Onwards and upwards! Not one railbus but two.
Looking at using a High Level Pacemaker to power my Ford railbus was not a great success. I couldn't get quite enough weight in the right places to haul a trailer, as we found out a few weeks back. Seeing the success Geraint had with his slightly larger railbus a few posts ago, I decided to try the Pacemaker in a larger vehicle. Over the past week or so, I have been investigating all sorts of possibilities - even more so as I am temporarily stalled on the Ford railbuses, waiting for extra components. I happened to have a couple of Peco Model Scene Maudslay bus kits for no good reason. I wondered what I could do with them - and one thing led to another.....
Bus conversions were not uncommon. Ireland had a few, but they were also used in other parts of the world. This is the most outlandish I could find, from Mexico...
The Great Northern Railway of Ireland built a number. They adapted the bodies by adding a rear entrance with steps. This is one example.
The peculiar arrangement allowed passengers to get on and off at normal platforms as well as at ground level. For my tramway, there would only be a need to access the passenger compartment from ground level. This meant I could have the steps pointing sideways, rather than to the rear. I also decided I could shorted the body slightly so that the roof covered the rear platform. That way, passengers could shelter under the roof whilst keeping an eye on pigs, camels or other goods in any trailer towed behind the railbus. Like my other projects, this has to be believable, but is only loosely based on real vehicles. Like many small concerns, my tramway would have improvised and made its own adaptations to what was available locally and to suit local conditions, rather than copy what Colonel Stephens or any other great and powerful railway magnate did.
I began by hollowing out the rear of the roof. This had a thicker central core to stick the sides to. This proved easier than I expected. I used a razor saw, just removing a small section at a time. Here is the job part way through
and completed, after I smoothed everything off a bit. The edges look rougher than they were in reality!
Next I modified the back end of the body sides. On the offside, this just meant removing one small window. On the nearside, the door is at the rear, so things were more complicated. Firstly, I removed most of the door area. Here is a kind of before and after shot.
I then cut a window section off the forward part of the nearside of the second kit,
trimmed it to size and stuck it in place on the railcar side in place of the door (RHS in the photo).
Next, I assembled the Pacemaker power unit, using an old Tenshodo motor rather than the Mashima 1020 provided - that can be used for better things!
This runs very sweetly. It has the 36:1 gear option. At this stage I wasn't sure whether to make my own chassis or try and use the plastic chassis provided in the Maudslay kit. I decided in any case to try the kit chassis first, if only to give me an idea of what I would need to do for a scratchbuilt version. Here is the chassis trimmed slightly to get the Pacemaker and motor to fit.
I put the far side of the body in the picture to give a rough idea of how the motor and gearbox fit inside the body. In fact, the chassis and body are sitting a bit low - the motor and gearbox should be slightly lower in the body than the photo suggests. In any event, seats and passengers should hide the worst of the bits we shouldn't really see.
Having got this far, I have decided to scratchbuild my own chassis to fit the Pacemaker into, as the plastic one is a bit flimsy - a problem I suspected right from the beginning, of course.
I will leave that for next time.
Although I have trimmed a bit off the rear of the body, there is still plenty of room for some decent weight behind the rear wheels. This should make a big difference to the performance of the new chassis over the Ford railcar mock-up I tested before Christmas.
As for the second kit, I plan to make a road version with front and rear entrances - hence my selection of a forward window as a donor for the railcar.