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Discussion Starter #1
I have a Lionel 2020 Turbin Loco that the cow catcher is bent on one side. It's bent probably a quarter inch back where it has probably hit something. I was wondering if anyone has had any experience bending them back in place. I was thinking of adding some heat but I don't know how much heat they will take before melting. Would a propane torch or mapp gas work? Don't want to ruin the thing.

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Willsarv, it would help immensely to know what material the cowcatcher is made from!
 

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I believe that's a die-cast boiler shell (and cowcatcher) on that loco, right?

If so, bending back a bent part runs the risk of yielding or fracturing the metal, which would be a localized crack/fatigue, or perhaps inducing brittle fracture would could break off the full part.

Heat and very slow induced bend would help, but you ask a good question ... how much heat can one apply to the shell?

Wish I could offer more there ...

Good luck,

TJ
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Not sure what kind of metal it is. It must not be too brittle of it would have broken off instead of bending whenever the mishap happened. I am more concerned in melting the thing trying to get it hot enough. But I am thinking that a propane torch dosen't get hot enough to melt metal. Upon further testing, it's not ferrous metal. Won't stick to a magnet. So I'm not sure it won't melt after all.

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Not sure what kind of metal it is. It must not be too brittle of it would have broken off instead of bending whenever the mishap happened. I am more concerned in melting the thing trying to get it hot enough. But I am thinking that a propane torch dosen't get hot enough to melt metal. Upon further testing, it's not ferrous metal. Won't stick to a magnet. So I'm not sure it won't melt after all.

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If it's cast I think you run the risk of breaking if off anyway you try it.
Wait till the T man comments. He most likely has done it.
I never tried it.
 

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heating and bending

Actually a propane torch can melt metal depending on what kind of metal.

The softer non-ferrous metals can be melted or at least heated too much and loose their shape, depending on what part of the flame you are using to heat is.

That said, if you are careful and do the heat, try to bend , repeat steps you should be alright.

It the part painted?

If the engine is from the Deep North Woods it may have run into babe the blue OX, in which case the bent cow catcher would be prototypical !! :)
 

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Let me offer a suggestion, based on something I read elsewhere. Lest I be taken for someone who knows what he's talking about, though, I point out in advance that I don't.

Evaluate the part first in terms of tools, i.e., "Before I start, what do I have that will allow me a gentle, controlled bend?" I can't answer that part for you, so check your toychest and see what looks good.

Second....boil it. Boil it a good 20 to 30 minutes to get it right up to 212F. The beauty of it is you can't melt it at that temp and the heat distribution is perfect. Yank it out and see if you can slowly, gently flex it back into shape. Remember: it bent when it was dropped, so it will bend. You just have to be very gentle with it. Do it in stages, if need be, so it will stay flexible while you work it.

Best of luck on it!
 

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I'm recalling what some eyeglass shops do to bend/align metal eyeglass frames. They dip the frame in a heated "bath" of sand, let it sit for a few moments (sucking up an even distribution of temperature-controlled heat), and then gently bend things as needed.

The analogy being this ... heat might help in the re-bend, but ideally, as controlled as possible. I'd fear that a torch would have uncontrollable hot spots, and could cause more damage.

Instead, maybe try the "hot sand bath" method. If not in sand directly, maybe in 2 or 3 water baths, with each bath progressively hotter, up to boiling temp. Even temp distribution, controlled heat, etc.

Just a thought.

TJ
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I have a heat gun that really puts out the heat. I was thinking of using that as I am sure it won't melt the metal. If I heat it as hot as the heat gun will get it, I should be able to tell if it's going to bend back by applying a gentle amount of force. I might be able to save the original paint this way too. I will give that a try later and see.

Thanks for all the ideas. I'll let you know how it turns out. If you hear an awful roar coming from the mid-west you'll know it went bad.:mad:
 

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Jump in and correct me if I'm wrong, but I think "Pot Metal" is the likely candidate for the casting:

"Pot metal, also known as white metal, die-cast zinc, or monkey metal,[1] is a slang term that refers to alloys that consist of inexpensive, low-melting point metals used to make fast, inexpensive castings. There is no scientific metallurgical standard for pot metal; common metals in pot metal include zinc, lead, copper, tin, magnesium, aluminium, iron, and cadmium. The primary advantage of pot metal is that it is quick and easy to cast. Due to its low melting temperature no sophisticated foundry equipment is needed and specialized molds are not necessary. It is sometimes used to experiment with molds and ideas before using metals of higher quality. Examples of items created from pot metal include toys, furniture fittings, tool parts, electronics components, and automotive parts.[citation needed]

Pot metal can be prone to instability over time, as it has a tendency to bend, distort, crack, shatter, and pit with age.[1] The low boiling point of zinc and the fast cooling of the newly-cast part often allow air bubbles to remain within the cast part, weakening the metal.[1] Many of the components of pot metal are susceptible to corrosion from airborne acids and other contaminants, and the internal corrosion of the metal often causes the decorative plating to flake off.[citation needed] Pot metal is not easily glued, soldered or welded.[1]"
 

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Do you have an old piece laying around that you can practice on?
Something that is junk anyway?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
:)
I have a funny feeling that you are going to crack the piece no matter how careful you are :(... Please, feel free to prove me wrong though :thumbsup:
Well I did it.:confused:

Went with the old heat gun. Heated it up as much as it would heat. Took a pair of large pliers and gently applied a little pressure. And you guessed it. Snap!

NOT!!!

It moved just fine! You can't tell it was ever bent. The heat gun did blister the paint a little. It would have been fine if left alone since the cow catcher has caught a few cows in the past and wasn't pristine to begin with. But I had some paint and touched it up. When it dries good I'll ding it up a little so it blends in with the condition of the rest of the locomotive.

I have another engine, a much newer one, with cow catcher problems too. It was completely snapped off when I got it. Fortunately, I got the piece and with the wonders of J B Weld was able to re-attach it. That cow catcher was as brittle as egg shells. The two screw holes that attach it to the shell were both broken out and I am re-making them with JB.

Anyways, Thanks to all who offered their opinions. I took them all and came up with a plan that worked out very well!!

Bill:)
 
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