Wednesday, August 26, 2020

New Motors and a New Buggy

One of my 2-6-0s with the new Minebea motor fitted. The shaft size was even the same as the old Sagami (lower right) so everything pretty much slipped into place. The 15mm square x 18mm long Minebea is at the center. It has a 2.0mm shaft (one-sided only).

The past couple of weeks or so have been a little frustrating for me. To start with, one of my locomotives lost most of its oomph. It could still pull cars but not at the same speed it had previously. After some thinking about the problem, I decided that the old Soundtraxx DSD 090 decoder which had been installed in 1998 had finally reached its lifespan and needed to be changed. It was duly replaced with a new Tsunami2 Steam-2 decoder which did absolutely nothing to cure the problem. More thought and some testing went on and I finally discovered that the motor was getting extraordinarily hot. I removed it and ran a test and it was drawing about .5 amps at 4 volts (normal is about .15 amps and 10 volts. Unfortunately, my stock of Sagami 16x20 motors was depleted. Fortunately, the Repower and Regear group have been talking about some Minebea motors which measured out to be about the same size with similar characteristics. Best of all, they were only about $3.50 each. I ordered a couple and installed it with great results. I haven't run it very much yet (no one to operate with) but I have high hopes.
     I no sooner had gotten that engine done when another similar engine exhibited the same symptoms. I changed both motor and decoder and now have two locos back in service and will probably order a few more of these. 
The new buggy sits on a road in Farmington. Both the horse and driver are figures made by Berkshire Valley. The horse seems to be carrying more heavy-duty harness than would be needed for a small buggy, though.

 Being somewhat tired of locomotive work, I noticed that Berkshire Valley Models ( had a new kit for an HO scale buggy. Since the Jordan buggy has pretty much gone away, I thought I would check this one out. The kit is all laser cut and is easy to assemble. It took me less than two hours to get it all assembled and painted. While I was at it, I purchased one of Berkshire Valley's harnessed horses along with a driver. I was pleased with the results and recommend the kit to any who need a horse-drawn buggy.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Union Copper Gets a Shay

The Keystone in its shiny paint a few days after delivery. Let's hope the mining company continues to maintain this finish. Note the construction number of the engine on the sand box.

A long, steep grade leads from the main line down to the Union Copper Company mine in Copperopolis. For some time now, normal locomotives have struggled hauling loaded ore cars up the grade and lowering supply cars down. Now, the mining company has purchased a Shay locomotive fresh from the factory. It will now take over all duties on the mining company spur. Ore destined for the smelter in Stockton will be hauled by the new engine and then Stockton & Copperopolis locomotives will take over and carry the cars down the main line. 

In reality, the new Shay named Keystone for the nearby ravine of that name started out as the pieces to a Model Die Casting Shay kit purchased around 20 years ago. I finally decided to get the thing built. Using a Walker back-dating kit, I installed a new straight boiler with accompanying domes. Northwest Short Line gears were used to upgrade the ones which came with the kit. A Sagami motor completed the drive train. Assembling the Shay mechanism was not particularly difficult but care had to be taken so that the parts will all rotate smoothly. A Soundtraxx Tsunami2 decoder was installed along with a sugar cube speaker.

The painting and lettering scheme was based on builder's photos of various Shays of the 1800's. The number on the sand box is not the engine number but Lima's construction number. Looking at the prototype photos and checking the builder's lists seemed to confirm this supposition. Striping was also based on the prototype photos as was the lettering styles. It was an interesting project and, if you can locate an MDC kit, all the gears and the backdating kit are still available. You'll have to come up with your own motor as the Sagamis are no longer produced.