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Scratchbuilding a side discharge rotary snow plow

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Posted by hon30critter on Monday, May 16, 2022 5:26 AM

I decided to mount the drive system onto the frame to see how loud the gear noise is and how much vibration there is. I am quite pleased to say that the noise is minimal and so is the vibration when running at fairly low speeds (there will be no reason to run the blades faster - they look great at low speeds).

Here is the latest video. Again, the recording makes the gear noise seem to be louder than it actually is. Click on 'Watch on YouTube':

I now think that all the fuss about getting the drive system to run perfectly smoothly was unwarranted. I did need to make the adjustments to the gear alignment and slop, but the remaining noise and extremely minor chatter seems to be inconsequential.

Cheers!!

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by snjroy on Monday, May 16, 2022 6:37 AM

Cool Dave! The real ones were probably noisy too. 

Simon

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, May 16, 2022 9:47 AM

snjroy
The real ones were probably noisy too.

This brings up an interesting question for this build.

The original used a Morse silent chain drive, like the one on a McKeen car, and there is no external lubrication or slack/tensioner noise with those.  However, this implied that the engines were arranged transversely, probably driving through locking clutches onto a common shaft to enable them to be heated and condensation free before use in cold weather.  His engines are longitudinal, as is his central driveshaft, which implies gears.  The ones in the 'final drive' would be enclosed in a case, perhaps with a spring on the pinion or spider to absorb shock when the thing hits chumks of that compressed snow mentioned in the article... or ice.  (And that is the source of most of the 'sounds' a decoder for this should be programmed to play... Wink)

If you geared the engines to the shaft with 'open' gearing as in a Shay or Heisler, I'd expect to hear much of the appropriate rumble, squeaking, etc. but it might be muted inside the carbody.  There should be no bearing noise, and little engine noise other than LP exhaust, which would be relatively soft and long per 'beat'.

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Posted by hon30critter on Monday, May 16, 2022 9:06 PM

Overmod
His engines are longitudinal, as is his central driveshaft, which implies gears. 

Hi Overmod,

The electric motor that actually drives the blades is mounted longitudinally but the model steam engines are mounted transversely, implying that there would have been a chain drive and no gears as you suggest. There isn't any room to model a chain drive because the drive shaft from the motor to the gearbox goes between the two steam engines:

The bottom line is that the gear noise is not obtrusive enough to worry about. I think having the drive system mounted in the bench vise caused the sound to be amplified.

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by Attuvian1 on Monday, May 16, 2022 11:25 PM

Dave,

I am a bit confused on the rotation of the blades.  Looking at them in operation from the left side (as in your most recent video), it's hard to tell but the left blade assembly seems to be rotating counter-clockwise.  That is, the leading and outer edge of a particular blade chomps at the snow on contact.  Consequently, it gobbles snow and pulls it inboard rather than pushing it outward.  Is it just the opposite, rotating clockwise?

John

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Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, May 17, 2022 12:26 AM

Attuvian1
I am a bit confused on the rotation of the blades. 

Hi John!

I totally understand your confusion! It took me a long time and a lot of head scratching to figure out which way the blades should rotate, but when you think about it the proper direction of rotation makes total sense.

In order to throw the snow, the blades have to move the snow from the inside of the blades to the outside. When you look at the blades, your first impression (or at least my first impression) was that the outside edges of the blades should be carving into the snow. However, as you pointed out, that would jam things up pretty quick if all the snow was forced into the center of the plow. The blades have to operate so that they throw the snow away from the center of the plow.

I think that what you are seeing is an optical illusion. It's like looking at a rotating stage coach wheel in an old western movie. The spokes appear to be rotating backwards because the frequency of the indivdual movie picture frames doesn't match the speed of rotation. Same thing with the plow blades.

Thanks again for your interest John.

Cheers!!

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by Attuvian1 on Tuesday, May 17, 2022 12:30 AM

hon30critter

Thanks again for your interest John.

You bet, Dave.  Needless to say, I'm rather hooked now.  Or already reeled in! Smile, Wink & Grin

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Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, May 17, 2022 12:45 AM

I've had the drive system running since about 9:00 pm. It's now 1:45 am. The noise level hasn't changed. There is still some chattering but it is irregular. That leads me to believe that I need to change the bearings and the shafts. I would really like this thing to run silently.

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, May 17, 2022 11:33 AM

The 'correct' direction of rotation is easily interpreted from the first couple of images of the plow, both from the shape of the snow packed in front of and inside the blading in the side view, and the presence of the tension rods between vanes (if these were in compression, they would fail in short order).

The 'cutting' edges strike the snow from the bottom, not 'down from the top', and they lift it while the 'helical' curve accelerates and separates the broken pieces of 'pack'.  I think part of the design intent is, when the plow operates in drifts deeper than a significant 'chord' of the rotor circle, the rotors impel and compress the carried snow and chunks laterally into the faces of the cut in the drift -- something that might produce smooth and hard snow walls in the resulting passages.

I presume the rotors can be clutched to run in reverse if they jam, although there may be problems if 'pack' freezes the space between the blades solid, with the heat of friction if the snow is too dense to move as above.  Suspect I'm beginning to understand why there aren't many examples of the 'Ideal" plow in service now...  

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, May 17, 2022 11:37 AM

If you want it to run silently, get a couple of the very small precision ball bearings sold for clock movements, make up a shaft that has proper 'fits' either side of the driven gear, and arrange the bearings to be adjusted so you can 'depth' the engagement between the worm and the driven gear precisely.

Some of the small bearings have ceramic balls or self-lubrication, and would not need "added tribology" that might attract or hold dust (this is one stated reason to use them, instead of oiled bearings, in clocks).  In this case you want the bearings, and their mounting arrangement, 'proof' against a certain structural amount of rotating imbalance -- while your gearcase will have to be 'stouter', even if it tries to 'walk' a bit on its mountings the bearing support and clearances will remain tight.  You might then still have a little communicated noise that a strip of thin elastomer between gearcase and mount would solve.

If there is a problem with longitudinal shaft play in the worm as the blades rotate, you might use an approach comparable to back-to-back Belleville washers to put "spring preload" on the worm so it physically does not move off its effective chosen thrust surface axially -- but does not require the room needed to use some sort of helical or leaf spring or elastomer block to do the job.

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Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, May 17, 2022 11:12 PM

Overmod
If you want it to run silently, get a couple of the very small precision ball bearings sold for clock movements, make up a shaft that has proper 'fits' either side of the driven gear,

While I'm sure that ball bearings would improve the operation, I' going to stick with bronze bushings. Installing ball bearings would basically involve starting the gearbox all over again and the problem is not serious enough to justify that. If I replace the bushings one at a time I will be able to maintain their positions by using a shaft through the opposite bushing to locate the new bushing. At least, that's the theory.

 

Overmod, I'm going to make a request of you. You frequently use terms with which I am not familiar, and I'm sure that many other readers don't understand them as well. For example:

Overmod
Belleville washers

Overmod
"added tribology"

Yes, we could all take the time to look up those terms, but it would be much more considerate of you to explain the terms briefly, or at least provide a link to them. I think we all understand that you are a very knowledgable person, but that knowledge is wasted when it is not explained.

'Belleville washer':

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belleville_washer

'tribology':

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tribology

Thank you for your consideration.

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, May 18, 2022 1:57 AM

Test fitting the stationary blades and rotary blade enclosures:

Everything fits together quite nicely. In fact, the fixed vertical blade fits exactly between the inside edges of the rotary blade enclosures! I had measured things out but I didn't expect to be that close the first time round.

I had to enlarge the diameter of the holes in the rotary blade enclosures because the blades aren't quite as centered on the drive shafts as I had thought and the eccentricity caused them to bind a bit. No big deal. The blades now spin clear of the enclosures and that's all that really matters.

The proportions aren't quite right. The rotary blades, despite supposedly being to scale, don't look big enough, and the stationary plow sticks out the front a bit too far, but I'm not going to lose any sleep over those details.

I'm not sure what to tackle next. I may start detailing the boiler. I also have to install a system for making the shell removable. I have some ideas. I just noticed that the electric motor is not centered on the floor. I have to fix that or the boiler which fits tightly over the motor will be out of place. Can't have that! I have to add power pickup to the trucks. That should be easy.

I have to whine a bit. I just bought a 0-80 tap. I'm using 0-80 brass screws to mount the drive system to the frame, and I will use them to mount the shell. Unfortunately I managed to drop the tap on the concrete floor and of course it landed tip first. The tip broke off.GrumpyBang HeadDunceAngryCrying I had tapped exactly two holes with it!

More later,

Cheers!!

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, May 20, 2022 2:45 PM

You may recall that I had ordered a 4-6-0 steam engine to push the plow. Well, it has taken UPS 32 days for them to admit that they have lost the shipment. I have lost track of how many times I have contacted UPS, but I now know the tracking # off by heart! They seemed to have messed up at every possible opportunity. At one point I had three different case #s. Finally, they sent me an application so that I could actually file a claim.

One of the pieces on information that they wanted was the UPS account # for the shipper, Trainworld. I contacted Trainworld and I can hardly believe their response because it has been the polar opposite of the way UPS handled the case.

Instead of sending me their UPS account #, I got an email from Joanie at Trainworld explaining that they would handle the claim entirely from their end. That was at about 10:30 this morning. It is now 3:30 pm and I have been issued a full credit by Trainworld including the shipping! In addfition to that, they are going to ask UPS to refund me the brokerage fees for the first shipment, and they have agreed to ship the new locomotive via USPS First Class mail. 

This was not the first time that UPS has caused me headaches. On the other hand, the USPS has never lost any of my hundreds of shipments from the US (there was one package that ended up in Australia, but it eventually did get delivered - Ed will remember).

The bottom line is that I can't say enough about the quality of Trainworld's customer service. They are amazing!

Cheers!!

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, May 20, 2022 8:49 PM

Last night I attempted to install the NWSL power pick up strips to the plow trucks. I got them installed but I'm not happy with them primarily because I think they cause too much rolling resistance.

I have two questions:

First, did I install them properly? I set them up so that the bronze strips are contacting the wheel treads. They could also have been installed so that they were contacting the backs of the wheels. Which is correct?

Second, are there any power pick up trucks or pick up contacts out there that offer minimal rolling resistance, i.e. Kadee coupler springs?

I'm willing to scrap the NWSL pick up system, and I'm quite willing to purchase low rolling resistance power pick up trucks. I would prefer arch bar trucks but that is not essential. Kadee has archbar power pick up trucks but apparently they only come with caboose springs.

Any suggestions?

By the way, I used Streamlined Backshop wheel wipers on my caboose fleet and they do not roll easily either.

Thanks

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by doctorwayne on Friday, May 20, 2022 9:21 PM

hon30critter
Second, are there any power pick up trucks or pick up contacts out there that offer minimal rolling resistance, i.e. Kadee coupler springs?

I've used Kadee coupler springs in the past, but found that Tichy's phosphor-bronze wire is a more rugged choice, and that it can be easily adjusted to control the amount of drag that it puts on either the backside of the wheels or on the  wheelsets' axles, depending on your preferences...

Here's a tender with part of a Kadee centering spring used as a wheel wiper...

Pretty-well all of my steamers have all-wheel pick-up, nowadays, most of it done with Tichy's .020" phosphor-bronze wire, usually soldered to single-sided copper-clad circuit board.

Here are a couple steamers with all-wheel pick-up...

Wayne

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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, May 20, 2022 9:34 PM

doctorwayne
Tichy's phosphor-bronze wire is a more rugged choice, and that it can be easily adjusted to control the amount of drag that it puts on either the backside of the wheels or on the  wheelsets' axles, depending on your preferences...

Hi Wayne,

I guess I'm getting old! I had totally forgotten about using Tichy's phosphor bronze wire. I have used it in the past with great success. Thanks for the reminder.

I bought the NWSL pick up strips thinking that they would somehow be a superior product. Perhaps I haven't installed them properly, but before I take them out I'm going to trim them down so that the actual contact strips are much thinner and will therefore hopefully exert less force on the wheels. If that doesn't work I've got lots of Tichy wire.

Thanks for your help.

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by PM Railfan on Friday, May 20, 2022 9:44 PM

Is it just me or does anyone else hear that 70's jingle...... "Anti-ci-pa-a-tion.... it's making me wait."

 

Douglas

 

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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, May 20, 2022 10:02 PM

PM Railfan
Is it just me or does anyone else hear that 70's jingle...... "Anti-ci-pa-a-tion.... it's making me wait."

Hi Douglas,

I hope you are not biting your nails! I apologize for the fact that I have taken a couple of days off to contemplate what to do next. I'm a bit too focused on getting the drive system to work smoothly, but I can't do anything about that until the necessary parts arrive from NWSL. In the interim I think I will spend some time trying to figure out where all the detail bits and pieces should be mounted on the boiler and how to connect the boiler to the engines. If anyone can suggest any references for same, that would be greatly appreciated. I have a rough idea of what should go where, and I have the Precision Scale diagrams, but I'm still not certain of all of the details. One thing I'm having trouble with is how to connect the steam pipes between the boiler and the engines. I also have to figure out where to put the decoder, speakers and the extra weights.

All that means is that there may not be a lot of progress to show over the next few days. If I do manage to accomplish something, I will keep you posted.

Cheers!!

Dave

 

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by hon30critter on Saturday, May 21, 2022 3:18 AM

I decided to try to envisage all of the future steps in the construction of the plow. I'm sure the list is not complete, but here is where it stands now. As I said previously, there is still a lot of work to do:

I guess I'd better get to work!Smile, Wink & GrinLaughLaugh

Cheers!!

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by hon30critter on Sunday, May 22, 2022 1:46 AM

Well, I made my great big list yesterday, and tonight I sat down to figure out where to start. I promptly commenced to do something that wasn't even on the list! I guess that shows how useful the list is!Smile, Wink & GrinLaughLaugh

The first thing I did was design a way to make the shell easily removable. Up until now I had been using small dots of styrene cement to hold the shell in place when needed. That quickly became a PITA because I had to break the joints each time I wanted to remove the shell. My solution was to add some additional horizontal beams along the inside walls of the shell at the floor, half way up the walls and at the top below the angled trusses. The mid-wall beams and the upper beams are merely cosmetic, but the floor level beams allowed me to conceal some styrene blocks through which I will run the shell mounting screws. The screws will be brass, and I will install brass nuts on top of the blocks so the threads won't strip out over time.

I'll post some pictures once the shell removal system is complete.

Cheers!!

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, May 22, 2022 7:03 AM

If I were you, I'd consider using some of those tiny neodymium magnets and strategically-located steel structure like plates, pins, or even screws to hold the shell in place.  That would facilitate taking the shell off at shows without needing to use tools and turning the plow over to access screws for unthreading...

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Posted by hon30critter on Monday, May 23, 2022 2:48 AM

Overmod
I'd consider using some of those tiny neodymium magnets and strategically-located steel structure like plates, pins, or even screws to hold the shell in place.

Hi Overmod,

That is an interesting suggestion. I have neodymium magnets coming out my ears!

I already have a screw based system mostly installed so I'm going to finish that, but there is nothing to prevent me from using both systems. When I want the shell to be really secure for normal day to day handling, I would leave the screws in place. If I want to be able to show the interior easily, I could remove the screws and just use the magnets. I would install at least four sets of magnets to prevent the shell from accidentally coming off the frame when being handled.

To be honest, I think my show days are over. My back and my balance are so bad now that I can barely walk. I have taken to using a cane whenever I am outside because walking on grass or other uneven surfaces is nearly impossible. At the last couple of shows I did with my old club, I had to rent an electric scooter. Getting through a crowd or getting up close to a table with one of those is a PITA.

Cheers!!

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, May 25, 2022 3:29 AM

Tonight I played with adding weights. The firebox had a lot of open space so I cut 10 or so circular pieces of lead sheet and glued them in. There was also a bit of open space in the bottom of the firebox so I added some weight there too. The weights fill the entire firebox area. The boiler by itself weighs 1.8 oz.

The whole project now weighs about 9.25 oz. which I think will be heavy enough to keep it on the tracks when being pushed.

I have also started to detail the boiler. The smoke stack isn't complete. Right now it is only tall enough to reach the roof of the shell. I will add a larger diameter and taller pipe which will be removable so that the shell can be taken off.

I put a steam dome on the boiler but I will be honest - I don't have a clue as to whether or not it is the right kind or in the right place, or whether the boiler would have had a steam dome at all. Please educate me!

One more bit of progress. I have figured out where I can mount the Loksound decoder and two speakers with enclosures. The decoder will fit quite nicely inside the roof in front of the cupola, and both speakers fit perfectly inside the vertical portion of the fixed front blade. This is what I would describe as several steps forward, and a lot of luck!!

Pardon the crude cutouts for the rotary blade axles. It took me three attempts to get it right. Ultimately the nasty holes won't show, thank goodness!

Cheers!!

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by "JaBear" on Wednesday, May 25, 2022 6:49 AM
Dave, I admire your dedication to this project, BowBow but I feel that you’ve put in as much “research and development” on the model as the designers and builders did on the prototype!! WinkLaughLaugh
Cheers, the Bear.Smile

"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."

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Posted by Pruitt on Wednesday, May 25, 2022 11:17 AM

hon30critter
I put a steam dome on the boiler but I will be honest - I don't have a clue as to whether or not it is the right kind or in the right place, or whether the boiler would have had a steam dome at all. Please educate me!

Pretty much every horizontal boiler has a steam dome. That's how you get steam to the cylinders and not hot water!

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, May 25, 2022 2:50 PM

Steam dome goes over the part of the boiler giving it the greatest vertical separation from the water underneath.  This may involve being at the 'center' of the locomotive (or plough) so that as it tips up and down grade the effect of water sloshing is minimized.

I believe those Harriman-2-8-0-style boilers could have the steam dome raised over the 'bustle' part, if overhead clearances permit, but on your boiler I think it's fine where it is.

Keep in mind that you could provide an outside-lagged dry pipe Russian-style going to a Y-pipe and headers to the engines instead of "re-using the pipes to the cylinders".  If you do that, you could redesign the exhaust not to be on centerline where the stack is 'in the way' of the dry pipe, etc.

(In 1904 that would not be a superheated boiler.  You could provide a smokebox superheater for the external dry pipe and tinker with the stacks and exhaust... you could also do a Franco-Crosti economizer to recover more heat from the combustion gas before reaching the 'front end' nozzles and stack...)

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Posted by hon30critter on Thursday, May 26, 2022 3:20 AM

Dave, I admire your dedication to this project, but I feel that you’ve put in as much “research and development” on the model as the designers and builders did on the prototype!!

Hi Bear,

All kidding aside, I'm trying to avoid doing something stupid that will prove that I don't have a clue about steam boilers. I'd rather that fact persist only as a nasty rumour!Smile, Wink & GrinLaughLaughLaugh

Cheers!!

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by hon30critter on Thursday, May 26, 2022 3:27 AM

Overmod
Keep in mind that you could provide an outside-lagged dry pipe Russian-style going to a Y-pipe and headers to the engines instead of "re-using the pipes to the cylinders".  If you do that, you could redesign the exhaust not to be on centerline where the stack is 'in the way' of the dry pipe, etc. (In 1904 that would not be a superheated boiler.  You could provide a smokebox superheater for the external dry pipe and tinker with the stacks and exhaust... you could also do a Franco-Crosti economizer to recover more heat from the combustion gas before reaching the 'front end' nozzles and stack...)

Sorry, you lost me.

I'm going to add more details to the boiler and post a couple of pictures. Then everyone will have the opportunity to tell me where I screwed up.

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by hon30critter on Thursday, May 26, 2022 6:40 AM

I took a little detour last night to start building the tender frame. I got the body on eBay a few weeks ago but nothing came with it. I bought a couple of Bachmann train set tenders in the hopes that I could scavenge a frame from them, but their frames weren't realistic at all so that was a waste of money.

Here is the rough frame with the body in the background. I am going by eye so I'm sure I will have some adjustments to make:

I have a pair of archbar trucks and a bunch of details from Tichy and Precision Scale so I'm hoping I can make a decent job of it. I also have to build covers for the coal load to keep the snow out.

Cheers!!

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by hon30critter on Monday, May 30, 2022 12:25 PM

Not much new to report. I have been feeling off for a few days so my creative juices aren't flowing.

I added a bunch more parts to the tender frame. I managed to drill one of the holes for the trucks off center so that had to be repaired. It was my own fault. I hadn't let the styrene cement dry thoroughly so when the drill bit hit the softer plastic it wandered.

I'm still waiting for the gearbox parts so I can rebuild that.

I'll try to get some stuff done tonight.

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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