Upgrades for Consolidation 1246

I have this 1980’s vintage Tenshodo model of a GN Consolidation. It’s a pretty nice looking model so a while ago I replaced the motor and installed a Soundtraxx DCC decoder. But it never really ran very well.

A couple of weeks ago I took it apart and ran some tests. I was thinking that the motor was pulling too many amps and that was the problem, but I tested it and it never pulled more than 500 milliamps, so that wasn’t it. So I started looking at other things.

I decided that the electrical pickup on the tender was probably the issue. I had added wipers to the trucks that came with it, but the electrical path was pretty crappy. And the trucks rolled like crap. Lots of friction.

Old trucks.

So I decided I’d replace the trucks and redo the pickups. But what trucks to use? The ones that came with the model were a Commonwealth style truck, and the photos I was looking at showed the same. But try and find a reasonable Commonwealth tender truck out there…

After looking around for a while I looked over at the Bachmann GN Consolidation I had. It’s a cheap, not very accurate model that I bought a long time ago. It was never going to run on the layout. But it had the correct trucks on the tender!

Bachmann trucks with Intermountain wheels.

So, even though they were the snap-in type trucks I decided to use them. I cut off the snap-in part and drilled a hole in them for a screw. Then I had to make some bolsters for the tender, so I glued up some styrene strips and epoxyed them into place.


I centered them on the existing truck mounting holes.

Bolsters in place.

Next was the electrical pickup. I have a bunch of InterMountain metal wheel sets and I saw in this forum post about using brass tubing for pickups so I decided to try it.

Electrical Pickup

I ended up having all the electrical pickup in the tender trucks. I was going to use the locomotive wheels for one side, but I forgot to connect the wire.

I put it all together, but it still didn’t work very well – it kept cutting out. So I cleaned the wheels and axles with mineral spirits and pinched the tubes a little bit to get better contact. It improved but it was still cutting out.

But, in anticipation of this project I had purchased a CurrentKeeper to install. I needed to make some more room in the tender to mount the CurrentKeeper so out came the Dremel.




More space.

Lots more room. After installing the DCC decoder and the CurrentKeeper it looked like this:


And this is how it performs now:

I’m pretty happy with it now.

The next tweak will be to install a working coupler on the front. It’s supposed to be a switcher so it needs to be able to couple up on both ends. It’s not a simple task though.

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