Oct 4, 2007
Very fine improvements indeed. Mine is still in its original state. :-((
More sharing of progress pics using Kato U30C mechanism
Next set of documentation construction photos.
If you are in the middle of this project yourself and want to ask any questions of
my experience, please feel free to ask away here on this thread, if what I'm doing
can save you time, pls let me know here.
Hope these are helpful:
Set 1: You can see broadside shot of the Minitrix U30CG shell work-in-progress.
Note that the N scale Minitrix U30CG shell is slightly compressed in length from prototype, but upon careful
examination by 'eyeballing' it, it appears that just one panel (as shown in photos below) is compressed
on the Minitrix shell. The other panels, the radiators, the cab and nose length, etc, all appear to be
correct proportions if my eyeballing is correct:
For comparison, here are broadside photos from "Santa Fe Diesel, Vol 2", by Dr. Cinthia Priest
and Paired Rail Productions 1998. I put this photo here for documentation of the extent of the
Minitrix compression and for N scale fellow model railroader helping purposes only. This book
is out of print, and I purposely made the photo a little small so as to not hinder their copyright.
Please honor their copyright and purchase their products, the Priests are great people and a boon
to our model railroading and railroad research and historical accuracy community.
Copies of this wonderful book can be found with some searching and patience on the
Internet and the online auction sites.
The prototype nose overhang over the front trucks is just a bit more in the photos, compared to the
Minitrix shell / Kato U30C mech combination.
I couldn't tell these small differences until after staring/researching it for a long time. In my mind, I
justify it as how many people *really* know how many rivets there are on GE U30CG?
IMHO, it's acceptable compromises to get one (or several) of these Santa Fe rarities on our
N scale Santa Fe layouts at a very reasonable cost
In the above photo, I left the too-big stock Minitrix black stripe on for comparison, I can fix that
later after documentation photos are done.
Set 2 - grinding on the inside of Minitrix U30CG shell to fit on Kato U30C mech.
It is absolutely fortunate, the original Kato U30C mechanism (which has the proper
wheelbase and truck-to-truck length) is the proper width for most of the Minitrix
U30CG shell's inner brackets (only very minor grinding needed).
From a length standpoint, by measuring with my caliper, the orig Kato U30C mechanism is just barely
longer than the inner dimensions of the Minitrix U30CG shell. (the shorter orig Minitrix mechanism's nose still leaves some
significant space between it and the shell's inner nose wall).
Thus, with very careful attention to where to grind on both the mechanism and on the
contact lines (shown below in photos) on inside wall of the shell, I was able to create a press-fit that
allows the shell to stay on by friction.
The key here is to *observe* where the the *contact lines* are on the inner ends of the Minitrix
shell. Grind carefully step by step if you want to create the friction press-fit at those
You can also see how significantly I needed to grind away the inside of the Minitrix shell stairwells
to get clearance (I needed to significantly grind away on the front of the Kato plastic trucks as well) as well.
Hope this helps!
When I do the next U30CG (I'm in process of doing two more), I will see if I can subtly
grind more at the inner rear end of the shell, and "forward-space the shell slightly forward"
to subtly do what I can to subtly increase the nose overhang that I noted in the previous post.
I also have taken photos of the grinding on the Kato U30C original run mechanism and the ends of the trucks,
as well as multiple comparisons of the orig Minitrix mech with the Kato U30C mech .... if you are interested
in photos of that, post back here and I can add those to this thread.
Finally, I've acquired a 2011 DCC-ready Kato C30-7 mechanism, which I'll use for the 3d U30CG, to see
if there are any variations required to get the U30CG Minitrix shell to fit on that mech. I'll let you know
how that turns out.
I'm next going to start wire handrails on the rear of the shell (my first time).
Thx again to Randgust for getting me inspired on this and proving to me that it's possible,
that my efforts would not be in vain.
Trix U30CG Repower
I have repowered a Trix U30CG using the Kato SD40 mechanim. The only change needed is a thin strip of plastic glued to the sides of shell to make it snugs up to the drive. Other than tht it is a perfect fit and is DCC ready.
John, are you grinding the steps for better truck turning clearance?
Yes, I'm grinding the Minitrix U30CG shell stairwells for clearance, otherwise the trucks will not clear for turning by a long shot.
I also need to grind some off the front off of the trucks. I'll post some pictures of this as soon as I can to illustrate
Good points about the Kato SD40 mechanism fitting under the Minitrix shell and working without needing to modify
the Minitrix shell. I'd heard that works well from others as well. There's even a thread over on Atlas that is
discussing how to put Kato GE GSC sideframes on the Kato SD40 EMD truck (there's some tricky pickup points
swapping, grinding on the frame, other little tips required), all described at:
Seems like an alternative way to go and this may be good for anyone who doesn't want to grind out
the Minitrix shell, and is willing to do the GE and EMD truck sideframe swapping described above.
In my case, I chose not to go that way only because:
- one can relatively easily find complete Kato U30C / C30-7 mechanisms for the Minitrix U30CG shell swap
- my preference was to have the U30C mechanism's 'correct' U30CG wheelbase as opposed to the shorter 'incorrect' SD40 wheelbase
- finding the spare Kato GE GSC sideframe parts (to put on the EMD SD40 sideframes) seems to be hard to find, and there's several steps to it
- I knew from Randgust's photos that Minitrix shell on the U30C mechanism looks pretty good, i.e. known result
Just my preference, however, I'd love to see what a Minitrix U30CG on Kato SD40 mechanism swap looks like,
if anyone has a photo of that, please do share it here .
It would be interesting to do up a "Kato SD40 mechanism with GE sideframes swapped in" under the Minitrix
U30CG frame and see how that looks from a proportion standpoint, and how it compares. Maybe that's something
to try after I get the 3d DCC-ready U30CG done. I don't know if I will get to that but I'll keep it in mind.
In the meantime, I'm getting busy with wire handrails, and will post photos of that, as well
as truck clearance shots for Jerry. Thx for the comments, all.
IIRC, you can install the U30C trucks directly into the SD40 mechanism (but then again it has been a while)
Interesting. Anyone tried this recently, anyone have any photos of this swap? Thx.
this project is beautiful!...
this is really 'testing' my desire to stay within my era!
Question: just wondering, when you did your swap of the Minitrix shell on the Kato SD40 mechanism, did you by any chance also swap the Kato U30C trucks into the Kato SD40 mechanism? I'm just wondering if the U30C trucks fit and work without any problems?
If this swap does work, it puts additional possibilities on the table here for all of us to consider.
Thx in advance .
Starting handrails -a great skill to learn! I'm sure I'll get better as I practice. Starting
on the rear first so I can get experience on areas that will be less visible, here's my first tries......
The basic skills for doing this that I'm following are here: http://www.trainboard.com/grapevine/showthread.php?106256-Brass-Wire-Handrails-N-Scale-randgust
Jerry, photos of the close clearances on the trucks/stairwells coming soon.
All, I also did some experimentation with Kato U30C trucks on the Kato original run SD40 mechanism, will report soon.
post 2012 01 05 1 handrails progress
Here's photos of handrail progress on this Minitrix U30CG shell on Kato U30C mechanism project:
Hope this helps. Comments welcome.
post 2012 01 05 2 truck clearance
Truck clearance shots per Jerry's request, on this
Minitrix U30CG shell on Kato U30C mechanism project:
Hope that helps too. Comments welcome.
I did try swapping the original run Kato U30C trucks onto my original run Kato SD40 mechanism.
(both of these are the early 1990's era non-DCC ready mechanisms).
I should have taken some pictures but was out of time, but here's what happened to me. If I get time later I will
re-do the steps described below and take some side shots.
At least in my case with these particular two (early 1990's era) Kato component sets:
* My Kato U30C trucks, for me, didn't mate properly into my original run Kato SD40 mechanism. The U30C trucks could fit into the
cavity (after reversing the orientation), but were too tight (didn't swivel freely), and didn't mate properly with the SD40 worm gears.
It could probably be made to work via either:
- figuring out where to grind on the U30C trucks to create clearance, figure out how to mate those trucks with the SD40 orig mechanism worm gear
- swapping the U30C truck sideframes onto the SD40 gearcase, as was reported in: http://forum.atlasrr.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=65981&whichpage=2
* Clearly there are other cases as have been shared here that didn't have this problem, so I might speculate (but don't know for sure) that the difference might be the other cases used a different newer DCC-ready Kato SD40 mechanism, which might not have this swap-in in problem with U30C trucks? I don't know what might have been different.
Clearly it's just a matter of preference as to which mechanism one wants to use. If I were to list some of the considerations:
* The Minitrix shell did nice loose fit over the orig run Kato SD40 mechanism, with grinding down two of the internal braces at the location of the rear flywheel. The SD40 mechanism choice would take less / no grinding on the ends of the shell, would ideally need a truck sideframe swap and a fuel tank fix, and you'd spend some time with styrene shims on the inside of the shell to get a good fit and fix the mechanism and shell in relationship to each other. The wheelbase would be shorter than prototype but the Minitrix shell is shorter than prototype, so the overall proportions and look might be good (just different than the proportions of the U30C mech swap). I haven't done one of these to know for sure, if I get time I will re-fit the Kato U30C trucks on my SD40 mechanism and take a side view.
* The Minitrix shell with selective grinding will press-fit over a Kato U30C/C30-7 mechanism as described above in this thread. Here, you won't have to swap anything in the U30C/C30-7 mechanism, just selective grinding on the mechanism ends and the inside of the shell, and by doing that, no shims necessary. Wheelbase is correct (albeit Minitrix shell is bit short) but at least the photos above show how it looks - hopefully pretty good to most people.
Hope that helps, comments welcome!
Thanks John! That gives me a better idea of what the grinding on the steps is for.
post 2012 01 08 wire handrails
Using Randgust's tips, here's my first attempt at wire handrails.
This is the original N scale Minitrix U30CG ugly plastic handrails:
Here's the work in progress:
And after some more cleanup:
I'm amazed that I, too, can do this! Thx to Randgust and all the model railroading
forum posters who have, over the internet, given me the instructions and tips.
I have five more handrail / stanchion sets to do on the three N scale U30CG's I'm working
on, so I trust that the skills will get better with more practice.
More details on all this over at this thread: http://www.trainboard.com/grapevine/showthread.php?92144-Trix-U30CG/page6
If I can do it, anyone can! Thx for the instructions above that got me started.
I own one of the older units and it has run great for years so far. I love the idea of putting a kato unit under the body to make a great running locomotive. Now I have to get one in case this one croaks sometime in the future. Mine is in SF colors. On ebay lately some have gone for $36.00 plus shipping, and i'd pay it for one just to have two to run together.
Yes, you're right on. I've been watching eBay lately, and because the newer DCC ready Kato
U30C's and C30-7s are now readily available (selling for around $70 plus change), with a little bit of patience you can get a sweet-running original run U30C or C30-7 mechanism easily for around $40 to $45 range. Maybe you may even be able to re-sell the shell and lower the net cost a bit further .
Here's some more photos that I had time to process, showing the mechanism grinding / modifications.
Heavy wire-cutters did the trick easily to cut the 45 degree angle cut on the 'wings' on the ends of the mechanism.
Later when I was grinding, I rounded off the cuts to avoid snags.
The key here is that after a lot of measuring and examining, I realized that after cutting the
45 degree angle cuts on the ends of the mechanism, and after grinding away the stairwells on inside
of shell for truck-swing clearance....
That the inside of the N scale Minitrix U30CG shell is only contacting the *square ends* of the
Kato U30C mechanisms, and only on the vertical edges of the mechanism.
The resulting 'contact lines' (visible if you know to look for them in previous pics in this
thread of the inside of the shell) are therefore the only necessary points to carefully grind
to get a nice press-fit of this shell on the mechanism.
This is really cool, because with this Kato U30C mechanism and Minitrix U30CG shell combo,
there's only four vertical contact lines to grind to get the nice fit. Once
you know they are there, they make for easy method to fix the relationship of the shell to the mechanism.
There's really not a lot of grinding necessary on the mechanism.
Hope that helps. Moving along slowly as time permits, I'm working on wire handrails.
Here's what I mean by the 'contact lines', you can see them in these photos if you know to look for them:
(These are the same photos I posted earlier in this thread).
You can also see the grinding needed on the inside of the stairwell area.
All in all, some rather straightforward grinding.... and the four contact lines serve to nicely fix the
Minitrix U30CG shell and the Kato U30C / C30-7 mechanism in relationship to each other.
Hope this is helping.