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enginear joe

USA vs Accucraft vs Fine arts models vs.....

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 I have never bought the big ticket engines. I look at them all the time. I even started buying 20' stainless curves incase I ever get one. I look at the USA Big Boy all the time. I figure someday I'd start with their Hudson.

I can't help but see engines pop up for sale that I know nothing about. The new Accucraft Allegheny is one. They also had a Big Boy and other manufacturers made ones earlier I believe.

 Anyways all I care about is how they run. I can appreciate the value in museum quality level trains. For my RR, they have to run outside with real rock ballast and other things that might prove catastrophic in a crash or derail and tip over.

So for anyone that has the experience with the older finer models, how well do they perform? or are they "shelf queens"? I'm not bashing anything. I'm looking for opinions on investing in one someday.

PS. I bought the recent Accucraft pass cars and I really enjoy the quality of how well they roll.

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I own one of the USAT Hudsons ( in UP paint )  and can tell you that mine at least runs like a champ. Its my favorite steam engine and pulls like a tank. Detail is great as well as the sound system. I would have no problem buying another. you might want to pick one up as I think they have stopped production of them. 

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Well I can tell you this about the USA Big Boy...You better have absolutely perfectly level track from side to side and front to back for it to run on otherwise it will derail. Not because of suspension problems but because of the semi-fine scale wheel flanges. I imagine the FAM are the same.  

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1 hour ago, Dave Stubbs said:

I own one of the USAT Hudsons ( in UP paint )  and can tell you that mine at least runs like a champ. Its my favorite steam engine and pulls like a tank. Detail is great as well as the sound system. I would have no problem buying another. you might want to pick one up as I think they have stopped production of them. 

I am jealous, wanted a UP paint scheme but are very rare. I just bought a NYC Hudson at thanksgiving from Charles Ro.

 

Joe, if you decide to get one buy from Charles Ro, the first one I got could not even pull its own tender. They replaced the engine with no problem. The one I have now is great. Runs and sounds good, I really enjoy it. But they are out of production so I would not wait to long to decide.

Brian

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I don't have any fine scale models--I have mostly 1:29th--but of everything I have including the USA Trains Big Boy the pickiest train I have is Bachmann Thomas with Anne and Clarabel. If I'm preparing for an open house and want to make sure everything runs perfectly, all I need to do is test with Thomas to ensure my track is squeaky clean, and Anne and Clarabel to make sure there are no twists in the track. These longer 2-axle cars with no springs or flex will derail on the slightly twist much more readily than the Big Boy. (And Chuck, I wouldn't consider the Big Boy to have semi-fine scale flanges... I haven't measured to compare, but I'm pretty sure they are much deeper than Accucraft 1:32 and other fine scale models.)

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Hi Joe and Happy new year to Lewiston! (is that Lewiston pennsylvania? because I am a member of the PRRT&HS which has restored the station there) I run a good deal of high end models outdoors with a ground level line and ballasted track with no problems I once had  a spectacular derailment of my scratchbuilt in brass 4-8-4 SNCF electric(2D2 9100) which fell off the railroad just where its 3 feet of the ground and that smashed the front badly. But as I had built it, I spent that summer vaccation repairing it... But otherwise it's ok with most live steam locos especially Asters which hitherto were sturdy and where everything can be accessed to with screws like meccano. I do have a good friend who has a Fine Arts streamlined Dreyfus Hudson, and who never takes it out of his glass case, because he says, every time he, does there is something which breaks off. But I do own, since a few  years a Fulgurex electic model of a DE Caso Mikado (I am building a live steam model of it also) which is very fine and fragile and in good weather and with great care I run it . Your pike seems to have very good track so I would think that it should not be a problem, with proper care. One thing which could be a problem is curve radius as most of these are finescale you need to use at least 11' radius curves and preferably 14' radius curves  as there may not be enough  clearance between poney wheels and cylinders etc. Ditto with pointwork all my pointwork is at least N°8 pointwork. Especially on crossovers where there is a reverse curve. wheel standards could also be a problem as fine scale wheel need closer guard rails and frog rails around the frog. That is also why I am an advocate of good trackwork and wide curves. we run FEFs, big boys, K4 cab forwards French and English and German locos at my steam ups at track speed with safety and comfidence that there won't be derailments. I spend a good deal of time on trackwork to keep it in shape, as my pike is now 36 years old. There have been many photos of the track on this forum.

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Thanks to all, and Happy New Year to you!

I do have at least all 14' curves or bigger outside. Inside the house is much smaller, 10 and 11.6' curves.

Almost all the switches are Aristo stainless. The guide rails aren't the best on those.

If I own an engine, it is going to run. I have no use for anymore shelf queens. I do understand that many brass engines have delicate parts that break off if mis-handled.

Every year I try and re-level all my layout outside to insure that there's no major dips or sagging ballast sections from winter's wrath. There's always some that I can't eliminate.

BTW I'm in Lewiston, NY

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I have seen photos of your layout and indeed the trackwork looks very good; which is what can permit you to run high end locos in my book just be carefull on those 10 curves but you should be OK

 Best,

Simon

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On 12/24/2017 at 11:43 AM, benshell said:

 (And Chuck, I wouldn't consider the Big Boy to have semi-fine scale flanges... I haven't measured to compare, but I'm pretty sure they are much deeper than Accucraft 1:32 and other fine scale models.)

 

I'll stand by my statement that the USA Trains Big Boy uses Semi Scale wheel Flanges particularly on the drivers which leads to being more derailment prone.

 

I measured some wheel flange depth on various other manufacturers engines and rolling stock wheels...here's what I came up with...

  • USA Trains SD70 - 3.3mm deep
  • MTH Dash-8 - 3.05mm deep
  • MTH Passenger Car 2.50mm deep
  • USA Freight Car 3.2mm deep
  • MTH Big Boy and Challenger Driver 3.0mm deep
  • San-Val 1:29 freight truck wheels 3.0mm deep
  • USA Trains Big Boy 2.00mm deep

1mm doesn't sound like much but it's 33% less in height. 3mm = roughly 1/8" whereas 2mm = roughly 5/64" 

 

What's odd is the NMRA recommends 3mm tall flanges for DEEP large scale wheels but both NMRA and G1MRA recommend 2.0mm max wheel flange depth for Number 1 scale trains.

 

So it seems USA Trains follows the NMRA spec for deep flanged wheels @ 3MM on their whole lineup except on the 1:29 Big Boy and Hudson they went with the 2mm spec for #1 Gauge 1:32 trains...now that's kinda odd??

 

Several years back Aristo-Craft came out with the replacement 3 axle drives with the stainless steel wheels and 2.0mm flanges. They didn't sell as folks that bought and used them complained about derailments caused by the small flanges. RLD ended up blowing them out at like $30 each.

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I turn down on the lathe anything over 2mm flange and usually keep them under 15mm. and have no derailments or problems. I have built a six wheeler SNCF car which has a very long wheelbase over 10" long and isn't sprung (although there is some vertical play) and have used some Aristoctraft wheelsets for it because they had the right diameter, I turned the flanges down to 1.3 mm and it sails around the layout without any problems., Of course I use 11' radius curves minimum and N° 8 points throughout. The Comstock wheels I have been using on my Piko cars are very fine and run very well.

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I have found by chance last month, a Fine Art Models PRR M1 a in passenger livery in a Paris Hobby shop with the glass case at an affordable price. So I bought it. I am amazed at the sturdiness of its construction contrarily to what I thought. after a good running in and as soon as the weather got better I tried it outdoors: To my great deception it derails on my inner circuit as this has homebuilt track which was set with an alowance for sideplay on curves it was therefore at 46mm gauge (Early Asters such as the PLM pacific were built with a wide back to back measure and needed 45 mm. track to run on). As this track has been out in the great outdoors since 1982 (and some portions since 1978)  it has stretched to 47mm gauge in places and as the wheels are finescale width (about 1mm less width on the tread) and measure overall 47mm it will slip between the rails at places. On the outer circuit made of Tenmille track (Tenmille of Britain made the first gauge one track with the plastic treated UV resistant for outdoor use), the engine sailed around the pike magestically for about an hour with a long freight in tow. However I use N° 8 pointwork throughout on the main line. So that's how Fine Art Models run on our track. scale flanges has nothing to do with this issue its the narrow wheel tread that created this problem. On the other hand a friend who has  an SP Cab forward from Accucraft could only run on the inner track as on the outer track it was too stiff and popped out of the rails at ereas on the curves of the Tenmille track. So this should give you an answer about that. The creator of Fine Art Models did not intend these engines for running. But I have a long practice of running brass in HO so I think I can do it.

P1060790.JPG

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There's no "like reply" buttons here or other features. So I have to reply and say thanks. I have nothing to add and I don't wish to detract anything from that post with the great PRR M1 picture above!!

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Progress report since then:

 I have fixed the gauge problem as this was on handlaid track so  I made the corrections in the gauge where it was necessary and it now runs every where. Then other problems came up as after all this engine was released in 1992 and is now some 26 years old. First I dealt with the most obvious shorts because everything is brass and that means the brake gear and would often short out the engine. Little by little these problems were solved, not perfect yet, but it seems that I am finding solutions. One of them is to coat the inner side of the brake hangers with epoxy so that it insulates them. Better results came from carfull adjustments of these. Then appeared another problem: The pick up shoes are about right for HO scale but couldn't handle the volt amperes used to haul heavy trains (although the motors & drive train  could). First I lengtened them so they would always contact the back of the wheels then after I realised that the amps needed made these overheat and melt the nylon bush that they are inserted in, I made new ones from phosphor bronze bands about 3 mm wide, soldered to PC board supports screwed to the chassis with the original pick up system's screws. These seem to handle the current quite well.

 

Not being interested in sound units I dismantled this and am using a battery for the lighting system. Taking out the electronic board resulted in about a 45% increase in performance of the locomotive. The engine now has beautiful slow speed for switching and yet reaches a good 70 mph track speed even with a heavy train on 24 volts. If things stay as they are, it will continue in this state; if the shorts become a problem once more I might switch to battery power, this would eliminate both the pick up and the shorts problem, and added bonus would permit me to run this with live steam locos.

 

One last thing I felt I should mention as a tribute to the high standards of construction in this locomotive and to reassure those who might be interested in exploring these high end locomotives on their garden layouts, is the fact that after three months of very heavy manipulating of this fine locomotive I have suffered very few breakage of parts and the soldering seems indestructible, leading me to think that the builder has used brazing. The only part broken is aouple of 1/32" diameter wires soldered tot the tender top representing a fire tool rack, which broke when I tried to restraighten it after having worked on the tender upside down. Incredible after hours of work with the engine upside down and removing the cab and back head three times.

 

 However to answer this  forums original queery, I would only recomend this to model railroaders who have fine track and point work of large radius (over 10' radius and N° 8 pointwork) and who are experienced modelers. when you start to dismantle such a high end locomotive, you need steel nerves and to have some experience. A lot of it  by the way, comes from modeling in HO for forty years.

 

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Since my last post I have been taking most of the gremlins out of my Fine Art Models M1a mountain. New pick up shoes to replace the tiny HO scale size pick up pistons and getting rid of nearly all the short circuit problems as it is fine scale.

 

However to my utter surprise it has a stiff point in the mechanism, meaning that for a quarter of a turn of the drivers there is some resistance which creates a nasty noise. This shouldn't happen on a loco with that kind of price tag! Try as hard as I can I have not been able to situate what does this. As the mechanism is very badly designed with the motors in the boiler, the superstructure cannot be removed from the chassis making it nearly impossible to trouble shoot. Also the chain drive broke on three instances, I was able to locate identical chain links to repair, but this is both a noisy and a fragile solution. So my newer judgement is if you want these locos to run you better not get into these. You are much better off with an MTH, Märklin or similar loco. Or again live steam.

 I am very disapointed with this loco. And I thought that it would be good for others to know and be warned. These are ment for collectors and shelve queens they are. Alas.

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Wow!! Problem almost sounds like a driver quartering issue. Only way to tell is disconnect the motor(s), remove all rods and see how well the drivers spin on there own. Then add rods until the bind shows up but without being able to disassemble the thing you're kinda f**ked :Hushed_Face_Emoji_large(24x24):

 

I have a DJH brass 0-6-0 and I want to put a speaker in the tender...but tender doesn't come apart as soldered together...now who comes up with this kind of engineering??

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Yes and the higher the price the worst it gets usually. I have more problems with my high end stuff than with the regular ones. The only solution in sight is to dismantle the loco (I know how to remove the chains) and rebuild the drive system correctly! All the while solving the stiff point in the motion. I have done that many times in HO and even in gauge one, on my scratch built NORD Mikado tank chassis. Which has run on air (its live steam). there is a post in myLargescale.com on it. Or convert it to live steam which would be the better proposition.

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