Getting Started in 3mm FAQ:  Cast Locomotive kits; N. Brown

Cast Locomotive Kits

Cast locomotive kits generally provide the quickest root to producing a steam locomotive, and the better ones, such as the ex GEM 48XX/58XX kit produced by 3SMR and illustrated below, can be made into reasonable models.  3SMR also market a high quality Brynkits chassis kit which can be used with this model.

body components The main body components for the 48XX/58XX kit.  The parts are reasonably accurate, except for small footplate "skirts" underneath the boiler, which also has its base missing.  The skirts are easily removed, and the underside of the boiler made good with a bit of copper water pipe, or similar. There are a few minor bits of flash which need to be removed.

new handrails Although the castings are quite neat, the cast-on handrails betray the kit's age.  However, with a bit of care, these can easily be removed and replaced by wire, as shown here. Other cast-on details such as whistles can also be replaced.

chassis formation A basic chassis lash up will enable you to check clearances.  Here the Brynkits chassis has been bent up, and the bushes, Society finescale wheels, High Level Roadrunner gearbox frame, and Mashima 1220 motor have been dropped in.  This model is intended for 14.2mm gauge; for 12mm you'd need to use, say, the Slimliner gearbox and 1020 motor available from Finney & Smith, and wheels of your choice.  It was found  that just a little carving of the footplate was needed, to increase the width  of the gap for the motor, and later on a bit taken out of the base of the cab front, to clear the top of the motor.

chassis The assembled chassis, which features a compensated rear axle.  You can easily alter such chasses to your own ideas.  One here, to further improve suspension, was to file the front bearings to give a small amount of vertical movement and spring the axle using phosphor bronze wires; these were later removed because the top-bearing pickups used gave enough springing.  Another was to use 0.7mm nickel silver rod to attach the brakes, rather than the brass rod cum spacers provided.  Also the brakes were positioned further from the wheels, to allow the wheels to be freely added or removed.  The nut on the middle cross piece is for bolting on the pickups, which were made removable for ease of adjustment.

body assembly The body assembled and awaiting tidying up.  Apart from the handrails, extra detail includes whistles (Bruce Hoyle), steampipes (modified 4mm Branchlines coach), coupling hooks (Worsley Works wagon), and front lamp irons (4mm nickel silver wire).

motor/gearbox End on view of the motor and gearbox, with axle and final gear loosely in place.  The axle bearings provided with the gearbox have been replaced with Branchlines shallow "straw hat" ones, so that the gearbox fits comfortably between the frames.  One of the original bearings will be reused inside the gearbox as shown, to limit sideplay, in preference to the High Level recommendations.

motored chassis  The chassis mainly complete and capable of being tested.  Pickups are phosphor bronze wire soldered to a bit of copper clad sleepering, suitably gapped and with a hole drilled in the middle, and then bolted to the chassis.  Sandboxes need adding, and balance weights to the wheels.

Nearly finished Almost complete.  Needs sandboxes, glazing and coal, and awaits final testing, then fixing of the coupling rods.  Transfers are from the Society's PC Methfix range; number plates are the Society's Martin Finney number plate kit.