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Discussion Starter #1
A few weeks ago I received a letter from Aster Europe, that restores both my and Asters reputation.

Aster Europe says the P8 / BR38 kit, had manufacturing tollerances issues, that no Aster model before, nor after, have had. This kit is simply not up to the usual excellent standards Aster offers.

And allthough Aster europe doesn't put it that way, the heavy discount on the kit (something like 25-30%) is really a "filing and fitting" discount. Aster Europe instead says they hope I find the price / performance ratio ok.

I only wish Aster Europe had said so to begin with - then my expectations would have been directed in the right direction, and I wouldn't have written and sayed things about Aster quality based on my P8 / BR38 experience, because I would have known, that by Aster standards, this kit is a "lemon".

But if that is true - and I believe Aster Europe when they say it is - then this kit is a very SWEET LEMON! :D
If you are prepared to file and fit parts, making your own thick packings, making special thick washers, and because of the excellent after sales support Aster (Europe) offers, you will get a good running and very beatiful engine. (However it is not suitable for a beginner in steam or metalworking.) Of course this does not affect RTR engines, since the factory does the filing and fitting.

Watch a new film of my engine running a suitable Preussian trainset at;
http://web.mac.com/anders.grassman/iWeb/Topsida/P8 trainset.html

Basically, my only remaining point of critisism, are the valve-needles. With 90* enclosed point angle, and a thread pitch of 0,5 mm, they offer little more than "on/off" control of speed, return valve and auxilliary blower. According to Aster Europe, this is to make fitting radio control easier. But in my view, this makes the engine controls entirely unsuitable for manual operation. Aster Europe also says decreasing the enclosed valve-needle angle to 60*, gives a lot better control.

I am convinced, Aster could strike a better balance, decreasing the valve-needle tip enclosed angle, and possibly employing a finer pitch thread - some competitors use 0,35mm pitch. Since this affects all future Aster models, I think this is really an important improvement to consider.
 

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Pauli
Thanks for the update and finale overview. Aster's offer I believe speaks well for the company and its customers.
cb
 

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There has been no mention from Aster about quality issues around the P8/BR38. The only possible short coming is that for heavy haulage a standard wick/burner is required rather than the "strip" burner supplied.

I have sold quite a few of these locos to satisfied customers.

There has been a price reduction since Aster have a lot of Warehouse space taken up with these models and kits which they would like to utilise for new products. The P8/BR38 was the last Aster made for Fulgurex who grossly overestimated the market for this loco. Aster are trying to get their inventory under control and so there is a price reduction to help this along.

A lemon - NO! Anyone who wants a very sweet loco and a joy to build from a kit and rewarding to run, should take advantage of the low price now available and grab one quick!

AsterUK
 

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Aster Europe says the P8 / BR38 kit, had manufacturing tollerances issues, that no Aster model before, nor after, have had. This kit is simply not up to the usual excellent standards Aster offers.


That all sounded kind'a strange to me too. :confused:
 

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I have an Aster P 08 that was factory built. I have been more than pleased with this engine. It is an excellant running machine. The engine has the standard fire box and as near as I can tell everyone that steams at Steve's has been very impressed with the engine.

Maybe I got the one in one thousand like the rifle in the movie Winchester 73. But, she sure is a jewel.

If I wrote a list of pros and cons there would be nothing on the con side of the list.

There is video of this engine on You Tube. Links to the video are on the Steaming at Steve's threads.

DAYoung
Santa Fe, Texas
 

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Hey Dave, I think we were all amazed yesterday how your P8 ran. And, it's run like that every time you have run it. Next time you have it over for a spin, lets look for all those file and fitting marks that should show from the builders at the Aster factory getting it to run right. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
You are very unlikely to be able to find spots on parts filed to fit. For example, the bearings on my drivers, were no ware near to go into the frames - one could have tried a hammer without success. Of course you cannot se that I enlarged all the driver axle horns by filing away some 0,5 mm symetrically, on my finished model.

It is also impossible to actually se the special 0,8 mm washer made by me, clipped around the last driver axle on one side, to create clearance from the leafsprings, that otherwise grind / overlap the back of the wheel, in narrow curves. (This remedy was suggested by Aster Europe, or grinding the leaf-springs narrower. They also confirmed that this situation was true on their own model.)

Unless told, you are unlikely to spot the self made 2,5 mm thick (!) cardboard-packing between the boiler and blower. Without it, it was impossible to fit the actual / inside steam-dome at all.

A very large potion of the production run, had valve gears, that on least one side, it was completely impossible to make the valve work correctly. However, the model will run well anyway - as most steam engines will, even if one valve isn't working properly. Aster Europe suggested I distribute the false action evenly for forward and reverse running. I chose to put the whole fault for reverse running, and achieving almost correct action in forward.
You cannot study this, without dissassemby. However, more likely (?), is that during assembly at the factory RTR engines, they pick other motion gear parts, with better fit. (My dentist friend's P8 had one driving rod bearing 1 whole mm off! Of course Aster Japan exchanged it, also offering sincere excuses.)

Nor can you tell without disassembly, whether the water-pump driving pin, has actually been filed down, not to grind the sides of the groove on the eccentric (in curves - this model is specified to run 2m radius).

It would probably also be very difficult to see, if the firebox long sides have been bent straight, to actually fit the boiler flush, helping draught.

Nor is a RTR puchaser left with - in my case 2 - steam-pipes that actually have been soldered together, allowing nothing to pass. In most cases that Aster Europe have experienced, the steam pipe leading to the lubricator was clogged. (They asked me to check all pipes, and let them exchange them. Or I could heat them, and flush them through with compressed air, wich I did.)

Nor can you tell if all staunchions for handrails and such, have been drilled 0,1 mm larger to make handrails at all possible to fit. Or if, wich is considerably likelier for a RTR, they simply chose wire for handrails of just slightly smaller gauge, wich is of course simpler.

All these things, and possibly others, are concerns for the kit-builder, but hardly for the RTR purchaser.

I have the distinct feeling Aster Europe are a bit frustrated by this kit. Their own wording is a bit harsher than mine, maybee a "burst of the moment"; "-the P8 / BR38 is the worst Aster kit ever". And they offer me consiliation with "look at it this way, if you've completed the P8 / BR38 kit successfully, any other Aster kit will be childs play!"
REMEMBER - I still think a person with a little experience in steam and metalworking, together with the ecellent after sales support from Aster Europe, will build a beatiful and good runner.
 

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Posted By Charles on 05/20/2008 8:14 AM
Pauli
Thanks for the update and finale overview. Aster's offer I believe speaks well for the company and its customers.
cb




But Charles, I didn't think Aster ever made a 'mistake'. Pauli must be mistaken. Could this be the latest 'Aster disaster' after the Reno and the C&S Mogul? ;)
 

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John I'm glad to see that you are back in town. Accucraft sure was taking a beating around here while you were gone. /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/satisfied.gif

The way I see it, or IMHO:

The Asters that seem to have problems are kit built ones. All the ones run'in around here are either Factory built or built by John Shaw (maybe better then factory built) They all run just fine. I think the problem might be that more folks need to buy factory built Asters. :)

Pauli, while I do believe that Aster Europe told you these things, I think that they were doing some serious exageration about the "issues". Is there anyone else out there that has built a P8 and has experienced it to be the "worse buildable kit Aster has ever done" because of a lack of quality control??
 

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Discussion Starter #12
@ Steve S; I think some of your comments are not only irrellevant, in view of the kit's shortcommings, like clogged pipes from factory, or faulty parts for motion gear. This is not something kit buyers can or should overcome. And if it weren't for the 90% that purchase each model in kit form, the RTR price would likely be absolutely prohibitive, and Aster likely out of business. (= think double the price)

However your comments also come close to insulting me, insinuating I cannot build the kit, wich is very odd in view of my posted films.

Also I do not quite understand how experience with an RTR engine is good basis to judge the quality of a kit, or the assembly requirements. As for the running characteristics of this kit - once skillfully assembled - we all seem to agree it runns well.

I think the exchange of experiences with different products on mylargescale.com is very valuable to all of us. And people trying to honestly share such information, should not be put down - even if the product happens to be manufactured bu Aster.

The people like me, who easily express their views publicly, are a minute minority. The way my writings have been received, I think has definately scared away most people who could share similar experiances to mine. (Though, I have had one German man aknowlidging the same experiances, directly to me, at the time I bought two of the Preussian passenger coatches on my film I gave the link to above.)

I felt reluctant to share the views expressed by Aster Europe. However, after thinking a few weeks, I decided there are many good reasons to make them public. (I could publish the letter "in extenso", however it is in German language.) One of them, is to contain possible damage inflicted by me to Aster reputation, to this particular kit.
 

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However your comments also come close to insulting me, insinuating I cannot build the kit, wich is very odd in view of my posted films.




Hello Pauli. Sorry that you took it so personal, I did not mean it that way. Anyone that has read MLS for a while knows that I am the first to admit my lack of talent in this hobby. I have just about burned my track, engines, fingers, etc.,..............to the point that there have been times that I was left just scratching my head. I have a hard time oiling the lubricator let alone building a kit. If you look back at your old post's you will see that you did not just attack the P8 kit, but Aster in general. You made comments about how they can't even build their own RTR's without messing them up, and on and on. At that time, many Aster owner's posted that they had not had these types of problems with their Aster kits. At my track there are over 14 factory built Aster engines that run here on a regular basis. They all run great. I have to admit, when you were making those post's we all thought it was strange how you took shots at how Aster could not build their own kits. Even stranger, now you are saying that the only way to get a good P8 is to let the same people at Aster that you said can't build their own kits, build it. Whats up with that?? So now, Aster Europe comes out and states how bad the P8 kit is. Aster U.K. has not heard of these problems. I keep in touch with several U.S. Aster dealers and they have not heard either. Sorry but I see a lot of inconsistency here. But,......I'm impressed with anyone that even attempts to build a Aster kit let alone finishes it like you have done.
 

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Well now, y'all have really gotten my curiosity up and going. I wonder if my favoriate Aster dealer is giving the European 30 percent discount on the BR 38 kit. I just might buy one and see what happens when I try to put it together.

After all I was pretty successful in the assembly of the Thunderbolt and my factory built P 08 runs like a jewel. This sure is an interesting thought.

After all, just because I enjoy steaming with coal, I am not prejudice against alcohol.

DAYoung
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thank you Steve S, apoligy accepted!

Because I originally thought the P8 / BR38 kit was a normal example of Aster kits, I was completely stunned at my building experience. There was no way for me to know, this kit is a "lemon" by Aster standards. I was though, already in the beginning, careful to point out that i only had the P8 kit as basis for my experience.

And yes, because the basic design of the P8 / BR38 engine is very good, the heavy discount offered on the kit, can very well be considered a good opportunity to get an Aster locomotive - PROVIDED you have a little experience in steam and metalworking. I'm confident Aster will be helpful during construction.

In a way, mylargescale.com is not the most relevant place to discuss this engine kit, as the prime market is continental Europe.

I'm a little sad this discussion bogged down at an early stage. I've not really been given the chance to describe the nice things about the kit.

-Like quite exquisite quality of all castings! The castings are really in a league by themselves. My dentist friend is also thrilled by all Aster castings, especially their "ductility", as he puts it.

- In general, it's nice with the fine 1:32 detail - all out of brass, copper and stainless steel.

-I like the way Aster has chosen really heavy gauge copper for the boiler. Not only does this add needed traction weight, the copper also acts as a very good "thermal capacitor", wich makes breaks for replenishing oil, water and fuel simpler. The engine will fire up again almost instantly, sometimes without a suction fan.

As to the bottom line; Are Asters worth their price? I'm not sure. I don't have personal experience with any of the competing makers in the same segment. There are some german, swiss, austrian makers, that offer the "exact" same thing (only allways as RTR). WYCO is one of them, also Twerenbold, that today run Aster Europe, used to manufacture !:32 live steam models, among them the S3/6 and some others (you can find the info on their webpage). I've only been told all these engines run well. And at comparable price.

For me, this kit has been a good opportunity, since I really don't want anyone else assembling my engine, if I have a choice! ;D
 

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Hey Pauli, Bottom line:

I sure am glad that you got her run'in and that Aster and Aster Europe stood behind their product. Make it down here to muggy, hot Houston sometime and leash her up to Dave's P8 and we can do some doubleheading. :) We can also run a bunch of other Asters and when you leave I beleive that you will think that not only are they worth the money, but a good value for what you recieve.
 

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Pauli - please feel free to go ahead and post the letter - many of us here are fluent German speakers and are more than happy - as always - to help out our linguistically-challenged brethren on the forum. :)

tac
 

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Posted By Steve S. on 05/25/2008 8:21 AM
Hey Pauli, Bottom line:
I sure am glad that you got her run'in and that Aster and Aster Europe stood behind their product. Make it down here to muggy, hot Houston sometime and leash her up to Dave's P8 and we can do some doubleheading. :)" border=0> We can also run a bunch of other Asters and when you leave I beleive that you will think that not only are they worth the money, but a good value for what you recieve.




Bottom Line is that 'Aster Snobs' just can't stand any criticism of their idol, Aster the Master, and consider it next to blasphemy. Right Steve?????????/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/laugh.gif
 

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Bottom Line is that 'Aster Snobs' just can't stand any criticism of their idol, Aster the Master, and consider it next to blasphemy. Right Steve?????????


Thats true John, welcome back. I bet that you are glad that you got your C21 Hottmanized before your trip. Don't know if you would have been able to afford the work now. :D/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/hehe.gif
 

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I recently built a BR38 kit and had many, but not all of the issues Pauli had. Regaurding the valve gear, there is a very simple fix that will result in perfect valve timing, both forward and reverse. The instructions say that with the connecting rod in either the forward most or rear most position, the expansion link must be vertical. This is verified by moving the reverse lever over its full travel and observing that the valve stem does not move. With my engine, and probably with most engines, this is way off. The expansion link can only be set to vertical in one of the two positions, not both. In my case the problem was that the connecting link between the return crank and the expansion link was too short (both sides of the engine). To fix it, I filed the srew hole in the expansion link into a slot. It was elongated to the point where only a thin sliiver of metal remained at the end of the slot. I could have simply installed the pivot screw anyway, but I chose to silversolder a nut to the back of the slot to reinforce it. I put full radio control on the locomotive, and the valve events are so good that I normally control the speed only with the reverse lever, keeping the throttle fully open except when starting or at very low speeds. I am very pleased with this locomotive and have treated it to superdetailing including making working equalizer links between the two rear pairs of drivers, fabricating the air tank and brake valve that is suposed to be under the right running board, making simulated support brackets between the boiler and air and feed water pumps, adding extra piping, etc. As one of the threads here suggested, I found that the Aster paint could be thinned with ordinary laquer thinner and successfully sprayed with an air brush.
 
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