An Article in the Press

In last week’s post I told you about Shapeways’ plan to change their pricing structure for the Frosted Ultra Detail (FUD) and Frosted Extreme Detail (FXD) plastics. You can find the post here.  This process is now in full swing so while I’m sorting through my models my posts will be brief.

One thing I do want to share with you this week is that I made it into the Shapeways Magazine and you can find the article here.

Next week I’ll have some updates on which models have changed ready for the new system.

A Change in Shapeways’ 3D Printing Prices

This week I’d planned on continuing with my OO Gauge Fixed Link Couplings and showing you where to get them.  However, it was announced last week that as of 22nd May 2017 Shapeways are restructuring their pricing system for Frosted Ultra Detail (FUD) and Frosted Extreme Detail (FXD) plastics.  As my OO Gauge Fixed Link Couplings will be printed in these materials I’m going to look into this before I release the product.

The main changes Shapeways will be making are lowering the material cost and halving the initial base cost. This, on the whole, is good news as it should reduce the cost of several of my products, but I’ll need to do some re-designing.  This will be necessary as they’re also adding a charge for support material and a small charge per part.  And as many of my products have multiple parts this may push the price up.  But don’t panic; the solution will be to have these parts sprued together or 3D printed inside an enclosure so they are treated as one part.

I have already done this with some of my products.  For example the EMD DD35, DT6-6-2000 and RT-624 all have their handrails 3D printed inside their shells as you can see with the DT6-6-2000 below.

So over the next few weeks I’m going to be revisiting all my products and ensuring they are all easy to order and cost-effective; plus a spring clean isn’t a bad idea!  This may mean my next few posts are a bit random but I will share with you what has changed as the products are updated.

Enjoying the Show Circuit

Again I only have a short post for you this week as having recently got back from the Bristol Model Railway Exhibition and we are now preparing for another show.

This time it’s the Victory Model Railway Club’s annual exhibition in Portsmouth (the UK one!)  The exhibition is Saturday 13th May 2017 from 10:00 am till 4:30 pm and is held at the Admiral Lord Nelson School, Dundas Lane, Portsmouth, PO3 5XT.

We will be attending with several modules from our ‘Solent Summit’ layout and I look forward to seeing you if you can make it.

Next week I’ll have a longer post to share with you and will continue with my OO Gauge Fixed Link Couplings.

A Different Way to Resurrect A Shelf Queen

As promised in last week’s post this week I’ll show you a way to give some new life to old steam engines, or any locomotive which has became a ‘Shelf Queen’.

The phrase ‘Shelf Queen’ is normally used in model railroading to describe a locomotive which looks great but just doesn’t run well and spends all its time on the shelf.  This could be because it has a broken part, it doesn’t pull well or simply runs so roughly or erratically it’s frustrating.

I have several of these which I kept telling myself I would get around to fixing, but time marches on and I now find myself with newer locomotives which outstrip my ‘Shelf Queen’ to the point that if they where good as new they would still disappoint.

So what to do with them?  The answer is make them into a scrap train.  Now I know I said “give some new life to old steam engines” and sending them for scrap is sort of the opposite!  But it’s a model, so they will forever be on their final trip to the scrap yards, and will be running on the layout once more.

I have several engines to do this with but the first three, as pictured below, are a pair of original Bachmann 4-8-4 steamers with long haul tenders and a Con-Cor 4-6-4 streamlined Hudson. (The Hudson in the image is not the actual locomotive, this one is good runner.)

The first thing to do is to remove any motors, drive shafts, wires, connectors and pickups.  Both of these locomotives have gears between the drive axles which I’ve left in to ensure equal turning of all the wheels.

Once this has been done and the locomotive has been reassembled it’s very important to ensure it’s free running.  That is to say when pulled, or pushed by another locomotive all the wheels freely rotate and any side rods and valve gear don’t stick.

Often when steam locomotives are transported like this the connecting rod, which links the piston to one of the driving wheels, and the eccentric rod, which drives the valve gear, is disconnected or removed.  This prevents damage occurring to the cylinder as it is normally lubricated by oil in the steam.  However these are going for scrap and Bachmann only linked the rear three driving wheels together with a side rod; this is the horizontal rod linking all the driving wheels, probably to save material as it can’t be seen behind the connecting rod.  But with the connecting rod removed it just looks wrong so I left them on.

It’s also a good idea to sort out any couplings at this stage so the effect of ageing the locomotive is all over.  New shiny couplings stand out.

To transform these locomotives into rolling wrecks on their last journey I handed them to my friends at Model Railway Solutions who went to town with a mixture of weathering powders, paints and a few secret ingredients.

And now they look like this.

Once these have been weathered to this severity all moving parts will need to be re-checked to ensure they still run free.  Areas like the valve gear are particularly susceptible but simply running the locomotive vigorously up and down your hand will free most of it up.  The biggest issue is paint and material on the running face of the wheel.  This will cause the loco to bump down the track; in real life they would be smooth as they weigh hundreds of tonnes.

However once it’s all ready the effect is fantastic, here are three powerful modern locomotives taking two giants on their last trip.

The Hudson still had some crud on the wheels so even these three diesels struggled to pull all the steamers, however in the last frame of the video it’s on the back of the train.

I intend to extend the train with some of my other ‘Shelf Queens’.  Some of these will have the connecting rods removed, maybe a tarpaulin over the cabs, rusted holes in he tender and maybe the word ‘scrap’ painted on the side.  Something else to consider: a lot of steam engines come with coal molded into the tender; of course this would not be here and the coal bunker would be empty.  Also the side rods and parts would still go to scrap so these could be on a flat car trailing behind.  Of course the scrap yard may not be the destination, they could be heading for preservation.

Next week, once I’ve recovered from this weekend’s exhibition in Bristol, I’ll share some of the show with you.

The Bristol Model Railway Exhibition

This week’s post will be nice and short as it’s been a busy weekend, so I’m just going to remind you that I, and my fellow members of the Gosport American Model Railroad Group, will be at the Bristol Model Railway Exhibition with our N Scale modular layout ‘Solent Summit’.

The exhibition runs from Friday 28th of April to Sunday 30th and you can find out about it here.

Next week it’s a Bank Holiday here on Monday; so again it will be a short post.  But I’ll have something to share with you that will give some new life into old steam engines.

Fitting DCC to Wrenn OO Locomotives – Vertical Motors

Last week’s post was all about converting Wrenn OO locomotives with horizontal motors to DCC; you can find the post here.  This week I’m going to share with you how to convert the vertical motors.

The vertical motors were used in the City & Duchess 4-6-2s, A4 4-6-2s, 0-6-2 tank engines, Royal Scott 4-6-0s and Bullied Pacific 4-6-2s.  The two engines I’m converting are the ‘City of Birmingham’ and ‘Sir Nigel Gresley’.

To remove the all-metal shell simply remove the screw located at the front and it will come away from the chassis.

As with the horizontal motored locomotives the wiring is very simple.  The black wire goes to the right side pickups and connects to the isolated motor brush at the front of the motor.  The brown disc is the capacitor which acts as a suppressor to prevent interference with televisions etc.  The other wire from the capacitor connects to the chassis and the left side pickup.

All the wires are removed except the black feed from the right side pickup.  The brush at the rear of the motor is not isolated from the chassis and, as with the horizontal motor, it’s this one which gives us a problem.

The steel cap covering the brush simply pulls out to reveal a spring and a brush as below.

The cap fits into a brass sleeve which guides the brush and spring to the armature.  In order to isolate the brush from the chassis this sleeve will have to be removed and replaced.

It’s very unlikely the sleeve will push out; you may be lucky but chances are it will need to be drilled.  Before you do this the armature will need to be removed to prevent damage and metal filings getting where you don’t want them.  In the picture above you can see I’ve removed the magnet and side plates: this is done by removing the main bolt through the motor.  The front brush should also be removed by pulling the end cap out.  Then the top nut above the armature can be loosened and unscrewed.  Note there is a small ball bearing in the cap. The grease should hold it there but be prepared for it to fall out. Then the armature can be removed, normally from the right hand side.  There’s also a small ball bearing in the fitting at the bottom of the armature. Again, it should stay in place but be ready just in case.  The chassis should then look like this.

Using a 5mm drill the old sleeve can be drilled out and the hole made ready for the new 3D printed sleeve; you can see the new sleeve in the bottom right of the image above.  Once the hole has been drilled, clean and remove any burrs from the hole and remove any metal fillings from the chassis.  Before you fit the new sleeve make sure the brush fits through without any resistance.  It should be able to fall through if tipped up.  If it sticks there may be some 3D printing residue inside which can be removed with a drill bit or round file.  The new sleeve can now be fitted and, if necessary, held in place with a little glue.

Then simply reassemble the motor.  Before you put the armature back in check to make sure the ball bearing is still there.  The top nut should be screwed down so the armature spins freely but has no vertical movement; only then should the nut be tightened.  With the brushes refitted, a continuity test should be done with a volt meter to double-check that both brushes are isolated from the chassis.  Then the wires can be added for your DCC decoder.  The red goes to the black wire, the black goes to the chassis, the orange goes to the front motor brush and the gray goes to the rear as below.

Once a DCC test has been performed the shell can be refitted and the loco is good to go.

So where can you get these 3D printed isolating brush holders? They’re available here:

Two Wrenn horizontal motor isolating sleeves.

Four Wrenn horizontal motor isolating sleeves.

Two Wrenn Vertical motor isolating sleeves.

Four Wrenn Vertical motor isolating sleeves.

Two Wrenn Vertical & two horizontal motor isolating sleeves.

I will also keep a few in stock so please drop me an email or message me through the contact page.  If you have a different locomotive which needs a special part to isolate the motor for a DCC conversion I’d be happy to look into it for you.