A new project has appeared out of the blue (or this last OSW): a Sunset 3rdRail SP 2-6-0
imported about ten years ago. The wheels and main gear indicate lots of run time, but other than the motor is in excellent condition. A frequent dead short in the motor plus other issues necessitated a motor replacement as the first item on the to-do list.
I found a Canon motor in my box of spares that is a close fit, but would require a new front mounting plate. The original rear mount would work fine with just a small adjustment in the motor support hole.
I did not think the Canon run mechanism would gain much benefit from the little flywheel, so I've left it off for the present.
Attached are photos of this Sunset model of an SP class M-9 and a Max Gray version with some additional detailing. My intention is to add or change some of the Sunset cab and boiler details to be similar to the 1818. I'll also substitute a different tender for this loco than the Sunset Vanderbilt. I have a PSC kit for a SP whaleback tender from a previous project that I want to use for this 2-6-0.
The Sunset tender uses fully insulated wheels in their trucks. To compensate, wipers scraping the back side of the wheels provide the power pickup and this tender has ALL wheel pickup. The eight wipers provide a significant drag as well as a "blackboard chalk" squeak. That plus backup light and other wiring in the tender I thought would interfere with any testing of electrical properties and traction. So, construction of at least the frame and running gear of the whaleback tender would be next.
First up is machining side frames and assembly of the tender truck castings which are also in kit form. I may have described this fixture for holding side frames during drilling out axle holes before, but in case someone is interested -----
The back side of the journals on the casting are glued to the styrene plate with a couple drops of white glue. The strips of styrene at the top of the casting align the side frame parallel to the side of the plastic box that will be the holding fixture.
The brass plate pictured sitting on the plastic box will be used as a hold-down clamp on the casting during machining. Any small plastic box with straight sides and right angle corners should work. Clear plastic as here makes it easier to judge the level of plaster poured.
Once the glue had dried, any undercuts around the journal box lid was packed with a bit of very heavy grease to make it easier to pull the pattern out.
With the pattern resting on the box, casting down, the sides of the box were marked to show the level that the Hydrocal plaster would be poured to. The level being just over the journal box lid and cup shaped journal bottom. The journal box impression in the plaster that supports the truck frame during machining is visible in the second photo.
All eight axle holes were drilled out using this fixture and could be used again for the same PSC Andrews truck.
The heavy brass used for the tender floor assembly proved to be a bit of challenge even for my small torch. The resulting weight of just the floor assembly is quite adequate for good electrical contact and tracking, even pushing a train with the tender.
Testing the Sunset mogul with the new motor showed very low amp draw even with a heavy train (for a mogul) on a 2% grade. The voltage to get the drivers started turning seemed to be a little higher than what I'm used to seeing. Whether this may be normal for a cogged belt drive, I don't know.
The kit tender tank shell came formed ---- mostly. After tinning the edges and surfaces of the tank, ends, and attachment L's to be soldered together, I made some tie strips from 1/4" brass strip for pulling and holding the bottom edges of the tank into position matching when the tank is bolted to the floor assembly. That brought the tank curve almost to a match with the curve of the ends. Probably because of the large holes in the center of the tank top, the curve was not perfect and a large gap was still left between the end and tank shell at the top. A form of some sort that the shell could could be pressed into for soldering the ends with a torch would have been nice. Lacking that, just squeezing by hand and working bit-by-bit around the seam with the Weller eventually got the job done.
Very nice project as I especially appreciate your machine tool set up where most of the time involved is configuring the clamps, jigs, etc., and usually the intended process on a piece goes quick once one gets the arrangement, framework or layout precisely the way you want it. I usually find myself making errors on the first time try but the second time around is a charm. You know the old saying in woodworking, measure twice cut once. I have the habit of testing my set ups first saving me time and material. Thanks for sharing the bench work.
After a few trys and false starts, the top walkway and hatches are in place. The walkway is formed from two brass parts: the underside with the pre-bent supports and the etched board top side. These two items should be soldered together before attaching to the tank. A resistance soldering unit worked nicely for soldering to the tank.
It became apparent the plate furnished to be soldered to the underside of the walkway to support the water hatch is too thick to fit. It was removed and after soldering the walkway to the tank, a new piece was cut from 1/2" brass strip to fit in the water hatch hole to support the hatch lid casting. The hatch lid should be about flush with the top of the walkway (on the prototype to allow it to be fully opened).
The end ladders were soldered up and attached to the bottoms of the side walkways before inserting the tabs into the slots in the tank. This assured the walkways were horizontal when soldering the tabs to the tank insides.
Fortunately the handrails in this kit were already formed except for the curved part at the ends. The end bits were easily bent to an approximate curve to fit up tangent to the side of the ladders and then the eight stanchions (6 long and 2 short) were threaded on. It turns out the stanchions are just long enough to go through the tank shell (get some stanchions at one end inserted and then try inserting more without the first popping out again). Laying the tender on its side and sliding the handrail with stanchions into the tank as far as the handrail would go and finally soldering the stanchion to the handrail solved the problem. Two 1/16" sticks under the low parts of the handrail positioned the assembly at the correct height for soldering the stanchions to the tank shell.
The last step was to finish bending the curved handrail ends to fit alongside the ladder stile and cut off the excess length before soldering the handrail end to the stile.
Also added at this point were the electric marker lights and the conduit. Even though the marker castings were included in the kit, I debated about whether to add these. Marker lights for an SP tender (if the loco was equipped) were normally kept inside a box on top of the tender and only brought out for a few specific times --- when running light on the main and when pushing at the very end of a train (pushing on the caboose).
The SP's habit of switching tenders around between locomotives often required a new tender deck to match the loco cab deck. That was also the case for adapting the whaleback tender to the M-9 class Moguls.
This is as far as I intend to go with the tender construction until I'm ready to start the painting. For those who might be unfamiliar with SP steam, the box situated on the end of the tender over the sand box is for iced drinking water. I don't know exactly when this practice started, but they began appearing in SP steam locomotive photos taken in the early 1940s. Diesels got them too, but in the cab and by the 1950s, the water was in a large glass jug feeding through a pipe inside the ice box. Very welcome in El Paso during the summer months I might add!
After losing the little metric boiler attachment screw the second time to rattle around somewhere in the cylinder assembly, I made this screw extension with a brass 4-40 screw tapped into the end and a screwdriver slot in the other end. A 1" length of 3/16" brass rod brought the slot even with the bottom of frame for easy access when removing the boiler assembly. I re-tapped the metric threaded attachment in the smokebox for 4-40 thread. The 4-40 screw is secured in the extension by running into the imperfect threads at the bottom of the tap. If that had not worked, a bit of solder would have made it permanent.
I've removed the injectors and bell from the boiler assembly and ordered new castings for replacement or adding missing detail to the boiler assembly. The cab is going to have quite a bit of new work on it so there was no point in saving the paint job.
I went through a succession of possible paint removers in increasing strength up to one called Strypeeze. The Strypeeze instantly dissolved the red paint, but had only partial effect on the black paint and none on the interior green paint even after a second application. So --- back to the tried and true soaking in full strength Pine-Sol for two days. That worked as you can see in the photo.
If you have not used Pine-Sol for paint removal, note that it does not dissolve the paint. Instead it seems to break the surface bond between the paint and metal. The paint comes off in little sheets, which is generally easily removed with a little scrubbing. The Pine-Sol can be poured back into the bottle and saved for another day.