UPDATE: This model has been upgraded with Tsunami 2 DCC/Sound.
USRA Light Mikado NYC 1740 (Alco, Sept 1918, originally T&OC 9740, renumbered in 1936) was a member of Class H6a. The New York Central System received 194 Light Mikes in 1918-19 from Alco (~80%), Lima (~20%), & Baldwin (some). They were found mostly on the western parts of the system like the CCC&STL (Big Four) and the Toledo and Ohio Central. These locomotives had long lives and, surprisingly, were only moderately modified over their 35+ years of service. 1740 belongs to the Toledo and Ohio Central.
I have not posted anything for a while because I have spent a lot of time working on this model. This is my rendition of a NYC Light Mikado…
This model is from Broadway Limited Imports and was undecorated. I installed a Soundtraxx TSU-1000 (Medium Steam) decoder. I have standardized on this make of decoder for all of my steam locomotives so that all of them behave similarly. This makes for operating consistency and for a more enjoyable operating session for those unfamiliar with my locomotives. The model came with sound, so I kept the factory speakers. As the model did not have a tender back-up light, I added an LED.
Not being a fan of traction tires, I replaced the supplied driver with an all-metal one.
Above, starting with the tender, I installed foot boards from a Proto switcher and a Cal Scale air hose. These required holes to be drilled into the die-cast tender chassis. This turned out to be not as difficult to do with a drill bit (.026″ diameter) in my pin vise, although understandably much more time consuming than drilling plastic. The ladder was moved to the engineers side (per NYC standard) and the original holes filled and smoothed. The back-up light was from the Proto switcher with a mounting box built up from styrene strip. An electrical line was added using a .006″ copper wire strand. The cut lever is as-supplied with the model. Marker light brackets were pilfered from that same switcher and mounted to the rear of the tank. .010″ wire was bent for handles (3) for opening the water fill hatch. On top of the tender deck, an Automatic Train Stop (ATS – required for mainline trains) control box was made from various styrene strip thicknesses and an electrical conduit was also added from this box running to the rear of the tank. A small ladder to the coal bin was made from styrene strip and a Scale Structures coal shovel was added for interest. Of course, an excellent Sergent Type E coupler finishes the tender detailing.
Above: since my curves are generally 42″ radius with one smaller one at 32″ and another at 36″, I could close-couple the tender to the engine by .125″. While not close enough for the prototype, this is a big visual improvement over the model’s close-coupling option. The deck plate had to shortened – this was easily done with a Number 11 blade and a file. Above the air compressor, a step-up was added to the running board with .010″ styrene. Also, the turbo generator was moved from on top of the firebox to on the fireman’s side as per NYC practice.
As seen above, most of the detailing added was to the boiler. For me, the BLI model has adequate detail below the running boards, but above them, all of the lines were molded on. I did not like this so I carved all of it away including the boiler course strapping. This turned out to be not as big a job as I had thought and I took my time to sand the boiler smooth. The boiler course straps were applied with .010″x.040″ strip styrene. I added lines made from .028″, .022″, and .020″ brass wire. In front of the engineers position on the firebox line, I added an injector. A shield of .010″ styrene strip was placed in front of the pop valves. Boiler jacket fasteners were added along the top of the boiler, made from .010″x.020″ strip styrene with holes poked at each end with a pin in my pin vise. As seen in the previous photo, a step-up was added above the power reverse. A lever (from styrene strip) and rod (.010″ brass) were applied as actuators to the power reverse. To simulate glass in the folded side windshields, the inside area was sprayed gloss. The large feed pipe on the right of the photo was made from .031″ brass.
The sanding pipes were replaced with .022″ brass wire (above). A handle on either side of the sandbox was made from .010″ brass wire to replace the blob the model was made with. The model marker lights were removed from the front of the smokebox and the holes filled. New marker light brackets (.010″x.060″ strip styrene) were added to the top of the smokebox as per the prototype. Marker lights are not installed – in this era on the New York Central mainline, First Class passenger trains were noted in the Employee Timetables and everything else was run as an Extra. Therefore marker lights nor flags were not needed. The USRA original pilot was cut away and foot boards applied as well as a Sergent coupler. The hoses and cut lever are unmodified from the base model. Funny thing, the model was molded with an Alco builders plate on the other side and a Lima plate on this side. The Lima diamond was replaced with an Alco rectangle made of .010″ strip styrene.
Above: a grab iron was added above the engineers and fireman cab front doors as per prototype. The whistle (on steam dome) was repositioned to be vertical as well.
Entire locomotive was painted acrylic Engine Black with a dark graphite smokebox and firebox. Decals are from the Microscale NYC Medium Steam sheet. The H-6a class lettering under the cab road number was made from H-7e and K-6a decals – very small and pushed the limits of my eyesight (even with magnifiers on!). Prior to weathering, the boiler and tender shell were sprayed with Tamiya Lacquer Spray (TS80) to seal in the base paint. As per my standard weathering process, the areas below the running boards and tender frame were sprayed acrylic Grimy and Oily Black. The upper surfaces of the engine and tender received a spray of thinned Grimy Black, but only a couple of light passes. All the raised details were dry-brushed with Model Master Dark Gull Gray enamel. Weathered Brown powder was applied to all the horizontal surfaces. I blew-off the excess using my airbrush. In this era, even in the early days of World War II, the NYC kept their engines very well and I avoid adding rust except on trucks. Also, I prefer subtle weathering as it appeals more to me in scale.
A load of Woodland Scenics mine run coal was added to the tender coal bin.
At Fillmore, this locomotive is usually assigned to the Wreck Train and, in Winter, for plowing snow. For me, she looks fine, sounds good, and runs well. A most satisfying project!