Under the Hood of the Black Ike
By John S Halajko
To those of us who visited the TCA meet at York this October,
Weaver treated us to something very special. The ACE Trains
A4 Pacifics have arrived. In real life, there were 35 of their
beautiful engines of which the British Railways Board No. 60008
Dwight D. Eisenhower (ex-London & North Eastern Railway
No. 4496 Golden Shuttle) is on display at the Nation Railroad
Museum in Green Bay Wisconsin
Unfortunately, you can’t see the real engine at this
site. However, the Brits do things right and you can get reasonably
good photos of the English styled locomotives at http://www.nrm.org.uk/.
After a few moments you can take the extended tour of this
worthy site or cut to the chase and select the interactive
tour icon to view MALLARD, the world’s fastest steamer,
and the real big bother to my Black Ike. Please note the high
gloss paint job on the real Mallard. Looks like the high gloss
finish that Jerry Williams used to give us at no extra charge
has its roots in real stuff.
Dwight D. Eisenhower became Lord Eisenhower and as part of
the English appreciation of his leadership in the War Effort,
one their fabulous high speed A4 Pacifics, was renamed to honor
him in September of 1945. The ACE model you will see here has
his name on the engine before the new paint job. During the
war all the A4s were painted black and had their skirting removed.
This engine is the first die cast offering for ACE Trains.
It features a fully functional six wheel flanged drive train
which has been optimized to run on O-Gauge tubular track, O42
curves or larger. The durability of its energy saving dual
motor drive system will soon become legendary. It is guaranteed
for 500 hours of operation which translates to about 50 Christmas
seasons for the average operator.
When I performance tested this puppy; I used a DC transformer
of 8 watts. However, I was successful in running only the engine
on my faithful 5.6 watt HO transformer for about 30 minutes
before the transformer circuit breaker blew. Many have asked
me why I run an ACE trains on DC power packs. It’s for
the convenience of having the reverse at my finder tips. The
ACE reverse board allows for AC or DC operation. The AC has
a manual reverse feature. With DC operation, the reverse button
is on the HO transformer.
When I test run new engines, I like to break them in on a
Teflon lube like the one sold at your local Radio Shack as “Archer
Professional Lube Gel”. I ran on the factory lube for
15 minutes and was experiencing the raspy sound that was noted
in the owner's manual. So I popped some Teflon lube onto the
gear train, ran the lube into the gears by manually rotating
the main drive gear with my thumb. Voila, instant peace and
With a consist of five of the older design ACE coaches, the
engine sans its boiler shell does not have enough traction.
The wheels will just spin. Put on the boiler shell and she
takes off and cruises. I test ran this beast using on an 8
watt HO transformer to see how well it will hold up for a 15
minute run of pure railroading fun. Result: absolutely no problems
although the transformer was warm to the touch. Note, my double
heading tests of two of ACE's former engines made it on only
5.6 watts HO transformers for over one hour. The secret to
this superior performance is the use of high torque battery
powered screwdriver motors. One really slick design. However,
I wish Andries and company used the same mounting system as
Lionel or MTH with flywheels, but I guess Europeans like to
accel and decel manually. I have almost gotten the bug after
a few minutes. Real engineers just do it so try it out for
yourself when you run next time.
No sound, no smoke and no electric couplers, equals less hassles.
My test track is Lionel tubular O72, but the unit will run
on O42 track as shown on the Weaver flyer below. One note of
caution: this puppy is optimized to run on tubular track. If
you run it on Atlas, MTH or Gargraves T rail track, clean the
track and place some foam rubber under each tender spoons using
double-sided tape. This will add more pickup force to the spoons
and help compensate for the dirty track. Expect the angle on
the drive wheels to make only point contact to the inside edge
of the T rail track. This will lower the consist pull capability,
but I am not a big fan of running long consists. There are
just too many problems with those younger engineers. So I keep
my total train length to less than 12 feet.
Like other ACE engines, I could not get this puppy to run
through the Atlas High Speed Switch. Normal O72 switches are
no problem. To allow Ike to do more, I added an American coupler
to the tender by using a junk box K-Line GG1 unit and a metric
screw that I purchased from my local ACE Hardware store. Yepper,
ACE is the place to get those hard to find metric screws for
your toy trains. One can also use the coupler from MTH Rail
King steamers or the one from the Lionel Post War diesels like
the GP9. Both of these couplers are just a tad too long, but
they will work satisfactory. One note of caution if you elect
to add a Lionel styled coupler to the A4: the box may not accommodate
the coupler. Test before removing the foam lining.
Thomas and Percy admire the
craftsmanship of this near museum
quality engine that has a detailed crew cab with firebox
glow and lots of other details. Percy, just being a Percy asked, “Why
does his firebox door stay open all the time?” Thomas
knew why; something this large is always hungry. The fireman
has to shovel often to keep up steam. They both look forward
to the many new adventures that the Black Ike will share with
Inside the box is a set of die cast seats, a nice touch for
your shelf display of this piece. Anybody know of a good source
of engineer and fireman figures in English uniforms? In the
mean time, a pair of Legos guys may show up in my crew cab.
Save Energy, Run ACE Trains.
The Engine Surgeon