Selecting And Ordering What You Need.

For Scale Speed Calculation, GO HERE


Help? Just Ask..

The Hollywood Foundry web site has a large selection of mechanisms and components, and each product often has a number of choices and options. While this makes it possible to get something very close to what you need, it can also be quite confusing if you do not fully understand all the principles of power drives, motors and such. In some ways it can be like ordering a meal and having to specify all the options and side dishes.

The majority of items we make are modular in concept. This allows us to cater for a huge number of combinations in wheelbase, gauge, wheel size, wheel type, motor size, gearing, mounting options etc. In fact the last time we checked, you could select from a staggering 4.7 million combinations for a single BullAnt!

So the First thing we would like to say is: Ask Us... If things are not clear, or if you need help selecting a device to fit your needs, by all means contact us and ask for assistance. You can do this by email at this address, or if you prefer, by telephone. Our telephone number is + 61 3 5629 1100, and we are in the time zone of GMT + 10 hours.

This means we are 10 hours ahead of London, England, or 15 hours ahead of New York, 16 hours ahead of US Central or 18 hours ahead of the US West Coast. We are happy to take calls between 9.00AM and 6.00PM our time. Please check your time zone though, we do not appreciate calls in the middle of the night. If in doubt about the time, ask your operator for the time in Sydney, Australia.

Navigating our Site..

All our products are shown on the front page for simplicity. This avoids having to navigate through pages of menus to find what you want. Those pages of categories and menus are still there, we simply short-circuited the process to make it easier for you. You simply scroll down the page until you see what you want.

At the top of the main page there is a language selector provided by Yahoo Babel Fish. You simply select the language you want the web site translated to from the list and it will do its best to provide a reasonable translation. Please note this is a machine translation and will not be perfect by any stretch of the imagination.

If you have placed an order with us, there is an order progress indicator just down from the top of the page. It shows the order number we are working on assembling at present. When you see the number the same as the number of your order, or passes it, that will tell you your order should be on its way to you.

How long does my order take?

Whatever you select, your order is placed in a queue and dealt with in strict order of receipt. If the item is a simple off-the-shelf item, like a motor or drive parts, the order may be processed very quickly, but any item that requires assembly will take longer. The reason it takes longer is that there is one person doing the assembly, and it takes quite some time to put together most of the devices. A simple BullAnt takes about an hour and a half to assemble, pack and despatch.

When you order most items, you are requesting us to custom assemble a device for you and that is why it takes time. No device is mass produced or pre-assembled, due to the number of choices a customer has. If enough customers place orders, the orders bank up and sometimes the waiting period can extend out to several months. We do not like making you wait, but as mentioned, there is only one person doing the assembly and he works 7 days a week for around 12 hours a day. So we ask you to please be patient.

Information about Products..

Almost every product on our web site has some information available about it. The only exceptions are things that are so simple that no real explanation is necessary, and it will usually have an enlarged photo available. If you find an item that does not have any information available, please let us know and we will endeavor to provide it in the future.

Note that the order frame for the BullAnt shown below has a photograph to the left of the frame. The line beneath says: 'Click on picture for more information'.

Clicking on the picture will take you to a page of information about the BullAnt, or whichever device you have selected. When you have finished looking at the information, simply use your browser's 'Back' button to come back to this order page.

In the centre of the frame there is an underlined sentence saying: BUY A 2 AXLE BULLANT. This link takes you directly to the order process for a 2 axle BullAnt. At the bottom is a price indicator and a further link that takes you to a currency converter. Australian citizens pay a Goods And Services tax of 10% on each purchase, but overseas purchasers are exempt from this tax, so the currency converter removes that tax and shows the converted price in all currencies.

Shipping Costs..

We exclusively use Australia Post for all our shipping. We do not offer private courier services like Fedex, DHL and the like. Australia Post have provided us with a high quality service that has not seen a single item go missing, either within Australia or internationally in over 4,500 postal lodgements.

Because it is a postal service, there are no tracking numbers, although we do record the number of the Customs Declaration form on each overseas parcel, and local parcels are always sent by registered parcel post that carries a registration number. There is therefore some chance of tracking a parcel if it goes missing.

The cost of shipping via Australia Post is quite moderate and far less than some European countries. Parcels normally travel by air and transit times to the UK are approximately 4 days and to the USA about 5 days. If you want to check the postage costs, use this postage calculator. We add aproximately $2.30 to the cost shown to cover packaging and labour. We always use new postal cartons and bubble wrap protection.

Choosing Motors..

We carry most of the range of Mashima motors, except for the open frame and round can versions, or simply put, we stock all the flat can motors. The purchase frame for the motors has two sets of links, the first set take you to a page of specifications and a drawing of each motor type.

We have gone to the trouble of producing drawings for each type of motor, even though Mashima themselves do not provide this information. We also publish both the official Mashima motor specifications and an independent set of specifications and performance figures produced by the Eighteen Millimeter Gauge Society, for which we are grateful.

This is done in order to allow you to make a good choice of motor for your project. Note that bigger motors are not necessarily faster motors and some small motors have more power than you might think.

There is a Scale Speed Calculator further down this page to help you work out you motor choice. See HERE

What Motor is Best For my Project?

A bad choice of motor is the most common mistake customers make. You need to look at what motor is best in terms of space, operating speed and current consumption. But it really gets down to this one rule:

Stuff the largest sized motor you can fit into your model !

We cannot emphasize this point enough. Unfortunately too many modelers choose a small motor for all the wrong reasons, and while we try to advise them about their poor choice, ultimately it is their choice!

Larger motors usually provide:

  • Smoother Operation
  • Lower Starting Voltage
  • Cooler Running
  • Higher Torque
  • Greater Adhesive Weight

One thing we are hearing more and more these days is that the modeler wants to use a small motor so as to leave more room in the model for a sound decoder and speakers. There are two factors fighting each other for room in the model these days, weight and sound systems. If you look at models brought out prior to on-board sound systems, particularly US models, they filled every available space inside the model with heavy die cast metal blocks to increase the weight. This was because customers wanted their models to pull a large load, or at the very least, a prototypical load.

Now the tendency is to use smaller motors, smaller or no flywheels at all, and leave as much space inside the model for the sound gear as possible. Therefore you need to decide whether you want a good performing model, or one that has sound, because generally speaking, you cannot have both. It is not uncommon for recent Ready-To-Run models to pull well under their prototypical load as a result. Sadly, the manufacturers then resort to the largely discredited practice of fitting traction tyres to the models to make them pull harder.

We have also had British customers that order a six wheel BullAnt with 16mm diameter spoked wheels with a steam tender drive in mind. Then they ask for it to be fitted with the Mashima MHK-1015, the smallest motor in the range and standard 15:1 gearing. We asked one modeler if he would reconsider and use a larger motor, and he replied that anything larger would not fit under the simulated coal load in the tender. We then suggested that the coal could actually be heaped higher, but he insisted on using the smaller motor. We have not heard from him since, but suspect that the project was not successful !

Please look carefully at your project before choosing the motor. A small 1015 motor is OK for light duty applications, such as small railcars, small trams and MOW vehicles, but should not be used in BO-BO or CO-CO diesels. And mostly it should be used with higher gear ratios to slow it down to prototypical speeds. Try the 31:1 or 60:1 ratios.

There is a Scale Speed Calculator further down this page to help you work out you motor choice. See HERE

Finally, if still in doubt about what size motor to select, measure your model and:

Stuff the largest sized motor you can fit into it !

Do I Really Need a Flywheel?

We normally fit flywheels to all devices, you actually have to intentionally delete them if you don't want them. And that pretty much tells you what our attitude is towards flywheels. We think they are pretty much a necessity.

Flywheels are also often misunderstood. The usual conception is that they are there to make the model coast some distance in the absence of power. While that is one aim, it is by no means the only one. In reality, the distance the average model fitted with an average sized flywheel, will coast, is quite small. The biggest factor in flywheel effect is the diameter of the flywheel, and sadly the model confines are usually too small to take a good sized flywheel.

The diameter plays such a large part, as against length or weight, that only a small increase in diameter is sufficient to double the flywheel effect. So recent models with small diameter flywheels, particularly those fitted to models coming out of China, are largely ineffective. Often the manufacturer is actually using these tiny flywheels to facilitate adapting the motor shaft to the cardan shaft drive, the flywheel effect is thus secondary to the purpose.

A good sized flywheel smoothes out motor performance, lessening any tendency of the motor to 'cogging', it allows the model to coast a short distance over dirty sections of track, it adds valuable adhesive weight to the model, and it smoothes over any sticky parts in the drive mechanism. And lest any of the DCC brigade wish to suggest that decoders fitted with Supercaps make flywheels obsolete, no they do not.

What Gear Ratio Should I Select?

Well, the standard 15:1 gear ratio that most of our products have is OK for fastish models, such as the rather quick railcars, electric multiple unit trains etc. It is even OK for fast passenger locomotives. But for almost anything else, a slower speed is required and the 31:1 ratio is more suitable. Both of these cost the same, so there is no cost penalty in choosing the right one. In a similar vein, our InLine bogies come with either 15:1 or 26:1 ratios, but the BullAnt Major only comes in 30:1 ratio.

For very slow models such as small diesel switchers, a 60:1 ratio is offered, and for many experienced modelers, this is the minimum they would accept, often choosing much higher ratios. However, sales have shown us that even the 60:1 gearbox is not that popular, so we are unlikely to go to the trouble of making an even higher ratio box.

When the 15:1 box is used with the smaller motors, the speed is quite high, and the tradeoff is that the starting speed is also high. As the 10 series motors also have a higher initial rotation voltage anyway, this only adds to the problem. The result is that you wind the controller up until about 4 to 5 volts and the unit leaps into life. Not very prototypical.

See the Scale Speed Calulator down the page HERE

Gear Drive or Belt Drive?

This is a difficult one, as conventional thinking leads us to believe that everything should be gear driven. Why? Because it has always been so. At Hollywood Foundry we do not hold that view. While gears are the normal choice, they are noisy things. In a gear train, the gears, as they rotate, strike each other and produce gear impact noise. This is unavoidable, but can be minimised by using gear 'sandwiches' of Delrin material and brass, and also helically cut gears to minimise the impact noise. Large gear reductions using worm gears as the first stage in a gear train will also avoid the noise problem, but the modular design of our products does not allow this.

So why did we not use belts to begin with? Simply because we probably would never have sold anything if we had started off selling belt-driven mechanisms, such is the way we are conditioned to think.

Part of the reason for not considering belt drives is that many years ago Athearn produced a number of models that had rubber band drives, and these models were not really a great success. But the Athearn design used ordinary rubber bands, that perished over time, had no pulleys to constrain the band, and drove directly from the motor shaft to the axle with no other reduction. As a result, the models powered by this system reached warp speeds. If a rubber band broke, it was necessary to completely dismantle the model to change it. Thus modellers became disillusioned with this type of drive.

Our belt drives use actual belts, not cheap rubber bands. The belt is made from a synthetic rubber called Chloroprene and these belts are made by the same company that makes belts for use in floppy disc drives and such. Ever heard of one of those belts failing? We also run the belts in machined brass pulleys with a V groove to grip the belt properly. We will, as time allows, add different sized pulleys and even heavier sized belts to increase our range of ratios and power handling.

Scale Speed Calculator

For the Speed Calculator to work, you will need to have 'scripting' turned on in your browser. For Microsoft Internet Explorer, see 'scripts,running' under the help section.

The calculator will work out the top speed of the mechanism based on a maximum track voltage of 12 Volts DC, and where the motor is actually running at 12 Volts. Motor speeds have been determined by measurement of actual motors using a photo-tachometer, where they are driving a BullAnt mechanism, but not placed under load on the track. The motor was powered from a pure 12 volt DC source, a sealed lead-acid accumulator, during the measurements.

Calculations can only be provided for mechanisms and motors supplied by Hollywood Foundry.

While the calculations are as accurate as possible, they can vary according to load on the mechanism and a range of factors unable to be accounted for in this program. For these reasons, results should only be regarded as a guide.

Which Scale are you working in?
Selected Mechanism
Motor Size
Gear or Belt Drive Ratio
Wheel Size
Scale Speed in Miles per Hour
Scale Speed in Kilometers per Hour

How Quiet is a Belt Drive?

Well, we did some tests with seven commercially available motor-bogies from our competitors and independant observers noted that our BullAnt with belt drive was the quietest of all eight bogies.

Selecting a Mounting Bolster

The mounting bolster is a nickel silver plate attached to the spine of the mechanism to make it possible to attach that mechanism to a model. All mounting bolsters can swivel, so that if the bolster is rigidly attached to the model, the mechanism can rotate and tilt in all directions to a limited degree. The size and type of the bolster can be chosen from a range of types and sizes.

The standard bolster is a cross mounting type and comes in a variety of lengths, 20mm, 26mm, 32mm and 38mm. The length value is the overall length of the bolster and there are 2mm diameter holes positioned 1.5mm in from each end.

The next type of bolster is the Bat Wing type. This type provides two 2mm diameter holes, spaced 11.5mm apart, and again 1.5mm in from each end. This type makes a more rigid mount, but can reduce the rotational ability of the mechanism.

The final type is an end mount, designed to cantilever the mechanism off one end of the mount. Again, two 2mm holes are provided, this time 3.5mm apart and 1.5mm in from the end. This type of mount comes with folded sides to increase rigidity.

To select the right size mount, you need to know the maximum width inside the model, and select the length of the bolster accordingly. This applies equally to the cross and Bat Wing types. To select the correct end mount, take the wheelbase of the mechanism, divide by two, add 9mm to arrive at an ideal length. Then select the length of end mount that is nearest or greater than this value.

Selecting a Wiring Scheme

Most customers will not bother with this option, selecting only 'Standard'. The Standard wiring scheme corresponds to the NMRA recommendation that a positive voltage applied to the right hand rail will make the mechanism move forward, that is away from the viewer. The gearbox end of all devices is regarded as the front.

For reasons best known to Triang, the British came up with the opposite of this for their 12mm gauge, or TT models, so we offer that wiring convention as an option.

For tram or trolley modellers, we offer 'Common wheels and overhead power collection'. This wiring scheme provides all wheels connected together and the resultant connection is made to the LEFT hand side of the motor. A separate wire, Red, from the motor is provided with a length of 300mm for connection to the overhead power.

Finally, 'Common wheels and trolley pole reversing' provides all wheels connected together, but in this case, there are 3 leads of 300mm length, the wheels and each side of the motor. These 3 separate connections are necessary to make trolley pole reversing work properly.

Entering the Wheelbase

The wheelbase is the distance between the centres of the axles. You can enter this value in plain digits if the measurement is in millimetres, or with double quotation marks if it is in inches, thus: 1.5" You can specify the value down to an accuracy of 0.1mm or 0.004" if you wish.

Where there are 3 or more axles, please enter the values for the axle centres, with a plus sign in between. The first value is always taken from the gearbox end of the mechanism. So a 3 axle device with a 21mm wheelbase for the distance from first axle to second axle, and 26mm from second axle to third axle, would be entered as: 21+26.

If for some reason you wish to place the gearbox towards the middle of the model, rather than the ends, then you need to reverse the order of the entry: 26+21.

Lateral Action Explained

Originally we offered our 3 and 4 axle mechanisms with an option of rigid wheel mountings, but it became clear after a while that most customers did not understand that this would mean a limited ability to negotiate corners.

We therefore took the decision to only offer our 'Lateral Action' feature from then on for all mechanisms with more than two axles, basically to protect customers from themselves. The Lateral Action feature uses a different gearbox housing on the centre axle, made from nickel silver. It has thinner wheel bearings and these thin bearing allow the axle to slide back and forth laterally about 1.4mm.

Many commercial manufacturers simply fit flangeless wheels to the centre axle and/or make that axle idle, or not driven. Our solution permits the mechanism to work on much sharper curves while maintaining full wheel contact with the rail, full electrical pickup and full drive to the centre axle.

There is still a limit to the curve radius that can be accomodated, but it is not possible to predict this given the large number of choices the customer has, in terms of wheelbase, wheel size and gauge. We do recommend you consider the minimum radius as part of your design.

The above drawing shows that a 3 axle mechanism, with 10.5mm diameter wheels, running on HO or 16.5mm gauge track, with 20mm axle spacings can accomodate a 420mm or 16.5 inch radius curve. This is done by simply allowing the centre wheel to move out by the amount of 0.7mm, or about 0.028 of an inch.




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