Wednesday, 16 November 2011

A winter project - What to build?

Over the last couple of years I've been steadily collecting locos, RTR and kits, for my chosen period and project location. The most recent being two Dapol Beattie Well Tanks and a Perseverance Beattie Well Tank kit. For the moment though I do realise that the latter is way beyond my current capabilities as I've never constructed a loco kit.

While adding these kits to the shelf, I have been chewing the fat as to which one to build as my first attempt at a loco chassis. Ideally I thought it would be best to have started with an 0-6-0 tender loco. Starting with the tender chassis and then progress to the loco chassis. In my alternative universe I think I could twist history enough to justify running a Class 700 (Drummond's "Black Motor") - 30697 & 30700 were allocated to Exmouth Junction in 1961. I also have a BEC kit on the shelf waiting to be built. It was very tempting to make a start on this kit until it was very kindly pointed out it would take a lot of work to produce a decent looking loco from it. The tender frames are of different lengths and other castings are of dubious quality. It would also be my first white-metal loco kit and I've had little experience of constructing white-metal kits. So this kit will have to wait until I think I have enough experience.

I have also collected High Level's 03 and 57xx chassis kits. These look superb and the instructions seem second to none. However without any previous experience of building loco chassis I have found reading though the instructions daunting. Also, the thought of ruining one of these kits half way through the build is very off putting. I feel I need to cut my teeth on a kit that I could dismantle and start again, or at worst even throw away with the least worry over costs. I need to get my hands dirty with something simple.......

Thoughts turned to purchasing some Alan Gibson side frames for a DJH 1366 and/or a NuCast 16xx. I thought the 16xx kit could be a good first kit, apart from the construction of the white-metal body. Again I've had no experience of white metal kits and would like to ruin a few white-metal wagon kits before starting on the 16xx.......I could go on with many more excuses as to why most of the kits I've collected would not be good starting projects....... and you may ask why collect all these kits if I'm going to be such a chicken?

So, to cut to the chase, I've been encouraged by members of my area group to attempt to put together a Comet 57xx chassis with a Bachmann body. Compensation will be Continuous Springy Beam and the motor and gear box will be from High Level. Over the last few weeks I've been collecting all the items needed and recently purchased, off eBay, a suitably priced Bachmann body.

I do realise I am approaching this project with some naive enthusiasm but I've been receiving much encouragement and advice from members of my local P4 area group. It is invaluable having "hands on" on their locos; seeing their projects under construction; and the different techniques they have used. Having this access does much to demystify the written word in books or magazines. Hopefully I will get something running and not be too ashamed to show the result.........


Flymo said...

I think that you've made an excellent choice to start with. Although I haven't built one myself, the Comet kits come with an excellent reputation, and the combination of CSBs and High Level components would be highly recommended by me.

Once you've got this under your belt, I'd strongly suggest the High Level 57xx. Yes, the instructions may look daunting, but that is only because they are very comprehensive and clear to use. You really won't find a better set anywhere. If you read them carefully, and follow them faithfully you're guaranteed to have an excellent model at the end.

On the general subject of soldering, your lack of experience is a common thing, and something that we discussed at Scalefour Committee last night. Expect to see some initiatives from the Society to help people dip a toe into the water in future...

Have fun, and keep us posted :-)


Geoff said...

Hi Yan,
Having built many etched chassis I have to agree with Flymo. The Comet chassis kits are superb and very user friendly. I have just completed a 14xx kit which you might have seen on my blog. and have a 57xx in build awaiting the fitment of hornblocks.

Building Loco Chassis the Comet Way is a free download from their site and full of useful tips.

Iain Rices book on chassis construction is also well worth reading

It is a fantastic feeling when a chassis of your own making moves for the first time and I am sure that not only will you build a good chassis but also enjoy the experience.



James said...

I think the Comet idea is a very good sound one! Take you time and just take it a step at a time and keep checking everything. This latter point is key as if each stage is checked and in order if you find something isn't right it should only be last part/parts to have gone on causing an issue. It's also something I should really take notice of myself as I can easily rush ahead in a burst of enthusiasm!

Once you've got this under your belt the High level ones shouldn't pose a problem. At fifteen I built one of their RSH saddle tanks with no problems - if you can solder then they're very user friendly indeed. They have some of the best instructions you'll find too. They're more complex than some kits but still straighforward - get a bit of confidence with the Comet build and then you should have no problems.

Incidently search our copies of MRJ 61 and 62 - there's a two part article from Iain Rice on a 57XX conversion. Worth looking at for the bodywork he undertakes to compliment your new chassis!

Yan said...

Thanks for the encouraging comments guys. I didn't realise I had the articles in the MRJ so they will come in very useful. I've also downloaded the construction guide from Comet's web pages which I'll be browsing through before getting stuck in.

I've started to plan the positioning of frame spacers etc so hope to post an update soon..

Thanks again.