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The Mikado is a great kit building experience. Take your time and study the graphic instructions as well as the written ones. The (8) cylinder studs that came with my kit were incorrect (too short) and were replaced by Aster, though you could use the shorter ones, however you will need to test fit the valve box assembly and loctite them in at their proper length. Make sure that everything moves smoothly in each assembly, before proceeding further.
 

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Take your time adjusting your valve timing to make sure that you see every valve opening event, steam port, exhaust port in both forward and reverse settings, for both left and right cylinders. In the neutral setting, the valve block should move back and forth(oscillate) without either valve opening on either side. The time spent here will reward you with many hours of enjoyable steaming.
 

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The "Sweet Spot" does exists as CT alludes to, it just changes position depending on your load, ambient temperature and quality of fuel. You'll find this setting "Sweet Spot" each time when balance is achieved in the by-pass valve position when you can run until the alcohol runs out and all you're doing is adding water "on the fly" into the tender and you maintain a constant level water in the sight glass .
 

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Sorry to hear of your paint issues with the Mikado, that's quite unusual. What did you use to clean off the oil off or did you simply wipe it with a cloth? Send Hans an email and He'll get you a replacement in a couple of weeks.
 

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Brian, I bought the new Great Northern S2 and have experienced similar "cooking of the oil" on the stack, stack skirt and smoke box. I've changed steam oils which I hope will alleviate future oil residue problems on the S2 but I've just accepted the fact that this is simply a patina that forms over time as we steam our locomotives. I looked at my Mikado stack the other day and over the 4 years that I've been running it, the draft fan has worn the paint down to the bare brass in spots from the many hours of steaming. I remember touching up the stack with Scalecoat lacuer paint (Silver Mist with a few drops of their black), trial and error until a good match is found, to find it wearing off again. It sounds like you have built yourself a great running locomotive, I'll volunteer to repaint the stack for you if you like, but I'll be matching the smoke box of my Mikado.
 

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If you look at historic photographs of steam locomotives in daily use, seldom will you see them in a pristine, clean condition, unless it was a locomotive specifically for passenger service usually they were left coated with soot, mineral and lime stains from the water and road grime.
 

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Brian,

I don't understand your issue? Does your Mikado not perform to your expectations aside from the paint finish of the smoke stack? Aren't you receiving a new replacement stack?
Isn't this forum assisting you with your concerns?
 

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I just received a replacement Johnson bar push rod and shoulder bolt for my 5-year old Mikado, that I've steamed the heck out of since building it. It took Hans a week and a half from the time I emailed him to when the part arrived in my mail box. This is what Hans does, he receives various requests for parts and submits an order about once a week. The parts are air mailed to him where he checks them in and repackages them destined to their respective recipients. This process is a heck of a lot faster than Accucraft as NOTHING comes out of their manufacturing facilities in China, where some out of stock items are out several months and even that still isn't certain, and no one can give you a precise arrival date, not even Cliff.
 

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Thanks for all or your well written diatribes. I own live steam models from both manufacturers. The only concern that I have and this is not a criticism is the manufacturing and shipping schedules that one must accomodate as a consumer. I'm sure many of you are anxiously awaiting a particular product so that you can go out and enjoy. We are fortunate to have these few manufacturers that put out these live steam model products at the various price points that we all can feel comfortable budgeting and paying for. I have excellent dialogues with both Cliff and Hans and greatly appreciate what each of these gentlemen have contributed to our hobby. I will see Cliff this weekend in Portland at the Narrow Gauge Convention and will get together with Hans when he makes a trip up to the Pacific Northwest.
 
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