Monday, 21 April 2014

"Thompson B3/3 re-emerges…and some obligatory A4 modelling"

This model has been on the boil for nearly two years now. Started in what feels like a completely different life, I've now got around to shortening the B1 chassis at the front end, cutting and re-shaping the running plate (needed to be deeper) and adding the GCR swivel hook on the buffer beam.

On the Isinglass drawings, the depth of the running plate is very similar to the B1, whereas period photographs show the depth of the running plate to be much deeper. I pondered over this for some time, before realising the pitch of the boiler matches that of the original GCR, which means that the standard fittings, though still all within 13ft high, makes the B3/3 slightly taller in a lot of areas compared to Thompson's standard B1 type.

This is perhaps best seen in a side on view. The steps are the correct length and pitched at the right height, but they do not match up to the steps of the GCR tender, unsurprisingly. The handrails have been fitted to the cab - notice the handrails on the front of the cab, one way of recognising the B3/3 aside from the as yet to be modelled splashers, or the larger 6ft 9in wheels (which are Hornby Royal Scot drivers, suitably modified with new balance weights).

Also note the replacement, larger bogie wheels fitted to a Thompson L1 bogie. I am hoping once the guard irons are removed, and a set of separate fittings are attached to the front buffer beam, that the model will look much improved in this area next time out.

I am fast approaching the finish line with no.17 Silver Fox, with the welcome addition of Fox Transfers excellent etched numerals and lettering for LNER no.17.

 Yes, the numbers are off-centre. I had to check and double check this, but this is accurate for no.17 Silver Fox on this side only, in a photograph dated 1947. Since I want my fleet of A4s to be a mixture of LNER and British Railways branding, I elected for this combination for prototype 1 to show off the modelling to its best advantage.

The eagle eyed amongst you will note that this is not the correct tender for no.17, that having a 1935 bow ended, streamlined corridor tender and not one of the original 1928 stock (which this tender is). I have elected to leave the top half above the beading blue for the time being until such a time I can source, paint and finish a 1935 type tender for no.17.

Last things to do include adding lamp irons (always a pain and always left until last), adding the coupling, cab spectacle etches, then weathering and sealing with Johnson's Klear. I hope to have all of these done within the month, and also finish the Hornby chassis prototype 2.

Though I must confess, I have almost made my mind up on which chassis I am going to standardise on. It is increasingly looking like being the Bachmann type, it being heavier, more powerful, smoother and with the die cast cartazzi and lower firebox sides, less of a pain to mount these cheap GBL bodies on.

Until next time.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

"Silver Fox"

No.17 Silver Fox has seen the light of day for the first time…Fox Transfers etches and transfers.

The red - humbrol no.20 - really comes out well in the sunlight.

Frankly I feel a bit vindicated in the choice of blue, particularly when you compare to the image below...

…which shows an A4 in a rather pleasing, and not at all dark, shade. Frankly I think it looks the part, I am sure a lot of people will disagree with me and say I've got it totally wrong, but hey, I've put my work out there and actually done some modelling, including a full repaint and a lot of bodging.

The comparison of garter blue shades taken from a photograph of Herring Gull, found here. Even accounting for the deficiencies of film of the time, are we seriously saying that the below, the Hornby shade:

…is light enough to be considered a better match than that I've used?

For my own peace of mind, I finally have an A4 Pacific which I'm pretty satisfied with in a lot of areas, unlike previous conversions. Prototype 2 using the Hornby chassis is up next and will hopefully look just as good. I do know there's a few things I will do differently though.

The Bachmann chassis does feel like the natural choice at the minute, given the ease of the conversion compared to the Hornby chassis.

Until next time.

Friday, 11 April 2014


More tinkering with the GBL Gresley A4 body shells. This one, on a Bachmann chassis, has finally entered the painting and finishing stage.

The tender really does scrub up well though I will need to find a replacement spectacle glass for the tender, as it don't come with one fitted.

A bit of filling and filing was needed at the front end prior to painting blue...

…so I started on the tender instead. Note the extra access hatch added and the valances filled in and smoothed over in the corner behind the cylinders.

The next stage was a few coats of my own brand garter blue...

…painting the cab roof...

…and fitting the excellent Maygib sprung buffers.

Until next time, when hopefully LNER no.17 will be revealed in all her glory. TTFN.

Monday, 7 April 2014

"A4 Conversions…again!"

It is almost an obsession. I seem to only be doing modelling updates of A4 Pacifics at the minute!

Here is prototype 1, a Great British Locomotives (GBL) body shell on the latest Bachmann A4 chassis, with a GBL 4472 corridor tender on a set of Hornby frames.

The model has had handrails, single chimney, access hatches added and the valances removed.

The primer has been applied, highlighting a number of areas to improve on before painting the locomotive blue.

I'm now feeling much happier about my project. Lots still to do (look at the buffer holes above, for instance, where I need to do more filling and sanding to get the shape I want) but it's starting to come together nicely.

Until next time.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

"Valances and bath tubs…"

So a few more updates on my latest round of Gresley A4 Pacific modelling. It's definitely still in the "work in progress" stage, but it's getting there.

Using a set of my valance templates (as designed and produced for me by Peter Harvey of PH Designs), I've removed the valances for the most part. They are a bit rough and ready and will need some more filing down and cutting but the basic shape is there and gives a great indication of what still needs to be done.

The buffer beam and front end requires some thinking, particularly for how the buffers will be attached and how I will fit a few other components. You may notice that certain pieces on the valve gear have been omitted - since this is the Railroad 4472 chassis, there are parts moulded onto the body shell such as the eccentric gear bracket, that are actually part of the other valve gear available, such as the super detail A4 type. I think it's safe to say I need to buy a set of those and replace the current valve gear accordingly.

Here's a side by side comparison with my last "de-valancing kit" prototype, no.32 Gannet, lined up with what will hopefully become no.17 Silver Fox.

Oh, and just so that London Midland fans can see something related to their railway for a change - here's the latest few pics on my City of Lancaster build, using a Hornby Duchess chassis and a GBL Coronation body shell and tender.

LMS locomotives are still not my thing, but I now have a new found respect for the "upturned bathtubs" in so much that their elegance isn't fully appreciated until you start poring over drawings and studying the lines of the running plate and casing. It's actually quite handsome in all over black too, that to come another day...

Until next time.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

"More updates on a few A4 models and the range of etches"

So we're fast approaching the painting stage for the body shells, and we know this because...

The tenders are starting to get there. It's a long story with the paint - involves a few Bugatti enthusiasts, some paint swatches, lots of debate about adding white to mixtures…but I had a very special paint mixed up for me to paint my A4s in. The idea behind the full repaint is to offer something closer than either Railmatch, Precision or Hornby in their shades of "Garter blue" - which I would argue was never such, and probably should have always been described as "Bugatti blue".

Anywan, here is prototype 2's non corridor streamlined tender in its blue livery, on its way to be painted.

The difference in shades of blue compared to the Hornby model is startling. The level of detail however, with handrails added, is virtually the same. Cheap knock off tender body shell suddenly looking the part!

In addition, the wheel sets have been painted using Humbrol gloss no.20, which to me looked a better match than that on the Hornby A4 models I have seen recently.

Finally, prototype 1 now has its own tender, well on its way to joining the prototype 2's tender in the paint shop.

This uses the GBL 4472's tender body shell, in conjunction with a set of spare Hornby frames (the correct type with the wing shaped rear steps). Again, the wheel sets have been painted using Humbrol gloss no.20.

This model is now likely to retain its valances as it's going to remain a solitary one off with its chassis I think.

That's it for the moment. If you haven't been invoiced for any of my A4 etches, by the way, fear not - you won't necessarily have missed out. I am working six day weeks at the minute and have had very little time to sort out the orders.

Last week I managed to get a few sent off, next Sunday I will do the same again…it's taken four months to get through a list of twenty people. I apologise profusely for the delay, unfortunately holding down a full time job (and doing more than 35 hours a week at the minute too) is taking its toll a little bit.

Next time I will go into more detail about the possibility of new etches and a few re-designs of older ones.


Wednesday, 19 March 2014

"Some Great British Locomotive modelling"

So part 3 of "Great British Locomotives" part work is this rather nice model of 4472 Flying Scotsman. It's been clearly based on the Hornby model, and the super detail model at that, albeit with simplified detailing. So, is it any good?

Yes and no. The tender body is a direct copy of the super detail one, albeit unlike the Mallard tender a few weeks back, with moulded handrails. The tender body comes off with two screws underneath and fits perfectly onto an appropriate and standard Hornby tender chassis.

You can tell this is a proper tender chassis by the lack of red lining and the superior wheel sets!

Unfortunately the locomotive is not fit for much…at the minute. The boiler and smokebox are separate to the cab and running plate - a good thing - but the design of the body and the running plate are not conducive to motorising...

…not without chopping a heck of a lot of plastic away, and I mean a lot.

The boiler is however hollow.

The running plate is much the same, tragically moulded in such a way as to make fitting a Hornby chassis nigh on impossible without major surgery.

However the cab - which has an epic about  of glazing, correctly turned in side sheets, and the high cut out to the cab suitable for late 1930s Pacifics and post war (and preservation) 4472, is an entirely separate item.

This comparison shows the tender on its own frames and next to the spare Hornby tender frames I own (note they are correct for a corridor tender, with the right steps present).

The GBL tender frames, however, are surprisingly good copies in their own right. I have been pondering - given how the tender body simply screws down onto the frames through two screws on the excellent bottom plate, of adding axle boxes in some form along with Hornby wheel sets as above, to save on buying spare tender frames. They are nicely moulded and it wouldn't take much modification to make them proper runners, I think.

The body shell on the left is the Railroad 4472, the latest in a long line of modifications I have made towards my Pacific fleet.

The GBL running plate compared to the Railroad model.

And finally, the Railroad Scotsman cab compared to the GBL cab. No contest frankly, the GBL cab is superb. The glazing comes away easily and is very nicely moulded. Removing the handrails and adding new ones, and repainting will produce an almost identical cab to the super detail Hornby model.

So, is it worth £8.99? Verdict's out on this one. I do think the cab and tender are worth getting as spare parts but I do wish it had been designed differently in terms of the running plate and boiler arrangement.

It does make one think that had this artwork been thought through a bit more, static display models and easily motorised scale models could have been achieved.

Until next time.