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.
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. 😉