I took the weekend off the other week and attended the Spring Railway Modeller’s Weekend at Missenden. It is great to spend two full days just modelling away from the distractions of life and amongst people who are all doing exactly the same. I find it a form of therapy and it is well worth going if you have been thinking about it (and even if you haven’t!).
I took with me the etches that I have had delivered by PPD for the Scrap Tank; with a view to doing a test build using them. The origins of this class are some of the earliest locomotives built for the line; the Raigmore class. In an attempt to increase the life of these new enlarged boilers were fitted to them. Unfortunately for the Highland Railway the boilers were too heavy for their frames and consequently these cracked. This left the Highland with a number of new boilers, wheels and many fittings but no locomotives! Ever the frugal, they recycled these parts into a series of three shunting locomotives which were designed by Peter Drummond and these inevitably quickly picked up the name of Scrap Tanks.
These were rather brutish looking locomotives for the time, characterised by surprisingly large wheels for a shunting locomotive – something compelled on the Highland due to them reusing these from the Raigmore class which were mainline passenger locomotives with 5′ 3″ wheels. For those of you who don’t know what these looked like, this is what we are aiming at:
And this is what we are starting with:
Whilst this may (well has!) got me into some trouble, I have sought to design the kit to be easier to build than the average etched brass kit and certainly easier than the Falcon Brass kits that are the staple in 4mm for many of the Highland’s locomotives. I have sought to do this in a number of ways and the first area tackled, the cab front/interior, illustrates one of these; the use of fold up assemblies to assist not only in creating the shapes but also the laminations. Many of the modern etch designers are using these (especially the 2mm boys/girls) but I have sought to do rather more than most (which has made the preciseness of the design rather more challenging, more of which anon).
The bulk of this assembly starts as a single piece, that is folded up to form the cab floor, splasher sides and the bulk of the cab front. To assist the lamination process, jigs either side of the cab front have been used. Wire rods are slipped through the small holes in these to ensure that they are registered on top of each other properly.
The view below shows the laminations now sweated together and illustrates the square cut outs behind the cab front which are to enable glass/Perspex to be slotted in to represent the sceptical glazing. The view also shows the boiler backhead which is made from three layers of etch (not with a folding jig – yet!). I am pretty pleased with this as this is only 13 * 15mm in size, so the wheels on the backhead are only 2mm in diameter.
To be continued…………(soon too!).
I am presently cracking on with a batch of NER hoppers for Benfieldside. Having acquired the layout, Tim and Julian have very little stock to run on it, so as part of the repayment for the use of their facilities and expertese on my boards, I thought I would help to correct this shortfall.
The origins of all of this present batch of hoppers all go back to the Slaters’ injection moulded kit, which is of diagram P7 wagon. There were around 17,500 of these wagons at the time of the grouping and the LNER carried on building them for some years thereafter with only subtle differences; so not unsurprisingly there were quite a lot of variants. Thus, I have been doing a lot of modifying!
In each case, I replaced the very clunky W irons with Bill Bedford replacements; even though these were to be to EM, I felt that they would improve their performance. The first examples were essentially built as the kit was intended with fairly traditional brake gear (which was to one side only). However, having built my first one, I decided to refine the brake gear by drawing an etch for replacement steps, V hangers, morton brake mechanisms and brake levers. This (along with a comparison with the plastic equivalent – the painted wagon), is below:
However, a significant proportion were modified with end levers that operated a crank that was connected to the Morton gear. At the ends, there was a much more chunky ratchet arrangement to retain the lever in position. Again, I drew this up on the etch, and the arrangement looks like this:
The NER undertook a number of experiments with these vehicles to attempt to reduce rolling resistance and this was the subject of my next modification. On the right (below), shows the provision of a second outside set of W irons. This was to add stiffening to the axles. There is a set of Bill Bedford W irons to cater for this, but I chose instead to create a fresh set on the etch. On the left is a further variant, where an anti-friction bearing was added in addition to the outer W irons. This was a wheel that ran on the top of the axle and I presume the idea was that as it rotated less, there would be less friction. I suspect that the introduction of an open bearing surface that would instantly get contaminated with coal and grot would actually have the exact opposite impact – as these were removed by the grouping era, I may well be right!
The final variation of construction that I have modelled was a slot cut into the ends, which appeared on some vehicles. The NER used these on vehicles that were hauled up rope inclines – of which they had many. A plank of wood was inserted into the hole and wedged such that it was secured behind the end posts to ensure that the haulage point was close to the centre of the wagon. They found without this that there was a tendency to pull the end posts loose due to the uneven point of pressure.
Next up will be the painting and lettering of these; where I have three eras to chose from that would have all been apparent immediately pre- first war, which is when Benfieldside will be set. More on this in a future post.
If there is a desire from anybody for the etches, I would be able to offer them; so drop me a note?
I had a delivery from PPD a week back, so I have been playing with some test builds of this:
This is a dia 25 cradle bolster; a type of vehicle that I have not seen on another railway. It has a square cradle that sits on the top of this, with four bolsters protruding from the corners of the cradle. They were used on pairs and the whole cradle rotated when the pair of vehicle went around curves. The intention, I presume, was to offer the load more support by offering more points of contact. Anyway, as no one else had tackled this vehicle before, I thought I would have a go!
As this is my first etched design for a vehicle, I have certainly encountered a number of problems. As the top photograph shows I produced this in both 4mm and 7mm; the latter has proved more successful due to the thickness of metal being greater. The main issue that I created for myself was to half etch the solebar overlays so that the rivets and the ironwork could be portrayed. However, rather than backing them on a further layer of etch (like the etched kits I have built – they evidently knew something……), I spanned it between supports. The intention had been to make the kit fold up more readily but in practise what has happened is that the half etched solebars have distorted (badly in the case of the 4mm one) due to the stresses introduced in the heat from soldering. Thus, whilst I have a working model (at least in 7mm), a rework is going to be required.
Both the 4mm and 7mm versions will have sprung axleboxes, using a varient of the guitar wire sprung version used by Bill Bedford and others. The 7mm chaps don’t seem to use it much and I guess the mass of their models helps. However, it does glide with the springing and is better as a result I reckon.
I have also done a 3-D design for the cradle, which I am proposing to use as a master for some resin castings (certainly in 7mm, I might go down the lost wax brass route in 4mm). A new process that I have not previously attempted. I need to find out where to get axleboxes and buffers from – Larrie Griffin I presume.
Also back from PPD, were some etches for something altogether more bold (which is a worry in the light of the problems I have encountered on a relatively simple wagon!). This is the chassis and body etch for a Drummond Scrap Tank. I have made a start on this and again, some reworking will be required but again there is a viable model in an amongst these parts; it just needs tweeking. More to follow once I have got further with it.
I will be making at least some of the items that I have been developing available for sale.
Therefore, I have set up a separate website entitled Miscellany Models that shows what is available, how to get them and (when I get some time to do it) will become a repository for prototype information that I have on the items I have made, construction/finished photographs and instructions.
You can find this website here. If you look hard, you will see some hints as to what other things I have been working on and are expected to be made available in due course.