6.08.2005

simple kit modification

Dad has been keen on getting an MDC 4-4-0 kit since it was announced some time ago. He has quite a few Roundhouse engines including 3-truck Shays that he's built over the years. Luckily he was able to recently obtain one of the kits from a dealer in Seattle. Only a few of them ever made it to Canada before Hroizon bought MDC and kit availability dried up overnight.

The kit, as designed, seemed to be a representation of an American built under license somewhere in the US. As he was looking for a more original 1882 appearance, we had to at least modify the most visible feature; the running boards.

The boards were split on the engineer's side to allow for a large air reservoir and on the fireman's side to make room for a twin cylinder air compressor. Engines like the GTW examples built in Düb, Scotland were equipped with continuous boards. The elevated centre section on the engineer's side had to be carved off the boiler without destroying the two boiler bands that passed right through the piece. Mounting pins for both the air compressors and the reservoir had to be shaved off as well. The resultant gaps in both running boards were filled with .040" styrene plates filed to match the edge profile.

The simple alteration of the running boards and the removal of the mullions in the forward cab windows make for a big change in the appearance of the engine. A single lung pump will be added to the fireman's side above the running board, very close to the cab front. Short air reservoirs are mounted outboard under the floor on both sides of the cab.

The typical practice of building a kit precisely as the instructions dictate should be discouraged. In its place, the premise of building a model of a particular prototype using the kit as the starting point should be embraced. This simple change would alleviate much of the "sameness" that exhibition layouts are falling victim to.

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