In the run up to the SWING show I had Thakeham set up for a practice. I had forgotten how fiddly it was to load the wagons without derailing them! The magnetic stick works fine, but to get the load into the skip and off the magnet requires a steady hand and a careful twist of the stick. Then I had a cunning plan...
It's a simple sheet of black plasticard set carefully to just clear the back edge of the skip wagons, which stops them being pushed or tipped off the rails. Since the wagons are always propelled under the hopper there's no issue of clearance for other stock. However it does make the process of loading them much easier: the magnetic stick is used to push the load down into the sip, then slid forwards, as the wagon is held by the plastic the load is pulled from the magnet, and the stick can be lifted away.
Also while testing I was not happy with the way the O&K loco ran, it's always had a grinding noise when running in one direction and occasionally seemed to stick, so I stripped it down to apply drops of oil to the gears. The construction of the chassis means that without the body on the layshaft driving the rear axle (under the driver) is free to rise up. I wondered whether the body was not restraining it enough, so I folded a small strip of bass and superglued it into the recess in the top of the chassis so it holds the layshaft in place.
With the chassis now able to be tested without the body it ran smoothly, so I added the body, only to find it wouldn't then move at all! Slackening the bolts off allowed it to move, but the grinding noise was louder than ever, so it was clear the body was catching. There is a recess in the footplate to clear the worm gear seen above, using a burr in a mini-drill I deepened and widened it as shown. With the body refitted and the bolts done up tight the chassis ran without any grinding.
That said, it's still hardly a quiet chassis, none of my O14 locos are, due to the low gearing and metal bodies. The bigger wheels means it can do a reasonable speed without the motor screaming as the Lister (with similar gearing) does. But it does run reliably and slowly now, and spent Saturday alternating with the Hudson Hunslet running on Thakeham.