Biting the bullet - wholesale conversion from 45mm to SM32

Anything related to the garden railway world that is not catered for in another board
User avatar
drewzero1
Administrator
Administrator
Posts: 530
Joined: Fri Apr 21, 2023 4:35 pm
Location: WI, US

Re: Biting the bullet - wholesale conversion from 45mm to SM32

Post by drewzero1 » Wed May 24, 2023 2:13 pm

Wow, amazing to see what goes into a conversion like this! I've been looking into going the other way as sm32 track is nonexistent in the US, but would require most of my stock to be either substantially rebuilt or scrapped. I'll probably end up compromising and modifying some O gauge track, because this looks like a lot of work!

User avatar
Old Man Aaron
Trainee Driver
Trainee Driver
Posts: 826
Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2016 11:08 am
Location: Sunshine Coast QLD, Australia

Re: Biting the bullet - wholesale conversion from 45mm to SM32

Post by Old Man Aaron » Wed May 31, 2023 9:40 am

It certainly is a lot of work, but these wagons needed a lot of work done anyway..
Modding older O gauge track sounds the best way to go, the newer closer-to-scale rail may be too short in height. I think Peco SM32 is code 200, for reference.

21/05/23
With the trucks done, I set about converting a few locos. The Accy Baguley's indexed axles made regauging fast and easy.

The RH Fowler "Victoria" needed more work. A couple years back, I bought a pair of 32mm RH bogeys for a "quick-change" swap out to visit some of the few 32mm lines in the country. I still hadn't assembled these, so I just robbed the bolsters and axles (taking measurements for later) to use with the tender's existing painted and weathered sideframes and wheels. However, the rear wheelset now fouled on the tender coupling mount.
Some of the timber was shaved off with a knife to provide clearance. Coat of paint in touchup will make it disappear.
Forgetting the chassis kit came with a 32mm trailing axle, I shortened the loco's 45mm axle on the lathe.
Image


As I've replaced my RH kettles' axle bushings with MF168ZZ ball bearings (narrower than the original bushings) there's now nothing to control axle side-play.
Back when I rebuilt "Victoria", 32mm wasn't on the radar and I was content to let the 45mm gauge wheel centres control the side-play.
At 32mm on the other hand, 2.4mm thick spacers were needed between the cranks and bearings. I machined a set from brass for the Bundy Fowler "Calloway's" rebuild last year, as it was intended to be the "travelling" loco, and easily convertible to 32mm. So a second set was now machined for "Victoria", and a third for the future Hudswell Clarke project.


As "Calloway" already had spacers, it needed only refitting it's original trailing axle - it was 32mm when I bought it.
Incidentally, according to my records, I've had the loco three years tomorrow. It's only run once since it's rebuild. :roll:
Image


26/05/23
Now having a few locos operable in both gauges (not that I'll likely run them anytime soon), it was time to knock out some rollingstock.
The Mapleton/Moreton-based navvy wagon had it's heavily-rebuilt New Bright bogeys replaced with a pair of Binnie skip frame bogeys, something I've been wanting to use for years. I think they're a perfect fit for a bodged and rebuilt navvy van.
As the wagon was built to accommodate the relatively tall New Bright bogeys, while maintaining a nominal 20mm coupling height, the much-lower Binnies needed 3mm of packing to keep things where they should be.
Image


The Port Douglas open wagon's axleboxes were trimmed and fitted between the original frame members, to narrow the gauge and lower the ride height by 3mm. 20mm wheels would've been closer to the prototype, don't know why I used these 24s to begin with. Fitting them now would make the ride height perfect, but painting and weathering them to match would be painful. The drop I've managed brings it within spec, if at the higher end.
Image


The IP laser-cut Fox-style bogeys were carefully pried apart. I didn't want to shorten and make a new close-fitting tab at both ends of four bogeys, so I just did one end and re-drilled the centre pivot hole. Bit of paint and filler, and no-one will know..
Image


30/05/23
two pairs of RH bogeys were robbed from the repainted toys, and the bolsters were shortened to match the dimensions taken from the new bolsters fitted to "Victoria's" tender. The pivot holes had previously been drilled out to fit the toy wagons' mounts.
The crude "slot" in the bolster on the right was made by a previous owner, for use as a Forney trailing bogey under a modified Accucraft Ruby.
Some quick-and-dirty bushings were machined from aluminium so I can mount these bogeys in my usual way with an M3 screw or stud.
I swapped the original steel wheels for 24mm Binnies years ago. These in turn have now been replaced with 20mm Binnies.
Image


31/05/23
The Fox bogeys were refitted to the Mapleton bogey flats without further change, they too were built to the new height.
I decided to replace the Binne Carmarthen couplings with dumb buffers as used on the cane trucks. Nothing wrong with the Binnies - It's moreso that mills mostly did away with expensive sprung centre buffers by 1900, in favour of iron-faced timber dumb buffers, that they could churn out by the hundreds in their own smithies for pennies.
A loose cane truck makes a useful standard for double-checking coupling heights.
Image


The IP Eng. cast whitemetal bogeys of the tramway coach were split apart and shortened as above. Removed some packing under the floor to bring it down to a surprisingly pleasing ride height. It kept it's cast whitemetal buffers, they're more suited to passenger stock.

The Mapleton-style livestock wagon received a set of dumb buffers, and it's New Bright bogeys replaced with a Roundhouse pair.
Image


The sweeper wagon's wheels were just pushed closer together. Being a maintenance wagon I don't care how it looks. It's coupling was dropped by 6mm.
The two repainted toy open wagons may no longer be good enough for serious modelling, but they're useful for track construction and maintenance.
I'll convert them to 32mm, but looks won't be a priority on these either.
Regards,
Aaron - Scum Class Works

User avatar
StuartJ
Cleaner
Cleaner
Posts: 66
Joined: Tue Aug 09, 2022 3:39 pm
Location: Bristol

Re: Biting the bullet - wholesale conversion from 45mm to SM32

Post by StuartJ » Wed May 31, 2023 10:03 am

Excellent progress

User avatar
FWLR
Driver
Driver
Posts: 4325
Joined: Sat Aug 05, 2017 9:45 am
Location: Preston, Lancashire, UK

Re: Biting the bullet - wholesale conversion from 45mm to SM32

Post by FWLR » Wed May 31, 2023 12:21 pm

Thats not a job for the faint hearted that's for sure. You've done such a fantastic job on all of the stock you have so far and they do look good. Never ever thought about 45mm when I started with garden rail. Mainly because at the time, I bought a load of 32mm track for no money at all. The prices for track and rolling stock has gone up tremendously in the last 6 or so months. Companies are taking the Michael now and not just in the garden railway industry and please don't say anything about postage and packing charges. Anne has just today sent a birthday card to her nephew and it cost Β£1.10 for a first class stamp. Sorry for the digress.

You have more than likely saved hundreds of you Aussie Dollars in doing the conversions and I really do applaud you for doing it.
Well done and hopefully a video may follow with you converted stock sometime. :salute:

User avatar
Peter Butler
Driver
Driver
Posts: 5270
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 10:33 pm
Location: West Wales

Re: Biting the bullet - wholesale conversion from 45mm to SM32

Post by Peter Butler » Wed May 31, 2023 1:36 pm

This is the kind of challenge I really enjoy, great work.
The best things in life are free.... so why am I doing this?

User avatar
Old Man Aaron
Trainee Driver
Trainee Driver
Posts: 826
Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2016 11:08 am
Location: Sunshine Coast QLD, Australia

Re: Biting the bullet - wholesale conversion from 45mm to SM32

Post by Old Man Aaron » Tue Jul 04, 2023 5:42 am

Cheers fellas, it's good to get it done.


12/06/23
The plastic open wagons have had a "quickie" regauging - as mentioned at the end of my last entry, these will be used only for track construction and maintenance.
Image


25/06/23
After a break to work on other things, the ten cane bins were tackled next. The ride height was dropped 5mm by two methods - Firstly, shortening the axles and moving the axleboxes closer together, now between frame members rather than glued directly beneath them.
Secondly, by swapping the bins' 20mm wheels for the 16mm ones included with the new (unstarted) rake of Binnie skips. The skips' couplings are too low out of the box, and putting 20-millers on 'em brings them into line with my other stock. Like the other converted stock, I think the bins' lowered ride is a great improvement.
Image


A pair of the towering 45mm New Bright bogeys were adapted to fit the covered wagon, which was sold this week, along with the long-wheelbase four-wheeled flat
So, where I stand:
  • Of 68 wagons, 52 have been converted with 4 remaining, and the other 12 wagons have been sold off.
  • Of 13 locomotives, 3 have been converted with 5 remaining, 1 to be sold off, and the other 5 can be built to 32mm, right out of the box.
Not sure where I'll go from here, I've a pretty wide horizon to pick from. Peter Butler's PDF Baldwin build has got me thinking about picking up my own again, though I'd have to get in touch with PDF about a set of replacement printed frame stretchers, to convert mine before doing much else on it.
Time will tell...
Regards,
Aaron - Scum Class Works

User avatar
Keith S
Driver
Driver
Posts: 1631
Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2011 11:44 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Biting the bullet - wholesale conversion from 45mm to SM32

Post by Keith S » Sun Dec 17, 2023 6:36 am

Funny I've only just noticed this. Interesting, 'cause I am in the same boat. No railway yet, anyway: my wife convinced me to build a deck over the entirety of our pathetic little garden, so I just set up a circle of Sunset Valley SM45 (yes that is a thing) track when I want to see something move. I *could* re-gauge all my models. The locomotive merely wants the tender axles replacing, and of course the loco's own wheels are re-gaugeable. I even have some 32mm axles for the tender, for visiting (which I have never done anyway: I'm afraid to take it on an aeroplane.


Recently, I visited a 3-foot gauge railway in America. The tracks looked very small and I was surprised how delicate they looked compared to how my model loco looks sitting on its (in scale) even narrower tracks. But then I realized it's because the American locos are enormous. Of course the three foot gauge track looks "narrow". But "Billy" on the other hand, if she existed in real life, would be a very small engine, so on her 2'8" tracks look quite broad in comparison.


small British 16mm scale locomotive on 2'9" track
9E82D8BB-78D8-45B0-A30C-0F839C4AFC06.jpeg
9E82D8BB-78D8-45B0-A30C-0F839C4AFC06.jpeg (1.45 MiB) Viewed 3573 times
It's always bugged me, just a little. Harri at Roundhouse told me when bought the loco kits that 45mm was more common in Canada, and I'd find it easier to visit other lines. But here's the catch: there ARE no other lines anywhere near where I live, and in fact I don't even have a permanent line. So "visiting" has never happened. In fact I've visited more 32mm lines in England (without my engine though) than I have here.

If I were to start over, I would do 32mm. HOWEVER...

The "Sunset Valley" tracks I got from America are actually fairly delicate-looking, as in they use a very light-code aluminium rail and widely spaced sleepers. I think the Yanks use it to model three-foot gauge in 1:20 scale, or something. It's not as terrible-looking as LGB tracks for 16mm scale, anyway.


Big American 1:1 locomotive on 36" track
5AE40DBD-93A6-4465-ADE5-5DF6C0D63923.jpeg
5AE40DBD-93A6-4465-ADE5-5DF6C0D63923.jpeg (2.11 MiB) Viewed 3573 times
Also, out of all my rolling stock I am the most fond of my "Zecar" momentum wagon, and it is not regaugeable. My "Gladstone" coach could just get new bogies, and well I guess it would be pretty easy to do the rest of my IP engineering and Brandbright wagons with new wheels and axles.

I really ought to do it. I like 32mm better, because the 16mm scale locomotives are so small the 45mm track doesn't look very "narrow" no matter how hard you squint. But christ I just spent all that time building scale brake-rigging on many of my vehicles... I'd have to wipe it all out and start again. Maybe I will keep some of both, and when I get a permanent line I can build it in 32mm gauge and keep the old 45mm wagons in case I ever really do go "visiting".

Anyway it's a lot to think about, and I really only have two bogie carriages, one four-wheeler, a guards van, three open wagons and a box van with a zecar inside. I could convert it all in a week.

Decisions :(

User avatar
FWLR
Driver
Driver
Posts: 4325
Joined: Sat Aug 05, 2017 9:45 am
Location: Preston, Lancashire, UK

Re: Biting the bullet - wholesale conversion from 45mm to SM32

Post by FWLR » Sun Dec 17, 2023 8:45 am

Sell your 45mm gauge stuff to finance getting more 32mm from the UK, especially the track. You could get some Cliff Barker track. It's all made to order and fairly cheap and it looks brilliant.

https://www.cliffbarker.me.uk

You would then have what you like more and enjoy it more Keith.

Keep on enjoying our hobby, it's the best isn't it. :thumbright:

User avatar
Keith S
Driver
Driver
Posts: 1631
Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2011 11:44 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Biting the bullet - wholesale conversion from 45mm to SM32

Post by Keith S » Sun Dec 17, 2023 6:31 pm

You're right- I am at a fairly ideal point really as I'm building the odd model but running them very infrequently. All my models are from the U.K. other than the track, which is "Sunset Valley Railroad" in America. He does provide SM32 track, and is very affordable (especially for shipment to Canada) as he provides an option for aluminium rails which are about half the price of brass or stainless. The only drawback, well I suppose there are two drawbacks to aluminium, one is that they will not turn brown the way brass ones do, and also I have noticed that the aluminium oxide mixes gleefully with used steam oil to make a greasy black residue that gets all over my hands. Realistic for a steam railway I suppose.

I'm definitely looking seriously at converting to 32mm while I still have relatively few models. I can get replacement wheelsets from IP engineering.... actually come to think of it, IP engineering 45mm wheelsets are insulated and therefore regaugeable. I may not have to order anything!

User avatar
Old Man Aaron
Trainee Driver
Trainee Driver
Posts: 826
Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2016 11:08 am
Location: Sunshine Coast QLD, Australia

Re: Biting the bullet - wholesale conversion from 45mm to SM32

Post by Old Man Aaron » Tue Dec 19, 2023 12:18 am

Never an easy question, weather to convert or not. I had the same thought process as you. For what it's worth, I'd do it.
There are very few garden lines (of any gauge) in Aust, let alone under 2hrs away, making visits a very rare prospect.

Brake rigging certainly makes things fiddly. I found when converting the cane trucks, that if I break the fussy jobs into individual tasks, (dismantle this, scrape off glue, shorten those bits, glue back together, repaint) has things falling back together before I know it. You're in a good position to do it, and buyers can be found for the 45mm track.

Keeping some of both is a good idea. I still have four wagons and one (running) loco at 45mm that (for the moment) allow the option of visiting 45mm lines.

I looked at Sunset Valley 32mm track, but for the US shipping cost, I'll be ordering a pile of Cliff Barker's stuff instead - hopefully sometime next year. Just a matter of getting the funds together.. I quite like his extra long point timbers, to which a throw lever can be attached like the prototype - Extending Peco point timbers is neither amusing nor particularly robust.


On the conversions progress front, the Fowler you may have seen elsewhere on the forum is also now on 32mm.
I plan on selling the Yellow Baguley from the beginning of this thread, to fund a RH diesel chassis, to better suit a scratchbuilt body I'd like to do..
Image
Last edited by Old Man Aaron on Fri Jan 12, 2024 2:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
Regards,
Aaron - Scum Class Works

User avatar
Keith S
Driver
Driver
Posts: 1631
Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2011 11:44 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Biting the bullet - wholesale conversion from 45mm to SM32

Post by Keith S » Tue Dec 19, 2023 4:55 am

As always Aaron I appreciate your opinion. i am still on the fence about converting, because it has occurred to me that I wouldn't care what gauge my train run on if it wasn't for the profusion of UK 32mm lines and people who talk about "The One True Gauge" which, although silly, still has an influence on my thinking. I am more likely to visit a garden railway in the UK than I am in Canada, however having said that the only time I have actually visited someone's garden railway in the UK, he was using 45mm track, as he was modelling a 2'6" railway in real life. And there's the issue of bringing my models on a plane, which I don't feel is wise.

I just can't decide. I am inclined to do the conversion, but since I only have one locomotive at the minute, and no railways to visit, I can afford to waffle and moan about it for a long time.

The Sunset Valley Railroad track uses flat-bottomed rail while the Cliff Barker rail is bullhead. If that makes a difference to you, and you would like to try S.V.R. track from America, I will extend the same offer to you as you did to me with the loco details, and I will order it and send it to you.

User avatar
Old Man Aaron
Trainee Driver
Trainee Driver
Posts: 826
Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2016 11:08 am
Location: Sunshine Coast QLD, Australia

Re: Biting the bullet - wholesale conversion from 45mm to SM32

Post by Old Man Aaron » Wed Dec 20, 2023 5:25 am

I hope I'm not coming off as pushy, one way or the other - just thinking out loud. :)

And that's very kind of you to offer! My first layout used SV rail, bought through an Australian dealer - nailed to home-cut wooden sleepers. I still have a few lengths, which will need plastic sleepers to reuse, so I'll keep you in mind. The bullhead shape of Peco/Barker isn't as realistic as flat-bottom for what I'm doing, but when all is painted I won't notice.
Regards,
Aaron - Scum Class Works

User avatar
Keith S
Driver
Driver
Posts: 1631
Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2011 11:44 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Biting the bullet - wholesale conversion from 45mm to SM32

Post by Keith S » Wed Dec 20, 2023 6:32 am

No, not pushy at all. I think I would like to convert to 32mm. I'm just concerned about damaging my models. One or two of them will be difficult to convert, and they are my favourite ones!

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest