Hon3 shay

 

Hi All

 

I just bought my first loco. I found it at Ebay, It is a H0n3 MDC Roundhouse 2-truck Shay in kit form. So now I'm in at last, no more armchair modeling, Hurray.....

 

I vaguely remember an article somewhere about the poor running quality. 

As I understand loco's can sometimes vastly improve their performances when converted to DCC but I've also seen on Ebay some re-gearing kits and motors from NWSL. Do I need them to improve their performans?

 

Any suggestions for a simple decoder (no sound or other fancy stuff).

 

Does somebody nows of an how-to-article on improving performance?

 

Regards,

Rob

 

English is not my first language and therefor it is possible that my writing contains some spelling mistakes.




DKRickman's picture

Not the best place to start

I've had a few of those beasts.  They are NOT the best place to start learning how to build and tune models, as they are extremely challenging to turn into smooth reliable runners.  There has been at least one book published on the subject, which should give you an indication of how time-consuming it can be.

There are two specific problem areas.  The first is in the electrical pick-up, and most people modify it to work more reliably.  Replacing the truck to frame wipers with wires is a good start, as is modifying the design of the wheel wipers.  The second is the drive line, since the outside gear train and the internal gears compete with each other, and unless they are meshed perfectly as you assemble the model, they will bind.  The solution most people use is to remove all but one set of teeth from the external gears, so that a single wheel is powering the entire external drive line.  Even so, assembling the universal joints is a somewhat demanding job, and it must be dome with care in order to work.

The NWSL gears replace the plastic bull gears, and are quieter and smoother.  They are not required for a decent model, but it may be simpler than fine-tuning each plastic gear.  If you can afford them, buy them.  As for a decoder, I would look at one of the inexpensive (less than $20) Digitrax decoders, such as a DN135.

In short, these models can be built into nice looking and reliable running models, but it takes care and time.  they do not go together easily, and they rarely (if ever) work well without modification and/or tuning.  I wish you the best of luck, suggest you take your time, and look for one of the books on the subject if possible.

Ken Rickman

Danville & Western HO modeler and web historian

http://southern-railway.railfan.net/dw/

Geared's picture

HOn3 Shay

I can only echo Ken's suggestions. The best book to help is Jeff Johnson's "The MDC Shay Handabook." It is now out of print, but a friend might have one, or you can always watch Ebay for one. Don't pay an excessive amount though. Some sellers are asking the world just because the book is out of print. I got mine for around $15-20.00 a couple years ago. This book is almost essential as it covers all sorts of detail and modifications as you build the engine.

Good luck and have fun.

Roy

Roy

Geared is the way to tight radii and steep grades. Ghost River Rwy. "The Wet Coast Loggers"

 

I thank you for the advice. I

I thank you for the advice. I have also bought 2 2-8-0 build & tuned loco's from roundhouse, and I'm bidding on a   Blackstone loco so the urge of getting this shay running soon is gone. Ill take my time on this one.

 

The book is at the moment only at a crazy prize available, so I have to put this on hold (anybody selling his copy?)

DKRickman's picture

More advice

I'm going from old memory here (it's been well over 15 years, and I was just a teenager who didn't know better when I built my first one), but here are some of the things I recall:

  1. Get the trucks running without any of the side drive line in place.  When they turn over smoothly as you turn the universal cup with your fingers, you're doing well.
  2. Build the bull gear assembly, and make sure it runs PERFECTLY - not a single hesitation.  If it has the slightest hitch, carefully examine and clean the gear teeth.  There is sometimes flash in odd places, especially on cheaper plastic gears.  This is the advantage of the NWSL regear kit.  Also, look for flash in the plastic gear tower itself.
  3. Assemble the universal joints carefully, making sure to keep both ends aligned with each other (I seem to recall using plastic universals on a metal shaft, but if they're cast in one piece, ignore this part).
  4. Using fine wire (such as that used to wire decoders), connect the pick ups on each truck together and to the motor.  I like to use a piece of copper clad board, because it's easy to solder to, insulate, and do whatever else is needed.
  5. If possible, replace the truck mounting pins with screws.  In fact, use screws wherever possible, replacing any friction fit - especially those which will need to come apart again later.  Buy drills and taps for at least 00-90 and 2-56, and ideally 0-80 and 1-72 as well.
  6. Make sure the frame is straight and flat, and go ahead and clean it up as well as possible (flash, etc.).
  7. Mount everything.  If you've done step 4 properly, the frame should be isolated from both rails, and it's safe to mount the motor directly to it.  Test run the model on the bare frame.
  8. ONLY when the model runs perfectly in this condition should you even consider adding the cab, tender, boiler, or drive line.

    • I would start with the drive line, removing or omitting all the gears except the rear gear on the front truck.  You may remove the teeth from the wheels, or from the drive line itself, whichever you find easier.
    • It is not strictly necessary to remove the gears, and in fact my first build retained all the gears.  I lucked out, and I did not know any better.  My second one never ran until I removed the gears.  The challenge is that all of the gears inside the trucks and all the gears on the outside must mesh properly, and that's VERY difficult to achieve.  It's easier to use the internal gears to power the wheels, and only one gear to power the drive line.  That way there's no binding, and no need for proper synchronization.
  9. The model will rock as power is applied.  This can be corrected to some degree by adding side bearings on the trucks, or by more extensive modifications, but the simple fact is that it's a wide, top heavy model that is going to rock.  There's not a lot you can do about it unless you completely redesign the entire drive.
  10. As with any cast metal model (particularly steam engines), time spent on preparation of the castings is time well spent, and the finished results will surprise you.  I have seen many MDC Shays, and most have some degree of mold parting lines, rough filing marks, and other imperfections which make it obvious that they're cast metal.  A select handful were cleaned to the point of being polished prior to paint or assembly, and they look like brass engines when painted.  It's a lot of work, but it's worth it.

If you take your time, do careful work, and go at it methodically, you will be rewarded with an excellent and fairly inexpensive model.  If you try to cut corners, you'll be left with a half-finished door stop.  There is a reason why you see so many of these sold unbuilt, or half-built.  I strongly encourage you to try it, but do not expect to get it running in an evening, and whatever you do, DO NOT try to cut corners.  Unlike many models, this one will not tolerate anything less than perfection.

Ken Rickman

Danville & Western HO modeler and web historian

http://southern-railway.railfan.net/dw/

DKRickman's picture

Some links which may be of use or interest

In no particular order, and I assume you've seen many of these:

http://forum.atlasrr.com/archive/topic.asp?ARCHIVE=true&TOPIC_ID=35869

http://gearedsteam.blogspot.com/2009/10/new-mdc-shay.html

http://www.the-gauge.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=53&t=4667

http://www.freerails.com/view_topic.php?id=1452&forum_id=36 <- I made plunger wipers like this, and they worked well, but now I would make wheel wipers instead.

http://www.modelrailroading.nl/Projects/Shay01/index.html <- This one is superb!

Ken Rickman

Danville & Western HO modeler and web historian

http://southern-railway.railfan.net/dw/

Bernd's picture

To add

to Ken's post. Here's a video of a guy who modified his Shay with NWSL upgrades.

 

 

Bernd

The New York, Vermont & Northern Railway   --  Route of the Black Diamonds

DKRickman's picture

Not MDC, but..

It may not help much with this project, but if I were going to get back into HOn3 and wanted a Shay, I'd look at converting the Bachmann model.  NWSL makes a conversion kit, and it doesn't look too difficult.

http://www.valleymodeltrains.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=10965

Ken Rickman

Danville & Western HO modeler and web historian

http://southern-railway.railfan.net/dw/

Geared Steam's picture

What Ken said

 

It may not help much with this project, but if I were going to get back into HOn3 and wanted a Shay, I'd look at converting the Bachmann model.  NWSL makes a conversion kit, and it doesn't look too difficult.

http://www.valleymodeltrains.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=10965

Ken Rickman

Yep, converting the Bachmann Shay to HOn3 using the kit from NWSL would be the best value for your money and time in my humble opinion.

The video linked above is mine, and while I enjoyed working on the MDC, the reason I did it was for the challenge. I used all of the suggested NWSL gears (worth it) and it runs good, but  I still prefer my Bachmann(s) over the MDC.

I really wanted a 2 truck shay, later decided to convert my Bachmann 3T to a 2T. It is a great pulling loco.

 

 

Bernd's picture

Four Truck Shay

Geared,

Have you ever considered a four truck Shay? Seems like you would have an extra truck left over from the one you made a two truck out of.

Bernd

The New York, Vermont & Northern Railway   --  Route of the Black Diamonds

MDC Roundhouse Group


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