Hint's 'n Tip's (and a few obscure thoughts!) #1

Hint 1

Don't ever let your work space get to this state! I spend more time looking for bits and pieces due to this chaos than for any other reason. If you look under the desk, directly below the belly up 38, you will see a portal to another dimension, yeah that big dark space that you're staring at. It's either a dimensional portal, a worm hole or a black hole (are the last two one in the same ?). It has to be, because every time a little part, and the odd large one, enters it's dark maw (that should read "that I drop") it usually disappears of the face of the planet never to be seen again - it's true, really it is.

I have sent my son on many search and rescue missions into this dark abyss, purely as a last resort of course, (mainly because his eyes and back are about 25 years younger than mine) some have been successful, others, well, there may be children reading..............!?

Tip 1 (This one is actually useful, I promise)

Detail parts such as these white metal marker lamps, for the front of the 32, are not cast with any locating sprue or spigot. Even if it were, on a part this size a fine white metal locating sprue would be fairly useless and probably break off at the first nudge, or shunting mishap! These little fellas' have been modified to make them more likely to survive actually being used in service as opposed to sitting in a display cabinet or a dark box somewhere. Particularly if you were take your pride and joy on the exhibition circuit for others to marvel at. The casting sprue for these is the square bit at the bottom which represents the 'handle' to change them from red to white. It looks a bit chunky at this resolution but you can only go so small with white metal and get the bit out of the mold in one piece. This highlights the reason that some casters go to the trouble of 'lost wax' casting in brass (which these really should have been) as the detail would have been much finer, and more expensive of course. I may have a go at filing these down a bit and see what happens.
The first step in this mod requires a 12v drill, or a 240v one with speed control, a 10 or 15 mm piece of 0.5 mm brass wire, a 0.5 mm (#76) drill bit and good quality cyanoacrylate, thats boffin speak for superglue.
Drill a hole, you knew that was coming didn't you, at slow speed or you will find that your drill bit may 'skin' with white metal if it gets too hot, right through the side of the casting, as 'square off' to the casting as possible, and out the other side. Ease out the hole a bit, ie wiggle the drill bit around a bit, to make some room for the glue. No you cant really use the 'next size up bit' as this, in my opinion, is too sloppy a fit. There is also a very high tech and expensive drilling lubricant you can apply if you wish - spit, seriously, it works. No, not a 'lumps and all' golly, just a bit of unadulterated saliva. Not recommended straight after eating!

Don't stress if it's not exactly square, the next step will fix that. Take your piece of wire and check that it fits through the hole ok. This will probably be when you discover if your hole has been bored square or not, if it's an easy fit then take it out and apply a bit of super glue to the wire and shove it back in the casting until the other end is flush with the outer edge of the casting. If you went to the trouble of filing the end of you bit of wire flat, I'm yet to find a pair of cutters that give a true square cut, then you will have a nice neat appearance on the outer face of the casting. If not, then leave the wire a bit proud of the hole and touch it up with a file or some fine emery on a hard flat surface.

Once the glue has gone off, adjust your new sprue to square it off if necessary. Drill a receiving hole where the part has to go, using the same technique and bit, trim the new sprue to about 5 mm, test fit, because this hole may not be quite square either, adjust if needed, apply glue and in it goes. Repeat the process with the other lamp but don't forget that, in this case, being a pair, that they are 'handed' right and left. I you glue the wire in the wrong way you will not get it out again once the glue goes off. You can avoid this possible error by only drilling part the way through each casting on the correct side first. The end result may not be quite as strong.

You will have noticed I repeated the term 'square off' a couple 'a three times. Take the time to do this or your installed detail part will look crap, simple as that. I employ this method to any detail bit with a locating sprue around 1 mm dia or less. I use Zap CA glue and find it lasts for years if you keep it in the fridge (not with eye drops!) and don't let it sit on the work bench with the lid off. If the nozzle starts to look a bit ferral, give it a gentle squeeze with a pair pliers and the offending bits should come off. If its blocked just drill it out, it works.


32?? (Current project)

This is my current project (for someone else), an NSWGR 32(P) class DJH kit. Since this pic was taken more detail has been added to the boiler/smoke box, mostly handrails and and other plumbing.

The loco will be fitted with a Tsunami sound decoder (light steam) and a 'Mega Bass' speaker. I just finished measuring up the tender and the speaker should fit ok. The speaker decoder combo was recommended by Mr Spencer-Salt from MRRC at Blacktown and I can't wait to get it installed and start fine tuning. It will probably have some working lights as well. This 'P' will eventually be finished in the NSW maroon and lined livery and will be a 'named' engine.

Stay tuned....regular updates will be attempted !!!

(PS It was quite disturbing how smoothly this post went, must have been holding my tongue the right way this time ?? Thanks for the help Ray ! - Notice the link !! woohoo)



I have just spent several hours trying to do what should, by all accounts, be a relatively simple task, uploading and placing images on a blog.

I am giving up now, due to the risk of irreparable damage being done to my computer due to sheer frustration. I even managed to get some text and HTML code mixed up, hence to odd coloured paragraph that thinks its a picture !

As you can see I have changed the template to full screen, which is ok, but I just cannot get the pics to go where I want them. They always end up at the top of post and the size of a table cloth !! The thumbnails work ok but I just want the image, without the all the other photobucket website stuff that goes with the thumbnail, and a nice sized pic on the blog that every other blog I look at seems to be able to do ! - I'm over it already....



Pic's on this post have been re uploaded on 2/8/09. No 'photobucket' link anymore and much more detail - GL

Enough talk - Let's get to it!

A standard (non streamlined) 38 class Pacific DJH white metal and brass kit built for a mate as a 40th gift (his wife paid for the kit, I just built and painted it!) about 8 years ago.
Finished in Bakers Verdant Green enamel, it took three attempts, several phone calls and the inventing of some new words to get the finish right, it is modeled in pristine "straight out of the shop" condition, hence the clean side rods, connecting rods and tyres and lack of dirt. The only weathering was Dulcote and the handling it has had over the years.
The lining is a WAO kit, the valances were lined in sections as the complete decal was too much of a handful. Some of the boiler bands also resulted in some new words being invented as well!
It has a tender full of real coal and a Kerroby crew that never seem to do much.
The headlight is a lens that Lloyd Sawyer used to sell and the name escapes me - as do many things these days.....

This loco has had a rough start to life, one of the owners daughters picked up the box one day with a little too less pressure on the box sides and the whole lot went careering into a tile floor nose first, sorry no pics, several spare parts, some judicious straightening and a lick of paint and all was good again.Originally built to run DC, when the owner was bitten by 'the bug' 3822 arrived back at the LLC&W Workshops with a strange looking component to be fitted, I think it was called a 'dee-coe-da'? Wires like cat hairs, lot's of 'em, and all different pretty colours to boot. Lots of shiny tiny ity-bity tronical stuff stuck to a bit of green plastic ! Conversation went something like this: "What's this do?" "I dunno, can you fit it ?" "Fit it where?" "I dunno. Its for deeceecee layouts" "What ? Have you read the instructions?" "Don't be stupid, that's your job." " Right o, where did I put that soldering iron ?"

After scaling back to the bare four wires required to make the thing move it was off to Ray Pilgrim's place to see if worked. This thing ran like a clock on DC but we were about to enter the dark world of "the extra C".

Quite a few DJH kits use a pick up system called 'half live'. There are no actual pickups on the loco, it uses the the wheels (non insulated) on one side of the loco and the same set up on the tender but on the opposite side or rail. So motor connections are fairly simple, one terminal to the loco chassis and the other to the tender. Its in the latter part that the trouble starts as far as DCC is concerned.

Apart from the fact that a white metal and brass locomotive is a giant, rolling short circuit looking for somewhere to strike, the path that the DCC signal takes from the rail to the decoder, via the tender, in standard form, is fraught with danger. From the rail to the live wheel, to the pin point end of the axle, to the bearing cup (usually glued in), to the bogie side frame, to the bogie spreader, to the bogie screw/nut/spring, to the tender body, to the tender coupler pin, to the loco draw bar, to the decoder 'pickup' wire washer/tab, where the first actual soldered connection is encountered !!

That's 11 non soldered electrical connections for the signal to travel through, if done in standard 'off the instructions' form. I should add that DJH/ARKits make no claim that the instructions are 'DCC friendly' as they were mostly written well before DCC came into fashion.

The fix for this is to fabricate some 'axle wiper' type pickups from 0.5 mm phospher bronze wire. These are soldered to the bogie pivot washer and lightly bear on all 4 tender axles, a wire, approx the same gauge as for the motor, is soldered to the other side of the washer and connected directly to the appropriate decoder wire. If the decoder was being fitted in the tender the actual decoder wire could be used. This has cut out 10 of the 11 non soldered joints ! This does not increase the number of pickups but makes them a whole lot more reliable. Should you wish to take things to the next level I have heard that PC board can be used to make pivoting pick up mounting plates, fitted to each bogie with pickups on each wheel. This would double the amount of tender pickups! Good luck! The pickups described here and shown in the pics, were made and fitted by Ray Pilgrim.

The other annoying problem with this kit, and others, is the tendancy for the front (and rear in this case) bogie retaing nut/screw to come loose and fall off during running. The obvious solution here would be glue, but this makes tuning and repairs a bit painful.

In the case of the front bogie a better fix is to remove the screw and file a small 'flat', about 2 or 3 threads wide, on one side on the end of the screw. Then drill a 0.4 or 0.5 mm hole in the middle of the filed flat. Form up a clip out of 0.4 mm brass wire with some round nosed pliers and use this like a 'split pin' to hold the bogie on the screw. If the bogie is adjusted to the right height using the nut, mark this point, file the flat and drill the hole at the appropriate point and the nut can be discarded and the bogie can be held in place with the pin and a washer without any problems. If you need to raise the bogie slightly then add extra washers as required. This tip courtesy of Ian Dunn.

The rear bogie on the 38 is a bit different. A screw passes through the body then the bogie pivot, then into a threaded spacer in the chassis. If this screw is tightened too much the bogie wont move in any direction, not enough and the screw and the bogie will fall out. The fix is similar to the front bogie. Remove the brake rigging plate from the underside of the chassis and fit an M2 screw through the threaded spacer from above so it is pointing down. Refit the plate and bogie and trim the screw so there is just enough protruding to file the flat and drill the hole. Note: If this screw is left too long it will foul on points.

Should you wish to improve front bogie articulation even more then fit a brass tube 'sleeve' to the bogie screw. Carefully file out the slot in the bogie to a loose fit, but not too loose, over the sleeve. Good side to side movement is required but not excessive 'fore and aft' movement. This prevents the bogie from becoming 'hung up' on the thread of the the bogie screw.