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So today I tackled a couple of the soldering jobs I had to do. Soldering definitely isn't my strong suit, but it went okay.

First, I soldered together the cab - I needed to solder on the handrails, solder the back of the cab on, and solder the smoke deflector on. It turned out pretty well, here's what it looks like:

I also needed to dismantle the trailing truck and resolder it, as it was assembled very crooked when I got it. My soldering iron couldn't melt all the solder at once, so I took it outside and got it apart with a torch. I took this as an opportunity to clean the trailing truck wheels, as they were a little rusty - most of the rust came off after soaking the wheels in some Simple Green. (I'm not sure why the Simple Green worked that well to get the rust off, but most of it came off after a short soaking. It was just surface rust, though.) I then soldered the trailing truck back together, my first attempt didn't go well - the solder joint broke after cleaning up the solder with a file, I don't think it was deep enough into the joint. Anyway, I soldered it back a second time, this time taking more care to get solder into the joint, and it's holding well now.


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You have the skills.  Just consider this a learning experience, and soon you will be building your own.

Plug and redrill.  Don't try to drill on assembly; just measure and get the hole dead center on the bottom.

extend the backhead further aft with a brass spacer.  Many steam locomotives had the backhead almost even with the rear cab bulkhead.  You won't have to go that far - an eighth of an inch of brass, and some putty . . .

I don't really have the stock or tools to make the spacer, so it seems much easier to me to just create a groove in the backhead. The backhead is about 1/8 thick, I need to make the groove about 1/16 deep, which isn't too bad.

The instructions say that I should screw the backhead on, but there aren't any good positions for screws - I'm thinking that I'll ultimately try to solder it on.

Well, what you don't see is before I smoothed it out with a lot of filing... The solder was cooling down very quickly so it globbed up, even with my soldering iron as hot as it could go. I definitely have a lot left to learn when it comes to soldering. What I am pretty good with, though, is filing it down so you can't see the mess.

Another update, I've been busy lately, but finally got around to do some more soldering jobs I wanted to do. First off, I got the screw hole in the smokebox filled, in preparations for re-drilling it. I'm very new to soldering with a torch rather than an iron, but it went well and the solder seemed to flow into the joint nicely.

I also decided that I needed to resolder the backhead properly, with a torch this time. I wasn't happy with the big blobs that the solder had formed on the first attempt, rather than properly flowing into the joint. Unfortunately, this means that the backhead ultimately ended up moving a little, so I have more filing work to smooth it out again, but it won't take as long as last time. It turned out much nicer this go around, since I had enough heat to create a much better joint.

I'll continue to give updates as I get work done on it - I've been busy lately so I'm not sure how often that will be.

So, I haven't done much to the locomotive recently. While trying to tap a hole for one of the boiler front screws, the tiny 0-80 tap broke off into the hole, and I left it like that. Well, today I finally got the tap out and the hole filled to do it again... And I broke another tap. I probably twisted it too hard, but I was struggling to figure out why it was binding up. While tapping it, I periodically cleared the chips and even passed my drill bit through the hole each time I cleared the chips, as I thought that may help. I also lubricated the tap... Yet it still broke. Before I break a third tap (after buying replacements for my broken two), any ideas why I might be struggling on this? It entered the hole without issue, but it started to get harder once it was about 2/3 through.

What kind of tap?  Greenfield, or a four dollar hobby tap?

Drill the hole all the way through, and you stand a chance of driving the broken part out the bottom.

Also, a #55 drill will give you plenty of threads, yet allow easier tapping.

Ten years ago, a good tap was eight bucks.  Mine break after several hundred holes, and I buy them three at a time.  Have no idea what a good tap costs now.

I got the taps from McMaster - I think they were about ten bucks each. I don't have a #55 drill, so I used the closest I had, which was a #57. However, I don't think that's my issue, since the tap happily threaded the first half of the hole. This hole goes all the way through, and exits sort of halfway into the wall of the casting - so maybe when I drilled it the bit deflected? But I'm not sure that's my issue, since the tap wasn't yet exiting the hole. Admittedly, I'm fairly new to tapping holes, this kit is the first time I've actually had to buy taps, so I may be doing something wrong without realizing it.

What taps do you recommend, and where do you buy them?

Yes - I use a Dremel cutoff disc and a magnifying lamp.  I then test on a scrap to see two spirals before using it on anything valuable.

Yes - a #57 drill simply causes tap breakage.  Never use a drill smaller than recommended, no matter the size.  Henry Pearce told me he always used one size larger, and his kits are still bulletproof.

Some cutting fluids are better than others - the little yellow can from Ace is ok.  Never tap dry, and never use just plain oil.

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