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N gauge LSWR 3-Sub

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The wire pictured is actually guitar string.  In 2mm .009" (9 thou.) would probably be thin enough, with .008" string being better (the thinner ones are  usually available in good guitar shops). 


I have been able to get 0.008" in Dawsons, so probably available in any reasonable music shop. The difference between 0.008" and 0.009" is 0.03mm if I can count correctly today and I would suggest is not worth worrying about for this application. 


Guitar strings also make good handrails because they do not kink and deform easily like softer (brass/nickel silver) wire. :yes: Don't use your good cutters on them though :no: Buy some cheap ones!

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Thank you gents, much appreciated.


Colin: I'm just trying to work out exactly what you did there for the coupling: Is the left-hand-side a loop or 'U' shaped arrangement that latches over tab over the bogie, and to the bogie on the right is it loosely hinged through an aperture in the bogie?





On a separate note - I noticed a number of you were interested in the Ayjay models 2-Bil. For those that are not aware, it is now available for purchase and the link is here:




I'm nothing to do with the company - it's just I know it raised some interest a short while back and thought you may like to know.

Edited by Southernboy
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  • 3 weeks later...

Frankland 3-Sub 10:







Hello all, I thought it was time for an update.




Recently my 12BA nuts and bolts arrived from the 2mm Association.

They are delightfully small.





I read on the PDF 'Building Coaches the Comet Way' that if I put oil on the bolts that hold the fold-up brackets for the carriage ends/sides, then the bolts wouldn't accidentally get fixed in place when I soldered the nuts in position - and it was true!








So my trailer car was soldered and assembled. Real world test number one passed!












As you may notice from the picture above, my thoughts have turned to the rooves. I've read about layering strips of Plasticard along a roof, then infilling with layers of Milliput or similar to form the curve of the roof, and then sanding back (repeating the filling / sanding bit a number of times), but I was not convinced ...







I also thought about just roughly forming the roof shape, then bending a section of fine Plasticard over it, a bit like in the picture below, although obviously trimmed back...





I also considered Balsa wood as an option - especially when it comes to forming the domes for the driving cars.

Well in recent days I've been in contact with Mr Etched Pixels who has kindly agreed to design and 3D print LSWR roof profiles for me. They'll take a few weeks but will save many hours of hard labour. I'll still form the domed-cab-rooves myself, but the bulk of the effort has been eradicated through the wonders of 3D printing and I'm very happy about that.


Anyway - work continues at a deliberately slow and cautious pace. Below you see the tools I used to form the 'torpedo' cab front: There's the bit of wood cut to approximate angle, with a couple of pins to act as quides for the inside of the window frames to hold the cab-front etching in place. The Plasticard on the left has two holes in it which sit over the pin guides, and this was rocked side-to-side to shape the cab-front curves. The door handle spindle at the front was used for a bit of tapping here and there to knock things more firmly where required.







Anyway, below is the cab front ... the whiskery bits along the bottom remind me of an unkempt moustache ... they're supposed to aid forming the tumblehome around the front of the cab ... I'm not sure whether to use solder, or modelling putty to complete them ... doubtless I'll spend the rest of the week pondering the pros and cons of both methods (or whether to combine the methods).









I was quite nervous about soldering the cab-front to the body sides - expecting to make a mess with solder bleeding through and spoiling the profile from the viewing side.

But it turned out nice again!





So the picture below is an overview of progress so far . The back of the motor car is lower in comparison to the trailer car on the left, but that's just a matter of adjusting the bogie retaining nut underneath (you only see these things after taking the photos!)






Hopefully what does become apparent from these last few photos is the curvature of the tumblehome that runs right around the front of the cabs, and the way the cab overlaps the underframe by a good foot at the front - these are the distinct hallmarks of the first two iterations of the 3-subs - and a characteristic I particularly wanted to capture.






I still need to fit the headstocks though ...


Yesterday I emailed Precision Labels enquiring about printing bespoke water slide transfers for me and it seems that is not a problem, so at some point I'll start researching and drawing up the appropriate words and numbers for the three sets.


Anyway, that brings you up to date with progress.

Longer term I can see this project (all three 3-Subs) stretching through until Christmas - but I don't think that's too bad considering each step is a new learning curve - and I haven't even thought much about learning airbrushing yet.

My inclination is toward a dual-action airbrush - probably Badger + compressor - any thoughts anyone?


Well thanks for watching,


Edited by Southernboy
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It seems your confidence is growing with every step and it is slowly turning out a nice model and something very different. I would use solder for the 'whiskers'. Excess solder is softer than the brass and is easy to remove if you're careful and patient - attributes that you displayed already.

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Yes. A dual action, internal mix airbrush is the only way to go. Badger or Iwata are good brands to go for. Iwata do a high quality starter set with a compressor. I've used both the badger 150 and 200 airbrushes; both are very good, although the latter is only single action it's good for weathering track and ballast.

 I would also add practicing and learning techniques is vital to get the best from the airbrush, model rail shows regular articles about airbrush techniques from military modeller Spencer Pollard and George Dent. I learned from Chris Marchant of CJM, it may be worth contacting him to arrange a tutorial (if he still does them of course) but others are around.



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Thanks for comments (and 'likes' etc) ...


Well food for thought on forming the lower-cab fronts, thank you Richard and Bernard, very much appreciated. I'll ponder further.


Thank you Carl too: Much good advice there. Wouldn't a tutorial be quite expensive? Obviously I'll read-up and practice plenty first before endangering my lovely brass.

Edited by Southernboy
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Hi Mark, great progress. looking at the bends and folds of the metal I would be wary of using heat and applying that amount of solder as the thin metal ( is it 10 thou?) could distort, so I have to say I would go with Bernards suggestion, but if you have not used Milliput before its not expensive to buy which gives you the option to try it out and practice with it before deciding what method to apply. 


The great advantage with using Milliput is that you can use a scalpel to shave it and if needed apply more to areas that need additional layers. It will give good results after a short time, that is of course if you have the patience which I think you clearly have. 




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Thank you Dave,


My initial thoughts have been to consider turning the 'whiskers' in a little more than the surface curvature and lightly solder them to form a back-support (Bernard suggested a support - although not necessarily from the whiskers/solder) - and then skim that with Milliput. I have some Milliput, and have used it in the past, although not to any degree of expertise ...


But then again, using solder may 'unsolder' that which I have already done (I've had a learning curve on that front already) ...


Hmmmm, removing the whiskers now would be a tricky operation without distorting the curvature of the cab front, so maybe some experimentation over the weekend is required :)


Thanks again for all input - it's feeding into my brain for computational analysis!

Edited by Southernboy
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Thats another good point EP, also then again solder like milliput can be cut with a scalpel, filed and shaped. Many moons ago I used to lead load areas on prestige cars but that solder had a much higher melting point, an oxy acetylene torch had to be used!  :O :)

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Hi Mark,


A crucial point in the constuction seems to have been reached. EP's advice about using a lower melting point solder sounds the best bet and would add some weight at the front which could help keep the thing on the rails!


All the best,



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  • 2 weeks later...

3-Sub Update: 11








Progress report / photos / explanations ... 


First picture shows a carriage end and bracket, and a cocktail stick applying flux to where the join will be.





Then I snip a small pellet of solder and the waxy flux holds it in place.





Then the soldering iron is applied and the join is formed.






Next a similar operation is applied to the bracket / carriage end / carriage sides. The drawing-pin and set-square are my two essential aids in these operations (many thanks for useful hints and tips on the subject received earlier in this thread). I had looked at various commercial devices on the market to hold things in place at £20 - £40 and decided I could function without them.


By the way, notice the slither of brass under the drawing-pin and bracket as I'll come back to it in a bit.





So here is the end of one of the two driving cars. It's not clear from the picture, but the body of the carriage sits astride the chassis below. That's the reason for the slither of brass in the earlier pictures - to raise the bracket slightly to give a millimetre or so overlap of the body over the chassis - From what I read this is the proper way to do things ... 





Next I did the cab front ... 





Here it is...






The thing is, the nature of the cab front means it sits On Top of the chassis, not astride it, which means the body of the driving cars at the front is higher than the reverse end, and higher than the trailing car, so I had to put a small brass shim at the other end of both driving cars to keep them level ... either that or I stupidly missed something obvious! 


But then another inconsistency struck me ... the headstock should be the full height of the solebar (ie. It should cover the area from level with the top of the solebar to the bottom of the running boards, but it's not deep enough, as you can see in the picture above. So I re-soldered them level with the base of the running boards and have since used a little solder to fill the gap at the top.






Anyway - this is all about learning, so despite the frustrations and head scratching I am very pleased with progress ...





In the next photo you may notice a gent in the fourth first-class compartment from the right. I'm thinking I may make a couple of interiors chock-full of rush-hour passengers  - which I'll swop in-and-out with empty compartments according to photographic requirements (trains can't have passengers when parked in sidings, but should have them when out-and-about on revenue earning services). 












Today I started filling the fronts of the Driving Cars. It's not pretty I warn you!




I'm using Milliput. I did try solder, but found it wanted to cling to the whiskery bits on the cab-fronts and refused to go in the gaps in between despite my using plenty of flux.


Below is a front view after the first fill of Milliput. This is intended as a rough and solid 'back-stop' which I can file-back / build upon as required. It will probably take three of four rounds of sanding / filling before I arrive at the finished product. I'm going to give it 24-hours between applications so this will be a slow process ... maybe I'll work on the bogies in the meantime.





A Ghastly Mistake!


Today I started thinking about making up a sheet of transfers that I'll commission from PrecisionLabels.com (prices from £10 - not bad!)


Anyway, I want one of my units to be numbered as per the first ever electric set to run on the LSWR (which is the dummy unit I'm working on now). So I looked it up on p60 of 'The Riverside Electrics' published by South Western Circle ... that page tells me:


Unit No E4 consists of ...


51' MBC - 7202 (5 compartments)

49' TC - 7554

51' MBT - 6706  (6 compartments)


But when I looked at the two motor cars I've built they both have five compartments. I hadn't noticed these units consist of one five compartment motor car and a six compartment motor car.  


What this means is one of the motor cars will have to be set-aside for one of the other two units and I'll have to assemble a six-compartment motor car to complete this set. 


So the game-plan has changed: 

My original idea was to complete this unit first, learn lessons, then move onto the other two units - but now I think I may as well start working on the other two units so that all three sets come together in unison...  That will make more sense when it comes to the 'production line' of air-brushing I suppose. 




Gosh - it's all too much for a Tuesday if you ask me!



And finally, many thanks for all the feedback and advice received - it really is much appreciated :)



Edited by Southernboy
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Hi Mark,

I've found that 24 hours setting is about ideal for the fine Milliput; leave it few days more and it gets very hard though you can then polish it to a near mirror finish. At the first stage it would probably be a good idea to use a knife to take off any excess Milliput, e.g. where it has gone over the edges of the panelling, and not bother with filling yet. A misplaced file can do a lot of damage quite quickly! With a solid base to work from it should be possible to get the second application pretty close to the desired shape. After than you'll probably be faffing about perfecting it. For this kind of finishing I usually create small filing boards from offcuts of 40 thou." plasticard with fine wet and dry solvented to them so you can have a tool just the right size.


You've probably already learnt quite a lot, at least to get to this basic metal assembly stage. It's certainly starting to look like a proper LSWR EMU.

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That's interesting Mike,

I'd noticed the 2-Bil but didn't know they were working on a 3-Sub. Their 3-Sub is a slightly later version to mine (longer/more compartments).


That's another big tick for N gauge Southern modellers.


Thanks Colin and Bernard for further feedback - most helpful and encouraging.

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  • 4 weeks later...



3-Sub Update: 12


Hello all, time for an update ...



Firstly my bespoke rooves from Etched Pixels arrived 








They work a treat and I am chuffed to say the least.


Time to tackle the motor - here it is with the Express-Parcels DMU body shell removed. 







I removed all the unnecessary gubbins and wired the motor directly to the rear bogie pickups ...







But there was a problem .... when wired as above, only the rear (non-motor) bogie would pick-up power, the other (front, motor bogie) would not.


I bought this unit because both bogies pick-up power. If only one bogie picks up power then this is no good to me. I want eight wheel / two bogie pick-up for reliable running.



I tested this four times by reinstating all the circuit boards, and when I did, both front and back bogies picked up power ... but as soon as the circuit boards were taken away, only the rear bogie would pick up power. 


This was very disheartening and quite confusing to say the least!


And there was another problem I hadn't anticipated ... the motor was too wide and too high to fit my units. I'd assumed they would fit because I used a similar motor when I did my 3-Sub Farish hack-job ... but now realised my etched carriages are shorter and more narrow then either the Farish generics or the DMU ... 





I had a few days of near-despondency before I gave myself a good slap around the face  (ouch!!)    :)


I revisited all the motors / options I'd looked at when starting this project to see if I'd missed a trick *  Then having got a grip, returned to the business in hand ... 




Step 1: In the picture below everything circled in red needed to be removed for the motor to fit in the space I have 





Step 2:  A fellow modeller very kindly offered to investigate the mystery of the motor-bogie not picking up power, so I posted the assembly off to him. 


Step 3: He removed the offending protrusions for me, and deduced that a wire from each of the two polarity terminals at the rear of the motor, if soldered to any part of the motor housing on the same + or - side of the enclosed motor solved the problem.





Here's a picture illustrating the solution:






I wired it up to the rear bogies to independently check i have power pick-up on all wheels / both bogies, and I do ...









At this point (today) I felt it was time to clear my desk and my head so made a project box, which you'll see conveniently has nine compartments. The nine compartments will eventually house each of the three carriages from my three units :)







By the way - out of interest: What do people recommend for storing stock? I used to think stock storage boxes were a bit of a waste of money, but now I'm investing good time and money in making my own stock I feel I should protect it from damage and dust more effectively than just putting it the cupboard ...



Next my thoughts turned to where the motor should be positioned. I thought about the centre trailer car, but it blocks out over half the length of the carriage.






If it goes in the motor car the majority of the motor is hidden by the guards compartment and ventilating panels.








I'm hoping the motor can be rested on the chassis floor - 






But It will have to be pushed right-up-tight against the cab-front to do that.



From the two pictures below you can see it won;t leave much room for manoeuvre when it comes to the bolt which retains the body to the chassis ... maybe I can drill the hole a little further forward, but it will be tight.









Finally  -  The other unknown factor tonight concerns the housing for the rear bogie and pick-ups and how I accommodate them in respect of the chassis floor ...





So some more head-scratching to do (I think all my recent head-scratching has worn some grooves in my skull!) ...


Well I think that covers everything.


Thanks for watching!







Whilst revisiting motors and methods I came across a number of 00 / EM / P4 (??) solutions which I am sure many of you are familiar with.


They really caught my imagination - I'd love to replicate some of the following in N - but think it's probably totally impractical!










Edited by Southernboy
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Hi Mark,


I think I should point out that the motor unit, like most Farish diesels, is of split-frame construction. This is the reason you couldn't get power pick-up from the driven power bogie once the circuit board had been removed. The screws that hold it in place also 'make' the electrical connections between the circuit board and the two halves of the motor unit.


The split-frame construction of the motor unit will need to be taken into account when fitting the unit into the carriage. As this is of all-brass construction you will need to insulate the motor unit from the carriage body in some way. The original Farish floor moulding is of course of plastic.  I wonder if you could find some way of just reducing the width of the Farish floor moulding so it fits inside the new brass floor, and hacking it lengthways, (cut and shut style), so the bogie wheelbase was correct.


I must say the roofs from Etched Pixels look extremely good.



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Many thanks Izzy for your helpful reply, much appreciated.


To insulate the motor I thought about using paper or very thin Plasticard.


As you suggest, the original floor moulding trimmed to fit would be an option, although it may be quicker to cut a new base from a similar thickness of Plasticard.


I'll have a play around and get a feel for which may work best.


Many thanks again,



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Hi Mark,


 Excellent progress on the Sub, coming along very nicely.


Stock boxes, i use flight cases with foam inlays designed for N gauge from a company called KR multicase, they may not be the cheapest but when they store rolling stock and loco's that are sometimes priceless i think there worth there weight in gold.  ( no connection just happy customer)





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Hi Mark,


I always look forward to one of your updates.


I can't offer much advice on your project at present, but it will be satisfying for you once the motor assembly is in place. With pick-ups on all wheels, the unit should be unstoppable/reliable. If it's any consolation, once you've got it right this time , you'll know how to do it next time!


All the best,



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