Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Building the Strath Hobbies 500 class: Part 1

This will be a brief description of the construction of the Strath Hobbies 500 class kit, available through End of the Line Hobbies (Victor Harbor, SA).

To start with, purchased a body-only kit as I already had an old Life Like Proto 2000 SW1 mechanism that was dying for some use, having been stored since 2004. The body only kit retails for $250, while the full kit (with a Hollywood Foundry mech) retails for around the $500 mark.

I was visiting my brother's layout "Tookayerta" when it was suggested that a 500 class shunter would be an ideal candidate to shunt the industrial sidings on the "to be built" section of his layout. To my suprise, Nick pulled out a A0 sized general arrangement drawing of a said loco, and then comparisons were made between the drawing and photos posted on the Model Etch website of a built Strath Hobbies 500.

I then decided, that there could be a number of alterations made to the kit to make it better represent the prototype.

The problems outlined were easily fixed - these being:
- Roof profile incorrect
- Bogie sideframes too high and too short
- Lack of general pilot detail
- Cab roof issues
- Exhaust stacks incorrectly shaped

So, off the Victor Harbor I went and purchased a kit. On opening the box, you get a number of brass etches for the hood sides, footplate, pilots, steps, end handrails, cab and a pre-formed cab roof. A bag of whitemetal sideframes, air cylinders, horns, air vents, and two types of exhaust stacks. Then there are also polyurethane castings for the fuel tank and hood roof and nose. A seperate envelope is included which protects the decal sheet for the SAR/ANR Red/Yellow livery - if you want the AN version, End of the Line can supply them.

I also purchased extra detail parts in the form of Associated Distributors single armed windscreen wipers (and mirrors) and Model Etch lost wax air hoses.

As seems to be a common problem with the Strath kits, the instructions leave a little to be desired - but there are some relatively decent resolution colour photos of a completed model included, so it makes life a little easier - the photos were kept, while the instructions were discarded.

The footplate folds up quite easily, with the etched pilots then being sweated onto the tabs at each end of the footplate. Then the steps are folded up and soldered together - care needs to be taken here, as the A end steps are slightly longer than the B end steps.

Then the cab was folded into a box and tacked into place with solder - there are some small tabs on the bottom of most parts which fit into slots etched into the footplate - a great idea as it keeps things square (sad I only noticed these after filing a heap of them off!). Once square, I then soldered the cab into place.

Next was the cab roof - this was a two hour job to get sitting square, but with a huge ammount of solder, flux,swearing, patience and burned finger tips (not neccessarily in that order), the roof was fitted and cleaned up using various files, dremel disks and sand paper.

Then it was onto the hood sides - there is a very thin etch with the grilles and various vents - now the kit supplies the air intake vents fitted with later era paper air filters, which if you are modelling a loco from between introduction and the mid 80's you might want to replace the grilles with some fine brass mesh. These needs to be sweated onto the back of the hood etches. Once these are fitted, solder the hood sides to the footplate. Now go and have a beer and relax for a while.

I'll leave it here until the next installment...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Liralau loco - reconstruction well underway and other bits and pieces

Hi All,
It certainly has been some time since this blog has been updated - with layout time being greatly reduced by time spent on the south coast with SteamRanger and various other 'home duties' that keep getting in the way, as well as time spent preparing the rapid prototyped masters for my brothers upcoming second version 8300 brakevans - keep an eye on the various web forums for more information - the standard gauge varients and CGP class vans will follow once the orginal version is complete.

A month or so ago, a brief moment of insantity saw me remove most trackwork on the depot modules in order for me to begin their well overdue rebuild - remembering these are the last two of the original modules which had not been relaid during the major rebuild of 2009/2010. Consequently the trackwork was pretty average to say the least, resulting in numerous derailments on badly aligned rail joins, as well as basically rendering the road to the turntable useless by having it situated too close to the mainline, meaning any loco stabled here would be side-swipped by any passing train.

The depot yard arrangement has been changed to allow greater flexibility - a headshunt is now provided, the turntable road now re-slewed away from the mainline and a way and works siding added (this will not be fitted with a powered point motor, as it is really only for looks).

On Wednesday evening, I fitted the point motors, however after securing one, murphy came out to play (damn him!) and one of the point control wires snapped (probably a result of trying to straighten it out) just low enough to ensure as the point was thrown, it would slip out of the hole in the tiebar. My solution was to take a short length of 2.5mm dia. K&S brass tube, heat it with a blow torch and then push it through the tiebar (melting as it went). This gave me an extra 3mm of length on the underside of the point, which will mean theres no way that wire can ever come out (unless it snaps off at the servo itself).

On Sunday afternoon, all wiring was completed and the first ground cover applied - basically a dirt-covered yard covering the turntable road and diesel loco servicing facilities. Now this has had time to dry, I will start weathering the ground prior to installation of structures etc - those structures in the above photo have been temporarily placed into position, and may yet be completely replaced.

Onto other matters:

Last Saturday was the annual Modelling the Railways of South Australia convention - as always a great variety of quality presentations were provided, as was an excellent display of participants models. Of note was Gavin Thrum's beautiful model of light pacific No. 621 (apparently his first ever loco scratchbuild).

A talk was presented on the Penfield Branch - now this would be a perfect exhibition layout for anyone wanting a small(ish) layout, with plenty of shunting posibilities and a regular railcar services..a good layout diagram was provided, but could also be modified into an "around the walls" shelf layout - I'm considering building a small shelf layout in the workshop based on this idea (maybe in a year of so).

The Superchook power car saga has also come to an end, with the cars now back operational - Brian Woods of Junction Models kindly provided two new axles and gears for the spud unit, which didn't initially cure the problem, which was later traced to a slipping worm gear on the motor - a drop of loctite cured that!

Anyway, Until next time - happy modelling!