Hello everyone,

Im going to remove the blocks over the drivers, drill holes and install springs in the hopes that it will make a noticeable difference in running.  Tips, suggestions?  Also, recommendations as to where to buy the springs?  


Original Post

No, but I wouldn't expect major difference in either tracking or pulling power.  You might try Stevenson.

I set most of my steamers up for coil springs, but usually I just put high quality cork pads in - the holes are drilled for CLW springs, and I have a bag of them.  I will leave that up to the next owner.

Stevenson Preservation Models - a good resource!

Just so you know, I am working on scratchbuilt steam #34 - a 2-8-8-2.  It has slots with holes drilled for springs, but will get pads.

I started out with Lobaugh coil springs, all the way through about #5; then #6, a giant AC-4 in 17/64 got cardboard pads temporarily while I refined the articulating pin and valve gear.  I got it running so smoothly I just left the cardboard.

Since then I have built smaller models with Scale Craft style axle bearings - just a hole.  I open it up so I can get drivers in and out without re-quartering.  I have to tell you they too run smoothly on my crappy track with 1/8" superelevated curves.

Precision Scale also sells suitable springs.  They may have a minimum purchase - a quarter century ago it was $25.

In response to BOB2's post above, that's correct, springing won't greatly affect pulling power and tracking.  It DOES improve reliability in terms of staying on the tracks by maintaining some downward force on the axles at all times, so the loco can't lift a flange over a rail if it encounters a bump in the track.  I am just getting started on rebuilding an AHM-Rivarossi 0-8-0 with springs, my first O-scale loco, but I have built stuff with springs in other scales.

The method I found works best is to design the axle boxes to rest against solid stops, (e.g. top of axle slot, or perhaps an adjustment screw? I never thought of that until just now!) and set up the springs so they only come into play if the loco encounters a bump.  Setting up a loco that is 'floating' on its springs is a complete pain, much trial-and-error to get to sit level & at the right height.  To work properly the springs have to have a fair bit of travel but this freedom of movement can cause problems.  Sometimes a loco can even lean sideways on curves.  Also, I have seen a loco that was worse for derailing after having springs fitted - turned out it was 'rearing up' when pulling heavy trains and lifting its front drivers off the rails, because the drawbar was tending to pull the bum of the loco down and the floating-spring arrangement allowed it to do just that.  If a loco has stops for the axle boxes then you know it's going to sit level at the right height, and finding a suitable spring gets easier because its strength is not so critical, they can be quite weak and still do their job.  The depth of the holes is not so important either - that's really helpful, 'cos unless you have a milling machine it's not easy to drill the holes exactly the same depth.

The 0-8-0 is being a bit of a nuisance; axle-box slots are different depths, so right now I'm figuring out what size packers I need to make them all the same.  Regards, Paul - Whangarei, NZ

Paul Woods

NYCSHS #7172


'I didn't come this far to only come this far'

I have seen very few that "float" on springs.  Stock Lobaugh are sprung fairly stiffly, and seem to run fine.  I do have a few smaller models with brass adjusting screws, but they are so I can get axles out without pressing drivers off.  And I have converted some to "sprung" when the original axle holes were not drilled properly. A Lobaugh Centipede tender comes to mind, as well as a Saginaw E6.

But my trackwork is the worst in the country, if not the world, and unsprung Northerns seem to do just fine.  My 4-12-2 is set up for CLW springs, but so far is working fine with pads.

I agree - having everything parallel and not rocking on a glass plate is essential.  Springs are just nice.  Spring holes can be accurately drilled with a twist drill (Lobaugh) or an end mill (Loco Workshop).  The spring doesn't know the difference.

This subject comes up about once a year. I don't think one person's experiences from their own layout fits all circumstances. Proper springing makes a noticeable difference on my layout where six number 6 turnouts run tightly one after another. These include ROW cast frogs. My non-sprung MTH J clunks through the string of switches while the nicely sprung Overland J model glides through more smoothly. Regarding better pulling power or traction, I don't really know or care one way or the other. I still like the MTH models and run them regularly. Other engines that have springs that a are too stiff exhibit similar behavior as non-sprung. Good luck. It might be worth a try.

prrq2 posted:

It is best to drill with a end mill. This will give you a flat bottom.

I didn’t realize you could drill a blind hole with an end mill.  I was going to use a smaller center drill followed by a larger regular drill to reduce the chance of the drill walking.  I figured the regular drill which would create a slightly conical bottom wouldn’t matter as the spring diameter would be close to the OD of the hole anyway.  

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