(Putting Aristo-Craft Power Blocks under the USA Trains GP7)
Those of you who went to Perry for the SELSTS probably met Ron, as he was the show coordinator. The following is an article he wrote for the Aristo Insider which he has given me permission to release to the FGRS through our monthly newsletter.
Text by Ron Wenger
It is no secret that I own locomotives and rolling stock made by other manufactures, all of us do, even Lewis has a few goodies made by the competition, we would not be true model railroaders if we did not. Besides it is a good way to keep track of what the competition is doing.
Not too long ago I got rid of about 20 locomotives to make room for some of the newer locomotives coming out from Aristo-Craft and to thin down what was getting to be a very large collection of locomotives. Three I did keep that I had slated for sale or transfer to another railroad were USA trains GP-7ís I had purchased out of the first run back over 10 years ago. Well Actually I bought one and Sue bought two, one was an ACL Purple and Silver GP-7 she purchased for herself and another was a Chessie GP-7 she purchased for me as a Fathers Day gift. It made them a little hard to part with.
Sue had asked me a few weeks ago if I could get rid of the rubber tires and get her locomotive to set up just a little higher so the stirrups on the side frames would not keep falling off. Sue also asked me if I could fix it so that she could double head with her ACL RS-3. All in all a pretty tall order but after I looked at the locomotive I decided it was possible and definitely worth the effort.
First of all there is nothing wrong with the motor blocks on any of the three of these locomotives, other than the sliders, which we took off a long time ago, and the rubber traction tires, which I am surprised were still on the locomotive. Overall they have been good runners for us but not used as frequently as we would like. For USA Trains second venture into manufacturing a locomotive it was all in all a darn good effort. Well detailed and good looking it was what I call a gap locomotive, it fit right in between the early F units and the Later SD units. It does suffer from undersized wheels that some guys have gone to considerable trouble to swap out. My approach to this was to try and keep it on the KISS principal (Keep It Simple Stupid), as I wanted to make a project out of this that almost anyone can do. I also wanted to avoid going into the inside of this locomotive as I am a firm believer in the theory if it isnít broke donít fix it. This project does require some soldering skills. You can do a mechanical splice but I highly recommend that you solder the wires.
Lets get started:
Note 1: I recommend doing one motor block at a time and using Radio Shack jumper wires to verify your connections prior to soldering. I have found this to be very helpful over the years as from time to time a wiring color will be deviated from by the factories. You can also do this to ensure that the locomotive is going in the same direction that the lights are shining in.
Step 1: The first thing that you will want to do is procure two of the two axel Ball Bearing Aristo-Craft motor blocks and the wiring harness that comes with them.
A full list of Materials is as follows:
1. Two ART29351 Aristo-Craft motor blocks and the wiring harness that is included with them.
2. A package of Zinc Plated 6X3/4 Pan Head Phillips screws.
4. Heat shrink tubing or electrical tape
You can put the side frames and A-frames aside and use the parts for another project or repairs. You will only need the motor blocks and the wiring harness.
At this point you can cut the white connectors off as close as you can to the connectors and strip about ľ of an inch of the insulation off the wire and tin them so that you can use
them to build a new wiring harness. While you are at it you can take a 11/64th drill bit and make the mounting holes on each side of the Aristo-Craft motor blocks larger.
This will help the blocks track better on the USA trains Geep which has an A-frame with only one mounting point to the body. The Aristo-Craft Diesels have three for a more
ridged mount to the body as the motor blocks are designed to accommodate side to side movement. I did some experimenting with this and found the larger holes worked best
as it gave the finished model more flex.
Step 2: Your next step will be to remove the side frames from each side of one end of the locomotive. You will have to cut some material from the brake shoes on the side frames in order to get the side frames to fit the larger wheels on the Aristo-Craft Motor blocks. In the photo below you will see the areas that need to be removed marked in white. Cutting or grinding or both can remove this material. I used a pair of side cutters to remove the excess material and then used a small sanding drum on a Dremel Tool to remove the unwanted material. I then touched up the cut areas with some paint. Although on one locomotive I missed one end and could not see a difference. The cut areas are low and close to the ground an almost impossible to see. You can now lay these aside for reinstallation when the project is completed.