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  • Topic: Belated review of the AccuCraft three-cylinder Shay

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    • April 28, 2010 2:35 PM EDT
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      I bought my AccuCraft 3-c Shay here in the UK from an authorised dealer, which was a good move. Opening up the box and taking it out of the usual black-painted steel Zimmer-frame and mummy-wrappings was a chore, but nothing was bent, busted or missing. However, on fitting the trucks it was obvious that the guy who'd made the loco hadn't actually talked to the guy who made the trucks - there was over half an inch off-set in the bolsters. Putting them on the loco resulted in the sad sight of an engine about to fall over on its left hand side....

      Still, it got fixed, thanks to the efforts of a kind-hearted gentleman over here. Finally getting to run it revealed three other slight problems - to say it was a water hog was an understatement - it needed serious topping up every 75 feet [the length of my teeny circuit] and the steam oil seemed to disappear almost as fast as the water was used. It also used gas like a dragster - running out before the water did was a toss-up - fifteen minutes was the most I ever got from it, even a year after I began to use it and it was pretty much run in. These little niggles caused me some concern, for obvious reasons, so the loco went back to the maven, who installed one of David Bailey's double-sized gas tanks and his fine-adjustment lubricators - total fix, around a hundred dollars or so. That did the trick - I now get around 35+ minutes running with the certainty of having oil until the end of the run - with such a high-speed loco mechanism I feel that this is a good thing. I also fitted a Goodall valve to directly feed into the boiler - the tender tank water pump was a royal pain to operate for a number of reasons, mainly that replacing the very close-fitting tender tank top wasted time getting running again after a boiler top-up, and I ended up leaving the darn thing off and the pump lever in place - NOT conducive to the otherwise scale apprearance of this fine model.

      Five years have passed since then, and every time I get the loco out to run it is a pleasure. I never tire of watching the Shay moving along the track, accompanied by the usual mighty steam plume, even to the point of sitting on the ground to see it going over a bridge close-up. Performance is impressive - a youtube movie can be seen where it is hauling around twenty-five heavy log cars with little apparent effort, and running on MY track it usually hauls twelve or more home-built skeleton log cars with real wood logs on-board - about forty pounds deadweight.

      I fully recomend either of AccuCraft's Shays [the two-cylinder version is already an industry standard] to the beginner in live-steam because they do not run away from you - friskiness is not the Shay's forte - nor do they instantly make you think of installing radio control. Access to the controls is easy once you've flipped up the forward-opening cab-roof, or, if like some you have fingers like an elf, you can just reach in. Sadly, my fingers tend to err on the side of podgy, even gnome-like, some say. Flat out any AccuCraft Shay can be easily caught, as our daughter, who is a wheelchair-user, would agree. My next and final modification is to put control levers on to replace the rather geeky-looking throttle and gas control knobs - I've already painted all the highly visible brass in the cab with satin-finish black paint to tone things down a mite.

      Well done, AccuCraft!

      tac
      www.ovgrs.org
      www.largecalecentral.com
      www.mylargescale.com 1st Class Member

      Pros
      Good scale appearance, although, it seems, not a perfect replication of any one particular locomotive.
      Prodigious hauling power - due to having three of the larger bore Ruby cylinders with cranks set at 120 degrees. Power delivery is very smoooooooth.
      Solidly well-made, well-detailed and convincing model of an 'average' oil-fired Shay - even the wood grain effect is there on the end beams, as are countless 'frilly bits' of piping and valves. Brass whistles and safety valves too. And a beautiful bell......

      Cons
      Short duration of run in standard form - both water and gas capacities are to blame here.
      Tender water pump is a pain to use.
      Over-shiney paint job needs toning down.
      Gas burner needs very fine adjustment to prevent howling.
      Blow-down valve is positioned directly over the rear engine-to-drive train coupling and makes a mess.
      Pressure gauge on the wrong side of the cab - the operator will usually be watching the busy side of the loco, NOT the ho-hum side.
    • May 10, 2010 11:35 PM EDT

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      Tac-

      Having built a Ruby from a kit -- and, with knowledge from much advice -- got the rascal to run well, I think of owning a Shay. Question: Are the newer once fraught with the same run times as your five-year-old model?

      Secondly, I have 2% grades on our outdoor layout. The Ruby comes to a stall. So I run it on its own circle of track in the patio. I have heard the Shay will handle 2% grades up and down without touching the controls. Have you experienced the same?

      Many thanks for your thoughts on those two questions.

      Wendell
    • May 28, 2010 6:37 PM EDT
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      Wendell Hanks said:
      Tac- Having built a Ruby from a kit -- and, with knowledge from much advice -- got the rascal to run well, I think of owning a Shay. Question: Are the newer once fraught with the same run times as your five-year-old model? Secondly, I have 2% grades on our outdoor layout. The Ruby comes to a stall. So I run it on its own circle of track in the patio. I have heard the Shay will handle 2% grades up and down without touching the controls. Have you experienced the same? Many thanks for your thoughts on those two questions. Wendell
      Evenin', Wendell - thanks for the call, much appreciated. I've just got back here from three weeks in Orygun, and I'm feeling pretty bad about having to accommodate myself to crowded streets and miilions of teeny little cars in thirty-mile long traffic back-ups, so I'll not take up much of your time by getting all technical. AFAIK, the latest Shays seem to be well-made, at least, the half-dozen or so that I've seen don't have my misalignment problems. As for the Shay's ability to handle grades, well, the model is much like the real thing in that respect, as a look at mine on Youtube would show you. Handling thirteen LGB flat cars with real logs, added to which was a safety/coupler conversion car and a caboose around a difficult track with a combination of curves with grades posed no problems whatsoever. On level track I don't have enough to put behind my #5 to stall it - around thirty or so suitable cars. Best tac www.ovgrs.org
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