Sunday, September 20, 2009

Containing the Trackgang UK

DB says (beginning in late July): I figured I should order some Trackgang NZ120 kits since they went to all that effort. The website was easy to use and much to my delight, a pair of UKs arrived within two days, in plenty of time for the trip home.

The day after getting home, I started assembling one from the surprisingly large number of parts and the wagon itself went together nicely.

Some quick notes on the wagon's nether regions - the castings are excellent, and the underframe is quite clever, but the instructions are a little misleading with respect to the neat transverse angle braces, suggesting (to my eyes) that a number of them should have the angles removed on one side only. After consulting a few pictures of real UKs: four of the braces should be placed 'as-is' against the raised guides cast into the underside (about where the twistlocks that support the centre 10-foot container spot go - although these guides are a little wider than they should be), another one should be placed 'as-is' in the centre spot, and another one at each end. The remaining braces go onto the remaining marked locations with both their side angles cut away. The bracing is thus identical on both sides of the wagon. Well, I'm glad that's cleared that up. There is a great UK underside shot and an NZ120 plan in the Dec 2000 Model Railway Journal and I've provided the cleverly marked top picture to make it all crystal clear. Not. The VCC Models website also has an excellent diagram of the UK undersides at the bottom of their S scale kit instructions (warning: 800k pdf file).
It would be nice if the twistlocks were cast into the one-piece top as they are quite the pain in the rear to cut off a sprue, modify the side wings and stick on 24 times per wagon. Unless of course you enjoy chasing tiny bits of metal around the workbench. I attached most of them except for one of the end sets because they pee'd me off so much. They do look the part though.

Unfortunately I ended up in that same place that I always seem to, after working on the rolly bits for well over an hour. I don't seem to have enough hands (having only two) to be able to assemble Trackside/Trackgang underframes and bogies without running most of the way through the Swearing Thesaurus. In a fit of frustration I pulled out a 9mm DG and hit myself with it for a week...

If you can assemble the bogies squarely, they can be encouraged to roll down the Rimutaka Incline, but that's not ideal if you want to have 20 or 30 wagons on a train on a grade on a curve on a layout. And as most of my old Trackside stash came pre-assembled, this isn’t merely, as you would normally have surmised, me screwing up.

So again, out came some brass bearings from the English 2mm Society and I tried both cup and high hat varieties in various experiments, completing three bogies. The bogies all run very well when fitted with bearings (spinning along in MT style), and the bogie frames are stiff enough to prevent the wheels falling out. This is the good. The bad is that while they look good from side-on, they don't from above because with the depth of castings, even with indented bearings (bogie castings drilled out) or even with no bearings, the assembled bogies are almost as wide as the wagon deck. So after putting the 9mm DG away, I stuck on some Kato bogies and began to breathe again...
Par-for-the-course ranting on bogies and couplers aside, I like the Trackgang UK - especially the look of the open underframe. It looks a zillion percent better than my solid cast ones (left vs right respectively in the pic above).

Perhaps more importantly, at the end of this extended project (I wrote a harsher draft of this post almost two months ago), I'm at peace: Trackgang has the only range of NZ120 rolling stock kits on the market at the moment and their wagons are incredible value for money. As long as you remember that and set your expectations accordingly, you'll be a happy camper. Sure this UK could be easier to assemble and have better running gear, but then it wouldn't cost 23 dollars now would it. As my namesake on The Castle would say, "You couldn't buy the materials for that."


ben scaro said...

Having had the same fortune trying to assemble my Coastal Engineering trucks last night, I commiserate with you on the bogie thing. It's not fun!

A bunch of people have been agitating for Farish to release bogies as parts here in the UK for ages. That would give a 5' wheelbase bogie very much like the MT ones, with bigger wheels.

You mention Kato ones, I'd like to hunt them down, but if you mean the ones on the 8001 chassis, they have the reputation of being very rare:


Darryl said...

could someone publish the Farish guy's email? we could flood him with requests and preorders.