Where it all started for me in 1:24 scale, cont. from the intro section.....


13 Sep 2022
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Hi again,

I figured I'd rather not just add on all my model building history to the intro thread, so....

I would have to actually search back in my photos to be 100% sure when I started the project. I think it's 4 years ago, but it could be 5! Truth is, it's all a bit of a blur ....;-)

At the time, I had already started the ridiculously ambitious build of a 5" gauge South African class 15F 4-8-2. Now 5" gauge sounds eminently reasonable until you discover that they are narrow gauge locomotives, so the equivalent of a very large 7.25" gauge engine such as a BR 9F etc, with the prototypes in that part of the world running on 3ft 6inch gauge, but topping out at regularly well over 100 tons and having a loading gauge at 10ft, only slightly less than the USA standard gauge! 5 inch gauge goes into 3ft 6 inch 8.4 times, so that would be the correct, slightly smaller scale, but we went for a simple 1:8 scale instead.

That's all neither here nor there of course, but I assume it's the reason why I had a phone call out of the blue from a chap that I had met once briefly at a steam get together, asking whether I would be interested in helping to build a range of 1:24 scale models of South African types. At the time the 5" gauge 15F had reached rolling chassis stage entirely free of computers, which I had avoided like the plague , but even I knew that any kind of commercial venture would need 3D CAD design. I'm not sure how I knew, as surely many models were made in the days before CAD, but it seemed that surely the entire engineering industry's investment in digital prototyping couldn't be wrong!

So we mulled over it a bit...... and a bit more and not much was done. So I thought, let me have a go, what could go wrong? ;-) 6 months later, and with square eyes, I had what looked like a locomotive on the 3D screen. It really wasn't so bad. I figured, with a bit of practice, the learning curve would level off and it could be very handy. Fusion360 is the software, free to the hobby user, and although you could argue, it's not brilliant at any one aspect, it's good enough at everything to do the job. Locos are geometric shapes, so it lends itself well to this, as opposed to organic shapes for which there are a few suitable CAD programs, but Fusion360 isn't one of them.

A difference of opinion between us meant that no commercial venture materialised, there I was thinking that incorporating and signing contracts was just a little! premature ;-D My idea was more like building something and getting it to go....

At the time, there was no time, so when I saw the chance to save some by getting tricky components 3D printed, I thought, what the hell.....

It's true, this probably is my favourite loco, elegant but made for doing hard work. I was only just old enough to have seen some still working in the 1970s, a bit too small to appreciate the detail, but not to have had the impression indelibly burnt on my memory. Some photos here of the original CAD renders , and if fact these two locos never actually got finished! They were supposed to be motorised, and the motor/ gearbox combination was a complete unknown - that's a whole other story too in that nothing off the shelf seems to fit and work, more on that later as it's still not quite resolved - so I didn't get round to the very crowded detail that is typical of these.

Sorry for the ramble!


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