Thursday, March 15, 2018

Up and Running Again

OK, having been feeling down a couple of days ago, I decided to take my own advice and give myself a kick up the arse by actually doing something.  That something turned out to be repairing a model railway locomotive that has been sitting, static, on a shelf for years.  I say 'repaired', but the fact is that it has never actually run on any layout I've owned.  I assembled it from parts I bought online, with the chassis being the last item.  When I received it, I found that the cylinder block was broken.  (According to the vendor, this 'must' have happened in transit).  But a quick test confirmed it was a runner and I thought that it should be an easy repair.  So, I put it to one side, where it remained, along with several other unfinished projects, for years.

Fast forward to the present, when I finally decided to get it running.  Which turned out to be trickier than I had anticipated.  The cylinder block wasn't easily repairable, as I'd thought. Whilst I managed to glue it back together, it seemed clear to me that it just wouldn't be strong enough to withstand normal running of the locomotive.  So, I decided to replace it.  Fortuitously, around the same time I'd obtained this chassis, I'd also obtained a similar one which I knew had problems - the wrong valve gear fitted and a snapped off screw - and had the idea of eventually repairing for another project.  The wrong valve gear it carried was actually correct for the original chassis - so the cylinder block was swapped over.  I now had a running chassis which, when united with a body and tender, gave me a functional Hornby rebuilt Merchant Navy.  Or so I thought.  It ran, it even happily hauled five coaches around the layout, but it kept derailing.  After close observation of it in motion, I realised that the bogie wheels weren't moving, they were locked solid.  Thinking lubrication was all that was required, I took a closer look and found that the bogie itself was broken, (no doubt that also happened 'in transit', although it looks to me as if someone dropped the chassis before dispatch, but the original vendor is long since out of business, so there's little I can do about it), and literally fell apart as I removed it.  So, it was back to that other chassis which, luckily, had an intact bogie in pristine condition.

With the replacement bogie in place, the Merchant Navy was suddenly a great runner - even over my poorly laid trackwork.  But, as you can doubtless tell from the photo, it still needs work - the glaring difference in colour between loco and tender being the most obvious thing that needs rectifying.  The tender needs to be repainted into the same green livery as the engine.  (Technically, it isn't correct for the loco as named and numbered, 'Bibby Line' was usually coupled to a higher capacity tender of similar design.  So, a change of name and number might be in order as well: I believe that the combination of tender and loco would be correct for 35017 'Belgian Marine' for the period I (roughly) model, the early to mid sixties).  There is also some damage to the loco body moulding side, most notably that some of the pipework from under the cab is missing, I knew about that before I bought it).  Nevertheless, I do have another locomotive up and running.  The Merchant Navy makes an interesting contrast with my other locomotives, most of which date back twenty or thirty years (at least) and feature old-style Triang/Hornby and Hornby Dublo mechanisms.  While these are incredibly reliable, the Merchant Navy's newer (the design goes back less than twenty years), Chinese manufactured, mechanism is far smoother running, more responsive and much quieter.  While the older locos need to be driven 'full throttle' a lot of the time, the Merchant Navy happily produces the same sorts of performances with the controller barely on half speed.

But what of that other chassis?  Well, I still have hopes of eventually repairing it, although the correct valve gear is now difficult to obtain.  It might well be that eventually I'll come across another chassis with parts missing and combine the two to create a running chassis.  Which would then enable me to complete another long term project, as I have a spare body and tender awaiting a chassis.  The restoration of the Merchant Navy inspired me to get some other locomotives out of storage and up and running today - in the end I had a very enjoyable operating session.  I even managed to get my old tender drive Hornby 9F freight loco running.  Something it wasn't doing before it went into storage.  Amazingly, it happily negotiated all of my dodgy trackwork and curves without any of its ten driving wheels derailing. 



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home