MDC 2 Truck Shay

wipers and pads.

Speaking of which, I don't understand why everyone replaces the stock wipers and pads. Mine were pretty dirty when I got it and it still ran well. I guess I got a good one out of the bunch and should consider myself lucky.

The stock wheel wipers work ok, but they are stiff. in order to get good contact with the wheel, they have to press pretty hard against the wheel, and that hard contact, along with the lack of springyness in the wiper material , will cause the wheel wiper to wear into two, over time, if your locomotive works as hard as mine do. Over the years the wiper parts have changes I have seen some that looked like they were shim brass, and others that looked like thick phosphor bronze. the former were useless, and the latter was usable, but less than Ideal. both of mine have wipers fabricated with springy phospor bronze wire from Micro-Mark.

The contact pads between the frame and the truck, is just less than ideal engineering. You have to rely on wiper to wheel, and wheel to rail contact. It just doesn't pay to have anothe rmoveable contact that isn't necessary. It may not cause trouble now, but it is bound to some day. If you get a super fine wire, and run it through a hole in the frame directly to the motor (or decoder, if you go that route), that is one less thing that can go wrong later.

You want some very fine, supper flexible wire though, or it will interfere with truck swing, causing tracking problems, so unless you have that super flexible wire, the contacts at the top of the truck are preferable to too stiff wire. they are just one more maintenance issue on a locomotive that has plenty already.

Bill Nelson
Bill, I have seen your shay on "TheTube" before I even replied to this particular thread, VERY nice work there. I don't think I'll ever run mine that slow but yours is very smooth. I bought 2 shays. about 4 months ago I was digging through the back shelves of my LHS and saw the colorful yellow-orange Roundhouse box which caught my eye, It wound up being a R-T-R Two truck shay in "WSLC" dec. I bought it for the measly price of 60 dollars...(He knew it was there and knew the....shall I say legacy? of these locos). After breaking it in I was pretty happy after reading how everyone says its the luck of the draw with the R-T-R versions. About a month ago I wanted to get a kit, to keep me busy while I quit smoking and ween off an addictive medication. The other guy who works the LHS said he thought he had a few kits...I said I'll buy one. Come to find out he got rid of them years ago....Doh! On the shop layout there was a black undecorated 2 truck that someone built from a kit, It ran.....Like dog crap. I picked it up for 40 bucks. I got replacement axle gears (stock) from a NWSL equipped kit version that my buddy and LHS clerk had from the one he was building, cleaned it up and re-assembled it and voila! Ran decent. After a few days of tweaking and running in I got both the RTR and kit to cover 3 feet in about 1 minute 40 seconds. Thats my shay story and how I got wrapped up in these little "Complex on wheels" locomotives. My question is;

I ordered NWSL parts (ReGear and Bullgear) for the kit version. I intend on putting them in and see how much of a difference there is. Before I shell out another 35$ for another set of gears for the RTR.....Is it really worth it? I mean the damn thing is quiet and there is NO binding what-so-ever. The thing really runs like a dream. It's all stock. The factory improvements are;
-Thinner wipers.
-2 Lineshaft gears are "Spin-fit"/2 engaged.
-5 pole open-frame, "Purple" motor as I call it (I believe it's a Sagami, Good motor).
-Bullgear looks to be of better molding.

Is it really worth the 35$ to get an already great running engine to run marginally better? Or should I put it toward detailing these little SOB's?:?balloon6

Any comments appreciated.
Is it really worth the 35$ to get an already great running engine to run marginally better? Or should I put it toward detailing these little SOB's?:?balloon6

Any comments appreciated.

The short answer is yes you do. when the kits first came out the axle gears were poorly made castings, that had flash were oblong instead of round, and caused seriously impaired operation. When I built my second kit, the axle gears were much improved, and I was able to tune the trucks with the original axle gears, and get very satisfactory operation , so I used the improved drive shafts that come with the partial re-gear kit, and kept the axle gears in reserve.

about a year and a half later operating on the mountain, in the vicinity used for the video #7 had a breakdown. It lost power, and made horrible noises. Careful study revealed that the stock axle gears shrank, and that shrinkage caused some of them to split on the axle. When that happened some of the axles were powered and some were not, and all of the careful tweaking to get every thing in perfect timing was right out the window.

I had to rebuild the trucks, using the NWSL axle gears ( I had a small panic attack, cause it took me a while to find where I had put them). After replacing the gears I had to go through the whole process of timing and tweaking the trucks to get rid of all the binds.

The open frame motor with the later kits is a very good open frame motor. much better than the motor with the early kits. #8 the locomotive in the video has a humongous gear reduction motor I bought from somebody at the NMRA National Convention in Atlanta in 1973. it was so big I didn't get it installed in a locomotive until about 1995. It first went into a Mantua general, which has a conversion boiler to make it into a 1910 ere 4-4-0. I hid the motor in a MDC tender, and it was a lot of fun, but to slow to use . I could tale a throttle and turn it fro 0% to 100% and back to 0% as fast as I could and I would get about 1/4 turn of the drivers.

That was fun, but it gave me a 4-4-0 with a top speed more appropriate for a Shay. My Train buddy from Rome Ga. Mack Montgomery, had given me two can motors that were out of a cannon copier. I took the gear reduction motor out of the 4-4-0, replacing it with a cannon copier motor, and I put the gear reduction motor in #8. The motor is so big I had to mill a 1/8 inch groove in the frame, and even then, the motor touches the cab roof.

The other cannon copier motor went into #7 , which runs almost but not quite as good as #8. I have tried to detail them both identically. they have replacement boilers from On-track, which back date them, making them an older Shay. They have stacks and headlights salvaged from dead AHM JW Bowkers . The replacement boilers are much better castings than the boilers in the kit, and I like the lines of the older boilers better, and the on-track castings are much heavier, giving #7 and #8 much improved tractive effort, which is very important on my Mountain division, where the ruling grade gets up to 8.5%, easily visible in that video

I have seen adds for gear reduction motors from the motor man. Can motors run slower than most open frame motors, and gear reduction motors are even slower, and the gearing helps them power through small binds. My Dad, while in forestry graduate school, worked in the woods with Shays. Dad was always telling me to slow my shays down, and that " a man can walk comfortably along side a Shay pulling a loaded log train and keep up."

Dad has gone of to the big log camp in the sky, but I have internalized that message My PFM B-2 and 3-truck Chery River shay both have NWSL regear kits in them. My PFM HO standard gauge 25 ton shay has a gear reduction motor in it and is almost as slow as #8. I have a stock PFM HOn3 25 ton Shay, that still has a stock mechanism; fitting a gear reduction motor in those is a bear of a job, but it is likely to happen someday, (it does ok, and doesn't run at unprorotypical speeds until it gets above 60% throttle, so I'm not in a big hurry;; the standard gauge 25 ton had it's stock motor in it until it burned out after 30 years of service. the 25 ton shay was my first geared engine, and now that I have a massive roster, I don't think any of my locomotives are going to get worked as hard as #15 was between 1968 and 1978, when my collection really started to fill out.

Bill Nelson
SML # 7 & # 8.jpg a photo

I was cleaning up my 5th level shelf in advance of surveying for an insane extension of my narrow gauge. I phtographed the shelf, because I think it is the only time I've seen it clean. I truly believe that my son and I installed it with stuff piled on it. Likewise I cleaned off the top of a metal storage cabinet, which will support the far end of the return loop.

2 levels down, in crooked creek, I noticed #8 and #7 together, so I photographed them to show how they are detailed for a family resemblance.

Bill Nelson
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Nice Shays Bill.:thumb:
I like the large stacks. I went for a similar look with my second MDC shay. (maybe a bit more modernized though)


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That is a nice looking locomotive Ray. the different stack really changes the look of the locomotive, folks are always mistaking mine for brass , for no good reason other than they don't quite look like the typical MDC,

Bill Nelson
Thanks for the info Bill. Keep in mind however, that the loco in question is the RTR version, which has already had it's axle gears replaced with the white helical cut pieces that were issued in some of the latter kits I believe. A few years ago when he bought the RTR for the hobby shop, It had split gears from the factory and he had his NWSL parts for the kit he was building and didn't need his stock kit gears, so I wound up with them...Delrin I believe? Thats why I'm up in the air about NWSL goodies for the RTR. The kit version will get them regardless. That's why I was asking about the parts, for the other RTR shay. Like I said, It runs VERY well. Other than having the parts on hand for replacements (should a 2nd delrin set give out), I don't think I'll be messing with this loco anytime soon....Unless the kit version I have REALLY blows me away after I install the NWSL stuff. I got the kit version running almost as good as the RTR so It would be a decent comparison. As I said, my buddy who is building his kit (with NWSL stuff) ran his (sans lineshaft) parallel against my stock RTR, there was almost no difference, Slow speed or half throttle.
white axle gears

#7 had those nice white axle gears on it originally. I did not replace them initially, as they ran very smoothly .

Two of four broke about two years later, Lay in a NWSL partial re gear kit, You will be needing one.

Bill Nelson
I eventually did buy the "Bullgear" kit and the "Partial Re-gear" as well. The bullgear kit went into the RTR shay (Which runs amazing with just that upgrade!:thumb:...I can literally watch the green poles of the motor turn so slowly...It runs about a tie every 30-40 seconds!) and the regear found its way into the kit version. The axle gears are staying in the package however...I installed them into the kit version after de-burring them and sanding a little bit, the damn thing surged BAD. Maybe I got some garbage pieces, but these will be sent back for another set. Also I use a piece of flexable tubing for the connection between motor shaft and drive gear....That cup and socket set is never true unless the motor is shimmed and this smoothes it out quite a bit with the tubing. I'll keep those axle gears on hand (after I send back for replacements) for anything in the future. Also I found a black Sagami can motor from another kit, not a roundhouse but It has the same screw and mounting pin as the shay motor and is the exact same dimensions...albeit a little shorter by a few mm's. I need to the get the worm gear off of it and use a screw in the floor of the frame for (neg). My original Sagami can from the kit gets very hot and performance has decreased after I shorted it from using a solder bridge from the broken (neg) terminal to the outside of the can itself.:rolleyes:
Progress as it comes...Take care. I will show pictures as I can get them up, I've installed a bear trap spark arrestor from scratch, wood load, snow plow, ropes to whistle and bell, and ladder on bunker and heavily weathered it. The RTR version only has a ladder and light weathering...for now.
thanks for sharing.

Thanks for sharing, I look forward to seeing the pictures, These critters can be ornery to set up, but once they are right, they can be superb running Locomotives. While you are getting one set up right, they can teach you a lot about fine tuning a mechanism.

Once again, thanks for sharing.

Bill Nelson
Great looking locos on this thread! I have one MDC shay, have upgraded to a NWSL gearbox, but was wondering if new axle gears are needed in order to run smooth?
SML # 7 & # 8.jpg That depends on what you had, there were early production kits late production kits, and RTR versions. the early kits absouloutly needed the axle gears replaced, the gears on some of the late producton axles where quite good and would run satisfatorally, and the same with the RTR versions (my understanding- I have not owned one).

Both # 7 and #8 have the on-track backdating kit that replaces the boiler. I like the resulting, look, and the replacement boiler is heavier, so they pull better. I believe the backdate kits are still available from Weisman Model service. Both #7 and #8 have stacks and headlights salvaged from old AHM J W Bowkers, good big radley-Hunter stacks are hard to find. both 7 & 8 have the NWSL bull gear and partial regear kits on them now. #8 has a massive gear reduction motor in it and # 7 has a big can motor. both run well, #8 is very slow.

as I have said elsewere in this thread, go ahead and buy the axle gears even if yours will run well now, they will shrink over time, and will eventually split, which will disable the locomotive. I have had NWSL gears on my #8 for close to twenty years, My number 7's ( a late model kit) had it's axle gears split about four or five years in service (no telling how long they were in the box before it was assembled.
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