question i have

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PilotBug
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question i have

Post by PilotBug » Thu May 27, 2021 8:58 am

hello there, I am quite new to this hobby (more specifically live steam), I am planning to build the Railroad supply company inc. 4-4-0 American.
I am wondering the answers to these questions
1. what tools will I need to complete it (like to machine the parts, fasten the parts together, etc.)
2. is it able to run on propane as that is what I plan on using
3. am I able to paint it, or does it come pre-painted
4. is this model suitable for beginners like me to the live steam hobby?

if anyone could answer these questions then thanks in advance, have a nice day.

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BigDumbDinosaur
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Re: question i have

Post by BigDumbDinosaur » Thu May 27, 2021 12:31 pm

PilotBug wrote:
Thu May 27, 2021 8:58 am
hello there, I am quite new to this hobby (more specifically live steam), I am planning to build the Railroad supply company inc. 4-4-0 American.
I am wondering the answers to these questions
1. what tools will I need to complete it (like to machine the parts, fasten the parts together, etc.)
2. is it able to run on propane as that is what I plan on using
3. am I able to paint it, or does it come pre-painted
4. is this model suitable for beginners like me to the live steam hobby?

if anyone could answer these questions then thanks in advance, have a nice day.
Perhaps you should pose those questions to Railroad Supply, since they would know this information.

BTW, you might get more responses if the subject of your post ("question i have") is more specific.
——————————————————————————————————
Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing.

rrnut-2
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Re: question i have

Post by rrnut-2 » Thu May 27, 2021 1:02 pm

Talk to Mike at RRSC. Call after 6pm as he has a full time job. Don't bother with the voice mail or email.

Jim B

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Bill Shields
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Re: question i have

Post by Bill Shields » Thu May 27, 2021 3:42 pm

Off the cuff, having had a RRSC 4-4-0 in my possession for a couple of decades: (assuming you are describing CP173 'disney' american

1> You will need a fairly complete machine shop (lathe / mill / LOTS OF TOOLING & Fixtures / hand tools / knowledge of how to use same). All this assuming you are going to purchase a boiler and not build it yourself (another investment)

If you are not already a machinist then doing one of these models as a first project may well be an expensive mistake.-> strongly suggest you consider purchasing one ready to go.

RRSC supplies them that way (or has in the past -> do not know about now -> it has been a couple of years since Mike and I have chatted, covid being what it is). I may see him this weekend if he is coming to PLS...

People have no idea what is involved in building a steamer...yes it is 'basic technology' from 150 years ago -> but there is a lot of learning involved in even the most basic of part manufacturing.

2> yes on Propane...the one in my basement has a propane burner in it.

3> if you purchase a ready to run, they generally come painted. if they are not painted, then you need to completely disassembly to paint. RRSC may sell 'bolt together kits'...They used to years ago (which is how I ended up with the one in my basement), but that was when they were based in Los Angeles.

4> as locos go, it is straightforward with a minimum of parts.

Being what it is, requires rather more investment in machinery and / or tooling than you may have 'sitting around' or be in a position to purchase. Best you look before you leap..

Then consider how you are going to transport the loco, tender, riding car, propane bottles and whatnot. You MIGHT be able to get it all into a full-size GMC Suburban, Honda Odyssey or similar -> otherwise you are most likely going to need a trailer. YES, I have seen people stuff (emphasis STUFF) similar size locos into a Subaru...but it's a squeeze...

An additional consideration is that if you are running on propane you NEED TO HAVE A RIDING CAR on which to mount the tank(s) - and need a way to get it to / from your local track.

Coal can be dumped into the tender and you CAN ride just loco and tender...propane demands additional car.

It is not so much as weight (although you are looking at the best part of 1000# for everything described above...it is a question of square footage of space needed to transport.

Your profile shows no location that we can use as a 'guide' for local for you.

this being the summer (assuming you are not south of the equator)...are there any local clubs in your home area where you can go and talk to / be shown around the shop of someone who has actually built a steamer of this size? Or ANY STEAMER?

It is a real learning experience -> and I wish more people would have the desire you are showing.

I just feel the need to 'draw the big picture'

Many clubs are 'reopening' this weekend...take advantage if you can handle the traffic!
Too many things going on to bother listing them.

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David Powell
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Re: question i have

Post by David Powell » Thu May 27, 2021 4:28 pm

Bill said all thats needed. I always suggest that beginners should start with a simple, relatively quick to build project, then once that is complete, up and running they will no longer be beginners but will have the experience, knowledge and at least some of rhe equipment necessary to move on to the project of their dreams. A good start is a Stuart #10 from castings and a vertical firetube boiler to suit, Regards David Powell.

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ccvstmr
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Re: question i have

Post by ccvstmr » Thu May 27, 2021 5:13 pm

Pilot Bug...

Hope you're getting the technical aspect info you were looking for here. BUT...would suggest you find a train club if there's one close by and visit those folks. Ask the same questions. See what kind of equipment they run. Inquire if they built new or purchased used. Purchasing a used locomotive (unless you've seen it run) presents a different set of challenges. All depends on who the builder was and the accuracy of his building skills. Otherwise, there might be some degree of rebuilding involved. Still a good way to learn about the loco.

Seeing locomotives first hand and talking to the owners can be as good an info source as what you'll get here. If you're lucky, someone will show you how to operate his locomotive and let you get a feel for the throttle and operating live steam. Many of us got started that way.

But it all starts by expressing a keen interest in starting such a project and seeing it through. If you run into someone at a club or meet that appears "cold"...go find another person. Most people in this hobby love to share their stories. Good luck. Carl B.
Life is like a sewer...what you get out of it depends on what you put into it!
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Bill Shields
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Re: question i have

Post by Bill Shields » Thu May 27, 2021 7:03 pm

Just a for example.

This is for 2 days at the track with a 2.5" gauge steamer that weighs 30# and is a 24" long (hand carriable) steam model.
b18 to track.jpg
Loco is in the box....which is (in reality) the smallest part of the 'support stuff' you need to take with you.

True...making the loco 3X the scale (7.5" track for your 4-4-0 vs 2.5" track for this loco) does NOT necessarily mean that the amount of 'stuff' that you need to take with you scales up...but the LOCO / TENDER and Propane bottles will take up proportionately greater space.

You may get it all inside of an 8' bed pickup truck.

my 2-8-0 which is maybe 24" onger than the 4-4-0 you are considering fills a stretch ex-camper (11' from back of seats to the rear door) by the time I get the riding car, propane bottles, loco and tender all inside (and anchored down).

it's a lot of fun to go out for the weekend and socialize..but requires planning.
Last edited by Bill Shields on Thu May 27, 2021 8:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Too many things going on to bother listing them.

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Greg_Lewis
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Re: question i have

Post by Greg_Lewis » Thu May 27, 2021 7:11 pm

I echo Carl's advice. Spend time at a club before you leap into a loco project, either building or buying finished. While the 4-4-0 is a fine project, after talking to some old hands you might decide on something else. And you'll learn lots about what's involved. Personally, I did exactly that and after visiting three clubs I realized that what I wanted wasn't going to be right for me, and I avoided a big mistake. I was also able to find a couple of folks who graciously mentored me until I got my footing. So I recommend that route to you. While we here will help you as much as we can, it's not the same as in-person contact.
Greg Lewis, Prop.
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Dick_Morris
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Questions about building an RRSC CP-173

Post by Dick_Morris » Thu May 27, 2021 7:43 pm

I built my CP-173 30+ years ago. It tends to be a bit light but runs nicely and is a nice looking locomotive. I found the drawings to be better than the ones from LE at the time.

At the time, I had a 6" Atlas/Craftsman lathe and an Atlas/Craftsman mill (a small mill roughly equivalent to the 6" lathe) with a vertical head. I had occasional access to a 12" lathe and Bridgeport type mill. I would say that is the minimum in machine tools that you should start with. The 12" Asian lathe or machine of similar weight is a good choice if you can swing it. It's rigid enough to turn drive wheels. A 12" Atlas/Craftsman isn't a bad choice, although they aren't as rigid. A 9" or 10" Southbend should also be suitable, although a bit lighter.

You could probably do the mill work on a Clausing or similar sized mill. (I'm not a fan of mill drills.) A lot of the smaller parts could be made on a Sherline lathe and mill, but the lack of rigidity will require light cuts and a lot of parts are just too big for one.

I have a 12" Asian lathe and Bridgeport clone mill. No matter what I make, it's easier on them than it was on the equipment I started with.

Keep in mind that you can spend 25% or more on tooling once you get a lathe or milling machine if you can't get a packaged deal.

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milwiron
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Re: question i have

Post by milwiron » Fri May 28, 2021 5:46 am

Hi PilotBug,
I built the RRSC CP173 back in the mid 80's. With a full machine shop of well mantained machines it took me about 2 years of lunch hours and partial weekends to build. I found it to be an excellent design that ran like a Swiss watch off the bench. I quickly learned how little I liked keeping all that brass polished.
At the time of my build I already had a couple decades of machining/welding training and work experience. Also, the shop had a large supply of scrap bins to pick from. A Copper and Brass Sales warehouse was only a mile away. :D In other words I was very lucky, I had the access to anything I needed. Building a steam loco can absolutely be done with much less but for the CP173 you'll want hundreds of hours of access to a Bridgeport size mill and a 12 to 16 inch lathe with support tooling.

Paint color is just one of the many dozens of build decisions you'll need to make along the way.
Denny
"Measure twice, curse once."

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SteveR
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Re: question i have

Post by SteveR » Fri May 28, 2021 7:03 pm

PilotBug,
Get a copy of "The Pennsylvania A3 Switcher" by Hiraoka. Although it describes a 3/4" scale machine, it has information on scaling to 1-1/2" scale. It's a good introduction to what you will need and a whole chapter on what's required for a workshop. Note - you don't have to buy everything all at once - better not to actually.

I'm not saying to built the A3 instead of the CP173, just that it's a good reference - the subtitle is "The first project for the beginner".

IMHO - this is not really a train hobby, it's really a machining hobby. I've spent way more hours machining than playing trains!

Good luck.
SteveR
12x36 Enco Lathe, 9x42 Bridgeport, SMAW, O/A, Miller MIG w/gas
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pat1027
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Re: question i have

Post by pat1027 » Thu Jun 03, 2021 4:39 pm

A detailed tool list would be a bit for a forum post. SteveR mentioned one of Kozo books. Joseph Nelson has a list in the book "So You Want to Build a Live Steam Locomotive". You don't need everything at once. Like most things there are ways to spend as much money as you want. Here are my incomplete thoughts. There will be the assortment of hand tools like wrenches, sockets, screw drivers, ball peen and plastic face hammers, square, center punch, scribe and so forth. Taps from maybe 4-40 up to 5/16 or 3/8. Drills. I bought a sets of fractional and number. Letters as I needed them. A good work bench with vice. Measuring tools like micrometers at minimum to do the axles, smaller wheels and pistons. A good square and 6" rule. I bought a good caliper to do my drivers. My Dad did his with a home made gage. Both worked.

Machining wise a 9" lathe will do the drivers. 10" would be nicer. 12" would be great. The lighter machines like Atlas and the 9" Southbend can take a beating in discussion forums but you are not in a production setting and you can go slower. If you are anywhere near Michigan I can show what can be done on an Atlas 12". At least a four jaw check and a good three jaw is nice but not imperative if you are on a budget. I would set the old Armstrong rocker tool holders aside and get a quick change tool post. Skip things like carbide cutting tools and stick with HSS. Dead centers are nice to have. Chuck for the tail stock.

Milling machines. Back in the day machines were comparatively more expensive than they are today. A lot of work was done in lathers with milling attachments and fixturing. A mill however is a whole bunch faster. A nice 9 x 42 Bridgeport would be great but smaller machines will get the job done too. I did the frames for a 2-8-2 in an Index 40. It took multiple set ups to get them through the machine but it did the job. Tooling some collets, end mills and a drill chuck.

Other things. Bandsaw and drill press are great to have but not imperative if there is a budget to work with. A small torch set. Ordinary power tools like an electric drill. Maybe a welder. At least a AC buzz box but a decent DC machine is way nicer to use.

Can you propane fire? Sure.

Can you paint it? If you are going to build it you will have to paint it or pay someone to do it. A decent air brush, rattle cans and the kitchen oven to cure the paint can do a nice job.

Is the 4-4-0 a good locomotive for a beginner? Yes. Generally speaking a smaller simpler locomotive is recommended for a first build. Not that you can't build bigger out of the gate. Building a locomotive however is a journey. Bigger takes longer. There are a lot that are started and never finished as the builders loose interest.

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