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About benshell

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    Sacramento, CA

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  1. Live Steam Salvage Tug Kit

    Nick, this is really coming together and looking amazing! The last thing I need is another project, but wow, this sure makes me want to build something like this.
  2. MTH 2017 Passenger Cars Are Shipping!

    Wow, that's crazy Chuck. Is UP the roadname you ordered? It sounds like MTH must not have anticipated the demand. I also think MTH should do more old school advertising, i.e. ads in Garden Railways magazine, because none of the garden railroaders I've talked to in my area have even heard there is an MTH 2017 catalog. Of course, now they know because I mentioned it so maybe that's the word of mouth MTH is going for, but it seems like a bit more traditional marketing would be helpful.
  3. USA Big Boy Zinc Rot!!

    Yikes, I haven't heard of that before! Wow! I'm glad I haven't noticed any of this on mine. I did notice that it's very cheap pot metal that was difficult to do anything with when I was repairing mine. JB Weld didn't seem to even stick. Do you keep the Big Boy in the house, or somewhere without climate control? I'm reading that can make a difference. Mine spent about a year in the garage when I was working on it, but otherwise stays on display in the house. I guess we better enjoy these locomotives while we have them. This also gives me second thoughts about the FEF-3!
  4. USA's Train groupe, site/ info ...

    It's been fun to be apart of the USAT G Scale Group for so many years. However, there are several other more active forums, and the software is badly outdated (and difficult to update) so it's likely to be hacked soon. It was great while it lasted, but it's not all a loss. I think the lasting value has been the information collected and the relationships formed. I'm actively working on a modern and searchable database web app to host the USA Trains information--and having a deadline will help me to get this done before the USAT G Scale Group goes offline! And forums like this (as well as Facebook) help us to stay connected. Let me know if you have any other questions or concerns. I'm trying to help minimize the loss and ultimately make USA Trains information easier to research.
  5. USA Trains GP38-2 Questions

    Are you still looking for sound? And are you comfortable with wiring? DCC sound decoders are nice because the sounds should be in sync with the motors. There's nothing wrong with a Phoenix+Airwire setup (I would say this is by far the most popular combination) but the sound isn't as impressive as what I get from my QSI Titan decoders. Unfortunately QSI Titans are currently unavailable, but I've heard that ESU V4.0 has even better sound for diesels. And if you want to use battery instead of DCC through the rails, you can get a CVP Convertr or Tam Valley Depot "DRS1 HiPower" receiver (basically a wireless DCC booster) and use an Airwire throttle to run any DCC decoder.
  6. Upgrading an AML K4

    Thanks guys! Chuck, LOL. I know you have experience with this too. Teardown is a pain, and unfortunately I know the answer to your question. I was putting it back together last Monday and was on my very last step (frame to cab brackets) when they wouldn't fit because I put the weights on the sides of the motor on backwards! I think it was just past 10am, and I finished doing the compete teardown and reassembly again by noon. Now that I know exactly how to do it I'm surprised it wasn't faster but it is really a pain. I haven't done any paint touch up yet but it's not bad, not in visible areas anyway. I also left off the brakes for now. They seemed to rub if they get just slightly bumped, and no one is going to notice when it's running.
  7. Upgrading an AML K4

    After a month off for traveling and insanely hot weather making work in the garage/outside miserable, I'm back with some exciting news and a video to share! I pressed in the rolling bearing and reassembled, and the K4 is running smoother than ever! But just in case, this time around I didn't test run first... I took this video on the very first loop around the track with the new bearing! 20 cars was no problem until the entire train was on my 2.5% grade... then I had to lighten the load to 16 cars. I could probably add a little more lead weight to improve traction, but I probably won't bother for now. I just wanted another smooth running steam locomotive that could pull a decent train, and I feel I've reached that goal now. Also, it's running at top speed, which is about 20 volts DCC. A prototypical passenger train should run a little faster, but this is faster than I run most of my trains so I'm happy with the range. I guess the next step is getting PRR heavyweights. I'd been on the lookout for Aristo-Craft cars, but at this point I'll probably wait for the new USA Trains heavyweights. In the meantime, the K4 will be engaged in frequent freight service.
  8. Goodbye QSI

    Yeah, it's unfortunate what has happened. I bought my last QSI Titan for my K4 back in February, just in time apparently. I'm still hopefully they will resurface at some point though. It's great hardware and software, it was just terrible customer support.
  9. the ultimate collection?

  10. New Project - SP GS-4 (1:29 scale)

    Wow, this is so cool Chuck! I look forward to watching your progress on this. I always wanted a 1:29th GS-4 but don't (yet) have the skills (or perhaps more accurately, the time) to build one. Do you have any USA Trains Daylight passenger cars yet? I like that they are ribbed to better match the prototypical Coast Daylight cars. The MTH and newer Accucraft cars I have are smooth sided, which would be accurate only for a Shasta Daylight which as I understand it were pulled by diesels. Still, only the original Accucraft cars are based on prototypical Coast Daylight cars, and given the cost of them I've given up on accuracy! Now if only those 2017 MTH GS-4s would ship...
  11. New Project - SP GS-4 (1:29 scale)

    Wow, I'm in suspense. This looks like quite a project!
  12. USA Dockside engine

    This is looking and sounding great Joe! And the center set Kadee looks really perfect on it. It's such a nice improvement. (You really have me tempted to get one... and they are even on sale again at Charles Ro right now. Can't get everything though and I'm gonna have to continue to past on them for now!)
  13. Upgrading aristocraft pacific steam engine

    Great job! Improved lighting sure does make a huge difference! This makes me want to work on the firebox flicker on my steam locomotives. I only have one with firebox lights, but it's too dim to really see unless you're up close and looking for it.
  14. Upgrading an AML K4

    Chuck, I will have to take a look at my USAT SD70s... I think one of them has also starting squeaking. Thanks for the suggestion! Joe, that's my thought as well. There are a lot of forces at work here, and if my motor alignment is even a thousandth off (likely!) it would have made this problem worse. I'm hoping roller bearings help. I wish I could say I finished the roller bearing assembly and tested this weekend... but just machining the bearing housing took all my limited shop time. I guess I also took the time to draw up the part in 3D and make a drawing (attached as a PDF), using Autodesk Fusion 360. I've been learning this program lately and I've been really impressed. Now I just need to press in the bearing and install. I guess I'm a bit hesitant on pressing in the bearing as there's no removing it (at least without destroying the part). I also realized that the bulky size of the new bearing housing is going to interfere with some supports for the electrical pickups. Oops. I guess I have another modification coming up. K4 Bearing Housing.pdf
  15. Upgrading an AML K4

    Hi everyone, I've been behind on the updates here, but the story continues... I (barely--the night before) finished installing DCC for my June 25th open house and (mostly) put it back together to run. I ran the locomotive a few times around the track, pulling 10 cars. It was running well, except that the chuff sync was WAY off (I accidentally calibrated it for 4x the correct number of chuffs!), until it slowed to a stop! Looking into the engine from underneath, it appeared that a wire had gotten twisted around the motor shaft. So back to the workbench it went. Over the next couple weeks I opened it up again, did a better job with my cable management, fixed the chuff issue, thoroughly tested on rollers, and then fully reassembled. I also added more weight. Last weekend I tested again, pulling 18 cars quite well (no wheel slip). I was about to take a video, when, once again, it slowed to a stop and wouldn't budge! This week I've disassembled again... more than ever before... and found the motor shaft complete frozen in the gearbox bushing. I've never seen anything like this. First I tried using my lathe chuck + vise grips and I could barely turn the bushing, but couldn't remove it. I ended using my 1 ton arbor press and it was really tough to remove! I did some polishing of the shaft in my lathe afterwards and there are some pretty big scars left (picture shown), but the bushing is free now. However, I don't want this to happen again. I texted a machinist friend today and he said it was lack of lubrication. I did lubricate before I reassembled the first time, but I was running the engine pretty hard. Clearly I need to do something to solve this, so with my friend's advice I've ordered a Needle Roller Bearing, part # HK0509, with 5mm ID, 9mm OD, 9mm width. Next up, I will have to make an all new bushing to fit this bearing. I do enjoy the challenge of doing stuff like this, but I keep thinking the project is almost done! My USA Trains Big Boy runs so smoothly and pulls so well (that's my reference point) and I just really want another steam locomotive that's comparable (but smaller and easier to carry!).