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O14 Wheelpress

David John describes his wheelpress (originally published in 7mm NGA Narrow Lines):

One of the troubles with 014 (some would say the only trouble) is that all wheelsets need to be regauged. There are lots of tools to help you check you have got it right, vernier callipers, Black Dog produced a cast resin block back-to-back gauge, Roy Link/KB Scale produce a very nice etched brass standards gauge. Of even earlier vintage is my home brewed version, simply a piece of 1/16th brass filed to my 12.4mm back to back and then, carefully, bent at right angles to form an ‘L’ shape. All of these will confirm if you have got the spacing correct but do not make the process any easier.

Then along came Adrian Gray, who described his wheelpress. This was over 15 years ago and I cannot remember if this was in a conversation, by e-mail or in print. My press is based on Adrian’s description without me ever seeing it or any drawings or photographs; so it may be exactly the same as Adrian’s – or unrecognisably different. In any case, very many thanks to Adrian – it makes life so much easier!

As the photo shows the wheelpress is made up of three pieces, the two end pieces are essentially the same. Hopefully construction and use are clear from my photos; although the back of the wheel must have all flash cleaned off before pressing. The two fixed slide rods are tool steel, fixed to one end; my press has tell-tales to make sure it is always put together the same way. The middle piece is machined to exactly 12.4 mm (the back to back I use) and the slot is 3mm. If I was doing it again I would include a cross slot to clear gear wheels on driving axles, as per the Black Dog resin block (if I had a cutter big enough!). Apart from those two measurements everything else can be made up from what is to hand.

Each end piece has been drilled and tapped 4BA, this has to be adjusted every time I use a different axle length but, once set, it ensures that the wheels are pressed in the same distance at each side. Nowadays I put a very small drop of thin superglue against the back of the wheel to ensure that it does not move in the future.

The press is simple and quick to use; finger pressure is enough to regauge any wheelset. I usually use 26mm long axles, so have rarely to alter the position of the set screws, although Murphy’s law dictated that the wheelset I picked up for these photographs was on the shorter 24.5mm axle.

Thanks again Adrian.