Saturday, April 30, 2016

Locomotive Breath - Part 3

I hope everybody is enjoying the spring weather!  I'd like to apologize to everybody for the delay in posts.  I have been model railroading during the blog drought however, just working on a buddy's locomotives.  Back to my project, Mascoutin Valley Railroad GP7 #217. Now we're on post 3, the DCC install and lighting affects.

Lights, Beacons, Numberboards!

Lights!  The lights I am using in all my locomotives is the 0630 Size Surface Mount LEDs.  I bought 20 of them pre-wired on eBay.  These suckers are small but they put out a ton of light!  Look at the picture below.  That's a toothpick tip and the little yellow thing is the Surface Mount LED.  They are tiny!  That is why I got them pre-wired.  Imagine having to solder those wires on the LED?  Nuts to that!

Surface Mount LEDs are Tiny!

I choose to put the SM LED right in the sockets for the lights.  I then put the lenses over the LEDs on the exterior of the sockets.  A lot of patience is required to get the tiny LEDs in the sockets.  This is by far the hardest part of the whole project.  Persistence is key!  These things look sharp when they are installed and the heartache and pain is totally worth it.

Holding the LEDs in place while the glue dries.  Good thing A ModelersLife was on to pass the time!

The Rotary Beacon is a Details West "Western Cullen" Rotary Beacon.  I looked at pictures of a real locomotive to get the placement on the roof for the beacon.  I referenced CNW 4133 again.  The picture had the beacon smack dab in the middle of the cab roof.  So I drilled out a hole large enough to fit the beacon base into the cab and then threaded the SM LED through the hole I created and glued it to the the lens.  Note: I used Testors Clear Parts Cement so it would not fog up the LED or the beacon lens.
Drilling Out Beacon Mounting in Center of Cab.
 Below is a picture of the beacon on the cab.  This will be a cool lighting effect I can't wait to see it rolling down the track with the beacon on full blast!
Finished Beacon with Surface Mount LED inside beacon lens.

Since I put the LEDs in the sockets for the forward and reverse lights, I had to do a custom job to get the numberboards done.  You may ask what do numberboards have to do with the DCC install?  Not much, but I don't want to go tearing off the shell after the DCC install just to put in numberboards.  I'll be patient and put them in prior to installation so I don't have to go back in there and re do everything or damage what I've done.

So we're sawing!  I used a razor saw to cut the numberboards off their molded on lighting piece they came on in the kit.  Once the boards were off, I painted them white.  Takes some patience here as well.  As many of you may know white paint never goes on in one coat.  It took 3 or 4 coats to get to my liking so the number decals will stick properly and look good on the loco.

Good enough!

Time for Tune Up

Before installing the SoundTraxx Decoder we want the locomotive to be running good.  So I give it my own personal tune up before installing the decoder.  I learned this tune-up technique when I was 13 and it still works to this day!

The cleanliness of your commutator is often over looked.  It is important that this is clean of carbon so your motor runs efficiently and smoothly.  Also dirty commutators can increase unwanted noise.  It should be the goal of every model railroader to have silent motors in their locomotives!  I clean the commutator first with 400 grit sandpaper.  I just hold it on the commutator and rotate the flywheels.  I don't push too hard.  Don't want to leave grooves in the metal.  After I get the heavy gunk off, I hit it with q-tip dipped liquid track cleaner of all things.  Or 91% rubbing alcohol works too.  Or Acetone.  Same method, just hold it against the commutator and rotate the flywheel.  You want the cleaner to evaporate quickly and not leave any liquid or residue.  Once dry hit the commutator one more time with a dry paper towel or q-tip.  Note:  Do not run your engine until the commutator has dried!!!  Liquid may be BAD for your electric motor.

Sounds Chips - no Frito Lays here

What is a decoder?  A decoder is a microchip that deciphers signals from a DCC command station that is being put in my locomotive to make it go forwards and backwards, light up and play sounds!  There are hundreds of decoders out there that do all sorts of things.  I chose the Soundtraxx Sound Decoder for EMD 567 Prime Mover.  The sound file that is installed on this decoder matches the motor that was in EMD GP7s.  There are two types of decoders/chips you can get from Soundtraxx that have sound effects - Hard Wired or Drop in chip.  I chose a hard wired option.  Never again! I'll explain why later.

First thing you have to do is isolate the motor from the frame.  The frame is this big piece of grounding strip that if your electrical power contacts hit it will fry your decoder! Next I had
solder hard wires to electrical pickups inside the trucks.  I solder wires directly to the pickups on the wheels so I get good conductivity from the track to the decoder.  I  used red on the right side and black on the left side of the locomotive.  These wires will be hooked up directly to the wires on decoder.  Red to red, black to black.  I match all the colors on my decoder to the NMRA DCC decoder wiring standard.  That way if someone else had to repair my locomotive other than me they could look inside and know what wire does what function.  Take a look at the wiring diagram below or follow this link to Mr. DCC University for a more detailed description:

Starting to Get the wiring done on the decoder install

Its important to plan a little bit and know how to route your wires inside the shell so you don't have spaghetti junction.  That's why I'll never do a hard wire decoder again...too many wires!  Wire Routing is a fine art and it takes patience and trial and error to get it right.  If you get I tend to do...walk away and go listen to 'A Modelers Life' Podcast.

Here's a little video with a 'Run By' of MVRR #217.  Still needs details and sideframes :-P

That's it for this time! Part IV we'll add the rest of the parts and details to the locomotive.  And with any luck it will be a completed model!

Be sure to check out my facebook page!  I am posting updates multiple times per week.  Also get a preview of the materials for the next blog.

You can find my Facebook Page here.  Make Sure to give it a 'like' to keep up with my progress

Thanks for reading!  Until next time keep 'er in Notch 8!

1 comment:

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