Monday, 21 May 2012

CNS&M 454: Part 1

Again I found myself this weekend distracting myself by thinking about chipping another steeplecab, or two for that matter.

Number 457 is still in the shops being rebuilt (for definitions of rebuilt that include not doing much on it). So my model of number 453 was chosen, which I plan to modify to represent #454 when I get around to working on the hood sides to add the missing ventilation holes. Number 454 also had an interesting variation on how the window frames were painted, which is why I fancy turning #453 into #454. No two alike remember.

However, just because all the modification have yet to be done, it wasn't going to stop me from chipping her, and getting her on the road. So I started by taking the body shell off, and decided to remove the switch that allows one to go from track to overhead power; as after all I'm chipping this for DCC, and I don't think it is practical to use a switch to go between overhead and track power with DCC.

Then I thought I would look at the ride height, as I had noticed that the couplers were a bit low, and thought how hard would it be to fix this? So I disassembled the drive train and put some washers at the bolster, which brought the body up to the right height. Et VoilĂ  done.

However, and you knew there was a but coming along, as I start to reassemble the drive train I noticed that universal coupling shafts ends were freely rotating on the shafts. This is not good thing, and kind of explains why this steeplecab pulls so poorly. I started to work on fixing this problem and noticed that the angle of the drive shafts to the gear towers were quite extreme. I thought to myself why don't I replace the motor with something smaller? Again, how hard can it be?

So trusty puller to the rescue to remove the flywheel/come universal joints on the old motor.

New motor and I decided to use Ted Scannel's ideas from the CLAG website, using radio control aircraft fuel line, two small 3/32 ball bearings so as to extend the shaft lengths to match the new motor configuration.

All fitted, and here I'm making up a new motor retaining clip, using the old one cut in half with the plan that I'll solder the two halves back together in due course. I used my Kadee coupler trip pin pliers to adjust the circumference of the bands halves.

Here it is all hunky-bunky and ready to rock'n roll. Put it on the track and found I had an intermittent short. Poot! Back to the work bench...

On closer examination it was obvious that the ball joints were fouling the screw heads that kept the trucks in place. This is due to the fact that I have of course altered the ride height, but the gear towers remain the same height. Doh!

It was at this point that I regretted the fact that I had cut the original shafts in half, as after a bit of thought I realised that I could dispense with the original universal joints as supplied on the gear towers. Rather than spend time now making new shafts I stole the pair from engine #457 that is still in need of substantial cosmetic work.

And hey presto, just like that all done and dusted. Put the chassis on the track and she purred along like a sweet thing, rather than the old growl she use to have (I adjusted the skew of the motor you can see in the above picture before proceeding any further).

Next thing is to just run her around a bit, programme the chip using Decoder Pro, and then it will back to the bench for some cosmetic adjustment to get her to more closely resemble #454. After this

NB: Must get around to making some more poles. 


  1. Thank you for the excellent article with photos. You have just the right mix of technical information and photos to illustrate the effort. Very good job. Your articles help folks to see what is possible with a little planning.

    I wish I had seen and heard the 3 locos, in an MU lash-up, trundle by on a local freight many years ago.

  2. Thank you for your kind words. While I too would like to have seen the railroad in the flesh, I don't think I'd like being that much older to have been able to do so. :-0

    However I do know what some of the locomotives sound like from the record I bought off eBay of #459 and one of the battery locomotives #455. See here: