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Howdy!

I was just wondering if anyone has an Aristo craft live steamer and has converted it from the RC operatoin to beign manually controlled? If so what is involved and was it worth it? I find it amusing that they tout in their ads that "you too can run live steam without a mechanic at your side!" But to me they've just taken the fun out of it! I do like the looks of the model and the price though, so I'm just mulling things over. I don't think I'd be a big fan of the sound effects, but as long as it didn't automatically play them, I figure they could be left alone.

Anyway, just curious to see if anyone out there has done a manual conversion and to get opinions...

Thanks!
Dean
 

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The loco can be controlled via the buttons on the tender if you don't want to use the remote. If you would like to go completely manual, you would have to remove the motors that control the throttle and forwards/backwards. Not that hard to do. We are currently replacing the motors with servos and a normal RC system, as the RC system that came with ours was dead on arrival. The loco is very well built, we have not had any problems with ours, apart from the electrics...
 

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Posted By slug on 11/17/2008 12:11 AM
The loco can be controlled via the buttons on the tender if you don't want to use the remote.  If you would like to go completely manual, you would have to remove the motors that control the throttle and forwards/backwards.  Not that hard to do.  We are currently replacing the motors with servos and a normal RC system, as the RC system that came with ours was dead on arrival.  The loco is very well built, we have not had any problems with ours, apart from the electrics...



Slug,
  I have been interested in converting mine also.  Any chance you can post some pictures and describe the process you are using?  I'm mainly concerned on how you changed the reverser.  Thanks. 
 

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I ran my Mikado manually for about a year after I got it because the R/C throttle mechanism failed on me the first time I fired it up. I removed the motor and limit switch assembly for the throttle, and then adjusted the throttle lever to an angle where I could reach it more easily with my fingers to open/close it with the cab in place. I didn't touch the reverse mechanism, just left it in the forward position (since I also removed the stock electronics from the tender to put an Accucraft K-27 gas tank in there, I was only able to run the engine forwards during that time). Eventually I installed a Spektrum radio. I removed the reversing motor and limit switches from between the frames, and added a reversing arm to the shaft that operates the lifting arms for the valve gear. This is operated by a pushrod connected to a servo in the cab. For manual operation, perhaps an Accucraft Johnson bar assembly could be used instead of the servo. I posted some photos of my R/C installation on the Aristo live steam forum last year, here's a link to that thread: Two-stick R/C installation
 

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Fred, we are cheating a little bit with the reverser. We are still using the motor, worm drive and limit switches that it currently has installed, except we are running it off a servo. What we did was to take apart a servo, take the motor off of the servo, and just use all the electronics from inside the servo, we replaced the servo motor with the motor that was already installed on the loco, so really all we did was to change some wires around, nothing mechanical for the reverser change. The throttle on the other hand will have a complete servo installed. The reverser seem to be working fine this way. It you wanted to install a normal servo, and a push rod, that shouldn't be to hard, but you will need to remove the motor and worm drive, and I think there would be enough room for a throw arm to be installed on the lifting rod? (can't see on ours as it is back together). Oh and the electronic board that has the diodes, and controls the movement of the reverser and throttle is located under the cab floor...
 

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Richard,
Thanks for the information and links. I like what you did and will give it some thought.


Slug,
Also, thanks for the information. Never thought about using a gutted servo to drive the stock motor. That would save all kinds of time. I assume that you just had to identify the correct wires running from the tender to that electronic board for the directional motor, and re-connect to the gutted servo. Is that pretty much the plan?
 

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Ray , over on the Aristo Steam forum has a diagram posted of the plug wiring and which one is what. Seem to recall reading on here or the Aristo site about a year ago of someone putting new RC on his Aristo. Seemed like a hard job, but he got it done.
 

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Fred, yep that's it. The first 2 black wires on the plug are for the direction control and the second 2 black wires are for the throttle. All we did was to cut the first 2 black wires, and attach them too the two wires that drove the servo motor.
 

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What abut the electronic ignition?
can an Aristo steamer be easily modified so you can light it with a match?

I woud be interested in an aristo steamer only if ALL electronic systems could be removed.

thanks,
Scot
 

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Scott,
You can light the Aristo steamer from the smoke stack. I've done it in the past without a problem. Now, I haven't made any smokebox modifications either. No chuff enhancer, no extending or shorting the exhaust tube, or adding a tube to direct the condensation from putting out the fire. I don't know what any of these mods would do to change lighting from the stack. Most likely nothing, but I can't say for sure.
 

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All of the original factory electronics are gone from my Mikado (I meant to keep the electric ignition but I pulled out the wrong wire!) and I light mine at the stack. I sealed up the gap between the smokebox and boiler with high-temp silicone and it has become a lot more finicky to light (not impossible, just more finicky) since I did that. I'm guessing that I'm getting too much fuel, not enough air in the smokebox, possibly a result of replacing the fuel tank - I'm planning to try a smaller jet if I can ever figure out what size is currently on there. I would recommend replacing the plastic outer stack with a metal one though, mine is a little scorched around the rim from lighting it that way.
 

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I found a servo that I had gutted for a forward / reverse lighting project I didn't finish. Hooked up the servo and did a voltage check. Perfect +4.8 volts to -4.8 volts done using the joystick on my DX6. I may just gut another old servo and mount them in the tender with the batteries and receiver. I can then still use the factory wiring and socket from tender to locomotive. Can't get much easier than that! Thanks for the info Slug. I think you just made a difficult project fairly easy. I'll try to take some pictures as I proceed and post them later (if everything works out as expected) for anyone else that may be interested in doing this conversion if their factory remote craps out like mine did.
 

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RW,
A couple of years ago, Kevin O'Connor mentioned to me, or online-can't recall, to put a 2" brass sleeve over the end of the Mike's burner. You use a piece of K&S tubing one size smaller than the poker. Slit it down all the way so you can slide it over the burner, with the slit down. THis keeps the fire more concentrated in the middle and back instead of up front. Lately, I had experienced lighting up problems, would light, but then go out. SO, I thought that brass sleeve could be the problem. After I removed it lighting was almost impossible. IT would flare out the top, or pop and go out. When I did finally get it lit, I ended up with a smokebox fire-which I had not had since I put in the sleeve. So , I'd give it a try, easy to do and cheap!
 
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