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I am new to model steam railroading. I am thinking of purchasing the S-2 kit for a winter project. Would this kit be too much for a beginner? I have knowledge of assembly of model helis. Am good at following directions and of assembly . What do you think?
 

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Dear Mr 49 - First of all, welcome to MLS! Sadly, I am the first to respond, and I am well-known as a total wet blanketter and all-round misery, so it will come as no surprise to read that I would advise you - a total beginner with live-steam as you say you are - to start with something a mite less ambitious than the biggest, best, and one of the most complex, locomotives that Aster have ever produced in kit form. My advice to you at this early stage is to look at the threads that have been posted about building this complex and expensive model. Building helicopters is a great pastime, fer sure, and when they go wrong they tend to fall out of the sky - at least a Gauge 1 live-steamer won't do that, but they are a lot more complicated than the mostly ready-to-assemble helicopter.

My own view is that you might dip your toe in the water by building the Aster Mike, of which there is a ton of information posted, not only recently, but in the recent past, and to check out the build documentation and 'how-to's' by folks who have built them. There is also a good deal going on the kit right now from a dealer whose name escapes me - again, on the thread.

I'm not saying that you are going to go wrong with the S-2 - a beautiful model and a very hard-charging hauler, by all accounts, but dropping $6000 or so plus taxes for a kit is a lot of money to fork out to find that maybe it's not quite what you thought it might be. You ARE going to need some serious trackwork to run it on - you don't actually mention that aspect of it, as it certainly is not a temporary 'patio track' loco by any means.
It's a great ambition to work up to an S-2, but IMO starting your live-steam hobby right at the top is a bit like learning to drive by buying a Formula 1 car.

Here on the forum, where we naturally have a number of Aster and Accucraft dealers who add their collective wisdom to those like me who are less-well-informed, but still highly opinionated. As a result, we generally get folks into the live-steam hobby the easy and far cheaper way - by building the Accucraft Ruby, or, in my case, recommending a Roundhouse self-assembly model. Sadly, apart from Aster's fine products, there are no Gauge 1 kits of US locomotives around.

Jump into the [very] deep end if you will - it's YOUR money - but I recommend a more gradual approach to the complexities of our great hobby.

tac
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I have an out door layout 25'x75' that I built last with the help of my wife (good girl).I would like to know where you can get this kit for the cost you said. The people I talked to were much higher. I also belong to a model steam club.
 

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The price tac mentioned was just an example, it is higher. The list price is $7100 for the kit. Many dealers sell for less but not $6000. If you find one let me know and I will buy all he has.

If you are a rank beginner then I agree with tac but after reading your second post I don't think you are telling us everything.
 

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Posted By danielr49 on 08/12/2008 8:56 AM
I have an out door layout 25'x75' that I built last with the help of my wife (good girl).I would like to know where you can get this kit for the cost you said. The people I talked to were much higher. I also belong to a model steam club.


Sorry, I thought you wrote you were a noob to live-steaming.

Please go ahead and buy the S-2 and tell us how you get on. Since I live in the UK the price was a guess, but hey, I live mostly over here, so sue me. ;)

tac
 

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i just finished an S2 kit, my second Aster build after the NKP Berkshire. the kit manufacture is truly outstanding. for instance, the instructions have no mention of attaching the boiler superstructure to the smokebox saddle (more about this in a second), but when i picked up this omission as a final check of the step, i had already tightened the other connections. so without going into a lot of detail, i almost blindly put the last two screws through the stack, through the ceramic sheet(!!) and the holes lined up EXACTLY dead centered. that's a hole being +/- ~0.2mm over more than 18"! in fact in the whole assembly, there was only one slightly mis-drilled hole, and only one assembly that got to be a little frustrating (the rear cab area attachment to the frame!).


now the downside. you may be good at following instructions, but with this kit that'll only get you 99% of the way there. the documents are split into an instruction booklet and a drawing booklet. i only found one mistake on the drawings. they are accurate.

the instructions, however, are another matter. most errors are omissions or assumptions. some are out-and-out errors (saying to use an M1.7-3 when the drawing calls for an M1.4-3 screw).

the instructions will tell you to lightly apply sealing compound, but it took me a while to discover a method to guarantee no clogged passages.

and there are also quite a few places where steps could be rearranged to access assemblies better.

probably my biggest flub was positioning the ceramic "rings" too close to the end of the boiler jacket (as per the illustration (I THOUGHT!!)), but then realizing later that the smokebox needed that space to attach. that was a few hours (scraping out the old and reinserting a new set of rings) i'd like to get back.


so just be aware of things like this and you'll probably be ok.
i'm about half-way through a writeup on my experience.

good luck...
...gary

ps: my #1 tip, start with the tender! it was soooo nice to see that piece sitting there ready as i struggled to put on the airpump plumbing!
 

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According to the Aster website, there are 875 manufactured parts with 950 bits of hardware to hold these parts together. You can always buy the kit, and have one of the gracious few here walk you through the process, but you should realize too that you should have some pretty good dexterity as there are a whole lot of the very small screws, the smallest M1.4-3 screws used to attach many of the various details.
BTW
The ring of insulation strips should be laminated together, allowed to dry completely then packed between the boiler and boiler shell to the depth of the (4) screw holes to secure the smoke box. Drop a bead of packing compound in the gap before easing on the smokebox for a perfect seal.

The exploded diagrams are very informative in fact you must pay close attention to them. I must have been asleep and put the lead truck on backward, each end is so close in appearance and wasn't detected right away as the first run was on a layout with extremely wide radii curves.

In terms of trackage, the recommended radii is 3 meters, that's more than 9'.
 

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Posted By GNSteamer on 08/12/2008 1:18 PM

The ring of insulation strips should be laminated together, allowed to dry completely then packed between the boiler and boiler shell to the depth of the (4) screw holes to secure the smoke box. Drop a bead of packing compound in the gap before easing on the smokebox for a perfect seal.
The exploded diagrams are very informative in fact you must pay close attention to them.





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oh com'on... tell me the #8 illustration doesn't show those insulation rings flush with the end of the boiler jacket!

if i had looked ahead to #9 and unpacked the smokebox, ok, i may have realized i was in error with my assumption, but here are the instructions:

"After placing the ceramic seal into the gap, ..."

couldn't they have instructed recessing the ~10mm you need to clear the smokebox??

...and you'd make a good Aster instruction writer, by the way. "Drop a bead of packing compound in the gap ..." ...sounds easy doesn't it. ...not. that was one messy operation, all the time hoping i don't inadvertently push the rings down farther than necessary. recall, at that time i already had all the plumbing and the boiler jack attached. if i had to back the boiler assembly out, it would have set me back at least a day.


but what fun!!!
cheers...gary
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I want to thank all of you for your help,especially Jeff. I think that I am going to take a long hard look at this before I decide what I am going to do. I do not want this kit to be sitting around. I am the type where sometimes talking me through does not work but show me first hand and I do not forget. No one around at this time for that to happen. But if I do get this kit I'm sure I will be looking for help. Thank you all again.
 

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Don't be discouraged. If you are interested in the S2, you could't pick a better subject to build and run. The S2 was my first kit build and my first entry into the hobby. I took my time, read the directions many times and proceeded slowly. The finished results were excellent. I must say that I had a great experience and was very satisfied with the outcome. A little sad that the build is over. If you choose to take the plunge, you will have lots of help and advice from the members here, as I can speak from experience.
 

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Gary, just squeeze a bead of caulk out on a sheet of glass and spoon it in with a spatula going around the perimeter. The smoke box pushes in and pushes the caulk down and seats it against the ribbon of insulation. I agree, having all the backhead assembled doesn't provide much room to press up against.

It sounds like there's several of us suffering from "kit-build withdrawls". I'm just looking forward to 8+ hours of steaming up the S2 this Saturday and building up a laser cut wood sheathed caboose for it.
 

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Gary, just squeeze a bead of caulk out on a sheet of glass and spoon it in with a spatula going around the perimeter. The smoke box pushes in and pushes the caulk down and seats it against the ribbon of insulation. I agree, having all the backhead assembled doesn't provide much room to press up against.

It sounds like there's several of us suffering from "kit-build withdrawls". I'm just looking forward to 8+ hours of steaming up the S2 this Saturday and building up a laser cut wood sheathed caboose for it.
 

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Posted By GNSteamer on 08/12/2008 7:01 PM
Gary, just squeeze a bead of caulk out on a sheet of glass and spoon it in with a spatula going around the perimeter. The smoke box pushes in and pushes the caulk down and seats it against the ribbon of insulation. I agree, having all the backhead assembled doesn't provide much room to press up against.
It sounds like there's several of us suffering from "kit-build withdrawls". I'm just looking forward to 8+ hours of steaming up the S2 this Saturday and building up a laser cut wood sheathed caboose for it.

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ok, ok... you don't have to tell me twice!

well if you substitute a piece of cardboard for your sheet of glass, that's about what i did, but again, on paper it sounds easy. in real life you're trying to put this white gook through a 4mm wide slot recessed ~10mm in depth. i felt like i was playing "Operation" with the buzzer buzzing and red nose constantly lit!


but even so, i'll echo the sentiment of 'give it a try'. as i have said, this was only my second Aster build, and in many respects it was a bit easier than the Berkshire. what i'd recommend (that's not in the book...

1) dedicate a construction area that you can access for at least 2 weeks. i use a 44" round table with at least one 12" leaf and that's about the minimum area i'd suggest. also it'll pay off putting a light color, very low nap carpet underneath the table. ...you'll see why!

2) try to choose a time when you can dedicate 2-4 hours/day without too many breaks. i'm retired and you'd think i could knock this off in a few days, but i'll tell you, about 4 hours at a time is all i can take before my eyes start to ache. the kit itself it split up into ~15 construction sections, so knocking off one or maybe two of those/day will put you on a good pace.

3) be patient. read ahead through an entire section before you start. and if something is not totally clear, ask. i'm sure you'll get all the help you'll need here.


again, good luck...
...gary
 

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Posted By aopagary on 08/13/2008 10:34 AM
Posted By GNSteamer on 08/12/2008 7:01 PM
Gary, just squeeze a bead of caulk out on a sheet of glass and spoon it in with a spatula going around the perimeter. The smoke box pushes in and pushes the caulk down and seats it against the ribbon of insulation. I agree, having all the backhead assembled doesn't provide much room to press up against.
It sounds like there's several of us suffering from "kit-build withdrawls". I'm just looking forward to 8+ hours of steaming up the S2 this Saturday and building up a laser cut wood sheathed caboose for it.

=============
ok, ok... you don't have to tell me twice!
well if you substitute a piece of cardboard for your sheet of glass, that's about what i did, but again, on paper it sounds easy. in real life you're trying to put this white gook through a 4mm wide slot recessed ~10mm in depth. i felt like i was playing "Operation" with the buzzer buzzing and red nose constantly lit!
but even so, i'll echo the sentiment of 'give it a try'. as i have said, this was only my second Aster build, and in many respects it was a bit easier than the Berkshire. what i'd recommend (that's not in the book...
1) dedicate a construction area that you can access for at least 2 weeks. i use a 44" round table with at least one 12" leaf and that's about the minimum area i'd suggest. also it'll pay off putting a light color, very low nap carpet underneath the table. ...you'll see why!
2) try to choose a time when you can dedicate 2-4 hours/day without too many breaks. i'm retired and you'd think i could knock this off in a few days, but i'll tell you, about 4 hours at a time is all i can take before my eyes start to ache. the kit itself it split up into ~15 construction sections, so knocking off one or maybe two of those/day will put you on a good pace.
3) be patient. read ahead through an entire section before you start. and if something is not totally clear, ask. i'm sure you'll get all the help you'll need here.
again, good luck...
...gary




Three GREAT suggestions! Ditto, Ditto, Ditto!
 
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