I had the fortunate opportunity to purchase my first 7 ½” gauge train this past summer of 2011 for my birthday with the help of my loving girlfriend, which is a 20 year old ‘Lil Gasser made by Cannonball Mfg. I got a great deal for the locomotive and riding car for less than two thousand dollars and couldn’t wait to get it home to ride. I did some research and found my switchers history through the Sacramento Valley Live Steamers and some old newsletters. I found out I have a version 2 with the larger 3 hp Briggs engine with a Dana/Spicer Transmission. I wanted a little more history on the locomotive in case I needed the info. in the future for maintenance, etc.
Well, right in the middle of January 2011 I went out on a cold day to ride my little train and the transmission was not shifting into forward or reverse from the neutral position. I let it warm up some more to be sure it wasn’t just cold transmission oil/grease inside the box. It finally shifted but, not so smoothly and I had a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach, you know that “something’s wrong” feeling? I made some phone calls and lots of searching on the internet for a replacement of this hard to find transmission. To my luck I found a gentleman who lives ½ mile from me who builds and sells gasoline powered switchers and industrial locomotives in gauges ranging from 7 ¼” to 15” gauge. I gave him a call and he had told me what suitable replacements I could find or, I could take a little time to re-build what I had with some improvements. I decided to re-build with his offer to help. Why re-build? Two reasons, he’s a machinist and is willing to help out (I could use the help and learn some new skills); and, I will be upgrading and improving its performance with minimal investment of money. I have built many structures for layouts in California and Oregon from N scale to 1” and up to 2” scales, that’s fine for wood working skills but my mechanic skills on small engines have something that is to be desired, so I might as well jump in with offered help and learn.The first thing I did after getting the locomotive home was to remove the battery and lead weights from the “nose” or hood of the locomotive to have a little more working room. Next, I disassembled the hood for even more open space. This was a simple operation of removing 8, small star head (torx) machine screws. Next, I unbolted the transmission from the cab wall and frame and removed the chain from the drive wheels and the second chain from the clutch, which was a little difficult due to the cramped space between the wall and clutch. A very small loop of chain made it more difficult but with a little patience and finesse I did not have to remove the link pin (Thank God). I slid a spare box end wrench under the traction chain so that I did not need to fish it back up to the top of the frame later and made reassembly much easier. Styrofoam cups with labels of each step of nuts and bolts with photos made everything easy since there were no instructions or drawings. This also kept the parts from being misplaced or lost.
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