Tag Archives: BR 03

Converting a Bachmann BR 03 Shunter chassis to fit inside a Craftsman BR 07 Shunter (Pt2)

IMG_7184 (lowres)

Over the past week I have tried to answer three niggling questions regarding this conversion:

  1. How can I fix the Bachmann chassis into the brass kit body?
  2. How can I fill the open space from the cut-away chassis at the front of the loco (see the top image)?
  3. Can I refit any of the little details from the original brass chassis to the Bachmann one (sand boxes and the lubricator arm)?

As most of my time in this hobby is spent thinking about how to solve such problems (rather than actually doing anything) I decided, in the mean time, to see if I could deconstruct the old chassis.

The old brass chassis

I knew I wanted to retrieve the lubricator arm assembly and maybe the brake rigging from the old brass chassis, but I had foolishly soldered all the parts (including the axle bolts) into place. I also wanted to see if I could get the wheels off intact (for use in the future).

IMG_4961 (lowres)

After a bit of soldering-iron wrestling, I managed to get all the wheels, gears and motor away from the chassis. I could now strip the brass chassis back to bare metal.

Paint stripping

I have a range of chemicals (normally used for other household or DIY applications) that I use for paint stripping. For metals and brass, there is a chemical I use that can remove paint in a matter of minutes…Nitromors!

‘All Purpose Nitromors’ is a paint and varnish remover which I bought from Homebase or B&Q. This is one of those chemicals where you heed the warnings on the tin! This is vicious stuff! On my first trial with Nitromors (stripping white metal figures) the chemical ate through my rubber gloves and burnt my hands!

It will eat plastic, so if you have any plastic detail on a model, it is very important to remove it. It will also eat any glue joints, so unless you have soldered your model together, expect it to fall apart too (such qualities can also be quite useful).

I have a small metal pie-tin than I fill with Nitromors and then drop my models in (I think plastic containers are too risky).

As expected, after a few scrubs with a toothbrush, the brass chassis was back to bare metal. After a good rinse and scrub with soda crystals I dropped the chassis into my sonic cleaner, which removed any remaining residue.


I noticed after this step that the solder joints had become quite brittle, which makes me wonder whether the sonic cleaner was the cause (I hope not).


Bachmann Chassis

As the chassis appeared a bit more fragile after the ‘purge’, I decided to cut off the brake rigging (deciding that I wasn’t that precious about including it on the new chassis).

I then noticed that the Bachmann chassis was actually thin enough to sit inside part of the old brass chassis frame. I decided to cut the front end of the brass chassis off and change the position of the spacers, which miraculously allowed me to refit the front end of the brass chassis around the Bachmann one, thus:

  1. filling the annoying gap at the front of the engine;
  2. creating a front mounting for the chassis; and
  3. retaining the front-end chassis detail

Result! Granted, the rear section will not be quite as simple, but I will tackle this next.



Quarry Photo Test

At the start of this blog about Quarry Transfer, I mentioned that one of the purposes of the diorama was so I could take pictures. Well after having waited patiently for the grout to thoroughly dry, I have just placed a couple of different diesels on the diorama along with a little JCB and had a go at some test shots.

I am really, really pleased with the look of the photos, as the shots appear very different to the small diorama that currently resides on a book case in the front room.

The little JCB is a plastic Dapol kit of some vintage that my wife built and painted. She has done a very good job on the yellow highlighting. This will not be the construction vehicle that lives on the layout when it is finished. I hope to purchase a nice elaborate digger, maybe one from the Langley range.

I am also pleased with what appears to be tillage (well, I’m calling it tillage) at the base of the cliff, which was done by sprinkling bits of drying grout onto the still wet grout surface.

So what are the next steps? I think it would make sense to flatten out the colour of the rock face next, so likely an overall paint with black or grey. This can then be gradually highlighted up again.

Converting a Bachmann BR 03 Shunter chassis to fit inside a Craftsman BR 07 shunter

The running quality of my locos is important to me. Irrelevant of how well made they are or how detailed, if they cannot run along a piece of track smoothly or cross a point without stalling, then the loco is of little use to me.

The long suffering Craftsman BR 07

My BR Class 07 Shunter is one such loco that looks much better than it runs. This Craftsman kit was purchased partly completed in 2003. One of the areas completed was the chassis, which was quite jerky and the rods appeared to be binding. I decided to deconstruct the chassis and start again.

I rebuilt the chassis with a new set of wheels and a new Mashima can-motor. I spent a very long time making sure that the chassis was set up properly so it would run smoothly. This was all done on a straight test track. I didn’t realise that the engine would not enjoy going round curves or crossing points.

I persevered, redesigning the pick-up arrangement on the wheels. I was also trying desperately to find a method of keeping the motor from rocking backwards and forwards, which made the fly-wheel skim the inside of the bonnet. My attempts at stabilising the motor eventually led to the DCC decoder blowing up, and the 07 quickly went back into storage (it was that or out the window).

Craftsman chassis (left) and Bachmann 03 chassis (right)

After purchasing a couple of the new Bachmann Class 03 Shunters, I started to wonder whether one could be adapted to replace the Craftsman chassis. I did some quick measurements and decided it was worth a go.

Body modifications

The first thing I did was widen the opening for the chassis and cut away some areas inside the 07’s body cavity. This modification also required removing the floor of the cab and cutting away the control panel (no doubt much easier if the body has not been constructed). The opening into the rear bonnet also required opening up slightly for the DCC decoder harness.

It looked as if the 03’s chassis may actually fit inside the frames, but the chassis itself would require some modifications.

Chassis modifications

The main modification required was to remove the front end of the 03’s die-cast chassis. The length of this section of metal restricts the chassis from sitting where the 07’s wheel sets are prototypically positioned. My new hacksaw was used to cut away the front of the chassis, with some masking tape around the motor core; stopping any metal shavings getting inside.

Once this was finished I unscrewed the axle nearest the crank shaft from the coupled wheels and used a mini-saw to grind away the coupling rods so the cranks could be removed. At this stage I was a bit nervous whether the new chassis would still operate properly.


The new chassis runs very well and sits as low as I hoped it would. The 07 will now happily cross the point work of Brewery Pit. I next need to reattach some bits to the 07 that unfortunately fell off while I was accosting it with a mini-saw. I also want to see if I can fit some of the former chassis’s little details to the new one.

I am fully aware of the inaccuracies in the chassis including: the wheel sets not being entirely accurate, with a slightly different spoke arrangement; and the brakes being fitted the opposite way around, but (as I said at the start), if I have to compromise the accuracy of the loco to ensure I can actually run the darn thing, then so be it.