review and essay by Jerry Reshew
1/32, No. 1 Gauge (45 mm)
O.B.: 457 mm (18 inches)
252 mm (10 inches) + Tender 195 mm (8 inches)
74 mm (3 inches)
125 mm (5 inches)
Wheels: 63 mm
Wheels: 34 mm
Wheels: 34 mm
2.6 kg (5 3/4 lbs)
1.7 kg (3 3/4 lbs) + Tender 0.9 kg (2 lbs)
Driven Pump: Pump Rum 5 mm x
Stroke 5 mm, Mounted on Trailing Driver
Two Cylinders with D-Slide Valve
10 mm x Stroke 20 mm
Gears: Slip Eccentric Valve
Travel 4 mm, Cut-Off 75%
Type: C-Type with five fire
tubes (Dia. 8 mm)
Capacity: 80 cc at 70% full
Pressure: 3 - 4 kg/cm
/ Fuel: Two Wick Tube Alcohol
Water Tank: Capacity 160 cc,
Tank: Capacity 65 cc.
Radius: 1 meter (Dia. 2 meters)
The locomotive which ASTER
selected as their 1999 offering is an example of the London and Northwestern
Railways Improved Precedent Class 2-4-0, lovingly referred to as the Jumbo in
all of the British literature. This
class was the premier passenger design of the period, being powerful and
dependable in short haul operation. One
hundred sixty six of these locomotives were erected at the Crewe works in the
late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The example, which we are modeling, HARDWICKE, having been introduced on
the line in 1876.
HARDWICKE represents the
most elegant departure from the very colorful locomotives of the period in that
it is finished in the traditional LNWR “blackberry black”, a deep, almost
liquid appearing finish.
The lines of the class were
truly elegant in the best Victorian tradition and many writers suggest that
there is an element of Grecian classicism in the design.
The model was designed using the drawings of the original locomotive, and
British enthusiasts Andrew Pullen, Ted Leech and Barry Applegate measured
HARDWICKE at the York Railway Museum against the drawings.
The result is an exceptional model, which is an excellent runner and
exquisite work of art.
HARDWICKE is one of three
Aster Jumbo’s available; NOVELTY (a red and black model) and SNOWDEN (an all
black model) being the others.
The kit arrives packaged in
a cleverly arranged cardboard carton with a pebble grained high quality finish
and separate interior boxes for component parts. The first impression is that if the locomotive lives up to
the level of the packaging you certainly have purchased a winner.
And you have!
It is more important that
the kit be reviewed against the instructions manual (a 38 page large format
booklet) and the building diagrams (12 pages).
I found that the building of the kit is the fun part of owning a
locomotive and that the slow and steady approach is the way to maximize the
enjoyment of the investment that you have made.
In this kit you will have to pay particular attention to the instructions
and cross reference them to the diagrams, while holding the part referred to and
thinking about how it all goes together. I’ll
work along with you as we go through the elements of assembly and you can avoid
some of the pitfalls, which might arise.
The instructions are really
not as clear as they should be, and they are downright wrong in some parts, but
the assembly plans will help you over the hurdles. Be assured that the result will be worth the effort and the
cussing which you are prone to do at what might seem a diabolical scheme to
drive you over the edge is part of the fun.
The kit provides you with a
basic set of tools, but you’ll need some other things to make construction
easier. As set of miniature
screwdrivers, a fine point tweezer, and a pronged pickup tool are essential, and
you’ll also need an artist brush.
The kit supplies the wheels
for both the locomotive and tender with stainless steel rims and hubs.
The model will be immeasurably enhanced if the wheels are painted black
to the tread, and the hubs need this treatment as well.
The tender buffer beam also should get this repaint.
The photo of HARDWICKE on the cover of the Assembly Illustrations shows
the locomotive, as it should appear. While
the kit contains a tin of lacquer which can be used for this painting, I decided
that lacquer is a bit tricky and that I’d go with enamel. If you take care of this wheel painting at the onset,
they’ll be waiting for you and ready to go you when reach the step in the sequence
in which they are called for.
I used Floquil™ Zinc
Chromate Primer #110601 first, and then applied Floquil™ Boottopping A/N 514.
It’s a perfect match and your brush can be cleaned with mineral
spirits. Save the lacquer for
touching up scratches.
Aster includes a tube of
caulking with the kit and I think that it is OK, but I prefer to use 3M™ Marine
Grade Mildew Resistant Silicone Caulking where sealants are called for.
It just seems to be a smoother and easier to control adhesive.
The instructions call for
use of Loctite™ 222 on all screws. You’ll
also need a to get a tube of Loctite™ 271 (or equivalent) and a tube of
petroleum jelly (or lithium grease). Read,
and then reread the first couple of pages in the instructions so that you’ll
feel comfortable with the project.
THE CYLINDER BLOCK
Here’s where you get your
first scare! The first thing that
you are asked to do (in Section 1) is to identify the block and point the 3
holes to the front and 2 holes to the rear.
They meant to say that the 3 holes are on the right and the 2 holes are
on the left. I’m sure that the
engineers who wrote this just wanted to see you are paying attention.
Follow the instructions from here on, but I found that it’s a good idea
not to interchange the pistons in the cylinders.
Lay the pistons aside in such a way that they will go back into the
cylinders that held them when you opened the package.
Polished slides and valve
seats are the key to smooth running, so pay particular attention to his part of
the construction process. It’s
kind of simple-minded fun, but the finished pieces should be mirror like.
The instructions are
straight forward, but you should pay particular attention to the piston rings
– be sure do this step with delicacy so as not to damage the rings.
A bit of petroleum jelly applied to the rings before slipping them over
the piston will protect them.
I found that the slide bars
(part 2-5) were a poor fit and required a bit of filing to get a smooth sliding
fit on the crossheads. When
you’ve finished with the cylinder block, you have actually completed the
operating part of your locomotive and now you feel that the rest should be easy
– it is!
MOUNTING THE BLOCK IN THE FRAME
The block is supposed to be
a slide fit between the frame, but I used a plastic faced hammer to get it in
place. The alternative would be to
file away some of the block (or the frame) but this didn’t seem like the way to
The lubricator assembly is
the step which might set you to thinking!
The pressure fit of the oil pipe into the block is something I don’t
like. The integrity of the
installation depends on tightening the assembly into the block using nuts
pressing on a frame plate. The
silicone O-ring (PS-2) should have a dollop of petroleum jelly applied to
protect it during the installation. The
lubricator will fit in the frame but it will need some urging and pipe bending,
with a few small taps of the plastic hammer thrown in.
I consulted with Andrew Pullen about this arrangement and he informed me
that he modified the lubricator by silver soldering the oil pipe into the block.
This undoubtedly gives a secure connection, but I think that you can get
a workable unit by being careful not to damage the small O-ring when you
assemble the locomotive.
INSTALLING THE WHEELS
The locking arms (par 3-17)
must fit smoothly and snugly between the ends of the valve rods.
I filed these parts until the fit was loose enough to work, but not
enough to be sloppy. The
instructions are clear and you should have no trouble with the wheels if you
refer to the drawings as you go.
The eccentric on the rear
drivers was out of position when it was time to install the Scotch crank assembly,
but this was easily corrected by loosening the grub screw and sliding it into
The O-ring on the feed ram
is quite delicate, so application of the petroleum jelly will help in keeping
Installing the buffer will
finally put your locomotive on wheels and prepare the way for the setting of the
valves. Before attempting this
step, roll the locomotive back and forth a few times to make sure that all is
operating smoothly and that there are no squeaks – all moving parts should have
been oiled during the assembly process, but if you missed a few spots you can
correct that oversight at this time. It
is also critical that you remembered to Loctite™ the small pins which connect
the wheel eccentrics to the block assembly (Parts 3-26 &27).
I forgot to do this and had to take the locomotive apart after a couple
Timing of the valve
sequence in this locomotive is not complex and the instructions and diagrams are
excellent. The photographs, which
are included, are virtually useless, but the key element is the sparing use of
sealant so as not to gum up the moving parts.
Apply a touch of Loctite™ to the P1 grub screws before you seal up the
valve chest, but make sure that the valves open equally in forward and reverse
before the cover is fastened in place. You
now get the chance to try your work on air pressure, it will run!
Follow the instructions as to setting up the air test, and be sure not to
run the engine for more than a few seconds since there is no lubrication of the
pistons and valves at this time.
Any source of low-pressure
air can be used, but a simple method is to obtain a portable air tank at your
hardware store and fill it at a service station air pump.
The tank will give you enough air to do all the testing that you will
require. If the engine doesn’t
perform smoothly, this is the time to make adjustments to the valve setting.
It is a prudent procedure
to review the steps, which have been finished to make certain that all screws
are secure, the wheels sit flat on a smooth surface, etc. Corrections to errors are easy as this point, but become much
more involved once the boiler is in place.
H3 AND THE MYSTERY SCREWS
By now you have noticed a
screw in the side of the block that has no apparent purpose (Part 1-17).
I haven’t the foggiest idea either.
The locomotive as it now sits has a number of the ubiquitous H3 hex
headed bolts which fit the threads they mate to, but the nut driver provided in
the kit doesn’t quite fit the head. I
went back to the old Aster red handled driver, and then tried a commercial
driver with the same lack of luck – Aster has obviously found a vendor to
produce these strange fasteners with an offbeat sized hex head.
If the application calls for an H3, which might need removal, and
refastening after the locomotive is complete, I recommend that you obtain a
quantity of the old H3’s from your Aster dealer and make a substitution.
One such place, which comes to mind, is the wick holder bracket.
The assembly and
installation of the axle pump box is as described, and the only fitting which is
required is the filing out of the bypass handle to fit the stub of the valve.
There is a fair amount of sealant being slathered about in this assembly, so you
have to make sure that none of it gets in the wrong places. The pilot truck is
almost intuitive in its ease of installation.
The boiler is the most
important part of a steam locomotive. No
part of this phase of construction is any less important that any other part,
and some care should be taken to insure the integrity of the whole.
The instructions are quite decent at this juncture and the illustrations
are excellent. With the successful air test of the engine, you will have the
self-confident to tackle the job – just don’t rush it.
One word of caution: the
blower and regular valves can freeze in the closed position if you forget to
open them at the end of a run. If
you try and unscrew these valves while they are frozen, the tubes (Part 5-6)
will be loosened and will come out of the backhead.
If you use the red Loctite™ around the packing (Part 5-18) it will help
keep the tubes in place.
When you put the boiler
bands in place, it will help you later on if you cement the N6 nuts to the band
so that you can tighten the bands later on with the boiler in place on the
frame. The application of a bit of
petroleum jelly to the B3 screws and then putting the screws in place will keep
the cement from sticking the screw to the nut.
The regulator and blower
handles will have to be filed to fit. Be
sure and apply a good smear of jelly to all of the O-rings during the assembly
of the boiler, particularly those small silicone ones on the regulator and
blower steams (Part 5-PS2).
While the smoke box is a
separate section in the instructions, it should be treated as part of the
boiler. The design of the
locomotive is somewhat less than optimum when it comes to this part of the
assembly. There will be space
between the smoke box and the boiler jacket if the instructions are followed
without some modification. I took a
small piece of the ceramic sheet and built a collar at the inside rear of the
smoke box so that space was filled. The
sealant is used to hold this collar in place and it can be painted with the
gloss black when it dries. All air
spaces should be filled with sealant to insure a strong draft.
Mounting the boiler is a
simple process but you’ll have to do a bit of fiddling to get everything bent
and in place. All of the cosmetic
bits and pieces go on the locomotive at this time and you will really see it
spring into shape.
The side plates and fender
running plates were supposed to be some sort of self-stick, but they were bare
brass. I fastened everything in place
using GOOP adhesive. This is a good time to pressure test the system, and you
can do this quite easily by running a tube from your air tank to the pressure
gauge hole in the boiler. The
regulator should be able to control the speed of engine at this point – not
too long running on air, remember.
The burner in an alcohol-fueled locomotive is a critical partner in the success of the locomotive. It appears to be simplicity in itself, but it is a subtle beast and you’ll have to get to know it to really understand its quirks. First, the diagram in the instruction book is wrong – our locomotive does not have three wick tubes. Other than this rather peculiar error, the information is correct.
If the conservative approach of following the manual yields a good
running locomotive, then you are through. If
not, you can experiment by reducing the number of wicks in each holder by one or
two. Most Jumbo owners have had
luck with this set up. If problems with the fire still exist, Andrew Pullen
suggests that you cut about 4 mm off each wick tube (concurrently shortening the
wicks by the same amount and adding a 6mm plastic tube to the feed tube in the
tank). I did this to my locomotive
and it really is a free runner. You’ll
have to build the tender before you can run the locomotive on steam, so let’s
get at it.
This is a very easy and
relaxing assembly. The tender sides
are attached to the base when shipped and you need to take these apart before
building the tender. They are no
tricky parts here, just be careful in keeping the sealant away from the pump
You have just completed the
locomotive, and what I recommend is that you polish away any fingerprints and
just look at it for a few days before steam testing it.
The beauty of the small scale steam hobby is one of many faces –
operating the locomotive is one of them, but just admiring the beautiful lines
and colors is another. The
Victorian elegance of the Jumbo is a step back in time and the model will be one
of your favorite possessions over the years.
THE STEAM TEST
The instructions for the
steaming of the locomotive are very clear, and there isn’t anything to add,
except that I feel you are better off putting about 50cc of distilled water in
the boiler and (partially) filling the alcohol tank about a third full for the initial test.
Be sure to fill the lubricator with steam oil!
After the test run you’ll be able to see if there are any steam leaks (probably none), and then you can run it a few times to break-in all of the moving parts. This is the time to experiment with the axle pump. The pump is extremely efficient and will fill the boiler in just a few minutes. My approach has been to just let the pump work against a partially shut valve so there is a dribble of water constantly being fed to the boiler.
you experiment you will find the optimum setting for the bypass.
The break-in-period should
be about two hours of intermittent running, and then you can put the Jumbo on the
track for some serious revenue earning runs.
This is a deceptively powerful locomotive and it will need a load to pull
if you want to hear the stack talk. I’ve
been running mine with a rake of five LNWR coaches built from Acme Engineering
There you have it.
The kit is a fine challenge for the beginning builder, and the result is
a lovely runner. Aster dealers will be a great help if you need a part of just
some advice during the building of your Jumbo.
If you want some hand holding, please feel free to contact me and I’ll
try to help you get going.
This article originally appeared in Issue No. 52 (Vol. 10. No. 4) of Steam in the Garden. Appreciation for permission to reproduce it on SouthernSteamTrains.com is expressed to Jerry Reshew, author; and to Ron Brown, Publisher / Editor of Steam in the Garden.