Review of David Hoffman HOn3 Climax Kit
- I have never seen a review of the David Hoffman (The Bald One
Locomotive Works) HOn3 Climax kit and since I had one, I decided to
build it up over the summer and did a quick review of it for the group.
It is located in the files section (because it has text and photos) at
the link below.
If you just go into the files section you can find it under Hoffman
Climax Kit Review.
It is a fun kit to build, runs well, is all brass but requires no
soldering. It isn't for everyone but some of you might enjoy it.
I will pull the files in a few weeks to save space so feel free to
download it if it is of interest.
Your pics of the little climax are great and a very useful reference for the builder of David Hoffman's kit or even someone who decides to scratch build a similar model.
I downloaded them for future reference but was unable to open the .doc file. Just my computer or is anyone else having trouble with this?
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- --- In HOn3@yahoogroups.com, "Ed Weldon" <23.weldon@...> wrote:
>Ed, I just downloaded the .doc file and it opened just fine in my
> Your pics of the little climax are great and a very useful reference
> for the builder of David Hoffman's kit or even someone who decides to
> scratch build a similar model.
> I downloaded them for future reference but was unable to open the
> .doc file. Just my computer or is anyone else having trouble with
> Ed Weldon
OpenOffice swriter program. Try downloading it again. You may have a
copy that was munged in transmission.
Here is the text copied out of the file. I had no trouble opening it
but some people have had problems so I wanted to have a copy in the
files that anyone could access. This copy doesn't have the color or
bold type but it should be readable.
Hoffman Class A Four-Wheel HOn3/HOn30 Climax Kit Review
The Four-Wheel Class A Climax kit from David Hoffman (The Bald One
Locomotive Works) has been available for several years now but I
wasn't aware of it until the 2007 NG Convention in Portland, Maine. I
had seen the drawings in the Hoffman catalog but assumed that it was
either out of production or wasn't as complete as what the catalog
I was wrong on both counts â" it is very much in stock and available
and it is a complete loco chassis and basic body. David Hoffman, whose
past work includes writing the definitive book on the Dunkirk geared
loco, is a knowledgeable researcher on Climax locomotives and the
instructions show it. He also did several pilot models of geared
locomotives for NWSL a few years ago and this kit shows his depth of
BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front)
This is a simple kit that gives you a superb chassis and a basic body
kit in brass. It has a can motor and all the shell parts needed to
have a running locomotive with requiring soldering. It will require
that the modeler finish the detailing with metal, wood, or styrene to
suit their own tastes.
The locomotive has been available for several years in HOn3 and Dave
just recently announced that it will now be available in HOn30 also.
It is an intermediate kit only in that it requires the builder to
finish the detailing â" from a construction point of view if you can
handle a tube of glue and a screwdriver, you can put this together in
a couple of evenings. It does require some chassis tuning â" each kit
comes with spacer washers, etc, but this is extremely well covered in
Open the box, read the directions!
Simple enough, but I didn't do it. I opened the box and tried to
figure it out on my own. The instructions are detailed, with drawings
and a complete description of what you need to do. If you follow them,
you will end up with a sweet running locomotive. If you don't follow
them you will eventually end up with a sweet running locomotive but
only because you have to go back and read the instructions like I did,
The Instructions give a complete history of the kit and some excellent
background of the smaller 4-wheel Class A Climax Locomotives. I
highly recommend that you buy or at least borrow and read the book
"The Climax Locomotive" by Thompson, Dunn, and Hauff. Just looking at
the photos and wood cut drawings of the early Class A Climax Locos
puts this kit in perspective. While there is only one readly available
photo of a four-wheel Climax loco (p.14 of the Thompson, Dunn, and
Hauff book) . The kit instructions though give some excellent drawings
of how Class A Climax Locomotives were typically finished and these
match the photos in the Climax Book so even without access to other
sources, if you just follow the instructions, you will end up with a
superb model. (The website www.gearedsteam.com is also a good place to
find detail shots of Class A Climax Locos.)
The heart and core of this locomotive is a well-engineered chassis.
Unlike most four-wheel locomotives, this on does not depend on wipers
for electrical pickup. Dave has modified commercial Athearn (and
former Roundhouse) mechanism parts to create a split chassis loco that
has partial equalization and provides for a smooth running small
The result is a chassis that when assembled and adjusted runs smoothly
and slowly. And slow is the Key for a Climax. After all, we are trying
to replicate the slow, powerful movement of a geared locomotive.
Dave's choice of a large Mashima can motor helps in that regard. The
locomotive has an estimated top speed of about 25-30 SMPH, not too bad
for a simple gear train using commercial parts.
Given that the majority of the HO and HOn30 Climax kits have used a
diesel Chassis (the old Roundhouse kit included) and had top speeds of
between 70 and 110 Scale Miles per Hour (SMPH)! This is pretty good in
comparison. A real modeler could put in a micro-motor with gear head
and slow it down but that is clearly an advanced option and not for
Suffice it to say, adding DCC would be a better option and simply
limit the volts to about 60% of max voltage and you would be right in
the ball park for speed for a Climax loco.
In addition, the locomotive chassis comes pre-drilled and tapped for
Micro-Trains HOn3/N Scale couplers taking one of the biggest headaches
out of completing most locomotive kits.
The body and details
Dave Hoffman is a believer in mass and gravity for small locomotives.
Small heavy locomotives run far better than small light locomotives
(as the early followers of N Scale found out.) This locomotive has
several large castings (the water tank for one) along with some
smaller castings (the water hatch, some beautiful journal box castings
(right out of the Climax plan book!) and the windows (to be used as
noted in the instructions for detailing.) These give it enough weight
to run smoothly and have good electrical pickup.
On the subject of castings though -- be careful not to file away the
little nibs on the back of the journal box castings â" you need those
for locating them on the chassis parts. I did that on one and quickly
learned my lesson.
I have included several photos to show the construction as I did it. I
made a mistake in locating the motor â" I gave it too much `lift' at
the tail end and had to make some minor brass removal from the casting
that includes the primary roof shape and stack. If you do it like the
instructions say, you won't have that problem.
I used Uhu glue for the motor (my favorite) but any of the two-part
epoxies or one-part resin glues (like Uhu) will do a fine job holding
the motor in place. Don't use ACC (superglue) it just won't hold
against the motor torque.
For the price ($96 PP with the cast end beams) this kit is a bargain.
It is an excellent entry kit for the Narrow Gauge modeler seeking a
geared locomotive replica and provides a great starting point for the
free-lancer in HOn3 or HOn30. It is probably not for the rank beginner
but if you have done a kit or two of any kind, this should be within
your reach. Remember, no soldering required! For the modeler ready to
try something to add to their collection of resin kit conversions,
this might be the ticket to Tomahawk that you have been looking for!
The kits are available from
David M. Hoffman
8682 U.S. Hwy 61 North
Woodville, MS 39669-3502
--- In HOn3@yahoogroups.com, "Ed Weldon" <23.weldon@...> wrote:
> Your pics of the little climax are great and a very useful
reference for the builder of David Hoffman's kit or even someone who
decides to scratch build a similar model.
> I downloaded them for future reference but was unable to open
the .doc file. Just my computer or is anyone else having trouble with
> Ed Weldon
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]