Category Archives: Workbench (stock)
One of the most characteristic features of the Highland Railway’s locomotives for many years was the louvered chimney. This was fitted to almost all of David Jones’ locomotives and although some lost them over their lives, most retained them until withdrawal. Indeed this style of chimney can still be seen on the preserved Jones Goods which is presently in the Riverside Museum of Transport in Glasgow.
There is debate as to the reason that these chimneys were fitted but it is generally considered that they sought to assist in the drafting of the fire on the downhill sections of the line. There were many long descents on the line and regulator would be closed for such descents and thus the fire was not drafted by the exhaust from the cylinders. The louvres would have allowed the passing air to pull on the fire to keep .
Clearly for such a characteristic feature of the line, it is important to model it well on my locos but I am not totally happy with the renditions that are available. The whitemetal chimneys look too chunky and neither the cast brass (Lochgorm) or turned brass (Jidenco/Falcon Brass) have very distinct louvres. I feel that they can be improved and this is how I go about doing so; in this case starting with the Lochgorm Models cast brass chimney. Similarly, if you are turning your own chimney, the same situation arises,
I started by some basic improvements to the chimney. I found that my casting was not parallel down the shaft of the chimney, being fatter at the top, and also not particularly smooth. I therefore turned it down a little on a drill with some needle files. The casting sprue was not particularly central so to be able to turn the chimney it was first necessary to file this to get it more central. Thereafter, I drilled out the chimney to 4.5mm diameter to its full depth on a pillar drill. I am doing this partly for appearance but really because I intend to put sound speakers in the smokebox and it is necessary to leave routes for the sound to escape – the most authentic being to chimney! Casting brass is very hard and this is no little task – it takes some time, lubricant and anyone in the house need to be able to tolerate a good amount of noise!
The Lochgorm Models cast chimney has a series of depressions to represent the louvres and these are what I felt needed improving. I started this with a piercing saw with a fine (OOOO) slot at the top of the cast depressions. This is cut across the whole width of the depressions and a little further beyond, ignoring where the pillars between the slots are.
These are then given a chamfer slope with a needle file that has a blank face (to make sure it does not cut above the slot). This also needs to be taken beyond either end of the intended louvres to avoid the impact of any taper. The top three have been formed in the picture below, with the lowest still just the piercing saw cut.
Once all have been formed, the next task is to undo all of the work by filling them in again! All of the gaps are flooded with solder. I used 145 solder as it would survive the reasonable temperatures that would be incurred in soldering it to the boiler but also be soft enough to carve out again.
The louvres were then marked out, starting with the two vertical rows either side of the central pillar that must match the highest point of the flare. Then with a knife, the solder infill between these is cut back out. The knife can cut through the solder to cut it out but does it will not affect the brass, so the louvre is reformed. I found that the technique was to initially cut it away and once a basic amount was removed the blade can be scraped side to side within the louvre to get a smooth surface. This brings up burrs of solder at either side of the louvre which are then cut out. This is what it looks like with the first two columns of louvres done – I found it best to do it like this as it was easier to get them vertical than by doing them in rows.
You will find that you get through a fair few blades doing this as the most challenging part is getting the corners crisp (and the photography is very cruel in this regard!). It is also easy to be a bit enthusiastic and accidentally cut pillar – if this happens, it can be reformed with a dab of solder and the process repeated until there is a neat row of four slots in four columns.
Once you are near to finished, a dusting of grey primer shows up any remaining inconsistencies and hopefully it looks something like this:.
This process creates not only the slope of the louvre opening but also the dark shadow of the cavity. In my view these features are necessary to capture the feel of the distinctive feature of the Highland Railway. It takes around 2-3 hours to make each chimney and in I reckon it is worth the time and effort.
I no longer affix roofs firmly to the body of my coaches as makes both the building and the painting much easier. The downside of this is that there is the challenge of keeping the roof on tight without there being any visible joint between the two as this looks terrible. The solution I now use is to clamp this to the floor with 10BA bolts by way of brackets as can be seen in the photograph below.
As built, these coaches had full length step boards but they lost most of these through their life. They were electric fitted from the outset. The chassis below is close to finished except I have run out of vacuum cylinders so these will need to be added, along with the vacuum pipes.
The bogies are also a key part of the proposed kit and are something that I have been working on with Justin Newitt of Rumney Models – the idea being to combine the sprung bogie design that he has prepared with cosmetic etches for the sides and then the castings from Lochgorm Models or perhaps our own in due course. The bogie is quite sophisticated with both primary and secondary springing – the latter is on the bolster and is as below.
The primary springing is on the axleboxes and has bearing carriers, much like the Bill Bedford sprung W-irons. There are still some wrinkles to iron out so it is not there yet but they do make up into some pretty neat bogies; don’t you think?
The only area of the first test build that truly did not work was the corridor connections and it is going to be a case of back to the drawing board for these but other than the final few bits to be completed, the build is finished and I think the vehicle is handsome.
So, off to the paint shops soon, but there is a bit of a holiday to squeeze in first!
Now, I wonder if that heading will gather a few extra viewings………..?
As I have mentioned before on this blog, every few months I catch up with a group of mates to have a joint modelling session. The general gist of these is a combination of banter, a bit of modelling, more banter, a visit to the pub, even banter, a bit more modelling and all nicely rounded off with some more banter.
Last week saw us on the south coast to do some weathering – or rather some of us. One of our number was preparing for their imminent marriage whereas Oly (one half of OTCM) felt his budding TV stardoom was a sufficient excuse to hang up his airbrush. We do fear that Oly may not return to the fold; preferring instead to do his modelling with Brad, Leonardo and Denzil once he makes his silver screen debut in the autumn – don’t forget your roots Oly……….
We were all concentrating on different things; Peter constructed the better part of a bridge for his Aultbea layout and Chris was weathering some rather neat little shunters. For my part, I concentrated on weathering some of the stock that I have been building lately (and sometimes not so lately!):
First up is a pair of horseboxes. On the right is my HR version based on a Microrail kit – still in need of some glazing. On the left is the Caledonian’s equivalent based on a kit from by Spratt & Winkle. Both are in their pre-group livery as can be seen. As such stock was used in passenger trains, I have sought to give them an aged but largely cleaned feel – with the dirt largely present around ironwork and difficult to clean spots.
Having mucked up the weathering of some brake vans at the previous weathering session, I was also keen to get these corrected. This is where I have got with them.
As can be seen, I do not follow the school of thought that the pre-group or 1920’s era stock was constantly pristine. If you bother to look at contemporary photographs, little is clean and some of it is downright grubby. Railways in the steam era were very dirty places; it is inevitable where so much coal, ash and smoke prevail. Furthermore, I can not see even the most houseproud of railway companies regularly (or probably ever) cleaning their goods stock and most of these show stock that is care worn and soiled. This is the feel I am seeking to capture; not the utterly neglected and on its last legs look of the final days of steam but of railway materials that earn a living the hard way.
The pair of brake vans above are to HR diagram 39 from 1922 and are from a Lochgorm Models kit. There is some doubt whether they were delivered in 1922, as there are no known pictures of any of them in HR livery. However, I applying the “its my trainset rule” a number of modellers have painted them in Highland colours; including Paul Bannerman whose example is below.
The other highland brake van I weathered was the diagram 38 brake van. This originates from a Microrail kit and may well still be available from David Geen occasionally at shows as he does own the rights to the artwork. I have modified this with the early pattern roof look outs. These allowed the guard to look over the train around the twisting curves that characterised parts of the Highland’s system. However, there were complaints about whacked heads as the guards came up and down the steps to look onto the lookouts and as a result they were modified with approach cutouts on the roof – take a look at the Lochgorm’s page above to see an example.
Next up on the weathering front were some wagons and NPCS. The first pictures being the weathering to a couple of the items I have described in the pages here – the Oxford Rail NB jubilee wagon and the Mousa Models LNWR van.
And then some rather more ancient models of mine, a Highland Railway meat van from a Sutherland Castings kit and a GC van from another Mousa Models kit.
Finally, a group of wagons for Benfieldside. The hoppers have been seen before and the brake van we will hear more of another day.
A few months ago I was criticised for preferring to use cellulose paint when I spray; the concern being that cellulose thinners are aggressive and will damage the air-brush.
On the basis that I am of the view that “if it works for me” then I am going to carry on using it I am doing so. I am helped by knowing that I am not alone in my preference as Ian Rathbone also recommends it and also because I have not yet had any issues with my airbrush.
The reason I prefer cellulose is that it gives an amazingly smooth paint finish every time, it drys very quick and gives a very durable finish. Judge the former at least for yourself.
More on the model in a future post……..
Following the last delivery from the etchers, it was time to get on and do the first test builds. First up was the dia 51 Full Brake. This vehicle was one of the later coaches from the Highland Railway and was of similar design to the cove roof corridor coaches that have been available from Lochgorm Models for some time. They were also amongst some of the last highland coaches to service as tool vans etc. This is what one looked like late on in its career after its corridor connections had been removed.
As with my efforts for the scrap tank, I am seeking to try and be a bit smarter with some of the kit design to draw together ideas of assembly of my own and also those of others. So starting with the ends, these will be made with a double skin to both provide the footsteps and, less commonly, some tabs to allow the sides to be secured to them.
I have always found that too many etched coaches have flimsey sides that become distorted as they are made (or when ham-fisted me does anyway). Therefore, I have designed this such that the head and base of the side have significantly sized stiffening pieces, as can be seen below. These are designed to interlock with the tabs at the ends such that most of the locating of the parts is largely defined by the kits components.
Once the basics of the shell are together, this is what it looks like.
The roof proved to be one of the most challenging parts of the build. I had originally designed this with an inner to form the shape of the roof and then a thinly etched outer layer to go over this to provide the rainstrips and other detail. It proved too difficult to get the two to laminate well or even be rolled to a similar curve.
Instead, therefore, I ditched the outer layer and relied only on the inner. This had been half etched on the underside to assist its rolling to the curved profile. I found that it was still difficult to roll the roof due to the tightness of the curves at the extremity of the roof but by simply using bending bars it was quite easy to put the curves in with a limited amount of faceting. Faceting is where short straight sections with bends to the next short section that gives the impression of a curve. Once this was then filed on the outside to smooth out the facets, a smooth curve became pretty good. Thereafter, it was necessary to form the rainstrips with wire and file them back to square sections and as you can see, the effect is pretty convincing.
The underframe and bogies are to follow, in part 2.
I have been building a couple of Mousa Model‘s kits lately; which has been a bit of a tale of the good, the bad and the ugly. Whilst the bad one will be written about in due course, this is the good one! The remarkable thing about it is its ease and speed of construction – so much so, I timed its construction just to see how fast I could build and paint it. The prototype is a LNWR dia 32 covered goods van, with a door to one side only but also with a roof door. This is the tale of its construction:
0hrs 1 min – Straight out of the box, the body & underframe are separate cast resin parts, as is the fret with the axleboxes, springs and brake gear. The underframe is an etch kit and the buffers are 3-D printed.
0hrs 15mins – The operational underframe has been folded up and fillets of solder run down the joints. Waisted top-hat bearings inserted in the bearing carriers along with the suspension springing wire. The first two carriers have been cleaned up and are inserted in the W-irons ready to receive the first wheel.
0hrs 25 mins – The remaining bearing carriers have now been fitted and the operational underframe has been stuck to the underside of the cosmetic underframe – wait 10 mins for the araldite to fully go off – so time for a cuppa!
0hrs 45mins – the casting has been cleaned up to remove any casting burs/flash, which was apparent in small amounts around its base but actually the main casting was pretty good. The first two axlebox/spring assemblies fitted – but only after I opened up the rebate to their rear to ensure that the top hat bearings had room to slide and cleared away rather more flash. Being cast resin, the vehicles are pretty light so some weight has been added – 25g per axle is my rule of thumb. One thing I have found with vans is that the weight can detach so I tend to mechanically fix the weight too now, in this case with a couple of 8BA screws.
1hr 0mins – the second set of axle guards and springs now affixed, as is the body to the underframe. I decided that the bolt heads on the solebars were a bit too proud, so took them down a little with some wet and dry paper. A brake block has been attached – the kit provides a choice of timber brake blocks (for early periods) and cast iron – I went for the latter. I also decided, however, to cut away the brake lever as I felt it was both a bit too delicate to survive and also it was not quite straight. Instead, I provided a piece of 0.6mm brass rod to both help secure the brake block in place and to provide a mount for the replacement brake lever.
1hr 15mins – the buffer shanks have now been fitted (a tiny amount of fettling was required to the open the holes out slightly) and coupling hooks have been added. The kit does provide etched versions which I only failed to use as I thought I could save 5 minutes of the build by using Exactoscale hooks). A new brake lever and lever guard are etched brass from 51L models and should be more durable than the resin one provided in the kit.
Still 1 hr 15 mins – a piece of PCB has been provided for the eventual fitting of AJ couplings and I took advantage of this to provide a temporary bracket of metal to hold the model by during painting. A good scrub in warm soapy water, followed by a rinse and a second clean with a cream cleaner (washing up liquid leaves a residue, so I always do the final clean prior to painting with a cream cleaner) occurred next. So that is the model built in only an hour and a quarter, which is faster than anything I have built before – including converting r-t-r stock!
1hr 45mins – after masking the inside of the bearings, the whole model was painted in a mid grey – Tamiya TS 4 (German Grey). I thought this was about right for LNWR grey but as all greys of the time were lead based and thus darkened considerably over time, I tend to be quite cavalier about wagon greys! I did have a bit of an accident such that it ran on the roof but this was salvagable with a little bit of wet and dry once it had dried off. These paints finish to a semi gloss and thus are ideal for taking transfers, in this case HMRS Transfers sheet 16 in methfix because the vans were pretty archaic by the time that the grouping occurred, so I presumed that few would have been repainted in LMS livery.
2hr 15mins (but 10 mins of this was me correcting my messed up roof painting!) – ironwork below the solebar, the draw bar, buffer shanks and brake lever were all picked out in black. All then sealed with Testors dullcoat a couple of times.
So whats left? – I do need to weather it, some AJ’s need to be fitted and the “holding tab” will need to be removed. I am waiting to do a batch of weathering, so it will be a bit quicker; maybe 30 minutes for the vehicle. So I reckon this will be a complete, painted and weathered very good quality van or wagon on the 3 hour mark – well worth doing and no need to moan about when the r-t-r manufacturer is going to produce it!
I had a delivery at work which was rather more interesting than the average box of lease documents I usually get…………it looked like this.
There are a number of items in this, some parts for some locos I have underway and an attempt to adjust the ECJS 6 wheeled bogies but the key goodies in this are a MR 6 wheeled full brake (to dia 530) and an HR bogie full brake (to dia 51).
The MR full brake should look like this:
and the Highland’s full brake here
So all I need is some time to do some more testing building…………..
As I mentioned in my previous post the Oxford Rail Jubilee wagon is a pretty good rendition of the original but it does have a few small issues and is fundamentally the wrong colour! Actually, these proved very simple to fix and the conversion to P4 was relatively painless; so within a couple of hours you can have a good rendition of this typically Scottish wagon.
First off was the conversion to P4 which is not possible to do with the existing underframe as it is too narrow. In an approach that I have not seen before, Oxford Models have created an underframe that slips between the solebars. Even better, this is not secured with glue and merely popping out the buffer shanks from their housings allows this to drop out. Neither the buffers nor the brake gear are secured with glue either and I elected to temporarily detach these from the model throughout to prevent any damage to them. Bill Bedford pre 1907 RCH sprung W irons were then used but it was necessary to scrape back about ½mm of the inside of each solebar to get these in. Checking the ride height against the buffer height gauge I found that the right height was achieved without the need for any packing.
Although the axleboxes that are provided as part of the model are a bit crude, I did not have any better ones available (although 51L do provide them) so sought to retain these. There is a fair amount of cutting required to remove the remains of the plastic W iron and open up the rear of the axle box to take even a waisted pin-point bearing. Definitely do this with a finger drill and not a powered one as you need to remove as much plastic as you can short of actually going through it. Cutting these rebates was the slowest part of the whole task.
The end stanchions were separate pieces and popped off without bother but the planking joints did not run behind them continuously. Therefore, whilst it was easy to reattach the stanchions with glue, I had to score the missing plank joints in first. The buffer shanks are a tad too long, more appropriate for NBR fitted wagons than unfitted but these were easy to deal with. The metal heads pop out easily and then a few strokes with a file takes off about ½mm to reduce the length. The fixing hole needs to be deepened slightly and then the head can be resecured with a dab of glue.
The missing ironwork to the solebar was from a left over etch; Mainly Trains do alternatives. I found that the bolt heads to the straps either side of the door had some of its bolts in impossible locations (in the joint between planks) and I therefore shaved these off prior to applying replacements with Archer transfer rivets. This is the first time I have actually used these and they are really easy to use; much quicker than any other method. The strapping to the inside of the wagon was missing, so this was added with microstrip and more Archer’s rivets. The hinge rings to the end door should be almost a full circle so these were replaced with pieces of bent wire to conclude the physical modifications.
The model comes fitted with scotch fulcrum brakes to both sides which is correct for some vehicles but I cut away one side as I wished to represent the more common variant that had these only to one side. The actual fulcrum and brake block detach from the underframe without difficulty and I found that I could reuse it, after first mounting them on a piece of plasticard secured to the underside of the floor. I did, however, change the brake lever which I thought to be a bit clunky with an etched replacement and added a fair amount of lead as the model is very light. I also attached a piece of scrap brass to the underside – as seen below – as a temporary means to hold the wagon whilst it is painted.
I chose to lightly abrade the surface of the existing lettering with a fine wet & dry paper as I was concerned that they might leave an impression through the new paint. Thereafter I painted them all over with Tamiya Paints, German Grey, picking out the ironwork to the solebar and below with black. The lettering was from PC Transfers sheet 20 but it will be partially lost below weathering; when I get it to this stage!
Here we can see the benefit of the brass strip to hold the model with during painting and weathering.
Until recently, there have never been any mainstream ready to run locomotives or stock suitable for the pre-group modeller of the Highland. Whilst there remains nothing that emanated out of Lochgorm, with the release by Oxford Rail of a NB 8 ton jubilee wagon we do at least have one that would have made it onto the system regularly!
The first of these wagons originated from 1887, the year of Victoria’s jubilee (hence their name) and the bulk were constructed at Cowlairs but with others from several outside contractors. The design was developed and eventually over 20,000 were constructed, forming the mainstay of the North British’s mineral fleet. The model represents an example of the diagram 16B wagons, built from 1896 and marginally longer than those that went before. Oxford Rail presently produce this in NB livery and five private owner liveries, recognising that many of the railway company’s vehicles were leased to collieries and took on their lessee’s branding.
Dimensionally, the model matches the prototype well and as a result the proportions capture the character of the prototype. One exception seems to be the stanchions to the fixed ends which are placed rather too close together. Although with such a large number of examples spread over many batches there may have had examples with this closer spacing, I have not been able to unearth any photographs to confirm this. This problem is not difficult to solve, as the end stanchions are separately applied with small spigots attaching them to the body – thus it is easy to prise them off and reattach them on fresh holes at the correct distance apart.
The model correctly incorporates scotch fulcrum brakes, although it provides one complete set per side. Although not wrong, it was more common for the wagon to be fitted with brakes to one side only and this variety can be provided by the relatively simple task of the removal of one set. In an approach that I have not seen before, the solebars are part of the body moulding with a separate chassis moulding that sits inside this. This does make the colour changes between the ironwork and the timber crisp but has resulted in the width between the W irons being narrower than usual – especially as the width over the solebars is a tad narrow. It is possible to convert the wagon to EM but it requires the shaving of a large degree of the inside of the W irons to take the increased width across the wheel faces. It is not possible to widen it further to accommodate P4 wheels, so to convert the wagon to P4 requires the replacement of the W irons in total. Few P4 modellers will be put off by this as with some carving away of some the inside of the solebars, Bill Bedford sprung W irons can readily be used. If the vehicle is to be kept as OO, the wheels can be retained as the correct split spoke wheels have been provided – a first I believe for a ready to run model.
The moulding is beautifully crisp throughout and the detail neatly incorporated. There are good amounts of separately added elements of detail – such as brake gear and buffers – assist in achieving a quality rendition of the prototype. They are also readily removed/reinstated, which is of assistance if you chose to enhance your model or convert it to one of the wider gauges. Rather peculiarly, a number of fairly obvious elements of ironwork to the solebar have been overlooked, including the crown plates. On the private owner variants these are visible so it appears to have been the intention to paint these on the model but this has not occurred in the North British liveried version for some reason. However, it is not particularly difficult to add these as they are available as etches from a number of sources. The most obvious issue with the model, however, is its colour; it is much too light for North British wagon grey and no amount of weathering will disguise this. This is a shame because the printing of its lettering is exquisite and any repaint will obliterate this.
Other points of detail that are not quite correct are the end hinges, part missing internal strapping, buffers that are too long for an unfitted wagon, overly skinny side door hinges and a few rivets that are in impossible positions. However, only the more fastidious modeller will want to change these (although this might include me!) and but for the colour this would be a “ready to plonk” model for most people. Helpfully, none of these points are insurmountable with a little effort and for those that want to improve the model, it will be a task of only a few hours.
So overall, I would commend this to the Scottish modeller of the pregroup or grouping era as it captures the look of these distinctively Scottish wagons even if it does really need a repaint. As I have hinted, I have attacked my wagon to correct these issues and convert it to P4; this will appear in the next blog post.
As originally conceived by Barry Fleming, the floor was to be permanently attached to the body sides and so too were the lower roof sections. The only access internally, therefore, was to be the clerestory roof/sides to the centre of the roof. In addition to being very restricted, over time there was a little distortion of this section relative to the more chunky body, such that it has developed a bit of a bow – see the final picture of this post. I have been building a few coaches of late and have arrived at the view that it is desirable to have the underframe detachable from the body and if at all possible the roof too. In this case, I am going to give up making the roof detachable but will keep the underframe as a separate piece and arrange for the floor and interior to slide out of the body. In order to provide a mount onto which I can secure the securing bolts to retain the two parts together, I came up with a metal bracket that has been glued into the coach vestibule where it is hidden as below.
With this completed, I turned my attention to the bogies. These are based around the Bill Bedford sprung bogies, now supplied by Eileen’s Emporium – there is one with the right dimensions for the ECJS bogie. These are only the sprung assembly and offer no detail of the real bogie at all and these were quite characteristic riveted plates. I am not aware of any offerings from the trade for these, so I have had to create my own – out comes the CAD machine again! Actually, they are quite easy to draft and there was a fairly good drawing available. As with some of my other etch designs, I have used folding jigs to ensure that the layers come together correctly without bother. In the photo below you can see the basic Bill Bedford sprung frame on the left upper, the basic etch to the bottom right and the finished side with the layers laminated to the bottom left.
And this is a close up of the bogie sides fitted and some of the brake hangers fitted.
After searching around, I decided that the best means of making the axleboxes and springs was to use the Drummond pattern axlebox/spring assembly from Lochgorm Models. These are really nice but the springs are too long such that the hangers are a bit far out for the six wheeled bogie – hence I formed a hanger point as part of the etching, which you can see yet to be folded down on the above picture. The intention will be to insert a brass rod through the hole in this and to then mount small washers on it to give the impression of the springs. A similar rechnique is used on some of the 5522 models bogies and is quite effective. With this representing the hangers, those to the casting could be cut away.
The axleboxes are rather nice, as you will see, and are of cast brass. The bad news about this is that they are really hard and quite a lot of work is required with a dental burr to open out the rear to be free of the bearing.
And a look at both bogies together, now with the bearing spring hangers in place along with the brake hangers and rods.
A key feature of these bogies was the transverse bolster springs, which are apparent between the axle spacings. I did come up with a scheme to form these but they have not proved to work. I think I can cut and paste a pair of the bolsters from what I have produced (ie half the number I need) so I am going to have another bash and if not, it is back to the drawing board! So whilst I work out how I am going to wrestle with this (I do have some ideas, I just need a bit of time to implement them!), lets at least admire what the coach looks like in its semi-complete state:
There are other things to do with the coach; the centre part of the roof has a bow, there is various detail missing from the underframe, roof and ends yet to go – but it does look the part doesn’t it?
In response to the first part of this blog, Bill Bedford did contact me to help with some prototype details. He was able to tell me that the buffers that I used would only be correct for the brakes and that the udnerframe only had two trusses, not the four that I have modelled. So some corrections will be required……………but first those transverse bolster springs and maybe give the carriage a bit of an outing (I will bring it to Scaleforum for that).