Monday, October 21, 2013

How I add weight to my locomotives

Adding weight to large scale locomotives is important as it greatly improves their adhesion to the track and hence their pulling power. As I have 1:40 gradients on my railway, my locos need as much power as they can muster and so I have added as much weight as possible to all my locos, whether off-the shelf, kit-built or scratchbuilt.

My (now not very) secret ingredient is lead flashing which is used for weatherproofing roofs on houses. I buy mine in a roll from my local builders' merchants, but I have also used the recycled flashing from when a boiler flue was removed from our house.

Lead flashing is bought in a roll and comes in various widths, lengths and thicknesses (gauges). I buy the shortest, thinnest and narrowest which they have but even that costs around £25. However, it is sufficient for at least five locomotives and so works out to be reasonably cost effective.

After deciding where the lead will be placed, the flashing is marked-out ..........

........ and strips are then cut from the roll using tin-snips.

These are then inserted in various cavities on the model, such as the side tanks .......

...... or inside the boiler (in this case the upper part of the boiler).

To prevent the strips from rattling around, I flood the cavity holding them with clear Bostik or Uhu glue. This acts as a filler and also as a bonding agent - but does retain some plasticity to acts as a shock absorber.

It's important to try and keep the weight as much as possible over the driving wheels. If weight is added to the front of the loco, a similar weight needs to be added to the rear to keep everything in balance.

To check the evenness of the weighting, you can place one set of driving wheels on a set of kitchen scales while the others are resting on a suitable surface (eg a pile of books) to see if equal weights are being carried by each set of drivers.

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