Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Are we making progress everywhere?

Many aspects of diesel and electric modelling seem to have come on in leaps and bounds over the last two or three years. Just look at the Hornby Class 60 for example. Despite the odd hiccup here and there, now is a pretty good time for the D&E modeller.

One area which is always discussed by finescale modellers is that of wheels. Obviously if you model in P4 like I do, then new wheels are a necessity for any converted diesel. However, even if the model remains 00 then new wheels can drastically improve the appearance - remember the first time you fitted, or saw, a Lima loco with Ultrascale wheels? If you do, you will know just what I mean! I mentioned this when discussing the options for my Class 24.

On the whole Bachmann provide decent wheels for their steam locomotives, however I'm never convinced by the wheels used on their diesels, the Class 08/09 excepted. They have a strange dished profile which spoils the appearance of models I find. In their favour, they are truly concentric and ensure pretty good quality running.

Wheelsets compared - left to right, Ultrascale drop-in replacement, Bachmann and Lima.
The above photo shows how much better proper 'scale' wheels can look - left, Ultrascale. I say 'scale' as they aren't to scale as they are an EM profile which allows a slightly wider tyre width than scale as well as a more generous flange, but the look is still very good. On the right is an old set of Lima wheels, with their deep, pizza-cutter flange and wide tyre. They don't look pretty at all! Bachmann's wheels, from their class 37 in this case, are in the middle. I didn't think they're much of an improvement over the Lima wheels. being painted makes them less offensive to the eye but otherwise, I'm not sure. It's the 'dishedness' which really puts me off. I can't help thinking that, with decent prototypical wheels for their steam locomotives that they've missed a trick here. You only have to look at the wheels which come as standard with Heljan's Western to see what's possible and how much better locos look for it.

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