Friday, September 17, 2021

Tiger - my first home-built garden railway locomotive

Tiger wasn't my first scratchbuilt locomotive, that was a OO gauge Hunslet, but he is the first garden railway locomotive I built from scratch. At the time we had a Mamod steamer, but it was pretty uncontrollable, and I felt a battery electric loco would be a better idea. Of course, in the 1980s, my funds for this sort of thing were incredibly limited. 

What emerged from my workbench, isn't the most realistic in the world. The design is pragmatic. Square edges because that's what's easiest to cut in 2mm Plastikard. Side skirts because I needed to hide the wheels. Even I knew they weren't realistic. 

Underneath, the chassis is a rectangle of square brass tube soldered up, from which dangle running gear made from Coopercraft 16mm parts. Handily, these were available as a reasonably priced pack, but no loco ever ran on curly-spoked wheels. 

Power is a cheap motor driving a single axle through some Proops (remember them?) pound pack gears. 3 AA batteries provide the go, and a DPDT switch the control. To say the model runs slowly would be to underestimate it's lack of forward progress. Plenty of power though, you just better be not in a hurry. 

The body detail owes a lot to old plastic kit cars. While the model might not be fast, it's powered (apparently) by a honking great V8 engine. I have no idea why its mounted back to font, and I didn't really understand which bits were engine and which gearbox. 

Crew is an Action Jack figure with a paper overall to hide the joints in his lets, and some Milliput hair. The headlight is a Playmobil cup with the handle cut off and wires added. I suspect the lens comes from the spares box - I never threw bits away. 

Tiger hasn't run for a while, although he still works. I suppose Marjorie Kondo would declutter him to the bin, but I prefer he sits on the bookshelves behind me when I'm on Zoom calls. We all have to start somewhere, and shouldn't forget that modellers develop, they aren't born.


Thursday, September 16, 2021

Small layouts in Garden Rail

 Do you fancy building a garden railway, but worry you don't have the space?

Fear not – this month we feature five different large scale model railways to inspire you and cast aside all those space worries. Whether you can find the space in your garage, or need to fill the patio, we have something for everyone.

Back at the workbench, there are livestock wagons to build, a remote-controlled scale car and an Irish railcar.

All this plus the latest product news for the enthusiast including a review of Roundhouse Engineering's Palmertson “Small England” live steam locomotive.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Motor and gearbox


I'm still rusty at kit building, but some things are starting to come back to me. The gearbox in this kit seems familiar for a start. 

 The etch looks a bit hand-drawn. That's not a bad thing if done properly - the method is to work 4X normal size, so any errors are reduced when the parts are etched. To be honest, using a ruler and pair of compasses, an accurate part shouldn't be beyond the wit of man.  

Anyway, the first job is to work out which of the half-etched holes should be drilled out to fit the motor. The compasses quickly establish this - I think I've done it by eye in the past and things haven't gone well, but this time there's no problem at all. 

One common feature is that the hole for the motor boss is too small - no problem to open out with the tapered reamer, but if you've not done this before it might be off putting. Do NOT just screw the motor to the metal without opening out the hole, you'll bend things in a very bad way. 

More opening out is required for the axle bearing holes. Again, easy with the right tool and not bad practise as over-large holes are a nightmare to deal with and model railway etching isn't always as precision a craft as we might like. 

A much bigger problem arises when it's time to fit the worm gear. The one supplied had a great big, fat boss with the grub screw in it. It's so fat, that we find the motor is fitted off-centre in the cradle and the boss rubs on one side. Bad enough to stop the motor turning. I have no idea why this is, but it shouldn't happen.

A bit of fiddling around and it seems I can mount the gear backwards on the motor spindle with the boss just clearing he crown gear. 

Now, I seem to remember this being a show-stopper in the past with replacement gearboxes being the order of the day. Hopefully, I'll get away with it this time...

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Pink chassis cleaning


It seems that Shiny Sinks, my favoured cleaner for post-soldering sessions on etched locomotive kits is no more. Maybe my annual purchase of a bottle wasn't enough to keep the company afloat or something. Whatever, I need an alternative. 

Cue, much rummaging around in the cupboard under the kitchen sink to see what could be found. I'm sure that most people have far more cleaners than really required, unless you are one of those annoyingly smug people who use vinegar for everything and tell us it's a miracle that we don't know about. 

Anyway, nothing really seemed to work. Not stainless steel cleaner, Cillit Bang (Bang and the flux is still there!) but then I gave The Pink Stuff a go. And it worked. 

I've no idea what is in this bubblegum coloured paste, but apply, leave for a minute and then scrub away with the old toothbrush and it works. This is annoying as anything that describes itself as "The Miracle Cleaning Paste" or looks like something you buy from one of those market stalls where the vendor uses a microphone to keep up some running patter, should be rubbish. 

It should also be expensive, and this stuff is a quid a pot. Bargain. And Vegans can eat it too, what more do you want?

Monday, September 13, 2021

Chassis on the jig


Since this is a blog build, and not a magazine one, I can use any bit of fancy-pants kit at my disposal, without worrying how anyone else will be able to do the same. Hence, out comes my Hobby Holidays chassis jig. 

It needed a little freeing up, but nothing that some WD40 and remembering to slacken ALL the Allen bolts wouldn't cure. 

The rods were carefully set to match the spacing of the conrods, reminding me that I never got around to ordering the set with smaller ends that actually fit into the crank pin holes. Still, I think I'm accurate enough. 

Once the chassis sides and spacers were soldered up, I put it on the jig with the bearings. Or at least I did once I'd opened out the centre holes and huge along (at least 1mm) as they seemed to be in the wrong place. The ends are fine, and using the jig, this isn't a problem - just slosh plenty of solder around and let it sort itself out. The gas torch was handy here as there's a lot of heat absorbing metal. 

Once cool, I cleaned it up and then remembered I've run out of Shiny Sinks cleaner and need to find a replacement before the flux stars going green.