Cascades Commuter train and Push-Pull

Southern Oregonian Feb 27, 2011

  1. Southern Oregonian

    Southern Oregonian TrainBoard Member

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    After searching for a few years I finally found a Talgo Pendular 200 car set to make the Cascades train. It runs in the Pacific NW and is powered by a f59 at one end and controlled by an unpowered (prime mover was replaced by a block of cement) f40 cab unit at the other. I'm trying to get the Athearn F59 right now.

    What I'm wondering is has anyone ran a commuter train in push pull? I tried to search it and all I found are links to threads on control cab cars and information on Bombardier bi levels. I'm running DC on my layout and a few of my engines have drastic differences in performance when going in reverse. It sounds a bit Naïve, but I'm wondering if HO engines can be damaged if they are ran at full speed in reverse, and also if the train will stay on the track.

    At some point I plan on getting a f40 dummy for the control cab and then take the train to a painter, but for now it might be powered by an SP GP40-2 or SD45 (I don't own a SP SD40M-2 that actually "powered" it). I also need to figure out how build and add the fins.

    If anyone's interested, I used to ride the Cascades to and from Eugene twice a month when I lived next to Union Station in Portland. Much different ride than the Superliners.

    Josh
     
  2. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Josh-

    Your engines cannot be damaged simply because they are running full speed in reverse. It really should be no different from full speed forward. I'm not certain I'd be running them full blast all the time. Seems like that would build a bit of heat, wear and tear.

    At those kinds of speeds, your chances of derailing are certainly higher. Depending upon track work.....

    Boxcab E50
     
  3. Southern Oregonian

    Southern Oregonian TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks. I don't generally run my trains at full power from the transformer, but I do try and go for scale speed sometimes and that would put the Cascades at 79 mph, but I doubt my Talgo cars will tilt and seriously doubt that the old Athearn engine would survive since its mostly plastic parts.
     
  4. Geep_fan

    Geep_fan TrainBoard Member

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    I know at the La Mesa club they ran San Dieagans with F40PH's in push-pull mode. It ran fine most of the time, however my experiences with push pull are:

    The cars need a lot of weight in them to keep them from getting shoved off the track.

    The couplers need to have a minimal amount of slack, the couplers will bunch up and derail the train. Shouldn't be a problem for you since the talgo sets are articulated.

    I had an Athearn F59PHI lettered for cascades a long time ago, it never had any issues running at a scale 60MPH for long periods, never got up to a scale 79 though.

    running in reverse makes no difference to the unit. Its not like your car with the complex gearing and the engine spinning one way. In a car this is a problem because reverse is a low gear and extended running at high RPM's is bad for it.

    However in the model running forwards or reverse the gears are being treated the same way, with the same gear ratio, same everything, but the motor is turning in the opposite direction. Will not hurt the unit at all. Such as running my 4 or 5 unit consists with most of them in reverse will not hurt them.

    In reality its the same way with the real F59PHI's. Reverse places no strain on anything. the polarity to the traction motors from the generator is just swapped.
     
  5. Southern Oregonian

    Southern Oregonian TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks,
    I'm hopeful I'll win the f59 I'm bidding on. Its used so I have no real idea what condition its in until I get it in my hands. I think my next car for this train should be the easiest, a dummy fp40.

    I think my transformer sends out a lower voltage in reverse, since some of my engines run about 30-50% slower in reverse. Its a 18dcv Model Power unit.
     
  6. Southern Oregonian

    Southern Oregonian TrainBoard Member

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    So I won the f59. My wife likes the train idea and has decided she wants to paint the cars and the still missing f40. I'll keep everyone apprised of the progress and upload photos when I figure out how.

    Josh
     
  7. myltlpny

    myltlpny TrainBoard Member

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    I'm actually building up my Amtrak Cascades right now. I have a couple of the Athearn F59ph's and a Bachman f40 that I'm going to gut and make the cabbage unit out of. With two sets of the talgo cars, I even have a couple to experiment on as I develop the "batwings". I've found some pretty good line drawings of the cars and will begin work on a plug for the batwings soon. I plan on making one master and vacuforming the parts. I found a source for the decals and now have enough to do the entire train. I contacted Athearn on the paint colors, but as the locomotives are made in China where things like toxicity and air quality are meaningless, commercial paint is unavailable here. I'll either have to mix my own, or someone suggested going to Lowes and having them color match the paint with the computer. Maybe someone can tell me how well regular latex sprays and adheres to the model.
     
  8. Southern Oregonian

    Southern Oregonian TrainBoard Member

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    myltlpny,
    I wouldn't use latex paint. I was a painter for 6 years and latex doesn't like to many plastic or smooth (steel) surfaces. It will stick to those surfaces, but it doesn't adhere. What will probably happen is you'll get it to stick, it'll dry and then the first time anything touches it the paint will start to come off in one giant skin. Thats how we got it off the plastic paint buckets when we couldn't wash them, dump out the excess, let it dry then peel it off. Also some oil based paints will actually melt the plastic during drying.

    What you need is a plastic friendly paint. I'm just going to go to my LHS and pickup Testors or whatever make is closest to what I need, plus some red, green, blue, yellow, white and black to get the match right just in case. Since they're meant for plastic models the paint will adhere to the plastic and won't damage it in the process.

    We're just going to stencil the train since I can't find Cascades decals. I only have 6 cars, and I was lucky to find those. I think we'll just carve the fins out of plastic or foam.

    Are you going to add the Baggage door to your fp40? I don't know how realistic you want yours to be, but the fp40s that are in the Cascades paint scheme aren't Cabbages, their just a control cab with a giant block of cement in the engine compartment for FRA compliance since the Talgos have a baggage car and FRA never rated the Talgos for crash safety. With that said, the Cascades has sort of been the village bicycle of Amtrak fp40 control units. Whenever one of the Cascades f40s go in for work, another fp40 gets borrowed from somewhere to fill its place. So you could make a cabbage in phase 1,2, or 3 paint and it would work just fine, or even use a Southern Pacific SD40M-2. Just remember that control cab f40s use a five digit number starting in 9-0.

    Josh
     
  9. myltlpny

    myltlpny TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for your input, Josh. I've done a lot of airbrushing in my time, and never used household latex paint but what you're suggesting seems to concur with my suspicions. I think I'll try getting something close, then adding black or white as the case may be. I've done custom mixes before. The thing here is I need to mix enough to do the entire train so everything matches.
    I have decals in HO scale. PM me if you want the source. They're not cheap as it's a short run, but it beats stenciling, particularly when doing a full consist.
    I'm going to try vacuforming the batwings. I've seen some demonstrations on youtube and it seems doable. I plan on making a plug out of balsa that I've cut out on my bandsaw (probably in three pieces). I have a couple of spare end cars (I bought 2 full sets when they were cheap) so I may take the roof of one car and glue the balsa ears on for final shaping.
    As for the control car, yes I'll be adding the side door. I have a couple of Spectrum F40's and I'll probably butcher one of those making it a dummy unit.
    You raise an interesting point about switching other locomotives in as needed. While I've never found any photos, do you know if another f59ph is ever substituted to create a true push-pull configuration? I'd be interested to know. I have two f59's in the Northwest scheme and plenty of spare Cascades decals to do the locos.
     
  10. Southern Oregonian

    Southern Oregonian TrainBoard Member

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    Since I used to live almost on top of Portland's Union Station I got to have a few good looks at (and rides on) the Cascades. The f40s on it don't have baggage doors. They look like a normal f40, except some have a cowling covering the gas tank and air cylinders which makes me think they where removed, and all the vents are welded over. Aside from that, they look like they are still powered and even retain the bell and horn in working order. If you didn't get to look at one from above, you'd think it was still powered since all the access doors are still present. Even within the Cascades f40 family there are some differences. Since the Cascades line is made up of multiple trains (4-5?) there are just as many f40s and f59s (if not more) that are painted in Cascades colors. Some just have the Cascades color with Amtrak in white but most have "Cascades" painted on them with the three gold hills. Most of them also retained the gas tank and cylinders.

    I think when they substitute f40s they add ballast to the replacement to keep the FRA happy, but that makes the baggage part of the engine useless. They never substituted the f40s when I was there, but they did have to work on a few of the f59s. They where replaced by another f59 in the gray blue paint scheme, and then again by what I think was a Amtrak Dash 9 they brought up for switching. I've also seen pictures of it being powered by a AMD103 at some point in Phase 4 colors.

    If you do use a gray and blue f59, make sure its filthy and missing small bits of paint. I think its the Spokane station that keeps the Cascades looking brand new. When ever a sub comes in they always look dirty and unkept in comparison to the rest of the Cascades. I never took a trip on a dirty Cascades, but I've been on plenty of filthy Superliners.

    When ever the Cascades need major work its sort of a big to do since the nearest shops are in Southern California. One Cascades set was substituted with a spare eastern single level bombardier commuter train since the Talgos are articulated and if one wheel set has problems, they entire train is down. Its also a little funny on how they transport engines for the Cascades. They arrive on the Costal Starlight or Empire Builder.

    You can always google picture "Amtrak Cascades f40" for pics. One even pops up with a Cascades f40 NPCU (non-powered control unit) working in the east, and a eastern Cabbage in phase 4 paint working on a Cascades.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 3, 2011
  11. Southern Oregonian

    Southern Oregonian TrainBoard Member

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    myltlpny and everyone,
    I found a store that might still sell individual Talgo cars if your interested. I'm currently trying to get a lounge car, bar car, and 1st class car from them. PM me if your interested and I'll let you know how successful I was.

    Also, what make of couplers and model # did you use to convert yours to US knuckle? My Talgo is made by ELECTROTREN and came with European loop hooks that snap into the cars rather than ours that screw in.

    I received my f59 and it runs like a dog. It sounds and responds like my other older Athearn. It needs a nudge sometimes to start and makes that trademark gear on gear noise. I've oiled it the best I can, but whoever I bought it from converted it to DCC ready, so I'd have to unsolder the board before I can break it down. They did add ditch lights which is a plus. My f40 is now a control cab and that was pretty easy. Its an early Bachmann Spectrum with no open vents so I don't have to kit bash it, with the exception of the "strobe" holes.

    Josh
     
  12. myltlpny

    myltlpny TrainBoard Member

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    I used the Kadee #18 couplers. They click right in place.
    The Athearn f59's are based on their older drive mechanism which means they are a little noisier. They do quiet down a bit after they're broken in. I just picked up another one in West Coast Express livery. I plan on installing the decoder today.
    If using DCC, you might try setting your starting voltage a little higher.
    I run code 83 track and the pizza cutter wheels the talgos come with hit the tie clips so I swapped them out for 36" JayBee wheelsets. I'll have to get the number for you.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 6, 2011
  13. Railroad Bill

    Railroad Bill TrainBoard Member

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    Enjoying your discussion of modelling the Cascades ... I do N-scale and live in a town served by Cascades, so I want to have the train. So far, have 2 Electrotren sets so can make up an 8 carriage passenger section w/2 end cars. I use F40s at both ends, but have pulled the wires for one F40. So far, I've let the paint stay as from Electrotren, thinking at least it represents something that was once real. Plan is to make up balsa batwings if I repaint. But painting was quoted at a price I can't afford and w/o claim to match the prototype.

    BTW, have seen P42s pulling Cascades with F40s at the rear. So, Amtrak practice varys a bit. Don't think I'll do P42s in any case.

    Will be following your thread.

    Can you say your source for decals? Maybe they'd do N-scale!
     
  14. gn2276

    gn2276 TrainBoard Member

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    The P42 are used when the regular F59 or Cab Car are out for repairs.
     
  15. Southern Oregonian

    Southern Oregonian TrainBoard Member

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    I think since Amtrak doesn't have a full service home base in the PNW the Cascades get whatever is available for stand ins. Be nice if they could work out a contract with P&W or UP for major shop services since the travel alone is a 2 day process.

    Thanks for the coupler number. I'm going to go to my LTS tomorrow and see if they have them along with the paint and lights for my Walthers sleeper. I'm probably not going to swap wheel sets unless they cause problems since I'm using code 100 track already. So far the train is fantastic, but its hard to tell since I can't couple it to anything.

    I'm not running DCC on my unfinished layout, so its straight old DC. All the f59 does when it can't go is sit there and buzz at 25%-30% power. Once it gets going it sort of does fine.

    Also, I was thinking of making the Amtrak 14 Costal Starlight. All I'd have to do is have a clock set to its arrival time and leave the platform void of all trains. Anyone who's rode it in Oregon will get it.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 7, 2011
  16. Southern Oregonian

    Southern Oregonian TrainBoard Member

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    Very exciting news today. My Talgo add on cars arrived. I now have the Diner car, Bar car, and a 2nd first class car brining the total to 9 cars. Its still short 3 cars (2 coach and 1 first class) to be exactly like most of the Cascades, but I'm not going to get them since my layout room is so small. The Bar Car on the Cascades is by far my favorite car of any train I've been on.

    Also learned some interesting things in this process. ELECTROTREN is still in business, but since its US importer, E&L went bust we can't get them state side anymore. Not that it matters since the Amtrak Talogo is out of production. I did notice a Talgo Pendular line by ELECTROTREN in a European paint scheme that is in production that I think might work with the Amtrak one if anyone's interested, however the support cars have puffers.

    I'm also still waiting on my LTS to get my Couplers.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 18, 2011
  17. Mudkip Orange

    Mudkip Orange TrainBoard Member

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    The blue and white trainsets with the "talgo pendular" lettering actually ran on the PNW Corridor for several years before WSDOT purchased their own with the "batwing" and the latte paint scheme, so that's prototypical.

    Personally, I've had problems running knuckle couplers in push-pull mode. If you find you're having problems, as a last resort you might try installing Kato's Japanese couplers. Almost all Japanese trains are double-ended EMUs, so the Kato couplers are geared specifically for this purpose. I've had derailments where the entire train literally flopped over on its side but the couplers stayed together.
     
  18. myltlpny

    myltlpny TrainBoard Member

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    Are those the cars you ordered from France? I'm glad to hear they're still in business. I hate to see any RR manufacturer go under.
     
  19. Southern Oregonian

    Southern Oregonian TrainBoard Member

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    So far on the salvaged section of my old layout the Talgo hasn't had any issues. The Althern f59 however is having all kinds of problems. My LTS offered to rebuild it. I just picked up my Kadee converters for the Talgo today (thanks myltlpny) and bought an old Proto 2k FA2 they rebuilt and its like new aside from the front missing a pocket cover. Whats nice about the ELECTROTREN setup is how the train is held together. The only couplers are to and from the locomotives, everything else just snaps together.

    I thought WSDOT, ODOT, Amtrak and to a lesser extent Vancouver BC ran the Cascades as a partnership?

    As for ELECTROTREN, from what I've gathered, when the Amtrak series was in production they where imported by E&L who sold them via Walthers and then went bust. Now a few other US based sites picked up the importing of ELECTROTREN trains, but since the Amtrak Talgo is out of production they don't have them but carry all the current stock. The French site was the only one that not only showed up when I searched for the car's part #s, but also had them in stock. Walthers did show up in the search, but they've been out of stock for a while.

    The bar car's interior is almost identical to the ones Amtrak bought for the Cascades, until WSDOT has its way and referbs them.

    The afore mentioned similar Talgo cars in production are the Talgo Pendular RENFE and Talgo Altaria Pendular, and are both by ELECTROTREN. These car sets are imported to American suppliers, you just have to search for them, but from the low res images it looks like the support cars (the only ones with couplers) that come in the sets have puffers/buffers like most European trains.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 19, 2011
  20. Southern Oregonian

    Southern Oregonian TrainBoard Member

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    Almost forgot, it looked like the French site might still have the 6 car starter set for the Amtrak Talgo.
     

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