The very first locomotive kit, if you can call it a locomotive, was a NuCast Steam Railmotor. In retrospect this was a poor choice for a first kit and could easily have put me off kit building for life, but I have liked the look of the rail motors since I first heard about them and the guy on the exhibition stall where I purchased it said it was not that heard to make. Oh well, you live and learn.
Anyway, I started on this kit back in 2004 (as far as I remember), managed to solder the body together but got totally flawed when it came to the valve gear. SO it went back in it's box for about 4 years. I then tried again, using a Blacksmiths etch of valve gear, but again failed to make the thing go together. So back in the box again. A couple of weeks ago I thought to myself I would give it another go, so out it came again.
The body was looking a bit sorry for itself, it had been stored on its side in the box on top of a kitchen cupboard. Perhaps it got a little warm, or perhaps it was just sheer weight, but the sides had sagged badly and at some point the buffers had taken a knock, near mind those are both easily solved problems. So I thought I would start with that troublesome valve gear.
I decided to try the original Nucast etch again, it was somewhat more substantial than the Blacksmiths one, but had mostly the same dimensions. It would also mean I could save the Blacksmiths etch for an etched version of the 56ft rail motor I picked up on an exhibition stand. This was missing the bogies, casting and a crosshead, maybe I could make a second rail motor out of this, but that will hopefully be another entry in the future.
This time I managed to get the Nucast etch to go together fairly well, a little fiddly, but it did all fit, or at least I thought it did. Then I found the wheels I had, 16mm Romfords as recommended in the instructions, had too much throw and caused the piston rod to need to be cut so short to avoid going out the front of the cylinder that it would fall out of the rear of the cylinder at the opposite end of the stroke. So off came the Romfords and on with a set of Gibson wheels instead. That solved the problem.
The picture above shows the assembled vale gear, except the eccentric has been removed since it turns out the eccentric is too long and would cause the gear to jam at each end o the stroke. Looking at the Blacksmiths etch the eccentric on that set is smaller. So now I have the choice of making the Nucast rod shorter or stealing the rod from the Blacksmiths etch. I think I will at least try the former so that I can keep the Blacksmiths set complete.
The other things that still needs resolving are the cylinders, which do not line up and slope downwards to the rear rather than being level with the wheel centres. Also I need to do something about attaching the eccentric to the crank pin, since to ream these out enough to fit over the Gibson crank pins would mean there would not be enough material left on the little cranks. I also need to look at a better way of attaching the motor to the motor/bogie mount as well, currently it is simply held in place with some wire wrapped around the mount. I had thought to replace the worm and final drive gear with a proper gearbox, but it seems to run well enough and that would mean changing the way the bogie is mounted to the body.
I have to admit that it is really nice to see this motor bogie trundle down the test track with the valve gear moving as it should. Hopefully it will not be long before I have a completed rail motor.
Another slight confession, as I finish this I do now remember that I did start to make a K's kit when I was a teenager, back in the dim and very distant past. However that was never finished, it did convince me of my hatred for epoxy as a method of construction however. That effort is now lost forever thanks to a house fire in the late 70's. So when I say this was my first kit, it was my first kit following my reintroduction to the hobby.
The thing that is encouraging about all this however is that I think it must mean I have got just a little bit better at building loco kits over the years. So maybe there is hope for me!