The new Roundhouse 4-4-0 recently marketed by Athearn offers the late nineteenth century modeler a great base locomotive. It has sound in both DC and DCC. It has enough detail to be run right out of the box. An important factor is none of the detail is cast on the boiler to permit easy upgrading of the details. The major problem is the locomotive is too far from the tender and the wires connecting the engine and tender give it a toy-like appearance.
The out of the box Roundhouse 4-4-0. The tender gap is too great and the wires present an unprototypical appearance. Also the smokestack is not centered on the cylinder blocks. That is a fault of the original tooling by Model Die Casting. We will confront that issue later. Under normal operations the smokestack dilemma is not noticable.
Our modified 4-4-0, we have routed the wires below the tender deck and moved them behind the rear wall of the cab. It disguises them as air and water lines. The drawbar has been shortened to move the tender closer. The locomotive will still negotiate 18" radii and Atlas Snapswitches. A new more prototypical coupler has been added at the front.
Screwdrivers, flat and Phillips Single edged razor blade NEW
Files and a saw or preferably a Motor Tool with a cutting wheel
Plastic Food wrap and transparent tape A VACUUM CLEANER, this is important
.040 thick black plastic to replace the draw bar, a #32 drill(.116 Dia)
The tender wires run through a slot in the cab back. Confronted with fidgeting with wiring I decided to cut the top of the slot. Make sure the wires are out of the way and slice out the top of the slot with two cuts with a NEW single edge razor blade.
The connector has two locking nibs. Slice them off with a razor blade. It is easier to take the connector out of the socket without them and not having them does not effect the functionality.
Not wishing to disassmble the whole mechanism it was decided to "coccoon" it in plastic wrap and tape. Use the transparent tape too seal off the motor cover the openings on the sides. The piece of tape on the motor end should be shoved underneath the flywheel. This will keep any metal filings out of the motor.
Wrap the whole locomotive in plastic food wrap. With a thin strip of material shove the plastic wrap behind the drivers. Wrap tape around the plastic wrap at the motor.
This picture is of the first attempt and doesn't show the taped motor.
This is what the "cocooned" loco should look like. After grinding the wire slots use a VACUUM to remove the metal filings. This is the only way to clean them. VACUUM the whole "cocoon".
The slot should be deep enough to accommodate three of the wires. Get a cutter like below for your motor tool to grind the grooves. There is no grit like a cut-off wheel.The slots should go to the ejection dimples and be about 1/16" wide.
Reassemble the locomotive with three wires going into each slot.
The wire slot in the cab back will eventually be filled in with a piece of plastic.
"Cocoon" the tender leaving the front of the deck open.
Grind two slots in the tender deck to accommodate three wires.
VACUUM the tender "cocoon" and reassemble the tender. The connector wires must lay flat on the tender deck for the tender shell to fit.
Placing the locomotive on an 18" radius track it was determined that a centerline to centerline spacing on the new drawbar would work.
I made mine from a piece of old tender shell. The area where the screw heads go was reduced to the thickness of the old drawbar. I use a spacing of 1/2".
Coupler that Allow a Closer Coupling
The locomotive comes with standard McHenry #41 couplers. I have no problem with plastic couplers. I also use manual coupling. I have found that ProtoHO:Accumates give the best appearance for my use. They have their on scale draftgear box and couple automatically. They also magnetically uncouple but I leave off the uncoupling wire.
The locomotive comes with McHenry #41 "scale" couplers. They extend too far out but permit magnet uncoupling in the front because the uncoupling wire extends beyond the pilot. I tried the short shank #43 McHenry. It simplified the mounting in the tender. The #43 also stuck out too far in the front. It requires cutting the uncoupling wire if used in the front.
The knuckle springs on Kadees and McHenrys give the couplers a toy like appearance I can live with it on the locomotives for ease of mounting.
The Proto HO: Accumates give an appearance only rivaled by the Sergent coupler.
#0-80 tap and tap drill
.100 Diameter Styrene rod
The coupler mounting hole coincides with the holes in the Accumate draft gear box.
Open the hole with the #39 drill leaving a .040 flat.
Drill and tap the .100 diameter rod for the #0-80 screws that come with Accumates about 3/16 deep. Bevel the end of the rod at the same angle as a drill. Twirl the rod into the mounting hole. Use ACC and glue the rod into the hole. Cut the rod off and file it flush.
Clip of the ears of the box's lower half and mount it to the frame.
The front coupler will check out with a Kadee coupler height gauge.
Greg Rich's close coupled 4-4-0