This is Going To Take a Bit

I was inspired earlier in the week to start in on a(nother) project, converting an ancient, original center drive Weaver RS-3 to Proto:48. While Comstock Road can only plausibly host one locomotive at a time, having a backup is something I want both in case of unexpected issues and so that I can still push cars around while re-detailing one to proper CNR outline. Thus, I picked up a consignment Weaver RS-3 with drive issues and ordered the drop in conversion axles from NWSL. There it sat for a couple of years.

For a change of pace from machining type model building, I took up the project again expecting to have the swap done in an hour. Here are the two axle types for comparison.

You can see the first gearbox already converted in the background. It was non-trivial only in the sense that the little nut and bolt sets holding the gearbox together were very stubborn. I foresee a purchase of precision nut drivers in my future because getting a good grip on the nuts with the end of my needle nose pliers was challenging.

Sadly, my quick project was not to be. I got the second axle of the first truck done and reassembled the truck. I quickly discovered that the new axles which are supposed to fit into the holes in the sideframes which bear the weight of the model were too short. A bit of internet searching later turned up reports of others with similar issues. It appears that a packaging/labelling error is too blame. Being way past a reasonable return date, I elected to go with another solution.

The alternate solution is to narrow the bolsters and cut new notches in the tabs on the sideframes that clip into the bolsters. Not for the faint of heart but not undoable. The upside of this approach is that the sideframes are brought in to closer to scale width. The downside is that this is a one way trip whereas the drop-in would be reversible. (Proto:48 locos have a much smaller market than O 2-rail.)

I considered making the modifications with my mill but I have no experience in machining plastic and did not want to risk melting or shattering something that is hard to replace. I settled on a combination of jewelers saw, x-acto knife and files. The initial effort before life intervened is a qualified success. I need to tweak the notch but otherwise I can believe that I can do this. We shall see.

If it all goes pear shaped, I plan to mill a replacement bolster out of brass or aluminum. Hopefully, that won’t be necessary but knowing that I have a backup plan gave me the confidence to dive in and start hacking away.

2 thoughts on “This is Going To Take a Bit”

  1. Hello Mark, I recently posted a similar project with a Weaver GP 38-2 on the O scale shelf layout FB page. Two solutions have come to light, longer axles from Jay at Right O Way and an offer for 3d printed bolsters. The axles are in the mail, the bolsters I’m not sure of yet.
    Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the info. I am now a member of O Scale Shelf Layouts! I had already shortened the first bolster end by the time I posted so I am more or less committed to the surgical route but I will keep that 3D printed bolster in mind.

      Like

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