Some early 4mm locos

by Tim Venton

I always find pictures of locos with their tops off the chassis inspiring, so I have included some of mine. I hope you find them of some interest.

My early locos from the mid 70's are but a memory. In those days one had to scratchbuild the chassis. I have few photos of locos in bits in those days. 1/16" brass was used for frames with Airfix or Romford 5-pole open-frame motors, Studiolith wheels, wiper pickups. Gradually the early etched brass frames became available. I remember getting excited about the frames introduced by Maygib for the 94xx pannier, which I was able to use under 57xxs.

As my standards improved, I was using wiper pick ups, 'flexichas' with Portescap motors, but moved onto split frames, springing, can motors and flywheels when I got fed up with the lack of inertia in my locos. More recently, conversion to DCC has resulted in more Portescaps being removed.

One thing I have kept for some years is a log book for each engine. As improvements are made, or faults arise, they are entered in the book This means that when patterns occur, I can see what improvements need to be done. It also records when locos were last oiled.

small prairie 5532 I thought I would start off with my oldest model. 5532 was originally constructed in OO from a K's kit in 1975 just before I started in P4 in 1976. It was converted to P4 in the late 70's. A runner, but currently in need of refurbishment and a repaint.
Churchward chassis for 5532 The current chassis was built in February 1987. A standard Malcolm Mitchell (Churchward Models) chassis with Ultrascale drivers but the original Studiolith truck wheels. Note the top acting wiper pickups on the rims, not the treads. Standard flexichas bearings. A Portescap 1616 sits in the frames. This would have been state of the art in the 1980s.
Same chassis, but after conversion to DCC, fitting a Mashima 14mm can and small flywheel. Wiper pickups were retained. I wasn't going that far with the improvements. Loco fitted with a Lenz LE1025A decoder (with feedback). Being a steam loco, nothing for the accessory switches to run, but I keep having ideas.
late 70s chassis for 5532 I thought you might like to see a much older chassis for the 55xx, this photo is dated September 1979. This also predates the loco log. Chassis was 1/16" brass, with Studiolith wheels throughout, bottom wipers, Romford 5-pole motor on its side, driving through a Studiolith flywheel, stepdown gearbox (without the small gear) onto a Studiolith gearbox on the axle. Did it run? Badly I seem to remember.
standard pannier 9612 9612 is a standard pannier tank with the older Mainline body, with a cast whitemetal cab (not one of the new bodies). Built in 1993.
It incorporates a standard Perseverance chassis, flexichas, compensation with Ultrascale drivers, wiper pickups and the steeply inclined Mashima 1620 motor driving through an Exactoscale 40:1 gearbox, modified so that the driveshaft is removable. Converted to DCC with a Lenz LE1025A decoder.

I built it from the kit to see if it was any quicker than my usual split frame etc. It wasn't! But this was down to my not being used to the techniques.
underside of chassis of 9612 Underside of 9612, showing my arrangement of the wipers. Note that various bits like the vacuum pipes are attached to the chassis.
standard pannier 7784 7784 is yet another standard pannier tank from the Mainline RTR model built in February 1992.
chassis for 8744 The chassis is from Comet, with Exactoscale hornblocks and guides, Ultrascale drivers and was fitted with a Portescap 1616 driving through an MJT conversion kit. This model has split frames but is compensated. Spacers are in copper faced fibreglass. Note the ATC gear hanging under the rear. The underside of the motor doubled as the boiler!
Same chassis, but now fitted with one of the new Mashima small can motors, small flywheel, Ultrascale 38:1 gears in a simple fold up gearbox. The ZTC decoder is mounted inside the boiler.
standard pannier 8744 8744 is a riveted pannier tank loco. The body is modified Mainline, with plasticard overlays. An early picture, now finished.
chassis for 8744 This chassis was by way of an experiment to see if I could squeeze a flywheel into a pannier tank. The flywheel is moulded solder! The scratchbuilt gearbox contains Ultrascale gears. The worm shaft can be removed. The UJs are scratchbuilt. A Mashima 1224 is mounted at the back. Studiolith wheels are reamed out to fit 1/8" parallel axles.


BR standard class 3 tank 82002 A view of a recent loco, 82002 was built from a Kemilway kit. I started this model in 1994, it went through various incarnations, being put into its present form in 1998.
chassis for 82002 A Mashima 1224 has a flywheel on the back driving via Branchlines UJs to a scratchbuilt gearbox containing Ultrascale 38:1 gears. Ultrascale drivers are pressed onto split axles, running in sprung Exactoscale axleboxes.
chassis for 82002 The pony trucks are sprung and carry some of the weight. At this time I was using copper- faced fibreglass spacers. The Kemilway chassis was extensively modified for P4 use. Converted to DCC using a ZTC decoder which is between the frames under the motor.
Under construction is an ROD 2-8-0. So far the tender is nearly finished. A large Canon 1833 drives through spur gears to the gearbox in the engine. This tender follows the lines of Alex Jackson/Sid Stubbs it has nickel frames screwed onto a tufnol block milled to correct width. The advantages are that the chassis can be disassembled with ease.