Category Archives: General

O14 Wheelpress

David John describes his wheelpress (originally published in 7mm NGA Narrow Lines):

One of the troubles with 014 (some would say the only trouble) is that all wheelsets need to be regauged. There are lots of tools to help you check you have got it right, vernier callipers, Black Dog produced a cast resin block back-to-back gauge, Roy Link/KB Scale produce a very nice etched brass standards gauge. Of even earlier vintage is my home brewed version, simply a piece of 1/16th brass filed to my 12.4mm back to back and then, carefully, bent at right angles to form an ‘L’ shape. All of these will confirm if you have got the spacing correct but do not make the process any easier.

Then along came Adrian Gray, who described his wheelpress. This was over 15 years ago and I cannot remember if this was in a conversation, by e-mail or in print. My press is based on Adrian’s description without me ever seeing it or any drawings or photographs; so it may be exactly the same as Adrian’s – or unrecognisably different. In any case, very many thanks to Adrian – it makes life so much easier!

As the photo shows the wheelpress is made up of three pieces, the two end pieces are essentially the same. Hopefully construction and use are clear from my photos; although the back of the wheel must have all flash cleaned off before pressing. The two fixed slide rods are tool steel, fixed to one end; my press has tell-tales to make sure it is always put together the same way. The middle piece is machined to exactly 12.4 mm (the back to back I use) and the slot is 3mm. If I was doing it again I would include a cross slot to clear gear wheels on driving axles, as per the Black Dog resin block (if I had a cutter big enough!). Apart from those two measurements everything else can be made up from what is to hand.

Each end piece has been drilled and tapped 4BA, this has to be adjusted every time I use a different axle length but, once set, it ensures that the wheels are pressed in the same distance at each side. Nowadays I put a very small drop of thin superglue against the back of the wheel to ensure that it does not move in the future.

The press is simple and quick to use; finger pressure is enough to regauge any wheelset. I usually use 26mm long axles, so have rarely to alter the position of the set screws, although Murphy’s law dictated that the wheelset I picked up for these photographs was on the shorter 24.5mm axle.

Thanks again Adrian.

Wheelpress 1 Wheelpress 2

Why choose O14?

While many of the contributors to this blog are experienced and talented modellers, I am taking on O14 from very much a beginner’s perspective. Having started out in OO9, using N scale mechanisms under body kits for prototypes of varying gauges, perhaps a more logical step up would have been to follow a similar process in O16.5. So why did I choose 14mm?

The larger scale makes building small industrial locos and stock a more practical proposition for me, but that could apply to any track gauge in 7mm scale. However the same small stock highlights the extra 2.5mm between the rails when you are aiming for a 2′ railway, either through the need for frame extensions or elongated proportions. So as I was moving to 7mm for greater detail and accuracy, and starting with a blank slate, I thought I might as well try O14.

All fine, except the next realisation was that 14mm implies hand-built track and hand-built loco mechanisms – another big step up from my OO9 world. Well, it can, but it doesn’t have to.

At the risk of sounding like a bit of an advert, I had the good fortune to meet David Janes shortly after he had taken over Roy C Link’s range of kits. Learning that the Ruston LBT came with a pretty much RTR mechanism, and the track system simply required rail to be spiked to correct gauge holes in the sleepers, I thought I didn’t have much to lose trying it out.

Reality has been slightly more convoluted. Plain track is fine, but I’m still tackling my first turnout. It took a few months to pluck up the courage to add the tiny feed wires and pick ups to the Ruston chassis, but the same process would have been much more daunting in 4mm.

I am still in two minds over whether 7mm will become my “main” scale, but my experience with O14 so far has inspired me to try and stick to the right gauge for the prototype – whatever that might be. Hopefully I can continue to provide useful updates here as I get to grips with it all one step at a time.

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