CNR 3737 :: starting on the cab

On Friday, I spent another pleasant afternoon with Andy Malette in his workshop, as we worked on our CNR 2-8-2 projects. Our main task was to start work on the cab.

When the CNR acquired its USRA Mikados from its US subsidiaries (Grand Trunk in New England and Grand Trunk Western in Michigan), it retrofitted many (or all?) of them to accommodate cab curtains to help crews cope with Canadian winters. This required re-shaping the back of the cab roof, above the footplate, to square it off and allow the curtains to hang properly. It also required adding a back wall to the cab, over the tender.

There were several variations on how they did this. One such is shown in the photo of 3715, below – found in CN Lines Volume 6 Number 4. I had this issue on my CN Lines DVD – which I highly recommend.

 photo CNR-3737-Cab-01_zpsz4dtrpgx.jpg

As the image suggests, CNR simply scabbed in some metal to square off the bottom edge of the cab roof. On 3737, the added piece drops down slightly after the walkway, but not every locomotive had that feature. Based on prototype photos, the 2-8-2 I’m modelling – CNR 3737 – did not: Its cab roof went straight across, or ever so slightly upwards, with a very small rounded corner at the rear. The rear cab wall was also inset slightly – not flush as shown in the photo of 3715. My prototype did, however, have the two small vents in the cab back and the smoke deflector on the roof.

As the photo above shows, I’ve soldered in angled pieces of brass – then cleaned up the excess solder and filed, sanded and polished them to shape. I’ve also cut a piece of 0.020″ brass for the back wall of the cab, and started laying out the location of the vents.

Other progress of note:

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I’ve stripped the boiler and smokebox front of many of the appliances that are either not needed, need to be relocated, need to be out of the way to work on things, or need to be replaced with CNR-appropriate versions. There are a few holes to fill. I also need to rework the walkways, which have a step-up to clear the air compressor and water pump on this side of the locomotive.

Finally, thanks to our friend Simon Parent, Andy and I have lovely CNR-style spoked wheels for the pilot truck:

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These are the same wheels that Simon used on his CNR 2-10-2s. He sent us some (along with castings for the Elesco feed water heater), and Andy mounted them on axles for us. They sure complete the CNR-ization of the pilot.

I’m pleased with the progress!

There. Are. THREE. Lights!

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Over the weekend, I was working on a project in my shop that requires photography. I realized I only owned two arms for my LED photo lights, so I swung past the camera store and picked up a third. As the photo above shows, I get plenty of light on the work surface – not only for photography, but also for seeing what the heck I’m doing.

The lighting rig I built in the shop have worked out really well – although things get pretty crowded looking when I have all the lights mounted:

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I make no apologies for the messy work surfaces. Everybody works in their own way – this is mine. I can live with it.

CNR 3737 :: Pilot details

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This morning, I put my new workshop chair to good use by adding more details to the pilot of CNR 3737. As the photo shows, the pilot beam now sports a coupler cut lever and flag holders. I also added four safety-tread steps – large ones in the lower corners, and small ones above the boiler tubes on either side of the coupler draft gear housing.

There are a few more details to add, such as piping from the air tank and a train line and signal line. But the pilot is otherwise complete and I can move on to the next part of this project. Andy Malette and I have another work session planned for later this week…

Pull up some dust and sit down…

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Over the weekend, I found this chair at a good price at a local big box office supply store. It quickly made it into my workshop so that I can sit while working on models.

There’s 32″ clearance under the table, which means a standard chair would be much too low. This height-adjustable bar stool fit the bill. I wanted something with a back so I’d be less tempted to slouch while working, and the swivel base means I can easily slide into and out of the seat to grab tools and supplies. I did not want casters, as I didn’t want the chair to roll away from the work table while I was vigorously sawing or filing.

The best part is, I picked up two of these – so a friend can join me.

The Workshop Report

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(The new workshop, during construction. So far, so good!)

My current project – learning to brass-bash while re-working a USRA light Mikado into CNR 2-8-2 3737 – is also the first real test of the new workshop that I assembled in my basement last year. And I’m really pleased with the results. I’m doing a lot of the “homework” for the 2-8-2 project in the shop and it’s working out well for me. Tools are easy to hand, and the workbench is roomy and stable. The counters behind the workbench are filled with tools and materials – but that’s the point: moving the clutter to the counters means the working surface itself stays clear.

I’m also enjoying my Flex-Shaft Tool – a piece of equipment I picked up a couple of years ago, but have not used much since then. I’ve used it several times on the 2-8-2 project and I like how it works. It’s powerful, quiet, comfortable in the hand, and the foot treadle makes it easy to adjust the speed without taking one’s hands off the work.

I have lucked out: my Sherline Mill came with a set of safety glasses that are quite broad – and they fit beautifully over my reading glasses. So I can see well for close-up work.

I have been working with a task light fitted with an LED bulb, and that works well, too – although at some point I should mount my Fillex lights on the light bars I built. That’s why the light bars are there, after all. I’ve just been too busy soldering brass and burning my fingers to haul the lights out of their storage case and set them up.

Finally, I need to find a suitable chair – something that’s height-adjustable and comfortable for long sessions at the bench. I have ideas on that…

CNR 3737 :: More work on the pilot

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Last Friday, Andy Malette and I held another work session at his place to build CNR 2-8-2s. We continued our work on the pilots.

Like many CNR steam engines, the prototype Mikado I’m modelling had an air tank mounted crosswise on the pilot deck, between the front ladders. On this particular engine, the tank was welded – so with Andy’s guidance, I had my first experience with a metal lathe, and turned my tank out of a solid brass rod. While it’s not apparent in the photo above, the tank ends have a lip around the circumference, which I also modelled. And they’re drilled to accept the piping that will connect this tank to the rest of the air system.

The tank sits on two brackets – casting that Andy produced for his CNR 4-6-2 kit – and is held in place with retainers bent from 0.020″ dia. brass wire. Soldering the tank in place on the brackets required the massive heat of a torch – another first for me.

As we inspected the finished tank against the prototype photos, we realized that the model’s pilot deck was too long for my locomotive. Here’s a photo of the stock Overland model:

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Note the distance between the ladders and the pilot beam – and how far back the headlight is from the pilot. Comparing this to the prototype photo, it’s easy to see that the deck is too long:

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(Note also that the model has deck braces running from the smokebox sides to the deck – another feature absent from CNR 3737.)

At home over the weekend, I unsoldered the pilot beam from the deck, cut back the deck with a cut-off disk in my Flex-Shaft Tool, then re-soldered the beam to the deck. The shorter deck is apparent in the lead photo: The bases of the ladders are much closer to the beam. (I’m temporarily re-installed the smokebox front to better compare the face of the prototype, the as-built model, and the modifications. The smokebox will be significantly reworked at some point.)

In the process of re-attaching the pilot, I also bent up some L-shaped braces to solder underneath the deck and to the back of the pilot assembly: I was worried that over time, the solder joint along the edge of the deck would fail, given that this joint will be subject to shocks when coupling. The extra bracing can’t be seen and provides me with additional peace of mind. I’m enjoying working through these problems and devising solutions.

Once again, I have homework: I will go through various documents and photos, and remove details from the boiler that are either wrong, or in the wrong place. Meantime, Andy tells me that we now have suitable spoked pilot wheels, courtesy our friend Simon Parent, so the front end is going to look even more like a CNR engine after our next work session – scheduled for later this month. I’m already looking forward to it!

Happy New Year, everyone – best wishes for 2017!