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I have recently found a 2-10-4 B&LE (3rd Rail) Engine which is 2-Rail. I have been looking for this model for several years now (in 3-rail) with no luck. Is it possible to convert this engine from 2-Rail to 3-Rail operations. Any input or advice would be greatly appreciated.

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A few options. Modify the existing drivers for 3 rail, change out the existing drivers for 3 rail ( good luck finding them ) or a complete chassis swap…..also, the level of detail you’re looking for will dictate the course you go……post up some pics of your new find, and we can all make suggestions based on what we’re seeing,…..perhaps a Lionel or MTH 3 rail 10 wheel chassis could  be a good stand in??….I’d have to see what your’s looks like …..I’ve chassis swapped a herd of NYC engines that were formally 2 rail, but finding NYC chassis is a bit easier than yours,…but let’s see what you got, and we can go from there,…..one note, no matter what route you go, don’t expect this swap to be cheap,….10 wheeled chassis are not exactly falling out the trees like 6 or 8 wheeled chassis would be,…..another option, and this is how I keep the costs in check, is to purchase an entire donor engine, then make the donor 2 rail with the chassis I don’t want, then sell that as a 2 rail DC engine ……either way, like I said, don’t expect this job to be cheap,….not trying to bust your bubble, but that’s the reality of it….

Pat

Do you have much information on the real deal 1:1 …..some crucial information would be driver diameters, axle spacing, etc, etc,….looking at your quick pics, my suggestion ( let others chime in too) would be a chassis swap based on the other 2-10-4 locomotives that are produced,…..at least this way, you’ll get at least a portion of your funds back, ……plus if you buy a whole donor, there’s your control system, sounds, ( If so desired ) etc, etc,…again, then you can put the 2 rail chassis under the donor, and sell it off, ….if done right, it will bring a decent chunk  of change back,……my .02 cents anyways ( disclaimer: .02 cents is now $38.50 ….please remit 😉)

Pat

@kdavis27 posted:

Pat,

My tightest curves are 0-72 (should be good to go there). I think finding another 2-10-4 Colorado by 3rd rail is the best and simplest option. Purchase the engine and swap the trucks and drivers. This is a great idea. Thank you so much for the suggestion.

Yeah, if you have O72 3 rail, ain’t no way in h-e-double toothpicks you’ll get that 2 rail 2-10-4 chassis to navigate that without it binding, or jumping as-is,…..if you get another exact same model, just chassis swap everything and you’ll be done ….no need to pull driver sets, rods, etc,…..that chassis will drop out with just a few screws….

Pat

@kdavis27 posted:

I have recently found a 2-10-4 B&LE (3rd Rail) Engine which is 2-Rail. I have been looking for this model for several years now (in 3-rail) with no luck. Is it possible to convert this engine from 2-Rail to 3-Rail operations. Any input or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Last year I converted a Sunset 2 rail Pacific to three rail by swapping out wheelsets. Most two rail engines have wider frames closer to prototype and use thinner wheels with the small flanges. Three rail large flange drivers are thicker and require milling the frame if you want to keep the large flanges.

Given this a 3rd Rail engine you might already have a frame that will accommodate thicker wheels otherwise 3rd Rail would have had to make two frames with different dimensions. You could first contact Scott to see if he has 3 rail drivers or wheelsets on the shelf and if not look for three rail drivers close to the diameter you need.

Pete

@harmonyards posted:

Yeah, if you have O72 3 rail, ain’t no way in h-e-double toothpicks you’ll get that 2 rail 2-10-4 chassis to navigate that without it binding, or jumping as-is,…..if you get another exact same model, just chassis swap everything and you’ll be done ….no need to pull driver sets, rods, etc,…..that chassis will drop out with just a few screws….

Pat

Or maybe the more plentiful PRR J1 2-10-4 ? IDK about the frames matching.

@Bob posted:

The PRR 2-10-4 has 69" diameter drivers vs. 64" for the B&LE locomotive.  The 5" difference is about 1/8", which I think would really change the look of the B&LE.  The huge boiler vs. relatively small drivers gives it a distinctive look.

Not speaking for the OP Bob, but I have a 6” leeway on anything I build, ….if I’m within 6” ….I roll with it, …..I don’t think 5” would crush my spirit, especially if it came down to not being able to run it, and being able to run it …….I’d give up that 1/8” total in a heartbeat,……😁

Pat

@Bob posted:

The PRR 2-10-4 has 69" diameter drivers vs. 64" for the B&LE locomotive.  The 5" difference is about 1/8", which I think would really change the look of the B&LE.  The huge boiler vs. relatively small drivers gives it a distinctive look.

Tire diameter will be very close. Three rail has undersize tires, wheel diameter is a function of the flange diameter. Wheel base may be a bit longer though.

Pete

@Strummer posted:

So I guess converting 2 to 3 rail is more complicated than simply adding pick ups for a center (third) rail...(?)

Mark in Oregon

Depends on the locomotive, the track being used, and what you can & can not get away with Mark,….obviously, a little 2 rail 0-4-0 or even an 0-6-0 might track just fine on certain rails,…..the biggest issue you run into is the number of flanges you’re trying to get through common 3 rail curves, ….ie; O72, O54, etc,….remember, the 2 rail guys run way wider curves, and they’re much more gentle than 3 rail “ toy trains” …..sure, they’re are exceptions, and some modelers (even me ) have very generous curves, but the normal off the shelf 3 rail track can be cumbersome for 2 rail locomotives,………but for some of us, the conversion is the juice,….😁

Pat

I would like to say thank you to everyone who has shared their ideas here. It is really appreciated. I think I am going to try ordering Lionel's 2-10-4 PRR drive frame and trucks. I am fairly confident the trucks will be a non-issue but the drive frame and wheels may not fit the frame exactly. Considering the cost of purchasing another 3rd rail model I think this is the most cost effective path for now.

Not certain of the following.  I was told by A British O Scale retailer, that O Scale will run fine by placing a DC positive & Negative lead on the outside rails, eliminating the center rail.  If this is true, it's worth a try.  If it works, altering the loco won't be necessary.  Perhaps just run the engine on one track if that's possible...

Not certain of the following.  I was told by A British O Scale retailer, that O Scale will run fine by placing a DC positive & Negative lead on the outside rails, eliminating the center rail.  If this is true, it's worth a try.  If it works, altering the loco won't be necessary.  Perhaps just run the engine on one track if that's possible...

Powering it ain’t the problem, it’s getting those flanges to cooperate and navigate hi rail tracks,….you could in theory do just as the fella told you, but the OP’s engine ain’t gonna navigate O72 curves as is …..he’d be relegated to straight track only, ….and that won’t be much fun,…..😉

Pat

@swrr posted:

Oh Pat just tell the lad to wait for a 3-rail one.  It breaks my heart to see a potential travesty.  I like the idea of chassis swap.

Full on chassis swap is the way to go ……for some of us, it’s all the rage …☺️…leaving the 2 rail chassis fully intact, ready to run leaves something on the table for resale if you find yourself digging a deep hole …..this is a KTM H10b ( former 2 rail ) sporting a MTH chassis, and a KTM IHB 0-8-0 also sporting a MTH chassis ….

Pat 0C0DEA78-DC6F-49D8-BFA7-6FD1D7D80E05EDF9C912-F2F2-4D42-B81E-283EFB117590

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Pat, I am considering purchasing a 1/43 O Scale British locomotive, diesel,  to run on three rails.. So is it plausible that  it will as described above.. No flanges to worry about...

That’ll all depend on how she sits on your track, and how the trucks behave themselves……if I had to wager, I’d have to say a diesel 2 rail may be a lot more forgiving than say a large 2 rail steam locomotive…..a 3 axle truck  might throw a fit on tighter curves,…

Pat

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