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Buck
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Hey gang I had a question.
My modeling interests lie in obscure prototypes and odd gauges and scales that are not well supported commercially, and I spend more time looking for things that can be modified to work than I do building stuff which I find awful. I'm pretty happy to be faithful but not exact to the prototype and where I find myself dead ending is coming up with running gear for steam locomotives I'd like to build. To keep things easy for myself I can use a number of different materials to build the 'tops' and tenders and what not, but I see there are a lot of parts (gears, motors, wheels and drivers etc.) to be had at a cheaper rate than buying a commercially produced models to throw most of it away. An example is I'm looking to build a TTn3.5 model of a New Zealand Railways J class 2-6-0. My only known reference is a for a chassis would be a N scale Bachmann 4-6-0. The drivers and driver spacing look close but I'd need to buy a model that will cost me $120 and I'll end up not using the tender boiler or pilot and hacking away a lot of the superstructure to make it work. I'm also looking at building some Vulcan Double Fairlies. And mebbe that doesn't sound awful to you but I'm also considering HOn3 and HOn3.5 models and the thought of hacking up a $500+ dollar model into something unrecognizable make me want to barf. That's not say if I wont use model that has been produced already but if that were the case I wouldn't be asking this question. The other considerations I have to make is I'm limited in shop space and can't quite outfit myself with thousands of dollars of machining equipment (just yet, one day....)
So the question is can you recommend print resources for information on building locomotives from scratch and what are the essential tools I MUST invest in to be successful and reasonably efficient (There was a man in New Zealand who built models from scratch and he had to make his own tools, one being a hacksaw made from a butter knife.... I'm not that dedicated (https://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/topic/631 )) I have a dremmel tool and tools to build structure and cars but that's about it. Or maybe what could I expect pay for a RC ready HOn3.5 4-6-2 chassis?
My main issue is not time but money and I'd rather have spent it on radio control gear, tools, faster horses, older whisky, younger women, and make chassis that are smooth running with good motors than buy a piece of junk and fight it for the rest of my life.
NZR J Classhttps://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/NZR_J_class_(1874)

W C Greene
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Howdy Buck, wow...where would I begin? Building TTn3.5 using available N scale mechanisms may require looking at the older N scale market-stuff that runs OK but ain't up to the "purist detail" standards that most want these days. Older Bachmann N and Rapido, etc. come to mind but these may be "victims" of the "collectors" by now. Hell, some folks collect dinosaur poop so the collectors are an odd lot for sure! Maybe you can get a deal on some N scale loco which has been mangled by an inept modeler or something that is being sold by some poor old widow for next to nothing...look around, it may happen. TTn3.5? Nobody wants to answer the question but perhaps me...why do you want to build in that scale? Of course, how many have asked me the same question???
How much would an "r/c ready HOn3.5 4-6-2 chassis"cost? Goodness knows.
OK, I would settle for HOn3 or HOn3.5, TT scale is an extreme minority scale which offers little (somebody will howl about that statement) in the way of figures, structures, etc.
And if I was to settle on one or another, I would opt for HOn3. So much is available and you can actually modify many N scale mechanisms to HOn3 with careful work. You just might get that 4-6-2 with regauging an old Rapido N scale Pacific. All it would take is spreading the drivers out .75MM on each side and a drop of CA on the axle ends and you have it.
But remember that this "advice" comes from somebody who whacks up On30 locos, etc. to work in what is scoffed at by most model railroaders as "military" stuff.
Different strokes for different folks!

Woodie

Si.
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" So the question is can you recommend print resources for information on building locomotives from scratch
and what are the essential tools I MUST invest in to be successful and reasonably efficient "



Hi Buck :wave:



This vintage book is an old-school 'classic' on both tools & construction techniques.





' Miniature Locomotive Construction '

by John H. Ahern

Percival Marshall & Co. Ltd. London

First published in 1948



This compact at 165 pages, yet totally comprehensive volume, is a MUST have.



Simple tools are shown used in every conceivable way to construct all the various loco parts.

The book describes the new 'miniature' motors of the day & how to use them.

Any of the current generation of motors are easily smaller, so the info is still relevant.



There are 17 Chapters on every possible aspect of loco construction.

These are short & to the point ... Important !

Illustrated mainly by very helpful B&W drawings of techniques in practice.



This book sold ZILLIONS of copies & was reprinted many times.

It should be easy & cheap to find & buy a 2nd hand copy.



HIGHLY recommended ... Check out what people say about it on the net ...

... Yep, people are STILL talking about John H. Aherns excellent books today !



:)



Si.

Si.
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A recent book to be published is this one.





I don't have a copy of this book, but am VERY tempted to get it.



I believe it won the Ian Allen railway book of the year award, a couple of years ago.

The author has written another loco building book as well, similar in presentation to this one.



Although focusing on particular locos, the techniques are obviously fairly universal.

Tools are covered as well, simple & to the point I think.

The books have many colour photo illustrations.

You can probably view some pages on Amazon to check it out.



I think the author has a website also, with photos of his work not covered in the books.



Well worth checking out I recon.



:)



Si.

bobquincy
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There are some inexpensive (<$40) N scale locomotives on the bay, check out "thefavoritespot".  As noted, you may be able to get away with spacing the wheels out a bit.

boB

Buck
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Hey guys thanks for the replies,


Si I will look into the Ahearn book! I'm exited to see that they can be had at a pretty reasonable cost!




Woodie, thanks for some feedback and advice and it keeps things in perspective, and your work has shown that one does not have to settle on building a 'proper' model railway and has changed the way I think about a challenging problem and coming up with a creative solution.


I have a tendency to get a little windy when I am posting things (I should really type these things up then sleep on it then rewrite it the next day). Mebbe the question I should have asked was 'I am interested in expanding my skill set to scratch building steam engines. What are print scources and simple tools I should invest in to achieve this goal without selling my firstborn child to MicroMark for a completely outfitted machine shop?'

For the most part N scale chassis will work and I thank boB for the lead on some cheap donor equipment.


I have considered building NZR prototypes to 10.5mm gauge so I could have 1 layout and 2 railways but TTn3.5 achieves the same goal and the 10' to an inch scale is great to scratch build in.

Si.
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Hi Buck :wave:



While the microchip revolution rolls on, some things NEVER change.



Basic materials & tools are as good today, as they have always been.



:)



Si.

Buck
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That's what I'm hoping for!

Salada
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Si. wrote:
Basic materials & tools are as good today, as they have always been.




Hello Buck,

Some sound advice there from Signor Si.

Ahern's book is very dated in some respects but is packed full of home made 'how to' ideas that don't require a mountain of $£s worth of CAD tooling. Still an excellent book. Also books by Mike Sharman.

I suggest you first spend time around/studying the 'real thing'. Visit every RR museum and Heritage Line you can. Get a feel for the size, weight, mechanical details of 1:1 scale locos & rolling stock. Draw a few simple looking bits of real mech detail. Even better, sign on as a volunteer fitter's mate/painter/gofer - but get too involved, you are there to learn, not become an unpaid slave. Then go home, find some scrap metal and try to copy parts of what you've seen using good basic hand tools.

A small vice, hammer, anvil, scriber, tin snips,  pliers is all you need to start. Always spend a few bucks more on GOOD quality basic tools, the results & your satisfaction are always better. Start with a few 45 & 90 deg bends, make 'em sharp & neat etc etc. Fabricate a set of cab steps or a truck spring.

THEN look at the big buck equipment if you are still interested & have some basic manual skill. Non CAD mills, lathes don't drive themselves - they need an experienced good man on the levers.

Regards,   Michael ...... remember, it's supposed to be a fun hobby !

bobquincy
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Some recent developments in tools and materials have opened up a world of new modeling possibilities.  While not cheap or easy the benefits and results are amazing.
Of course one of these is 3D printing, where we can have parts made (inexpensively) that could not be machined.  Speaking of machining, the current low-end lathes and mills are capable of sufficient accuracy for our modeling use, great for adding precision axle holes to the 3D printed chassis we just got.  Yes, $500 for a mill is not cheap but a lot less than we would have to pay years ago.
Back to 3D printing, we (or someone) has to design the part so we have to learn the solid modeling software or pay someone to draw our part.  Still, this allows us to have a part that would not exist otherwise if volumes are too low to interest a model corporation. 

I have written this before: my N scale monorails and HO Disney monorail modifications would not exist if it were not for 3D printing.  Modeling TTn3.5 I expect you will be building many of your own parts too.  It's fun (usually).


boB

Rod Hutchinson
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This is the one I have.  It is available in a digital version as well as hard copy.
It is very well written.

Attachment: 9781847977687.jpg (Downloaded 100 times)

Last edited on Tue Oct 3rd, 2017 06:01 am by Rod Hutchinson

Daniel Beresford
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Thanks for this thread, chaps. I've ordered the John Ahern book for future reference, as I've got a LOT of N scale steam locos to build if I hope to model the Southern accurately! :P

Si.
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Hi Guys :wave:



The book that Rod has, was the Ian Allen award-winner from a few years back.

The authors 2nd book, which I posted on the previous << page ...

... came out after the success of his first book.



I believe that the main difference is between tender & tank locos.

I think tenders are covered in Rods book.

Whereas tenders aren't in the tank loco book.



I'm sure the presentation & excellent construction ideas etc. are common to both books.

I just happen to have an interest in the smaller tank locos.

I think forming tanks around boilers etc. is covered well in the 2nd book.



:)



Si.






Description of Simon Boltons tank-loco book, by Amazon reviewer :-


" An excellent textbook on model locomotive construction.
The author builds two locomotives using different methods.
One uses Markits wheels, the other Gibson.
One uses a rigid chassis, the other is compensated.
This is illustrated by a large number of splendid colour photographs showing each step of scratch-building."

Si.
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'Miniature Locomotive Construction'

by John H. Ahern


On Amazon.Com


From $9.93c



:)



Si.



:old dude: An old-school classic sonny !

Si.
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Another old-school classic.


From the Oakwood Press.





A slim & to the point 36 pages on chassis building.



Some Amazon reviews :-


" Although written a few years ago the booklet has very clear explanations of many wheel arrangements and how the flexichas system works with each.
As an alternative way, compared to the more complex hornblock system, into a fine scale locomotive chassis it has a lot to commend it."


" A quite old publication but still excellent for something better than a rigid.
Recommended."


" An old book now in 2016, but the ideas described are most vivid today.
If you are in for building your own chassis - just buy it ! "


:)

bobquincy
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Let's get crazy!  This article shows some serious suspension techniques.

http://www.clag.org.uk/41-0rev.html#section8.2

Last edited on Tue Oct 3rd, 2017 07:20 pm by bobquincy

W C Greene
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I applaud the fellows who can (and will) build these finescale locos with equalized drivers/frames. Of course these are better for reliable running and another "look at what I did" kind of thing. BUT...the plan for equalized chassis is mostly to insure that all drivers are on the track at all times for maximum traction and RELIABLE PICKUP WITH DC/DCC POWER. Of course larger scale locos can benefit from equalization but a "small scale" loco which is set up to operate on BPR/C will run without problems on any track (provided it is laid properly) or across the floor, etc. And for tractive effort, the old "standby" traction tires or as I have-Pliobond on the treads-will negate the need for any special chassis work. OK, I wrote it. I am sure that many will be saying-"that guy is an idiot, who does he think he is?" but I have proved to myself and others that the "easy way" works.
I have no problem with a compensated/equalized chassis and whoever wants to invest the time and work to do this is to be rewarded with great operation and satisfaction of building something that the rest of us can only look at in awe!
I am not a locomotive scratchbuilder, just a butcher who whacks up commercially available models to do what I want them to do. My "thing" is building a place for my locos to operate in a more or less "realistic" fashion, I want to "do it all" but realize one thing-"A man has to know his limitations"...Harry Callahan's words.

Thank you for reading my drivel.
Woodie

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Tell it like it is Woodie.

The naysayers can keep on thumping on their tables  and scrubbing on their track.

Herbie    

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Not being a machinist and lacking the patience to build a loco, I certainly agree with Woodie.  I'll continue modifying existing and sticking in batteries. 
Love your description Herb.  I have been run off after suggesting BPRC to table thumpers.

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Hi Guys :wave:



Not wanting to rattle on TOO much about the John H. Ahern book ...

... but.

The thing that really makes THIS book the No.1 absolute MUST have IMO ...

... are the descriptions of the general fabrication techniques for all the major loco parts.



When you look at a loco part, like a dome, tender flare & curve, cylinders etc. etc. etc. ...

... and think, how the hell do I make THAT part ??

He has ALWAYS got the answer, on how to do it in the most sensible & simplest way.



How to join several basic material sections together, to make a new shape/fabrication.

How to fit cylinders to frames & boilers in the best way.

Cab details & shape forming, the list goes on and on.



This is what makes the book so essential.

As his descriptions & EXCELLENT technical-style line drawings ...

... save you doing all the thinking about this yourself ...

... & with simple, not machine-tools, lets you get right down to actually making your parts.



Since steam locos are all more or less the same ...

... chimney, firebox door, domes, cylinders, valve gear & rods etc. ...

... It doesn't matter specifically what loco you wanna make parts for, his techniques are universal.



It is no wonder that this book sold by the truck load & was reprinted so many times.



:)



Si.

Si.
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" Thanks for this thread, chaps. I've ordered the John Ahern book for future reference "



Hi Daniel :wave:



Did the 'Miniature Locomotive Construction' book arrive ...

... and what did you think of it ?



:bg:



Si.

Reg H
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Si:
I have the Ahern book.  It is good.  I built some loco decades ago and hope to do some more of that.

I wish somebody would publish a compilation of Thornburgh articles.  My first attempts were guided by his work.  

Basic hand tools, and practice, are all you need to build model locomotives.  It is amazing what you can do with a good jewelers saw, some files, needle nose pliers and a hefty soldering iron. 

Of course, now I have a full machine shop.  Talk about a learning curve.

Reg

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Woodie:

I remember, as a teenager, visiting an O scale railroad and watching a fully sprung and equalized mallet (GN prototype, I forget which one) moving, very  slowly, from the turntable.  There was a very slight elevation difference between the turntable and the track.

It was a very impressive sight.  One that has stayed with me for over 50 years.  Hard to describe.

Reg





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Gents,

I have had a copy (now 2!) of the Aherne book since I was a young teenager.
I also have his books on Landscape Modelling and Miniature Building Construction.
They have always been my modelmaking bibles and without them, I would have had to find some other way to earn a living.
They really are that good.

I was immensely fortunate to have been mentored by the great J.K. "Jack" Nelson and he recommended the Aherne books too.
Thank heavens the local library (when we had such things in every small town) had copies and the only stamps in the back were for me, one after another.
People are still making buildings from the delightful plans in the back of his building model book.
I made my first locos entirely from his book.

I have a lathe today, but back then I had a piercing saw, a hand full of files given me by my uncle (a toolmaker), which I still have, a pin chuck and other files I have bought from Sunday Markets from the old tools stool.
I also have a few small bench vices, which I have literally filed and sawn away over the years.
A small hammer is useful.
I have a large soldering iron and a smaller one and I now have a mini blowtorch that works on lighter fuel gas.
My hearth is the innards of a gas fire.

If you have evening classes nearby, they might run curses that give you access to a lathe for making your own chimneys and domes.
Only wheels are expensive, alas.
Can be made, but very fiddly things to do.
Gears and motors you gotta buy, I'm afraid, unless you have a pal who is a closet gear hobber!

Good luck.
There is no loco you can't make.

Martin

Herb Kephart
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Martin,  good outline that you posted

Of course, someone will all ways come along with an addition, that they will think is "essential", but I find it interesting that the better the craftsman the smaller the tool assortment that he uses day to day. Yes, he may have others, but they seem to get used only on rare occasion. I think that if someone would start out with a tool collection that would fit in a lunch box, and then concentrate on models, in a little time he will feel the need for expensive tools lessens.

What would be next? I guess that a small lathe--although Mel Thornbaugh made exceptional locomotive models turning parts with a hand drill clamped in a vise, and various files held against the work. I think that any serious aspiring modelmaker should keep  a pantograph mill in mind IF he has the space, and money. they are becoming more and more rare, being displaced by computer machines.

I agree that the Aherne  books are top notch. Mine are starting to fall apart.

Unfortunately "shop classes" in this country are becoming strictly how to program CNC machines, to try to prepare kids for a job. If they did have a regular lathe in the shop, they probably wouldn't let anyone other that a pupil run it because of the liability. SUE! SUE!

Enough rant from me

Herb

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@Herb
as long as a lawsuit, however ridiculous, renders a profit for the lawyer, it will continue to keep us all away from making real-life experiences. Here in Germany that sort of nonsense gets hold, too.

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Helmut, I agree, think of the Modellwerkstatt!

Kurt

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Herb,
Iunderstand that the lathe at my kids' old school that I used to borrow when I had a job too big for the Taig was suddenly sold off for peanuts. I used to give the little darlings a chat on the project I needed the lathe for, like a pattern for a silver drum for Prince Charles when I used to make the models for a London silversmiths.

I once bought a pantograph for 350 quid, then realised I needed to buy the cutter grinder too. I did a few light milling jobs on it and even did a pantograph job on it, but really got very little use out of it. It was a pig to set up, like most mills. Then I bought a paddle steamer off a local chap and he was so delighted when I identified the machine in his garage as a pantograph he gave it to me for nothing! So then I had 2. I sold the original one, then got a huge profit on the cutter grinder and swapped the free one for a rebuild on my Jag 4.2 six engine!
But a small lathe is almost indispensable and the Taig is something well within most peoples' budget, as opposed to say a Sherline.
The Vincent master I am working on currently simply couldn't be done with it. I am making nuts and dummy bolts on it! At 1/6th scale, you have to have everything.


Cheers,
Martin

Last edited on Sun Nov 19th, 2017 02:39 pm by Paglesham


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