Saturday, February 6, 2010

MDC (HOn3) K27 Kit-Bash

MDC (HOn3) K27 Kit-Bash
6 Feb 2010

I like the K27 Steam Locomotive but have read about all the electrical problems etc that the models being sold today, both used brass and new versions seem to have. Many of the older brass models and a lot of the new ones have problems that require re-motoring and or adding extra wipers to all wheels. If I was paying that much money for a K27 and then had to spent a lot more just to get it to run well, then why not just build / kit-bash my own and have some fun while I was at it.

I have collected a bunch of the old MDC - HOn3, 2-8-0's, in both the Outside Frame and the Inside Frame models. My thought was to Kit-Bash one or more of the "Outside Frame" versions into an engine that looks as close to a K27 as I can make it.

By making my own Kit Bash K27 I can create space in it for one of my All-Trol Radio Control w / Batteries Systems. With my RC System I will have "0" current pickup problems as it will require no track power. With a little luck I may even find enough space to add one of the All-Trol Sound Modules.

I have been collecting pictures, drawings and related articles about the K27 for awhile. A couple of weeks ago I placed and order with Precision Scale Co. (PSC) for a bunch of K27 related detail parts. I received my order from them in 16 days from the day I placed the order. That was so quick I have to tell you all I was surprised.

I had been thinking about how I was going to do this for awhile so when the parts arrived this past Thursday I got started on the frame modifications.

1. I am cutting away the old side area at the rear of the frame so I can attach the "rear frame extension" part from PSC (PSC part # 32426).




4. This is the "rear frame extension" part from PSC (PSC part # 32426.




7. I cut off the row of leaf spring looking things to help lower the boiler. I have a new set of these springs (PSC part # 32483) that are a bit smaller and will add them to the frame toward the end so I don't break them off while still working on the frame part. You can also see the new Cylinder Blocks like are used on K27 #455 (PSC part # 3213).



9. Test fit for the Boiler.

10. Stock MDC HOn3 and my modified version.

11. Cab on modified frame to see how it looks.



Sunday, January 10, 2010

All-Trol Installation 101

9 Jan 2010
All-Trol Installation 101 - Part 1.

I bought my first All-Trol Radio Control System (Battery Operation Version) around the first of July in 2008. The All-Trol System is the only complete Radio Control System currently on the market that is made for small scale model trains.

I started out by making what I call my "Mule" to test / learn how to wire the system and also to have something to run at my local HO Club. The "Mule", being just the chassis would show all the Radio Control parts and the Battery. This way anyone looking at it would know it was something different.

1. Radio Control Test Mule. The Test "Mule" is a piece of Home depot paint stir stick with a front truck and a North West Short Line "PDT" power truck on the rear. The Radio Control Receiver is only wired to the power truck and the 11.1 volt Eflight Battery.

2. Running the "Mule" at my train club, San Antonio Model Railroad Association (SAMRA) - San Antonio, TX.


Part 2.

I used a step by step method to learn how to install each component of the All-Trol System, one function at a time.

The first requirement to convert any engine to Radio Control using Battery Power is to make sure it runs well before you start the Radio Control Installation. Radio Control will eliminate track pickup problems but will not help an engine with motor or drive line problems. You must also be sure that track power can not get to the Radio Control Receiver. I remove all wipers from my engines before I instal the Radio Control Receivers. If track power gets to your Radio Control Receiver it can burn it out.

3. All-Trol Receiver - out of the box. The second wiring harness is just to show what it looks like before it is plugged into the Receiver. The wiring harness used is a standard 8 wire item sold by Train Control Systems (TCS). The color coded functions are the same as many of the DCC Decoders being sold today.

4. I use one of two different type of Batteries. One is a "Team Lois" - 7.4 volt, Lithium Polymer Battery (Li-Po) and the other one is a "Eflight" 11.1 volt Li-Po Battery.

5. Lithium Polymer Batteries "REQUIRE" a special battery charger. Use the charger "made for the battery you are using". The Battery Charger shown is the one made for the Eflight Battery.


Part 3.

I have been building a series of Steeple Cab Models based on a Card Stock Model. Last year Clever Models asked on their Blog if a few folks would like to do a test build of a few card stock - train models. I sent back that I would and was sent three models. One of them was a GE 17 Ton Steeple Cab. It was in O scale. I built it and sent my comments. I had wanted to convert the O scale model to On30 ever since. I few weeks ago I started the conversion and have "kit-bashed" that model into three different Steeple Cabs, all in On30 scale. I have built each one to use the All-Trol Radio Control System. The next pictures will show the RC installation for one of those models.

6. Going back to this picture you can see the donor motor and chassis. It is from the Bachmann HO Ballast Vehicle. I removed the wipers and the DCC ready chip and made a few other modifications so it would fit the On30 Steeple Cab. The only wire I left were the red and black wires coming from the motor. The wires from the RC Receiver to the motor are the Gray and Orange wires. I soldered plugs on each set of wires and plugged them together. The next RC System I install I will change the motor wire to Gray and Orange so the color coding is the same. The Black and Red wires coming out of the RC Receiver connect to the Batteries Black and Red wires. I installed front and rear headlights so I soldered plugs to those wires. The Blue wire is the common wire for both so I made a "Y" connection and joined the three wires. The other wires for the head lights are the Yellow (rear light) and the White (front light). To keep all wiring the same from one install to the next I use the male plug on all wires coming out of the RC Receiver. Their are two extra wires coming out of the receiver (Purple and Green) that are not used when getting your power from a Battery. You can see those two wires wrapped around the receiver and a piece of tape holding them.

7. This picture shows the completed wiring harness for the Radio Control Installation. I am using the Team Lois Battery for this motor. Note the head light is connected and "on". The rear head light works when the engine is going in reverse.


Part 4.

To show how the All-Trol Sound Module is installed I need to show my scratch built freelance Garratt Locomotive. It will be Radio Control with Batteries and will have a Sound Module.

8. this picture shows the wiring harness I made for the RC Installation that goes in the HO scale Garratt. The Sound Module plugs into the RC Receiver. Then you have a pair of wires going from the Sound Module to the Speaker. The Sound Module gets its power and commands from the RC Receiver. The All-Trol Hand Held Controller has buttons to command the sound.

9. This is a picture of the current status of my scratch built freelance HO scale Garratt Locomotive. You can see where I have hidden the Eflight Battery. All wiring is finished and the Speaker is in the Cab. The donor motors are from a pair of modified Bowser Dockside Engines and both run really well. Their will be many more detail parts installed after it is painted.

10. This is the other side and the way I have hidden the Battery from slight. The white side piece are a card stock pattern piece. Their will be several detail items attached to that white piece.


I like the All-Trol Radio Control System so well that I now have 7 of their Receivers, two of their Sound Modules and two of their Hand Held Controllers.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Plantraco / Grandt Line Box Cab

While I am waiting for the Futuba Transmitter I have on order, I have started my second RC Loco.  This one will be the Grandt Line - GE 23 TON Box Cab.  I found two of these, one is the motorized versions in HO scale and one is the non-motorized version in HOn3.   

I have a second and really small - postage stamp size - receiver that I will use in it.  I have the Transmitter for this receiver so when I get the Box Cab put together I should have my first running (RC) controlled loco.  I can't wait to see it running around my test track in battery mode.  This second Transmitter, receiver, and battery is from a company in Canada called Plantraco and the receiver and battery are very small.  

The receiver in the picture is sitting next to (2) pennies and the battery is sitting next to (2) nickels. The battery connects to the receiver by the 2 round magnets or small circles you can see on one end of the battery.

The transmitter has the battery charger built in.

My Radio Control effort is all uncharted territory for me so anything can happen from running good to who knows what. 


1.  I finished enough of the Grandt Line Box Cab to install the RC receiver.  The RC set-up was from a very small airplane.  It ran really nice - but - how many airplanes do you know of that can fly backwards?  It was a bit of a shock when I discovered that I could only go in one direction.

I am working on this. 

2.  The same day I was playing with the Box Cab my LHS called and said my Futaba Attack transmitter was in.  I went over an picked it up.  Back home and with batteries loaded I put my RC McKeen Motor Car on my test track.  The McKeen didn't run very well in forward before and it still doesn't run well forward.  It does run in reverse OK.  I turned the cab around to make it look it was running forward.  I think the springs for the drive system are weak and I also think the gears on the power truck are worn out.

I am working on a complete new motor drive system for it and if it works OK I will do my other McKeen the same way. 

I took the RC McKeen to the San Antonio Model Railroad Association club track to run it.
It ran OK after a couple of minor fixes.   I may write a book and call it "A funny thing happened when I ran my RC train".  I ran the McKeen into a tunnel and it never came out.  The McKeen lost its radio signal when it went into the tunnel.  I can fix this one of a couple of ways.  When I make my layout I can run an antenna wire inside the tunnel or any tunnels I might have.  I could also get a RC transmitter with more power.  Or I could have a layout without any tunnels. 


Radio Control and the Box Cab:

The fix for the RC Transmitter / Receiver was very simple.  A call to the company and the following information:

The receiver has three plug outlets on it.  The primary one is for the motor.  That one only gives me one direction but speed control.  The other two outlets would give the plane right / left and up and down functions and also speed control.  The fix was - plug the motor into one of these two outlets.  That worked but I was told the speed might be a bit slower.  I tried this and I now have both direction control and speed control.  The speed seemed about the same.  I have to do a bit of a rebuild on the Box Cab before I can put it back on my track.  I hope to finish that today.


Here are a few new pictures of the "HO" Box Cab.  It is very small and very slow - I think.

How would I figure "HO" scale speed?  The Box Cab moves 12" in 24 seconds.  Watching it I believe it is to slow but I could be wrong.  I may try a larger different battery.


My first step into the World of Radio Control for Small Trains.

There is a small but growing interest in Radio Control (RC) with on board batteries and no track wiring for indoor train layouts. When I first thought about putting RC in small scale trains I knew of no RTR systems being sold.  Parts were being used for HO to O scale were coming from RC car, plane, ship models etc.  N scale may be possible but I don't know anyone that has done RC for "N" scale. 

The first thing that is necessary for an RC conversion is a very good running motor in the locomotive being converted.

I have thought about adding RC to a locomotive for maybe 9 months. I have had most of the parts for two conversion's for some time but thought this was going to be a big deal to get working. I was very wrong, it turned out to be very easy.

My First Radio Control Train - McKeen Motor Car - Team Lois Receiver

Friday I decided I would start on one of my McKeen Motor Cars.

I am using a Team Losi Micro-T receiver with a Team Losi 7.4 V Li-Po battery.  After I installed everything I took the car to my Local Hobby Store (LHS) RC department to show them and to buy a Futaba Attack transmitter.  The transmitter they had was a 75 MHZ AM and they said I needed the 27 MHZ version.  The LHS put one on order and said they should get it 14 days or less.

When the installation is finished the battery will sit on top of the Receiver.  I have been running the chassis on RC and it runs very well.

Here are a few pictures:







R/C planes, cars etc each use a (crystal / frequency / channel) that is different or should be so that problems don't occur.  The crystal is a plug-in and can be changed sort of easy.  Every controller (Transmitter) would have a different frequency (crystal or with some transmitters a controllable way to set or change a frequency). 

The nice thing about a train on a track is that all I really need is a way to control its speed or on / off.  That only takes one (crystal / frequency / channel) or what ever word is the easiest to understand.  The Futaba transmitter I am getting should let me control two different trains (individually) on the same set of track at the same time.  The radio receiver on my Locomotives (Team Losi - Micro T) all have (on / off) power switches so I could use the same crystal on several different locomotives if I wanted to park them in the "off" power position on a siding while I was running two other Locomotives.

As I build more Loco's with RC I will test additional transmitters / receivers.   I have two different sets of hardware to play with.  One big question I will need to consider is just how many Locomotives can I run or do I want to run on my layout at the same time.

This first transmitter is the Futaba Attack (2-crystals) on sale for $39.95.  You can get a Futaba that has from 2 to 14 crystals but the price goes up accordingly.  You can buy a hand held transmitter that can be programed with 1 to 9999 address or frequencies but the receiver that goes in the Loco is larger than the one I am now using and also requires a larger size battery.   

There are a number of RTR - RC train items being made for "garden" size trains where size is not to important.  For HO - O scale most or maybe all is what you might call custom applications made from the smaller RC Plane and Car stuff.