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I took my 44-Ton locomotive apart and started seeing if I could come up with electrocouplers for the upcoming command conversion.  I ordered an assortment of Lionel's shortest couplers and lined them up on the bench.  I selected the 610-1912-050 as the most likely candidate based on it's mounting.  It has a big block of metal that I could grind away to make whatever mount I needed. 

 

The object of the exercise is to have the coupler at the correct height and to be able to use the existing centering spring, otherwise I doubt I could have the coupler center properly.

 

The first issue is the oddball offset nature of the mount, it's clear that no coupler is going to just drop in.  I ended up grinding off pretty much all of the mounting end and creating the offset mount using some fiberglass board material I had around.  The following pictures are what I came up with on my first cut.  I used a #6 screw as the shaft, and I'll Loctite the nut on the top and cut off the excess screw to finish up.  The end result did end up about 1/4" longer, I couldn't see any way around that with any of the electrocouplers.

 

I welcome comments, criticism, or better ideas.

 

 

44-Ton EC N0

44-Ton EC N1

44-Ton EC N2

44-Ton EC N3

44-Ton EC N4

44-Ton EC N5

Edit: Fixed type on part number.

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  • 44-Ton EC N0
  • 44-Ton EC N1
  • 44-Ton EC N2
  • 44-Ton EC N3
  • 44-Ton EC N4
  • 44-Ton EC N5
Last edited by gunrunnerjohn
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That looks like a totally different mount Mike.  The big issue with the Williams is that offset mount, you don't have a straight shot to the mount point.  The truck comes close to the pilot, the only space you have in there is over the truck, and it's tight clearance.  It ended up I needed to pretty much duplicate the shape of the Williams coupler mount to make it fit.

 

 

I'm following this with interest; I was disappointed to see that the 44T did not use a std/typical coupler mount. I may or may not upgrade it, and this will come into play -

plus, the original couplers look better than any conversion that anyone could do with

available parts. After all, enjoying CC/cruise does not require e-couplers.

 

This is not criticism - your work looks great - but as an old basher myself, sometimes I have found that leaving it alone is the kindest thing.

 

But I may, anyway...keep us posted.

Thanks for taking on this task. I'm interested in the 44 for doing what it was designed for, switching, and electro couplers is #1 to accomplish this task. I'm not interested in taking up track and adding uncoupler tracks for this engine, but for it to be able to accomplish this anywere on  the layout.

Maybe there will be an outlet for shorter couplers for this engine, seems to be very popular. Again, your doing good.

I will admit you won't equal the look of the stock couplers, but I'm getting better.  My second one is about 1/8" shorter, and not much longer than the stock coupler.  I did have to adjust my thinking on the return spring, the stock one was problematic, so I just took some spring wire and made one that contacts the frame to center the coupler.  This works better than the stock one anyway.

 

The whole reason for the electrocouplers is this is a switcher, it's pointless to have one with command that you can't do any switching with!

 

Another idea I was toying with is lopping the mount off the stock couplers and grafting it onto the 1.44" couplers for the Trackmobile.  In looking, I don't think that will do much better than my second coupler that I shortened a bit.  I may just get another set of the ones I used here and "improve" on the first one.  I suppose I could also just hack the extension off and start over as well.

 

 

 

Originally Posted by gunrunnerjohn:

I will admit you won't equal the look of the stock couplers, but I'm getting better.  My second one is about 1/8" shorter, and not much longer than the stock coupler.  I did have to adjust my thinking on the return spring, the stock one was problematic, so I just took some spring wire and made one that contacts the frame to center the coupler.  This works better than the stock one anyway.

 

The whole reason for the electrocouplers is this is a switcher, it's pointless to have one with command that you can't do any switching with!

 

Another idea I was toying with is lopping the mount off the stock couplers and grafting it onto the 1.44" couplers for the Trackmobile.  In looking, I don't think that will do much better than my second coupler that I shortened a bit.  I may just get another set of the ones I used here and "improve" on the first one.  I suppose I could also just hack the extension off and start over as well.

 

 

 

That 1/8" might be the limit, and a great improvement. I could live with that.

John,

It looks great - funny how just today i was wondering when we were going to see your results of this project. Of course, with taxes and selling our house in VT, etc. i haven't found time to even take mine apart.

Can't quite see where or how you added the fiberglass to create the offset mount and what cement you used there.

Now for your next great money making project, when are you going to offer these as ready to install upgrade kits? Especially before Lionel runs out of couplers we're all running out to order!!!

 

jackson

Originally Posted by Rusty Traque:
Originally Posted by gunrunnerjohn:

The whole reason for the electrocouplers is this is a switcher, it's pointless to have one with command that you can't do any switching with!

 

Seems like the big boys in prototypeland have been switching OK without benefit of electrocouplers and command for well over a century.

 

They have extra crew on the ground to help with those tasks.  When the activity is on the other side of your layout next to a pop-up hole, are you going to crawl over there and do the honors?

 

No chance of me making these in quantity, too labor intensive!

 

The fiberglass is 1/8" stock, the whole part of the coupler that is above

coupler detail

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  • coupler detail
Last edited by gunrunnerjohn

Very interesting, John although i would have thought you would have had the production line already up and running by now!

Without them to look at side by side, would the 620 8447 550, 1.44" 'C' mount coupler have worked (possibly by building up the "V" notch flat with J-B Weld)? I guess i'm just curious because i'm wondering about the strength of that fiberglass tab you engineered.

 

jackson

You can't use the V of the 1.44" one, ALL of the mounting is on a different axis. I have two of those, and another short set.  None of them looked to be suitable.  You need to look at the stock coupler to see all the metal on every Lionel coupler is off-axis for the mount.  Whatever you do, you're going to be fabricating the whole mount.

 

As far as the strength of the mount, I'm more worried about the Loctite 380 giving out than the fiberglass, that stuff isn't going anywhere!  It's 1/8" plate, and I can put a piece of it between two bricks and stand on it!  If it breaks, it'll be the adhesive, and I've had really good luck with the Loctite 380 for stuff like this.

 

I think the problem John and anyone else who tries this has to deal with is the location of the truck so close to the end of the body and length of the coil on the coupler. Unless someone finds a coupler with a shorter coil you won't be able to get much closer. If you mounted the coupler to the truck you would have to do away with the steps.

Post war coils are about the same length as modern couplers.

 

Pete

I retitled the thread as I'm past the electrocouplers, and moving on.  First step was to see if I was going to be able to use cruise for this one, or if I'd have to stick to straight TMCC using the MiniCommander.  After this test, it's clear that cruise is the way to go, I strapped the CC-Lite onto the chassis and did a little test.  It has excellent low speed performance and actually zips along the track at a pretty good clip at higher speeds.  Here's a short video testing it in it's primary role, note that the electrocouplers aren't actually wired yet, so I couldn't demo true switching.

 

It had no issue at all low speed across the O72 Fastrack switches, that's a positive sign as well!

 

Last edited by gunrunnerjohn

Here's what I ended up as a final coupler configuration.  The screws are cut to length, and the return springs are doubly secured, first with Loctite 380, and then a layer of JB-Weld.  With this configuration, the couplers center very nicely, they work much better than my attempt to use the stock springs.  This is also a ton easier, I wouldn't have needed to shape the top piece for the return springs.

 

 

44-Ton Final Coupler Configuration

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  • 44-Ton Final Coupler Configuration
Originally Posted by loco-dan:

Great progress, two questions.

Did you make your own coupler return springs?

Did you wire the motors in series?

I used some spring stock to make the coupler return springs, the little round ones on the pivot were just not working out. 
 
The motors are in parallel, and that's how I recommend you wire them.  Series really only applies to conventional operation.  I've never had occasion to wire motors in series for command upgrades.
 
 
 
Originally Posted by Passenger Train Collector:

Very interesting project, John. Nice upgrade.

Thanks, it'll be more interesting when I finally get done!

 

 

Here's a few more progress pictures, I think I'm knocking off for the day.

 

 

The posts in the rear half of the frame for the old PCB mounting (where the CC-Lite will go) had to be chopped off, there isn't enough clearance if they're there.  Turns out it's a pretty tight fit, I had to jockey the position of the board to make it fit without the posts, I have to account for the truck mount screw sticking up.

 

44-Ton Locomotive Progress N1

 

 

Since I'm using LED lights, the CC-Lite requires these .01 caps across the light outputs.  The easiest place to put them is under the R4LC, they take no extra space and they're totally out of the way.

 

44-Ton Locomotive Progress N2

 

 

I couldn't use the existing little light boards, though that was my original plan.  I made up these light harnesses with 2mm warm white LED's, a diode, and a 470 ohm resistor.  Each one will connect to the appropriate light output on the CC-Lite

 

44-Ton Locomotive Progress N3

 

 

Here's one of the lights positioned in the shell, a couple spots of CA adhesive in the corner and they're all set.  The other side is identical.  I'll eventually add a cab light on the floor of the cab and control it with the smoke output, that will be an incandescent as they make nicer cab lighting.

 

44-Ton Locomotive Progress N4

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  • 44-Ton Locomotive Progress N1
  • 44-Ton Locomotive Progress N2
  • 44-Ton Locomotive Progress N3
  • 44-Ton Locomotive Progress N4

If you happen to bring it up in conventional mode, the lighting circuit puts out full wave AC, the diode protects the LED against reverse voltage.  Lots of folks don't use them, but after losing a couple of LED's for no apparent reason, I started using the diodes, no problem after that.

 

I did Loctite the coupler screws in place, and I have the trucks mounted.  The couplers worked from the CC-Lite, not that I expected they wouldn't.  A small roadblock popped up, I thought I had the Alco PA ERR RS Commander which I intend to use for this, but I don't have one.  I'll have to wait for that to come in to totally finish.  I'll have everything in place and be ready to pop that in and go.  I added the cab light, a 12V incandescent at floor level

 

I'm adding a few ounces of weight to the center section to give it as much traction as I can.  I tinkered with the chassis doing that and it actually made a difference in traction, especially starting up.

 

I still have to figure out how to do the handrails.  Several broke taking the flimsy plastic ones off, so I'm not sure how to address that.  I'm thinking maybe trying to make them from brass wire.

 

Why do these projects always get more complicated than you figure?

 

It might be possible, but I've decided that it's not worth the trouble that it would take to try to cram it in there.  I'd rather have the electrocouplers, command, and sound.  The smoke was going to be icing on the cake if it made sense.  It would take plumbing, and I don't know how well it would work.  To do it right, it would have to come out of both stacks.  It would also be a tight fit, even for the HO smoke unit I was thinking of.

 

Hi John,

I have no future plans to have that type of train or the project you just achieved.

What I can tell you is that I always enjoy your new projects and enjoy even more that lots of OGR members know what your talking about. I am learning so much from you and lots of members.

Thanks for the great work and keep the new stuff coming.

Thanks for being a great teacher without trying.

Brian

Originally Posted by BrianEso:

 

I have no future plans to have that type of train or the project you just achieved.

I haven't actually achieved it yet, but it's coming along.  However, you never know what you can achieve if you try, jump into the pool, the water's fine.

 

 

Originally Posted by milwrd:

Does it matter which side of the circuit the diode is installed on?

 

Not at all, just as long as it's pointed in the correct direction.  The anode (without the stripe) points to the source of positive voltage, in the case of the lighting circuits, that's frame ground.

 

 

Originally Posted by John23:

What will you use for sound?  I didn't think there were any RS boards with the sound of small diesel motors.  Also re the S gauge couplers,  American Flyer couplers are close to the size of Lionel, although you might have to file the knuckle for smooth operation.

I'm planning on using the Alco PA sound set, of all the ones available for the ERR RS Commander, that's the best in my mind.  You're right, there are no "small" diesel sounds, so that will have to do.  I toyed with the idea of trying to graft the stock sound board in, but getting that to run in command would be a major development project.

 

I haven't considered the AF couplers, but that might be an interesting mod.  I'll have to look at those next time I have something like this.  No way I'm retracing my steps right now.

Here's the final result of the command & sound board installation.  It's tight, but it all fits.  Both boards are on with Velcro so they can be easily removed if necessary.  The sound is actually not bad with the Alco-PA board, but obviously not the perfect sound set for a 44-ton locomotive.  The volume is somewhat suspect, the small speaker can only do so much.

 

 

44-Ton Locomotive Progress N5

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  • 44-Ton Locomotive Progress N5
Originally Posted by gunrunnerjohn:

Here's the final result of the command & sound board installation.  It's tight, but it all fits.  Both boards are on with Velcro so they can be easily removed if necessary.  The sound is actually not bad with the Alco-PA board, but obviously not the perfect sound set for a 44-ton locomotive.  The volume is somewhat suspect, the small speaker can only do so much.

 

 

44-Ton Locomotive Progress N5

 Hey john I have a Williams 44 ton and would love to give it tmcc with cruise was it hard and how much would it cost for all that

The electronics are around $150 for the CC-Lite and RS Commander. The basic install isn't all that bad.

 

There are two sticking points on this installation.

 

#1. The railings are VERY fragile, I have some broken pieces that I'm going to have to figure out.  I have some brass rod coming, and I may just make railings and forget about the flimsy plastic ones.  I have no idea if I can get pieces from Williams.

 

#2.  The electrocouplers have to be extensively modified to work in this application as you can see from the first pictures in this thread.

 

Originally Posted by gunrunnerjohn:

The electronics are around $150 for the CC-Lite and RS Commander. The basic install isn't all that bad.

 

There are two sticking points on this installation.

 

#1. The railings are VERY fragile, I have some broken pieces that I'm going to have to figure out.  I have some brass rod coming, and I may just make railings and forget about the flimsy plastic ones.  I have no idea if I can get pieces from Williams.

 

#2.  The electrocouplers have to be extensively modified to work in this application as you can see from the first pictures in this thread.

 

Nice work John!!  I agree too, that the railings are very fragile, and to make matters worse don't stay in their respective mounting locations, a really nice loco other than the problems with the railings.

 

I started to document an upgrade for this loco to sell a kit, but your progress seemed to be coming along, so I sat back on this project.  I did use the ERR Offset generator PCB and kept the original Williams sound board in my loco, which is a cheaper alternative than the full RailSounds upgrade.

 

I would like my personal unit to have electro couplers, but the addition is a real science project.  Most folks would not be able to make the mods, and selling them ready to install would be expensive option.  Too bad electros are not easier to adapt.

 

 

 

 

Thanks Jon.  I considered using the ERR Offset generator as well, but the sound was pretty faint from mine with the volume cranked up fully, so I bit the bullet and put in the Alco PA sound set.  Also, the prime mover would run at full RPM all the time, right?

 

Another member here is taking the stock couplers and hacking off the coupler portion and doing the same to the Trackmobile couplers and bonding them together.  That might give you a slightly shorter coupler, maybe 1/8" shorter from what I measured. 

 

I've been asked about doing upgrades, but I don't really want to be cobbling up those electrocouplers, it was fairly time consuming.  I did learn a few things doing mine, and I think if I ever do another one, it'll be easier.  Trying to use the stock centering springs was an exercise in futility, when I abandoned those, things moved right along.  I realize now that the piano wire springs work better than the stock springs, and they're easier to do, so that's the way to go.

 

I have brass rod now, I'm going to take a whack at making railings for mine.

 

 

A somewhat related question, does ERR now list the ERR Offset Generator?  That was a slick piece of work, just wondered if they'll offer it at some point.

 

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