Wednesday, November 03, 2010


Jeff askes:
I have had passed on to me a more or less mint and definitely complete GEM 56XX '00' whitemetal kit - I happened to mention I'd never made a kit but fancied giving it a try and hey Preston. I think I'll be ok with soldering iron and/or glue, having built and electrified several static layouts, but am worried as in not quite panic struck about the chassis and electrifying the loco as this would be totally new ground for me. Frankly I wouldn't know where to begin. Is there a source of rtr chassis and could I butcher one to fit? Or am I better off saying 'That which does not destroy me or at least glue my fingers permanently to the modelling bench makes me strong' and getting hold of a chassis kit (?) and motor gears etc (?) and having a go? If so, wherefrom?

Oh the joys of your first locomotive kit. I remember back in the good old days nervously poking soldering irons at bits of metal, terrified that I'd only produce some mangled metal covered in solder.

First up, the RTR chassis option: Forget it. If you are doing this you might as well buy a Bachmann loco and save the grief of building the kit. Making the kit fit the RTR chassis, which might be available as a spare, won't be easy either since it will means carving away whitemetal to clear the motor as well as figuring out a way of attaching body to underpinning.

My suggestion would be to go for the full on kit approach. I can't vouch for the quality having never seen one, but Kit Connection claim to produce something for this model. At 19 quid it's not expensive BUT of course you will still need to buy motor, wheels and gears. I'd suggest Romfords and something from Branchlines in the way of motorising gear. Yes, the cost will be more than the Bachmann model and you need to get over this I'm afraid.

As you say, what doesn't singe your fingers too much, makes you strong. Get the first loco over with and you'll find that you can build anything you want. Yes, there will be frustrations and you'll need to put the model aside and come back to it more than once. In the end though, there is little in this hobby to beat watching a loco you built running up and down. I know I keep saying this but it's true.

Anyway, you'll be wanting some chassis building tips. I can only refer you to an old blog post which I think will help.

Good luck. If you go down the route I suggest, feel free to chuck more questions my way and please send photos of the model. And please don't hurt anyone who says, "Is it Bachmann mister" too much will you !

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