MDC HO and HOn3 Shays?

Can someone direct me to the best places on the net to look for MDC Shays both websites and newsgroups? I'm interested in HO and HOn3. I've been out
of the loop for a few years so excuse my ignorance on where to look. jim in San Diego
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On 2/20/2008 4:06 PM jimbol51 spake thus:

Dunno about websites (sure there are some out there), but there've been some good long discussions here on that topic. I guess nowadays you need to use Google Groups (gag!) to see the old posts.
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jimbol51 wrote:

Just be aware that these are notoriously bad operating mechanisms. Really, really, really really, really bad.
Did I mention they operate badly?
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On 2/20/2008 4:42 PM jJim McLaughlin spake thus:

They're problematic, to be sure. However, I still intend to put some more hours into mine in hopes of getting it to run at least half-decently.
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When you say problematic in what way(s) specifically? jim

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The MDC Shay's problems include poorly formed drivetrain parts that take quite a bit of fine tuning to get to work smoothly, and a basic design flaw of using a center Climax type drive train to transmit power to the wheels while keeping a working Shay type line shaft, so that unless both drive trains are precisely in phase, they fight each other causing constant binds. Most successful MDC Shay projects wind up making the Shay lineshaft "freewheel" to break the mechanical "closed loop".
If you are seriously thinking about the MDC Shay, I suggest you obtain one of the books that have been published on how to get it to work. I like "The MDC Shay Handbook" by Jeff Johnston from Oso Publishing, ISBN 0-9647521-1-5. There are other books about the MDC Shay, but some, such as the Modeler's Handbook from Single Shot Gallery, are more about detailing the locomotive than improving its operation.
I also understand that MDC start including a much better motor in Shay kits released after mid-1995. If you do decide to obtain one, look for one of the later kits. Geezer

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The only problem with Jeff Johnston's book is the price.........it is going for a minimum of $200 on ebay. If you consider the cost of the MDC Shay kit add to that the book add to that the supplemental materials that everybody is mentioning.........the cost to get this Shay functioning is going to top at least $600 or so...........still worth monkeying with one of these MDC Shays then? jim

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Now i heard years ago and i also heard that there are mods that will help the operation greatly... anyone... anyone...
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On 2/20/2008 6:22 PM Big Rich Soprano spake thus:

Yeah, it's a variation of how my violin-making friend Clarence Shaw told me how to improve a marginal instrument: Take the couplers, bell and whistle off the Roundhouse model. Discard all other parts. Slide another Shay model under these parts (preferably one of the new Bachmanns).
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ha ha hehehe...
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Can you tell me WHY they operate so badly? jim

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jimbol51 wrote:

The problem is that there are a lot of li'l cast parts in the (dummy) external gear train, which must be cleaned and assembled. (The Model Railroader review mentioned this as a difficulty in assmbly, BTW.) Precision is therefore not guaranteed, and the dummy gear train could bind. So could the main gear train. A common fault with MDC at the time was poorly made gears in the (actual) drive train. Eg, I had a boxcab whose drive gear was bored off-centre! Wouldn't run at all. I rebuilt the Roundhouse 0-6-0 for the Edmonton Model RR Club in the 1960s - had to order a new driver set, as one of the wheels was mounted off centre, too. Caused an amusing duck-like waddle. After careful deburring of axle slots, side-rod holes, etc, the engine ran sweetly, but it took a lot of work. I must have taken it apart and reassembled it a dozen times. Certainly felt that way. ;-) Tyco/Mantua had similar problems, but at least their gear trains usually only needed a few hours running in (followed by disassembly and cleaning.)
One of the things that old timers will rarely tell you is that many (most IMO) of those diecast kits offered in the 30s-70s were poorly made, with enormous amounts of flash, parts that didn't fit well, mechanisms that were average at best, and detail parts that often were vaguely shaped lumps of something or other. The amazing thing is that so many buyers persevered. I didn't. I have a partly built Bowser Challenger kit (it cost the equivalent of about $400 in today's money.) Why didn't I finish it? Because the axles bind, despite several attempts to loosen them up. I gave up when I realised that I couldn't guarantee uniformly enlarged bearings. The bearings are U-shaped bits of brass, which need to be reamed. But they aren't circular to start with, so reaming them accurately is a matter of luck. Well, I suppose I could assemble the mech, put some lapping compound in the bearings, put the frame on blocks and apply power for half an hour or so... H'm. ;-)
IOW, the Good Old Days weren't.
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Roundhouse isn't know for smoovisity...
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On 2/21/2008 6:12 PM Big Rich Soprano spake thus:

The award for Word of the Day goes to you, my man.
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Thank you oodles and muchly!..
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I guess I'm in a minority here as well but my Shay has given me few problems. I did buy the updated NWSL drive but never got around to installing it. Never seemed like I needed it.
The three truck Shay did give me troubles & I wasn't really able to resolve them. I had to leave the 3rd truck unpowered but the guy I built it for didn't seem to mind.
Like Jerry, I had to wire my trucks together as well.
One thing that I did to improve the performance of my Shay was to liberally coat all of the moving parts with toothpaste. Not the gel kind but something "pasty" & gritty like Colgate or Crest. I ran the engine propped up on a kit box for about half an hour that way. You could easily hear the mechanism running faster, smoother & quieter as time went by. After the half hour, I disassembled everything & cleaned it thoroughly, removing all traces of the toothpaste, reassembled it and used a little graphite in the gear tower and some thin oil on everything else and it has run well ever since. In fact, I once made a video of the engine moving so slow that it took about four minutes for it to travel its own length without stopping! You could look in the cab and actually see the motor slowly turning. It neither bound nor stopped; it was just a constant slow turning.
I'm not sure how my Shay would run now as it has been packed away for quite some time.
Finally in the discussion of the MDC Shay, don't forget that a company, I think it was Walker Models, actually made a replacement boiler for it. That was a long time ago, but I think the boiler was more linear than the one that was part of the MDC kit. Did they call it a shotgun boiler? I've never seen one in person, only pictures of the completed, modified model.
My 2 worth...
dlm
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Thanks for the note. It's always a bit supportive to find someone whose experiences match your own. BTW, do you think there might be others here who are interested in model railroading? Naw, probably not.
Jerry
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:
[...]

[...]
Dan isn't the only one to have success with the toothpaste trick. The Late John Selkirk of Sault Ste Marie did it with all his new engines.
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wrote:

was to liberally

kind but

engine propped

easily hear the

by. After the

thoroughly, removing all

graphite in the

run well ever

slow that it

without stopping!

turning. It

turning.
someone
might be

probably
trick. The

engines.
"Pearl Drops" was the lapping compound of choice for smoothing out Athearn drives. But it's getting hard to find in the grocery store these days.
Len
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It was recommended in this group several years ago.
I had to go to every Drug Store around before I found it at RiteAid. One tube should last for at least 500 engines. *8^)
Paul
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