S-Helper Service 2-8-0 Notes

Operator's Manual

Operator's Manual (LocoMatic version)

Operator's Manual (DCC version)

Product Review

(photo © Eric Hopkins)

Product Review


Don Thompson shared tips how to disassemble and re-assemble this engine. This is an advanced topic, so take care.

You need a 1.6mm wrench to remove the side rods from driver #4 (available from Dave's Twacks & Twains). The delrin bottom chassis cover/brake hanger has flat head Phillips screws, and the two delrin injectors are a press fit and need to be detached.

Once removed, you are exposing a flexible printed circuit board that brings power to the headlight, optical detector of the chuff count, smoke unit, and both rail pickups. This unplugs under the cab.

When you lift out driver #4, do not forget that there are two phosphor bronze pick-up pins touching the back of the driver. They are spring-loaded and there are no replacements!

As far as quartering the one driver, should you need to install a new gear, use a carbide scribe and scratch the axle end and driver so that you can line that up as you press the driver back on the axle.

General Assembly Diagram (PDF, zoom-in to see the parts).

Online Resources

Removing the Smoke Unit
Removing the Smoke Unit

Electrical Pickup

Wheel pickup is provided through the tender's 8 wheels, and through the engine's drivers 1 and 4. Drivers 2 and 3 do not have frame contact. Note that if a short-circuit happens, it is possible for the brass wires behind the wheels to curl away from the back of the wheels due to the heat of the current flow. This will cause the locomotive to stall out from time to time. The solution is to clean the residue from the wires, and re-bend the wires back such that they make contact with the backs of the wheels. If the wires are too far gone, replacements will need to be made (or bought), if they are not in the box.

Lights Warning!

Don Thompson warns to not plug DCC decoders into this engine without dealing with the headlights first. The headlights are 5-volt bulbs, and they will blow as soon as the decoder receives power (usually around 12 volts). One option is to consider replacing them with LEDs and a matching resistor. The same applies to sync, smoke, and tender lights, as applicable.

If the LED is burned out, according to Brooks Stover, the LED headlight is tightly integrated into the boiler front. His recommendation is to simply replace the whole boiler front, rather than trying to get to the LED. According to Jeff Wilson (formerly of Hoquat Hobbies), he sold his large collection of spare boiler fronts to Des Plaines Hobbies, so contact them.

Drawbar Pin Replacement

Don Thompson provides us with an updated document on how to replace the drawbar pin of these models.

Instructions with photos (PDF).

Replacement Gears

Dave Held and Dan Vandermause both report that NWSL has the parts necessary to replace a broken gear in these locomotives. Remove the driver from the engine, and send it to NWSL to have them replace it for you for around $66 (includes postage in late 2016). If you are brave and have the tools and time to do the work yourself, then order the replacement gear (NWSL #2930-6) for $14.95 plus postage. Dan recommends that you order one for each 2-8-0 you have, just in case they develop this problem in the future and NWSL is out of them.

Here is Don Thompson's advice:
"I am not sure that all 2-8-0 gears would crack. We only had 2 out of 1,500 engines with that problem when we closed shop in 2013. Have more cracked since then? Yes! I am not sure if it is a material problem with the injection of the Celcon gear (depending on when the gear was injected, the mold could of been too hot or cold, or the cycle time changed during injection, the cooling water for the mold flow changed; so many possibilities), or maybe the axle diameter varies so that a difference would cause stress in the plastic gear. I am pretty sure this is not an operation problem as the Cincinnati Museum was running multiple 2-8-0s 10 hours a day, 7 days a week for years. The 2-8-0 models were produced in two batches, plus we had over 100 AF-compatible driver sets reset to code 110 before assembly. We tried to track the two engines we repaired but we could not really tell when they were crafted in China. To me the important thing is that NWSL has made replacement gears. If you are truly worried, purchase some. A $14.95 investment is not too bad of an insurance on a $600 investment!"


Printed-circuit Boards

(photo © S-Helper Service)

SHS part #01674 is the infrared sensor flexible printed-circuit board.

(photo © S-Helper Service)

This is the LocoMatic board for the engine, mounted in the tender.

(photo © S-Helper Service)

This is the LocoMatic AC/DC sound printed-circuit board (part #01633).

(photo © S-Helper Service)

This is the locomotive's DC shorting plug, to be used only for this engine (part #1096-X0). This shorting plug only allowed current to the motor from the rail, and 5 volts to the LED, not the smoke unit or optical detector. The optical detector on driver #1 would allow 4 chuffs per revolution.

(photo © S-Helper Service)

This is the locomotive's under-the-cab printed-circuit board used for ribbon cable, motor, headlight, smoke unit, and pick-up (part #1096-X003).

(photo © S-Helper Service)

This is the locomotive's socket printed-circuit board (part #1096-X004).

(photo © S-Helper Service)

This is the locomotive's DCC interface printed-circuit board (part #1096-X036).

(photo © S-Helper Service)

This photo shows the DCC interface printed-circuit board (part #1096-X036) with a QSI Titan DCC sound decoder.

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