Turning the Tonner

Just because you don’t have to, doesn’t mean you can’t…

CNR 1 - Port Rowan turntable

CNR Number 1 – a GE 44-Tonner – takes a spin on the Port Rowan turntable. While the 44-Tonner is a centre-cab unit, the diesel does have a front and a rear. On long runs, the engineer prefers to have the control stand in front of him: It’s more comfortable. So the trip back to Hamilton warrants a trip to the turntable.

CNR 1 :: Upgraded decoder

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(Soundtraxx doesn’t offer the Cummins Diesel sound suite in the TSU-1000 – but they will do a custom install of it if you ask)

I was worried about the Soundtraxx Tsunami decoder in my model of CNR Number 1. It sounded great, but occasionally it would just stop running.

I thought it might be a heat issue, or possibly an issue with the current draw of the locomotive: The decoder is from the TSU-750 line, because that’s the only decoder size offered with the GE Cummins Diesel sound suite. I had room in the model for the larger TSU-1000 and I prefer to use them whenever possible, but that didn’t appear to be an option.

I wondered why Soundtraxx doesn’t offer the Cummins in a TSU-1000. So I fired off an email asking if it something they would consider doing – and if not, could I get a custom load of the Cummins sound suite into a TSU-1000? After all, it’s just a file on a computer – and it’s not like Soundtraxx has to build a custom decoder to accommodate different sound files.

Sure enough – I could get a custom file loaded, and for a reasonable cost no less: about $10 for somebody’s bench time. The TSU-1000 with Cummins sounds arrived last week and as the photo above shows, I wasted no time in upgrading the electronics in my CNR 44 Tonner.

Obviously, it sounds the same as it did before… and now that I’ve tweaked various CVs it runs the same too. (It is still, however, set to the factory default of Address 3: I packed away my programming track as part of the prep for the home renovation and I won’t be able to change the address until I find it.)

I’m still having a few issues with this unit’s operation but I suspect dirty pick-ups on the wheels. I can’t remember if I cleaned them properly when painting the unit. I’ll check that next. I’ll also check my installation to make sure I haven’t pinched anything in the drive system.

Meantime, the upgrade has given me another quarter-amp of wiggle room in this unit and that’s 25 percent more peace of mind, so I’m glad I did the upgrade.

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(Extra 1 East rolls through St. Williams)

I’m sure others working on a River Raisin Models S scale 44 Tonner will appreciate knowing they can get a TSU-1000 for it. This could be useful to those in O scale who have a two-motor Rich Yoder Models 44 Tonner, too: I would use a TSU-1000 with Cummins custom-load for one motor, and employ a Soundtraxx MC2H104P9 (1 amp silent decoder) for the other.

Thanks, Soundtraxx, for the excellent customer service!

CNR 1 : First revenue run

Here’s one for Chris Mears, who is a big fan of CNR’s 44 Tonners:


(You can also watch this directly on YouTube, where you may be able to enjoy it in larger formats)

As I’ve noted in previous postings about CNR 1, I installed a Soundtraxx TSU-750 decoder and Current Keeper module – and the video demonstrates just how smoothly this combination controls the motor in this unit. I think it sounds pretty impressive, too.

Enjoy if you watch!

CNR 1 is in service

Over the past couple of days, I’ve put the finishing touches on CNR 44 tonner Number 1 – and the locomotive is now in service:

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To finish the model, I used custom decals created for me by Bill Brillinger at Precision Design Company. (Thanks, Bill – they worked beautifully!)

I glazed the windows with microscope slide covers and added MV Lenses to the class/marker lamps at all four corners. I did some brush-painting with CNR Yellow number 11 to pick out the handrails, cut levers, and step edges as shown in my prototype photo.

Weathering is a mix of airbrushed paint plus weathering powders, and I found that a very light spray of CNR warm black over the decals helped tone down the lettering and stripe, giving the One Spot an appropriately worked-in appearance.

I’m pleased to report the locomotive also runs very well. The current-keeper I installed recently has delivered on its promise of interruption-free running, even through the grassiest parts of my track work. And while doing that work, I removed the double-sided foam tape that I had been using to hold the TSU-750 in place, and replaced it with a strip of 1/4″ Kapton Tape – a change that improves how the decoder sheds heat. (Previously, it had suffered from overheating on occasion, and would shut down about halfway through an operating session. That’s now been fixed.)

This was a fun project and while it won’t see a lot of work on the Port Rowan branch, it will add variety on occasion. Plus, it’ll join my CNR Doodlebug as a great addition to the S Scale Workshop exhibition layout.

(Follow this category link to read all posts about the 44 Tonner)

Time for another project – and I already have one in mind. But I’ll write about that in a future post…

CNR 1 :: Basic Black

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Progress continues on CNR 44 Tonner Number 1. Last week, I was able to spray the cab/hoods, frame and underframe/trucks with CNR Warm Black – a Scalecoat paint produced for the CN Lines Historical Association.

The paint went on a little dry on the tops of the hoods, so it’s a bit sandpapery around each stack – but I’m not going to worry about it for two reasons:

1 – There are no decals to apply there, so the paint does not need to be smooth.
2 – It looks like the paint is blistering from exhaust heat, so it’s actually not a bad effect. I’ll add some rust round the base of each stack using weathering powders and call it a happy accident.

The components have also received a coating of clear gloss in preparation for decals. And I’ve done some brush painting of cab details, which will be visible through the windows.

(Before painting, I masked the windows from the inside of the cab, which ensured the cab walls would remain primer grey – a suitable colour for the interior)

Next up: Lettering, then top coats to seal the decals, then window glass, and finally some weathering.

CNR 1 :: The DCC squeeze

It’s been a while since I worked on my model of CNR 1 – one of the railway’s GE 44-Tonner centre-cab units.

But I recently acquired decals for this unit, so this project – long dormant – can now go ahead.

Today I opened up the model to tape up the windows to protect the cab interior when I airbrush the model – and it occurred to me that I had enough room under the hood to add an electronic flywheel module. So that’s what I did:

 photo CNR1-KeepAlive-01_zps2pbqbrei.jpg

It’s quite a squeeze, but it works.

The Soundtraxx Current Keeper is the larger of the two purple things (don’t you love my technical jargon?) – in the upper portion of the left-hand hood.

The DCC decoder is a Soundtraxx TSU-750 – the smaller of the two sizes Soundtraxx offers, and the only size loaded with the GE Cummins diesel switcher sound package. (Part Number 827014 if you’re curious.)

(I find that odd, since loading the package shouldn’t be any different between the two decoder sizes, but I guess Soundtraxx feels only people working in HO scale would want a sound-equipped 44 Tonner.)

A curiosity with this model is that the cab floor is part of the frame, and bowed upwards to clear the motor. This is fine, except it means one has to run wires across the floor of the cab to connect the decoder to the speaker and headlight in the right-hand hood. That’s fine, really: They won’t be seen on the finished model.

With the windows taped up from the inside (to preserve the grey, which will make a fine cab interior colour), this model is now ready for the paint shop, and a coat of basic CNR Warm Black.

On a technical note, I’ve now created a 44 Tonner Category on this blog, so those interested in the project can find all of the relevant postings in one place.

A smooth 44 tonner (with video proof)

A friend asked about the mechanism in the River Raisin Models* S scale GE 44 ton diesel I wrote about in a previous posting.

It’s quite smooth. A small can motor lives under a false floor in the cab, with a flywheel mounted on each shaft and driving a gear tower on each truck. All eight wheels pick up power, and all four axles are powered.

Here’s a short video of the 44 Ton diesel in action:


(You can also watch this video directly on YouTube, where you may be able to enjoy it in larger formats)

CNR #1

CNR 44 Tonner #1 - Prototype Photo.

A couple of years ago I picked up an S scale model of a General Electric 44-Tonner and decided CNR #1 would make a good modeling subject. Earlier this year I detailed the model:

GE 44 Tonner in 1:64 - Detailed for CNR #1.
(To read all of my posts about this locomotive, check out the “44 Tonner” category on this blog)

This is an Overland Models brass import built by Ajin and offered exclusively through Dan Navarre at River Raisin Models*. I have added class lamps (two packages of River Raisin ST-029), sun shades (scratch-built), working couplers (modified Kadee 802), a horn (HO scale Finishes by Bob Rzasa H-223), and a pair of etched kits for steam-style number boards (from Andy Malette at MLW Services*).

I have also installed a Soundtraxx TSU-750 sound decoder with GE Cummins diesel sound (part number 827014), a 16mm x 35mm speaker in an enclosure, from Model Rectifier Corp, and 3mm LEDs from Miniatronics for headlights. It runs beautifully and sounds great.

I’m waiting for custom decals before sending it through the paint shop. It will emerge black with a yellow frame stripe. A crew from S Helper Service* (Part #00289) sits ready to add inside the cab.

I think it’s neat that a railway system as large as the CNR had a locomotive numbered 1 …

(*Check the “Links” section on this blog’s home page for the most up-to-date links)