Category Archives: Workbench (stock)
Six wheeled coaches are pretty and they are quite characteristic on branch services on the Highland system in the early 1920’s. The problem is that they are bu**ers to get to properly work because there is a tendency for the middle axle to rock on any raised sections of track or for it to fail to swing on curves. OO modellers can typically get away with this as those deep flanges do come in handy for it. P4 modellers, such as myself, have a tougher time of it and whilst I have built a couple of six wheeled coaches, the count that can master the trackwork of Portchullin is rather less than the number built!
Having got better over the years at getting things to run properly (still a work in progress mind…..) I have turned my attention again to some more six wheeled vehicles. The first one to write about uses a less usual approach to accommodate curved/lumpy track – the use of a sliding axle. Although this has been written up before, I have not seen it actually executed so maybe I am a first (or perhaps fairly near to the first to do so!) Actually, I have found it pretty easy and the completed vehicle manages my test track with ease, so it will get an outing on the layout next week.
This is how I did it……………
As I don’t have a lathe, creating the pin point axles is beyond me even though it would be a very simple bit of lathe work and this was one of the main stumbling blocks to trying this approach previously. Then I had an inspiration…………Exactoscale axles. These have a notional outside diameter of 1mm which I found to actually be about 0.96mm – even better as it is thus an easy fit to a 2mm brass tube with a 1mm bore! Tube in this dimension is readily available and can be purchased from Eileens or your preferred metal stockist. The first task is to remove the moulded plastic cosmetic inner axle which proved to be really easy as it came off very cleanly.
Alan Gibson wheels are structured around a 2mm axle (which again was actually fractionally below 2mm) and have a tendency to be a little loose, so popping them off was easy!
I cut the brass tube well over length and mounted it in the drill. Prior to inserting it into the wheel I ensured that the ends were burr free by spinning the drill whilst holding a piece of wet and dry over the end. Not doing this leads to the plastic boss getting damaged and the wheel being less likely to be perpendicular to the axle.
My pillar drill doubled up as a neat wheel press. With the brass tube inserted in the chuck, a wheel blank was laid on the base and the depression lever closed to push the tube into the boss. Even though the tube was to the full 2mm, I used a dab of superglue as this was inserted to ensure it stayed there. The first wheel blank was pushed approximately 10-15mm through the face, so that there was a good projection of tube beyond. This comes in handy when the second wheel blank is added as the projecting end can be held in the drill chuck so that the process can be repeated.
And this is what you get once the second wheel blank has been pushed onto the wheel blank. The free ends are then cut back with a piercing saw & file so that they project no more than 1/4mm.
A quick ream of the bore of the tube and the old Exactoscale axle can be inserted. It is a nice smooth but not sloppy fit and the tube can easily slide back and forth without a trace of effort.
There is nothing radical about the vertical suspension; each axle being supported on a Bill Bedford sprung W iron.
This whizzes very nicely along my test track, including where this has reverse curves so I am hopeful it will stand upto a proper test on Portchullin over the forthcoming weekend. If so, then I will adopt it for my future relatively short wheelbased 6 wheelers – specially where there are full footboards that restrict the movement of the any moving w-irons (of which this Microrail kit is an example).
So fingers crossed and I will report…………
Fish was an important traffic to the Highland Railway and as a result fish trucks were one of their most numerous classes of wagons. Given that Glenmutchkin is conceived to be on the coast, fish traffic will also be an important feature on the model too. There is to be a line to an off-scene harbour, so that I can justify a significant traffic. I already have a shortish train of fish vehicles, mostly open trucks, but I definitely need more
Back in April, I reviewed the Mousa Models LNWR covered van, which I was generally impressed with. Buoyed with this I spent portions of the last couple of weekends making a pair of the same manufacturer’s HR Drummond Fish Trucks. The kit is arranged for the variant that had a centre drop door, but there was an alternative variant with full length drop sides and at least some acquired morton brakes during their life. Thus, there are a few modifications that can be made if you wish.
The above is a full drop side version of the fish truck at (I think) Kyle (AB McLeod, HRS Collection).
Having built a few Mousa Models kits and however regretful it is, I was not surprised to find there were no instructions included in the kit. This is a pain as there is enough going on with the model to justify some guidance and anyone who does not have my father’s book will struggle. Unfortunately, I did not take any mid way through photographs before I realised that some notes on its construction would be of assistance, but hopefully these notes and the pictures of the completed model will be helpful.
A first issue I discovered was that the resin casting was a touch distorted. The ends in particular bowed into the well of the wagon and the whole wagon had a slight twist to it. This is a common problem with resin kits but with care can easily be corrected. Put the body casting in hot water – as hot as you can tolerate with hands (so less than boiling – 40C is about right) and it softens sufficient to allow these to be corrected.
Although the resolution quality of the LNWR van was good, the quality of the prints that formed the masters for these resin castings was not nearly good enough. Significant portions of them looked as if they were sand castings and did not look real. The body sides were better and were capable of being improved to an acceptable standard with some work with wet and dry sand paper. The solebars were worse, possibly because they received less effort to tidy them up prior to being used as a master. I managed to tidy it up a bit more in the areas that were more free of rivet heads, but above the W irons this was not possible and will have to be masked with some weathering.
The roughness of the print is apparent to the solebar
The kit is conceived with sprung W-irons to Mousa Models normal design – details of the assembly of which can be found in my previous blog post. However, these need to be carefully lined up to the bolts on the outside of the solebars as the locating slots to the underside are oversized and allow too much slop. It is also necessary to use the Brassmasters axle spacing jig to ensure that the axles are parallel and correctly spaced.
As I noted previously, Mousa Models seem to wish to use resin parts for as much of their recent kits as possible. There were only a few parts where this was a problem on the LNWR van but the problem is rather worse on these fish trucks due to the additional elements of detail that they contain. Had some of the components been produced as etched parts, they would have been a lot more durable without compromising fidelity. I replaced the brake levers, coupling hooks, vacuum brake plunger and brake tie bars with etched components or wire but if I were doing any more of these, I would also swap the brake blocks/hangers because I have managed to damage two of these. Masokits do some that are suitable, although there may be others too that I do not know of.
Page 147 of the carriages and wagons book shows a drawing of how the Drummond patent brake levers operated. In this, it can be seen that there was a long lever running to the right hand end from the fulcrum of the “scotch brake”. This then met a smaller lever that operated in a cam arrangement on the long lever but also connected through a rod to the other side of the wagon. On this side, there was another short lever (so appeared on the left hand end on this side). In the kit, the brake lever is rather crude due to the need to beef it up so that it is durable but even then it is very vulnerable. Furthermore, there is a second long lever, which is not correct at all. Instead, I made up a rod from brass and utilised an etch from the Highland Railway Society.
The principal side to the wagons, showing the missing brake lever now provided by way of a Highland Railway Society etching.
The patent braking system was, however, found to be unsafe because one side could be operated without the user on the other realising it (it cost someone some fingers, I believe) and the Board of Trade banned them for new construction. Therefore, many wagons had their braking arrangements changed, either by the use of full length levers and a ratchet or even a full change to morton brakes. I converted one of my wagons to the former by the use of some etched levers from 51L and an extra V hanger from the scrapbox.
And now the subsidiary side to the wagons, showing the Drummond Patent Brake lever to the left hand vehicle and a replacement long lever on the right hand vehicle.
I also took the view that the buffers were too delicate to survive in use and therefore swapped them for Drummond buffers available from the Highland Railway Society. I also found it necessary to cram the whole of the underside of the chassis with lead, to get the wagon’s weight to a level that would operate the wagon’s springs.
The underside – the rod to the Drummond brake is visible to the left hand end of the top vehicle.
Although these will have been green with yellow lettering for much of their lives, I chose to do them in LMS crimson lake. Rather fine they look too! When carrying fish boxes, it is known that turfs were used to provide thermal insulation around the fish for the journey but my guess is that this was covered within tarpaulins. I have tended to find that the paper tarpulians (Smiths etc) are not that durable so I need to do some experimenting on alternatives – I do have something in mind. That will be for another post though!
Painted (well I seem to have missed the rims!) and awaiting weathering
All in all, these are quite attractive vehicles, very core to the required stock for Portchullin and the kits are a pretty good – but they could be better and easier to build if Mousa models had dealt with what are relatively obvious points.
Following the first test build of the dia 51, I took account of what I had learnt from this and completed various amendments to the artwork. There was nothing truly major, so I was fairly confident that the corrections would get the model to the point where the artwork was done. But of course, to prove this, another test build was required and this is where we got to………..
And this is what it looks like……..quite handsom I think and certainly quite differnt from all the pother stock I presently have.
The eagle eyed will spot that the vehicle is slightly different in that this one has sliding doors, whereas the previous had cupboard doors. The kit is intended to cover both options and does successfully do so.
The ducket also has cut outs for a lamp at its head (a feature of Highland duckets). This proved quite challenging to model and I will avoid doing it again because it seemed to fall out of favour prior to the end of the Highland era so having only one or two would be right for my timeframe.
There remains a bit more work on the bogie to do; they can be made up to work very well but are a little more difficult to build than I had hoped. Once this is cracked, I will be making the dia 51 available for sale.
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…………..