Skip to main content

"HONGZ" stands for HO scale, N scale, G scale, and Z scale.

Post your non-O scale stuff here!

SP AC-5 assembly (cont)

As with the AC-4, checking for binds were done along each step of the assembly of each drive engine set.  Some side rod screws can have longer shoulders than others.  The shorter shoulders are used on the ends of the side rods where the longer shoulders are used for the center drivers where two side rods over lap. 

The tops of the side rods always have 'grease points' so they should always be pointing 'up'. 

Usually, I find it easiest to take the support mechanism off while installing all the linkages.  With all the linkages being plated, it is usually best to remove them so the other parts can be properly (easily) painted. 

The offset crank is usually secured with a small set screw but, in this case, it is soldered onto the crank shaft. 

The same with the screws that hold the linkages to the support mechanism: usually screws are used but this model had them soldered on.  Some heat on the back will usually free the 'screws' and vise versa to get them back on.

SP AC-5 4-8-8-2 cab forward key 27SP AC-5 4-8-8-2 cab forward key 28

Since the previous AC-4 needed an extra spring to hold up the added weight to the boiler, I added the same 'mod' to this engine.

SP AC-5 4-8-8-2 cab forward key 29

Interesting brushes on this very large motor in that they are just two brass contacts.

SP AC-5 4-8-8-2 cab forward key 30

Sometimes the manufacturer just uses some tubing to connect the motor to the gear box but, in this case,  high quality universals are used.

SP AC-5 4-8-8-2 cab forward key 31SP AC-5 4-8-8-2 cab forward key 32


Images (6)
  • SP AC-5 4-8-8-2 cab forward key 27
  • SP AC-5 4-8-8-2 cab forward key 28
  • SP AC-5 4-8-8-2 cab forward key 29
  • SP AC-5 4-8-8-2 cab forward key 30
  • SP AC-5 4-8-8-2 cab forward key 31
  • SP AC-5 4-8-8-2 cab forward key 32
Last edited by samparfitt

SP AC-5 assembly (cont)

Like the prototype where there was a light at the smoke stack so the engineer could see how efficient his engine was operating, I added a light to mine.  The post and fake light was already there, I just drilled out a small hole in the boiler to route the wires into the boiler.

I was going to do the same with the AC-4 but forgot: old age :[]

SP AC-5 4-8-8-2 cab forward key 33

I found the best way (at least for me) to roll the lead sheeting into a boiler weight is to use the vise to hold it while I bend the sheeting.

SP AC-5 4-8-8-2 cab forward key 34

Having trouble with the chuffing on the sound; the other sounds are OK.

Tried different tenders, different contact points, etc but no luck.  LED plug is not attached so I know it's not that.  Spending too much time so I 'let it go' for now and will go onto another engine.

SP AC-5 4-8-8-2 cab forward key 35



Images (3)
  • SP AC-5 4-8-8-2 cab forward key 33
  • SP AC-5 4-8-8-2 cab forward key 34
  • SP AC-5 4-8-8-2 cab forward key 35
Last edited by samparfitt

UP big boy by Key assembly.

A few of the tender wheels gauge were just a little wide so they were adjusted.

UP big boy key 25

Good ol' #5 kadee coupler added, electrical contact points cleaned and the base assembled.  Oil added to moving surfaces during assembly.

UP big boy key 29


Back engine assembly.

For the most part, once you've done one articulated, the others all follow a similar pattern for assembly. 

The screws holding the linkage to the linkage frame has a scale hex head and Key gives you a screw driver to attach the screws.

UP big boy key 26

Back engine assembled.  Had a very small bind after final assembly: the piston drive rod was just touching the linkage framing: a brass shim used to raise the frame fixed it.

UP big boy key 27

With added weight to be added the front engine assembly plunger was stiffened.

This plunger had a T top so, after a spring was added, an insulation washer was cut on one side and slipped over the shaft to retain the spring.  The original spring for the plunger is in a soldered enclosure so this is the easiest 'fix'.

UP big boy key 28


Images (5)
  • UP big boy key 25
  • UP big boy key 26
  • UP big boy key 27
  • UP big boy key 28
  • UP big boy key 29
Last edited by samparfitt

LED's arrived from 

Had to buy red, green and warm LED's.

lights for models 08

Key UP big boy assembly (cont)

This has been a tough assembly.

One of the drivers is shorting out.  Normally, a little heat and the rim comes off fairly easy.  I had to use two sockets, one to hold the tire and the other to hit the rim to separate the two.  The builder must have super glued them together.  This driver, I put a cam on the axle.  I always remove the 'hot' side driver but, when pushing the driver back on, it also pushes against the grounded driver and must have pushed the tire farther onto the rim.  Hard to believe the tire would move needing so much force to remove it from the rim!  After filing the lip on the rim and applying some paint for insulation, the two were pressed back together using a small clamp.

I had some spare drivers from Tenshodo's big boy.  The diameter and side view were identical but the hole for the hex head was off by about a 1/64" of an inch.  I tried using it but there was a slight bind.  I could have, probably, enlarged the holes on some of the side rods but, if it didn't work, I may create too much slop in the side rods and cause more binding.   Needless to say, this took a lot of time (good thing it's a hobby and I'm not trying to make a living doing this!).

UP big boy key 30UP big boy key 31

Found extra part in shipping box.

And comparing it with my Tenshodo Big Boy, the part was soldered to pipes under the cab.  A little touch up paint finished it off.

UP big boy key 34

Marker lights:

It's time consuming to install these LED's so I did a little mass production of them, doing several of the engines and tenders.  Depending on the location, only one LED can be installed at one time as some Kristal Klear has to dry after positioning the LED in the marker light and not having it move until the glue dries.  Each LED has to be installed with some power to get the LED positioned accurately and then , leave it alone until the glue dries.

An extra alligator clips and wire needs to be put on the brass body and touch each hot and ground to insure the wires on the LED are not grounding out on the brass body.  I found using low voltage is best: After the glue dried, I turned up the voltage and blew the LED as it moved while the glue dried and ground itself to the brass body.  The Kristal Klear (or white glue) seems to work well: it holds the light in place but makes removal easy, if needed. 

I dip each LED in some clear water base paint to help cover the wires where they are soldered to the LED but, it must get scraped off, sometimes when shoving the LED through access holes and the marker lights. 

Working with parts this small tries one's patience!

UP big boy key 32UP big boy key 33


Images (6)
  • lights for models 08
  • UP big boy key 30
  • UP big boy key 31
  • UP big boy key 34
  • UP big boy key 32
  • UP big boy key 33

New GN W-1 B-D-D-B electric just arrived on the railroad.

GN only had two of these electrics 5018 and 5019.  Fortunately, the new one was the other number that I put on the first W-1!  Kind of rare to see these already painted.  Nice to say you have the complete roster of that engine class for a railroad (same for the Z-6)!  At 101' long, they were huge, with all wheels powered, they were equivalent to a big boy.

GN W-1 custom brass 25GN W-1 custom brass 26GN W-1 custom brass 27


Images (3)
  • GN W-1 custom brass 25
  • GN W-1 custom brass 26
  • GN W-1 custom brass 27
Last edited by samparfitt

UP big boy by Key  assembly (cont)


Sound and LED's were installed in the tender.

Had trouble with intermittent electrical contact.  Turned out to be the draw bar pin  base was loose and had to be re-soldered.

UP big boy key 42


I'm finding it best to install one LED at a time and gluing them as this is the only way to know which LED is shorting out against the brass casing.  Like anything, I'm getting proficient at installing them without any problems.  I found, when grounding the casing to each of the LED leads to only contact it momentarily: any reduction in light means the LED is shorting out to the casing, any longer contact and the LED is overloaded and needs to be replaced.

UP big boy key 41

I found the water ejector part in the box and soldered it back where it belongs: under the rear of the cab.  I found out why it was in the box.  When assembling the back engine assembly to the boiler, the ejector was in the way.  I had to re-solder it farther back of the cab.

UP big boy key 38

When assembling the front engine assembly: I thought I screwed up on parts placement as there is a huge gap between the piston rods, linkage frame and the piston cylinder housing.  Turns out that's the way it's suppose to be.  All my other articulateds have a much closer attachment.  Never noticed it, before.

UP big boy key 39

While attaching the draw bar, the back plate on the frame fell off.  Some more resistance soldering to fix it.

UP big boy key 40

Lots of parts to get this engine back together.

I used sockets from the boiler to frame and from headlight assembly to frame for ease of maintenance.


UP big boy key 44UP big boy key 43


Images (7)
  • UP big boy key 42
  • UP big boy key 41
  • UP big boy key 38
  • UP big boy key 39
  • UP big boy key 40
  • UP big boy key 44
  • UP big boy key 43

D&RGW M-68 4-8-4 from Key.

For the most part, I have the bulk of what I want but when one can purchase a brass, Key, big northern for under 2 C notes, I can't pass that up. 

A nicely detailed northern arrived today.   Besides liking northerns, these engines had green boilers, which will be done.  A well detailed cab.  Difficult to take pictures on enclosed areas with my camera but some of the detail can be seen.

Cab is removable so will be able to light and paint it, properly.

Number boards and marker lights a little crooked.  Those are easy fixes.

Marker lights are hollow: will still have to drill out the bottom for a larger hole for the LED's.

Put the engine on the track to test run and it shorted out.  Found one of the tender trucks were on backwards.  In addition, one truck is insulated and brass wire is used for contacts to the insulated wheels.  No other wires so I'm not sure what it's intended purpose was!

D&RGW M-68 4-8-4 01D&RGW M-68 4-8-4 02D&RGW M-68 4-8-4 03D&RGW M-68 4-8-4 04D&RGW M-68 4-8-4 05D&RGW M-68 4-8-4 06D&RGW M-68 4-8-4 07D&RGW M-68 4-8-4 08D&RGW M-68 4-8-4 09


Images (9)
  • D&RGW M-68 4-8-4 01
  • D&RGW M-68 4-8-4 02
  • D&RGW M-68 4-8-4 03
  • D&RGW M-68 4-8-4 04
  • D&RGW M-68 4-8-4 05
  • D&RGW M-68 4-8-4 06
  • D&RGW M-68 4-8-4 07
  • D&RGW M-68 4-8-4 08
  • D&RGW M-68 4-8-4 09
Last edited by samparfitt

UP 4-12-2 (bald face) by Key assembly.

With all those drivers, it looked like the frame was a little narrow compared to other engines.  Got the dividers out and compared to another engine and, sure enough, a good 1/16" narrower that other frames.  Obviously, to allow more lateral movement on our unnaturally sharp curves.  Did the usual test on the track to check for binds and the drivers were coming off on the curve. Double checked the track and the gauge was actually wider than normal 'specs'.  Put one of the enclosed blind drivers on and it didn't help.  The track is entrance to the turntable and probably 36" but not good enough.  Tested the other 4-12-2 on my minimum main line 48" and all's good. 

UP 4-12-2 Key 33

Not sure why the end driver axle has a section that is narrow.  It just occurred to me that maybe that driver goes on the other end where there may need to be some clearance for the rotating cam for the 3 cylinder.  I've bench tested and no binds but will have to double check.

UP 4-12-2 Key 34

Left the original sound cam on the axle as it's a 5 point contact for the extra cylinder.  Put some insulation paint on the flat ends so the contact wiper doesn't touch it.

UP 4-12-2 Key 35

Fun putting the valve gear back on the frame.  I had to double check my early pictures to insure that extra crank for the 3rd cylinder was properly installed.

Motor installed and all's good!

UP 4-12-2 Key 36


Sound installed.  No lights on this tender as the backup light was way to tiny to try drilling it.

Sound worked great on the bench using a 'known' functioning engine.

UP 4-12-2 Key 37

Not so good on the railroad.  Turns out one insulated wheel was momentarily touches the truck frame.  A little filing of the truck frame fixed it.

UP 4-12-2 Key 38

One tender done:  The wheels on this tender are extremely free rolling.  The axle ends are pin sharp and the truck indentations are perfectly conical.  One small push and the tender will roll about 2 feet.

UP 4-12-2 Key 39


Images (7)
  • UP 4-12-2 Key 33
  • UP 4-12-2 Key 34
  • UP 4-12-2 Key 35
  • UP 4-12-2 Key 36
  • UP 4-12-2 Key 37
  • UP 4-12-2 Key 38
  • UP 4-12-2 Key 39
Last edited by samparfitt

UP Key 4-12-2 assembly (cont)


A line scribed along the center of the screw holes on the supplied lead weight makes it a lot easier to put the screws in via the boiler holes.

UP 4-12-2 Key 40

Two more layers of 1/16" sheet lead along the back and center of the boiler will make those journal springs more functional!  A little carpenter's glue holds them in place, plus pushing the lead against the sides of the boiler.  The small motor allowed more room for the additional layer of lead.

UP 4-12-2 Key 41


Images (2)
  • UP 4-12-2 Key 40
  • UP 4-12-2 Key 41
Last edited by samparfitt

UP 4-12-2 bald face (cont)

Had to cut the LED wires and re-solder them to route them through the small hole in the boiler front.

UP 4-12-2 Key 42

Some Kristal Klear inserted in the routing hole to keep the wires from rubbing and grounding out to the boiler.

UP 4-12-2 Key 43

Had to re-solder the valve gear frame.  On assembly, I think I may have had the piston push rod to close to it.

UP 4-12-2 Key 44

This engine is very sensitive to the track.  In a curve, the front drivers moved to the far right and the rod screw caught the piston push rod assembly.  Some fiddling fixed it.  I've got all #10 turnouts (also in the yard) with 48" minimum and she still is touchy on some spots.   The new edition 4-12-2 from Key operates better over the layout.  

UP 4-12-2 Key 45UP 4-12-2 Key 46

UP 4-12-2 Key 47UP 4-12-2 Key 48


Images (7)
  • UP 4-12-2 Key 42
  • UP 4-12-2 Key 43
  • UP 4-12-2 Key 44
  • UP 4-12-2 Key 45
  • UP 4-12-2 Key 46
  • UP 4-12-2 Key 47
  • UP 4-12-2 Key 48
Last edited by samparfitt

DM&IR 2-8-8-4 yellowstone by Westside assembly.

Things are going much smoother and faster after the 'learning curve'  using these new LED's with my sound system.


Sound and light components installed.  Bench and layout tested.  The backplate for the enclosed cab had to be made.

DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 31DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 32DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 33


The two engines drivers were assembled and all works smoothly.

DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 34


Images (4)
  • DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 31
  • DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 32
  • DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 33
  • DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 34

A set of nice passenger cars.

I just got delivery of five very nicely painted and decaled roundhouse passenger cars.  These are probably from the 70's but they look like they were just done.

Fine wire handrails on each end, kadee couplers and the roofs come off so the interiors can be completed.  The interior partitions have been added.  Some old walthers interior detail kits came with the cars.

Someone did a lot of work to get these looking this good.

I doubt if they are scale for GN but they are too nice not to run on the railroad.

They'll look nice being pulled by the GN H-5 4-6-2 pacific.




Images (6)
  • GNRR211
  • GNRR212
  • GNRR213
  • GNRR214
  • GNRR215
  • GNRR216
Last edited by samparfitt

More motive power for the logging railroad.

A United (PFM) 2 truck shay just arrived.  Made in 1961 but runs like it was just made.  Presently I have a 3 truck shay so this makes a nice addition to the logging railroad.  Still looking good for a 54 year old engine!

shay 2-truck, misc 01

Logging railroad.

I haven't posted any pictures of the logging railroad.

It has two switch backs to get into the valley.  The valley has a  passing siding and a small logging yard plus houses and industries. 

The grade is steep at 10% but the shays can handle it: slow but sure footed.

Coming out of the valley, the logging railroad interfaces with the GN mainline.

There is a pretty good size yard at the interface plus a John Allen's 'time saver' next to the yard which serves several industries.

The turntable is an 'armstrong' turntable (more like a 'fingerstrong' one!).

When I used to have monthly operating sessions, one fellow always took the logging railroad.  He enjoyed being by himself, having a good time.

logging railroad 01logging railroad 02logging railroad 03logging railroad 04logging railroad 05logging railroad 06logging railroad 07logging railroad 08


Images (9)
  • shay 2-truck, misc 01
  • logging railroad 01
  • logging railroad 02
  • logging railroad 03
  • logging railroad 04
  • logging railroad 05
  • logging railroad 06
  • logging railroad 07
  • logging railroad 08

DM&IR yellowstone assembly (cont)

The LED was installed in the headlight and a 2 prong connector was soldered to the end for ease of maintenance.

DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 35

The male connector was run back to the motor via the two engine frames with some very small heat shrink tubing used to protect them.

Two more wires were also run to the front engine assembly: one for the sound cam and the other attached to the engine frame to insure good continuity of electricity between the front set of drivers and the motor.  A small brass tab was made for contact with the frame.

DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 37

The male end for the headlight.  There's plenty of room under the 'front porch' for the connectors.

DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 38

The brass bar which, I believe, supports the fire box was too wide and made it difficult to assemble the engines to the boiler so I cut off about an 3/16" off each side.  The bar got too hot and fell off the frame: more resistance soldering!   There's a lot of piping, water injectors, etc that was interfering with the assembly.

DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 39

More weight added to the boiler.

DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 40


Images (5)
  • DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 35
  • DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 37
  • DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 38
  • DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 39
  • DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 40

DM&IR yellowstone final assembly and test run.

While installing the extra weight, I hit the walk board and broke the solder joint.
Decided to try resistance soldering it very quickly from the bottom and it worked with no bubbling of the paint above the walk board.

DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 41

DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 42

Connected all the lights and got her back together.

With the flash on, I got some better pictures so I'm posting a bunch of them.




DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 43DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 44DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 45DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 46DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 47DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 48DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 49DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 50DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 51DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 52DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 53


Images (13)
  • DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 41
  • DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 42
  • DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 43
  • DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 44
  • DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 45
  • DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 46
  • DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 47
  • DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 48
  • DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 49
  • DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 50
  • DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 51
  • DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 52
  • DM&IR M4 2-8-8-4 53
Last edited by samparfitt

DM&IR caboose assembly (cont):

Routing electricity to the LED's.

Contact wipers for trucks.

Both sides of the supplied truck wheels on this model are insulated.

I used kadee's #5 brass insert to make the contact wipers.

The two side 'whiskers' were cut off and one used for one wheel contact by soldering it to one end of the contact base.  The other contact was just the end base bent straight.  A hole was drilled in one end of the base for the truck screw that holds one side frame together.  Obviously, each truck will be different so attaching the contacts to the truck will vary.

DM&IR caboose 03

A very fine wire was also soldered to one end.

DM&IR caboose 04

The plastic collar for a draw bar was used to insulated the hole in the truck, along with a fibrous washer.  Both trucks were insulated with wires running into the bottom of the caboose (yes, I drilled holes BEFORE painting the model!).  A loop of wire was left next to the truck to allow free movement of the truck.  A 12 volt bulb was soldered, in series with the LED's for interior lighting.

DM&IR caboose 05

Ta Da!

DM&IR caboose 06DM&IR caboose 07DM&IR caboose 08


Images (6)
  • DM&IR caboose 03
  • DM&IR caboose 04
  • DM&IR caboose 05
  • DM&IR caboose 06
  • DM&IR caboose 07
  • DM&IR caboose 08
Last edited by samparfitt

SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 by Sunset assembly.

I'm always amazed that people can make such fine looking engines by hand.  All those 1 MM (or so) screws that go into tapped holes, everything in perfect alignment, no excess solder and they run great.  I understand that the Tenshodo people were jewelers.

...and a lot of parts to assemble!

SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 25SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 26SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 27

Drive engines:

It took awhile to assembly the back drive engine.  I replaced the straight slot side rod screws with hex ones.

SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 28

That didn't work well as there was a bind on the side rods. 

The first one was the hex head's rubbing the piston side rods. There's little tolerance for any slop between those two.  I put the original screws back in and still had binding.  After all else failed, I thought I'd swap the two end drivers, since they are identical.  Finally, no binding.  First time that I remember having to swap the drivers for binding.

SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 29

Front drive engine .

I had the same bind again and had to swap the two end drivers to resolve it.

Both drive engines functioning.

SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 30


Speaker parts with LED's done and tender assembled and all works.

This engine has hollow  number boards so the engine number was put on some clear plastic and the internal LED makes them visible. 

SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 31SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 32


Images (8)
  • SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 25
  • SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 26
  • SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 27
  • SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 28
  • SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 29
  • SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 30
  • SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 31
  • SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 32

Cool bit of history concerning those 5 GN passenger cars that I recently purchased.  I got an email from his son:


Hi Sam,
Yes these were built by my dad who passed away several years ago and this was one of his projects he was working on at the time. These have been sitting in his layout room, and the family decided that they would be much appreciated by other collectors / modelers. I included the interior kits that I believe went with them. His name was Larry Hoffman and was a member,(38763) of the NMRA for many years as he truly enjoyed HO scale railroading and a member of the Great Northern Railway Historical Society. All of the items I have been selling are from his collection from many years of being in the hobby which many pieces he had added details or complete custom work such as those pieces. Please enjoy them, and if you happen to complete them please send photos.
Thank you and happy holidays,


Whenever I run or see these cars, now, I'll think of him and appreciate all the work he put into them.



The grandkids under the layout with the Lionel:

They always seem to like to be under or in closed areas!

That table wood is from a coal bin from my first house that I bought in 1973 and was a 100 years old, then.

grandkids lionel 01

Not running, we'll just push it:

grandkids lionel 02

Let's see, which one of those handles should I move?

grandkids lionel 03

Happiness is seeing them run!

grandkids lionel 04

Let's get this track back together and the cars back on the track.

grandkids lionel 05


Images (5)
  • grandkids lionel 01
  • grandkids lionel 02
  • grandkids lionel 03
  • grandkids lionel 04
  • grandkids lionel 05

My version of the movie 'Christmas story':

I was seven years old and mom and I were at the local department store in Cleveland (probably Higbee's).
Back in 1953 the department stores always had great Lionel and American flyer layouts (most likely made by Lionel and American Flyer).  
That year there was the Lionel's new Santa Fe's F units with 4 great looking all aluminum passenger cars.
Mom asked what I wanted for Christmas and I said;  'THAT'!
She said they couldn't afford it.
At 90 bucks, and my dad working at Midland Ross steel (43 years), I doubt if he made that much in a week ($800 in today's market, average salary back then was about $4100 a year).
Spending that much on a 7 year old for a toy!
I'll always remember waking up that Christmas morning and seeing that huge rectangular box under the tree and knew exactly what it was.
That was the best Christmas I ever had, or will have (as Ralphy would say).

And, it still runs like it was made last year!

When I was older, probably 13-16, I was allowed to go downtown by myself via the rapid transit and check out all the layouts in all the downtown department stores (Higbee's, May co, Halley's, etc). They all had great toys floors back then, usually the top floor and the entire floor was strictly toys.  Of course all the department stores always had great window displays: usually animated and, hopefully, trains included in the display.  



Images (1)

SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 assembly (cont)


Able to add 2 layers of lead in the boiler.

SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 33

This engine had several parts that were loose and I missed one of them.  The plate that holds the 'front porch' to the front drive engine was screwed to the 'front porch' and not attached to the front drive engine.  I didn't notice this until after painting and while assembling.

A little removal of the paint and a couple sprung tweezers and resistant soldering fixed it.  SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 34

Test fitting the 'front porch' found the plate very slightly tilted so I added some solder along the front of the plate to level out the 'porch'.

SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 35

All better!

SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 36

The previous motor was too long (ends taped to keep it from shorting on the boiler) so a shorter, cannon motor was installed.

SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 37

Usual wires and connectors used to power lights in the boiler and headlight.

The cab wasn't removable but inserting a light in there added a nice touch to illuminate the cab detail.

One more engine done.

SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 39SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 40SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 41


Images (8)
  • SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 33
  • SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 34
  • SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 35
  • SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 36
  • SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 37
  • SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 39
  • SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 40
  • SP AC-9 2-8-8-4 41

SP AC-7 cab forward by Key assembly.

Assembly of the two sets of engine drivers went smoothly.  Added another spring and retaining washer to the front engine plunger to help hold up the boiler due to adding additional lead weight to the boiler.

Not much room around the firebox with the large motor so strips of lead, each a little shorter to allow for the motor shaft and universal were glued into the center section of the boiler.  Plus, a 2 1/4" long (7" wide and rolled) lead weight added forward of the previous weight and about 1" back from the smoke box door.  Some holes were needed in the bottom of the boiler to secure the front piece of weight.  Let the glue 'cook' overnight and finish up, tomorrow morning.

SP AC-7 4-8-8-2 cab forward key 39SP AC-7 4-8-8-2 cab forward key 40SP AC-7 4-8-8-2 cab forward key 41


Images (3)
  • SP AC-7 4-8-8-2 cab forward key 39
  • SP AC-7 4-8-8-2 cab forward key 40
  • SP AC-7 4-8-8-2 cab forward key 41
Last edited by samparfitt

SP AC-6 4-8-8-2 assembly.

Finally, the last cab forward to be assembled.

Tender with lights and sound went together easily. 

SP AC-6 Key, 4-8-8-2 FP 19


This engine was factory painted but a Sacramento gray was added to the boiler.

After gluing in the LED's into the marker lights (and allowing to dry), the wires were cut from the 'electronic' end and routed through the cab face and into the cab floor.  Always fun re-soldering those tiny wires.  Some Kristal Klear added in each of the holes to prevent contact with the boiler.  Had to wiggle one of them as it was shorting out in the hole: As mentioned previously, only a very quick touch of  a separate alligator ground wire to insure they are isolated from the boiler.

Some black paint needed to touch up the red/green wire colors.

With all the separate moving parts on these engines, they run like a Swiss watch and are very quite. 

SP AC-6 Key, 4-8-8-2 FP 20SP AC-6 Key, 4-8-8-2 FP 21


Images (3)
  • SP AC-6 Key, 4-8-8-2 FP 19
  • SP AC-6 Key, 4-8-8-2 FP 20
  • SP AC-6 Key, 4-8-8-2 FP 21

GN W-1 B-D-D-B electric.

Re-attached the headlights to the running gear.  Glad I first checked to see if they were 1.5 volt bulbs!  Used a bridge rectifier to get the needed voltage to the bulbs.

A 2 wire connector was used to easily service the motor area.

The ends have about 3" of brass sheeting along the bottom so it would be difficult to replace the bulbs with LED's, plus, trying to remove the bulbs may have damaged the paint around that area so all was left 'as is'.

GN W-1 custom brass 31GN W-1 custom brass 32


Images (2)
  • GN W-1 custom brass 31
  • GN W-1 custom brass 32


than having a fluorescent light bulb fall on one of you prized buildings! (at least it wasn't an engine)

FSM coal building 01

Three different viscosity's of Zap glue used.  I like the narrow tips supplied by Zap to apply just small amounts of CA.  Also, used accelerator (can't wait 5 seconds!).

FSM coal building 02

Some small clamps helped hold things in place while gluing. 

FSM coal building 03

All's well again in the HO world!   Amazing, I had no parts left over!

FSM coal building 04FSM coal building 05FSM coal building 06


Images (6)
  • FSM coal building 01
  • FSM coal building 02
  • FSM coal building 03
  • FSM coal building 04
  • FSM coal building 05
  • FSM coal building 06
Last edited by samparfitt

Adding marker lights to a caboose that I already painted.

Used some masking tape to locate the holes and also reduce the chance of scratching the paint.

caboose marker lights 04

Drilled/tapped truck bolsters for electrical contacts.

caboose marker lights 05

Found it easier and quicker to use liquid food dye for the lenses.  I've had this stuff for a long time and I don't think they make it in liquid form, anymore.

caboose marker lights 06

I used Tomar's caboose brass markers and I found that some clear LED's works on the electronic component from damaged LED's from the lights4models.  I was able to connect two 'other' clear LED's to the electronic components and they didn't blink.  Guessing the 'other' LED's used less wattage.  I think I was able to use the electronic component from their 'clear', 'red' and 'green' with no problems.  The LED's don't shine as brightly, but that's OK.

It also saves me a few bucks to be able to recycle several components where I burned out the LED's.

caboose marker lights 07caboose marker lights 08


Images (5)
  • caboose marker lights 04
  • caboose marker lights 05
  • caboose marker lights 06
  • caboose marker lights 07
  • caboose marker lights 08

Adding working marker lights to a vintage Ambroid GN caboose. ( Ambroid's old boxes, when they said 'one in 5000, they meant how many parts in the kit!).  This car dates back to the 60's and 70's.

Since these cars are, virtually, all wood (save the end sills), the entire structure is glued together, hence, the bottom is not removable.

I used a diamond impregnated metal cut off wheel (nice and thin) to cut around the perimeter of the frame's bottom, leaving about a 3/16" around the outside to give the sides some rigidity.

caboose marker lights 09

After drilling the holes for the marker lights, this time, I glued the LED's into the marker light before mounting them on the caboose, which removed the difficult task of trying to insert the LED's from the interior of the caboose, after the markers  are installed. 

Drilled/tapped the trucks to secure the wires to each truck. 

Fortunately, there are two pieces of wood across the bottom of the caboose so it was easy to re-attached the bottom via the 4 screws that holds the truck supports.

caboose marker lights 10caboose marker lights 11

One more done:

caboose marker lights 12


Images (4)
  • caboose marker lights 09
  • caboose marker lights 10
  • caboose marker lights 11
  • caboose marker lights 12
Last edited by samparfitt

Don't know why it works!!!

I must have too many brain cells dead as I don't know why this electrical schematic works but it does ( and I had a minor in physics back in 68').

The LED's that I'm using requires 2.2 volts (2 volts and they don't light up) so I connected two bridge rectifiers in series and also connecting the +/- sides together (the bridge rectifiers have 4 tabs, the 2 +/- are connected and the other two are the input/output).  Should get 1.2 volts across each bridge rectifier, thus 2.4 V across two of them.  I get that but only in one direction: When I reverse the DC polarity, the LED's go out.   It seems like I should be able to connect the bridge rectifiers in such a way that the LED's stay on in both DC current directions but no luck on that.

The puzzling part is why the LED's stay on in both directions of polarity when I connect two capacitors in series with the bridge rectifiers!

My schematic drawing has BR= bridge rectifier, C=capacitor, RF=RF choke (needed so chuffing works on my sound system).

I may have to post this as a separate thread to get some feedback.

caboose marker lights 13caboose marker lights 14



Images (2)
  • caboose marker lights 13
  • caboose marker lights 14
Last edited by samparfitt

3 truck shay just arrived.

From Westside, made in 1979 and has a can motor. Lots of nice detail.  At the most, it was only test run.

shay 3-truck westside 01shay 3-truck westside 02shay 3-truck westside 03

Goes well with the 2 truck and the other 3 truck (cherry river, both by United) with balloon stack that I've had since the 80's.    I'd like to get a Heisler and a climax to 'round out' the logging railroad.

shay 3-truck westside 04


Images (4)
  • shay 3-truck westside 01
  • shay 3-truck westside 02
  • shay 3-truck westside 03
  • shay 3-truck westside 04

SP AC-12 by Tenshodo.

This also just arrived.  I thought I had enough cab forwards but I got this at a good price (plus I sold mine back in the 90's).

This model was made in 1976 and back then, this had an incredible amount of detail.  Back then, I thought this engine was the epitome of deluxe engines and it would never get any better than this....but they did!  I've got some Key engines with functioning sand dome hatches, generator access hatches, functioning cab roof vents, cab doors, tender hatches, boiler front doors, etc.  Amazing they can make such stuff in such a small scale. 

SP AC-12 Tenshodo 1976 02SP AC-12 Tenshodo 1976 03SP AC-12 Tenshodo 1976 04SP AC-12 Tenshodo 1976 05SP AC-12 Tenshodo 1976 06SP AC-12 Tenshodo 1976 07SP AC-12 Tenshodo 1976 08

Sprung trucks.

SP AC-12 Tenshodo 1976 09

Cab roof is removable.

SP AC-12 Tenshodo 1976 10SP AC-12 Tenshodo 1976 11

Around 1975, Tenshodo started putting number plates on the engines indicating year and engine production number of the total (not sure if that total was always accurate).   Also, nice in case of theft.

SP AC-12 Tenshodo 1976 12

The fiber glass draw bar arrived broken.  Sistered some thin circuit board onto the two broken pieces.

Put the engine on the track and heard the motor turning but not the drivers.  That old black tubing needs to be replaced.  

SP AC-12 Tenshodo 1976 13

Good thing they had the plastic wrap around the engine as that deteriorating foam can do a lot of damage to finishes.   I'll have to cut some new foam for it from the 4'X8' sheets that I bought, last year. 

I'd like to get some of the early AM cab forwards, especially with the whale back tenders but those are very expensive.  With a little luck, maybe I'll find one that needs work like the AC-9 that I got that needed work but got it really cheap.

SP AC-12 Tenshodo 1976 14



Images (13)
  • SP AC-12 Tenshodo 1976 02
  • SP AC-12 Tenshodo 1976 03
  • SP AC-12 Tenshodo 1976 04
  • SP AC-12 Tenshodo 1976 05
  • SP AC-12 Tenshodo 1976 06
  • SP AC-12 Tenshodo 1976 07
  • SP AC-12 Tenshodo 1976 08
  • SP AC-12 Tenshodo 1976 09
  • SP AC-12 Tenshodo 1976 10
  • SP AC-12 Tenshodo 1976 11
  • SP AC-12 Tenshodo 1976 12
  • SP AC-12 Tenshodo 1976 13
  • SP AC-12 Tenshodo 1976 14

GN caboose by Atlas.

Several years ago, atlas brought out these nicely detailed cabeese.  One thing for sure is I could never paint those window trims, etc like the factory paint job. 

I wanted to install marker lights in them but couldn't disassemble them: the box had no instructions nor anything on their web site.  Emailed atlas service and they called with a day or two and informed me how to remove the base from the super structure (nice, quick service).  Glad I didn't try to force it as the end sills have tiny plastic pins that go into the end of the frame.  After separating the two ends, the sides need to be bowed out from the side tabs to remove the base frame.

caboose marker lights 15caboose marker lights 16

Used a Kadee #5 brass insert for the wheel contacts.  Drilled/tapped the plastic truck frame.

caboose marker lights 17

Now have 13 cabeese lighted.

caboose marker lights 18caboose marker lights 19


Images (5)
  • caboose marker lights 15
  • caboose marker lights 16
  • caboose marker lights 17
  • caboose marker lights 18
  • caboose marker lights 19

Add Reply


OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
800-980-OGRR (6477)

Link copied to your clipboard.