I've been expressing my dissatisfaction with the chassis and mechanism of the Hattons/DJM 14XX for some time now and I have finally started to do something about it.
The background to this is that I need a 14XX as the 'signature' loco for my new 'cameo' shunting layout 'Bethesda Sidings', which is a fictitious location on a proposed-but-never-built GW route between New Radnor and Rhyader in Mid-Wales. With the addition of the outrageously improbable 'Vale of Radnor Light Railway' joining the 'main line' off scene, I have sometimes described this layout as 'the Prestigne goods with added Pecketts'.
Back to the Hattons 14XX. The body work looked quite exquisite and on the basis of that alone, I ordered a BR lined green version, which would be renumbered to 1420, one of the Presteigne regulars towards the end of that service.
The first example from Hattons looked lovely, but ran very badly, as I couldn't get it to run smoothly at low, shunting speeds. In fact, the more I ran it in, the worse the running got. It quickly went back to Hattons, who efficiently changed it for another, identical example with no fuss or bother.
The second one seemed to be a better runner, upon initial checking, so I put it away and did some work on the layout for a few weeks. When it came to giving it some serious running in and checking how it was on the layout, it failed to live up to my initial, hopeful expectations. Once again, despite seeming to improve with the slow speed running, it eventually got worse after further running in, so I decided to cut my losses and provide it with a new chassis.
Having already heard some accounts of problematical running with this design of loco, I had already obtained a Perseverance chassis and the necessary Markits wheels. If the Hattons/DJM loco had settled down properly, these would have gone under an old Airfix body.
However, this was not to be and so the etched chassis is to go under the Hattons/DJM body.
I will re-iterate that, in my view, Hattons/DJM have got the looks of the 14XX just right, especially the smokebox end and the finish is exemplary. The lining is nicely done and the overall effect is very pleasing.
Hattons/DJM helpfully provide a 'components' list, should any spares be needed, which helped me subsequently in terms of identifying how things might come apart.
Unfortunately, having now separated the chassis block from the body, it is my distinct impression that such an activity was never meant to be encouraged and some moderate force was eventually required, once the requisite screws had been undone.
I tried unscrewing some of the remaining screws and found that the smokebox/boiler assembly will come away from the footplate, or at least mine did at the front end, but the cab-end remained firmly in one piece, which was probably just as well.
What I couldn't work out how to do, was to remove the plastic bracket that held the tiny, coreless motor in place.
The 'components list' referred to earlier clearly show that the cab and side tanks are a separate moulding, as are front and rear spectacle plates (there are actually an inner and an outer front spectacle plate, would you believe!), together with the smokebox/boiler/firebox being another separate piece.
The problem with separating the cab and side tanks from the footplate seemed to me to be two-fold:
i) I suspect that they may have been partially glued together. I certainly couldn't see how to simply unscrew them and I didn't want to risk damaging either the individual mouldings or the lovely paint finish
ii) there are some (nicely done) pipe runs that attach to both the side tanks and the footplate mouldings and which would have to be reinstated by the modeller once the parts were separated, something else that I didn't really want to have to do.
This acted like a 4mm scale 'oxy-acetylene' cutting torch and made short work of the plastic bracket that held the motor in place, which was partially cut up in situ and the remains removed with pliers. It wasn't gentle or genteel but I wasn't in the mood to be all sensitive with this and the loco had had it coming for a long time.
The small motor was removed unscathed and all superfluous wire runs also removed.
This lump of mazak, which clearly acts as a weight for the plastic body, can only be removed by separating the cab from the footplate, which I had already decided I didn't want to do.
I then wasted some time trying to cut it up on the spot using some burrs in a mini-drill, but that clearly wasn't going to be effective and only made a load of mess.
So, I reviewed what space I now had available, as any replacement motor and gearbox would have to fit in the (approx) 30mm x 18mm space afforded by the inside of the mazak block. I sketched the available space on a scale drawing:
By overlaying the gearbox planner thoughtfully provided by Chris Gibbon of High Level on top of the scale drawing, I was able to calculate that either a LoadHauler Compact+ or a RoadRunner+ would fit, with the 'drive extender' arranged back underneath the motor, which would have to be a Mashima 1015, with probably insufficient room for the flywheel that I might otherwise have fitted.
A call to the ever-helpful Chris at High Level has resulted in both types of gearbox being ordered and an interesting discussion on how other customers of his might fare, should they try to fit one of his 14XX chassis kits to this body (short answer - you've got to remove the cab from the footplate!).
The next job will be to fettle the Perseverance frames to fit the profile of the Hattons/DJM footplate underside.