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Improving Our Steam Engines Performance

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Improving Our Steam Engines Performance
Posted by railandsail on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 7:48 PM

I'll admit right up front, I am a hopeless steam engine fan. And the last 10-20 years has seen some really marvelously detailed plastic steamers that often rival the brass ones. And those plastic ones run better (smoother, better electrical pick-up, etc, etc) than many of the brass ones.

 

But there is one big failure that still persist. Their pulling power just does NOT match that of those new diesels. We keep adding as much weight as possible, and work on the electrical pick-ups,and add troublesome traction tires, etc,... but we still can't match those diesel model trains.

 

Today I was prepping a few of my trains to run on Thanksgiving holidays,...both steam and diesel engines. Combining the two types in one consist has me wondering how we might expand on this idea??

Yesterday I spent some time assuring that I had ALL WHEEL pick-up on my Bachmann 4-8-4, and that it was well lubricated, and the wheels were all clean. It was running very good, BUT it still could not pull that many cars up the considerable grades on my stone viaduct. I even added some external lead weights to the body of this steamer,..that helped, but I knew I could likely never get enough weight into that engine to make a really big difference.

Today I thought what if I added one of my Proto 2K engines into the consist. Its a 1K model of the DL109,..lots of weight, lots of pulling power. I put it behind the steamer.

With both the steam and the diesel pulling it seemed like I could just keep adding cars, and it would pull them. I began to think of how I might disguise that diesel engine into some sort of 'powered freight car' to make it appear as though the steam engine was doing all the work . OR, how about adding power to the tender as a pusher?

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Posted by railandsail on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 8:11 PM

Motorized Bogies/Trucks

About a year ago i ran across this Japanese site,..
http://arumo.a.la9.jp/r0123.htm

Maybe utilizing one of these forms could allow the powering up of the tender, or disquised freight car pusher, or an aux water tender?   And make that pusher car a very heavy weight to develop the pushing power of one of those good consisted diesels.

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Posted by Water Level Route on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 8:37 PM

I've thought about this before myself, but never bothered with trying anything.  I always thought taking something like an SW7, hacking off the fuel tank, and replacing the body with something bashed from a long tender body would be doable.  If you try this, post some pictures of what you do.  Could be really interesting.

Mike

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Posted by Southgate 2 on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 11:25 PM

I did exactly that in the early 80s to power a Tyco Chattanooga 2-8-0. I filed some of the detail off the metal trucks to look somewnat less like diesel trucks. I also had ot shorten the frame but I got it under there. It worked fine mechanically, more than visually.  Dan

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Posted by wrench567 on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 11:33 PM

Brian.

  Build a Bowser 2-10-0. Mine would pull stumps out of the ground. Weight on drivers is what you want. All my steamers ( brass and plastic) gets added lead weights as much as I can cram in. My Bachman K4 pacific reliably pulled 13-15 heavy weight baggage/ passenger cars even on the clubs steep grades. I have a brass 0-6-0 that weighs over a pound.

    Pete.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, November 18, 2021 12:09 AM

Brian... I thought you were building a small layout.

My Heavy USRA 2-8-2s will pull a 12 car train, my maximum length, no problem.

Smaller layouts is the perfect solution!

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by Water Level Route on Thursday, November 18, 2021 5:55 AM

If I recall, Brian is building a small multi-level layout.  It's not so much train size as the grades that are the killer here.  

Mike

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, November 18, 2021 8:08 AM

Water Level Route
It's not so much train size as the grades that are the killer here.  

railandsail
It still could not pull that many cars up the considerable grades on my stone viaduct.

OK, got it now.

When I was testing how many car I could pull up my planned 5% grade, my Oriental Powerhouse 2-8-2s were the "best" steam pullers at two cars and a caboose. That was the same as my Kato NW2 would do.

I think it is a combination of things. The diesel locomotive trucks can pitch & yaw, and some can even roll. This keeps wheels on the rails. Steam locomotives have long semi-rigid frames that have more problems with wheel contact. I think the smaller drive wheel on the diesels help too making them less likely to break free and spin.

I only plan one grade, and it will be diesels only.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by doctorwayne on Thursday, November 18, 2021 3:45 PM

I add weight to all of my locomotives, both steam and diesels, although nowadays, most diesel models are filled with DCC paraphernalia.

I have only a few diesels left, but all were modified with extra weight - using DC only, I modified three of these...

...using two good-quality can motors in each, and with additional weight added, bringing each up to 33oz.  (Had I not sold them, I could have easily brought the weight up to 40 oz, each, as there was plenty of room for it.) 
Anyway, two of those locos easily pulled a loaded train of hoppers (44 cars, all with "live" loads of Black Beauty sandblasting grit) up a curving 2.9% grade, that was 47' long.  Total weight of the trailing train was 22 lbs.  I didn't have any more hoppers to add.

Still with diesels, four of these...

...also with can motors and added weight, easily moved a 71 car train up the same grade - I hadn't weighed any of the cars, but they were definitely lighter than the loaded hoppers.

Surprisingly, I was able to complete that latter example using four modified Athearn Genesis Mikados, and again with four modified Bachmann Consolidations.

I also got similar results using various combinations of the diesel switchers (not the U-boats) with both types of steamers.

While adding weight to steam locos may require a little ingenuity, it is possible, but that depends on your requirements. 

A layout with no grades should allow trains of a decent length, but if the curves are fairly tight (small radii) it will have an impact on pulling power.  Curves on grades will exacerbate that even more. 

Here's a LINK to a thread showing how I improved the pulling power of those Athearn Mikes - nice-looking and nice-running locos, but poor pullers.

If you wish to create weights, in order to improve your locos' pulling abilities, there's some info on that to be found HERE.

A friend offered me this brass loco, with an open frame motor, because it was a poor puller...(the photo was taken after I had improved the pulling power, and repainted and re-lettered it)

Once I had added weight and replaced the motor's old magnets with rare-earth magnets, I coupled the loco onto a train that was sitting on the layout, and it easily moved the train on both straight and curved tracks.  I didn't try it on any grades, though, as that wouldn't normally be within its purview.  I didn't weigh the cars of that train, but 19 various cars seems like it would be a decent amount.

After that test, I offered the loco back to my friend, but he declined, as I had already re-worked two brass 0-8-0s for him, both with motor improvements and additional weight.

I gotta run a couple of errands now, but will be back later with more ways to improve pulling power.

Wayne

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, November 18, 2021 3:57 PM

As long as we are on the topic of improving steam locomotive performance...

What is anyone's opinion on installing the boiler weights that come with brass steam locomotives?

I have read they do and do not improve pulling power, and I have read they adversely effect balance and increase derailments. They don't fill all that much of the available boiler cavity. To me, it seems like adding rolled up sheet lead would be better.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by Darth Santa Fe on Thursday, November 18, 2021 6:28 PM

I think the biggest problem with steam vs. diesel in pulling is the drive wheel traction.  The trucks on diesels can twist and tilt to keep all of their wheels on the rail at all times, but a lot of steam engine models have their wheels solidly connected to the same rigid frame.  With that, a steam engine with 8 drive wheels could only have about half of them making full contact with the track.

I have a few steam engines with sprung drive wheels and good weight distribution, keeping them all on the track with even pressure.  These pull better for me than others of identical size and weight with solid mounting for all the axles, and can easily haul as much as a diesel of similar size and weight.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, November 18, 2021 6:44 PM

railandsail

I'll admit right up front, I am a hopeless steam engine fan. And the last 10-20 years has seen some really marvelously detailed plastic steamers that often rival the brass ones. And those plastic ones run better (smoother, better electrical pick-up, etc, etc) than many of the brass ones.

 

But there is one big failure that still persist. Their pulling power just does NOT match that of those new diesels. We keep adding as much weight as possible, and work on the electrical pick-ups,and add troublesome traction tires, etc,... but we still can't match those diesel model trains.

 

Today I was prepping a few of my trains to run on Thanksgiving holidays,...both steam and diesel engines. Combining the two types in one consist has me wondering how we might expand on this idea??

Yesterday I spent some time assuring that I had ALL WHEEL pick-up on my Bachmann 4-8-4, and that it was well lubricated, and the wheels were all clean. It was running very good, BUT it still could not pull that many cars up the considerable grades on my stone viaduct. I even added some external lead weights to the body of this steamer,..that helped, but I knew I could likely never get enough weight into that engine to make a really big difference.

Today I thought what if I added one of my Proto 2K engines into the consist. Its a 1K model of the DL109,..lots of weight, lots of pulling power. I put it behind the steamer.

With both the steam and the diesel pulling it seemed like I could just keep adding cars, and it would pull them. I began to think of how I might disguise that diesel engine into some sort of 'powered freight car' to make it appear as though the steam engine was doing all the work . OR, how about adding power to the tender as a pusher?

 

A few simple points:

In real life diesels are better on grades than steam, our models are no different.

BUT, our grades are often WAY TOO STEEP, and our curves are too sharp, which also quickly degrades the pulling power of both real and model steam locomotives.

The physics do not scale exactly, but the same factors are in play.

I have added weight to lots steam locos with good results. 

Which Bachmann 4-8-4, they have made several different prototypes? And several different drives under those various models....

I have lots of Bachmann steam, but only one 4-8-4, a N&W J, and it needs more weight, a project I have not gotten to yet.

Nearly all of my other steam locos pull to acceptable levels on the kind of layout I am building, but sharper curves and steeper grades would be a problem. 

Bullfrogsnot works.........

My new layout will have 36" and larger curves, no grades over 2%, easements, and I will be pulling 35-50 car trains - and most steam powered trains will be double headed, and most diesel trains will have 3-4 powered units.

Free rolling equipment improves pulling ability - even on grades - extra resistance is never a good thing.

Sharp curves and steep grades are a death spell for steam locomotives - ESPECIALLY long wheel base locos that loose tractive contact area and have increased flange resistance on curves.

Last I checked, you cannot have your cake ad eat it too on this issue.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by snjroy on Thursday, November 18, 2021 6:56 PM

Some steam excursion steamers have B unit connected to them, so that's what I do for my GS4. Otherwise, I doublehead.

Simon

 

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Posted by selector on Thursday, November 18, 2021 7:10 PM

I appreciate all the wisdom and experience expressed so far.  It seems, as a general preference, or maybe as a matter of avoidance (due to inherent complication), that most of us prefer to run a single loco on the head end.  Due to prototypical practices, a person modeling the modern era is almost certain to want 'lashups', and that is the common practice.  We steam lovers seem to hope that our lone behemoth 2-8-2, 2-10-2, or 4-8-4 is going to do the trick, but we soon learn otherwise.

I do know that many of us doublehead steamers, and I am proud to claim that a couple of years ago I finally shoved my long coal drag, headed by a 2-6-6-4 Class A, with my trusty Y6b.  It took some fancy fingerwork, thankfully on my twin encoder Digitrax paddles, but I somehow managed to avoid a single derailment in about 10 minutes of running before the stress became too much. Confused

Doc Wayne has posted in the past how he has shoehorned the odd half-ounce or more into some of his fleet, but I would appreciate seeing and hearing from others, what they did, how they did, and what the difference was.  I would like more heft to a few of my steamers, but also to some of their tenders, which I think could stand a firmer contact point on the rails.

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Posted by doctorwayne on Thursday, November 18, 2021 7:57 PM
 
I bought a couple of these Bachmann Ten Wheelers, with cast metal boilers...
 
 
...but wasn't overly fond of their archaic appearance.  They did run nicely enough though, so I replaced the boilers by using ones from Bowser,  (formerly made for both Varney's "Casey Jones" 10 Wheeler and also the "Old Lady" Consolidation...
 
 
 
The cabs looked okay, but I decided to replace them with ones from Bachmann's Consolidations, in order to give my loco roster a more uniform appearance.  While the r-t-r Bachmann Consolidations come with a large metal weight in their cabs, buying just the cabs was cheaper.  Here's a cleaned-up boiler with the new cab temporarily in-place...
 
 
I later cast a couple of lead weights to fill the void under the cabs...
 
 
 
With some added brass details, along with lead-filled air reservoirs...
 
 
...the pair are decent pullers...
 
 
 
I did a similar cosmetic re-work for a couple of Moguls, converting this brass one...
 
 
...into this...
 
 
and this $15.00 IHC Mogul...
 
 
...into this...
 
 
Both were still a bit unbalanced, so I then cut some sheet lead into suitable sizes, and stuffed several sheets of them into the underside of the cab roofs.  Here's an odd-angled shot of the 34....
 
 
 
 
I don't normally run long trains, as they're usually around 12 to 20 cars at most, partially in respect to the many fairly severe grades on the layout.  I have tested my locos and given them "tonnage ratings", which helps to determine if any particular train may need a helper(s).  Helpers would go either at the head of the train or behind the caboose (all of which have "steel" underframes).
 
Wayne


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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, November 18, 2021 8:32 PM

selector

I appreciate all the wisdom and experience expressed so far.  It seems, as a general preference, or maybe as a matter of avoidance (due to inherent complication), that most of us prefer to run a single loco on the head end.  Due to prototypical practices, a person modeling the modern era is almost certain to want 'lashups', and that is the common practice.  We steam lovers seem to hope that our lone behemoth 2-8-2, 2-10-2, or 4-8-4 is going to do the trick, but we soon learn otherwise.

I do know that many of us doublehead steamers, and I am proud to claim that a couple of years ago I finally shoved my long coal drag, headed by a 2-6-6-4 Class A, with my trusty Y6b.  It took some fancy fingerwork, thankfully on my twin encoder Digitrax paddles, but I somehow managed to avoid a single derailment in about 10 minutes of running before the stress became too much. Confused

Doc Wayne has posted in the past how he has shoehorned the odd half-ounce or more into some of his fleet, but I would appreciate seeing and hearing from others, what they did, how they did, and what the difference was.  I would like more heft to a few of my steamers, but also to some of their tenders, which I think could stand a firmer contact point on the rails.

 

Why would you not simply consist the two steam locos together and run them with one throttle just like diesels?

Wayne and I can tell you that in DC we have no trouble coupling different steam locos together to pull our our trains.

My favorite double headed lashups include a Proto 2-8-8-2 and a Spectrum 2-6-6-2, they run beautifully together. Or a Spectrum Heavy 4-8-2 and my Bachmann 2-8-2's (converted from 2-8-4's).

Three Spectrum 2-8-0's is really cool on the front of a train.

Two Mikados, any two Mikados, is a steam classic here in the Mid Atlantic. For 40 years nearly every B&O freight train that left Baltimore headed west started out with two Mikados typically pulling 50-70 cars.

In DC, as long as the overall gear ratio and starting voltage is similar, and the train is heavy enough to really require two locos, they generally run fine. All this perfect speed matching stuff in nonsense.

Some pulling power stats I have recorded on my layout and others:

Rivarossi C&O 2-6-6-6 - 36" curves, 2% helix grades, 90 cars.

BLI - N&W 2-6-6-4 - same layout as above, 110 cars.

Spectrum USRA Heavy 4-8-2 - 36" and larger curves, 2% grades, my old layout, single loco, 35 cars on level track, two locos double headed, 40 cars on the grades.

BLI Reading T1 4-8-4, my old layout, 45 cars, on the grades, level track about 70 cars.

Bachmann 2-8-4, converted to 2-8-2, 5 oz of weight added, my old layout, one loco, 32 cars on level track, two locos double headed, 40 cars on the grades.

The Proto 2-8-8-2 and Spectrum 2-6-6-2 combination, 50 cars on the grades.

Three Spectrum 2-8-0's, 45 cars on the grades.

No stress for me, pick up the throttle, push one button, and hold the throttle up button till it moves.........

I add about 2 oz of weight to nearly EVERY tender, for better pickup and better tracking - it is were all the pulling stress is. 

Of all the locos listed above, only the Bachmann Berk/Mikado conversions had a lot of weight added - 5 oz. I do add about 1/2 oz to Bachmann 2-8-0's in the domes, and I generally remove the pilot truck spring - yes, I remove it, and my pilot wheels stay on the track just fine.

All the others listed are dead stock in terms of weight.

The BLI and Rivarossi locos do have traction tires.

And 95% of the rolling stock have my prefered trucks - Kadee self centering sprung metal trucks refitted with Intermountain code 110 wheelsets - NO code 88 wheels or semi scale couplers.

As I said earlier, part of the secret here is large curves and gentle grades - like real trains have........

Sheldon 

    

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, November 18, 2021 8:40 PM

The Bachmann 2-8-4, converted into freelanced heavy Mikes, similar to the DT&I 800 class:

The revised drawbar design attaches just behind the last driver, not under the cab, proving a much improved pulling angle on curves for much better tracking.

 

 

 

And there is more in the crown sheet of the boiler that I don't have a photo of.

Here is a typical tender with more weight:

 

No down force springs on the lead or trailing trucks here either. But then again I don't expect them to squeak around 18" curves.....

Sheldon

    

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, November 18, 2021 8:50 PM

SeeYou190

As long as we are on the topic of improving steam locomotive performance...

What is anyone's opinion on installing the boiler weights that come with brass steam locomotives?

I have read they do and do not improve pulling power, and I have read they adversely effect balance and increase derailments. They don't fill all that much of the available boiler cavity. To me, it seems like adding rolled up sheet lead would be better.

-Kevin

 

More weight is always better, but it must be balanced.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, November 18, 2021 9:24 PM

selector
It seems, as a general preference, or maybe as a matter of avoidance (due to inherent complication), that most of us prefer to run a single loco on the head end. 

I have never seen steam locomotives in real operation. Just movies, excursions, and some special cases.

Double headed steam just looks unusual to my eye.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, November 18, 2021 9:38 PM

SeeYou190

 

 
selector
It seems, as a general preference, or maybe as a matter of avoidance (due to inherent complication), that most of us prefer to run a single loco on the head end. 

 

I have never seen steam locomotives in real operation. Just movies, excursions, and some special cases.

Double headed steam just looks unusual to my eye.

-Kevin

 

But it can be found on occasion even today in excursion service. The Strasburg Rail Road has done it a few times.

And historic pictures and film show us that in the mountains especially, it was an every day thing.

Double heading is nothing, I have in my analog world a series of photos showing the Western Maryland moving 90 loaded hoppers out of one of their mine branches in the 50's.

Three 2-8-0's on the point, two RS units and and a 2-8-0 in the middle, and two more 2-8-0's pushing.

90 cars, 4500 tons, 7 locomotives. Less than 13 cars per locomotive to deal with 3% grades and sharp curves.

To me, long trains look perfectly normal with two steamers or 4 early diesels. 

When GM designed the FT, the thinking was that the AB set equaled a heavy Mikado.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, November 18, 2021 10:20 PM

SeeYou190

 

 
selector
It seems, as a general preference, or maybe as a matter of avoidance (due to inherent complication), that most of us prefer to run a single loco on the head end. 

 

I have never seen steam locomotives in real operation. Just movies, excursions, and some special cases.

Double headed steam just looks unusual to my eye.

-Kevin

 

One more thought, why is an excursion not "real operation"?

The Strasburg is not an "excursion" line, they are a regular common carrier railroad and in addition to their "passenger operations" they move freight with steam locos all the time.

It may be a short little railroad, but they move lots of freight acting as team track yard for all sorts of local industries. Sounds pretty real to me. There are modern freight cars in thier "freight yard" every time I have been their in recent times.

And trust me, at only one hour from here, I have been there a lot...... 

Sheldon

    

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Posted by doctorwayne on Thursday, November 18, 2021 10:42 PM

Sheldon is absolutely right about DC locos running well together if the train being pulled actually needs the effort of more than one locomotive.

When I first tried to run my brass Mogul...

...with the plastic one from IHC...

The 34 would drag both the still-immobile 37 and the train for a couple of car lengths before the 37's motor finally started working.  Once both were running, they were as smooth as can be.
It didn't take too long, though, before I decided to put a better motor in the 37, and add weight to both locos and both tenders. 
I forgot to mention in my earlier post that the 37 had not only extra weight under its cab roof, but also a block of lead on the cab floor...

and two of them on the underside of the drivers' coverplate...

I do add weight to all of my tenders, too...not only blocks or sheets of lead, but also full loads of loose "coal" (usually coke breeze or Black Beauty blasting medium).  This ensures not only good tracking, but also good electrical contact.

The one loco I have that still under-performs is this Bachmann 2-6-6-2...

I've crammed lead into every nook and cranny I could find...

 

...and replaced the plastic air reservoirs with lead-filled brass tubing...

and likewise for the steam pipes...

 

...and even added auxiliary air reservoirs atop the boiler, using lead-filled stainless steel tubing...

...and the loco's domes are filled with lead, as is the top portion of the smokebox...
 
 
I'll eventually get around to fixing the flaws (there's some interference between that brass cab and the tender, but I also think that the all-wheel pick-up on the two tenders is causing too much drag.  The loco runs smoothly enough, but it's not much of a puller.
 
Wayne (apparently under attack by the italics)
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Posted by selector on Thursday, November 18, 2021 11:13 PM

Thanks, fellas.  So where would/should I look for sheet lead?  I know about tire counterbalance weights....   And how, and in what, do you melt lead if you do?  What do you use for moulds?

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Posted by mvlandsw on Friday, November 19, 2021 12:19 AM

I don't know if it's still running but the steam excursion train that used to run around Stone Mountain in Georgia had an EMD switcher disguised as a baggage car behind the steam engine to give it more power.

There have been articles in the model press about adding power to tenders.

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Posted by doctorwayne on Friday, November 19, 2021 12:38 AM

selector
So where would/should I look for sheet lead? I know about tire counterbalance weights.... And how, and in what, do you melt lead if you do? What do you use for moulds?

You should be able to get sheet lead from a plumbing supply store, although I had several options in Hamilton,  Ontario, where there were shops re-melting scrap lead into sheets of varying thicknesses.  For the few square feet that I'd request, I seldom had to pay anything.  I'd guess that there still may be a couple around, but the ones with which I was familiar are now gone.


I use sheet aluminum for moulds - the garage that we got when we bought the house next door was filled with sheets of it, along with lengths of stainless steel sheet material, bent into lightweight angles.  The was also a boatload of sandpaper in the home's basement - I sold quite a bit of it to my fellow steelworkers, and literally filled the box of my pick-up with very fine sandpapers, which I sold to a store that dealt in auto paints and painting.  I still have a locker full of various grades of sandpaper, much of it German-made, with grits of all sorts, ranging from #36 to #1600

If you go to the link that I provided, it will show the mould-making process and  explain the procedure for melting lead and pouring it into the moulds, along with some tips for under- or over-filled moulds, and how to alter them while still in their mould.

Here's a box of moulds that you can have for the postage - I'll put 'em in a smaller box to save ya some dough...

Wayne

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Posted by dstarr on Friday, November 19, 2021 2:47 AM

selector

Thanks, fellas.  So where would/should I look for sheet lead?  I know about tire counterbalance weights....   And how, and in what, do you melt lead if you do?  What do you use for moulds?

 

I get sheet lead from building supply houses or lumber yards.  They sell it for flashing around chimneys. 

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Posted by dstarr on Friday, November 19, 2021 7:27 AM

SeeYou190

As long as we are on the topic of improving steam locomotive performance...

What is anyone's opinion on installing the boiler weights that come with brass steam locomotives?

I have read they do and do not improve pulling power, and I have read they adversely effect balance and increase derailments. They don't fill all that much of the available boiler cavity. To me, it seems like adding rolled up sheet lead would be better.

-Kevin

 

As far as weight in locomotives, more is better.  The pulling power is limited by wheel spin, once the wheels start spinning, that is all she wrote.  You won't get any more pull.  Put more weight on the drivers, and this retards the onset of wheel spin and you get more pull.  As a rule, locomotives will pull something between 0.2 and 0.25 times their weight.  If you want more pull, add more weight. 

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: Heart of Georgia
  • 4,646 posts
Posted by Doughless on Friday, November 19, 2021 8:27 AM

Obviously, OP's layout is too steep and too sharp for the types of trains he wants to run.

The prototype would double head or Helper to push the train up the grade and around the sharp curve.

Work-around solutions to inherent design and planning issues take a lot of fussing, time, possibly money, and always frustration to implement.

Don't add a lot of weight to a detailed model.  Use lashups, or better yet, change the train or the layout.

- Douglas

  • Member since
    August 2006
  • 1,401 posts
Posted by trainnut1250 on Friday, November 19, 2021 3:18 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

 A few simple points

In real life diesels are better on grades than steam, our models are no different.

BUT, our grades are often WAY TOO STEEP, and our curves are too sharp, which also quickly degrades the pulling power of both real and model steam locomotives.

The physics do not scale exactly, but the same factors are in play.

I have added weight to lots steam locos with good results. 

Which Bachmann 4-8-4, they have made several different prototypes? And several different drives under those various models....

I have lots of Bachmann steam, but only one 4-8-4, a N&W J, and it needs more weight, a project I have not gotten to yet.

Nearly all of my other steam locos pull to acceptable levels on the kind of layout I am building, but sharper curves and steeper grades would be a problem. 

Bullfrogsnot works.........

My new layout will have 36" and larger curves, no grades over 2%, easements, and I will be pulling 35-50 car trains - and most steam powered trains will be double headed, and most diesel trains will have 3-4 powered units.

Free rolling equipment improves pulling ability - even on grades - extra resistance is never a good thing.

Sharp curves and steep grades are a death spell for steam locomotives - ESPECIALLY long wheel base locos that loose tractive contact area and have increased flange resistance on curves.

Last I checked, you cannot have your cake and eat it too on this issue.

Sheldon

 

 

While the details are different, this sums up my view as well

 

Guy

see stuff at: the Willoughby Line Site

  • Member since
    January 2004
  • From: Canada, eh?
  • 12,257 posts
Posted by doctorwayne on Friday, November 19, 2021 10:45 PM

When I bought my first Athearn Genesis Mikado, I was impressed with it's smooth operation, but surprised that it had difficulty going up a not overly-steep grade, even though there were no cars coupled to it.
I later tested it, with a train attached, and found that it could barely move 10 not-very-heavy freight cars on straight track. 

I was starting to regret the purchase, but on a whim, grabbed a piece of sheet lead, folded it a couple of times, then formed it into a saddle, which I draped over the loco's boiler.  Just like that, the potential shelf queen morphed into Hannah the Hauler.  I don't recall the weight of the lead, but it was likely at least a couple of pounds.

That moment convinced me of the need for adding weight to steam locos, although it seemed pretty obvious that it wouldn't look all that prototypical if my locos were running around wearing lead saddles.

There's a thread HERE which offers some info on adding weight to steam locomotives.

Wayne

 

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