Building the O Scale AD60
This page is setup for those interested in what goes into building a large brass kit locomotive. The page will be added to as I go along with one of these currently being assembled. I would suggest revisiting this page every two to three Weeks, there should be some sort of update in between... I update when the mood hits me, I may not update for a Month, then do an update four days in a row...This isn't intended to be a page by page instruction manual, more some of the larger steps, sub assemblies and the tools and procedure I tend to use when building such things and naturally, my approach may not be the same as the next guy or gal... As always, if you have any questions with your large scale locomotive assembly, you only need send me an email with your details and we can have a chat over Zoom, pop into my Workshop or similar and we can work through your questions. This may also be the opportunity to mention I cannot accept your commission to assemble. New commissions will be reviewed towards the end of 2022.
What's in the box? Alot and I get it. This is the step that stops many. Bags and bags of parts, sheets of brass and nickel etch. It's not just O Scale kits that can be intimidating, I've seen plenty of kits in other scales that can get the builder into a lot of trouble. Easily, the most common question is, how do I get through these kits...? How do you eat an elephant... One piece at a time... Organisation is everything. One of the very first steps I do is take out all the parts from the bags and put them into sealed containers, and roughly in the order I think I will use them, so I am not endlessly fishing around for a tiny part. I don't store the brake shoes with the chimney... It's also a good chance to inspect the parts, maybe give some an an initial clean and drill out a few holes etc so the parts are largely ready to use...
Wouldn't make any sense to me to start at Page 1 of the kit instructions... I'm slightly distorted and so is my approach to an assembly. I wanted to start with some of the centre frame this time around. The only thing to really watch here is that everything is captured between the two sides. Brass is hard and it's not as easy as you might think to try and add a cross member if missed (ask me how I know this). Double check everything is in and the ends are soldered and the centre cross members are left loose or just tacked in. It's much easier to drill holes, add smaller parts while a larger part is flat, building a kit is certainly about being a few steps ahead at all times... Remember the manufacturers recommendation of always reading instructions before starting a kit..!.. The steps, some of the pipe clamps, the very long step and rivet strip along the sides are all much easier to add when the pieces are flat before putting it all together. The big mounting points/engine pivots are a heavy lump of whitemetal sandwiched between brass washers and screwed into place. The frame really needs to be square at this point. I use the bed of my lathe to check. If it isn't square it's better to reheat the cross members to move them vs. twisting the frame. It's very tempting to say bugger it I'll just twist it a bit and she'll be sweet as a nut, I assure you that will come back and bite you in the arse further on. These large models must be soldered together for strength and durability. I'll cover what I use with my soldering further down the track.
Time to have a hack at the tanks... DJH thoughtfully offer the water tank semi formed. Meaning the tank superstructure is cut out of the fret and the curve of the tank is largely pre rolled. One still needs to roll to final shape. I try to do this to minimise any tension on the surrounding solder joins. The brass easily forms around several diameters of pvc pipe, curtain rod, old screwdriver shanks... you get the idea... You don't need to be too technical with the toolkit here, essential your folding tools are spotless. The tiniest surface or raised interreference will push right through your brass piece during bending and you will have a nice little outward pushed dint to deal with. Details are always fitted brass first, then whitemetal and any plumbing. I like to use a torch for most of my metalwork where possible (that's why the whitemetal parts go on last) I keep my assemblies clean as I go along, makes the final clean much easier, and looks good for a photo. Hot water and AJAX (or similar) at this point. You can finish with fine grade steel wool if that appeals. I also shake all metalwork in an ultrasonic cleaner, I'd much rather it fall apart now than after painting... Handrails I like to leave loose, holes are also drilled now for the head/backup light. Marker light I modify to operate, and for now, no need to do anything with the holes for them, they are already there. When a subassembly is largely done, they go into a storage container and are handled as little as possible up until final assembly.
I leave simpler jobs for around the midway point to take a break. Building the 4 bogies is a great music and beer afternoon. The axles run in bearings in the whitemetal frames. I don't drill out the sideframes to accept the bearings until the bogie is assembled. I run a 6.3mm drill bit through the frames to accept the Slaters axle bearings. The Slaters axles (and wheels) tend to rust and depending on where the kit/wheels are stored this can range from a light coating to very heavy. Before I use these parts I clean with a wire tool and fine emery (about 1000) and oil with any brand of light machine oil rubbed on with a cloth, I find the axles never rust again. Corrosive fluxes used in soldering can also rust Slaters axles. There is no problem with soldering whitemetal to brass... Tin the brass with your regular high temp solder, introduce the two parts and run low temp solder in under the join. Plenty of flux. With these bogies, the whitemetal sideframes were soldered to the inner brass frames at regular temps. I guess there is a "knack" with how much heat and for how long to apply, that only comes with practice. I see so many give up after the first join doesn't work... How many locos you reckon I destroyed to get my skillset up confidently? I don't want to even admit to 1/10 of... For many Years, lets call it about 30, (long before I started building locos full time) I soldered electronics all day long and to this day, I still adjust my technique and change with different brands of consumable and tool.
With a few sub assemblies now together, the thing starts to be a reality and it's satisfying. Rarely I fix handrails in place. I generally turn one end handrail knob a degree to create an interference that will stop the handrail from "moving". I keep the various subasemblies in containers to prevent any accidental damage from having them sit around. Also keeps the dust off...
Time to go back to the frame and add the boiler. I butt join the firebox and boiler, I don't use the joining brass "ring" that goes inside, I could never make it work! The boiler front at the smokebox is a pair of tabs that I don't fold until right at the end... just in case... Largely, where possible I leave such things as tabs that might need to be bent, loose. Brass generally only bends once. Losing an alignment tab due to having to straighten to move a part then rebend is a pain in the you know where. Plumbing is next.
Thanks for reading. I'll see ya's later.