Sunday, 26 January 2014

Fitting MicroTrains Couplers to the Chivers Finelines O9 Coach

I made my choice to use MicroTrains couplers (and trucks) at a very early stage in my O9 modelling and it isn't something that I have regretted. Admittedly, it has been fiddly at times, has caused some obstacles, but there has always been a solution (even if that was just to fit MicroTrains bogies in place of those supplied in Avalon kits).  The arrival of the Chivers Finelines O9 coach kit has provided the latest challenge - I was determined not to change the bogies over completely!

First things first, the bogies were built as per the instructions, ensuring they were squared up correctly and the wheels sat flat on a glass surface.  At this stage I did not add the coupler mounting strip provided.

Before constructing the body I made openings 3mm x 11mm in the headstocks on either end - this will allow the coupler to swing as the bogie turns, as seen here on the completed adaptation:

The modifications to the mounting strip were all made before it was fitted to the bogie and can be seen in the diagrams below....

Fig 1 - Cut the end of the mounting strip 11mm from the centreline of the hole that fits over the bogie (approx 14mm from the end of the part).

Fig 2 - Shape with a rat-tail file a semi-circular indent into the end of the part - this is to allow the MicroTrains 1015 coupler to work correctly (under pressure it pushed back out of the draft box).

Fig 3 - a) Add a 20 thou styrene shim 8.5 x 5mm under the mounting strip and level with the cut end - when set shape this with the rat-tail file to match.  b) Cut a 40 thou styrene piece 6.5 x 5mm, adding a taper at one end over about 1.5 mm.  Fix this in place and once set trial-fit both the mounting strip and wheelset, if need be use the rat-tail file to create extra clearance.

Once this has all set, drill a 0.9mm hole on the centre line in the exposed 40 thou platform, 2mm from the front edge (check using the draft box to locate exactly). Effectively 'tap' this using the MicroTrains coupler screw and clean up any excess styrene burr.  Optional at this stage is to shape the end of the 40 thou piece to make it less visible underneath the coupler when fitted.  The mounting strip can now be stuck to the bogie:

This view shows how the bogies look once fitted with the wheelsets, the clearances are rather tight but the bogies remain free rolling.  You will need to shorten the MicroTrains screws for the final fitting - I used a razor saw with the screw held in my desk vice:

An overall view of the completed (unpainted) coach with the bogies and MicroTrains couplers fitted:


Thursday, 23 January 2014


I'm pleased to report that my recent projects are now just about complete, with some details added to the diorama and the Chivers coach kit painted, varnished and assembled.

Here's an overview of the diorama in it's "completed" state (I say that as there is scope to add a few more small details in due course):

In the front left hand corner I have added some spare lengths of rail and new sleepers awaiting installation, behind them can be seen the R C Link point lever:

At the other end of the scene the bench has been painted and installed, and a 'Skegness is so bracing' poster added to the wall as a further reference to a location that has inspired the development of this diorama in its various incarnations:

As can be seen, I've added strips of timber to the front and side edges to neaten up the final look of the scene, these are from basswood, and are treated with matt varnish.

Moving on to the Chivers coach, this has been completed as no. 8 in the SMR sequence (the number is in gold at the right hand end of each side) and painting/varnishing it has had it's awkward moments - fun with both the Halfords red and then the varnish spray cans, but it has got there in the end!  I have now fitted the seats and bogies, which were painted separately, and posed a figure seated within to give an idea of size:

Overall a very impressive kit and a venture that ought to make O9 modelling easily accessible. Oh, I haven't forgotten that I promised to write-up the fitting of the MicroTrains couplers.... honest...


Sunday, 12 January 2014

New Year Progress

Following on nicely from the last entry, I have made several steps forward on the diorama project.  This has mostly been in the form of detailing and weathering.  I have now toned down the grey ballast to a much more railway-in-use mix of colours, including a representation of the deposits from locomotives stood at the end of the platform.  This has largely been achieved with weathering powders - not a medium I have always got on with if I'm totally honest.  On ballast and other scenic surfaces I find they tend to work better than attempts on rolling stock etc.

As can be seen, the line going off at the front of the scene now has a representation of a wooden crossing, this serves to disguise the fact that it falls off the edge!  In the background can be glimpsed something else that I have been experimenting with - laser cut vegetation.  This is from a Gaugemaster (by Noch) pack that I got as a present the Christmas before last (!).  I have used a select few of these on this scene - I didn't want to overdo it.

The eagle eyed will spot that there is also some variation within the grass.  This has been created using Silfor grass tufts - these blend in quite well one dry brushed with acrylics to kill the shine.

Progress of the Chivers coach kit through the paintshop has been brisk, the red is sprayed from a Halfords spray, the black and wooden areas are brushed acrylics.

I haven't forgotten that I promised to provide the details of MicroTrains coupler installation, it is just that painting has overtaken me writing it up...


Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Welcome to O9 Modeller in 2014

A Happy New Year to all who read O9 Modeller.  The header image above is to celebrate the completion of the shiftingsands.fotopic.revisited project with the addition of the final pages from 2009. Please take the time to look through the pages and re-live the 'Shifting Sands' experience.  My thanks once again to Mick Thornton for making the project possible through his archiving of the pages.

The completion of the Fotopic project has gone on alongside my dabblings with a new O9 diorama. This has had several rethinks along the way including a complete change of size and setting. Here, for the first time, is the progress so far:

As you can see, the scenario has changed to a platform-end scene. The construction of the platform is another result of my Skegness Miniature Railway researches, being based on the slab colours and pattern of that surviving at the Princess Parade end of the now closed line:

As a comparison, this is the diorama with the parts of the planned shed scene that were removed:

The line at the front would have ended abandoned and buried in the landscape, whilst the rear line would have gone into the shed structure along with the existing line.  All track is Peco with cosmetic changes including some RCL steel sleepers and fishplates.  Fencing is also Peco products.  The slabs on the platform are individual 14mm squares of mounting card, mass produced, treated with button polish to seal them and painted/weathered with acrylic paints.  A bench will occupy the front right hand corner of the scene, this is a modified product purchased in the Crab Pot model shop in Flamborough but identical to those available via eBay.  The modified version is on the left, original on the right:

I've also had the time to put together one of Roger Chivers' O9 open coach kits.  This is a plastic kit based around some existing 009 chassis parts but the body tooling is all-new.  This has gone together very well with only a little bit of work to get the floor and solebars to fit.  I have opted not to use the end-screen fitted end supplied as an option.  The main differences to the build envisaged by it's designer are the alterations to accommodate MicroTrains couplings.  More on that another time...