Saturday, April 01, 2017

How I 'Anglicised' an LGB Stainz loco

The LGB Stainz loco which runs on my railway was the first G Scale loco I owned; bought as part of Starter Set back in 1995.
When I abandoned track power, the Stainz was one of the last of my locos to be converted to battery power and radio control (using the Deltang / RC Trains system) - see How I converted my Stainz loco to battery power  but she retained her original shape and colour scheme. All my other locos have been finished in Peckforton Light Railway livery (see Locomotive Update).

Having 'anglicised' all my rolling stock (eg see How I Anglicised an LGB tanker wagon) and constructed my own UK outline locomotives (eg see How I constructed a Southwold Railway Sharp Stewart loco), I felt it was about time I made the Stainz look more UK-based. But where to start?

I roughly sketched out some ideas, principally, extending the side tanks and replacing the spark-arrester chimney - after that I would let my imagination, determination and serendipity guide me.


 Full disassembly of the Stainz loco has been covered elsewhere (eg How I fitted a decoder to my Stainz loco), so I will not go into full detail here. Initially, I only wanted a partial disassembly anyway as I needed to see how the various additions I was making to the loco would look and fit.

From past experience, I know that the whistle on the cab roof is very susceptible to damage and so this was removed by slipping the blade of a screwdriver under the moulding and applying some gentle leverage.

 The motor block was then removed by undoing the four screws which hold it in place and unscrewing the two mountings on the running plate for the valve gear.

The vacuum pump was removed by undoing the screw which holds it in place ........
 .... and the filler for the sandboxes was removed (a push-fit).

I also prised off the mouldings on top of the coal bunkers as these would no longer be needed.

The loco was now ready for the first stage of its reconstruction.

Fitting a running board

 The first job was to remove the rim on the edge of the existing running plate where the new extension would be attached. It was carefully trimmed off on both sides with a craft knife, .....

 ...... and the rivets filled flat.

A cardboard template for the new running plate was measured and cut ........

....... and test-fitted into place - making various adjustments to accommodate existing fitments and mouldings.

 The measurements were then transferred to a piece of 2mm thick plasticard, .........

 ........ which was then cut to shape.

Two additional pieces of 2mm thick plasticard were then measured and cut out (see dimensions below), ............

and the three pieces were then attached to the frames using Plastic Magic solvent. Very few solvent adhesives will bond with the plastic used for LGB loco bodies, but I have found that Plastic Magic is effective. The additional two pieces of plasticard acted as stiffeners and also, as they were recessed slightly, provided additional support for the buffer beam.

After test-fitting the motor block I realised that, if I wanted to retain the valve gear, I would need to cut holes in the running plate for their upper supports. [You will notice also that my measurements were not entirely accurate for the two support pieces and so some Gorilla Glue was used as a filler].

The supports for the valve gear were then screwed into place (and offcuts of 2mm plasticard glued to span the joint between the old running plate and the new, to reinforce the joint).

The side tanks

I now turned my attention to extending the side tanks. Card templates were cut for the outside of the tanks on each side. The length of the new tank sides coincided with the joint between the boiler and the smokebox as this also happened to be slightly longer than the 18650 li-ion batteries which I intended to fit into the tanks.

The dimensions were then transferred to pieces of 2mm thick plasticard.

The edges which were to abut to the existing tanks were chamfered to enable a flush-fit.

 The inner sides of the tanks were then cut to size, with recesses to accommodate various mouldings.

 Two pieces of 2mm think plasticard (30mm x 48mm) were then cut ........

..... for the front of each tank. These were glued into place and 15mm wide pieces of plasticard fitted into place at the lower front edge of each tank for reinforcement and also to allow the tanks to be screwed to the running plate.

The tops of the tanks were then cut out (101mm x 30mm) from 1.5mm thick plasticard ......

.... and attached.

For each tank, two 5mm wide strips of 2mm thick plasticard were cut out .......

...... and glued into place into the front corners of each tank.

The tank extensions were then glued to the existing tanks with Plastic Magic solvent.

The outside leading corners of each tank were rounded with a file and filler (Squadron Products White Putty) applied.

Filler was also applied to the joints between the old and new tanks.

Once hardened, the filler was sanded smooth.

I decided that some of the existing rivet detail would be sacrificed at this stage to make sanding easier. Rivets would need to be applied to the tank extensions anyway and so replacing the rivets would not require too much additional work.

The revised upper body was then test-fitted to the running plate and the motor block fitted back into place ......

...... to check clearances.

Buffer beam

A 2mm thick piece of plasticard was cut out (105.5mm x 24mm).

Curved cut-outs were made in each side (see dimensions below) ........

..... and a slot cut for the couplings.

The buffer beam was then glued to the front of the running board .......

...... and the  gaps between the frames and the beam filled with suitably sized and shaped pieces of 2mm plasticard.

A 15mm square of 1.5mm plasticard was cut out and a hole, 4mm from each edge was made to fit over the moulding for the centre coupling. This was glued into place on the buffer beam.

The boiler

I now looked closely at the boiler. I decided that the dome and other paraphernalia looked a bit too Germanic and needed to be removed.

This major surgery was achieved with a craft knife.

The boiler was now not a pretty sight and so I needed to find some way of plugging the gaps.

Offcut strips of 1.5mm thick plasticard were glued into place inside the boiler, ......

...... which gave some support for the infill.

Pieces of 2mm thick plasticard were cut to fill the holes and glued into place .......

...... and then smeared with filler.

Once dry, the filler was then sanded smooth(ish). However, I wasn't confident that the top of the boiler would look flawlessly smooth once it was painted and so.........

...... a 1.5mm thick plasticard wrapper was cut to size, .........

...... wrapped around a piece of broomstick and held in place with cable ties ..........

..... and then plunged into a pan of boiling water an left for five minutes before being removed.

The wrapper was then glued to the boiler .......

.... using Plastic Magic solvent and temporarily held down with cable ties until the solvent had done its job.

The chimney

The old spark-arresting smoke stack needed to go. I did contemplate using the LGB replacement but as it cost around £20 and included a smoke generator which I wouldn't be using, I decided to make my own.

The chimney was cut in half carefully with a razor saw .....

..... just below the smoke generator.

.... which left me with the lower half of the chimney.

The plastic barrel from a freebie ball pen of the right diameter was unearthed.

Its cap proved to be a tight fit in the chimney moulding

The barrel of the pen was then cut to length and attached to the lower part of the chimney.

Three strips of 0.5mm thick plasticard were cut, approximately 1.5mm, 1mm and 0.5mm wide and 50mm long.

These were then glued to the top of the chimney in overlapping layers.

Filler was then applied ........

and smoothed down with a needle file and fine emery paper.

.... and the chimney given a couple of coats of primer and satin black - using Halford's rattle-can aerosol sprays.

Painting and finishing

After covering the inside and the roof of the cab with masking tape, the main body was given a couple of coats of Halford's grey primer.

Once this had dried and hardened, filler was applied where the finish looked less than perfect.

This was smoothed down with fine emery.

 The tank sides were marked out for the rivets - using the same spacing as on the original loco tanks.

Cambrian Models plastic rivet heads were then painstakingly applied using solvent to fix them in place.

The body was then given another couple of coats of grey primer, followed by a couple of coats of Rover Brooklands Green using Halfords rattle can aerosols.

The frames were given a couple of coats of primer and then rivets were applied to the sides of the running plate.

 The frames were then given a couple of coats of satin black ........
..... and the boiler a coat of grey primer before having 1mm thick and 3mm wide plasticard boiler bands glued on with solvent.

Another coat of primer was then applied, followed by two coats of Rover Brooklands Green.

The wheels were given a clean to remove excess grease and oil .......

.... before the treads and flanges were covered in masking tape.

They were then given a couple of coats of grey primer, followed by two coats of satin black.

Once the paint had dried, the masking tape was removed .........

....... and the wheels and motion fitted back into the motor block before being attached to the frames.

The Electrics

 The three 14500 batteries and protection board which originally powered the loco (see How I converted a Stainz loco to battery power) were removed.

 .... and the wiring diverted to where the new side tanks would be.

 Three 18650 li-ion batteries were wired in series and fitted into the new side tanks.

 ..... and the battery protection board soldered into the circuit.

Holes were drilled in the insides of the tanks and cable ties passed through.

The batteries were then held in place with the cable ties.

A Dallee steam soundcard was then wired into the RC Trains / Deltang Rx65b receiver (positive and negative feed from the battery, two wires to the motor output from the Rx and one wire to output C for triggering the whistle with the bind button).

The roof was removed from the cab by unscrewing the four screws holding it in place ......

.... revealing the LGB soundcard circuit board .......

...... and speaker.

 This was replaced with a 50mm 8ohm speaker which was glued into place.

The circuit board and switch inside the firebox........

..... was removed by unscrewing the two screws holding the switch in place.

The wires from the speaker were then threaded through into the firebox.

 Cut-outs were removed from the base of the backplate to allow the wiring from the batteries to pass through.

and the wiring from the batteries and speaker fitted with JST plugs so the wiring in the body could be connected to the wiring attached to the frames.

The soundcard and the receiver were then attached to the footplate with a cable tie.

I did consider putting the soundcard and receiver inside the boiler in place of the LGB circuit board, but this would have meant the potentiometers on the soundcard would have been inaccessible and so the volume and chuff tempo could not be adjusted without dismantling the loco. For more information on how I connected the Dallee soundcard to the RC Trains / Deltang Rx65b see How to interface soundcards with Deltang receivers - pending

I made four loco lamps fitted out with 5mm LEDs; two red/white bi-colour and two warm white (see How I constructed some loco lamps).

 The lamps were fixed in place on the loco body and running plate and the wiring connected to the receiver output pads.
The lower front lamp was connected to output pad A on the Rx65b. This provides an automatic front light and also mirrors the LED on the Rx to show, for example, when the Rx is hunting for the transmitter signal (1 second flashes) or when the Rx has gone into bind mode (rapid flashes). The remaining lamps were connected to output pad 1 (auto forward lighting) and output pad 2 (auto reverse lighting). This was because the upper lights are bi-colour LEDs and have a common cathode (negative) lead which needed to be connected to the negative supply from the battery. For more information on using Deltang receiver pads see Using  output pads on Deltang receivers

Final assembly and detailing

Before doing the final titivations, I took her outside into the garden for a test run.

Having proven that she would run satisfactorily, I then took her back into the workshop for a few more embellishments.

A brass dome (from Swift Sixteen), had already been added .....

.... and the chimney cap had been painted with brass enamels.

The head and tail lamps had also been added .........

 ...... so that the uppermost lamp glowed white or red dependent on which direction the loco was travelling and the lowermost lamp just glowed white when it was leading. See How I made some loco lamps.

Whitemetal castings of tank filler caps from Garden Railway Specialists were glued to the tank tops after having been primed and painted Halfords Rover Brooklands Green.

A whitemetal casting of safety valves (again from GRS) was painted and installed on the boiler and a brass whistle (from Roundhouse Engineering) was glued into the hole on the cab roof in place of the LGB 'gold plated' one.

As one of the plastic grab-rails had become damaged when it was being removed, I made a couple of replacements from brass rod and brass washers. The remaining LGB black plastic grab-rails were painted with brass enamels to match the new ones.

A smokebox door handle was made from three pieces of brass rod and a plastic boss which I found in my 'plastic bits' box. This was painted matt black and glued into place.

To cover various holes left in the front and rear of the cab which originally held the LGB lamp, safety valve and lighting socket .........

..... three rectangles of 1mm thick plasticard were cut out and given plastic rivets ........

.... painted with primer and Brooklands Green and then glued into place over the holes.

 Name and number plates from Narrow Planet and Roundhouse Engineering were glued to the tanks .....

..... and to the cab sides.

 Finally, a driver from Design Scan Print 3D (with legs shortened to enable him to fit) was given a couple of coats of grey primer and then dry-brushed with acrylic paints.

 He was then glued into place inside the cab .....

 ..... and a piece of black Gaffa Tape was fixed over the Rx and soundcard to disguise their presence.

After some deliberation, I decided to remove the valve gear from the motion. It looked out of place on a UK loco. Small silver washers have been positioned beneath the bolts holding the connecting rods in place so that, if ever I change my mind, the valve gear can be re-instated.

 The loco was then admired (taking care not to focus on the various flaws, faults and anomalies which have cropped up during construction!).

I feel she has some similarity with the Welshpool & Llanfair Railway's Beyer Peacock locos (minus the Walschaerts valve gear) and so I feel happy that she is now quite clearly a UK inspired loco.

There is still a little more work to do - maybe a handrail on the smokebox, numbers on the buffer beams (which could be painted red) and some light weathering. However, I am very pleased that No.10 (Tiverton) is now ready for service and all I need is some finer weather to give her an opportunity to demonstrate her prowess.


Here she is - taking part in her first full operating session:


Anonymous said...

Absolutely marvellous - many thanks, so interesting!

Paul Bache said...

Brilliant job Rik, wish my skills would allow me to do as well,


Ge Rik said...

Thanks Anon and Paul. I promise you I am fairly ham-fisted and my bodgelling doesn't really bear close scrutiny. I can assure you that if I can do it, almost anyone can.
PS Sorry about the delay in getting back to you. I hadn't realised I had a batch of comments needing moderation

Richard Cattel said...

What a great post, thanks for your blog it is a really helpful and i have already ordered a few bits through RC trains (not sure when they will arrive) to go with your deltang equipment.

I have a question about painting if thats ok, Im converting an LGB hamburg tram into a UK Great Orme tram (or having a go at this at least) Im looking at this post and see you have used halfords grey primer then paint, if they best and easiest option as im worried about the LGB plastic going funny with all that solvent ??

Ge Rik said...

Hi Richard

All my builds, bashes and conversions have been done with Halfords Primer and not yet had a bad reaction from any of the plastics or plasticard used. I have had a reaction though on one secondhand model which had been painted by its previous owner. I've no idea what paint was used but after rubbing-down, I gave it a couple of coats of primer and the primer reacted with what was left of the underlying paint and bubbled up. It was a bit of an inconvenience rather than a disaster. I waited until the primer had fully dried (a couple of days) and then rubbed down again. Another couple of coats of primer and another light rub-down and all was well.