One of the long term projects here at chez Finescale has been an F class locomotive. In fact, considerable progress has been made on this from time to time, but it has yet to float up to the top of the ‘to do’ list. Recent chatter on Facebook and elsewhere has prompted me to reassess this.
This post summarises where I have got to and what my current thinking is. If you want a definitive F class loco, your feedback will help determine the priority I place on finishing the project and perhaps the kit specification.
First off, I have a lot of drawings and research done and collated, plus F13 is in steam locally. Information gathering is usually a slow step, but not for the rest of this project.
As a general concept I’d like to do something that is easy to build, yet still has the detail and refinement that I always strive for. So the mechanicals and bare bones at least should be at beginner level. I’ve never liked the idea of ‘generic’ locos, finding much of the satisfaction is building to match a photograph or reference. If you don’t want to do that I have no grudge, but I don’t like to constrain those who might. The F class was diverse from day one with 7 different manufacturers all building to a similar specification yet with their own peculiar slant. Thereafter there were regional changes and a general drift towards ‘standardisation’. In practice this really meant that while some of the initial differences disappeared, they were replaced by new variations. With that in mind, not all variants of F loco will be possible from the kit, but I hope many of them will be. The design should enable further variations if the builder is not averse to a little scratch building.
Some of the comments below are a bit off the cuff, reflecting thoughts I have not fully explored in all cases. None of this is fixed yet. Where I’m definitive read ‘maybe’ or ‘probably’. Current thinking is:
The chassis will certainly be etched with compensation. Probably it will have ball races. This method worked well on the W and will result in a loco that is smooth and surefooted. Test chassis have already been etched to prove the compensation. There seem to be two main variants to frame profile in the prototype, so I’ll try to accommodate that. The chassis will incorporate the lower boiler so that the motor/gearbox separates neatly. The design will be for RP-25 North Yard wheels, although I have some lovely cast brass drivers for those who may like them. I have some thoughts on jigs to make the chassis assembly foolproof as well as a good quartering jig to be included.
Motor and gearbox design will be similar to the W as featured in earlier blog posts.
The cab/bunkers and smokebox will be etched and fold up similarly to the W (although I have simplified the F smokebox assembly). This is pretty much drawn up ready to go. It is easy to do cab variants, but the buyer probably does not want etchings he will not use, and I don’t want stock I cannot sell – so I need to look at the point where flexibility and practicality meet.
The tanks will be resin. I have printed prototypes as illustrated below, and variations in rivet pattern etc are not hard to manage. These are beautiful, one piece items that are perfect straight out of the box. They will be largely hollow to allow addition of weight, decoders, speakers etc.
Test shot ot the saddle tank showing all the rivets. There are a couple of prominent build lines that won’t appear in production examples.
Cab interior detail will be 3D printed as per the W. Just paint and place.
Detail castings will be lost wax brass. At least half of these have been drawn and test cast already. Many others are not entirely new and will be variants of parts I have produced before. I have test printed cylinder/slidebars and gear hanger in one piece. This is quite promising but needs more work.
All the etched numberplates are done and in stock.
Price will depend on demand, but it will certainly be cheaper than the W, but more than the vintage whitemetal kits of 20+ years ago.
In summary, there is nothing practical in the way of this project, only some time to finish it off. If there is sufficient interest it will happen within a few months. Comments to this post, Facebook or email are all equally welcome.