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Author Topic: Brass Mongering
Ed Bommer

Posts: 417
Post Brass Mongering
on: August 23, 2017,
Quote

It' has been a while since I worked on a brass O scale locomotive. Back in the 1990's, I built a camelback 0-6-0. It can be seen in the photo album "Along the Baltimore & New York."

Some one sent me this O scale Illinois Central 1880's era 2-4-4 Forney made by Gem sometime in the 1960's or 70's I think, to see if I could work it over into a model of a Baldwin 1890's era Forney used on Staten Island before electrification in 1925.
Image

With Precision Scale narrow gauge D&RGW C-16 class 2-8-0 stack and domes, the IC engine would come closer to the SIRT loco. The cab would need work as well as the coal bunker/water cistern. However, that long pointed pilot on the IC Forney must be trimmed back.

Another just like the front is needed under the end sill of the coal bunker. Forney's were bi-directional locos with pilots and headlights at each end!
Image

So, here is how my brass mongering so far, changing the Gem Forney front pilot which is built up with 15 strips of square brass rod for the staves. The PSC casting for the rear pilot will be similarly modified as well, for a Kadee coupler and less rake on the prow.
Image

Also a thing about those huge oil lamp headlights. That roll-like top knot is solid on the castings. It's not just a decoration, it's the vent for the burner pot below, providing the light! The roll detail should be drilled out and made hollow, like the top of a stove pipe. There is a hint of that in the second photo, as a shadow of the hollow cap shows on SIRT Forney 18 at Arlington in 1900.

Ed Bommer

Charlie

Posts: 247
Post Re: Brass Mongering
on: August 23, 2017,
Quote

Ed, do you have any idea what the purpose is of the cylinder attached above the front of the cab roof on #18? Your brass bashing looks like a fun project.

Charlie

Ed Bommer

Posts: 417
Post Re: Brass Mongering
on: August 24, 2017,
Quote

That canister on the cab roof is the vapor ejector for the Eames vacuum brake, which the SIRT used on all its steam powered commuter trains. The vacuum brake recovered faster than the air brake after stopping, a necessity for frequent stops at stations that were less than a mile apart.

With the vacuum brake, there are no tanks or pumps, making it much simpler to maintain. Piping and hoses was heavier than that used for air brakes. Vacuum brake cylinders were truck mounted, inboard. This type brake was popular in England, Australia and in some European countries in the 19th and early 20th centuries. I rode some trains in Australia in 2006 that were controlled with the vacuum brake.

Here is a builder's photo of a new Wason coach with the Eames vacuum brake. Notice how "empty" the under body seems? The cars were equipped with coal oil lamps, with no '"Edison Lights" and their batteries.

Coaches 108-117 – S. I. R. T. and S. I. Rwy.:
Image

Built by Wason of Springfield MA in 1910. 48’ 6” wood body, not including end platforms. Color was chocolate with gold lettering and trim. Seats 62, Eames vacuum brake, Janney N. G. couplers, Gold steam heat. Wired for electric lighting by the locomotive's generator, 1915-1918. All retired by July 1925. However, a few were kept for the every-third Sunday Mount Loretto Orphanage Specials until 1934, run by charter with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York. MUE cars were used after that, hauled the last mile up to Mount Loretto with a pre-stationed B&O 2-8-0.

Ed Bommer

Martin
Administrator
Posts: 864
Post Re: Brass Mongering
on: August 24, 2017,
Quote

Could you post up a better photo of the pilots, old vs. new in creation?

I've also got one of these sitting the queue to do a bit of work to for my uses.

Going to remotor or regear the mechanism or anything of that ilk, Ed?

Want a balloon?

Ed Bommer

Posts: 417
Post Re: Brass Mongering
on: August 24, 2017,
Quote

The best I can do is show the Precision Scale cast wood stave pilot and the revised Gem pilot.
Image

I took the Gem pilot apart and rebuilt it, cutting back the prow by a little more than half of what it was.
The PSC pilot has a slightly longer prow to it than the Gem pilot, but they are very close.
Both are about the same height and width. The cast PSC part will be similarly modified and mounted to the rear sill of the coal bunker.
Image

To get the Kadee coupler to clear the pilot, I made a fitting from brass channel stock to swivel butt mount a plastic Kadee. Here the loco is coupled to a SIRT service gondola to check coupler height. I will try to get a better shot of the fitting, which is soldered to the upper back plate of the Gem pilot and mounter with an 0-80 hex head screw. But I'm not very good at taking close up photos.

Oddly, the prototype photo does not show any uncoupling rods for the front coupler. It may have been locked closed and the uncoupling rods on the cars were used.
Image

Ed Bommer

John-
Webster

Posts: 22
Post Re: Brass Mongering
on: August 24, 2017,
Quote

Following with interest.

Martin
Administrator
Posts: 864
Post Re: Brass Mongering
on: August 25, 2017,
Quote

Thanks for the photos, Ed!

That really changes the front end appearance of that engine - I like it!

Want a balloon?

Ed Bommer

Posts: 417
Post Re: Brass Mongering
on: August 26, 2017,
Quote

Image
Here we are, into deeper mongering with the brass IC Forney. The mechanism has been disassembled. Weak solder joints are taken apart, cleaned and re-soldered. Some parts needed jigs set up to keep them in alignment. Resistance soldering is done where possible. Any bent parts are straightened. There is a lot offside play in the drivers, over 1/16". I will be adding special polyethylene washers (made from coffee can or similar lid material) to reduce that to about .020" or so. The engine truck wheels up front have a 3/32" slop to take up as well. To enhance the electrical contact foot print of this loco, the engine truck wheel on the insulated side will be fitted with a wiper contact. Ditto for the insulated side of the drivers and rear truck.

Image
Here is a close-up of the revised Forney front pilot. The coupler attachment was made with 3/16" brass channel, with one piece slightly widened so the other could fit inside to make a box. It was cut to 1/4" long with one end fitted into a slot cut into the pilot's top plate and soldered to it. The outer end was rounded slightly with a file. An acetyl Kadee coupler shank was cut back and trimmed to fit inside. A hole was drilled and tapped for an 0-80 hex head screw to hold the coupler. It can swing a few degrees to either side. Best to have a non-conductive coupler on a brass framed loco to avoid potential shorts if coupled to a metal car. The bottom of the pilot has been lined with .040" styrene to make it thicker like the prototype, as well as provide insulation in case it may touch rails in a dip or coming to a grade.

Image
The cylinder assembly with its front equalizers for the engine truck, piston rods with Laird guides nd bracket are all of a soldered together piece. The Laird cross head on this side is crooked. The solder joint holding the rod to the cross head had to be melted enough to shift the guide into a more horizontal position using a piece of aluminum fitted between it and the upper rod. The rather naked looking Laird crossheads will be detailed with top plate and bolt detail for each side, as well as being fitted with rod pin hex head screws to replace the original round head, slotted screws. In further work the orange peel-like brass paint on the loco and its parts will be removed along with file marks and other blemishes.

And, we've only just begun!
Ed Bommer

Robert

Posts: 379
Post Re: Brass Mongering
on: August 28, 2017,
Quote

This is one of my favorite types of projects. I enjoy brass work and solder assembly. I will be following your progress, and hope to pick up some tips from your many years of such craftsmanship.

Robert

Ed Bommer

Posts: 417
Post Re: Brass Mongering
on: August 28, 2017,
Quote

Today I worked on reducing wheel slop (excessive side to side movement) by making and inserting washers made of plastic. Above, I referenced doing them in polyethylene, which I used when rebuilding a Westside B&O P-7 built to what was "PSC Gauge" in 1979. It was an early attempt to have finer scaled wheels and track but not quite the P-48 we have now. I had to widen the driver and wheel gauging to NMRA standard so it could run through switches and around curves. In that case I made the washers from cottage cheese container lids.

Image
The engine or front truck was first. The original solid wheel set was replaced with a more accurate spoke wheel set from PSC. The axle was bigger in diameter and their slots in the frame were widened to suit. The gap between the inner wheel faces and truck frame was large. Two washers were cut from .040" thick black styrene. Holes slightly bigger than the axle were drilled. Two washers were cut out, trimmed, filed, then split and wrapped around the axle to fit. The side to side play is now a more acceptable .015".
Image

Image
The drivers had less but more than desired side to side play. For them, I cut washers the same way from .020" black styrene sheet. These were also sanded down on 320 grit paper, so the side play would be about .010".

To make such washers, the rim around the drilled hole is gradually trimmed down to about 1/16" using single edge razor blade. First cut a square around the hole. Then trim each of the corners until it has 8 or so sides and fairly rounded. Then use a fine cut file to smooth the circumference (I make headlight lenses with clear stock that way as well).

Make sure there is no swarf or threads of material on the washer. Place it on some 320 go finer grit paper and rub both sides by pushing it around with your finger. Make one cut across the washer's circumference at its narrowest point with a blade. Gently wrap a now "C" shaped washer onto the axle, fitting it between the inner face of the wheel and the bearing. Double check to be certain there is enough clearance so the wheel set spins freely. Use a plastic compatible oil for lube on the axle bearings by applying it at the side opposite the plastic washers. There's no need to oil them!

The mechanism of this loco is not exactly high class. Reducing excess side play of the wheels and correcting misalignments of cylinders, crossheads, guides and rods can go a long way to smooth things out in the final run. Best to do all this before detailing and painting!

Next will be work on the driver retainer plate. then re-aligning the crossheads and their guides.
A step for another day . . . .

Ed Bommer

Ed Bommer

Posts: 417
Post Re: Brass Mongering
on: August 29, 2017,
Quote

The sprung drivers of the Gem Forney are held in place with a bottom plate and four screws. However the rear driver, which holds the worm gear, is held in place with two fingers of that plate. Their ends are not secured to the frame.

Result? The fingers were bent out of level with frame from downward pressure of the springs over the decades. To fix that I made two "L" shaped clamps or shoes, cut from a scrap Max Gray brass coupler box, long since surrendered by a brass car now wearing Kadees. I was always tempted to toss out those small, thick brass pieces but I found a use for one anyway.
Image

The two clamps are about 1/8" wide, 1/8" at the short end and 3/8" long. The inside of the long end was soldered to the frame about 1/16" away from the driver bearing slot on each side. To assure a snug fit, the bottom plate was reattached. The two finger ends were trimmed to match the width of the frame. Both contact surfaces were pre-tinned for sweat-soldering in place with a torch. This let me also remove the air compressor, since the prototype did not have one. It was equipped with the Eames vacuum brake for passenger cars and a steam brake for itself. With vacuum brakes here is no compressor or air reservoirs on the loco.
Wet rags were used to block excess heat from undoing other solder work on the frame, which is held in place on a slab of Tulsa tile by a hunk of B&O 100 lb. rail and the cast iron vise for my bench top drill press.
Image

That done, I found that the right cylinder was not parallel to the frame. And with that, the valve gear hanger was canted to one side. I gently bent the cylinder into line. I'm hoping it will be OK. Gem's solder is pretty soft and might allow a bit of tweaking before it breaks. The valve gear hanger fitted snugly in the frame but it was offset to the left. Piece of brass rod had been soldered to its lower edge assured a very snug fit into the frame. I removed the rod, then trimmed back the notch on one side that engages the frame to move it to one side and gently bent it to stay. Once the valve guides were parallel and the same distance apart from the fame on both sides, the brass spacer rod was cleaned, tinned and soldered back in place while held with a pair of forceps to restore that snug fit.
Image

Mincing brass monger work to be sure, but it all counts in the end! The biggest jobs will be shortening the coal bunker and rear of the frame and fitting up a modified (to be like the front) rear pilot and coupler.
A new cab will be built, using a pair of PSC D&RGW C-16 2-8-0 cab sides (an exact match to the SIRT Baldwin Forney!). This will require new front and rear cab walls, as well as a more deeply arched roof to match the prototype. The cab will made removable as well.

There will be more dining on this elephant later, - one fork full at a time!
Ed Bommer

Ed Bommer

Posts: 417
Post Re: Brass Mongering
on: August 31, 2017,
Quote
Ed Bommer

Posts: 417
Post Re: Brass Mongering
on: August 31, 2017,
Quote

In pursuit of "oiled eel" running.
You know it when you see it. The silky-smooth rolling of drivers and rods, without any hesitation or binding. It can be elusive to capture. I thought it worth a try. After all, this Forney has only four drivers!

The Forney parts though, had another tale to tell. For one thing, some driver springs seemed softer than others. Some drivers had more up and down play in them than the others. In carefully measuring the frame with the loco's weight upon it, it leaned to one side as well.

The culprit was uneven spring seats in the frame. Also, the main pin end of both side rods were egg-shaped, as seen here. They had been filed by a previous owner to eliminate binding but that only made it worse!
Image

And, as you can see, the driver springs had varying lengths. Making the spring seats the same for all four drivers and installing new springs would keep the drivers level, with equal contact on the rails.
Image

Here, the Vernier caliper is used to measure the spring seat depth to make sure all four spring seat depths are equal. The deepest cut seat became the measure for all the others, which were cut back with files.
Image

The side rod's main pin end holes were repaired by inserting brass bushings into the egg-shaped holes, to restore them to roundness and above all, accurate spacing. Some brass tubing wall was thinned with a Dremel and cut off disc, slowly rolling an end of the tubing on the disc as it spun. The tubing was reamed to clear the rod pin screw shank. The egg-shaped hole in the rod was enlarged slightly so that the new bushing would be centered in it correctly.

To center the new bushings, measurements were taken from the frame with a Vernier caliper. The forward sides of the journal bearing slots were measured on each side of the frame. They were equal. That measurement would also be correct spacing for the driver pins. It was transferred to the side rod holes, using the inside face of both holes toward the forward end, as that hole had very little wear. Both side rod bushings were fitted to the same exact measurement.

On reassembly, the drivers and rods rolled effortlessly back and forth, up to one point of a very slight bind. It took a lot of patient examination to locate the problem. Turns out, it was one of the crosshead piston rods, becoming tight as it reached the end of its travel into the cylinder.

More about that later. In solving that 'tiny' issue, it turned into a bigger job than I planned!

Ed Bommer

Ed Bommer

Posts: 417
Post Re: Brass Mongering
on: September 3, 2017,
Quote

In my last post, I mentioned a problem that came up while working on the Forney. While trying to correct a misaligned rod on one of the Laird cross heads, all the soldered parts became undone.

Each cross head was built up by Gem with five parts: An inner side, an outer side, a top plate, a middle guide plate and the piston rod. This created a hole through crosshead for a 3/64" x 3/64" square brass guide.
The hole for the guide and the piston rod are set at an exact spacing apart.

Gem obviously used a jig of some sort, for soldering all these little pieces into a Laird crosshead. Each piece was cleaned re-tinned for the re-assembly process. The top plate and middle guide are quite small:.050" x .050"x 9/32", and critical for accurate assembly. Actually they are metric by measure. I'm showing the English measure equivalents.

Without a jig, it would be impossible to reassemble the crosshead. I made one with a piece of aluminum angle, aluminum sheet and a piece of aluminum filed to .050"x.050" as a spacer for the guide's square hole. Another, which was .050"x.065" was used to correctly space the piston rod. A strip of wood with a hole drilled through was used to hold the piston rod straight and square for re-assembly. Finally, a nail with the same diameter as the drilled and tapped holes in the crosshead side plates kept them in alignment while being resistance soldered.
Image

All this was set into the corner of a square cornered jig I made in 1968 when I built an Arvid Anderson brass hopper car kit, which is when I learned to do better and more accurate soldering. The use of aluminum is important as its metal and solder will not stick to it. Wood strips would simply burn from the heat of soldering. It was back in 1968 that I used roofer's aluminum flashing for making a passenger car as well as for heat shields on my wooden jig when building that Arvid Anderson hopper.

With both crossheads ready, I made bearing head details for them in sheet aluminum, to get away from the bare-bones look of the originals. Their slotted head metric screws will be replaced with 2-56 brass screw shanks to which a 2-56 brass nuts will be affixed for better detailing the main rod's pin and retaining nut.
Image

Next will be making side extensions for the front deck. As it is, there is a huge gap between the deck and the top of the cylinders for anyone to step over for servicing the headlight or class lights (when they are installed). Also, the deck plate should cover the engine truck wheels as a kind of fender, as they spin off dirt (and water in bad weather) as they roll.
Image

A thought here. So far I've taken 40+ photos of this project. Some good some not the best, to try and show how I am doing this job. The message platform only allows three photos per. I could instead put up an album about the Forney transformation, as I've done with other projects.

Which format might you readers prefer?
Ed Bommer

Tom-
Dempsey

Posts: 104
Post Re: Brass Mongering
on: September 3, 2017,
Quote

This works for me, and I'm appreciating the long distance learning greatly.

Robert

Posts: 379
Post Re: Brass Mongering
on: September 5, 2017,
Quote

I agree this format with the enlargement capability is extra valuable. I too enjoy brass work, especially crafting bits and piece where needed.

Bob

Ed Bommer

Posts: 417
Post Re: Brass Mongering
on: September 5, 2017,
Quote

A good point is raised concerning the enlargement feature of the discussion forum page, which is not available in the photo album section.

I will continue to tell the story of the Forney here, in the three photos per context. Some topics might take a Part 2 though, with three additional photos.

Here is how the front deck extensions were made, with .040" thick brass. Gem used a metric size for the deck that mikes to about .043". The trick was to solder the new pieces as flush as possible to the top side of the original deck.

A card stock pattern was made, and its outline scribed on to a piece of .040" brass, slightly larger than it would be when finished. a second piece was soldered to it so two identical pieces would be made. I used a hand vise, a Dremel cut off wheel and files to shape the part. A small machinist's square was used to assure the parts would fit correctly.
Image

Once made, the pieces of brass were separated, cleaned and tinned for attachment to the front deck. Because of the thickness of the brass part and deck, and that the deck had been soldered to the frame, a propane torch was used to sweat solder the extensions into place. A wet rag, was used as a heat sink to avoid undoing any other soldered joints. A piece of aluminum angle held with the clamp holds the deck flat. The part was held in place with a long pointed steel rod while being sweat soldered with the flame.
Image

Careful as I tried to be, the parts are close but not exactly flush with the front deck. Some automotive spot putty fixed the uneven surface. Once painted it will be nearly invisible. Those marks on the front deck were for the tool box location. It is being moved to the right side of the coal bunker. The slots were filled with automotive glazing putty.
Image

Work on some of the boiler details will be next.

Ed Bommer

Ed Bommer

Posts: 417
Post Re: Brass Mongering
on: September 5, 2017,
Quote

As a follow-up, here are some steps used in making the two deck extensions.

First a cardstock pattern was made. Then two hunks of.040" thick brass were cut out with hack saw and soldered together, after making one edge of each straight and true. My 'cheap resistance soldering tool' is a Radio Shack soldering gun modification Joe Giannovario suggested some years back now. It truly works well!
Image

Final filing was done by hand and working in the small curved section for each part. The tip of the curved section was left blunt. Once separated, cleaned and soldered to the loco's deck, the curves will be rounded more with a file to blend them to the end sill.
Image

Here are the new parts oriented to the front deck of the Forney loco. To put them on, the Forney will be completely disassembled - again,
Image

As I work on projects like this, I often put the model back together to check the fit of a part or modification in relation to other parts on the model. Then take it apart again for more work. Sounds cumbersome to be sure! But that way, I KNOW everything will fit together properly, without any unforeseen surprises to rear their ugly heads in the end.

Ed Bommer

Robert

Posts: 379
Post Re: Brass Mongering
on: September 5, 2017,
Quote

Ed what is this glazing putty you refer to? I need to chase after some imperfection as well...tell me what your using please.

Thanks

Bob

Ed Bommer

Posts: 417
Post Re: Brass Mongering
on: September 5, 2017,
Quote

Robert and all;
I use Bondo automotive glazing putty from an auto parts store. It comes in a tube. The stuff is red and can be messy to use. I store the tube sitting on its cap, so the solvents will be more at the bottom.

Smooth it on with a scrap of styrene or a single edge razor blade (I use a LOT of them!). Its used for resurfacing minor scratches, dings or where Bondo patches may need some finer fillet smoothing to the surface at the edges on automotive bodies before painting.

It may take two or three coats for it to cover a gap or uneven area. Each coat should be dry and set, then sanded smooth (I use 320 and 400 grit papers) before the next coat goes on. After a final sanding I rub the area lightly with 0000 steel wool to remove any minute sanding scratches.

The stuff works fine on brass, aluminum, styrene and ABS too, although intended for work on fiberglass or steel automotive bodies. It takes any paint nicely. Fair warning - it can be devilishly difficult to remove from where its not wanted - especially on styrene or ABS when fully hardened!

Ed Bommer

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