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Building an HO scale Keystone Shay (FINISHED, with VIDEO!!)

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Building an HO scale Keystone Shay (FINISHED, with VIDEO!!)
Posted by Darth Santa Fe on Monday, December 28, 2009 5:35 PM

This Christmas, I was given a brand new Class A 20-ton 2-truck Shay kit by Keystone!Big Smile This topic will cover my progress as I finish it.Big Smile


Here's all the parts from the kit I'll be using. Full dummy trucks are included in the kit.


The first thing I built was the engine. Some people leave the piston rods off, which probably makes it more sturdy (or maybe they're just lazy!). After minor adjustments here and there, it works very smoothly.


The next thing was the cab. It comes in five major pieces, which have to be lined up just right and glued together. The front wall isn't quite wide enough to meet the right side, so the gap will have to be filled and smoothed.


This is just to show you how small the boiler really is. The Bachmann Shay (or even an 0-4-0) is massive in comparison!


Loosely assembled. You can see some of the unused truck parts in the bin.


Here's how I'll be mounting the reverse light with a mini-bulb. The wires are completely hidden at most views, which will help it look better. I'll be doing the same for the headlight.


Shining bright.Big Smile

I've also started assembling some basic details to the boiler and tender. Beyond this, I won't be doing much more until I get my powering kit from NWSL (currently back in stock!Big Smile). According to the listing on their website, it will include a 10x25mm can motor. I was going to try and fit a coreless motor I happened to have in the Shay, but it's too big to look good. I think the NWSL motor is a Sagami or something similar, so it should still work very well.

More later!Big Smile

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Posted by Oakhurst Railroad Engineer on Monday, December 28, 2009 5:44 PM

Great!  I look forward to seeing the rest of the story.  I'd love to see how to get a motor and gears into that tiny locomotive ...

 Thanks,

Marty

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Posted by Geared Steam on Monday, December 28, 2009 6:43 PM

 Darth

This is going to be great, thanks for posting. Are you going to use the Keystone trucks/wheels?

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Posted by Darth Santa Fe on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 10:49 AM

Oakhurst Railroad Engineer, I'd also like to see how it will all fit together.Big Smile There are no good pictures that I can find of NWSL's power kit, so I'll make sure to post a picture of it before assembly.

Geared Steam, I won't be using Keystone's trucks or wheels. They're the same soft metal that the rest of the kit's made from, so they would wear out quickly, and the uninsulated wheels would short out.

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Posted by Geared Steam on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 10:58 AM

Darth Santa Fe

Geared Steam, I won't be using Keystone's trucks or wheels. They're the same soft metal that the rest of the kit's made from, so they would wear out quickly, and the uninsulated wheels would short out.

Thats what I thought, does the NWSL kit drive throught the rear truck?

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Posted by Darth Santa Fe on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 11:05 AM

The NWSL kit is more like the MDC drive, but to a much higher level of quality. It includes full trucks, geared nickel-silver wheels, stronger sideframes, full side gearing, a middle transfer gearbox with about a 3:1 ratio, universals, and a can motor. The Bachmann trucks wouldn't fit because they're much larger than the Keystone Shay's trucks.

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Posted by Oakhurst Railroad Engineer on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 1:18 PM

Darth Santa Fe
The Bachmann trucks wouldn't fit because they're much larger than the Keystone Shay's trucks.

Not to mention, the Bachmann Shay trucks are of poor quality ... NWSL has replacement gears to improve them that I haven't tried yet, but hope to in the future.

Marty

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Posted by Bill H. on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 3:02 PM

Darth Santa Fe

The NWSL kit is more like the MDC drive, but to a much higher level of quality. It includes full trucks, geared nickel-silver wheels, stronger sideframes, full side gearing, a middle transfer gearbox with about a 3:1 ratio, universals, and a can motor. The Bachmann trucks wouldn't fit because they're much larger than the Keystone Shay's trucks.

 

Got me thinking... Check that auction site, item # 230417673987

Allegedly brand new. Might  be helpful.

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Posted by Oakhurst Railroad Engineer on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 3:52 PM

Bill H.

Got me thinking... Check that auction site, item # 230417673987

Allegedly brand new. Might  be helpful.

This e-bay item is a Roundhouse 2-truck Shay and is quite a bit larger than the Keystone Shay.  Anyone have one of the Roundhouse 2-truck ready-to-run Shays?  How is the quality, noise, electrical pcik-up, etc.?  and how would you compare to a motorized Keystone Shay?

I built one from a kit and it is OK, but not great .

Marty

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Posted by Geared Steam on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 4:03 PM

Oakhurst Railroad Engineer
Anyone have one of the Roundhouse 2-truck ready-to-run Shays?  How is the quality, noise, electrical pcik-up, etc

 

Yes, I recently purchased a 2 truck RTR Roundhouse. It's as bad as the kits are. Noisy as heck, bad electrical pickup, the covers underneath both trucks pop off when going in reverse, Unusable as purchased, but I expected this, so I have no complaints. An order to NWSL remedied all of these problems. I need to improve the electrical pickup, and the lights are LED (blue). It was DCC ready, after all of this, I almost have it to a usable model. I'll be happy to put the NWSL gears on my Bachmanns anytime, the Bachmanns are superior in noise, pickup, low speed running. Why did I get an MDC? I wanted a 2 truck shay, and I wanted to do the MDC/NWSL upgrades just to do it, it was enjoyable. The picture below shows me breaking in the bullgear assembly.

Edit: As Fwright mentions below, I removed all of the line shaft gears except one, one is all you need to drive the line shaft, crank and the motor. As you are aware, on the MDC, these components are for animation only, and are not used to propel the MDC shay.

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Posted by fwright on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 4:19 PM

Oakhurst Railroad Engineer
This e-bay item is a Roundhouse 2-truck Shay and is quite a bit larger than the Keystone Shay.  Anyone have one of the Roundhouse 2-truck ready-to-run Shays?  How is the quality, noise, electrical pcik-up, etc.?  and how would you compare to a motorized Keystone Shay?

I built one from a kit and it is OK, but not great .

Marty

 

Marty

From all I've learned, the RTR Roundhouse Shays were assembled in China, but all the original design problems were present in the parts that were given to the Chinese assemblers.  And they have had even more problems with inferior gears than the US-produced kits did.  Net result is that unless lineshaft parts were deliberately left off or assembled disengaged during assembly, the RTR models will have split gears - it's just a matter of how little running time you get before the gears split.  The binding that results from all lineshafts engaging their drive wheels will happen in the RTR model, causing the axle gear to bind/split/crack.  That's if didn't already split from the shrinkage issue with the axle gear material (similar to early Proto 2000 and early Athearn steam models produced in China).

For those reasons, I stuck with the kit versions of the Roundhouse Shays so that I could correct the deficiencies before and during assembly.  The NWSL full regear kit (2 part numbers) is highly recommended as a step to a smooth-running Shay.

The Keystone/NWSL kit is another level of difficulty compared to the Roundhouse Shay - which NWSL warns you about.  The Keystone Shay kit builds a model for static display.  The NWSL motorizing kit substitutes key components so that the model can be a locomotive.  However, depending on the run of the NWSL motorizing kit, the NWSL frame pieces may not be hard enough for long life.  NWSL gets (got) these parts on special order from Keystone - for a while NWSL couldn't get them sufficiently hard, and had discontinued production of the motorizing kit.  Another problem area was the discontinuance of the Sagami motor the NWSL kit was built around.

Given that the electrical pickups and gears come from NWSL, the quality of these components is better than their Roundhouse counterparts.  But using the NWSL regear kit and installing different electrical pickups on the Roundhouse brings the two pretty close.  When completed, on my layout the 2 Keystone Shays will serve on the narrow gauge line, and the Roundhouse (at least the 2 truck) will use it's larger size on standard gauge, where the size is more appropriate.

just my thoughts, your choices

Fred W

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Posted by Darth Santa Fe on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 4:31 PM

Oakhurst Railroad Engineer
Not to mention, the Bachmann Shay trucks are of poor quality ... NWSL has replacement gears to improve them that I haven't tried yet, but hope to in the future.

The Bachmann trucks are really pretty nice. It's just those plastic line gears, which split on many, and stayed perfect on others. I got the NWSL gears to replace the split gears on my Bachmann Shay. They're made from steel and work absolutely great, but installation was a little difficult (especially on the rear truck). I had to put a dot of super glue on the flat side of each one to keep them from slipping out of place.

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Posted by Darth Santa Fe on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 5:11 PM

Here's a few comparison shots for everyone.Big Smile


Spectrum Shay > Keystone Shay


Frankenshay.


The Spectrum engine is more detailed, but that tiny engine is still pretty good.

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Posted by Darth Santa Fe on Saturday, January 02, 2010 10:43 PM

I got my powering kit in the mail today. Unfortunately, one of the worm shaft assemblies is missing, and they didn't give me the can motor I paid for (they specifically said it had the can motor, and charged me more for it, but I got the cheap open-frame motor instead). The parts I do have of the kit are very high quality, and after some quick simple tests, I've found they work very smoothly. It should be an excellent runner when it's done.Big Smile But, I'll have to wait a little longer now before I can finish it.Sad

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Posted by Grampy1 on Monday, January 04, 2010 11:35 AM

Not fun when you don't get what you paid for. In that position with a locomotive purchased online. Fortunately, it's a Mantua and under warranty.

Thanks for your input to this thread all. I have one MDC two truck kit Shay that was put together by someone else. It wasn't running and was basically just losely assembled. It's running pretty good now, but still needs some tweaking. I trimmed off the teeth of the line gears which helped the engine to run much smoother. Still a bit of a jump periodically, so some more adjustment is still needed. Overall, I'm happy with the locomotive. It handles the steep grades well and I kinda like the clackety noise. Still have to work out how I want to do my lights, but that shouldn't be to hard.

I also have another two truck and a three truck kit to put together, so insights into the assembly of all the different Shay kits helps. The solutions and tricks make life a lot easier. Smile

Geared is the way to tight radius and steep grades. Ghost River Rwy. "The Misty Loggers" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rs5qJPRumLA
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Posted by cjcrescent on Monday, January 04, 2010 12:11 PM

Darth,

Great job so far! I hope the repowering goes well. I assembled one of these many years ago for a friend and the weak frame was a big issue then. I hope that you have less trouble than I did.

 Marty and Fred;

A NG modeler from Mississippi has bought all the unused kits and parts for the MDC shay from Horizon. He is now offering what he calls semi-kits for sale. These are not standard MDC kits. The models are offered for specific prototypes, mostly HOn3. They do come with custom made brass parts to match the prototype, plus a complete list of extra detail parts you need for each prototype.

The chassis comes assembled with a can motor and both NWSL shay regear kits installed. Eight wheel pick-up is also installed. These are sweet runners. Depending on prototype, custom made cab pieces and brass frame end castings are included. He also has a line of custom parts, (brass), for shays, passenger & freight cars, and I think even other NG locos.

The instructions are a lot more complete than the MDC instructions and he even tells you which suggestions to follow from Jeff Johnston's "The MDC Shay Handbook".

I am currently assembling a Mann's Creek #2, and a "generic" standard gauge shay.

I am not suggesting to anyone to buy this kit, nor am I "shilling" for the man. But he has taken what can be a good kit and made it great. I believe he advertises in the NG&SLG and possibly our host's magazine. If you want more info, contact me via e-mail/PM and I will give you his contact info.

 

Carey

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Posted by Darth Santa Fe on Monday, January 04, 2010 1:06 PM

For those of you interested in MDC's Shay kits (which I may also try eventually), this is the ultimate website on tips and tricks for building them.Big Smile I found it to be very interesting, and the builder did an absolutely beautiful job on his Shay.Big Smile

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Posted by Grampy1 on Monday, January 04, 2010 4:52 PM

Awesome link. Thanks. Smile

Geared is the way to tight radius and steep grades. Ghost River Rwy. "The Misty Loggers" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rs5qJPRumLA
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Posted by fwright on Monday, January 04, 2010 4:56 PM

cjcrescent

Marty and Fred;

A NG modeler from Mississippi has bought all the unused kits and parts for the MDC shay from Horizon. He is now offering what he calls semi-kits for sale. These are not standard MDC kits. The models are offered for specific prototypes, mostly HOn3. They do come with custom made brass parts to match the prototype, plus a complete list of extra detail parts you need for each prototype.

The chassis comes assembled with a can motor and both NWSL shay regear kits installed. Eight wheel pick-up is also installed. These are sweet runners. Depending on prototype, custom made cab pieces and brass frame end castings are included. He also has a line of custom parts, (brass), for shays, passenger & freight cars, and I think even other NG locos.

The instructions are a lot more complete than the MDC instructions and he even tells you which suggestions to follow from Jeff Johnston's "The MDC Shay Handbook".

I am currently assembling a Mann's Creek #2, and a "generic" standard gauge shay.

I am not suggesting to anyone to buy this kit, nor am I "shilling" for the man. But he has taken what can be a good kit and made it great. I believe he advertises in the NG&SLG and possibly our host's magazine. If you want more info, contact me via e-mail/PM and I will give you his contact info.

I appreciate the information.  I had seen the notices about the improved and partially assembled Shay kits on a few Yahoo groups that I subscribe to.  I have my own Roundhouse Shay to build - a Christmas gift was the boiler and detail backdate kit from Wiseman.  My next order is the NWSL regear kits.  Since I already have the Roundhouse kit and some of the details, the package price was a little daunting.

In my case, the Roundhouse Shay will be used on standard gauge, where the frame width is more appropriate for my 1900-era Shays.  I had considered using Roundhouse kits in lieu of the Keystone for my narrow gauge power, but the same frame on the HO and HOn3 versions is a little wide for my era, and the 3 cylinder engine is on the heavy side for a narrow gauge logger of 1900.  Also, on my 20" long switchback tails and 6% grades, the short length of the Keystone and metal construction will work better despite the more difficult build.  The Roundhouse Shay will be a good visual contrast with the smaller, 2 cylinder Keystone Shays on the narrow gauge line.

But thanks again very much for your kind offers.

Fred W

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Posted by Darth Santa Fe on Tuesday, January 05, 2010 4:05 PM

I've now made a little more progress on the Shay. Since the only part truly missing is one of the worm assemblies, I can still do most of the major work.


This is the 99% complete kit. The transfer gearbox comes unassembled, but I had already done a little work before taking this picture. The motor shown was supposed to be a 10x25mm can motor, and not the cheap square motor. The square motor still runs well, but it's not all that quiet. All of the plastic parts are made from Delrin, so they should last for a very long time. The pewter sideframes aren't included anymore, since Keystone hasn't shipped any to NWSL since 2004.


The truck kingpin mounts. They're threaded, so you can either tap a hole to screw them into (like I did), or you can make the hole slightly larger and epoxy them in place. They go on the underside of the frame, and are a little fragile.


Before doing anything else, I mounted the kingpins to the trucks and set it down on its wheels. The kingpins pop into their mounts, so they can be removed easily for maintenance. Just remember never to pick the Shay up upside-down by the trucks, or it will probably pop off and fall!


Looking good so far!Big Smile Nothing's actually assembled. I just wanted to see it on its own wheels.Big Smile The hole for the kingpin mount will be covered by piping details and a tool box, so it shouldn't look so ugly when it's done.


Test fit and run of the gearbox (motor was actually running when I took the picture). I won't be using that motor, but it sits at the right height for testing. The gearbox has an 8-tooth brass gear, a 25-tooth Delrin idler, and a 25-tooth brass drive gear, giving it a ratio of 3.125:1. It works quietly and smoothly, but because the screws are small (making them easier to strip), it should be cleaned up and greased before it's assembled completely.

So far, getting this kit put together and running isn't as hard as I thought it would be. The metal is soft, so great care must be taken (especially with the frame). If I can't get the right motor from NWSL, then I've found a 12x20mm coreless motor by Namiki that should work very well. The ideal size to fit in the tender easily would be 10x20mm (10x25 max), but it shouldn't be hard to open an extra 2mm if needed.

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Posted by Geared Steam on Tuesday, January 05, 2010 6:34 PM

 Looking good Darth!

Again, great thread. I like those metal line shaft gears, looks like real quality components.

 

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Posted by Darth Santa Fe on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 11:39 AM

I've now made the final modifications to the gearbox area.Big Smile


Not much visible in the cab,


or from the sides,


but it can still be accessed easily for maintenance.Big Smile

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Posted by Darth Santa Fe on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 2:14 PM

Ok, I just got all the problems worked out with NWSL. The website listing was incorrect about the included motor, so they gave me $10 credit. So I get to keep the square motor, and I'm basically getting $10 off the full price of the other motor. They're also sending the missing worm assembly free, and aren't charging for shipping either.Big Smile So I should have my full kit soon, and I get to have an extra motor.Big Smile

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Posted by davidmbedard on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 4:04 PM

 That looks like some wicked-awsome fun!  Thanks for sharing.

 David B

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Posted by LooseClu on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 8:35 PM

After looking over the soft Keystone side shafts, I decided I would follow the suggested replacement of the Keystone 'crankshaft' with a strait rod. Even thought you have gotten them to run smoothly I have some serious reservations about their ability to hold up under higher rpms.  The piston connecting rods won't go up and down but that's a price I'm willing to pay in order to keep the tiny loco in service.  I bought mine planning on using the parts to build a vertical boiler critter to shuffle log buggies around the sawmill.  That little Keystone 2-truck Shay is so cute I've decided to build it then buy another NWSL kit for my vert. boiler plans.  I too was disappointed with the open frame motor but they told me up front that's what I would be getting when I ordered it from NWSL.  I found a good web page that deals with building and tuning the diminutive Keystone/NWSL Shay and it suggested the strait shaft modification.  I am happy that you will be posting your construction progress- it will probably save me from making mistakes when I get around to that job.  I'll be delaying building mine until this summer when it’s too hot in the garage to work on the layout (and I get the benefit of seeing how you've dealt with those kits).        

Roy    

Roy         Onward into the fog                 http://s1014.photobucket.com/albums/af269/looseclu/

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Posted by DouglasJMeyer on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 9:30 PM

Ok so if I get this right the kit no longer has a can motor or the good sideframes? I just want to make sure. I did one of these a long time back and just want to make sure what we are talking about.

Doug M

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Posted by Darth Santa Fe on Thursday, January 07, 2010 12:11 AM

LooseClu, the straight rod in place of the crankshaft will be stronger and longer lasting, but I still wanted the motion to go with it.Big Smile If it ever starts wearing out, I'm sure I'll find a way to fix it (probably with brass rod on each end, mounted on shrunken original shafts). I've also found a few webpages with tips and tricks for building the Keystone Shay, and I'll probably follow a couple suggestions. I hope you have fun with your kit(s).Big Smile

DouglasJMeyer, the new kits don't include the harder sideframes (Keystone's fault), and the motor is a cheap open-frame type. The cheap motor is still a decent runner, but it's not as good as a higher quality can motor. If built right, I'm sure the soft stock sideframes will still last a while.

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Posted by Darth Santa Fe on Thursday, January 07, 2010 11:20 PM

I've gotten one of the trucks assembled and working!Big Smile

It works pretty smoothly, but it will need grease in the gears and break-in time before it's perfect. But I'm pretty happy so far!Big Smile

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Posted by Darth Santa Fe on Saturday, January 09, 2010 10:53 AM

The other truck is now assembled and rolling smoothly.Big Smile

I cut off the front truck's square shaft and replaced it with brass wire. Things weren't working smoothly with both trucks connected to the engine, so only one truck will drive it. I don't have the worm assembly for the front truck yet, but with only the rear truck driving, the Shay works pretty smoothly on a 9" straight track.Big Smile

This is as far as I can go until the new wormshaft and motor arrive from NWSL. I think they shipped the parts on Thursday, so they should get here soon.

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Posted by reklein on Saturday, January 09, 2010 11:23 AM

Loose Clu and Darth Sante Fe, Would you guys mind sharing your websites concerning the mods to these little shays,Please? Great thread by the way. Wish I could see more of this kind of thing on the forum. BILL

In Lewiston Idaho,where they filmed Breakheart pass.

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