Wednesday, March 23, 2011

After many months of inactivity on my blog due to unforeseen circumstances (many apologies to all my followers!) I'm back! And to kick off the new season here are some photos of my first P4 loco conversion. The familiar and very reliable Bachmann 08 diesel shunter was the candidate for my experimentation. The loco was an already heavily modified OO gauge model; I had replaced the extant plastic leaf springs with homemade ones made from strips of copper, plus added individual leaf spring support rods made from fine brass wire. The difference in appearance is amazing but the process involved to achieve this is very difficult and time consuming (see Tim Shackleton's article in the MRJ issue 124, 2001) and not recommended for the those of a nervous disposition! Unlike Tim I used a sharp craft knife to remove the plastic outside frame detail. Lots of other details were added soon after. 

Anyway, the P4 conversion started with a brand new set of Ultrascale wheels. These are fairly easy to install but the Bachmann pick ups are quite difficult to modify to accommodate the wider 18.83mm gauge, due to the limited room where they are located in the chassis. I eventually opted to bend them through 90 degrees so that they pick up from the back of the wheel. I also had clearance problems that bog standard Bachmann 08's (and Hornby for that matter) don't have during this conversion. The reason being that my leaf springs are much thicker than the plastic relief versions. So a spot of fine filing was necessary to cure this. I then made a set of balance weights from plastic card (this took all day because they are so ruddy small and fiddly!). Finally I refined the Bachmann coupling rod bosses to a more acceptable size; I may eventually buy some Brassmaster ones. 

Well, the virtually finished loco can be seen below in both BR black and blue liveries; the chassis has been painted in the correct colours for both these liveries plus green if necessary. For St. Mary Hoo I think it may end up as a black loco with the body suitably weathered (lightly). The model runs very smoothly and reliably I'm pleased to say...


  1. Nice to see you posting again Simon.
    I rather like the 08 in black mainly because it is different and makes a change from the usual green and blue colour schemes. The work on the chassis has certainly paid off and lifts the model to a new level. I remember reading Tim's account in MRJ and thinking why do the likes of Bachmann, Hornby and others always seem to fall short on going that little bit further and doing the job correctly first time ? I know tooling cost come into it but surely having gone to so much trouble to research and plan a model it wouldn't have cost much more to have produced better chassis detail ?

    I look forward to more regular updates.

    Best Wishes,

  2. Great to hear from you Geoff and many thanks for your observations! Had the Hornby model been around when I converted this one, I'd probably have chosen this instead, with its finer detail, albeit without any form of compensation like the venerable Bachmann version. I hope all is well with you and your layout? All the best, Simon.