Model Railway Forum banner
1 - 20 of 76 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,397 Posts
Recently I've been watching a series of locomotive building DVD's whch I got from Charles Emerson (Thanks Charles much appreciated) I have always wondered how to go about properly constructing brass and white metal kits and now have a pretty good idea of how it should be done. So now feel a bit more confident about having a go. I then had a look at some kits and the prices exceed many ready to run equivelants. This is before I buy wheels motor and everything else that is not included.

I still want to have a go as it seems a bit of a challenge and I think I would enjoy it but I can't help wondering what are the benefits of paying extra for a kit that will have to be constructed, where there is a lot of scope for stuffing up, when you can have the finished model off the shelf and ready to run for less money?

Now five years ago, when RTR models were not as detailed as they are today, I could have understood going for the kit option if you were one of those people who were skilled enough to make a good job of it. However today RTR models are very detailed and that benefit seems diminished. I just wondered what others preferences were and if the experienced kit builders amongst us could point out some of the benefits to building kits as opposed to just buying one off the shelf
.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,611 Posts
Hi Neil,

I think it is a horses for courses type thing.

Some people are right into scratch and kit building locomotives and rolling stock. The New Zealand Association of Model Railway Clubs holds a bi-annual convention (easter Christchurch 2010) where there are model competitions that cover both scratch and kit building.

IMHO it is about enjoyment, and the biggest limiting factor ultimately is time. If you enjoy building locomotives and have the time then it makes sense to do so. However if time is at a premium, which it is in my case, then it makes sense to buy RTR.

However, there is always a however, if a manufacturer brings out a kit of a locomotive that you want/need that is not available RTR then it makes sense to buy the kit and either build yourself or get someone to build it for you.

I have looked at building locomotives, but although the kits are expensive, tooling up to build them is also not exactly cheap either. I think that if you are going to start then it makes sense to start by building some wagon kits. The tooling is not as expensive and you can learn as you go.

Ultimately the investment in the non rolling stock parts of our layouts is rather substantial. I hate to think how much I have spent on timber, scenic items, wire, plugs, switches etc. Money well spent? I think so, sometimes I wonder if SWMBO agrees!

John
 

·
Just another modeller
Joined
·
9,983 Posts
QUOTE (neil_s_wood @ 25 Oct 2008, 10:09) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Recently I've been watching a series of locomotive building DVD's whch I got from Charles Emerson (Thanks Charles much appreciated) I have always wondered how to go about properly constructing brass and white metal kits and now have a pretty good idea of how it should be done. So now feel a bit more confident about having a go. I then had a look at some kits and the prices exceed many ready to run equivelants. This is before I buy wheels motor and everything else that is not included.

I still want to have a go as it seems a bit of a challenge and I think I would enjoy it but I can't help wondering what are the benefits of paying extra for a kit that will have to be constructed, where there is a lot of scope for stuffing up, when you can have the finished model off the shelf and ready to run for less money?

Now five years ago, when RTR models were not as detailed as they are today, I could have understood going for the kit option if you were one of those people who were skilled enough to make a good job of it. However today RTR models are very detailed and that benefit seems diminished. I just wondered what others preferences were and if the experienced kit builders amongst us could point out some of the benefits to building kits as opposed to just buying one off the shelf
.

*** I guess I have a few thoughts. Fist is there's no black and white here, its down to choice.

If you cannot see the difference, then there is no point, however for ME a well built and detailed kit or scratchbuilt loco will far exceed the delicacy and detail quailty of all but the very very best limited hand built RTR, and in general will not include the significant compromises in chassis look that is built into every branded RTR so it will go round silly small curves.

To get the best ALWAYS means going well beyond the kit instructions and building a specific model of a specific loco - if you just build a DJH ex the box for example, it'll be a pretty average model as DJH don't add the fine detail to start with!

Overall, given your questions, I'm not sure you are approaching from right direction - cost isn't an issue and never has been.

Its about personal satisfaction first then quality of result if you are good at it second. Do it to see if you LIKE doing it, and then continue to do it only if thats a part of the hobby you enjoy:

Some seem to think that its a "right of passage" and that you must kit build if you are a serious modeller. Bulls**t to that, its a hobby and thats the beginning and end of it!

I happen to really enjoy building loco's and happily am OK at it, so I do a lot, but others I know who are fine modellers prefer other aspects of the hobby, and I think that is equally valid.

There's also the rebuilding and redetailing of RTR. I find that I generally enjoy making from nothing but do sometimes use things like the Brassmasters detail kits where the original RTR really has the essence of the loco correct...

Most of all its in the little things that the big differences happen - adding the proper details to sandpipes rather than leaving them as bits of wire, having brake shoes that almost touch the wheels properly, having deflectors that don't look like thin plastic, having a chassis that has the right relationship to the wheels and bogies mounted prototypically etc etc....

Is it worth it: Its really a personal decision... as I said earlier, do you care enough about the difference to make it matter!

The added hobby cost is research and book buying to get it right, more cost than a RTR (average for a big steam loco = double RTR) plus lots of hobby hours to research, assemble, paint etc...

My personal opinion only: To me its obvious always - without a microscope - right just looks right to me! However if other things matter more, then just do it in a way that pleases YOU!

Examples where refinement and detail improvements can be sensed as well as seen:

Look at Wienert vs any EU RTR and the answer for EU models has to be yes if accuracy is important to you.
Look at Brassmasters vs any UK RTR the answer for UK models has to be yes if accuracy is important to you.

Regards

Richard
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
9,845 Posts
The attractions to me of kit building in no particular order are:-

1) The satisfaction of having something that is truly unique, not one of even 501 identical siblings.
2) Being completely in control of the internals such as pickups, motor and speaker locations.
3) Having a model of locomotive that either isn't available from any manufacturer or is of insufficient accuracy or running qualities

So if I ever pluck up the courage to start, I'll begin with a simple (mechanically) 0-6-0 without valve gear such as a J50. These were a common sight at Leeds Central but there's currently nothing on the market. I do have a Lima but it's been in its box for over 20 years and is destined to stay there.

Being me, I would probably tool myself up with some of those jigs Peter has been showing us. As Richard said, price doesn't come into it. Compared to the price of other "entertainments" these days, it's probably not a lot of money and the cost can be amortised over a lot longer than a football match, cricket, opera, pop concert or whatever else is your fancy.

The one word of advice would be to start with something small and uncomplicated from a kit manufacturer with a reputation for making good kits with either clear instructions or a contactable "fan base" to whom you can turn for help.

David
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
352 Posts
Overall, given your questions, I'm not sure you are approaching from right direction - cost isn't an issue and never has been.

In a perfect world, cost would never be an issue, but the sad fact is that, cost is an issue, and allways will be, we are all of different means, and we all have to cut our cloth to suit those means.

I have purchased 2 kits in my life, completed one that took a year to do, not completed the other (7 years so far) and rebuilt a knacked old hornby dublo tank loco, and the costs involved with these far exceed the RTR options, but saying that, i did get enjoyment from doing it, so things i would consider in the future wiould be:-

1) Is a RTR equivilent available?
2) Is what your going to build, worth the total cost?
3) Have you got the time to build it (seven years so far on one of mine)
4) Will you get the same results as a RTR

If i was retired, and had the monies i would build locos i always wanted (a JONES HEAVY GOODS would be nice)
But while im still working, time does not allow me devote the time needed to build these models

Incidently, the one i did finish is a O gauge Scot, "Royal Scot 6100" as it came out of the factory in 1927, and im very proud of it, and hope it will stay in my family long after i gone to the great shunting yard in the sky
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,151 Posts
QUOTE (Richard Johnson @ 25 Oct 2008, 07:17) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Its about personal satisfaction first then quality of result if you are good at it second.

Richard

How rightfully put. The sheer satisfaction you get. No money can buy that.

Check this guys face, that I found in a French forum on the second page

http://www.lrpresse.fr/trains/viewtopic.ph...f75fd62e59197de

...pretty much sums it up.

Baykal
 

·
Paul Hamilton aka &quot;Lancashire Fusilier&quot;
Joined
·
844 Posts
Notwithstanding the fine and philisophical points of the above but there is no price you can put on the addiction of soldering something that you could destroy with an ill placed iron or a lack of knowledge - priceless adrenaline rush! But in all seriousness, I could not be happier swinging both ways with RTRs and kitbuilts - I recently purchased an RTR of a kitbuild I am working on simply to ensure that I beat it!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
710 Posts
QUOTE (ebaykal @ 25 Oct 2008, 11:49) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>How rightfully put. The sheer satisfaction you get. No money can buy that.

Check this guys face, that I found in a French forum on the second page

http://www.lrpresse.fr/trains/viewtopic.ph...f75fd62e59197de

...pretty much sums it up.

Baykal

I think I would go like that! if you put a full Weinert DB class 44 kit in front of me.

I must admit that RTR are good but they get even better with superdetailing,
with parts that are available as detailing parts from Kit manufactures.

David
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,275 Posts
It used to be that the kit manaufacturer covered a niche market making kits of loco's and rolling stock that the RTR people wouldn't consider. Now that gap is being closed with many of the kit models now available as RTR. It is choice thing building whitemetal models as many people will find it daunting to say the least. Opening the box and seeing a mass of etched brass sheet and whitemetal castings will make you say "what have I got myself into". Patience is the key and starting with something easy goes along way as well. Not skimping on tools helps as well. A good quality tmperature controlled soldering iron is a must as are a range of file's. Neil if you do consider starting a whitemetal loco kit then may I reccomend a kit from DJH as a starter. DJH use a slot and tab method of assembly that goes a long way to ensuring correct alignment of the parts, especially the chassis. Yes the price is higher but the quality of the parts used are much higher than is normally the case on RTR. In the end if you have built it right you will have a model that is heavier than it's RTR equivalent and therefore a better hauler unless you build a few Comet coaches that are not as free running as thay were supposed to be.
I get more satisfaction from building a kit than I do from buying RTR. I used to buy a lot Athearn "Blue Box' rolling stock then spend a fortune detailing it up, now I don't have too and while that is for the most part a good thing I do miss the fun of taking a decent model and making it better. Helps to pass those long wimter nights.

Charles Emerson
Queensland
Australia

QUOTE (neil_s_wood @ 25 Oct 2008, 12:09) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Recently I've been watching a series of locomotive building DVD's whch I got from Charles Emerson (Thanks Charles much appreciated) I have always wondered how to go about properly constructing brass and white metal kits and now have a pretty good idea of how it should be done. So now feel a bit more confident about having a go. I then had a look at some kits and the prices exceed many ready to run equivelants. This is before I buy wheels motor and everything else that is not included.

I still want to have a go as it seems a bit of a challenge and I think I would enjoy it but I can't help wondering what are the benefits of paying extra for a kit that will have to be constructed, where there is a lot of scope for stuffing up, when you can have the finished model off the shelf and ready to run for less money?

Now five years ago, when RTR models were not as detailed as they are today, I could have understood going for the kit option if you were one of those people who were skilled enough to make a good job of it. However today RTR models are very detailed and that benefit seems diminished. I just wondered what others preferences were and if the experienced kit builders amongst us could point out some of the benefits to building kits as opposed to just buying one off the shelf
.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,275 Posts
I'm not up on German prototypes so what class was the loco. It certainly is a beautiful kit and I too would smile like that but I'd have a Toohey's in my other hand.


Charles Emerson
Queensland
Australia

QUOTE (ebaykal @ 25 Oct 2008, 20:49) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>How rightfully put. The sheer satisfaction you get. No money can buy that.

Check this guys face, that I found in a French forum on the second page

http://www.lrpresse.fr/trains/viewtopic.ph...f75fd62e59197de

...pretty much sums it up.

Baykal
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
710 Posts
Neil,

The worst part if kit building used to be the chassis, But I forget to mention that the kit Erkut has highlighted is seriously high quality and is well designed and has screw assembly chassis,wheels pre-quartered on there axles, drive, factory pre assembled.
The worst part will be assembling the valve gear.
If your are afraid of using a soldering iron on white metal, Araldite works perfectly if used sparingly.

David
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,614 Posts
for me its always been about having something "nicer". for some reason (and i dont know why) having a nice hand make kit is just a much nicer model than a RTR one.

i hope that many of the kits i am building now will still be going strong in 50 or 100 years time. if they are looked after well. i cant honestly say that about any RTR loco i have. if you look at well built kits from the 70's they really dont look that dated even by todays standards. some were beautifully painted. ok mechanisms have com on a long way since then and the motors should probably be disosed of but they are fundimentally nice models.

the builder took pride in them. do the builders of RTR models take pride in them? of course not. its just a job for them.

i am in a rather fortunate position where my models are just starting to make enough money to help pay the bills.
in many ways my models are far inferior to the current RTR offerings. i could never do the paint job that hornby has done on the maunsells! and i am certainatly no beeson!! but i like to think that mine are nicer models and of a higher quality than the RTR equivalents and thats what people are willing to pay the premium for.

Peter
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
555 Posts
For me each individual model is part of the whole, and the whole in my case is quite large so compromise is necessary. I'm modelling part of a real cross-country line condensed to fit in a single garage, and I've got my work cut out. To do it properly I need multiple Black 5s, Crabs, assorted BR Standards and pre-group 0-6-0s. I also need to scratchbuild all the buildings and continue to research the many gaps in my knowledge. When I started the only way to get most of this was by kitbuilding so I started trudging my way through the DJH catalogue one kit at a time. Fifteen years later I'd finished two and had a cupboard full of half built ones, so thoroughly disillusioned I packed it in and went aircraft modelling for 5 years.

When I came back I discovered that Hornby and Bachmann were producing many of the locos I needed, at a level of detail and reliability far greater than my kit built locos, and at prices I was happy to pay.

I can superdetail, re-number and change the bogie wheels on a Hornby Black Five in a couple of evenings. They're 'layout engines' rather than showcase exhibition models, but that's fine. The time saved can be spent on that which cannot yet be bought RTR at an acceptable (to me) standard, the pre-grouping engines, the buildings, cross-kitting Parkside and Ratio etc kits to vary the wagon fleet, and the odd scratch build for that 'something special'.

The arbiter for me is 'could I do better ?'. Increasingly the answer is 'no'.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,397 Posts
Thanks for the replies guys, that has certainly given me a lot to think about. Erkut I really wish you hadn't posted that link to the BR44 kit. I really want one of those.

John, yes tools are going to be a significant cost although I still have some tools from my ship building days which would reduce the list.

Richard, do you not think DJH are that good? I thought I might start there.

Thunder, yes I would pick something which had no RTR available, although having seen that Weinert BR44 kit....that could change.

David (adecoaches) Is that right that the chassis is screw together? I am so tempted by that kit,
but I guess that it is the wrong end of the scale to start.
These kits are around 6-700 euros aren't they?
Do they have english instructions do you know?


David (DWB) It is the satisfaction of making something that tempts me. I like making things and this would be my first incursion into metal work. I'd like a jig like Peter has but you would have to be making a few to justify it. Peter can as he makes a lot of these. I'd be reluctant to buy one at the outset as I might find I am hopeless and never want to do one again.

Charles, after watching those DVD's you sent me I have a far better idea of what's involved now. Painting would probably be the biggest hurdle I think. I'll start with a DJH once I've recovered from Christmas to get a better idea of what's involved as you can only get so much from a DVD. Charles the loco in the link is a DB BR44, sort of a German 9F. I have to say I can't get that BR44 out of my head though.


I guess that opening the box is intimidating for some but I used to build model ship kits where you you would be presented with a box of strips and blocks of wood, string and brass fittings. I know the score.
The more you put on the model; the less there is in the box.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
9,845 Posts
QUOTE David (DWB) It is the satisfaction of making something that tempts me. I like making things and this would be my first incursion into metal work. I'd like a jig like Peter has but you would have to be making a few to justify it. Peter can as he makes a lot of these. I'd be reluctant to buy one at the outset as I might find I am hopeless and never want to do one again.

I hope Peter won't mind me saying this, but the reason he bought the jigs was because he couldn't get his chassis square. Now this is from a guy who builds some very impressive coaches. So from that I conclude that the jigs really work and I don't think you'd find you were hopeless at it. Of course Peter has the advantage that's he younger and will get a lot more use out of them
I never did wood work or metal work at school and my father was brought up to believe he was hopeless with his hands so I've had to learn the hard way that the secret to doing something really well is to have the right equipment in the first place. Buying a jig or not is a personal decision and I like to be properly equipped, so I'd just allocate some of the model railway allowance to getting one and go without some RTR locomotives for a while.

Still with Hornby now showing pre-production pictures of another Southern 4-4-0, I sort of hope they'll do some LNER D classes next year and take another "must have" off the kit build list.

David
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,397 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
QUOTE (dwb @ 26 Oct 2008, 09:08) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I hope Peter won't mind me saying this, but the reason he bought the jigs was because he couldn't get his chassis square. Now this is from a guy who builds some very impressive coaches. So from that I conclude that the jigs really work and I don't think you'd find you were hopeless at it. Of course Peter has the advantage that's he younger and will get a lot more use out of them
I never did wood work or metal work at school and my father was brought up to believe he was hopeless with his hands so I've had to learn the hard way that the secret to doing something really well is to have the right equipment in the first place. Buying a jig or not is a personal decision and I like to be properly equipped, so I'd just allocate some of the model railway allowance to getting one and go without some RTR locomotives for a while.

Still with Hornby now showing pre-production pictures of another Southern 4-4-0, I sort of hope they'll do some LNER D classes next year and take another "must have" off the kit build list.

David
Point taken onboard David, thanks for enlightening me to that as that swings it.

I was just looking at the Weinert site to see how much that BR44 kit was. 810 euros for a kit.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
9,845 Posts
QUOTE I was just looking at the Weinert site to see how much that BR44 kit was. 810 euros for a kit. ohmy.gif

For things like that, I'm glad I am fairly strict about sticking to the West Riding of Yorkshire...... and even if it was an Austerity 2-10-0 I still think I'd start with inside cylinder 0-6-0 tank....

David
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,397 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
QUOTE (dwb @ 26 Oct 2008, 09:20) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>For things like that, I'm glad I am fairly strict about sticking to the West Riding of Yorkshire...... and even if it was an Austerity 2-10-0 I still think I'd start with inside cylinder 0-6-0 tank....

David
I have a simliar criteria which prevents me buying models like this too. I stick to models I can afford.
I'm struggling with the cost of the Brawa K.Pev S9 and it's half the price.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,275 Posts
Neil, I actually feel the same. it certainlt built into a beautiful model. I may have to get one


Charles Emerson
Queensland
Australia

[quote name='neil_s_wood' date='26 Oct 2008, 07:51' post='65182']

Charles, after watching those DVD's you sent me I have a far better idea of what's involved now. Painting would probably be the biggest hurdle I think. I'll start with a DJH once I've recovered from Christmas to get a better idea of what's involved as you can only get so much from a DVD. Charles the loco in the link is a DB BR44, sort of a German 9F. I have to say I can't get that BR44 out of my head though.


I
 

·
No Longer Active.
Joined
·
13,319 Posts
I would certainly like to have another go at kitbuilding if it were not for lack of time - I did try a couple in the mid 70's - one a K's & the other a Wills. Neither was very sucessful (part due to the quality of the kits & part due to my lack of skills) & were instrumental in my descision to "go european".
 
1 - 20 of 76 Posts
Top