Nicks workshop mutterings

Various railway orientated modelling projects in my new workshop/railway room.

Archive for the category “Locomotives”

Precursor update

I have now finished the model of the ex LNWR Precursor based on the old GEM kit. It has been finished as LMS number 5292 Medusa. The original LNWR number was 366.

The picture below shows it outside the engine shed on the Lakebank layout it is destined for;


Pick ups, a cautionary tail!

I have started building another locomotive to use on the club layout – Lakebank. This is a Jinty which is being made from a 3mm Society/ J M Models etched brass kit.
The chassis is compensated with a fixed rear axle. Drive is from a Mashima motor mated to a Branchlines 38:1 gearbox. I set the motor and gearbox up and had it running well. The chassis was soldered up on a jig using the coupling rods as guides. Using a set of Romford wheels the chassis ran freely. I then put on the Finescale wheels and gearbox, but without the final gear glued to the axle. After a bit of adjustments to the quartering and a touch of lubricant to the horn guides the wheels were running freely. I then glued the gear wheel and attached fly leads to the motor. On the test bed the chassis went well in both directions. I thought I had cracked it.
I then added the pick ups from .33mm phosphor bronze wire and wired it all up. Trying it on the test track I found it would go fine in one direction but the gear box seemed to jam in the other direction. Two hours and many minor adjustments later it was still the same!! Time to sleep on it…….

The next day I got out Iain Rice’s book on chassis building and reading the section on pick ups I realised my mistake. I had put short pick up wires rubbing on the back of the wheels. This was putting too much pressure on the wheels stopping the compensation functioning properly and causing the chassis to lock up. Putting on proper Bus bars with long pick up wires attached and bearing lightly on the flanges solved the problem and hey presto the chassis runs well in both directions. I have used short wires before with no problem but that was on a non compensated chassis.

The moral of the story? Consult the experts, they seem to know how to do it correctly!

LSWR Metropolitan Tank

I have decided that the standard gauge locomotive stud for Yeoton Wharf needs to be expanded. I have started to construct a 4-4-0T Metropolitan Tank-also known as a Plymouth Tank-. The one I have chosen is No. 318 which was an Adams rebuild in 1877.

metrop[olitan tank 1

I have constructed the chassis using frames and coupling rods for a GWR Bulldog, which has the same wheel base. The motor is a Mashima mated to a High Level Compact gearbox. The outside cylinders are modified from a spare set of castings I had for the Beattie well tank.


Now to build the body.


I have now completed the basic superstructure for the LNWR Precursor. These are the basic GEM castings which despite being over thirty years old, went together very well and required little if any cleaning up. Construction has ben a combination of epoxy resin and low melt soldering. I have added correct pattern LNWR buffers from 3mm society castings. The tender top was missing from the kit but I have constructed one from plasticard. The tender fittings are again sourced from the society.

The pictures below show the loco on Lakebank Mk2 the layout it is intended for. The picture also shows the new overbridge at the entrance to the layout. In the background is the joint in the scenery where the hill fits. This is made as a lift out piece to allow access to point switches and will eventually be disguised with ground foliage.



The next job is to add detail to the loco. This includes brake gear, boiler backhead , cab details, vacuum pipes etc. as well as filling the gaps in the castings.

LNWR Precursor

It has been a long time since I last posted on this blog. This is mainly due to the domestic demands of moving house!!

I have been involved in building a club layout at the Launceston and District MRC, my local. The layout is a reincarnation of a 14.2mm gauge 3mm scale layout first started over 25 years ago under the guidance of Iain Rice as a demonstration of the possibilities of 3mm scale.Due to a loss of club rooms the layout was dismantled but the trackwork and buildings were all saved. The layout is based on the ex Furness Railway in Cumbria, more about which I will blog later.

Modelling a different part of the country and a railway company I know little about has been a challenge. Discussing the stock we will need with Iain Rice it was felt that a Precursor would be useful. I have managed to acquire, courtesy of Ron Shuttleworth of the 3mm Society, one of the original GEM kits for a LNWR Precursor/King George Fifth, in whitemetal.

I have made a start on this by buildingĀ  the chassis. The original kit was designed for 12mm gauge and had a cast whitemetal chassis!! This has been discarded and a 14.2mm gauge compensated chassis built instead.


The side frames are from 3SMR and were deigned for the LSWR T9 which has the same wheelbase. The rear drivers are in fixed bearings while the front ones are in High Level hornblocks. The gear box is a 54:1 High Level Slim Liner one with a open frame Mashima motor. The bogie is the original GEM cast one with the addition of plasticard overlays to bring it too the correct width. The pivot point has been moved rearwards to allow the compensation beam to bear on the centre of the bogie.

I have found that this arrangement has stopped the front tipping forward with the weight of the cast boiler. As with all 4-4-0 chassis weight is need on the rear axle to get it to move and pull anything. This has been done with the usual arrangement of the tender applying the weight. I have again disposed of the cast chassis supplied in the kit and used an etched brass tender chassis supplied by Brian Golding. This allows the middle and front wheels to float in the chassis while the rear axle is fixed and the tender bears on the loco draw bar at the front. With extra weight in the tender this gives enough to provide good traction from the loco.


Now to build the rest of the loco!

Improving slow running

I have always struggled with achieving good slow running without lots of stalling and poking with the hand of God. Some of it is down to getting the locos well run in and weighted. Unfortunately with the types of locomotives I am presently running it is difficult to get a lot of lead in.
Up to now I have concentrated on getting the track really clean and keeping the wheels well cleaned as well as getting as many pick-ups as I can. However at my last exhibition in St Albans I became very frustrated with the lack of good running, especially when shunting. Chatting with a narrow gauge modeller in the bar at the hotel, he suggested trying graphite as he had had a lot of success. He seemed to suffer the same problems with weight that I have (the locos that is!!).
Returning home, I erected the layout and set about rubbing the track with graphite. This is done using a hard graphite stick as used by artists. This was rubbed along the surface of the rails making sure that all the running rails, especially at pointwork, was covered. Slow running improved immediately and from what I have been told should continue to improve as more graphite is laid down along the rails and on the locomotive wheels. Time will tell!!

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