Two Steps Forward…

When you build a kit of any sort – locomotive, rolling stock or structure – it’s incredibly easy to be critical of the designer and/or manufacturer when something doesn’t go quite to plan. We pay our cash, read the instructions, make a start and if something goes wrong then we all know who is to blame don’t we? So who’s to blame when something goes wrong with a scratch-built model? The person who drew the plan? The goose who sold me the nickel silver I’m building it from? 🙂

This photo shows the parts of the chassis after I'd decided to start again. The spacers are salvagable but the rest is land fill.

This photo shows the parts of the chassis after I’d decided to start again. The spacers are salvageable but the rest is land fill.

After I had reached the stage shown in the photo I posted last week I decided to assemble the side rods for the loco. These were a set of very nice NS etchings. I was already unhappy with a couple of elements of chassis V1, not the least of these being the thin projections on the frames I mentioned in my previous post. After I’d assembled one set of rods I realized that I had measured the wheel spacings incorrectly, a mistake that was too serious to overlook – I would either have to shorten the rods (which were actually the correct length for the loco I wanted to build) or chop up the frames and lengthen the distance between the slots to match the rods. The rods are a set I purchased from DPMS which is no longer in business, so there was no replacing them if I stuffed up as I was altering them. However there were also a couple of other features in the chassis that I’d left off V1 that really would be better included and this was pushing me in the direction of starting over.

I have decided that the main culprit in this tale of woe was yours truly: I didn’t read the plans correctly, I tried to fudge a couple of elements clearly shown on the plan (the fact that the bottom of the coal bunker sits slightly higher than the height of the rest of the footplate is one of these) and the fact that I’d failed to assemble the rods before starting on the frames were all contributing factors. However what really made this an unmitigated “learning experience” is the fact that I had rushed things. And I can’t even blame that on other people: there’s no pressure on me, not even the great 20 class challenge 🙂 I don’t want a free lunch so much that I’d waste quite a bit of metal and about a dozen hours work to get the project finished. It was simply that I was enjoying myself immensely as I dug the hole I was in ever deeper.

I made a half-hearted effort to alter the chassis. I pulled it apart with the application of a good dose of heat from my 80w iron and chopped the frames in half, but it was at this stage I made the decision to salvage the spacers, go back to square one and cut some new frames becasue straight away it became apparent that I was simply throwing more effort at am already doomed venture. To make the new frames I needed a sheet of .7mm stock long enough to let me cut two new blanks. In trying to make the now abandoned alterations I had cut two short blanks I was planning to use to repair the chassis from the end of the only sheet of .7mm NS I had on hand. When I came to measure what was left it turned out that this sheet was now too short to provide the material I needed. At about this point I decided to give up model railways and join the local scrap booking circle! 🙂

This photo shows the new frames in an early stage of development.

This photo shows the new frames in an early stage of development.

Luckily, in anticipation of just such a “learning experience”, I had ordered a batch of NS from Eileen’s Emporium in the UK to replenish my quickly diminishing stock. The only problem was that I had placed this order almost three weeks ago and the package still hadn’t arrived. So you can imagine my reaction when I got home from work on Friday to find a thin but exceedingly heavy parcel in the mailbox. I have a feeling that parcels with my name on them are diverted directly to customs for checking: not because they think what I order is suspicious but more because it allows them to have a laugh and ponder what the heck I might be up to 🙂

This time I decided that I was going to do what I should have done in the first place; take my time, utilize my mill to accurately cut out certain sections of the frames and ensure that I incorporated some features of the prototype frames into the model which had been missing from the first version. In the photo above you can see the slight rise in the top of the frame on the right hand end. This part of the the footplate is under the coal bunker and is a feature of the batch of 20s converted from the 19 class, one of which I am modelling.

This is a photo of 2029, a preserved 20 class at Thirlmere. The slight rise in the footplate below the coal bunker is clearly discerned above the tank.

This is a photo of 2029, a preserved 20 class at Thirlmere. The slight rise in the footplate below the coal bunker is clearly discerned above the tank.

The front and middle axles now have the correct placing of 7′ (exactly 49mm) and this exactly matches the rods. As I have now finished assembling the rods I could check this before I made a single cut, what I should have done on V1. The cut lines are in red to make them stand out but there is a mistake in one of these lines on the right hand end. I’ll fix this before proceeding.

Even at this early stage I’m happy to have scrapped V1 of the chassis. I don’t like wasting time and effort any more than the next person, but this is intended as a learning exercise: you don’t learn unless you work to correct mistakes when you make them. Well that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it! 🙂

4 thoughts on “Two Steps Forward…

  1. Trevor,
    If it is any consolation at all, I am just admiring the assembly of a new PBA whilst putting the finishing touches to an article on adding sound to the CPH MkII.
    However I am not sure what to do with the three unsuccessful versions I built to get to the one that actually worked.

    • John,

      If I end up making four versions of this chassis I’m going to come back and have a go at you 🙂

      I probably could have made do with the original if it hadn’t been for the incorrect wheel spacing. I’d used the plan for the 6’2″ wheel base version of the loco because of the measurements I’d made of the un-assembled rods which seemed to be closet to this version of the loco.

      I measured the rods (incorrectly as it turned out) before I’d assembled them and transferred this incorrect dimension to the cutting plan. I made an adjustment to account for the incorrect dimension and made the cuts. So I had a wheel spacing that was neither 6’2″ nor 7′, but somewhere in between. If I had somehow managed to build the loco with this incorrect wheel spacing it would have driven me batty forever!

      All of this wouldn’t be so bad if I hadn’t written in the 2nd part of my 19 class articles in 7th Heaven , the issue that arrived a week ago, that the starting point of any loco project should be the assembly and checking of the side rods! I can obviously give advice but can’t follow it, not even from myself! 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s