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Berkshire Modifications

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Berkshire Modifications
Posted by 8ntruck on Thursday, November 11, 2021 9:02 PM

We ran our portable Polar Express themed layout at the local train show last weekend.  Been 2 years since we last ran it, what with the Covid situation and all.

New this year was a section of lighted Fastrack through the Santa's village part of the layout.  It added a nice touch.  In fact one of the guys from the modular N scale layout next to us was trying to figure out how to achieve the same effect with his equipment.

One of my series 2 PE Berkshires gave up the ghost about mid afternoon.  It quit running and just twitched in place.  Once I got home and opened it up, I found that the worm gear on the motor shaft was worn out.  I've got a new motor and drive axle ordered.  The fix will be easy.

While I had it apart, I noticed that the weight was a laminated stack of steel sheet metal parts.  If I were to replace that with a lead casting, the weight would be about 30% heavier.  Since about 3/4 of the track on the layout is an uphill grade, a little extra weight should help the traction.

Has anybody else out there done any modifications to their PE Berkshire?  Different motors (brushless?), tinker with the gearing, or added curse control?  If so, I'd like to hear about it.

I know, I have not been around the forum lately.  But, I'm still out here - not real active with trains right now, though.

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Posted by ADCX Rob on Thursday, November 11, 2021 10:00 PM

8ntruck
...I found that the worm gear on the motor shaft was worn out...

Has anybody else out there done any modifications to their PE Berkshire?



The motors and gears are already taxed heavily as it is, traction has never been an issue w/ the PE loco...

But, I do pack the worm and worm wheel gears well with the Lucas Red 'N' Tacky #2 grease every 3-4 years just to be safe as this has been an identified weak spot for these steamers. This will be the 15th year of running this one and it's still all original. I do the same service on the 0-8-0 switchers as well, as they have a very similar drive system.

Rob

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Posted by 8ntruck on Thursday, November 11, 2021 11:16 PM

Our layout is a climbing three time around, once under track plan.  The uphill grade is about the same as a graduated trestle set.  The downhill grade is steeper.  I think a four car train looks good on this layout, but the locomotive likes three cars better.  More power, or lower gearing would be nicer for this application.  

Lucas Red-N-Tacky.  Exactly what I was planning on using when I put it back together.

I tried an early '50s Hudson for a round or two.  Looked like it would work, but it was having issues with a lump in the track that I need to smooth out.  This got me to thinking about using a 736 Berk. with MagneTraction.  Got to go shopping for one.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Friday, November 12, 2021 7:28 AM

8ntruck
This got me to thinking about using a 736 Berk. with MagneTraction.  Got to go shopping for one.

They're out there.  Now that shows are starting up again start visiting them and keep your fingers crossed.

I've got a 736 myself.  Runs like a thoroughbred and pulls like a Clydesdale!  

As far as adding lead weight I was going to suggest going to a plumbing supply outfit and picking up sheet lead if it's still available and cutting it to the plate size you need rather than using (or making) a casting, but if the drive train on your PE is on the weak side as had been said you're probably better off leaving the engine as is. 

"Added curse control."  That's never worked in my case when things go wrong.  Embarrassed

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Posted by Leverettrailfan on Friday, November 12, 2021 5:00 PM

8ntruck

...This got me to thinking about using a 736 Berk. with MagneTraction.  Got to go shopping for one.


I got burned on a 736 I bought which had a litany of issues I'm still working through, but in general they have a well earned reputation for being fine locomotives. Just don't be like me and search for a "project" loco!
I've found magnetraction to be lacking in performance on FasTrack, so I don't know how you'll fare, but it might not be an issue if the cars aren't too heavy. 

-Ellie

"Unless bought from a known and trusted dealer who can vouch otherwise, assume every train for sale requires servicing before use"

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Posted by emdmike on Sunday, November 14, 2021 10:49 AM

I run a 1946 edition 726 for my PE train, while it lacks magne-traction, it pulls more than I need it to and with dual worm drive, it does not wear out the side rods as fas as a later model Berk does.  Its a beast of an engine and has the big scale diecast tender behind it.  I never cared for fastrak at all, between its extra noise from the hollow roadbed to the style of rail.  I stick with good old tubular track or Super O.   Tubular has the classic toy train look and combined with Johnsons Rubber Roadbed, is much quieter over fastrak.     Mike

Silly NT's, I have Asperger's Syndrome

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, November 15, 2021 10:01 PM

Leverettrailfan
I've found magnetraction to be lacking in performance on FasTrack

I've been told Magnetraction is marginal on FasTrack. Fastrack is made of steel and it will attract a magnet, I've tried it, so you'll still get some benefit from Magnetraction.  Just not as much as the old tubular track.

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Posted by 8ntruck on Tuesday, November 16, 2021 12:00 AM

With FasTrack, the two outside rails are connected electrcally, but they are not connected very well magnetically when compared to tubular track.

The tubular track does a better job of completing the 'magnetic circuit' for the MagneTraction than the FasTrack, which will give stronger adhesion.

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