Author Topic: Older N scale Con-Cor steam  (Read 307 times)

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woodone

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Older N scale Con-Cor steam
« on: March 02, 2019, 10:47:00 AM »
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I have and older Con-Cor S-1, which was made by Kato way back when.
The tender has very poor power pick up via the wheels. Each wheel has a small grove machined into the back of the wheel. There is a small strip of phosphors bronze that rides in these groves. The strip does not seem to have any spring pressure to the wheel grove (that I can see).each strip has a wire attached that goes to the decoder.
 This is a sound decoder installed steamer with an Vanderbilt tender, so there is no room for an keep alive.
Any ideas how to improve the power pick up?

Thanks in advance!

David K. Smith

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Re: Older N scale Con-Cor steam
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2019, 11:44:29 AM »
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IIRC, Bachmann made a Vandy Spectrum tender. But I might be wrong about that...

 
« Last Edit: March 02, 2019, 11:46:13 AM by David K. Smith »
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jdcolombo

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Re: Older N scale Con-Cor steam
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2019, 11:49:13 AM »
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I have and older Con-Cor S-1, which was made by Kato way back when.
The tender has very poor power pick up via the wheels. Each wheel has a small grove machined into the back of the wheel. There is a small strip of phosphors bronze that rides in these groves. The strip does not seem to have any spring pressure to the wheel grove (that I can see).each strip has a wire attached that goes to the decoder.
 This is a sound decoder installed steamer with an Vanderbilt tender, so there is no room for an keep alive.
Any ideas how to improve the power pick up?

Thanks in advance!

Change the tender or at least the tender trucks to ones with the "cone and cup" pickup system (later Kato; later Bachmann - at least, on the Berkshire tender that I have). 

John C.

Bill H

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Re: Older N scale Con-Cor steam
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2019, 11:34:22 PM »
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IIRC, Bachmann made a Vandy Spectrum tender. But I might be wrong about that...
DKS is correct, they come up on the bay frequently.
Kind regards,
Bill

mmagliaro

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Re: Older N scale Con-Cor steam
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2019, 12:49:58 AM »
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I think you mean the Kato S-2 4-8-4, right?

Inside the tender, there are supposed to be two phosphor bronze strips in the floor, and the "thumbs" from the truck pickup plates you describe are supposed to protrude up into the tender floor, so that those sprung bronze strips keep downward pressure on the plates and wheels.   

The later Kato axle-point pickup system (which also used pressure strips) can actually still work pretty well if you solder wires directly to the truck thumbs because the tender weight bears on the points of the axles and keeps contact with the cone-shapes pockets that the axles ride in.  But on the S-2 (and the 4-6-4 Hudson), if there are no pressure strips, those pickup plates just flop around and the contact is terrible.

It sounds from what you describe that somebody put a decoder in this tender, and when they did it, they got rid of the pressure strips, which was a bad idea.

You have 3 options. 

1. Replace the whole tender, as others have already advised.... although it will not look like a proper GN tender.

2. Fashion some really thin strips of phosphor bronze (NOT BRASS) to replace the ones in the floor.  Then solder the feed wires to those strips, NOT to the truck plates.  You need .010" phosphor bronze strip, which can be had from
Eileen's Emporium in the UK (you can find it on the web).  This will take some work.

3. You can replace the trucks with Kato Water Tender Trucks - part  941058 - which are immensely superior in pickup design to what you have in there now.  You will probably have to cut some holes in the tender bottom and maybe rebuild a new pivot post and screw to mount them.  But you will get solid 12-wheel pickup out of those babies.  They will probably work pretty well even if you just solder the wires directly to them like the ones you have in there now.  They are not perfect matches to the truck style that's on there, but they aren't too far off (depending on how fussy you are).  This will take some work, too, obviously.

To be honest, even with the strips in the floor, the pickup in those tenders is not great.  It was a good design for its day in that you got "sort of" all wheel pickup and the pickup plates ride in those grooves behind the wheels so they are impervious to track dirt.  But they just don't seem to maintain decent pressure enough of the time, the way the axle-point system does.  Life-Like used that same design in their 2-8-4 Berkshire and 0-8-0 switcher, some 25 years after Kato used it in that old 4-8-4, and it is a sort spot in those engines too.

If it were my engine, I'd be cutting and kitbashing and putting the new Kato water tender trucks in there, because they will work well and that really is a beautiful tender.  It really depends on how handy and brave you are.





jdcolombo

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Re: Older N scale Con-Cor steam
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2019, 11:11:18 AM »
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FWIW, I directly wired the axle-point (or as I call them "cone and cup") tender trucks in my Kato Mikes, and Bachmann Berks and Consolidations (all of which use that style of pickup system).  The pickup from these hard-wired trucks is flawless, even though I'm not using the internal pickup strips any longer to put pressure on the truck thumbs.

OTOH, my ConCor/Kato Hudson uses the "pickup plates sitting in a groove" system, and even with the phosphor-bronze pickup strips correctly contacting the truck "thumbs," pickup is poor.  I finally just put in a TCS KA3 keep alive in that one.  As Max notes, this same "plate" pickup system was used by LifeLike (Walthers) on their Berkshire tender, and the pickup on those has always been iffy.  So I've put keep alives in those as well.  But if you don't have room for a keep alive, as in the Vandy tender, then the best bet is to do exactly what Max says - use the Kato trucks.

John C.

woodone

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Re: Older N scale Con-Cor steam
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2019, 02:44:54 PM »
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Max, yes it is an S-2. The original strips and the metal weight is still in the tender. Extra weight has been added.
Just seems like the strips don’t press down on the wheels good. The groves get a bit of lint or debris and the pick ups just getting power.  I have the locomotive drivers picking up power via wire plus the draw bar is still there.
This is a repair for a client, so he does not want to loose the original lettering and decals on the tender.
Spare parts for Kato or Bachmann don’t seem to be purchased has spare parts.
I did get it to run well via adding small (MT coupler Springs) to the uprights of the wiper strips.
I also polished the strips has they were metal stampings and had very rough edges . This will keep the debris from catching on them, I hope.