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Adams T3 Kit Build - Retrospective Ramblings


Battledown
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Following a request from others on another thread, I thought I would post a few words and pictures about the Brassmasters (ex-Martin Finney) T3 I built.

 

I have long admired these elegant locomotives that represent the zenith of William Adams' long and distinguished career and bought  a kit from Martin Finney many years ago. Retirement and and Covid Lockdown afforded me the time to get on with some serious modelling so out of  the cupboard it came. I had also already procured Ultrascale wheels, motor and gearbox so had everything I needed to get on with it. So, no excuses!

 

Some say that Martin Finney's kits are not for the faint-hearted and when you look at all the etched frets, castings and other parts that go together to build such kits, it can look a little daunting. However, I had built a couple of his other kits before  so there was also eagerness to make a start. 

 

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Workbench and kit at the ready

 

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All the parts for the locomotive laid out 

 

Next up building the tender.

 

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I always build the tender first. That way I soon have something to show for my efforts thus providing incentive to keep going when problems arise later.

 

The tender chassis comprises and inner frame assembly with simple bean compensation. It is also formed to represent the lower part of the water tank with rivets and plumbing included. Break rigging is also attached to the inner frames providing a complete running assembly around which everything else is built.

 

The outside frames, valences and drag/buffer beams are a separate assembly that the inside frames fit into - all very straightforward but, as is ever the case, care is needed to ensure everything is true and square.

 

The wheels are Ultrascale 3' 7" so are slightly undersize for the prototype 3' 9". This does not show in the final model, although I did need to space the inside chassis frames from the underneath of outer frame platform with a couple of pieces of 0.33mm brass wire to achieve the correct ride height.

 

I had decided to use the 'American' method for current pick-up so used shorting strips on the wheels on one side, countering these with spacing washers of the same thickness to counter this and make sure everything ran concentric. In case you don't realise from the photos it is built to P4 standards so these things have a much greater bearing on how well it all runs when complete.

 

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Edited by Battledown
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The tank is a basic box made up by fitting sides and ends to the platform using tabs and slots. I found that some of some of these were too tight so had to very gently open out the slots with a fine blade and file slight wedges in the tabs. - fiddly and fraught with danger lest one bends or distorts the parts. Unfortunately this is a function of the etching process rather than the design of the kit. The same method is used for the large toolbox at the rear of the tender.

 

The tank top has over 300 rivets that require punching out. You could argue this is a needless exercise as they cannot be seen once the tender is filled with a coal load but, you know how it is, I knew they would be there so punched them out anyway. I have tried a number of methods in the past, including specially made gravity riveting tools from the likes of Eileen's Emporium,  but found that the best method for me is a hardened map pin and a small hammer - sometimes the old ways are the best! 

 

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Once the tank top is fitted there comes the tender coping. This has to be formed from very thin etchings so great care is required. In fact that is a feature of all Martin Finney designed kits in that they use very soft brass so it is easy to distort parts if you are not careful. The instructions for the coping are very clear, requiring some steel rodding, hardish rubber and a small vice. It is important to make sure all tools and parts are absolutely clean with no bits of grit or swarf otherwise you end up with pockmarks or dents. It is not as hard as it sounds, believe me.

 

After that, it is relatively plain sailing with final detailing of the tank top/coal space, front platform and buffer beam, plus fitting lamp irons. The lamp irons have no reference marks so care is required in getting them in the right place and square. As with all of Martin Finney designed kits, no detailing is left out - there are even etched padlocks for the toolboxes. 

 

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A few more pictures of the tender. Oh, and I modelled its with the coal door closed!

 

I should point out that I use an Antex temperature controlled solder station for the main work and a London Road Models resistance soldering unit for detail work. I mainly use 5% phosphoric acid flux with C&L 145 deg or 188 deg solder for brass and nickel silver and low melt solder with Carrs red label flux for white metal work. Where there is steel close by, such as when axles and wheels are involved, I use a paste flux which is non-corrosive. I thoroughly clean my work with a 50-50 mix of methylated spirit and water then rinse with fresh water after every session and then dry everything with an old hair dryer.  This keeps everything clean and ready for the next session.

 

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Next up is the loco chassis. Again, this uses simple compensation with twin beams between the drivers and the bogie as the fixed element. This works well enough and leaves room for the Stephenson valve gear, the eccentrics, rods and guides for which come in a separate kit. 

 

The kit certainly packs a lot of detail with the bogie alone having 18 etched parts and four cast axle-bearings. These build up into an accurate representation of the prototype, albeit with rigid axles, the springs and compensation beams being purely cosmetic. The only springing on the model is for side control.

 

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Moving onto the main frames, building up the basic rolling chassis was straight forward. I have an Avonside Chassis 2Pro jig which, though not essential for building a good chassis, pretty much ensures everything is orthogonal and aligned. 

 

First job is to build up the coupling rods which are used to jig the hornblocks. These are made up from two laminates each that require gentle filing and fettling to get them looking like one solid piece of metal. A final touch was to represent the lubrication points on the bearing ends.

 

Again, I used shorting strips on the wheels on one side to provide return pick-up. This required me to remove the moulded spacer on the inside face of the Ultrascale wheels so that the shorting strips fit flush. In turn, I chose to use Alan Gibson crankpins as they have countersunk heads rather than the cheeseheads on the Ultrascale ones, which would have stood proud of the rear face of the wheels with the moulded spacer removed. I also fixed the crankpin screws in place with a short piece of 0.33mm wire across the slot and bent 90 degrees into a hole drilled in the wheel. This removes any danger of the crankpin turning and potentially unscrewing during operation.

 

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1 hour ago, Blandford1969 said:

I had been wondering how to approach the M7 bogie in my Finney kit and your pictures have really helped. 

Follow the instructions and use the middle spring lamination as a datum to build a simple jig from an old offset of wood to build the spring/equalising beam assemblies.

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One other thing, solder the cast axle-boxes to the sides first, then assemble the bogie frames to the stretchers using some old axles or 2mm steel rod to hold it all square. You may need to ream the axle-boxes out slightly to get the bogie running freely - but not too much!

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The kit includes detailed overlays for the chassis with rivet and bolted detail, although much of this is hidden behind the wheels and motion. For early days there were also bogie splashers, equalising beams and piston tail-rods which were very distinguishable and add to the character of the T3, albeit greatly reducing the model's ability to negotiate anything other than large radius curves, clearances in P4 being particularly tight. These were removed in Drummond's time so modelling later versions probably makes life a lot easier.

 

Next came the cylinders and outside motion. The basic cylinder assembly and motion plate are made up from single etches respectively and joined together with one-piece nickel silver castings for the slide bars and cylinder glands. I removed the piston rods from the crossheads and made up new ones from nickel silver wire (1mm for the pistons and 0.7mm for the tail rods) as it is nigh on impossible to get a perfectly round cast one. Drilling 0.7mm holes in the ends of 1mm wire without a lathe to hand was fun! 

 

The tail rod glands are made up from brass etches and 0.45 wire that then fit into the white metal cylinder fronts. I would have preferred a nickel silver casting as for the piston glands but it all worked out ok.

 

The connecting rods are made up from two nickel silver laminations as per the coupling rods, plus two further laminations for the crankpin bosses. These are then attached to the piston rods which trapped in the slide bars once the motion plate is fitted. Clearances are very tight due to the bogie splashers - just a few thou between the crossheads and rear splashers and little more between the tail ros and front splashers.

 

I don't have any photos of the various stages of assembly, just the finished article, but if it all sounds fiddly and time consuming then believe me, it is.  

 

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Next up is the inside motion which comes as a separate kit. The T3 being an outside cylinder locomotive means that there is no need to build up a crank axle which makes life easier. 

 

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The eccentrics and rods are built up as separate assemblies using the eccentrics, rods, expansion links and valve rods. The large ends of the eccentric rods need to be opened out very carefully until they are just free to rotate on the machined eccentrics without either binding or falling off. As with the piston rods, I replace the cast rod with 0.7mm nickel silver wire.

 

Care needs to be taken to ensure that the correct eccentrics are paired (mirrored pair for each valve) and the rivets are inserted from the right direction.

 

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Valve guides are made up using brass tube fitted to the motion plate spacer from the loco mainframes and the valve chest from small etches and 0.45mm wire fitted to the main cylinder assembly.  

 

The eccentrics are slid onto the axle then the wheels refitted and quartered. The axle is then offered up to the hornblocks and the valve rods inserted through the motion plate  and into the valve chest on the cylinder assembly. All are then jiggled into position, the cylinder assembly onto the frames and then the wheels up into the hornblocks. The motion plate is then sprung into position between the main frames. Yes, it is as devilishly tricky as it sounds!

 

Finally, the eccentrics are positioned on the axles so they are in line with the valve guides and with respect to the crankpins and fixed in position with Loctite. Once completely set test by pushing the chassis by hand. As long as you have aligned everything carefully nothing should bind.

 

Next came the motor gearbox. I used a T3 specific  design etched gearbox housing supplied by Martin Finney fitted with High Level 3-stage 54:1 gear set with a Mashima 1620 round can motor.  

 

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Then the moment of truth - testing under power. Luckily for me, everything worked first time which made me a very happy bunny.

 

The last picture is a still from a short video of the whole thing in action which is too large to upload here. As you can see, it is all pretty congested in there.

 

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This kit is like the M7 one of which is in the too do pile. How did you decide on whether to use the boiler with or without the boiler bands, by the look of it the M7 is the one without?

 

Those bits on the motion are great as I had been wondering how to approach it and a picture says a thousand words

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1 hour ago, Blandford1969 said:

How did you decide on whether to use the boiler with or without the boiler bands, by the look of it the M7 is the one without?

Some would argue that even half etched boiler bands are overscale although it is a moot point whether they actually look so. My reason for going sans etched boiler bands is that it is much easier to put transfers or tape on a flat surface to represent the lining. 

 

1 hour ago, Blandford1969 said:

Those bits on the motion are great as I had been wondering how to approach it and a picture says a thousand words

The devil is in the detail but it's the detail that makes a model in my opinion.

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5 hours ago, Camperdown said:

Seems like a big motor for a little engine, but I guess you've measured up carefully.  Mashima 16mm can motors aren't the easiest to find, either.

It is the one recommended by Martin Finney for his gearbox. It is high revving, hence the 54:1 gear ratio.

 

As you say, almost impossible to find 1624 round cans now. I have one left for an L12.

 

T3 with Mashima 16 x 24 motor.pdf

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One other still frame from a video showing the completed chassis being tested on the track, with the tender chassis providing the return. As I wrote previously, I used the 'American' method of pick-up, one rail from the tender and the other from the loco. This means that you have to ensure the tender and loco are isolated from one another and that there are no shorts from either. More about that later in the build!

 

One additional point worth mentioning is that, due to the footplate being built up using an integral jig, there is no way of testing the fit of the chassis in the loco body until it is structually complete. This is not too much of a problem due to the excellent design of the kit but, in P4 at least, you need to use a vernier between the aperture in the footplate and across the crankpin bushes so they will not foul.

 

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