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scratch building locomotives in HO scale

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scratch building locomotives in HO scale
Posted by oscaletrains on Friday, August 01, 2008 4:18 PM

I recently have found myself wanting to build my own locomotives out of brass or styrene, but besides an article from a December 1968 Model Railroader on building a Baldwin AS-16 from styrene ( apparently a dollar model project ) I have found no useful information on scratch building locomotives, steam or diesel.

 

I was hoping that someone could tell me of a resource, or give me some tips on scratch building locomotives that I could use to aid me in building a locomotive.  

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Posted by pike-62 on Friday, August 01, 2008 5:03 PM

Here is a link to a project I did a while back. For some reason there are a couple of pics missing. I need to figure out why.

http://www.dansresincasting.com/GE132%20ton%20PG1.htm

Dan Pikulski

www.DansResinCasting.com

 

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Posted by dehusman on Friday, August 01, 2008 5:15 PM

MR has had at least 2 series over the last 10-20 years on scratchbuilding an engine out of brass and Kalmbach has a bookazine on the last project, a NYC 4-6-0.

Dave H.

Dave H. Painted side goes up.

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Posted by modelmaker51 on Friday, August 01, 2008 5:17 PM

How are your modeling skills in general? Scratch building of any kind requires a good set of overall skills, not something you're going to pick up over night or out of a book. Working with brass is whole nuther ball game, in addition to other basic modelmaking skills, you need to be able to solder well and some machining skills wouldn't hurt.

A good place to start, would be some locmotive kits, (Bowser, Stewart, MDC), to learn how things go together. Get yourself a Walthers catalog, (the paper kind - not online) , it's full illustrated parts and ideas, (it's the scratch and kitbasher's bible).

You'll need measuring tools, scale rules, squares and a caliper. You'll also need plan drawing of the locomotive you want to build. And then you need to do research.

I started out learning how to detail/modify locomotives to more closely represent a prototype, then more advanced kitbashing until finally I built up my skills and knowledge to do some scratch building. That took about 20 years! Today, with everything that's available on the market there's not a lot of reasons to scratch build locomotives, unless it's just for the fun of it.

You could start out with a simpler kitbash using parts from the Walthers catalog and alse where.

If you have a locomotive in mind let us know and maybe we can be more specific.

Edit: Railroad Model Craftsman and Mainline MOdeler are both excellent mags for kitbashing and scratchbuilding, look for old issues at trainshow and LHS. You might also want to check out some of the Kalmbach books.

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Posted by Randall_Roberts on Friday, August 01, 2008 5:59 PM

With apologies to MR, I believe that Model Railroad Craftsman has a monthly scratchbuild series.  I'm not too familiar with the magazine, but I'm pretty sure I've seen scratchbuild articles in each of the few copies I've read.

And I on my About.com site I have a page of links to scratchbuild resources

Best! 

Randall Roberts Visit http://modeltrains.about.com Subscribe to the FREE weekly Model Trains newsletter.
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Posted by dstarr on Friday, August 01, 2008 6:19 PM

MR did a long multi issue article on scratch building a modest sized brass steamer within the last ten years as so.  Was pretty good one, pix and drawings.  All hand tools and not too many of them.  The MR website search engine ought to find it for you.  The Walthers catalog carries a weath of brass detail parts, pilots, brake gear, cabs, steam domes, gears and motors, smoke box fronts, power reversers, wheels, whistles and bells, injectors, super heaters, blow downs, cylinders, etc, etc,etc.  North West Short Lines is good on motors and gear boxes.

   Using a piece of copper or brass tubing or pipe for the boiler is easier than bending one up out of sheet brass.  Look for a straight boilered prototype.  In fact I'd think about using tubing as the under layer of a tapered boiler. 

  You need a set of good dimensioned plans plus some photographs to work from.  MR used to run plans and pix in every issue.  They gave up on that sometime in the '80s.  You will have to draw your own plans showing the "non prototype" features like the motor mount, gear box, frame, and method of attaching the boiler/cab assembly to the frame.   

    Was it me, I'd start by scratch building something simpler than a locomotive to get my hand in.  Say a gondola in brass. 

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Posted by BCSJ on Friday, August 01, 2008 6:49 PM
 oscaletrains wrote:

I recently have found myself wanting to build my own locomotives out of brass or styrene, but besides an article from a December 1968 Model Railroader on building a Baldwin AS-16 from styrene ( apparently a dollar model project ) I have found no useful information on scratch building locomotives, steam or diesel.

 

I was hoping that someone could tell me of a resource, or give me some tips on scratch building locomotives that I could use to aid me in building a locomotive.  

I think John Pryke did a series on scratch building a brass mogul in MR somewhere around 1997.

Regards,

Charlie Comstock 

Superintendent of Nearly Everything The Bear Creek & South Jackson Railway Co. Hillsboro, OR http://www.bcsjrr.com
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Posted by tomikawaTT on Friday, August 01, 2008 8:20 PM

At what level do you wish to attack this opportunity?

  • Take a kit locomotive (or two) and alter/add/splice to get what you want (similar to what Dave Vollmer did to build his N scale 4-8-2.)
  • Take the mechanism of a kit (or a wreck) and erect a superstructure to your chosen design.
  • Start with a mechanism, then modify to suit.  Then erect a superstructure on the rebuilt frame - either kitbashed or completely scratchbuilt.
  • Start with drivers, erect a frame, then assemble the rest of the model from whatever.
  • Make masters and cast your own drivers....
  • Dig up the ore, cut down a tree, buy a bag of plastic pellets...

Okay, those last two are exaggerations (especially the last one.)

Half a century ago, Mel Thornburgh used to build O scale models from raw materials with all hand tools, working on an old roll-top desk.  People have tried to tell me that his methods are outdated - but I still use a lot of them.  I admit that my own efforts have extended to the fourth level (once - and I've since traded that 2-4-2T away) but these days I stop at level three, and the modifications to the manufactured frame are minor.

The most important thing is to have plans, and lots of photos, of your chosen prototype.  Then use the diagrams at the front of Model Railroader Cyclopedia, Vol 1, STEAM LOCOMOTIVES to assure that your appliances and plumbing are appropriately sited and routed.  (Those diagrams will also prevent your home-designed 2-4-6-8 from looking like a cartoon.)

Chuck (modeling Central Japan in September, 1964 - with kitbashed steam)

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Posted by twhite on Friday, August 01, 2008 9:01 PM

As usual, Chuck has some really good advice. 

I don't know what level of modeling skills you've grown to, but I might suggest 'kit-bashing' several existing locomotive to what you would like to achieve before you actually start from the ground up.  Though I've kit-bashed my share of locos (plastic AND brass), I don't feel ready yet to hand-craft one from the drivers to the stacks, just yet.  That just isn't within my scope of expertise (though it certainly doesn't mean that it might be within the scope of YOURS, understand). 

However, you might contact Railroad Model Craftsman magazine and check some of their past articles on scratch-building locomotives.  I'm sure that their archives are complete enough so that you can probably pull up a lot of information on both kit-bashing and scratch-building.  RMC is the model railroad magazine that tends to focus more on these projects. 

Good luck.  Frankly, I envy you your enthusiasm for this type of project. 

Tom Big Smile [:D] 

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Posted by pike-62 on Saturday, August 02, 2008 7:49 AM

Check out this link for some inspiration. Although it is not a train, it is an engine. I like the guys comment about his limited ability. If mine were only so limited. Great scratch building can provide good tips even if it is not in your field of interest.

http://www.scale4x4rc.org/forums/showthread.php?t=21715

Dan Pikulski

www.DansResinCasting.com

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Posted by Autobus Prime on Saturday, August 02, 2008 11:26 AM
 tomikawaTT wrote:

  • Dig up the ore, cut down a tree, buy a bag of plastic pellets...


  • 3T:
    Bah. If you're not synthesizing styrene on your kitchen table, you're not a model builder. :) :)
    (Don't tell ME your kitchen table doesn't have a fume hood.)

    I would suggest to the OP that he look up articles by Carl Traub and Mel Thornburgh, definitely, and look in very old magazines. 1950s aren't old enough. They're mostly kits and RTR, where locos are concerned, though you do see some SB steam. I mean go back to the 1930s, when you could pretty much count on every issue of THE MODEL CRAFTSMAN as having a scratchbuilt loco in it. You can also find truly maddening things like a writeup about a tour of the Baldwin Loco Works. Sigh...I need a time machine.

    An interesting diversion is to look up "kitchen table locos", or look at Eric La Nal's 1930s HO articles, where you'll find descriptions of building locos from wood and cardboard. Eric La Nal even had a writeup about making passenger car trucks from manila folder stock, laminated. It apparently worked.

    Bud Sima published an article on building a 2-8-0 on a Bowser chassis this way, as recently in 1972. I've tried it myself, in fact, scratchbuilding a wood and card superstructure on the chassis of a Model Power Fatboy (sold by IHC at the time) to make something like a typical Baldwin narrow-gauge 2-4-0 scaled up to standard gauge. It did look better than the Fatboy, and I still have the tender with its hand-split wood load (there's your tree-cutting; twigs really) but I think I'd rather use something more durable than that, when I get back into scratchbuilding locos.

    But still, the articles are good reading, and might be an inspiration for using whatever materials you happen to be good at, rather than what is declared to be proper. When it's painted, it's covered, right?

    There's a book called HOW TO BUILD MODEL RAILROADS AND EQUIPMENT, by Barton K. Davis, which covers the scratchbuilding in brass of a SP 4-6-0, several freight cars, several passenger cars, and a FM cab unit, with scads of info.

    Here are some other resources I have found:

    http://home.freeuk.net/scalefour/

    http://erojr.home.cern.ch/erojr/content/hobby.htm <- Particularly good. Janos Ero makes a detailed writeup for the whole process, and since he builds 2 copies every time, he sometimes has a chance to retry with different methods, which can be very instructive.
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    Posted by R. T. POTEET on Saturday, August 02, 2008 1:23 PM

    oscaletrains, you ain't trying hard enough! In the past 45 years or so there have been dozens of articles dealing with scratchbuilding locomotives both steam and diesel in both brass and plastic!

    Go to the index and keyword scratchbuilding; there's 148 pages there going clear back to 1933. To find recent articles by Traub, Thornburg, Odegaard, and others select descending order; start at, say, page 130 which should start you off sometime in the 1960s or so.

    A word of advice, don't get hung up necessarily on locomotives; remember that the procedures are essentially the same for locomotives as for passenger and freight cars.

    From the far, far reaches of the wild, wild west I am: rtpoteet

    Question: What's the difference between Political Correctness and Mindless? Answer: Thirteen Letters!

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    Posted by oscaletrains on Monday, August 04, 2008 12:31 PM

    My modeling skills are pretty fair, I have kit-bashed freight cars and I know how to solder very well. I practiced soldering on a tank car type tank more than a few times to improve myself. I am also working on a GTW wood caboose built in the Fort Gratiot shops and converted to steel under frame at Port Huron carhops

     

     

     

    for my first project in brass i was thinking about a Baldwin AS 16 (from plans published in a 1968 MRR) or USRA 0-8-0 I was thinking that I would do the AS 16 first, but I have no idea on how to the vents on the doors and frame. Any suggestions on creating the vents?  

     

     

    BTW: pike-62 I looked at your link to your GE loco project, and I loved it, I do not know what kind of car guy you are but I have got some photos of the same type of locomotive working at Fords Rouge Factory, in a beautiful blue ford paint scheme with the ford logo on the side. If you could, I would like to know where I could find those plans. 

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    Posted by Autobus Prime on Monday, August 04, 2008 12:38 PM
     oscaletrains wrote:

    My modeling skills are pretty fair, I have kit-bashed freight cars and I know how to solder very well. I practiced soldering on a tank car type tank more than a few times to improve myself. I am also working on a GTW wood caboose built in the Fort Gratiot shops and converted to steel under frame at Port Huron carhops

     

     

     

    for my first project in brass i was thinking about a Baldwin AS 16 (from plans published in a 1968 MRR) or USRA 0-8-0 I was thinking that I would do the AS 16 first, but I have no idea on how to the vents on the doors and frame. Any suggestions on creating the vents?  



    ost:

    There was an article in MR once, on building a 25 tonner, where the author stacked small angles and soldered them together, then soldered them into the hole where the louvers were to go. You could also scribe the vents, or *maybe* produce some sort of chisel-edged punch and mating die, and actually punch them out. You might be able to use nothing more than a small chisel, and use the end grain of a hardwood block for the "die". I'm not sure how well it would work.

    Another thought: cut the vents from an old plastic diesel shell and glue them in place. Why not? If you picked one with good die work, and sanded them very thin so they wouldn't stand out, it could be fine once painted.
     Currently president of: a slowly upgrading trainset fleet o'doom.

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