P4 Wheelset Issues

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P4 Wheelset Issues

Postby Richard Oldfield » Sun Mar 06, 2011 11:49 am

Hi,

In the last ten years or so of active P4 wagon modelling I've come to understand much more about the importance of getting a correct wheelset and pinpoint bearing relationship. Naively, perhaps, I started off in P4 assuming that a wheelset was a wheelset and when you bought it you would get a correct back-to-back measurement, the wheels would be true and parallel to one another and that, provided you had built your model correctly, the wheelsets would 'pop in' and run reliably. For me, reliable running is not just about staying on the track but also running without wobble - either up and down or side to side.

Having worked my way through hundreds and hundreds of wheelsets my own prejudices are as follows:-

Alan Gibson - inconsistent - problems encountered include incorrect gauge, plastic wheel inserts not mounted correctly (causing false back-to-back readings), tyres falling off the plastic inserts, wheels not mounted equidistant from the pinpoint ends and non-parallel wheelsets. Effectively you do the quality control for the manufacturer. They're cheap provided you do not factor in your time in sorting them out.

Keen Maygib - either 100% correct or unusable - problems encountered include distorted wheels and non-parallel wheelsets. My most recent purchase (on behalf of someone else) of 8 wheelsets had a failure rate of 100%. The last time I spoke to this manufacturer about poor quality I received an unsatisfactory response and had to write off over £100 of useless wheelsets. Slightly more expensive than Alan Gibson wheelsets.

Exactoscale - You build these wheelsets yourself from separate components. I think the method is inherently too flimsy for extensive exhibition use BUT I do not have much experience with them and I may be wrong.

Ultrascale - Faultless quality = fit and forget. At £3 per axle they are nearly twice the cost of their competitors but their free smooth running qualities show what you are paying for.

The technique I currently use (since we have extensive stocks of both Alan Gibson and Ultrascale wheelsets) is to initially fit Ultrascales to every wagon. If there are any running problems then I can be certain that it is something to do with my building of the wagon. When any problems are resolved and the wagon runs smoothly on its Ultrascale wheelsets, I will then substitute in Alan Gibson wheelsets and test again. I allow myself a couple of tries to correct any problems with the Alan Gibson wheelsets before scrapping any that are still problematic.

Cheers,

Richard
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Re: P4 Wheelset Issues

Postby Jim S-W » Sun Mar 06, 2011 12:27 pm

Hi Richard

I would agree with your findings. You have omitted branch lines wheels which are my preferred option although only any good for disk wheels.

Great tip on using a known reliable wheel set to test first, I will, certainly adopt that on my own next batch of wagons.

I would say that Alan Gibson have always had a no quibble approach to swapping wheels that are iffy in my experience which means, yes you have to sort the wheat from the chaff but I am still happy to use Gibson wheels.

Cheers

Jim
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Re: P4 Wheelset Issues

Postby jdfaulkner » Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:54 pm

Jim,

Yes, the Branchlines wheels are certainly used on many of our DMUs. There might be a problem however, the last time I was in contact with Steam Era Models (I understand them to be the manufacturers of these wheelsets as well as Black Beetle-powered bogies), they stated 'Please note that the axles are brass, not steel'. It might be worth checking / confirming that the offering from Branchlines still use steal axles?

Cheers
David

P.S. the contact I had with SEM was July 2010
P.P.S. I'm also sure I had a conversation with Charlie Petty at some point that went along the lines of the wheels might originate in the UK but can't remember details... :scratch
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Re: P4 Wheelset Issues

Postby Butoxeter » Sun Mar 06, 2011 3:42 pm

I agree in the main with Richard's comments, although I've only had good experiences with Kean Maygib wheels.

I've heard the Exactoscale ones criticised, but again, those that I've assembled (using their back-to-back jig) have come out OK and haven't given any problems.

Some poor running Mark 1 coaches belonging to someone else were sorted by substituting the Gibsons for Branchlines wheels.

Less experience of Ultrascales in my P4 stock, although those that I've used have been faultless.

Having said all that, most of my stock probably uses Gibson wheels, and provided you are careful about checking the b2b and for any wobbling, I've not had any problems on my own stock.
'Mr Wales - set a course for the Parkside system, MEK Factor 7.........engage!'
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Re: P4 Wheelset Issues

Postby Richard Oldfield » Sun Mar 06, 2011 4:21 pm

Hi Jim,

Jim S-W wrote:I would agree with your findings. You have omitted branch lines wheels which are my preferred option although only any good for disk wheels.


I omitted Branchlines because I was only talking about my experience with wagons - as Dave says, we are have been standardised on Branchlines for DMU wheelsets until we read about the change to brass axles.

Jim S-W wrote:Great tip on using a known reliable wheelset to test first, I will, certainly adopt that on my own next batch of wagons.


It's one of those simple ideas that really should have occurred to me many years ago but only surfaced whilst building the 21T/ 24T Minerals recently. Just having the certainty that you've eliminated your choice and location of pinpoint bearings from the smooth running equation simplifies matters greatly. Of the 27 mineral wagons in the workshop, I've ended up with 21 on AG wheelsets, 3 on KM wheelsets and 3 on U wheelsets (awaiting swopping to AGs). Thankfully that exhausts my residual stock of KM wheelsets.

Jim S-W wrote:I would say that Alan Gibson have always had a no quibble approach to swapping wheels that are iffy in my experience which means, yes you have to sort the wheat from the chaff but I am still happy to use Gibson wheels.


Yes, that's an important consideration which I omitted to mention in my original post and, in stark contrast to my experience with KM, continues to make the AG wheelsets a sensible cost-effective option.

Cheers,

Richard
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Re: P4 Wheelset Issues

Postby Richard Oldfield » Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:51 pm

Hi,

A bit of an update on the issue of wheelsets.

Faced with the relatively long lead times and a further price increase from Ultrascale (wheelsets are now £3.78 per axle), my impatient money-saving tendencies have encouraged me to look at the Alan Gibson wheelsets in greater detail. With prices around £1.35 per axle (even less if you are a member and order through the EM Gauge Society) and quick delivery, you can see their appeal to me.

I had kept all the problematic AG wheelsets (originally bought about 10 years ago or more) in a bag and decided to have a closer look at them. For some reason it occurred to me to check the measurement over pinpoints - which should be 26mm. There was a wide range between 25.55mm and 25.95mm and this came as quite a surprise. It would appear that our heavy high speed use over the last decade (the wheels had come from Mk1 coaches) has caused some wear at the tip of the pinpoint. I find it hard to believe that they were originally supplied like this plus, as supporting evidence for my opinion, some of the pinpoints felt 'blunt'.

After sorting all the wheelsets into similar length pinpoint axles, several matching sets were used in the coach compensation units under some of the Bachmann Mk1 BGs I am working on. They seem to work reliably down to about 25.85mm but no less. They have therefore been brought back into use.

I have talked this over with Colin Seymour at Alan Gibson and decided to place a new order for 14mm coach wheelsets and some replacement axles. This will give us the chance to see how new production works as well.

It has occurred to me that perhaps there might be a market for a 'Super Gibson' wheelset using a higher specification steel for the axle.

Cheers,

Richard
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Re: P4 Wheelset Issues

Postby Jim S-W » Mon Jun 04, 2012 8:31 am

Hi richard

I can report that my last batch of AG wheels (about 80 axles) contained no duffers - still have to check the B2B but I always do that any way. The older ones with the grey centres were particularily bad but the current ones are fine.

Hth

Jim
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Re: P4 Wheelset Issues

Postby billbedford » Mon Jun 04, 2012 10:48 am

Richard Oldfield wrote:I had kept all the problematic AG wheelsets (originally bought about 10 years ago or more) in a bag and decided to have a closer look at them. For some reason it occurred to me to check the measurement over pinpoints - which should be 26mm. There was a wide range between 25.55mm and 25.95mm and this came as quite a surprise. It would appear that our heavy high speed use over the last decade (the wheels had come from Mk1 coaches) has caused some wear at the tip of the pinpoint. I find it hard to believe that they were originally supplied like this plus, as supporting evidence for my opinion, some of the pinpoints felt 'blunt'.

There were some batches of AG wheels where one end of the axle was rounded off due to the way that the wheels were mounted.

....but even allowing for the odd manufacturing problem UK modellers have a easy ride compared with US ones
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Re: P4 Wheelset Issues

Postby Color fast » Tue Jun 05, 2012 9:52 am

I'm afraid that wheelsets with axle lengths less than the standard 26mm are still common. It isn't wear by the way, it is poor manufacturing. I've got brand new wheelsets with these problems.

It's the consistency of the undersized axles that is the surprise.

Good that you've brought some wheelsets back into use, I've also got loads of duff stuff sitting around. I've also seen unscrupulous modellers unloading this stuff onto Ebay, where unsuspecting new modellers, not aware of the quirks/problems of this old stuff, buy a "bargain" which turns out to be anything but a bargain. In the meantime, these new modellers can't get P4 to work - and blame their skills, rather than the rubbish they've bought.
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