CNR 3737 :: A 2-8-2 for the Workshop

CNR 3737 - Al Paterson prototype photo - left side.

In “Dip Job“, I hinted about a new locomotive project I’m undertaking. As the photo above shows, the project is a CNR S-3-a class 2-8-2 – and I’m working on this one to share with my friends in the S Scale Workshop on our exhibition layout.

CNR 3737 was one of 25 USRA Light Mikados ordered by the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada in 1918. It spent some time on the American side of the border before being imported to Canada for good in the early 1940s. It was scrapped in September of 1958.

There’s plenty of information about the class in Roster Book 6 of the highly-recommended Canadian National Steam! series, which is where I found the above photo. If you have any interest in Canadian steam, this is a must-have series.

The starting point for this project is an Overland Models S scale (yes – Overland used to import S scale brass) USRA Light Mikado. OMI imported 150 of these Ajin-produced models in 1985. I picked up one on the used market a few years ago with the intention of converting it into a CNR specimen.

OMI Light Mikado

This project has been sitting on the back burner until now because I was unsure how to proceed. I’ve never bashed brass before, and a comparison of the prototype and model photos shows that while the general lines are right, there are a number of fittings to be moved about and some modifications to make.

But in a recent conversation via email between members of the S Scale Workshop, my friend Andy Malette mentioned he also had one of these Light Mikes to tackle. The lightbulb lit: I suggested to Andy that we work on these together, and we’re going to have our first work session tomorrow.

I will share some updates on this blog, but it won’t be a blow-by-blow accounting of how I built CNR 3737. I think that’s more suitable to a magazine feature, so I will be taking photos and notes with that in mind.

Andy is an excellent builder in brass. A couple of years ago, we wowed the Workshop with a CNR 2-8-0 that he built by extensively reworking a brass consolidation based on a Missouri Pacific prototype:

Andy's 2-8-0 at the supper club
(Click to learn more)

Andy's CNR 2-8-0 at Exporail
(Click to learn more)

Andy also designed a kit for S scale (and HO scale) CNR 4-6-2s, and has built a few CNR locomotives from the kits designed by our mutual friend, Simon Parent. He certainly knows his way around brass bashing, and I know I can learn a lot from him about this. I’m keen to get started. In preparation, I’ve been removing the protective clear coat from the OMI model. I disassembled the model, soaked the brass parts in lacquer thinner for a couple of days, then ran them through my ultrasonic cleaner:

OMI Light Mikado - Brass Dunk

The model is now clear coat-free and ready to go.

Lately, I’ve found it difficult to find the enthusiasm to begin large projects. There’s just a lot of other things going on in my life right now. These aren’t bad things, but they have meant that my hobby has been on the back burner a bit. I’ve found that when this happens to me, one way to address this is – to rekindle enthusiasm, even when I’m otherwise occupied – is to launch into a project with another modeller as a co-operative effort.

Having a schedule – such as a work session once or twice per month, which is what Andy and I are planning – gives me a deadline to work towards. Plus, the anticipation of a day of model-building with friends is always inspiring.

I’m certainly looking forward to this particular project!

10 thoughts on “CNR 3737 :: A 2-8-2 for the Workshop

  1. The ebb and flow of motivation that you touched on at the end of the post is something I think we can all appreciate. I’ve felt the same way of late on a lot of projects that the enthusiasm needed to get going with something hasn’t been there. I know there are things I could have had done ages ago, but sometimes the dread of the next step in a project keeps it on the backburner while I move onto other things to try and keep the motivation going. I’m also in a bit of an enforced break from doing much at the moment until the new year purely on availability of time, and its actually feeling quite nice to not pick up the tools at home in the evening and just let everything sit where its landed. I’ll have a couple of days

    This however looks like quite the project, and a joint learning/building scheme is a good one for a major new skill like serious surgery on a brass locomotive. I look forward to seeing how Andy and yourself make out in the coming months!


    • I’m so out of it i couldn’t even finish my comment!! I was going to say I’ll have a couple of days in early January between Christmas travels and back to work, and I’m looking forward to tackling some modelling tasks then after my period of rest!

      • Thanks Stephen – I’m looking forward to how this turns out too. I’m even excited to find out where we’re going to begin. There are a lot of little details to modify – everything from position of the bell to adding the lit number board on the smokebox front, to revising the steps on the tender. Plus, there’s adding the feed water heater and the piping for winter snow-melting gear (that’s what the pipe coming out of the steam dome is for). And that doesn’t even touch on installing DCC and sound…
        But it’ll all be good.

  2. OK… Which one of you will be doing 3737? And what’ll the other one be?

    I kinda wish you’d be doing this project on your blog so we could follow along rather than wait for completion and publishing in the magazine, although I can certainly understand why you’d do it that way.

    I sincerely hope that the diversions you mentioned are not health related. Anything else can be dealt with.

    BTW, Merry Christmas!

    • Hi Bart:
      I’m doing 3737. I’m not sure which number Andy is doing.
      And thanks for asking – but no: no diversions are health-related, or otherwise “bad news”. It’s all good – it just means I’ve had less energy and enthusiasm for the hobby lately. But projects like this (and the Leedham Mill research) are definitely helping address that!

  3. Trevor,

    Will you have to beef up the legs on the modules to handle these bad boys?? 🙂 Can’t wait to see them in action.

    Merry Christmas!
    Sn42 CN Newfoundland

  4. To revive this post, I have a question, not unrelated to having a similar beast…

    As you are making modifications, it is not possible to avoid removing the clear lacquer coat, but if no modifications were required, would you leave it in place? After all, it sticks well to the brass, in the same manner which paint frequently doesn’t, so could serve as a good surface primer.

    I ask as brass models are so much rarer over in the U.K., and when building from scratch, I prefer to use nickel silver, which takes paint better.

    • Hi Simon:
      I have left such coatings in place in the past on some models, without any problems. It often depends on the quality of the lacquer coating – I’ve picked up some used models on which the coating has become quite flaky, and it has to come off then.

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