12 January 2022
The ideal solution to test your locomotives away from the layout? Howard Smith believes so...
I’m privy to seeing many fantastic model railway products arrive on my desk each month, but every once in a while, a new item will catch you by surprise. The clever designers in Settle have released another valuable series of tools for the more serious railway modeller, suitable for 9mm, 16.5mm and 32mm gauge models.
The rolling road is often misunderstood by modellers, dismissed by some as something of a luxury. If you only have a small handful of locomotives, perhaps this is true, but for modellers who have more than a few, their use can’t be ignored. A rolling road is very useful if building locomotives from kits, allowing faults such as wheel or axle wobbles to be corrected. It is also useful for letting a locomotive ‘run in’ so that bearings can be checked for tolerances, and gears can mesh, as intended.
Where a locomotive is in perfect running order, a rolling road still has its uses, particularly if it is being converted from DCC to DC, or vice-versa. A new sound decoder installation can be checked against a sound file to see if acceleration or deceleration and the sounds emerging from the locomotive correspond, for instance, all from the workbench. If looking to purchase a second-hand locomotive, a rolling road will also help check that all functionalities work as intended, including the performance of the locomotive at its top speed, without requiring a large test track.
DCC Concepts new rolling road range is wonderfully-crafted, each unit housed within precision-cut sturdy foam packaging. Kindly provided for review was a sample of its 32mm gauge six-axle unit. Each axle unit consists of two gold-plated sides, secured to a plastic carrier spacer set to the required gauge, which contains a strong neodymium magnet. Supplied inside the packaging are three pre-painted metal strips, etched to represent four sleepers, placed side-by-side. If glued between rails, as intended, each axle cradle will be secured into place, allowing adjustment fore and aft to suit your model’s wheelbase.
When tested, the units performed admirably, the larger diameter rollers handling the weight of large Heljan locomotives with ease. Furthermore, because of the size of these, they didn’t sound ‘tinny’. Owing to the separation of rollers – necessary to prevent a locomotive from potentially ‘riding up’ them under heavy acceleration – I had to adjust the wire sand pipes on a kit-built Class 08, to prevent them from shorting on the unit. On most RTR locomotives, these are plastic items, anyway.
Regarding price, the 10-axle 9mm and 16.5mm gauge units, and six-axle 32mm gauge units are priced comparatively close to small RTR locomotives in their respective scales. While this might put some off, these are quality items designed to last a lifetime. Surely, it’s better to have 14 locomotives that run beautifully, than 15 that are rough runners? For the space-starved modeller with more than a handful of locomotives, or a model railway club, this new range is worthy of the investment. You’ll only ever need the one, but I can almost guarantee that as soon as it leaves the box, everyone will be standing around it, examining what’s running on it, and how it performs! Recommended.