Dock Road - S Scale Advice Needed

Discussion in 'EM/S4 & S scale' started by phileakins, 27 February 2012.

  1. phileakins

    phileakins Western Thunderer

    Hi folks

    For a long time now I've been talking about my S7 opus - Dock Road - only to have the idea scuppered by the builder (pursed lips, a tsk-tsk sound and an emphatic shake of the head) who couldn't give me enough room. About five feet (or a whole pre-group branch train) short in fact. He said the house would fall down - I was willing to take the risk but Mrs PE decided that she had a veto and that was it.

    I had, of course, built all the pointwork by that stage and had two baseboards and the sawn parts for a third! :headbang:

    The track plan doesn't allow for any compromise and Dock Road became a recurrent dream - but not wholly abandoned as I've been researching the prototype for more years than I care to remember and have a whole pile of original drawings and photographs in stock.

    Then I bought MRJ 199 from e-bay (I wanted the article on resin casting) and found that it's an issue about S scale. Just as an idle exercise I asked Templot to re-scale the plan, oh dear, it's do able in its entirety! And it's just that bit bigger (2/3 of 7mm size) for my ten thumbs to cope with. :eek:

    I've printing out the 'P' class frames (see elsewhere) in 1/64th scale to have a comparison and there's not much in it from the 1/43.54 version in terms of drilling and filing. 4mm chassis parts are cheaper too.

    Has anyone tried S and has some comments/advice to offer?

  2. 28ten

    28ten Guv'nor

    There are a few S gauge modellers here, I'll change the title to attract them !
  3. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer


    If you are contemplating S scale in the UK then you really have to adopt the attitude of being prepared to scratchbuild everything and accept any aid to scratchbuilding as a bonus. :)

    The UK S Scale model Railway Society web site lists all the parts provided by it at
    This URL points at the locomotive parts available and the lower row of buttons at the top of the page will take you to other sections of the parts service.

    There are also other suppliers who provide S scale parts - like Worsley Works
    ....but note that the etched kits supplied very rarely have any castings supplied with them, so you usually have to do that work yourself, or look at using something else which might be suitable.

    You can some times get away with using 4mm scale bits and pieces. In days gone past, a lot of 4mm scale parts used to be a bit overscale which made them about spot on for S, but the advent of P4/S4/exact scale in 4mm scale has meant that most 4mm parts are now accurate which makes them a bit undersize. But you can often get away with some of the smaller parts where the size differential is not too noticeable.

    Building an S scale loco chassis is probably the biggest problem to overcome. A lot of the 4mm internal components can be used - like gearboxes, axleboxes, etc., but sourcing suitable steam locomotive drivers can be a problem if you are not prepared to scratchbuild them yourself. It is possble to use 4mm scale wheels if they look right in S, but there is not a great range of suitable wheels to choose from now. When Mike Sharman was in full production with his products, he provided a happy hunting ground for S scale modellers since it was quite possible to find a wheel which was pretty well correct for an S scale model, but the re-appearance of the Sharman range doesn't seem to be a possibility now. However, you might be able to persuade another S scale modeller to turn some up for you.:) We got a batch of wheel form tools made recently and I know that a dozen or more were distributed to members so there are wheel makers out there. :) The SSMRS has a range of generic cast brass driving wheel centres and machined tyres which can be used to provide a fair range of sizes, and you can also make your own by cutting out spoke spiders, etc.

    Rolling stock wheels for freight and passenger stock are available from the SSMRS.

    Track parts are also available - designed by Len Newman to the same standards as his Exactoscale 4mm parts

    But a lot of us in the UK S scale world are now looking at using modern production methods to produce parts for S scale - resin casting (Maurice Hopper who wrote the resin casting article in MRJ199 is an S scale member), 3D printing, lost wax casting, etching, laser cutting/etching and milling (me :))

    That's maybe enough from me at the moment but the other S scale members might chip in with more info.

  4. phileakins

    phileakins Western Thunderer

    Thanks Guv.

    What you have said Jim is very much in line with what I've discovered by reading around, not easy then, with loco wheels being the worst problem!

    I'm going to Trainwest at Melkesham in April specifically to look at East Lynne/Nunstanton and am prepared to be overawed - but armed with a lot of questions. I've also been blown away by Barry Norman's Lydham Heath in MRJ 68.

    I think it might be a good idea to join the S scale Society for this year and test the waters whilst I press on with the S7 mini layout, which, in comparison seems pretty straightforward! :)

    Thanks for the advice.

  5. ScottW

    ScottW Western Thunderer


    I have been modelling in S-Scale for a number of years, if your serious about making a start in ‘S’ then I could do no more than recommend joining the S-Scale Society. The society has an ever growing supply of parts to aid its members, locomotive wheels are in short supply but the list is slowly being added to. As Jim has pointed out in some cases 4mm (EM) scale wheels can be substituted. On one of my own locomotive projects I used Romford wheels where I put them in the lathe and re-profiled them.
    Scratchbuilding can be a bit daunting at first but once mastered you’ll find it very satisfying. I think the hardest part to overcome is to convince yourself that you are capable of doing it. I would begin with a simple open wagon to get a feel for the scale. Once you get going in S-Scale I’m sure you’ll find ways of overcoming most barriers.

  6. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    That would be a good idea. Trevor Nunn and his operating crew are experienced S scale modellers so any of them should be able to answer your questions

    You would be most welcome. We are probably one of the smallest societies with just over 100 members with most of the membership spread around the UK and about a sixth spread around the rest of the world. We have a gazette published every two months and two formal meetings in the year. But the appearance of an S scale layout at an exhibition is usaully an excuse for an impromptu meeting as well so there tends to be quite a high level of interchange between members. I remember being at the Aylesbury show two years ago when, at one point, there were sufficient members and office holders present to hold an EGM if we wanted.:)

  7. Dog Star

    Dog Star Western Thunderer


    If you keep on like this... I shall ask you to consider Basingstoke for the first public appearance of the S scale layout.... or the S7 layout....

    Just because "Wadebridge" is appearing at the 2012 Basingstoke show on 10th/11th March does not mean that you will get away without accepting an invitation for something new!

    regards, Graham
  8. phileakins

    phileakins Western Thunderer

    Whoa there tiger - those layouts only exist on the inside of my eyelids as I drift of into the alcohol induced doze each evening. In the armchair of course!

    Thanks everyone, I'll download the membership application from the society web site and send it off.

    I've got a small lathe (not that I know how to use it properly) so perhaps I'm going in the right direction. We'll see.

  9. phileakins

    phileakins Western Thunderer

    I thought the age old call for 'wheelbarrows at ten' would cover it. :rolleyes:

    Actually the regular operating bunch have been found even more wanting and I have vacancies (not the plural) on Saturday as well. Wadebridge can be run single handed as long as the viewing public don't mind a two or three minute hiatus every five minutes or so whilst the next sequence is set up in the fiddle yard. An extra hand or two is always useful. Hands on the regulator is mandatory as well - full training given.

  10. Phil,

    The issue with loco wheels is interesting. You can use 4mm EM wheels to the "Pendon/Manchester" standard, i.e. with a slightly thinner flange - Alan Gibson EM wheels are a touch thicker than this, either take 3 thou off the back of the flange, or reduce the b2b by about 6 thou - both work as I know from experience!

    There is the aforementioned range of driving wheels available produced by Alan Gibson for the SSMRS. It might appear a limited range, but in practice this is not the case. Many of the wheels are to sizes which were very common, for example the 5' or so 16 spoke pin in-line driver covers, at the last count, 151 different locomotive classes if you are not fussy about the crankthrow. If you can turn a blind eye to it not being pin-between (and if the loco is moving it is very hard to tell!) the number is even higher.

    In addition to this, there is a range of lost-wax brass castings for wheel centres, which can be turned and fitted to home-made tyres, or tyres can be bought in. The latter is a simple process and well within the capabilities of an old Unimat SL lathe - I know because I did this many years ago with these castings and a set Alan Gibson tyres, taken from the plastic centred wheels I was replacing - as it only involves two turning operations (one to true up the spigot, the other to turn the rim to be a light press-fit into the tyre) and a boring operation - drill out carefull to 3.15mm for a puss fit on 1/8" axles. The former is a more involved process require a form tool (again SSMRS can provide) involving a lathe with a bit more power than a small one: not tried it on a Cowells lathe, but wouldn't want to do it on a Unimat 3 as I might die of boredom making repeated multiple light cuts. Definitely pushing an SL to or beyond its limits!In both cases a simple jig ensures identical spacing of the crank pins, holes for which need to be drilled and tapped to suit.

    Neither of these methods are difficult: just a bit of practice, and time taken to set things up carefully. To be honest, if someone as ham-fisted and mechanically brutal as me can manage to take his time and turn out (sorry for the pun!) reasonable wheels this way, then anyone can do it, given determination - and a second hand SL can be picked up for about £150 (plus or minus £50). A lathe is probably needed anyway, to make boiler fittings. (An SL can double as a drill, of course, which makes it more useful.)

    Split axle pickup is very common in S: OK, it can be a bit of a faff to make a set, but once done it becomes a case of (don't have to) fit and forget as far as pickups are concerned - PCB makes a great frame spacer. Components for split axles can be bought from Branchlines, along with an assembly jig: the 3-part axles can used to make up S scale axles by using 2/3 of them.

    If you interests remain LCDR (very good that would be, too) then most of the wheel sizes you would require are available already. You might need to do a little bit of cutting away of the cranks for something like an Acis or Adrian wheel, but here you could use Alan Gibson wheels and solvent weld a piece of ABS into the crankpin hole first, have the loco electrically dead and pickup via split axles and metal wheels in the tender - this is certainly my intention for my next loco (and outside framed 0-6-0) but don't hold your breath to see how well it goes, as I have a number of other modelling tasks to get done before I need another loco - such as a layout on which to run them!

    It isn't as easy as fitting Romfords (but possibly easier than getting you mitts on some!) but it isn't all that difficult, either.
  11. phileakins

    phileakins Western Thunderer

    Thanks very much Simon for the encouragement - I'm now a member of the Society and have a number of back issues of the Gazette to peruse and digest, and I've visited the members area of the web site and downloaded reams of stuff ........ :eek:

    My inclination is to bite the bullet and build a bit of track and one or two items of rolling stock to see how it goes, having looked at 'East Lynn' and done some talking first! The fact that Geoff Stenner (SER modeller supreme) has rejoined the 'S' ranks is a bit of a spur as well. :)

    Yep, if Dock Road gets built (all right, when!!) it's firmly LCDR set in the 1880s when the working of Sheerness Dockyard station was at its most interesting. It also means that the loco/rolling stock requirements are simplified, although the imaginary extension of continental boat services from the pier might add a bit of spice.

    I've got a Unimat SL and also its big brother the Unimat PC Basic. I'm presently marrying the two together with the SL machine head mounted on a custom pillar to give milling facilities to the longer PC bed. As I said though - all I have to do is learn how to use it and I might well be asking for help.

    I'll be in touch after Trainwest.

  12. D7093

    D7093 Guest

    Sorry if this is a bit off topic, but does anybody know how much their class 08 shunter kit is and how much of a kit it is, or do you still need to scratchbuild quite a bit. Reasoning I made two vans many moons ago and would be nice to have something to shunt them about:)
  13. Do you mean in S scale, or MOK in 4mm scale?

    The S scale kit is a straight 19% enlargement of the MOK etchings, so a bit of work is needed on the chassis, if only to make up for the inner axle bearing holes being nearly 3/16" in diameter as opposed to 4mm in diameter. A full set of castings is also available, and there is a near-match wheel in the LMS 8F wheel, which has a vee-shaped rim (not a bevel - that would be single sided) and 15 instead of 14 spokes, plus a crankpin boss. To this would need to be added motor, gearbox and outside cranks. I suppose you would be looking at about £90, plus motor and gears, for the S scale kit.

    If you want one in S, PM me!
  14. ScottW

    ScottW Western Thunderer

    Alternatively Worsley Works produce S-Scale etches for a class 02 & 04.

    The etches don't include a chassis but with a little scratchbuilding a reasonble running loco can easily be produced. Also if you have never done any scratchbuilding before these etches provide a good introduction for the beginner.


  15. D7093

    D7093 Guest

    Thanks Simon,

    That's very helpful and informative.

    I'll PM you.
  16. I have one of those if anyone is interested, too!

    Scott has made a lovely job out of his, by the way.
  17. ScottW

    ScottW Western Thunderer

    Prompted by Simon here is my attempt at the S-Scale Worsley Works class 04.

    BR Class 04.JPG

    I'm sure I could post this picture in the "Shelf Queens" thread as it's been sat gathering dust for the last eight months. All that is left to do is fit the down pipes from the sandboxes and paint the beast but at the last hurdle I lost interest with the project.


  18. MartinWales

    MartinWales Western Thunderer

    Any news on your 04 Scott?
  19. MartinWales

    MartinWales Western Thunderer

  20. ScottW

    ScottW Western Thunderer

    Thank you for asking but the 04 has progressed no further than that in the photograph, in fact it's been sat in its box for a number of years now. The BR period is not really my thing, I just had an urge to have a go at the Worsley Work etches. Towards the end of the build I lost interest in it.