The original Sommerfeldt pantographs are not really fine. I decided to change them for LS Models ones (the 16500’s) certainly more fragile, but much more beautiful.

Insulator spacing

First problem: the distance between the insulators is not the same. In length, it’s OK: the two pantos have a spacing of 14.5 mm. But in width, the Sommerfeldt is 14 mm against 13 mm for the LSM. I should have drilled two new holes at 13 mm spacing, with however the risk of tangent holes, which involved filler, paint retouching and drilling. I wished to avoid this by playing on the LSM pantos spacing, despite the risk of breakage, as their foot seems to be zamak. So, I initially thinned the feet with a file, then I spread them very gently, and everything happily happened. But I wouldn’t do it again!

Mounting axis

Second problem: the mounting axis is centred on the LSM pantos, not on the Sommerfeldt, which led me to lengthen the roof holes. Here again, I wouldn’t do it again: now I prefer not to screw the pantos. I just glue them with a little Kristal Klear or equivalent to hold the foot and insulators. It is better for the aesthetic, and there is less risk of destroying a panto by pulling out: in case of hanging, it simply leaves its housing.

Third problem: the fixing of the LSM pantos is done by smooth barrel in which a Parker screw is supposed to make its own tapping: it is risky because it must be forced; however, at the first attempt the screw screwed up. I therefore drilled the barrel again to 1.6 mm diam. (without going through!). Then I tapped it to M2, the fixing being done by screw (M2 of course), inside the body. Another reason for not fixing the pantos!

Finally, but this was done after taking the picture below, the panto extension was limited, as on the Series 16 Vitrains, and also on all my locos equipped with LS Models pantographs, by small wedges between the frame and the main leg. This is visible on the photo at the beginning of the article.


View panto raised

OK. Of course, there are still some small missing details that would be found on a recent production: tail lamp and flag holders, fixings for train plates (“Golden Arrow”), etc. But anyway I’m pleased with it. Too bad that Roco did not release the green version with reinforced buffer beams, even though these buffer beams were the subject of controversy… At the time, I had found that this transformation had disfigured this machine. Yet this was only the beginning: “béton” livery, suppression of the cab trims, etc. In the end, this loco no longer resembled anything, although it had been considered, with its sister 9200, the most aesthetic among French electric machines, not only in France, the number of reproductions that had been made of them proves it!