Large Scale Central

Tyco 10 wheeler

Some of Yunz know that I belong to 2 HO FeMo clubs, now more of Yunz know. I belong to a small club called the South Hills Model Railroad club, because Dave Bodner drug me kicking and screaming to one of the club’s meetings when the club was just getting started, and forced me to join. Just kidding, but Dave did invite me to the meeting, and I have to blame someone for delving back into HO. I also belong to the NMRA division 2 FreMo group. Besides having a pair of modules, I also am trying to put together some train sets to run. My latest adventure is resurrecting an HO Tyco 10 wheeler that I bought at a train show. Ok, its actually a bit oversized for HO, but it was a popular locomotive back in it’s day.

First thing I did was to set the train up on an oval of track and apply DC power to the track. If the thing won’t run, I may be done right here. Sure enough, it didn’t want to run. So I opened it up, and the motor contacts, the commutator, was black. So I removed one of the motor brushes and carefully cleaned the commutator with Brasso. Once I put it back together the train actually ran.

At first it ran jerky, then it derailed. Upon inspection I found that the drawbar screws were so tight that the drawbar could barely move, and the tender truck screws were cranked down so tight that the trucks would not swivel. After backing off those screws a quarter turn or so, I tried again. Again she started off real jerky, but after a minute or two, she started running smoother and smoother. And she sounded just like the one I used to have when I was a kid.

Once I knew that the mechanism wasn’t trashed, and that she would run, I started my upgrade of her to DCC. These older locomotives have open framed motors in them. Those kind of motors tend to draw a nice amount of current.

My ammeter was showing .4 something amps when I was running the locomotive. I say “something” because the next 2 digits of the meter were flickering so much that I have no idea what the average of them would have been. To improve the performance of the motor, I replaced the original magnet with super magnets from Micro Mark.

I could not figure out what way to put the new magnets in, because the motor’s original magnet was so weak that super magnets would stick to it in any direction. So much for the “opposites attract” theory.

I put 2 strips of electrical tape on the bottom of the motor and reinstalled it with a nylon screw. That way the motor is electrically isolated from the locomotive’s frame.

Running the locomotive now, it only draws .2 something amps, a definite improvement.

While I was rewiring the locomotive, I replaced the headlight light-bulb with a bright yellow LED. But the headlight wires would not fit in the groove in the boiler weight.

After little work with a file, the 2 wires fit in the groove originally made for one wire.

Next I replaced the tender wheels. The tender trucks are metal, and I carefully bent the bolster a bit to take out the original plastic and brass wheels and replace them with new nickle silver wheels, making sure the the insulated wheels are all on the proper side.

In the picture the left truck has the new wheels, and the right truck still has the original wheels.

Then I wired up the locomotive with a Digitrax economy decoder, because I am chee frugal, and tried to run the locomotive. It turned out that the motor ran the wrong way. After trying to change some CVs to compensate, I gave up, pulled out the super magnets from the motor, flipped them over and put them back in. Then I did a factory reset on the decoder and she ran the right direction.

Next I programmed in an address. The number on the Tyco locomotive is 3. But I know of 2 other locomotives in the NMRA group that use address 3. So I programmed her to use 1003. I plan an setting up my old time locomotives with addresses between 1000 and 1999, since so many of them actually are single or double digits road numbers. Just to prevent duplication with others in the groups I belong to.

Next I need to remount the smoke stack, and then she will be ready to run for the up coming shows. I am sure that more then one person is going to think it an abomination to be running a Tyco 10 wheeler on a modern layout, but I know that others will enjoy seeing the old gal trundle around the layout.

Today was the first day of the Greenberg train show in Monroeville. So I took the old gal out and ran her off and on all day.

I remember the headlight being brighter when I viewed it in my living room.

I guess I need to use a smaller current limiting resistor in the headlight circuit.

And, as I suspected, the more the old gal ran, the better she ran. At the beginning of the day, she was only happy at Lionel speeds. By the end of the day, she was trundling along at a nice, sedate pace. At the beginning of the day, she would speed up and slow down, uncommanded, sometimes rather abruptly. By the end of the day, she was running at a a near constant speed. And at the show I bought another Tyco 10 wheeler.

Did I mention, that when I was a kid, I literally ran the wheel plating off of the Tyco 10 wheeler that I had. She was my favorite locomotive. So seeing one run again, and run well, gave me a warm fuzzy feeling.

Yea, I still have my first HO Tyco a 4-4-0 American from back in the early 70’s great little runner back then. Haven’t ran it in probably 40 years(

Yep the above caused the pause…

1960 my father switched me from the Lionel Turbine to a Mantua General and a Tyco Shifter 0-4-0. So tiny, but at 10, I could take a truck to school to study the rolling characteristics (covertly, of course).

I miss that turbine.

Rick, judging from the wheel plating on this gal, she didn’t run much back when she ran. Judging from the oxidation on the motor commutator, she hasn’t run in a long time. Seeing her resurrected and running, on DCC, made me feel good.

Yea John, my grandfather started me on Lionel. I didn’t like that weird third rail. I wish I still had that Lionel set.

At the show, one of the NMRA guys asked me if the locomotive was a Bachmann. I replied that “No, its a Tyco.” He just said “Tyco” and walked away. Mission accomplished, another mind blown. (

The show is over, and the Tyco ran pretty well all things considered. Even though its a division of the NMRA, the track-work on the various modules leaves something to be desired. The Tyco would sometimes high center herself on the diamond, and sometimes she derailed on the dip and bump combination on the one module. Also she would sometimes stall on the non powered frogs that a few modules have. Since the locomotive picks up power from one rail, and the tender picks up power from the other rail, its understandable that a dead frog could stall her. Several people commented on her, apparently that locomotive was fairly popular among my age group.

One viewer asked how I had put a can motor in her, so I explained that I did not put a can motor in her, she is running with her original open frame motor. He was surprised that it could be done. I guess he read the same literature that I had read that said a DCC decoder can not be used on an open frame motor.

Now that I have done a Tyco 10 wheeler, I can get back to the collection of AHM 4-4-0s that I have awaiting DCCing.

At the November Greenburg show, one of the former members of our NMRA FreMo group, made comments about how I should not be allowed to run that old Tyco junk on the club’s scale model railroad. At the time I had 2 Tyco 10 ten wheelers in operation. That spurred me into writing a letter to the editor of the local NMRA division newsletter. I explained that this hobby should embrace all who want to participate. I also explained that the show is for the enjoyment of the public, and many members of the public enjoy seeing the toys they played with as a child still working, and still being used. Several folks commented that they, or someone that they knew, had that train when they were a child. I also commented that those who feel that more scale equipment should be run on the club set up, should get up off their chairs and participate, by running the equipment that they feel is appropriate. Yes, I was rather upset when I wrote the letter. The editor published my letter, with a few minor edits, and posted a reply to the letter that explained that I am one of the 2 guys who work hard during set up to align and connect the modules, hook up the power and Locolink, and put in the connecting rails. His response to my letter made me feel good. It’s nice to be noticed.

Since my outdoor railroad is currently dormant until I can solve the issue with deer trampling my garden railroad, I have been concentrating on my HO equipment. Yea, you guessed it, I am upgrading and equipping more Tyco 10 wheelers with DCC deoders.

For the February show I added 2 more to my roster.

Ok, that one is actually a Mantua Mogul, but its based on the Tyco tenwheeler.

For the March show with the South Hills Model Railroad club I had another one running, unfortunately I didn’t get a good picture of “Old Squeaky”

She is the one in the center.

On all but the first one I got running, I routed the DCC wires through the tender floor, so that the wires going from the tender to the locomotive could be kept low, and mimic the water and air lines that go between the tender and locomotive on 1:1 steam engines.

This is how I modified the tender frames to route the wires.

Need a General with the motor in the tender and a ball drive to the loco? And a Pluto Water refer? Bought in 1960.

So now I am working on the one I really wanted to make since I started resurrecting these old engines. I am trying to model the Hooterville Cannonball. I hope to be starting a new thread on her soon.

I can’t wait to hear what that NMRA snob has to say when she goes trundling around the club set up at the next show. (

John Caughey said:

Need a General with the motor in the tender and a ball drive to the loco? And a Pluto Water refer? Bought in 1960.


I do have a box full of the old IHC/Riverrossi 4-4-0s that I hope to remotor and DCC equip. But I haven’t worked out all the details on them yet. As for the Tyco General, I have stolen the drivers off of 2 of them to use on a 10 wheeler rebuild that I am also working on.

Tyco or Mantua. Sorry no boxes, but if you can use it them I’ll dig out what I have in a couple of months, I start a long term radiation low dose plan next week

Boxes aren’t necessary, I am not a “collector” I just play with trains.

Good luck with the treatments.

nice. Small. How do you see that stuff.

Oh, 114 and train look good! (

In my HO days I found the AHM/IHC/Rivarossi 4-4-0 locomotives to be durable and reliable with my usage patterns.

Same for the Mantua/Tyco old timers.

It was not odd that a little bit of extra attention would improve their performance & that was okay by my interests.

Also the 4-4-0 are fun to add details to or modify or kitbash in to power for freelance roads.

I miss the MDC Roundhouse old time car kits, especially the passenger cars. (

–> There is a forum specifically for Tyco and Mantua HO trains,

Devon, I am myopic, so I just take off my glasses, turn on a good work light, and settle in. But when I am done, my eyes don’t want to focus across the room for a few minutes.

Forrest, thanks. I will get to the 4-4-0s eventually. I need to remotor them so I can stuff a DCC decoder into the tender. As for the Roundhouse kits, I bought way too many of them second hand.

Them oldes Tyco 10 wheelers can pull, even without traction tyres.

While working on my Hooterville Cannonball, I was also working on a rescue project on another ten wheeler. I need to have more then one project going at a time, so when I get to a point on one where I have to stop, to let glue, paint, or ink dry, I can keep working. My rescue project was a dropped ten wheeler. the pilot was bent, and the handrail mounts were broken. I cut the bent pilot off, and replaced it with a Cal-scale brass one. Then I took some brass tubing and replaced the broken handrail mounts.

The one on the smoke-box runs all the way through the smoke-box. Once the glue had dried, I filed away most of the tube that was inside the smoke-box, so I can reinstall the boiler weight.

I needed to replace the missing stack, so I “borrowed” a straight stack from another 10 wheeler and fabricated a new one from some plastic tubing.

I heated the end of the tubing, then jammed a small screwdriver into the tubing. By pressing the handle of the screwdriver against the heated tubing, it caused the tubing to flair out evenly on the end of the tubing.

Then I cut the tubing to length. To be honest, I made it a little bit longer than the original stack. Then I used a piece of brass tubing inserted into the base of the stack, and a hole in the boiler, to solidly remount the sack to the boiler.

After that, I masked off the domes and painted the boiler black, Once the black dried, I masked off the boiler and the lamp, and painted the smoke-box silver. I am glad that I have a decent stash of Krylon rattle cans.

Then I painted the wheel rims white.

And used my silver Sharpie to coluor in the headlight lens frame, and touch up the smoke-box front.