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MSS Loco a Good Start?




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#1 sjrixon

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 13:13

I'm looking at a small garden railway project... Start small and see where it goes!

 

I have been looking at the MSS kits, this one grabbed me as something to start with.

 

https://www.dreamste...-sets/SAGS.html

 

I can have this setup as a loop on my decking, while then building out a slightly larger setup in the garden. My sticking point in the garden is to be able to build a loop in that doesn't consume too much of the garden. I've been working to a 5' radius, as from reading a few posts that sounds about right, also now finding this kit, it has 5' radius curves. 

 

I want to build a ground level, as the management said they don't want anything too obvious. My current thinking is to have it set on railway sleepers!

 

Just wondering what people think of the MSS stuff? I guess it's simple and not quite a scale model, but a good start?





#2 Killian keane

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 13:59

They're simple little locos, and you can do a lot with them appearance-wise (mine is converted to an 0-4-2 tram engine) Theres a thread on another forum with some fantastic mamodbashery, they are very lightly built compared with a Roy Wood Janet though and the solid fuel burners definitely have to go, the Janet isn't that much more expensive compared with what you're looking at, and if you look on ebay or the 16mm association group on Facebook you'll likely find one for the same price

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Edited by Killian keane, 11 June 2018 - 14:03 .


#3 sjrixon

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 14:01

You say the solid fuel burners have to go.. What options are there?



#4 Killian keane

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 21:35

You say the solid fuel burners have to go.. What options are there?

Yoy can get meths or gas burning replacements which burn both hotter and cleaner, try dreamsteam or forest classics

#5 Mike Storey

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 21:59

I started with a meths fired Jane loco, much the same in principle, just a bit more solid. But I soon tired of her - she had only two speeds: stop and very, very fast, no matter how much I tried to finesse the wicks and the regulator. She worked best when hauling a heavy load, but could often be very erratic anyway.

 

There are two problems:

 

1. Oscillating cylinders: some people swear by them. I just swear at them. There are some finely engineered oscillators on the market (which nearly replicate the real life engines they represent) but these have more sophisticated control than a Mamod and are much more expensive.

 

2. Tablet or meths firing: I have never found anyone in praise of tablets, but again some people love meths, but it is so much less controllable than gas (or indeed coal/charcoal).

 

But as a starter loco, at a very reasonable cost, it is a good loco for learning the skills you will need if the garden railway bug bites. But I almost guarantee, if the bug does bite, you will be wanting to save up for something just a little bit better within a year (although there are a fair few people who do stick with them and praise them to the hilt, so who knows?). You can buy Roundhouse kits for their basic engines, which are far superior to Mamod in most respects, but will cost more. Or you can buy second hand Roundhouse or Accucraft locos at most shows, or through the 16mmNG Association member's magazine.

 

As for your layout, a 5 ft minimum radius is a very good idea (4ft is the normal minimum most try to achieve, and most locos can allegedly manage 2ft radius, but no-one would ever recommend that), but having read the blurb for the MSS pack, it appears that you will get 2ft 6" radius (5ft diameter) set track. I would check on that before you buy? If their track does not meet your needs, buy the loco separately and use flexi-track from Peco or others, to make the large radii curves you want.


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#6 PaulRhB

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 23:04

If you can afford it I'd recommend the Janet over the basic mss one. I started with the PPS models Jane that is basically the same thing, I'm wondering if Roy may have taken it over and improved that from the name similarity, and it was far more controllable than the Mamod but less duration than the Roundhouse or Accucraft locos.
http://roywoodmodels.co.uk
On a budget mss is fun but you get a lot more finesse and duration as you move up the price scale. The Accucraft locos are a good next step.
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#7 The Oily Rag

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Posted 12 June 2018 - 06:57

I can only concur with Paul and Mike. The MSS loco is to all intents and purposes the MAMOD loco, it uses the same tooling as all those years ago. There are many after market items availabl;e to improve them. Some peoople like them others don't. However from an engineering point of view, all oscillators have to be run fast, (very fast) and if I were choosing a starter loco to fire my imagination and not destroy it, i would be looking at a geared oscillator to give some sensible control. I have never owned one but the REGNER products would fill the bill or look in the secondhand areas.

 

Just a few thoughts.

regards

Ian


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#8 sjrixon

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Posted 12 June 2018 - 08:01

Thanks all for the feedback.. I think I'd come to a similar conclusion, the MSS is ok for what it is, but not much more. However, like everything in this hobby the next step is a big one.

 

I love the look of the Roundhouse or Accucraft locos. I've a soft spot for some kind of Hunslet and some others to match up with my 009 layout. But right now, with a blank canvas that's just too much to spend. The Janet looks to be a nice intermediate loco, so I might keep my eyes open for one of them too.

 

I need to get started and then get along to some shows. I guess also join the 16mm association! 


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#9 PaulRhB

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Posted 12 June 2018 - 09:00

Something like these http://www.hglw.co.uk or the IP engineering kits are a great to get something else running on a budget :)
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#10 doilum

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Posted 12 June 2018 - 09:30

Thanks all for the feedback.. I think I'd come to a similar conclusion, the MSS is ok for what it is, but not much more. However, like everything in this hobby the next step is a big one.
 
I love the look of the Roundhouse or Accucraft locos. I've a soft spot for some kind of Hunslet and some others to match up with my 009 layout. But right now, with a blank canvas that's just too much to spend. The Janet looks to be a nice intermediate loco, so I might keep my eyes open for one of them too.
 
I need to get started and then get along to some shows. I guess also join the 16mm association!


A couple of years ago I sold some of my 7mm locos to fund a bucket list wish of "building a live steam locomotive".
I chose the Roundhouse Katie as this has correct valve gear and can be reversed with radio control. It was a dream to build and run. Doing it again I might have chosen 45mm gauge. Total cost with radio gear and accessories was about £1100.
Factory support is superb and, doing it again I would consider a "project loco" from one of the second hand traders. A visit to one of the large national shows is recommended.
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#11 The Oily Rag

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Posted 12 June 2018 - 16:47

I know someone will correct me if I am wrong but the original MAMOD locomotive and hence the MSS locomotive are not quite big enough to be 16mm but the argument is subjective not objective obviously. Memory may be deceiving me but I think Barry Ayres actually used 14mm/FT  as a baseline for the design.

 

Roundhouse are definitely good quality and will last a lifetime. Peter Angus locos are generally geared oscillators (surprisingly) but are now so collectible that us mere mortals are priced out if ever we could find one for sale. The OP mentions Hunslets, I work in 7/8ths on 45MM gauge track and have just managed to get a Tim Wilson "JACK" (son of Brian Wilson of the 16MM build fame). Not cheap in purely monetary terms but well worth the cost. So there are a number of routes to consider. There are MERLINS about as well which are worthy of consideration as there are good service agents around with parts who will help when asked.

regards

Ian

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#12 PatB

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 11:03

I have to admit to having looked at the Dream Steam website with a certain longing. However, once you've added all the upgrades to the basic ex-Mamod loco to turn it into something useful, the cost isn't so very far short of something like a basic Roundhouse Millie which is a significantly more sophisticated design.

 

Oscillators as a species can be made to run more slowly by rearranging the ports closer to the centre of oscillation. However, to do so on anything with a useful stroke length involves significantly more work in making the cylinders, thus losing quite a bit of the oscillator's main advantage of simple construction.


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#13 sjrixon

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 13:18

I guess it's a slippery slope with the MSS loco.. The meths gives you more running time, that needs more water etc, etc, etc.

 

Millie is a cracking looking loco! But it's £650... But will last much longer. 

 

Maybe I need to save some money and do it properly! 


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#14 PaulRhB

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 14:08

It's worth considering it which is why some of the cheap battery options I linked above might allow work to start on the line while you save for a more sophisticated loco. Think of it as a contractors loco ;)
The oscillators for all their limitations are fun, just don't think that's it :)
I started with a Jane then an Accucraft Excelsior a year later. I traded them in after a few years for electric G scale though once I ended up without a garden, I just play with friends steamers for now ;)

#15 ShildonShunter

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 14:23

Hi Scott i love my MSS loco i still fire mind using tablets and have no issues as you can see i have replaced a couple of items such as a water filler valve and a high pressure safety valve. These i find are super little locos for starting up the hobby and save for an accucraft or roundhouse.
rsz_img_20171222_130639.jpg
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#16 doilum

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 17:47

I guess it's a slippery slope with the MSS loco.. The meths gives you more running time, that needs more water etc, etc, etc.
 
Millie is a cracking looking loco! But it's £650... But will last much longer. 
 
Maybe I need to save some money and do it properly!


Millie is a "slip eccentric" loco. These, I believe, need a lttle push to start or change direction. Katie and Billy have simplified walschearts valve gear and with R/C are fully hands free. MUCH nicer.
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#17 Mike Storey

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 18:17

I guess it's a slippery slope with the MSS loco.. The meths gives you more running time, that needs more water etc, etc, etc.

 

Millie is a cracking looking loco! But it's £650... But will last much longer. 

 

Maybe I need to save some money and do it properly! 

 

Don't let us put you off!! Get whatever you can afford, and start from there. My "Jane" was a nightmare (but it was one of those rare events - the current Mrs Storey bought it for me as a birthday present many, many years ago, which is why she is still the current Mrs Storey) but I enjoyed the challenge and I started to build an outdoor layout for it (never finished as we moved, yet again, but I built a better one at the last house in England, and now am building my ultimate, battleship strength version here in my dotage) and the few items of rolling stock I had found second hand, and a couple from kits, and the bug got me, big time. I learnt a lot from that first, inadequate venture. If it was not for Jane, I would probably still be dreaming and have done nothing.

 

Incidentally, as Paul RHB has said, you can always get a cheap battery loco as well (but in my opinion, not instead of a steam fired loco), to retain your sanity, if you want a quick run in between showers, or other things.


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#18 Killian keane

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 20:20

The only option I don't see mentioned above is actually building one's own loco, it might seem daunting, but you can utilise commercial parts like cylinders, wheels and a boiler leaving little more than platework, with an interest in Hunslets seek out plans for 'Wild Rose' which I believe are available online, on the geared oscillating side of things, Colin Binnie's Yak looks a worthy candidate IMG_20180419_205825.png
https://www.16mm.org...gs/locomotives/

Edited by Killian keane, 13 June 2018 - 20:25 .

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#19 The Oily Rag

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Posted 14 June 2018 - 08:35

Of course there are a never ending lists of how to start off and the comments above all have a lot of merit. However the old adage that did the rounds when I started was that it is your railway and you do as you like with it. And that was in the days before there was any really dominant prescence from the commercial world, everyone pretty much did their own thing and much fun it was. There are both horror stories and delightful experiences from all sides regardless of manufacturer.

 

I could go into a whole list of horrors to do with both MAMOD and MSS but regardless I have one, I bought a wreck a number of years ago from a toy fair for 25 quid, stripped it into bits and have gathered up a load of "after market" bits and pieces ready to respray it and rebuild it some day when my list of to do stuff shortens. I saw a MAMOD running at the Welsh Highland 64 group show once which was like a sewing machine and all the bits I gathered are pretty much the same as those fitted to that loco. New cylinders, meths firing with double tank, high pressure safety valve et al. A few hours work and I should (LOL!) have a loco which will run on 32mm track sensibly for about £100 all up.

 

Without spending money there are many things that can be done to improve them like lap the cylinder port faces, the control valve port faces, make sure the wheels are properly stuck on with green LOCTITE, ensure that you lubricate with proper steam oil not the multigrade motor engine oil that used to be supplied.

 

However in the end, you pays your money and you takes your choice. The advice of getting a battery sanity machine(s) is good and there are lots of battery electrics about and you might do worse than look at Ivan Prior's range of basic kits plus you gets lots of pleasure from making them up.  I ended up scratch building a little fleet of battery electrics because I got hooked (despite being a dedicated steam buff) it is nice to just get something out and just run with a bit of stock.

 

Hope my ramblings have helped a bit.

regards

Ian


Edited by The Oily Rag, 14 June 2018 - 08:37 .

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#20 Model Enthusiasts

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Posted 15 June 2018 - 22:35

I've had a lot of experience with repairing and test running these MSS Locos.

 

I run the business called Model Enthusiasts and we have been selling them for some years now, as well as mending them.

 

To help you see them from my perspective it may help to look at them from two viewpoints.

 

1. Buying a kit or ready built loco

2. Repairing a loco.

 

Buying a kit or ready built loco

 

The choice is either a kit or a ready-to-run loco.

 

Kit Locos:

If you are happy to spend time assembling then it is a very helpful and interesting way to learn what makes it go.  The written instructions are clear enough but of course, a leaning towards mechanics or engineering does help.  Most of our "kit" customers are pretty practical and I think that is important.  Mechanical intuition is generally all that is required to work out why something isn't fitting or is not work properly.  That just about describes who should and who shouldn't buy a kit loco.

 

Ready to Run Locos:

Joy of joys. It's all been sorted out before it leaves the factory. Or has it?!  Let be realistic about what you would be buying and the price.  The first clue concerning  "should I buy one?" is the price. They are the lowest price live garden rail locomotives available.  So maybe they score well there. However, are they fast off the blocks when first fired up? 
 

They are manufactured on a batch production basis. There is no conveyor belt production line. And as with any bench assembled product little slip-ups can occur during assembly. Occasionally little niggles do arise but nothing that can't be put right.

 

Conclusion:

 

Your money buys you a simple, tried and tested garden railway locomotive that gets better the more you run it.  Press on through any priming issues (water/steam from cylinders), be patient, maybe talk to your supplier for advice and soon you will have an engine that runs a treat.  If you want to see how some owners get on with them,  you can check out the YouTube videos.  That's a great source for an unbiased opinion.

 

Repairs:

 

If you run the loco as it should be operated, that is with solid fuel, careful water level observation, and adequate application of the correct oil, you will have an engine that will give you trouble-free running. 

 

However, in real-life, owners will drop the engine, run it with a gas burner and not check the water level and forget to oil it properly and so achieve an unintended but predictable outcome. But that's about human nature eh!

 

At the end of the day, these little fun engines are very strong, sturdy and repairable with all parts available as spares on-line.  So the final analysis says that for pure raw pleasure at a reasonable price, you can't get a better bang for your buck if you like small live steam locos.

 

That's my opinion anyway.


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#21 Nearholmer

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Posted 16 June 2018 - 13:13

Look at the price difference between MSS and the simplest Roundhouse.

Take an old jam-jar, and put a pound in it every time you feel you can spare a pound from your pocket.

I’d bet that within a year you can fund the difference in price, and I think you will come away a lot happier in the long run.

This isn’t about oscillating cylinders, some of which can be very good, it’s about overall build quality, robustness, controllability and a host of other things.

Edited by Nearholmer, 16 June 2018 - 13:14 .

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#22 sjrixon

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Posted Yesterday, 20:32

I think I'm going to have to join the 16mm society.. Save some money ready for a slightly more expensive loco.. Or maybe not ;)

 

Found these on my travels.. http://www.eagleassi...hglw/Locos.html Could be a handy little loco for the money!



#23 Mike Storey

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Posted Yesterday, 21:34

I think I'm going to have to join the 16mm society.. Save some money ready for a slightly more expensive loco.. Or maybe not ;)

 

Found these on my travels.. http://www.eagleassi...hglw/Locos.html Could be a handy little loco for the money!

 

Joining the 16mmNG association is certainly something worthwhile, just for the magazine, but also for more advice and details of where you can go and see what other people have done.

 

I have no experience of using laser cut wooden kits for locos, but I suggest that a metal kit might be more suitable for outdoor use (unless you are completely meticulous about removing the loco at the sign of any rain - I'm not....).  You don't have to pay very much more for one (when you combine the costs of the body kit plus motorised chassis and any detailing). See http://www.ipenginee...o.uk/page5.html



#24 PaulRhB

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Posted Yesterday, 22:15

If you seal wood kits they are fine left out. I use the remains of old spray tins to make three or so coats to seal them and then a top gloss coat of the required colour, you can matt it down or weather it to suit. You just need to make sure you do inside too with the sealing coats to eliminate any issues with humidity as opposed to actual rain. My little railcar from an IP kit has withstood rain without issue :)



#25 Nearholmer

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Posted Yesterday, 22:48

Yes, my kit and scratchbuilt wooden wagons have had the odd shower and are none the worse for it.

The only issue I’ve had is with glue. For wood I’ve always used evostick resin-W damp resistant pva (blue bottle, not green), which works fine, but I had ‘strapping’ that had been fixed with gel superglue fall off when wagons were over-wintered in an unheated store. Fixing with epoxy adhesive or contact adhesive (used properly) works fine though.