Weekend Update 24

Trains, Weekend Update

As I was collecting things I’d done over the last couple of days for a weekend update I realized I’d worked on a lot of different things.

The biggest achievement size wise was the completion of the first siding on the shelf layout (and cleaning it off enough to take a couple quick shots)

Next up was working on my Soo 320 switcher project. I started with some new hand rails in a lighter wire and painted with a white primer (hopefully sticking to the brass better).


With them drying on the first coat I turned my attention to lights… or at least that was the plan. I ran some test runs to make sure it was running well first and had some pickup problems. This involved completely tearing it apart and making a mess of things but I was starting to see light at the end of the tunnel when this cracked…


Lovely, I’m poking around looking for a donor mechanism or replacement parts. Although the pickup on this locomotive in particular (but to an extend all of them) works way better on the non-weathered rail. It’s all ME code 83 but some of it is the pre-weathered and it gets better when I run a cleaning car over it but it’s still not perfect. Is this common on the pre-weathered rail?

While I was working on the SW1 pickup and had the trucks torn apart I took some Vallejo Matt Varnish (70.520) and painted the faces to give it a flat surface for some weathering powders which I did when dry. It’s not a terribly noticable effect but I like it.


Speaking of track cleaning car, I’ve got a cheap Walthers (I forget which line it comes from, but I paid less than $10 and in a brick and mortar hobby shop and it wasn’t on sale.. and it come with metal wheels) boxcar with a piece of masonite under it. I decided to have a little fun and spuce up the wheels and trucks. The trucks got the vallejo steel metalic colors treatment and Matt Varnish, while the wheel faces got a black varnish and Matt Varnish. Then brushed rust colored Bragdon powders on.


I didn’t cover it with anything (as that tends to turn the powders into a solid paint color) so we’ll see how it lasts with handling.

I also got the RaspberryPi running again with JMRI, I’ve got it hooked up to my Digitrax Zephyr with a PR3 but I don’t think I’ll be installing any UP5s (at least any time soon) and just using Engine Driver on my phone. I do prefer the tactile buttons but the price of wireless is just so much cheaper than Digitrax.

I’ve got a couple interesting projects coming in the next week, and I have some time off after Christmas that should make some fun projects (let’s just say I’m super excited!)

13 thoughts on “Weekend Update 24

    1. It cracks just as things are starting to work (it’s supposed to be on the end of that shaft so tight that it would take quite a lit of effort to get it off)

      1. Gotchya, but in the more overall sense “What does it do”? I have no idea what those two components are, or where they fit into my mental model of a train. 🙂

      2. Haha, I totally misinterpreted your comment. The “Party Pooper” is part of a universal joint, the other half of it is connected to the motor. The worm gear then runs the wheels through a series of gears. There are two of these worm gears, one for each truck (set of wheels) one on each side of the motor. The worm gears make a nice brake since it can’t roll without the motor spinning. What happened here is one universal joint broke so four (of eight) wheels were basically parking brakes while the other four were hopelessly spinning and making a terrible racket on the rails

  1. These update emails are terrific. It’s easy to get a sense of just how exciting things are and to see you celebrating progress. It’s so much fun to follow along with.

    Sorry to read about that broken driveline part. Cracked plastic gears are a hallmark of several manufacturer’s models but this is the first I’ve heard of this part breaking. You might find a replacement part in the NWSL catalogue or perhaps an email to Walthers (if I remember correctly, your SW1 is one of the Walthers/Roco ones right?)



    1. Thanks for following, possibly the most rewarding part of blogging is the page views and feedback from around the world. And you know what, I hadn’t really realized how exciting it’s been till I read your comment. It’s really gone from looking at the layout and saying “Ugh… I guess netflix sounds fun” to sneaking in whenever I get a chance to do something.

      Yes it is a Walthers (but not the new one, as i understand it they completely redesigned the mechanism for the one they are selling now), I did some initial poking around to see if there was a drop in replacement and didn’t find much but did find another SW1 on eBay that was selling pretty cheap so I bid thinking to just use it as parts… and ended up winning it but I’m a sucker for EMD switchers so the probability I use it for parts is pretty much less than zero.

      NWSL does have some parts that should work, the original Walthers SW1 had a universal joint on the front but one of those plastic tubes on the rear an NWSL has instructions specifically on replacing that and some of those same parts I could use to fix the front so I figure I should probably just do both… but they also have a re-gear kit which becomes a temptation while I have it apart… and now I have two so might as well re-gear that one too and while it’s apart upgrade the tube thing to universal joint as well. It has the makings to become a “big” project 🙂

  2. Matt. If you’re struggling to find a new driveshaft it might be worth your while fabricating one from a section of brass tube, slotted at each end with short Cross pieces soldered in to engage in the drive sockets. Got to be worth a punt if all else fails!


    1. Thanks for the tip, I believe I’ve found a replacement piece from NWSL that only requires a small modification to the existing shaft (basically keying the end to a D shape). However I’ve heard NWSL has a re-gear kit for this specific locomotive which might include a new worm gear and drive shaft which might be an even better solution.

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