Cab: Wood or metal?

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Greg_Lewis
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Cab: Wood or metal?

Post by Greg_Lewis » Thu Dec 21, 2017 1:14 pm

I'm starting on the cab for old #26 1/2 and I'm torn between wood and metal. I'm a detail freak more than a runner; I'd love to make a wood cab that is as close to the prototype as possible, with all the fittings and every dent and pock mark I can see in the original. But there are practical considerations, too. Making a removable roof in order to access the controls is easy. But the big question is the durability of a wood cab. My friend Cal Tinkham, who used the same prototype as I, made his cab from aluminum plate. The advantage of that is that you can yank the engine around by grabbing the cab, and it's even sturdy enough to use as leverage when the inevitable derailment happens. But metal doesn't look like wood. A metal cab with a wood overlay is a possibility, but I think the end result would be too thick in cross section, and getting the wood to hang onto the metal would be problematic.

So I guess the question for the group is: Have any of you made a wood cab and how has it worked out?
Greg Lewis, Prop.
Eyeball Engineering — Home of non-interchangeable parts.
Our motto: "That looks about right."
Celebrating 30 years of turning perfectly good metal into bits of useless scrap.

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ccvstmr
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Re: Cab: Wood or metal?

Post by ccvstmr » Thu Dec 21, 2017 1:23 pm

Greg...have you thought about making an aluminum cab like Cal T....and then "distressing" the aluminum with a stiff wire brush to look like wood? Think having a cab sturdy enough to be yanked on is important. If for nothing else, just moving the loco in/out of the steaming bays or other. If you don't like the distressed look...you could always "groove" the alum panels to look like a planked cab without the wood grain. Building a cab out of wood would look nice, but you'd still have to brace it on the inside for manhandling. Then, you'll have something thicker than wood over metal.

Don't know if some of the Allen Models cab castings (or other) would suit your purposes...or...be close enough to the cab you're trying to recreate. But that's another idea to reach your cab destination. Carl B.
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NP317
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Re: Cab: Wood or metal?

Post by NP317 » Thu Dec 21, 2017 1:25 pm

Good question.
I made the cab for my Allen Ten Wheeler using the cast aluminum fake-wood cab available for the 4-4-0.
It is strong, and back-dates the appearance the way I wanted.
A nice compromise.
~RN
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rrnut-2
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Re: Cab: Wood or metal?

Post by rrnut-2 » Thu Dec 21, 2017 1:30 pm

The cab on my American was wood. The biggest problem that I had with was people trying to "help" when I was moving it. Everybody would grab the cab to do any moving of the loco. Never mind that I would tell everybody not involved with ownership DO NOT HELP ME! Liz, my wife, would
say the same thing to everybody. She ran the loco more than I did.

Jim B

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Greg_Lewis
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Re: Cab: Wood or metal?

Post by Greg_Lewis » Thu Dec 21, 2017 1:41 pm

Interesting thought, Carl. I've got a good pile of Al. scrap to make test abrasions on, so I'll check that out. In fact, now that I think about it, the pix I have of V&T #25 over in Carson City show little wood grain on the main cab corner posts. So your idea leads me to think perhaps a metal frame with wood panel inserts might work. Hm....

RN, that's a nice looking cab. Do you have another photo from a different angle handy? THANKS!

Jim: Yeah. That's perhaps my biggest worry. I know I can handle it myself, it's the other folks that are the problem. (Although I'm not above whacking the cab with my size 14s when getting on and off!)
Greg Lewis, Prop.
Eyeball Engineering — Home of non-interchangeable parts.
Our motto: "That looks about right."
Celebrating 30 years of turning perfectly good metal into bits of useless scrap.

Pontiacguy1
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Re: Cab: Wood or metal?

Post by Pontiacguy1 » Thu Dec 21, 2017 5:18 pm

My chloe cab was made from wood and worked really well. However, the locomotive is a tank-type with a rear bunker, so the cab was not as much of a natural place to try to grab and lift when derailed.

jcbrock
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Re: Cab: Wood or metal?

Post by jcbrock » Thu Dec 21, 2017 5:49 pm

Greg_Lewis wrote:So your idea leads me to think perhaps a metal frame with wood panel inserts might work.
Best of both worlds if you ask me.
John Brock

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Marty_Knox
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Re: Cab: Wood or metal?

Post by Marty_Knox » Thu Dec 21, 2017 7:10 pm

NP317 wrote:Good question.
I made the cab for my Allen Ten Wheeler using the cast aluminum fake-wood cab available for the 4-4-0.
It is strong, and back-dates the appearance the way I wanted.
A nice compromise.
~RN
Russ, this cab is now available in iron.

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NP317
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Re: Cab: Wood or metal?

Post by NP317 » Fri Dec 22, 2017 11:55 am

Marty_Knox wrote:
NP317 wrote:Good question.
I made the cab for my Allen Ten Wheeler using the cast aluminum fake-wood cab available for the 4-4-0.
It is strong, and back-dates the appearance the way I wanted.
A nice compromise.
~RN
Russ, this cab is now available in iron.
And in fact my cab may be iron!
Memory fade at work.
Regardless, it has worked as desired for the past 15 years.

And for Greg Lewis, here's another view of the cab.
~RN
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Cab shot of #317 small.jpg

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FLSTEAM
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Re: Cab: Wood or metal?

Post by FLSTEAM » Fri Dec 22, 2017 12:12 pm

The cab on the Shay is all wood. No problems in 5 years. I have a removable section in the back of the roof for running. I used to put it back in every time I shut down for the day, now it just stays in the caboose.

John B>
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Harlock
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Re: Cab: Wood or metal?

Post by Harlock » Fri Dec 22, 2017 1:00 pm

It seems like that choice would primarily be driven by what you are modeling, but if you mean simulated wood vs. real wood, If you want the look of a wood cab, my advice is to use real wood, unless your project happens to be a perfect fit for the Allen American cab, and you like that style of cab. Even then, it's not going to have the crisp look of real wood.

We've only ever made wood cabs. The important thing is to build them right, with good hardwood. Build them thicker than scale. On the outside they'll look the same.

In the past we've made them with oak, but we've come tor realize that the grain is too large for smaller scale projects. Mahogany creates a good scale grain match for oak.

Removable roofs and roofs with cutouts are no problem. You can reinforce the framing at the top of the sides to deal with it.

My father and I build cabs with all-wood construction, using doweling and glue, no metal fasteners except to attach the metal roof to the rest of the cab. The result is very strong. To attach the cab to the frame, there is either a metal flange on the inside bottom of each side, or threaded inserts in the bottom to invisibly attach it to the cab floor with hardware underneath.

Yes, you cannot pick your loco up with the wood cab. If I need to pick up the rear, I just reach down and grab under the cab floor on the sides.

Some pics of the oak shorty cab from the MEG, patterned after a Baldwin cab.

Working with wood is cathartic and fun. Good hardwood machines like aluminum, but easier.
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Harlock
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Re: Cab: Wood or metal?

Post by Harlock » Fri Dec 22, 2017 1:19 pm

By way of inspiration, here's a mahogany cab we did some repair work on. It's the cab for #268 on the Mesa Grande Western, 3" scale. It's a bit shined up in this photo but it's now back to its usual semi-matte finish after another year of running. The Mahogany gives a nice scale grain.

The 268 and its cab were built by Harry Pulaski, who was a cabinet maker. The cab is 54 years old this year and has never been stored in a climate controlled area and has held up very well.
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16-06-27_MGW_268_cab-6253.jpg
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