Wednesday, 6 February 2013

"61665 Leicester City: Hornby B17 conversion"


You'll recall from my recent Hornby B17 review last year that I intended to rename and renumber my own example into no.61679 Charlton Athletic. What I didn't tell you back then was that I was researching another class member: an actual B17 as opposed to a fictional one, to partner my South East London based footballer.

An example of Grimsby Town was bought from one of the box shifters for a mere £89 (for a model of this quality, it's a staggeringly good price), and the model waited its turn in the queue dutifully for a few weeks before I managed to get some modelling done last week.

It differs from the previous releases by pulling a London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) Group Standard tender: something I hope we will see in apple green one day, and being pulled by another locomotive class from Hornby. Patience is a virtue...

The new identity of the model would be another footballer, but with something of a twist. I wanted to have another of the unusual changeover liveries found at the nationalisation of the railways in 1948, or just after, and on close inspection of specific books such as The Power of the B17s and B2s, and RCTS LNER Volume 2A, I found one identity which was unusual, but also easily attainable.



I was however slightly aggrieved by British Railways' of 1949's sense of humour...

I had found four photographs of this locomotive, no.61665 Leicester City, with the branding, rather than the emblem, in this livery and on each occasion the lettering is in a different place on the tender sides, or in a larger font! I ended up picking a late September 1949 photograph for the left hand side, with 9in lettering, and an August 1949 photograph for the right hand side with the same 9in lettering. You will see the lettering is not in line with the numbers as a result.

There is a photograph of sister engine no.61660 Hull City in a similar form but looking closely I think she carries 8in lettering which is a shade smaller. You couldn't model that identity using this model as a basis though, as Hull City had a westinghouse pump fitted, and this model does not. 

I'm more or less convinced that Leicester City was the only choice possible with this model for 1949, and with the BRITISH RAILWAYS branding.



The first job was to strip away the original branding, and prepare the locomotive for its new identity. I used T-Cut straight from the bottle, applied liberally with a cotton bud, rubbing carefully over the emblem on the tender, and the numbers on the cabside, until they were completely removed.


On the advice of a friend, and in seeking a shinier finish than normal on the boiler and tender, I used a little T-Cut, rubbed in carefully using a cotton bud to selected areas, before buffing the model with a clean cotton bud afterwards.


I'm very much taken with the "T-Cut" method of transfer removal now, as all the numbers and letters were removed without problems on the last six models I have renumbered. It has also proven to polish up the boiler and tender rather nicely on this model in particular, though I must confess that I think the shine gives the BR dark green a depth it doesn't have straight out of the box. Credit must be given to Dave Smith, who has been very helpful and informative on weathering matters recently.

I must also confess to having spent many hours on his twitter feed and blog, studying his weathering techniques carefully. His models always exude a wonderfully oily, smoky air and even look like they've actually been cleaned. See one of his excellent models here.


Once the polishing stage was completed, I took to adding my transfers. They are all waterslide transfers, though the cabside numbers are from Modelmaster, and the tender branding is from Fox Transfers. 

I much prefer Fox's transfers, due to the way the film virtually disappears underneath a few coats of Johnson's Klear.


I had arrived at the halfway point, and took a bit of time to study the model more carefully. One of the things I think Hornby nailed was the smokebox saddle, which always looked rather odd to me on the tender drive version, and was that niggling reason for never buying one previously. 

Another thing they very much got right was the "face" of the model, seen below:


It was well worth waiting for Hornby to perfect this model: it's come out a right cracker! If I had one criticism, it would be that the smokebox numberplate, supplied by Modelmaster, looks right in all but colour. The brass colour really does look very odd on no.61665. I intend to put that right...



I hope Leicester City fans will appreciate the pain I went through this evening after work! 

Changing the name and colours on Hornby's footballer nameplate was much harder than I thought it would be! I think the results were worth it, and though it's a really cruel close up above, I don't think they look too bad on the finished locomotive. They are not perfect, but they are a good first attempt, and hopefully Charlton Athletic's will be better when I fit them.

Modelmaster nameplates were used, being of roughly the same size as Hornby's older model, are now a tiny bit too small for the new model. This however isn't really noticeable so long as you paint over the original nameplate prior to fitting the brass replacements.  

I used Gamesworkshops Enchanted Blue acrylic paint to paint over Grimsby Town's colours, with HMRS' LNER Loco sheet's white/black lining out used to create the two panels either side of the football motif. I then used a needle to paint some Abaddon Black from the same Gamesworkshops range to cover up the excess blue. 

The result is Leicester's colours adding a dash of colour to a dark green engine. I used Johnson's Klear to seal the paint and transfers, and left them to dry whilst I tackled the rest of the locomotive's detailing parts.



Hornby's detailing pack includes brake rigging for locomotive and tender, cylinder drain cocks, front coupling for the bufferbeam, a variety of pipes, steps for the front running plate and finally a set of guard irons (which are the wrong shape but a good effort) all to be fitted to the locomotive. I managed to get them all done in record time, partly by remembering the three hours it had taken when fitting out no.61679's detailing parts previously.


The nameplates were refitted into the running plate, a dab of glue on the back sealing them back into place.


 I had a go at repainting the front numberplate so that it was white, but it's not quite there...I may just cover the whole smokebox front with muck in the weathering stage so that the white doesn't show and be done with it!


Overall, I'm really happy with how no. 61665 has turned out thus far. It was very much worth having a go at changing the nameplates, and the new techniques I have been employing for my last few models have differently shown me the light. 


Gone will be the days of hand varnishing transfers to seal them: Johnson's Klear airbrushes really well and gives a superb finish. Gone also, are the days of using meths and cotton buds to remove numbers and emblems: T-Cut is the best thing that has happened to my modelling for some years I think!


So there you have it: no.61679 gains a sister engine, and I gain an unusually liveried locomotive from one of my favourite classes. This is likely to be the last B17 I will be buying, unless Hornby release a B17 with the group standard tender and in apple green.

It must be said however: it's one of those "must buy before you die" models and the urge to get another and add a third footballer into the stock list is very strong. I will resist, however, as the intention is to get a few more B1s, V2s and at least one more L1 to complete the intended mixed traffic and suburban stock list for Ganwick Curve and other projects.

The next stage for no.61665 is a trip back to the weathering booth, for a spot of very light weathering. I want my footballers to be clean for their football specials they will be pulling!

Until next time, thanks for reading. 

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