Monday, February 4, 2013

Henry Cordell asks......" Who vas da motorman " and a new acquisition for the historic fleet

 " Who vas da motorman? " - Notorious quote from Henry Cordell, master mechanic of the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee Railroad, heard when cars made it to the shop with damage that could have been prevented. I recently pulled apart the drive of a Walthers North Shore Jewett Combine and found myself asking the same question.
 On the left, the car in question. The unfinished body on the right is an Walthers kit for a rainy day. These car kits were often motorized with an open pole motor and spring bands that turn a pair of worm gears. With maintenance this system can spin off countless scale miles. I have a Fairfield/ MTS Jones car with this same drive that can do a better low speed crawl through city streets than some of the bachmann spectrum Peter Witts. The Electroliners of North Shore fame spun off 3.3 MILLION miles each between 1941 and 1963. Cars like my Jewett model probably did over 6 million miles. So begin the guessing as to how many scale miles might be on this Jewett Combine..... The drive has a tale to tell... This car was an ebay find. Let this be a cautionary tale of what may lie in store during your first inspection of a vintage model.

Upon removal of the roof, you will be met by a pair of flexible spring bands. These along with the free swinging design of the bolsters allow the truck to turn far enough in curves to negotiate city intersections. I keep the spring bands clean and dry. Any lubrication of the spring bands will cause unanticipated slip. The plates beneath the truck are held on by two tiny screws. Be careful not to lose, it took a 500 watt light to find the one that fell off the table.

 This is what old oils, greases and layout dirt looks like when it stops being polite, and starts getting real. The oil dripped in when Lyndon Johnson was in office is still here, caked and baked on the little frame that retains the axles. HA!!!! You thought it magically evaporated!!!!! If you wondered why that favorite model smells like a 2 stroke engine, now we're on to something. 99% denatured alcohol to the rescue.

 It looks like the kitty lost his ball of yarn, er hair and it wound up neatly wrapped for safe keeping around the axles. The gears that turn the axles look none too pretty either. Check out the bright silver wear spots on the axles. Its closer to clean, you can see the axle wear clearly.

 A clean truck is a happy truck.... this one is almost there. An application of LaBelle grease and its ready to roll. Everything looks good so about those worm gears?
 The first thing I noticed was how worn they looked, especially the one under my finger. Ahh the evils that lie within. only while cleaning do I get to see the bigger picture. (pun intended)

 Examine the gear at its base. The brass has worn paper thin, and rolled over. The other worm isnt much better. I suspect this to be the source of the occasional bind during its test run. Careful removal with a file, addition of grease manufactured after the oil crisis of 1973 and we begin reassembly.

 Sadly, despite greatly improved operation this car is my first candidate for a repower. I'm thinking a bowser drive with 34" wheels. This drive should be close enough in wheelbase and wheel diameter to be passable. The upside of the schwartz is in the meantime, I can do something about the hideous paint.

 And now for something completely different.........THE LINER IS COMING!!!THE LINER IS COMING!!!!!!!!

Haven't made up my mind whether to keep it or try to magically turn it into a CA&E car via trade, but its coming. This is my first brass purchase since the Clinton administration. Stay tuned for further developments. This should be fun

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