Happy to go with jol and Will,
It was a good idea to move this discussion on to a different thread Will, being particularly ancient myself I started by using Romfords turned down on a school lathe which I had access to and EM axles spaced out using washers - sounds crude, but it was possible to get it working OK. I used plain brass bushes which travelled in slots cut in the brass frames and filed to have a thin outer edge.
Getting thin brass was difficult and I personally had no access to the material - I do know one or two friends who at the time used tinplate sheet. Our local model shop sold 1/16th Brass strip and when I could not get that I used brass curtain rail with the webbing cut down and filed. The bushes however were sprung by soldering spring wire (sold as handrail wire) on to the bearing tops and the other end to the chassis spacers. Interestingly there is an example of that in Ahern's book (Pub 1947) which I have mentioned before, but which I did not know about at the time.
When I joined the West Scotland Group I discovered that Mike Gilgannon had produced locomotives the same way and was surprised to find that Chris Pendlenton, who was also a member of our group had built unsprung and uncompensated locomotives and had managed to get them to work on very well laid track. He was kind enough to lend me a D49 for the stand at Scalefourum, which he had built in 00 originally and converted to P4. It has been interesting following Chris's ideas on rubber and wire springing over the years.
By the time I had discovered the West Scotland group most of us were buying Studiolith components for sprung chassis. Eventually it was my friend Jim Pugh who came across Mikes system of compensation first and built an engine using it. Being a curious person myself, I thought I would try it out and found that it was probably quicker and what's more worked just as well as the springing units I was using.
By the time Melrose Museum came around in the mid eighties my collection of engines was about half and half and frankly, watching engines running on the big layout you could not tell the difference in the running or the haulage power. Another friend and member of the West Group at the time was Steve Duckworth who was kind enough to build a chassis for one of my new engines which was a hybrid of both systems - Steve using it as a test bed for some ideas he had at the time. It worked pretty well, but I do not think he took the idea any further. I enjoyed reading Steve's account of building the three Caley locos in the snooze recently and had the pleasure of watching them take a turn around on Dubbieside last year at Glasgow as a very pleased owner looked on beside me. They ran beautifully and were a real credit to Steve's locomotive building ability.
Of interest might be the first meeting the Livingston Starters group had. We gathered around our dining table and with a section of track down the middle ran a range of locomotives up and down, each one slowly and then fast. (Could have done with a bit more space for the A4 to get up to speed!) Everyone was asked to write down just what system they thought was being used - compensation, sprung or springy beam. The results were interesting as no-one could tell any difference.
All the lads have worked their way through the loco chassis building course and that has been interesting, as they have chosen to build something which they already have the components for. The ones who managed to get their chassis working first have used compensation and a couple of them now have two chassis working.
The standard sprung chassis modellers came next with the springy beams still not quite there yet, however I do not consider this as being a problem with springy beams, it is more likely that it just takes longer to build one of Chris Gibbon's chassis than it takes to build other chassis types. This is not a criticism of Chris's kits in any way and even before we started I did point out to the prospective builders that given the level of detail and sophistication in the chassis they would take longer to build.
The lads have had a high success rate with quite a few locomotives running really well and the one or two still to be completed will follow them as good runners which is what it is all about. A year from now when they have all built their track and managed to get it laid we will probably have another run by to see if there are any differences in the running of the locomotives and I bet everyone will probably have forgotten who did what and all the locomotives will still run well.
Moving to the West Group who also did my locomotive building course a few years ago now. I would like to mention Julian Roberts who has really enjoyed building engines and taking them beyond the perceived wisdom in certain areas including loading of the axles. (Again have a look at the snooze - we often have conversations on club nights as how to deal with specific things locomotive, and it is always a joy to see someone who is willing to go a bit further and not just take perceived wisdom. Julian's locos do run beautifully at slow speeds and haul well, but he like the rest of us is constantly looking for better which is an attitude I am sure we all share.
I, personally, use whatever is the easiest to use and do not religiously follow one system only - it all depends on the locomotive type. Mike's flexichas system did allow quite a number of modellers turn to P4/S4 at a time when the Society really was expanding and I have only praise for his friendly approach and willingness to provide wheels for prototypes beyond the main English railways and I know from personal experience up this end of the country the loss of his wheels has made finding something approximate more difficult. There is a lot of work in producing wheels, if you have ever had a go at doing it at home with basic equipment we should all be thankful for all those who are willing to take time from their own modelling to produce items we all may be able to use!
As to ways of moving forward, I think we have to be careful here. I was concerned when a few years ago it seemed that the only way forward in the hobby was to buy a chassis jig costing big money and with track go for really expensive kits, etc. I could not think of anything more off-putting for new members to our scale. Even basic things like using a Brooke Smith Punch and riveter are considered to be passe and are like hen's teeth at the moment. I do appreciate that Terry has to make these by hand and only a few get made every now and again, but for someone starting, it is still the best and easiest way to make track and get it working first time for a reasonable cost. Cosmetics can come later, but it does allow for quick assembly to get it running in a reasonable amount of time. Remember I am talking about starters in the gauge, different if you know that you will spend a lot of time building engines or if you have a big cheque book to move your layout on quickly.
It is also of some concern in that there are only a very few people producing key items for the gauge for it to continue to advance. Not everyone would be happy to go back to producing locomotives etc. in the way some of us did all these years ago, especially given the quality of ready to run these days. It is regrettable that Mikes range has dropped into the hands of someone who seems unwilling to produce even part of the range, without going into the whys and wherefores. Getting people started in the gauge will lead to more buying the items we ourselves need and will help to make the future brighter for all of us.
The starters group threads I have been writing are based on people actually starting out and doing things with minimal cost, minimal equipment and parts and yet getting good working results. Not all of what I am using as a course could be considered standard, but it is all based on a long number of years of experience. Nor is it prescriptive, as I know there are other ways of doing things that will work equally well and that will be for them to go off and explore as they gain confidence in what they are doing. I am also keen that they put their own experiences on the web as I know that you will all give good advice based on experience.
Ended up saying far to much as usual! Sorry.