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V-Express Steam Train with Tender by yvesvidal - FINISHED - uGears

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My son Michael recently offered me for Father's day, a new product that he got from Ukraine. It is all made of wood, laser cut and uses rubber band for a propulsion system.


It took a long time for this kit to arrive in the good old states of America and the custom office kept it for a quite a while. I suspect they wanted to assemble the kit but did not find the time or patience to do so.


Anyway, it looks like some of the products offered by uGears (Ukrainian company) are now imported by Model Shipways, which should hopefully ease the transit through our customs bureaucracy.


I have not started the kit yet, but intend to do so, as soon as I am done with the restoration of a Bally Mata hari pinball machine. In the meantime, I wanted to show you in pictures, what this is all about. The offering from uGears is quite impressive with tons of models for different tastes. Most kits are capable of moving or have some kind of mechanical system built in. My son picked that beautiful locomotive as he knows my very intense passion for trains, and specifically for steam engines.



The quality of the cut is amazing and extremely precise. All kits are assembled with absolutely no glue and use wax (from a candle) for lubrication of the mechanisms and gears. It is truly a kit taking you back in the old times, when creativity and resourcefulness were the necessary qualities of hobbyists and do-it-yourselfers and when materials were simple and had to be found at home. From an environmental point of view, this is a kit that is perfect, uses renewable materials (wood, rubber), no chemicals and will last a long time if taken care of.



The instructions is comprised of a very thick manual, explaining the various phases of assembly. All is very precise, and tells you exactly where to find the parts on the various sprues/plates of wood.




Stay tuned as we will be starting the construction in a few days or a couple of weeks. Thank you Michael, for this beautiful gift.




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Well, if the Theatre took you just an afternoon, this locomotive is another story.


I started assembling the kit, by following the instructions very closely. I have to say, their instructions booklet is a little marvel of precision and explanations. It is like a Lego kit or an IKEA kit: all is done with drawings and icons to guide you.


The quality of the cuts is amazing. I had no idea such precision could be attained with a laser and plywood. When I compare these cuts and what some model ship kits are offering, it is like night and day. Those Ukrainians have really done their homework and their products are near perfect.


So, we go.....


We have no less than 16 rubber bands and that assembly is very tight.



All the parts are locked with tooth picks. No glue. The fitting is perfect, just tight, very well designed. Now, the insanity starts: A roller bearing made of wood.....



The parts are lubricated with some excellent Wax, that I use for the playfields of my pinball machines. At 78 Degrees, the wax is almost liquid and lubes the wood very well.


And this is where we are: the engine of the steam locomotive is almost completed.


Overall, this does not start as an easy kit. I suspect that the most delicate phase is the implementation of the rubber engine, with its levers, locks and clicking mechanism.


We will see how it goes in the next phases.











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Actually the theatre is the most basic of kits and has no power at all. The locomotive looks way more complicated. But I agree the fit and design is very clever. I may disassemble mine and put some color to it.

Bill, in Idaho

Completed Mamoli Halifax and Billings Viking ship in 2015

Next  Model Shipways Syren

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Some major progress:

We are now assembling the axles for the wheels and all the gears that will be used to move the main drivers of the locomotive: 


I kept being amazed by the quality of the fittings. For instance, parts that are supposed to insert into another one, have this delicate middle (or triple) laser cut that basically creates a spring effect, making sure that the axle will fit into the wheels, tightly. These Ukrainian engineers are quite wizards in that domain, and I am in awe in front of the engineering that goes into these kits.



Edited by yvesvidal
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The engine is almost mechanically completed. I installed the drivers after quartering them (not too difficult on this kind of assembly). That will hopefully allow the rods to work smoothly.



Lots of additional gears and belts.... I am not too sure what they will be for yet:


And a close up on the steam engine...sorry the rubber engine:



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We area at a point, where this assembly starts looking like a steam engine:


The crown of the boiler is very well rendered with no less than 21 wood parts. It is now time to try if all the gears are working. Wax helps a lot in that case and you have to be generous with it on these mechanical parts. I got to a point where, all the gears located inside the boiler are spinning with the rubber engine. This was done with the lever in Neutral position. In forward position, the rear main drivers are also turning well and freely. It is a good sign for what is to come.


I love this kind of little details: The fire box can be closed or opened with that lever to the right. Very cute and astute. We even have a shovel for the coal.


It is going to be an impressive engine when finished. I wonder what the scale is? Probably Scale 1 or 1/32nd.




Edited by yvesvidal
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The construction continues, unabated. Details of the cabin:


The coupler works with a rubber band to keep it closed.



A small ladder extends from under the chassis to allow access to the engine cabin. Now, look at the precision and ingenuity of this roof: A piece of flat plywood laser cut in such a way that it can be bent and rolled like the rook of a steam engine:


Quite incredible. The fitting is perfect:




Edited by yvesvidal
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  • 4 weeks later...

After a long hiatus, the engine is now almost completed. It is just missing the distribution rods, which I have elected to install at the very end, due to their delicate and fragile structure.


This engine overall is quite impressive and all drivers are rotating very freely. Will the rubber engine be powerful enough to make it run remains to be seen. The engineers that designed the kit installed a lot of gears in the boiler and some sort of flywheel to regulate the speed of the engine. These numerous gears are taking a significant amount of the available power and I will see if they deserve to be kept, at the end.





Edited by yvesvidal
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The engine is now completely finished and sitting on its wooden rails: 


Note that the kit offers much longer rails than what I am using for display purposes. The engine is sitting in front of some of my O scale brass locomotives. As far as running, I was able to get a few inches of movement but I am reluctant to increase the number of rotation to rewind the rubber bands (even though they recommend up to 25) and I believe it would take some serious rework of the gears and flywheel located in the boiler to get a longer duration of thrust.  Here are a few more pictures of that very nice and well engineered model: 





I hope you enjoyed this BLOG and will perhaps try your skills at one of these Ukrainian kits. I certainly enjoyed putting it together and it has been a nice challenge.



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Just an amazing and beautiful model train, Yves. Until your blog, I had never heard about this model. Thanks for sharing it with us!


Just curious about the rubber motor/s...do they recommend that the rubber be conditioned with castor oil like we used to do with the rubber motors for free flight airplane models years ago? The castor oil enabled more turns and less resistance than non lubricated rubber.

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You have a good point. There is no such recommendation, but I agree with you that it should not hurt. 

I am more concerned by the extreme tension applied by the 16 rubber bands on the structure of the cabin. But maybe I am worrying too much and I have to try rewinding it 25 times as suggested.



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  • 2 years later...

very nice :) 

I yam wot I yam!

finished builds:
Billings Nordkap 476 / Billings Cux 87 / Billings Mary Ann / Billings AmericA - reissue
Billings Regina - bashed into the Susan A / Andrea Gail 1:20 - semi scratch w/ Billing instructions
M&M Fun Ship - semi scratch build / Gundalow - scratch build / Jeanne D'Arc - Heller
Phylly C & Denny-Zen - the Lobsie twins - bashed & semi scratch dual build

Billing T78 Norden


in dry dock:
Billing's Gothenborg 1:100 / Billing's Boulogne Etaples 1:20
Billing's Half Moon 1:40 - some scratch required
Revell U.S.S. United States 1:96 - plastic/ wood modified / Academy Titanic 1:400
Trawler Syborn - semi scratch / Holiday Harbor dual build - semi scratch

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On 1/10/2021 at 3:27 PM, kpnuts said:

That turned out really well, I love the rest of the collection 


Thank you KPNuts. That is only a small portion of the collection. These are old O scale (1/48) brass engines, rebuilt and painted by myself, most of the times.



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