First NEM Coupler Conversions

My Dapol 28XX 2-4-0 engine came factory-equipped with NEM magnetic knuckle couplers, but my trusty old Graham Farish 0-6-0 was unfortunately only equipped with bulky and unsightly Rapido couplers, as were my Dapol Collett coaches. Rapido couplers are not compatible with NEM couplers, and they don’t have a metal flange so aren’t triggered by the magnets on my layout.

I finally decided to change that. I have been holding onto a Dapol NEM conversion kit for many months. I’ve been a bit intimidated, to be honest, having read the instructions about a dozen times. But tonight I resolved to equip my Collett coaches with NEM couplers (I will wait to convert the 0-6-0 until I am a bit more experienced).

It really wasn’t all that bad. I removed the trucks from the coaches to make it easier. Then I used some clippers to remove the Rapido coupler box (well, most of it; it is molded into the trucks so a bit of the Rapido pocket remains). I filed the cut ends flush with a jeweler’s file, then super-glued the NEM box in place. I added the “inner pocket” (which enables some lateral movement) and then snapped in a NEM short-shank coupler.

I wanted to take some photos of the process, but it was almost impossible due to the small size of the pieces and poor lighting. I took a few “after” photos using my flash, which was the best I can do. In the first photo, you can see the jig on the rails which helps gauge the height of the couplers and also holds them in place while they are being glued to the trucks:

Adding the Panels

I started attaching the backscene panels this morning. Here’s the first panel being clamped:

The process has been fairly straightforward, except the baseboard wasn’t perfectly square, causing a slight lean. It is imperceptible to the casual observer, but caused a bit of an issue when connecting the left side panel. I broke up some small bits of wood, stuffed the gap with a few splinters, and applied copious amounts of wood glue. It is currently being “clamped” with painters tape until the glue is set:

Once set, I will use some plastic wood filler to smooth it out. Otherwise, the whole thing is coming together nicely.

Backscene Panels

My local lumber distributor was having issues with their cutting machine, so I was left to my own devices when cutting panels for the backscene and fascia. I’m using 1/4″ birch plywood.

Here’s a sketch I made of what it should look like when assembled:

Without a professional cutting tool, and having wanted one for a long time, I bought a circular saw and cut my own panels. Here they are, ready to be attached:

I have a few more things to get before I attach these, though. Most importantly, I need to see what my options for tape are. I was planning on using drywall tape or something similar to hide and reinforce the joints and keep the exposed edges from splintering and peeling. I would then “mud” the tape and any gaps, and sand it all down before painting.

Preparing for the Backscene

Okay, now that summer is over and I’ve done enough of nothing, I’m gearing up for another round of LSR. Here are the loose plans:

  1. By the end of October, I’ll have the backscene and fascia completed. I have already purchased the “Hills and Dales” backscene from Model Scenery Supplies. With the height of the backscene in mind (it is 9″ tall) I can begin working on the fascia/backscene wall, even before the backscene prints arrive.
  2. Once the backscene is in place, I’ll complete at least one building per month. I have decided to use cardstock buildings, because it has become grossly apparent that I don’t really enjoy modelling with plastic. I’m fairly happy with the structures I’ve built so far, but the super-glues, solvents, and paints just aren’t for me. I end up becoming stressed when faced with various drying times. Instead, I have been collecting structures and textures from Scalescenes for the past few months and will begin editing them in Photoshop to suit LSR.
  3. When all buildings are done (there will be five major buildings) I’ll be able to finalize scenic elements such as soil, grass, shrubbery, and trees.