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LBSC 440 Virginia

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Roy Birch18/10/2021 13:29:52
46 forum posts
21 photos


Some general advice needed with regard to my first real project, I purchased a few years back a Virginia 440 part built, the frames were cast bronze as were a lot of the suspension. See below. The reason for purchase was that I wanted to build an American style loco and this one came up for £250, it does have all of the castings to complete the loco with it as well as the tender on wheels. It also has some problems but the first question I have is should I progress this loco at present or should I build one from scratch, I have the books by Kozo and I was thinking of the A3 switcher which he describes as a beginners loco, my concern is that I would then have nother project on the go, I already have a B2 and a maisie which were aquired cheaply after bereavements but both built much further on and I feel I need to do a quality job with these two to honour the memory of the previous builders. So the question is the loco above or a new build A3 switcher by Kozo? one final point is that the reason I am looking at the A3 by Kozo is because the quality of the instructions and I have learnt the hard way with some of the loco drawings here in the UK. Many Thanks in advance.img_0580.jpg

Baz18/10/2021 15:56:20
757 forum posts
2 photos

I think I would go with Kozo, never heard a bad word about his designs which is more than can be said for any of the English/ UK designers. Having the Kozo books already is a bonus as they are not cheap thing to purchase. Don’t worry about too many projects on the go, I must have a dozen. If I live to 150 I might finish half of them!

Clive Brown 118/10/2021 15:57:48
869 forum posts
47 photos

I think that three simultaneous loco projects would be more than enough for me. Let alone four.

But it's a personal choice.

duncan webster18/10/2021 16:04:23
4127 forum posts
66 photos

I find having too many projects on the go can be overload, you never seem to get anything finished

Roy Birch18/10/2021 16:50:40
46 forum posts
21 photos

I should point out that none of them are on the go at present, I am looking to get advise on which one I should go ahead with and finish before moving onto the next, the drawback with the part built ones is that I did not start them so I have missed out on the building that has been done to get them to the stage they are at.

Phil H120/10/2021 18:29:35
459 forum posts
60 photos


I have also struggled with the multi project problem. I resolved it by asking myself the following;

'If I only ever manage to build one and never get round to the others - for whatever reason - which would I regret not finishing?'

For me, the answer was easy.

Phil H

Nick Clarke 321/10/2021 09:14:37
1476 forum posts
64 photos

I too have the Kozo A3 book and it will build into a realistic model while Virginia is a freelance design 'in the style of' an American 4-4-0.

If you don't already have them the Virginia drawings and articles are available online on John-Tom's website.

Being built from castings which are easily available I suspect that Virginia will be a faster build than the A3.

Go figure!

Dave Halford21/10/2021 11:22:46
2100 forum posts
23 photos

I believe the Virginia is big for it's gauge, but never seem to sell for very much on Station Rd.

Roy Birch22/10/2021 12:21:14
46 forum posts
21 photos

Many Thanks for the advice so far, I did not really give much thought to Kozos A3 being a slower build due to lack of castings and as I have all the castings book and drawings for Virginia I have decided to move on with that one, I can still use a lot of methods of work in Kozos book and I hope get help on here, also I am not keen on starting another project until I finish any of the others I have on hand.

So to Virginia and the problems so far, the build is in early stage so not too much has been done, the wheels are all ok. The suspension has been done but is not very neat with all of the hangers not being equal or looking the same so I will remake them. These are the problems so far

The frames are bronze or brass cast and have been just roughly filed, should I smoth these out or leave as is, the same goes for the cast springs and equalisers.

The frame which is now riveted together tapers by 1mm front to back, is this Ok?

The axles for the wheels have been made but the idea according to the person who I got this from was that instead of a press fit they were to have a pin inserted in the face of the wheel and end of the axle, should I just make new axles that would be a press fit?

The suspension has been fitted to the frame but there does not seem to be any form of springing where the axle blocks ride in the frame, if the frame presses fully down on the axle blocks the inside rims of the driving wheels hit the spring hangers, why is this? you can probably see this from the image I posted.

Finally because this loco has a cast frame and has all of the castings would this be a kit rather than individual items bought and if so does anyone know the kit maker, I know some kits need a lot of filing to make work.

Phil H122/10/2021 12:50:42
459 forum posts
60 photos


You have quite quickly made your decision regarding which engine which is a great start.

I'd get the drawings and manual (if there is one) to check the suspension issue that you might have and strip the whole thing back down to component parts. Even if that means removing/ drilling out the rivets. Why? If you don't do it now, I reckon you will end up doing it later and you will probably save a lot of time.

You might even end up re-skimming the wheels when you get round to measuring the run out, the quartering or the differences in diameter. Better to do it now than find that you can't get the coupling rods to fit properly later.

Make the frame casting pristine with a file and emery. It will take you about a day. Well worth it.

Just my opinion.

Phil H

Roy Birch22/10/2021 13:01:46
46 forum posts
21 photos

Hello Phil

Thanks for the reply, I have all of the drawings and book which helped the decision as it was a complete kit ready to build, I will follow your advice and strip down as it is at such an early stage, also some of the bolts and nuts are untidy so it is a good opportunity to remake them, The problem with the book is that it does make a lot of asumptions about what you already know, I wish there was someone close to me who I could just show and ask, to be fair I just need to complete 1 Loco then I would be fine.

Baz22/10/2021 14:08:22
757 forum posts
2 photos

Roy if you told us roughly where you are maybe there is someone close you could ask for advice.

Edited By Baz on 22/10/2021 14:09:16

Roy Birch22/10/2021 14:10:37
46 forum posts
21 photos

Hello Baz, I did not think of that I am in the Newmarket Suffolk area.

Weary22/10/2021 17:06:44
388 forum posts
1 photos


You may already be aware of this, but, there is an issue with the boiler as designed for this loco, so, when you come to this item I suggest that you measure and calculate very carefully.

In brief, as drawn the firebox fouls the suspension. Narrowing the firebox and raising the boiler a little 'solves' the conflict. The firebox is also too-long, this results in the blowdown valve only fitting with great difficulty unless re-sited.

You may wish to add a shoulder to the crankpins to save them scuffing the wheels.

Not sure about the cause of the conflict between your (dummy?) springs and the wheels - depending on how advanced the work on springs and axleboxes is and how-much 'reworking' you are prepared to do you may have to resort to some judicious grinding there. The options need careful consideration following a detailed look and measure.

One of the regular posters/visitors to Model Engineering Clearing House forum has built one of these locos, and I recall that another has restored one.




Edited By Weary on 22/10/2021 17:07:18

Phil H122/10/2021 17:16:19
459 forum posts
60 photos


I agree that it would be better to speak to somebody close. Are you in a club? Many of them still meet - safely of course- and I am certain that you will get a lot of advice and guidance.

The build manual should help but not only will it make assumptions, it is probably 60 years old and some things have moved on a bit.

The alternative is to start right at the beginning and post the pictures on here? You should receive loads of input. The start in a build manual is usually the main frames - so it sounds like a really good way to start by taking some shots, compare the dimensions to the drawings and ask away?

Phil H

Roy Birch22/10/2021 18:17:25
46 forum posts
21 photos

I suppose that it does not matter which UK drawn and designed model I build as I must assume they all have some sort of problem with the drawings and the finished model and I am trying to look at this through a perfectionist type eye which is completely wrong, 1 question for you guys on here is that you are all highly skilled in this hobby and you have all found the problems with the drawings, why have the problems never been updated by who ever owns the rights to the drawings? on Clubs does anyone know what happened to the Saffron Walden club that used to meet at Audley End?

Phil H122/10/2021 19:13:53
459 forum posts
60 photos


The drawing suppliers probably can't afford to collate and make the necessary changes. They are probably not making enough money out of selling the plans with their faults as they are It would actually be quite a task to do it and probably an endless task.

For example, attempts were made to modify and update Rob Roy drawings some years ago but the design is still a long way from being perfect. I recently attended a Rob Roy rally and it was actually quite interesting to see how the different builders had solved some of the issues. Every single engine (about 8 of them) was obviously based on the drawings and looked the same from a distance but were actually quite different close up.

Phil H

Luker22/10/2021 20:02:47
179 forum posts
145 photos

Hi Roy,

The 8 wheeler (what the Americans used to call the 4-4-0) is a fantastic loco to model. Well worth it!

The large scale had a recess cut-out at the bottom of the boiler by the back axel-box which is easy to do in the model when you get to that point. The blower can be moved to the back.

Changing the pan heads for CSK should solve the clash you spoke of with the wheels. On the large scale these hangers went through the frames not round them, which gave more clearance. The front driver with the eccentric’s should have just enough play for suspension movement. The back can have a little more. Provided the front bogie can swivel and move laterally the loco will stay on even the tightest bends.

You need to decide early on how you're going to fit the reversing lever (Johnson bar). Some connect to the boiler and others to the frames. With our little boilers connecting to the boiler is probably second choice.

If you keen to spend a little more time on the build it is worth it (in my humble opinion) to make the suspension prototypical which is fully compensated. You would need to modify or remake the equalizer bar and replace the springs, but the loco will glide over even the roughest track.

My two cents worth…

Roy Birch22/10/2021 20:27:50
46 forum posts
21 photos

Hello Luker

I think I will carry on with this build as it is in its very early stages and I will strip it down and make good some of the poor finish, the springs and equaliser bar are all bronze or brass cast, see the images below, the countersunk is what it needs so that is a good solution. On the second photo the axle box just slides is that correct? and would you remake the axles to be a press fit rather than drilling for a pin? With yours and other comments I am beginning to get more confident about building this out, many thanks.img_0580.jpgimg_0583.jpg

Roy Birch22/10/2021 20:31:56
46 forum posts
21 photos

Hello Phil H1

I do have a Rob Roy again with all of the castings,Drawings and book but as I remembered after starting some things did not line up so I shelved it, I may revisit that one day.

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