Moving from ‘0’ Gauge to Gauge 1 gave me the opportunity to join the ranks of the many ‘live steam’ enthusiasts, and having completed two Barrett kits, and a third well on the way, my mind turned to making a radio controlled, battery powered locomotive. I admit to not having a clue how radio control, or indeed anything to do with electronics, operate. Wiring a 3 pin plug is about the extent of my knowledge! Added to this I don’t have a workshop to produce any scratch built models.

I was intrigued to find out how cheaply a reasonably realistic Gauge 1 locomotive could be constructed. This article therefore describes, not in any great depth, the construction of an ARM1G. I hope the accompanying photographs will illustrate how it was built.

The G1MRA booklet concentrates on a live steam version of the ARM1G but it was of some use to me. The drawings were of great help and it is a pity that the side view of the engine had to be reduced for printing purposes. Pity really, because without an overall GA dimensioned drawing, it was difficult to work out some of the required dimensions (could it not be a fold out sheet?)

Due to my restricted collection of tools I decided to construct the locomotive from styrene sheets. At a recent exhibition I purchased a number of components, including the steel chassis, wheels, chimney, etc., motor and gear box. The associated electronics were purchased at a later date. (See list at the end for details of suppliers and costs involved.)

The rolling chassis went together easily and I found by ‘peening over’ the tabs using a centre punch, the chassis was robust enough to avoid any silver soldering. I have in the past made a number of ‘0’ Gauge locomotives from styrene sheet, and in spite of some enthusiasts ‘looking down their nose’ at this material, I have found that by carefully considering the strengthening where appropriate it is a strong, durable and versatile material that is very easy to use. It is also very forgiving and mistakes can easily be rectified. I used a variety of thicknesses of styrene sheet ranging from 1-3mm. The boiler could have been made from plastic waste pipe but in fact I happened to have bought for an earlier project a piece of aluminium tube that was almost the right diameter. The only alteration made to the basic chassis was to add two ‘outriggers’ made from scrap square section brass. This was to strengthen the styrene footplate and gave a strong base on which to construct the superstructure.

With the body virtually complete I ordered the electronics, and must admit when they arrived I was surprised to see just how large the battery pack was. It did mean that some very minor changes had to be made in order to fit the battery pack between the side tanks.

As an added bonus I decided at this stage to add sound to the loco, again not realising how much space would be required for the speaker. However, undeterred the body was primed and then sprayed Maunsell (Eastleigh) Olive Green. The green was sprayed using spray cans and the black areas were brush painted.

I’m not the brightest of people and decided to order the radio control and sound systems already connected together. This plug ‘n’ play meant the system could be tested before installation. It worked beautifully, filling the room with hissing steam and whistles, etc. The only problem was how to switch it off. In the end, almost deafened, I had to telephone the supplier who quite calmly said, “Just use the on/off switch! “ I didn’t realise I had one.

Before the installation of the electronics the loco was lined using transfers and a coat of varnish applied. I had hoped to make a neat job of installing the electronics, but this was not to be due to lack of space. It was therefore a question of stuffing the bits in wherever I could!

Arm1g in Plastic

So there we have it. A very pretty Wainwright H Class Tank Engine, fully radio controlled, and fitted with sound.

Is it good value? I suppose so, but it always seems a lot of money when all the costs are added up. How much did it cost?

The list below shows the cost of components and the suppliers.

Chassis kit (Model Engineers Laser) £32.00
Driving wheels, bogie wheels, etc., chimney, dome, buffers, smoke box door,
Safety valve and screw couplings (all from Walsall Model Industries) £171.39
Canon motor, gearbox and flywheel (MSC Models) £108.50
Aluminium tube (Noggin End Metals) £20.50
Electronics, less sound (Peter Spoerer Model Engineers) £157.44
Paint (Precision Paints) £14.00
Styrene sheet (Squires) approx  £10.00
Adhesive, etc., approx  £5.00
Transfers (HMRS)  £7.00

SUB TOTAL:£525.83

Add in the optional sound system (Peter Spoerer Model Engineers) £97.99
TOTAL: £623.82

Although I did not keep a tally on the number of hours spent building this loco, I would guess approximately 30 hours.

Worth building in styrene? Yes, I think so. It’s relatively inexpensive and quick to make and I am thrilled to bits with it!

John Mileson
24th September 2015


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