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I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who posts here for the fantastic advice and information your provided me in rebuilding a 322 that came into my possession about a month ago from Ken in Washington State. It is a composite of a '46 and '47 as I had two hulls to work with, neither of which was fully intact. I'm going to paste below a timeline of some of the work that took a full four weeks as I wound my way through the process- much of which was from self-generated mistakes. The list doesn't include stuff like repairing the drive and road wheels as that was done before I started keeping track.

It's been a fantastic journey- which is sort of the point I guess. It isn't a museum quality restoration or even close, but it's mechanically solid, looks pretty and makes me happy!!

Again- without the resources present in this forum I never would have been able to get it to the point of being officially finished. A special callout to Doug at Portlines for some brief but critical help. (And four cows!!)

So thank you all again for your help and a special shout out to Ken for getting me the originals upon which the final unit is based!!

dce

Here is the path that I stumbled through. This picks up after I first thought I was in the home stretch.
  • Create Smoke Tube out of used IEC electrical cabling after failing to find anything locally.
  • Disassemble, clean and change a few wires in the tender. Reassemble, bench test, runs and smokes. Yay!!
  • Set up basic test track in living room, place locomotive and… Runs for like five seconds and stops. Ammeter pegs. Leading to:
  • Completely disassemble to track down short. Turns out solder has dripped from one of the fingers in the reversing unit. Cleaned it up, tested, all is good. Reassemble, head upstairs and… More or less the same thing happens. Sigh in disbelief, start process again.
  • After complete disassembly- especially examining the repaired wheels I find a little piece of wire sticking up from the solder joint on the left top finger. Clean that up, decide to dress the wires a bit more as everything is very tight with the smoke tube I am using and… The wire from the coil in the reversing unit to the solder joint breaks.
  • After looking at it carefully I decide to use another reversing unit that is in good condition rather than mess with the one with the broken lacquered wire.
  • Put that unit in, test, and go figure the drum isn’t spinning properly.
  • Pull the drum out, pull the reversing unit apart and break one of the finger boards in the process. Take it apart and clean everything, including lightly wire brushing the drum before a light polish, at which point I lose control of it and it gets flung to lord knows where. I eventually find it after an hour of searching- I could have used one of the others I have but that one was in the best condition. Replace the broken finger board with another that is in good condition.
  • Put everything back together, try to insert the mechanicals into the shell but they won’t go. Figure out it is the baseplate of the reversing unit. Remove it, bend some metal until it is in the right position and try again. Works!!
  • Reassemble the entire works, head upstairs to try it out. Every time it hits a curve the unit derails and also it loses power pretty frequently, again ending in a short. ARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!
  • Back to the workbench to see what is going on with the loco and tender being so close. That is because I used the tender base with the short coupled piece on it instead of the one that had the long coupling strip. Drill out the one in use and the long one and replace on the new tender. Root through the hardware box and come up with a short screw and nut that replace the dead rivet.
  • Back upstairs, holding my breath this time. It doesn’t derail!! Great!! But it also shorts out again almost instantly.
  • I trace the short while it is on the track to the tender’s front truck.
  • Back to the workbench, poke and prod and it appears the insulating materials (whatever they are) are shot in the front truck. Pry it off and yes, the center bushing has disintegrated. Head to hardware store, find appropriate materials and once again reassemble. While bending the truck I get over-enthusiastic and break it, requiring a sub from the other tender and yet another painting job. I also rewire the entire tender (and I did the locomotive too earlier in the process as the solid core wire I used just wasn’t working well.)
  • Reassemble the whole thing yet again. Back upstairs…
  • Finally it runs!! But it still derails whenever it hits a corner at speed. I figure out that the tube I used is to stiff and instead of allowing the nose of the tender to turn is holding it straight. So… Disassemble again!! This time I polish all the rods and screws because, why not?? I mean my couple day project has turned into a month-long odyssey whats another hour making things pretty??
  • I find a softer plastic tube at Home Depot and install and reassemble again. Home stretch now!!
  • Put it on the track,hols breath, it runs great. Time for the decals I ordered and… The tender has a run in the paint where I put it on too thick. Strip it again, reshoot, let dry for a couple of days. Put the 322 transfers on the Locomotive and wait a day before putting them on the tender. Chose white and silver because I like it.
  • Finally yesterday evening the completed engine ran as it should (It’s kind of a rocket- the pulmor works well) and I can call this fun two-day project complete.
 

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Alls well that ends well. Sounds like you had fun. Great example of 2 steps forward 1 step back.
Those shorts are a booger. She sure looks good. I think we could use some more pics of it. Watch
these old steamers, they can be very addictive. Repair times will become quicker with experience.
Another good place to get parts is from Jeff Kane. Super guy, and loves to talk. Get his phone
number at The Train Tender.com. And I agree, lots of knowledge here on the forum. Welcome to
the forum and thanks for sharing your story.
 

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That is one fantastic looking engine, better than new! You have far more patience than I do, it was quite a journey from beginning to end.
 

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I gotta admire persistence. Good looking results for sure. In for an ounce, go in for a pound. What you did sounds like something I do, persist. Unlike you, when I do a repair project and have problems, I simply take a break and come back later....and later....and later. The thing is, hopefully you have learned from your mistakes and what to do and not do. Mistakes are learning points in this hobby especially repairing steamers. As mopac says, steamers can get addictive which is why many of us have way too many but are too weak to resist buying a "bargain". So many locomotives, so little time. You mentioned this forum. If you follow regularly, you can't help but learn. I learn something all the time.

Kenny
 

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Thank you for the kind words!!

The thing I love about these trains as mechanical devices is that they are beautifully simple and elegant for what they were designed to do- and working on them is definitely not rocket science. For example: If there is a short circuit it's because a wire or metal piece is shorting against something else metal somewhere along the way, no integrated circuits/controllers or the like to make things complicated. If something isn't operating correctly it's because something is not adjusted/bushed/spaced or otherwise installed correctly. So it's great fun to take one that either isn't working is is barely operating and find and fix all the bugs that are keeping it from working properly. And pretty much anything I break along the way can be fixed one way or another. (Even the solenoid coil with the wire that broke 4mm from the end. I could have unwound one coil on the solenoid, stripped and tinned the wire and reassembled, I was just too lazy to do so.)

This forum was fantastic as a resource because if I got stuck I could go here and search on different things to see what others had done in the past- saving myself tons of time in the process. Example: What washers go where on the armature and what is the ideal offset from the header on the brush bracket?? I would have figured out the best path through trial and error eventually, but instead fifteen minutes here told me everything I need to know.

A bit of history: My dad got his original set in 1947- a 312 with link couplers and a small transformer. He got a 9B somewhere along the way and a 300 and miscellaneous other cars, plus the log loader and coal car among others. My first memory of this set is roughly 1973 when I was six years old- he brought it out for Christmas under the tree. It would appear every year until I left the home as an adult. When my dad died in 2001 the set came to me, where it once again went under the tree at Christmas for my (now ) 28 year-old son. (or for me, who knows??) The 312 was getting long in the tooth in roughly 2010 so I restored the inner mechanicals and most of the other cars (including my favorite pair of Pullmans) as well. Somewhere along the way I picked up a small set with a 282 which I have scavenged mostly for parts, and last year I lucked myself into a ton of track in great condition for a very low price. I also converted the entire set to knuckle couplers. I hated to lose the original authenticity, but the link couplers were just driving me nuts, especially with the Pullmans. The 9B died some years ago and I replaced it with an 19B that I also rewired.

My 11 and 13 year-olds are a bit flummoxed by the trains as they lack the things they are used to having in toys, but at night and when it is quiet they enjoy the sound of the choo chooing as it chugs around the track and they have learned some tings mechanically and electrically despite their best efforts. Now I just want to find a 4-8-4 to restore (I have four catalogs from when my dad was a kid and I've coveted a 4-8-4 pretty much forever...) and the Observation Pullman car. Then it will be a complete set for my kids to enjoy long after I am gone.

Anyway I'm sorry for the soliloquy- thanks again to everyone here for your passionate support of these beautiful artifacts of our recent history. I know for a fact that they inspired in me a curiosity and desire to know more about electricity and mechanical devices that has served me to this day. In my world that means these are not toys- they are something far more important than that.

Cheers!!
dce
 

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Nice posting. It is gratifying to see someone younger than me taking an interest in and caring for these trains.
We do have different views of link couplers, I much prefer them. The only ones I have changed are to make transition cars so I can pull link coupler cars with KC engines. Link couplers are fairly easy to adjust with a little experience, some need replaced due to hole wear or loose pins preventing correct adjustment. Getting the track good is harder, KC's are more forgiving of uneven track. Never had a problem with the pullmans wonder what happened on yours. The hardest are the aluminum passenger cars and some freight cars. I have a layout with a lot of grades, turnouts and crossings but the trackwork is perfect since it was professionally done. I routinely run 15 car link coupler freights and have not had any unwanted uncoupling since I got the layout.
The KC's work fine except to couple up. They are frequently misaligned on curves and most require banging together to lock correctly. Links couple first time every time, even with the engine backing up on Legacy speed step one. With some engines that is 2 seconds or more to go an inch.
The neat thing is there is something for everyone to enjoy.
 
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