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Keystone vs. Roundhouse Shay... thoughts?

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Keystone vs. Roundhouse Shay... thoughts?
Posted by ShadowNix on Monday, March 19, 2007 12:21 PM

Hello all,

Sometime in the next year or two I am hoping to build a HO shay... I have heard about all the difficulties with MDC/Roundhouse shay's, but I know less about the Keystone's.  I know the NWSL motoring kit for Keystone's is hard to come buy.  Anyway, here are my questions:

Building difficulty: Any difference?

Component quality: Any differnence?

Post-build running quality: Any difference (with or without remotor)?

Just wondering.  I appreciate any input... I know there are some MRR articles on this, but they are before my subscription time!

Brian

"That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger!"
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Posted by jsoderq on Monday, March 19, 2007 1:09 PM

Keystone kit was white metal, very crude by any standards and I never met anyone with one running (I have been around a long time in different areas of the US). They have been out of productuion forever so I doubt you could even find one.

Roundhouse was a better kit but took a fair amount of skill and tinkering to get it to run. There is a whole book on building the kit.  They had some problems and NWSL made a kit to improve them somewhat. At one time, Roundhouse had some assembled for sale RTR.

  Just save a lot of trouble and buy a Bachmann. They are one of the better Bachmann items and lots of people like them.

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Posted by cacole on Monday, March 19, 2007 1:47 PM

I have 3 of the MDC Shay kits and one of their assembled RTR Shays.  Only one kit has been assembled, and I never could get it to go more than 6 inches without derailing because their gearing is so out of sync that the front truck always wants to climb off the rail.

I have the book on how to modify the MDC Shay kit to get it to run but never did try it because the parts would have cost almost 3 times more than the original kit.  The book is entitled, "The MDC Shay Handbook" by Jeff Johnston; Oso Publishing, Arlington, Washington 98223, ISBN 0-9647521-1-5.

A Bachmann Shay is a much better deal -- they run excellently, there's nothing to assemble, and they have much more detail than the MDC or Keystone Shay.  SoundTraxx even makes a sound decoder that will fit into the Bachmann Shay.

 

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Posted by MidlandPacific on Monday, March 19, 2007 2:08 PM

I haven't built either of them, but I have them both in my "to do" pile - I plan to build the MDC first, and tackle the Keystone later.  Some thoughts:

1) Even in the two truck version, the MDC Shay is a much larger engine.  The stuff I found online suggests that the Keystone's the tougher project.

2) The MDC Shay Handbook is an excellent guide, but it's out of print, and very expensive.  I lucked out and found one for sticker price, but I looked for six months before I found it. 

3) The Keystone powering kits are made by NWSL, and NWSL is not currently producing them, and will probably not produce any more.  The HO ones seem to be particularly scarce; MSRP was around seventy dollars, but there are a couple on Ebay right now.  You can get the MDC kits from NWSL or their distributors without any problems. 

http://search.ebay.com/search/search.dll?cgiurl=http%3A%2F%2Fcgi.ebay.com%2Fws%2F&fkr=1&from=R8&satitle=keystone+shay&category0=&submitSearch=Search

4) Here are some useful/interesting links for the Keystone shay:

 http://www.mrollins.com/keyshay.html

http://www.mrollins.com/keyshay1.html

http://www.the-gauge.com/showthread.php?t=7976&page=2

http://www.port-kelsey.com/?p=135

http://www.hon30.org/shaybld.htm

 

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Posted by ShadowNix on Monday, March 19, 2007 2:13 PM
 cacole wrote:

I have 3 of the MDC Shay kits and one of their assembled RTR Shays.  Only one kit has been assembled, and I never could get it to go more than 6 inches without derailing because their gearing is so out of sync that the front truck always wants to climb off the rail.

I have the book on how to modify the MDC Shay kit to get it to run but never did try it because the parts would have cost almost 3 times more than the original kit.  The book is entitled, "The MDC Shay Handbook" by Jeff Johnston; Oso Publishing, Arlington, Washington 98223, ISBN 0-9647521-1-5.

A Bachmann Shay is a much better deal -- they run excellently, there's nothing to assemble, and they have much more detail than the MDC or Keystone Shay.  SoundTraxx even makes a sound decoder that will fit into the Bachmann Shay.

 

Thanks for the suggestions.  I know the Bachmann Shay is great, but I really want to build a Shay, not buy one.  For me, that is part of the fun, as well as learning.  Again, I appreciate all of your comments.

Brian

"That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger!"
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Posted by fwright on Monday, March 19, 2007 2:15 PM
 ShadowNix wrote:

Hello all,

Sometime in the next year or two I am hoping to build a HO shay... I have heard about all the difficulties with MDC/Roundhouse shay's, but I know less about the Keystone's.  I know the NWSL motoring kit for Keystone's is hard to come buy.  Anyway, here are my questions:

Building difficulty: Any difference?

Component quality: Any differnence?

Post-build running quality: Any difference (with or without remotor)?

Just wondering.  I appreciate any input... I know there are some MRR articles on this, but they are before my subscription time!

Brian

I have both to build so I cannot comment 1st hand.  But my research and looking at the kits shows the following:

Keystone is a non-motorized kit.  My castings do not look crude at all.  You must have the NWSL motorizing kit from the beginning to substitute key parts as you build.  NWSL advertised the kit as "...not for the faint of heart..."  Motorizing kits are no longer in production because NWSL could not get sufficiently hard frame pieces from Keystone, and motor availability has also become a problem for NWSL.  They will sell you the motorizing kit less those pieces.  Reading between the lines and after a Google search, the Keystone will last a lot longer and do better if you make new frame pieces from brass or nickel silver.

The other typical wear area on the Keystone, according to my Google searches, is the crankshaft and piston rods for the Shay engine.  Again, making your own replacement pieces out of something better wearing than pewter is advised.

The pewter casting makes the Keystone very heavy, and a great puller for its size (again, according to reports). 

As far as the Roundhouse Shay goes, (according to the book and other construction articles) it is fairly finicky to get running well with stock gears.  The gears need to be carefully cleaned of all casting imperfections.  The motor varies with year of manufacture.  Early versions had an open frame motor; later versions came with a decent can motor.

There is a tutorial on assembling the Roundhouse Shay started at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mdcroundhouse/?yguid=229245731  Membership is free, but I believe you have to join the group to browse the messages.

With both Shay kits, the drive train needs to be assembled one step at a time, and thoroughly tuned and tested for smooth running before proceeding to the next step.

Both Roundhouse and Shays use a center drive shaft system similar to diesels.  With the the right side lineshafts geared to the same axles on both trucks, you will eventually have a mechanical lockup (which will break something) if slippage is not provided for.  One method of providing slippage is to let one of the telescoping square line shafts rotate inside the other.  Then only one truck is driving the line shaft system, and you shouldn't have the lockups.

The binding problem apparently occurs in some of the Roundhouse RTR Shays as well.  It seems not all the assemblers knew to provide slippage.

The biggest difference between the various Shay models is the size.  The Bachmann represents an 80T Shay.  The 3 truck Roundhouse is close to a 70T, and the 2 truck is about right for a 50T Shay.  The Keystone is modeled after a 20T Shay.  All except the Keystone are pretty big for narrow gauge, although the Roundhouse was offered in HOn3 in both 2 and 3 truck versions.

Hope this helps

Fred W

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Posted by Pathfinder on Monday, March 19, 2007 6:12 PM

I built (or tried to) the MDC Shay when it first came out.  Even sent it to my re-motoring/gearing guru.  Could not get it to work right, ended up selling it at a loss.

I have never tried the Keystone one so can not comment.

Geared locomotives are finicky beasts at the best of times, if you do not have much experience with rod locomotives I would not suggest a Shay kit as something to learn from.

Just my opinion. 

 

Keep on Trucking, By Train! Where I Live: BC Hobbies: Model Railroading (HO): CP in the 70's in BC and logging in BC
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Posted by wgnrr on Monday, March 19, 2007 7:01 PM

Keystone Locomotive Works is still in business, believe it or not. They do not have a web site, nor any retail sellers (except the Shay Locomotive Shop in Cass, WV that I know of).

Search "keystone locomotive works Pulteney, New York" in Google, and you will get their phone number. I bought a O scale New Mexico Lumber Co. log car kit, and I thought I bought a HO. I called them, and they said they could trade them out. 3 months later, I recieved a fresh new Climax log car kit.

I also got a catalog. They still sell their 44T's, the saw mill, planning mill, the Shay, and all of their good stuff.

Give them a call. They like business!

Phil

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Posted by Pathfinder on Monday, March 19, 2007 9:14 PM
 wgnrr wrote:

Keystone Locomotive Works is still in business, believe it or not. They do not have a web site, nor any retail sellers (except the Shay Locomotive Shop in Cass, WV that I know of).

Search "keystone locomotive works Pulteney, New York" in Google, and you will get their phone number. I bought a O scale New Mexico Lumber Co. log car kit, and I thought I bought a HO. I called them, and they said they could trade them out. 3 months later, I recieved a fresh new Climax log car kit.

I also got a catalog. They still sell their 44T's, the saw mill, planning mill, the Shay, and all of their good stuff.

Give them a call. They like business!

Phil

 

Also available through Walthers

http://www.walthers.com/exec/productinfo/395-105 

Keep on Trucking, By Train! Where I Live: BC Hobbies: Model Railroading (HO): CP in the 70's in BC and logging in BC
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Posted by ShadowNix on Monday, March 19, 2007 9:17 PM
 Pathfinder wrote:

I built (or tried to) the MDC Shay when it first came out.  Even sent it to my re-motoring/gearing guru.  Could not get it to work right, ended up selling it at a loss.

I have never tried the Keystone one so can not comment.

Geared locomotives are finicky beasts at the best of times, if you do not have much experience with rod locomotives I would not suggest a Shay kit as something to learn from.

Just my opinion. 

 

Thanks all for the replies.  This would NOT be my first locomotive... I have built 2 previous small engines (0-6-0's) that run well... I also have a bowser kit to make BEFORE I would build.  My interest in asking this question is that I would plan to buy one in the next year and build it in the future.... I like to plan ahead.  Again, thanks... I appreciate all the links... these do sound like finicky beasts!... But, the challenge sounds kind of fun to me... after I finish the layout Smile [:)] .

Brian

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Posted by modelmaker51 on Tuesday, March 20, 2007 2:00 AM

I successfully built 2 of the MDC versions. They ran pretty good but sounded like coffee grinders! The NWSL upgrade kits are essential, (but they'll still scream going down the track at 15 smph!). The trick for me was to only use one gear on each truck. To simulate the other gear I used a disc that was the diameter of the gear minus the teeth. With the gear cover on you can't tell and it solved the syncing problem. The gears were driven by the inner wheel of each truck. It took a lot of fiddling, scraping and filing to get the piston shafts to move freely. The universals were also a pain - make sure there are no burrs anywhere. Everythink must slide or mesh smoothly.

Two other big issues are 1. left to right balance, (the boiler is off-center, so you have to load up the engineer's side with some weight in the form of heavy metal castings like toolboxes, etc). 2. Electrical pickup, you'll have to re-design a pickup system as the MDC design really sucks. And don't forget, the truck parts are Delrin so most glues won't hold, (although I did recently see an ad for a CA specifically designed for Delrin and other engineering plastics).

Have Fun!

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Posted by oleirish on Tuesday, March 20, 2007 10:53 AM

Good morning to YA!!! I have two roundhouse 2-truck shays,these are not for the week at heart to build,some dang small parts,

A-The detail work is good

B-The pickups don't work real good

C-the drive shafts have some real small parts in them

D-I re-motored them with can motorsW/flywheels ,they run slow just like the real thing

E-I re-done the ELEC pickups,they run real good now.

F-not much room for a de-coder in them,But I think it can be done?

G-after  all is said and done they are fun to double head,

Can't say anything about Keystone through

Hope this helps?

JIM

 

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Posted by rrebell on Tuesday, March 20, 2007 11:01 AM
 wgnrr wrote:

Keystone Locomotive Works is still in business, believe it or not. They do not have a web site, nor any retail sellers (except the Shay Locomotive Shop in Cass, WV that I know of).

Search "keystone locomotive works Pulteney, New York" in Google, and you will get their phone number. I bought a O scale New Mexico Lumber Co. log car kit, and I thought I bought a HO. I called them, and they said they could trade them out. 3 months later, I recieved a fresh new Climax log car kit.

I also got a catalog. They still sell their 44T's, the saw mill, planning mill, the Shay, and all of their good stuff.

Give them a call. They like business!

Phil

Also nwsl will reissue the powering kits if keystone ever supplys the missing peices that they need that came from keystone originaly, or so they said. Built the mdc shay and got it to run a a tie a min. without the book and no I am not that good a mecanics. Just bought the keystone at an auction and it dosn't look bad, better than some of the old brass, it is much smaller and is a two cylinder instead of mdc's three, only way to get it outside of brass. Has anyone used the superstructure of the keystone to upgrade the weight and looks of some of the realy old brass that had good works but were light and not much detail???

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