The Tale of Two Chassis

I know, it has been a while. I have been so busy with work, ill kids, dodgy trains and general life, finding the time to write a worthwhile blog post and undertake modelling has taken a bit of a knock.

Now that Uckfield show is a confirmed invite (the layout even features on the website; Uckfield Show 2017) the sheer stomach churning panic that always goes before an exhibition is slowly creeping in. Whoever has exhibited anything before will go through this, it starts with:

‘Oh that is a result getting an invite’



‘What happens if its shit? What happens if it doesn’t work? What happens? What  happens…..’

Or I might be the only one, luckily I do this blog with Chris and he becomes my shoulder to cry on when I require attention or praise like a needy teenager. But it has been very busy all round.

Another new train introduction to manage. Class 717 mock up at Birmingham University, trips to Germany are going to eat into more valuable modelling time.

So in terms of modelling any exotic items not required for Six Quarters are in lock down and its all about dull couplings and weight in wagons, not the sort of stuff to set the pulse racing. I did manage to break my old compressor and buy a new one, the levels of excitement in the shed have almost reached fever pitch.

But I do enjoy exhibiting, so much so I don’t think I could ever build a layout not for exhibiting, its a great time.

Most of the SQ locos that I have accidentally buggered up over the last year that have ended up in that great drawer of ‘I’ll do something with that one day’ have been packed up to Chris’ with a note saying ‘Make work by October 21st. Please’. To which Chris the ever faithfully friend has dully sat in his attic in temperatures reaching 45 degrees centigrade in nothing but his pants to try and fix.

Locos being at Chris’ mean I also get holiday snaps of mine and Chris’ Pecketts mating in their natural habitat (the workbench). Unfortunately no offspring at present.

This has enabled me to concentrate on getting the jobs done on the layout ready for the show, and finally the list is slowly reading ‘complete’. It is mainly decoration now to finish off with a bit of paint to the frame. The layout also, in the last two weeks after HOURS of track cleaning has been working reliably, so reliably in fact I am now convinced I could not of possibly made it.

Sat in the twilight, working
Evie keeping a keen eye out for any operating irregularities  

Locos that are still left in the workshop allocation have been seeing rapid progress to completion

A veteran of the OTCM NCB collection is this ex GWR Pannier
A buggered up Heljan GWR 16XX picked up cheap slowly transforms into something a lot less Swindon.
Then to follow up the T&RS news, the old Barclay recommissioned with a new Giesl injector after the last one was damaged by it’s stupid owner.

And because I am so busy, I have also been volunteering at my local industrial railway (in for a penny in for a pound)

Wife doesn’t believe me that I polished this
Can you believe this was dragged up the Normandy beaches after D-Day to help the invasion?

Now the title? Bit of a mess this post, but there was a lot of odds and sods to catch up on.

Two models have been sat on my workbench and causing me some headscratching.

First up is the Golden Valley/Oxford Rail Yorkshire Janus (quite the mouthful) this model OTCM have been excited about since it was scribbled on the back of a fag packet at Warley about two years ago (could be longer – couldn’t be arsed to check). The NCB version arrived with a mixed reception online, it turned out a rogue element in the factory had been fitting motors the wrong way round and without all the designed flywheels. Cue maximum panic, I knowing my own luck quite well assumed mine would turn up with no motor at all with flywheels no where to be seen. Imagine my surprise when it turned up with a motor the right way around and with all the required bits!

The only downside was it wasn’t painted in NCB blue. It looks as if Oxford Rail only had the colours of a rainbow to choose from.

Not so much NCB Blue…

So I had been humming and hawing about a repainted so that decided it, she is just nearing completion now…

Looking much more at home in Green and Wasp stripes

The second chassis of this sorry tale belongs to the nemesis of this blog, the DJM Austerity. Firstly I point blank refuse to call it a J94, as it isn’t, but DJM likes to do this. This usually I can live with, but as this thing erodes my many calm barriers I can feel myself getting riled.

I have longed for a decent Austerity since time begun, even when it came out with its chunky detailing and its dodgy mouldings I thought ‘hey, I can live with this’. What I cannot live with is the chassis.

Mine ran okay, but it was never what I would call ‘decent’. No where near good enough for Uckfield. In comparison with older 0-6-0s it seemed dam right wrong. Then it starting binding oddly, PMP of Albion Yard has had much the same, mine was particularly bad in reverse. I am no engineer but you know something should sound a certain way and my DJM Austerity sounded like the mechanism was made from assorted off cuts of pig iron.

In the end I reasoned that I should take it apart. In my mind it would come apart like a Bachmann Pannier tank. Nope, it was a like a reverse rubiks cube where you had to try and work out what the original idea was. The exploded diagrams available online are of no use whatsoever, they look like they have been drawn on toilet paper while under an artillery barrage.

A good chassis for me is one that once freed from the motor it should, and everything I have does, be able to be pushed along and all the wheels move freely. However this bugger doesn’t.

To get into the chassis, you have to remove both sets of wheels from the axles (I shit you not) then unscrew the chassis into two halves. When you unscrew the two halves it will go off like a cluster bomb and bits of insulating plastic and cogs will beam across your work area in a dash for freedom. Now at this stage you will have, a chassis plate, two chassis halves, 3 axles, 6 wheels, about 687 screws and enough cogs to put in a swiss watch.

At this stage there is only one thing for it, wine.

So once I had hunted down the bits of plastic you start to realise the original idea. You start to not like the original idea. Or you kind of see what the plan was but it could never work in any way as the cogs have been cut with a butter knife and fit together in a way that can only involve luck.

I decided for me the best form of action was to make this rear axle drive only, and let coupling rods do the work (like normal model trains have done for some years now)

Running to the back axle. The motor sits in the tank above the large cog when all back together. You can see in this photo the black outline of the cogs binding against the chassis and also where that circle touches the black plastic insulating pieces. When the loco was going in reverse or forward minute movement of all the cogs was forcing it against the insulating pieces effectively stopping it dead and making it strain.

I trimmed back the insulation pieces and bolted it all back together, it worked, you could actually move it along with your fingers. I then fitted the couplings rods and it would not work at all. In fact it bent the couplings rods, being cosmetic only and I assume cut from cloth masquerading as metal they did not stand a chance. I then banged on some Comet coupling rods and all was well, then bolts went walk about after it unscrewed itself and I realised I had been working on it solidly for two weeks sapping up all my modelling time. So after showing some promise its been packed off to that roasting hot attic of Chris’. Quite frankly, as much as I like the body, it can stay there. Suffice to say the Uckfield show will be manned by the 30 year old Austerity models from Dapol and Hornby. Such is progress…

Although every time I see this photo I make a pining sound to the model railway gods to miraculously fix it in its box.

Thank you everyone, you keep on coming back,



15 thoughts on “The Tale of Two Chassis

  1. bawdsey

    I know what you mean about the frustration with this model. With a simple traditional design drive system the chassis would potentially have worked very well. Mine too has sapped a significant amount of time, and is awaiting new rods. I may try the RT etch. Did you use the original crankpins and retaining nuts with your rod replacements?

    1. I did use the original crankpins and nuts. It’s such a shame as there are so many better chassis design out there to borrow influence from. Why try and reinvent the wheel? Are you at EXPOEM? Chris and I will be there as Portchullin’s roadies. Oly

  2. bawdsey

    Andy, I’d have thought converting one to EM would be easy. Making it work would be the really, really, clever bit! Expo North possibly on the radar.

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