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Clyde Bogie

The stock for Glenmutchkin has a recent addition and a rather beautiful one too.

This is a Clyde Bogie; the prototype being designed by David Jones and delivered in 1886.  Initially this was a top link locomotive of the line but as time went past it was relegated to lesser duties.  On Glenmutchkin it will be one of the locomotives for the branch passenger trains – equivalent to what the real locomotive did at the end of its live.  This particular example was the last in service and lasted until 1930 and, as you can see, it picked up the LMS’s first livery of fully lined Crimson Lake.

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The model was built for me by John James from a Lochgorm Models etched kit.  It is fair to say it was not an easy kit to master and John has cursed me a fair amount I believe for asking him to do this particular prototype……………  He would have cursed more if he also had to make the louvred chimney!

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Since John has delivered it to me I have fitted a sound chip and some AJs.  I need to fit some loco crew too before long.  I suspect I am not going to find another sound fitted Clyde Bogie anytime soon as I have only ever seen one other built example so I can confidently say this is a first!  I also seem to have disturbed the seating of the tender chassis as it is sitting rather low – a little task to attend to soon.

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I have not been entirely idle whilst John has been busy and have been doing a number of little projects.  Most of these will appear in future blogs but the pair of Wilsons & Clyde open wagons will not because this is effectively the same as the NB Jubilee Wagon I discussed previously.  However, it is worth noting that Wilsons and Clyde were known to be one of the major providers of loco coal to the Highland so I am presuming these to be loco coal wagons.

And here is a picture of 14278 in action; albeit not at this point with sound fitted.

 

 

 

 

 

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Dia 51 Test Build – Fox Heavyweight Bogies

After the painting disaster, I have been working on the latest version of the Fox Bogies.  The prototype utilised a patented design with pressed steel plates to form the sides and ends which produced a stiff and resilient frame, better than the other contemporary options.   Thus these bogies were very common amongst the pre-grouping companies with most of using them to at least some degree.   

Although there are several model manufacturers that produce Fox bogies, there are no versions that use springing which I now prefer.  As they were the primary form of bogie used by the Highland Railway, I need a few of them and thus I have been putting some effort into getting a top notch solution.  In this regard, I have been assisted greatly by Justin Newitt if Rumney Models whose design of sprung bogie has formed the basis of this. 

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The model has primary suspension on the pin points based on guitar wire springs,

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In addition to this, the design has a sprung bolster, also based on a guitar string suspension.

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The castings I have used on these are from Lochgorm Models and the design has been conceived to enable these to be used either retaining their dampers (the cylindrical appendage at the end of the leaf springs) or with replacements  that are a little more defined.

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The etch is also designed to be provided with full stepboards as below or with only a short section to one end – as they typically were converted to during their life.

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There is full brake gear provided, with a little trick where they do not pass under the axle (remember this view is upside down!) – this enables the wheel to be removed if this is required.

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This is not the first version of these (don’t accuse me of not test building my designs!) and they are very close to done.  The final change is to adjust the primary spring hangers slightly so that they are not visible when they are depressed (you can just see it poking above the sides in line with the axlebox),  The advantage of computer drawn artwork is that things like this can be changed relatively easily.

These, and indeed the rest of the dia 51 full brake, will be made available for sale quite soon.

Previous parts to the test build can be found here:

 

Wordless Wednesday – because I can’t publish my word…………

I am not one to fall behind trends (!!), so I am following the “wordless Wednesday” trend of many people’s blogs today.

However, my reason for not putting down many words is that the ones I would like to write ought not appear on a public blog.

Thus I will have to settle with “matting agent” and “where’s the paint stripper” as my words instead……….

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The final installment of the test build sequence is a little further away than I had hoped!

Sliding Axles – A Reprise

Following my last post on sliding axles, I put the coach through its paces last weekend when Portchullin visited the Netherlands.

We I am pleased to say we did not have any bother with road holding it at all, even on Portchullin’s famously rubbish track – as long as you wait to the end of this clip you will see the proof of this.  The axle has about 1mm play on the centre axle – 1/2mm either way – and this proved to be more than enough for the 4 foot curves on the layout.  We did find it would be defeated by the rather tighter curves on Horselunges which was nearby but as these were down to around 2 feet radius, I don’t feel guilty!

The one issue I encountered was that as the axle slid over, the wheel rim would touch the side of the W iron and thus electrify it.  This lead to some shorting issues if it came into contact with a vehicle of different polarity (I know it shouldn’t but well it seems to do for my stock!).  Thus, for the next vehicle I will look to insert a layer of very thin copper clad paxolin below the W iron to isolate it.

So even with this issue I consider that the experiment to be a definite success and for relatively short bodied 6 wheeled coaches this will be my standard approach going forward.  This suits the Jones shorter 6 wheeled vehicle of which Lochgorm and Microrail have examples.  I think the jury is still out on longer 6 wheeled vehicles and a further experiment is going to he required as I am still a bit concerned there may not be enough side play.

 

The Far North – Let it Snow!

With portions of the country suffering from a bit too much of the white stuff of late and with some trains embedded in both snow and mud blockages, I thought it might be fun to look back at the problems that snow caused one part of the Highland Railway’s system in the past.

Even though it was not as high as many other parts of the Highland’s system, its northerly position and exposure to winds makes the Far North line prone to drifting snow; especially where the line rises across the flow country between Forsinard and Scotscalder.  This has long been a sore to the Highland Railway and there are a number of fine photographs of snow ploughs in action.  Here are a few of them.

Believed to be near Scotscalder Station; what looks like a Barney in the rear and a Medium Goods to the middle – there is a further loco lost behind the plume of snow!  Photo courtesy of the GNSRA.

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Potentially the same train with a pair of Medium Goods and a Barney look to have a lot of trouble with a significant drift at the County March Summit (a bit to the south of Altnabreac).  You can see plenty of evidence that the ploughs could not clear the line on their own in the top photograph – note the sides to the “cutting” have lots of shovel sized depressions.

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And proof that a lot of digging was required!  Both photographs are the NRM’s.

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Snow is still a big problem in these lines; in the mid 1970’s a full train was stuck for a couple of days and needed to be supplied from the air (if anyone has any pictures of this I could use, could you let me know?).

The picture below was taken in 2010 where some DRS class 37’s had obviously been hard at work.  Photo from Outpost North RSPB.

From Outpost North RSPB

And after the exertions of clearing the line, this Barney looks as if it needs some attention if only to remove the snow.  Remember, this will have been in steam yet is still has snow on its boiler!  Photo of a Barney at Helmsdale from the HRS.

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All of the ploughs shown in the HR era are of the medium size.  There was a bigger one which begs the question of what size drifts were these used on?!?!?

 

 

 

Something Fishy…….

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

 

 

Dia 51 Test Build Part 3 – and then there were two…..!

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………..

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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.

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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.

 

A Bit of a Slip Up…….

I have been continuing with the wiring of Glenmutchkin, but have hit a snag; one that I should have been ready for – the wiring of the slip,  I had been aware that a diamond crossing was a challenge to wire and I was suckered into thinking that the switches on a slip could over come the challenge,  Well I go that wrong…….!!

The basic problem is that there are a choice of two routes through a diamond crossing and each route requires the polarity of the crossings to be different.  The diagram below, which shows how a diamond crossing needs to be wired, should illustrate the problem.  The only solution to this is to power the crossing polarity by way of an approach turnout – if you really don’t have one to set the polarity with, then you are going to have to resort to some switches – but at least it will give you a good excuse to interlock the diamond crossing with some signals to remind you on which direction it is set!

Crossing Wiring

Hopefully this is clear that the crossings on the diamond crossing are activated by detecting the direction of the switch on the approach turnout.  If it is set for straight ahead, then a train can’t travel over the crossing and therefore the parallel line can so the polarity of the crossings are set accordingly.  Conversely, when the approach turnout is set to the branch, the line across the diamond can be used and the polarity is set to suit.

The principal with the diamond crossing needs to be heeded when the crossing is replaced with a single slip as I have, but it does get more complicated because the switch of the slip can also lead to a different route through the crossings.  The crossing to the left of the slip is the more straight forward as it is only activated by the approach turnout.  However the right hand crossing is more complicated as if the approach turnout is set for the branch then it always needs to be in the red polarity whereas if the approach turnout is set for the main, then it then needs to be controlled by the slips switch.

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Hopefully the diagram above shows how this works.

The irritation I have, in addition to having wired it up wrong already (!) is that the approach turnout is on a different board to the slip.  To reduce the number of wires crossing the boards, I have decided to simply use a duplicate point motor for the approach turnout located on the same board as the slip.  It is expensive but rather more simple than the additional wires.

NB – please see also a follow up post on this wiring arrangement for an alternative approach.

 

Making Louvered Chimneys

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.

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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,

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dia 51 Test Build – Part 2: Nearly There

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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So, off to the paint shops soon, but there is a bit of a holiday to squeeze in first!

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