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Old 12-25-2019, 01:09 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default live steam grades and switching

So as I am looking at grades. Pretty much think going 1:20.3 rod colorado narrow guage not big like k-27 but more like the C-18, C-19 or mogul.

Curves planning to be 6ft radius minimum larger as transition.

Grades looking at max 1.5%. Is that reasonable for a rod locomtive with short (3-4) freight or 2 passenger cars especially if not RC.

With RC is switching posdible with live steam as above or best just let them run in a circle?

Is RC hard to add? I have sern a kit for a Ruby but wondered if adaptable to say the mogul or one of the consolidations.
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Old 12-25-2019, 01:15 PM   #2 (permalink)
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With what I have read, you would have a difficult time even with RC, certainly will take more driving.


Now if your layout is more spread out, and wide radius curves, that should help.


RC does not appear to be hard to add if you follow the recommendations for servos that others have already fitted, but if it's your first time, you might consider having it professionally done.


I'll wait to see what the experts say.


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Old 12-25-2019, 02:04 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I have had an Accucraft C-16 converted to RC on throttle only for many years. I used to have a Mogul and the C-19 is not much larger but I have no experience with a K-27. On a visit to Fred Mills RR in Canada I was able to haul a passenger train up a long grade with little trouble.
You should have no trouble with the short trains you listed on a 1.5% grade and 6' minimum radius though less grade and larger radius would be better. I have built three portable tracks to demonstrate live steam at train shows. Two had 5' minimum and the third 6' and many locomotives can run on that size.
Switching is also achievable but to do it smoothly you will need to balance fuel, water, boiler pressure and your hand on the throttle. it will take some practice. Half (or more) of the fun of live steam is getting to know your locomotive and what it can accomplish. This is what has kept me interested for over 20 years.
I am not very skilled at RC installation so will leave that advice to others. But if I can do it....
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Old 12-25-2019, 02:05 PM   #4 (permalink)
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If I were really into Switching , First off I would get an Accucraft 2 cyl shay. It will go up and downgrades with a lot of control. It will also be a good Engine to R/C to do switching with, in Live Steam, not a Rod Engine. You can use a Rod Engine BUT it will take time to learn How I would also go with a 20-foot Diameter YOU WILL BE SORY IF Later on if You get a Bigger Engine.I started with 20 ft and got a Penn T-1 and a Big-Boy and now the layout is 40ft Diameter. Merry Christmas and Happy Steaming
Why not come to Diamondhead and see the 3 layouts and see fellow Steamers, It will be a Great week for You
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Old 12-25-2019, 08:42 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I agree with Bob, the Accucraft 2 cylinder Shay would be excellent for switching and running with grades, as would most any geared engine. You can model both logging and mining operations with a Shay. In fact, via Sam D and the Peter K collection, you can pick up a second hand 2 truck Shay for a Keen price over what they would sell for new. The 2 cylinder is much better than the 3 cylinder by most opinions. Sam also has a couple of the Moguls and the 4-4-0 from Accucraft in that collection if your dead set on a rod engine. Good luck and let us know what you decide to purchase. Mike
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Old 12-26-2019, 05:26 AM   #6 (permalink)
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It is not going up grades that usually causes a problem...
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Old 12-26-2019, 12:08 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I run steam rod RC locos (C16, Mason Bogie and coal fired K27) on my RR. I have 5' min Radius and 3 1/2 deg grades on half and nearly flat on the other half. I would strongly advise having RC on both throttle and J-bar as simply closing the throttle on a long down hill will not be enough to control the speed. The loco needs to be driven with J-bar. Tom is right, it definitely takes practice to get it right however I think it is a lot of fun. Especially with the coal fired it is not a case of set and run. If you could find someone that has a layout with hills and a steam rod engine that would let you try it out that would be great. I have had kids as young as 10 run on my RR and they loved it. Good luck.
PS I find 1 1/2 grades quite easy to negotiate with manual control.
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Old 12-26-2019, 05:02 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Agree on having the 2nd channel control the johnson bar/reverse lever. Lacking brakes of any kind, you need to ease the johnson bar back toward center to "power brake" the locomotive to control your speed on a long or steep downgrade. A geared model is much less prone to this "run away" issue on downgrades with the gearing helping with keeping speed under control via the throttle. This is why a few of us suggested a 2 truck/2 cylinder Shay. Sill narrow gauge(think Gilpin tram railway, Mich/Cal Lumber or Westside Lumber for inspiration). Mike
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Old 12-26-2019, 08:54 PM   #9 (permalink)
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RC is a real asset if you are working on a track with changing grades and it can allow you to do switching movements. Normally there are two issues that determine whether you can put RC into a locomotive: space in the cab for the servos and space somewhere for the receiver and battery. I have two channels in my K-27: one for throttle and one for my steam whistle. I also located the receiver on the front cab wall and the battery beside the back left side of the boiler. This is not ideal because heat and RC don't play well together. For this reason I do not recommend the small blue plastic case servos - they are about the least tolerant to heat. And bigger servos give more power if needed.

It is usually better to have the receiver and battery in the tender. For gas powered Accucraft locomotives this can mean isolating a part of the tender water space for the receiver and battery. RC also hates water!

You noticed that I did not try to RC the reverser on the K-27. On most Accucraft locomotives, there is more drag or resistance than a servo can cope with. If you want to put a servo on that channel, you should do everything possible to reduce that resistance first.

I did not RC my C-19 because there was no easy way to install a servo on the throttle since the back of the boiler put the throttle arm outside the cab. Also Receiver and battery location were going to be challenging.

Finally mixing grades and radius’s. If a K-27 can make a 6 foot radius I doubt it will even pull 3-4 cars on any grade. I faced that issue on a friend’s track with a 10 foot radius and his track was supposed to be level. Shays are your best solution to both issues but will seldom be a really satisfactory RC candidate. And the reverser resistance to movement will be greater on a shay than most rod engines. If you must limit yourself to 6 foot radius, don't expect much in the way of grade performance.

Basically you have set for yourself the most difficult set of challenges. Compromise on one or all of these criteria will increase your chance of success. Good luck.

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Old 12-26-2019, 09:53 PM   #10 (permalink)
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The Accucraft Shays can be RC controlled with no major issues usually, they use a piston valve reverser and fixed single eccentrics for each cylinder. So a small micro servo can shift the piston valve with ease. Usually the servos get put in the empty bunker at the rear of the Shay, along with the batter pack and receiver. Simple linkages to the servo arm on the throttle and a push/pull set up to the reversing valve. The leader of our local steam group, Jim Sanders(Wee Bee Loco Works) has a 2 truck Mich/Cal Shay with RC control using one of the RCS palm size controlers and 2 servos. I can get pictures of that at the next steam up if you need to see them. There are high torque and even metal gear/water proof servos on the market, even in the micro size. I see no major issues to RC any of the Accucraft Shays, or even the 3 cylinder Aster Shay. I will be putting RC in my 3 truck Aster Climax geared locomotive here in the coming weeks. It will be a 2 channel set up, throttle and the Stephenson valve gear. Mike
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