Project progress

Views from the Paint Shop

Posted on June 10, 2017. Filed under: Project progress |

Here’s a couple of recent photographs taken outside the Birmingham paint shop, courtesy of Ian Rathbone.

54458 Scratch 9 170608

The painting and lettering of 54458 was a joint effort. I first brush painted numerous thin coats of primer and top coat, aiming for the appearance of a very run down, early post-war engine. Tim Shackleton lightly airbrushed the model at Missenden to “blend” my brush strokes and produce a more even finish. Finally, Ian Rathbone lettered the tender and added the cab side numbers. The hand painted number plate was my own work, though it is unlikely to have been carried at the time period represented.

54495 Scratch 9 170608

As with 54458, I painted the chassis of 54495 very light before sending it off to the paint shop. Ian has since darkened the colour of the frames to correspond with this very clean engine. Curiously, the Dunalastair IV is without a cab roof. Less surprising, neither engine has brakes and the Pickersgill is minus buffer heads and screw couplings.

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View Blocking

Posted on February 14, 2017. Filed under: Project progress |

“Beech Module (South)” is the last of four front-of-layout view blockers and contains the three beeches across the road from Station Cottage’s garage, as seen in the photograph behind the roll of fuse wire.

trees-8-170214-4427       Beech tree armatures

The tree front right is a substantial 360-degree representation (temporarily installed in the module base), while the one to its left is a 180-degree tree, and the one behind is a 90-degree tree. This allows some compression to fit the space available and, by the by, reduces the modelling time.

trees-9-170214-4429       Tree planting

After initial foliation, here’s the full tree and the quarter tree planted, while the three-quarter tree awaits its turn. A bit like a jigsaw, each tree should ideally match its neighbour.

trees-10-170214-4434       All joined up

I’ve tried to strike a balance between realistic foliage and being able to see some background through the foliage.The final adjustments to colour, tone and ground cover will be made on the layout alongside the other view blockers to achieve overall compatibility.

I know that 2017 is the “Year of The Train, Again”. However, the viewpoints have been getting repetitive and this new tree module will give a bit more variety.

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Finished unfinished

Posted on January 17, 2017. Filed under: Project progress |

One year on from “Unfinished projects”, 17/1/16, the part welded Stanier 4000 gallon tender for Black Five 44722 is ready for painting and lining, as noted in “December progress”. All the locos and tenders currently needing P & L attention are now in the Birmingham Paint Shop.

44695-tender-5-170102-dscn4425       4000 gallon part welded tender

Completion took only a couple of weeks, considerably helped by the ERSA RDS 80. A key motivator was the opportunity to include it in the paint shop delivery earlier this month. It will be painted with the later BR large totem, while 45473’s tender will have its large totem replaced with the lion-on-wheel small totem.

44695-tender-6-170102-dscn4426       Rear view

The tender is 60% to 70% scratch built, although the brass overlays for the part welded tank, the original castings and a few brass parts recovered from the Brassmasters kit as first assembled in 2001, make it seem less. The complete underframe and tank body shell were all fretted out from new, and the chassis was substantially re-worked with a new compensation system (as per the original kit) and with front/rear extensions to replace earlier tom foolery.

Why did I bother when a new kit would have saved a considerable amount of time? 45473’s tender made straight from the later nickel kit is a much neater and cleaner model. I think most of us hate to see our ambitions thwarted and I didn’t want this first attempt at serious modelling to be forgotten. If nothing else our hobby is about nostalgia, and not just for the prototype. I bought the kit off the manufacturer’s stand at Scaleforum almost a quarter of a century ago.

In the short term, this will give 45473 a choice of tenders and periods on Kyle of Sutherland and allow more variety in train photographs. In due course, when 44722 is ready, we might see a train of 9 or 10 coaches double-headed through Culrain in a 1950s Highland Summer.

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Inside valve gear

Posted on June 15, 2016. Filed under: Project progress |

I made the original 57587 in 2002 from a very poor Skinley drawing, rebuilding the body around 2011 and 2012 and giving the loco a new, twin-beam compensated chassis with the correct wheelbase (see “Rolling Stock Gallery”). In between waiting for the many thin coats of paint to dry on 54458, I took the opportunity to add more detail to 57587 and to provide a representation of the valve gear, which is very noticeable between the boiler and the upper frames.

Fortunately, back in the 1990s, I photographed between the frames of the preserved 57566 on the Strathspey Railway. The key visual elements are the weigh shaft, rocking arms and balance weight, and the reversing arm and operating lever. Unfortunately, these are very close to where the twin beam compensation components are situated.

57587 Valve Gear 1 160615       Squeezing in the valve gear

The weigh shaft and rocking arms sub-assembly is a spring fit between the outer bearing housings to give access to the compensation beams underneath, which have notches filed to give clearance for their movement. The gap between the nearer housing and the loco frame (cut away at this point) is created to accommodate the reversing arm, which, with the operating lever, is attached to the loco body. A consequence of this is that the upper frame between the splashers on this side of the model is attached to the body, and on the other side is part of the main frame.

57587 Valve Gear 2 160615       Looking between the frames

The view under the boiler is now suitably “busy”, and the small gap between the end of the weigh shaft and the reversing arm is hidden.

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Sub-prime Livery

Posted on May 25, 2016. Filed under: Project progress |

The Dunalastair IV is almost ready for the paint shop.

54458 Scratch 7 160525       To paint or not to paint?

I’m keen to get on and paint 54458, but I first need to take stock. It’s taken me a long time to get to this stage and I still have a few, albeit relatively minor, items on the snagging list.

The “Mails” may have to wait a bit longer for a pilot.


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Painting the HR TPO

Posted on April 18, 2016. Filed under: Project progress |

There’s considerable debate about post-war colours of the three prototype HR TPOs, David Jenkinson suggesting they all retained LMS crimson lake livery until withdrawal in 1961. I have two colour photographs from “the early 1950s” showing significant colour differences, giving me considerable licence to experiment.

Coaches 14 160415       Colour matching

The model is of an old coach towards the end of its days, which had probably not been repainted in BR days apart, that is, from the “late fee” posting box on each side. The first step was to brush paint the faded body, roof and underframe colours in enamel over a dilute Humbrol No 1 grey primer.

Coaches 15 160418       First colour approximations

The 5 thou nickel silver framework for the traductor arms is soldered to the body, while the metal tubes and base plates are attached to the solebars. At this stage the underframe is detachable, as is the roof, but once I glue the whitemetal traductor arms (located in the tubes) to their framework the underframe and body become a single unit. I now have a decision to take: do I continue by painting the traductor frameworks (and lamps, posting box, and other details) now or after attaching the traductor arms.

I’ll think about it.

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Unfinished projects

Posted on January 17, 2016. Filed under: Project progress |

Here’s one from 2001 that’s still unfinished. Why is it taking so long?

My beautiful picture       An early tender attempt

This was my first soldering project, based on a Brassmasters kit. I found the compensation instructions difficult to follow, I didn’t know what to do about the tender tank overlays, and I had little prototype information.

Later, in 2004, I took it apart and made a fresh start.

44695 Tender 2 160116       New scratch underframe

I modelled some nice detail, but the design was flawed. The Brassmasters tender was in three parts: tank body, underframe and inside chassis. I was now trying to make the tank body and underframe as a single unit. Unfortunately, the tank body and some other vital parts were destroyed beyond use in the previous dismantling, and I didn’t know what to do next.

Having decided to model Black five 44722 paired with a Stanier part welded tender, I bought the tender add-on kit in 2005. This came with flat etched tender side overlays, which needed bending to form the turn-in along the top. The project lay dormant until this year, by which time I’d made, or part-made, four more tenders. One of them, the second Caley Coaches kit I assembled, involved a new scratch body to increase the height, as well as rounded corners. This gave me the motivation to return to 44722’s tender.

44695 Tender 3 160117       One final push in 2016?

The key to project success for me is having the experience to know what to do under trying circumstances, and having the right tools and knowing how to use them. A vee block and rubber mallet increased my metal forming capabilities substantially.

This time I’m going to finish 44722’s tender. I hope.

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A new loco kit

Posted on December 7, 2015. Filed under: Project progress |

This kit of parts makes up into a basic footplate and cab assembly.

54495 Scratch 1 151207       Pickersgill 4-4-0 54495

The Caledonian Railway Dunalastair IV and Pickersgill engines are quite similar, so it was easy to make some extra parts for the Pickersgill while plodding along with the Dunalastair IV. Differences include the coupling rod splashers and cab, and the overall length.

After much research and soul-searching, I came to the conclusion that the smokebox, boiler and firebox are the same on both superheater engines in 1950s form. That’s the next job after tacking together these parts.

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Last of “The Six”

Posted on October 16, 2015. Filed under: Project progress |

The HR TPO M30321 is taking shape with the help of drawings sent to me by Peter Tatlow and a set of Fotopic photographs taken at Inverness after withdrawal in August 1961. I achieved a trial assembly of the basic body shell just before going to the Autumn Missenden Abbey Railway Modellers’ Weekend.

The sides, solebars and flat roof blank are 247 Developments etches. The ends are Comet, suitably narrowed and shaped, and come with a neat bracket into which the scratch floor is bolted. I riveted the solebar webs before bending up the bottom flange and made a pair of scratch buffer beams.

Coaches 11 151016       Trial assembly

This is the first coach I’ve made with a brass roof, which came with a few design challenges, and that’s what I wanted to work on at Missenden. With help from Kevin Wilson (of Bucks Hill 0-gauge fame) the roof was rolled in the large GW Models Roller and the long edges treated to gentle taps with a rubber mallet over a 3/4” solid steel rod.

Kevin also advised adding a number of cross pieces between the sides just under the top edges (visible in the background of the next photo) and soldering stiff nickel silver rods (0.8mm diameter) along the inside edges and resting on the cross pieces. This added some much needed stiffness to the body.

Coaches 12 151016       Fitting rain strips

A big advantage of the brass roof is being able to solder on the rain strips (0.4mm square nickel silver point rodding from MSE), and other items. The cute knotted rubber bands holding a rain strip allow careful adjustment and checking against photographs before tacking and running the solder. 1 mm brass angle is soldered round the ends and cut and formed to give the characteristic end shape. This last idea, and others, came from Guy Williams’ articles in MRJs 115 and 116 describing the construction of a set of Bristolian coaches.

After the Exeter Show in 2013, where the layout was very short of characteristic stock of the Far North line, I planned a further six coaches (see “March progress” from 2014). This is the last and the most difficult to make, but I benefitted from the experience of first making the four Comet coaches.

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Posted on August 15, 2015. Filed under: Project progress |

Forty-two down, eighteen to go.

Trees 7 150815       Tree growth in Studio 2

This line-up is due to steady, methodical work at the Missenden Summer School, combined with a little experimentation. I’ve tried to introduce that all-important recession by choice of colour, size and structure.

I did chicken out of airbrushing the trees behind the up line to tone them down. It’s not a job I want to rush, and I need more practice in the technique. Instead, I’ll place the trees on the layout, and possibly add grass, before trying a holistic approach.

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