Modelling what might have been in southeast BC and northwest Wasington

Calendar equivalents for 2020

I like to hang up old calendars that match the current year in order to enhance the period feel around the layout.

2020 is a leap-year, so there are far fewer calendars that will match it exactly, as they also must be leap-years. This is a good year for just matching January – February, and then changing again for March – December.

So, for 2020, the matches are:

Full year:
1908, 1936, 1964, and 1992

January-February:
1902, 1908, 1913, 1919, 1930, 1936, 1941, 1947, 1958, 1964, 1969, 1975, 1986, 1992, 1997, 2003, and 2014

March-December:
1903, 1908, 1914, 1925, 1931, 1936, 1942, 1953, 1959, 1964, 1970, 1981, 1987, 1992, 1998, 2009, and 2015

Atlas/Kato GP7 LED headlights

Many years ago Atlas sold a variety of locomotives in the so-called “Yellow Boxes”. A number of these were made by Kato for Atlas, and have proven to be some of the best running locomotives of all time. They are still worth picking up at swap meets. In this series there were two numbers for Canadian Pacific in the block lettering scheme, and many of us have acquired these over the years. They of course need to be converted to DCC, but fortunately a number of the DCC vendors make drop-in boards that snap on to the mounting points perfectly. The lighting, however, is another story.

The original design used a single incandescent bulb sitting up above the motor, so that the light would shine in both directions through clear plastic light guides, and out the end headlights and number boards. With DCC, we can now control each light independently, so we need two LEDs. The first photo shows the new DCC decoder mounted, but still with the original light guides in the shell.

Chassis with new NCE decoder and the shell with the original clear plastic light guides before shortening.
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Lathe saga

I control my track switches with a simple homemade toggle switch mechanism plus micro switches for the frog power. These are operated as simple push-pull using wooden dowels. The front end of the dowel passes through a plastic PVC pipe end cap, so that they are flush with the fascia. I got the idea from Jim Petro in Reno Nevada a number of years back when I operated on his layout during a PCR convention.

The end caps need a bit of work to prepare them for mounting. They have raised lettering on the face that I like to smooth off, and they need a hole drilled in the middle. Plus, I like to roughen up the outer surface using sandpaper so that the glue will stick better. All three operations are easily done on the lathe.

As we extended the fascia arouund through to Carson, I needed a bunch more of these prepared for installation. So, over to my trusty lathe. I used it to clean up about four or five of the caps without a problem, but half-way through the next one, it just stopped suddenly with the belt slipping. Huh, what happened? A quick check with the power off showed the the spindle had frozen solid and simply would not turn. Oh, oh.

Many years ago I was very fortunate to buy the 10″ metal lathe from a friend’s father who had worked for Boeing as a machinist. His hobby had been home-built aircraft of his own design, and he had designed his house with enough room in the basement to assemble them, but I digress….

Just after I purchased the lathe, I disassembled, cleaned, lubricated, and reassembled everything on it except the headstock, as I could see no easy way to do so and everything seemed to be running fine. Some years later, I was able to buy a copy of the user manual for the lathe and it included instructions on how to remove the spindle, only “if it was absolutely necessary”. Well, it now was and I really had nothing to lose, so I gave it a shot. It came out very easily, once you know what to do, which way to unscrew things, and where to apply pressure. The problem was immediately obvious in that the very old grease had simply solidified and jammed the ball bearings. The manual said the the spindle bearings were factory lubed with grease that was supposed to last the life of the machine, but I doubt they were thinking 73 years back then! (It was made in 1946.)

The seized spindle front bearing with hardened 73 year old gunk.
The rear bearing with who knows what sealed inside.
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