Probably the Worst Kit in the World…



Regular readers of this blog will be aware of the extremely long-running saga of the Caley Jumbo 0-6-0 which occasionally (dis)graces these pages.

After a long and protracted campaign which started at the end of 2009, I have somehow got this thing to a point where it has a chassis with wiper pick-ups that is notionally capable of running under power now, Not withstanding this, for every single bit of forward progress this model makes, there is a violent reaction from it. Every time this happens, I sit and try to work my way to the problem which is why I’ve got to the stage where it is capable (sort of) of running on static test rollers. And so tonight, it runs with all the elegance of a bulldog with a leg missing…

With the body on, it’s still somewhat hesitant to move which I’m happy to put down to unresolved clearance issues inside the body that need located and dealt with.

Remove the body however and the situation is still poor – the chassis is reluctant to start even when unburdened by the metal superstructure and requires a heavy starting load on the controller to get it moving, just like crap 1970s/80s RTR with poor quality Ringpiece (sic) motors in over-scale tenders. I guess that if I leave it aside for a bit I can return refreshed to the model and identify a solution.

This brings me to the point of this entry; this kit retains only the superstructure of the loco. The reason for this being that I have had to source suitable frames and rods for both loco and tender along with various smaller fitting. While the construction of the running gear for this loco has been an unashamed comedy of errors, it has taught me several useful things about the finer points of loco construction so while the struggles continue, they provide an education in the practicalities of ‘rolling your own’  and how NOT to produce a kit.

The point is that I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO go through the hand-to-hand fighting I’ve experienced with the Jumbo, just to build a commercially available kit (the only one in fact of this prototype). It has turned into a ‘Grudge Build’, I have invested (and probably wasted in honesty) hours and pounds trying to turn this effort into a decent working model. All pleasure has now gone from the process and the only reason I haven’t just jacked it and lobbed the f****** thing into landfill is that I refuse to be beaten; it’s just a bloody war of attrition now and I’m not prepared to throw the towel in out of pride, nothing else.

The kit itself dates from the mid-late 1970s and consists of loosely accurate body and tender castings. The tender itself is education in its own right – it consists of five major components with the tender side and underframe as one part with ‘pin-point’ axle bearing locators. The builder is expected to solder or glue the entire assembly, the opposite sides of which match only arbitrarily, whilst at the same time ensuring that the three wheel sets are mounted square and in alignment…

The chassis frames were obviously cut from redundant GWR nameplates, such is their thickness and with spacers and bearings attached it isn’t possible to fit 00 axles!

Additionally, the rods are of a different material and show all the consistency with the frames (with which they should match) of items sub-contracted to a factory on a small planet orbiting Wolf-359…

Clearly there was some interesting stuff being smoked in the draughting room that day.

In both cases, I ended up supplying my own chassis parts and rods, thereby increasing the expense considerably and generating trials of their own.

In the 21st Century, there are some marvellous manufacturers out there producing excellent, well-designed kits with clear and unambiguous instructions produced by someone who as actually BUILT the kits and applied some kind of logic to the process.

DJH have a number of these poorly designed and inferior efforts still on the market in 4mm and whilst their 7mm products are, with justification highly regarded, their smaller brethren, sadly fall massively short of acceptable standards. I have in the last four years, built loco kits by NB models, Alexander Models, NBR 4mm Developments, 52F and Finecast. The only two kits I have experienced appalling difficulties with were this and another from the same stable. These ‘Consett Clunkers’ have been around for nigh on forty years and I believe the time has come for them to be packed off to model Valhalla.

For someone who greatly admires the Caledonian Jumbos and would build more were a good kit available, it’s a bit disappointing but I will NEVER purchase one of these antiquated, un-buildable pieces of crap ever again. To describe it as a kit in the modern age is a borderline breach of trade descriptions and if you really MUST have a Jumbo in future, trust me, you really would be better off scratch building.

Please, for the love of God, somebody produce a decent etched kit of this and the 439. It’ll save at least some folk in the world from heartache and find this abortion a bright new future as boiler and tender ballast!



Bubbling away on the back stove…

Now that the Jumbo chassis is working satisfactorily , it awaits my rest days this week before various refinements like pick-ups and brake gear are added.
Other items are currently occupying the two benches or have just done so.
Among these is this BR Diagram 1/410 twin bolster wagon, like the prototype, it’s essentially a pair of Lowfits, permanently connected by a drawbar. I believe that these were created in 1961 by pairing and converting pre-existing vehicles. I originally built this one a few years back but have just re-wheeled it for EM.

In the background you can see Britannia no 70011, formerly Hotspur, but being finished as she was when working out her last days at Kingmoor in 1967.
Records suggest she was at the head of the last steam-hauled freight service over the Waverley route in November 1967 and certainly, her sister 70022 is also on record as having hauled the last steam-hauled passenger service (2S52) in November that year.
This loco is a little further on in its progression to that heavily weathered , late transition era finish so more photos are pending. Ultimately she will be similar in appearance to 70035 here!

During the week I have also been messing about with a Bachmann class 24 that is being converted to one of the later variant with head code box.
It’s intended to finish this one as D5127, circa 1968 and you can also see that the tablet catcher recesses have been fitted.

Lastly, there’s a bit of a ‘Scrapheap Challenge’ going on whereby an unpromising collection of bits that have been lying in a box for years, have been unglued, cleaned up, and re-soldered together to provide a basic model of a Caledonian 782 class tank loco. My primary concern for now was to get this kit’s basic superstructure assembled for now. She will require a scratch built cab roof as the original is missing but that’s no major problem.
There I will leave it for the moment as I also have a brand new 782 and chassis kit which I’m going to tackle first.
It’s still satisfying to bring old models back from the dead though.




Iain MacIntosh artwork

Mac's V2

Iain, whose work I have highlighted on here before has made great progress with his second work. Again it depicts a V2 Class locomotive at work on the Waverley Route. this time it’s on one of the stopping passenger trains that were a feature of the line running between Carlisle Citadel and Edinburgh Waverley. This photo is merely a taster – the work really needs to be seen in the flesh to appreciate the true beauty and finesse of Iain’s work. I understand he will be producing a limited number of prints in due course.