One of the most important things you should do with a brand new model loco or multiple unit is to run it in under controlled conditions, either on a dedicated test track or, if room is an issue, use a rolling road! Running in procedures are usually well described in the manuals that come with a new model such as the Graham Farish Class 37/4 (above).
My current rolling road of choice is the KPF Zeller 600mm long ‘Professional’ which has roller units for HO/OO gauge and N gauge mounted on the side bars. So why use a rolling road? Well, a great deal of fine tuning can be achieved by watching how a model runs on a rolling road and fine adjustments can be made accordingly. The manner in which the motion of steam locomotives is working can be observed for tight spots or binding which is easier to detect including the point at which it happens. Less than concentric wheels may be identified together with a whole host of other small defects that would be harder to see when testing on a layout.
The design of all the rolling roads is based on two strong side bars secured parallel to each other with special insulating brackets. The bars are very neatly finished, allowing the various tight-fitting spacer brackets to slide along them and beveled at the ends to prevent snagging. The various pick-up roller units sit on the bars and are secured in place with a thinner centre bar. The pick-up rollers slide along the bars so the correct position for the driving and bogie wheels of a locomotive can be selected.
An elegant and simple accessory for the KPF Zeller rolling road range is the driving wheel cleaning attachment which easily and quickly cleans locomotive driving wheels. The one designed for OO/HO gauge is demonstrated in this article and is a modified pick-up roller unit which can be fitted with the same cleaning cloth pads as used on the KPF Zeller track cleaning cars. The wheel cleaner is fitted to the rolling road by removing the end spacer and one or two of the pick-up roller units. Slide the cleaning attachment into place and return the pick-roller units too. Refit the end spacer and plug the power back in.
The pads are soaked with a drop of track cleaning fluid dispensed from a dropper (10ml is supplied with the attachment and a drop on each pad is all that is needed) and the model mounted on the required roller units to support it. The attachment is positioned under the wheels requiring cleaning and everything carefully seated before operations commence. Each pair of wheels on one axle are cleaned one at a time. The model is run gently on the rollers, being held by the fingers to ensure the wheels being cleaned are making contact with the cleaning pads. Remove the loco, replace the cleaning pads if necessary and mount the model again with the wheel cleaning attachment under another pair of wheels. Rinse and repeat, in effect.
The side bars not only support the roller units but work as power bus rods too, supplying power to the roller units so the models will run. There is a middle bar too which stabilises the rolling road and provides power for three-rail models which are quite common in Europe. Power is introduced from one end with simple plugs and the rolling road is suitable for both traditional analogue power and DCC.
Ten Commandment Models offers the full range of KPF Zeller rolling roads in the UK, ranging from mini ones to test short engines such as tank engines for modellers with branch line type layouts to the large professional standard road which will suit people with mixed collections and who do professional modelling work such as kit building and decoder installation. More information regarding the range of KPF Zeller HO/OO, N and O gauge rolling roads available in the UK, including the wheel cleaning attachment can be found here.