Do you mean available, or being made now? If the former (but not the
latter), then yes, you can still get the old MDC/Roundhouse Shay kits on
eBay and such (that's where I got mine), and you can actually build
them, though actually *running* them may be another matter altogether.
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute
conversation with the average voter.
As someone who has never built one of the MDC Shay kits what is the
primary problem with 'getting them to run right' or is that too simplistic a
question? Along that line do 'all of the Shay gears actually function
assuming that you can actually build one'? Thanks for your input, jim
The "primary problem", once you get over all the faults of the poor
quality/badly engineered mechanisim, is that there is a mechanical drive
train to every axle along the centerline intended to drive the loco and
a parallel prototype/cosmetic drive mechanism on the outside. The two
drivetrains are built to different tolerances but at times when the
axles get out of step the outside drive train can be taking the motor
torque from one end of the loco to the other. As it was never intended
for that task the loco binds.
The "cure" is to cut the cardan shaft at one end or the other and
introduce a slipping joint so that the Shay drive no longer connects
both ends mechanically. That still leaves you with the problem of
sorting out the proper drive mechanisim.
Another way to do this is to arrange for all the line (cardan)
shaft gears except one to turn freely on the shaft.
You still have the noisy drive mech to deal with. I also had to
put blocks of wood under the frame that ride on the top of the
truck frame on the boiler side in order to get it level from side
to side. That fix was described in some article on the engine (I
don't remember where).
If you have difficulty with fussy mechanical systems this engine
isn't for you.
My experience was apparently different than most... mine did take quite a
bit of work to assemble properly but when it was done, it did run well. The
biggest modification I had to make was to use thin wire to wire shut the
drive trucks. They kept popping open with disasterous results.
Once assembly of the cylinder assembly was complete, I coated all of the
moving parts with toothpaste then set the loco on a box, conected power with
alligator clips and let it run about fifteen minutes in each direction. I
then completely tore it down and thoroughly cleaned all of the parts. I
lubricated everything with a thin coat of plastic compatible oil once I got
it put back together. It honestly ran like a fine watch. At one time, I
had a video of it taking over four minutes to run it's own length. You
could actually see the motor in the cab turning... now THAT is slow speed.
My Shay is currently out of service. I believe the small universal fixture
on the motor's drive shaft has slipped. The motor still runs but nothing
else happens. I suspect that a drop or two of CA cement will remedy that
and it will be ready for service once again. I've not really done much with
it for several years as my modeling interests have changed. It would
probably take about an hour for it to navigate one lap on my much alrger
Keystone Locomotive Works makes an unpowered model of a Shay in both
HO and HOn3. The HO version:
Northwest Short Line used to have a kit to power these but a check
of the web site indicates that it's not currently available:
Perhaps one can still be found in stock someplace. I have not built
on of these, but I have built some of Keystone's other kits and they are
pretty nice for craftsman kits. NWSL is nearly always a good buy.
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