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Old 11-07-2009, 08:42 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Converting USA Big Boy to live steam

To you all with great experience, how difficult or possible will it be to convert an electric USA Big Boy 1:29 to be a live steam, like the Aster 1:32. Maybe one of you guys, like Ryan, etc. could do it. I am dreaming or it can be done? What could be the cost?
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Old 11-07-2009, 09:43 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default RE: Converting USA Big Boy to live steam

I don't want to throw water on your hopes but I don't think it's a realistic option. Electric versions utilize a motor that transfers power to the trucks. The motor requires quite a bit of space inside the area where the boiler and firebox go. Steam power requires completely different insides! It would be easier but still horrendously difficult to turn a live steamer into an electrical version! The more I think about it the more I don't think it can be done. If you want a live steamer, do the smart thing and get one that IS already a live steamer!
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Old 11-07-2009, 10:47 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default RE: Converting USA Big Boy to live steam

Privero,

While certainly anything can be done if one has enough: time, talent, and money, the USA bigboy is not a good candidate for an electric to Live steam conversion.

The Short:
-The engine is mostly die-cast metal, which does not lend itself eaisly to being soldered, drilled or tapped and is very brittle compared to brass.
-I am not sure of the durability of the die-cast metal nor how well it will hold up to heat.
-The valve gear and main/side rods are of similar construction as the shell (soft metal die-casting) and are therefore no where near robust enough to be of any use.
-I am unfamiliar of the assembly of the locomotive, but I would imagine that there are pivot points for the articulated engine that will obstruct the boiler and steam piping to the power units (front and rear engines).
-The locomotive is HEAVY! The amount of power needed to start the locomotive alone would negate the ability to pull any sizable train as the cylinders would be using the majority of their power stroke to keep the engine in motion.

With that said, the better candidate for an electric to live steam conversion is the Accucraft Big Boy. This locomotive has:
-Stronger, stainless steel valve gear and side/main rods
-Is of brass construction
-Weighs nearly half the USA model
-Has well thought out pivot and mount arrangements
-Is of brass and stainless steel construction (with steel frames).

The amount of man-hours and expense to manufacture the various steam components would exceed 150-200 hours at a minimum. This does not include all of the research and development work, prototyping and various mistakes that will inevitably be made through out the conversion process. Just some of the things that will have to be manufactured or commissioned for production include (but are not limited to): Cylinders, valve gear parts, valves, pistons, steam piping, axlepump, lubricator, boiler, tender pump and tank, gas or alcohol tank, exhaust nozzles, petticoats...the list goes on and on.

In short, it is possible, but it would be a long-term project, regardless of the builder, require much time and effort to set right the first time, and cost about the same, if not more than the original purchase price of the locomotive. Best thing to do is to keep searching for an Aster Big Boy, although expensive, I believe the price will be comparable to doing a conversion.
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Old 11-08-2009, 12:27 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default RE: Converting USA Big Boy to live steam

Ryan:
I think both Accucraft's Big Boy and Allegheny have a fair amount of die cast metal. Enough to be the same kind of obstacle as USA' for conversion and reflected in their price of $3800/$3400 respectively

A comparison and analogy to another Accucraft loco. A K-36 live steam is only $1000 more than the electric version ($4700 vs $3700 respectively, (original elec. not sale price)). The K-36 chassis was designed and made to be both electric and live steam; stainless, brass, etc. A cab forward live steam was $7000, now $8000. A live steam BB or Allegheny would have to be at least $8000 if not more. If a BB or Allegheny were constructed steam ready as a K-36 it would be a lot more expensive than the $3800 or $3400 electric BB or Allegheny. The comparison continues; double the relative K-36 prices, as a first approximation, a BB would be ~$7000+ for electric and ~$9000+ for live steam. Conversely, if an Accucraft BB is $3800, a live steam BB at $4800 doesn't seem possible; nor does an $3800 electric BB and a $9000 live steamer. The conclusion would seem to be the Accucraft BB has quite a bit of die cast to it.


It sure would be great if the Accucraft BB or Allegheny were steam ready, it would mean live steam versions could be just around the corner (so to speak). Alas, I think they will be years away, if at all, as they would have to be re-engineered as steamers. Personally, I prefer a live steam Challenger before either of the other two.
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Old 11-08-2009, 07:06 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default RE: Converting USA Big Boy to live steam

Someone 1 year or so ago was talkikng about the Accucraft Bigboy in live steam on here and mentioned that they were talking to Fred Devine and that Accucraft was not going to produce it off of the existing version as there were too many die cast parts that would have to be retooled. Although diecast seems to be holding up well on the 1:29 060 they put out, the whole valve gear was diecast and plated. Depends on the material used and the use but you can also have that part recast in brass with investment or a RTV mold. Anything is possible if you want to spend the money.
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Old 11-08-2009, 07:16 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default RE: Converting USA Big Boy to live steam

Dear Chris

Of course it can be done! And quite a few in germany buys "cheap" eletric Märklin models and rebuilds them to steam afterwards.
Anyway take a look at the following link, where a big german eletric 01 is converted to steam. It will give you some impression of how much work there is involved. (its not easy, and takes time) http://www.schienendampf.com/34487225nx30160/gasbefeuert-f6/br-01-maerklin-art-55900-lernt-das-dampfen-t200.html

And if you cant do the german, use google to get "ping pong english"
Click Here

kind regards
David
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Old 11-08-2009, 07:35 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default RE: Converting USA Big Boy to live steam

Fortunately, I already bought an Aster Big Boy, in pristine condition, still on the box. Can you imagine? I will post some photos later. The thing is that it would be nice to have a 1:29 big boy, i thought it will be very difficult but worthy. I remember seeing about a month ago here in the forum, a home page of many german locomotives, beautifull and expensive, all electric, but they mention that for an extra amount you can have them convert to live steam. I wish i could remember the home page. I have to look into it.

Best regards,

Patricio
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Old 11-08-2009, 07:55 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default RE: Converting USA Big Boy to live steam

All depends on the model and the necessary reftrofits.
I am not sure of the Accucraft and it's various parts but the web page listing indicated diecast trucks. So, if the critical areas such as valve gear,etc are capable then it would be within reason. Reasonable is also consideration of "soft" solder on various parts that function as an electric based model but under steam would not hold out.

There are some great models if only the price was right for conversions such as the Fine Art models:


http://www.fineartmodels.com/pages/p...roduct_area=35



Consider the electric version of Asters "steam ready" engine with cylinder castings and fully operating valve gear. BTW- the 0-6-0 whole valve gear that is diecast and plated: non functional thus not sure how truly reliable it would be if required to actually perform given the set up is piston valve.


In the past, Eastern Railways imported some fine locomotives from Samhongsa, Tenshodo, Aster and the like.


Bottomline the better the base model and materials the better the conversion in terms of cost factor For example our conversion of an electric N&W 4-8-4 J #611 is a prime candidate that once finished will be within the price range of live steam offerings.
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Old 11-12-2009, 08:57 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default RE: Converting USA Big Boy to live steam

Would it be possible or feasible to take a couple smaller cheaper live steamers, like 2 or more Rubys, and use the bigboy shell as a cover for the multiple boilers. that might solve the main problem i've noticed passed thru the thread.

Then use parts pulled from both the bigboy and the multiple small steamers to make a running bigboy.

Theoretically the best parts locos would have 8 drive wheels. aka 4-8-4, or other large locos with oil pumps, blowers et all. This would have all the functional parts for the mod. as well as a couple large tenders that can be merged to make one BB sized with appropriate amount of capacity for running the double-boilers & double length burner (this would have to be made / modded)
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Old 11-13-2009, 09:02 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default RE: Converting USA Big Boy to live steam

Posted By rbednarik on 07 Nov 2009 09:47 PM

In short, it is possible, but it would be a long-term project, regardless of the builder, require much time and effort to set right the first time, and cost about the same, if not more than the original purchase price of the locomotive.




As Ryan has said, anything is possible with enough time, effort and money. If you are going to try and produce a model like the Aster with it's articulating steam pipes that actually run steam to the cylinders, mechanical oil feed, coal firing option, etc., you might spend more then you would for the occasional Aster that comes up for sale. I think that a project like this would be tougher then getting one of the real ones that are on static display back to life.
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