The Omnicon PRR L1 was made by Samhongsa at the same time as the K4 in 1987.
It runs equally well as the K4. I added the Modernization kit that was available separately.
It is also the first S Scale Brass engine I bought in about 1988 at Tedís Engine House in Pennsauken NJ. I painted it in about 1992 as L1 1695. At that time some S dealers were offering a package of 1 K4 and 1 L1 for $1000.00. I talked Ted down to $700.00 and my brass addiction was started. It took me almost a year to pay it off!
Unfortunately S Brass prices have been in free fall for about a year now. Some are not selling at 25% of original cost. I donít know or care what they are worth now. I made them for me.
This photo was taken 12-11-05, before DCC.
These photos were taken 4-1-09, after adding DCC. There is no sound unit in it at this time.
I decided that I wanted to improve the detail level of the L1 and modernization. Further I wanted to change it to a loco number that lasted very late into the steam era. So it became L1 554.
It did not bother me much that I was stripping off 1 of my first paint jobs. I knew that I would like the new completed loco a lot better. I shot the above portraits just before starting the strip job.
It is best to get as much paint and especially the decals off before blasting a model. So it went for a trip through the dunk tank. Dunk then blast makes for a perfectly clean model.
(1788 is shown below. 554 is the done to the same level of detailing)
Photographing bare brass models is difficult.
These photos were taken 11-18-12, after the detailing was completed. The difference to 1695 above is massively evident. There is an obscene amount of work around the boiler front for a good modernization detailing job. I reworked the marker lights on the back tender wall as well for 1 tender. They had to be moved from the tender deck to the back tender wall.
Note the tombstone markers and cast numberplate.
This is a photo of 554 found on line here.
On 7-3-16 I did a quick n dirty reassembly job of 554 for some test running. It is shown below with a Tsunami decoder and incandescent headlight bulb. That will be changed to a WOW4 decoder and LED. The new gearbox was installed.
On 7-17-16 I added the new gearbox to 1788, and swapped the Tsunamis for the WOW4 decoders. I added the surface mount LED for the headlights as well. This is the first time they have been run in about 4 years.
There was an extreme amount of time spent detailing the boiler front and headlight area.
The problem with all S Scale Omnicon steam locomotives with the Samhongsa free rolling drive is, they FAIL! Some with better skills have easily fixed this by taking a driver off, replacing the axle gear, and using a NWSL gearbox. Samhongsa used a very unusual axle gear eliminating any chance of an easy fix. I was not that adventurous especially given I had to do it at least 7 times to fix my collection. The factory quartering had to be matched perfectly, and it was possibly not perfect quartering.
At left is the original gearbox. It is a brass worm gear contacting a plastic gear going to the small gears on the rocker arm that engage the axle gear. I found out the hard way when K4 5495 was done. The brass worm gear stripped out in the center Ė TWICE Ė in a reasonably fast time. This caused 5495 to be boxed again for about 4 years. I still donít get it, why the brass would fail before the plastic. There are only so many gearboxes that can be found for 30 year old locomotives that donít really FIX the problem anyway. Enter my friend Brian Jackson who stepped up, designed and made a drop on gearbox using NWSL components.† It is a machinistís work of art. I cannot thank Brian enough for what he did.
On 12-27-16 I gave them 1 last test run before painting. They both now have a WOW4 decoder and surface mount LED for a headlight. I doubleheaded them this time. They ran perfectly together. Next stop is the paint shop.
Painting has begun
This shows the new gearbox in the drive and tender truck. I hate running wires between the loco and tender. This is the pick up wire for the insulted side of the tender. I have a decoder in the tender just to run the back up light.
The tender at left is before, or as built from Omnicon. This is for 1788. The tender at right is after my modernization.
1788 had Trainphone antennas which as of 1-1-17 I have not made that tender yet.
Let it be known that I HATE MASKING. I have a lot of patience for modeling but I absolutely HATE it. Every second spent masking, is painful for me. I could probably get away with less masking if I brush painted some areas, but I canít let myself do that. It took 4 hours each per tender and about 3 hours each per boiler. It all comes off in about 2 minutes. I remove it before baking because I donít trust the masking tape to come off cleanly and not damage the paint.
My friend Gus has asked why I paint in this order. I apply the minor colors first make the last coat that is most of the locomotive. I could not see how or why I should mask most of the locomotive.
Painting was done between Christmas and New Years.
What a monumental happy day for me. The L1 are the first new steam loco paint jobs completed in over 4 years when I finished K4 5495. The gearbox issue kept them in the box as they were about to get painted when the 5495 gearbox failed.
I am very happy with cast numberplates. Nothing like a little 3D design and casting to separate your models from the rest.
PRR L1 Pilot Model
This is the first S Scale L1, the pilot model owned by my friend Dan.
It was painted by my friend Charlie Carangie in about 2005.
Pilot models can be a collectors item in themselves, because they are one of ONE. That abolutely is the case with this L1, because it is the only model made in the run that was modernized. The rest were made as before the modernizatrion. The moderization would have saved me a lot of work! This model also has more lead weight in the boiler than I have EVER seen on ANY brass model. It was SOLID lead as soon as you take the boiler front off. Charlie painted it because I was not interested in trying to get a headlight wire through that boiler weight.† I have no idea how they did it other then pouring melted lead in the boiler.
This is the only time in almost 30 years of being in S Scale I have ever seen 3 L1 in one place, paitned or not.
My L1 are running perfectly pulling 60 cars Ė over 40 feet long. They are not consisted here. I use 2 NCE throttles.
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