Thursday, August 22, 2013

How I constructed an IP Engineering Lollypop Railcar kit

The kit had been sitting on my shelf for around two years after winning it unexpectedly on a well-known online auction website. The motivation for finally blowing off the dust and starting construction was my desire to create a new fleet of battery powered locomotives to operate the railway. While this particular model will not really contribute to day-to-day running, it did provide an opportunity to find out how well the Deltang radio control system (see An Evaluation of the Deltang control system) would operate on a vehicle powered by a lower voltage than my usual 12 volts.

To start with, the instructions and the kit were laid out and checked.

Everything required to produce a functioning model is provided in the kit and the instructions are clear and helpfully illustrated.

Following the instructions, I cleaned-up the whitemetal castings and superglued together the four main components forming the control panel and added the control levers.

I then turned my attention to the main parts for the body. Holes were drilled in the buffer beams for the couplings, in the front panel to accommodate the lights and in the base plate to allow the wiring for the lights to pass through, following the guidance on the drawing provided with the kit.

The front of the railcar was then constructed with exterior PVA adhesive, using the drawing to ensure the main components were correctly positioned. At the same time, the grille for the radiator was cut to size and glued into the radiator, using superglue.

After the buffer beams were attached, the sides were put together as a unit with the front of the covered van section, and the rear of the railcar was also glued on to the base.

The front of the railcar was then attached, as were the spacer pieces along the tops of each side.

The solebars were then attached to the underside of the base, using the correct spacing for 45mm gauge, and the axle boxes were superlgued on, making sure the wheels and axles were appropriately positioned.

The motor was temporarily inserted into its hole in the base whilst this was being done to ensure that the worm wheel would mesh with the worm gear.

The doors were then fixed into place. The left hand door was glued shut while the right hand door was allowed to slide, by fixing two battens behind it to hold it in place.

 At this point the pre-formed aluminium roof was glued into place with clear contact adhesive. This flexible adhesive allows it to be removed if necessary.

Normally, I would glue the roof on last of all but I wanted to do some test-running with the Deltang receiver/controller to find out how responsive it was with 4.5 volts of battery power.

The wiring loom for the testing comprised a battery box with three AA alkaline batteries (I prefer to use alkalines when testing as rechargeables do not like being accidentally short circuited - they have been known to explode!). The positive lead was connected to an auto-reset fuse and then to a two way switch which directs the electricity from a charge socket in one direction and to the receiver/controller in the other direction. The controller is then connected to the motor and also for the benefit of testing, a bi-colour LED.

 The trials proved to be successful and so I continued with the build. My next job was to prime the whitemetal fittings using a couple of coats of Halfords' grey primer from a rattle can.

I decided to add more detail to the plain, slab-like sides of the railcar by gluing on planking made from coffee stirrers. The sides were tackled first ........

....... followed by the front .........

...... and the rear.

An exterior framework was added to the sides using coffee-stirrers slimmed down to 4mm width (using a razor saw as a craft knife was too easily deflected along the grain).

The doors were scribed at 5mm intervals to represent planking.

The front of the railcar was detailed last of all as this was the most fiddly. On reflection, it would have been easier to to clad the front of the closed van section prior to fitting - but I had been anxious to complete the shell for test-running.

Once the planking was completed, I added some extra depth to the buffer beams (with lolly sticks) and then, when the glue had set, used filler to mask some of my inaccurate cutting and joining.

The wheel treads were masked off with masking tape and the body was given a couple of coats of red oxide primer from a Plastikote rattle-can.

While this was drying off, the wiring for the front and rear lights was prepared. The correct value for the limiting resistors for the LEDs was calculated (100 ohms) using an online calculator ( ) and these were purchased from Maplin.

Three red/white bi-colour 5mm LEDs  has been purchased from the USA ( as that was the only source I could trace - it turned out that the owner of the company originated from Burnley! The resistors were soldered to the anode leads and a black wire soldered to the middle cathode lead.

A white wire was soldered to the anode for the white LED and a red lead for the red LED.

All the wires and resistors were then shrouded in heat-shrink sleeving (again from Maplin) to prevent short circuits (Note: once slipped on to the leads, the heatshrink was gently heated with the flame from a lighter to shrink it).

The two front lights were then wired in and the the wires fed through to the van interior using the holes in the base which had been drilled previously.

The LEDs were fed through the front panel ..........

..... and then the lamps (which had by now been painted with black acrylics) were glued on with epoxy. The radiator (now painted with Plastikote brass) was also glued on with epoxy.

The rear lamp was positioned over the rear LED and the exhaust pipe glued on.

The roof, solebars, axle boxes and wheels were painted black and the control panel (now painted brown) was superglued into the cab area to cover the wiring for the lights, and a driver glued in place at the controls. Brandbright brass door handles were added to the sliding doors and the buffers screwed on to the buffer beams after having been painted red and black (with some of the paint removed to allow the silver whitemetal to show through indicating wear).

The railcar was then tested........

........ a few times.

...... until I felt satisfied it was operating successfully.

At some point, I will weather the railcar and apply some transfers to indicated that she is part of the Permanent Way roster. I also intend to add a small flat wagon on which will be some toolboxes and general paraphernalia as might be used by track gang (now completed - see How I constructed a small PW wagon). For now, she is happy to potter around the railway when I feel the need to have something running at short notice (eg see A Day in the Life of Peckforton Station).

Overall, the kit was a delight to put together. The instructions are clear and the parts are well engineered. I decided to add some additional detailing but that's largely because I like to personalise my models. My only concern is regarding the gears which, being made of plastic, seem a little delicate. However, the model will not be hauling large loads at great speed and provided I keep the gears well lubricated, so I am hopeful.


david wilcox said...

lolly pop loco my favourite I have ten to build not all as I p eng intended this loco started me off in 16mm could elaborate more on electronics please concerning loco control? yours david Wilcox known as whimsical Wilcox garden rail magazine

Ge Rik said...

Hi David
Loco control is via Deltang Tx22 transmitter - which can control up to 12 locos independently - and this has a Deltang Rx61 receiver. I have been very impressed with the Deltang system - well engineered and relatively cheap (a transmitter kit from £21 and combined receiver/ESC around £30. Take a look at my evaluation of the Deltang system here - Evaluation of Deltang


Anonymous said...

Hi Rik , really love the look of the deltang system, Where do you get it from at thoose prices?? Loving in the railway, shame your so far away :)



Ge Rik said...

Hi Ben
I buy mine direct from David Theunissen at Deltang. Just drop him an email with your requirements and he'll send you a PayPal invoice. His website is and his email address is on this page