I have an Athearn RDC-1 which has the old-style rubber-band drive. I bought a plain bag of rubber bands, and found some which work, although there are some tensioning issues. I am wondering, is there a source of the correct sized OEM bands, or is there a conversion method to change the drive system to some sort of geared system?
Ernst makes a conversion kit for the Athearn RDC. Item 259-3 for just $11.98. Uses the existing motor and truck parts, adds a flywheel to the motor and a gear tower on one truck. Well engineered and can be done in about a half hour. Did one years ago (before the Proto 1000 was available) and it works well - one power truck is plenty to move the single RDC car. Geezer
Hi I also have two rdc with rubber bands and a GP9 as well..I 'd like to convert them over to gear as well..when you replay can you forward the imformation to me as well. If you need a digital picture I can take one...Thanks
Trainworld has been offering Bachmann RDC-2's and -3's for $19.95, the RDC-1 for $29.95. Might be worth a look, a lot better deal. They are as noted proper length, have interiors, lighting, etc. Great models.
It was also noted that NWSL offered a powering unit for the Athearn model, it is/was one of their PDT powered trucks and was around $60-70 or more. Niot much of a bargain when compared to the better Bachmann models.
The Ernst regear kit is fairly crude. I bought one years ago but never bothered to install it. It requires grinding away the frame around one truck, and converting the truck to take gears. a Rather flimsy conversion, and you still have the motor taking up much of the interior.
Yes the Athearn models are not scale length. However that is a plus for me. Unless one has a really huge layout, say 20 X 40 feet, then one foot long, 85 scale feet cars look pretty bad when over-hanging and out-swinging on 22" radius curves.
I love RDC's and don't have to please anyone else (: Grew up next to the B&O (Wash DC) Metropolitan branch and enjoyed the B&O later MARC "Budd Cars" So they are here on my layout.
Look at Bill's reply post and get some replacement rubber bands from Athearn. They last a _long_ time and work well. This is also good advice for those who own other earlier Athearn rubber band drive locos. I have a pair of old Athearn B&O GP-9's that are perfect and beautiful and I love them (:
Further, the old Athearn RDC models are "ready" for upgrading. Put some frosted paper behind the clear windows, so you don't have to look at the mechanism inside. Today there are LED, directional and consant lighting kits, or with a little bit of investigation, you can build your own. Directional headlights up front and red tail lights in the back and constant lights inside. Very cool! Nice!
One quirky thing about the Athearn models. is that they have the body fluting continuing around the ends and on either side of the end doors. (Sorry I don't have a photo handy) . From the early Budd Company promotional ads, this was an original design that was not used on production models. (Anyone help me here? - I don't know if any production cars were built this way). Production cars had smooth panels on either side of the end doors where railroads like B&M put their logos.
Well, if you find an original RDC-4 model from Athearn (yes, they made them), then that is the correct length at 72'. However, the RDC-1's and RDC-3's are not since they were 85'.
The problem I found with them is that they start like a shot and stop on a dime...and then they bounce back and forth. I put the Ernst gearing kit in a couple, and while noisy and slow, they did run better, IMHO.
And all of that can be done with the P1K versions...except they have an interior (not counting the RDC-1's and their darkened windows).
The wrap around fluting was, IIRC, prototypical for different Phase RDC's according to the RDC book. I'd have to look it up to see who had 'em, and I don't own that book. But the flat face RDC look was far more common, as both the B&M and the NH (the two biggest RDC owners) all had flat faces.
Paul A. Cutler III
************* Weather Or No Go New Haven
The Athearn RDC-4's were their early ones made from metal, with cast metal ends. They had geared power trucks. From the early 1950's I think. Not the same line as their plastic rubber band models. I have several of the metal ones as well as a plastic one that I made into an RDC-4.