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  • What are your thoughts on model engine balancing?

    Hi glue sniffers,

    My question is a curious one, but a fundamental one.

    What are your thoughts on engine or locomotive balancing, if any? If so, how do you go about balancing your equipment.

    Do you feel it's important as a part of modeling? Do you know if the prototype weight balanced their engines?

    I wanted to pause on my thoughts first so as not to influence your thoughts on the subject.

    Thanx Thom...

  • #2
    I'm curious about what you mean by locomotive balancing?

    Balancing of rotating weight is what jumps to my mind but I don't see how that is relevant on a modelling scale because the rotating parts are so small, lightly loaded, and don't rotate that fast.
    Built a waterfront HO layout in Ireland http://www.railroad-line.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=22161 but now making a start in On30 in Australia http://www.railroad-line.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=52273

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    • #3
      I've read about balancing motor armatures in '70s MR 'brass tuneup' articles, but never done it. I have added weight and shifted it around in a couple of brass steam engines so weight on drivers was increased and more evenly distributed.

      [edit] If scratchbuilding or doing a kitbash that involved increasing or reducing the number of drivers on a steam loco, I would want the counterweights to look realistic: main driver heavier than the others. But I wouldn't try to modify the counterweights on commercial drivers unless I couldn't find an appropriate main driver (e.g. the prototype had Baldwin Disc, but only spoked are available commercially).
      James

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      • #4
        Neil,

        Excellent and very valid question. I can answer that for you, but would like to give others the opportunity to give their experienced thoughts first (if that's ok with you?). I like your take on the subject so far. Thanx Thom... P.S. BTW if working on a metal cast shell with cast frame my point is more of a moot point then. I'm referring to plastic & brass mostly.

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        • #5
          Let me have a do over here. I've may have not been clear enough. I'll re-write.

          Hi glue sniffers,

          My question is a curious one, but a fundamental one.

          What are your thoughts on engine (diesel) or locomotive balancing, if any? If so, how do you go about balancing your equipment.

          Do you feel it's important as a part of modeling? Do you know if the prototype weight balanced their engines (locos)?

          I wanted to pause on my thoughts first so as not to influence your thoughts on the subject.

          Thanx Thom...

          Comment


          • #6
            Prototype steam engines were balanced with weights visible on the drive wheels to counter the off balance situation created by rods and cranks and all the various appendages in the drive train. I have no idea how this was accomplished.

            I do not see any need to do it on a model locomotive other than an exercise in nit picking. The flywheels in the drive trains of our models have certainly be balanced in their design work to make them run as well as they do.
            Karl Scribner-Curmudgeon

            Cedar Swamp
            SW of Manistique, MI

            Avatar image by Savannah Lyn Burgess 7-15-2022

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            • #7
              Hi all,

              My discussion thoughts were more to, when building an steam/diesel loco other than a solid cast.

              How do you like to balance out the model (equally over the drivers on steam) and (between the trucks on diesels).

              Especially since Dcc sound with all the extra electronics take the place of the once fully loaded with weight spaces.

              Yes the prototype have to take into consideration the weight to horsepower ratio, on both steam & diesels.

              Are we modelers aware of this? or is it a part of model building that we know how to or even care to resolve?

              If you're asking what it is or why? Then I ask, have you noticed why your plastic steam engines have rubber tired drivers or why you need (3) 4 axle diesel engines to pull a 25+ car train, When one 6 axle engine does it with no problem?

              or Why your engine pulls better in one direction over the other? or Slips a bit when pulling slow over switches?


              I'm curious what others do? or Think about it? Thanx Thom...

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              • #8
                I model in N scale so I'm not speaking to any other scale. I use only 4 axle diesels because that's what the prototype did in this area. I don't allow anything with traction tires on the layout as it fouls the track. Most of the locos are Atlas, Kato, Proto and Intermountain. They all can easily pull 15-20 cars plus with only one engine. Using 3 to pull 25 would be a waste of electricity. That said the diesels with traction tires are very cheaply made engines which is why they need the tires. Moral of the story is to by decent engines to start with and you won't have any problems.

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                • #9
                  When I saw this question Thom all I could think of is a loco on a tight-rope wire. [:-bigeyes2] [:-bigmouth]
                  --Rich

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                  • #10
                    Hi Thom;

                    Are you talking about adding approximately same amount of weight to the front and rear of a steam engine model so that the weight is balanced over the drivers, and the engine is not tilted to the front or rear of the engine? I seems to me that this is less of a problem with Diesel models.

                    L&N nut

                    Jon

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                    • #11
                      You could always add a working sanding system to get that lost traction. Actually when I first read the initial post, I thought you were looking at balancing a fivepole motor by removing a winding or two to achieve rotational balance. Like the old competition slot car and RC racecar motors were reworked. I guess not, put the cap on the glue.

                      Jim
                      Take the red pill

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                      • #12
                        HI Jon, Jim & others interested,

                        Sorry my reply is slow getting back. Yes as a professional model builder "proper weight" is a key detail in modeling.

                        big breath in...id="size1">

                        For whatever reason I learned from John Allen & George sellios that details do matter . Hence why they both had so much of it and most of us are big fans of it.

                        Attention to details is what sets a better modeler apart from an average modeler.

                        So when I cut my teeth on engine building by building the old heavy cast kit engines, weight wasn't a big factor, but rather a hindrance. (which meant one must make a swiss watch to have a smooth running engine).

                        So the more I studied the railroads,(why they did) the more I discovered ways of understanding how to build better.

                        So with regards to weight. Ever wonder why manufacturers had traction tires on so many engines over the years?

                        Ever wonder why manufacturers make rollingstock with the car weight smaller than the molded base it holds? So why do we need to add weight to most cars to meet NMRA standards? Why don't more modelers model empty open flat cars etc?

                        Real railroads (still to this day) have to contend with light or empty railcars to far to the front or middle of a heavy train. (they do crumple or derail more easily than fully loaded cars).

                        No offense to any modelers who only static model a railroad (engines/cars) they build, paint & maybe even weather beautifully, but everything runs like hammered crap. I'm not sayin' John or George didn't have that problem, because they did.

                        I know in model railroading, we may never actually take an 0-4-0 switcher and shove a caboose with a hundred empty hopper cars thru a ladder yard, but wouldn't it be cool if we could? or do half? or a third? or on some layouts, how about 10 cars? wouldn't that be nice?

                        So most of us know if we want a model train to run somewhat decently we need to pay attention to the details (weight, wheels, trucks, switches, grades, track curves & locomotives). right)?

                        I read in railway age magazine as a young adult a article which showed & explained rail builders adding lead (shavings or powder)(can't remember now) to voids in the frames of the rebuilt or modified equipment (engines & {passenger cars) excursion cars } that weren't balanced somewhat evenly over the trucks.

                        and Exhale:id="size1">

                        So those (who are still here reading) ha. I know...

                        I presented the topic question so as to perhaps stir the important (or at least show the importance) of balancing your equipment, how to or to ask how to.

                        Yes to those who only model diesels, and don't mess with steam because it's to complicated.

                        Diesels pull better when properly weighted. Take an old school engine and only load one side with weight and leave out the other side and pull the max of cars on one coupler, turn it around pull the max cars, then shove the same max and turn it around and again shove.

                        I'd bet one would find like all of us who run steam already know... Weight matters.

                        Doesn't it suck when you run a single engine around an average layout (with grades) and it can only pull a mundane consist. ha.

                        It sucks as bad as a engine sitting in one town and the caboose is sitting in another town. ha. But that's another story!

                        Ok I'm done. Ok for those who feel the need, to bi-outch slap me now can. [^] I hope this helped. Thanx Thom...

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                        • #13
                          A fair number of valid points made. I must stir the pot a bit and contend that Jon Allen and George Sellios indeed do make an emphasis on details, toss in Malcolm Furlow while we're at it. It is my opinion that the famous, or notorious depending on your view, modeling trio in fact are modeling caricatures of reality with excess detail, all of it well balanced, there's that word, into a well constructed visual feast.

                          Weight does matter in reliable operation of model railroad rolling stock and should be a routine practice in all of our operations. I try to keep my equipment in close approximation of the NMRA weight suggestions as well as equipped with uniformly consistent metal wheelsets and Kadee #5 couplers. I keep as much weight as possible in my locomotives and am able to operate with a sufficient length of trains to make a model railroad function. Scale length 1 1/2 to 2 mile trains are not practical in HO scale. 30 cars are a long train and overwhelm all but the grandest layouts.
                          Karl Scribner-Curmudgeon

                          Cedar Swamp
                          SW of Manistique, MI

                          Avatar image by Savannah Lyn Burgess 7-15-2022

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                          • #14
                            Karl,

                            You obviously know what you refer to for sure. I agree with your comments.

                            It just goes to show how awesome this particular hobby is. (because of the so many facets to learn from or improve on).

                            Thanx Thom...

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