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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I realize that this post really should be in the rolling stock forum; but, the subject came up here first. Last week, I did a post on the Vermont Garden Railway Society steam subdivision and several readers took interest in Larry Green's combine which he had kit bashed from an AMS J&S coach. I promised to post some pictures which are below. I will leave it to Larry to follow up with a written description of how he did the bash.













Llyn
 

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The modular design of the Accucraft J&S coaches make them a great start for kitbashing, and narrow gauge railroads were known to be frequent "kitbashers" of second-hand equipment, rather than buying new to suit their particular needs. The Belden Falls was in immediate need of a combine for the excursion train, as well as for revenue service on the mixed freight. For this, I went to my frequent source of ideas and dimensions, Don Heimburger's book "Along The East Broad Top".

By the time I was ready to start, numerous posts on MLS and elsewhere had pointed out certain errors in the model. Following suggestions discussed in these posts, I first closed the gaps under the doors, lowered the carbody on the trucks and prepared a more secure mount for the couplers. Kadee 850's are standard on the BF, as they provide additional side travel, and I like the slack action. The amount of slack is reduced by nesting a second drawbar spring within the original at assembly. A suitable mounting plate for the 830 draft gear was made from 1/16" aluminum. The area was prepared by removing the original aligning tabs and the plates glued in place, with a flat head screw into the original mounting hole and a snug-fitting hole for the truck-swivel-limiting brass pin on the car frame to provide a secure mount. Two tapped holes receive the draftgear mounting screws. New cut levers were made, as the factory ones were of a type not favored on the BF.


Next, the trucks. All power pickups and wiring into the carbody was removed, as I do not use interior lighting. Rough handling during shipping caused the brake beams to be damaged and/or bent, so they were repaired next. For better appearance, the hangers were rebent so that the faces of the brakeshoes were inside the OD of the wheel flanges, eliminating the excessive daylight there. Kevin, remember our discussion about the lack of a bottom tension bar on the AMS trucks? I had not previously noticed that some narrow gauge passenger trucks omit them, while others do have them. I wanted them, so they were fabricated from sheet brass and attached with existing screws. At the time, I was satisfied with the way the trucks rolled after being lubed, but now seeing how much effort is required to move a string of four cars, Aristocraft ball bearings will be retrofitted this winter. The trucks were washed, repainted with Krylon, weathered with Bragdon powders and clearcoated.


Now, the carbody exterior. I wanted a large baggage section with windows, since it was to also contain the Conductor's office space, for when it was in mixed train service. With EBT cars 14 and 18 as guides, it was decided to take eight of the thirteen window units, making about a 60/40 split, the passenger section being the smaller part. With the exception of removing the toilet roof vent in the baggage end, all exterior changes were to the car sides only. All clear glazing was removed and put aside. The car theoretically received all new lower window sash during rebuilding and the top sash openings were covered. Evergreen .020 styrene sheet was cut and CA'd for these. Areas around windows to be blanked out and the baggage door openings were prepared in my milling machine, an antique with long table travel, with the plastic sides fastened to a wood backing plate. Evergreen has v-joint siding with a .100 pitch, close enough to the car's molded .095 pitch. Pieces of .020 siding were fitted and CA'd in place to obtain the desired arrangement. Baggage doors were fabricated from strips milled to size and glued to a .080 back sheet. Door opening molding was milled from styrene, using a corner-rounding end mill. Once I found a prototype in EBT #14, I cheated by omitting glazing in the doors. Grab irons are formed from 3/64ths brass and Ozark BNW's. The stirrups below the doors were made from 3/32 brass tubing, flattened in a vise. This gives material with a smooth edge and without the twist that shearing produces in narrow strips. Also about this time during repeated trial fitting of things, I got tired of the prying made necessary by the way the floor assembly engaged the grooves in the car sides. The floor/frame assembly was milled narrower so that it just drops between the sides.


For the interior, a partition with a non-opening door was made by gluing v-joint siding and rectangular pieces to .080 styrene. Angles were first attached to the walls in position to receive the partition. Styrene "pallets" were glued up and pre-painted to represent the wood slats used to protect the window glazing in baggage compartments. In the passenger section, some seats were reversed and then all painted to represent rattan cusions with black arm assemblies.While I didn't bother to panel the walls, they were painted with the same Testor's Leather color as used on the end platform doors. Three Railroad Avenue passengers are engaged in discussion with a Bachmann Conductor (1.29 and raised up on a block of styrene), probably about the impending fare increase. Originally, I intended to detail the baggage compartment with a conductor's desk and chair, parcels, etc. But, it is so difficult to see into it, with no glazing in the fixed baggage doors and boards on the windows, that it just recieved v-joint panelling painted cream and a black pot bellied stove.


The original lettering was removed with Scotchbrite, to prevent a shadow in the repaint. Floquil Pullman Green was an exact match. It is also available in spray cans, which I ordered directly from their website. The car was masked and only effected areas were repainted. New graphics are vinyl from Del Tapporo of G-Scale Graphics, who is great to work with, making any adjustments to get what is required. A final clearcoat of Krylon UV-stabilized low-luster clearcoat was applied and the clear glazing reinstalled. A bit of weathering will be added to the undercarriage of this and the coaches, after their interiors are finished.


Speaking of the remaining coaches, the RR president (me) is considering the conversion of one into a business car, so he and some friends can travel in style while out on the line. Good fishing in the Otter Creek, and plenty of white-tail deer and wild turkey along the line.


Larry
 

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Larry,
You did a really nice job. I like the wooden bars in the windows.
Is Kadee 850 the correct part number for the coupler you use? Or do you mean 830s, which is what I think I see in your picture? I thought part number 850 refers only to centering springs. I've considered changing the couplers on my JS coaches, but haven't made up my mind yet on which Kadee coupler to use. By the way, your mounting plate approach solves the weak JS coupler mounting pedistal issue.
 

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Good catch, Carl. You are correct, it should read 830's. I proofread this and still some typo's got by.

Larry
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I liked Larry's plan for installing Aristo-Craft #29411 ball bearings in AMS coach trucks and, since I'm in the process of painting and re-lettering a coach, decided to give the conversion a try.
It turns out that the O.D. of the ball bearings is the same as the brass bushings already in the journal boxes. It is a simple matter to pull the brass bushings out and insert the ball bearings. Because the fit was quite loose, I secured the bearing outer races to the journal boxes with Locktite.

The ball bearing inner race is designed to fit a 3mm diameter axel end and the AMS wheel set axel ends are 4mm diameter. So, something has to change. One possibility is to buy replacement wheels. The wheels which come with the coach are 1.280" diameter at the tread. Gary Raymond and Sierra Valley sell wheel sets of that diameter with 3mm axel ends. Since I have a lathe, I decided to save money by turning the axel ends down to 3mm. I gripped one axel end in the lathe chuck and supported the axel with a steady rest positioned adjacent to the wheel at the end to be turned down.

I took very shallow cuts and easily got the axel ends down to 3mm diameter.

When the wheel sets are installed in the truck, there is quite a bit of space between the wheel face and journal box. If the wheel set were to slide all of the way to one side, one axel end might slip out of its bearing. I dealt with this by turning brass spacers from 1/4" diameter stock. I drilled the center hole #31 and made them 0.100" thick (I believe that 0.090" would suffice).

You could also put several #4 washers on each end instead.

Here is a picture of the truck after conversion.


With the ball bearings installed, the trucks roll a lot better. When I lifted the end of a two foot long section of track 1/4" and placed converted and unconverted trucks on it, the ball bearing-equipped truck rolled right on down. The unconverted truck simply sat there and I had to push it down the grade.

Llyn
 

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Llyn,
I'm not familiar with the BBs you used, but I'm sure the improved rolling of the JS cars will be the same. I used Phil's Narrow Gauge sets for my cars where the BB is a direct substitute for the original bushing. I also changed to SV wheels. For $30, you get 4 new axles with Sierra Valley wheelsets and 8 replacement bushings with ball bearings pressed fit into them. The replacement bushings are made to fit into the stock journals and may be pressed or glued in. The new bushings replace the factory brass bushings exactly. Disassembly of the trucks to change the parts is easy. The only issue I found was that the holes drilled in the stock journals were not consistantly placed. Since the trucks do not compensate, I had to shim or trim a couple of journals to make the 4 wheels level. Not a big deal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hi Carl,

Without a doubt, a prepackaged kit is the easiest way to go and fairly reasonably priced. I just happened to have the bearings on hand left over from conversions to some 1:29 rolling stock. And, I was content to just go ahead and make the conversion without waiting to order parts.

The bottom line is that anything we can do to install ball bearings will make AMS J&S coaches decidedly better-rolling models than the factory configuration.

Llyn
 

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The ball bearings I use for conversions are Aristocraft item #ART-29411 (tube of 10). I order them from Ridge Road Station's website.

Larry
 

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The ball bearings have been added to the trucks of my four cars, and now they will take off rolling on their own if the track is not level. Quite a difference from the factory condition, and now a suitable load for the Accucraft 4-4-0.
I made one small modification to the procedure that Llyn outlined above. The axle ends were turned down only for about 1/8" to engage the ball bearings, leaving about 3/32" at the original diameter to provide proper centering. No separate spacers were necessary.

Larry
 

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What a great shot, ty
 

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Very nice job. Was this one of the combines I saw at Diamondhead last month?

Larry
 

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Very nice job Larry. My EBT #3 conversion also has the top windows covered. I used Phil Dippel's ball bearing conversion kit in the trucks.

With EBT cars 14 and 18 as guides,

Funnily enough, about the time I was finishing my coach, a pal with a laser asked about EBT combines that might be suitable for making some wooden replacement sides for the Accu coach. After considering #18 (done by Mr East Broad Top,) #17 (photos unavailable) and #16, (currently in NJ.) We chose the latter, as it was nearest in length (all three are different and none exact for the J&S underframe!) All of them look very like Larry's combine - not surprisingly.

I did a CAD drawing of the side fitting the dimensions of the Accu coach, (a slight longitudinal stretch,) and we discussed a few issues like the letterboard (which Larry cut out over the door as you can see in the pics.) Nothing happened on the laser, but I did print the drawing and tape it to my coach:




If anyone wants the CAD files, just let me know.
 
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