Friday, October 16, 2009

Narrow Gauge - Part 3

No operating sessions tonight due to a regional NMRA conference, so I was able to sit down and take a crack at the Grandt Line GE 25 Ton Loco.    As I've said in the last one or two narrow gauge blogs, the Grandt Line loco looks great - perfect for my steel plant narrow gauge.  Most of the other narrow gauge diesels available - the Minitrain and Roco stuff, and then my attempt at the F&C Kit - they all have one thing in common - they look smallish - cute for a replicant Maine 2-footer, but not sufficiently industrial.  One of the pictures is from the internet showing the look I'm going for - taken at the Bethlehem Steel (Lehigh) Electric Furnace Shop.  (By the way - one of the down the road projects will be a multiple resin casting of the cars shown)   Now of course, the only problem with this whole plan is the Grandt Line POS (piece of sh*t) motor and transmission.   Either the folks at Grandt Line have a sadistic streak, or more likely, just like having a high profit margin -  I suspect the latter as this $50 kit has about 4 ounces of delrin and styrene castings and a 50 cent motor.   Well, I'll tell you the ending now - it runs slightly better than I expected,  and so long as I keep it well oiled and the track clean I should be able to operate the open hearth and the bessemer plant with a small fleet of these.  
On to the construction - I will have to do this in multiple parts as I think I can only post four pictures or so per blog.  
The construction of this locomotive is broken down into sub assemblies.  The instructions are complete and have all the information you will need, but most times you will want to read each section twice and carefully look at the pictures.  To get to a running locomotive with a shell, but still a fair amount of details - like couplers, railings, and some other detail parts left, took me four and a half hours.  I probably have another two hours to completion.  
The first subassembly was the under frame.  You need to ACC a few parts to the flat frame piece - the parts won't seem to have any function, but later you will understand why they are there.   This assembly also involves bending a few pieces of very thin brass wire - two are for wheel pick-ups and the other is to tie into the motor brush contact.  Again,  they won't seem to make any sense, but eventually you will have that a ha moment.  Bend the first pickup wire to the shape on the plans - you will need a fine pair of needle nose to get the shape - this pushes through the crossbar piece and then fans out into the two wheel pick-ups - in both cases there is a plastic cap that goes on to hold the wire in place.  You will also leave about an 1/8" of the wire loop on the opposite side of the frame - this will later make contact with the motor housing.   You can see this wire by itself in the one picture. The next wire is sort of a bus connector - the photo show the fancy bend and also the 3/4" piece of insulation on the wire - this will attach the second pickup wire to the motor brush contact.  Then you bend the second pickup wire to the pattern - insert - glue plastic retainer - then, the tricky part, solder the bus connector to the pick-up, without melting anything - use a low wattage soldering iron.  Then you add a few more plastic parts to the frame and you are done with this assembly.

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