Monday, 1 October 2012

Power to the 36

I, like many of us, seem to have several projects in progress at any one time. One of those currently underway is introduction into service of the Austrains 36 Class that I purchased at Thornleigh in June. I had read enough reports and articles to know what I was purchasing, so an upgrade of the pickups was always anticipated. And yes, additional pickups are needed, because the locomotive did stall on just about every point that it crossed.

Marcus Ammann has a useful article on this topic on his website (, not being to good with a soldering iron, I opted for a more simplistic solution and decided to try a phosphor bronze etched pick-up set from Hollywood Foundry. They were reasonably easy to install although the weight and decoder on the other side of the tender chassis did restrict the size of the holes that I could make through the base. Hopefully, there will be enough room to allow movement as the bogie rotates. The wires were simply feed through these holes and soldered to the red and black wires on the other side of the plug on the tender.

With a few test runs to date, the results have been very impressive and, hopefully, stalling is now a thing of the past for this locomotive.

As you can see from the second photo, the pickups are just visible at the rear of the tender but in most situations, there will be a wagons or carriages to obscure them.

The other problem that seems to be associated with the Austrains 36 is its pulling power and the locomotive does feel light compared to others that I own. However, to date, it seems to be able to move a reasonable number of wagons on the level so I will probably  "let sleeping dogs lie" for the present. However, it will probably  need additional weight when the layout is extended to the second level.

So now to the weathering and back to the CCHs!


  1. Hi Phil

    The pick ups look good as for increasing the pulling power have you tried removing the pony truck spring I have removed them on mine with a notable increase in power.

    Cheers Jon

  2. Jon,

    Thanks for the comment. I haven't tried that fix as yet, but I have heard of it previously. I suspect that the 36 I purchased, as a recent model including factory DCC, may have already been fitted with a lighter spring than the earlier models. However, it is certainly something that I will investigate. I hadn't appreciated the impact of the pony truck on traction until I inadvertently adjusted the angle of pony truck on my 59 class. Suddenly, one of my primary goods locomotives could pull absolutely nothing. It took a bit of fiddling to get it back to a reasonable tractive effort.

    cheers Phil

    1. Phil I have removed the spring off all my 4 wheel pony trucks & it does makes a difference, to compensate for the lighter truck, I silicone glue on a couple of lead flashing strips on the top of the bogie.

      I have found that some judicious adding of lead flashing weights helps also, with the 36cl you can gently take the smokebox door surrounds off, then cut a circular bit of lead & silicone to the inside & refit, you may need to drill out a small hole & refit the light though.

      I do that to compensate for the lead I then add at the cab end, cut some flashing to size & fit into the underside of the cab roof, a couple of small blocks in the cab floor cavity in front of the driver & firemans seat assembly. It also helps to add a short piece of the lead along the cab floor, just under the fire hole door, backhead area.

      Underneath you can cut a fine strip of the lead flashing & again silicone fit to the inside of the main reservoir air tanks on each side the flashing will not be noticed.

      I use any cheap roof & gutter clear sealants as the silicone, it can be readily removed if you do not like the results.

      As I have a 1:40 grade on a 28" curve the 36 is hard to get to pull much up the grade, these mods really have added to the realistic load that the model can pull, I have done the same lead flashing fits to the Austrains 35 at least in the cab, & truck also surprisingly with the TOR 32cl, as it does have some issues owing to the SS wheels, I have also added some lead under the keeper plates but cutting around the screws to keep them open.

  3. Col,

    Thanks for the suggestions. I will probably try them incrementally in the new year, starting with the pony truck spring, test, and then add more weight progressively. Putting lead strips on the top of the pony truck will probably also be necessary.

    At this time and for the immediate future, Philip's Creek is relative flat although some of the curves are a similar radius to yours. However, a second level with a helix may have to occur over the next few years. Pulling power for realistic loads is always an issue.

    cheers Phil