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scsshaggy
Big Boy


scsshaggy

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 Posted - July 27 2021 :  5:09:48 PM Link directly to this topic  Show Profile  Add scsshaggy to Buddylist
For some years, I've thought I'd like an ALCO FA if I could get a good price on one. I have plenty of locomotives to run the railroad, so it's a frivolous buy, so I didn't want to go all out on price with some superdetailed DCC-ready late model model. I've looked, in the past to see if there were Athearn Blue Box FAs, but never found such a thing.

At the swap meet at Gailesburg, IL Railroad Days, I found an FA, that mostly was put together like an Athearn, though a few things struck me as odd about it. I think it may have been modified, somewhat by the previous owner.

Here it is:


I'm a little discontented, because the body sits too high on the frame. It gives the impression of a jacked up offroad pickup truck. The pilot is a full scale foot above the rails, and the gap between the trucks and body is about twice what it is on a real one. It looks feasible to lower the body on the frame, though.

The body had some oddities that made me wonder if it was an Athearn:

Athearn usually mounts the light bulb on an arm mounted to the frame and a light pipe/headlight lens carries the light forward. This headlight has a hole in the back and a grain of wheat bulb slides into it. Also, the body has glazing in the windows, which most Athearns the age of this one do not. I wonder if they're an aftermarket kit.

Also, the frame had a Logo that I thought might be another brand of locomotive, but it turns out to be the logo of a white metal casting company.

The engine came with the extra weight that Athearn puts in their F7s, but I don't think it was original to this engine, because it doesn't fit in the body. There's been some grinding on the weight, and it still pries the front of the body up off the frame. The first picture is of the engine with that weight removed. Going forward, I'll have to figure out how to take more off the tope of that weight or replace it with something else. In the next picture, you can see the big weight. It's close to 1/8" taller than would work if I mount the body where I want it.


In this picture you can also see the little grain of wheat bulb that slips into that odd headlight. Unlike more recent Athearns there are no flywheels, so it's a little jumpy on the starts and stops, though I think I can work around that. The previous owner replaced the spring steel contact from the trucks to the top of the motor with wires that were soldered in place, complicating disassembly, so I replaced some of the solder joints with screws.

The truck sideframes are metal with the axle bearings in them. The sideframes had some ugly gloss paint on them, so I stripped that off and put on some nicer flat paint. The frame also had that ugly paint, so I repainted that, as well.

I still have some experimenting to do with mounting the body lower, and modifying or replacing the weight. More on that after it happens.


Carpe Manana!
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RP model railroads
Big Boy



DOUBLE NICKEL55

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 Posted - July 27 2021 :  9:14:53 PM Link directly to this reply  Show Profile  Add RP model railroads to Buddylist
Very interesting FA diesel there, Shaggy. The Pennsy scheme is awesome!
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven." - Matthew 5:16

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FreePassHobo
Switcher

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 Posted - August 02 2021 :  7:43:16 PM Link directly to this reply  Show Profile  Add FreePassHobo to Buddylist
I was delighted that you brought this Athearn FA subject up as it allowed me to revisit my time looking into them in years past.

F7's, FT's, FA's, and E units are my favorites as 80% of my engine fleet consist of those types. Athearn F7's, the most, followed by Proto E units and FA's, and Bachmann F7's and FT's.

Like you, I would see the occasional, and rare, listing for an Athearn FA. Most had different power trains and much higher price. Much too high for me as I was struggling to build up a parts bin for the Athearn F7's so I always passed them up. Do recall seeing an Athearn NYC, or two, FA's with seemingly the same power train but Chassis numbers were indeed different. Wished I had noted the number at the time. But alas, price too high.

After reading your thread I did look at FA shells and many were similar except for those front number boards. Most had the number boards facing more to the front. This includ the Roco's, Walthers, Model powers, Proto and Bachmann. The only one I could find, at this time, where the number boards were located more on the side is the Train Miniatures. Bachmann FT's located on the side but we're looking at the FA's.

HOSeeker does not list an Athearn FA but it does have the Train Miniature LTD diagram. As luck would have it, it shows the Alco FA-1 that has the Athearn type drive and number boards that face the side. Unfortunately it does not give part numbers as I would love to see if the frames are identical as the F7 frame you have. Will dig deeper into this and do hope you will get additional information. That said, Cool looking FA you got there.
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scsshaggy
Big Boy


scsshaggy

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 Posted - August 02 2021 :  10:11:58 PM Link directly to this reply  Show Profile  Add scsshaggy to Buddylist
The part number cast in the frame is 98801. It's not the same as an F7 frame which is a bit longer.

With the exception of a few obvious aftermarket changes by the previous owner, the diagram of the Train Miniatures FA in HO Seeker is exactly what I have. Looks like you've identified it exactly.

Carpe Manana!
Edited by - scsshaggy on August 02 2021 10:18:02 PM
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scsshaggy
Big Boy


scsshaggy

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 Posted - August 04 2021 :  7:45:17 PM Link directly to this reply  Show Profile  Add scsshaggy to Buddylist
Now that we've established that it's a Train Miniatures, it probably shouldn't even be in the Athearn forum, but that's where it started and I don't know how to move it, so we'll finish the story here.

That high-riding body needed lowering, so I took the mounting lugs off the frame and trimmed some height off of the weight that sits inside the body:


As I worked around with attaching the shell to the frame, the weight was a pain, always falling out of place as I was putting on the body, so I drilled a hole through the frame and the weight, tapping it in the weight and countersinking it in the frame, so I can attach the weight and have one less thing falling apart as I put things together:


With the mounting lugs off the frame, I needed a different way to attach the body. I put a plastic shelf above the front coupler bracket. The body naturally sits on the rear bracket when the height is right. To hold the shell down on the frame, I made little plastic hooks that grab the bottom of the frame. Grooves already in the shell provided a good way to attach them with plenty of gluing surface. There are 4 grooves, but 2 will do, and more hooks would just make it difficult to take apart:


Here's the engine assembled. The pilot is only a scale 6" above the rails, the maximum legal height in the full-size world. The body sits the proper height above the trucks, and the proportions look good to me.


I test-ran it with a fairly heavy train, at least for the grades on my layout. It's a strong puller, but without the flywheels that Athearn would have put on this drive, it tends to lunge on the downhill grade. Fortunately, this drive pulls together well with Athearns that do have flywheels, and the Athearn tends to smooth it out. When I run it, I'll run it together with a flywheel Athearn.

Carpe Manana!
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RP model railroads
Big Boy



DOUBLE NICKEL55

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 Posted - August 04 2021 :  8:43:49 PM Link directly to this reply  Show Profile  Add RP model railroads to Buddylist
Mindblowing work, Shaggy. Nice!
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven." - Matthew 5:16

Youtube Channel: www.youtube.com/rpmodelrailroads

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scsshaggy
Big Boy


scsshaggy

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 Posted - August 04 2021 :  11:18:17 PM Link directly to this reply  Show Profile  Add scsshaggy to Buddylist
Thanks for the kind words. It was a bit of a long project for a small improvement, but it made a difference to me and I had fun doing it.
Carpe Manana!
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gmoney
Big Boy


SCRF 77

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 Posted - August 05 2021 :  1:11:09 PM Link directly to this reply  Show Profile  Add gmoney to Buddylist
quote:
...it made a difference to me and I had fun doing it.

Originally posted by scsshaggy - August 04 2021 :  11:18:17 PM



That's all that matters!

Good looking 3/4 shot there.

Glenn

I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates, who said, "... I drank what?"
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