MTH's H3 2-8-0, although based on a PRR prototype, shares basic dimensions with 2-8-0s that many railroads owned around the turn of the century - many of which lasted to the end of steam.  The late Joe Giannovario detailed how this model could be bashed into an N&W G1 (O Scale Trains, May/June 2009), and taking his cue I decided to do something similar, this time into a Southern Railway G-2 (picture taken on the Virginia Blue Ridge Railway at Piney River):

2 [SR 186) Piney River Sept. 1941 Harold K. Vollrath SPH Coll_ - Copy

And here's the "donor":


I'll post progress updates here as I take this little engine down south.  It's going to get completely stripped, details removed, added, and modified.  I'm currently gathering parts, some of which are easy to find and some not.  It's going to need a new cab, and scratchbuilding it is out of my league, so if anybody has something suitable sitting around please let me know!  First, it's getting a new tender, which is almost complete - stay tuned!


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Original Post

The tender promised to be the easiest part of this project, so I went for the low-hanging fruit.  The model came with a 19th-century type with flared collar, but #186 had been modernized with a newer tender (see above). Luckily, I found a tender shell from a Lionel mogul that is "close enough". 


I wanted to use the chassis of the original tender intact so as not to disturb the electronics, so I hoped that the new shell would fit.  Well, it almost did.  I cut a hole in the shell for the parts that didn't:


... and built a wooden "toolbox" to cover them over:


Fortunately, the NYC lettering came off cleanly with nail polish remover and cotton swabs, so no need to repaint.  Yeah!  Dry-transfer numbers went on, a clear coat, and real Virginia Blue Ridge Ry. coal topped it off:


The final detail on the tender is to get a shorter drawbar.  Anybody have a 6-pin, 25mm one they'd like to part with?


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Work on the locomotive has begun.  First,initial deconstruction and removal of much of the details.  I was pleasantly surprised to find most of them screwed on, even the domes.  This will also make reassembly much easier.


You can see a few of the new details that have already arrived (from Stevenson Preservation).  I decided to start at the smokebox front, grinding down the new part so that it fit:


Obviously the stack and headlight are soon to go.  The next step will be to remove any details still on it, and strip the paint off.  Then I can start cutting off the running boards and the Belpaire "shoulders".


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Yes, even the compressor, air tanks, headlight, etc. are held on with tiny screws.  Other things, like the whistle and steam dome lid, are pressed and glued in place, and are easily removed by tapping from below.

I know that C&O and N&W also had similar 2-8-0s, often absorbed from predecessor roads, and of course PRR.  There are probably lots of others.  Many of these engines were updated and survived to the end of steam, one of which is Southern 154 at Three Rivers Rambler.

Goodbye, DGLE/Brunswick green!


Apparently I now have a pilot model.  Does that make it worth more?  It's interesting to see all the brass details.  As you can see, I gave up trying to remove the stack without damaging it, and still couldn't get it off.  There's probably a tool that would make it easy, but I don't have it.  I'll get there.  Along with moving the running boards, the pilot will soon be replaced and lowered.  Stay tuned.


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Lots of work on small parts going on.  First, the PRR-style strap pilot had to go.  I wanted to keep the pilot beam, though, so I cut off everything below it, did the same with a Precision Scale pilot, and JB Welded the two together.


One of the peculiarities with this loco is that the pilot and cylinders were originally too high, probably to provide more clearance for the pilot wheels to swing on tight curves. In my first post you can see the centerline of the crossheads is way too high above the wheel centers. They did this with the tongue on the back of the pilot assembly, visible on the top photo, which jacked the whole thing up.  I want to lower the pilot and cylinders, so I cut off the tongue.  On a future post you'll see how it all fits together.

A side-effect of doing this was that I now need more space between the saddle and the smokebox (the distance was unprototypically short, anyway).  I cut off the collar, and will build up a new one with styrene.


No more Belpaire.  Next is to build up the gouges with JB Weld and sand it to a nice smooth finish.  You can also see that I've removed part of the running boards, and and working on the stack - more on that later.




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Lately it's been a lot of work on individual parts, but things are about to start going back together. The boiler shell is now completely cleared of all detail, holes I don't need filled in, and new holes drilled for handrail stanchions, etc.  I finished rounding the firebox, using JB Weld, and you can also see how I had to add material to the front wall of the cab.  I ended up not being able to keep the original rear boiler band, so I fabricated a new one with metal from a soda can.  The PRR cab is rather short, although the overall height is correct for the Southern one, and I had to extend the cab down about a scale 8".  Here you can see how I did that with metal from a coffee can.  I'll add decal rivets before painting.  The running boards are correspondingly lower (in the rear half, higher in the front), and I'm now trying to figure out how to mount them since they can no longer be mounted to the boiler shell.  Some things will be a compromise, but when it's done you tend to forget about them!



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If you have a drill press drill some holes on each side of the boiler and insert some brass rod, then solder the running boards to the brass rod.  If you can hold the boiler square, drill thru both sides and insert the brass rod thru both sides.  Once soldered, you can remove/cut the rod from inside the boiler.  Then it's just a matter of cutting the running boards to fit the shape of the boiler and solder onto the rods.

That's how I did some of my old projects like this, sure is fun!!!


4+ years and STILL Having A Blast Running BPRC

One of the more perplexing questions was what to do for the smokestack. First, the MTH stack had a cast-in nipple that extended into the smokebox and mated with a cup on the smoke unit.  I cut that off so I could re-use it.  Second, as you can see at the top, they Southern used a very specific design with a collar on top that is not available in O scale (not even PSC).  Luckily, I had a length of copper tube that was the correct diameter.  I glued in the bottom part from the original stack, and built up the collar with JB Weld.  After much sanding and filing:


Here you can see the front running boards I just put back on, built up to be wider with, you guessed it, JB Weld.  It's starting to look like a locomotive again!



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Major milestone today - the pilot assembly is now back attached to the frame.  I cut off the original pilot below the beam, attached a new one, added some other details, and re-engineered it so it's both lower and shorter (from the cylinders).  Those are the classic compromises for 3-rail operation, and it the engine will no longer work on O42 as advertised, but it does fine on my O64 and looks like it could do a little tighter.  Here you can see how I attached things (JB Weld, what else):


Next I put the saddle in place, which was also lowered and a new collar installed to make up the difference on top:


A test to see how it all fits together.  The changes make the look of the cylinder/pilot area a lot less toylike, and to my delight (and a bit of surprise) it all worked well on a test run. 


Now things will go easily - it's all cosmetic.  A pile of detail parts on my layout will gradually be attached to the locomotive.




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She's out of the shop!    First, a roster shot to compare with the photos at the top of this thread of the original and the prototype:


Detail shot showing some of the added detail - deepened cab, injector piping, generator, johnson bar, air tanks, brake cylinders...


And the other side.  The characteristic running board steps weren't available anywhere I could find in brass, but I found a seller on Shapeways (3-D printed detail parts) that offers them and other unusual parts.  They look great, and were reasonably priced.


SR 186 was bought by the Virginia Blue Ridge Railway as their No. 2, but never relettered.  Here it is at the Piney River terminal with VBR #3, a Williams ten-wheeler:


I do these postings to spread ideas and experience, and to encourage others to try bashing their own locos.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask!


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49Lionel posted:


And the other side.  The characteristic running board steps weren't available anywhere I could find in brass, but I found a seller on Shapeways (3-D printed detail parts) that offers them and other unusual parts.  They look great, and were reasonably priced.

Wow!  Are the steps printed out of metal, or plastic?  I'm thinking that 3-D printing is going to make a lot of modelers happy in the future!!

Creep, coast, and pull.  We're not talking about cold fusion here.

Plastic, and the detail is quite fine - I actually could have paid more for finer detail, but for $32 I got all of this (minus six steps I already removed):


It seems like a real game-changer, for parts not popular enough to be produced in brass.  Browsing through the site will blow your mind.  A word of advice: I tried to paint a few of these with enamel paint, and the paint is still wet 6 weeks later!  Acrylic works much better.


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