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Lionel’s Welding Cars
By Jonathan Bonds

This car was first cataloged by Lionel as #6-26707 Lionel Steel Operating Welding Flatcar in the 2000 catalogue Volume 1; as #6-26764 Bethlehem Steel Welding Car in the 2001 catalogue Volume 2; and continues as #6-36701 Baldwin Locomotive Works Welding Car into the 2002 catalogue Volume 2 and the current 2003 catalogue Volume 1.

They consist of a flatcar with a work shack on one end. In the middle of the flatcar is a long toolbox and an arc-welding generator. At the end opposite the work shack is the welder figure and a pallet with a fifth wheel trailer stanchion that is being “repaired”. As the car moves along the track, the welder moves up to the stanchion and begins welding, and flashing blue light begins to emanate from the work area. The car comes with die-cast trucks and couplers, runs on 0-27 or larger radius track, and is 10½ inches long.

To create the effect of the flashing blue light that is produced by arc welding, a blue
LED has been set into the trailer stanchion. The welder stands in front of the stanchion on a pivoting arm that is connected with a linkage arm to the rest of the mechanism inside the work shack. The idea is that the LED flashes when the welder moves up to the stanchion and begins work. When the welder moves back from the trailer stanchion, the LED stops flashing.

 

Operation of the car is put in motion by a worm-and-spur gear mechanism under one truck, as is used with some other modern operating cars, such as the aquarium cars.


The turning gear shaft transfers motion from the gears, up through the floor of the flatcar to an irregularly shaped eccentric piece. A pivoting arm is mounted to the floor of the flatcar by the edge of the eccentric piece. On one end of this pivoting arm is a bearing point that rides against the irregular edge of the eccentric piece.

 

The other end of the pivoting arm is connected to the linkage to the welder. A tension spring keeps the bearing point against the irregular edge of the eccentric piece. As the bearing point follows the irregular edge of the eccentric piece, the pivoting arm moves back and forth and imparts to-and-fro motion to the welder at the trailer stanchion.


A small electronic circuit board controls the flashing LED, its circuit energized when the rear surface of the bearing point riding on the irregular edge of the eccentric piece pushes against the spring arm of a micro-switch. The only remaining part inside the work shack is a metal weight, apparently to ensure that there is no slippage of the truck wheels turning the gear mechanism.

This car is a good-looking car, and a really neat idea. The graphics and detail add to the attractiveness of this car, and the flashing blue LED gives a reasonable illusion of the glow from arc welding in progress. If the car has a weakness, it is in the movement of the welder. To begin with there isn’t much movement. And as the car travels around the track, the welder’s slight movements are lost in the motion of the train. Surely Lionel could have come up with a more effective mechanism to give the welder more obvious movements, easier to see as the train travels down the track.

The effectiveness of the welder image is also negatively impacted by the fact that the welder never really gets close to the trailer stanchion. And the separation between the welder and the stanchion is so great that it makes it hard to complete the illusion that the welder is creating the flashing arc light with his work. Again, Lionel should have done a better job during development of this car so that the welder actually got close to his work.

Lionel says that if you stop the car while the welder is still “welding” the trailer stanchion (i.e. the blue LED is flashing), no harm will be done if the car is left with the welding light flashing. This could be a common occurrence if you are running your trains in a Command mode when power remains on the track even when the train is stopped. This leads to another potential application for the Welding Car besides going down the track in the midst of your train. The car could be parked on an energized siding and the welder left to do his work on the trailer stanchion. And if you do this, you can ease the welder forward close to the trailer stanchion so that it really does look like he is doing the welding.

One word of caution. If you decide to go “under-the-hood” for some reason, remove the two screws under the rear of the work shack nearest the coupler. Then carefully lift the loosened rear of the work shack up slightly and ease it toward the rear. It will slide out of the front key and disengage. Do not remove the long machine screws under the front of the work shack. If you do, the large metal weight will come loose inside the car, and reassembly can be a real challenge. Plus, it serves no purpose. There are no screws holding the front of the work shack in place, only the slide-in keeper. To replace the work shack, carefully align the slotted lower front edge of the work shack with the keeper slot while holding the work shack at a slight angle, than ease it forward into the keeper slot. At the rear, the tabbed shim will probably have dropped out at some point. Just align the screw holes in the work shack with the screw holes in the flatcar (do this from the bottom) and the tabbed shim (flat side up) should snap into the slot in the floor of the flatcar, making a snug fit of the work shack when the two assembly screws are tightened.

 
 
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