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A collection of Irish Models

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David Holman
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 Let me begin by saying there is nothing new here for anyone following my ramblings, however my 'to do' list doesn't involve very much worth reporting at the moment, so this thread is an opportunity to review what I've built over the last ten years and reflect on a range of different models and techniques.

Sligo, Leitrim & Northern Counties Railway

 If anything got me into Irish railways, it was this company and in particular the books of Neil Sprinks. With a surname like mine, an interest in Light Railways is perhaps inevitable, so the SLNCR certainly fitted the bill in my usual quest for something different. This was over ten years ago and all I knew at the time about commercial support for the Irish scene was held in the Alphagraphix catalogue, with its many card kits, plus a few etched brass items in the growing Tyconnel section. Then I found out about Northstar models, who unbelievably produced a kit of the SLNCR 0-6-4 'Small Tank'. Roger Cromblehome of AlphaG kind put me in touch with Northstar, from which I discovered that proprietor Adrian Rowlands was giving up production, but he did still have two kits in stock. Could I buy one then? No, came the answer, but I will sell both.

 Turns out that it was £750 well spent, both the kits came complete with motor, wheels, gears and couplings - not a lot more that it will cost for a single model these days. And what lovely kits they were too,  being later versions than the one so beautifully put together recently by Galteemore of this parish.

 Hazlewood came first, followed sometime later by  Fermanagh, the latter finished in somewhat cleaner condition. Really well designed, I don't remember using any filler in either model, so good was the fit of the parts. The rear bogie is rather clever too, featuring both vertical and lateral springing, so these locos run well too. On both Belmullet and Northport Quay Hazlewood works the 1950s sequence, while Fermanagh is used for the 1900s periods

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  Lovely though the Small Tanks are, what I really wanted a model of was Sir Henry - the 'Large Tank' that features in so many 1950s photos. Nobody was ever going to produce a kit for this, so it became a full on scratch build in brass and nickel silver, with [apart from the usual wheels/motor/gears], the only bought in items were the chimney, buffers, dome and safety valves. I got a general arrangement drawing from Manchester Museum of Science and Industry and made a basic outline drawing from that. Outside of S7 though [and maybe not even then], driving wheel spacing had to be adjusted slightly, so close together are the wheels.

 Having the Small Tank instructions was a great help, as was owning a GW Models rivet press. All the Sligo tanks are festooned with rivets, around 1200 per loco, so getting them correctly spaced was a real challenge. Indeed, the inner side of Sir Henry's tanks are also fully riveted, but not quite as well as the mark 2 version. Waste not, want not...

 The other thing I did with Sir Henry was fit working inside motion. The boiler pitch is much higher on the Large Tanks, meaning you can clearly see between the frames. So, I invested £100 in a set of Laurie Griffin's excellent castings which proved easier to put together than outside Walschaert's - aided to no small extent by the greater space between the frames that one gets from 5'3. The exercise certainly proved worthwhile as the motion is clearly seen in [almost sewing machine like] action when the loco is running.

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 Unfortunately, Sir Henry is currently prohibited from NPQ as its clearances are a bit tight on one of the points, causing it to derail - which is one of those jobs on my 'to do' list, along with making sure the uncoupling magnets work successfully. So, lots of playing trains then!

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Hopefully this is the first post of many, David. Never forget the moment I stumbled on your layout at Beaconsfield show and saw Railcar B, which was a vehicle of myth and legend in my childhood home. It was just staggering to see the photo albums I’d pored over as a child brought to glorious 3D life and colour as large and small tanks went about their business. 

Edited by Galteemore
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Thanks for the comments folks! Wasn't going to add anything so soon, but find myself waiting for information about an Ofsted inspection at one of the schools where I am a governor - something I don't enjoy - the waiting or Ofsted... You don't get to be a headteacher without at least a small control freak inside you and mine comes to the fore at times like these. Thank goodness I've retired from all that.

  Anyway, Galteemore mentioned Sligo diesels, so here are a couple of them.

 Railbus 2b came first and owes its existence to the three quid Alphagraphix card kit. This makes for a very effective drawing to start a scratchbuild & actually I think this is an easier course, given all the complex shapes involved. It's a proper mixed media jobbie with a nickel silver chassis, plastic body and balsa roof. Somehow, I've managed to capture the character of the prototype & it is definitely one of my favourite models. Despite being only two wheel drive, it runs well too, though keeping the pickups on the trailer as light as possible, while still ensuring good current collection was a case of careful balance.

 A key feature are the Howden-Meredith Patent wheels. On the prototype, these are flanged steel rims outside the standard pneumatic tyres. For the model, I sliced thin outer sections from the wheels of a Corgi Lipton's Tea Van and stuck them to standard Slater's wagon wheels. The front axle pivots slightly and this is another pair of wheels that are on the cusp of not rotating if the fine PB wire pickups are not adjusted properly.

 The bodywork was slowly built up from plastic sheet and strip - the fiddly bit being the area around the cab. A compromise on Northport Quay is that there is no room for a turntable, so the railbus will have to reverse out to one deemed to be off scene, through the tunnel, as I very much want it to feature in the 1950s scene.

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 Railcar B was a very different kettle of fish and it is a real shame that the iconic prototype may never run again. A giant Donegal railcar for 5'3, it was very advanced for its time, with sliding doors and able to be driven from either end. Another one exists and indeed still runs in Australia.

 There were numerous challenges in building the model. Starting with the chassis, I found some suitable diameter driving wheels, but they were on 1/8th inch axles, without square ends for quartering. I rang Slaters to see if they could help and was immediately put through to chief engineer David White. "That shouldn't be a problem", he said, "how many do you want?" Two, I replied. 'Ah", he said "I thought you might mean 100"!

 All down to the cost and setting up of machine tooling, you see. So, that wasn't going to happen and instead I went on the P4 Society website to learn how to quarter wheels like this and all has been well. The four coupled chassis is compensated and with pick up from all eight wheels, the model runs really well, though on Arigna Town it had a tendency to derail in one direction until I discovered the track was 1mm out of gauge at that point!

 The bodywork required a lot of effort to get all those complex curves right and was a reminder of how much effort must go into creating the moulds for die cast model cars - even small discrepancies  stand out a mile. The roof required careful shaping too, while for the interior I made a couple of simple masters for the seats and then resin cast them. Although just being an 'out and back' on both NPQ and Belmullet, Railcar B has plenty of character & certainly looks the part with its outside rods twirling.

 Still no word from school on Ofsted - they should be fine, but the Dark Side still carry a threat to every teacher's well being. Every inspection is on the relentless side of thorough so I'd really like to know what they are looking for when governors get a grilling, sometime tomorrow or Wednesday.

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Edited by David Holman
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Passenger stock

 Still with the Sligo Leitrim, I've made three passenger coaches, plus the parcels van. Two of the coaches are the Hurst Nelson bogie vehicles built in the 1920s to replace stock lost during the troubles. At just over 44 feet long, with clerestory roofs, they were very much out of date from new. However, these vehicles were full of character and survived to the end in 1957. Number 9 was the brake 1st/3rd coach, often used on the 7.20pm mixed from Enniskillen, the only steam hauled passenger train in latter days. Number 10 is a composite, similar to No11, but the latter had a thin strip along the roof which tells us it had electric lighting. This was missing on number 10 and it was known as the 'day coach' for obvious reasons. Other unusual features of SLNCR coaches include the doors being hung on the right [the opposite to normal and the smoking and non-smoking compartments were split longitudinally by a sliding door.

 Alphagraphix card kits formed the starting point, though both coaches are scratch built in plastic sheet and strip, with cut down Slater's bogies. The square windows and panelling made first much simpler construction than rounded type! No 9's paint finish represents the fact that it had a bit of a makeover late in life, while No10 is presented looking very tired.

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 The other coach is a six wheel saloon/brake 3rd, rebuilt later in life to this condition. The same construction methods were used, though the chassis is an etched kit from AlphaG which gives an effective representation of a Cleminson chassis.

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 The parcels van is a simple four wheel affair, built the same way, but using cast white metal fittings for the W irons, springs and so on. The photos of the underside of this vehicle show how standard Slater's wagon wheels have room to be moved out on their axles to 5'3 gauge. The correct back to back is apparently 33.98mm, but 34mm does for me...

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1 hour ago, David Holman said:

Passenger stock

 Still with the Sligo Leitrim, I've made three passenger coaches, plus the parcels van. Two of the coaches are the Hurst Nelson bogie vehicles built in the 1920s to replace stock lost during the troubles. At just over 44 feet long, with clerestory roofs, they were very much out of date from new. However, these vehicles were full of character and survived to the end in 1957. Number 9 was the brake 1st/3rd coach, often used on the 7.20pm mixed from Enniskillen, the only steam hauled passenger train in latter days. Number 10 is a composite, similar to No11, but the latter had a thin strip along the roof which tells us it had electric lighting. This was missing on number 10 and it was known as the 'day coach' for obvious reasons. Other unusual features of SLNCR coaches include the doors being hung on the right [the opposite to normal and the smoking and non-smoking compartments were split longitudinally by a sliding door.

 Alphagraphix card kits formed the starting point, though both coaches are scratch built in plastic sheet and strip, with cut down Slater's bogies. The square windows and panelling made first much simpler construction than rounded type! No 9's paint finish represents the fact that it had a bit of a makeover late in life, while No10 is presented looking very tired.

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 The other coach is a six wheel saloon/brake 3rd, rebuilt later in life to this condition. The same construction methods were used, though the chassis is an etched kit from AlphaG which gives an effective representation of a Cleminson chassis.

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 The parcels van is a simple four wheel affair, built the same way, but using cast white metal fittings for the W irons, springs and so on. The photos of the underside of this vehicle show how standard Slater's wagon wheels have room to be moved out on their axles to 5'3 gauge. The correct back to back is apparently 33.98mm, but 34mm does for me...

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I love the weathering on these and the peeling paintwork. Is this "built in" by Alphagraphix, or did you do it?

 

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All scratchbuilt, JB. The paint job techniques come from The Art of Weathering, by Martyn Welch. Basically you put the bottom colour on first - in this case bare wood, a mixture of Humbrol grey (64) and natural wood (110). When dry, you paint on Humbrol Maskol where you want the patches to show through, then when this has dried, brush or spray on the top colour. Finally, when this has fully dried, you pull away the Maskol with tweezers. This leaves the bare wood underneath and flaking paint round the edges.

Works a treat and have used the same process on steel mineral wagons, over a base  cost of rust.

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Sligo Leitrim Wagons

 Looking back through my journals [I record in ball point too...], my Irish adventure began at the end of 2011, with the purchase of an Alphagraphix/Tyrconnel J26 kit, more of which later. Baseboards for Arigna Town were built by the end of March 2012, with track laid and wired by the end of April. I built the J26 and Hazlewood that year, along with one coach and no less than 19 wagons. The railbus, 6 wagons and 10 buildings were made in 2013, with 3 locos [Railcar B, Fermanagh and St Mologa] and a further 15 wagons in 2014. There's early retirement for you!

  Anyway, to finish off the SLNCR collection [so far], let's start with the brake vans. There are four of these, beginning with the splendid 'road vans' - arguably the shortest mixed trains ever, given they had room for goods, the guard and a drover or two. The latter would hardly have been comfortable, but it points to these vehicles being used on the Sligo's cattle trains. As usual, AlphaG card kits formed the drawings, with plastic card and strip for the bodywork and white metal castings for the chassis. Lettering is the standard acrylic ink applied with a dipping pen.

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 The other two follow the same process, though I've added vacuum brakes to the double veranda one, while No5 is the ugly ducking!

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 Four open wagons come next, all pretty conventional, though in this case I was relying on the excellent photos and text in Neil Sprinks books on the Sligo.

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  I batch built five cattle vans from the AlphaG card kit starter. Two are shown here, though I fear they are wrong as they look too small. Realised this too late, so run them anyway. The cattle inside are also hand built, using a plastic skeleton with very basic, straight legs, covered in DAS clay and filed to shape. A lot cheaper than buying white metal castings! Some are Irish Moyles [brown & white] while the back ones are Dexters.

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  For the other vans, I made my own resin castings to simplify batch building. After making a master of a side and end of each type, I then made a mould and once this had set, found I could cast them in resin at the rate of one every half an hour or so. Simple, but effective, with the chassis built in the usual way. Two are 'semis' with a canvas centre section to the roof.

 It's amazing to look back on what I built over those three years. Indeed after starting the project in January 2012, the layout made its debut at the Chatham Show in June 2014 and went on to rack up a total of 39 exhibitions until retired in early 2019. Just goes to show that work is the curse of the modelling classes, though these days I often wonder where I found the time to go out and earn a living!

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Not as hard as you'd think - especially the straight legged versions for the wagons. Went on to make a small herd of full legged models (it's written up somewhere on here), though my most recent one is Maggie Coulter's Goat which is either on my Clogher Valley or work bench threads.

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Midland Great Western Railway

 The Sligo Leitrim offered a slightly limited range of stuff for me to model, but there are many MGW temptations in the Alphagraphix/Tyrconnel catalogue.

 First up was the the E/J26. This is a super kit for anyone interested in getting into 7mm scale. The chassis is a single etch, which just folds up and you can easily have something running in a couple of hours. The kit is designed for 32mm gauge, but by reversing the top hat bearings, you easily get the correct back to back for broad gauge. All in all, this little loco took just over 40 hours to make, including painting & weathering and is a very good runner.

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 Next came the G2 2-4-0, a more complex kit, but nevertheless following the usual AlphaG principles. I added extra detail to this one, especially around the smokebox, while it also required a bit of TLC following a serious crash when it fell off the baseboard and hit the floor about a metre below! Damage was fortunately only cosmetic. Another good runner, it benefits from tender pick ups, as well as on the loco. Haulage is a bit marginal though, with three six wheel coaches being about the limit - but then that is all the room I have, so its not a problem.

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 My third MGW loco, also an AlphaG kit is the J18/9. Very similar to the G2 and probably an 0-6-0 version in some ways, there are a lot of common parts, so guess it was a worthwhile enterprise. Not [to my eyes] as pretty as the G2, I still harbour doubts about whether the boiler diameter should be larger, while the Green Bible tells us there were a fair few variations within this class. However, it runs well enough and usually gets rostered for my fish train.

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 Will stick with my 1950s period for now, though I do have some early 1900s stuff too, but will cover this later.

 

Edited by David Holman
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25 minutes ago, David Holman said:

 

 The Sligo Leitrim offered a slightly limited range of stuff for me to model 

 

My seconds will wait upon you in the course of the morning, Mr Holman. Swords or pistols? 

 In all seriousness, delightful to see these. Roger C has provided a wonderful resource in these kits and the fold up chassis is very clever indeed. His half etched rivets make for a lovely smokebox. As you’ve shown, a bit of detailing makes the locos even more effective and attractive.

Having built 3 of his loco kits now myself, they go together very well, although the 5’3” builder does need to keep a watchful eye on splasher clearances etc. 

Edited by Galteemore
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