February 03, 2013

"Thompson Trio: Renumbering & Weathering"

I've been working on a trio of Thompson designed locomotives for a few weeks, intending them for work both on the forthcoming layout Ganwick Curve, and another (much smaller) layout project that will overtake it by virtue of being cheaper to build.

Pictured above is Thompson O1 no.63789, which you may remember from an earlier blog post: it was being backdated to its 1949 condition and weathered on New Year's Eve in 2012.

The other two Thompson locomotive designs I've been working on, were a Thompson B1, and a Thompson L1. Both of these locomotives were, coincidentally, products of the North British Locomotive works at Polmadie, and as a result some minor cosmetic changes have had to be made to the tank engine in particular. All three models are, of course, ready to run models from the Hornby stable.

The only thing I will be waiting on are North British Locomotive works plates, which are on order from Fox Transfers. I should probably state at this time that there is no paid advertising on this blog: I just happen to buy from Fox Transfers as their service is always excellent and prompt!

The model started life as no.67772, in the exquisitely applied mixed traffic black livery, with cycling lion emblem on the tanksides.

I wanted mine to represent an earlier form, made by a different locomotive works to that portrayed (I believe the one depicted by Hornby was a Robert Stephenson & Hawthorn variant). The works plates on the front frames were removed using a little T-Cut and a cotton bud, followed by the emblems on the tank sides, which were removed in the same manner, along with the last two digits of the locomotive's number on the bunker sides.

Fox Transfers numerals and lettering were applied thereafter. They are waterslide transfers, which were carefully dried before sealing with a few coats of Johnson's Klear varnish. I use the bottom half of a numeral "5" to make the curly sixes on the bunker sides.

I repeated the procedure for the numberplate, again using Fox Transfer's numerals to change the last two digits. My intended prototype was no.67751, which can be found in Yeadon's Register, Volume 16 a few times in this form.

I do think the lettered branding changes the look of the locomotive quite a lot: it's surprising how squashed the lettering looks on the real thing in some of the photographs contained in that volume of Yeadon's Register, but equally surprising are the number of variations in livery, and variations within livery, of form (looking squarely at the front running plate and the types of works plates).

I was tempted to leave no.67751 in pristine livery. It was, after all, shown in such a form in Yeadon's Register (twice in fact) however my desire for a "working locomotive" look took over, and I went for the jugular, so to speak, with an afternoon of weathering.

I prepared the model as I normally do, by using mixes of Tamiya weathering powders on the chassis, smokebox and generally anything which would have got rusty, before mixing up a generic weathering shade using metal cote from the Humbrol range, and some trusty T-Cut and cotton buds to clean the excess off.

I very much wanted to recreate the "cleaned with a rag" look, and whilst this isn't perfect, I do think it's a step closer to the overall level of weathering I'm aiming for.

One thing I noted of the Thompson L1s in Yeadon's Register, was how clean some of the bufferbeams were in the late 40s and early 50s. It was truly bizarre as I tried to find a photograph of one with absolutely filthy buffers. In the end I gave up, and used some white spirit and a fine paintbrush to tone the weathering down, bringing out more of the red in the process.

There is one discrepancy I must mention: the North British built L1s had boilers which had a large plate just ahead of their safety valves. This is due to a different stay arrangement in the boiler, necessitating a strengthening plate. 

This prominent plate is absent on my model of no.67751 in lieu of drawings of the Thompson L1 class (on order). I intend to make this missing plate as a cast resin component from a mould, and will add it onto this model when all is ready. 

The only thing I am waiting for, as mentioned at the start of this blog entry, are the works plates which should arrive from Fox Transfers this week. They will be mounted onto the smokebox, as the North British Locomotive Works did with the Thompson L1s when built. It'll round off what is a model which I wanted to be "unique", and it will certainly be that when finished.

After finishing L1 no.67751 off, I turned my attention to B1 no.61203. This model started out in life as the standard Hornby release, 61138 for which I was stuck as to what form it should appear in for some time. Happily a friend came to my rescue with a few photographs of B1 no.61203 appearing both at King's Cross in 1949, and further afield, so no.61203 was duly written into the stocklist, and the model's number and branding changed in much the same way as that described for the L1 above.

One thing I had to change on no.61203 was the smokebox door: I required the same step as that on the L1. I created a small, destructible mould using plasticine, pushed carefully onto the smokebox step on another model, and then cast a resin copy, which was duly fitted and glued using super glue. It was carefully painted using Abaddon Black from the Gamesworkshop range, which I am warming to after discovering it works rather well as a wash.

I had a photograph of no.61203 which showed an absolutely filthy machine, complete with limescale cascading from the washout plugs and smokebox, or a vaguely clean locomotive, looking much happier.

Both showed the locomotive in this form, with "British Railways" on the tender. In the end, I went for the "mostly clean but has worked" look and I'm very happy with that!

The technique for weathering the B1 was identical, but for a touch of Gamesworkshops purity seal being applied gently to the smokebox.

So, I've now renumbered, rebranded and weathered all three of Hornby's excellent Thompson locomotive designs. Only one more Thompson O1, two Thompson B1s and three Thompson L1s to go! 

They will be the subject of another blog, as amongst the B1s there's a wonderfully unique livery variant (for which I take absolutely no credit, a chap on the LNER form discovered it), and amongst the L1s I'm doing two more and different 1948/1949 liveried variants.

Until then, onto the working week.

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