By Brian Dominic
Kits in our scale are made in all sorts of materials – wood, card, plastic, resin and metal readily spring to mind, but until Busted Bricks went into it, nobody did anything in MDF. It has to be well sealed (= painted) if it’s to survive outside, but its lack of grain and perfect surface finish make it in some ways an ideal material. It’s cheap, too – the two kits needed to make this loco (the chassis and body come as separate items, and there’s now a choice of body – this one and a steeple-cab variant) costs GBP 29.50 – you can’t really go wrong! the kits are now produced by the Houston Gate Locomotive Works
This is what comes in the box: the body kit on the left, and the chassis kit on the right, with the already assembled axles and wheels, the drive band, and all the other miscellaneous gubbins in the middle.
One thing that wasn’t in the picture was the motor and worm wheel: I opted to supply my own reversing switch and battery box, and wired the whole lot up before starting the loco construction proper. Please note that it is not adviseable to fit a switched battery box as I did – it’s much too tight a fit and if you don’t fit a headlight you won’t need it. A normal box slides in and out MUCH more easily (Shut UP at the back, there!)
Assembling the underframe took less time than it did to photograph and write about it – because of all the slots and tabs there is really very little to go wrong (except that the design of the motor retainer has changed, but the instructions hadn’t, but it wasn’t hard to work it out). Here you see the underframe (with the glue still wet) upside down…………
………… and the right way up.The square holes are for the (supplied) buffer / coupling – not fitted here because they go on the body kit, which is a slide fit over the chassis.
The axle boxes are a novel design, with three laminations…………………
…… glued together…………
…………. to make a “cradle” for the actual bearing…………
the whole being accurately located by the “ears” on the underframe, into which the bearing slides. There is absoletely NO glue near the bearing or axle end.
The wheels, axles and drive band installed…………….
………… and on its wheels. BEWARE! do NOT push the worm fully onto the motor shaft – it won’t reach the gear if you do! (Please don’t ask me how I know this!)
The very simple body goes together like a piece of cake, but it is a little flat and bland. This is the point at which you can start to customise your loco. I’ve started to add some detail – the edges of the top of the engine compartment have been bevelled, the holes in the engine side panel are for handles (bent brass wire) and a radiator cap (from a suitably-sized pin in the Stores) and exhaust pipe have also been fitted. The electrics are currently all stuffed under the bonnet (and remained that way when I came to do the final assembly – there is not a millemetre to spare in there!).
The cab roof and glazing also waited until nearly all the painting was virtually complete. I did have to open the square holes in the buffer beams for the couplings with a small file………….. The whole took considerably less than a day.
After pointing the loco at various rattle cans (and with a fair amount of brush painting, too) this was the final result – my homage to early BR Diesels.
The number numerals are 4mm LNER ones, which show up better on the green than they do on the buffer beams. The handrails are the standard “knob and wire” type.
It’s proved to be a robust and reliable loco within its limitations: here it’s seen on an MDLR lightweight freigt train on Ridgemont at Steam in Beds in late 2012, double heading with No 12 “ESME”, purely because the track was so slippery!