New Zealand Railways Wf Class
Anger Management
Keeping frustrations on the inside
Vanguard Models Wf Kitset in S Scale
Around 1983 - and still going

Christchurch Model Supplies was a great shop, especially if you were a kid. My Dad and I were in there once and spotted a Wf loco kitset by Vanguard Models. It looked cool. Who wouldn't want to build one of those? My biggest modelling ambition has always been to scratch-build a locomotive, and it seemed a good place to start.

The Wf is a a basic kit that has so far, over the intervening years (decades), completely beaten me.

The frame was photo-etched brass with slotted pewter blocks to locate the axles. No suspension; she's pretty basic. I quartered the drivers, made up the connecting rods and, as anyone who's built a model steam locomotive expects, it refused to run. I tweaked and twisted, and then started filing out the axle slots. A fatal and impatient mistake, but what can I say? I was a teenager.

I made the boiler, cab and other stuff, but got no further. Every few years I'd pick it up and tinker, but had no idea what to do. Then, a very good modeller told me that the drivers with that kit were faulty and I should get Ww Class drivers. Better tooling, same size. With the filed-out axle blocks it was a bit of a lost cause, but I swapped them out anyway and was able to get it rolling along the rails.

There was no provision in the kit for mounting the open frame motor. I jimmied something up involving pieces of wood, then put it away again.

When my Dad became ill years and years later, I tried to get it finished so he could see it go. I decided to make a new bearing block in brass, epoxied in place. That worked a bit better and he was delighted with the sight of it rolling along a piece of track, by his bedside. It wasn't a great solution though, so I packed it away again.
Anger Management
“I now see that message as a masterpiece of foul invective,
and I wish I'd kept it for future amusement."
When my modelling career woke itself up again in Vancouver a few years ago, I thought I would have another go at the Wf. I made separate brass axle slots and used my dowel pin alignment trick to get them accurate. I ditched the old open frame motor for a Kato with a flywheel and gearbox, did a bit of tweaking then stuck it on the rails. It ran perfectly! I was so stoked!

Plan B
The solid brass frame had to go...
In a fit of enthusiasm I added the valve gear hangers and made a start on the links. Over the years, some parts had gone missing and I only had a simple plan as reference. But, I got into it and made new links, added the eccentric arms and gave it another test run with the body in place.

Unbelievably, the edge of the tanks sat right on top of the reversing yolk in the valve gear and jammed the whole thing up solid. To fix it, I'd have to significantly remake either the valve gear, or the tanks.

I was not stoked. I was so angry and frustrated I sent an enraged text to my mate on the spot. I now see that message as a masterpiece of foul invective and I wish I'd kept it for future amusement. After calming down, I decided I'd build the model into the landscape as a wreck. A rusted hulk, half-buried in a riverbank along the way. That was all it deserved, cursed thing.

But, I ended up doing what I've always done, put it away for a while. I opened the box again in Norway and thought, " Hmmm, maybe I'll get her running after all."

So, until I open the workshop again, this page is a place-keeper for the venerable Wf.

A real one is being restored at Founder's Park in Nelson so when the time comes, I'll have a fantastic resource for what it's actually supposed to look like.

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