Continuing Saga … Road Maintenance!

Did a repair today on a very old friends MTH Premiere AC-5 SP Cab Forward. It was mistreated a bit by the grandkids. Not only are no parts apparently available, but neither are any MTH parts lists for this PS-1 version nor any of the later re-issues. The biggest problem was the eccentric crank on the front right engine set was fractured in half at the junction of the arm to the hub. The train store here or in Troy, MI where he lives were no help. I figured if I could get the crank off (both parts including the eccentric rod that is riveted to the arm) I could maybe repair it.

I got it all apart and drilled the hub with an 0.032" carbide drill and another in the severed arm. I needed to check the geometry before I dried the arm. As I suspected, it didn't come directly off, but had a crook bringing the eccentric arm connection point out and away from the hub. I compensated for this when I drilled the arm hole so when assembled the angle would be built in.

Eccentric Crank Hole

I inserted a brass pin of the same size and put it all together with J-B Weld.

Eccentric Crank Repair

I straightened all the deformed valve gear rods too. Tomorrow will tell if the repair is strong. I think it will be.

Speaking of repairs. The J-B Weld was fully cured holding the S-1's tender's bulkhead in place and it was as solid as a rock. If there's one thing wrong with this epoxy is that it takes at least a good 12 hours to get solid (and even longer). you have to patient, but you're rewarded with an amazing repair. I also found that the forward railing stanchions took a hit on the engine and they needed to be reattached. I was going to use J-B Weld for this, but tried medium CA and it worked okay. I then put it on the track and gave it a test run. Everything was back to normal. Whew!

I was running both the S-1 on the high speed loop, and the Allegheny on the inner one. The S-1 was significantly faster and they were running in opposite directions. I wanted to take a picture of the two meeting at the ravine and had to wait for a few rotations before they synchronized at the bridges.

P&PRR Passing Steam

I then started ripping up the streets. I was able to peel the Bristol Board off using a putty knife without tearing it or ruining the foam subsurface. I didn't have to remove all the buildings which made it a bit easier (so far) since I'm doing this sitting on top of the layout. I hadn't gotten to the other end yet when I took this picture.

P&PRR Streets Under Repair 1

Here's the old streets along with the Gravely Building which needs a little touch up due to roof damage from the plumbing moisture. I think I saved the "XING" stencil that I used 3 years ago when doing them originally. If I didn't, I'll make new ones since I still have the computer file that produced them.

P&PRR Streets Under Repair 2

I didn't remove all the streets. It seems the cross-streets didn't delaminate like the main street did. I had one piece of Strathmore Bristol Board left and was able to trace the longest pieces and cut them out. I need to go to Michael's and  get some more. I'm thinking about sealing both sides of the board with fixative before painting and gluing it down to make it a little less susceptible to moisture. It just an idea. And I'm using water-based acrylic paint which adds its own moisture.



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Trainman2001 posted:

Thanks again. I'm impressed that a super market has RMC, but our local train store doesn't. It makes me happy that I talked about this years ago, and it actually came to pass.

Yes, isn't it amazing!  Also, that I found OGR at the grocery store, but not in the hobby shop!  Quite frankly, finding OGR at Giant Eagle 6 1/2 years ago totally changed my approach to the hobby!!  If it hadn't been for that, I may have never found this Forum and never come into contact with you and all the other great folks here!! 

I'm very happy for your vote of confidence. I made a small step by going to Michael's and getting another sheet of Strathmore Bristol 4 ply for the reaming streets I'm replacing. What I did do today was as follows. 

The corrected eccentric crank cured well and I reassembled the valve gear.

AC-5 Crank Fix Detail

I decided to see if I could power up a PS-1 MTH engine with the tender from a 3rd Rail J1-a. Since they both used QSI control boards I made the (correct) assumption that the pinout would be the same in the connectors. The AC-5's drawbar attachment point and the J1a's drawbar are not compatible so I used a twisty tie to temporarily draw them together and do a test run. It worked.

But it was thumping along terribly. It's not only completely missing a traction tire on one driver in the front-fixed engine, but the other one on the same axle was half off the rim. I went to the local train store and they had the correct MTH traction tire for this engine. 

I do not recommend changing tires on an engine like this for the faint hearted, especially if you're working on the first axle in the set. You must take the engine apart. The rear-articulated engine must be removed, then the chassis must be dropped from the boiler. Then you have to remove the cylinder assembly and finally the main and side rods.

Tire Changing an Articulated

Disassembly and tire replacement was not difficult. When I removed the old tire, part of it was adhering to the groove while other parts were half off the wheel which is what was causing most of the bumping. That being said, getting it back together was a bear!

Tires Changed

You have to get both crossheads on their guides almost simultaneously. Then you have to get both piston rods into their respective packing glands, and before you slip in too far, you need to get the valve rods into their respective packing and then slide the cylinder casting home and align the screw holes. This took me 20 minutes (or more) and was very frustrating. I'd get one side in, but the valve gear or crosshead was binding on the other side. I'd fix that side and then the previous side would be screwed up. And so it went. I finally removed one of the main rods completely so the crosshead had more travel to manipulate it into position. And, of course, with all this manhandling, the J-B Weld joint on the fixed crank failed and it's now on the bench curing again. In use it should not fail. It was my twisting and pushing of the linkage that torqued it excessively. I know it was excessive since the connecting link was again deformed and needed straightening. I'm sure that the folks assembling these engines in Korea (or wherever) have a better way to do it. For me it was just brute force.

So… I learned how to change steamer traction tires on a complicated articulated engine. 

I also learned that any QSI powered engine shares the same connector pattern. I chose a J1a since 3rd Rail big engines also have big Pittman motors in them so the current draw would be similar. It was.

I decided to hold off on buying the Y6b for now. When I was at the train store I had the proprietor put it on the test track and run it conventionally, since I don't have TMCC. It ran okay, but you do lose some control with conventional. I was not happy with the headlight. It was very dim, even in TMCC. But the main reason is I'm going to in two weeks with my wife and didn't want to spend my money before going. Why go if you're not going to buy anything. My commission check came today from RMC for Part 1, so I have the funds to buy the engine. I'm just not so sure yet. Besides, it's not going rush off the shelves. It's a big engine and requires big curves and most fellas don't have them, so my guess is that it will be there if I decide that it really should be on my railroad.

I find that MTH digital engines run better in conventional than TMCC engines. I have 3 PS-2 engines that run and sound just fine in conventional. I only have one TMCC engine and this would be #2. I don't know if two engines are justification to buy TMCC. I've wired my entire railroad with home run wiring so if and when I decide to get DCS I just have to plug it in. I suppose I could get DCS and run TMCC through it and then I'd be ready to go. I also may convert some of my older systems to digital… maybe.


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in looking at last photo you posted with drive rods and cylinders in place it appears if you take the 1 screw for brake out and remove brake assembly and then remove the first bolt where traction tire is and loosen the others you could slip the new tire on and used a small straight bladed screw driver to install the new traction tire.

like I said it appears it can be done that way? so how does it run now without the thumping?


Don't know about the thumping since I have to wait until the crank is fixed (again) until I test it again. My guess it will be smooth running.

The problem was not only the brake rigging, which I did remove, it was the side rods too and the cross head guides completely seemed to block access to the whole rim. If it was the rear driver it would have been much easier.

I got the Cab Forward back together and restored. In addition to putting the newly repaired running gear back on, I did a thorough cleaning and oiling, and repainted the chipped and damaged white running board striping. Now I just have to figure the best way to get it to Sterling Heights, MI.

Cab Forward Fixed

Cab Forward Rebuilt Drive

I then got the last street piece cut from the new Bristol Board I purchased last week and masked all the road markings. I had used some 1/8" masking tape when I did the original streets, and found some left, but not enough to do the entire job. Also the tape was very old and was losing its grip. So I cut 6mm Tamiya masking in half and used that to finish up the job.

P&PRR Streets Repair Masking

I mixed up a batch of Artist's tube acrylic paint to match the dark gray I used originally, since I'm not replacing all the streets. I then put on one coat with a sponge paint brush and let it dry overnight. Tomorrow I'll do a second coat, and if necessary a 3rd. Instead of painting the lines, I just let the board's natural white be the color. After the painting I'll age it with a light spray of Nato Black in areas where tire rubber would be more prevalent. I have to replace all the manhole covers and put in the sewer inlets and it will be time to put them onto the layout.


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I’m glad you got the cab forward in great shape again!

I want to commend you on the Railroad Model Craftsman distillery article.  While I have no experience with the software you use, I found your description of its use and problems you solved to be interesting.  It was humorous how you described your grandson showing you a simpler way to fill in all the brick pattern.  I think you gave the average person who is so inclined the background to give it a shot on a much simpler building for a first try.  

I commend RMC for publishing your article on how a craftsman can use up to date tools and methods to build a building that may be hard to replicate using traditional materials, tools, and methods.

Thank you Mark for that thoughtful and complete review! You seemed to have drawn everything from the article that I intended and that makes me very happy. RMC is definitely on the right track for those that really want to push their skills higher. It reminds me of the old Mainline Modeler Magazine. I've kept all my MMMs for reference. While it clearly is HO oriented, they're not afraid to put an occasional O article in.

Part 2 will be at the newsstand at the end of October. I haven't seen Part 3 yet to proof. I expect it will be coming at the beginning of November.

Put the 3rd coat of brush-painted artist acrylics on the road material. It turns out a tad darker than the connecting streets so it will look like a freshly paved street which is quite normal. I also started fixing some other delaminated areas that are not being replaced. I bought some Liquid Nails Project Adhesive to glue the Bristol to the foam substrate. I checked to make sure it didn't affect the foam. Some construction adhesives do. In the image, I just threw the streets down to see how they fit. 

P&PRR Street Repair Fitting

They a bit glossy and they needs some weathering which I'll do with the airbrush off the layout. The water-based acrylic caused the Bristol Board to curl a bit, but I'm sure that the adhesive will hold it down. I think I'm going to tape the four road pieces together so they'll be aligned before gluing to the layout. 

P&PRR New Warped Streets

There was a spot in front of the Idaho hotel that was delaminated about a scale foot. I first tried Aleen's but it didn't really hold to the foam and after I took the weight off of it, it popped up again. I then used the Liquid Nails and it held nicely. The street is no longer at the height of the porch steps.


P&PRR Idaho Street Fix

I finished repairing the Gravely Building by putting in a rectangular piece that filled in a notch in the base plate and then repainted the total paving to sort of match the Nighthawks paving color. I then added one more telephone pole and replaced the fire hydrant that had broken loose. The arrow shows the new base piece.

Gravely Fix

I wanted to move the passenger train out of the way to give more access to the town area. When I powered it up, there was a short. After investigating, I noted that the tender coupler's uncoupling thumbtack on the Big Engine was dragging on the center rail. What was going on? When I lifted the tender I found that the coupler mounting bracket had broken loose…AGAIN. I had epoxied this years ago when the solder joint failed. This time I'm using J-B Weld. It's curing now and we'll be all fixed tomorrow. I also replaced the temporary masking tape coupler fix with a more permanent small cable tie to keep the couple from opening…ever. It's a good joint since it has tabs the extend into the tender's frame.

S-1 Tender Coupler Mount Fix

Tomorrow I'll finish up the street job and put the S-1 back in service.

Then, I'm taking another break from railroading and building another big model. This one is the Tamiya 1:32 F4U-A1 Corsair Bubble Top in 1943 US Marines color. Like I did with the Avenger, this one's going to have a bit of extra work especially in dressing up that beautiful R-2800 radial engine which Tamiya has done a nice job replicating the prototype.




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Mine too. I didn't put in an interior on that one. You really couldn't see it anyway, but it would have been fun. 

The J-B Weld fused the coupler bracket cured perfectly, only one problem. I installed it backwards. There is a notch on one side. I saw the notch, but it didn't register why it was there. When I tried to re-attach the coupler, I found that the round shank end bumped into the bracket and wouldn't let the screw align with their holes. So… that's what the notch was for. I needed about 3/64" more travel. A little time with the Dremel and a small sanding drum created a half-moon shaped relief that let the couple settle in where it belongs. I then ran the engine around and around and it worked perfectly. It's one of my two most repaired engines which doesn't help their resale value, but I really like them so they're not going any where.

I was then able to park the Big Engine (really… that's what PRR called the S-1) on the high line and out of the way of all this road work.

Speaking of road work. I erased all the center pencil lines and touched up any white area that has some masking leak. I then taped all four pieces together, laid them out on my big cutting table and air brushed first some Model Flex Refer Gray down the entire street to add some variety to the texture and then with some Tamiya Rubber Black but this time paying more attention to the driving lanes.

I couldn't find the sticker sheet I had made of manhole covers so I had to go to the MacBook Pro and make some more of them. I had kept the JPG file that had the images, but had to re-size them in CorelDraw and print them out again on Avery Label paper. After printing I shot them with some artists fixative spray.

I sized them to 30" after doing a quick research project on Google to find out "What size are manhole covers?" 30" is 5/8" in O'scale, so before sticking them on the road, I drew circles of that size opposite the storm drain inlet location. I used this circle as a guide to paint a gloss black circle around it and the sewer inlet openings that would simulate the tar sealant around the edges. Then I stuck down the manhole covers. 

P&PRR New Manhole Cover

I found my "XING" stencil I used years ago when laying the streets the first time. I put some MicroMark PVA on the back to give it some stick, put it in place and masked around it with some newspaper and rattle can sprayed it with Tamiya Matte White. I did this on both ends of the street.

With the road all taped together I put it back on the layout. It's curling pretty bad with being painted on just one side. The color matches pretty well now.

P&PRR Ready to Glue

Tomorrow I have to figure out how to glue it all down. I'm not worried about the construction adhesive being able to counteract the warped paper. What I am concerned about is the sequence of gluing it all down. I will probably take the street apart since I don't trust the tape to hold those critical seams. That will make it easier to put each piece in place since I have to work it from both ends since I can't lay across the whole layout from one side. The layout is open in a little portal between the two bridges at the opposite end of the street in this image, but I have to get to it by scooting under the layout on my creeper and coming up in the opening. I start laying the road from this end since it's fit back into the space is critical and the entire street is spaced from this end. The hardest piece to glue down is the long middle one (obviously).



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Trainman2001 posted:

Tomorrow I have to figure out how to glue it all down. I'm not worried about the construction adhesive being able to counteract the warped paper. What I am concerned about is the sequence of gluing it all down. I will probably take the street apart since I don't trust the tape to hold those critical seams. That will make it easier to put each piece in place since I have to work it from both ends...


I hesitate to offer you, a master modeler, suggestions. My method for doing the street pieces would be to put them into their exact positions on the layout and place weights on top of each piece to hold them tightly in place. Then, remove just one piece at a time, apply glue, and fit it up next to the adjoining piece. Then proceed to adjacent piece. Am looking forward to reading your follow-on articles in RMC.


I take all good suggestions and that sir, is a good suggestion. I have a pile of bricks in the garage left over from when our house was built. I used them when gluing down all the track and will use them again.

I forgot to mention that my 40 year-old Badger single cylinder diaphragm air brush compressor has finally stopped working. The pressure switch or the diaphragm has failed and the unit is running continuously. I've been looking for one for at least 6 months just waiting for this little guy to finally give out. I want one with a reservoir and pressure adjustment. I've been airbrushing for 40 years at the same pressure which is ????. I have absolutely no idea. I did put a moisture trap on it years ago.

Every compressor made by every company all seem to use the same units made by the same Chinese manufacturer so I'm going to get one that's not hiding behind a name brand and marking up the prices accordingly. There's a nice twin cylinder no-oil piston compressor that is less than $120 on Amazon. The reviews are the usual mixed bag.

Screen Shot 2018-03-31 at 11.20.42 AM


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The street will look great.  I have a bunch of bricks left over from whe my wife’s grand parents had this house built in ‘68.  They are handy for all kinds of things.  I picked that up from my dad, his bricks are over 100 years old and still do the job.

I bought a new Pasche compressor from my LHS on Friday when the 40 year-old Badger finally stopped behaving. But I'm having a problem with the new one and put up a separate post on it.

Meanwhile, I did get a rare Sunday "work" session on this chilly, drizzly October day. I glued 2/3 of Main Street into position. I would have got it all glued, but I ran out of heavy stuff to gravity clamp it all down. I didn't want to rush the drying time since it was so critical that the edges really glue tight. The edges were warped upwards and took a bit of pressure to ensure that they were down tight. In the first second I used my mechanical heavy objects. As I moved along I used some of my bricks.

P&PRR Street Gluing Begins

Here's the opposite view.

P&PRR Streets Gluing Begins 2

The Liquid Nails seems to work okay. I did have to reinforce the very forward edge of the first piece near the tracks with some thick CA. Upon closer inspection, I may have to go around and add some strategic CA to keep the edges in place.

Once all the glue is set, I'll use some filler and clean up all the junctions. The new streets are just a tad narrower than the old. I thought I was tracing them as carefully as I could, but some error crept in. Better too small than too large.

Tomorrow, I'm taking back the compressor tomorrow and then finishing up the street job.


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This morning I got the last piece glued down. It wasn't set enough this afternoon to take all the weights off, so it will stay put until tomorrow. I did start spackling the big seams between the old and new streets. I masked the line work near the gap to cut down on the cleanup. That too will be dry tomorrow and will need another coat since this stuff shrinks. I thought I had some light weight spackle laying around, but it was gone so I used joint compound.

P&PRR Street Filling


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The streets are fixed and Nighthawks is in place and wired. I worked all afternoon painting the patches, putting in storm water inlets and getting the buildings that were moved re-situated.

I got a pretty good color match on the artists acrylics to do the spackle painting. I masked the white lines so they wouldn't get painted over. The new streets look just as beat up as the old ones, only they're not all delaminated and actually are flat. It's actually a better match than I expected. Those very light areas were cleaned up with a damp paper towel after I took this image.

P&PRR Street Project Complete

And here's Nighthawks all lit up and where it belongs. These are iPhone photos.

NH Complete 2NH Complete 3NH Complete 4

I took some other shots using my depth of field software. These aren't as good as I like it, and if (or when) this becomes another article, I'll have my friend shoot some more professional looking images. These are shot with a Canon EOS with an 80 to 210mm zoom lens.

NH Installed 1NH Installed 2NH Installed 3NH Installed 4

This is the last post for awhile. We're taking our annual York Show trip and then onto Philly to visit friends and family.


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