A conversion

Posted: July 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

Already, the creative juices are flowing. I got a picture of a VL10 (VL for “Vladimir Lenin” – yes, that Lenin) that is sold by Andrey in Saint Petersburg, and had a bit of a look. Looking also at a photo of a Hollywood Foundry “Design a Mech” (where you tell them what sizes you need, and they supply the mech to you as a kit) I figured I could be a cheapskate, and have a bit of fun putting a mech in a “stand.”

I’ll also need metal wheels, while the wheels on the mech will be spoked, what about the plastic wheels on the second section? Lucky Modellhobby-Orenburg sell spoked metal wheels suitable for a VL10. I’ll also need some couplers, I’ll get them from Chris when I order my TEM2.

Overall, it looks like a completely do-able project that could be easily done over a weekend. Of course, I’ll have some scotch at the end to celebrate. While the savings over a mechanised VL10 aren’t great, the beauty of this is, I’ve done it, designed it, engineered it, and built it, and then have that knowledge to take forward, say to a VL22 or something. The 2TE121 doesn’t look like it could be mechanised easily, nor does a GT1.

So, even though alot of Russian trains are sold as “posters” or “stands” (dummy units), one can motorise them, and looking at this VL10, it doesn’t look excessively hard. Of course, in the case of a diesel, one could have a “B” unit (TEM2 or ChME3) pushing the dummy unit around. The situation with mechanising isn’t hopeless…!


I got my copy of Volume 2 of “Russian Narrow Gauge Diesel and Electric Locomotives” on Thursday, and have been studying it closely ever since. Since it was only Volume 2, I was taking a gamble on what it would have in terms of content: would it have any information about the electric locos? And I’m happy to say, the gamble paid off!

In addition to the PEU1 and PEU2 details (as well as all kinds of other electric locos), it has information about what the authors refer to as “motor trolleys.” I’d bought a motor trolley two weeks ago off eBay, from the Ukraine. While realising it was narrow gauge (or at least, the wheels looked to have 9mm between them in the photo), I didn’t know this book I had gotten would have information about it.

It appears the motor trolley I bought is a model GMD-4, with an axle arrangement of 1-1-0. Earlier models had an axle arrangement of 1-2-0. These could be used for shunting, whereas the GMD-4, less an axle, and a lower maximum weight (3 tons versus 5 tons) couldn’t really be used for moving wagons. Lucky its just a model, as the intention was to use it in my container yard as a shunter.

So the GMD-4 is in the mail, waiting to come from the Ukraine!

Some other good news is, my friend Dave of Northwest Models (hi Dave!) has studied the photos I have sent him of the PEU2, and told me it can be made! I’ve selected a Bemo V51 mechanism for the mech – the V51 has a measurement of 112.6mm over the buffers, whereas the PEU2 would be, at scale, 124mm over the buffers. Although there is more information on the PEU1, there is a side elevation of the PEU2, and a number of black and white photos. It appears it actually is a double unit loco, like a 2TE10U, or a 2M62. This wasn’t illustrated in the photos I had given Dave, only one section was pictured.

Now I have to get these drawings and photos scanned in, so I can send them to Dave. Painting the model should be simple, easy to mask, nothing at all like the QRNational “eagle” livery, or even the EDI Downer Rail livery. Pantographs? Haven’t had much of a look yet – Dave might be able to help out there, he said hes made models of the Victorian suburban sets.

So everything is burbling along, as per usual. I’m yet to lay the narrow gauge, despite having two locos for it now. I’m planning on getting some Zillertalbahn coaches to size up the distance between the inner loop of standard gauge, and the narrow gauge. See how we go!

Friday is narrow gauge day

Posted: June 29, 2012 in Uncategorized


So I got my Russian TU2 and my Austrian D15 today. After quickly unwrapping them, I dropped both on a section of OO9 (H0e) track, and snapped a photo, noticing the size difference between the two locos, as well as the size of the TU2 compared to say, an M62.

Additionally, I worked out what the problem with the 2TE10U was – one of the axles on the dummy unit was locked up, causing drag on the train. I’m yet to test it again, but the axle rotates freely now.

To and fro

Posted: June 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

Hah hah! While listening to Lethian Dreams today, Dave and I laid the second loop of track, using 16 pieces of R3 and three pieces of Flexitrack. Of course, we chopped up the third piece of Flexi, and all the tests for clearance came out good. Soldered the power feeds (two thereof) to the track, threw on one of my HAG Re460s for a smoke test, and hey presto – it worked!

With the 2TE10U, I’d noticed on the “R4” Flexitrack only laid track, the front wheels of the bogies would come off, in the direction of travel. This led me to “disable” the motor in the second unit in an attempt to fix the problem. Theres still a bit of weight in the second unit, and while the 2TE10U did run today, there seemed to be some resistance – drag or oil on the tracks, I don’t know. I’ll get a track rubber next week, and run it over the R3 pieces, as they seem a little dirty. And to support this claim, the loco did speed up on the straight section.

I also purchased two Pines 45 foot trailers yesterday at the steal of $9.90 each. This is while the local hobby shop is officially doing renovations. They assured me the renovations were going well – so well the computers weren’t hooked up at the register, and we had to write everything down by hand…! But they were good about it, I’m very lucky they agreed to let me purchase the track while everything was literally turned upside down. Thanks TPA! Don’t let the name of the link fool you, they sell a good selection of modern stuff too.

I’ve also, after the track was laid and my Sapsan and 2M62 made some test laps, had the time to hook up my rack of gear – my other blog RackingWoes has some details – I’ve been a little tardy and not updated it lately. But the rectifiers and routers are all humming away, now with an RCD in place, I’m a safe little chap!

I’ve gotten some insulated rail joiners yesterday, in addition to my R3 pieces and Pines trailers, and if I ever decide to convert my layout to digital control of my own invention, I can now do so. I’d like a six block section (so twelve blocks over the two standard gauge loops), and each block controller can control two sections, as well as provide signalling. Its in the process of being developed, but I have other things on at the moment that are diverting my attention away from this system.

Lets just say, its far more prototypical than DCC.

So, I’m plodding along. Dave and I are going to fix the “R4” loop next week, theres some mods and tweaks we want to apply to it. See how we go, of course, and that gives my Zillertalbahn D15 plenty of time to turn up, as well as my TU2 after that. Mr Indra has assured me the work on the 3Aw carriages is slowly advancing – I’ll probably buy a part of his first batch. I’m particularly interested in the Postal carriages hes making…

The layout

Posted: June 21, 2012 in Uncategorized


So everyone is probably wondering, what real estate do I have to work with? Here it is, my 4 foot x 8 foot table, in the back of my workshop. I do other things in here, mostly related to the hardware projects I undertake, which earns me the pocket money to buy the trains. Simple!

So in metric, the area I’m working with is 1200mm x 2400mm. I plan to have three loops of track, two standard gauge, and one 9mm narrow gauge (H0e). These three loops are controlled by two DC controllers, capable of delivering between 2.5 and 3 Amps over the three tracks. Obviously, the smaller controller has been put on the narrow gauge track – I probably won’t run double headers, but you never know, a TU2 and a TU4 double heading would be good.

On the inside of the three loops will be a number of buildings and environs, some of the industries I have are a lumber yard, a container yard (and eventual warehouse), a cement works and a brick works. The brick works will have a H0 “dummy” siding (an ActivDiarama) and H0f dummy tracks, depicting bricks being loaded off racks onto wagons.

The cement works will have the same siding, and a ChME2 shunter to depict a scene where a train is being assembled. On the other side of the table, the container yard, lumber yard, and station will have a H0 and H0e track, and will feature trans-shipment of containers, wood, and passengers. As to how much of this will fit, I’m unsure, but I’ll find out soon enough!

The rolling stock you can see is all Russian, a Piko Sapsan, Roco 2M62 and TE109, a Red Star Railways 2TE10U, two Marklin SZD wagons, a Modela SZD wagon, and two LS Models RZD passenger cars. That train, while looking unsightly (cement wagon after a passenger wagon?!) is my preferred setup for testing the tracks on the layout. Unsure of what I’m going to do about the H0e, I have a Zillertalbahn loco coming, but no train as of yet. And hopefully my TU2 will turn up soon!

And that one simply is – “How I’m laying my track.” I’ve found all kinds of problems manifest when running my 2TE10U over the joins in the track, to the point where back of the loco and front bogie of the next car are lifted right up and derail. I’ve been told I should physically bend the tracks into some semblance of proper gauge.

Or I can take a rather vexed approach: radius 3 and 4 tracks. Now, I can hear most of you groan, “But why?” Well, it appears, despite my best efforts, I can’t really lay Flexitrack. I’ve managed to get one join out of about a dozen, to work fine. Now remember, the shorter wheelbase 2M62 works fine on this track.

The mere fact radius 4 curves are being sold now is a godsend to my track laying efforts. I simply want to run trains in a good environment – it doesn’t have to be perfectly to the prototype. Heck people, its a model, some creative licence is needed. So I’m going with fixed radius curves.

I did some lazy math – 575mm radius for R4, means a diameter of 1,150mm, which fits into the 1,200mm I have available. It’ll have 25mm spacing either side. R3s are 505mm radius, so 1,010mm diameter. I’ll have to redo the shields on the left hand side of the layout, Dave will help me on that one.

So I might even be able to lay this track properly. Daves helped with the majority of the work for the Flextrack, but running the 2TE10U over it almost broke my heart. I’ve been put back weeks in terms of laying the track, but hopefully I can make that up by laying fixed radii.

Additionally, I’ve sent some data to another friend about the Russian narrow gauge PEU2 two unit electric locomotive. Its a beautiful train, although most of the pictures are of it in a rusted, dilapidated state. One of the photos I got have it without pantograph, simply rusting away. I have no other information about the locomotive, such as measurements, or engineering drawings, but I’m going to get the bi-lingual book “Russian narrow-gauge diesel and electric locomotives, volume 2.” Hopefully that’ll contain some information, as well as information about other narrow gauge locos in Russia. If I can find Volume 1, I’ll get it too.

I’m planning on using a Bemo V51 mechanism for the PEU2 if I can get it made. Hopefully the mech won’t consume too much energy, and I can use my smaller controller to power two motorised units, like my 2TE10U. I’m pretty certain I could get about an Amp out of the controller though.

And for the narrow gauge, I’ll still be using the lengths of Flexitrack I have in OO9 scale (H0e). I’ll have something to lay them “against” when the fixed radii are in. Thursday is D-Day for getting the track. If I have enough time in the evening, I might even re-lay my radius 4 loop.

In the cold of Winter…

Posted: June 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

Everyone knows the stories of cold Russian gulags, and Siberian winters. Well, Lithgow winters are a bit of a pain too, I must admit. Although we get less snow. Seen from this side of the ocean, Russia seems like a wonderland, of winter, of unusual cultures… and bloody BIG trains.

I’m kicking into second gear at the moment, trying to work out what will be the next purchase. In the meantime, I’m enjoying my 2M62, its great! I especially love the lights in the “dummy” unit – run it “B” end forward, and the headlights come on. Run it “A” unit forwards, and two red lights come on. Super!

I’ve gotten my first Modela wagon, per the last post earlier today, and I am impressed with the build quality, the detailing, and overall feel of the wagon. I am unsure if its actually a resin or plastic model – I suppose it doesn’t matter until I drop it. It also didn’t come with couplers, but with NEM standard coupler sockets, fitting two Marklin Relex couplers was a snap.

The colours of the wagon, also, are good. Now I’m not an authority on Russian prototype, I’ll leave that to the Russians, but this equipment I’m getting from Russia seems well made, and if they aren’t as per prototype, I’m unable to detect that from various pictures I have on my computer and issues of Lokotrans I’ve bought.

The idea here is to have two “mixed” freights, from recent pictures, these still seem to run in Russia, a block container freight, and a passenger train. Of course, this is standard gauge only, narrow gauge is a different kettle of fish. I’m thinking about modifying some German prototype wagons for the Russian narrow gauge, at least initially.

Track laying is also going well, as most of you would’ve seen from the photo, I’m using “unconventional” underlay – vinyl flooring underlay. Additionally, I’m using Peco rail tacks to affix the track to the baseboard. Eventually, I’ll paint the underlay between the tracks, and see about some kind of detailing – that isn’t high on the list of priorities at the moment, getting the second loop laid is.

I have my brickworks coming in the mail, additional today was the bricks on pallets for the brickworks when it arrives. These’ll be scatted liberally around the brickworks, and also on wagons and on the backs of trucks. I’ll need a forklift, won’t I? I might also need more bricks haha. Always something else, I guess, I need more couplers too.

What I have found, however, is two of my Marklin wagons have DC wheelsets – reducing the number of axles I need from 32 to 24. Assume cost per axle is $4, total $96. Thats a damn shade better than $128, and that will be the upper limit of the cost, I was told “three dollars and something cents.”

Chris has also contacted me (Hi Chris! www.redstarrailways.com) and I’m going to see about a couple of TEM2s. One will be per Russian Railways livery, the other will be something else: a Sibur company locomotive, in light green/ dark green/ light grey/ white. I can’t get the decals done, but thats ok, simply having the loco in the livery will be wonderful.

Just ignore that chimney coming out of the side of the loco – it does get cold in Russia, and I can imagine the driver would like a hot cuppa!

As for my next purchase, I’m going to leave that one over for the time being – I have my eyes on a couple of things, but we’ll see how things pan out. There is always the world economy to consider, if Greece/ Spain show signs of strengthening, the Australian dollar could dip against the Euro, forcing my hand on a couple of things. We are, at this point in time, quite good against the Euro, and great against the Pound. However, against the Greenback, we’re a little lacklustre.

Yes, who would’ve thought buying so many damn things overseas would see me liking to watch the currency market…?