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Discussion Starter #1
What a great January.  First I received my long awaited K and then about a week later 4 AMS Jackson & Sharp coaches arrived.  While waiting, I had also been building an Airwire battery box car (14.4V Li-Ion) that included Phoenix P5 sound.  I have carefully inspected the K for loose screws and the reported counter-weight problems and found NOTHING wrong (so far).  The engine runs very smooth and the Airwire system provides excellent speed control (The engine also runs well on track power).  A close inspection of the J&S cars found one axle bushing missing, several car end rails slightly bent in and several brake shoes bent against the wheels.  A quick call to Accucraft and within 2 days Chris sent me a replacement truck to solve the missing bushing problem.  The rails and brake shoes are easily bent back to their correct position.  One other note, the J&S coaches have the new and improved wheel treads (larger radius).

Temperatures here in St. Louis finally got above freezing yesterday and I finally had a chance to put these on the track together.  I started with just two coaches in trail and it quickly became obvious that the drag from the J&S coaches was significant.  The K also really seemed to slow in curves (10 ft. minimum) with the coaches attached.  Eventually I put all 4 coaches on and found that the drag from the coaches would cause the K's drivers to eventually slip on a 3% grade.  

The large amount of drag on these coaches is caused by brass pickups that are sprung to ride against the back side of all eight wheels on every coach.  While they provide excellent electrical pickup, they introduce way-to-much drag.  I have since bent the brass pickups back away from the wheels and they now roll easier (similar to other standard AMS stock).  Probably 90% of my running is in daylight, so the loss of lights is not that critical right now...but I do eventually want them to work (These cars are definately candidates for axle roller bearings).  I'm going to run the consist again today in this configuration and I believe the K should have no problem pulling the cars up the 3% grade.  I will post an update on results later.

In summary, the K and J&S coaches are both excellent looking (and for the most part) running products and overall I'm very please with my bang-for-the buck.  I'll be keeping an eye on the K's counter-weights for any future problems.  I do think that Accucraft missed the mark on the design of the wheel electrical pickup.  Chris at Accucraft mentioned that they will be receiving new ball bearing wheel sets with electrical pickups AND the improved wheel tread.  He thinks these will fit the J&S coaches.  In the mean time, I'm hoping some enterprising person out there will develop a way to put ball bearings in the journals of these cars and devise a way to provide electrical pickup at the same time without changing out the wheel sets.

Bret
 

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RE: K-27 and AMS J&S Coach Review

Phil Dippel of Phil's Narrow Gauge is planning to offer a ball bearing conversion service for the J&S trucks. Because these trucks are quite a bit different in design from the Accucraft freight trucks for which he offers a great ball bearing conversion service (http://www.philsnarrowgauge.com/services1.htm), it may be a few weeks before he'll be open for business on these conversions. I'd check his web site periodically to see when he is ready.

For those that want to eliminate the wiper friction for now, but keep their options open, you can just unscrew the wiper mounting blocks and turn them 180 degrees (the wipers facing inward, against each other) which is reversable if you decide to do so later.

My solution, already applied, is individual batteries in the restroom of each car powering LED light strips (amazing amount of light at low battery draw). Necessary because much running is done on live steam layouts where track power isn't available, but also with the added benefit of being able to light them up while they are sitting on display tracks as well.

When I have a bit of time, I'll post pictures and parts list.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Good new....bad news.  The good news is that the K now pulls the 3% grade with 4 J&S cars and a battery box car no problem (with the J&S wheel contacts removed).  The bad news is that add my K to the list of defective counter-weights.  I first noticed this when I'd apply power and the engine would just sit there without a little push to get it going.  Once it was moving it worked fine.  As soon as I stopped, and tried to move again, a little nudge was needed.  I checked the rotation of the counterweights and found that 4 were loose so far.  I guess it's time for the mod.

Bret
 

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Bret,

I'm sorry to hear about your counter-weight problem with your K27. BUT, there is a "fix". Great review on the J&S cars. I reeceived two about two weeks ago, but now I'm waiting on the delivery of my Accucraft C19  #346, to pull 'em. I e-mailed Phil of PNG before I bought the cars and he said he was working on the set-up for the ball-bearing axles for the new trucks. I soon as I hear from him, I will be sending the J&S trucks and the tender trucks for the C19, off to Phil so he can do "his magic".:D
 

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RE: K-27 and AMS J&S Coach Review

It's always boggled my mind that Accucraft wouldn't use their own electrical ball-bearing wheels for power pick up when their "normal" system turns the trucks into sleds. (The K-37 tender by itself had so much drag it wouldn't roll freely down a 4% grade!) Then I heard from an Accucraft dealer that the ball-bearing wheelsets had some issues of their own, and that Accucraft was working on a fix. That made a bit more sense to me, but still... Hopefully they'll make these wheels available as refits for all their electrically powered cars.

I had the chance to inspect one of these cars the other day, and it won me over. I've now got one on its way to me as well. Fear not, its first stop will be my workshop for a proper rebuilding into an EBT prototype. None of that "western" stuff on my rails. :) But for the price versus the time/effort it would take to either scratchbuild one, or the price of another Masterclass kit, I couldn't pass it up.

Scott, I'm interested in seeing how you did your lights. I still need to put lights in my combine, and my business car and now this coach will have proper lighting. Unfortunately I don't know how feasible it will be to retrofit the lamps I'll be using to run on LEDs, so 12v incandescent lights will have to do. I think a 9v battery in the WC will be sufficient to power them at an adequate light level for oil lamps.

Later,

K
 

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Kevin,

I bought a large number of the Accucraft ball bearing wheel sets to install in my freight cars.  First inspection showed brass wheels and a plastic axles separating the wheels.  Very nice workmanship.

I spent an afternoon installing them in my cars.  The cars rolled much more freely on my 1% grade test.  I was reasonably happy so far.

Next, I hooked them up into a train and put a D&RG class 60 on the front end.  As it was inside, I was using track power.  Turned on the power supply and the train started moving.  Almost immediately the short protection snapped.  Turned off the power, reset the breaker, and the same thing happened again.  Time to investigate further.

On closer examination I found the stup axles which go from the wheel into the truck frame were brass.  They are electrically connected to the wheels.  So what was happening was as soon as a current path was available through the truck frame I was getting the shorts (hope this makes sense).  Just a little rocking on the track or anything else and a path was made.  So if you are not using track power, or if your truck frame has some wood to separate the two halves, they should work just great.

At the Las Vegas show last spring (my parents live in Vegas so we did two things that trip) Cliff said they were wroking on replacements for the ball bearing wheels.  So maybe eventually they will work for track power also.
 

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RE: K-27 and AMS J&S Coach Review

I have one set of the new Accucraft BB wheels. They look like the old ones, but they have the nicer curved flange as on the logging wheels. The end of the axles are only 3mm vs. 4mm diameter for the old ones. That's so a plastic bushing can sit between the axle and the frame. The axles are slightly shorter so the bushing sits past the end of the axle so as not to cause a short for track power folks. I'm not sure if these are for sale yet, I got one from Cliff as a replacement for one of the old ones that had a problem.
 

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RE: K-27 and AMS J&S Coach Review

Having no vested interest in this, I can only point out that I've never had a (shorting) problem with Phil Dippel's ball bearing conversions. In case you don't know what his service accomplishes: old brass bushings removed and 8 (per set of trucks) ball bearing races installed in the sideframes. Since the ball bearings are 1/8", he turns down the ends of your original wheels from 4mm to .125". All this for $25 per pair of trucks. I've paid $2 apiece for the bearings alone. Another hint if you decide to try him out: since you pay the shipping to send the sideframes and wheels (you dissassemble the trucks), get one of the flat rate Priority Mail boxes from USPS and you can send a LOT of trucks in one package for $8.95. Phil will do the same on return so if you get a bunch done at once the shipping becomes a small part of the cost.

As Phil's site will tell you, though the new Accucraft wheels have a nice fillet, the metal is poorer quality and can't be turned down reliably. For new style trucks, he offers the service above with brand new Sierra Valley wheels for $30 per pair of trucks (yes, only $5 for the new wheels).

Only reason in my mind to pay $40 or so per pair of the Accucraft replacement wheels is if you need the electrical contacts.

Again, I have no vested interest in how you get your cars rolling smoothly. I'm just a very satisfied customer of the PNG service.
 

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I agree with Scott's assessment of Phil's trucks. I've had seven pairs of Accucraft trucks done by PNG and I'm very satisfied with their performance. I will be sending four J&S trucks(2 cars) and a set of tender trucks from a new C19 off to be reworked including new wheels. It's a "no-brainer" as far as I'm concerned. I have no connection with PNG, just a very satisfied customer!:D
 

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Posted By East Broad Top on 01/27/2008 11:33 AM

Scott, I'm interested in seeing how you did your lights. I still need to put lights in my combine, and my business car and now this coach will have proper lighting. Unfortunately I don't know how feasible it will be to retrofit the lamps I'll be using to run on LEDs, so 12v incandescent lights will have to do. I think a 9v battery in the WC will be sufficient to power them at an adequate light level for oil lamps.

Later,

K


Kevin,

I put lights in my Don Winter combine quite easily.  I have a couple of brass rods attached along under the roof as a power strip, and I soldered some Radio Shack 12V incandescent lamps to them.  The roof is wired to the combine freight compartment (via a plug and socket) to a 9V battery, with a switch in the floor protruding underneath.

Even at 9V I decided it was too bright, so I have a wire-wound 100 ohm potentiometer in the circuit to let me control the brightness.  [The 100 ohm pot came from a batch I bought on the web, all secondhand but extremely useful!]
 

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RE: K-27 and AMS J&S Coach Review

I picked up some lamps at the local dollhouse store the other day. It's actually quite feasible to convert them to LEDs, as the bulbs conveniently plug into sockets right on the lamp. However, when running them on a 9 volt battery, they produce a very pleasing level of light, and a rechargeable 9 volt battery takes up less room than a two AA clip that I'd need for an LED. For as little night running as I do, I think the 9volt approach will prove sufficient.

Later,

K
 

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Discussion Starter #13
RE: K-27 and AMS J&S Coach Review

I eventually posted this information on the new/old site, but we're now back to the new site and I thought this would be relevant to this thread. This mod reduces the drag to almost zero for the J&S cars.

"Anyone who owns of these new cars will immediately notice the large amount of drag caused by the electrical pickups (8 metal contacts rubbing against the backside of the wheels). My new Bman K-27 won't even pull three of them up a 3% grade.

I modified my set of cars to roll with virtually no resistance using roller bearings in the journals. I thought I'd share how I did it with those that might want to do the same. The first thing I did was reverse the metal contacts so that they don't contact the wheels (or you can just bend them back away from the wheel). Unfortunately, this results in no lighting from track power but if you plan to use battery to power the lights this makes no difference. The total cost per car is about $8.00 (includes (8) 3X6X2.5mm Flanged ball bearings and (8) 1/16" thick .285" dia. nylon washers.

A little disassembly and research revealed that installing ball bearings in the journals is pretty easy. Here are the steps I followed and the materials I used to modify these cars.

1) Remove the two screws on the bottom of the truck sideframe that hold a journal in place. There is a metal strap that can then be swung out of the way that allows you to remove the journal. You can then remove the wheel set and both journal bushings. The bushings can be removed by hand. You only need to remove the strap from one side for each wheel set.

2) The next step is to turn down the axle ends to 3mm. This can be done with a lathe or in my case with a drill press. Accucraft has changed the design of the wheel sets for the better. The new design assures proper wheel spacing. To remove the wheels from the axle, simply place the wheel set in a vice with the jaws spaced apart about 1/2 inch and tap the axle end until the wheel falls free of the axle. Repeat this for the other wheel. Now you can put the axle in the lathe/drill press and turn down the axle ends. I used a medium mill file to take off the bulk of the material and then a fine mill file to smooth the surface. Results are excellent if you go slow. Keep checking the axle for fit against a 3x6x2.5 mm ball bearing. After turning down the axle ends, re-install the wheels by reversing the removal process mentioned above. As you start to tap the wheels back on, they will eventually hit a stop and you now have proper spacing for the wheels.

3. The last step is to place a flanged ball bearing into each journal, put a nylon washer on each axle end, reseat the journal into the truck sideframe and re-install the securing strap. When this is complete, you have a perfect fit with virtually no side play of the axle in the journals.

The mod also leaves open the possibility of installing Aristo or LGB type wheel sets with electrical pickup (if you really need track power for lighting).

Below are links to the bearings and nylon washers I used. It took about 1 hr per car for this mod.

The ball bearings are $.91 each from an Ebay seller that I have had good results with.

http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-1...6731140QQihZ012QQcategoryZ34063QQcmdZViewItem

The washers are from McMaster-Car (http://www.mcmaster.com)and the Part No. is 90295A070. They cost $3.78 for a package of 100.

I also understand that Phil at Phil's Narrow Gage is also planning a service to modify these trucks for those that don't want to "do-it-yourself". I understand he produces an excellent product at a very reasonable cost.

Hope this helps..."

Bret
 

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I mentioned earlier that my solution to lighting San Juan and J & S cars running on non-powered track was battery power.  My first approach was like the prototype (sort of) with a big battery in the baggage car where the Delco Lighting Plant was and interconnecting the cars.  This turned out to be too constrained to the order of the cars and also didn't work when the cars are on display individually.  So I now use individual batteries in each car.  The real secret here is the use of LED light strips that Jon Kling found and first brought to my attention.  They provide hours (>6) running off the 850 mAh batteries I'm using.

































LED light strip attached to roof of J&S coach with double-face tape.  LED light modules painted with white paint to diffuse the light and eliminate the scintillation from the monochromatic yellow LEDs.  Dean 2-pin connector to allow removal of floor.  Note baffle of dark material standing off from the restroom window whihc, in turn, has been covered with frosted material.  The baffle prevents wires from pressing against the window which would make them visible.

































On-off toggle switch, power connector and battery (double-face taped to the restroom wall) in J&S coach restroom.  The plastic floor of the restroom has been removed).

Wiring Plan:


































Use a rapid charger (also from BatterySpace) equiped with size "N" plug to charge the battery.  Takes about 90 minutes when fully depleted.  This circuit disconnects the lights while the battery is being charged (may not be necessary, but semed like a good idea).  Watch the poloarities since they affect the battery (of course), but also the LED light strips.
 

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RE: K-27 and AMS J&S Coach Review

Thanks for the description. I think I'll likely end up with something similar, though using these lamps:

They're from Cir-Kit, and use 12 volt incandescent bulbs. I suppose the same battery will work, though with the incandescent bulbs, they may not last as long. I think to start I'll stick with a regular alkaline 9v. bulb, as I don't do a ton of nighttime running.

Later,

K
 

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RE: K-27 and AMS J&S Coach Review

I had sent about half of my current stock of AMS cars to Phil for his bearing mods, and for the others I used the AMS Bearing Wheel-sets. (I got a deal on them since they tend to short electrified track.) For my new AMS Coaches, I decided to try Bret's idea and put in the bearings myself. I must say I am very pleased with the results. The bearings for 3 cars cost me about $1.00 each (with shipping) and it took me about an hour per car to take the truck apart, cut off the wires, (I will add a battery later) file the axles and reassemble. I did one thing differently than Bret's posting said. Instead of filling the axle all the way to the wheel, I only did the last 1/8" or so. (The thickness of the bearing.) This left a step on the axle that replaces the nylon spacers Bret used. So for a little more than a single truck conversion, I did all three cars in one afternoon.
(I did have to wait 1.5 weeks for the bearings to be shipped from Hong Kong though. . . )

I am thinking of using this method to fix the AMS bearing axles. They come apart in the middle, so I was thinking of chucking them into my drill press (wheels on) and taking a little off the axle ends with a medium mill file and maybe painting them with a little rubber cement or other insulator.
(AMS's new bearing axles are basically done that way. The ends are milled smaller and shipped with a rubber type tube over them as the insulator.)
 

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RE: K-27 and AMS J&S Coach Review

RRDude, I tried the rubber cement but did not like the results. What worked better, and suggested by Jonathan of rctrains.com, was to use shrink tubing. Worked great.
 

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RE: K-27 and AMS J&S Coach Review

Thanks for the tips on lighting these Scott - that's a great write up. When I saw those at Jon's, I was convinced that was a great way to light those coaches. Well done.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
rrdude,  

Glad to hear the mod worked for you.  I finally got a chance to really run the K27 and J&S cars this weekend and was really pleased.  The only problem was that the cars will blow down the track in the wind or with any grade at all.   I wound up powering all the cars by using the aristo type electrical connectors and these lead to either a battery car or track powered caboose as a power source.  The other mod I previously forgot to mention was putting a small amount of super glue on the outer part of the bearing so that the bearing stay in the journals.  The journal axle holes on these cars are larger than their other cars and the bearings can move about freely.  The small drop of super glue fixed that and now they stay firmly in place inside the journal.

Other K-27 observations.  The K tends to slow significantly going thru 10' dia curves.  This is particularly noticiable on battery power using the Airwire system and a 14.4V Li-ion battery.  I believe this is more of an Airwire issue since the K still slows but but not as much using track power.  I plan to discuss this with Al at Airwire.

The other issue I have found is the higher gearing that the K comes with (that others have mentioned).  This higher gearing makes it difficult to just set a speed and walk away.  The engine tends to slow in curves, crawl up a 3% grade and then FLY downhill.  I know this is how REAL engines work, but unlike most of my other engines, it is difficult to find a speed that works AND is realistic.  As an example, I can put my Bman Connie on the track with 3 cars and it crawls up the grade, but doesn't exceed a resonable speed on the downhill (thanks to lower gearing I believe).  I found that a smaller load (3-4 cars max) on the K27 and having a higher drag car (like the AMS caboose) tends to help (particularly on the downhill side).

All in all though, I'm very please with both products.
 
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