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The Yellow Peril (Part 2)

Howard Smith


Well, RMweb Live was a good chance to work on the Road-Railer project and make some progress. It is now in the state as seen below:





The show was one of the best I've experienced for engaging with the public on a more one-to-one basis, and the project certainly created some intrigue amongst many who passed.


An explanation of the work carried out so far, along with details on the prototype machines and Phil Parker's Road-Rail trailers can be read in the November 2014 issue of BRM, on sale in shops from October 9.

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  • RMweb Gold

I'm really looking forward to the magazine articles.


This model looked amazing at RMweb Live - and there's obviously been a lot of progress since.


I don't know how many RMweb members would agree with my viewpoint but, if I'm reading a magazine, I find it far more interesting to see "work in progress" articles than photos of the finished model.


Some people might point out that a lot more work has gone into the finished article than the part-way-there photos - and they'd be right, if everything's done to the same high standard.


However, if nobody gets to see the intermediate stages, some people might be tempted to cut loads of corners, so the finished result might not be quite as good.


Well, having seen this model when you were working on it, I know you weren't cutting corners.


Anyway, even if a modeller were cutting corners to get a result, documenting the build process and showing what's been done (and how it's been done) might allow us to learn - what's really been done - why - how - and do the results justify the means?


After all, this stuff is all part of the learning process, which is vital for any of us to be able to build better models.



In a similar vein, while I was at the show, I wondered whether there might be scope for a regular "Kit Rescue" feature in BRM.


On the surface, this might look like laziness - after all, I'm sure that many of us have part-built kits, which we've put to one side and forgotten about, because we encountered problems which we couldn't solve easily.


Well, my suggestion wasn't about getting somebody else to build one (or more) of my obscure kits for me, with a magazine picking up the tab.



The way I see it, it doesn't make a lot of odds what prototype a kit is supposed to be based on.


At a couple of recent shows, I've mentioned about some Mark Hughes whitemetal kit of a Metrolink T68 articulated tram - on which I managed to damage a join between 2 side panels, when I tried to fit them together for glueing.


I'm sure that loads of people might be thinking that they don't have one of these kits - they probably don't - but they might have encountered similar issues, or done something very similar, with some WM loco kit they've attempted.


They might also have encountered issues when building kits of other subject - and in other materials - etched brass - resin - styrene - wood.


I know that, in time, I should be able to fix my kit - I don't know exactly how - but I'm sure it will happen, eventually.


If nothing else, I'm sure that a number of the helpful suggestions I've got from various people at shows will give me enough clues to point me in roughly the right direction.



In other words, I'm not really talking about my kit - or any of the other stuff I've somehow managed to mangle, whilst trying to assemble or refurbish them. However, I'm sure that there must be loads of other people out there, who've made similar mistakes - I'd quite like the chance to learn from them.



By now, I'm sure some people might have worked out that I used to work in a university - as a labrat - and my job involved setting up, running and supervising practical classes.


I made mistakes - everyone does - thankfully, I didn't make too many and the ones I made weren't too serious. The students I supervised also made mistakes - again, nobody was killed or seriously injured - but I learnt from everyone's mistakes and I tried to ensure that my students did likewise.


I also learnt from different ideas some of the students came up with - and I generally enjoyed the learning process. However, the biggest lesson I learnt was to always be ready to learn, even if some of the lessons - some of the learning opportunities - don't come from the most obvious directions.


This is the real reason for my suggestion - whether it's actually workable - whether anyone wishes to pick up the idea and run with it - remains to be seen.


Time will tell.



Anyway, returning to your model - it looks excellent - and I'm looking forward to seeing progress on it.






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Thanks for the encouraging comments Huw, it was nice meeting you at the show.

Soldering is a subject that comes around every once in a while. We ran a series on soldering two years ago, covering most aspects from a beginner's point of view. Whitemetal soldering was one of the topics covered.

Saving a whitemetal kit from the heat of the iron is harder than a brass kit if some detail is lost (ie. window frames etc.), but not always impossible. I suppose it depends on what state the kit is currently in/ how much work to repair is needed and how much a new replacement part can (if possible) be bought for.

If you don't mind taking a few snaps of the kit, I'll let you know your options.

In any case, yes, like I said at the show, we'll certainly build on your idea and see if it develops into something for the magazine.



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  • RMweb Gold



Many thanks for your kind remarks.



With regard to my kit, I actually intended to bring it with me - to the model tram show and to RMweb Live - to assist with questions / explanations. For various reasons, this didn't work out on either day.



I'm afraid the photos of my kit might be a short while coming - if only because I need to charge up the batteries on the camera.


While I think of it, there's also the little matter of working out how to post photos from it - so I'll try to work that one through, even if it involves further delay. If nothing else, this should provide me with an excuse to post photos in the "test" section of this website - I just can't say when this will happen.


I know - "excuses ... excuses ..." - it's just that these ones happen to be true.



In the meantime, I'll try to describe what I think the score is:



Photos will follow, in due course - but I know that Ian Fisher posted a picture of one of these kits, at a slightly later stage of the build sequence: http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/71887-mark-hughes-wm-metrolink-tram-kits/


In Ian's photo, you might notice some raised strips, at the top and bottom of the centre door - one end of these strips doubles as the lugs holding the bodyshell sections together prior to soldering (or, more likely in my case, Aralditing). You might also notice a bodyside half section - visible behind the assembled section and in front of the tin of paint.


One thing that complicates these kits is the fact that these sections need to be trimmed before assembly - for length - and so the lugs can be fitted to the corresponding slots on another section.


This wouldn't be too much of a problem - were it not for the fact that both sides of the join need to be trimmed very aggressively - and I found out that it's easy to go too far with the file. This resulted in some rather fragile areas, by the joins.


At this point, I was unsure how to rescue the situation - so I decided to put the kit to one side - then think about it - and ask questions at shows, where a number of viable sounding suggestions have been made on how to proceed.



When I finally get the courage to continue with the build, I'm sure the first step will involve some rather careful cleaning of the pieces.


I suspect that I'm most likely to follow this by adding a strip of brass shim behind where the pieces need to be joined - then fix the pieces onto this.


I might also use some scraps of PCB material - with the copper cladding removed - as packing, while I fix the sides together. I'm not sure about this one, though - I suspect it would be more useful with soldering than with glue assembly.


If I opt for Araldite, this might allow me to use Sellotape, or insulating tape, for holding things together during assembly - something I've got plenty of experience of through a previous job (which involved installing strain gauges - loads of the things.)


As for the choice of solder or glue, I'm not really sure. A lot of people swear by soldering - and point out that it can give strong joints. However, I've never had much luck with soldering whitemetal - and I've also heard some horror stories about some of the large bodyside sections on these kits sucking heat out of joints - so Araldite is starting to look very tempting. Time will tell.



However, my kit wasn't really at the centre of my thoughts when I mentioned the "kit rescue" concept.


Although I'm obviously grateful for any ideas etc with my kit, I was actually thinking more about model railway kits in general - many of which are built in similar ways. After all, I'm sure that other people - building models of completely different prototypes - must have encountered weak panel joints. They've probably also had some bother soldering whitemetal.


A lot of people have posted comments on sites like this - or asked questions at shows - asking how to deal with various problems they've encountered with their kits. These kits seem to be of a wide range of prototypes - but many of the problems seem to recur with many of them - and I was wondering if there might be some way of showing us how to deal with some of the more frequent problems.



Anyway, until I can get the camera up and running - and, more importantly, I can work out how to use it, I'm afraid my photos will need to wait.



Edit:   Since posting the above comments, I've had chance to take some photos of my kit - and post them in the "test" section of this site.


I've also taken the chance to "tidy up" some of my comments - in an effort to clarify what I was trying to say - whilst trying not to alter the basic message.



I think it's just as well that, to date, I've made no attempt to solder together the sides of my articulated tram kit - I'm just not convinced that I would have done a very good job of it. (I won't bore you with my reasons for saying this.)


There's also the issue of how aggressively the sides on my kit need to be trimmed above the windows - to allow the lugs above them to fit. My photos show that there isn't much "stock" left above the windows - which creates the risks of window frames getting melted, or detail getting smothered by molten low melt solder when doing the joints.


For these reasons, I very much doubt if I'll be fixing these parts together using low melt solder - I suspect that metal loaded epoxy adhesive (with metal epoxy filler, if needed) would be less likely to damage the window frames when I finally summon the courage to get on with building this kit.


In all honesty, "finally" is probably the operative term - in a sense, it already is, as I actually got this kit in 1998! Since then, it's been pulled out - looked at - and then shelved - on a number of occasions. I'm sure this kit will, eventually, get built - I just don't know when, that's all! I'm sure that many of your readers have also got kits with similar histories.



Although this kit's currently on the back burner, it probably won't surprise you to learn that I've got other projects on the go - experiments / proof of concepts - none of them exactly exciting.


Some of these projects fall within the usual scope of this website - some of them definitely don't.  However, if any of them lead anywhere, I should now be in a position to post pictures in an appropriate section of this site (and / or FreeRails - where I'm also a member) - time will tell.



In the meantime, I look forward to seeing progress on your project - and other projects in BRM.



Many thanks.





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