November 28, 2012

"Of apple greens and things...Bachmann Tornado Conversion"


'The time has come', the Modeller said, 'to talk of many things. Of buffers - and chips - and chimney cracks, of apple greens and things..."

I'd had in mind for a good long time a conversion for the Bachmann Tornado model, more or less since it had come out in 2009.

In theory there is very little which needs doing to the Bachmann Tornado to turn it into one of the Darlington batch of Peppercorn A1s, whereas the Hornby Tornado model, though more accurate to the real 60163, is not the best starting point for a conversion to one of the originals (unless you were to mix and match parts to get one of the roller bearing A1s; at which point I think I'd beat a hasty retreat for the time being!)

The only thing which isn't right really is the colour (At this point, it's worth remembering that both Doncaster and Darlington works built Peppercorn A1s).

The colour you see on the Bachmann Tornado, being derived as it is from the real thing's livery it carried between 2009 and 2010, was actually a Doncaster apple green shade. Yes, there is a difference (a noticeable one at that) and a much lamented late acquaintance of mine had a particular eye for the colour of the Doncaster and Darlington built batches, commenting thusly that to make it a Doncaster shade you had to "add more yellow".

Certainly, the Bachmann Tornado has more yellow in it than their previous W.P. Allen model (but bear in mind that one model is a decade older than the other).

As it stands in ready to run Peppercorn A1s, we have a rather strange combination of apple greens; whereby the original Bachmann W.P. Allen model is closer to a Darlington specification, and the Tornado model (physically a Darlington locomotive) has a shade closer to a Doncaster specification...! You can see the differences between the two models' livery later on in my blog.

If you're particularly bothered by the shade (and I'm not particularly - hopefully they'll all be too weathered for it to be a big deal), then the only option is a full repaint in any event, and you wouldn't start with a Bachmann Tornado in any event if a full repaint is desired. This conversion avoids a lengthy repaint!

As a case in point, it should also be absolutely no problem to turn a British Railways dark green Bachmann Tornado, or indeed (as I am hoping!) an express passenger blue Bachmann Tornado, into certain other members of the class A1 (so long as they are Darlington built batches).

The model pictured above, was a second hand purchase for a very reasonable sum. Some bits and pieces were missing or damaged (the top electric light, for instance), and the chimney was cracked through (to be replaced by one of Graeme King's excellent resin chimneys anyway), but other than that I had managed to win a very decent starting point for conversion to one of the Darlington built A1s.

The biggest visual differences come from the use of snap head rivets on one batch, and the traditional set on the other, leading to a very different looking tender and cabsides:

The rivets being very obvious on the Doncaster tender, compared to the Darlington one on the left.

In the case of my tender, however, I got a bit more than I was bargaining for! It turns out that this Tornado model has a number of printing errors, one of which is the tender, which has "British Railway" on one side, missing off the "S" at the end!

Luckily, I have spare transfers left over from a number of projects, and if a suitable "S" can be added without it looking too obvious, I'll do that rather than going the whole hog and removing the "British Railway" in its entirety!

The tender body will require some significant modification to the correct A1 spec for the coal and water spaces: which is perfectly doable in my view, but will have to wait until Christmas when I can devote some time to carving up the tank. What can be done very quickly (and you'll see in a later photograph) is what can be done at the front of the tender very easily.

One of the series of books I have found most useful for writing up my stocklist and generally looking for inspiration, is Yeadon's Register. In this case, Volume 3: The Raven, Thompson & Peppercorn Pacifics. On page 42, I spotted a photograph which made me laugh. It was a photograph of 60136 Alcazar.

It was perfect in so many ways - I had 60163, and would convert it to its predecessor, 60136 (a numerical anagram, some might say) with removal of the Tornado accoutrements, including the extra whistle, nameplates and warning flashes.

This was a conversion made a little easier by the fact it would not require "curly sixes" on cabsides and front numberplate!

There is of course one more thing to remember: the whistle is in fact on the opposite side of the cab for Tornado. You need to remove this and put it back on the left hand side of the cab. The whistle should just prise out with little effort using some tweezers.

So this is the stage I am up to thus far: chimney removed, and the base filed down so the Graeme King resin chimney can be fitted.

The warning flashes on the front frames and on the boiler, removed using a cotton bud and a little Revell Colour Mix.

The whistle has been moved from one side of the cab to the other. 

You will notice that a Doncaster built Peppercorn A1 is sitting on the other side of 60136. This locomotive is intended to become 60120 Kittiwake, albeit (as with 60136 here) unnamed. That one will require "curly sixes" and will prove more troublesome in that respect no doubt!

The numbers 60163 were removed using a technique Chris Leigh wrote about in a recent issue of Model Rail, by using a flat head screwdriver and carefully rubbing across the numbers. It surprised me because it worked perfectly! I will now be using this technique more often on the Bachmann models.

The tender had the extra cabinets of dials removed (the original A1s did not have these), and, when I go to carve up the coal space, I'll be filling in the gaps with putty. It also appears that I should be painting the backhead gloss black, to match the photographs of 60136 Alcazar I have.

Until next time, where I will finally be able to get on with some weathering, as both my spray booth and air brush now finally have dedicated locations in my railway room, and the space in which to actually put some muck on some of my rather glossy models!

November 25, 2012

"60163 Tornado in Express Passenger Blue - Dream come true!"

I have waited a lifetime for this moment. Reading the magazines my late grandfather would pass to me after he'd finished with them - the original "Communication Chords" for A1 Trust covenators.

Reading every single article in the railway press, longing for the day that Tornado would be finished, and that she'd match the model of no.60130 which to this day still sits in the cabinet above my desk.

The stunning livery of British Railways Express Passenger blue. Much maligned, but god did it suit these machines.

Today, I finally experienced it in the flesh, on a Peppercorn A1. I don't remember feeling quite this humbled by any sight in railway preservation; not seeing Bittern at speed on the mainline in garter blue, not travelling behind the broad gauge Firefly, not even when I first caught my glimpses of Tornado from behind the fence in Darlington, and then Loughborough, four years ago.

Yet somehow, SOMEHOW, there was still a little blue tank engine sitting somewhere, not wishing to be overlooked by the big blue engine next to him, all over again! The irony is not lost on me.

I found Tornado in the shed at Didcot this morning, being cleaned by an army of people. A1 Trust and Didcot volunteers, feverishly getting her ready for her big day. May I say a big thank you to everyone involved today for their efforts in getting her ready. She looked amazing. 

From inside the shed, you could only get glimpses of certain bits of the whole, but it was enough to turn me into my seven year old self all over again! Grinning like mad, and chatting to anyone and everyone around.

In some respects, I was making up for that very empty void in my life, where my grandfather used to be. His favourite locomotive was 60130 Kestrel, and this was the livery he wanted to see Tornado in, to match her.

Today I was able to witness that very livery change for the first time, but he can never see it. I can only hope he's looking down and smiling on us all. 

Sorry for turning this blog post a bit sombre, but in writing this I felt rather more subdued than I had done throughout the whole of today. I am very much glad for this wonderful locomotive and the group that built and runs it; and soon, I hope to be able to support them better than I have done as a simple covenator (but more on that when all is agreed and signed off, and we are able to say more about it).

The only thing I was hoping for was the stovepipe chimney, but as the lovely Alexa Stott explained (and she is lovely - always make time in your visits to speak with her as she is a lovely lady to speak with; time for everyone) the stovepipe was proving problematic with the smoke deflection.

Looking back at my photographs of 60163 in apple green, I can see what she means. It's not a big deal in any way shape or form; and frankly function must win over form here. She is a working engine and you have to keep things easiest for her crews.

This photograph doesn't actually reflect how many people were there today, but I thought it was a great photograph in terms of showing how railway preservation used to be, up and down the country; people using their common sense around the railway and generally being very observant and respectful of the environment they were in. 

You may notice a little guide rope in the photograph. This was for the covenators. Other visitors had to be behind the line, covenators were allowed in front to take photographs (which I took full advantage of. One of the perks I believe!)

Here's the unsung hero of the piece! This class 56 brought Tornado down to Didcot. From what I hear, it really was touch and go for a while, so please remember to say a big thank you to all of the A1 Team, Didcot, and the numerous other people involved in making this day happen. 

Yours truly forgot to get in the covenator's photograph until the last moment - he was too busy chatting to a trust member!

This photograph I took entirely by accident, but it's a great shot. A father and his son, gazing up at the big blue steam locomotive. Frankly, this could form a wonderful piece of artwork in a book...

Ian Matthews and his team have done a magnificent job on Tornado. The blue is exquisite in colour, the lining out is perfect, and I am so very, VERY glad they lined out the cylinders. It's not technically correct - none of the A1s actually had it - but I think it perfects the livery on the locomotive. After all, the A3s and the lone Thompson A1/1 were given it!

Here's a "tender" moment (aha).

No, sorry, that was terrible. I can hear the groans! Moving on. 

There's only three locomotives in preservation currently wearing the express passenger blue: Tornado, Sir Nigel Gresley, and King Edward II.  All look amazing in this much underrated livery. I can only hope that Tornado holds onto hers for a good year or two. I think we're going to have a lot of fun meeting up with the A4 and the King in years to come! How about it chaps? A1, A4 and King all in blue at the GCR for 2013?!

Last photograph of the day, when all was quiet and most people had gone home. Tornado sits, clean, quiet, and reflecting perhaps on what a whirlwind few years she has had up to now. Eggshell grey to apple green, boiler troubles (rectified), apple green to dark green, two logos, now blue, and in that four years a royal naming, a Top Gear race to the north, taking part in various railtours around the country, hitting 50,000 miles in service, and now all she waits for is a shedmate... this space.

And on that bombshell, thank you for reading. Good night!


November 24, 2012

"Heljan announce a Gresley O2 in OO Gauge!"

I don't normally gush about potential new releases on this blog. I tend to leave it to other more knowledgeable modellers or forums to deal with. But I am making an exception for the "Tango" and for what promises to be a thrilling 2014 if you're of an ex-LNER persuasion.

Heljan's stand at Warley contains posters of this announcement, which was first made here on the LNER Forum. Quite a lot of modellers are going to be happy about this one; the O2s being used over Eastern, Great Eastern and North Eastern sections of the LNER in vast numbers!

With the arrival of Thompson's O1 from Hornby, Heljan's forthcoming O2 model (promising all the tender types and cab types) will be in good company, complementing existing locomotives and rolling stock announced by other manufacturers.

Couple that with the forthcoming J11 from Bachmann, and those of an LNER persuasion are going to be singing from the eaves for years to come.

For me, this means justifying expenditure on more models and adapting my stocklist for the forthcoming Ganwick Curve layout and any future incarnation of Copley Hill.

Hope you enjoy Warley, I am off to Didcot tomorrow to enjoy the spectacle of a blue Peppercorn A1 for the first time in my life.

Until next time!

November 19, 2012

"The first test print of the book"

This is an experimental print, done by a university printing firm, to test the layout of the book. All you see here is not going to be the finished article, but the physical size of the book and the layout inside will remain the same. Some parts of the book are to receive an edit to bring the size of the book down from 114 pages to 112, and a new front and back cover based on the eBook's front cover is going to be designed.

The pictures are a little dark, but this has been digitally printed. The final version will be sew bound and on silk paper, with the artwork much brighter and more vibrant.

It looks quite a thick book! The finished version will be even thicker as this is a thin type of paper for digital printing. The finished versions will be sew bound silk paper with proper ink!

For the record, we compared it to a similar set of children's books for materials. I'm expected to price this book at roughly double the price of the comparable children's book, when the materials and print processes cost three times as much for me, as the mass produced children's books! 

However the prices for printing a short print run of 500 books were exceptionally favourable, so I think it's a question of when now, not if.

So, editing permitting, a new children's book may be hitting the market in the new year...almost a year after it was released on eReaders globally. I will of course honour my promise to knock £1.14 off the price of every book for everyone who bought (and can prove they bought) a copy of the eBook.

It's all getting rather exciting again!

November 18, 2012

"A bit of Movember fun!"

Behind the scenes, I have been working on bringing The British Railway Stories back to YouTube. It is taking much longer than anticipated, but I have been having a bit of fun working out all of the bugs and doing a bit of modelling.


This model is intended to form the new "Allen" model for the new series, when and if it gets made.

The eyes have a remote control mechanism that allows them to go from side to side. This particular bit of modelling has taken me well over five months to get to a prototype stage, and I am hoping that early in the new year, we'll have a few more of the mechanisms made to allow Stephen, Sir Ralph and Geoffrey to be made for the opening episode (intended to be "Tale of the Unnamed Engine" and be in line with the books).

Based on Bachmann's first edition A1 model, all that has been changed is the removal of the smokebox door (undamaged and in safe storage).  The only other change made to this model was to remove Bachman's awful split moulded chimney in favour of one of Graeme King's excellent resin mouldings.

And a bit of Movember fun! A request from a fan, and how could I refuse?

During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces in the UK and around the world. The aim of which is to raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and testicular cancer.

 Please donate a few quid to Movember United Kingdom if you can. It's for an exceedingly worthy cause.

That's all for tonight, have a good Monday if you can. I have a very important meeting this week...possibly about a certain book. More as it comes!

Until next time.


November 16, 2012

"Thompson A1/1 from a Gresley A1"

I was all set to start a new project, completely unrelated to Thompson's Pacifics, when a timely email from an old friend reminded me I had yet to finish the most controversial one of all...

This is a project I first had a go at in 2007, on the old RMweb. The project's premise was clear: to build a model of the Thompson A1/1, Great Northern, from a Gresley A1. Much as Thompson did, in a way, by adapting the standard components of the A1 and converting them into the larger Thompson 6ft 8in Pacific.

In my original build, I used a Hornby Railroad A1. This was the monstrous result back then...

Not pretty now I look back on it, but this was Genesis. My very first kitbashing exercise. I never did get the valve gear to work, and I broke up 60113 for spares two years ago, knowing that it was, sadly, not brilliant and also not going to fit into the vision I had for my next layout.

Now however, Graeme King has come to the rescue in the shape of some more excellent resin components - and it's surprising how similar, in some ways, the resin kit adapts a Hornby A1 (or in this case, A3) to create an A1/1 to the ideas and methods I was using all the way back in 2007.

You will need a Hornby "Sandwich" A3 for this conversion, for the correct washout plug and mudhole doors arrangement on the firebox. In my case, I bought a second hand bodyshell of this locomotive on eBay.

So far, I've only tackled the fitting of the largest resin parts to the carefully cut up bodyshell. The way to fit the three major parts (the smokebox, the front running plate, and the set of two running plates) is not wholly different to that I covered in my A2/1.

You need to remove the front smokebox (and keep the snifting valve safe - this sticks onto the top of the resin smokebox), and carefully remove the running plates on both sides, and cut a notch into the firebox to allow the the replacement resin parts to fit. In my case, I deliberately cut the notches a little larger to fit the S curve snugly, with Humbrol modelling filler applied to fill the cab and leave it smooth when sanded.

To my annoyance, the bodyshell had been mutilated by its previous owner so badly, that the splashers were beyond repair. Graeme's build on the LNER forum (found here) used the rear of the splashers to support the resin running plates. I will have to improvise a set of splashers behind the running plates on either side of the boiler to further strengthen them, unfortunately. The bodyshell did only cost a tenner though, well worth the price!

The resin front running plate extension needs to be cut so that the top of the A2/3's angular step is removed, leaving the bottom section of running plate intact. After sanding this down, a notch needs to be cut in the centre of the running plate at the rear, in order for it to fit around the diecast block of the Hornby A1 chassis.

Once that is done, the front running plate, and the resin running plates need to be mated together (and to be completely level so as to fit onto the firebox sides perfectly. Fitting the resin smokebox component (which simply slots in thanks to Graeme's inventive and simple "sleeve" at its rear edge) will help in locating the resin components, as the bottom of the smokebox has a notch which forms one half of the smokebox saddle (the front running plate has the other half).

One that is done, you can fit the Hornby A1 smokebox into the front - it simply slots in and can be glued with a little superglue at the rear.

The face of the model is more or less completed by test fitting the resin deflectors. It certainly looks like 60113, albeit the number will need to be changed soon!

I know there's a debate going on elsewhere on the internet about the pros and or cons of these resin components plus the ready to run chassis used with them, against full kits for these models; but I must post some defense of Graeme's brilliance with thoughtful kit design and resin casting.

If it were not for Graeme's hard work and willingness to supply these well designed parts in his spare time, there would be an awful lot less models of the various Thompson Pacific classes running about on layouts up and down the country, including many examples of A2/2 and A2/3 (and recently, my own conversion to make a reasonable A2/1).

It should also be remembered that the interchangeability of the standard components between the real Thompson Pacifics has made building any one of these classes using Graeme's components, affordable.

Some of us do have the spare cash to order X kitbuilt model made by Y kitbuilder, and that's absolutely fine and I would never wish to decry anyone being a "cheque book modeller" (because quite frankly, if I had the cash, I'd be one of these cheque book modellers too). However, not all of us do have the money to spend on a full DJH or PDK kit, and on wheels, gearbox and motor, and then pay someone to build said kit professionally. That's where Graeme's components fill a massive gap in the market for those modellers who do want to portray a section of the East Coast mainline; and let's face it, without one or two examples of these classes running about, it's not a wholly accurate representative of the period 1944-1964 of the ex-LNER main lines.

Rightly or wrongly, there's now entirely different two ways of building models of these Thompson Pacific classes, and the results on both sides speak for themselves. Let's not try and turn it into a "them and us" scenario of kitbash versus kitbuilt. It's more a question of economics and the personal comforts of modelling. Neither right or wrong; different, and it suits some of us better than others.

This final photograph for the day perhaps sums the whole situation up for me. I now have four wholly reasonable portrayals of each of Thompson's Pacifics. I could not have envisaged that without major expenditure into the thousands of pounds, three years ago.

I'm not too far away from my dream of lining up one of each ex-LNER Pacific class, in apple green livery, alongside each other on shed. Once the A1/1 is finished, it'll be a reality.

Until next time, when I tackle the other resin components supplied with the kit, and produce a "unique" solution to the splashers problem.

Good night, thanks for reading.

November 15, 2012

"Meet our newest character - Drew the Colliery Engine!"

Meet our newest friend in The British Railway Stories!

"Drew the Colliery Engine"

Drew is based on the preserved Andrew Barclay diesel No.615. No.615 was the last surface locomotive working for the National Coal Board (latterly British Coal).

Owned by the Barton family, Drew is the first character in The British Railway Stories to benefit from The Heritage & Railway Preservation Donation Scheme.

In exchange for character rights, £1 from the sale of every eBook and book will be donated back to the owners of the real No.615, to be spent on overhauls, running costs and the preservation of other heritage items within the owning group.

The development of the book "Drew the Colliery Engine" is expected to take up to a year, with a Christmas 2013 release penciled in.

I'd like to take this opportunity to welcome aboard Drew and his owners, and can say wholeheartedly that myself and Dean Walker are looking forward to writing and illustrating this, the third book in the stories.

Welcome aboard Drew!

Simon A.C. Martin, CEO of The British Railway Stories Ltd

November 14, 2012

"Thompson A2/1 from a Bachmann V2 & Graeme King Parts - Part 4"

A bit of finishing off prior to weathering. Firstly, the front steps on the running plate have been removed. The A2/1s didn't have them, and it was a timely post from one Tony Wright on another thread which spurred me into removing them (particularly as 60508 is photographed in this livery quite clearly without them). Lining out was also added to the bufferbeam, along with gluing down the buffers, hook and coupling and vacuum pipe. The dome was painted using Railmatch's apple green, from the same can as the A2/2 I am building. I am flabbergasted as to the difference in shade when compared to my A2/2, seen here:

Both painted in exactly the same manner and with the same white undercoat. What gives? The A2/2 is darker! I am in two minds still. Having talked it out with Mick at length via PM, I'm reluctant to remove such a smooth finish, but the colour is just wrong. It's far, far too dark. The A2/1's dome came out okay so I am scratching my head as to why.

The tender has had some further changes. Here we can see that I've chopped off the moulded coal, keeping the rear wall in the tender, filling it instead with real coal. This will look much less shiny when weathered I suspect! I've gone off two photographs of 60508 at King's Cross, and filled the tender to the brim.

The smaller B1 tenders were not well liked on these class of engine, and I suspect that was down to both the lack of a tarpaulin at the cab,  and the lack of water or coal capacity, for what was an economical machine but only on the heaviest of passenger and freight trains. There's interesting lb per mile statistics for this particular engine in a set of trials, which can be read in British Pacific Locomotives by Cecil J. Allen, or East Coast Pacifics at Work by Peter Townend. Whatever your take on the A2/1s, it's clear that the "orphans of the storm" were moderately successful when employed on the heaviest of trains but lacking in the refined qualities the A3s, A4s and A1s possessed.

A further modification was to the buffers; the Bachmann ones were poor in comparison to these Hornby B1 buffers, which are available from Peter's Spares on eBay, and were duly replaced. The bufferbeam will have a bit of filler, wet'n'dry paper, and some red paint added before too long to complete the job.

The cabside numbers have been added, with a coat of Johnson's Klear used to seal them. I am debating whether to just say "sod it" and go commission a set of transfers for the curly 6 - from the look of things, I will need approximately 30 of these numerals to renumber my fleet, which includes many of the apple green Pacifics which had them. This curly 6 was created by cutting ans shutting a number 5 from a Fox Transfers sheet, a method tried and tested with much success elsewhere on RMweb. It is a very good tip.

So that, bar weathering, is more or less that. The one thing standing out is the cartazzi wheels; they haven't been added yet as I have not had enough time to devote to examining my chassis and working out the best way of attaching them. I suspect Graeme King's excellent A-frame idea he applied to one of his A2/3s may come in handy in due course.

So for the moment, that's yer lot with Thompson A2/1s. I'll weather it once I have time to get the airbrush and spray booth out, but from today until next week I'll be away from home mostly, so no chance to finish it off completely for a while yet.

Until next time, thanks for reading.

November 09, 2012


Here's a video which I have published on my YouTube channel recently, on behalf of a friend. This is one of the best "amateur" productions I've ever seen (and the word "amateur" is an insult to the work put in behind the scenes!), and I am proud to have played a small role in the film.

 The initial shot of the Morris Minor rolling up was down to Chris and I playing around with his car and making sure the "M" lined up centrally. This required someone to push the car, and the other to brake it, whilst unpowered. Guess who was pushing it!

All of the scenes with Christopher and the Policeman (Donald) on the bike were filmed using my Volvo estate as a camera car, with the tailgate up for tracking shots, and the side passenger windows down for alongside!

It was great fun assisting Chris on the Bluebell Railway too, and I can say with hand on heart, I've not ever had so much fun filming. Please watch the film, enjoy it, and then share it with your friends and family. I guarantee you that the end sequences will get them every time!


November 06, 2012

"Thompson A2/1 from a Bachmann V2 & Graeme King Parts - Part 3 - video!"

A video of my A2/1 running. Not very long, just needed to produce something for a friend to peruse. Simon

November 04, 2012

"Thompson A2/1 from a Bachmann V2 & Graeme King Parts - Part 2"

A bit of black paint, some nameplates and the smokebox numberplate, and the change from V2 to A2/1 is all but complete. There's lot of areas where I need to apply filler to smooth the bodyshell out in the various cuts made, so this isn't quite the final entry to cover on my cut and shut project.

Further things which need to be done include adding a smokebox upper lamp bracket, the front coupling, front steps, cabside numbers, apple green paint to be applied to the dome and some sections of the boiler. But the majority of the model is more or less complete.

If you're wondering how it is attached to the chassis, I moved the screw threads under the cab 2mm to the left and right in order to use the existing connecting points on the A2 chassis.


I've also taken the opportunity to run in the A2/1, and check the valve gear, prior to taking the model to the High Wycombe model railway club next week for some play time on passenger trains. The valve gear is running rather sweetly, and I'm delighted that it's working more or less perfectly.

So there we go: how to build an A2/1 from a Bachmann A2 and the latest edition Bachmann V2, using Graeme King's excellent resin castings, and a lot of planning involving scale drawings, and testing the theory on a test bodyshell.

Until next time, when I hope to have finished the model, complete with weathering.

November 01, 2012

"Thompson A2/1 from a Bachmann V2 & Graeme King Parts"


Having received the cheap donor Bachmann V2 (Green Arrow in apple green), I proceeded to dismantle the other donor Bachmann A2 as well. The bodyshell and tender of the A2 have been put to one side, as I have a new chassis incoming from a friend who bought an A2 to convert to P4 and didn't want the original Bachmann chassis. I began by removing the cylinders and valve gear.

The cylinders were modified by gluing Graeme King's cylinder conversion part on top. I glue this bit first before cutting away the unwanted parts of the A2 cylinders (the frame between them and the bit behind) as this allows for cylinders which are straight and level with one another.

The V2 valve gear can be removed as all one piece from the new Bachmann chassis. Happily, the original cylinder block of the older split chassis models can be reused (complete with the original valve gear!) so this chassis will not go to waste, instead being put under an older beloved V2 bodyshell, which will be modified in line with my previous V2 conversion.

Note that whilst the valve gear retains much of the basic properties of the original V2 models, one significant change has been done to the eccentric and slide bar; these two items are actually designed more or less to fit into the A2 model's cylinders. They will fit without further modification, and with careful pressure from behind.

Now for the frames of the A2 chassis. Some modifications are required at the rear to get the correct length for the chassis. Filing down the rear steps, and the extrusions from the diecast cartazzi, will give you the correct length, as demonstrated by the photograph below, comparing the original A2 frames with the intended A2/1 frames:

The advantage of filing the chassis in this way is that the attachment point for the tender connector can be retained. However, take note, the whole fixing point for the cartazzi wheels must be removed so that the rear of the bodyshell can fit onto the top of the frames snugly.

The next stage was removing the unwanted material on the front of the locomotive's frames, in order to fit the new Graeme King resin components, the cylinders and the bogie in the correct locations. This is done much as it was at the rear - take a file to the detail, and file away until smooth and flat, as below:

You will notice at this point that the diameter of the Bachmann V2 boiler is slightly larger than that on the Graeme King A1/1 resin smokebox I have used. After some careful filing and filling, this will be barely perceptible, rest assured, as we will see later on. The reason it can be seen here is that the boiler and smokebox had not be glued together yet. Which brings us on neatly onto how I fitted them together.

As you can see from the photographs above, cutting the smokebox off the V2 bodyshell gives a U shaped moulding for which the A1/1 smokebox has to be modified to fit. I did this simply by cutting the sides off the moulding's "plug in" section at the rear. With further filing and sanding down, the fit can be made to be very snug, and is bonded simply with super glue.

This was the current state of affairs by Friday last week. You may notice that you will also need a little bit of extra running plate to fit the V2 bodyshell to the Graeme King A2/3 resin running plate. I kept back a spare slice of resin running plate from my ongoing Thompson A1/1 Great Northern build for precisely that purpose (but more on that build another time).

Now for the valve gear! With the cylinders modified and fitted into their slot, I simply slotted in the V2 valve gear, and screwed the centre driving wheel pin back on. You will need a washer between the driving wheel pin and the connecting rod (my two washers came from a Triang Britannia, which bizarrely had the exact size and depth of washer needed!) for the V2 valve gear to sit correctly.

Some testing, and I discovered that the piston rod was actually hitting the front of the inside of the cylinders on both sides. This requires the slide bar and the piston rod to be shortened a tad, no more than a few millimeters, in order to run smoothly.

Aside from that, the valve gear works out of the box without fuss. A win in my books for standardization of components!

With the chassis more or less sorted, it was time to turn to the aesthetics again. The original V2 dome was removed through filing and cutting, and one of Grame King's resin A3 type domes added. This really helps to disguise the problems with the V2 boiler (particularly its shape) and is a fundamental factor in my decision to have a go at building an A2/1 from a Bachmann V2 bodyshell.

For those who are much more bothered about the V2 boiler (and to be fair to all, I am still bothered about the boiler shape, but less bothered when the correct length and shaped dome is fitted), Graeme is in fact working on more resin parts to produce more accurate A2/2, A2/1 and V2 bodyshells. Watch this space!

The spare smokebox door (from a Bachmann A1, which is more or less irrelevant as it is identical to the A2 moulding, so it's probably fair to say it's a shared tooling) was given a new handrail and handrail knobs, the step on the lower half removed by scalpel, and the smokebox numberplate (moulded onto the top strap) removed by scalpel and careful sanding down with wet'n'dry paper.

 You may have noticed in the last photograph that the tender has mysteriously changed! The reason behind this is simple. 60508 was paired with a B1 tender, not a V2 tender, when built, and thus the V2 tender would need to be either heavily modified, or outright replaced. I opted for the latter. I had bought a Replica Railways B1 tender on the off chance that Bachmann wouldn't heavily retool their B1 or V2 tenders. Guess what? I was right, but for the wrong reasons...

Bachmann's latest B1 model has a new chassis, yet retains the older tender arrangement with the ludicrously large plastic peg. The V2 however had the A1 & A2 style of metal bar with pin on tender designed into it. What is particularly interesting is that whilst on the V2, new frames were tooled up to allow this standard coupling to be used, Bachmann did not take advantage of this new tooling with the B1's tender.

However...the plot thickens, as by unscrewing the V2 tender top, you will discover that the B1 tender simply slots on and has identical mounting points for the tender top and chassis to be screwed together. So my tender is a mix of the newer Bachmann V2 tooling's frames, and the older Replica Railways tender top. So in - what, twenty to thirty years? The original Replica Railways B1 tender hasn't changed much - it can still be swapped about with its V2 counterpart's tender components!

I should point out now that the new frames and the old ones are identical in every respect except for the new coupling peg and the rear tension lock coupling (which now uses Bachmann's standard NEM pocket).

I decided to take advantage of the peg by making a small adjustment of my own. I have grown increasingly frustrated with the "tender on, tender off" nature of the metal bar and peg arrangement. The tender can uncouple very easily when the model is being placed on the track. The solution for me was simple. I drilled into the centre of the peg, put the coupling bar on, and then put a screw into the peg, with a washer between its head and the coupling bar. Result: no more faffing about trying to get the tender on.

This may set a precedent for all of my other models so afflicted with this coupling arrangement; they may be permanently coupled as per this in the future!

Returning to the chassis briefly, you will remember that I filed down the steps on the rear of the A2 chassis in order to get the correct overall length. The next stage is to add some steps. These plastic ones, currently blue tacked on to check size and shape, are cut from a spare Hornby A3 cartazzi moulding, and should be perfect for this job. I am working on how I attach them, but the general feeling I have right now is that they will be filed down at their rear and glued down to create an almost seamless fit onto the cartazzi's rear.

So there we have it: my work thus far on building a Thompson A2/1 Pacific from an RTR V2 and an RTR A2, combined with some of Graeme King's superb resin components. The total cost for building so far has to take into account the £70 and £75 spent on the A2 and V2 (bearing in mind I will recoup some of that money from the sale of the V2 tender top to a P4 modeller I know) along with the various spares I had lying around (smokebox door, A3 cartazzi moulding and similar).

The V2 bodyshell has its flaws, there's no doubt, but the superior paint finish (and particularly the apple green, which will need some touching up due to my ham fistedness, but thankfully not much!) and relative ease of mixing and matching Bachmann components more or less made up my mind on this one.

Next time I hope to have completely finished the A2/1, including modifications to the steam pipe, the handrails, addition of deflectors and their handrails, and many more bits and pieces besides.

Until next time, thanks for reading.