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Remotoring brass locomotives

Replacing an old, tired motor, in your car for example, with a nice new crate motor with the latest technology and a lot more power, makes driving your car a lot more fun. The same rule applies to your locomotives. In this instance, better performance, in terms of current draw and speed control, will be the result.


Remotoring in the process by which the original motor is replaced by a newer, better motor. In the case of DCC, replacing older, noisier open frame motors with a modern can motor can make the model move better, and use less current in the process.

In this example, a Tenshodo open frame motor in a brass locomotive is replaced with a can motor from NorthWest Short Line. Another advantage other than lower current and better speed control is that this motor kit comes with a flywheel. The image shows a Tenshodo open frame motor.

It is an excellent candiate, as it has a loose magnet, which reduces the efficiency of the motor. This is turn increases the current draw. Remotoring is a process that takes a lot of time and preparation. Both before and after you buy a motor. Choose a motor that will fit, and with a current draw compatible with a DCC decoder.

The purpose is to replace old, noisy, high current motors with newer, better motors with less current draw. This is not an easy undertaking, as the motor must be aligned with the center of the frame, as well as with the drive shaft s. The better the alignment, the better it will work.

Excessive angles can result in cogging, or even jams in the driveline, which could damage or destroy a DCC decoder. Your hobby shop can help you select a motor from a number of suppliers. Basically a motor that is about the same size as the original is what is needed. It is important that it fit into the body without any interference. Steam locomotives are not too hard, as the can have a lot of room in the boiler or cab.

Diesels, particularly the narrow hood units, are a little more difficult. Some suppliers offer a "kit" designed to easily fit into a specific popular brand of locomotive. It is also possible to buy new, better gearboxes, with ratios that can reduce the top speed while enhancing low speed operations. Installing thrust washers in an old or new gearbox can also minimize problems caused by too much play between the worm gear shaft and its bearings.

Another possible modification is replacement wheel or driver sets. This can cure wobbling, or other wheel related problems, such as plating flaking off or poor gauge. Replacement gears are also available to replace worn or damaged metal or plastic gears. How the motor is fixed in place is up to you. Double sided tape, screws, or silicone caulk will work.

When choosing a new motor, there are a number of options.

remotoring brass locomotives

The supplier will often supply details such as. When uncertain which motor to use, select the largest diameter, longest motor that will fit the space available. Stalling is a condition when the motor stops rotating, because the load torque is greater than the motor shaft torque.It does not have a can motor and the gearing is some what rough.

I would like information about how to do something like this. It may be that I am WAY above my head and will need to send the locomotive to someone else for the work. I would like your feedback and any websites that I might read to help me learn about this project. As for what your abilities are I have no idea.

remotoring brass locomotives

If you send it to someone for the work you need done could cost you more than what you paid for the loco! What makes you think it needs new gear boxes? Maybe a good cleaning and re-lube is in order.

Any kind of gear box replacement will need special tooling like a wheel and gear puller, and a quarterer to reset the drivers at the proper quarter. Replacing the motor may need some fabrication of a motor mount. Any older open frame motor can be tuned up with new super magnets, cleaning the commutator and brushes, and lubing the bearings.

A lot cheaper than a replacement can motor. Re- motoring is pretty simple. You can use black silicone, you can use a motor mount, or sometimes you can attach to the existing mounts.

As for the gearbox. Unless they are completely worn out they will do. The can motor makes the major difference in the running quality of a well lubed engine with a good tuned mechanism. True, most gear boxes last almost forever and can be cleaned and relubed. The major problem is the tubing to the gear boxes. If the tubing is dried out, it will cause vibrations and poor running even when a new can motor is installed.

If you must replace the tubing it is best to replace it with new tubing.Click here to see what you are missing! Do they all need repowering, what criteria applies? Would a can motor possibly negate the need to repower? Lots of questions here, so I hope this will be one of those posts that help a large number of members.

Thanks for you time and info. One had a can motor, one an open frame. The open frame is running fine for now. Neither has been DCC'd yet. That ran well for about an hour and then died.

So I had it remotored with flywheels. The crucial point as you recognize is to isolate the motor. You are going to have to open the units up anyway - can or not - bec. Given that, I'd remotor with a can if it has an open frame motor. Those have much lower current draws than open frame and the addition of a flywheel s makes a big difference in smooth running.

I also add wipers to the "ground" side drivers to augment the tender pickup through the throwbar. Just a short piece of PC tie material and phosphor bronze wipers, double-sided foam taped to the underframe. My 2 cents.

Walt in Sausalito. One way to isolate the motor is to use GE silicone sealer. Use double sided sticky tape to position the motor using it to keep the motor from touching anything metal and put the silicone around the tape and bottom of the motor.

Current draw is one criteria by which you'd decide to remove an older open-frame motor and replace it with a can motor.

Pound for pound, a can motor almost always draws a fraction of the current used by an open frame. This may be especially true with a large, heavy, mainline-type steam engine with a big original motor. If you choose a DCC decoder with a 1-amp rating and your loco draws, say, 1. Granted, most adults don't operate their scale brass at full power or full wheel slip, but it's good to have your entire electrical system operational under even a worst-case scenario. The can motor is a solution to the current draw.

If the loco has a smooth-running open frame motor, its current draw is well within your chosen decoder's limit, and you can fully isolate the motor frame from the chassis, as the previous poster suggested, stick with the original motor. I agree, adding the extra pickup wipers is a huge help. I always add wipers to the right side insulated wheels on a brass engine's tender trucks, and as mentioned, to some of the left-side insulated loco drivers.

My equipment may have other maladies, but stalling due to poor electrical pickup isn't usually one of them. The attached images show wipers added to a Rivarossi the ideas and process are similar from brass locos. The tender trucks were all insulated with no pickups from the factory so I made wipers from. The engine wipers are on PC ties, same phosphor bronze material, screwed to holes drilled and tapped in the loco frames.

This engine has a truly bogus spring-loaded-pin pickup system for some right-side drivers, so I added wipers to that side, as well; that's why you see wipers on both sides in the photos. This engine has its own quirks, but it keeps going.Here is where we get our hands dirty.

How to regear and place can motors in brass locomotives

You may have heard the old saying that there are many ways to skin a rabbit. That also applies to reworking and improving brass models. My intent is to demonstrate methods of improving the operational characteristics of brass models by using some basic tools that you may already have and for a minimal amount of money for parts.

I want to remove some of the trepidation you may have about removing those screws and disassembling an expensive model. You CAN do this! The remaining more complex issues go beyond the scope of this page and may require specific equipment, machining capabilities or more advanced techniques.

Take a look at these recent projects and my clinic for ideas that may help you with your project. If you have any questions, please contact me at CWRailman cox. Click on the small thumbnail images to get a larger image. This project is in response to numerous emails we received asking if the motor we used in the Mantua General and Bachman remotoring projects would work in a Rivarossi Check out all three of these projects to see the subtle differences in each installation.

While it is not within the scope of this project, several visitors have asked if this conversion is applicable to the Model Engineering Works MEW version of the GE 44 Tonner. Besides being included in the Keystone kit, they are also sometimes seen on eBay and Timonium as separate items; it would seem that NWSL offered them as bare drives as well; they're also sometimes seen as drives in diecast IVERS 70T models, since the instructions for that white metal shell kit recommended the NWSL drive or Tenshodo spuds as drive choices.

They also came with at least two different motors," …… Thanks Chris for the additional info.

remotoring brass locomotives

Produced in by a company called Continental and sold in kit form through Hi Quality Model Distributors of Los Angeles, this vintage Chicago Great Western is a fine example of the very early brass models imported into the US. I suppose this match up was an attempt to make the model appear similar to the ten wheelers used by the Southern Pacific.

This particular model was procured from an Ebay seller and was advertised as good running. As it arrived in our shops it did not run and could not run. First the tender trucks had been installed with the solid electrical conducting wheels on the wrong side.

That was immediately corrected. Next, during bench testing with the model blocked up, the motor would not turn. The superstructure was removed, the motor freed up and the armature shaft lubricated. Once the motor was operational the commutator was polished up. This is a process we do to every model that comes to our shops even if we plan on installing a new motor. We take and record the readings as a performance bench mark. We decided to see what improvements could be made without spending a lot of money on this project.

In response to several emails I have received I have attached video's showing several of these locomotives in operation.

remotoring brass locomotives

Click on the appropriate image to see the attached video's. To facilitate faster loading of our Projects Page we have started to archive some of the older projects into this easier loading format.

If you see a project of particular interest you can download the file onto your computer. A host of colorful characters are on hand to see for themselves that the latest project to come out of the California Western Locomotive and Car Rebuild shops is not a rumor or April Fools joke. This is a first, but it appears that the shop crews, who in the past have refused to work on any piece of motive power that was not steam powered, have indeed worked their magic on a diesel.As with many brass locomotives that pre-date DCC the motor is not isolated from the frame.

The drive shaft is attached to the frame by a metal bracket. For DC the frame acts as pickup from one rail and one side of the wheel axles picks up from the other rail.

Why I Prefer Brass Locomotives

For DCC the motor must be totally isolated from the frame. This can be very tricky to accomplish, especially in smaller locomotives where there isn't much room to work. Bill Payne, fellow member of our NMR club is far more knowledgeable than me about solving these kinds of problems. He came up with a way to to do the engine remotoring and isolation. His ideas may help you with your engine remotoring and decoder installations.

We began this project early in It took awhile because we had to source parts from Northwest Short Line NWSL and do some major surgery on the drive shaft to shorten it and connect it to the new motor. Using calipers we determined that we could fit in a single shaft 1.

This is a smooth running permag miniature motor that is 16 mm wide x 27 mm long. This set has 1. It is a versatile set to match up motors and the shaft to the gears. By trial and error and some measuring we determined that we could fit the motor if the shafts from both motor and gears could be trimmed to allow a bare minimum of play once the couplings were installed.

We floated the motor in silicon caulk to isolate the metal from the shay's frame and let the caulk set up. We used a thin piece of styrene and cut a barrier that could be placed between the motor and the frame. For some reason the connection between the shafts works better if one shaft is slightly offset from the other. I don't understand the physics as to why this is. You can see in the photo how much the shafts had to be shortened to fit inside the shay's boiler and cab.I have an old Athearn switcher in which I had installed a Lenz decoder against the roof above the motor.

It worked OK but the shell didn't fit propery due to the lack of space. The old motor also had a higher current draw than I would have preferred. This is an area of the hobby that I don't know much about. I had remotored an Athearn engine many years ago, but usually shy away from this kind of work. Part of the problem is that I didn't understand how to measure the universals and other parts in order to buy the right materials. I had an old non-digital caliper made by Pacific Fast Mail that measured only in HO scale inches and I never mastered measuring the fractions.

Bill Payne, fellow member of our Nottawasaga Model Railway Club is good at this stuff so he led me through the process. He began by giving me a lesson on how to use an electronic caliper with digital display. A caliper can be used to measure inside dimensions like the space in the Athearn shell and the depth available. It can also be used to measure wire for handrails, grab irons, stirrup steps and to find the right size drill bit.

It can be used to check the size of wheels when buying replacements. In this case we needed to confirm the motor shaft diameter and ascertain the gear box shaft diameter so that a flywheel could be installed and the universals could be matched. As Bill explained, the key is to choose universals that have the same size ball and socket cups for interconnecting.

For example, if you check the nwsl. Ball dimensions can be combined. If you want to use a different ball size, then look for another part number that will let you connect to the shafts in question. The Athearn switcher had a larger shaft at the gear box than the 2 mm shaft of the Sagami motor. So, it's not as complicated as I thought.

Model Railroading > Repowering Brass Steamers and DCC

NWSL also sells prime mover upgrades for Athearn diesels and there are lots of notes on their website. Other upgrades are listed for Roundhouse and other engines. While we're at it, let's consider measuring with a vernier or micrometer. This is from Bill Payne's clinic at out club. A vernier handles larger sizes. It is normally for up to 6 inches but can go up to 24 inches. A micrometer is for handling much smaller sizes, normally in 1 inch increments. O - 1" is a typical range.

If the basic size is 1" inchthen 1 divided into 10 divisions would be 0.Copies of these clinics can be accessed using the links below. This clinic will show you how to take photographs of models and other railroad scenes. Topics include lighting, composure, exposure, and my rules I use when taking photographs.

This clinic will show you how to install DCC decoders in steam and diesel locomotives. This clinic talks about modeling applications for miniature Lathes and Mills. Various applications are illustrated and discussed. The machines and their accessories are also discussed. Brass steam locomotives have a reputation for running poorly. This clinic will discuss the common problems and show you how to fix them.

A step by step example of a locomotive repair will be illustrated. This clinic is tailored to the beginner who wants learn how to improve the running of those cranky steam locomotives. Re-motoring and re-gearing will be discussed and illustrated in detail.

Topics include motor and gearbox selection, motor mount construction, and the use of universal joint couplings. This clinic is designed to remove the mystery and fear of installing decoders in brass steam locomotives. Both non-sound and sound decoders are discussed and several Tsunami sound decoder installations are shown as examples.

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