Box Cab on Track

Incremental progress is being made. I added the incredibly tiny window wipers fore and aft plus the whistle and bell (which looks like a horn speaker on the front). The bracket for mounting the bell vertically disappeared in a nut-bolt-washer fling into oblivion. I’m satisfied with the look of a horn.

I also sprayed the cab with gray primer along with some other remaining parts, like the air tanks and the front and rear frames where the couplers, still en route here via Ebay, will go. The tanks are just positioned on top in this photo, not glued. They’ll get painted a grimy black along with the front and rear frames, the side frames and steps.

The next tricky part will be fashioning glazing for the windows and inserting the gauge images I downloaded and resized to fit on the dashboard control panel I put inside under the front window.

But I really want to get those couplers in hand so I can install them and make sure they are at a proper height.

P.S. It still runs — even smoother than before. It’s not quiet, but credibly noisy.

Box Cab Update: Grabs and Lifts

While waiting for the new coupler set needed for the GE 33 Ton Box Cab in HO with motor, I started bending and shaping wire to install the hand grabs and also I inserted the eyebolts to thread the coupler lift bars through them.

I also slapped a piece of plastic to cover the back rear side window opening (gray) to help conceal the motor. I also fashioned from some scrap plastic a dashboard and installed it under the front window openings on the inside of the cab. I slotted a pair of spare eyebolts in the dash to resemble control levers.

After painting, I intend to search on line for imagery of a control panel, resize and print and glue to the dash. Ultimately I will place a seated driver in the cab as well.

Here are two more views of the progress so far.

You can barely make them out against the black of the side frames but I also installed the steps, one larger in the center below the door, and the other two towards the ends.

The cab is still removable so when it comes time to paint, I will spray in and out with gray primer. I will also paint the chassis frame black to match the side frames and the front frames where the couplers will go.

But first, the couplers need to arrive so I can install them.

Box Cab Update: Another Setback

With the motor in place, the gears and wheelsets in synch and a successful test run, it was time to move to the next step in the instructions: installing the couplers. The ones needed for this little box cab are Kadee #711s, a special 3/4 coupler for small and narrow gauge locos. I had ordered a set back in July through Ebay and it was time to open the packet and get to work.

But this is what came out: four sprues of the flat portion of a coupler gear box. No couplers. So I fire off a message through Ebay and the next thing I hear is that the vendor has agreed to refund my payment if I return the packet. Fine, but I have no couplers!

Since there was no offer to send me a replacement, I have turned to another vendor to order the #711 set. It will come next week sometime. I just hope the contents will be what I need.

I’ve never before had a project that involved so many pitfalls — inadequate instructions, missing, broken or wrong parts and unresponsive vendors.

And model railroading is supposed to be fun!

Box Cab Update: It Runs!

Today’s work involved the installation of all the elements needed to get power to the motor — forming and installing the wire pickups, installing the motor retainer castings and threading the wire under the retaining tabs and the screws and then through holes down to the wheelsets, and finally soldering two more wires — one bare and one insulated — from the same screws up to the contacts on the motor.

The hardest part was getting those darn screws into the retainer castings (black pieces at base of motor), then threading the wire around the screw and under the tabs. That was followed by having to loosen the screws, sigh, and threading the bare and insulated wires around them and then up to the contacts atop the motor. Soldering was the easy part.

I then placed the powered chassis onto the track on my layout, selected the DC only power position and gave it some juice. IT RAN! OK not perfectly. In fact it kind of sputtered and jerked. I suspect it has to do with the wire brush contacts and/or the gears.

I’ll press on with the assembly now but tinker with the wheelsets, contacts and gears to see if I can improve the performance.

Box Cab Update: Biting the Bullet & Pressing On

In the absence of any response from the vendor for the missing parts for my GE 33 Ton Box Cab kit in HO with Mabuchi motor, I decided to press on. First up, trimming the wheelset axle that was too long and readjusting the position of the wheels and gears on both axles to fit within the sideframes.

Then I mounted the motor with its attached worm and gears and inserted this assembly into the frame. Not having the self-tapping screws that were supposed to be with the kit, I dug into my container holding coupler and truck screws and found a couple that looked right for the two screw holes in the frame. For the life of me, I don’t know what they do as they do not hold the motor in place. Maybe screws with a wide head? Wiring? No matter, I put a couple drops of superglue in the bed for the motor and stuck it in place and set it aside to dry.

Then I added the remaining sideframe after some test fittings to ensure the wheelsets would fit properly and mesh with the gear from the motor.

So the next step, after I set this assembly aside for 24 hours of drying, will be to install some wiring and the motor retainer castings, threading the wire “pick up legs” through holes in the frame so they will contact the wheels. After that comes the insertion of the wheelsets and then some soldering. Then a test run followed by adding couplers, coupler lift bars, eyebolts and steps.

Then the cab can go on along with other details like the hand grabs.

But I’m getting way ahead of myself. Got to make sure this little puppy can run.

Woe is Me (or More Box Cab Issues)

I delved further into the instructions for the Grandt Line/San Juan Details HO Box Cab (Kit 7089) to see if I could determine where those frame retainer caps go — and success! After linking the gear bracket to the motor and worm gear, I saw how they interact with the chassis frame and the wheelsets after the sides are added. The retainers hold the side panel with idler gears on it.

But then I was slapped with a new issue. The two wheelsets — one with a gear that meshes with the gears coming from the motor — have different length axles, 25mm and 27mm respectively — and neither fit into the NMRA Standards Gauge. I tugged at wheels and eventually got them to the proper distance to meet the standard. But am I now expected to file down the longer of the two axles to make it fit into the sideframes? Hint: the longer one doesn’t.

I’m concerned that my readjustments will mess up the position of the gear on the lower axle in the picture above and thus cause it to miss meshing with the gears from the motor. Sigh. I’ve sent off another email to San Juan asking for new matching wheelsets (plus the missing self-tapping screws and wire insulation that weren’t in the kit.)

I did stick together the cab walls.

Not a big challenge. I may go ahead and put a coat of primer on it just to get the sense that I’m making headway.

I’m now regretting not starting my motive power efforts with the Conowingo Models 44 ton Doodlebug!

Halted Almost Before I Began

I decided to finally start building the Mabuchi powered Box Cab in HO standard gauge I received from San Juan Details early this year. I diligently started comparing parts with the instructions, separating the initial assembly pieces from their sprues.

And wham! I ran right into a problem with ambiguous instructions involving installation of two retaining caps on the frame.

So I decided to skip over that and start assembling the cab and drilling the tiny holes for handgrabs. That, at least went just fine. And I could, if I wanted to, go ahead and spray paint the cab.

But I decided to put that off and went back to the instructions and figured I could press ahead with assembling the gears that will eventually hook up to the motor. But…sigh. The instructions called for inserting a self-tapping screw (0 x 3/16″) and there were none in the packet with the gears and wires.

I’ve sent off an email to San Juan Details asking for help with the photo diagram up above and for the missing screw(s). But my contact there replied with an auto message that he is off at a narrow gauge convention and then travelling, so I suspect this project will have to go on hold for a while.

If anyone out there can help, please post a comment or send an email. Thanks!

Decision Made

OK. The die is cast. My next project will be building a powered Grandt Line GE 23 ton industrial locomotive — my first attempt at Motive Power.

Here you see all the parts and the recommended Kadee #711 couplers. Not much to it, right? The biggest challenge seems to be inserting all the gears that will link the tiny motor with the driving wheelset (with the gear on the axle).

The Chicago and Northwestern Historical Society has published details of this particular loco on its website, including actual plans.

If you want to get more info, go to:

The model I’ll be building was used in construction of the Navajo Dam on the San Juan river in New Mexico. Dam construction required moving some track of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. A contractor used the locomotive for track laying and ballasting.

Labor Day

It’s Labor Day and in Eureka and South Pass country that means folks work. Like the team up at the Lincoln Lumber Company. Two engines have pulled in. The Climax is offloading a mess of supplies, while the Shay is getting ready to take away the Central Pacific box car that brought up parts for the log derrick motor.

Good to be back on the layout. Plenty of projects are in front of me, but looks like more travel is in store, including trips back up to Rhode Island to see our latest grandchild, Emmett, our daughter Katie’s first.

That looks like them over by Miss Katie’s school!

Welcome Emmett!

On Hold…

…And temporarily out of modeling service. Had my birthday Sunday and a new grandchild, number 4, born today, another boy. We’ll be off to see him ASAP up in Rhode Island and that means modeling is being temporarily suspended, indefinitely.

Which means I won’t be getting to my motive power projects or this new kit I received for my birthday.

It’s another kit from Dr. Ben’s Scale Model Masterpieces with labstone elements — like the schoolhouse and the two logging camp bunk houses I made previously. I really like working with labstone. Easy to sand and paint/stain.

I figure this structure belongs up on a siding by the Lincoln Lumber Company sawmill. It will be the maintenance shed for the Shay.

So, til next time… whenever that may be. Take care.