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Scratchbuilding a side discharge rotary snow plow

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  • From: Bradford, Ontario
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Posted by hon30critter on Monday, May 30, 2022 2:43 PM

My 10 wheeler has finally arrived! You may recall that I had ordered a 4-6-0 from Trainworld in mid April. UPS lost the first locomotive so this is a replacement. I will have to re-letter it. Sorry, not a very good picture.

This is only the second new steam locomotive that I have purchased. The first was a P2K 0-8-0 many years ago. Both have lots of molded on details but the P2K unit seems to be more crisp. I guess that if I want tons of separately applied details I'll have to either do it myself or start buying brass.

I can't say enough about how well Trainworld treated me throughout this whole ordeal. When I told them that the first locomotive had disappeared into the ether they took over the claim and gave me an immediate store credit for both the cost of the locomotive and the shipping. They even went so far as to ask UPS to credit me for the customs brokerage fees! They saved me a whole lot of hassle! Joanie in their customer service dept. was fantastic!

After being so fed up with UPS, I asked Trainworld to ship the replacement via USPS First Class mail instead of UPS. They normally use UPS for all of their shipping, but they were quite willing to change to the USPS. And guess what - no brokerage fees! I don't know if that was an error or not, but I'm not arguing!

Next step for the 10 wheeler will be DCC and sound. The box says that it is DCC ready so hopefully the conversion will be easy.

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, June 2, 2022 2:16 AM

Finally, a little more progress! I got the trucks mounted on the tender frame. The next step was to see what height adjustments needed to be made in order to line up the couplers on the tender and the plow. Well, I couldn't believe my eyes when I set the plow and the tender on a piece of track. The coupler mounts are at exactly the same height! I don't mean close, I mean right on! That's just plain horse shoes. I didn't take any measurements when building the tender frame. I just eyeballed it.Big SmileThumbs Up

I'm pretty sure that I won't actually use couplers. I think that a drawbar would work much better. I need some distance between the back of the plow and the tender in order to allow space for a platform and the weather curtains that I have made out of 0.005" brass sheet. The curtains will either look hideous or they will look great. I'll post picture of the installed curtains before I paint so that you can pass judgement on them.

The replacement bearings and the Delrin gear arrived today as well, so I have started in on the gearbox (again!). It came apart quite easily, and the causes for the chattering were very apparent. Both the shafts and the bearings had obvious rough wear marks. The next step will be to replace the bearings. I will do them one at a time so I can use the opposite bearing as a reference for the locations. Hopefully the replacement bearings will be close enough to the position of the originals that the gear mesh will still be fine. When (if) I get the gearbox running smoothly I will post a video. Given what I have learned from my mistakes, I'm reasonably confident that I can get the bugs worked out.

Once that is done I will get back to adding details, and then the painting process will begin.

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 Thursday, June 2, 2022 10:33 AM

Well Dave, I would not underestimate your capacity to eyeball coupler height! 

Looking forward to the video. 

Simon

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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, June 3, 2022 12:29 AM

I think I discovered another problem with the gearbox. When I was installing the new bearings I had trouble with the shafts sliding smoothly into place even though I was using new bearings and new shafts. I tried adjusting the bearing positions several times but the problem persisted. In fact, I was having trouble getting the shafts to spin smoothly even in a single bearing. I tried using the Dremel polishing compound and it helped a bit but did not cure the problem completely.

Then I realized that any residual polishing compound could be causing the shafts to bind, so I started to clean the bearings and the shafts. After several cleaning attempts I was still getting grey marks on a paper towel when I wiped off the shafts. The next step was to use paint thinner to try to wash the whole thing clean. Even though the bearings had looked clean, when I scrubbed them with a micro brush I could still see faint traces of grey in the solvent. There were still traces of metal debris present. After several more scrubbings there was no longer any evidence of metal debris, and guess what, the shafts operated much more smoothly. I realized that I had never got the original shafts and bearing properly cleaned. Having residual amounts of the polishing compound in the bearings had obviously contributed to the rough running.

My conclusion is that I am not careful enough when I am doing these things. 'Good enough' isn't good enough in these cases.

Live and learn!

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, June 4, 2022 5:41 AM

I have reassembled the gearbox and it runs somewhat quieter but there is still some chatter. I'm going to run it for several hours to see if it gets any better. Here it is after about 20 minutes at a normal operating speed which is actually much slower than the blades are capable of spinning. I think the slower speed looks more realistic. As far as the chatter is concerned, I'm going to live with it. If the gearbox gets smoother then that will be a bonus.

You are probably getting tired of me saying this, but click on 'Watch on YouTube' on the lower left to get the full screen:

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 Saturday, June 4, 2022 6:05 PM
Gidday Dave, please don’t take this as being critical but I do wonder if you’re trying too hard to eliminate the blades drive noise.
While the Cumbres and Toltec RR rotary snow plough is similar but different, on viewing video footage of it in action, at least to my ear, the machinery noise is mainly the chuff of the steam engines, in the rotary and pushers, and as you’re going to add sound to your 4-6-0, that should take care of that. Unless of course you’re going to add sound to the plough!
(I wonder if by adding just a speaker to the plough you could run it off the 4-6-0 sound chip??)
 
Having followed your McKeen railmotor build, it’s good to see you’re maintaining your high standards. Keep up the good work!
 
 ½ My 2 Cents 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 hon30critter on Saturday, June 4, 2022 11:06 PM

Gidday Dave, please don’t take this as being critical but I do wonder if you’re trying too hard to eliminate the blades drive noise.

Hi Bear,

Please rest assured that your comments do not offend me at all. I appreciate your opinions.

The gearbox noise wasn't my primary concern. I was more worried about what was happening to the gears and shafts as they chattered. I didn't want to finish the plow only to have to tear it apart in a couple of years because of the potential damage that the chattering was doing. I'm running the gearbox as I write and it seems to be getting smoother. It certainly isn't getting any worse.

I wonder if by adding just a speaker to the plough you could run it off the 4-6-0 sound chip??

That certainly is a possibility. I could use a non-sound decoder in the plow to control the blade rotation. Ideally what I would like to have happen is that the plow would rev up before the locomotives add power to push it. (There will be two pushers). Similarly, the plow would start to labour slightly before the engines do, and the plow wouldn't rev up again until after the locomotives have applied power to back it up. I also want separate decoders in the two engines so that I can get them to sound like they are not perfectly in sync.

I may be biting off more than I can chew, but I at least have to give it a try.

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 Saturday, June 4, 2022 11:27 PM

hon30critter
I may be biting off more than I can chew...

If you weren’t trying to bite off more than you can chew, I’d be concerned for your general wellbeing. LaughLaugh
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 hon30critter on Monday, June 6, 2022 4:56 AM

I spent a couple of hours cutting in the side windows tonight. Of course, me being me, I had to make the task far more complicated than it needed to be.

If I had cut the window openings in the side panels when I was first starting to make the shell, I could have fitted all the interior framing around the window openings easily. Unfortunately, I decided to leave the windows until later and do the framing first without giving any consideration to where the windows would be.DunceDunceDunce I actually seem to recall telling myself to cut the window openings first, but as you already suspect, I am not good at listening to my own advice.

My mistake turned the window job from basically being part of the assembly process into a two hour waste of time. I will repeat myself:DunceDunceDunceDunce

Here are a couple of pictures showing the window openings (no frames yet) and the messed up interior bracing:

I swear that I am my own worst enemy sometimes. My impatience makes me stupid, and apparently it's not getting any better!

On another note, I have to make a confession about the gearbox. When I was reassembling it after replacing the bearings, the 28 tooth Delrin replacement worm gear wouldn't fit. It was jammed quite solidly on the worm. Obviously I hadn't got the bearings back in the right place.Bang HeadGrumpy The thought of trying to reposition the bearings by the very slight amount needed didn't appeal to me at all, but then I remembered that I had a 24 tooth Delrin gear on hand which had been too small when I first assembled the gearbox. Of course, since horse shoes seem to be the currency of the day, the 24 tooth gear fit almost perfectly. It was a tiny bit tight at first, but I cured that with the application of tiny amounts of the Dremel polishing compound. After about 1/2 hr the gearbox was running okay, and after another three hours or so it was quite smooth, although not perfect.

I'm not going to spend any more time on the gearbox. It is finally 'good enough'.

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, June 9, 2022 3:54 AM

I am continuing to work on the shell. I have installed the side window frames and trim, and I am working on the tall ladders that are mounted beside the side doors. I wasn't happy with the brass ladders that I had intended to use so I am making the ladders from scratch. I have the side rails for the ladders installed so the next step will be to install the rungs. I'm using Tichy rungs that have the lowered step as shown on the prototype photos. I'll have to trim the legs on each of the rungs so they don't protrude into the interior of the shell. I'll post pictures once I have the rungs in place.

I'm also working on a CN 0-8-0 that I will use as a second pusher. I have to repair the headlight because when I first got the loco many years ago I installed an LED in the headlight. That went quite well, except when I was gluing the headlight back in place I managed to get some styrtene cement on the number board on one side of the headlight. That destroyed the numbers on that side. DunceGrumpyBang HeadAngryCryingOops - Sign For several years I have tried to figure out how to repair the messed up numbers. Finally, a couple of days ago I realized that there was a perfectly good backup light on the tender with the numbers still intact, and the headlight and the reverse light were virtually identical. I reasoned that I could do without a numbered reverse light so I am in the process of switching the two lamps around.

I think my next steps will be to return to detailing the boiler and figuring out the connections between the boiler and the engines.

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, June 9, 2022 11:26 PM

I got the ladder installed on one side as well as the two side doors and the side window trim. I had to add window trim because I didn't cut the window openings carefully enough so there were some gaps to cover. The prototype's side windows were actually mounted flush with the plow side walls:

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 CNCharlie on Friday, June 10, 2022 9:44 AM

Dave, nice work!

A few posts ago you mentioned that you might use a decoder to control the speed. I had an Athearn rotary plow and I installed a decoder in it for that purpose. It worked great. I could increase the rotation speed with the throttle to whatever level I wanted. I used the light control on the decoder to turn off and on a light I installed inside.

CN Charlie

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Posted by Pruitt on Friday, June 10, 2022 1:51 PM

Looking great, Dave!

You're quite the craftsman!

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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, June 10, 2022 9:34 PM

CNCharlie
A few posts ago you mentioned that you might use a decoder to control the speed.

Hi CN Charlie,

I'm still trying to figure out how to set up the decoders. I want to use a recording of the Cumbres and Toltec rotary plow in operation with two steam pushers.

Here are my thoughts so far. A LokSound V5 sound decoder will go into the first pusher engine with connections to speakers in that engine as well as speakers in both the plow and the rear pusher. The rear pusher will use a non-sound LocPilot 5 for motor and lighting control, and the plow will use LocPilot 5 to control blade rotation speed and lighting. The two pusher engines will be consisted. The rotary blades will be controlled independantly.

If anyone has any other suggestions, please chime in.

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, June 10, 2022 9:39 PM

Pruitt
Looking great, Dave! You're quite the craftsman!

Thanks Mark.

I'm not sure if I fall into the 'craftsman' category. I consider a craftsman to be someone like a watchmaker who can do truly fine, detailed work very accurately. My work is not that accurate. In fact, it is rather clumsy. Doctorwayne is a craftsman!

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 gmpullman on Saturday, June 11, 2022 1:27 AM

Pruitt
You're quite the craftsman!

I agree with Mark! I would have had those ladder rungs looking like something out of a Picasso painting.

You have them in perfect alignment and depth. Bravo!

Regards, Ed

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Posted by "JaBear" on Saturday, June 11, 2022 1:56 AM

hon30critter
My work is not that accurate. In fact, it is rather clumsy.

Wot a load of old codswallop!!!
 
Well done, Sir!!!BowBow
 
Yours humbly, 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 hon30critter on Saturday, June 11, 2022 1:58 AM

gmpullman
I agree with Mark! I would have had those ladder rungs looking like something out of a Picasso painting. You have them in perfect alignment and depth. Bravo!

Hi Ed,

That's the advantage of not only being a bit of a hack modelling wise, but also photography wise! You can't see what I can see.

I will admit that the final alignment isn't that bad, but getting there wasn't all that easy. Not all the holes in the ladder rails that I drilled initially were on center. I had to re-drill all the holes once the ladder rails were glued to the side walls, and the ones that were out of place were a PITA to correct.

Maybe I'm my own worst critic, but it bugs the heck out of me when I don't get things right the first time through. I seem to have to spend as much time fixing my mistakes as I do when I'm making the initial model piece.

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, June 13, 2022 6:12 AM

Last night I added the power pickups to the tender trucks and then mounted the trucks on the tender frame. Then I made a drawbar to link the plow and the tender together. I discovered that while the bottoms of the tender frame and the plow frame were pretty close in height, the floors were off by a bit. Here is how things sit now:

I'm not going to mess with the tender floor. Instead, I'm going to raise the tender on the trucks and add a shim to the drawbar. That will make both floors level and keep the drawbar level too. The difference in height is much less than it appears to be in the photo. It's only about 0.040" so the tender shouldn't look too awkward when I raise it up.

The strange looking vertical panel in the tender will support the snow cover doors for the coal load. It eventually will look something like this, but the roof panels will be steeper. This tender came with  Roundhouse 3 in 1 kit several years ago. I added the snow covers:

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 doctorwayne on Monday, June 13, 2022 10:50 AM

hon30critter

Nice job on that tender conversion, Dave.

I recently did three of them, using Roundhouse old-time tenders, mostly for use as water cars, with the covered  coal bunker used as storage for tools, two of them going to friends....

 

...the third one was nothing but the plastic body casting - no cast metal underbody and no trucks, either.  I also decided that in summertime, it could also be used as a water car, with tools in the covered coal bunker.

Come winter, the working hatches on the roof would allow filling the bunker with coal and keep the weather out, too.
I don't have a rotary snowplow (donated it as a modified prize to another Forum), but do have several wreck cranes which run on coal...

I'm not sure that it's anyway prototypical, but I like the looks of it running or parked on a siding.

Wayne

 

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Posted by hon30critter on Monday, June 13, 2022 9:13 PM

doctorwayne
Nice job on that tender conversion, Dave

Thanks Wayne.

I think your conversions look pretty convincing. Nice work!

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 Tuesday, June 14, 2022 1:57 AM

I worked on the tender tonight. As you may recall, the tender frame did not match the height of the plow floor. I said that I didn't want to mess with the tender 'floor'. Instead I would raise the whole frame on the trucks. That turned out to be a complicated project so I scrapped the idea and simply added two 0.040" layers to the tender floor. Easy peasy!

That also allowed me to address another problem with the tender frame. The frame had warped slightly so the middle of the frame was noticeably higher than the ends. To solve that I used copious quantities of styrene cement to glue the two additional layers in place. Then I put the frame across the open jaws of my vice so that only the ends were supported. Then I applied a considerable amount of weight and let it sit. After about 30 minutes the frame was straight so I moved the frame and the weights to the glass sheet on my workbench. I was concerned that if I left it suspended in the vice the weight might cause it to warp the other way. Hopefully the frame will dry flat.

The tender body had two nice toolboxes cast into it but they were high enough and positioned in such a way that installing the snow doors would have been problematic. The tool boxes won't be seen once the snow covers are in place so I just ground them down a bit to allow the doors to fit.

I will post pictures once I have the tender assembled.

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, June 15, 2022 6:00 AM

Progress on the covered tender:

I will add some coal in front of the open doors. I still have to figure out the end beam details. The trucks just clear the steps. That was pure luck because I hadn't taken that into account when I positioned the bolsters. I have a ton more parts to add including a full brake system, water feeds to the plow with shut off valves, air hoses, and a rear coupler with cut lever. I'm sure there's more.

I also have to route the wiring from the trucks to the front of the tender and then install connectors so the tender and the plow can be separated. I think I can hide the wiring in the center beam.

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, June 17, 2022 2:33 AM

I test mounted the rear coupler on the tender tonight and I was rather pleased that it only required one Kadee red washer on each of the trucks to get the coupler to the right height. More horse shoes!

I also discovered that the Precision Scale flexible armoured hoses are hollow. Actually, they are tightly rolled springs. That gave me an idea about how to hide the electrical connections between the tender and the plow. What if I could route the two wires from the tender trucks through a piece of the flexible hose into the back of the plow? I have already installed a fairly large water shut off valve on the bottom of the tender. I could easily core the valve and run the power wires through it and into a piece of flexible hose.

The small flexible hose that I have on hand is very pliable but it will only hold a single wire. I don't think that it would create enough force to derail either the tender or the plow. Whether or not a larger hose with two wires in it would cause some instability remains to be seen. I do have the option of going to smaller gauge super flexible wire to increase the flexibility.

I have ordered some flexible hose from PS that should be large enough to accommodate two 30 ga. wires. 

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 Friday, June 17, 2022 9:15 AM

If you need those aggressive snow covers, wouldn't you want to have a backward extension of the plow roof, or some kind of storm-curtains-and-roof arrangement over the deck?

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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, June 17, 2022 8:32 PM

Overmod
If you need those aggressive snow covers, wouldn't you want to have a backward extension of the plow roof, or some kind of storm-curtains-and-roof arrangement over the deck?

Hi Overmod,

I beat you to it! I attached an extension to the back of the plow roof when I was building the shell, and I have made curtains out of brass sheet that I hope will look reasonably realistic once they are painted and weathered a bit.

The curtains still need a bit of adjusting to get them to fit tight against the side walls. Forming the 0.005" brass to get the folds was tricky because the brass didn't always want to bend in the right direction when I was squeezing it to get the folds closer together. They are also technically too wide. If they were straightened out the panels would be much wider than the roof extension but I don't want to make the roof extension any bigger. I could make the curtains smoother but I think they will give the right impression as is, and the roof appears to be close to the size of the prototype's roof extension which you can see here:

The person operating the steam engine will actually be well inside the back of the plow because the backhead is located several feet from the rear sill. The fireman on the other hand will be exposed to the weather when they have to shovel coal out of the tender. 

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, June 19, 2022 2:52 AM

I spent most of last night and tonight correcting a number of problems with the front of the plow. There were some serious issues which needed to be addressed.

The first problem was that the rotary blade enclosures had twisted out of position and were rather distorted. I blame this on using 0.010" styrene for all of the parts without reinforcing anything. I was able to add some supports to the bottoms of the blade enclosures which pushed them back into place, and I have figured out how to stabilize the tops of the rotary blade enclosures while still making the shell removable.

Here are the adjusted blade enclosures. I apologize for not having taken a before picture:

I also discovered that the stationary vertical blade was crooked, too short and not very vertical! That required several modifications so now it fits properly. It still needs a little finishing:

I also added the fittings to the vertical blade that would have allowed the plow to be towed from the front. There was no front coupler on the prototype. Making the tiny pieces and getting them in place took more than an hour! Talk about tedious!!

I think I have figured out how to hide the power pickup wires that will go from the tender to the plow decoder. I am going to install a water shut off valve on the bottom of the tender. The valve that I chose is large enough that I was able to core it with a hole big enough to fit the two wires from the tender trucks. I have ordered some flexible hose from Precision Scale which I hope will have a big enough ID to accommodate the two wires. I'm going to try to mount the flexible hose to the cored water shut off valve and then feed the wires through the assembly to the underside of the plow. The flexible hose will be clamped to the bottom of the plow, and I will install disconnect plugs beyond where the hose is clamped to the plow frame so that it will be possible to separate the tender from the plow whenever necessary. It will all depend on how flexible the PS hose really is. It should be here in a couple of weeks.

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, June 20, 2022 5:56 AM

I spent most of last night installing the crossbars that stabilize the rotary blades. In the picture below they don't look too bad. In fact, if you were to examine the blades closely you would be able to see exactly why I call myself more of a hack than a craftsman. The spacing is terrifically uneven and they aren't all parallel to each other. Oh well, I sure as heck am not going to rebuild the blades for a fourth time so it is what it is!

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, June 20, 2022 7:42 AM

Hi Dave. Looking good so far! Just paint the supports black and they won't be too noticeable when done.

Simon 

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Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, June 21, 2022 1:39 AM

snjroy
Just paint the supports black and they won't be too noticeable when done.

Hi Simon,

That would work, but I think it would be a bit counterproductive. I put the braces in precisely so that they could be seen just like those in the prototype. The fact that you won't be able to see all the braces at once will be my saving grace I hope.

I'm going to paint the whole exterior including the blades in red oxide. That will be a little bland but the prototype appears to have all been one colour. The interior will be white. The boiler and connections will be black with the brass left showing on some of the controls and gauges. The only place where I'm going to get a little fancy will be the engines which will be medium green with varnished wood slats on the outsides of the cylinders and brass piping.

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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