Tag Archives: Bachmann

BR Class 04 Diesel Tram at Speed: Day 4

On Sunday I completed my Drewery Class 04 tram. I sanded down some of the filler applied previously and fitted some loop couplings to the buffer beams. I also made up some three-link couplings and fitted a protection plate to the front and rear cowcatchers.

The original Bachmann whistle was filed down And fitted onto the front of the cab. Later versions of these trams had double horns fitted.

I fitted hand rails to the cab using split pins, which was quite a fiddly job. The original placement of the hand rails on the brass cab sides did not appear to be correct, so I adjusted them by filling in the previous holes and drilling new ones.

The final task was to create a mounting for the chassis. To do this I used some long bolts and drilled pilot holes into the plastic supports that are glued into the body.

Finally I sent the 04 on a test run of Brewery Pit. The body is a little low, as it bottoms out in a a few places, so I’ll adjust the height and then send the loco off to the paint shop.

The final part of ‘Modelling at Speed’ will be uploaded when the paint job is completed.

Please follow the link below for video of the Class 04 conversion so far:

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Heljan BR Class 05 Diesel Shunter Review (Pt1: Out of the box)

On friday Heljan’s new BR Class 05 arrived on my door step, so I thought I would let you know a thing or two about the model and the prototype:

The prototype
The Hunslet Engine Co 204hp 0-6-0 diesel mechanical was introduced in 1955 and ran in British Railways service until the late 1960s when most of the class was scrapped. A few examples continued life in Departmental and Industrial service and only four of the original fleet of 120 made it into preservation.

Much of their BR working life was spent in North-East England, Scotland, and North Wales.

Likeness to prototype

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This version of the model is based on the later design of the Hunslet, which featured a larger cab with more windows, longer and thicker buffer beam weights, oval buffers, and larger diameter wheels.

This later version only ran in BR Green while in BR service, so anyone who fancy’s modifying the model to its 1950s design will have a fair amount of work to do.

The model seems to match the prototype very well in terms of proportion and general appearance (based on the reference photography I own).

The model even features the coloured jack-shaft seen on many prototypes and the wheel castings are very accurate.

The wheel rims stand out in photography, but anyone planning to do some weathering on the model won’t be too concerned about this.

Level of detail
Heljan models have always featured a wealth of little details and extras. This model is one of the first Heljan diesels I have purchased that has all the details pre-fitted.

All of the details are very finely produced and rival recent Bachmann releases. In fact, you could be easily convinced that this is a Bachmann loco, rather than a Heljan model.

The most impressive bits of detail are the fine mesh that can just be seen between the radiator grills and the cab detail (which features control levers and buttons). The flush glazing is also very impressive.

Wires linking up the lamps are also included (it looks like these will light up). The blue wires that flop over the front buffer beam are also a nice touch.

Here is a turntable video which gives a good overview of the finer details including the etched makers plaque and the cab detail:

Handling
Care is still needed when picking it up as there are a number of details that will not last if frequently handled (including the plunger on the top of the bonnet and the hand rails near the buffer beam).

A few details were bent on the front of the model when I took it out of the box (a hand rail and the tips of the front lamps). I carefully re-adjusted them and reinforced them with some cyano-based super glue.

Chassis
It is a surprisingly ‘solid’ and weighty model. If the motor is good this should be a strong puller.

It rivals the weight of my white metal steam sentinel!

The chassis block and axles are nice and solid with none of that sloppy side-play seen in the Class 14.

The NEM coupling is masked by a colour matched block. I am yet to discover how the block is removed to take the NEM coupling (I might look at this in the next blog).

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Livery application
The BR livery is a convincing shade that matches well with other model manufacturer releases and has the green hue of BR Blue. All black areas are painted matt black.

Box and instructions
The boxes keeps the loco tightly in place, but at the cost of putting a little too much pressure on smaller details.

The instruction sheet has an error where it introduces the model as a Class 33 (Heljan’s previous release). This makes it a bit difficult to be certain whether some of the information that follows (including the motor spec) relates to the Class 33 or 05, but I presume the latter.

However, there is a lot of detail about the Hunslet’s service history included, including livery alternatives and class member allocations.

Conclusion
It is obvious that a lot of time has gone into getting the appearance of this shunter spot on. The weight of the shunter also bodes well for its running qualities, but that will have to wait until part 2.

BR Class 04 Diesel Tram at Speed: Day 3

So where were we? Oh yes, I remember… I was converting a Drewry Diesel Tram while filming the results (using time lapse recording). Here are the links to days 1 and 2.

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Here is the video:

Day 3 consisted of replacing the rather small buffers on the Bachmann Class 04 with the slightly larger versions used on the tram version. The donor for these buffers was a disused set of buffer beams from my Heljan Falcon (blink and you will miss it in the first few seconds of the video). I then added some brake pipes and hand rails. I firstly fitted the plastic versions that came with the Bachmann model, but decided they were horridly over sized. I decided to cut them off so I could replace them with wire versions instead.

I also fitted the small exhaust on the bonnet. The 1950s tram I am building has an exhaust pipe that is barely visible. As I have not seen any aerial shots of the bonnet I have made a guess as to what this might have looked like. A taller cylinder was attached to the exhaust in the later part of the 1950s, and I did find a pipe in my ‘bits box’ that matched this perfectly, but I forced myself to refrain and stick to my plan for a tram without a full chimney.

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I also noticed that the Bachmann version of the 04 has a step either side of the bonnet front that doesn’t appear to be present on the earlier tram types. I cut this off and added hand rails.

I finished off by filling in some of the gaps with model putty.

More to come in day 4….

Repairing a Bachmann 03 Diesel Shunter

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This British Rail Green diesel shunter belongs to my dad. He bought it from the Bachmann discount stand at Warley 2012. The motor seems to stall from time to time and I suggested I would have a look at it. Now 12 months have almost past, I think it is best I take a look.

I remember that the coupling rod appeared to be slightly bent on one of the rear cranks, so I suspected it could be an issue relating to the coupling rods jarring. After a quick run on the rolling road I whipped the body off.

The trickiest thing to do is to slide up the NEM couplings without breaking off the backing. The body screws are located beneath them. I have some special screw drivers designed to work with hexagonal bolts, which are very useful for removing coupling rods from RTR locos. Unfortunately, the pin that fixes in the crank at the back of the model isn’t hexagonal and won’t unscrew. Instead I removed the crank along with the coupling rod and used my ‘hold and fold’ tool to flatten the coupling rod back out. Stalling still seemed to be an issue, so I added a very thin washer beneath the crank to see if that would reduce the play in this area. In addition, I stretched out the pick-ups to increase contact with the wheels. As a final step I swapped around the front and rear axles and screwed the coupling rods back on.

I then set the shunter off at full speed on the rolling road, to see if this would remove any burrs that might be causing issues.

There have been no signs of stalling since. It was quite simple to create the stalling effect before the modifications, so maybe, just maybe I have sorted it out.

Wisbech and Upwell Tramway Video

I have just come across this lovely video of the fruit trains running across the Wisbech and Upwell tramway. This video links to the modelling at speed videos, which show my conversion of a Bachmann 04 Diesel Shunter into a W&U Diesel Tram.

I only wish there was some video footage of the J70 and Y6 steam trams. The narration incorrectly states that there were only two Y6 steam trams. I believe there were ten constructed in total, which were replaced by the J70 steam trams.

You may have noticed that there have not been many updates to the blog recently. This is because my flat is slowly being packed up in readiness for a move to Swindon in the next few days. This means that all current projects are now packed away safely for the move. Once I have unearthed my work bench and tools in my new home I will recommence updating the blog.

RTR ups and downs

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I have enjoyed some distance from the model railway hobby this year, and I am just starting to rekindle some interest for those long, dark winter months. Having been absent from the usual model railway forums for a while, I revisited and saw much discussion of quality control issues and demands for improvement from unhappy consumers and this got me thinking…

Are we modellers?

My collection of Ready To Run (RTR) models is far from immune of quality control issues, but very few have been returned to the manufacturer or shop, ‘Why?’ you ask, because I can resolve some of the problems myself. Be it: clipping off flash; swapping wheels sets around; re-positioning pick-ups; re-seating motors; pressing loose wheel-rims back onto axels; I can do these things (and have done). Building brass loco kits and chopping up different RTR models to create weird new locos can give you a clear perspective of running performance and the issues that can occur.

Even the simple act of removing the body of a loco to fit a DCC chip helps build confidence in tackling certain issues. I can only assume how difficult it must be for someone to approach these running problems or cosmetic issues if they fear to fiddle with the internals of these expensive models. But how fair is it to pass this back to the manufacturer?

Manufacturing RTR models

Let’s be honest about this: we are discussing a highly complex and highly detailed miniature with circuit boards, cogs, motors, pick-ups and fly wheels. They are a strange hybrid of analogue and digital technology. How many similarly complex items are sold by manufacturers on mass? Watches and cameras are all I can think of. Cars, I suppose, but they are a tad bigger and a tad more expensive.

Mobile phones, tablets and PCs don’t really count because they don’t have any moving parts these days, and just think how many issues are reported for these devices (just look at the software issues associated with updates to Apple devices and Windows etc.). Apple and co. can fix many problems on the fly, after release, by remotely sending fixes and updates. We are not in a position yet for this to happen with our trains.

Some questions for you:

  • Would you pay much attention to a noisier-than-expected servo in a camera lens or a loudly ticking watch? – Maybe.
  • Do you compare the running of your car against a friend’s one?  – I suppose some car-addicts do.

The decision to keep or return a model train might hinge on similar questions to those above. I completely agree that it is our right as consumers to receive accurate running and functioning models, and I think it would be brilliant, but I am not so sure how realistic these expectations are. What testing procedure would remove 98% of failures and deficiencies? We would have to wait even longer for our models and they would be unsustainably expensive, thus is this actually a possibility? Hornby’s recent retro-grade approach is about reducing costs of manufacturing. How much of this decision is based around quality control requirements?

Companies like Heljan, Dapol, Bachmann are not monstrously sized businesses. Every returned model surely imposes a cost to their business. Do we ever consider how much the Heljan Clayton engine failure episode financially impacted Heljan? I don’t really want to be a part of destroying these companies. Thus I try to separate any problems associated with my models into two groups:

  • Actual manufacturing faults, which jeopardise the prolonged life of the model and things that are beyond my ability to fix, which will ultimately result in product returns.
  • Issues that are just unsurprising results of an industrial manufacturing process on a miniature, which I can fix or resolve.

RTR examples

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I have a few new models on my workbench.

  • My Heljan Class 16 diesels operate perfectly and silently, just bliss to watch.
  • My Heljan Class 15 is a tad noisy, I have taken the motor out to investigate and have found the chassis to run quietly when the body is not on, thus I am putting this down to the vibration of the plastic body. I may also lubricate the cogs a bit more. I might also put it through a haulage test to make sure that the motor is sound.
  • My Heljan Class 14 teddy bear wouldn’t move at all. No lights, nothing. However, it did seem to be receiving electric current. I quickly decided not to attempt cranking up the voltage (this is based on previous experience with loco chassis construction). I unscrewed the chassis keeper plate (which is screwed down very tight). The little loco then lurched into life and is a lovely smooth runner.

Granted the Class 14 is based on previous experience, this being my second one for my layout… well… technically it’s my third! My first model was bought at product launch and went up in a puff of smoke! The replacement came and attempted a similar death, until I discovered that the chassis cogs seemed to be locked up by the overly tight keeper plate screws. I could have thrown all three models back at Hattons/Heljan, but there is nothing wrong with the model. It just needed a little tweak. A tweak I was able to diagnose and resolve. I have to confess to finding this process quite fun.

Somebody on a model railway forum recently proposed that it is better to consider our RTR models as almost completed kits, which might need a bit of ‘tweaking’. I am 100% behind this analogy.

I do not know how many of my fellow railway modellers are happy to fix these type of issues, but I do wish we would be more open and acceptant of these problems and try to resolve them, rather than bang the drum of our ‘trading standards’ act. Much like the H&S legislation that we laugh at for its pedantic approach, maybe our ‘quality assurance’ and ‘consumer rights’ policies and legislation can be just as senseless and unrealistic.

Visit to the Doncaster Model Railway Show (2013)

Two weeks ago me and my Dad visited the Festival of British Railway Modelling in Doncaster.

It was our first visit and we both really enjoyed the day. The best thing about the show was the number of big layouts (in a UK context), which allowed some good length trains to be run.

Wisbech and Upwell Trams

My interests in the Wisbech and Upwell Railway were well catered for with some interesting discussions about how to model the tramway version of the Drewry tram (see separate post). The highlight for me was the Y10 ‘super sentinel’ shunting around Happisburgh Goods. This was an odd coincidence as I recently begun development of this loco using a 3D modelling programme, thus I took the opportunity to take pictures from all angles (the pictures of the top being a God-send).

O-gauge Y10 'Super Sentinel' on Happisburgh Goods

O-gauge Y10 ‘Super Sentinel’ on Happisburgh Goods

Grasslands

I was also interested in the disturbed grassland and ephemeral vegetation modelled on Kensal Green (sorry… went all ‘ecologist’ there). Their grassland just seem to have something that my current efforts don’t seem to have. I think it is do with the thicker layer of decayed vegetation beneath the current growing stems (closer to the buildings). I think I will experiment and see if I can improve mine.

Disturbed and ephemeral grassland on the 4mm Kensal Green

Disturbed and ephemeral grassland on the 4mm Kensal Green

Black Country Blues was also looking impressive with some great modelling of recently disturbed vegetation, very much the colours, structures and ‘feel’ of the surrounds of home ‘back when’ (Me and Dad thought we recognised the view from Barr Beacon).

Purchases

I was in a wallet-burning mood and was quite set on buying a D11 Director, which I managed to acquire from one of the cheaper vendors.

D11 Director from Bachmann

D11 Director from Bachmann

Unfortunately for said wallet, I then came across another subject I am interested in: a T9 in Southern Green with ‘British Railways’ on the tender. Opening the box I was quite surprised to find a colonial star on the front (apparently this was the designate royal train). This wasn’t evidently clear from the box and it would be nice if Hornby considered expanding beyond the traditional ‘side profile’ photos on their model-boxes. I also find them not the most flattering images, but that’s me. The colonial star didn’t of course amount to the surprise of finding an elephant on the side of my Heljan BR Blue Falcon when I bought it a couple of years ago!

Hornby's Royal T9

Hornby’s Royal T9

Video

Below is my video from the show, hope you like it: