Athearn Mike - Adding weight

Nelson Kennedy <nelsonk@...>

Following on from a previous post about weighting the Athearn Mike I have
received the following from Wayne Long about how he went about making the

Nelson Kennedy
Christchurch, New Zealand
NZR 0 gauge and some Espee H0 at:
Stuff for 1:32 models are at

Hey, Y'all,

Back a few days, I told y'all what I did to improve the pullin' power
of my Athearn Mike. For those who remembers, it was addin' lead
weight in the smokebox.

Since that there post, there has been a goodly number of off-line
e-mails thankin' me and askin' for information on makin' that lead
weight I put in the smokebox. I really appreciate you'all's interest
in this here operation. So, here goes.

I used plumbin' lead. Y'all can buy it at plumbin' supply stores
that serve the plumbin' trade. In these parts lead costs 'bout $.75
a pound, and comes in 5-pound ingots, alone, or 5 of 'em together for
a 25 pound purchase. All y'all need do is melt the lead and pour it
into a mold.

To make the mold, measure the inside diameter of the smokebox. Get a
cardboard tube of the same inside diameter. I made mine by cuttin'
some from a mailin' tube that was too wide. Used duct tape to hold
the tube together at the cut. I made the tube 'bout 1 1/8" long.
Next, I went out back an' drilled a hole in the ground and set the
tube in the hole just more 'an halfway. I tamped the dirt real good
at the end of the tube and packed dirt 'round the tube in the hole.
I did all this for safety. Didn't want the tube to turn over as I
wuz pourin' the lead. If y'all want a neater end on the weight, drop
a card board disk down the tube before you pour lead into it.

Before y'all can melt the lead it has to be cut up. Now, the
plumbers melt 5 pounds at a time in a plumbin' ladle. I didn't need
5 pounds of lead for my Mike and didn't have a plumbers ladle, nohow.
What I had was one of them stainless steel gravy ladles I picked up
for 2 dollars once. I bent the handle so's it would stick out to the
side. I wrapped duct tape 'round it to make a better grip.

Now, 'bout safety. Wear eye protection and gloves and long sleeves
when doin' these next steps.

Cut yourself a chunk of lead 'bout 4 ounces off'n that 5 pound ingot.
Use a wide cold chisel and a heavy hammer. Sawin' the lead's no
good. Takes too much time an' makes lead dust. Try weighin' the
chunk on the same scale y'all have for weighin' cars. locos, and such.

Put the lead chunk in the gravy ladle and heat it with a propane
torch from underneath. Keep heatin' the lead for a bit after it all
melts so's it stays molten when you take the ladle off the heat. I
poured the lead into the tube in the ground, fillin' the tube, and
turned off the torch.

I let the lead stay in the ground for more'an a few minutes so's it
could cool. It hardens almost right away but it's too hot to handle.

I dug up the tube and let the lead cool some more. Then I stripped
the card board away. I filed some high spots 'till the lead would
slide into the smokebox of the Mike from the front. I had to trim
some off'n one end 'cause it was too long. I had to file the edge
off one end to clear the tabs on the back of the smokebox front.
Don't forget to file a groove along the weight for wires in case
ya'll want a working headlight.

Now, I'm not a lead weight manufacturer, but if some of y'all out
there can't pour his own weight (variation of "pull his own weight".
?) 8) contact me off-line an' I might jus' be able to pour you a
Mike weight.

Can't hep thinkin' on takin' a number of small boxes with lead
weights in 'em to the Post Office counter to mail 'em to y'all and
bein' asked by the clerk "These boxes is heavy. What's in 'em, lead
weights?" and havin' to answer "Yep".

Wayne R. Long

Modellin' the ACL in 1950

And this further follow up:

From: Kenneth J Mock <>
Subject: Fw: Digest Number 483

I found an easy way to add lead is to use aluminum foil. Form the
foil inside the area you want to place the weight. Remove it gently
so as not to ruin it's shape. Place it on a piece of wood and support
it on the outside so it doesn't change its shape. Then you can fill
it with molten lead. You could also use lead shot, sold at Walmart
or your local gun shop and cover it with silicon or other material
to keep it in the aluminum. Works great for me.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving ! ! ! !

Have a great day,
Ken & Charlotte Mock