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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Over the years I have managed to pick up 8 J&M CIWL coaches - all of which are of the earlier heavier design with non ball bearing trucks - and my Aster C140 struggles to pull more than 4 of them.

I have read about the legendary pulling power of the Aster U1- and as I have no experience with 4 cylinder compound engines - and a number of Aster's previous 4 cylinder comounds have been converted to single stage operation - I thought I would ask the following questions of the collective wisdom here......

- How good is the design of the compounding system of the U1 and how can it's functioning be evaluated.

- How dificult is it for someone like me to do routine maintenance such as changing rod packing and cylinder rings and checking timing etc.

- How effective is the manger type meths burner - and why do some owners change it out for a conventional wick burner.

- Any other points to be aware of when buying a U1

Many thanks ....
 

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First up, I don't have one (I would love though!) but I have an Aster Nord pacific that pulls my 6 J&M CIWL coaches and my 3 Nord coaches provided the track is not oily. In comparison my Aster PLM pacific with new pistons and Rulon piston rings only manages 5 J&M coaches and 6 on a 'good' day.
The 4 cylinder compounding on the Nord works really well and is quite powerful but you have to learn to drive it and I believe the U1 is even better so I wouldn't worry about the compounding system.
Routine maintenance can be done, but like compounds in 1:1 scale there is a lot more labour and parts removal to get at all the inside valve gear but again I wouldn't worry about that too much.
I haven't heard of problems with the standard burner but the boiler design is very good and from all accounts a prodigious steamer.
I would contact someone in the Swiss gauge one groups and ask, as there seems quite a few running there, some on coal some on meths and I'm sure they will tell you what to do.
Hearing from those who have one it seems it is the best of the compounds and the only thing for me is the price!
Russell
 

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I have run my U1 with a maximum of 6 (J&M) coaches and that goes effortlessly. My layout (30 m track lenght) is not suitable for longer trains. The U1 likes to run at a high speed (and then the compounding really works), so your track must allow for that. My radius of 3 meter is a bit small for that so I am always on the look-out that no disasters happen. The manger burner is very good, I never had not enough steam. Of course it can be run with coal, but I have never tried that. In my memory I have never had to do any maintenance, just cleaning and oiling after every run. I have this loco now for thirty years and I think it is a masterpiece, but for easy running I prefer the Daylight or Great Northern S2.
Regards
Fred
 

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Same opinion my U1 is my best engine by far. For one because of the compounding it is very powerful, but there is another feature that makes this one of Aster's most succesful models: the real locomotive type firebox, which is much heavier than the type C one balances very well the weight of the four cylinder blocks up front (a feature which the chapelon does not have, you have to add weight around the firebox to acheive this partialy.) So all the engines weight is on the three drivers giving excelent adhesion caracteristics. The chapelon which should be just as powerful is not because the front of the engine is overweight and the rear is not, so there is a tab on the frame to prevent the engine from making a visual nose dive, however this makes the engine a sort of 4-2-2, instead of a 4-6-2. On the subject of compounding, as I explain elsewhere (Bills Weyerhouser 2-6-62 T build) JVR was very much fascinated by compounding and did study the proportions very carefully. One can very well see it when starting as after a short while when the compounding kicks in, it is then that the engine kicks off and flies. Watch out though, especially if you have short curves. I have never used the coal firning on mine being a lazy lizzard.
Best, Simon
 

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I agree with others - the U! is an amazing machine. I'm, frankly, nervous about running mine as it has been somewhat accident prone and extensively repaired a couple of times. All these accidents have been side effects of its amazing pulling power and its tendency to run away if it doesn't have a good load behind it.

Things to be careful of:

The link between the engine and tender isn't well engineered. It is the slot and hole variety and can get distorted fairly easily. My first incident was when the engine separated from the tender. Free of any load, the engine sped away and came off the track at the next corner. I built a new connector following the pattern of the original but closing off the end of the slot and heat treating it.

The CIWL coaches are heavy and the couplings are designed to look good rather than handle load. My second U1 accident was when the coupling between coaches 1 and 2 failed and the engine again sped away coming off the track shortly afterwards damaging both itself and the one remaining CIWL coach. I have changed all the CIWL couplings to Kadee which is somewhat heretical but is more robust.
 

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The next horror story (also told in my e-book on ASTER) proves the ease of starting of the U1.

At a Dutch steam meet in Leek someone brought a RC controlled U1. He had raised steam while his RC controller was lying on a chair which stood inside the gauge 1 track oval. His wife wanted to sit and took the controller of the chair and laid it somewhere, not noticing that she moved the controls doing that. The U1 started to run and soon at high speed turned over at the third curve. I saw it happening (but could not intervene). There was some damage (to the locomotive, I do not know about the wife) and the run was prematurely ended.

Regards
Fred
 

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Yes Zephira there is definitly a problem with the plastic hook (for insulation) in the J&M continental couplers. I have found a solution that takes about 20 minutes to do and will try and post it in another thread more apropriately in the J&M coaches section, so as not to polute this one. I will make some photos of how to do it.
 

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I’m not sure why anyone replaced the manger wick system—i found it to work well on both my U1 and the Daylight.
By the way, if anyone wants to sell their U1, email me—never should have sold one of mine to Robert!:)

Sam
 

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I’m not sure why anyone replaced the manger wick system—i found it to work well on both my U1 and the Daylight.
By the way, if anyone wants to sell their U1, email me—never should have sold one of mine to Robert!:)

Sam
Sam, I do have a lot of U1 parts! I ended up buying an electric version of ebay and cannibalizing it for the body work repairs to the one you sold me after its various accidents.

I agree on the manger wick system - it works well and I have actually converted my Challenger to run this way.

Robert
 

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Robert,

Probably not enough parts to build another one but I too have a few parts from U1 mishaps! I told Wayne Sorenson- who owns a 241p-that I’d rather have 2 U1s than 1 of those…amazing model, of course, but too many fiddly parts for practical running. I think you’d have a couple of hours of rebuild sessions every time you run her..😟…

Hopefully, we answered most of the questions of the original post.
Sam
 

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I have run my U1 with a maximum of 6 (J&M) coaches and that goes effortlessly. My layout (30 m track lenght) is not suitable for longer trains. The U1 likes to run at a high speed (and then the compounding really works), so your track must allow for that. My radius of 3 meter is a bit small for that so I am always on the look-out that no disasters happen. The manger burner is very good, I never had not enough steam. Of course it can be run with coal, but I have never tried that. In my memory I have never had to do any maintenance, just cleaning and oiling after every run. I have this loco now for thirty years and I think it is a masterpiece, but for easy running I prefer the Daylight or Great Northern S2.
Regards
Fred
I've stayed electric with and A-B-A set of USA diesels and pull a 14 car train of USA Calif. Zephyr cars in one long and beautiful streamliner trainset. Live steam is more for tinkering than hauling.
 

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I've stayed electric with and A-B-A set of USA diesels and pull a 14 car train of USA Calif. Zephyr cars in one long and beautiful streamliner trainset. Live steam is more for tinkering than hauling.
I'm sure it looks great but don't write off live steam so quickly! Live steam locomotives can pull huge loads. It takes more time to get things set up and running but that is half the pleasure for many of us.

It would be fun to set my Aster Allegheny against the USA trains A-B-A Diesels and see which could pull the most. I've had 48 coal hoppers behind the Allegheny and it could have taken a lot more.

Lets all focus of what we enjoy and not write off other parts of the hobby with generalizations.

Robert
 

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Yes I run both electrics, diesels and steam. When one just wants to have an operating session electric is great. Live steam tends to be having a good run period. I still dream of doing a realistic operating session in steam but there aren't many folks out there who volunteer.
It should be noted that electrics is more hasle to prepare, than live steam, contrarily to general opinion. It certainly does on my oversize pike. If you want nice reliable smooth operation, you must clean your track first and also often locomotive wheels (At least the ones without pick up shoes, thats why I keep them on engines so fitted) get rid of all fallen leaves and pine needles etc. Also there is a considerable amount of work to be done installing and maintaining feeders and bridging all the rails together.
But when you run that 50 or so car freight its good fun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Wow guys - many thanks for all the great replies to my thread!

Well, I went and did it yesterday - I bought an early kit built U1 from a private seller and the more I look at it, the more I understand why some people say it's probably one of the greatest Asters ever made.

I think its all the more remarkable since it was made 15 years before what I had always considered Asters best years around 2006 - and not a Phillips head screw in sight! .... :)

One of the further questions I have as I go through the initial check over, is why the smoke box interior has so much oily carbon deposits in it when it's not the coal fired version? - and what would be a good way to clean up this mess without doing any dismantling?

Many thanks .... John
 

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John,

The conversion to coal-firing is very easy ( drop the back truck screws) so the prior owner may have fired her and didn’t do a good job of cleaning up the engine. I had my hands on one some years back where the owner totally neglicated that task and it arrived at my residence as an absolute mess…The green solvent for ovens (forget the name) can help clean up some of the mess…
You could always send it to me and I’ll clean her for you…of course—it might be awhile before you see it again!😂

Sam
 

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One of the further questions I have as I go through the initial check over, is why the smoke box interior has so much oily carbon deposits in it when it's not the coal fired version? - and what would be a good way to clean up this mess without doing any dismantling?

Many thanks .... John
Congratulations!

About the smoke box. My U1 also looks very black and oily while I have never run it with coal firing. I have never cleaned it (and never will, I think, it looks good.
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External cleaning I do!
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Regards
Fred
 
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