IMPROVING POWER PICKUP
Add might to your Mogul
By Herb Chaudiere
I HAVE NEVER been very happy with the power pickup on the tenders of my LGB Moguls. Their spring loaded carbon brushes conduct electricity from only four of the eight wheels and, if the springs get hot from too much current, they lose their tension. My solution is to move the pickup points from the back of the wheels to the axles and I do it by sleeving the axles with brass tubing and using steel music wire to conduct electricity from the tubing to the loco.
Remove the trucks from the tender and unsolder the wire leads from the pickup brush assemblies. Disassemble the trucks by removing the screws holding the sideframes to the bolsters. Remove one wheel from each axle. Cut eight pieces of 1/4-inch I.D. brass tubing, each about 1/2-inch long. Slip one over each plastic wheel axle, snugly against the back of the wheel. Secure the tubing with CA (superglue) around the exposed end. Keep the glue off the tubing's surface.
Use a cut-off disc in a motor tool carefully to grind away the plating on the back of the wheel. The idea is to expose a spot of brass between 1/8- and 3/16-inch in diameter as far as possible from the edge of the wheel. Tin the spot with solder, then solder one end of a piece of small diameter hookup wire (such as #24 AWG) to the spot. Run the wire straight up the back of the wheel and solder it to the brass tubing as close as possible to the back of the wheel. Trim off the excess wire. Reassemble the wheels on their axles making sure the axles extend equally from each wheel.
Again using the cutoff disc in the motor tool, carefully cut the contact brush assemblies from the truck bolsters (unless you insist on retaining those phony truck-mounted couplers). Otherwise, you can only remove the contact brush assemblies from one truck. Either way, remove the contact brushes from the remaining assemblies. Do not remove the portion with the hole for the red and black wire leads.
Use a #74 or #75 bit to drill clearance holes for .020-inch diameter music wire. The hole should be about 7/16-inch from each side of the center of each truck bolster and about 1/16-inch up from the bottom. Altogether you'll drill four holes in each bolster, one through the front, the other through the back. The holes in the front of the bolster should line up with the holes in the back.
Cut four pieces of .020-inch diameter music wire each 2 5/8 inches long. Slip one piece of wire through each pair of holes. Center the wire so equal lengths extend from the front and back sides of the bolster. Solder the red lead to the center of one wire and the black lead to the center of the other wire.
NOW FOR THE FUN PART
Reassemble the trucks. The ends of the music wire ride on the underside of the pieces of brass tubing you glued to the axles. Mount the trucks on the tender making sure the wheels with pickup for the red lead are on the right side of the tender. Also make sure the music wire rides at about the midpoint of the brass tubing.
The same idea will work for lighting rolling stock. Although I have taken no measurements, I think the drag may be less than with the original carbon brushes. A shot of WD-40 on the brass tubing will reduce the drag even further. What's even better, the modification has let me remove the unsightly contact shoes from my LGB Moguls. That has reduced drag even more!