TIPS & TECHNIQUES
Aristo FA

  The Aristo FA is a great loco that has been around since the start of
the product line.  It is relatively bug free, and due to its short
length, will actually run on 2 foot radius track.  This diesel is
modeled after the Alco prototype which was originally built in 1946.
The original units were turbocharged 1500 HP 4 stroke diesels.  These
were later upgraded to 1600 HP.  The "F" designation means freight
service.
     This Aristo locomotive scales out to 1:29, and has some great
detail, including prime mover and cab interior.  It has the usual bright
trim and brass handrails which are un-prototypical, but these can be
painted to match the body colors.  The unit has directional lighting and
a smoke unit with operating fan to help push the smoke out of the
stack.  The engine runs smoothly and quietly and pulls quite well.  If
you have one of the older units (gray box), and it runs poorly, see
George Schreyer's web site where he talks about making the older "power
brick" run smoother.   (He  is at www.trainweb.org/girr/).   Aristo also
makes a powered FB unit to match the FA's.  These can be Mu'd and
operation is good.
    Aristo has panted many of these units in  passenger schemes for
various roads because they are a lot more colorful than the freight
schemes.  If we take a little "modeling license" we can pretend they are
PA (passenger) units.  (For you "rivet counters" I know the PA was
longer, had a longer nose, and rode on A-1-A trucks instead of B-B
trucks, but at a distance this is minor for many of us.)   Aristo is
looking into making a true PA-PB, but that will be a future offering.
    The couplers can be easily changed out to Kadee couplers using  kits
that they have available.  Kit #792 is for the FA, and kit #793 is for
the FB units.  If you run an A-B-A set, I would recommend that you
reinforce the front coupler post on the A-Unit with some plumbers epoxy
putty.  This post takes the full strain of pulling a train, and I have
seen it bend under load.  The units can be made to couple closer
together by cutting the foot off flush with the rest of the coupler
mounting bracket, and drilling a hole in the coupler pocket closer to
the coupler.  This will give the locomotives a more prototypical spacing
when coupled.  It also means that you have to run on track that is
larger than 2 foot radius.   I would not recommend running a multiple
unit A-A set on 2 foot radius track because the coupler swing on the
front coupler of the FA is not large enough to handle the curve without
derailing the following car.  This can be fixed with a lot of cutting on
the pilot, but it is more trouble than it is worth.
    If you MU a set of FA's, the use of jumpers between engines will
provide a smoother running lashup.
    Sound systems are available from various manufacturers including
Aristo.  The Aristo unit mounts in a replacement fuel tank, and is
basically "plug-and-play" with reed switches controlling the horn and
bell sounds along with track magnets.  I will be putting a Sierra system
in one of my FA units, and  will do a write-up on it in a future
article.
    The control switches for fan, lights, and motor are located on the
end door of the locomotive.  These are hard to get to when you MU
several units together, especially if you modify the diesels to couple
closely, and install diaphragms between the units.  Please be sure to
put smoke fluid in the diesel when you turn the fan switch on.  The the
two units are connected, and the smoke unit will burn out if it is run
dry.