connection between the body and the trucks.  Adding a little weight in the center of the fuel tank acts as ballast and tames the rocking motion, giving the appearance of more solid, smoother operation.

Creep, coast, and pull.  We're not talking about cold fusion here.

The wobbles are fixed on this one, I added some bolsters to one truck to take up the sideways rocking of the truck. It will still rock forward and backward, so it follows the track, but doesn't rock side to side. This arrangement fixes the body wobble, and still allows flexibility for less than perfect track...


The bolsters are just plastic scraps from a model kit that I glued to the truck in line with the mounting pin. The trick is to make them thick enough to take up the slack, but not so thick that the truck binds...

As is it will pull 6 scale/close to scale cars on level track no problem, and that will only improve with another motor, so maybe I won't need any additional weight...


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A few thoughts: First even on evil bay things are negotiable; become knowledgeable about what something should sell for if it's priced too high and politely make a fair offer even without "best offer" noted; become aware of actual shipping costs and again negotiate. don't know what the seller is asking but that item can be sent anywhere in the U.S. for less than $7.


Now for some thing else. If you get it let me know. I might have a pair of ALCO style side frames hidden away somewhere that i'll give you for the cost of postage. I'll check my stuff in the Toronto half of the next inning.


jackson, CEO, Not-So-Great Eastern RR, aka The Never Done Line

          Division of the Southern Adirondack Railway Cartel



39925960742_6d9b3fd0dc_oBought the truck just now, it went back on sale... it may still have been a little high, but I'm ok with that... especially since I bought this engine in a lot (picture above) with a g-scale boxcar, 4 of the super lightweight plastic Lionel cars, and a decent PW Sunoco tank car all for $25...


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Well, my truck arrived today, but it's missing some important parts... they sent me an unpowered truck... I'm hoping it was an honest mistake and they will take care of it. If not, it's a clear snad, the listing clearly shows a powered truck, so worst case I'll get my money back...

Well, the saga continues... I got the powered truck in the mail today, got it installed, and did a quick test run with the shell off, it ran great. Put the shell back on and ran it again and it was not happy at all: noisy, struggling to move, and went right from forward to reverse with no neutral in between... pulled the shell back off and found some pinched wires, separated them and now it goes neutral-neutral-reverse-neutral-neutral-neutral-reverse...

I guess it's telling me it wants the ERR sound system...

I want to run this engine. I don't have the money for new electronics right now... solution? Scavenge the diodes and a cap off the burned out board and make my own rectifier. Only goes forward, but it runs!

Only thing is it's way faster, even with the two motors wired in series... not sure what I'm gonna do about that... probably just run it until I can get the new guts...

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