September 30, 2015

"BRWS Ltd Update #9: Thompson's only design memorial"

One of the things that I find wonderful about this hobby is the research. You can turn up many interesting combinations of locomotive name, number and form. 

A case in point: Thompson's B1s. Built by Darlington, Gorton and North British, they all had some detail differences including smokebox rivets, style of and placement of works plates and the smokebox door type.

Bachmann's latest, unnamed, apple green Thompson B1 no.1123 was the subject for my latest round of modelling. Having purchased a number of these at a knock down price, I went through my preferred books for research on the class. The Power of the B1s, Yeadon's Register and the RCTS' LNER volume 2B all featuring some interesting prototypes.

I had already made a model of class pioneer Springbok and two more of the deer namers caught my eye for different reasons. 

B1 no.1039 was featured in Yeadon's Register with an unusual difference to its classmates. The photograph in the book shows it coupled to one of the ex-Raven/Gresley Atlantic six wheel tenders. These tenders were a close, if not perfect match for a V2's group standard tender. Since I had a number of these spare, I took the opportunity to remove the shaded LNER lettering using some water and a glass fibre pen, and add Gill Sans plain lettering instead. The base model's tender will go to another Thompson related project in due course.

1039 had electric lighting, but the base model does not. I removed the lamp irons and used some bits from a spare Replica Railways B1 body shell that did have the electric lighting fitted. It's not a perfect match for the original style Thompson lighting system but it'll do in terms of representation. Some wire was added to the right hand side of the boiler and fitted next to the stones generator on the running plate, also taken from a spare Replica B1 body shell.

The original chimney was cut off, and the smokebox filed down, for a brass cast Gibson's B1 chimney with a much nicer profile to be fitted. Superglue of the semi-quick drying kind was used to allow some time to fiddle around and make sure it was fitted properly. Fox Transfers provided the nameplates and works plates for this model and these were duly added using the same process.

One modification I have made to all of my Bachmann B1s is to remove the original, large, plastic coupling bar from the tenders. I use Hornby's Railroad Scotsman metal drawbar, available as a spare online, and these are coupled through the tender's drawbar and through the locos to be screwed in. This closes up the gap nicely without making it impossible for the models to go round corners.

The other B1 being worked on, Addax, was also shown in the same book with a very nice combination of BR numbering and full LNER livery. I repeated the process for this model, with the one additional being the smokebox numberplate fixed in the normal position. This will need repainting as the brass numeral effect isn't accurate. 

The nameplates and numberplate for Addax came from Modelmasters and though I dislike the brass effect on the smokebox door am ultimately happy with the shape and style of both. The comparison between Fox Transfers and Modelmaster etched plates is interesting. I can't say that I have a particular preference but it'll be Fox from now on as they have a better selection of the B1 names available at present. 

So here then are two variations on the same theme made that look similar and have similar detailing but ultimately are different and individual. 

Springbok, Steinbok and Addax will be joined by a few more in due course no doubt. For the moment, an older split chassis apple green B1 Sir William Gray keeps them company, making a quartet of named apple green B1s for my work in progress layout.

When finished, the three deers will be weathered and coaled and with crews fitted, and will no doubt enjoy a mixed bag of work on the layout. I am already imagining a few different freight and passenger formations they could be seen on.

Ultimately for me, the LNER has always been about Thompson's plucky B1s. Although only an LNER liveried locomotive class for around 6 years, they epitomise the post-war LNER rather well and they are - one must admit - very handsome machines.

Many say it's Thompson's only design memorial, both in actuality and in quality. I don't believe the latter myself, but one cannot argue with the fact that it's the engine Thompson is best known for. 

And when all is said and done, it's the locomotive the LNER needed - and got.

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