Although not Highland vehicles, these full brakes have a strong association with the Highland’s branchlines in the post grouping years. Once the LMS took over the Highland’s system in 1923, they seemed to have been horrified by the state of the coaching stock that they inherited! Portions of the Highland’s fleet were speedily retired and large numbers of foreign company’s stock was drafted onto the system (especially the main line from Perth to Inverness, where the trains became fully corridor connected almost overnight).
When it came to the branchlines, the upgrade came primarily by the cascading of the better Highland stock onto these lines but there were exceptions. Although the Highland had full brakes, it was a line that had a lot of parcels/packages traffic, so it seemed that they needed even more and a batch of these Midland six wheeled full brakes were drafted in.
Many photographs of the Highland branchlines of the 1920s had one lurking in the background so I felt one should get to make appearances on Glenmutchkin. Simple, I thought, Slaters do a plastic kit for one and whilst it is no longer available, it is easy to pick up second hand and it should be a nice quick build. Unfortunately, I had not realised what a rubbish kit it was! It is too short and too narrow, most of the mastering is really crude and the panelling in particular would be a scale 6 inches deep. So the Slaters kit made it back on ebay only marginally quicker than it came off and I set about designing my own kit.
It has taken a couple of iterations and about three years, but finally I have got to the stage where I am happy with it but you can form your own view!
The first iteration used a cleminson chassis but in the light of the success I had with sliding axles on some of my other 6 wheeled stock, I redesigned it to include these and some sprung W-irons in the style of Bill Bedford’s.
This proved similarly successful and as you can see in the video, it trundles along quite nicely!
Other than the use of these sliding axles, the main unusual feature of the model is the arrangement of securing the roof. I have found that it is essential to bolt these in place to prevent the roof becoming adrift at some point in the future (which has happened to half my stock over time). Therefore, I designed a set of legs that allow the roof to be bolted through the floor from below and in the process also securing the separate chassis tight too. Broken down, the components look like this and having them separated does make painting a lot easier. It is definitely the route I will take in the future.
It is intended that this kit will be made available for sale as a 4mm/1ft model – albeit you will need to source the fittings/castings yourself. I have prepared some fairly extensive instructions (see link below) and this includes the details of what is required and where to get it from. I am waiting for a quote from the etching company to be able to work out the sensible cost for these; so an update post will follow when I list it on the Miscellany Models site.
In the meantime, here are a couple of additional views of the completed vehicle, awaiting its turn in the paintshop!
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.
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.
I promised a number of people that I would be making sure that the layour had at least the main elements wired up over christmas, so that it could at last run. But then it was a bit wet and cold so I did not fancy it out in the summerhouse so I applied rule no 1 – its my trainset!
Instead, I stayed at the bench and made a pair of the signals that still remain to be made for Glenmutchkin. The signalling plan has developed very slightly since I originally showed it back here and is shown below (actually this is the artwork for the control panel facia).
The signals that I built were those that control the main loop prior to the shed link – levelrs 27 & 28 – and then the outer starter (that covers both the main loop and the main line) – levers 23, 24, 25 & 26. Only a pair of two doll signals, I thought, they shouldn’t take more than a day or two? Phew, well that wasn’t right; the more you look at the prototypes, the more you find there is to model!
Having created much of my own etchings and castings for MacKenzie & Holland signals I have obviously made good use of these. In this case, the small brackets, arms, ladders and castings.
Both of the signals have used the small brackets to create smallish landings. The smaller of the two signals has only one arm per doll, the larger two. The dolls and the posts are made up of square brass section which is filed to a taper – a certain amount of elbow grease is needed to acheive this! The posts are then sandwiched between some transom beams that also clasp the doll post – this is all soldered with a high melt solder to stop it ungumming later.
The brackets are then offered up from below, with scrap etch forming the bearing plates to pick up the transomes. In the etch I also included smaller brackets to pick up the free end of the landing, along with the landing itself. This gets you to the stage shown above.
But this is not the half of it on a signal, there are the finials, lamp brackets, lamps, cross stays, access steps, access ladders, pivot plates, handrails, operating cams, safety hoops and ladder still to do………..
In a departure from my previous practise, I made the main ladders detachable (they will be held with the wire that can be seen in the pictures being turned over in secret pockets. I am also going to paint this prior to the final assembly; which will mean some touching uo of the painting later but I hope will make it easier.
And of course, I had to sign them with these rather nice custom name plaques from NBR 4mm Developments.
This is the first time that I have used the brackets in signal making and I was pretty chuffed with how they have come out. This is where things presently stand and we head for the paint shops tomorrow…….
In comparison to the coaches that I use on Portchullin, most coaches from the 1920s (my chosen period for Glenmutchkin) are shorter and in many cases, even without considering the six wheeled vehicles, a lot shorter. This was driven by the technology and in particular the materials available to the railways of the time. There were exceptions though, and my present build is dealing with one of these – an East Coast Joint Stock 12 wheeler.
In the early 1890’s, the journey north was all about speed and culminated in the Railway Races to the North where the rival east and west coast companies competed to get their services to Aberdeen first. This came to an abrupt end in July 1896 when a west coast train took curves too fast at Preston and left the rails. Although the loss of life was relatively limited (for the time), excessive speed as a result of the desire to “speed to the north” was firmly blamed. As a result, the competing companies agreed no longer to race each other and instead sought to compete on the basis of the quality of their service and the luxury of their trains.
A GNR small altlantic hauling an ECJS express at the turn of the 19th Century made up predominantly of 12 wheeled stock
One product of this competition were some really fine 12 wheel coaches built for the East Cost Joint Stock Company (which was a joint company with the GNR, NER & NB contributing to the cost for trans-company trains). Built from 1896 onwards, these were several different lengths (this particular example was 66’11″) but all were long, seeking to use length and mass to iron out any track irregularity. To support this length of coach, six wheeled bogies were used, although these were rather infant in their design and used big transverse leaf springs as bolsters. In addition to being really characteristic and obvious – so they need to be modelled – I suspect they gave a somewhat bouncy ride!
Barry Fleming’s scratchbuilt body and part completed roof
I have been given a big headstart on this build by virtue of being given a nearly complete body/roof for a luggage composite (diagram 6 for those in the know). This was scratchbuilt by the late Barry Fleming in the 1980s and is a class bit of modelling! Barry gave it to my father, along with a couple of other coaches, to complete but as he has not managed to get this particular one, he has passed it to me to have a bash!
My etchings back from PPD
One of the reasons that this model was put to the back of the queue previously was that almost none of the parts required to complete it – in particular the bogies – were available, so it was all going to be a scratchbuild. As I was pouring over the drawings and pictures in the bible on things ECJS it dawned on me that the missing parts would be best dealt with as an etch and given my developing skills in etch designing, I might was well have a go. This is the product, an underframe, some cosmetic bogie sidesand some underframe details fresh back from the etchers.
The basic underframe has fold up solebars and buffer beams. Each of these also has integral fold over layers to laminate on the cosmetic exterior. This just about worked for the solbars but definitely did not for the buffer beams which distorted due to their thinness. I will make these seperate pieces next time, but might use folding jigs.
Coaches of this era tended to have four truss rods, each with a pair of queen posts. Stealing an idea from Alistair Wright’s designs, I made the queen posts up by a long etch that has a half etch length to wrap around the wire used for the tie rod. By folding this over the wire and then laminating the two parts together, a robust and simple post can be created. As it is two layers soldered together, it has the strength to allow it to be filed to a round shape to create the appearance of the original.
Although originally gas lit, by the time I will be modelling this vehicle it was electrically lit. Whilst I probably could have bought cast batter boxes, I decided to include them in the etch and very pleased I am too – they have come out much more crisp than any of the castings I have seen and were really easy to both draw and make. The remainder of the fittings seen here were bought in castings though, typically from Comet Models (now distributed by Wizard Models).
And this is where the underframe has presently progressed to.
I will describe the building of the bogies in the next installment, they are not for the faint-hearted!
I have now had the castings back for the various fittings for the Scrap Tank; the masters being in part my own 3D prints and some turnings that I commissioned from Jeremy Souter. This is what they look like:
I did not seek to do everything for the whole model as some parts are available from other suppliers and I did not want to duplicate their work. Thus, I needed to get the safety valve/safety valve bonnet from Alan Gibson, a smokebox door from Lochgorm, a whistle from Markits and smokebox door handles from Comet.
Once these, along with the remaining handrails, were fitted, the body is complete and it certainly appears to be taking on the character of the real thing so far as I am concerned!
So next up will be the cylinders, crosshead and connecting rods!
Now that the much of the bulk of the above running plate work has been completed, the running plate valences can be fitted. As these are nearly always long and thin, they are prone to distortion in the kits I have built – so it is time for another jig!! This one holds the valences at numerous places to stop it flexing and to hold it straight.
With this, it is a doddle to fit the valences in their correct place and solder them without distortion. I did find that the running plate flexed significantly at the end of the tanks; so the final version is going to include a pair of temporary stiffeners that fold down and stop this. This would be the moment when they are removed to allow the valancing to take their place.
And onto the boiler. In a departure from normal practise, I am not including a flat etch to be rolled into a boiler – it is relatively difficult to get even a pre-rolled boiler into a neat tube without a visible seam and if you do not have a rolling machine it is effectively impossible to do so. In addition, where boilers have been half etched to create boiler bands I find that the half etched elements that remain are overly delicate. This was something that caught me out a while back when I drilled such and area to take handrail knobs and badly distorted the metal – this kit is still sitting in its box now and I am probably going to have to replace the boiler.
With these problems in mind, I simply used a piece of brass tube from Eileens; easier and much more durable and if I were sratch-building I would not even think of taking a different route. This did still leave the need for some rolled parts, to make the smokebox and I have sought to use another little trick here to make these easier to fit – some tags and eyes. The tags are strips of half etching that pass through the eyes and then tugged back. This can’t impart a curve into the metal but does allow the parts to be pulled tight and makes it easier to solder into place without much of lip. Mind you, they were a tad short and will be lengthened slightly in the production run.
A second additional laminate is then needed to form the outside of the smokebox and down onto the saddle.
I did find another little error when it came to the front of the smokebox. Whilst the diameter for the front that I had drawn had allowed for the thickness of the two laminates, when you fit these there is also a layer of solder between them and whilst this ought not be that thick, it was just enough to make the fronts too small. In the production run, I will deliberately make this a tad too big as it is easy enough to file it back but much more difficult to add the missing metal (I didn’t, I just made a fresh one from sheet metal). The smokebox door is not mine, the door from the Lochgorm Models Loch is the right size judging by the photographs (note the drawing in the old man’s book has it being smaller but this does not match the photos, so I ignored it in this respect – sorry Dad!).
The downside of using tube as a boiler is that boiler bands need to be considered. I have provided these in the kit (again using the strap and eye technique). I chose to fit them on this kit although in practise I think any metal boiler band is too thick and would probably have done it with a transfer sheet if this was not a test build (done prior to painting, the thickness of the transfer is enough to show through the paint on what will be a single colour to the boiler).
Only the top of the boiler is visible after the first ring and a bit, so can be cut away to leave lots of room for the motor, weighting and DCC chip. I may try and fit this with sound, so who can give a view on what it might have sounded like – a jinty is my favoured guess?
With the basic chassis made, it is essential to fit the nuts to secure the body to the chassis as both of these will be concealed with later work. So a quick test fit looks like this and we can get onto the next bit, the coupling rods.
As is not uncommon, these are made from a pair of layers of brass laminated together. You can see that the outer layer is half etched for much of its length, with the full depth only being present at the bosses. I have also sought to make it easier to build these by including them in a folding jig – the folding is underway in the bottom portion of the view. The logic of the jig, indeed the whole kit, is to make a really smoothly running chassis much easier to make. Modern CAD and computer operated phototool creation techniques by the etchers means that it is possible to easily draw and then etch such that each dimension is faithfully repeated on the product. Thus, it is possible to be confident that the wheelbase will be repeated exactly on each side of the frames and also on the coupling rods. However, this accuracy is completely lost if the user has to laminate the two parts together by hand; it is not possible to get them superimposed on each other exactly or repetitively so the spacings of the crankpin holes will change. The jig overcomes this as the fold line is so long that there can not be any twist as it folds, so the two parts will meet consistently and accurately.
It is true that there remain two areas of variability. The first is that the degree of etching will not be exact on every occasion so the holes will be slightly bigger or smaller on each occasion. This can be easily overcome by making all critical holes a tiny bit too small and then opening the holes up with a ream (not a file, reams will open up a hole consistently). The second problem is that a fold is not always consistent on a fold line so the jig can protect against twisting but might not necessarily put the two laminates directly on top of each other. However, the important point is is that they will be correct horizontally, any error can only crop up vertically. Thus, when the crankpin whole is opened up, it is possible that it will move vertically slightly but this will not change the dimension between the holes so the critical dimensions should be retained perfectly.
The above is all true in theory but in practise there was an almighty cock up in my artwork; so I was deprived of finding out. A total case of designer error and when this is yourself, there is no one else to blame……………….
………..I made one of the coupling rods no less than 8mm too long – doh! I have no idea how, but it needed chopping; so it was back to the old fashioned way of making coupling rods despite my high ideals! Fortunately, as they were laminated, it is possible to stagger the cut to make the splice – essentially the same technique as Alan Gibson’s variable length coupling rods. Anyway, after the cutting and splicing, I did get a sweetly running chassis and this is what it looks like. The unusually large wheels for a shunting loco are already making their presence felt!
The chassis is created around CSB’s; continuous springy beams. A spring wire is anchored to the chassis at four points per side (for an 0-6-0) and at the centre of each hornblock. Thus each hornblock is supported on either side and can “bounce” on the spring. However, the clever thing about CSBs is that when a hornblock is depressed, not only does the spring wire flex a bit as suspension, but it also rocks on the anchors so the adjacent wheels push downwards a bit to equalise out some of the deflection. It produces a really smooth chassis and, if it is conceived at the design stage, I think is actually rather easier to both design and build than traditional compensation. This is a close up of a pair of hornblocks and a pair of the anchor points (the other is hiding behind the frame spacer on the right). Also worthy of note is the colour coding of the hornblocks; to enable them to be reinstated in the same hornguide each time. This is probably unnecessary with modern (and therefore consistent) hornblocks and the accuracy of the etching I have noted but old habits die hard!
Putting aside the body for a while, to take a look at the chassis because it is necessary to mount the two together and it is not possible to close up some of the element of the body until this is sorted out.
As with the body, I am trying to take a moderately fresh approach to the chassis to make this a little easier to build than certainly most of the kits I am used to. In this regard, most of the kits for the Highland are quite traditional in their design and I readily admit that all but two of my ideas has been either all out pinched from other designers or at least significantly inspired by them. All I am trying to do is use more of these neat ideas in a single kit to make the life of the builder easier. I am, however, finding that it makes my life more difficult, as there are a lot more moving parts to most components, so more places for the tolerances to be catered for; so as John Price has already said, the list of little tweeks and amendments to make is growing! At least, no one can say this particular kit designer has not built their own model.
Anyway, this is what the chassis looks like in the flat; note that it is a fold up design – this is inspired by the Mousa Models chassis, so a pinched idea!
And this is what it looks like with the basic folds made up. What it achieves is really neat, as it is instantly sufficiently stiff to work as a chassis; by the time a couple of further cross braces have been installed the basic chassis is more than robust enough for its life.
My design uses the same slide in hornblocks as utilised by Comet and Brassmasters for their chassis. After a tiny bit of practise, it is possible to size the hole for the hornguides such that these are just too small when etched. This means that with a few strokes of a light cut file on each side, the hornblock becomes a tight sliding fit. Once all of the hornblocks are in, it is then possible to measure the distance between each on both sides of the chassis and also on the corresponding coupling rod. This is done with digital callipers and by the expediency of measuring the distance at its maximum with the callipers facing outwards and then repeating with them facing inwards the average being the actual distance between the centres. I reckon to be able to measure down to 2 or 3 hundredths of a mm, which is rather better than I can build to! Where there are inconsistences, this is dealt with by a few more strokes of the file on the side which needs to be adjusted to change the centre. This needs to be done anyway to turn the tight sliding fit to a snug but smooth fit for the hornblocks to work properly soif the centre does not need to be changed, the file strokes are undertaken equally on both sides of the hornguides.
This does need to be done after the coupling rods have been formed, of which we will see in the next posting. However, the chassis is also designed with a keeper plate to accommodate all of the cosmetic springing to the model and the ashpan sides. This is secured with a series of 12BA screws to enable it to be removed to allow the wheels/axles to be dropped out. A great boon as the model is built and painted.
To make the assembly of this element easier (in fact in this case a lot easier!) I have created a jig that holds the two layers of the laminate in exactly the right position. The jig is chunky enough to avoid distortion as it is folded up and it locates the parts perfectly. In this particular case, the soldering needs to be done with care as there are folds to make after the jig is cut away and it is important not to fill this with solder before hand.
And this is what the keeper plate looks like – it is pretty delicate until it is mounted but fine thereafter.
And the two components assembled look like this. The beginnings of the cylinders are also visible, this is a slide in module that can be removed for assembly and painting (although the scrap tanks were painted fairly simply, so this is not really relevant on this model).