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.


Unknown said...

Hello Simon, where did you get that model of Sandwich?
My grandad has one but it came in the Talisman Train Pack

Copley Hill said...

eBay, it was the bodyshell on its own. The chassis came separately, as did the tender.

Anonymous said...

If you don't have the money to pay someone to build a kit for you, have you thought about kit building yourself?

You then open up a whole new world of possibilities beyond the Ready To Run world! And not just locos either!

Copley Hill said...

Absolutely, but it's a learning curve. The current kitbashes of the resin components suits me at my current level.

Having seen the various A1/1 kits in the flesh, I prefer Graeme King's resin parts - I know I'll get a reasonable running, very accurate model at the end of it!

Not precluding building other kits of course, and in fact I have both a V4 kit and a D20 on the go at the moment.