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Author Topic: Frustrating thoughts  (Read 489 times)

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Offline Dorsetmike

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Frustrating thoughts
« on: August 04, 2017, 04:19:59 pm »
Contemplating the kit scene; discuss!

The older approach to kits for N gauge was to use (usually) a Farish chassis and drop a white metal body on it, with current RTR loco prices rocketing I see this as a dying "art"; there are still loads of prototypes that have not been modelled and as they never wore BR livery the major manufacturers ignore them.

Colin Heard is doing a great job, but he can't do everything. 

With Resin cast and 3D print becoming more available I would hope to see some kits appear on the open market, not hidden away on Shapeways among bits and bobs from all over the world, for steam locos 17 pages each of 52 items, mostly parts but some complete bodies in just about all scales; they need to index or sort things ainto scale and country at lest.

One of the drawbacks for scratch builders in N gauge is lack of suitable wheels, ABS/Beaver (Adrian Swain) produced some years ago, the few early ones did have squared axle ends which made quartering a doddle, the later ones had round ended axles and thus a right PITA  to quarter (been there, done that or at least tried) they were good wheels apart from that, I bought a few but the quartering put me off. A tool for quartering would be a godsend, but only if wheels and axles were available.

One thought, if cast resin or 3D would not be strong enough for thin items like footplate & valance, and to a lesser extent maybe cab sides and roof, could these be done in etched brass. Having made some Ultima/Etched Pixels  coaches I was impressed by how simple construction was, the sides and ends fold up from the floor, only needing corners soldering/glueing, then add roof. If I was designing an etched brass loco kit I would contemplate using a similar method for footplate, with fold down valances, buffer beams and the equivalent bit at the rear of cab where drawbar fixes; similar for cab, sides fold out from front, roof folds over from top of one side, having tried assembling cabs from separate parts and having to use 4 or 5 different melting point solders ... ... ...

The main RTR manufacturers in N gauge are unlikely to ever produce anything that did not last into BR livery, so there are probably hundreds of classes that are thus never likely to see the light of day. I often wonder how many would model earlier years if there was more suitable stock available.

I would suggest there is a need for somebody to take the bull by the horns, so to speak, and produce a range of loco kits for the more mundane 4-4-0s, 0-6-0s that formed the backbone of railway operation before and during WW2, let Bachman and Dapol fight it out on the mainline 4-6-0 & 4-6-2 expresses with a few small tank locos for branch lines/shunting.

As most of you realise by now my main interest is Southern 1930s so I can only quote mainly SR types so the following would be on my list
Tender locos 4-4-0s, ex LSWR D15, L12, L11, S11, K10, X6,T6, X2,T3, ex SECR D/D1,E/E1, L/L1, ex LBSC B2, B4 0-6-0s Maunsell Q class; luckily UM have done the 700 and 0395 and Farish have announced the ex SECR C class.  0-4-2s, ex LSWR A12, LBSC Gladstone.

Tank locos  0-4-4T ex LSWR O2, T1, ex SECR H, LCDR R/R1,T ex LBSC D, D3; 0-6-0T & 0-6-2T,  ex LBSC E series, ex SECR R/R1, S, T; 4-4-2T Adams radials (in later years only 3 in class, all on Lyme Regis branch but earlier in use on many branches and local services but originally London area suburban traffic)

Probably not a full list but enough to start on, the LMS and LNER can probably provide similar or larger lists, the GWR having standardised to a considerable extent don't have quite the same problem as the rest, except maybe some of the S Wales tanks. I don't expect to see everything onthe list to appear overnight, but maybe somebody could make a start with 1 or 2 locos from each of the LMS, LNER and SR.

I would suggest for tender locos that Tender drives similar to UM be used; Other main problem could be sourcing wheels, quartered and on axles.
Cheers MIKE


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Offline newportnobby

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Re: Frustrating thoughts
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2017, 04:34:28 pm »
Interesting. There's no way I could build a loco but I have often thought Dapol/Farish have missed a trick in not offering the popular types of chassis as Farish used to do in the 80s, especially in these dark days of locos being taken off planned lists i.e. the Dapol WC/BoB owing to uncertainty about Brexit. Compromises would have to made regarding wheel size i.e. use the chassis provided but an 0-6-0 chassis, a 3D body and maybe an ability to add a trailing axle and, who knows, I might even have a go at a GWR 56xx!!

Offline martyn

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Re: Frustrating thoughts
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2017, 04:42:57 pm »
Mike;

Whilst I like your thoughts, one problem will be chassis. Most of the loco kits I built about 20-25 years ago were based on, as you have said, (usually) a Poole Farish, which were RTR; they were also available as chassis only.
It seems now that the main manufacturers will not sell just a chassis, and thus the cost of a kit, a complete donor loco, paint and transfers would make for a very expensive kit build. I suppose you may be able to get some of the cost back by selling the bits of the RTR donor that you don't use-but not very often!

I have used UM tender drives on some kits- a Foxhunter K3, and an unfinished Langley B2. I personally think any new kit will have to be much higher standard than the basic cast kits of old; otherwise, it has the potential to stand out like a sore thumb against the very high standards of modern RTR. What was good enough as a starting kit 20 years ago is probably not, now.

But an interesting thread....

Martyn
« Last Edit: August 04, 2017, 04:44:04 pm by martyn, Reason: spelling »

Offline Dorsetmike

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Re: Frustrating thoughts
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2017, 05:11:41 pm »
Having had my UM T9 apart when converting it to run with the Langley/Fleischmann watercart My thought would be for a keeper plate with grooves for the axle, screwed into the cast/printed body.

The T9 body and chassis is done that way, only difference being the body is cast white metal not resin.

Where does Colin Heard get his wheels? Bought in or made in house?

As for detail, my thinking is that if UM can sell comparatively plain locos and people detail them to their own taste, then a kit doesn't need to be much more detailed, whoever builds the kit would be able to add what they want. Things like vac pipes lamp brackets are easy enough to come by, and if you're going to build the kit, surely you can add things like that.

I'm thinking mainly of things like 4-4-0s and 0-6-0s most of which had inside cylinders and valve gear so half the bits in the current RTR bag will be superfluous. Handrail knobs and wire are readily available, cast or printed could have the holes ready or have them cast like UM and Poole Farish, about the only detail needed for the rivet counters might be brake rodding.
Cheers MIKE


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Online RailGooner

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Re: Frustrating thoughts
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2017, 05:17:13 pm »
..
 not hidden away on Shapeways among bits and bobs from all over the world, for steam locos 17 pages each of 52 items, mostly parts but some complete bodies in just about all scales; they need to index or sort things ainto scale and country at lest.
...

I think the root problem here is the info - design name, description, etc. - that Designers submit. Shapeways can only index the info they're provided.

But you're right Mike, that as it stands it's a pain. I must have 100+ bookmarked Shapeways pages that each took an age to find. :(
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Offline NeMo

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Re: Frustrating thoughts
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2017, 05:59:50 pm »
Contemplating the kit scene; discuss!
Indeed!

The older approach to kits for N gauge was to use (usually) a Farish chassis and drop a white metal body on it, with current RTR loco prices rocketing I see this as a dying "art"...
Agreed, and even where older models exist, secondhand prices can be off-putting. Take something like the old Farish pannier tank engine -- you'd be lucky to find one of these for less than 30 online, and by modern standards its crude and noisy. Factor in a Langley Models kit for another 30, and you've already spent 60 getting the parts. Paints and transfers are extras (though admittedly, modellers will often have some of these already) and you're already spending the sort of money that would easily get a modern-spec, DCC-ready tank engine from Dapol or Bachmann-Farish.

Of course the two big selling points for kits are (a) you create something yourself and (b) it will likely be a model of something otherwise unavailable ready-to-run. But given the crudity of some of the whitemetal kits, and the amount of work needed to make them look even half decent, it's still not a compelling argument. Modern kit builders in other hobbies are used to click-fit plastic kits with a high degree of sophistication, which once painted, can look superb. I've yet to see an N-gauge whitemetal kit that, as supplied, blows my socks off.

Brass and plastic kits are generally much easier to make look good. Indeed, the Parkside Dundas and Peco plastic kits, for example, are a joy to put together. Brass requires more effort, I grant you, but as you describe, modern brass kits often have so many tabs and slots to help things click together that they're still pretty forgiving. I just can't say the same thing about whitemetal, which always seems to need sanding or filling or whatever.

With Resin cast and 3D print becoming more available I would hope to see some kits appear on the open market, not hidden away on Shapeways among bits and bobs from all over the world, for steam locos 17 pages each of 52 items, mostly parts but some complete bodies in just about all scales; they need to index or sort things ainto scale and country at lest.
Like you, I imagined 3D printing would open up the range of kits I'd be doing. But in practise it's just so frustrating looking for anything on the Shapeways site that I can't be bothered. I've done a few 3D printed things purchased via Peedie Models, but that's about it.

As for detail, my thinking is that if UM can sell comparatively plain locos and people detail them to their own taste, then a kit doesn't need to be much more detailed, whoever builds the kit would be able to add what they want. Things like vac pipes lamp brackets are easy enough to come by, and if you're going to build the kit, surely you can add things like that.
I see what you're getting at, and if someone produced bespoke detailing kits for specific Union Mills locos, I'd have thought they'd sell quite well. Certainly, things like fire irons, whitemetal crew figures, etched brass nameplates and vacuum pipes would be easy to glue on, and might justify the price even if other parts of the kit, like brake rodding or handrails required a certain amount of filing, sanding and drilling. Or the supplier could produce two kits, one for simple glue-on bits, and one for the drill and then glue-on bits, if that makes sense!

But while I would happily buy these kits, my gut feeling is that there are probably too few people likely to buy them to justify the efforts of the kit manufacturer.

Cheers, NeMo

Offline scottishlocos

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Re: Frustrating thoughts
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2017, 07:18:10 pm »
Guys

Most modern models the real loco is 3D scanned is a lack of prototype a factor in none of these loco being produced

Dave

Offline Dorsetmike

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Re: Frustrating thoughts
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2017, 08:00:39 pm »
I doubt that Dave, there are quite a few preserved locos in museums or on preserved railways that nobody has thought of producing. Obvious example for me is ex LSWR T3 class 563, sat in a siding at Corfe Csstle on the Swanage Railway, plenty of opportunity to scan that; but it never ran in BR livery so as I see it that means nobody will considerr it economically viable.

NeMo; Vac pipes, lamp brackets, Westinghouse pumps, crew, fire irons,  handrail knobs and wire are all readily availabe and some of us do buy them and fit them. Possibly more would do so if they were better advertised, even mentioning items we have used ouselves on this or other forums helps  spread the word; if you post about something you have used some will see it and think it a good idea and follow it up.

I think Shapeways  seriously need to get their site sorted, however another manufacturer with a bit more retail savvy  should eventually come along. Paul at Peedie models seems to be expanding  his range so it would seem there must be a market. It's just finding someone with the right ideas and the drive to pursue them.
Cheers MIKE


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Offline NeMo

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Re: Frustrating thoughts
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2017, 08:03:18 pm »
NeMo; Vac pipes, lamp brackets, Westinghouse pumps, crew, fire irons,  handrail knobs and wire are all readily availabe and some of us do buy them and fit them. Possibly more would do so if they were better advertised, even mentioning items we have used ouselves on this or other forums helps  spread the word; if you post about something you have used some will see it and think it a good idea and follow it up.

Hi DorsetMike,

Don't disagree, and have used various items of this type. Merely observing that an off-the-shelf complete "Adams 0395" (or whatever) detailing kit would be a pretty cool item.

Cheers, NeMo

Offline trkilliman

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Re: Frustrating thoughts
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2017, 10:22:19 pm »
Many of us have things tucked away in drawers, and I suspect there are quite a few whitemetal kits amongst them. I have had 3 Langley County bodies and tenders for several years now.

At a recent toy fair I found a County kit (minus cab) and had it for the princely sum of 2.  I believe that new from Langley the County body and tender kits are now around the 50 mark, which I find eye-watering. All of mine have been bought 2nd hand, and unmade.

I have a few Grafar Hall chassis so may well get around to doing them...one day. They are crude as made up compared to todays rtr standard. I hang onto them as I see it as a challenge to detail them as best I can. I already have some N Brass bits for them, it's just getting around to doing it.

That said I do wonder if it would be as well to take a Dapol Hall and try converting that to a County, or an interpretation as near as possible.  Double chimney and straight slashers would be a good starting point.

Offline PLD

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Re: Frustrating thoughts
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2017, 01:16:07 pm »
I've built goodness knows how many 'White Metal Kit on a Farish Chassis' kits exactly as the O/P describes and several kits in larger scales over the years...

By almost exclusively building on R-T-R chassis N gauge was and still is lagging some way behind larger scales. The quality of the design of such kits always was at best variable with some absolute horrors out there 'manipulated' to fit the best (least bad) available chassis such that for some the kindest thing that could be said was it had the right number of wheels.

By utilising a bespoke chassis larger scale kits generally do produce a model much more faithful to the prototype. A well designed simple fold-up brass chassis is actually a doddle to assemble in whatever scale, and I'd love to see a range of decent modern kits in N-Gauge using such chassis.
The media used for the body, be it White metal, Resin, Brass or 3D print is secondary, in fact some of the best 4mm kits are 'mixed-media'. Often resin for complex shaped items such as boilers, brass for flat sheet items such as cab-sides and W/M or brass castings for lumps bits such as domes, chimneys etc.

Unfortunately there are a number of issues to overcome before that becomes a reality:
  • Suitable motors, and gears are obtainable (our 2mm finescale friends) but in N gauge the big gap (as already mentioned) is suitable wheels.
  • Historically for whatever reason there seems to be an aversion to brass kits in N - a misconception that is is 'too difficult'.
  • The size of the market relative to the larger scales means that (per unit) development and manufacturing cost are probably going to be higher than in 4mm. This hinders production of items such as wheels - minimum order quantities could be literally decades worth of supply - who would want to be sitting on all that stock for so long?
  • Unrealistic cost expectations - it isn't realistic to expect an R-T-R chassis for 25 anymore. A complete kit is probably going to cost MORE than a comparable R-T-R model.
  • Above all it needs someone with the drive, the design skills, and the finances necessary to make it happen, and I'm not seeing a long queue forming...

Offline Dorsetmike

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Re: Frustrating thoughts
« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2017, 02:14:47 pm »
Re the wheels comments by PLD, SO right! The ABS range had wheels from IIRC either 4' or  4'6" to 6'6", he still had a considerable quantity after 5 years from manufacture.

As for motors, gears etc, I wonder if Colin of UM would be able to supply tender drives in sufficient quantity, also wheels. Or as a last resort licence someone else to produce them.

I've scratch built a couple of locos in brass, ex LSWR Adams A12 0-4-2 and Drummond K10 4-4-0; hacked and bashed kits and RTR; I would have scratch built far more if wheels and/or suitable chassis existed. The 2 scratch builds used UM tender drives.

Initially I would like to see kits for mostly smaller older prototypes, 4-4-0s, 0-6-0s, 0-4-2s maybe even some singles, Bachman and Dapol seem to be mostly larger passenger models we need to fill in some of the gaps.

For chassis my approach would be a metal keeper plate thick enough to have grooves for axles for 4 coupled locos and longer for 6 coupled: these keeper plates would all be the same width and thickness so one size strip and cut off length to suit model; then have the axle slots cut for the wheel spacing required fo the intended model. This could be done by the kit maker or bought in from a metal worker. The keeper plate to be fixed to the cast or 3D printed body. (Have a good look at how it's done on a UM loco). If using wheels and axles like UM then electrical contact would be from one rail via the keeper plate, the other rail from the tender; works for UM!
« Last Edit: August 05, 2017, 02:16:18 pm by Dorsetmike »
Cheers MIKE


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Offline Bob G

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Re: Frustrating thoughts
« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2017, 05:24:58 pm »
This is an interesting thread.

It's not just locos, but coaches and wagons, DMUs and EMUs which also need nice kits.
The kits out there which used to be considered very good are now only good, and the bad kits are simply horrendous, due to our quality expectations having changed over the years.

Projects I have planned and got the bits for, where I have thought about getting the best bits from several places, include:

Class 117 hacked from multiple 121 units. Still waiting for Dapol to do the decent thing and make one before Bachmann shrink their OO one.

Class 119 made form BHE brass sides on Dapol 121 units for cab, roof, and body structure.

Various 4-BIG/4-CIG models made from TPM inlays on early Farish inlay Mk 1s - still one of the best ways to get a decent SR EMU in my book, but now very outdated compared to modern designs of Mk 1 stock.

4-TC and 4-REP from BHE overlays on two Farish 4-CEP chassis - remembering to put both power units into the 4-REP to replicate the high power these units had. Again using the bodies to support the brass, and fitting TPM resin ends.

Compared with their Tin Hals, which are quite nice, Ayjay's Maunsell 4-CORs are frankly awful value for the money I paid for them. Too narrow to fit a power unit into without major surgery. Inaccurate window spacings on one of the trailer coaches. Inaccurate roof line on the two power cars. Sticky out windows when Maunsells didn't. The list goes on. But if you want to run a Nelson.... I'm using cheap Japanese Greenmax chassis which will basically be cut down to make very thin chassis to go in these power cars. I'm not worried about the chassis inaccuracies as there are too many things wrong with the bodies to worry about prototype accuracy!

The worst thing is when a manufacturer scales a kit down from a bigger scale, and doesn't redesign it to fit any particular chassis. The resin Bullied Booster by Radley models is one of those. What you have to do to a Farish class 31 chassis is more complex that open heart surgery.

So there it is. In my view, the only decent models out there really are those properly designed for their chassis. Currently I have only built three powered models that meet that criteria:

GRCW Class 129 Parcels unit 3D print that fits the Dapol 121 directly (Only me - Paul Churchill)
SDJR Sentinel shunter that fits the Japanese TGW TU-7T chassis (Rockey kits and design - Alex Rockey)
Two Bullied Tin Hal 2-car units 3D printed with Greenmax drive units with narrow 8' SR bogies (perfect). One of the better 3D printed models by AyJay Models. The original Farish Mk 1 compartment inserts can be hacked to fit to make the compartments for the trailer coach. These make nice EMUs.

I'm sure I've missed out many 3D manufacturers, including ATSO-CAD and others, but they are not of my era, or personal experience.

It would be nice if others could add to this list of good kits/chassis combinations, as otherwise most modellers will simply become collectors.

Best

Bob


Offline CarriageShed

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Re: Frustrating thoughts
« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2017, 01:32:51 pm »
I only returned to the hobby a little over four years ago, but I've taken to detailing and kit-building like a duck to water. I have so many projects lined up that I'll be busy for at least two or three years without buying anything more. Some of those include white metal kits, but I see these as variations of UM locos - they just need extra detailing and they'll look pretty good to me. The fact that you can build something individual and - perhaps more importantly - generally unavailable means that any half-decent end result is going to be a joy to behold.

I've also seen Mike as a bit of a standard-bearer for the call for more loco kits/parts/customisable RTRs (almost to the stage where I'm thinking of singing 'Boydon is our leader /Boydon is our leader /La-la-la-laa /La-la-la-laa' to the tune of a well known football chant). I model 1929/1930, so there are plenty of locos that I'd like to add to the stud that simply aren't available. I'm rubbish with electrics, but if I can get someone to guide me through the steps required then swapping round tenders doesn't scare me, and the detailing side is where I feel very much at home.

However, when it comes to getting someone to produce the locos we really want, I highly doubt that we'll find a one-stop solution. Keeping this brief, I think our best bet would be to petition Colin Heard for a range of chassis (especially 4-4-0s and 0-6-0s). He wouldn't have to produce a body for them (unless he really wanted to, of course) so I'm wondering just how long that would take if he already produces the components in-house. Perhaps that could be extended to specific tender types with a UM motor already installed. Then we just get the chassis type we need, and the tender type we need. All that's missing is the loco body.

The loco bodies will probably have to be produced by someone else, and someone who has shown that they can be reactive and enthusiastic about new commissions - Etched Pixels and Peedie Models come immediately to mind, but there are others. Perhaps they'd be interested in producing etched brass parts for specific loco types to mount on a specific type of UM chassis? It's something that we'd have to discuss with them. Possibly even on a crowd-funding basis to try and offset the set-up costs.

Narrowing down the realistic options and then banding together to call for them, and perhaps also help them through the design stages, will get us much further than any other option that I can think of.

Offline Dorsetmike

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Re: Frustrating thoughts
« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2017, 03:33:25 pm »
Peter, thanks for the accolade, but modesty forbids me accepting such adulation :whistle:

If you look again at my grooved keeper plate idea, you'll see that for locos with  simple inside cylinders & valve gear, there's not much need for a full blown chassis, there is a need for somebody with reasonably good metal working equipment and experience, &/or good hand/eye co-ordination, to repeatably get the axle slots the correct distance apart and square. The same requirements exist for coupling rods, I have seen etched sheets with a number of different length rods, bur can't remember who does them. The body casting/print would continue below the footplate and the keeper plate fixed directly to it with screws, these pics of a UM T9 body casting show where a grooved keeper plate is screwed on.





Of the Southern  classes I listed on my original post (less the UM 0-6-0s) , all could be produced by this method, no outside cylinders (except the Adams 4-4-0s) no valve gear, How many others from LMS and LNER could also happen? I don't know enough about the GWR but there may be a few older classes that could be done this way.

Quote
Tender locos 4-4-0s, ex LSWR C8, D15, L12, L11, S11, K10, X6,T6, X2,T3, ex SECR D/D1,E/E1, L/L1, ex LBSC B2, B4; 0-6-0s Maunsell Q class;   0-4-2s, ex LSWR A12, LBSC Gladstone.


Probably all of these could be produced with a UM tender drive with the exception of any with the 8 wheel watercart tender that would need an extra set of wheels plus the wheels need to be spoked as the watercarts had inside frames, so no axle boxes etc to disguise the lack of spokes.The ex LSWR types with 6 wheel tenders would only need 2 types of tender bodies, Adams and Drummond same probably for the ex SECR types also for  LMS & LNER so further simplifying the task (the Drummond 6 wheelers could also suit some ex Caley types).

Tank locos do need a bit more  work as they need a motor in the body, no getting away with a common tender drive.  However with a bit of thought a common mechanism may be possible, again the grooved keeper plate should work, for 6 coupled drive to centre axle allowing other axles to be spaced as required to achieve correct spacing, for 4 coupled drive to front or rear axle, depending an wheel arangement. so for 0-4-4T and 0-4-2T rear driven axle, for 4-4-0T, 4-4-2T front axle.

The above motor, gear(s) wheels and keeper plate could be designed as one or two standard assemblies  to fit into firebox/boiler and/or cab. Much smaller motors are becoming available these days which should make more older prototypes viable.

To address Bob G's concerns for D/EMUs although not my era I think the various Japanese  like Greenmax, Kato, etc are probably the best war to go at the moment, my impression is that many units are based on Mk1, 2 or 3 bodies, ends  and window spacings varying from the original coaches. Would basic coach body casting in clear plastic plus cast ends, with vinyl overlays,  Japanese chassis for power cars, relevant bogies and underframe detail as appropriate, come anywhere near what would be acceptable?
« Last Edit: August 06, 2017, 03:37:04 pm by Dorsetmike »
Cheers MIKE


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