Not quite Swindon A Shop or Eastleigh Works, but one has to show willing.... Here you will find a selection of images and notes of the various small (and not so small) jobs that seem to come in, but which don't really fit into the category of 'new builds'.
I will be leavening these as time goes on with some 'work in progress' photos of some of my longer-term locomotive commissions. They aren't of course supposed to be longer term, but it is often the case that only after one opens the box of shiny brass and nickle-silver frets, and start to examine the metal castings and mechanical 'bits' therein, that you get that sinking feeling that what was estimated for as a straightforward 'fettle and fit' job, is actually going to require some major engineering redesign....
Barclay Chassis for On16.5
One from the Locos n Stuff collection. What could be simpler? An inside frame 0-4-0 with outside cylinders.....except that this one has Walschaerts valve gear. It is also compensated in that it has a rocking front axle on a kife edge pivot. I have no idea how good or how bad the client's trackwork is going to be, so as a professional builder - and to ensure customer satisfaction - I always tend to err on the side of caution. This in turn meant spacing out the cylinders to allow for a tad more 'waggle-room' between the back of the crosshead and the front coupling rod retaining screw. Which also meant in turn that the combined filler and slide bar support casting needed to be moved outwards from the chassis sideframes with a pair of turned brass spacers. And so it went on.
Ah yes, and the Walschaerts gear. Almost all UK kits - DJH interestingly excepted who use shouldered rivets (but there again, this could be a legacy of the days when some of 4mm their kits used to be available fully built from the factory) - employ the 'soldered-pin' method of construction for these components. I always have a pathalogical fear of soldering a pin joint up solid - possibly because it has happened to me once or twice - so prefer if I can to use screws. The Barclay's rods are pretty close to being dead to scale, so rather than making a completely new set of valve gear motion from scratch with bigger rod and link ends, I went to turned brass rivets with 0.5mm shanks made up on the wee Pultra 1750, and peened them over with a (very) small ball pein hammer under a jeweller's eyeglass. In the interests of making everything demountable for painting, I did however have to make new expansion links, and a pair of anchor links, as in my eagerness, I had opened out the hole in the crosshead drop link a bit bigger than I should have.... Oh, and the screw-on return cranks are also new, filed on their backs until they sat at the right angle, then secured with a dab of loctite. Not ideal, but I think even a watchmaker would baulk at thinking of drilling the crankpin and return crank in-situ for a drive fit 0.25mm locking pin....
Chapelon Rebuilt Pacific 240P Build from DJH Kit.
A deceptively difficult one this, on account of the long fixed wheelbase, and the fact that it has a front bogie, so moving the front buffer beam quite a way forward. Of course, Chapelon did not have to contend with the sort of curves that most model railways need to be built with to in order to fit into the average domestic home. At this point I'm still not sure whether the front coupling will be under the footplate or on the front bogie. The latter is in fact now a Bissel truck - as per the UK's Metropolitan tanks on the Inner Circle line - the better to impart some guiding force to what will be a very long model. So far, the chassis has been tested to go around Hornby 2nd radius reverse curves, but for that, I had to skim the front and last wheelsets' hornblocks to allow for adequate sideplay, and eschew the fitting of the 'double' connecting rods on the middle two axles.
Underneath, the DJH 'American' system of current pick up by alternate side wheels on tender and locomotive chassis separated by an insulated drawbar, has been amended to a self-contained conventional wheel-wiper system using phosphor bronze strip on a separate collector plate. The individual pickups are located in slots cut into brass stepped studs mounted onto the copper-clad paxolin plate. They are much more rigid that the usual wire system that one sees nowadays on kit and scratch built models (even in Gauge O....), plus fitting the plate up with screws, means that everything can come off for either cleaning or adjustment.
A Peckett chassis for On16.5
This one is from a Locos n Stuff kit for one of the attractive low-boilered 0-6-0s that used to run at Rugby Portland Cement, one of which is preserved on the Lincolnshire Coast Railway. I don't normally do compensation, which most of these kits come with as an option, but was 'coerced' into building this model with it. Though I am impressed by the way that it all runs when completed, I would stress that such a refinement can add something like 15-20 per cent to the build time, and I remain to be convinced that there is much in it between an appropriately weighted and well-built rigid chassis with effective pickups on all driving wheels.
I tend to prefer 'demountable' or modular ways of building my engines. As here, where the beam pivot - a brass block (slice of reclaimed 3-pin mains plug connector) - has a slide in flat strip (the beam) secured with a screw. The brass block doubles as a mount for the wheel wiper contact plate underneath, and the beam can come out to be bent one way or 'tother so as to raise or lower the front of the chassis to get the correct running height.
Backwoods Miniatures K1 Garratt
This came in for attention to a sheared Walschaerts gear return crank, and an intermittent loss of drive to the front bogie. Further investigation revealed that the worm and wheel were only barely meshing and then only sometimes. The only way to address this was to cut out the entire motor and gear train from the chassis by careful work with a piercing saw, and arrange for this to be dropped about 0.10mm further down so as to deepen the mesh. Not an easy task when you are working on a completed model, with lots of fragile parts around. The threaded rod is in fact a new bogie pivot screw - there's no way to get a conventional screw in past the brake rodding that is fitted to these kits.
Though the picture is a bit small to make it all out, a new top current collector plate has also been fitted, as the existing system was glued in place, so could not come off to re-adjust contact pressure on the wheel tyres.
The return cranks on these models are lost wax brass castings, with - from memory - a cast-on 12BA thread. Unfortunately, they are soldered onto the axle ends, and given the close proximity of soft plastic wheel bush, coupling and connecting rod ends, plus possibly an axle bush, I felt it to be tempting fate to try to solder on the new return crank. Another unknown was whether different melting point grades of solder had been used in the construction of this chassis - and where. So to be safe, the new crank is now fixed with a dab of Loctite thread locker.
I am now moving on to using steel for my motion work, as though it is harder on my Swiss files, it looks like the real thing. These small parts are formed on the end of a piece of strip, and only when they are shaped, drilled tapped - and in this instance fitted with a soldered-in 16 BA screw for the eccentric rod eye - are they cut off the stock and rounded off with a file.
Along the way, the rear bogie was discovered to have its wheels set too close to gauge, and as these could potentially climb up onto Peco OO9 point check rails, they had to be attended to as well. The special 'squeezer' tool that had to be made up for this job is shown here. A conventional puller cannot be got in because of the valve gear, and the way that everything is soldered together 'for keeps' as per the instructions. When I made the tool, I thought it would be a one off, but in the event it came in useful when another Backwoods Garratt came in with exactly the same problem....
....and here's the complete machine. Unfortunately the paintwork received some unavoidable mauling in the course of all the surgery that the model had to undergo, so the best that could be done after some 'spot touch-up' with black, was an all-over coat of matte varnish to blend everything in and give it that 'in-service' patina.
A Bit of Ornamental Turning
Something that you don't often see nowadays: hand-turned locomotive fittings. Oh that all my comissions were for BR standards or for GWR classes where boiler fittings are available off-the-shelf. These pair are for an Orenstein and Koppel locomotive in 1/45 scale, and comprise the dome, and O&K's rather distinctive 'blunderbuss' spark arresting stack. The dome has a recess turned in the top so as to take a small plate, upon which the safety valves can be mounted as a separate drop-in unit. Basically these are made by first flycutting the end of a piece of bar stock to the boiler diameter, then drilling and tapping the end for a mounting screw that allows the resulting 'blank' to be mounted upon a mandrel for rough turning and then final finishing by hand with files and emery cloth.
There's a more involved Build Note covering a 'King' chimney which gives more ins and outs of the whole process elsewhere on this site.
Headboards for the Devon Belle
According to the client, all the Devon Belle 4mm nameboard sets out there are only suitable for the Battle of Britain and Westcountry pacifics. Meself, I wasn't quite sure of this - until I compared drawings for the Merchant Navy class with those for their smaller Bullied brethern. So there was nothing to it but to fret some out of 0.5mm sheet brass, with files and piercing saw to cut in the staggered ends of the 'feathers'. I would have liked to have made up some tags to solder on to the back of the boards, so they could be fixed into holes into the smokebox wind deflectors, but was advised that the idea of drilling holes - even unobtrusive ones - into a finely built model of 'Shawe Saville Line' was something of a no-no...
Anyway, some yellow ink jet printed transfers on a red ground blended into a coat of signal red has made for 'A Proper Job' as they say down here in deepest Dorset....