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An old project resurrected



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!

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  • RMweb Gold

Looking good, Mark!


Interesting looking signal box in the background, too, if this is a GWR prototype, would that be a box of Welsh origins?

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Looking good, Mark!


Interesting looking signal box in the background, too, if this is a GWR prototype, would that be a box of Welsh origins?

Thanks Captain. The signal box is not of a particular one, it is the Lcut Creative kit, I picked it up a couple of years ago because I wanted to see how their kits went together. It's rather a large affair to control the 3 points on this layout, so will not be used eventually. I'm really only using the baseboard as somewhere to store it!

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  • RMweb Gold

Hi Mark, I read this with much admiration for your persistence, it must be satisfying to see this come to fruition after all that time. The assembly looks really good, I wouldn't know where to start with that.


If you ever meet the seller again you'll have to ask him if he ever built one himself!

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Mark, you're right, this is not an easy kit, the biggest problem I had was with the chassis. I got it working reasonably well but was never satisfied with the appearance. To give some semblance of mainframes just behind the wheels (I model in EM) I applied plastikard overlays to the sides of the cast chassis. Alos I had to split the (not that well detailed) cylinder casting and separate the two halves to accomodate EM gauge standards.


Recently I bit the bullet and dismantled the chassis throwing away the casting. This was replaced with an Alan Gibson chassis with one axle sprung. I had to fashion an assembly from strip brass to take the top bearing that fits into the body. Because of the soldering required on the valve gear I was concerned that Gibson wheels would melt to used the Romford ones, now marketed by Markits. I used the NuCast valve gear without the combination lever as there was no way this would fit without fouling the valve gear. I do have some alternative etchings which I will try.


A High Level gearbox with the chunkiest Mashima motor that would fit between the two legs of the support structure completed the running gear.


If you want to see photos of my efforts have a look at my Blagdon blog.


It is a shame that currently no kit is availabe for the steam railmotor although I believe a RTR one is available (obviouly no good for EM modellers). These vehicles, in their day, were as much a part of the GWR branch line scene as the 48xx 0-4-2T's of later years and how many models are there of that prototype?  I've tried to get hold of the Blacksmith chassis kit without success as I feel it would produce a better result, the NuCast body actually is quite a good representation of a Diagram O railmotor (although watch out for the water filler covers). If anyone knows where I can lay my hands on a Blacksmith chassis I'd be very pleased to hear from them. 

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Thanks for your comments. I took a look at your thread as it is very pertinent to a future project. I actually have two more rail motors, one is a Mallard kit I built part built which has no casting, bogies and cylinders. I have a set of Blacksmith valve gear which will give me cylinders for this and a set of Gibson frames, so hence your thread is of great interest. My plan is the use the Gibson frames, Blacksmith cylinders and valve gear, a High Level gearbox and then scratch build the rest.


I also have a complete 59" Mallard kit I purchased on eBay recently. This has everything so will give me patterns for soon of the missing items in the other one I have.


I tried to get a set of valve gear or a motor bogie from Cooper Craft, who now owns the Blacksmiths kits, but the only things I could get are the buffers and the etches for the body. I have been told for the last couple of years that he plans to bring this kit back, but needs to redesign the power bogie and valve gear. 


Incidentally I have an RTR one on order from Kernow, but no date yet as to when this is likely to be available. If I get all these working I will have four, but at my current rate of progress it ill be several years before I see them all going!


I've had a little more time since the previous post and know united the body with the power bogie and cylinders and was delighted to see it circulating around the club test track. I'm sure this Nucast one will never be the finest of models, but it is a bit of a case of Captain Ahab chasing his whale - of so long the failure to make this thing go has haunted me!


As an aside I believe we may see a re-release of the Nucast version as part of Nucast Partners.

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