At Last, PROGRESS! (& Klingons)

Well, it has finally occurred; work has been started on The Forney. As of today, most of the frame & cylinders are completed in styrene, I having obtained plastic cement for the purpose yesterday. Actually, I don’t even know if it will even be a Forney, it having a distinct possibility for in fact turning into something like this or this. It seems to hinge on the obtainment of an N scale Diesel drive that will either power a tender or freight car that pushes along the engine, or the rear truck of the Forney, it depending on the type of power unit.

On a different tangent, I wonder about the off-screen railroad systems in Star Trek, and how one might contrive to build a Star Trek themed layout. Would it look something like the April 1978 issue of Model Railroader‘s concept? Somehow I think that it would have to be on a bigger scale (the size of the train, not the model scale). It would probably be built around the concept of a Klingon railroad agency, that is, Klingon Imperial Railways or tlhIngan DaHjaj ta’be’nalwI’ baSDujDevmey. It would, however, be a genuine challenge to come up with railroad equipment confirming to the Klingon design aesthetic (though Hodgkin’s Law means that some semblance to Human railroads is acceptable).


After the Yugo 0-6-0 conversion failed horrendously, I am considering, in all seriousness, scratch-building that Forney. Now normally scratch building motive power is considered to be something like the ultimate challenge of the Master Craftsman, but it does one good to bear in mind that Model railroading came into its own in the United States something like eighty years ago (yes, HO scale is in fact seventy years old in 2016), and our ancestors did not have the benefit of the Dremel Motor Tool and inexpensive and readily available Styrene. Back then, you either acquired one of the crude kits available (and effectively scratch built the darn thing using a few commercial parts, modified what was essentially a toy (even though it may have been marketed as an ‘exact scale model’, it would have been nessecary to carry out some modifications anyway), bought a ludicrously expensive custom model, or scratch built the model out of brass, tinplate, and/or wood, usually balsa.

Now, of course, the situation has changed. With our modern styrene, commercial detail castings, inexpensive precision machine tools, and 3D printed parts, one can easily and inexpensively build a model steam locomotive that would have been considered professional museum quality a mere 50 years ago.

The only thing lacking is the new craftsmen ready to carry on this grand tradition.

Adding Another Set of Wheels

My plan regarding the somewhat infamous 0-6-0 has changed yet again. Conversion will now be to a reasonable facsimile of this locomotive as later rebuilt, as I conveniently have the blueprints for the locomotive as-built available (I have photographs of both versions).

I say reasonable facsimile because though I will try to be as faithful to the prototype as possible, some dimensions will undoubtedly have to be compromised in using the modified chassis, which I have already started work on.

Thank God for Shapeways! For where else could I find those necessary but elusive parts, at an affordable price, for my locomotive (the cab is here and the truck is here).

The ongoing Tribulations of a Mehanotehnika 0-6-0 Owner

It seems that the conversion to HOn30 of the N scale locomotive described earlier is taking somewhat longer than originally anticipated, chiefly due to the off-again on-again nature of construction and lack of certain parts at present.

On a somewhat different tangent, I also have a notion to model Vladivostok, circa 1900 in HO scale. The one real problem: finding the rolling stock, or rather the locomotives and passenger cars, because the freight car fleet was at the time composed in entirety of European style four-wheelers like these and these, which are relatively easy to find, even in America. There is one locomotive available off Shapeways for $57, which is even then a static model, with non-operating chassis (you must source your own, I would modify the running gear off of this for the purpose). In addition, it would seem that there are several other locomotives and running gear assemblies that could be modified for the purpose of creating some more period engines.

It is somewhat irritating to me that the U.S.S.R. never really developed an export model train industry, apparently just to make my life difficult! All other period Russian train models are exorbitantly priced, no doubt in part due to the shipping!

The Funnniest Thomas the Tank Engine Episode Scene Ever, & Other Modeling Musings

Right at 3:53. Ah, Thomas the Tank Engine. I loved that show as a little kid. I still maintain a somewhat more passing interest in it, though now mostly fueled by nostalgia and appreciation for the model-work in the classic series (once Britt Allcroft started departing from the Rev. W. Awrdy’s original stories, the series began to go downhill, and yes, unlike within the show, people were hurt by this).

Anyway, I have finally acquired an engine suitable for conversion to HOn30 from N gauge, bought at a model train show for $10.00. I also found a good website with pictures, information, and repair tips of said engine, under the address of The modifications will involve rebuilding of the cab to an open type, re-detailing the boiler with HO scale fittings, and modifying the cylinders to (somewhat more) accurately represent the slide-valve type commonly used on engines of this size and period build, as seen on this (standard gauge) switcher.

I have also started work on a portable layout to run the little fella on when it’s finished, which is built in a wood box and is only 3 11/16″ x 9 3/8″ in width and length. I do not as yet possess any HOn30 or N gauge track, but I have begun work on the scenery. The finished layout will look something like this (ignore the labeling).

The Hassle with HOn30

Yes, I titled my blog post in direct evocation of THAT episode of Star Trek‘s original series, and yes, modelling in 30 inch narrow gauge can be about as frustarating as being buried under a pile of the adorable but prolific little furballs, due only to one singular problem: finding decent-running and moderately priced 9mm gauge steam locomotive mechanisms. Everything else is snap-together plastic kit difficulty compared to this huge chore.

All right, I haven’t been totally honest. I still have to find the superstructures for the locomotives, and though locomotive, passenger and freight car shells can be had off of Shapeways, they are rather few and far between, and as I said before, YOU STILL HAVE TO SOURCE YOUR OWN CHASSIS!

Concerning other sources, the one place to get any other HOn30 stock is, under OO9. This is the British version of HOn30, and being OO scale, it is scaled 4mm to the foot as opposed to HO’s 3.5mm to the same measure.

This is no great problem when your locomotives are small, though with larger measures the disparity begins to rear its ugly head…

Oh well, I suppose I should be happy that there are in fact a few good-running N-gauge mechanisms available, and that they are in some instances reasonably priced

Until next time, John W. Cunningham

Musings on Model Die Casting

As of the present time, I have in my possession Model Die Casting/Roundhouse’s popular 0-6-0t kit, which is only partially assembled and superdetailed. Interesting about this kit is its predigee. MDC, it seems, also used the body shell assembly in another kit: their 3-in-1 series, which were essentially simply standard-production parts included in a box that could be assembled into one of three different models. In addition, they did not require nearly all the parts needed to complete the actual model! For further explanation, here are the instructions.

They got away with it by calling it a “craftsman kit”, which was in fact a fair description, because that at the time was the definition of the phrase! Rather superfluously, they are much harder to find than the 0-6-0 version, and it did not help that they were nonpowered narrow gauge (HOn3).

So, you ask, what is my idea? It is rather simple: I plan to build the 2-4-4-0 mallet version out of the equipment I have on hand, but in standard gauge! I will, however, need a few extra parts, namely a brace of  NorthWest Shortline Stanton self-contained power trucks (product number 1210). The only disatvantage is that they are eighty dollars each (maybe I should look for an alternative, or get them for a Christmas present!)

Anyway, it’s a nice, sound idea that, if carried out, will result in an attractive little Mallet tanker that will be equally at home in the woods or on a twisting industrial spur.