Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Not gone, back once again.

Hello Folks.

Wow, was it really October last year when I made my last blog post? Doesnt time fly when you get on with things. With many of my other projects, enthusiasm comes and goes, thoughts appear and ideas are tested. To be honest the vast majority of the time it doesnt feel like I have enough to warrant a blog posting so instead of waffling on about nothing in particular I do try to save up things a bit to hopefully make the blog posts interesting.

So, what have I been upto since my last blog post I hear you all ask? Here is a summary of the bits and bobs I have been playing with, it might be interesting to some? I really hope at least a single person gets some inspiration from it all...

1. GWR 22xx

 This has been a project that has been ongoing for a bit now. I restarted it over the Christmas break as the layout was once again packed away for the festivities. As per pretty much all my projects the starting point was a scale drawing which was then added into AutoCad where the size, shape, and gearing was worked out. In the particular case of these engines the CAD drawings were then imported into Inventor (my 3D package of choice) where I have a nice little plugin that converts the 3D into G code ready for my CNC.

This is the setup. As you might realise from the majority of my photos my workbench is basically my PC table so when the machines are out the PC takes second priority.
This is an image of the CNC chopping up some PCB material. In this instance its a sideframe for one of the tender chassis. The cutter is a 1mm diameter Carbide slot drill (for those who are interested!
Once all the bits I need are cut out its then a case of soldering the bits together as per a etched chassis. They are accurate enough not to be reliant upon the axle holes to line everything up.
This is the resultant of the tender bits an bobs to date. The motor is a 2MMSA component. These two chassis are destined for a dapol 22xx tender body.
And this is one of the chassis to date. There is still lots to do which I work through once I have figured out what to do. Its the first tender engine I have built replacement chassis for so there are new challenges for me. I have designed a little bracket on the engine that means the worm can be easily removed if needed, to me its an essential part of a chassis.

2. Q1

I have decided to remake the wheels for my converted Dapol Q1 engine. The originals didnt run as concentric and wobble free as I would have liked so I have made a start on a new design.
The first part of the idea was to turn up some wheel blanks which use standard 2mmSA wheel rims. The blanks are made from a Paxolin type of material bought on Ebay, the rims are glued into position with a spot of loctite.
These are the blanks to date ready for profiling. The three on the right are scrapped parts which didnt 'turn' out right (it happens) and as you might have noticed I have seven passable wheels so there is a spare just in case of future errors.

More will follow on this as I make progress.

3. Mamod

A bit of a curved ball this one but at a toyfair over the holidays I picked up this for the total sum of £35.
The original thought for this was to replace the chimney and lave it at that but of course its changed now. As my confidence with the machines I own is growing the ideas are starting to develop, so there are some small plans for this now. It doesn't involve making a chimney though, does anyone know where I can find one?

4. P.C.

OK, so not modelling but worth mentioning. Over the holidays I invested in a laptop PC. This is a departure for my as previously its always been a desktop PC. The BIG advantage is that I now have CAD-TO-GO and recently tested this out at the ST Albans show where I demonstrated my CAD work. It seemed to go down well so hopefully I will be doing more of this at shows in the future.

Right, I think thats this blog up to date now. Let me know what you think...

Julia :o)


  1. All good stuff, and all worthy of blog posts in their own right.
    I've been messing with making my own wheels as well, but mine will be rather plainer than Bullied's finest.
    A Mamod for £35? Good going, even without a chimney, which you really should turn yourself.
    Speaking of turning, did I spy a Unimat 3? I thought you had a Chinese job.

    1. Thanks for the reply Paul.
      Its a small jump from turning up wheels to adding detail like in this case boxpok bits, well I guess it is if you have access to a CNC mill. Like with many of my things its a bit of an experiment really. I tried 3D printing them but just couldn't get the things to turn concentrically without wobble so this seemed the next logical thing to try. As you probably know paxolin is a nice material to turn so it seemed sensible to use it for this.
      Yes, I have ben following your ideas on how to turn a chimney, especially the recent on with the spark arrestor and its impressive stuff indeed. Somehow to turn a Mamod chimney just seems a bit out of my abilities right now. Especially as I don't have a reliable means to turn a taper. It would be nice to make a nice Brass top to it though.
      You are correct, I picked up a Unimat 3 about this time last year for a very cheap price so the Chinese one was sold. It came with loads of accessories including the milling attachment which, like some of the others bits, I never use (I have 3 milling machines now!). Its a much nicer lathe and my confidence for turning things is returning.

    2. Well, if you want to offload that milling attachment I don't have one for my 3...
      I enjoy turning chimneys, there's something very satisfying about getting the shape right and placing it on a loco. On a lot of printed locos the chimney just looks wrong, not only because of the surface finish issues but also because a lot of printed locos have chimneys that seem to 'grow' from the smokebox rather than sit on it. A turning is always better than even the finest casting, as long as the base has the correct profile.

    3. I can totally understand what you mean Paul but unfortunately not everyone has the skills or desire to machine their own chimneys. Admittedly its something that I would love to do but I have sadly taken the lazy approach with castings etc. The current chimney on my CoT is a classic example of one which looks stuck on rather than part of the boiler, probably because it is!
      Of course I would offload the milling attachment but only at the right price. Make me an offer (doesn't all have to be cash money!).

    4. I have an offer in mind Julia, should I pm you via RMweb or would you prefer to contact me through my Blogger profile page?

    5. Either way Paul, I will get the message :o)

  2. Julia,
    Very interesting (and inspiring). I'm looking forward to seeing how all of these progress.

    I'm waiting to make a start on a milled chassis for my Buffalo, but want to get some parts (principally gears) from Shop 3 before I start to cut metal though. In the meantime I've started to develop a website for Modbury as I'm not a big fan of threads and to an extent blogs where the entries for a single thing can be spread over many pages or entries. It is however nice to get feedback (positive or negative), which although possible on a website is not as easy as a thread or blog (I'll still post on RMweb/WesternThunder though).


    PS Are you aware that the link to the 2mmSA Oxford Area Group is broken?

    1. Hello Ian, thanks for the reply.
      I wasn't aware the link is broken so thanks for the tip-off.
      It sounds like a sensible alternative regarding your posts too Ian. I am in absolute agreement about threads and cannot stand wading through pages and pages of 'gossip' to find the bits of modelling. TBH these days I don't really bother anymore. Blogs are a bit more structured and its significantly easier to find things of interest using them, its one of the reasons why I decided to do it this way. Like with all of the above though it does rely on being updated regularly though. It will nice to see this website sometime too.
      Keep the great modelling coming, regardless on what format it comes!

    2. Sorry, I should have put a link to my website in my reply (I meant to). For info its : www.modbury1900.webspace.virginmedia.com


    3. Excellent, thank you for the link Ian. I will add it to my links here. They need sorting out by the sounds of it!


  3. Hi Julia,

    Always good to see an update from your workbench. As usual there are some surprises!

    So now you're dabbling in 16mm scale like me? Dreaming of lazing in the garden on a sunny summer afternoon with the trains going by and a drink in hand eh?

    Mamod fettling is a whole area of its own within 16mm. Not something I know a lot about, but I think that the usual priority item is to lose the solid fuel burner and put a meths one in... but that's probably assuming that your loco has a chimney ;) . As a simple pot boiler, it doesn't actually *need* a chimney, but it will look a bit odd without one.

    There was a company called PPS who did loads of Mamod replacement and upgrade parts but I can't find any current details for them, so not sure if they are still going. There are other companies out there doing Mamod related things. Wikipedia has a few references that might provide some clues...


    My own experience with Mamod like things is limited to buying an IP Engineering 'Jane' - which is a sort of souped up Mamod style loco with the usual upgrades already done for you. I'm pretty sure that IP used to do parts too, but I can't seem to find Mamod/Jane stuff on their web site now, so not sure what I'll do when my loco needs new parts - which tends to happen when you light fires under your models.

    Have fun!

    Regards, Andy

    1. Hi Andy.

      Is it called 16mm scale then? To be honest I haven't really looked into it much before, it was just the desire to own a little live steam engine. With the one I got I was just in the right place at the right time as they normally sell for £100's of pounds as you well know. Its just something different that I can play with and its become even more desirable to do so now I have a collection of machine tools to help me make things. First on the agenda is to try and make it radio controlled where I have a few ideas in my head. I like the 'robustness' of them which makes them even more appealing to modify.
      With regards to the chimney ironically since my post I have found and ordered one from http://www.dreamsteam.co.uk/


      P.S. Probably not the place but I am still chipping away at that lighting project, I need to send you an email with some more questions.

    2. Yes, with it's own society of course...


      There have been numerous Mamod conversions in the mag over the years. Unfortunately I've chucked out most of my back issues due to lack of space.

      To be honest the boiler capacity on a Mamod is pretty small. You're going to need to top up the water level quite frequently so fitting R/C may not give you much of a 'hands off' driving experience. Fitting a water top up valve will definitely be something that you need to think about though.

      FWIW, only one of my 16mm steamers is R/C fitted and that one probably gets used the least often. I prefer to be 'hands on' and am also terrible at remembering to charge up the R/C batteries. Other people are almost exclusively R/C, so each to his own.

      Lighting... at your own pace. No worries.

      Regards, Andy

    3. This set me off searching. I tracked down what happened to PPS. Their spares are now at


      His 'Janet' loco looks pretty much identical to the IP Engineering 'Jane' except that it's gas fired instead of meths. I'd guess that he took over the product from IP.

      This page is very handy...


      Regards, Andy

  4. Hi Julia,
    Slightly off topic here, but was wondering how you got on with the flying banana? Saw you and the railcar at Ally Pally last year and was very impressed with the work that you have done. So much so that as soon as my workbench is cleared, I'm going to try one myself!


    1. Hello TJ.

      Elvis is waiting in the proverbial wings at the moment. The biggest probelm I had to overcome was the lighting as there are various arrangement which needed to be switched. John from the Midlands 2mm Group came to my rescue and sorted out a circuit which will sort out the lights but then I had a problem with space and have now decided to remake the chassis with some smaller motors to create some space for the decoder and lighting circuit. Elvis is turning into one of those never ending projects at the moment!
      The first word of advice I can offer you is to make sure you get the front windows right, it took me several attempts at this as I don't feel the kit is right.

  5. Hi Julia. Looking at the Q1 wheels, I'm wondering one of the engineering plastics like Acetal might be a better choice for the inserts? That might take the boxpok pattern cleanly.

    1. Thanks for the reply Mark.

      I did consider using Acetal for the inserts, especially as I have a good stock of the material, but decided against it as I thought it was a little too soft of the job. I decided on paxolin as someone told me its what Stephen Harris has / does use and it seemed the sensible choice at the time.