it came, it saw, it wet itself.

My MSS locomotive kit has arrived, and in typical obsessive style I’ve built it already, a build time of around four to five hours. It could have been less, but as I half expected given comments on the Internet there were a few quality control issues with the kit, which rather annoyingly means that as it is I won’t currently be able to get it properly running.

Let’s start with the cosmetic problems first. The handrails are little castings with a thread for the bolts cast in. On the handles I received the casting had shifted so that the threads didn’t line up, with the result that I couldn’t get a bolt on any of the handles. Annoying and noticeable but ultimately no big deal. Next, the combustion chamber, which wraps around the boiler, wasn’t quite big enough to fit around it, causing a few scratches as I was putting it together until I took part of the edges off with nail clippers.

Next, and this was definitely an anticipated problem, some of the holes were too small to fit the supplied bolts through, meaning I had to open out all these holes with a hand drill. Perhaps they ought to include a pot of touch-up paint? Also the bolts holding the spring onto the roof were too long which, had I not snipped off the excess, would have held the whistle open and prevented the boiler from raising any steam.

Finally, and most frustratingly, the front wheels were faulty in a very minor but functionally critical way. The centre bosses stuck out too far so that as the rod connecting the two axles together came round it would find the path blocked, preventing the wheels from fully turning. It’s such a tiny thing and it really shouldn’t have been able to happen.

Anyway, I emailed the people I got it from (Dream Steam if you’re wondering) and they were very good about it. They apologised profusely even though really it’s MSS’s fault, and they’re sending me some new wheels, upgraded cab handles of their own design, and some steam oil. Now that’s service.

I did get her going front-wheel drive only, just to check there was nothing wrong with the rest of the kit, and she did run ok but doesn’t seem to be fully toilet trained yet, leaving great puddles everywhere. It’s not uncommon for a new engine to leak a bit of water to start with before it’s run-in, so hopefully this should solve itself in time.

All I need now is a railway to run her on…

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