Evolution of a USRA Light 2-8-2

Discussion in '2-8-2 Mikado' started by frisco1522, Jun 17, 2016.

  1. frisco1522

    frisco1522 Staff Member Staff Member

    Back in Feb I purchased a used Akane Light Mike from Brasstrains.com to join with my 4003 in freight service. Ironically the model was painted Pennsylvania RR, which is where some of the 4000s came from.
    Photos show basically the process of making a Frisco mike which I finished in May.

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  2. frisco1522

    frisco1522 Staff Member Staff Member

  3. frisco1522

    frisco1522 Staff Member Staff Member

    Final 10

    21.jpg 22.jpg 23.jpg 24.jpg 25.jpg 26.jpg 27.jpg 28.jpg 29.jpg 30.jpg
    jmoore16, Turky44, Joe Lovett and 4 others like this.
  4. magistrate

    magistrate Member

    Do you have any pictures that show more of what you had to do to the cab?

    Thank you,
  5. TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020)

    TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020) Passed Away July 15, 2020 Frisco.org Supporter

    What a terrific piece of work! I had one of those Akane engines (later sold) and was always disappointed how non Frisco-ish the engine was and how helpless I was to do anything about it.
    I hope everyone appreciates how much work and modeling savvy it took Don to make such a conversion, let alone steam engine and Frisco historical knowledge!!!! I wish Don was a consulting expert for some of the model manufacturers (Lake Kato, Walthers, etc, etc, etc), so we could get some Frisco believable models at our local hobby shops and on line stores!

    Tom G.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2016
    Ozarktraveler likes this.
  6. tmfrisco

    tmfrisco Member Frisco.org Supporter

    Well, without saying, the transformation is absolutely fantastic. Congrats, Don, on more over the top work.

  7. frisco1522

    frisco1522 Staff Member Staff Member

    I didn''t take pictures of building the cab, but it is scratchbuilt from flat stock, rivet embossed and "rolled" over the new front and back walls.
  8. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Frisco.org Supporter

    Don - I think you have one or more other 4000's. If so, what is their heritage?

    It would be interesting to see them side-by-side. I'd wager your 4026 is the best.

  9. frisco1522

    frisco1522 Staff Member Staff Member

    I have a 4003 built from a PFM USRA Light.

    4003.jpg 4026.jpg
    jmoore16, Turky44, Joe Lovett and 3 others like this.
  10. Coonskin

    Coonskin Member

    What an amazing set of brass working skills you possess Mr. Wirth! As are all of your conversions, the end result is yet another genuine piece of art work in brass.

  11. magistrate

    magistrate Member

    Don, those engines are true museum pieces, they are truly beautiful!
  12. TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020)

    TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020) Passed Away July 15, 2020 Frisco.org Supporter

    Any modeler's who models in Don's era (1940's) should look at the neat period freight cars in the background of his pictures!

    Tom G.
  13. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Frisco.org Supporter

    Don - I would think the PFM USRA light Mike is also pretty well done. What changes did you make to it to totally "Friscoize" it?

    Let me give you the details about where I was in my early years as a Frisco fan ...... kind of out in the wilderness! Quite a contrast to Don! I bought a PFM USRA light Mikado way back in 1965, I think, from Tom's Trains. Maybe it was 1966, I don't know. $49.50. It was the second piece of brass HO steam I bought, following the PFM 2-10-0 Russian Decapod, first release, which I bought and had painted for SLSF 1621 (pre-Eagle Pitcher), also $49.50 as I recall.

    My main reference to Frisco data back the was "Frisco Folks" (can you believe that!), and I saw in "Frisco Folks" somewhere that Frisco 2-8-2 Mikado's were numbered in the 1350 class. Yep! So, I had my PFM USRA Mike painted as SLSF 1352 (that last number, "2", indicated it was my second piece of brass). SLSF 1352 looked good, and ran well, but the only thing I had done to it besides the incorrect paint job, was to put a coonskin headlight bracket on it - I missed the SLSF 4000 class entirely.

    Fortunately, I have learned a few things since then.

    Sirfoldalot likes this.
  14. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    Don, it is readily obvious to anyone looking at the work that you are truly a brass master craftsman.
    Sirfoldalot and Ozarktraveler like this.
  15. Don, very impressive. I look at all those parts in the bucket and taste puke in the back of my mouth. I would be scared to death to do that.
    Ozarktraveler and frisco1522 like this.
  16. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    Well put. It makes me nauseous looking at my pieces of Bachmann Spectrum 2-10-0 disassembled as I try to deal with a bad gear.

    Exceptional as always, Don. Happy to see more step-by-step pictorials brought to us by your Pacific Shops. It looks infinitely better as SL-SF power than PRR power.

    Best Regards,
    gjslsffan likes this.
  17. Xygorak

    Xygorak Member

    I read that the Frisco used Alco and Lima built USRA Light 2-8-2s... what does one need to do to "convert" the PFM United Light Mikados built as a Baldwin unit to match an Alco or a Lima?
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2020
    gjslsffan likes this.
  18. patrick flory

    patrick flory Member

    I’m happy enough with my Bachmann Frisco decs and 2-8-2 4027, which if I can find a coonskin number plate I might be brave enough to try to install. If I really had the nerve I’d install Pyle headlights which would improve it 100%. And I’m happy with my Walthers Ship It On The Frisco 3 window caboose. Although I did break down and buy a nice Hallmark brass Frisco caboose, prepainted of course. Now I’m about to buy an Athearn ATSF one in Frisco paint.

    I’m basically chicken to do much of anything. Why? I remember the torture and horrible deaths I sentenced my teenage stuff to! Thinking I was a master craftsman! Could I do any better now? I doubt it! Used to be if you wanted something good you had to be able to do what Don does. Nowadays you can get great running RTR engines that are 75% prototypical and that’s good enough for me!

    I look at Don Wirth’s stuff and marvel, and hope the collection stays together forever.
    modeltruckshop likes this.
  19. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Frisco.org Supporter

    Wow, Don's procedure is sort of like an assembly line. Don is the Henry Ford of HO steam locomotive model creation ..... we are blessed with him being a Frisco fan!
    gjslsffan and modeltruckshop like this.
  20. frisco1522

    frisco1522 Staff Member Staff Member

    Patrick, I was where you are back in the late 60s. I had known Joe Collias since about 1960 and admired his work and he convinced me that if I want to model what I want, start cutting, chopping and soldering. Between seeing what he was doing and a series in articles in MR by Robert Darwin I plunged in and haven't looked back since. I certainly have no attributes that make me unique. My boss once asked me "How the hell do you do that with those big ham hands"? My answer to you out there is "just do it". Practice on junk. It ain't rocket surgery.

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