Build – Part 2

Why Helmuth von Moltke was 100% correct

Helmuth von Moltke wrote in 1880 that No plan of operations reaches with any certainty beyond the first encounter with the enemy’s main force. This is often quoted as, ‘No plan survives first contact with the enemy’. No matter, in modelling as in life, this quote remains absolutely true.

Overview of issues

Image 1: modifications to the basic SEM underframe outlines in the text

Here are the elements of the original plan that went out the window almost from the get go:

  • magnetic brake lines, and
  • the train line

Magnetic brake lines- Non!

The manufacturer of the magnetic brake lines never returned emails or calls. Obviously not interested in dealing with some foreigner. So the idea of using their product went out the window. Another issue was the price. Everything costs twice what you buy it for in North America. Somethings are simply outside the modelling budget guidelines, the magnetic brake lines while they would have been great were cut for these two reasons. I’ll come up with something, but it is not a primary issue for the completion of the build.

Train line piping – Non!

To get the train line in the right place I marked the crossover point on the underframe in blue permanent marker as I showed in the images in part 1. While they looked good initially once the coupler pockets were in place I found there was no room for the train line. I decided to apply the 2 foot rule (if you can’t see something 2 feet away, don’t bother modelling it) and discovered that you’d never see the train line in normal service anyway. So away it went.



The underframe was built essentially per the kit instructions. Early on in the build I decided to include the V hangers for the brake actuator as these are fairly obvious from photos of the real thing and they tend to add clutter under the simple wagon that ‘spices’ it up some. However, this is an all or nothing thing as I soldered them in place. This in turn makes the wheel sets captive (unless you want to unsolder everything). So make this decision fully aware of any consequence. I did make sure that the chassis sat perfectly flat on my glass-topped model table before going ahead with it.

Image 2: underframes after left, before right during the build process

Coupler Pads

Shown in Image 2 above you can see that on the left underframe I’ve added packing pieces on the end of the frame rails between them and the coupler boxes. This was to ensure that the boxes did not twist (as you can see on the right hand underframe top coupler box).

I drilled and tapped the screw holes for the coupler boxes using the Kadeee 2-56 tool set. It’s easy and not too costly and you’ll use it over and over again.

Brake rigging

There is a fair bit of photo etch (PE) for the underframe. I’m not very good with PE, having massive paws that make it difficult to work with even when tweezers are involved. I have persisted though and am glad I did so. Following the kit instructions gets you through the process fairly easily if you’re used to working with PE. I struggled as I don’t normally use PE on models. But I’m learning and the second time will be easier than the first. There’s still more to go as you’ll see in part 3. So we’ll revisit this area one more time.

Body work

The body comes in four pieces: two ends and two sides. I use Lego bricks specifically for squaring up in these situations because they are perfectly square and usually of the right height for HO scale models. For larger scales you simply stack the things to get the right height.

Image 3: Another use for perfectly square Lego bricks

The body was formed in two parts each consisting of a side and an end first. This allowed me to get two perfectly aligned body halves. A line of glue was applied to the resultant join and the two pieces allowed to set up for around 20 minutes while I did the other pair. These two halves were joined together into one whole in the same manner. You can read more about the clamps used in the image above on their tool page to find out more. I love them and they are very versatile, especially for rounded, bumpy or not flat surfaces.

Image 4: mating the body to the underframe

With the body now complete and square I did a test fit of the underframe, and with some slight file work it fit in nicely. Once again I placed the clamps on the completed body and underframe to hold them in their final positions and ran glue around the join before allowing it to set up for around 20 minutes.

What’s next?

In part 3 of the build I’ll be completing the PE and brass work on the brake system, safety hangers and other parts. For now this get me to the current stage of the build. Hopefully I can complete the first of these cars by the end of February 2020, which is my goal, including painting, adding the tarp and weathering the car.

More on that in the next installment.

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