"We CARE about brass; it may be your Hobby but it is our Business"

 

 

Custom Services
 

 

7th Street shops wishes to formally endorse Railmaster's Sn3 kits as being a craftsman project well worth undertaking. We know,  we know; these kits have been out for a loooong time and we are a bit late in our enthusiasm. Nevertheless we have found the C-17 and C-18 kits (the limit of our experience so far) to be a great pleasure to work with. Anyone with a little bit of determination and the discipline to take their time (read the instructions!) can produce a very reasonable locomotive within a reasonable amount of time. Best of all the Railmaster Kits put the enjoyment of building a kit locomotive back into the hobby - especially in the old time Sn3 genre where the scale truly was a craftsman scale.
 
Our project - Custom Build a D&RGW C-17 into an East Tennessee & Western North Carolina no. 5 in Sn3.

The versatility of these kits has to be one of the most exciting things about them. If I were going to model the DSP&P in Sn3, for instance, the C-16 Kit would provide the majority of my Cookes and Baldwin 2-8-0s and it would not take long to build a sizable roster. John Waite who models the East Tennessee & Western North Carolina contacted Jeff Smith of Railmaster for a C-17 kit to convert to engine number 5. Jeff put a lot of extra parts in the kit to aid John in capturing the Tweetsie look. John then turned the kit over to 7th Street Shops to have the engine custom built, DCC/Sound installed and  custom painted, lettered and weathered. We would like to share some of our experiences with you here.

 

Let me start by saying the idea of soldering this kit together may sound a little advanced but with a little bit of practice we feel it is by far the best and most efficient option. Some of you will swear by ACC or perhaps even epoxy but the overall reliability of low temperature soldering was most appealing to our craftsman. We even baked the paint with complete success! The metal was tested to withstand temperatures well above what would be required for 145 degree f solder (70c) and certainly safe enough even for the 275 degree f (135c) solder although we do suggest you practice with this and get your iron temp setting just right. We recommend a Weller 40 watt iron with a temp control station and the low temp soldering kit from Rickety Rails.

A 40 watt iron set to a low temperature is recommended as opposed to a small (15 - 25 watt iron) because the big iron will not drain heat as easily when the tip is applied and it will recover faster.


 
 Briefly, the preliminaries for building this model included a great deal of study of the few available photos as well as the very nice drawing of 5 in the Dec. 1968 issue of Model Railroader (Pg. 70). John was very helpful in providing what he could including a copy of his book "The Blue Ridge Stemwinder". A study of the parts also made it clear that in spite of Jeff's excellent effort to provide every part he could there were still parts that simply did not exist and would have to be fabricated. This part of the project was nowhere near as cavalier as it is to write about after the fact. It took a lot of time and frankly some questions simply had to be decided upon as the project went. With this process now stated in so many words let us share a few of the highlights for your enjoyment and hopefully inspiration.

 

 


 
We started with the tender and followed the instructions for the underframe fairly closely. But the letter keys in this photo shows the changes we made or parts we added; G - a custom tool box (brass - PBL) provided by John; H - we reworked the kit tool boxes to appear more like the Tweetsie style; I - the coal back board was cut more to a proper shape; J - the water hatch lid was corrected with new hinges; K - both front and rear end sills were reshaped and sill steps were fabricated out of brass for all four corners. We don't always cotton to what Paul Scholes suggests but in this case a removable deck lid, as opposed to taking the tank off the frame, has always been an appealing idea, especially since DCC was to be installed.

 


 
Another view of the tender shows one of the few places we actually used glue (epoxy) at L to attach the wooden coal gate.

 


 
Of course we checked and fine tuned the running gear to make sure it all worked without a hitch. A - we mounted the motor so that it was completely isolated from the frame. This is important to protect the DCC decoder that would be installed. B - a Grizzly Mountain Engineering cam wiper was also installed. The stock cam provided by the kit was used. C - the smoke box of the Tweetsie engines overhung the pilot to the point that a deck was pointless so we reworked this area to give it an open frame. D - the pilot beam was also reworked (see next photo). E - the brake cylinders provided in the kit were unacceptable both in their size and how they mounted. We found a couple of white metal cylinders from Wiseman Models that were more appropriate. F - we also replaced the stock drawbar with a more conventional style from Overland Models.

 


 
The Tweetsie consolidations were a wealth of unique details that set them apart from their Colorado cousins. The pilot deck was reworked to an open frame because the smokebox completely covered over the deck so that it could not be used to stand on. Nevertheless ICC rules of 1911 required provision on the pilot were a crewman could stand. The Tweetsie response was as you see here; C1 shows the bracing for the pilot truck damper as well as the cross member. C2 shows the large rider steps bracketed off of the pilot frame. Also visible is the rather elaborate hand rail on the pilot beam. The cowcatcher was also modified and PSC parts were used for the gladhand and pipe fittings. Note the unique coupler lift bar.
 

 
Another angle on the pilot. D1 - post 1911 steel pilot beam; D2 - boiler flue cowcatcher; D3 - PSC gladhand casting; D4 - Tweetsie style coupler lift bar; D5 - Tweetsie style hand rails; D6 - unusually wide spacing of pilot braces.

 


 
B1 - by the mid teens the engines had been electrified. We replaced the C-17's generator with a smaller one that seemed more in line with the Tweetsie type; B2 - The walk boards were also configured to match No.5; I1 - a hole was drilled in the top of the boiler inside the cab to accommodate the cab light when DCC was installed.

 


 
B3 - we traded the bell for an air ringer type; B4 - Washout plugs were located in the appropriate places; B5 - The Headlamp was traded for a style more like that which the RR used and it was mounted on the right type of base; B6 - none of the injector valves were correct to the Tweetsie style so we fabricated our own; B7 - the RR also had an unusual sanding arrangement with two rather large pipes descending into what must have been a pneumatic manifold (see next photo); B8 - Underneath the fireman's side of the cab the RR installed a stubby 24" (?) diameter air tank; B9 - we reworked the cab windows and panels to match those of No.5.

 


 
B10 - a PSC injector casting was cut up, drilled and modified to form what appeared to be a manifold device for distributing sand for traction. No information on this device was found so our attempt is a best guess.

 


 
The assembled engine was then washed, blasted with a fine silicon grit and then cleaned and painted with Scale Coat colors. Each coat of paint was baked at 145 degrees f for at least an hour. The engine was lettered with Micro Scale alphabet sets then weathered. A final coat of clear protects everything. The final operation was to install a Tsunami TSU 750 decoder.
 
We are currently working on a C-18 for Geoff Hamway but if you would like a Railmaster kit built to your specifications please contact us. We are also available to build other white metal, brass, plastic, wood and Urethane kits.
   

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Copyright 2009 7th Street Groups L.L.C. All rights reserved.
Established July 1st, 2009.