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Discussion Boards => General Discussion => Topic started by: jim s on October 23, 2015, 09:20:25 PM



Title: Brittle Varney casting
Post by: jim s on October 23, 2015, 09:20:25 PM
Hi,
I am building a 1949 Varney Dockside. I have found the castings to be very brittle. With 2 breakages so far. One on the cylinder and one on the frame. The cylinder was not such a big deal and I epoxied it. The one on the frame is the problem as the break in at the rear axel.  Does anyone have any suggestions on how to repair the casting? I have been building loco's for a while now and this is my first problem like this.  Any help would be appreciated.


Title: Re: Brittle Varney casting
Post by: RAM on October 24, 2015, 05:12:50 PM
check ebay.  They often have locomotives for part cheap.


Title: Re: Brittle Varney casting
Post by: Hunt on October 24, 2015, 05:19:41 PM
Try J-B Weld - The Original Cold Weld two-part epoxy.


Title: Re: Brittle Varney casting
Post by: Len on October 24, 2015, 05:36:17 PM
Was this kit stored for an extended period in an attic that was not enviromentally controlled?

I hate to say it, but if so you're probably out of luck. The cycle between extreme summer heat, cold in the winter, and humidity during wet periods, creates microfractures in pot/white metal castings. There's no good way to repair it, and the more you fuss with it, the worse it gets. I've seen it so bad just tightening a screw caused one end of a chassis to disintegrate.

Len
 


Title: Re: Brittle Varney casting
Post by: jim s on October 25, 2015, 10:59:46 AM
Thanks for the suggestions I managed to find a frame on ebay. I have no idea on how the kit was stored but I believe it may have been stored badly. The frame looks like a bad casting (very rough looking) not smooth at all. I bought the kit at a yard sale. Given that and the age of the kit I guess you take your luck where you can. This time it was bad. But saying that this is the first kit I have bought that has given me trouble. Collecting trains is fun but as I have learned to work on them I found that building has helped with my understanding of how to keep up with maintenance. Guess I should look a little more closely when I buy.


Title: Re: Brittle Varney casting
Post by: Woody Elmore on October 26, 2015, 11:11:24 AM
Varney and old Hobbyline (John English) castings are often brittle. Castings made during the Korean war are especially open to disintegrating. It had to do with the shortage of some metals. Also, as others have offered, climate plays a big part.

Varney hasn't been around since 1960 and Bowser discontinued the kit line a few years ago. There is a company that specializes in parts for old HO engines - maybe someone out there knows the name - I can't remember it.

Good luck in keeping those oldies around. By the way, tinkering with those old kits can become an obsession. I can't tell you how many of the old metal kits I once had. For me tinkering was the fun of the hobby. Buying an engine, sitting it on the track does nothing for me. I get a kick out of guys who complain that couplers are too high or low. I understand that an RTR engine should be RTR but nothing is perfect in this world - except the New York Mets.



Title: Re: Brittle Varney casting
Post by: ebtnut on October 26, 2015, 01:55:53 PM
The problem with the metal is what we sometimes refer to as "Zamac Cancer".  Most all of those cast metal locos (Varney, English, Mantual, etc.) used Zamac, which is an alloy of zinc, aluminum, and some other stuff.  This material is highly sensitive to contamination by lead.  ANY exposure to lead begins an internal chemical reaction that cannot be stopped, and will eventually cause the metal to disintegrate.  The only cure is replacement.  John English models were particularly susceptible to this problem.  In general, the other manfuacturers were more careful, but I suspect an occasional melt might have suffered exposure unknowingly. 


Title: Re: Brittle Varney casting
Post by: Woody Elmore on October 27, 2015, 09:51:43 AM
I once got a John English Pennsy A-5 switcher as part of a trade. It came with it's original frame parts - the cover plate was warped and ready to fall apart. A previous owner had made a brass cover plate which served the purpose.. The driver centers were also shot and I put in driver sets from Mantua. You see the bulging driver centers on a lot of the later run Varney Old Lady and Casey Jones models. I eventually found a person crazier than me who wanted to get the A-5 running. I gladly gave it to him!

I found swapping parts on all those old engines to be a lot of fun.



Title: Re: Brittle Varney casting
Post by: jim s on October 28, 2015, 07:41:07 PM
I'm with you Woody the kits can become an obsession. Thanks to all for a little metallurgy class. Thankfully the Varney is the first time I have run into this problem but I'm sure it probably won't be the last. I enjoy the building and upkeep of the old engines, they keep my mind and hands active. Don't get me wrong I have newer models also and I enjoy reading the different posts about problems other people run into and the solutions others on the site provide. Love this site it's a friendly forum. Thanks to Bachmann for all they do to help us with the knowledge they have and Thanks for all the info I have gotten on this post.


Title: Re: Brittle Varney casting
Post by: Woody Elmore on October 29, 2015, 01:24:48 PM
I agree about Bachmann - especially this board which often goes far astray from Bachmann products. I wish there had been something like this when I started in HO.

I went to college in the Bronx near Van Cortland Park and there was a hobby shop that sold all sorts  of things - like kites. They had a back room with HO trains. Sitting in a case was a Penn Line Mikado. The owner told me that it was the last of its kind and he wanted to get rid of it. I was a fairly regular customer, buying Laconia, Main Line and Red Ball kits. So the guy told me I could have the kit for $20 - quite a sum for someone who had just finished college and no job. Anyway the day I returned my cap and gown to the college I went and bought the mike. I read the instructions on the bus on the way home.

To make a long story short that kit got me interested in HO loco kits and I think that after almost 50 years in the hobby I built about 30 kit engines.

I love to read the descriptions of these old kits on Ebay. Most people have no idea of what they are talking about.

Well, off I go to the local beauty shop to have them paint on a happy face because, as usual, the NY Mets are the underdogs and it's hard to smile!





Title: Re: Brittle Varney casting
Post by: jbrock27 on October 29, 2015, 07:53:50 PM
...this board which often goes far astray from Bachmann products.
Good thing or bad thing?  I say good thing. ;)

...off I go to the local beauty shop to have them paint on a happy face because, as usual, the NY Mets are the underdogs and it's hard to smile!
Orange and blue I hope Woody.  C'mon man, have some faith, The Series is back at CITI Field!  I bet you thought all was lost back in '86 too ;)  Maybe sell some of those antiques to buy a Series ticket, go to the game and bring the METSIES luck :)  ??



Title: Re: Brittle Varney casting
Post by: Trainman203 on October 29, 2015, 08:19:21 PM
I loved the zamac steam engine kits that I built in the days of yore ......  the (huge-gantic) Mantua 2-8-2, the Mantua shifter that was an 0-4-0 the size of a consolidation,  the Varney Casey Jones whose valve gear I could never get to work, and two Roundhouse 0-6-0's. These engines all looked rough and ran rough compared to today's Spectrum engines, but I never had more fun than with those lumps of zinc that sort of looked like steam engines.  Somewhere over the years they were all lost ..... I'd give anything to have them back.

OH.  I'm in the Deep South.  We don't watch major league baseball down here.  The scores barely get squeezed in at the end of the sportscast.  Who's playing in the Series?


Title: Re: Brittle Varney casting
Post by: glennk28 on October 29, 2015, 08:29:50 PM
I collect "Ancient HO"--and have often encountered "Zamak Rot"--it is apparently due to impurities in the metal. 

If the part only has cracks in it, and is not critical for strength or alignment, I flow "Krazy Glue" into the cracks.  Seems to do the job.
gj


Title: Re: Brittle Varney casting
Post by: jbrock27 on October 30, 2015, 07:39:35 AM
Who's playing in the Series?

K.C. ROYALS vs N.Y. METS   The METS are down 2 games to 0 with The Series heading back to Queens, N.Y. tonight for GAME 3.     


Title: Re: Brittle Varney casting
Post by: jbrock27 on October 30, 2015, 01:45:52 PM
TM, don'tcha get FOX Network down there?  That is where the games are.   I know you must in LA; the AINTS will be on FOX on Sunday vs the GIANTS, early afternoon. 

Plus, isn't that the network where y'all get all your news from? ;)


Title: Re: Brittle Varney casting
Post by: RAM on October 30, 2015, 02:10:55 PM
Now we are really getting off base.


Title: Re: Brittle Varney casting
Post by: jbrock27 on October 30, 2015, 04:21:01 PM
LOL!  1st, 2nd or 3rd??


Title: Re: Brittle Varney casting
Post by: jim s on October 30, 2015, 05:57:58 PM
Hopefully home plate..... I guess we have gotten a little off subject but it is the world series.... got my replacement chassis today gonna try and put the Varney together tonite.. hopefully with better luck one front pilot step is gone but what can you do when you try to get old parts. Ill be glad to get it together and move on to a  penn line that's waiting on the shelf. Got half a dozen roundhouse and some Mantua to build also... my wife is beginning to think I am a train addict... so what's so bad about that


Title: Re: Brittle Varney casting
Post by: Trainman203 on October 30, 2015, 07:43:39 PM
I especially loved the Roundhouse 0-6-0, an SP engine much like T&NO engines we had back home.  I passed up a chance to get an assembled and painted one for $30 at a train show last year, still kicking myself.

Anyone remember "Aristo-Craft" HO steam engines?  I had 2 of them, still have the tender from the "Royal Blue" 4-6-0, have no idea what happened to the engine.  I thought they were good looking at the time but looking at pictures today, they were pretty crude models.
 
I tried to make a MoPac 2-8-0 out of the Mantua 2-8-2 by cutting the frame shorter, an indescribable ordeal with a razor saw.  Then I tried to put the boiler from a scrapped Varney Casey Jones on it.  Of course it didn't fit over the motor. I ended up losing two engines in the process when I could have just bought a Varney Old Lady 2-8-0, a fairly nice looking engine, and kept the other two.  But, then, I was 16 with no money, no tools and not much sense of figuring out the best option, we've all been there.

Baseball footnote.... I am in a family that had three college quarterbacks years ago.  Baseball didn't matter to them at all.  MLB is on tv Saturdays during the season but no one here watches it much ........  In general Major League Baseball is a sports footnote in the Deep South where SEC college football is almost an obsession..... Like model railroading   :o :D


Title: Re: Brittle Varney casting
Post by: jbrock27 on October 31, 2015, 08:24:42 AM
Jim, I thank you for being gracious enough to understand for allowing some baseball talk to filter into your topic.  My apologies for aiding in taking it a little bit off course. :)


Title: Re: Brittle Varney casting
Post by: jim s on October 31, 2015, 02:50:38 PM
Jbrock, no problem no need to apologize... I know everyone is having fun... just for a heads up I got the Varney dockside up and running last night ... on to more projects. Might try to recast the original parts but that's a project for a different day....


Title: Re: Brittle Varney casting
Post by: jbrock27 on October 31, 2015, 03:04:45 PM
Thanks.
Glad to hear you had success!  Never seems like the projects end, does it? :D


Title: Re: Brittle Varney casting
Post by: Woody Elmore on October 31, 2015, 04:47:57 PM
Roundhouse steamers were good kits. A friend re-motored his 2-8-0 and got a really nice running engine. I know from other people that the switcher, an SP prototype, performed well.

I found a solution for those broken steps on zamac frames. Use plastistruct parts and make a step - if you have to, take off the remaining step and do a pair of steps.. Epoxy or ACC the step in place and you won't know the difference. The plastic may be a little thicker but then the whole die cast engine is bulky!

I bought a Varney Old Lady after Varney was sold to Life-like. What a sorry kit that was. Life-like used some cheap motor and the parts barely fit. I understand that Lew English of Bowser wound up with the dies. The zamac engine era has passed but the kit engines were a significant part of the hobby for many years.

My southern relatives all watch Nascar - it is hardly noticeable as a sport up here. Baseball has really gotten slow that's why so many schools are into, dare I say it, soccer.

Thanks to the Bachmann people for letting us stray off topic. If Bachmann has been making engines when I was really active in HO I probably would have one of everything they produced (except Thomas).


Title: Re: Brittle Varney casting
Post by: jbrock27 on November 01, 2015, 08:14:39 AM
Baseball has really gotten slow that's why so many schools are into, dare I say it, soccer.

Soccer is a fall sport Woodrow and does not compete with baseball.  It is lacrosse, a spring sport, that has been diverting school kids from playing the 'traditional' sport of baseball.  In your neighborhood, this should be self evident.


Title: Re: Brittle Varney casting
Post by: jim s on November 01, 2015, 11:59:55 AM
I live in the deep south Florida.. the kids play baseball year round. Football in the fall and soccer in the spring.. and believe it or not hockey leagues. I watch a lot of baseball, hockey and of course nascar. Can't stand my local buccaneers... so football is out unless I really feel like watching someone else play. Trains are my release and I'm glad to see all the discussion of everything.... good people in these forums... everyone is friendly.