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This is my first model train I have built,(and maybe my last McKeen Car) and I would like some help with Ideas on how to power it.  I purchased a motor used in the engine in the starter sets made by Lionel.  I thought about buying a worm gear and mounting the motor vertically, but I have never done this sort of thing before and  one problem I have is that it has to be able to run on 036 track.  Currently it does, but I don't know the best way, because of no experience in this field of model making.  If I have to, I can cut out the sheet metal around the front king pin, and add a support to hold the king pin, but I am trying to stay away from that.  As you can see I experimented with a rubber band drive, yes I made that up, but sometimes as the train hit a curve, the rubber band would come off. 






Images (4)
  • front truck left side
  • front truck right side
  • underside of the motor car.
  • top with the smoke and fan units, and a the head light.
Last edited by Madison Kirkman
Original Post

Getting/fabicating the correct front truck has to be one of the peaks to be surmounted with these cars..great that you have done that.  Maybe a Marx mechanism that, as in

their cabbed diesels, turns with the front truck is workable, after engineering a gearing to drive the front axle.  Or possibly powering the rear truck, where complete mechanisms, with truck frames that can be modified, can be used.



I meant to add...since you have the difficult to form body and unusual front truck

fabricated, you are over the big humps.   I hope others on here with more experience

powering creations, can offer mechanical suggestions.  An old choice for rear truck

power was that chain driven truck offered by Walthers for their gas electric kits.  There

must be something more modern than that, and applicable to three rail, out there.

Very good to see you making the attempt to create a reasonable representation of the unique drive truck of the McKeen car.  Just plopping a body on a diesel drive is really an visually unsatisfying compromise.


I'll reinforce the the Old Goat's suggestion that you look at the NWSL and Q-car for powering ideas.  From NWSL you could get a Magic Carpet drive unit that might be built into that same truck w/o taking up excess space that would also fit under the floor neatly.  From Q-car you might be able to get a geared axle transmission unit with can motor that you might ber able to build into the truck.  Whether to put these into the power truck vs. the trailing is another decision to be pondered.

My only problem is the price, I don't want to spend that much money, is there a worm gear I can purchase that, with a vertically mounted  motor, I can run the train at regular speed?  Also, I want this to be able to run on 036, so I have to have a motor less then an inch wide, an inch and a half long, with the axle one C.M. in from the back and height doesn't matter so much.  All I need is either a worm gear that works with the starter motor, or a gear box.  I tried making a gear box out of sheet metal but it didn't work well.  If you have any ideas about making a working gear box, I would like your idea.



HF does not sell O scale was just a suggestion for ideas.  You could contact him and inquire about a custom drive.


Also, check the Grandt Line Products website.  They offer transmissions that might work for your project. 


One of the direct style gearboxes from NWSL should work.  Dave at NWSL should be able to help as long as you provide him with all the details and measurements.

Last edited by Old Goat

I looked at Q Car, NW Shortline, and Hollywood Foundry (which last went up to, but not beyond, S scale) websites, and nothing much has improved in the decades I have been looking for power for 1/4" 3 rail creations. (when I began, I was blown off by one of the above, which is now under new ownership, for wanting a three rail drive train)  On this site I have learned I am most certainly not the only person with such interest.  Bowser was only the source I found, for single and two truck traction chasses I could modify...(I am not sure they are still available from Bowser).  Q

car had one, that I saw, truck side frame stated as used by gas electrics.  (Walthers

and American Car Co. have made O scale gas electric kits....Walthers did provide

a power train).

There is no model train show that approaches the size of the three rail dominant York

meet, so....why is three rail ignored by these manufacturers?


I would suggest a north west shortline gear box on the larger wheel axle...under drive and the motor in the floor with a flywheel. Being that the front truck wheels are different sizes you'll probably never be able to drive them both the same speed.

An amusing totally old school idea...and this is waaaaay left field, is the old athern HO scale rubber band drive system. You'd need a drum nearly as large as the large drive wheel and a front to back running shaft to drive it off of- a slightly twisted band connecting them together.

Originally Posted by Old Goat:

One of the direct style gearboxes from NWSL should work.  Dave at NWSL should be able to help as long as you provide him with all the details and measurements.

This is probably your best bet in getting a gearbox that will fit into your drive truck powering the front wheel.


You might be able to use this from Q-car but it will take work and it's ~$100

You'll have to change the wheels - Q-car does not have anything to do with 3-rail - no interest in that market and has more than enough business; there's currently at least a  3-6 month wait for a drive truck and trailer.

I don't know, most of these items will not work, although the Q-car one looks plausible, I think the 3-6 month wait is not the best.  I find it hard to believe that the part is so expense, considering that all there is a brass gear box, motor, and an axle.  I think I might try a Marx motor.  Precision scale should have a free downloadable catalog, if they want business like me.


OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
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