I have a 25+ year old Sunset Third Rail (2 rail) PRR 2-10-4 J1 whose drive trained failed during an NMRA open house Saturday. Until the incident the J1 was a smooth running locomotive - but then it started slipping/skipping at one point in the rotation of the drivers.. After disassembling the drive train I found that the brass axel gear on #3 driver was worn to the point of not meshing with the steel worm gear. (Note this was a very early Sunset 3rd Rail model and they subsequently redesigned their drive train). I was aware about issues with steel worms driving brass gears but had put off upgrading the drive train due to the press of higher priority modelling projects.
My plan is to replace the original gearbox with a North West Short Line 23:1 Mod.6 ball bearing idler gearbox (part # 654-6) and "495-6 coupling set. Changing the gearbox will require pulling the driver and worn gear, pressing on the new gear and pressing the driver back on (in quarter). The existing motor mount will need modification to accommodate the new drive shaft alignment. My biggest concern was getting parts as I read the following NWSL notice:
After 60 years in business, NWSL will cease operations effective August 30th, 2019. The company will continue to take orders for in-stock products until July 1st, 2019. Closure is for personal reasons and sale of the business is not anticipated, although reasonable proposals will be considered.
I called NWSL today to place my parts order and spoke with Nick. While it will take a month or so, he did agree to fill the order. I post this as a heads up to other owners of Sunset J1's (2 and 3 rail) - do not delay in ordering NWSL parts if you want to do a similar upgrade.