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I turned from modelling on 00 to modelling in 7mm narrow gauge for a number of reasons, but the main reason was that though I had plenty of 00 gauge, I had reached times of either no income, or a limited income due to personal situations I have found myself in.

Modelling in 7mm narrow gauge enabled me to continue modelling as if I had no money but had a few bits and pieces like wheels etc, I could stay happy as I can make what I need. If I had kept to 00 gauge I would likely have given up the hobby which is a wierd position to be in as my life is rooted in model railways. So you can say the change to 7mm narrow gauge gave me new life as it enabled me to carry on with a renewed zeal and stance... Something that I had been needing for a long time.

 

So I realize that some of you are thinking "How can 7mm narrow gauge be cheaper then modelling in 00?" And "Are there other advantages in 7mm narrow gauge?"

Well. Consider this. Many narrow gauge railways considered themselves doing rather well if they could afford one locomotive and a narrow gauge railway that had three or more was doing rather wdll indeed! Locomotives for real railways were probably one of the largest single investments apart from the building of the line itself. They were jolly expensive things. The same situation exists with our models, so we can expect to need to spend a bit out here, and if one considers the starting point to a 7mm narrow gauge loco to cost a little extra then a budget 00 gauge loco if scratchbashing (If there is not such a word there is now!), and around twice the price or more of a budget 0-4-0 if one wants to buy one of those lovely body kits from the likes of Smallbrook Studio and others, then we are not exactly saving much money here. (Though a completed 0-4-0 or 0-6-0 loco kit usually still comes in at less then the price of an average 00 gauge new loco).

But where I really found the savings can be made is when it comes to the rolling stock. I can build little waggons for not that much more then the price of a pair of wheels and possibly bearings (If required). I tend to scratchbuild in a variety of materials, but I tend to prefer wood and/or tin, as these two materials are either very cheap to obtain or free. 

But what about couplings? Don't they cost a bit? Yes. Normally they do. I found if I used tension lock couplings, they tended to cost not far off the price of a pair of wheels. However, I found the answer in making my own couplings, and after a long period of daydreamy thought and testing, I was satisfied with what I call my Mk2 couplings. They are easy to make and fit, and most importantly they work! Which is more then I can say about my Mk1 design!

 

I also asked if there were any other advantages to 7mm narrow gauge. Yes. I have found I do not need so much space as I did when I was modelling in 00 gauge. I am slowly building a layout with an oval of track with two passing loops and a siding in a space of just shorter then 7ft by 2ft wide. Admittedly my locos and stock have to be built to take such sharp curves, and it is one reason why my Mk 1 couplings were abandoned in preference for my Mk2. But when I was into 00 gauge, for me a short formation for a loco to pull was four bogie coaches, and expresses needed 8 to 11 coaches. A minimum of eight to look right. Now as narrow gauge railway companies in the UK rarely ran long passenger trains, a typical 5 coach train including a loco will be not any longer then three 00 gauge bogie coaches. 

 

But rather then bore you with details, why don't I share a couple of photos. Be aware that my locos and stock and even my layout are all works in progress. The layout was initially meant to be just a quick build test on a single 3 1/2ft × 2ft board, but I got carried away, and not only added a second board but ended up building it the hard way! 

So here are a few photos... Budget waggons and things. The layout has also been built to a tight budget too. 

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Creativity triumphs over adversity. :good_mini:

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Looking good Mr. Goat, and some seriously nice trackwork.  

Best of luck,

Dave.

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Thanks both for the kind replies. The trackwork is nothing more then Peco 00 gauge track re-sleepered using home cut PCB sleepers. I did scratchbuild three of the points and the diamond crossing, again using Peco code 100 rail rescued from 00 gauge track. It was actually easier then I expected though there was a lot of fiddling around and re-adjusting the position of rails etc.

 

 In regards to the locos and rolling stock, I tend to either scratchbuild or kitbuild as modelling in 7mm narrow gauge does not give you much choice, BUT if I can do it then most of you should be able as well, as many of you create things which are out of my league. 

Something I have learned though is that consistency is more important for an overall view then accuracy or fine details are. 

With this in mind, take a look at my loco number 1 "Ruthy" which was made from a Smallbrook Studio Clio kit. I was going to add vacuum brake hoses along with some to my coaching stock, but the more I thought about it and even had some old guitar string ready, the more I realized that somehow, it brought the little loco into a different realm, and the loco would lose its character somehow. I don't know what it is, but somehow if I added finer details and decided to hone in on the smaller details, it would not match my "Rough and ready" rolling stock. 

This loco is what I call "Almost finished" in that I do have a modification to do and also I have not added any engine crew. 

 

This loco looks like the standard Smallbrook Clio kit on a standard Hornby 0-4-0 chassis, but it has had some modifications and most are hidden. The first are more visible. Coal bunkers and home made name and numberplates... And the scratchbuilt couplings. But underneath is a much adapted Triang 0-4-0 chassis (The body needed a fair amount of work too to get the new chassis to fit) using modern Hornby 0-4-0 motor, gears and wheel assembly. It did mean I had to also make new pickups which look a mess but they work. But as the Triang chassis is heavier and stiffer, and the kit has added weight in the saddle tank part, and I added liquid lead in the coal bunkers before I even decided to convert it to use a Triang chassis... It has meant that this little loco is heavy. It does not wheelspin and I have had it pull a rake of ten 00 gauge bogie coaches. It really is a little too heavy to be honest, but I don't fancy rebuilding the coal bunkers as I glued the liquid lead in quite nicely! Incidently. The new Hornby motor is held into the slightly adapted later Triang 0-4-0 motors plastic motor cradle (As these chassis once used the old X03/X04 type motors so when the smaller motors came along, they made a cradle to sit them in to compensate)... Well. The new motor is held onto the cradle and chassis using a small thin cable tie and it works well. 

 

 

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Even this little loco kit has had some minor alterations.  No doubt you can tell which donor loco was used for the kit! 

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But going back to the term "Budget", I will  show you these. 

 

Things rust well if left outdoors in these parts of the UK so I decided to take advantage of it and I left a rather large baked bean tin outdoors for a year and a half the tin was cut and folded to make th first three waggons which are open at the back. The other bodies which I made are less rusty and are complete bodies which are closed at both ends.

The wheels are Romford 10.5mm and are slid onto the old Triang axles and little spacers made from cutting a plastic drinks straw have been used to prevent too much sideways play between the wheels and the cast metal frames. The frames are old Triang bogies which are lovely and heavy. They have had their couplings grounded off and also the top surfaces have been ground/filed so that they become flat. Bufferbeams were then glued onto either side and the bodies glued onto the chassis. The first one I made the body was wired onto the chassis by drilling holes. Tin actually does not like being drilled into but holes can be made much easier by using a suitable punch and a hammer. I have found though that the tops will take glue ok so the other two waggons tops were simply glued onto the chassis. The couplings are homemade. One of the waggons has yet to have its couplings fitted.

There is nothing better to represent rust then real rust. The only small drawback is they are occasionally flaking off specks of rust and they will eventually rust right through... Not that it matters though. I just simply get another rusty tin and make a new body!

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Interesting thread and nice to see someone producing a layout for very little money.

 

My 7mm narrow gauge layout uses freelance locos with bodies made from plasticard on old 00 chassis and wagons using recycled 00 chassis and plasticard bodies. Cheap, creative and fun.  The chassis come our of my scrapbox or from secondhand/broken boxes at exhibitions.
 

Keep up the good work.

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Posted (edited)

I find this type of modelling liberating and fun. I can explore ideas in my mind before I try them for real to see if they work.

 

Here is an interesting little waggon made from rusty baked bean tin (Painted over so the rust will show  through eventually) and offcuts of Peco code 100 rail. Small H0 freight car wheels were used which were purchased as a job lot many years ago at a railway exhibition. 

The basic frame was bent around a small bottle in the form of two U shaped pieces which were soldered together to form the frame. 

 

 

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Edited by Mountain Goat
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Then I also have coaches. This one was made from lollypop sticks and coffee sturers with a couple of pieces of wooden dowel. 

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Then there are the items of rolling stock which were converted from toys. Things like this which started life as a wagon from a toy trainset... 

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And coach conversions. This one started out as an old Faller 0 gauge coach. It is not quite finished as it does not have couplings yet (I have a lot of catching up to do!) But it is basically complete. It has been significantly  shortened in length, width and height to fit my loading gauge. Like the waggon above, it runs on home cast resin axleboxes with Romford top hat bearings inserted and Romford 10.5mm wheels. It was quite a job! 

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The first waggons I made were probably the easiest to make. Old Triang underframes with mesh bodies. I found an old discarded mesh offcut in a back lane which had had cars going over it and had been beaten up and nicely weathered, so that was good for two waggons. I then bought a sheet of mesh and made some more. I made a rake just to have something to pull by my first loco. They now sit in a box as I have plans to convert them to run with Romford wheels, and also convert them to the new central buffer drop bar couplings which will need me to add a pair of bufferbeams to each waggon. 

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Posted (edited)

Just a quick view of the unfinished controller. This is the main part of it which is basically rescued from an old Triang train controller and rebuilt into a panel mounted controller. The panel itself is made from a square of PCB cut to the appropiate size. 

 

The reason for the need to build my own controller is that I want it to run from from a 12 volt DC supply. 

 

I am no expert when it comes to things like this so I am keeping the build simple. The part seen here has a control knob where up is the off position and forward is one way and reverse is the other direction. The back of this panel has the wipers which simply come into contact with resstance wire. Nice and simple so far. 

As my input is from a 12 volt DC supply via either a transformer or a battery, I do not need a rectifier as the suply is already DC and 12 volt is the maximum current my locomotive motors will need. 

Now two things I will add, as the control knob already caters for changing direction. I need to have a means to protect from short circuit. I already have this in hand which will come in the form of suitable wattage car bulbs (Already sourced. I have two, both with different wattages. If I remember, one is a 5 watt car indicator bulb? I can't remember... and the other is just a few watt difference). Now the principle is that the bulb is wired in series, and normally the bulb needs a higher current to light up, so it acts as a normal wire and allows the current to reach the locomotive. However, if there is a short circuit, the short will act as a wire and therefore the bulb lights up instead. It is an old idea and it does work. The only negative side that I can think of was that it does not necessarily switch off the current at the point of the short circuit, but this should not matter, as if the bulb lights up I can always add an extra switch (A push button is ideal) to turn the power off, or I can simply turn the controller to zero. 

Now different motors draw different currents so I plan to have a two way switch and two bulbs, so the current either goes through one bulb or the other. I also found that when testing, that with very low current 0-4-0 locos, the old Triang resistance wire needs an extra resistance added for bringing these low current motors to a crawl, as it was designed in the days when motors drew more current. So I plan to have an extra switch to have the current either pass through an extra piece of resistance wire or have no extra resistance. By doing this the switch acts as a "Fine control" switch. It only really needs to be an on-off switch as one can wire it so the current normally goes through the extra resistance, and the switch will simply add an extra route for the current to take without any resistance as current will take the route of the least resistance. I could be extra safe and simply use a two way switch. 

 

The panel controller was sprayed in a gold colour and with my hand prints on it, it seems to have changed to give a rather pleasing "Steampunk" effect. I left it that colour as I rather like it! :D

 

 

 

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Edited by Mountain Goat
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Personally I like to use Kadee type knuckle couplers.  They are not terribly expensive and come with their own mounting box (gear box in US terminology).

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Posted (edited)
27 minutes ago, Jeff Smith said:

Personally I like to use Kadee type knuckle couplers.  They are not terribly expensive and come with their own mounting box (gear box in US terminology).

 

They make great couplings for 7mm narrow gauge use and I have seen them used on a layout which turns 180 degrees in a width of just 18 inches. 

The problem I was faced with was at the time I had no source of income and could not see myself getting an income for a while (Long story!). I have spare wheels and I had a packet or two of tension lock couplings spare, but when I noticed that the couplings were the same price as a pair of wheels per waggon, I Just had to think up a plan B. 

 

Plan B ended up being my Mk2 design in which there is nothing new in principle. I just found myself a budget way to make them work. 

 

The buffers are drawing pins (Thumb tacks) that have been shaped with a file or a little grinding wheel on a mini drill and the drop loops are made from paper clips or stiff wire...  All I needed the couplings to do was to be easy to use and reliable, look the part and negotiate sharp curves. I was less fussed about automatic operation as to me, when I worked on the railways as a guard, I had to manually uncouple and couple coaches to the locos, so it seems the natural thing to do with my models. The drop loops are very easy to lift using a piece of stiff wire held in my hand, and I can even lift the loop and suspend it in the up position and slam the buffers together and the loop drops to couple so I can use them in a partly hands off approach to couple if I want to. 

 

Photo shows thw basic principle of a pair of waggons being coupled. Normally both waggons have drop loops at both sides, but only one drop loop needs to be used when coupled. I had not got round to fitting a drop loop on the other waggon. 

 

Another thing I love about these couplings is they allow close coupling of vehicles, and a novel feature is I can hear the sound of buffers banging into each other. Even though it is quiet, it is audiable.

 

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Edited by Mountain Goat
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Your couplings are ingenious.  I tried using the Branchlines etched chopper couplings but couldn't make them work satisfactorily, either for autocoupling or for being able to go around 18" radius curves.

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Posted (edited)

 

37 minutes ago, Jeff Smith said:

Your couplings are ingenious.  I tried using the Branchlines etched chopper couplings but couldn't make them work satisfactorily, either for autocoupling or for being able to go around 18" radius curves.

 

 

Thank you. 

 

I know my layout has about 10" radius curves as my curves turn 180 degrees on a 2ft wide board. 

Feel free to copy the idea if it provides you with a practical solution for your model railway. 

 

They are manual couplings, but like I mentioned, the drop bars can be raized manually into the up position so if one crashed buffers into another vehicle the loop will come down and couple. One can also push vehicles while uncoupled into sidings etc. 

 

The buffer couplings don't neccessarily need to be mounted at an exact height as there is a little leyway here, and as in the case of this wagon below, a little spike type loop soldered onto the waggons frame is all that is needed for a drop loop to couple to, so the coupling idea is flexible in this way.  (Note. Photo was taken before I soldered a little spike to the frame at each end of the little waggon so the drop loops can couple onto it. The waggons frame itself acts as a buffer).

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Edited by Mountain Goat
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Posted (edited)

Here is an interesting project for semi budget modelling. I happened to come across these farmyard "Wooden Boxes" in a toy area of a local store. They are sold for those who like to collect farmyard models and toys and are made with the young in mind. 

Now I had previously experimented with resin casting just to see if I could do it, and one of the experiments I had done was to copy a side of a Triang bogie, as no one much but me seems to value them these days and I only happen to have so many old Triang bogies in my parts box. The resin copies will therefore come in handy.

So when I saw these boxes sold in packs of six, it got my mind thinking... Wouldn't it be nice if they were the right size to fit my new castings into? 

I went back and fore a few times to the shop to examine them and I was a bit too embarissed to do any measuring, let alone get caught and trying to explain myself to shop security guards! So I decided to take the plunge and buy a packet just to see what I could do. 

The packets are not cheap at around £5, but you do get six of them for your money...

Though in my experimenting, the castings were ideal. Remove the lower floor portion and the central pallet strut. Also remove the two internal cross pieces which were the exact same size, and one can mount either a Triang bogie (If the coupling and the top is ground/filed/sawn down/off), or I could mount the resin castings I had made.

 

So far so good... But the completed waggons did look a little tall. Now that had me thinking. If I just cut the box structures in half so it is half the height, and I can use two of the spare cross pieces... Ooh. It works! I managed to be able to make 12 waggons from one packet of boxes. Now 12 waggon bodies for £5 is starting to look a lot more economical!

So with 10.5mm wheels and top hat bearings mounted in the resin castings I have some nice durable waggons. I did file the sides of the structure a little so they did not look so thick when looking down from above... And I glued a little lead to the underside. And here I have some nice lovely 0-16.5 waggons!

 

And for those who want to buy these boxes who don't have a resin casting kit, or don't have any spare Triang metal bogies, why not make an internal chassis to the H design? (More on this simple chassis design later).

(I apologize for the picture quality as some pictures were taken from my old tablet). 

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Edited by Mountain Goat
Correcting errors and adding information.
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Some of you may have noticed that I mentioned home made name and numberplates. I did a little experimenting here with aluminium drinks can by scribing it from the back. It worked but wasn't easy, so I needed to come up with a better solution. This came in the form of using one of these old label printers. One cuts aluminium drinks can in the shape and size that the label tape is, and then one uses it the same way as if one is printing a label. One may have a few that don't turn out that good, but hey.. The drinks can came free with the drink, so just try again.

After the name and number has been printed, I scribe a surround from the back and cut them out and paint them. Once the paint has dried, I carefully remove the raised surface of the letters, numbers and surround to give me nice name and numberplates to add to my locomotives.  Here is an example of the label printing tools and an example of the name and number plates on one of my locos.

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Posted (edited)

Experiments in resin casting.

 

Several years ago (Probably over 10 years ago?) I bought myself a Sylmasta resin casting kit. It sat in its container for ages before I finally cameto give it a try. When I did try it... The number of different things I have made! From repairing a coach roof, to casting axleboxes, wheels (Downgraded to signal point use), isolating sections for tuenouts and track sections etc. Many uses!.

The moulding material was quickly used up but the resin went on and on and on. About a year or two I finally ran out. I have not yet bought any more, but I will do as it has been such a useful material. And one does not have to have the mould making material as if one just wants to cast a single item and that is it, then using Playdough is ideal. It may not be quite as accurate, but it can beused again and again (The playdough) if one takes the bits out. 

Here I was casting coach sides which I have not yet made into coaches. I had cut a side off the Faller coach when I was working on it to convert it from 0 gauge to narrow gauge, and while it was off I cast myself a few sides by copying it (And adding a few extra plasticard strips to represent side doors instead of using balconies, and plasticard to reduce the window height a little). 

The resin I am using turns white when it sets and eventually turns a yellowy white if not used for a while. 

Whwn casting with resin, be aware a little goes a long way, so have a few other moulds ready incase you have some left over. The beautiful thing with using this material, is you can half fill a mould, and at another date when one is next casting, fill the other half. It usually comes out as a single casting, but even if it has a crack between the two different dates being cast, as runny super glue is the ideal bonding agent, one just runs superglue down the crack and the glue sucks itself up into the crack or join, so it forms a single piece anyway. Job done!

 

(The green coach side is the plastic side I am making a copy of).

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Edited by Mountain Goat
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Other examples of uses of resin casting.

 

Coach sides. This is a wrecked Lima coach and I have copied a pair of Triang coach sides as those Triang coach sides come undone as seperate pieces. This is a project that I have yet to finish. 

 

I repaired a warped coach roof, by pressing a good coach roof into Playdough, and then pouring in some resin, and pressing in the warped coach roof on top of it so the resin dries onto the warped roof and takes the form of the good coach roof underneath it. (Sadly I don't have pictures of the process).

 

Making track... (Please ignore my rather crude trackwork as this layout has been my first attempt of making track by soldering rails to PCB home cut sleepers). 

 

Playdough was used to keep the resin where I need it.

 

 

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My baseboard legs are made to fold inside the baseboard when the layout is not in use. The main board has two pairs of legs and the other board only needs one set of legs. 

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Posted (edited)

To demonstrate in pictures how the legs fold, it is easier to see on the other board. Be aware that the photograph that has the legs folded up has the board the other way up in the photo. Also, I have built a small modificztion since to reduce the weight of both the layout boards and the legs in the form of a slightly modified design and they now have a series of holes drilled into them. 

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Edited by Mountain Goat
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One can see the height difference between a tension lock and the home made couplings. 

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