Monthly Archives: May 2019

11001 Bulleid Shunter (Judith Edge)

Five Shunter Challenge Pt13: Chassis Jiggery Pokery

It’s any wonder that any of the kit manufacturers stay in business with the speed at which their customers make their models (if I am a representative customer). I have heard it suggested that 75% of the kits purchased never get built anyway. I’m trying hard to get past this myself, by building a whole bunch of locomotives at the same time, but even this has taken much longer than I would have preferred.

The Five Shunter Challenge was my way of forcing myself to crack on with making models and to try and make myself worry less about everything being perfect, or there being an ‘ideal’ time to do this. Life often makes it clear that there is rarely an ideal time for anything and you just need to crack on!

The challenge had a good flow through 2014-2015 but it came to a grinding hold in July 2015 and I am only now starting to reacquaint myself with where I left the challenge back in 2015. I wrote a blog about my previous attempt at remembering.

The original plan was to build all of the locomotive chassis’ first, which has now almost been achieved (except for one loco).

The final chassis enters construction!

The Hawthorn Leslie 0-6-0DE has been lagging behind all of the other models in the challenge, and today I decided to change that and start work on the chassis.

After some test fitting and a bit of filing, I plucked up the courage to set up the side frame on my chassis jig and soldered down the one set of axle brushes in a fixed axle. The balance beams were also soldered up on the chassis rig, but I put some paper between the beams and the side frame (to prevent the beams soldering to the side frames). I then soldered the spacers onto one side of the frame and then soldered the opposite part of the frame on top of it all. This was all achieved easily by lining up the jig using the locos coupling rods. I had to widen the holes in the rods a little to do it, but I only used x2 parts of a layered etch, so I don’t think there will be any issues with the final coupling rods.

English Electric/Hawthorn Leslie 0-6-0DE (Judith Edge Kits)

English Electric/Hawthorn Leslie 0-6-0DE (Judith Edge Kits) on the chassis jig with coupling rods fitted to the jig axles.

English Electric/Hawthorn Leslie 0-6-0DE (Judith Edge Kits)

Spacers soldered onto one side of the chassis frame for English Electric/Hawthorn Leslie 0-6-0DE (Judith Edge Kits)

The pivot hole is missing from the balance beams (as described in the instructions), but it is easy to mark up and drill out once you have everything in the right place.

English Electric/Hawthorn Leslie 0-6-0DE (Judith Edge Kits)

Drilling out the hole to pivot the compensation balance beams for English Electric/Hawthorn Leslie 0-6-0DE (Judith Edge Kits)

The chassis came together really easily, but I can tell that I have slightly twisted one of the balance beams, as the axles can be a little tense within the chassis.

English Electric/Hawthorn Leslie 0-6-0DE (Judith Edge Kits)

The completed chassis for the English Electric/Hawthorn Leslie 0-6-0DE (Judith Edge Kits)

English Electric/Hawthorn Leslie 0-6-0DE (Judith Edge Kits)

The underneath of the chassis for the English Electric/Hawthorn Leslie 0-6-0DE (Judith Edge Kits) including compensation balance beams

Fixing previous (and forgotten) chassis mistakes

My poor model of the Bulleid Paxman 11001 Shunter hasn’t really had any work progressed on it since January 2015 (see the previous blog), where I built the balance beam system. Upon returning to the Five Shunter Challenge, I was somewhat perplexed as to why the balance beams had been removed.

11001 Bulleid Shunter (Judith Edge)

The compensation balance beams and chassis for 11001 Bulleid Shunter (Judith Edge)

I think I removed them because there wasn’t enough clearance to include the width of the axle brushes AND the gearbox brushes, or they just came free in a test fitting (the real is lost to time and a bad memory).

Although I was happy with fitting the balance beams using track pins, I did find this left them quite vulnerable to being de-soldered while testing fitting parts and I would really like to find a way of ensuring the balance beams stay flush to the insides of the frames. I have seen someone use springs threaded around the axles to achieve this, so I might try this later today.

For now, I have replaced the track pins with a single brass rod which feels much more structurally sound. The brass rod doesn’t stop the balance beams flapping around inside the chassis, but it greatly reduced the chance of them breaking free (as they are fixed at either side of the chassis).

11001 Bulleid Shunter (Judith Edge)

The compensation balance beams and lower gearbox for the 11001 Bulleid Shunter (Judith Edge)

How does everyone else keep their balance beams flush to the side frames?

The next step for this loco is to build up the gearbox.

P.S. I see Mr Edge of Judith Edge Kits has responded with some suggestions as to how to fix the balance beams flush, so I will try out some of his suggestions some other time

Here are some notes on progress for each of the locos:

x5 Shunter Challenge Progress

BR Class 02 Diesel ShunterDJH

Chassis complete and ready for final bodywork and paintshop

Sentinel post war 100HP 0-4-0VBTRT Models

The Sentinel chassis and gearbox is complete, other than fitting a white metal ash pan beneath the chassis, which I didn’t do as it doesn’t quite fit, and I wanted to fit the body first. I am itching to fold up the frames, but I am going to try and hold back for now. Annoyingly, a few very fine bits of etched details have been bent out of shape while I played with the etched frames (that will teach you not to fiddle with things, Tom), but I have unbent the damaged bits for the moment.

Ruston & Hornsby 88DSJudith Edge

The Ruston 88DS has a completed chassis and gearbox and is also ready for the frame build. Both this kit and the sentinel have the same super small gearbox.

For some reason, I seem to have removed the inner plastic wheels from the tyres, and I can’t remember why (it might have been to do with rust).

11001Judith Edge

The balance beams are re-attached using brass rod across the chassis frame, but I may still include a different system of keeping them flush to the side frames. This loco also has a High Level Kits slimline chassis to be fitted, and I have started building the motor harness, but never got around to fitting the gears.

English Electric/Hawthorn Leslie 0-6-0DEJudith Edge

The Hawthorn Leslie chassis is complete and balance beams are fitted. Similar to 11001, it needs a method of keeping the balance beams flush to the frames. There is also the outside frame to consider too (and the gearbox).

Grasslands Out!!!

Fowler 0-6-0DM Diesel Shunter (Backwoods Miniatures)

Fowler 0-6-0DM (Backwoods Miniatures) Chassis Test

For a very long time now I have been mulling over the build of this tiny little narrow gauge diesel shunter. I think I asked for it on my birthday in my teens and it likely sat in storage for about 10 years before I ever plucked up the courage to attempt to build it. Even that was probably 10 years ago, but anyway… here we are!

My first attempt at building the body required the punching of rivets into the partly formed rivet moulds in the nickel silver etched sheet, which stopped me from working on this model for most of those 10-something years. I eventually plucked up the courage to have a go and I used a small steel rivet punch (that looks like a large needle) and a small hammer. Unfortunately, I thoroughly wrecked the bonnet of the model, created badly matched rivets and made the model look like it had been in some kind of accident with a heard of cows.

I kindly asked the proprietor of Backwoods Miniatures if I could trouble him for a fresh set of etches, which I required for around about £30. I then bought myself a proper miniature rivet punch to avoid such things ever happening again.

I also put together the chassis and gearbox and I think it was one of the first ones that I ever built. Returning to the model after a 12-month break (maybe longer), I decided to have a good look at how well the model is running before I take the plunge and start fitting outside frame coupling rods.

My tests have shown that the pick-up arrangement seems to work fine. I remember modifying it slightly so that it didn’t put too much adverse friction on the free running wheels. The model sits on the rear axle in the smaller of the two bonnets and does seem to struggle to gain traction often with the driving axle spinning with no discernable movement.

Fowler 0-6-0DM Diesel Shunter (Backwoods Miniatures)

Fowler 0-6-0DM Diesel Shunter (Backwoods Miniatures)

Weighting it down correctly seems to be the potential key to success, but I am mindful that all of the wheels will be very reliant on the coupling rods forcing them into motion from the lone driving axle. Luckily for me, it may be possible to make the coupling rods a bit more robust by soldering two sets together (as I have two sheets of parts). This also means I have a couple of chances to get it right without wrecking the coupling rods.

I have practiced with putting two weights on top of each bonnet to see what the ideal balance of weight is to achieve smooth running across all axles, but it does seem to escape me somewhat. I wondered whether the body was rocking on the axles, but I have checked and it seems fine (although, the gearbox rocks a little when in motion). So far the best arrangement involves dropping the weight into the cab (as I am starting to suspect that the patchy stop-start running is something to do with the middle axle.

I have tested all the pick-ups and it seems to work very well with its live-chassis arrangement, but it does need a fair amount of power (between 50 and 80 on my Gaugemaster controller) to get it moving.

Although it would be nice to see it running better, I think it can only be improved by taking the risk and fitting the outside frame coupling rods and seeing how the model copes with having all the wheels connected to the motion. When will I do this? Who knows, it still seems a bit scary. 😉

Grasslands Out!

Rapido Model Rail Skirtless J70 Steam Tram

J70 Steam Tram Sound Project

It will be no major surprise to those that follow my blog that the release of Model Rail Magazine and Rapido Trains’ J70 Steam Tram is something that I am very excited about.

The main motive power on Brewery Pit is based around these little steam trams that originally operated on the Wisbech and Upwell branchline with some of the trams finding their way to Ipswich and Yarmouth docks in the later part of their lives.

I have built two kits of these steam trams so far. One resin cast J70 from a Silverfox kit and a brass version of the earlier Y6 0-4-0 from a now-defunct Connoisseur kit.

I have always had a dream of scratch building a ‘skirtless’ J70 steam tram so all of the valve gear could be on display. I even started a forum topic on RMweb about this, but it seemed that I would likely have to create a small chassis myself as there was no propriety chassis with such a small wheelbase available.

Model Rail/Rapido Trains J70

To my complete surprise Model Rail then announced that they planned to commission Rapido Trains to create a J70 with open and closed front door options and ‘skirted’, ‘skirtless’, and ‘partially skirted’ versions.

I was lucky enough to run an early prototype of the Rapido Trains J70 back in December while exhibiting Brewery Pit at the National Festival of Railway Modelling and I found it to be a lovely smooth runner, which easily navigated the tram lines on my layout.

I have now ordered three of these little tram critters, each with a slightly different skirt arrangement. That takes my total steam tram locomotive stock up to x5. I keep considering getting another skirted version, but I need to stop listening to that wanting (and expensive) voice in my head.

Excessive Steam trams

Excessive Steam trams

DCC Equipment

Mind you, the model is hardly expensive in terms of a OO gauge model in 2019. At £127, with a range of extras in the box and a booklet, it really is a bargain for such a fine quality item. I also discovered that the model comes pre-installed with a sugar cube speaker, thus reducing the cost of installing DCC sound.

I asked the advice of my friend John Gay of JMRC what can be squeezed into the limited area of the chassis in terms of digital circuitry for sound and he advised I focus on Zimo decoders, so I set myself the task of attempting to not only fit sound to one of these tiny steam trams but to also fit a stay alive capacitor in the limited space.

I purchased a Zimo MX6496N 6-pin sound decoder and purchased a J70 sound pack from Digitrains which came pre-installed on the sound chip, a sugar cube speaker (not realising that the model included one already installed) and a tiny SACC16 stay alive charging circuit.

I decided to fit the sound decoder to the ‘skirtless’ version of the J70 as I thought it would be great to see the valve gear in motion as it chuffs in sequence with the wheels. I noticed a certain clunky movement to this tram while performing running-in duties on the rolling road, and decided to swap out the chassis for the one in my partially skirted model (which ran a little smoother). Now don’t get me wrong, both are excellent runners, but I wanted my first sound fitted steam model to be as smooth as possible.

DCC Equipment for the J70

DCC Equipment for the J70

Chassis Removal

Removing the chassis is very simple, but care needs to be taken with how you hold the chassis as you don’t want to damage or interfere with the valve gear which is designed to fit in an incredibly tight space.

Four tiny screws easily release the chassis from the main body of the loco with the full chassis lifting out of a slot within the diecast moulding of the trams skirts, revealing beneath that diecast boiler is hollowed out to fit the coreless motor and speaker inside.

On the chassis, the little speaker is taped down above the worm gear on a small square bracket with red and black wires prepared for soldering onto the sound decoder. There is a six-pin socket at and circuit board at the front of the chassis that will take the Zimo decoder.

Chassis of the J70

Chassis of the J70

DCC Sound and ‘Stay Alive’ Charging Circuit

The Zimo decoder does not come pre-fitted with a harness to attach the stay alive capacitor, so it requires soldering directly onto the positive ground and negative outputs. In order to do this and allow the Zimo sound decoder to easily fit in the gap between the 6-pin harness and the speaker, I had to first shorter the 6 pins so they fit flush in the harness and then I cut away some of the plastic insulation from the decoder to allow me to access the outputs for the stay alive charging circuit.

The SACC16 charging circuit is a very interesting design, which allows for the installation of various extra capacitors and tantalums (strange yellow bricks which act as a small capacitor). The pack comes with one tantalum and x1 14v capacitor, but there is no way the larger 14v capacitor will fit inside the hollowed out boiler of the steam tram. For now, I decided to fit the tantalum and I might fit an extra tantalum when I install sound in my next tram. As the decoder and SACC16 are so tiny to solder reliably, I decided to utilise some solder paste that I purchased a few months ago, which can simply be rubbed onto the connection area with a cocktail stick and is a mix of flux and solder particles; all you have to do is touch the soldering iron on the paste and it suddenly becomes molten metal for those few precious seconds until it goes nice and hard.

SACC16 Charging Circuit

SACC16 Charging Circuit

I tested the sound decoder on my decoder tester which includes its own speaker. I do this to ensure that the decoder is working fine before I attempt to install it within the locomotive. I then tested the decoder on the steam tram chassis with both of the sugar cube speakers (the pre-installed one and the one that I purchased). Unfortunately for me, the temporary wired speaker arrangement created a short circuit, which burnt out my expensive sound decoder, leaving me in dismay for one evening, but luckily I was told that Digitrains operate a decoder repair service for £18 and sure enough, I had a replacement decoder sent out to me for the easter bank holiday.

It soon became apparent that the pre-installed speaker operates perfectly fine and sounds a little better than the purchased sugar cube in my sonic opinion. In addition, it isn’t possible to install the more oblong-shaped sugar cube speaker into the boiler as the boiler is clearly pre-moulded to accommodate the pre-installed speaker.

I found that if both the SACC16 and the sound decoder are taped down and sit lower than the speaker, near the front of the loco, then the whole package of electronics and motors will easily fit back inside the under-frame of the tram.

J70 Chassis with Zimo Decoder and SACC16 Stay Alive Charging Circuit

J70 Chassis with Zimo Decoder and SACC16 Stay Alive Charging Circuit

Here is a video of the steam tram sound FX in action. Apparently, the sound files included on the decoder include x3 different engine sound packages including heavy loaded engine, light engine and an extra broken cylinder version (which needs to be unlocked with CV values). The sound is very effective and realistic, but I will reduce the volume on the bell as it sounds a bit loud to my ears.

Windows and Details

Next, I pushed out the moulded windows with a cotton bud and replaced them with the etched windows provided in the detail pack. These require the windows to be cut to shape from acetate or plasticard. This is quite a fiddly operation and I found that it was easiest to cut the perspex to the correct shape and then paste the edges with non-frosting superglue and then drop the window frame down onto the plasticard and move it into position.

J70 Window Frames

J70 Window Frames

Completed J70 Windows

Completed J70 Windows

I then glued the windows in place in an open position, as I imagine it was blumming hot in these little sheds!

I also included a little lamp, which is actually unpainted white metal, which I have dabbed a bit of the non-frosting superglue to so it looks like a bulb. I would have really liked to wire the lamp up, but it is complicated to see how it can be done without drilling through the diecast under-frame, but I still may need to find a way to do that in order to fix my preferred couplings to the model, but that will have to wait until next time.

DCC J70 with Sound on Brewery Pit

DCC J70 with Sound on Brewery Pit

Grasslands out!