What Next for the 4mm Ready-to-Run Steam Locomotive?

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Bullhead
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What Next for the 4mm Ready-to-Run Steam Locomotive?

Post by Bullhead » Sat Jan 28, 2006 9:55 am

Looking back over the last 20 or so years, most of the things I'd have wished manufacturers would include as standard features in their 4mm RTR locomotives do, indeed, now generally come as standard. This includes:
  • Separate handrails
    Properly engineered mechanisms
    Chemically blackened finescale valve gear
    Finescale wheels with chemically blackened tyres
    Comprehensive chassis detail
    Sprung buffers
    Daylight in the right places (e.g., under the boiler)
    Separately-fitted detail (e.g., lamp irons, smokebox door dart, etc.)
    Cab roof ventilators capable of movement
    Accurate variations in detail (e.g., double/single chimney)
And, of course, we now have DCC too. So what do we wish for in the next 20 years? In no particular order, this is what I came up with:
  • Close-coupling tenders (sprung, perhaps, to accommodate small-radius curves) and locomotive fall plates
    All-wheel pickups, using tender wheels too where available
    Sprung/compensated chassis mechanisms
    Representation of valve gear on inside cylinders (now that is a challenge)
    Bodies which are slightly easier to remove for access
    Properly moulded and painted crew figures
    "Coal" in tenders/bunkers which actually looks like coal
    Pre-fitting with good quality DCC decoder and USP module
    Possibly, if small-diameter speakers can do this justice, onboard sound
    Remotely-controllable coupling/uncoupling
I did wonder about things like opening smokebox doors but I can't help thinking that's in the same slightly gimmicky bracket as rotating cooling fans in diesels.

What would you add to the list?
So - did anyone dare tell Stephenson, "It's not Rocket science"?

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richard
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Post by richard » Sat Jan 28, 2006 2:11 pm

It is interesting comparing that list to the current state of British N Gauge. Some of them are considered as "should be standard and if an engine doesn't have it then it is below par". Some are also just beginning to appear.

Eg. all wheel-pickup. Okay, steam bogies and pony trucks don't, but it is expected that an engine will have tender pickups. Pre-Bachmann Farish stopped fitting tender pickups, but they're easy enough to refit. The V2 sells with them fitted :-)

Separate handrails have also appeared on the V2 and they make a big difference. Some people also fit them to kits, although the B1 on my bench still has the moulded handrails. (maybe next time...)

Speakers? I think there will be many attempts, but it will never catch on. "Tha canna break the laws of physics".

The best I've heard in small stuff so far, were in some On3 (O-16.5) Shays. Lovely RTR engines, but it still sounded like a synthetic sound with no bass.


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x568wcn
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Post by x568wcn » Sat Jan 28, 2006 2:43 pm

Yes the V2 has tender pickups, but does it have driving wheel pickups, as mine don't run very well at all without the tender.
And what do people thing of the Fly wheel motor, over the standard worm drive? Mine doesn't seem half as powerful, and on a (very) slight gradient (only a flex in the board) it strugles, and it runs at a much slower pace
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richard
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Post by richard » Sat Jan 28, 2006 2:55 pm

I think the V2 runs smoother, but is a bit weaker. It might be a case of weight - moulded body for detail, rather than cast metal. Also, I've heard that the tender pickup wipers tend to be a bit tight. We could both try slackening them slightly.

The driving wheels do have pickups - otherwise stalling would be more of a problem...


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Bullhead
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Post by Bullhead » Sat Jan 28, 2006 2:55 pm

richard wrote:Speakers? I think there will be many attempts, but it will never catch on. "Tha canna break the laws of physics".

The best I've heard in small stuff so far, were in some On3 (O-16.5) Shays. Lovely RTR engines, but it still sounded like a synthetic sound with no bass.
I'm afraid that you're probably right, which is a pity, because I see that Bachmann are planning a sound-fitted Deltic for 2006 - and without a filling-loosening bass note it's not going to be very convincing.
So - did anyone dare tell Stephenson, "It's not Rocket science"?

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whats next for the 4mm steam locomotive

Post by CVR1865 » Wed Mar 08, 2006 6:00 pm

in defference to the above reply perhaps it would be nice to see the RTR manufacturers tackle a few pre gruping loco's and even produce a few more regional liveries.

just a thought
don't forget about the Great Eastern Railway

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Post by TimMeese » Tue Apr 11, 2006 3:12 pm

More pre-grouping locos would be very nice to see. But I think the main improvement that RTR could aim for is in the finish. Boilers never look right until you've added various varnishes, grime etc. (Somehow, getting a bit of grime in the boiler bands sets off the shine on the boiler much more convincingly). RTR weathering was a start, but is not enough on its own. The real challenge is to get the boiler to look as though it has been polished with an oily rag. (aboiut ten years ago(?), Bachmann nearly got there, but then they returned to the finish we still have today). Also, the smoke box and runnning plates could be much more convincing (in terms of pitting etc). But my main problem, and one that I've not been able to overcome, is that RTR models are always perfect in shape. On the prototype, boilers and tenders always have slight inperfections, dents etc, meaning that they don't reflect the ligt in the same way that our RTRs do. That would be a good development, and one that seems particularly inportant for steamlined locamotives.

00 Track and points with 4mm scale sleepers would be good too, and would make me feel much less depressed when I look at wonderful EM layouts. I think Graham Farish had a go at this in the 1970s (when they did OO) - at least, that's what the stuff I found in my parents loft looked like - but as I recall there were no points. Perhaps that explains why it didn't catch on.

t.
Tim

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