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Fine Tuning and Maintaining 00 Gauge Models
by Nigel Burkin (2011), paperback, £18.99, ISBN 978-1-84797-234-7

Train Rolling stock Product Nature Vehicle

Having recently come back to the hobby after a long gap, I decided I needed to know how to maintain both my older models (from the 60s to the 90s) and also the newer ones. Looking around, I was very disappointed in available information... So when I was told about this book, I jumped at it.

The book has seven chapters:

  • Running-in New Models
  • Fitting Factory-Supplied Parts
  • Locomotive Wheels
  • Mechanical Enhancements
  • Keeping the Layout Running Smoothly
  • Ongoing Maintenance and Repairs

After a short Introduction, Chapter One launches into Running In. Covered here is advice on tools, lubricants, the initial inspection of the model, and looking under the body. This last item covers no less than eleven different modern models (from Hornby, Bachmann and ViTrains), before then going into running-in testing.

Chapter Two looks at the Factory-Fitted Parts - you know, those fiddly things in the little packet that you don't know what they are ;-). After a general discussion on these parts, a close-up look at the ViTrains Class 47 is made (there are a lot of extras for this model !); this is followed by a look at nameplates and plaques. A short discussion on DCC-Ready vs DCC-Fitted is next, and the chapter closes with a look at NEM couplings.

Chapter Three is all about Locomotive Wheels. Yup, an entire chapter... Various wheel problems are discussed, as are their solutions, before moving onto the subject of wheel replacements. A project on the wheel replacement for the Hornby Class 08/09 Shunter is covered; as are the Heljan Class 33, the Bachmann Class 37, the Bachmann 'Deltic', the Bachmann Class 66, the Hornby Class 31, and lastly the Hornby Class 153. That's a lot of wheels !

Chapter Four moves onto Mechanical Enhancements. This is where improvements are suggested; these include adding new pick-ups, and replacing old drive systems. More projects come in here : firstly, adding pick-ups is covered in-depth; followed by revitalizing a Lima pancake motor. Another project is adding DCC-controlled fans to a Hornby Class 56, as is replacing a motor on a Hornby Pacer. Lastly, springing the unsprung middle axles of 6-axle trains is covered.

Chapter Five looks at Simple Enhancements. The minimalist approach is suggested. This starts with a project on renumbering and renaming, before moving onto detailing & weathering a ViTrains Class 47. Giving a new identity to a Hornby Class 60 is next, and the chapter finishes with minimal repaints of Shunters, and minimal detailing of a Bachmann Class 57.

Chapter Six discusses Keeping the Layout Running Smoothly. Rail gauging and track examination is discussed, before moving onto clean wheels and coupling heights. Checking for obstructions is next, followed by examining wiring and closing on baseboard joints and alignment.

Chapter Seven deals with Ongoing Maintenance and Repairs. Pickups, lubrication and wheel cleaning are covered, as are cleaning the body and mechanism. Lastly, troubleshooting and keeping records is discussed.

So... that's what the book has in it. I must admit that it covers a number of aspects I would not have looked at, and in a lot of detail, but it also (in my opinion) misses out on a lot of what I would consider essential information for such a title. For example, do we really need wheel replacement projects on seven different engines ? Or a look at running-in eleven engines ? And, given the number of old second-hand engines out there as well as the costs of new engines, why is there not a look at the various motors that have been used over the past 40 years, together with a detailed look at a basic engine, detailing all the component parts and how to repair and maintain them ? I came into this book hoping to be able to pick up an old engine that needs a lot of TLC to get it working properly again - and sadly I'm still looking for this level of information...

The book is great for little projects on making a reasonable model better - but in my view is greatly lacking in the maintenance aspects that it promises with the title. Overall, I'd rate the book as 6/10, because of its failures to live up to the promises. Get it if you want to learn how to fit the details, replace wheels, rename/number etc, but avoid if you want to learn repair and maintenance of models.

Book review by Mike Dunn
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