Over a period of years we have presented some motors we felt were adaptable to repowering locomotives.  One important factor has been how it operates at slow speeds which translates into how slowly the locomotive will start from a dead stop.  Another consideration has been costs.  Here is a motor we recently found being sold by an Ebay seller. 
We ordered three of these motors and after testing them we have now placed an order for six additional motors.  Click on this link to see a brief video of this motor strapped to our test mule and running through it’s paces at various speeds.  The dual shaft design will be useful to those repowering small diesels, or wishing to place a flywheel on the back side.  I believe this motor will produce satisfactory performance in most locomotives up to the USRA light Mikado’s.  

While the seller provides some basic information on this 15mm x 20mm x 32mm, 9,200rpm flat can, dual shaft motor, one feature I wish to focus on is the long 14mm shafts which make this a really good candidate for repowering the PFM/United line of geared locomotives such as their Climax, Shay and Vulcan Duplex loco’s.

Check out the video to see it in operation
Now back to the shops,

In our last blog we introduced the Pentax Q which we had procured as a previously owned unit.  It was introduced as the latest addition to our line of Pentax cameras.  Since then we had a unique opportunity to trade up and we are now the proud owners of a new Pentax Q10.  The Q10 is slightly larger then the original Q and while it has the same electronics as the original Q, it features the latest in camera firmware which processes the images into the jpg files it spits out.  

Today I paid a visit to the Scottsdale Model Railroad Society located in the McCormick Ranch Train Park in Scottsdale Arizona.  I took the opportunity of this visit to their new facility to do a bit of photographing with the Pentax Q10 while the members continued with their construction activities.  The following is a sampling of the 36 images I shot during my brief visit.  All images were taken under the clubs existing lighting with the camera in Aperture Priority Mode, aperture set at f8.0 and the camera choosing the appropriate shutter speed.  In addition all shots were taken using the self timer with the camera either on a small 6” tripod I carry for such situations or with it placed directly on the railroad. 

(Click on each image to get a larger version)

These images were taken by placing the camera in such a position that could not be seen by the viewing public.  This is one of the benefits to using such a small camera. 

Due to the very tight quarters I placed the Q10 on the small tripod.

The Scottsdale club features many high quality structures however due to the positioning of many it is difficult to get a good image without having some distraction in the back ground.

These three nearly identical images demonstrate some of the in camera filters and special effects available in the Q10.

The first is obviously sans all color representing a Black and White image representative of the era during which this loco operated.

This image used the camera’s bright color mode and auto white balance control.

This image shows one of the Q10’s special effects which imparts a artistic rendering reminiscent of an oil painting. 

For those of you who might like to view the full size 5mp file, here is a link to that image. 

Here is a similar shot taken at a lower angle.  Note all the garbage in the background.

If you are ever in the Phoenix, Scottsdale area plan a trip to the McCormick Stillman Railroad Park   It is one of the best railroad theme parks in the US and you will not be disappointed.  While there stop in and check out the HO scale model railroad that is being built by my friends in the Scottsdale Model Railroad Society.   While the park is open 363 days out of the year, the 100 plus degree summer months are NOT the best time to visit the park.

Now back to the shops.


I have been a dedicated user of Pentax camera’s since 1975.  Unlike Canon or Nikon the Pentax line of camera’s are not readily available through big box stores such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy so unless you are a photo enthusiast such as myself who frequents well stocked camera stores such as Central Camera in Chicago or B&H in New York or read photography related periodicals and WEB sites you may not be familiar with this line.

When I transitioned from film to the digital media I continued with Pentax because they advertised that I could use all of my existing Pentax lenses with the new digital camera.  From that first Pentax digital SLR up to the most current model those old lenses are, with some limitations, usable.  The same cannot be said of all the other manufactures.

My first Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) Pentax camera now resides with a new owner however that second camera as well as two of the current models continue to churn out great images for us.
(Click on image for a larger version)

Our family of Pentax Camera’s starting with the rear row from left to right:
Pentax K-110, 6.1 megapixels released in May 2006
Pentax K-5, 16.3 megapixels released in September 2010
Pentax K-5lls, 16.3 megapixels released in September 2012
Front Center Pentax Q, 12.3 megapixels released in June 2011

From a very early age I have been intrigued by small functional cameras such as this metal Crystar camera which was not much larger than a matchbox and was sold in the souvenir stores located in most tourist traps in the 1950’s.  I pestered my parents and somehow, probably just to shut me up, they let me get one.  We later found out that getting the film developed was an almost insurmountable challenge and placed an intolerable drain on the meager family finances so that camera disappeared but I never forgot it.  Recently I discovered the Pentax Q and became equally intrigued by it’s size and capabilities.  While it is not the current model available in this line of Pentax camera’s, this Pentax Q, is the most recent addition to our family of Pentax camera’s.  (The latest version of the Q available from Pentax is the Q7 released in June 2013 which replaced the Q10 released in September 2012.) 

The Q is an interchangeable lens, Magnesium alloy bodied, mirrorless camera and despite it’s small size, it offers many of the features and high quality build that are found on the larger DSLR camera’s including High Definition video.  In fact it has several features not available in the larger cameras.  I have discovered that among photo aficionados, the Pentax Q has a dedicated, almost cult like, following.  Check out this enthusiastic video review of the first Pentax Q and if you do not want to watch the entire video, at least watch the first few minutes then the last three minutes.

What I find intriguing about the Q is the ability to set the self timer and drop this small camera into areas that you could not normally see such as the one shown here, then trip the shutter to capture the image.  The process I use for taking shots with the Q, including all the camera settings, is the same as I described in using the Kodak Z915 camera featured on our Photographing Model Trains Page.    

Here is an image shot with the Q using the 01 fixed focal length prime lens.  The camera was in a position similar to that shown above. Note the low point of view.  Such shots are possible due to the small 40.5mm diameter lens sitting almost directly on top of the rail.  

That puts the center of the lens about 7.5’ HO scale above the top of the surface it is sitting on which in this case is the rail.  Those of you who read Ben King’s articles in the 1960’s issue of model railroad related magazines may remember that his hand built camera had a similar perspective.

By comparison, this image demonstrates the relationship between an HO scale figure and the lens on my Pentax K-5.

Like the Kodak Z915 that I demonstrated on the CWRailman Photographing Models Page, this little camera can take some decent shots with good depth of field.  It is also capable of shooting HD quality video.  Here is one of our first attempts to shoot video using this camera and was done in B&W which would have been common during our 1928 era. Low quality fast loading version or a bit higher quality slower loading version. The video was produced in full HD using Microsoft Movie Maker but then, to allow quicker downloading to your puter, the quality of both versions has been lowered.  The focusing issues are a result of my inexperience in operating the camera, not some shortcoming of the camera.  I promise to improve in that area.
As they become available on the used market, I believe anyone looking for a small camera they can fit into a pocket for day trips, or as a backup to a larger full size DSLR, or just a camera to have fun and “unleash a feeling of playfulness of experimentation of creativity” then the Pentax Q series should be considered.  While the current Q7 is selling for around $346, the original Pentax Q such as ours, with the fixed focal length prime lens or one with the standard zoom lens, can be purchased from sellers on Ebay or Craig’s List for between $100 and $135 with previously owned Q10’s selling for around $140-170.  It’s a lot of fun, especially for those of us who may have had experiences as children with the Japanese built Crystar metal camera’s. However, unlike the Crystar, shooting with the Q will not put a significant dent in the family budget

more information on the Pentax Q download the manual for this or any of the Pentax line of cameras.

OH!!  One more thing, though I doubt I will ever attempt to do so, with the use of an adapter, I can use all my old full size Pentax lenses on the Q.

Now back to the shops or, maybe out for a little fun with the Q.


Data sheets are not always available for electrical motors.  For non documented motors we must rely on the experience of other mechanics who document and share their experiences with various motors.  There are many ways to test electrical motor output however, from an Engineers perspective, whatever method is used it should be implemented consistently in testing and comparing all candidates.  In 2013 Ken Clark provided us with an invaluable listing of motor data that he compiled by applying the same testing process to all motors.  This should be bookmarked by anyone interested in remotoring locomotives. Using Kens listing all you do is pick your size and see which motor has the best operational characteristics for your application.

Occasionally I mention that a motor exhibits characteristics I find to be either desirable for models or maybe not conducive to our needs.  Several folks have asked me how I make that determination. 

(Click on any image for a larger version)
Many years ago this device came into our shops.  It was obtained when we bought a small collection of models from an estate sale.  I have no idea who produced this device or when it was available.  We actually used this tool for a while and it did provide some interesting numbers.  However, based on our automotive experience we know that while a particular motor may produce notable performance numbers on a shops dynamometer, what really matters is it’s performance in a cars chassis.  (If you check out our Remotoring of a brass Akane/Aristo Craft 2-8-0 you will see where our original round can motor, which produced desirable results on a test stand, did not produce the desired results when installed in the locomotive.)  Our automotive experiences with car engines produced our preferred method of testing motors which we described in our 05/23/2013 Blog and motor test.  Basically we strap the motor into our test mule chassis, which is a PFM/United UP 2-8-0, and hook it up to the gearbox/drive axle.  We then apply DC power and find out at what volts and amperage the motor starts turning the driver and visually count the number of revolutions in 60 seconds.  We then multiply that by 40 which is the number of teeth on the axle mounted worm gear.  We then count the number of revolutions at 3 and 4 volts. (More voltage causes undue eye strain.)  We do this a number of times. 

I am a sucker for purchasing and testing any motor that appears to have desirable characteristics.  This has resulted in now having over 100 replacement motors in our present inventory.  Some work and some do not.  As we have noted in many remotoring projects, our current favorite motor is the Mabuchi FF-180PH 8,900 rpm which we purchased in quantity years ago and is listed on Kens data sheet.  We have installed over 60 of these motors in the past 8 years or so.

The first motor on the left is our favorite.  The second motor from the left is the FK-180SH-17140 purchased from All Electronics that we reported on in our 05/23/2013 Blog and installed in the PFM/United ATSF 2-8-0 project.  The short motor is the Nichibo PC130SF 15mm x 20mm x 25mm 6,000rpm flat can motor that we successfully installed last year in numerous small locomotives.  The thin motor is the 12mm x 15mm x 28mm flat can motor procured from an Ebay seller a couple years ago and installed in the Ali San Shay in the Vintage Gem Birdey and a NWSL 20 Ton Shay as well as several other small locomotives.  There are video’s attached to most of these projects so you can see the results of these remotoring projects.    

Recently we purchased some Mabuchi FF-180PH-3048 (shown at the right) at the price of $5.50 From an Ebay seller.  The seller indicated these were good for remotoring locomotives.  While they are small enough to be installed in many different locomotives, our “in chassis” testing produced numbers that indicate these motors are about three times as fast as our favorite Mabuchi FF-180PH motor which causes us to classify them as too fast for locomotive installations.  These motors would be good if high speeds were desirable. 

By the way, while I have not ordered any, there is an Ebay seller who seems to be currently offering the desirable Mabuchi FF-180PH motor for about $7.95.  These motors are getting difficult to find.

So what is in your locomotive?

Now back to the shops!


Some Ebay sellers have come under scrutiny for their less than honest descriptions and representations of items being sold.  Sometimes the descriptions are completely wrong and when the seller is contacted they claim a lack of knowledge about the particular item being sold.   However, occasionally we find a seller who is more than honest in their listings.

Along with about seven good quality images, this was how a locomotive I recently purchased was described: 

·  Cosmetic Condition: Excellent.
·  Year of Production: 1970.
·  Motor Type: Open frame
·  Does it run?: Doesn't run very well. Very slow. Took a minute to even get to move. Had to manually turn the armature to kick-start it. After cleaning the wheels and letting it run for a few minutes, it might warm up enough to start running well, but a new motor may be in it's cards.
·  Paint: Custom
·  Brass Finish: n/a.
·  Wheel Wear: Moderate/Dirty
·  Lights: No
·  Backhead Detail: No
·  Drivers Sprung: No
·  Box: Minor shelf wear, and a coupler of dealer stickers still attached.
·  Foam: Excellent, but missing top piece.
·  Spare Parts: PFM coupler pack.
·  Paperwork: Yes.
·  Decals: No.
·  Comments: n/
Let me call your attention to the paragraph that begins with Does it run?  This seller could have stated slow runner or not addressed the issue of performance at all and relied on the models other attributes to sell the model.  However this seller took the time to explain in detail the not at all positive operational characteristics of the model.  In this case, many hobbyists reading that explanation would take a pass on this item.  In other words the honestly of this description may have hurt the sale.  However, this is exactly the kind of locomotive we welcome into our California Western Loco and Car Rebuild Shops so this negative aspect was not a deterrent for us in acquiring this locomotive.

I have never met nor previously purchased from this seller and our only personal connection was when I spoke with him on the phone to consummate the financial aspects of this deal.  However I wish there were more sellers out there like Chris Irek of Irek’s Toys and Trains who sells on Ebay under the name of Irekforpresident. 

The first step was to clean the drivers.  Solvent was first used to remove the paint overspray then a wire brush in my Dremel Mini removed the remaining oxidation from these drivers which were never plated.

This shows the original drive train configuration and the new flat can motor that will be installed.  See our Projects page for additional Climax remotoring projects.

Location of the new motor is critical.  Too far forward and it will come in contact with the inside of the cab.  Too far back and the shaft will be too short for the worm.  As is, the worm extends about 1/16 of an inch past the end of the motor shaft.  NWSL bushings were used to mate the 2.0mm motor shaft to the 2.4mm i.d. of the worm.

The painter scraped the paint off of the bolster attached to the frame but forgot to do the same to the mating portions of the front truck  This would not be an issue with the rear truck which is to be isolated from the frame.

I don’t want to suggest that this locomotive had not been serviced recently but…

By the way before all was said and done, this transaction resulted in us not only acquiring the locomotive listed on Ebay but another of similar quality and operating challenges.   Both were reworked with new motors within three hours of their arrival in our shops.  Thanks Chris!  CHECK OUT THIS BRIEF VIDEO TO SEE HOW THESE LATEST AND LAST PROJECTS OF THE YEAR TO COME OUT OF OUR SHOPS NOW OPERATE.

Time to shut off the shop lights for the last time in 2013.  Thank you all for visiting our WEB site.



Happy second anniversary to us.  This month we celebrate being on line for two years.  

The whole idea of our CWRailman Adventures in Model Railroading web site is to demonstrate basic modeling techniques and plant the seeds of ideas in modelers minds which hopefully motivate them to try similar projects. 
Judging by the number of visitors, hits and downloads, the Mantua General, Bachman and Rivarossi 4-4-0 remotoring projects were by far the most popular articles we published this year.  They also inspired others who built on those basic remotoring ideas and went much further with their projects than we did.

The first resulted into a 1880 era smooth running sound equipped 4-4-0.

The second resulted in a one of a kind, probably never modeled before or since unique 4-4-0 that was built from a repurposed Mantua General.
In addition we followed along as another modeler used a set of the structure plans that we offered to build his not so “Quickie” structure.

Besides these three published projects I have received photo’s of several models in various scales based on our  John Allen memorial Gorre & Daphetid box car build and a few emails showing additional remotoring of Mantua as well as Bachman and Rivarossi 4-4-0 locomotives.  

 Thanks to all of you who visited our site and additional thanks to those who wrote to offer suggestions or to share their projects.   While our shops spent the majority of this year focused on locomotive remotoring and regearing projects, in the coming year we hope to share our progress in the completion of some long term structure builds and initiate several new builds complete with downloadable plans.  Then again we may run into another “backroom sale” of orphaned locomotives similar to that which produced many of this years projects.  Whatever, we plan to continue having fun and hope that you will continue visiting our site.

Here’s wishing you all a Safe and Happy Holiday Season and a prosperous New Year.


Who the Hell is Fred Harvey?  is a question answered in “Appetite for America” by Stephen Fried.   In short Fred Harvey was the visionary who “created the first national chain of restaurants, of hotels, of newsstands, of bookstores-in fact, the first national chain of anything.  But unlike the chains of today, the Fred Harvey system was known for dramatically raising standards wherever it arrived, rather than eroding them.  It turns out that being a fast-food nation was originally a good thing.”

As an entrepreneur, Fred Harvey was quality control before W. Edwards Deming was born.  “He was Ray Kroc before McDonalds, J.W. Marriott before Marriott Hotels, Howard Johnson before Hojo’s, Joe Horn and Frank Hardart before Horn & Hardart’s, and Howard Schultz before Starbucks.”  What George Pullman did for passenger cars and his Pullman porters, Fred Harvey and his Harvey girls did for the food industry.  In fact in certain aspects, such as providing dining services on Pullman trains, the two men were business associates.  

But Fred Harvey was much bigger than his restaurants and Harvey girls.  Did you know that Fred Harvey owned and operated one of the largest cattle ranches in the West or that he was connected to and had an impact on the early airline industry and that his contributions of Indian artifacts to major museums throughout the US became the basis for many of the collections of Western art in those museums.  While Fred Harvey was known for the Harvey girls who served his customers/guests, find out who first gave Fred the idea for the girls.  Find out how Fred Harvey was connected to the Teddy Roosevelt Rough riders and how he had a showdown with Red John.  (And you’ve been watching the Mentalist to find out who Red John is.) 

Don’t think his success came easy.  As a child living in England Fred Harvey suffered the embarrassment and misfortune of having his family declare bankruptcy when doing so led to disgrace and meant you might spend the rest of your life as a pauper or in debtors prison.  Later as a young business man in the US, Fred had similar business misfortune and lost everything including his first family.  Inspired and guided by 16 principals that he carried in his wallet Fred picked up the pieces and rebuilt himself and his family.  My favorite of these principals is “Be silent when a fool talks.” Author Stephen Fried dug deep to pull out details of this very private company and stitched it all together with historic occurrences that had an impact on Fred Harvey.  The bibliography itself takes up over 40 pages.  Don’t miss the 15 pages of Fred Harvey recipes.

I have been fortunate to tour all of Arizona by motorcycle.  In the process my lady (Sharon) and I have spent a lot of time in areas formerly and currently served by Fred Harvey establishments.  Yes, I said currently because while most of the establishments formerly run by Fred Harvey have closed, and many have been completely demolished, the restored La Posada resort in Winslow and El Tovar at the Grand Canyon continue to offer the first class service and dining experiences that Fred Harvey provided those traveling first by rail and later, after route 66 was built, by automobile. 

While I purchased my soft cover copy of “Appetite for American” at, appropriate enough, La Posada, you can get a copy from your local book seller or I found new copies for sale at discounted prices on Ebay.

CLICK ON THIS LINK TO GET A SAMPLING OF THIS EXCELLENT BOOK.  The available viewing pages are scattered throughout the book.  For those of you with culinary skills, near the end of this sampling, around page 415 you will see some of the recipes.
This book makes a great Christmas gift for anyone interested in studying the historical aspects of Americana or Railroads or early restaurants, or for that matter early business in the US.  If you ever get to Arizona, don’t pass up any opportunity to visit La Posada in Winslow or El Tovar at the Grand Canyon.  If nothing more, after getting your picture taken at the official “Standin on the Corner in Winslow Arizona” site made popular by the Eagles song, take some time to walk through the La Posada gardens and sample a cup of their excellent coffee while watching the now diesel powered BNSF container trains roll through town.  And, if you see a couple on a black Honda Valkyrie motorcycle it may be Sharon and myself.  Stop and say hello. 

Now back to the shops.


In Engineering we have a saying.  “Reinventing the wheel” which we applied to those who attempted to reinvent something that had already been invented or successfully implemented.  Usually their reinvention produces less than desirable results. (Click on any image for a larger version.)

A few years ago we had a brass locomotive in the shops that had been reworked by the owner.  He had replaced the flexible tubing between the motor and gear box with a universal type coupling.  He sent it to me because he said there was a bind in the mechanism.  He was right, the bind was the universal coupling.  (You may want to read this posting especially the paragraph about “universal joints” to find out why some universal couplings produce a bind. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constant-velocity_joint  Anyone who has used a universal on a rachet socket wrench and applied a lot of torque to it probably felt just such a bind.)  I removed the contraption and replaced it with flexible tubing and the model operated smoothly.  When I delivered the model he was impressed with the operation but then got angry when I told him what I did.  He said, I told you it had a bind, why did you remove my coupling.  I suggested he stop “reinventing the wheel” and enjoy his now smooth running locomotive and left it at that.

I said all that because over the past months several people have written to ask me where they can get the flexible tubing I show in many of the locomotive projects.  While I had purchased my supply from a hobby shop many years ago, here is an on line store that offers the material at a reasonable price and in a quantity that will not take up much shelf space. 

There are two sizes applicable for our use.  One is 3/32” id and the other is 1/16” id.  Most of what I use has an ID of 1/16” for a tight fit onto 2.0mm motor shafts when mating to a 2.0mm gear box or a 2.4mm gear box and can also be used for the 1.5mm shafts.  


The 3/32” tubing can be used for 2.4mm shafts if you are just replacing the tubing between the original open frame motors which were normally 2.4 mm and the original gear box which usually is 2.4mm. 

I should point out that I have discovered that not many of the airplane shops, at least none in my area, stock the 1/16” id tubing so you may have to mail order it.  If the shaft of either the motor or the gear box is short, place a washer between the tubing and the motor or gearbox so the tubing does not rub on the housings.

By the way, like politics or religion or DC verses DCC I do not argue with those who wish to “reinvent the wheel” and use other types of couplings.  I just choose to use that which is the least complex and proven to work well on thousands of brass models including all of my own.

Now back to the shops.


While much has been written about the gun battle at the OK Corral and most of it fictionalized, there was a less publicized shootout that took place in Holbrook, Arizona in 1887 that was more deadly and conducted by a higher skilled marksman.

In September of 1887 while attempting to serve a warrant for arrest, Commodore Perry Owens single handedly took on the Blevins gang in Holbrook killing four and wounding a fifth while only firing five shots.   Though there were other people in the building none were apparently wounded in the shootout though a horse on the street behind Perry Owens was hit by one of the Blevins gang.  While this accounting of the battle does not entirely agree with others it is in many respects factual:
(Click on any image for a larger version)
What has become known as the Blevins house still stands in Holbrook though it has been modified and is now a senior center. 

In the 1880’s Holbrook was a major loading point onto the ATSF of live stock.  Mostly cattle and sheep which were herded by the Hashknife cowboys (you can Google them on your own).  Some, not all, of these cowboys were actually outlaws and suspected of crimes in Arizona or other states.  Due to the abundance of live stock the area attracted it’s share of cattle rustlers.  It was reported that Sheriff Perry Owens would set out after rustlers by himself and usually returned with the live stock and that the rustlers were never seen or heard of again.   There is a new book out about Commodore Perry Owens which suggests he may have had as many as 100 killings to his credit yet few people have ever heard of him. 

It should be noted that in one year 10% of Holbrook’s 250 plus residents, actually 26 people  were killed.  Mostly in gun battles.  http://cityofdust.blogspot.com/2010/04/bucket-of-blood-street-usa.html

I should also note that the currently active Hashknife Pony Express is the last authorized horse mounted Pony Express route in the United States.  Every year a series of riders set out from Holbrook Arizona carrying mail bags.  Their ride ends in Scottsdale Arizona.  Here is a brief video showing a bit about these riders and their responsibilities.  You will also learn how you can send a letter to be carried by these Pony Express riders. By the way, each of these riders pay a good amount of money to participate in this yearly event.  I recommend you play the video on this WEB site to see how the history of the short lived Pony Express is being relived.  Don’t forget to expand your screen.  http://www.hashknifeponyexpress.com/hashknife-history

I have been fortunate to spend a considerable amount of time touring Holbrook and the upper areas of Arizona by motorcycle.  

It was on my recent trip through these areas, while photographing the remains of the “Bucket of Blood” Saloon (that is another story) which is across the street from the Holbrook ATSF train station that I heard one of the numerous cross country BNSF trains rumbling through.  Like those gunfighters of old I actually spun around and grabbed this shot of the train passing through behind my iron horse. 

A few minutes later as I made my way back to the bike I grabbed a shot of another train heading West.  Yes, Holbrook has been the site of yet another shooting.  However, unlike those gunfighters of the 1880’s, at the end of my shooting spree, there was no smoke coming from my weapon of choice

Time to get back to the shops.


One of the stops on my recent motorcycle tour was the home of the Grand Canyon Railway in Williams, Arizona where I found this steel tank car on display.  Download the free Tank Car 11 mb ZIP file of photo’s I shot capturing some details of this car such as the wood blocks between the frame and the tank or the expansion springs used at the ends of the bands holding the tank to the frame. Check out the springs on each side of the frame for the coupler.   There are shots showing some of the piping for the the air brake system as well as close ups of the trucks I hope these help anyone interested in building or detailing one of these cars.