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Faller car system

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GSI345
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Hi guys....

 

I am trying to make a diorama of my jim poots dublin bus kits.....i wnt to use the faller car system on some of my models......given that this system is 1:87 scale, can anyone help & give me info on how is best to convert to make it compatable to 1:76 scale.

 

I know nigel o conoor had one or two of his scrathbuilt models on view using this system.

Any help would be appreciated

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This is going to be one of those posts that waffles on for a bit but leaves you no wiser than you began...

 

Or will it?

 

Over on this side of the water diecast bus collecting is quite a sizeable minority pastime. At my local exhibition a couple of years back, I got talking to some exhibitors that had gone a stage further and had setup a Faller road system 'layout' using converted 1:76 scale diecast buses. I will admit that they looked most impressive! The conversions pretty much boiled down to cutting the Faller bus chassis in half, and lengthening it appropriately to fit the 1:76 scale body, some trickery, jiggery pokery to swap more suitable wheels on board, and away they went. The conversions went around the layout considerably more slowly than the Faller buses - but those always did look like they where auditioning for a remake of 'Speed - The Movie' anyway, so no great loss there.

 

There's a fair bit to look at on youtube too:

 

 

-Rob

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Just a quick few points. There are any number of ways of cannibalising a standard Faller model to motorise your own model. You may be lucky to find a Faller model with the same wheelbase as your own intended model, which makes things slightly easier. Otherwise, the chassis can be cut to fit.

 

Faller models are to HO gauge, which means the wheels are generally smaller, and the wheel track narrower. The Faller wheels are important to retain, as the rubber tyres are designed to give traction to the model, and any other wheels are most unlikely to work properly. It is possible to widen the track of the wheels to suit a wider OO gauge model. Rear wheels pose little problem. For front wheels, however, while they can be widened out with thin spacers behind the wheels, you must bear in mind that this will greatly increase the forward and back swing of the steering mechanism, and consequently, the wheels will need a much bigger well to sit into.

 

It is vitally important that the front wheels have wholly adequate clearance to spin freely within the full extent of their left to right steer. Remember too, that the central pivot that allows up and down play, to keep all wheels in contact with the road surface, mean that the front wheels need additional clearance to steer and spin, in every axis. If the front tyres come into any contact with the wheelarch, or a hidden corner of the floor inside, or any other bodywork, this will serve to brake that wheel, and the model will be thrown off it's magnetic course, and will not follow a track properly. Most Faller failures are due to front wheels not having adequate steering clearance.

 

Faller models run on 3V motors, powered by a pair of 1.5V rechargeable batteries. I find the scale speed of these off the shelf models particularly unrealistic. I prefer to discard the supplied batteries, and use a single 1.5V AA or AAA battery. The result is that the motor only runs on half power, and the slower speed is much closer to an apparent scale speed of 25mph or 30mph. Buses generally don't steer into tight curves at 40mph or over!

 

The next potential for failure is the radius of the guiding wire hidden under the road surface. The models generally speaking, take a minimum radius of about six inches. However, as the wheelbase of the model increases, so too does the minimum radius required to steer without losing contact with the guiding wire. Jim Poots model of the CIE M class Leyland Leopard, for instance, represents a 40' bus. It is an ideal model for motorisation, but will require a wider turning radius due to the long wheelbase. When laying the guiding wire, it is important to take your model with the longest wheelbase, and check it manually at every inch of the turn, to ensure that the wire is laid to a suitable radius. It is generally too late after the road modelling is finished, to alter the guiding wire.

 

When laying out a finished road, it is best to lay the guiding wire first, using your longest model to pinpoint the minimum safe operating radius required. Then, when the guiding wire has been fixed in place definitively, run the model, or better, push it gently by hand, inch by inch, and using a pencil, mark the front and rear overhang extremities on bends and curves, and also use a pencil to track the path of the inside rear wheel on curves. Use these pencil marks to ascertain the clear running space necessary for your bus, and then it will be possible to lay kerbs, traffic islands, buildings and other vehicles, coming very close to the moving model, but not interfering with it's running path.

 

Avoid hills if at all possible. There is a reason for that. A fully charged light Faller model will climb a reasonable hill with ease. It would be interesting to see it cross a low hump backed bridge, for instance. However, after two hours or so of running, the battery will start to become weak. It may well have four hours or more of flat running left in it, but it will give up at the slightest hint of a hill. So if your Faller model is expected to climb hills, you will go through batteries at an awful rate, and the annoyance of constantly replacing them, and being left with half-powered batteries, makes it unwise. Keep the running path as flat as possible.

 

It would be interesting to model a three axle bus with Faller. In this case, the powered rear axle would be the double wheeled axle on the real bus, usually the second axle. It should be possible to source a third pair of identical wheels, fitted to a plain axle bar. However, this third, unpowered axle, must bear no weight of the model, and ideally would sit in a vertical slot in the chassis, giving it ample vertical clearance to slide up and down (at least 5mm) so that it bears only it's own weight, and can skid sideways as the bus turns. Perhaps wheels with plastic rather than rubber tyres would ease this. If the third axle carries any weight of the model at all, what it may well do is lift the powered axle off the road surface at any imperfection, and the model will fail with regularity.

 

Some bus modellers in the UK have gone a step further, and engineer their own hand made steering axles and propulsion units. The Faller models are quite expensive, and if you have the workshop and the engineering skills, perfectly good mechanics can be constructed in brass to replace the Faller units, at much less expense.

 

Finally, if you are particularly experimental, the Faller chassis incorporates a reed switch, which allows the model to be stopped by way of introducing a magnet or solenoid beneath the road surface. By switching on or off this magnet, the model can be stopped or started on the road, at a bus stop, for example, or a level crossing. If you study the wiring of the Faller chassis, you will see that it would be possible to wire a pair of red LEDs into the circuit, to use as brake lights! So when the reed switch disconnects the motor, the battery power is redirected to the brake lights, and when the reed switch reconnects, the power returns from the brake lights back to the motor. Bright white LEDs will serve as headlights too, but it might be advisable to wire them to their own battery on a completely different circuit. Modern LED torches often come with tiny flat batteries that will last a very long time, and are worth investigating as a seperate circuit to the motor circuit, with their own on/off switch.

 

Some videos of the Dublin Bus Plaxton Verde in action at some model railway exhibitions.

 

 

 

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Nigel,

 

Great post. I'd like to get one in the future, and your absolutely right about slowing things down.

 

 

"perfectly good mechanics can be constructed in brass to replace the Faller units, at much less expense."

 

something for SSM to do in 2014? Ohhh yeah!! :D

 

Check this undulating layout.

 

http://diskuze.modely.biz/viewtopic.php?t=1825&p=105327

Edited by Weshty
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A few more thoughts. The success or otherwise of a Faller motorised model depends largely on the weight of the model. All the Faller models themselves, of course, are plastic, and very lightweight. Resin model kits lend themselves very well to motorising, because of their similarly light weight, and the possibility to include the Faller mechanism during the assembly. It will most likely, of course, be necessary to cut away a part of the floor and seating area, in order to accommodate the mechanical parts, in particular the bulk of an AA or AAA battery holder. The battery holders are available through most model railway hardware and electrical suppliers. How or how much to cut away depends on the Faller chassis chosen for the job. If as much of the existing floor as possible can be retained, it will be better for the strength of the model. I cannot make much in the way of recommendation; some experience of kit building or scratch building would be advisable before undertaking a Faller motorising exercise.

 

Scratchbuilt models are probably the most recommended for motorisation, as the requirements of the Faller mechanism can be designed into the construction of the model from the very beginning. My Plaxton Verde bodied DAF single deck bus was scratchbuilt not long after the real buses were newly delivered in 1993. My God, is it really that long ago? The model is basically a simple bodyshell, front, back, sides and roof, assembled as a single unit. Into this fits a specially hand built chassis cassette, with the motor assembly, reed switch and wiring. It was designed as a kind of cassette box rather than a simple flat plate, for strength and stability. It is all built in plasticard, using plastic solvent adhesive, for strength and light weight. There is no interior detail for space reasons, but it helps immensely if everything inside is painted matt black, so that nothing untowardly intrusive inside spoils the realism of the model.

 

Diecast models generally do not lend themselves to motorisation quite so well. This is due to the excess relative weight of a metal model, and possibly also the difficulty of cutting and working with hard, diecast metal. However, there have been some successes. The other video on this thread shows an EFE diecast AEC single decker bus*, which has been motorised to excellent effect. The Model Railway Society of Ireland have managed to motorise a couple of EFE double deckers for their massive O'Connell Street layout. The thing to watch with these older style halfcab buses is that the exposed nearside front wings can leave very little clearance below for a steering axle. It is a very fine balancing act to get the steering axle to operate freely and reliably, while retaining the proper appearance of the front of the bus. (* EDIT - There once was a Concept Models plastic kit of the same AEC single deck bus. Perhaps this motorised model is the Concept model, as it appears to run very lightly and smoothly.)

 

I have a doubt that Corgi diecast model coaches would lend themselves to motorisation so well. The interior space is there, of course, but I find these models quite heavy indeed, and I imagine their motorisation would be troublesome and unreliable. The Faller steering axle has a tendency to 'sag' with prolonged operation, giving a down-at-heel appearance to the model, and front wheels that bow outwards. If you remember the front axles of vehicles of old, the front wheels were angled slightly 'in' at the bottom. Realistically, the Faller steering axle would want to recreate this, to counter the effect of sagging wheels. A heavy diecast model would only exacerbate this.

 

It would actually be possible now to motorise N gauge models, as N gauge models are available in the Faller range. How they fare in terms of scale speed or reliability of operation I do not know, as I have never tried them. One obvious restriction, however, would be battery space, and I imagine even an AAA battery would be a tight fit.

 

On a different point, let me make an advanced observation about laying the guiding wire. This should not be an afterthought, but as important as the motorised model itself, for realism. After reducing the speed of the models by reducing the voltage to the motor, to make them appear more realistic, it is important to make them steer realistically too. If someone were to put a camera right down at road level on your layout, and film the moving model bus, will it look realistic? Motorised model buses, and this applies to model trains on tracks too, do not look realistic if they travel along at a set speed in a straight line, and suddenly 'twitch' into a curve. Imagine a bus driver on a road, he does not spin the steering wheel hard as he approaches a bend, as the ride would be uncomfortable to the passengers. Rather he turns the wheel smoothly and steadily into the curve, relaxing the wheel smoothly again as the road straightens out.

 

How do we recreate that in a model? Well, there comes a point where a straight run of guiding wire meets a curve (or a point junction) on a road layout. You hopefully have ascertained the minimum turning radius required for your model, so that it does not overshoot the wire and head off into unguided territory. Where that turning radius meets the straight, there should be an easing of the curve, say over just four or five inches, where the straight gradually curves, or vice versa. A set of draughtsman's French curves would do the job, but it is surely something that can be planned by eye. It doesn't have to be razor accurate, but it is worth seeing your model road from your model bus driver's eye, and laying the guiding wire as realistically as possible. Pushing your motorised model around in chassis only form may assist in getting a close idea of exactly where you want your front wheels to be at any point of the path. Imagine the model bus driver turning his steering wheel, and how the road wheels react. Place the front wheels, not the guiding wire. Wherever the front wheels are, pinpoint the magnet position. There is your mark for laying the guiding wire. The rear wheels will follow in their own way, of course, just like the real thing.

Edited by Nigel
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Nigel,

 

Great post. I'd like to get one in the future, and your absolutely right about slowing things down.

 

 

"perfectly good mechanics can be constructed in brass to replace the Faller units, at much less expense."

 

something for SSM to do in 2014? Ohhh yeah!! :D

 

Check this undulating layout.

 

http://diskuze.modely.biz/viewtopic.php?t=1825&p=105327

 

 

Sorry to say I didn't get around to checking out that undulating layout yesterday.

 

And then today, I did...

 

That would be an interesting experiment with Faller. Where can you buy one of those baseboards? I'd like to try laying the wire down on that. Has anyone here tried one of these? Are they available in Ireland?

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"Who needs rail at all" is right........iv always wanted to do something with my vast collection of Dublin Buses. After seen Nigels Plaxton Verde at numerous Trade Shows i wanted to do one.......

 

Iv bought a Faller Track & now have the under chassis converted to my KD Bombardier......Once My Layout is completed ill post images........or videos........

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"Who needs rail at all" is right........iv always wanted to do something with my vast collection of Dublin Buses. After seen Nigels Plaxton Verde at numerous Trade Shows i wanted to do one.......

 

Iv bought a Faller Track & now have the under chassis converted to my KD Bombardier......Once My Layout is completed ill post images........or videos........

 

The KD is ideal. The smaller HO wheels will suit the KD, and the narrower track of a HO chassis wont be as noticeable. All you need now is the bouncy suspension...

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