DalaGStanator's Customs, Mods and Experiments

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For the dual tyres, I only had to make two additional wheels and fit them behind the "single" ones. Both axles are the same length. I couldn't have done the same thing with the plastic wheels without breaking the rims, and 'their' axles are too short for it. A minor upgrade, but it makes more sense than what I've done until now.

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Turned out I wasn't entirely correct about not being able to smoothen them. I initially tried using my black packing foam for treads, but they looked very messy and the foam was too thick in this scale. Would've looked more appropriate for off-road uses. Cutting strips of regular paper and gluing them on top worked better, even though the discs aren't perfectly cut. To see how the paper treads affect the wheels, I whipped up a medium duty with an Isuzu Elf-like cab and attached them to it. Still a bit wobbly, but more effective than the exposed discs. To accommodate the dual tyres, the rear bearing was shorter than the front one. The lorry was taken apart immediately afterwards.

Even though they weren't too bad once I added the paper treads, I'd still rather make them from actual plastic or even PVC (if I had the right equipment to use for the latter). Better than the wick sustainers and air drying clay method I previously tried.
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Last Tuesday, I revisited the packing foam tread idea with a bigger wheelset knowing it would be easier to work with (due to the foam's thickness). If I hadn't focused on making them smaller than trains, aircraft or watercraft, I could've done the same for anything with rubber tyres. Even with the inevitable seam where the ends of the tread meet, they roll smoothly and quietly and the discs are more evenly cut. Also look forward to trying cardboard strips glued in a tread pattern someday.

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Since I only made two and have plans for a batch of generic construction equipment (with more varied designs than my childhood ones in roughly the same scale), I built a small open-station tractor with them to try building typically massive vehicles without making them "train sized" or bigger. In part thanks to a book I grew up with that stars one, I tend to associate agrotech with these tractors over more modern types with cabs. The front wheels were meant to be attached with separate axles, but I have yet to find a good design for that. For the (heavily simplified) engine detail, I relied on some rolls of cardboard and aluminium, matchsticks and a silver marker and glued it in 'after' it had a bonnet. The steering wheel is a wick sustainer fitted to a nail, and the seat is glued to a negative (spring) battery terminal.

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Painted (marker) orange instead of red, since the latter is apparently too common. Apart from the engine, aluminium was used for the headlights, start crank, exhaust pipe and tail light assemblies. The grille is corrugated cardboard. Like on some of the 2022 batch, the headlights were filled in with glue. Although it won't have its own trailer or other equipment, it could still tow a TOMY/TrackMaster/other vehicle with a hook/pin coupling. Size comparison:

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I then realised I made the bonnet too long and it had a part that wasn't needed (or would look better near the front), so I shortened it by cutting the tractor in half. Despite how the engine is mounted, the nail for the steering wheel still fits.

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That said, regluing the front did cause a minor issue in that one wheel doesn't touch the ground anymore. Later, some more pieces were added underneath to strengthen the rejoined halves. While both axles can move freely, there are cases where one of them will jam (usually the front one, which has no treads on the painted tyres).

It's a better scale than my Jack and Alfie, and even the custom wheels are alright given the size and technique. Might even redesign J&E and build the rest of the Pack after my own equipment.
(This post was last modified: 02-18-2024, 07:04 PM by DalaGStanator.)
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  • generic_truck_69420, Super
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Three years after I didn't know what to do and left it in storage behind the engines, I found a way to get the powered ex Annie chassis to run again; albeit on one battery like a normal engine instead of three. I suddenly remembered my attempts to build a chassis for my other two "Thomas type" drive units and how I conducted power to them, and thought I could try the same thing with a wire instead of an aluminium foil strip. Like on other items with Thomas types, the DU's negative contact sticks out near the left wheel. There's usually a conductive plate that connects it to the battery's negative (model's front) terminal, and some of Custom TrackMasters' videos have shown a wire can do the same thing. The positive terminal can also be connected to the switch contact, but that starts the motor even in the off position. I chose to wire the DU to the existing bottom battery, whose terminals extend to the top. Essentially what Super thought I did when I first showed it. Only had to jump start the DU after it didn't respond. Even with a new battery and the remaining resistor removed, it's slower compared to most other DUs of that type. Could be the gear ratio is lower since it originally ran on 4.5V. However...

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In addition to the broken rear coupling, the drive gear is also cracked. That makes the chassis get stuck within seconds and the wheels don't (always) engage in the on position. Unlike many cases, it can still run by itself on the ground and not just in the air. When it reaches the crack, the motor itself usually stops unless forced to move or if the voltage is higher. In the latter case, it doesn't "shut off" and has enough power to keep going. Could be risky to run for long since the gear would surely crack further. Due to the triangle screws, I currently won't be able to replace the coupling, the driving wheels or the DU itself/part of it.

Either way, I'm still glad I managed to get it working again in the first place. If I wanted, I could also rewire the 2x pack or a AAA one to get the OG speed.
(This post was last modified: 02-24-2024, 07:43 PM by DalaGStanator.)
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Literally never thought I could do this without ordering a dedicated screwdriver in hopes it would be the right size. I even recall Chrisjo having to use a bench grinder (!) to reshape a regular one so he could deal with triangle screws. To my relief, it turned out one of the flat bits from my old 31 bit set perfectly fits and can actually move them unlike the hex (Allen) keys I tried right before it. After unscrewing, I took out the counterweight, replaced the coupling and fitted a compatible spare wheelset (currently black with non Plarail traction tyres). Now it no longer tips backwards without the 2x pack or no bottom battery. My only other grey drivers are from the Flip Face James, but they didn't fit since they have the wrong gear. Too bad I couldn't pull off one of the originals and fit both to the new axle. Might repaint these ones or put grey stickers over them. Even though it still has a (smaller) crack, the DU no longer shuts off on 1.5V. A look inside it revealed no dirt or any other cracks I know of.


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Until I could take off the other OG wheel and fit both to the new axle, I applied round office labels (same size as Spenry's) and painted them grey instead. I put the front wheels back in with the spoked sides facing inwards, given most of my uses for it wouldn't look right with spokes. About the darker shade: they won't be permanent anyway, so no need to actually paint them. I also noticed a recess in each side of the battery compartment, likely to make room for the tabs on the OG 2x pack. To keep the front wheels in without it, I glued matchstick pieces just over the half axles. The former steam/sound switch was left unused and eventually taken out. I briefly rewired it to power an optional light as expected, but that would be better suited for another pack or button/coin cells.
(This post was last modified: 03-01-2024, 09:03 AM by DalaGStanator.)
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(02-24-2024, 10:42 PM)DalaGStanator Wrote: I even recall Chrisjo having to use a bench grinder (!) to reshape a regular one so he could deal with triangle screws.

All a matter of perception I suppose. To me it wasn't a matter of having to do it that way, I could have bought one for pennies,. More a question of if I need something and I can make it, then I will make it, ...what's the best way? Job done, satisfaction achieved.
(This post was last modified: 02-25-2024, 03:59 PM by chrisjo.)
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Seeing repair videos of early Fisher Price Talking engines confirmed most of them (including Salty) have what is basically a retooled Flat drive unit, with the sound board and button replacing the battery terminals and switch. It even still has the rear screw hole and front bottom tab in the same spots. Unlike Talk 'n Action engines, the more complex half of the circuit is in the battery truck/tender. In some cases, the unit can be taken out without having to open the battery car as well.

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Before opening Ivor V2, I thought his DU might have the front bearings and may not fit unless I'd cut them off. They weren't there, so I proceeded to take Salty apart. My 2.5 bit didn't work for the triangles, so I had to try other bits and even hex keys to get them out. One of the two rear screws and the front one came out with ease, but the third appeared to be stripped and required much more effort; all the while making sure not to tear the wire coupling. When I test fitted the regular DU, it slipped right in with no mods to the chassis whatsoever. Oddly, it slightly vibrates when running despite being fully tightened, and the drivers occasionally slip and get stuck; sometimes even on the ground. He can now free wheel, but not very smoothly (likely due to use of a later Flat DU). If I'd moved Salty's workings to Ivor and had a recordable sound board, it could've played Jones the Steam's voice, the organ pipe whistle and that funny "pssh-t-kuff" chuff.

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For the switch groove, I looked at a regular Salty to make sure I marked the exact spot. With only one chance to get it right, it had to be done with perfect accuracy. After I burnt it out with the soldering iron, the molten edges were sanded and filed.

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Turned out the shell needed some more modding than I expected. Apart from the ridges that originally held the sound button and weights, two other cylindrical bits under the bonnet had to be cut, sanded and melted out. Would've been quicker and easier if I had a rotary tool, or temporarily unscrewed one of the ends and filed through the shell. For the time being, he'll have to use a AAA instead of a AA. My only other gripes are having to remove all three screws to fit a battery and the lack of a retainer piece for the coupling (which I could fix with cardboard). The weights are now glued in to keep them from falling out. Still kept all the OG workings intact, even though I don't plan to use them again.

I've been wanting to do this mod for literal years, and it even has another advantage in the form of a third "general purpose" chassis for my own engines. Who knows, it might even become an "Online Selling Shocker" one day since the only other one I know (by Megahedgehogx) wasn't motorised and (probably) no longer exists.
(This post was last modified: 02-28-2024, 06:26 PM by DalaGStanator.)
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