West of Scotland Group's "Starters" Build a loco project

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Re: West of Scotland Group's "Starters" Build a loco project

Postby rule55 » Mon Feb 15, 2010 3:28 pm

The Aldi digital calipers are highly recommended. I've just tried mine out and they seem to measure as accurately as my old micrometer - damn sight easier to read from too (and they swap from metric to imperial at the press of a button!) Can't go wrong for 9 quid.

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Allan Goodwillie
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Re: West of Scotland Group's "Starters" Build a loco project

Postby Allan Goodwillie » Mon Feb 15, 2010 10:26 pm

Good to hear that they are available just at the moment. This only happens for a short time each year, so obviously this is the time to buy, highly recommended! :) West Group members please note - we will have a look at these at the next meeting.


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Mark Tatlow
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Re: West of Scotland Group's "Starters" Build a loco project

Postby Mark Tatlow » Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:57 pm


I am enjoying the thread and learning from it - in 30 years of piercing saw use the card below the work trick is new on me for example!

You may like to know that if you hit "print" on the thread as I did to read it all over the weekend, you need half a tree - 130 odd pages! Just as well the firm don't know.........

Keep it up!

Mark Tatlow

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Re: West of Scotland Group's "Starters" Build a loco project

Postby hughesp87 » Tue Feb 16, 2010 8:30 pm


Just to echo Mark's sentiments that this is proving to be a fascinating thread for old hands and new boys alike! Given Mark's warnings about the implications for printing, I wonder if at some stage the Society might consider editing this and producing it as a special publication? I suspect it would attract a lot of interest.

Looking forward to the next instalments ..


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Re: West of Scotland Group's "Starters" Build a loco project

Postby LesGros » Tue Feb 16, 2010 8:41 pm

...You may like to know that if you hit "print" on the thread as I did to read it all over the weekend, you need half a tree - 130 odd pages! Just as well the firm don't know.........

If you selectively copy and paste Allan's tutorial only, and reject all other posts, questions, and comments, it runs to about 70 pages in MS Word . This is with the main text in 12 pt for easy reading and adjusted image sizes to suit. It all fits nicely into an A4 ringbinder for convenience.

I am guessing that the section on constructing the body will be of similar Length.


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never made anything useful

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Allan Goodwillie
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Re: West of Scotland Group's "Starters" Build a loco project

Postby Allan Goodwillie » Wed Feb 17, 2010 8:00 pm

Thanks everyone, I do appreciate your kind comments. I have already mentioned that it may be possible that we could do a clean download later, which may include all the useful bits that others have contributed, as well, as I still pick up new things all the time myself and would hope that no gems go a-missing. :o I will be at Glasgow not this weekend but next with Burntisland and my friends from the East Group and then I will be over in Holland the following weekend with Richard Darby and " Blackston Junc" as well as Richard Chown and his "Courchelle S7", two layouts I have had some involvement in. If any of you are at either exhibition say hi! and stop and have a chat. :)

In a couple of weeks I will continue, by looking at arrangements for pick-ups and brake gear. I like these to be easy to deal with and function well. I am going to make some alterations to the ones on my Burntisland locomotives to give them gold contacts as I am now fitting them as standard.

One of the odd things I was finding with these locomotives was that when left to sit in a box between exhibitions that a black deposit formed on the surface of the Phosphor/Bronze contacts and the steel wheels.I know already that Ph/Br contacts and steel do not like one another particularly well, but I was curious to know whether the fact that the locos were fitted with digital chips had anything to do with this. Is there any residual charge which, being released over a period of time, would cause this? I am hoping that the gold contacts may help. Anyone come across this before? :?:

Maybe this is not the place to ask, but if someone knows I would be very interested to find out, even if you would prefer by email, keeping this thread clear for its main purpose. The west boys have been emailing with some of their projects coming along nicely, so we may be able to have a look at some of these soon, perhaps on a separate but parallel thread. and watch them as they develop. Other "starters" may like to join in as we go along, I would love to see just what people are doing.

I am also going to cover a couple of basic chassis builds adapted to my own methods, one being a Comet chassis. I will also cover some basic scratch building methods being used to construct the Barclays. These will be methods which anyone can have a go at and get a good result, or learn from to produce something of their own.

It may even get more people to consider a wider range of prototypes than are available through the trade, particularly from the pre-grouping era.

We are not talking Guy Williams here, just some help to get started and to remove a bit of the mystique which may put people off having a go. :|

DSC039031.JPG (77.25 KiB) Viewed 9578 times

Julian Roberts
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Re: West of Scotland Group's "Starters" Build a loco project

Postby Julian Roberts » Sun Feb 21, 2010 11:22 am

I have some black deposits on phosphor bronze pickups on my latest loco (Q1). No DCC. Steel wheels. I assumed it was my general lack of cleanliness! - so it's reasssuring to see you mentioning this.

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Re: West of Scotland Group's "Starters" Build a loco project

Postby John B » Wed Apr 07, 2010 5:09 pm

Only just come across this excellent thread, having a few spare minutes to peruse the forum for the first time in months!

I'd like to thank Allan (and all the other contributors) for the mine of information in here - I'll certainly keep coming back to it as already, on first read, it's taught me a trick or two I didn't know after years of muddling through..

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Re: West of Scotland Group's "Starters" Build a loco project

Postby Philip Hall » Wed Apr 07, 2010 7:21 pm

Mike Sharman told me a very long time ago (at one of Iain Rice's courses, I think, so that dates the tip - and me!) that phosphor bronze tends to oxidize with steel wheels and to avoid it where possible. Which I've always done since, using fine brass wire for preference. Problem is that all the ready to run stuff these days has P/B pickups and we often fit steel wheels when converting them! Although most of my conversions have been Hornby which have masses of pickup on lots of wheels, so perhaps that negates the problem. Pickups on as many wheels as you can manage is a good idea anyway, and I always fit plenty on my homebuilt chassis.


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Allan Goodwillie
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Re: West of Scotland Group's "Starters" Build a loco project

Postby Allan Goodwillie » Thu Apr 08, 2010 7:02 pm

Hello everyone,

I had meant to be back in the saddle quicker, but on return from the Netherlands I was struck down by a heavy cold :cry: which has taken about three weeks to clear, so sorry for the delay.

The last time I corresponded, the two chassis had reached the point where they were ready for the addition of brakes, springs and pick ups. Now over the years I have had a number of approaches to all of this. In the early days I built, I thought, for permanence. Not really a good idea to be truthful, I was maybe lucky, but all the locomotives I built early on worked well at the start, so I had no idea that there may be a problem in building like this.

Things worked well on Dubbieside until I eventually took it to the Melrose Model Museum in the 1980's, by this time some of the locomotives had been running about 15 years, but no real sign of wear. The first season at Melrose and all the Studiolith Gearboxes, which had run so sweetly, wore out! Motors were also showing signs of wear due to brushes wearing out, and one locomotive showed signs of tyre wear.

Now , if the locomotives had been built to be easily taken apart for maintenance or repair I would have been saved a lot of frustration and angst behind the scenes. I had made the mistake of thinking that it would take longer to build engines that were able to be taken apart at a later date. In fact, if you follow the methods I have outlined you will have noticed that everything put together so far can be stripped out readily if anything goes wrong plus you have the added benefit of being able to check all the components and their set away from the frames and can go back, as many steps as needed, if anything should go wrong at a later date.

So, considering the above, it is now time to think about how we fit the remaining components. On earlier locomotives I liked to try to reproduce all the underneath components as close to what was present on the real thing and did not consider the use of a keeper plate, for example, as it was not prototypical. It is not accidental that model locomotive manufacturers use them. It keeps everything tidy underneath and gives something positive to fix components to. As long as you cannot see it in normal circumstances I now have no objections to using them.

The two locomotives under construction are being fitted with them and we will follow them through the process over the next few days. Unusually, I have a photograph of one of the engines upside down off the road, and have been greatly tempted :twisted: to reproduce the underside, but will resist as I want engines that will require little time on them if there are any problems at a later date. ;)


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Re: West of Scotland Group's "Starters" Build a loco project

Postby Allan Goodwillie » Thu Apr 08, 2010 7:58 pm

The process from now is to make a base plate then to attach the springs and then the brakes. After that we will look at pick-ups and problems with them - the variations that work well and those which work less well.

The baseplate is made from a piece of nickel silver sheet. Cut to size using a paper template. The template started as a rectangle of paper wide enough to just fit between the frames. Openings have been cut to clear the motor and gearbox as well as the horn blocks and I have also included holes to allow for the pick ups. I will be using scraper pick ups that are attached elsewhere on the chassis and not on the keeper plate. Most people fit them to the keeper plate, but not in this case.

Once the paper template had been cut, it was fitted over the brass retaining screws to make sure it was going to fit, a separate one was made for the second loco. Once I was happy with the fit, I cut out two nickel silver ones and did a trial fit, all being well,I was ready to add the springs. The sets of springs I decided to use were spares from etched nickel silver kit material. Although not thick, they still give the right impression when seen behind the wheels. White metal ones would also have worked fine, soldered to the plate or, if you want something more permanent and less likely to get knocked off, the white metal ones can be drilled through at the ends and wire soldered through plate and spring.

Next the soldering up of the springs.


This illustrates the paper template and the two keeper plates, note the cut outs for the motor and gears as well as the pick ups and the horn blocks.
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Here are the springs , folded to give the right height and showing their relative thinness compared to white metal ones
u2.JPG (71.06 KiB) Viewed 9389 times

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Allan Goodwillie
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Re: West of Scotland Group's "Starters" Build a loco project

Postby Allan Goodwillie » Sun Apr 25, 2010 10:21 pm

Returning from Scalefour North last weekend I have had some time to complete the chassis and will put the remaining information on the site over the next week. Now to carry on with the base. I have tried to keep everything in line and the fact that the springs are "thin" etchings is not noticeable through the wheels. The springs are the remains of part of a chassis kit that were not required and I am going to use a set of NBR etches for the brakes produced at one time by Eastfield models, which are available again under another company label.

Not everyone will want to add every detail on the underside of the chassis and may not wish to do as much as I intend doing, but that is fine, not everyone wishes to put detail in which will never be seen or only seen in darkness.

I think it is important that everything being attached underneath is structurally sound and not likely to foul or break off. :cry: Care must be taken to keep clearances for the pick-ups and it is also important to make sure that the plate can come out simply by the undoing of the nuts and bolts.

Allan :)

Here we have the plate fitted and checked for spacing and clearance of the pick-ups
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The wheels should be covered by tissue paper, I use cigarette papers to keep flux away from any parts that would react and corrode
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Here the springs are being added one at a time. I am keeping them far enough back from the edge of the chassis so that they will not foul the pick-ups which will be fitted later.
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Here we are, all springs fitted and ready to go on to fitting of the brakes, very straightforward this part so far. No cleaning up at this stage I will wait until the brakes etc. are fitted.
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Russ Elliott
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Re: West of Scotland Group's "Starters" Build a loco project

Postby Russ Elliott » Mon Apr 26, 2010 11:51 pm

I tried to convince Chris Gibbon of the sense of having a bolt-on keeper plate carrying springs and brake gear, but he would have none of it!

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Allan Goodwillie
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Re: West of Scotland Group's "Starters" Build a loco project

Postby Allan Goodwillie » Tue Apr 27, 2010 7:43 am

Yes Russ, I have great regard for Chris's work and his gearboxes and kits are beautiful, but he is a young fellow yet ( I say this meaning that he is still at the stage in life when it does not occur to you that time is finite, rather than being any slur on his character, in fact something which impressed me was his honesty when I asked him about the possibility of using one of his 80:1 gearboxes in one of my WD's and he advised against it as he felt that it would not be man enough for the work it was likely to come across on my layout with 40+ wagons on 1in70 gradients. I did not buy one of his gearboxes for it, but will go back for other items knowing I am buying with confidence.) :D

Chris's designs take some time to make up, but that is the joy of building one of his kits, they should not be rushed, as it is the journey rather than the finishing point that matters here. I can think of other kit makers who make kits for the joy that comes through the complexity to get everything right. Some of the simplest locos to build to S4, that can also be made easy to maintain come from people like Comet - I am hoping to do a quick chassis working with one of their "Jubilee" chassis and some Brassmasters horn blocks. Converting bits of the chassis to operate using the same rules as I now follow for my scratch built stuff. I will follow the work up on this thread later on during our West of Scotland year.

As you get a bit older you realise that if you want to build a descent sized layout you need all the time you can get on other things. Also maintaining what you have requires easy access at times. I have had a couple of nightmares recently trying to convert a couple of 00 locos which had been soundly built into P4 ones for Richard Darby. Everything had been built not to be taken apart again and disassembly took ages with many components requiring replacement to make up a S4 locomotive. Hours wasted! :cry:

On the Barclays I have now completed fitting the brakes to the keeper plate and am working on the pick-ups which are attached separately to the locomotive chassis in a way that allows you to drop the wheels and gearbox out, keeper plate and its attachments, without disturbing the pick-ups and without fitting top wipers which are difficult to clean. I will put up some pictures later in the week.

We also had a group meeting last night with people bringing along loco chassis they are building and I will maybe put some photos up for others to see what has been happening during the following week as well. Members who were unable to attend last night, if you would like to send me photos of work so far for posting on the web please email them to me or post them on the web here with some comments.

I also know of a number of locomotives being built around this thread which people may want to show us and I would like to encourage everyone to do this and maybe to discuss any problems they may be encountering either using the thread or behind the scenes using the email facility.

I hope to have finished the chassis by the end of this week and if there is enough interest I will look at some solutions to the trickier parts of making a more complex chassis. Last night we were looking at and running some of my locomotives and discussing bogeys, radial trucks and 4-4-0's tender weighting etc. some of this will also get covered soon.

Allan :)

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Re: West of Scotland Group's "Starters" Build a loco project

Postby rule55 » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:56 pm

I've been following this thread with much interest. As Allan is aware (I turned up unannounced at the Glasgow show with a plastic box containing all the bits!) I'm currently constructing a High Level Pannier chassis. Although the kit goes together like a dream, a keeper plate to mount the springs on would have been very useful primarily because I've struggled to get the crankpin holes in my wheels drilled true and straight and have had to take the wheelsets out several times. I've just checked my chassis to see if it could be easily modified but, because the valve gear protrudes below the frames between the front and middle axles, I fear it might be a little more complicated than Allan's solution shown above. In this case I may just go with the original design as hopefully once I've sorted my crankpin issues the thing shouldn't need disassembling again for a while!

Allan is to be congratulated for providing a very useful resource for novice constructors like myself and I would also recommend one of Chris Gibbon's chassis kits for anyone looking for a suitable first project.


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Allan Goodwillie
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Re: West of Scotland Group's "Starters" Build a loco project

Postby Allan Goodwillie » Wed Apr 28, 2010 8:33 am

Hi Tony, :D

It was very nice to meet you at Glasgow, you will have to come down to see me sometime once you have your loco running. Don't be frightened to make variations on some of the ideas I am putting out here as variation is more than possible. I may make alteration to my own keepers at a later date as I am experimenting with sound and steam systems at the moment and it looks as if I will have to add a cam to the middle axle which will mean an extra slot cut in the baseplate to allow for this, but this should be no trouble as it is only a minutes job to drop the keeper plate and make a modification. I may cover the sound and steam ideas later if successful, but I am covering basic things I know always work in this thread at the moment and don't want to distract with the experimental stuff which would be a bit indulgent of me.

Maybe post a couple of pictures showing what you have been up to, it looked very promising when you showed it to me at Glasgow. ;)


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Allan Goodwillie
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Re: West of Scotland Group's "Starters" Build a loco project

Postby Allan Goodwillie » Wed Apr 28, 2010 10:44 pm

:D Now to further develop the keeper plate idea. In my earlier locomotives I used to always add full brake rigging and would solder everything in place to make sure nothing moves, but on examining a number of ready to run 00 locomotives it is clear that manufacturers now produce the brake gear as a clip on plastic addition or sometimes part of the keeper plate.

On these two locos I am fitting the keeper plate with the brake rigging. I am using an etch that was produced a few years ago and which is again available from North British Developments, a new company run by Ian Terrell, who is one of our East of Scotland members. Ian's new web site can be found at http://www.nbr4mm.co.uk. As far as I understand, it is Ian's intention to reintroduce the very fine etched chassis that Jim Binnie produced when he had Eastfield Models.

The particular etch I am using is one meant for tender brakes, but is ideal for locomotives with smaller wheels. The etch saves a fair bit of work cutting and shaping them from copper clad material, brass, or N/S for example. The usefulness of these etches lies in the design of the brake blocks themselves. The NB gave a good margin for wear on its brake blocks and it is possible to file the profiles down to fit most locomotive types. The etch when folded and soldered up as per the instructions gives something quite substantial and all in N/S. They are strong and more likely to stand up to knocks and bumps compared to white metal or plastic ones. :idea: There is a real dearth of brake blocks available and this etch is a welcome returnee. :)

Soldering and assembly is fairly straightforward and can be followed through the photographs below. Instead of using brass pins, which I often use for small handrails etc., 0.45 brass wire or N/S wire would be suitable. The brake blocks were filed using needle files to the correct profile after the etches were assembled and before fitting the cross rods. When soldering the second shoe, place a cigarette paper between the brake shoe and the tyre of the wheel and this will eliminate any flux splash back. :idea: I took the photograph without this to show the relationship between brakes and wheels. Blue tack can also be used to hold the brake hangers in place, if necessary, although you can hold the brake shoes against the wheels to keep things right.

Allan :)

This shows the etch for the brake shoes, you do have to identify the left and right hand parts. These are a worthwhile purchase when scratch building as they speed up a finicky job for reasonable cost
C5.JPG (98.44 KiB) Viewed 9153 times
After folding up the etches and soldering on the overlay as per instructions I use a brass pin slotted through the lower hole and then soldered in place in preparation for fitting to the opposite brake shoe. After soldering I left them in a solution of water and dental cleaning tablet to clean all traces of flux overnight. Any oxidation can be cleaned off using in this case a brass brush.
C6.JPG (82.44 KiB) Viewed 9153 times
Cleaning up using a brass brush
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Opening out the holes by using a broach, the holes have to fit fairly tightly on the wires passing through the chassis.
C8.JPG (83.13 KiB) Viewed 9153 times
Here we see the second brake block being fitted and hung on the wires that pass through the chassis. When soldering the second brake block in place it is a simple matter to place both against the wheels with the wheels set equally within the chassis.
C9.JPG (128.66 KiB) Viewed 9153 times
The brake hangers do not get soldered to the hanger wires as the brakes have to be capable of being sprung off. Once soldered together double check that the two brakes are opposite, a little twisting may be needed. The pin head gets cut off and the pin is also trimmed at the other end easy to do once removed from the chassis.
C10.JPG (154.65 KiB) Viewed 9153 times

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Allan Goodwillie
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Re: West of Scotland Group's "Starters" Build a loco project

Postby Allan Goodwillie » Thu Apr 29, 2010 7:19 pm

Fitting and detailing the brakes and hangers :)

Well sometimes you are just lucky! We were sitting discussing the fact that a mishap that occurred about 70 years ago was recorded. We wondered whether the men whose duty was to right the locomotive, that had rolled down the Scott's Road embankment that day on the WPR, had any inkling of the newsman's photograph being used to build a model locomotive all these years later. Or of the extraordinary idea of it being seen simultaneously all over the world. It just reminds us of the Science Fiction age that we all now live in.

What a useful photograph. It shows all the under-gear although the brake pull rods have been damaged along the way. It does show that there is no baseplate (nor have I bothered to model the internal valve gear on this locomotive). One of the things that it shows the profile of the cross rods on the brakes. Another thing, which I may include even at this late stage, is the supporting rods for the front and rear footsteps. It may be worthwhile fitting the footsteps to the frames rather than the footplate which is normal, the middle one may still require fitting to the footplate as there is no extra support from the frame - due of course to the coupling rods. Footsteps are always a fragile feature, particularly on whitemetal kits. I tend to make them in nickel silver now as they are much stronger made in this material. Worth the extra effort :!:

Something else noticeable is the under footplate supports - I have modelled them on other locos where you may notice them, but not something you often see on models, kit or scratch built.

Allan :)

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Re: West of Scotland Group's "Starters" Build a loco project

Postby Allan Goodwillie » Thu Apr 29, 2010 10:04 pm

The detailing of the brake gear

Having had a good look at the previous photograph I decided to cut some material to give the correct profile of the cross beams and solder them in place, along with the pull rods. The brakes and rods will be part of the plate and will all lift off in one piece.

The lay shaft, which also has a rod attached to a cam and then to the winding handle in the cab, will also be attached to the rods , but not to the chassis as such, again this is to allow for ease of taking apart. The lay shaft is made from tubing to give the greater thickness of the prototype.

The rods are from 0.7 brass and the cross pieces initially with brass, but with additional nickel silver strip cut from the brake etch. Again it is probably best to illustrate this with photographs.

Allan :)

As you can see, the wire has to be of a thickness that it will be stiff in use as it is important that the brake blocks do not move. The top holes are only opened out enough to the point where they will only just fit on the hanger wires.
C11.JPG (78.82 KiB) Viewed 9113 times
Here we have the pieces cut from the remains of the etch, which are profiled to correspond with the cross pieces in the photograph.
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The additional parts including the pull rods and cross beam and cam are illustrated here.
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Here are the cross pieces being soldered in place. again the cigarette paper has been left out for the sake of the photograph, but the brakes are being held temporarily against the wheels as things are being soldered up. It is being soldered at one side first of all then on the opposite side. Using the combination of brass and nickel silver is straightforward. Heat travels through nickel silver slower than brass so the heat should be applied to the nickel silver first, having tinned the edges and adding flux along the brass before soldering together. I have used a set of helping hands for this, but they are not strictly necessary as the brakes are being held by the use of Blue Tack
C13.JPG (182.82 KiB) Viewed 9113 times
The brakes can be taken off again for cleaning up at this stage
C14.JPG (174.44 KiB) Viewed 9113 times

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Allan Goodwillie
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Re: West of Scotland Group's "Starters" Build a loco project

Postby Allan Goodwillie » Thu Apr 29, 2010 10:57 pm

Adding the rodding :)

The other brake parts are added at this stage. Then smaller parts like the sand pipes and the stiff wire I use to form a loop around the motor. This allows for some slight movement and does not contort motor or gearbox or the drive for that matter.

I have found that attachment this way is better for the running and allows for some movement across the frame by the wheels on tight curvature. It also mitigates against any stickiness in the motor or gearbox as it will allow the smallest amount of travel, which kick starts the movement and which helps the locomotive to move off every time, as the only resistance at this moment is within the motor or gearbox and not within the remaining mechanical parts.

There is no visible difference in how smoothly the locomotive moves off. :geek: I am sure I will get quite a number of queries about this one, but I have to say that I have adopted this not due to some big theory, but by a lot of trial and error over the years. All my Portescaps are held in place this way, as are recent builds using Maschima motors and gearboxes by various makers.

Allan :)

The pull rods in place, they can now be fixed using nickel silver strip. I have used two pieces in the wheel centres.
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Here is the completed effort with all the brake parts in place.
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Other items including the sand pipes are soldered in place at this time.
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A piece of brass wire is bent up to be soldered to the frame. This will act as a fix for the motor. I will loop the wire around the motor to allow a little movement and flexibility. I find this gives better running. A bit more will be said when looking at motor/gearbox combinations later on
C19.JPG (129.89 KiB) Viewed 9108 times

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Allan Goodwillie
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Re: West of Scotland Group's "Starters" Build a loco project

Postby Allan Goodwillie » Sat May 01, 2010 2:16 pm

Pick-ups :evil:

Now its time to make and fit the pick-ups. A wide discussion could be held on peoples favoured pick-ups. I have pretty much tried all the different systems known to Scalefour modellers and some which would only interest alien creatures from another planet! :x However what I am putting forward here is fairly straightforward to achieve, is neat and almost invisible in operation and allows you to drop the keeper plate , wheels, motor and gearbox out without having to disturb the pick-ups.

They do not stick like sprung ones do, they are easy to replace, they are less likely to get damaged as they are made from more robust material and can be adjusted easily. They are less likely to get tarnished as gold does not oxidise and does not react with other metals unlike phosphor bronze and steel. Despite the use of gold the cost is less than a pound per engine.

Materials required are nickel silver strip, or wire, and a length of gold wire, and some copper clad strip or sheet. This type of pick-up takes a little longer to make, but less time to fit - so little in it in terms of other competing methods.

The pick-ups pick up from the back of the wheel, as against the edge,or tread (Where you are going to pick up all the crud :!: ) and are in line with the turning of the wheel and less prone to judder, between this and the gold contacts, cleaning is required less. The gold wears down slowly as it is fairly hard, but the scrapers require very little spring for them to work so no worries about wearing out wheel backs.

The copper clad material and the tops of the loops should be set just below the top edge of the chassis so as not to short against the footplate when it is fitted later. ;)

This is what I have gone to after much experimentation - some of which I will pick up on later. It is best to show at the beginning how the pick-ups are fitted before showing the construction stages for them to make any sense. The wiring up and the fitting of the rear pick-ups will be covered in the next section along with the fixing of the motor and adding the insulation to avoid problems with shorting. Do you have your black Nail varnish ready? :shock: :o :?

Allan :)

This shows how the tops of the pick-ups are fitted to the frame using Araldite and copper clad material. Similar pairs of pick ups will be fitted to the rear pair of wheels, (this is a little more difficult to photograph and will require the gearbox dropped out. Fitting and the wiring up will be covered next.
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The pick-ups will fit neatly through the slots cut for them in the keeper plate and once fitted they are virtually invisible, especially if they are painted black during the painting stage.
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Here we have the pick-ups formed ready for fitting, simple bent pieces of nickel silver strip. The small bend will be sprung against the back of the wheel just below the keeper plate. The longer bend will be soldered to the copper clad strip, which will be fitted to the inside of the top of the chassis.
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A small strip of gold is soldered onto the small bend of the strip in this case using helping hands, instead of the vice, cheap , but surprisingly useful.
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Once the gold tip has been soldered on to the nickel silver strip, the gold strip is trimmed off using side cutters.
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Examining the tips for a good soldered joint and cleaning off any additional solder.
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The contact strips are then soldered to the strips of copper clad set at the width of back of the wheels where they are going to make contact. Because there is a bend before they are soldered to the copper clad this allows for easier adjustment when fitting and a bit more spring to the contact. The copper clad material has to be fitted towards the top of the frame to clear the horn blocks etc.
P07.JPG (123.94 KiB) Viewed 9068 times

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Allan Goodwillie
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Re: West of Scotland Group's "Starters" Build a loco project

Postby Allan Goodwillie » Sat May 01, 2010 9:25 pm

Fitting the rear pick-ups

Due to the gearbox being on the rear axle it is necessary to drop out the plate and wheels/gearbox. One advantage of a Portescap motor is that you can easily release the gearbox by taking out the two side screws and not have to unhitch the motor.

Using a Maschima motor and a slim gearbox would also allow you to drop out motor and gearbox - the 1600 series which now have flat can sides or a 1400 series are powerful and allow for this method of building, smaller sizes of motor are also no problem and should squeeze past the rear pick-ups. Some of you may be surprised at me for not fitting middle pick-ups on the centre wheels, but this will allow unrestricted movement on my middle pair of wheels on industrial curves and normally these pick-ups work so well, additional ones are not necessary. :P

I do not want too much friction either from the pick-ups. If I had decided to build the locomotive using a central drive I would have made sure that there was going to be side play on the motor to allow the maximum movement on the curve. It is easier to arrange the movement from that point of view, by fitting the drive on the rear. :idea:

If you have built your locomotive to drive off the centre wheels, then fitting the rear pick-ups can be done without dropping the wheel set. I chose to drive from the rear axle as I have a number of things I would like to include on this chassis at a later date and require enough space for a number of components which will be added later. I am not going to say anything about my experiments :ugeek: at this stage as I have a few things to prove to myself before adapting the chassis I am building here.

Some who are just starting to build chassis for the first time may be wondering which is the best arrangement for motor and gearbox, but I have successfully built locomotives using all of the axles for the drive, without there being any perceptible difference in running, providing the weight in the locomotive is evenly spread. In these tank locos, most of the lead will be placed in the tanks, as I want clear space in the cab and also want to keep the smoke box clear, and not make it nose heavy. The locos will be running on a layout where there are only slight gradients, unlike my mainline layout at home. To run on that, I would be fitting lead into every space possible to help traction including under the roof of the cab, the coal bunker and the smoke box, between the frames if necessary, providing it is not going to be seen. :|

At first sight it may seem as if there may be a problem using double sided copper clad material, but as long as you take care not to bridge the insulation material you should be able to fit them without any shorts.

Les emailed about this and wondered if it would be possible to use an ESU soldering unit to fit the double sided copper clad material to the chassis. I have tried this, but it is difficult to do, as the surface of the copper clad material that you are trying to solder is going to be against the chassis. It is also possible to unhinge the glue holding the copper surface to the paxolin by using too much heat, so gluing is best.

As a general rule I don't mind using materials for their advantageous quality. I am not so purist that I feel that everything must be soldered in all circumstances or, for example, everything should be made from Nickel Silver. I am sure you have noticed me using brass here and there. Once you have painted everything no one will be able to tell anyway. :shock:

Now read below to see where you may need to go out and get your black nail varnish :!:

Allan :)

Here we have the wheels dropped out having unhitched the gearbox and the keeper plate unclipped, it only takes a minute of your time.
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Here I am fitting the rear pick-ups using my little clamps to hold them in position as the glue sets. It is definitely better to use 5 minute epoxy glue as it allows you to manoeuvre things at the sticky stage. They are being fitted in a similar way to the front pair. So much easier to do without the motor or gear box in the way. Before the gearbox is replaced I will put an insulating material on the sides - black paper probably or may just give it a coating of black nail varnish. The pick-ups can be treated the same way, but I will be spray painting them along with the rest of the chassis at a later date, after that they may still end up with a coating of the said varnish, and no neither my wife nor I are ex-Goths!
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Here we have another view of the clamped pick-ups note how they are equal on both sides of the axle hole. If you find it difficult to judge it by eye simply mark the pick-ups position on the frames before moving the motor.
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Here we see the arrangement for the wire retaining the motor. Instead of having a twist left in the wire at the top it is perfectly OK to cut it neatly off allowing the motor/gearbox to be "sprung out" from the chassis, but stiff enough in normal circumstances to hold everything in place. The wire used is stiff 0.7 brass wire.
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Here we see the motor slipped out just for a quick check and you can see just how easy it is to be able to get at the guts of the locomotive with this type of assembly. easy to put things right if anything should go wrong.
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A wire can be taken from the front to the rear pick-ups at this stage to join them both together. I am intending adding further components and have deliberately kept the wire away from the top edge of the chassis and have been careful not to get in the way of any moving parts.
P18.JPG (166.73 KiB) Viewed 9053 times

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Allan Goodwillie
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Re: West of Scotland Group's "Starters" Build a loco project

Postby Allan Goodwillie » Sat May 01, 2010 10:25 pm

Re-assembly and other matters :)

At this stage a number of things can be done. One little job will be to seal the bottom of each sand box with some plastic padding or similar and then each one filled with a mix of padding and liquid lead and a little pure filler on top. This will add weight to each corner of the loco. For most people this is the time for final cleaning up and masking and spraying primer on to the chassis. I personally would be more likely to test run the chassis by re-assembling and attaching the motor to the pick-ups and checking for shorts and running. I often use a weight to simulate the weight of the body to do the testing on a section of track.

As with building I have a method for testing. Before fitting the wheels and motor in place check for shorting between the pick-ups and the chassis using a meter. If there is a short examine to see what may be touching. If there are no shorts between pick-ups and chassis then the chassis is neutral and you are unlikely to end up with a short when you fit the motor in place. Once motor, wheels and gears are fitted then contact between moving parts may cause a short, although this is likely to be intermittent and more difficult to spot.

If you have a slight short every now and again, but can't spot where it is happening - turn the lights out and look for the spark! :idea:

Some of you will be wanting to add a chip somewhere between pick-ups and motor and there are several possibilities. I do not intend covering this just now, but if enough people are interested I may include examples later. These locos are not going to be fitted with chips although the locos I have built for Burntisland have them fitted.

Another point is that as I am using a couple of Portescap motors it is recommended that diodes are fitted as per the instructions which come with them.

We will come back to further testing for running quality at a later point, but if you have a chassis willing to turn over at this stage ( and you should have as you have proved the chassis is free at an earlier stage ), then allow it to run at half speed for half an hour in each direction and at full speed for half an hour in each direction to run in . This can be done on the bench (the helping hands come in useful with this) while you are working on the body if you wish.

Before going on to body building I want to have a look at bogeys and trailing wheels as well as variations on compensation and springing,and of course looking at some of the other locomotives that the other West Group members are building. :)

Here I am doing a test prior to the pick-ups being fitted. I will repeat the running test once they are fitted and the chassis re-assembled.
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John Bateson
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Re: West of Scotland Group's "Starters" Build a loco project

Postby John Bateson » Sun May 02, 2010 8:58 am

Very interested to note your use of material for the pickups.
For the main springs you use NiSi, would a more suitable (and springable) metal be something like 0.3mm (12') PhBr, I would have though NiSi would be more likely to fracture in the longer term.
And the use of Gold - a metre of 9ct 1mm gold now costs well over £100 and while I appreciate this would be a lifetimes supply for many modellers, a 'club' purchase may be necessary unless a raid on certain jewellery boxes is proposed - what's a few links here or there ...
Unless you are referring to the so-called gold wire for some home jewellery making, most of which is not gold.

Slaving away still on GCR stuff ...
Avoiding the soaps ...

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Allan Goodwillie
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Re: West of Scotland Group's "Starters" Build a loco project

Postby Allan Goodwillie » Sun May 02, 2010 10:09 am

Hi John,

Oddly enough I am using a nickel silver strip which is fairly stiff as I want it to have a fairly fixed, although light, tension and not have it wander off sideways, but phosphor bronze wire, or nickel silver would also work, providing it was not too springy. The nickel silver strip is also attached to the copper clad by means of a loop rather than a fold this allows for long term flexing without it breaking apart, a flat fold would be more likely to do this. :(

One of the things covered earlier was how to make sure that the wheels go on straight and there is no sign of wobble. If the wheels are not turning true and the pick-ups are bouncing out and in all the time then probably the wire needs to be more springy to react sufficiently quickly, but will also put a counterforce on to the back of the wheel at other times leading to less even running. :(

I am using paired pick-ups and true running wheels with light tension pick-ups and untarnishable contacts. I did a light weight pick up on a locomotive recently as an experiment in minimal friction, for someone else, which has proved to be an excellent runner and I will look at that some time over the next few weeks.

I have had a number of locos fitted as a long term experiment with various forms of pick-up for about 10 years now and have decided that the one which has needed least adjustment and which has shown little wear, is the one which I am recommending, however some of the other ones have been almost as successful and I propose looking at these as good alternatives in the next section after seeing some of the other locos being built by the group.

As to the gold, I know it has gone up in price a lot recently, but I used to buy mine from David Franks who, with his wife Fiona, used to have LMS Models. It was only a couple of pounds per strip and we are using small quantities at a time as it is just going on the tip of the pick-up. Each piece of wire would probably do about 5-6 locos. You are right about broken gold chain as being a good source and very use-able. Pure gold is softer than say 9 carat gold and will wear down quicker, but 9 carat will stay untarnished in use and not be expensive.

Les contacted me recently by email behind the scenes wondering about the use of berylium copper as a substitute and here is the reply I have sent to him.-

"Your question about the berylium copper is a good one, although not quite as good as gold, the copper would give very good conductivity and in early ready to run locomotives copper was one of the materials used for pick-ups. Although berylium copper will wear down slower than plain copper there is still a tendency for the material to tarnish when not in regular use and copper oxide does not conduct ( Unlike Nickel Silver, interestingly ) and gold does not oxidise at all. Personally I would go for Nickel silver if gold is not available. I will be showing examples of locos using N/S pads for pick
ups - a system I used for years with pretty good results, long lasting too." :geek:

This is a good time for questions John :D and I hope to answer as many as possible over the next week or two and would encourage others to write in with any queries about their own exploits. Les has mentioned some of his own exploits and I hope he will add them in due course to this dialogue.

"bye for now-enjoying the Scalefour News by the way this Sunday morning-a good read keep up the good work John it is much appreciated. ;)


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