New Zealand Finescale has introduced commercial wagon springing to 1:64 NZR modelling. Why did we bother? Why should you care? Read on!
NZR modelling is outside the mainstream of railway modelling and we therefore rely on kits or scratchbuilding to produce our rolling stock. In this respect we have much in common with British modellers, who, though well supported by ready-to-run models, still support a thriving kit subculture. In the last few years suspension has become popular in the UK, and I’ll draw some of my facts from their experience. I’m not claiming that this is all new though. There are plenty of examples of working suspension stretching back many years. The difference is that we can now all incorporate the refinement without pain.
NZFinescale suspension offers the following advantages:
- Reliability. In the same fashion as the prototype, springing keeps all wheels on the track and allows the wagon to cope with track irregularities. I would not suggest that it is a remedy for bad track laying. Objective experiments published in the UK periodical the Model Railway Journal demonstrate that sprung wagons derail less than compensated or rigid vehicles.
- Appearance. Sprung wagons move in a more prototypical fashion than unsprung wagons. If you enjoy watching your trains, you will enjoy the impression of mass that springing gives and never again cringe at wagons leaping imperfections.
- Coupler reliability. Couplers, especially of NZR chopper style, perform poorly when stock is jumping about. Although I have no hard data to show that springing improves matters, it certainly won’t make things worse.
- Noise. Cutting down jerkiness reduces hard noise, and a smooth pressure on all the wheels improves ‘road’ noise as well.
- Close brakes. Our system allows prototypically close brake shoe fitting, because the shoes move with the wheels maintaining a fixed distance.
- Tunability . The active component of our suspension is guitar string. This is readily and cheaply available in 0.001″ increments from 0.008″ so it is easy to adjust the ‘springs’ to the wagon weight.
- Finescale wheels . Not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you don’t like the steamroller look and want to move to a scale tyre profile, suspension is advisable.
At present we offer two options for wagon suspension. ES008 is an etched axleguard/ hornguide system that takes a moving cast axlebox (BS009) . This system is ideal for scratchbuilds and some kits where the axleguard and axlebox patterns are appropriate. Our alternative system (ES018) is designed to sit invisibly behind kit parts. Existing axleboxes will need to be relieved from behind to allow the axles and pinpoint bearings to move.