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Sunday, 9 January 2011

Baldwin 50HP Gas Mechanical

The Baldwin 50HP Gas Mechanical I was expecting turned up at Christmas. It's a Meridian Models kit that folds up from Brass and Nickel Silver with the usual wheels, axles and brass and whitemetal castings and the like. The picture below shows how the Chassis comes together. It's a bit odd in having 2 nickel silver frames, each folded up to make 3 sided U sections. The first is the outer frame which folds together to make the 2 side frames and the top of the chassis you can see in the picture below. At this point you solder in the brass axle bearings and insert the wheelset. After this you make another similar fold that creates 2 further side frames and the bottom with the sides fitting inside the ones you have already made. This is then slid up inside the existing chassis you've folded up. Not easy to explain but it means you need to fit it up with the sides fitting between the outer-sides with the bearings and the wheels themselves - very tight clearances but a very solid chassis afterwards.

Drive is through the rear axle, transferred to the other axle and the jackshaft through the cranks. Quartering is relatively straightforward if you follow the instructions doing them all in order but you could spend forever making small adjustments trying to make it smoother. The brass body fits over the top of the motor making it a bit snug. I though I was going to have to put the docoder in the cab, which would have been a pig to conceal. However, by cutting down the whitemetal gearbox casting at the front over the jackshaft and trimming back as much of the sheath of a Digitrax DZ125, I've managed to fit it in under the front 'bonnet' - which hadn't been fitted in this photo.

After all that, it actually ran! A real emotional moment as this is the first kit I've got from etches to that point. At the head of a train I think it looks great. It's almost a shame that on the actual layout it'll just be used to shunt from the quarry branch to the station but I'm sure I'll let it get a run every once in a while!

I did, however, learn a few lessons:
  1. Washing the kit to remove flux as you go along is really good but remember that it takes forever to dry. I thought I had a serious electrical short across the chassis but, after too long, I narrowed it down to the fact that the moisture was conducting across an insulated bush!
  2. Keep checking that the chassis is flat. When the bushes went in it was all square and flat. When it came to test running it wasn't. I don't know when one of the bushes moved but it was a pig having to take all teh cranks off to move the bearing.
  3. Adapt and overcome. At times I needed to apply a bit of ingenuity to get things to line up - not least when I started losing the tiny Mashima mounting screws into the carpet.

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