Having spent 12 years as an operations engineer in an old coal fired power plant, naturally I needed one on my layout. My layout is mostly tinplate, so the impressive 840 power station was a must. I already had a Lionel 97 coal loader and it seemed natural to combine it with the 840. Here is the power station and coal loader in their initial position. The O gauge loop is above the standard gauge loops at this point in the layout.
Later I decided to lower the power station base, to improve the overall appearance and to raise the coal loader in relation to the power station (it isn't raised yet in the picture).
I knew this would be a somewhat complex project, so I worked on other things. Now that we are all stuck at home, I decided it was time to tackle it. The idea was to make the 97 coal loader into a coal handling system for the power station. The coal would be unloaded from the train and conveyed to the bunkers inside the power station. The unloading had to accommodate prewar tinplate dump cars, postwar dump cars and the MTH dump cars. My 97 coal loader had a broken scoop when I purchased it. I repaired it with thin aluminum and JB weld epoxy. It looked great and worked well, but that repair and other minor issues meant that it would never be worth much. Therefore, I did not hesitate to make modifications. I decided that the unloading solenoid was not needed, the LOUD drive had to be replaced, interior lights added and the discharge chute raised. Once I cut a hole in the side of the yellow building portion of the 97, the decision was made to disassemble and repaint. This is the motor drive I used, bought on Ebay a while back.
Pictures of the restoration/modification in progress:
The white paint was left over from an MGA restoration many years ago. A base for the coal loader was next.
The new motor still was a bit noisier than I liked, so I glued carpet padding inside the base to reduce the noise. I use an old computer power supply to provide 5v and 12v accessory power (switches, lights, servo motors, arduinos, etc). When I tested the coal loader with the new motor, all my servo motors went crazy, including turnouts! The interference is probably due to the motor having brushes. I added a .001mfd capacitor, two chokes, and a second .001mdf capacitor to the power feeding the motor. Problem solved.
Stay tuned, much more to come.