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a couple of observations to add to Richard's notes.....re piston rods....another alternative is to use a [discarded??] drill bit of the correct diameter?...nice hard steel,usually straight....recycling?

for the brake blocks, I have in the past, filed off the actual brake lining part, and replaced with a sliver of plasticard, glued on....this stops much of the shorting out issue on wheelsets that are close together.

or...insulate from the chassis, the entire brake hanger system? [make in two halves?]....Araldite and plastic wire insulation?
 

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uneven or unequal driving wheel spacing was quite commonplace....in fact, I don't think too many loco types actually had equal spacing between driving wheels.

your comments re the cheapness of proprietary mechanisms compared to scratch or kit building a chassis, were one reason why,30, 40, or 50 years ago, ''bodyline'' kits were so popular.

There were loads of GWR pannier tanks running on Triang Jinty chassis, for example.....and this trait can still be found today....check out Mainly Trains site....especially the chassis kits for Hornby NER tanks...sort of in reverse???
 
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