Have you ever shuddered at the suggestion that it’s time to upgrade?  It usually evokes computer obsolescence in one’s mind.  There was a saying in the 1990’s that computers and their parts were obsolete 70 days after they were first released to the public.  I don’t know how true that is today but in model railroading, upgrading is not necessary as often or is simply up to the modeler’s discretion.

I finally found some time to get to two old workhorses that needed upgrading.  They were the first two models I had built in S Scale of the CNR K-3 Pacific class, K-3-b 5584 (2003) and K-3-a 5575 (2004).  I used American Models Pacific drives which had valve gear similar to Tyco in HO.  Eventually a kit developed around them that had better etchings and better details including accurate valve gear replacements.  5584 needed the original Tyco style valve gear replaced with Baker-Pilloid and 5575 needed its tender updated.  5575 had its valve gear upgraded from Tyco style to Walshaerts in 2005 when it returned from a photo shoot in Texas severely damaged.  It had most likely been dropped on its front end by Canada Customs when inspecting it for duty valuation or any security threat.  Although insured, the USPS would not pay out due to the fact that I had no purchase receipt showing its value.  But, enough said about that. 

The first true pilot model that used all the kits parts was CNR K-3-d 5611 (2005).  All the K-3’s I have built for myself ran on the Owen Sound/Wiarton subs.

5584 With Tyco Style Valve Gear
5575 With Tyco Style Valve Gear

Both locos were first equipped for DC PFM sound but 5575 did get an early silent DCC installation so it could run on the S Scale Workshop Modular layout.

During the repair and upgrade, 5575 received new valve gear, new cast resin cylinders and a new pilot.  The tender remained the same with the standard CNR wafer herald.  5575 had this herald for most of its life and any shots I saw of it in service had this herald.  Most of its life it was stationed in Lindsay, Ontario but it ended its career in Palmerston, making it a candidate for the Owen Sound sub.

5575 with Walshaerts Valve Gear and New Pilot

CNR 5575 ended its life on the Palmerston storage track in tallow behind CNR E-10-a Mogul 81.  It then sported the roundel passenger logo.  I had lots of photos of it in that state.  I assumed that they put that logo on just before storage as CNR had a habit of doing that.  However, in 2011 I found a photo of it in steam on the Palmerston turntable, full coal load with the passenger roundel on it.  So, if my 5575 were to represent its time on the Owen Sound sub, it would need a new logo on the tender.  I decided this past summer to change the logo.  The old one was removed using a 99 proof Isopropyl alcohol on a Q-tip.  The tender sides were gently sprayed Scalecoat black where the old herald was, leaving the rear number plate and capacity numbers alone.

5575 Loco and Blank Tender

I decided to add the pieces of sheet metal on the front of the sides of the tender. 0.020 brass was used for this.  I am not certain, but I think they were put on a lot of open cab locos’ tenders as wind deflectors.  For a final touch an incandescent bulb was installed for the backup light.

New Herald and Wind Deflectors
5575’s Tender New Look

The deflectors were hand painted black then everything over-sprayed with Floquil Flat Finish.  Before the tender was re-united with the loco, the loco received the customary cab curtains.

I then decided that it was high time for 5584 to get upgraded.  In its former shape, it would not negotiate the DCC layout as the cylinders would short out on the shorter wheelbase engine truck when negotiating a 42” radius.  American Models only insulates the centres of their drivers so their valve gear is live on both sides.  They cleverly insulate the valve gear using Delrin inserts everywhere.  To get around this challenge, I cast resin cylinders and used nylon screws and a plastic sleeve to keep both sides separate.  It works fine unless the brass brake shoes get in the way.  I may try to 3D print replacement brake hangers/shoes when I get better at 3D drawing.

Therefore, 5584 needed new valve gear, new cylinders, a new pilot and eventually new steps.  If you look closely in the photo, you will notice that the original stairs are now too short.  That is because the pilot that was on there was too high.  It was a severe modification of the AM USRA plastic pilot which could no longer be used.  It is still in good shape and looks CNR enough so I may have a future use for it.

5584 upgrades

I found too that the way I had mounted the engine truck did not work and that the axel spacing on the old engine truck was too close together to allow enough swing.  So, the kit version of the engine truck with longer wheelbase was added to the mix.

Because the pilot was now at the correct level, the stairs and front handrails had to be replaced.  The list just kept on going

Not everything is painted yet but 5584 is being broken in and has performed quite well.  A few adjustments need to be made before the stairs and handrails are painted.  Of course the cab curtains will be put on.

5584 and Its New Front
5584 and 5575 With Curtains

Yes, it’s true that these locos are 18 and 19 years old but now renewed.  When I told my grandkids, they could not imagine that they were younger.

Okay, I have done my upgrades for now.  Next, back to the layout.


One thought on “Upgrades!

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