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Project: Chris vs Dapol Manor

PostPosted: Sat Dec 26, 2015 3:24 am
by cjbarnes5294
I thought I would start a new thread, and have a go at blogging my progress as I go along, accompanied by some crap quality photos. Before I embarked on this little task, I couldn't find any photos or literature on how to safely uncouple a Dapol Manor from it's tender, so maybe this thread will be helpful to next person who has a similar issue and is left wondering, "how the f.. can I do this without damaging it beyond repair and essentially chucking the best part of £100 down the drain?"

First things first, let me introduce you to the problem I have that needs rectifying: as I have said previously in the projects thread, my Anthony Manor is an extremely noisy runner to the point that it just becomes cringeworthy unless I'm pretended to run a heritage railway train at a sedate speed. Another issue is it frequently stalls on uneven track and points, and on further inspection, one of the wires connecting the loco pickups to the tender had broken at the loco end, so only the very rigid 6-wheel tender is picking up power. Now, I could have taken it back to the shop and... I don't know why I didn't, to be honest (probably didn't want the hassle at the time). :shock: Instead, I have made it my mission to investigate the noise problem and repair the wire myself.


Now, before I attempted any of this, I needed to build up some personal modelling confidence - I've always been a "player" of model railways and never a proper modeller that gets down and dirty with a paintbrush or a kit or even just stripping an expensive model down for heavy maintenance. I did this back in September when I started painting my very first Hornby Flying Scotsman, with a horrid ringfield tender drive, which I'll probably continue next week. I also completely dismantled the locomotive chassis to remove the wheel sets and unseize it, as the supposedly free running wheels had jammed. After a lot of swearing at the brass axle boxes, I finally managed to do it all in an evening and the chassis now rolls sweetly, even though the model will never run again on a layout. I was a bit, no, a lot cack-handed with it and probably would have done some damage had it been a super detailed model, but it gave me the confidence I needed to just get on with it and not be afraid to be a little bit forceful, especially where pressure clip-fits are concerned, otherwise it will just defeat you.

Now it's the little Manor's turn. :twisted: I have no intention of dismantling anything on the manor, but in order to investigate the running noise problem and get enough room to solder the end ring back on the end of the wire, I needed to completely uncouple the permanent connection between the loco and tender. For those that are unaware, the loco and tender are coupled by 4 independent connections: the main drawbar, screwed at each end to each vehicle, the two wires (or one if you've got a broken one!), which also are screwed at both ends at either side of the drawbar, and finally that retched carden shaft from the tender motor to the locomotive gearbox.


Unscrewing the drawbar and wires at one end was the easiest bit, although make sure you have a) a small enough screwdriver, preferably star point, that will properly grab the screw head (I nearly wore one screw out by not realising that I was just turning a slightly larger screwdriver over the surface). B) make sure you have enough light - I find 00 scale fiddly enough at the best of times, but N gauge is on another level, especially if like me you have fairly crappy hand-eye coordination and the tip of your screwdriver doesn't always go quite where you were aiming. :?

The carden shaft was the more corcerning bit to me, being as it looks quite delicate and if you break it, you're screwed and will have to source some spares or delegate your model to permanent static display. As it turns out, it was quite easy to part. Being so small and painted black, it's hard to see how exactly the carden shaft is constructed, so I will describe it in detail.

The carden shaft is composed of three components. There are two plastic 'cups' with two splits down the centre line on opposite sides, and one of these is pressed onto the end of the tender motor's drive shaft, whilst the other is similarly pressed onto the gearbox shaft in the locomotive cab.



These two cups are united by a single piece capital "I" shaped rod. The ends are little balls that can slide freely inside the cups, and on opposite sides of each ball are two little lugs that slide in the two splits of the cups, so that rotating one cup will rotate the rod by pushing against the lugs, and the second cup will rotate as the lugs at the other end push against the sides of the splits.



Thanks to the ball ends and the free sliding movement, the carden shaft is fairly flexible and in my experience, durable.

After uncoupling the drawbar and wires, I carefully pulled the loco and tender apart until I felt a stop when the carden shaft was fully extended. To stop the connecting rod from sliding out of either cup by accident, the split in the cup narrows slightly to catch the lugs. I didn't really want to force the thing apart so after confirming the setup and having a good look around it, I figured I could gently push the split of the tender cup open by inserting a narrow screwdriver through the two splits and levering. After a few attempts, I found that pressing against the end ball gently with the screwdriver in the cup was enough to give a satisfying pop and disconnect them.

Getting straight down to business, I supplied power to the track with the tender on and tested the motor. Somewhat to my relief, the noise wasn't coming from the inaccessible gearbox in the loco, so I don't need to worry about the loco at all. The tender motor is horrendously noisy though, and unsurprisingly, it's very unbalanced at high RPMs. Watching the carden shaft cup at slow speed shows that it doesn't sit square and wobbles slightly, but the motor shaft is dead straight. I could try pulling the cup off and pushing it back on again in an attempt to try and straighten it, but considering how far the drive shaft penetrates ( :oops: ) the cup and how tightly it's fitted, I think it would make no difference and could risk damaging the tender unnecessarily.

The problem with the unbalanced centripetal forces is that it is causing the very lightweight tender to vibrate on the track. The wheels are rigid as anything and there is absolutely no give, so you get the whole tender propelling itself along the test track by the vibration alone, a bit like if your phone vibrates on a wooden surface and goes skating off. Obviously once the tender is decoupled to the heavy loco, it won't be going anywhere on its own, but it gives you an idea of just how bad the vibration is.

In theory, the solution would be to weigh the tender down, and indeed pressing down on the coal load did seem to reduce the noise a bit, although the motor whine was still ear piercing. The problem with weighing it down is that I can see absolutely nowhere on the little Churchward 3500 gal tender to add any weight. :(

As the tender is currently uncoupled, I could now properly inspect the wiring situation. The two wires are not insulated, which means no wire stripping required thankfully as they're damn narrow in diameter. I did discover the probable reason for why the wire snapped in the first place as well. Half of the broken wire had been trapped under the tender body, which meant that there was very little available movement at that side of the loco-tender coupling, and of course the body wasn't quite sitting on the chassis properly. Just a very careful squeeze and the body lifted up at the front, so I could pull the trapped wire out and sit the body squarely down on the chassis. Doubling the length of available wire will not only reduce the chance of having to do all this and repair wires again in the future, it will make life easier when I come to try and solder the ring back on the end tomorrow.


So that wasn't bad at all, and in my opinion it was a much better way of spending my evening than watching Downton Abbey. Next comes the challenge of using a soldering iron for the first time since I was probably 12, and then coupling everything back up again. :D

Kind regards,

Re: Project: Chris vs Dapol Manor

PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2015 3:51 pm
by cjbarnes5294
A short update:

I was hoping to have the Manor back in one piece by now, but a combination of family outings, not being able to find the solder anywhere, and Just Cause 3, means that the loco and tender are still separate. We definitely do have some solder somewhere, it's just a matter of finding it (or just resorting to buying a new tube of it...)!

As an aside, I decided to take the tender body off the chassis to A) find out if the body made any difference to the vibration and B) have a look in general and see if there would be any room to add a bit of weight or a thin layer of foam to cushion and dampen the vibration a little. As I suspected, it's not very roomy at all. There is a DCC PCB behind the motor with what I assume is a blanking plug, which if removed could provide a bit of room behind the motor to squidge some ballast into the tender. However, I think I found a better solution: I found that if I lay the track on some soft clothing, motor and vibration noise significantly improved because I guess the underlying clothing was absorbing the vibration between the wheel surface and the railhead, so when I come to building a layout in the future, I will need to ensure that there is adequate sound insulation under the track.

Whilst I wait for the solder to be found/bought, I might have a look and see how much the carden shaft cup is throwing the motor off kilter and hence contributing to the vibration by removing the cup from the motor shaft. As I said in the previous post, I'm not really sure what good it will do as I'm not confident that I could improve the fit, and I could well make it worse. :( We'll have to see, maybe I'll take the risk. :twisted:

Kind regards,

Re: Project: Chris vs Dapol Manor

PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2015 7:59 pm
by Crumplezone
Heya Chris,

Sounds like your manor was abit of a duff from china with the wire being trapped under the tender, that really is a assembling error and really shouldn't be on to be honest.

If the noise from the motor is vibration and its because its to late you could try removing the coal load from the tender and creating a smiliar shape to a HAA wagon, e.g. \__/ to the size of the coal area out of plasticard and put some Deluxe Materials BD-38 Liquid Gravity in it. The name is abit miss leading as its not a a liquid but heavy metal pellets which are non toxic but give alot of weight per pellet. Someone tried putting some in a dapol pannier to deal with its light pickups which some have experience and it added about 38 grams of weight to the loco and made it alot better.

I can't recall if you said the manor was new or 2nd hand, but in the dapol detail pack there should be replacement tender wires with other detail parts including doors etc. They are thin so they might be hidden under the detail parts, believe me took awhile to find them in my A4 and A3 detail packs.

When I struggling with my bodged hands while running in the a4 and a3 locos their tenders ain't especially heavy either so I suspect it could be weight issue in general which is a cause for noiser motor running with dapol steam locos. Its odd as the westerns are pretty hefty but still have the 5pole super creep motors in them.

Worse comes to worse you can always send it over to dccsupplies who does the gurantee repair stuff for Dapol, they might be able to sort it out and you don't have to pay for repairs/fixes to 2nd year of gurantee.

If you do decide to go with the liquid gravity, make sure you fully seal the plasticard edges, some people have reported that some glues which were used with it ended up melting the whole thing, who knows what they used but they complained about the whole thing turning to liquid and going over the motor etc. Otherwise it should do find for adding abit of weight, and wouldn't hurt the loco anyway since they are alittle lighter compared to the farish ones, its why the put traction wheels on the drive wheels.

Another thing to note is it would be worth taking off the keeper plate under the loco section which is just under the brake assembly which you will need to gentle pop out of its holes and check the gears are oiled up. If its like my A3 which had been in stock awhile all the travel grease was gone (which alot of people recommend to remove anyway, dapol puts the thick grease in to hold the gears in place while on the slowboat from china) and the gears were pretty dry so I lubed that all up with the guagemaster precision oiler. It certainly got rid of abit of bunny hopping on the A3 after abit of burst of higher speed to get the gears coated fully.

I probably will need to do the same with the A4 pacific since that was abit grindy and had abit of a knocking at one point in the loco section.

I would try the weight method before anymore drastic anyway.


Re: Project: Chris vs Dapol Manor

PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 12:24 am
by cjbarnes5294
After a month's break, my manor is back in one piece and running better than ever!

Reassembly was possibly the most stressful model railway task I've ever undertaken, and despite this thread's purpose of being a blog for other modellers with a similar lack of experience to refer to and be able to confidently work on the manor whilst knowing what to expect, I'm not sure I would recommend doing this unless you have no other options. If it's an assembly error and still within warranty, take it back to shop and don't potentially void the warranty by attempting to disassemble the model and then regretting it afterwards. Uncoupling the loco and tender was the easy part of the job, but the actual repair and reassembly was a bit blood boiling in my experience.

Having read Daniel's post above, I looked in the bag o' bits and lo and behold, two spare wires ready to replace any broken ones, excellent. The cynic in me reckons that the spare wires were provided because the designers knew that the design was fiddly and delicate, and that the chances of at least one wire of breaking was quite high. Anyhow, no soldering iron or solder required this time, the old parts being shoved in the bag for spares in future and the new wires carefully taken out.

To be completely blunt, these delicate, fragile but totally necessary wires are utter bastards to work with. They will bend into shape under persuasion, which is good, but they are extremely "springy" and the ends with the rings soldered on love to do their own thing and be uncooperative - particularly infuriating when you manage to get a screw in the ring, move the screw plus wire towards the hole with the screwdriver, and then the screw or wire slips off the screwdriver and catapults the screw out from the ring. Whilst there are a couple of spare screws provided, I luckily managed not to lose the originals!

I started by screwing the new wires to the tender first, which as explained in the previous paragraph was quite challenging. I found it easiest to put the screw into the ring of the wire using a magnetic screwdriver, then try and keep the screw head on point as you move the entire wire, screw and screwdriver towards the target hole, before hitting home and screwing in. This might take a fair few attempts for each wire, and be careful when tightening the screws as they tend to rotate the ring and wire with them, so just put an obstacle like a finger in the way of the wire whilst carefully tightening up.

Having got the new wires on the tender, it was now time to couple up all four connections between the loco and tender. I tried a few different approaches to this, coupling the different connections up in different orders to try and find the easiest way of getting the other ends of the wires screwed to the loco. In the end, it was easiest to connect the two wires up first (where you have the most room despite loco and tender being two free pieces difficult to keep upside down), then reconnect the carden shaft, and finally screw the drawbar back on.

Screwing the wires back onto the loco was the most challenging part of the entire operation, as you don't have a lot of wiggle room around the frames under the cab and you have to thread the screw through a brass leaf strip before screwing it in place. I spent a good couple of hours over two different attempts trying to get these in, one of which I eventually got in by using a non-magnetic screwdriver to stop the screw from slipping and sticking to side of the screwdriver and generally going out of control. The second one required two people in the end, with one using a very thin screwdriver to hold one of those aforementioned brass strips down against the hole whilst the other person used a set of tweezers to manipulate the wire and another screwdriver - it took me and my dad many attempts but eventually teamwork prevailed and we got it in.

To recouple the carden shaft, make sure the lugs at the uncoupled end of the centre piece are inline with the slots of the loco/tender cup, depending on which vehicle holds the centre connecting piece and which is empty. Just push it firmly but carefully and it should just pop back in no problem. Lastly, screw the drawbar back to the loco and finish the job - I don't think I have any tips for this basic task but I will say that it's positively easy after you've managed to get the wires screwed back! Check that the new wires a) don't touch, they're not insulated and if they touch they will short circuit the model, and b) won't foul the track and catch on the check rails and diverting rails of points.

Give it a test and fingers crossed the model will run. My loco runs much more consistently now, with no stalling on the points and on any uneven track, now that the loco is also providing pickup to the motor in the tender as well as the tender wheels. Breathe a big sigh of relief and go and get yourself a drink to celebrate whilst enjoying the sight of your fixed loco running around in mesmerising circles.



As for weighing down the tender to reduce tender vibration over the rails, I might look into adding some weight like liquid gravity in the future, but at the moment I'm content with the loco and don't feel I can face messing about with it again if I can help it. This project ultimately hasn't fixed the noise problem but given that the track is now insulated and the loco is such an incredibly smooth runner now, I'm not too fussed - a scale 40mph is fine now. If any weight was to be added, it would be at the back of the tender above the DCC blanking plate and it would be non-destructive, as I don't trust myself to take a craft knife to an expensive model and potentially break it beyond repair. :lol:

Thanks for reading, I hope the thread has been of some interest and benefit to you,