Anyone who has spent just one hour of their lives in SR territory cannot fail to notice the rails belong not to locomotives but EMUs and it is modelling these beasts that resulted in me motorising Farish Mk1 coaches.
I have a collection of EMUs made from a mixture of kits and modified Farish coaches with Electra Railway Graphics Transfers applied, three of which are motorised but seldom run on their own.
I have especially warmed to Adam Warr's offerings from Electra - they really are quite convincing and as a company they are very helpful and are willing to produce custom jobs if it is within their capability (where do you think the 8VAB came from? :o) all at normal cost. None of the BHE kits are motorised because the coach body could not stand the strain of being pulled about. It's a lot easier with something of rigid construction like a Farish Mk1 body :o)
Usually a locomotive will haul a fair few coaches and it is true that EMUs are most often seen running in pairs or more. In modelling, you can apply the same principles to EMUs as to locomotives, i.e. one motor unit, several coaches and I have two dummy EMUs that are formed entirely of non-powered coaches that exist solely to make up an 8 or 12 coach consist and only one coach of one EMU will be motorised. You need to choose carefully how you will form these so you aren't stranded with a totally dummy consist. To illustrate; consider my 8VAB unit. The prototype consisted of a 3car and a 5car unit almost perpetually coupled together - even to the point that both halves carried the same unit number - 8001. In modelling this, it makes little sense to have both these halves motorised. So the 3car is dummy.
In other articles on EMU construction, I have said things like "choose a coach to be the motor and set it to one side". Now I will describe in detail how to finish your EMU so it is truly autonomous. Construction will follow the modified Farish 63ft with ERG graphics.
The bottom of the coach needs to be carefully cut out. Use a Dremmel or other mini rotary tool with a cutting disc attatched and go along the floor on both sides. Don't attempt to cut right to the end of the coach or across it. Lift the centre section of floor slightly and cut it across with a small pair of wire cutters - be careful not to mark the coach itself. Now, carefully bend back each half of the floor waste and it should snap cleanly across.
The apperture in the floor now needs to be cleaned up so the walls of the coach have no "lip" on the inside at all. Using a sanding drum in your Dremmel, carefully sand the inside of the wall flush, then do the coach ends flush to the bulkhead. If you want, you can use a square file to get into the corners but with the chassis I am going to use (recommend) you don't need to.
The chassis I prefer is a Greenmax DT24. It is supemely manufactured with typical Japanese quality. Powerful all wheel drive with a single traction tyre on opposing wheels on each bogie make it easily handle a 12 coach train - even weighted as described in the other EMU pages, and seeing your EMU snake across a junction at a scale 15mph without snatching or stalling is a real buzz let me tell you. Overall length is about 126mm, Width is 17mm.
It is not a perfect match. The bogie centres are too short by about 3mm and the wheel base is 14mm whereas 18mm is desired, the pattern is also wrong. Unfortunately if you are crap at scratch building (like me) then this is a compromise you are going to have to live with (but not a terribly bad one) and the performance of the unit is going to more than make up for any short-falls in rivet-counting realism.
Offer the chassis into the aperture in the coach floor. Ensure it is centred lengthwise and just study it all for a moment to get the feel of the thing. The height from the sleeper to roof of Farish Mk1s is about 28mm +- a bit and whether this is scale or not is not important - you have to match this so it all looks the same when in consist. Put two blobs of blue-tac inside the coach to hold it to the chassis - make sure you don't get it on the drive shafts or any delicate areas of the motor. Put the roof on the coach and adjust the coach up or down on the chassis to get a height from the sleeper of 28mm at both ends. Take the roof off and lay the coach on it's side.
Using a cocktail stick, wedge it between the coach side and the chassis about half way along and on the tip of a screwdriver, put two *small* drops of superglue where shown. Smear them along the chassis edge and remove the cocktail stick. Press the coach and chassis together (careful if clamping so as not to go mad) until the two are glued together making sure all the time that your alignment doesn't slip. Flip the whole thing over and repeat on the other side. Carefully and slowly remove the blue-tac.
Once the glue has set, go along the seam underneath and give it a generous line of superglue just to ensure a good bond. Apply a light clamp just in case the liquid glue dissolves any of the earlier application and leave it over night.
It is OK to glue the coach to the chassis as the Greenmax assembly is well thought out and the motor and gear towers can all be dis-assembled without needing to remove the chassis from the coach, but you can't use a permanent glue to hold the roof on (unlike the other coaches) just in case. I find a non-spirit, rubber based glue is fine (Copydex - that stuff that stinks of fish until it is dry) but you might want to use something else... the roof might come off with rough handling but you shouldn't be doing that either!
I find that on the motor coach, the sides of the coach are often bowed very slightly and protrude from under gutter-line the roof. Only a fraction of a millimeter but the white undercoat will ensure you see it once your transfer is on and the white line is disappointing and annoying as hell!. Take some paint of whatever colour you want and dull down the top edge of the coach wall. I am using blue as the two motor coaches here are from an all-blue 8VAB and a blue/grey 4CEP. You can see where I have done this in the "blue-tac" picture above.
Next, apply the underframe details, batteryboxes, compressor etc and buffers. Make sure these won't foul the coupling. Notice this chassis has had Tomix miniature Scharfenburg couplings fitted. The bogies have been stripped of their rapido couplers.
Also the BHS cast buffers are glued in place. On the third picture, note I have re-used the Farish buffers... until I get some more BHE cast ones. I used to do this, leaving the buffers intact on the driving ends also but I am slowly getting round to replacing them and it does look a lot better. I like the Tomix couplings because the ingenious design means you can get realistic close-coupling but the cunning Japanese have designed them such that as they move off-centre (i.e. go round a curve) the coupling pushes away from it's host and so widens the gap between coaches so they don't bind and de-rail. Really clever to watch.
You can see from these images that the motor coach (left) still looks a bit bare after the bogie, I have to put some clutter in here to make it a little less obvious that the bogie is short. But the coupling distance is really nice - I am going to play about with different materials to fill the gap - probably some dark/black foam material... I have seen bellows for sale but they are serious money. Not paying £1.50 a piece, especially as I have my doubts that they will fit in the narrow gap - being folded paper. One drawback is that to fit these to the Farish coaches, you have to cut a section off the chassis that includes the buffers. The farish buffers are under-size (as you can see in the right hand coach) and I only use them as a stop-gap until more suitable items arrive (whitemetal BHE), but the crutial thing is that due to the Tomix couplings, the coach tends to "pivot" around the inside buffer - really nice - the angle here is of course greatly exaggerated but illustrates my point. Make sure you specify which coupling you plan to use when buying your chassis (it's an option) or you might get stuck.One alternative that I have yet to explore is using Taylor Precision Models commonwealth bogies. Now these sound quite exciting because they are more prototypical for EMUs and the have a close-couple rapido coupling on the bogie - so no need to cut the chassis. Haven't played yet, will probably do so on a future unit just to try. The outside end coupling (i.e. under the drivers cab) on all my units (except the two connecting ends on the 8VAB - Tomix) are the standard rapido type.
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