Well over a couple of years ago I asked my friends at Brassmasters about the possibility of them producing one of their EasiChas range of kits to fit the Hornby J15. These chassis utilize the original motor and chassis block put provide a method to fit EM or P4 wheels with some springing. The design has now covered a range of prototypes including various LMS, GWR and LNER locomotives. I have produced artwork for some of the Brassmasters range in the past (point rodding components and the original etched windows for the Scalescenes building range). These friendly 'non-commercial' arrangements have been great, I get the etches I want for my modeling and Brassmasters get an additional item to add to their range. I should probably have expected the response I got - 'go on and produce some artwork then'.
I got a fair way through the design process with the help of the prototype drawings from the Great Eastern Railway Society, the CAD drawings for the 4F EasiChas from Brassmasters and a set of digital calipers run over the Hornby model. Progress was going quite well but was stalled somewhat (phantom understatement here) by a cancer diagnosis and eight cycles of chemotherapy. As a result I told Brassmasters not to expect anything from me. Fortunately the chemo did a good job and I was able to pick the project back up again, albeit slowly, to the point where the first test was produced last week.
As with all test etches (the clue is in the name) there were a number of 'oh you idiot' moments where I realize that my drawing wasn't exactly what was in my head! This explains the strange missing bits of the brake assembly! Also, sometimes when you start to put things together, you find that some ideas were over-complex and/or difficult to build. In this case the reverse folds on the chassis etch were just too hard to bend. Still there were enough good parts to be able to start assembly on the locomotive chassis and I have now got as far as making the main chassis with the hornblocks and axles in place.
I'd included a couple of two different designs for the coupling rods on the etch so I could see which was easiest to assemble. I think the version with just two thickness of nickel-silver will probably be what I go with. I like the fact that you can leave the tabs in place and bend them together which means that they stay put while you solder them together.
Hopefully I should be able to get some P4 wheels into the chassis over the next day or two. A revised drawing for test2 is almost ready incorporating lots of changes based on what I've learnt so far. Thanks to the Brassmasters guys for their support and encouragement, particular to David Burton who has been having to deal with an email inbox full of dumb questions.
I'll post more as the building progresses and announcements about the availability will be made via the Brassmasters website http://www.brassmasters.co.uk/index.html