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Worst ever loco kits? - On Members Workbenches. - More Practical Help - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Fri Aug 16th, 2013 07:45 pm
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allan downes
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They say that a  kit built loco is only as good as the person that built it, but I would also add that a person is only as good as the kit will allow !

As for myself, any kit, good or bad, is wasted on me even if all I had to do was stick the chimney on ! - but I do neverthless have some not so very fond memories of kit building from way back in the 70s and one manufacturer in particular that comes to mind is - K's Kits !

Notoriously cast in whitemetal, these kits were a  barrel of laughs just trying to understand the  badly drawn instructions and, once you did fathom out that 'A' wasn't designed to mate up to'B' whereas 'C' was, it was impossible to get anything to join up without some really heavy duty modifications, and even more impossible to get it to look anything even remotely like the picture on the box - and expecting it to actually run without something either seizing up or falling off only seconds after turning the power on? - well I suppose it has been known but certainly not in my hands ! 

So Gentlemen, what were/are your personal loco kit horror stories ?!

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 Posted: Fri Aug 16th, 2013 09:14 pm
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Ben Alder
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Bristol Models -B1,IIR,- the thought of it still gives me the shudders. Closely followed by a K's Black Five. Partly explains why I had a loco stockpile that lay untouched for almost thirty years!

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 Posted: Fri Aug 16th, 2013 09:39 pm
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Brossard
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I've done several chassis for RTR in the past - but this doesn't count, especially since the likes of Perserverance and Comet made/make very good kits.

I have a bunch on my "to do" shelf - like a Finecast 4F (Comet chassis), Gibson Jinty, Craftsman MR 0-4-4T and Cotswold LYR 2-4-2T (Bill Bedford chassis).  Of these only the 0-4-4T has not been done in RTR (what are the odds we'll see it in 2014?).

I can see kit makers throwing up their hands as the RTR manufacturers keep doing more and more less glamorous types - and doing them very well indeed.

I like Brassmasters' concept of EasiChas - I have one for my 3F but haven't started yet.


John



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 Posted: Fri Aug 16th, 2013 10:58 pm
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Worst kit for me was an etched brass SR "queen mary" bogie brake van, issued by the N gauge society, it's still sitting part built in the glory box, only been there about 20 years or more! However there is now an RTR one so it probably won't get finished!  For locos the only white metal one that has ever given me any grief is the ABS/Beaver 1366 class, it "fits" on a Minitrix Dock tank chassis after you've filed the inside of the cab wafer thin to get the motor in, tight fit is an inadequate description, once built though it's a cracking little puller.

I probably "bash" more kits than I build as per the instructions, sometimes  mixing and matching parts, loco body from one kit, tender from another, that could be why I don't seem to find problems not of my own making so to speak.

I think too that N gauge kits are probably mostly easier than larger scales as most use an RTR chassis, although in the past that gave rise to some kits being way off scale, example being the Kit for an SR N15 class - intended to go on a Farish Black 5 chassis!!!!! It looks ridiculous, wheels way to small and incorrectly spaced, the rear driver sits a bit close to the front end of the firebox, not the back. It looks a bit better on a Duchess chassis with bigger wheels but the spacing is still way out, it looks best on a Peco Jubilee chassis or maybe one of the newer Farish 4-6-0s, however then you need to find an 8 wheel tender drive, or do a bodge with a Union Mills drive with a pair of wheels added (an old pony truck works) and that then means providing some dummy bogie side frames.



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 Posted: Fri Aug 16th, 2013 11:08 pm
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Petermac
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Fortunately, I know my limitations, so have never built a loco from a kit.

I used to ogle at those wonderful, heavy, models that the "experts" built - to say nothing of how on earth they could afford such luxury items !!

Fortunately again, they say everything comes to he who waits.  It's been a very long wait but the major players in the RTR marketplace now produce models to rival those "masterpieces of yore" so I don't have to wonder why the expensive body disolves into a pool of shimmering liquid simply because I touched it with a soldering iron ...................

Those of you who have succeeded in this craft, have my utmost admiration but I'll still continue to pay the likes of Mr Bachmann and Mr Hornby to build my kits for me .................:cheers:cheers



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 Posted: Sat Aug 17th, 2013 01:56 am
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SRman
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I'll go with Allan on this one: K's!

I have never yet got one of their motors to work properly. I eventually got their SR Q1 going (an easy body kit) using their brass chassis frames, a Comet double reduction gearbox and Mashima motor. I should add that it took me nearly 30 years to actually get to that stage! I did modify the body top profile somewhat to more closely resemble the real thing. Hornby's much newer model looks much better with much finer detail but the K's one will now pull the side out of a house! :lol:

The other K's kit I tried was a Merchant Navy. Again, the body wasn't too bad but those wheels!! The tender wheels weren't even close to concentric with the axle holes moulded a good 2mm off-centre. I ended up doctoring the locomotive body to fit an early Triang-Hornby Flying Scotsman chassis, using Kemilway brass overlays on the correct sized wheels. It runs quite crudely compared to the modern Hornby MNs and other Bulleids, and is not really worth converting to DCC so it mostly sits in a display cabinet.



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 Posted: Sat Aug 17th, 2013 07:54 am
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col.stephens
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Definitely K's.  In the latter stages of their existance, the kits came mounted on card and covered with 'shrink-wrap' plastic.  Getting the pieces off the card undamaged was harder than building the kit, which was all but impossible anyway! The kits were made from whitemetal and opposite sides, e.g. two halves of the boiler, were often of different lengths. And don't get me started on the K's motor with the plastic magnets!  My personal horror story involves K's Adams' Radial Tank.  Never did manage to get the thing running.  But then I built a Will's P Class 0-6-0.  A dream to build, even with the solid whitemetal chassis. This particular model, with improved chassis, is currently available from SE Finecast. 
 
Terry

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 Posted: Sat Aug 17th, 2013 10:44 am
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60019Bittern
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Am I the odd one out here? I acutually liked K's kits. Yes they were hard work but with patience, a few blue words, and good luck I've managed to build quite a few of them in the past. I've still got a couple in the cupboard ready to run on Trevannon when it finally gets built. I must admit all the wheels were replace with Romfords and the motors were changed as well. The best one I ever built was Sir Sam Fey, with Romfords and a Portescap it was brilliant. Pity about the paint job though. Am in the process of building a few Finecast locos at the moment. Manage to get a Star and a Metro Tank at the loco MRS for £20 apiece, the Metro even had the chassis and wheels. The worst kit I think ever built, or attempted to build was an MTK kit for a Class 47. It's still in the cupboard awaiting finishing or melting down and casting something else with the metal. Talking about Class 47's anyone got a cure for a Hornby Mammoth whose body leans at a frightening angle although it runs a treat. Perhaps I should melt down the MTK kit and use the metal to cast balance weights for the Mammoth.



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 Posted: Sat Aug 17th, 2013 01:04 pm
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col.stephens
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Mick said, "Talking about Class 47's anyone got a cure for a Hornby Mammoth whose body leans at a frightening angle although it runs a treat."
 
Whack it with a hammer!
 
Always happy to dispense helpful advice to my fellow modellers.
 
Terry

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 Posted: Sat Aug 17th, 2013 01:15 pm
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allan downes
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The Crab in the foreground was a Wills kit that went together well - until you got to the chassis and white metal side rods and valve gear.....

Just about seen in the background are a dismal rake (wreck??) of K's clerestories.These, despite much twisting, bending and bashing, never sat with all wheels on the track at once and rocked from corner to corner like a see-saw then the running boards would fall off !


Another built in feature exclusive to K's were the wheels. They didn't actually turn but were dragged along the track
 and, at the time, there weren't many loco's up to such a task so they just stood on show in a siding hoping that someone would make an offer, any offer, for them at exhibitions. No one ever did...




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 Posted: Sat Aug 17th, 2013 02:29 pm
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SRman
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60019Bittern wrote: Am I the odd one out here? I acutually liked K's kits. Yes they were hard work but with patience, a few blue words, and good luck I've managed to build quite a few of them in the past. I've still got a couple in the cupboard ready to run on Trevannon when it finally gets built. I must admit all the wheels were replace with Romfords and the motors were changed as well. The best one I ever built was Sir Sam Fey, with Romfords and a Portescap it was brilliant. Pity about the paint job though. Am in the process of building a few Finecast locos at the moment. Manage to get a Star and a Metro Tank at the loco MRS for £20 apiece, the Metro even had the chassis and wheels. The worst kit I think ever built, or attempted to build was an MTK kit for a Class 47. It's still in the cupboard awaiting finishing or melting down and casting something else with the metal. Talking about Class 47's anyone got a cure for a Hornby Mammoth whose body leans at a frightening angle although it runs a treat. Perhaps I should melt down the MTK kit and use the metal to cast balance weights for the Mammoth.
MTK kits would certainly give K's a run for your money in the "worst kits" stakes!

I have successfully built a Bulleid 10203 diesel (a later brass one) from MTK using a cut down Mainline class 45 chassis. It was a lot of work but it was more successful for me from the start than the K's efforts. 

I still have a Bulleid 4 SUB in part-built condition and a 2 EPB where I scrapped the MTK chassis and used old Triang-Hornby Mk 1 chassis and bogies to create a dummy unit.

At least some MTK kits were legendary for their poor quality and worse fit of parts!



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 Posted: Sat Aug 17th, 2013 03:32 pm
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allan downes
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The late Colin Massingham who owned MTK kits was a very good friend of mine but that doesn't mean to say that I'm defending his products!!!

Even Colin himsel seemed to show a slight sense of achievemant when his brand was often voted as impossible to build and the worst kits on the market - so he capitalized on it by bringing out an even more impossible to build line called El Crappo Kits and they more than lived up to their name !

In the old days I used to stand and watch Colin knock up masters for his kits - barbaric !!!

Allan.

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 Posted: Thu Oct 24th, 2013 04:14 pm
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I rather like K's kits for the challenge more than anything else. However, their GWR Diesel Railcar was a dog. I should have known something was up when a dealer at the Alley Pally show some years ago almost paid me to take it (a tenner was all it took). I think it was supposed to be glued together, the previous owner had used copious amounts of epoxy to try and glue the roof components and had stopped there. Always a bad sign. After a couple of weeks in paint stripper (methylene chloride-based) the cured epoxy was dissolved and I could start from scratch. Problem was the pieces didn't fit, there was a gap of around 1 cm! Which had been previously filled with epoxy. I made a start on the body, 2 pieces each side each with a tab that sat on the other piece. The two sides were of different length, so one side had to have a slice taken out. I soldered the pieces together (welded is more like it, the metal was so thick), placed the roof pieces on, taped them in position, and soldered a piece of tinned brass over the gap on the inside using high temp solder. Turned it over, filled the gap with 100°C solder. The kit had a Mk1 motor, straight into the bin. The bogies were white metal - how they would take the weight of the body I don't know. Into the bin. Same with the wheels. I motorized it with a cut and shut Atlas can motor chassis and an extended drive shaft. Painted up it looked OK if the inside was ignored - from 6 feet. It would accelerate up an 8% gradient without any problems, stopping was however problematic with all that weight. 
The problem with a lot of K's kits is that a white metal mix was often used that had a lot of shrinkage. I've built several K's kits since then, the latest was a GWR 14xx which is almost 1 cm shorter than it should be. I currently have a K's Dean Outside Frame 0-6-0 on the workbench. This one almost matches what it should be for 4mm scale. The detail is not bad for the 1970's-1980's, and unlike a lot of the current R-T-R offerings the foot plate width and splashers will accommodate an 18.2mm gauge (EM) chassis without modification. 
The worst by far however was an O scale GWR steam railcar. The instructions ran to around 15 faint photocopied pages, every page had several hand-written notes saying don't follow the instructions, do it this way, often crossed out again, with yet another way. Plus various niceties such as "This etch is incorrect, you will need to take a piece out as shown" with an undecipherable hand-drawn picture. The sides required 3 layers of brass etch just for the tumblehome, plus 2 more for the windows, both of which had then to be soldered together. You could almost sympathize with the designer in trying to get it all to work. Then you realize - I paid over £200 for this? Incomprehensible. Hope the person I sold it to made some sense out of it all, I couldn't. 

Nigel



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 Posted: Thu Oct 24th, 2013 04:32 pm
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Well at least the K kit chassis provided did not look complicated.
A straight piece of half inch by one sixteenth flat brass.
Instructions were more or less cut to shape and drill holes for axles. Simple's!

Derek.

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 Posted: Mon Oct 28th, 2013 01:02 pm
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The one on my bench at the moment, an outside frame Dean 0-6-0, must have been the deluxe version - keyhole cuts for the bearings (which fit without resort to a broach) and countersunk holes for the screws holding the spacers together. And it sits flat when assembled, which is a lot more than can be said for some recent etched frames in 10 thou' N/S I've put together. Kit suppliers should really check them to make sure the etchers got the masks square and at 100"% reproduction. 
Just found a note in the kit this morning to the effect that they had run out of handrail knobs and to write to them with a return address. Bit late now of course. 

Nigel



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 Posted: Mon Oct 28th, 2013 02:22 pm
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60019Bittern
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The only thing I really hated about K's kits were the wheels, expecially the older ones with the 'D' axles. Mind you, at the time there wasn't much else if you wanted something different to the normal offerings of the RTR brigade. There are still a couple of them I wouldn't mind having a go at today, like 'Sir Sam Fey' and 'Turbomotive' as well as the Midland Spinner, Dean Single, Bulldog, Dukedog and Aderdare. I believe Nu-Cast took over most of the K's moulds and reproduced some of the kits but I don't thik they upgraded any of them.



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