BH Enterpises Brass Oleo Buffers

If you ever buy an early Farish (1981) class 37 then it’s very possible you will have at least one broken buffer beam hole. The hole serves the purpose of locating the shank of the buffer and without the hole, you have most probably lost the buffer as well. This can be very frustrating if you bought the model online and didn’t notice the broken buffer beam (a common occurrence).

Below I am going to show you (mostly through pictures) how I used brass BH Enterprises oleo buffers to good effect on just one of those class 37 locos. It is not meant to be a guide – indeed I am sure some of you know better ways to accomplish this task – although I found my method to work quite well. At the bottom of the article I shall list some learning points that I gleaned along the way.

  • Above you see the loco and box in question – an original Graham Farish class 37, sans battery box and three missing buffers. The box is quite tatty, but it’s still a box!
  • Removing the loco from the box and taking the body off, we can see it is an early version, complete with working lights and the early “black” chassis. Notice the two ends of the loco – one end has a broken buffer hole. Fortunately I still had the minute piece of plastic that had broken off.
  • The first task was to give the body a wash in tepid, mild soapy water. Don’t use hot water for this. After giving it a rinse and wiping out the inside (where lots of carbon and oil collect), I left it to dry on a piece of kitchen towel.
  • Here you see the four new buffers which are to be fitted, with the sole remaining original buffer placed beside them for comparison. I just love the BH Enterprise stand when I see it – these ones I bought at TINGS 2015. Notice how the BHE brass buffers fit compared to the originals – size wise they are almost identical (perhaps a smidgeon bigger) but in my opinion they look the part. The brass really adds something to the appearance of the loco and I like it – prototypical or not. If anything, the BHE buffers had a slightly longer shank and were a looser fit in the hole.
  • I planned to use a liquid superglue such as Loctite to glue the buffers into place. The benefits to this are that the liquid can “run into any cracks” in the plastic of the buffer beam holes and thus strengthen the structure. My Loctite, however, had solidified and so it was over to the Araldite. I do like working with Araldite under loco bodies and with it being the opposite in viscosity to Loctite (much thicker) it can aid in holding whatever you are gluing in place whilst the glue sets. This was handy in this project, since the BHE oleos were loose in their locating holes and the Araldite helped to hold them in place. The epoxy and hardener needed mixing with a cocktail stick before application.
  • Always apply the glue on the inside of the loco shell – not on the outside. You don’t want glue marks visible after completion. After applying some glue the buffers could be pushed into their holes. Note in the last picture above that I am now holding the loco body inside a crib (I just used kitchen towel). This is to protect the body should I have any glue on my fingers – how many times have you bought a loco from ebay with glue marks all over it – most irritating!
  • Once the buffers were in place it was time to touch up the inside again with a drop more glue – not too much, but just enough to add some strength (that’s a wonky buffer in the first picture, awaiting straightening). Holding the loco body up to the line of sight, make sure that the oleos/shanks are aligned before allowing them to set. This can be more fiddly than it seems!
  • Once happy, apply some blu-tac (or similar) in a position to suit so that the oleos do not “flop” out of their locating holes. Once dry it was time to repeat the task on the opposite end of the loco. Remember I told you there was a broken hole – well here it is and fortunately I had the tiny piece of plastic to glue back on. After all oleo buffers had been glued back into position and the glue was dry, it was now time to see how it fitted over the chassis. Unfortunately the shanks on these buffers were marginally too long and this affected the clearance when putting the body back over the chassis. Notice the red arrows pointing at the ends of the chassis in picture 3. The silver chassis has had the end “lip” filed away and this gave the necessary clearance for the body to fit into place. The original chassis will be serviced and stored for the time being.
  • And here she is, restored to glory and complete with a new battery box. I look forward to fitting these buffers to other locos and can thoroughly recommend them. They add that little bit extra to your loco without the need of going into super detailing.

So, what did I learn from this seemingly simple task?

  1. Glue: Whilst the Araldite will do a very good job, some did ooze out of the locating holes when I pushed the oleos in, hence leaving the tiniest of residues on the outside. Next time I would like to try a liquid glue (Loctite), which comes in a brush bottle.
  2. Aligning the buffers: Next time I would probably position the buffers and hold in place with blu-tac before applying the glue. This would lead to less fiddling after the glue had been applied and less chance for it to seep to the ouside of the body.
  3. Oleo shank length: These were too long on the BHE buffers and precluded the body from fitting back over the chassis. Perhaps I would consider trimming them slightly from the back next time so that they were not so long.