To paraphrase Vane Jones, "Knowledge is of little value until shared with others."

Friday, December 26, 2014

Myles A. Jarrow 1922 - 2014

Dan Joseph photo

During his childhood, Myles Jarrow traveled to many places with his family using streetcars, interurbans, and intercity trains. His earliest memories of riding streetcars in Chicago dated back to the mid-1920s. Among other local attractions, he enjoyed visiting the Balaban & Katz movie palaces, the various museums, and the Municipal Pier (now called Navy Pier). But observing and riding the colorful streetcars mesmerized him more than anything else.

Outside of Chicago, Myles was fortunate to experience firsthand many of the streetcar and interurban lines that still operated during the early years of the Depression. Decades later, he would lament not having gotten into photography. But Myles' photographic memory did a fine job of preserving intricate details from those trips. He prudently saved timetables, brochures, and other memorabilia from his travels.

Apart from being involved in his family's company which manufactured refrigerator door gaskets, Myles dabbled briefly in transportation. He and his friend Frank Butts operated a small bus company in Lincoln, Illinois after World War II. 

Myles joined the fledgling Central Electric Railfans' Association back in 1938. Remarkably, his involvement with CERA would span three-quarters of a century! As Member #23, he was the last surviving member to attend the early meetings. Myles was a gifted speaker who would pair his lucid memories with images from various photographers. He gave several excellent, memorable programs at CERA through the years.

Myles' passion for travel continued well into the 21st Century with trips to Europe as well as visits to USA cities with streetcars and light rail. Reduced mobility in later years did not deter him from attending CERA meetings, visiting IRM, or enjoying social visits with friends. His energy and youthful spirit transcended his 92 years.  

On a more personal level, Myles was a longtime friend. We will miss his always-upbeat attitude, companionship, enthusiasm for the hobby, and great sense of humor. A walking 'time capsule' of Chicago in the '30s and later, Myles was an interviewee for the book Downtown Chicago in Transition, co-authored by Eric Bronsky and Neal Samors.

Myles passed away on Sunday, December 21. He bequeathed his extensive collection of books and paper items to the Illinois Railway Museum. A memorial service is being planned for Tuesday, December 30 at North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe, Illinois. Details are forthcoming.

signed Eric Bronsky

Thank you goes to Eric for allowing me to use his remembrance of Myles.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A 2014 Merry Christmas and a 2015 Happy New Year

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year plus any additional seasonal greeting to all.
This year's holiday models are both from the  St. Petersburg Tram Collection. The one on the left is a St. Louis PCC while the one in the center - right is a Pullman PCC. Both were built for the Chicago Surface Lines (CSL)/Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) during the time the CTA took possession of the CSL.
Both sets of cars had been ordered when the CSL was in operation and delivered with the CTA was in operation. Oddly the St. Louis PCC has a CTA logo on its side while the Pullman PCC has a CSL logo. The colors of the cars are the beautiful Mercury Green (light green) and Croydon Cream with the belt rail painted Swamp Holly Orange.
Both models are powered with Q-Car Company trucks. They have interior lighting using a Miniatronics lighting system using LED's and working headlights.
Something unusual happen in taking the photo. The electronic camera focused on the nearest model, the St. Louis PCC on the left. This made the balance of the photo out of focus. The photo being out of focus was not noticed until this post was composed. The 11 other similar photos taken at the same time were all out of focus. There's always next year!


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Important Info About Ordering Trucks Plus Trucks for the Older Wooden "L" Cars

Important Before Ordering Trucks for Any "L" Car

Direction of Motor
All the prototype "L" cars are built with the trucks installed very close to the end of the car. The modeler needs space under the end of a model to install couplers and other items at the end of the car. For Q-Car Company using a can motor, and perhaps Wagner/Current Line, there is more room at the end of the power truck where the motor is located. The additional space is both above and at the end of the of the truck.

Therefore when ordering power and trail trucks, tell the vendor which direction the motor and gear box are to be located. Should the power truck be made with the motor facing "out" towards the end of the car or "in" towards the center of the car.

Regular Power Body Bolster or a Flat Brass Body Bolster
For a low profile power truck Q-Car Company will usually supply a soft cast metal bolster like this:

You may find this bolster has to be mounted inside the model on top of the floor. A flat brass bolster can be ordered instead of the soft metal casting which can be mounted under the floor where you want it.

You can request the flat brass car bolster from Q-Car, You must indicate this when the power/trail trucks are ordered. The brass bolster has to be mounted to the model and cannot be removed from the power truck. A short screw holding the brass bolster is soldered to the power truck's truck bolster.

I was unaware of this, removed the screw, and mounted the flat brass bolster into the floor. The bolster became part of the floor.

To see the correct installation of a Q-Car Company low level power truck with a flat brass bolster see post "AEFRE 49 - #4B ..." Saturday, August 4, 1912 in this Blog. While this is an installation in a model with a brass frame, a model with a wooden, plastic, or sheet brass floor would be similar. The flat brass bolster would be held in place with screws through the bolster and into the floor.

Insulated for 2-Rail or Not
Always when ordering any power/trail trucks specify if the trucks require insulated wheels for 2-rail operation. If you are not sure if the model will ever be operated on a 2-rail layout, order the insulated wheels anyway. The model can always be operated both on a trolley uninsulated or 2-rail layout.

Ordering Power/Trail Trucks for Wooden "L" Cars

Naturally when you see "L" used to describe rapid transit or elevated cars, it is the Chicago elevated which is being talked about. As long as there have been posts on the topic of trucks for the steel 4000 series "L" cars, what about other older "L" cars. Prior to the 4000 series of steel cars the "L" had various number of series of cars constructed of wood. Each series had trucks with different sideframes.

Over the years the "L" used a ridged, the Hedley design, unknown manufacturers' and Baldwin MCB's, and a Jackson & Sharp or McGuire lightweight MCB truck. The ridged sideframes were used in the very early days of the "L" when the motor cars were used as "locomotives" like the early steam locomotives to haul trailers. After the "locomotive" motor cars were converted to MU operation, the ridged sideframes still appeared on the passenger cars. But over time the ridged sideframes started to appear under various service or work cars on the "L".

Ridged sideframe in "storage" in an open field.

CTA S-300 boom car. Both trucks have ridged frame sideframes. Note only the truck under the cab has sleet scrappers. 

The "L" used Jackson & Sharp or McGuire 60" lightweight MCB trucks under wooden trailers. This leaves Hedley design and unknown manufacturers' or Baldwin MCB sideframes.

To scratch build the Hedley the only sideframe with the correct wheelbase, wheel size, and bulk I am aware of is the PSC #9107 Disconnect Log Trucks. It's best to start with the kit since some parts have to be cut off or never added. Parts of the sideframe can be created out of either styrene or brass.
Hedley design sideframe under a 1260-1299 series "L" car at the Illinois Railway Museum.

The unknown manufacturers' or Baldwin MCB sideframes can be simulated with Q-Car's Peckham BU style of trucks shown in the prior post. The Peckham BU's style looks very much like Baldwin MCB's.

Before getting into the topic of the Peckham's, if a number of photos of wooden "L" cars are viewed; you'll notice a number of cars have wheel guards and sideframes with low end frames (like the Peckham BU's).

After automatic train stop as part of the signaling was installed on the "L", the wooden cars had piping coming down from the car body on the ends for the center trip device (cock lever). Some sideframes had outside brake rigging. Coupler supports were added to hold up couplers installed without hangers. One item easy to miss, even though it was painted red, was the 600 v buss junction box. There was a lot of extraneous material under the floor on the end of a car! 
Open gate powered "L" car stored at the west end of the Lake St. "L" route. Finding a photo of a car in which the underbody is visible is difficult. Coupler, chains, and hanger are visible plus the center angle cock and air brake plumbing. See if you can find in the center the 600 v buss receptacle (square shape) and the MU receptacle (round head cover).

Depending upon the car series either the Baldwin MCB or Peckham BU sideframes may be appropriate? The low end frame of the Peckham BU sideframes adds to the material below the floor at the end of a car. Almost all wood plus 4000 and 5000 series "L" cars had strap steel steps on the ends of the sides of the cars. These helped the yardmen in getting in and out of the cars to ground level. On some of the models of these cars the frame of the trucks hits this step. One way around the problem is to use Peckham BU sideframes.

When modeling the older wooden "L" car pay attention to the trucks. Some of the sets of trucks on a car had the same wheel base, some did not. Each series of wooden cars was unique.

When it comes to 3rd rail beams for the wooden "L" cars, I prefer using the Q-Car CS 090 3rd Rail Shoe Beam, Over-running Style. Again, over the years some of the cars got bigger 3rd rail beams just like the 4000's. For every rule there is an exception. This is what prompts me to say, "Build to the photo!" Get a photo of the prototype car (and era) you desire to build. Better yet get photos of both ends and both sides of the same car!


CRT 3143 operating on the Lake St. "L" as a single car train with the conductor on the rear platform.
The 2 photos are of my scratch-built open platform car. It is powered with Q-Car trucks. The sideframes are Peckham BU with the same wheelbase and wheel size. The trucks have NSL 3rd rail beams and an arc shield. The arc shield was added more to hide the sideframes. The prototype car did not have MCB sideframes. Each of my wooden "L" cars has trucks with different sideframes and 3rd rail beams.

You may have asked yourself how do I know what sideframes and 3rd rail beams appeared in the wooden CRT cars and the 4000's during their life. Like everything else in life nothing is just black or white. There are a lot of grays. After looking at enough photos of something, one starts to get ideas of when something started and ended. My comments are to give other modelers a general idea of what was or was not. Again, when modeling a specific car obtain as many photos of that car on or about the date you wish to model. Be sure to get photos of each side and both ends.



Saturday, December 13, 2014

Ordering Power and Trail Trucks for Your CRT 4000 "Plushie" Part 2

Wagner Car Company/Current Line Models
About the time Q-Car Company introduced the CRT 4000 "L" car model in March, 1973, the Wagner Car Company introduced a power/ trail set of trucks. They were called:
BLW78 & Bar, CTA 4000 Power 6'-6" wheelbase, 33" wheels and
BLW66 & Bar, CTA 4000 Trailer, 5'-6" wheelbase, 31" wheels.

This is part of page 16 of "O Gauge Trolley Trucks, Truck Book No.4, Wagner"

Please discard the printed material in the upper left side of the page. It related to a different set of trucks.

If you desired the BLW78 & Bar could be ordered without a motor if the model was to be a non-powered car.

If the car was to be a trailer, the same as the prototype car; then the trucks should be ordered without the "Bar" (3rd rail beam).

Should you run into NOS (new old stock) or used stock of the Wagner trucks for the Q-Car 4000, chances are you may find the power truck is of an older design. Initially the trucks were offered as DC60 (open frame motor sitting upright or vertical) or INCH (open frame motor sitting on its side with split axel). When can motors were introduced a CLL (can low level) design was offered along with the DC60 and INCH. Taken from page 5 of the same Wagner power/trail truck catalogue.

Please discard the printed material in the upper left side of the page. It related to a different power truck. The photos are samples of the type of drive in the truck. The side frames for the "L" cars are different.
The DC 70 is included to show you the difference between the motor and design. Notice the size of the motor and location of the brushes. The DC 70 motor was a more powerful motor than the DC 60.

Today Current Line Models offers only the CLL (Can Low Level) design. When Current Line Models took over the Wagner Car Co. line of products, the same descriptions for the trucks were retained.

Q-Car Company
Q-car does not have a specific side frames set as "Elevated Trucks". Instead the modeler must do a mix and match. To make things a little complicated Q-Car never had a Baldwin 5'6" wheelbase side frame for the trail truck.

These are the side frames Q-Car has which are applicable to a CRT 4000 series car:
CS 205 Baldwin 7222A, 72" (6') wheelbase

CS 212 Baldwin 8430AA, 84" (7') wheelbase

CS 221 Baldwin 7825A, 78" (6'6") wheelbase

CS 233 Peckham BU 7222, 72" (6') wheelbase
, and
CS 247 Peckham BU 7825, 78" (6'6") wheelbase

The last 2 sideframes the Peckham BU are listed now but will be covered later.

If you are planning on using Q-Car Company sideframes, it appears the Baldwin 7825A (6'6") and Baldwin 7222A (6') sideframes are the best choices.

Do not use the Baldwin 8430AA sideframes. They are too long of a sideframe and will interfere with the coupler installation, car floor depending upon interior construction, and the strap metal step on the side of the 4000 series cars.

The Baldwin 7825A should be used for the motor truck. Pieces of styrene strips can be added between the bottom of the journals to the end of the sideframe.

Although the Baldwin 7222A sideframe is 6" longer than required, it is the best for the trail truck. Q-Car does not have any other suitable 66" sideframe available.

Q-Car Company has for the CRT and CTA 3rd rail beams the:
CS 090 3rd Rail Shoe Beam, Over-running Style

CS 090B 3rd Rail Shoe Beam, Over-running Style (CRT)

CS 161 3rd Rail Shoe Beams (CNS&M)
, and

CS 395 3rd Rail Shoe Beam CTA 1-50 & 6000
While the CS 090B and CS 395 are the same they have separate applications. The CS 090B 3rd Rail Shoe Beam, Over-running Style (CRT) is intended for older CTA cars like the "Baldies". If you look carefully at Bruce Moffat's new book you will find photos of "Baldies" painted in the CTA green and white paint scheme where the trucks have an arc protection shield attached. I'm sure photos of "Plushies" in the CTA green and white can be found with this 3rd rail beam.
The CS 395 3rd Rail Shoe Beam CTA 1-50 & 6000 is intended for CTA PCC "L" equipment - the 1-50 and 6000 series and newer. This beam has an arc protection sheet attached. Neither the CS 090B or CS 395 have any sleet scraping equipment.
The CS 090 3rd Rail Shoe Beam, Over-running Style is intended for the older wooden CRT cars.
The CS 161 3rd Rail Shoe Beams (CNS&M) is the 3rd rail beam commonly found on all North Shore Line equipment. This casting closely matches the 3rd rail beam used on the powered truck under the "Plushies" and "Baldies".
If you are modeling a 4000 "Plushie" or "Baldie" in the CRT era and slightly later, using Q-Car sideframes and 3rd rail beams and desire to most accurate, then the following trucks are to be ordered:
Power truck with the CS 221 Baldwin 7825A 6'6" sideframe, the CS 161 NSL 3rd rail beam installed; and
Trail truck with the CS 205 Baldwin 7222A 60" sideframe, the CS 090 3rd Rail Shoe Beam should be used.
This is a summary of what is written above.
Table for the Application of Q-Car Company 3rd Rail Beams on CRT/CTA 4000’s
From time built until late 1920's
From 1930's to cars painted green and  cream by CTA
From the time the cars painted green and cream to retirement
Both Trucks
Larger Motor Truck
Both Trucks
CS 0903rd Rail Shoe Beam, Over-running StyleCS 161 3rd Rail Shoe Beams (CNS&M)CS 090B 3rd Rail Shoe Beam, Over-Running Style (CRT)
Smaller Trail Truck
 CS 090 3rd Rail Shoe Beam, Over-Running Style 
The time frames are approximations. Always consult a photo of the prototype car you are building.

Since the Wagner/Current Lines sideframes and 3rd rail beams were designed for the Chicago "L" they are the best to use for any 4000 model - "Plushie" or "Baldie".
If the Wagner/Current Line product is not available then the Q-Car sideframes and 3rd rail beams are suitable. 
If you look at photos of the 4000's in their later CTA career, you'll notice the electrical arc protection boards added to the 3rd rail beams of the trucks.
When using Q-Car 3rd rail beams if an arc protection board is needed, the board can be made from 0.010" - 0.015" sheet brass. First make a template out of card stock. I prefer using index cards. The parallel blue lines on one side help in drawing the area where the card stock is to be cut.
When making a template for the arc protection board orientate the index card with the lines vertical with the truck on level track. With a pencil start drawing lines where the index card is to be cut. When done cutting out the template transfer the design to sheet brass. Glue the arc protection board in place with ACC.
This post has been long and we need to come to an end. Before ordering trucks for your 4000 read the important set of comments in the next post!


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Ordering Power and Trail Trucks for Your CRT 4000 Plushie Part 1

Note - Although this post is written for picking out and ordering trucks for a Q-Car Company 4000, a Plushie, the information can be applied to a Baldie model. The terms Plushie and Baldie will not be written with quotation marks.

Before going further perhaps we need to look at trucks for your Q-Car 4000 Plushie. Then you can order your power and trail trucks for your model. If you are planning on powering your model or not, the prototype cars had one truck with motors while the other truck was a trailer. Hence I'll call them power and trail trucks even if the motor truck is without power.

The CRT/CTA 4000 series Plushies motor truck had a Baldwin MCB 78" (6'6") sideframe with 33" wheels and the trail truck had a Baldwin MCB 66" (5'6") truck with 30" wheels.

Attention To Details
During the CRT era I had a chance to see all the CRT cars, including both the Plushies and Baldies, in the dirty, dingy orange/brown colors. The dirtiness hid the 2 different colors and causing a blend into one color - ugly brown-black. When a car was freshly painted, it was beautiful in the crisp orange and brown. What a contrast between the newly painted cars and the dirty ones.

When the CTA took over the "L" I continued to see the "L" cars and the metamorphosis from an range & brown, to a green & cream with an orange belt strip separating the 2 colors, then the a green & cream or white without any separating belt color. The green & cream with the orange belt stripe was a soothing, balance of color. The green & cream then white on the 4000 Baldies and Plushies was too course, too big looking and out of balance. But what could a teenager do?

I spent from September, 1955 to June, 1963 riding the Logan Square Branch of the "L". If you have read the newest book "The Chicago 'L's' Great Steel Fleet `The Baldies~" by Bruce Moffat, you know I had a chance to see all of the various versions of steel "L" cars in existence at the time.

Standing on the platform at Logan Square, the end of the line, I had a chance to see the making and breaking of trains during the rush hours. This included other parts of yard operation to bring cars in, from, or through the 2 yards at Logan Square. When train action was at a stop, I had a chance to study the details of the cars both inside and out.

One part of the car which caught my eye was the trucks under the cars. They were large and small trucks. The 3rd rail beam on the large truck was not the same as the 3rd rail beam on the smaller truck. During the winter the 3rd rail beam on the larger truck had more parts to it then during the spring, summer, or autumn. During the winter sleet scrapers were in place on the 3rd rail beam. The 3rd rail beam on the small truck had none of this - only the 3rd rail shoe.

Utilizing photos in CERA Bulletin 115 "Chicago's Rapid Transit Volume 1: Rolling Stock 1892-1947 here is a list of exterior details you need to note.
page 194 bottom - trucks, orange/brown paint scheme, CTA logo
page 195 top - trucks, name on letterboard, car number locations
page 195 bottom - row of vertical rivets to left of center door, NO vertical row of
     rivets to right of center door*
page 199 2 photos right side of page - trucks and 3rd rail beams
page 200 photo to left of page - no windshield wiper, no door opening
     devices, era of car, marker hangers on dash below end windows
page 201 bottom - 3rd rail beams, dark color (black) of added appliances
     (hand rails, chains, hooks, marker holders, door opening devices, etc.)
page 206 right side of page - 3rd rail beams
page 207 - 3rd rail beams
page 209 top - 3rd rail beams, destination signs
page 210 top - 3rd rail beams
page 214 - 3rd rail beams

* = This is an extremely important, almost landmark set of details for the Baldies.

The important items I wanted to point out are mentioned. There are plenty of other details to be picked-up on from the photos. Also look at other books, Bruce Moffat's latest book has many great photos to study for details.

If need be, make a list of the details in order of appearance from one corner to the opposite corner of the end or side of the car.

Of course if you live in the Chicago area, you can always visit the Illinois Railway Museum to study their 4000's.

The 3rd Rail Beams and Trucks
If the 4000 was a motor (powered) the larger of the 2 trucks had sleet scrappers installed on the 3rd rail beam. The scrappers themselves were pieces of sheet metal which were able to dangle from a holder. The holder was raised and lowered as required. The sleet scrappers, as the name indicates, work by scrapping the top of the 3rd rail. During this process the sleet scrapper is worn off and have to be replaced.

The sleet scrappers were raised when not needed. If you study photos or go to where a working 3rd rail beam is located, you will notice large "L" shaped pieces of metal sticking out perpendicular to the 3rd rail beam. Using a piece of large diameter wooden or insulated stick with a piece of metal pipe attached to the end, the "L" shape piece were rotated left or right to raise or lower the sleet scrappers.

To keep the sleet scrappers under tension and down against the 3rd rail, a long piece of, for lack of a better word, leaf spring material is mounted (bowed) over the entire 3rd rail beam. It's held in place by a large bolt in the center top of the 3rd rail beam.

No sleet scrappers are on the 3rd rail beam mounted on the trail truck. And, of course, if the car was a trailer; no 3rd rail beams are mounted on either truck.

More to come! Cheers,

Monday, December 1, 2014

Interesting News Regarding Noisy Wagner Designed Power Trucks

A close friend of mine has found a correct size commercially available worm and gear to replace the worm and gear in a Wagner designed power truck. If you have a noisy Wagner designed power truck changing the worm and gear will greatly reduce the noise.

An article on how to install the commercially available worm and gear into the Wagner gear box should be published, I hope, in a future issue of "O Scale Resource" emagazine

This is an important event. Many modelers have tried in vain to reduce the noise of their power trucks. No more information is available. The fella who discovered the worm and gear plus how to do the conversion will author the article. He richly deserves all the credit.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

The 3 Ways to Install a Power Truck In a Model

It's time to re-energize the blog. For a myriad of reasons I had stopped posting new material. They range all the way from work which had been put off on the house finally caught up to me and had to be done, to a model has to be done to show a way to install a power truck "system" the model.

During the time material was not written and posted, new and different items revolving O scale traction has happened. Therefore a change in the direction of this blog is required.

As the title of this post states there are 3 ways to install a power truck in a model. The 3 ways are:
  1. under the floor of the model,
  2. inside the floor material of the model, and
  3. on top of the floor of the model.

The ways both sound and are easy to do. The 1st method has already been explained with the building of AEFRE #49 published from April 22, 2012 to August 29, 2013. This was an under the floor installation.

If you are new to this blog, I tend to refer to past post instead of rewriting a topic. This saves space within the blog and time. Plus it gives you an idea of both an overview the installation and how it was done in an actual model.

The second method may sound strange. How is a power truck installed inside the floor material. This happens when the floor is made up of 2 or more different levels and/or materials. What can be called the power truck's body bolster, normally a dimensional piece of brass, is installed in between the layers of material making up the model's floor.

An in the floor style of power truck installation was done in the rebuilding of the Sunset Silverliner Replacement Electroliner 3-Car Train Set. These were post published from January 14, 2012 to April 3, 2012.

Which reminds me I finally found power and trail trucks to match those used in the Sunset Silverliners. These will be installed in my Sunset Silverliner 415 conversion into coach 409. This is a topic for future posts.

What has not been covered is an above the floor power truck installation. As a way to introduce a NEW O scale kit for the CRT/CTA "Baldies", a Q-Car 4000 "Plushie" was unearthed.

To start out, the CRT "Baldies" had an iron roof. Trolley poles could not be installed on them without great difficulty. The CRT "Plushies" were manufactured with trolley poles. On a layout without 2-rail operation it's important to have models with trolley poles.

If one goes through numerous photos, eventually a photo will be found with a CRT train composed of both "Plushies" and "Baldies". Normally this did not happen in CTA years but it did.

My layout is dated, as far as the CRT/CTA ownership change is concerned, for the months before the CTA took over the operation of the "L".

I firmly believe at least 2/3 of all models, power/trail trucks, etc. sold have not been assembled and finished. They are in someone's drawer or shelf neatly tucked away for the future. Nothing has been done to them and/or little has been started. Some models may be found in a partially completed form when the modeler found out he was unable to complete a particular step and/or paint the model.

The word had been put out I was looking for power/trail trucks and the body of a Q-Car CRT 4000 "Plushie" in an uncompleted form. Unknowingly in obtaining the power/trail trucks, the correct design and wheel size was in my hands.  The wheelbase was longer than required by just a scale 6". In my collection of truck parts were the correct sideframes. A quick substitution was made.

Let's start with the power truck. It's an older Wagner with an open frame motor which I prefer. These power trucks have a robust power train. The gear box, gear, and worm are fantastic. The open frame motor to me, at least, is more powerful than the newer can motors. Pittman knew what they were doing when they engineered their open frame motors! About the only thing missing were ball bearings in the motor.

As the sideframes were changed on the power truck 2 other modifications were made. The magnet end of the motor stuck out over the end cross piece of the frame. This cross piece had to be bent to accommodate the motor.

The piece of brass under the truck's motor can be seen bent to clear the motor. Square brass tubing was used. The pencil mark on the motor was not done by me, therefore I don't know what it means. To shorten the wheel base the piece of brass holding the motor to the brass truck bolster was unsoldered and re-soldered. The spring belt had to be shortened by about 1/8", then re-hooked together, and stretched over the brass pulleys.

The other modification to the power truck was to re-direct the wire from the motor to the trolley power. I like to have any wires coming out of the power truck follow a direct path to prevent kinking. The wires are then secured to the power truck to prevent the wire from breaking off of the motor due to rotation of the motor during curves. This series of photos will show what was done:
The trolley power wire can be seen coming out from the bottom of the power truck.

The wire comes out from under the power truck.

The red arrow points to where the wire is soldered to one of the brushes of the motor.

The red arrow, again, points to where the piece of wire was redirected using a 15 watt soldering iron. The wire now comes directly out the back of the power truck. The blue arrow shows where the wire was secured using black thread and a layer of ACC.

In the photo above you can see the power truck has been installed in the floor of the model. All the steps to install the trucks on the floor will be covered in the next post.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Additional Sources of Parts

Two additional sources of parts which may or may not be related to power and trail trucks include Wiseman Model Services operated by Keith Weisman and Micro-Loco-Motion.

The 1st additional source is Wiseman Model Services  . Keith Wiseman has been attending O scale meets in the Midwest area for the past decade or more. I've seen him at both the annual March O Scale Meet held in the Chicago area and the Indianapolis O Scale Meet.

Keith started out in O narrow gauge and broadened the scope of his products. He recently added the Back Shop line of O scale brass castings to his product line. The Back Shop had many fine castings applicable to O scale trolleys.

Keith has a wide range of products which can be used on a layout including buildings and vehicles. Check out his web site.

The next additional source is Micro-Loco-Motion  . They were found during a search of the web for can motors.

I've never ordered or have had any conversation with this supplier. However, if you look at the web site they have a wide variety of can motors of various sizes. Furthermore they seem to be are  very knowledgeable regarding their products and willing to help you pick the correct motor to meet your needs. Check them out.

I need to look at their web site some more myself. In the meantime back to other projects. We will be back to power trucks with the next post.


Friday, July 4, 2014

Model Power Trucks Part 3B - Making Your Power Truck

These are the parts of a power truck with which we need to concern ourselves.

The Motor
The open frame motor used in the article regarding the building a power truck is no longer available. After searching the internet, it looks like the open frame motor, as we know it, is no longer manufactured.

There are a wide variety of can motors available from various vendors. If I were to build my own power truck, the ability to obtain the exact same can motor in the future is important. The reason being, if the power truck I built now needs a new motor or a new power truck was to be built in the future, the exact same motor may be required.

Trying to pick out a small electric motor today is difficult and confusing. The vendors who supply them have a wide variety in size and specifications. Reading and understanding the information supplied on a manufacturer's web site is hard. The parameters a hobbyist is looking for may not be the same in which an electrical engineer is interested.  For these reasons obtaining a can motor from an established hobby oriented vendor is best.

A number of hobby suppliers have can motors for HO applications. This type of motor is best for an O scale traction power truck. As you will see in the next part regarding the gear box, items for HO applications work well for O scale traction trucks.

No specific can motor is recommended in this blog, any 12-18 v can motor of a size which will fit into the confines of the power truck will do. You can pick out your own motor.

While no specific can motor is recommended, I picked up a can motor from NWSL SKU 18337-9. This motor is slightly larger than I wanted. A power truck made with this motor may provide a power truck where the motor will be sticking up too far.  The installation may require part of the underbody and floor to be cut away.

This can motor has the armature on both ends of the motor. One of the armatures will have to be cut off.

Regarding the size of the motor, just as a reminder, keep in mind NWSL sells more items to HO railroader modelers than our group, the O scale traction modelers. NWSL stocks many products which are better suited to HO modelers.

The motor in an HO trolley model is usually located in the body of the model. The O scale trolley modelers have grown accustom to having the motor mounted in an under the floor power truck.

Gear Box (worm, gear, and casing)
The gear box with the 1:37 worm and gear as mentioned in the article are not available. from PSC. It was the 1:37 gearing which made for a slow power truck which caused me to not use the power truck in any model.

PSC does catalog a modified gear box (brass 48204 or plastic 48204-1) which looks almost like the gear box in the article. The axel is larger in diameter. I have no idea as to which worm and gear would work with this gear box.

NWSL does have a number of worm, gear, and gear box set-ups available. After going over what is available, I was very confused until I settled on the idea of locating a gear box where the diameter of the axle and the wheel sizes used for O scale trolleys would be satisfied.

The usual size of an O scale axle is 0.125". The prototype wheel size of trolleys and interurbans in which I'm interested are 30" to 36" with 36" being the most common. This information brought me to NWSL stock numbers:
212-6, 14:1  Ratio 0.4 mod Gearbox kit fits 1/8" axle;
8066-6, Geared 36" Traction Wheelset (1 wheelset with gear) fits Gearbox #212-6; and
8186-4, 36" Traction Wheelsets (3 wheelsets) 0.135" tread.

One of my concerns is the tread size. I prefer a 0.145" tread over the 0.135" tread. Streetcars with 0.135" tread look great operating on street trackage. The 0.135" tread does not always work well on non-street track where the clearances in switch frogs may be too wide. Many O scale layouts, both trolley and steam/diesel, are still set up for the old 0.172" tread wheels.

A different way of thinking about the wheel thread width and tying it to prototype operation is most trolley museums in the US will change the wheels of streetcars (wheels with a narrower wheel thread and a smaller flange) to standard railroad wheels. Museums prefer the wider thread and larger flanges because these wheels track better (stay on the rails). 

In scale the 0.135" wheel is the streetcar wheel, while the 0.145" wheel is the standard railroad wheel.

The other concern is the gear ratio of 14:1 which seems like a fast speed. Only the installation and operation of the 14:1 gear box in a power truck ratio will tell.

Wheel Sets
Much of what can be included in this part of the building and/or repair of a traction power truck has been stated above. Today the main provider of wheel sets is NWSL.

Many O scale modelers have used NWSL wheel sets in their freight cars. I prefer steel wheels on steel (metal) rail. All of my freight cars with plastic wheels have had their wheels sets exchanged.

Wheelsets are available with either pointed, shouldered, flush, or blunt axles. For most traction models the pointed or shouldered axles are the most common. When building a new power truck the shouldered axle is preferred.

NWSL provides both insulated for 2-rail or non-insulated wheelsets. If your model is to operated only from the trolley wire then non-insulated wheelsets are applicable. However, if there is any chance the model may be operated on a 2-rail layout then insulated wheelsets are warranted.

If you are not too sure of your models future use 2-rail insulated wheelsets. To make a non-insulated truck using insulated wheelsets, insert one wheelset with the insulation on one side into the sideframes while the other wheelset is inserted into the sideframes with the insulation on the opposite side. In the future, one of the wheelsets can be reversed to give an insulated truck.

Always consult the Northwest Short Line catalogue  before ordering an item mentioned in this blog.

More in the next Post regarding the making of your own power truck with today's available parts.


Friday, May 23, 2014

Model Power Trucks Part 3A - Making Your Power Truck

The idea of making a modeler's own power trucks has probably entered the mind of most trolley modeler at least once during his or her career in making models. Ever since the 1st O scale, either 17/64' or 1/4", trolley model; modelers have made their own power trucks.

While this post may not start you on your way to making your own power trucks, it is intended to pique your interest on how a power truck is made and repaired.

In August 1968 Model Railroader published an article on "scratch-building" power trucks in O scale. Pay attention to the parts of the ,power truck -
  • a motor.
  • a gear box (worm, gear, and casing),
  • wheel sets (wheels & axels ready to mount),
  • a method to power both axels,
  • sideframes, and
  • a method of mounting the power truck in the model.
As with the Wagner catalogue in the 1st post on power trucks, you should be able to print the article full size, 8-1/2" x 11".

A lot has happened since 1968. For one, Kemtron is now owned by Precision Scale Models (PSC). This means the Kemtron stock numbers (SKU) are not the same as for PSC.

For a history of Kemtron read the newest issue of O Scale Resource Magazine Vol. 1 No. 5 May/June 2014  While you are at it, note the photo on the front cover.

PSC does not stock the same items as Kemtron once did. However, some of the items in the article about building your own power truck are available. The PSC gear case has been slightly changed while the gears are not available. I do not know if the pulley set is still available.

Next, open frame motors are hard to find. Can motors are now the standard small electrical motor. There are many can motors available. They come in different sizes, voltages, and performances values.

If you do decide to build your own power trucks for, let's say, a fleet of cars; you will find it better to obtain the can motors from an established, reputable source. You will need to obtain a number of motors which are exactly alike over a period of time.

Perhaps what is more important about the article is the idea of being able to not only build your own power truck but to be able to rebuild an existing power truck. You may have an old power truck laying around which requires rebuilding - the motor has shorted out and requires replacement or you now require a different wheelbase, etc.

Over the years I have built my own power and trail trucks including making the wheels out of soft steel stock. While I have no desire to do this again, I have rebuilt Wagner design and Q-Car power trucks to different wheel bases. Wagner wheels have been changed to NWSL wheels. Non-insulated wheels have been changed to insulated.

To do any of this kind of work a hobbyist metal turning lathe, a precision drill press, and a small hand arbor press are required.

More about making, altering, and making your own power trucks are coming up!


Monday, April 28, 2014

Model Power Trucks Part 2 - Comments and Updated Information on Power Trucks

About the only commercially produced parts in a Wagner power truck were the Pittman motor, spring belt, and some screws.

Rich Wagner purchased a metal turning lathe and made the wheels, pulleys, worms, and gears used in making the power trucks. The lathe itself had non-standard gearing. This meant the worms and gears were not standard and unique to Wagner's drives.

In purchasing Wagner's power truck and trolley parts business Ed Miller also purchased the lathe and other machines used to make the power trucks and parts.

When talking about both Wagner or Current Line Models power trucks the term "Wagner design" will be used in this and future post on the topic of "Model Power Trucks".

Prior to 1st Time Usage - Purchased New
When either a Wagner design or Q-Car power truck is purchased new and installed for the first time, before actually installing the power truck place a drop of oil on the axle next to each side of the gear box. Also place a drop of oil in each of the 4 side-frame bearings.

Then the power truck should be allowed to run "on the bench" for about an hour - 30 minutes one way and 30 minutes the other. During this time frequently check to see if the motor and gear box are overheating. The motor should get warm but not too warm to hold. Don't forget to check other parts of the power truck for overheating - the journal boxes.

The truck must be "square on the track" with all 4 wheels touching the rail equally. A minor twist of the truck may be needed to bring the truck into square.

Hook up the power truck to a power supply with an ammeter and voltmeter. If you do not have a power supply with these meters, you should purchase one. During the hour "on the bench" running the amperage drawn by the motor should decrease as the parts of the power truck are "broken in". The voltage should remain fairly constant.

Watch the ammeter, if it starts to go up and/or indicates a short, there is something wrong. More will be said about this in future posts.

Lapping Gears
One step which can make a Wagner design power truck operate more smoothly is lapping the gears. This is a polishing process which removes any spurs on the teeth of the worm and gear. Any modeler can do this.

The gear box is packed with DuPont or similar automobile rubbing compound. Before starting the power truck, be sure there is grease or thick oil in the gear box. The power truck is run for about 30 minutes in one direction and 30 minutes in the reverse direction.

After the hour's time, the gear box must be completely cleaned out. Lacquer thinner can be used. Then the gearbox must be re-greased. Rich Wagner used Lubriplate. A fine lub-grease in its time. Unfortunately it would dry out over time. Today Labelle's 106 plastic compatible lubricating grease should be used. It contains newer lubricants far finer in size and slipperiness. About a 1/4" of the Labelle's grease is all that is needed.

Lapping the gears does not have to be done with Q-Car power trucks. When 1st installing a Q-Car power truck only placing a drop of oil on both sides of the gear box is required. Q-Car uses commercially made worms and gears.

Prior to 1st Time Usage - Purchased Second Hand
Whether the power and trail trucks come in the original box they were originally sold in, come in a second hand box or loose, or installed in a model; treat the power and trail trucks as though they have been in storage for longer than a year. See the part of this post which deals with Models Which . . . for Longer Than a Year.

Models Which Have Been on Display and/or Stored for Less Than a Year
When a model has not been used for this period of time, both Wagner design and Q-Car, lubricate the gear box by placing a drop of oil and both sides of the gear box. The oil will "wick" into the gear box and onto the gears. Wait about 15-30 minutes before operating the power truck.

At the same time the drop of oil is placed on both sides of the gear box, the 4 axle ends which go into the side frames should receive a drop (or less) of oil. DO NOT OVER OIL THESE AREAS. The excess oil will find it way onto the threads of the wheels. This will cause a build-up of gunk on the wheels interfering with the electrical pick-up from the rails.

If the power truck uses an open frame motor do not forget to place a drop of oil on the felt wicks in the motor.

Both the Wagner design and Q-Car power trucks are designed for long service as long as they are taken care of by the modeler. Should you start to hear squeaking coming from a model in operation, it's time to lubricate the trucks usually where the axles extend into the sideframes.

Always use a quality oil and grease on your power and trail trucks. LaBelle Industries provides quality light and medium weight plastic compatible oils and grease.

Models Which Have Been on Display and/or Stored for Longer Than a Year
The longer a power truck has been stored the greater the chance the grease has "dried" up. This means the grease in the power truck gear box must be cleaned out. Use lacquer thinner to dissolve the grease. Re-grease the gear box with Labelle's grease.

Also all of the lubrication mentioned in Models Which . . . for Less Than a Year must be carried out.

Spring Belts and Pulleys
Whenever a power truck is lubricated with either grease or oil, DO NOT GET  GREASE OR OIL ON THE SPRING BELT USED TO POWER THE NON-GEAR AXLE! If you do, remove the grease or oil by using lacquer thinner and something like Q-Tips.

Over time spring belts can be pulled out of shape - they become too long. Replacement belts are available from both Current Line Models and Q-Car Co.

But before doing this, if the spring belt is slipping, inspect the pulleys. During operation the spring belt polishes the pulleys. The smoothness of the pulleys can be removed by running by hand a good, small, round cross file over the pulleys. Scratch-up the brass pulleys as best you can. This will restore the "grip" between the spring belt and pulleys.

Older vs. Newer Standards
In the 1950's Wagner offered NRMA standard wheels. That is, the wheels were 0.172" thick with standard thread sizes. Over time he started to offer variations from standard. Very old Wagner power trucks have what look like oversize flanges when compared to today's wheel offerings.

An important piece of information in the Wagner catalogue in the prior post is the "Gear Outside Diameters" diagram on the inside cover. If you have a Wagner design power truck and do not know the gear ratio, measure the size of the gear.

As mentioned in the 1950-60's, the standard O scale wheel was 0.172" thick. This was for both steam/diesel and trolley models. Over time the standard has dropped to 0.145" thick wheels for steam and diesels and 0.135" for trolleys. Interurban lines use either the 0.145" or 0.135". Fine standard Proto-48 uses a 0.115" thick wheel.

When Proto-48 standards are applied to a track work, not only is the gauge corrected but the clearances used in other track work like turnouts are corrected or reduced. This means wheel sets with 0.115" wheels can get caught in regular O scale turnouts at the frogs.

Just as the thickness of wheels decreased in O scale, the flanges have been reduced in size over time. If you and/or your friends are running both older and newer models, accommodations sometimes have to be made. Modelers, who for the most part, are the only ones using their layout may find when other modelers visit with their models some problems occur at turnouts and crossings.

Today many modelers have either switched to or are using NWSL wheel sets. Over a year or more ago the original owner of NWSL retired with the company being purchased by a new owner. Initially things were rough.

The new owner had many, many stocks of inventory to go through and find storage for. Then some items became short in inventory causing order delays. While I have not ordered NWSL items direct for a over a year, I hope many of the problems have been ironed out.

One Modeler's Take on Power Trucks
One modeler who had magical powers over power and trail trucks was Ron Hastie. Ron was a master mechanic and fine tool machinist by trade. If Ron was not a tool and die maker, he was very chose to being one.

Ron's models always ran without gear noise coming from the power truck. It was a thrill to see one of his models run in a quiet room. Only the sounds of the wheels going over the track could be heard. It was the same as watching a prototype trolley passing by.

Over the years I and others had many conversations with Ron about what he did with power trucks. However, Ron never disclosed exactly what he did to quiet the motor and gear noise of a power truck. Ron took this information with him to the grave!

But, I can tell you something about Ron's models. Ron's models were heavy. He would completely rebuild the underbody of a model as best he could to the original specifications of the manufacturer of the prototype with structural brass. The seats and passengers were made from soft metal. All of this added up to weight! The more the weight the better the model should run.

The weight of a models, in and of itself, can help to reduce the sound a model makes as it runs over the track. Of course, at the same time this places stress on the gear train and the motor in the power truck. It also causes excess wear on the rail. This may be the reason Ron was interested in rebuilding power trucks which had failed. Ron and I spent many hours on the telephone talking about rebuilding power trucks.

Next, the gear box in a power truck in one of Ron's models, which I purchased from Ron's estate, was packed with a black colored grease. Packing a gear train with thick grease will quiet the gear train. Ron's knowledge of grease may have played into what he used in the gear boxes of his models.

In years past I sold more than one automobile with excess engine or transmission gear noise. The engine's crank or the transmission case was drained and filled with STP. STP was an extremely thick, honey colored engine additive. Hint: This should be done during warm weather or if the car is stored in a heated garage.

The thicker the grease used the quitter a gear box will sound. However, the thicker the grease, the greater the amount of energy required to start and continue turning the gears.

Model Weight
From time to time, a Wagner power truck will wear out. This happens when the car in which the power truck is mounted weights too much.  If a power truck does wear out it has to be returned to the manufacturer for repair.

The inside back cover of the Wagner Car Co. catalogue included in the prior post has a number of excellent suggestions regarding power trucks and models. Little info is included about how much a model should weigh.

The standard rule of thumb for how much an O scale model should weigh is 5 oz. + 1 oz. for every inch of model length. For example an O scale model of a steel NSL or CA&E car is approximately 14 inches long; therefore 5 oz. + 14 oz. = 19 oz. or 1 lb. 3 oz.

Never add weight to a model to cause the total weight to exceed the recommended weight for the models size. A model can weigh less but never more.

I recommend the weight to be more (perhaps up to 60%) on the power truck with less (the balance of the weight) on the trail truck. This will give good tractive effort and at the same time the powered model will track well through turnouts and curves plus be able to pull a trailer.

Once again, do not overload your model in weight or the amount of weight your model has to pull. If the model is a locomotive take into account the number of cars the prototype locomotive pulled. If required double power your model.

If your passenger model should be puling a trailer and cannot, consider installing plastic seats and passengers in the trailer. Plastic flip-over seats can be obtained from Keil-Lines Products. They advertise in O scale model publications.

Final Comments
We have all heard the comment, "When in doubt read the insert!" This is great advice. When unpacking my Sunset NSL Electroliner, a brochure on the model fell to the floor. By chance I read it. One of the instructions was to place grease in all of the model's gear boxes before operating the model. The gear boxes were shipped dry.

A word to the wise is to always read the instructions which come with a model!

NWSL has already been mentioned. Many years ago they introduced the Magic Carpet. This was an under-the-floor power unit for O scale. Prior to the NWSL Magic Carpet, the Multi-Unit was available.

Multi-Units were great as under the floor power units. Unfortunately they could draw high amperage. To me, their main drawback was ballast and dirt getting into the gear train plus the use of a non-permanent magnet motor. Wiring the model could be a problem.

The Magic Carpet also had a problem with ballast and dirt getting into the gear train. The bigger problem was the plastic used to make the gears. The gears were force fitted over the axels and metal shafts in the gear train. The tight fit on the shafts combined with the proprieties of the plastic caused the gears to split in 2. There was no way to repair the split gear other than to obtain a new Magic Carpet.

NWSL has redesigned the Magic Carpet - now called Magic Carpet II. I have not had the opportunity to see and use the new drive units. I do have a model with the older units. Some time in the future they may need to be replaced with the newer Magic Carpets II.

More comments and tidbits of information in the next post.