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Kitbashing an HOn3 Diesel Locomotive from HO & N mechs.

August 6, 2008

Since I’m not made of money, I decided rather than trying to win a brass or plastic HOn3 locomotive from the overheated eBay HOn3 market or going to a hobby shop and burning my wallet in the process I bought a small variety of essential HOn3 track, switches, trucks and couplers and plan to tough it out. I did buy a DRGW flat on eBay prebuilt so I have something for my locomotive lug around. I’m trying two approaches to the same conclusion to see which route I enjoy more.

I was inspired by a small diesel switcher I saw at the Diablo Valley Lines’ narrow gauge branch.
that uses a narrowed-down HO athearn GE U30C power truck attached to a CD player motor. I attempted that using a GP40 (two axle) truck to creat a plymouth-style switcher. The problems I ran into narrowing the HO truck were the following:

-A LOT of fileing was required to narrow the hard steel alloy axles on the athearn wheelsets. It was a very noisy, dirty and difficult task.

-I had to severly modify the traditional athearn truck by cutting off the area in which the sideframes were held on. With some difficulty I razor sawed that portion of the trucks off, I managed to cut my finger, which, judging by the dangerous angles I had to cut it wasn’t a big surprise.

-After ALL of that work I couldn’t find a motor small enough to fit into the long hood or cab with a large enough driveshaft to fit properly into my design. If you know how to make the “business” end of a driveshaft larger without making it slip, I’d love to hear your suggestion. (small brass tubing maybe?)

-The Athearn 40″ diameter wheels looked a bit huge on this somewhat tiny locomotive, an aestethic detraction.

-Thanks to the gear tower being so huge, there isn’t any suitable room for weight unless I cast the body of the locomotive from potmetal or pewter, or go for a boxcab locomotive, but after all that work, I should have just bought the GRANDT LINE boxcab.

———————————————————————————————Today, I stumbled across the new older Bachmann trainset F7. Before you skip over this idea, narrowgaugers, I must say the following:

-The cheapie Bachmann F7 (not even the Bachmann Plus locomotive either) managed to outpull a brand-new Athearn Genesis SD75M upgrade with a string of identical cars.

-It’s as heavy as a brick, so great traction and adhesion is definately a plus.

-It has nickel-silver wheelsets and brass pickup, using the classic split frame drive.

-Widening the locomotive to HOn3 gauge is as easy as twisting a jewer’s screwdriver to slide the wheelset halves out one Millimeter.

It’s a reliable runner, and there are thousands of those little lokies out in the world that can be bought SUPER cheaply.


I’m considering a centercab design, somewhat like this:
Trainz 36 inch gauge Vulcan diesel


Also take note: New Catagory: NARROW GAUGE!

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