While the inability of my new Heljan L&B Manning Wardle to run through the PECO 12" radius pointwork of Awngate is a big disappointment, I did say I'd check it out on the newer 18" radius points. So I took it to the club last night and ran it on the new under-construction layout. It did manage to run smoothly through most of the points, but at a couple of them it derailed in the same way seen before - with the pony wheels lifting at the tip of the blades of a facing point.
I realised it seemed to occur taking the left-hand route (whether that was the curved or the straight route), so I looked again at the centring springs. Having tweaked them to reduce pressure in an attempt to help the loco negotiate 12" radius points (as advised by the instructions) the truck was not staying central. I've no tweaked them back to maintain just enough pressure to centralise the truck, ensuring pressure was equal each side. This helped a great deal.
I've also tested the loco on my also under-construction layout Hexworthy, which also has PECO 18" radius points. However despite the adjustments to the pony truck, it would still derail on three of the four points, depending which way they were switched. Eventually I could see no option but to take a file to the points...
The modifications used a small file, and only took a few seconds:
- At "A" the inside of the blade was stroked with the file to sharpen the tip, taking care not to affect the top edge
- The recess of the fixed stock rail was also stroked with a file at "B"
The idea is to reduce the amount the blade protrudes from the fixed rail so the flange of the pony wheels cannot ride up on the tip. This, frankly, should not be necessary for any RTR loco, but it does work, and now I can run the loco through all the points. This trick may well work on the 12" points used on Awgate too, but I don't really plan to use the loco on that layout.
That's not quite all the issues though. The couplings point upward, and are far too high to couple to stock, including the PECO coaches.
The club layout has 12" curves and gradients. The loco did manage the curves, which is a relief, but at some points it stopped with it's wheels spinning. These appeared to be at transitions in gradient, or to the super-elevated curves. Some of these track sections probably need adjusting, but it is clear that the loco needs more vertical movement in the pony trucks, which is currently restricted by the coupling extensions meeting the buffer beams or cowcatcher.
So we are getting there, but we're not quite there yet.