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K Class Manning Wardle. Peter K "kit", EM gauge

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Those of you with long memories might vaguely recall seeing this a few years ago, when it played an ignominious supporting role as the Dismal Failure in a thread where Metropolitan built the same kit in one go at lightning speed.  Since then my progress has been of the two-steps-forwards-one-step-backwards variety, with frequent lengthy breaks when I've hit a major setback of one kind or another and walking away has been preferable to hurling the thing at the wall!




Peter K kits don't have the best reputation in the world and there are a few areas where it left a bit to be desired.  The worst instance was being etched from brass that was far harder than necessary (Something of a Peter K speciality) so was difficult to fold, bend and - especially - dimple rivets.  Then there was the firebox wrapper that only clad two-thirds of the firebox.  Or the bunker that only had three sides . . .

However, they were only minor irritations rather than major problems.


The major problems were mostly caused by the kit dating from 1985, when chassis design was far less sophisticated than it is now, and being designed around components that have long-since ceased to be available.

The manufacturer intended it to have Sharman wheels on 2mm axles in a rigid chassis powered through a Peter K gear bracket by a Sagami motor mounted vertically in the firebox. 

What its got - after three major rebuilds - are Gibson wheels on eighth-inch axles in a compensated chassis powered through a High Level gearbox by a Mashima motor mounted horizontally in the boiler.  There is the odd part that hasn't need drastic alteration in order to accommodate those changes, but not many of them!




All of my locos are compensated but this was my first attempt at compensating one that wasn't designed with it in mind.  It was immediately obvious that the frames are so insubstantial there simply wasn't enough area of metal in the relevant areas to create cut-outs for conventional hornblocks and guides.  I therefore went right back to basics and used the "primitive" system described in Mike Sharman's book about compensation, which is to elongate the axle holes and solder what are effectively oval bushes filed from fairly thick brass onto the insides of the frames.

All three versions of the chassis have had this system.

The MkI chassis had simple oval bushes for 2mm axles.

The MkII chassis used simple oval bushes for eighth-inch axles.

The MkIII version has inverted "U" shaped bushes that were intended to allow wheelsets to be dropped out.

The MkII version was the best.  The chassis is extremely low-slung and the wire retainers needed for the current MkIII version further complicate the already difficult job of contriving pick-ups in in the very restricted space beneath the loco.




Oh yes!  Pick-ups!  I thought split-axle construction might be the solution but this was also foiled by the brevity of the frames.  The copper-clad frame spacers needed for split-chassis are a lot thicker than conventional brass spacers so need a greater surface area to be soldered to that the Manning Wardle chassis simply didn't have in the relevant areas.

What I ended up with are conventional phosphor-bronze wire wipers soldered to brass wire bus-bars that run from behind the front chassis spacer to inside the firebox then turn through 90 degrees to thread their way up through the heart of the gearbox.  I was holding my breath when I first tried it but it wasn't as difficult as I'd feared. One mistake I made was to re-use the bus-bars and wipers from the MkII chassis when I built the MkIII version.  Inevitably, they suffered a fair bit of battering and bending when they got ripped out then reinstated so they now look quite wonky and needed a lot of tweaking before they would even think about doing the job for which they were intended.




That is pretty much the story so far.

The Fat Lady has yet to sing but I'd like to think that the end is in sight.  I'm also aware that there is still plenty more time for a few more backward steps and at least one more walk-away-or-hurl-it-at-the-wall interlude.

I came extremely close to one of the latter last weekend, when one of the gearbox idler shafts slipped its moorings and slid out far enough to render me unable to separate chassis from body.  When umpteen varieties of gentle persuasion failed I had to resort to brute force and ignorance and by the time I eventually succeeded I had induced quite a nasty twist in the chassis.  The twist has since been corrected but I'm still plucking up the courage to find out how well the chassis now runs.


I'll get there . . .  eventually.

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I admire your persistence with this Mike and the end result as it currently is looks pretty good despite a difficult start.


The problem you had with the High Level 'box is one that I avoid by adding some strips of nickel silver - High Level very helpfully provide these as part of the gearbox etch - to retain the idler shafts. I don't think that I'm alone in making this modification as standard. Yes, it requires a quick hand with the iron and a thorough clean up afterwards but it saves trouble later. Good luck with reaching the finish.



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