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David's Workbench

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David Holman

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There is a cunning plan behind the 'joint' nature of my Arigna branch JB. The layout is already 'finished', so future modelling is about widening its scope and there is a limited range of stock if I stick solely to SLNCR. With Tyrconnel bringing out new stuff all the time, it is tempting to expand the parameters a little. Eg dieselisation would be nice - perhaps a C and/or a G?

Was recently re-reading the Oakwood Press book on the Achill branch [which I'm sure you know!] and there is an interesting chapter on proposed but never built lines to Belmullet. I was musing that Arigna could even be converted one day to represent part of this. One idea would be to built a new station building to sit over the top of the existing one - completed with an overall roof which could hide a 'hole in the sky' to make the station into a through line. Something similar could be done with the goods shed - so that it covered the siding, with one wall on the platform. Still at the thinking stage, but might be a way to extend the life of the layout, without building a completely new one. In the meantime, there is still much to do, such as another railbus, Sir Henry and more figures to depict a scene on the platform of an extended family saying their goodbyes to someone emigrating.

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Superb stuff, David.


Conveniently, the proposed Belmullet terminus would have been quite like your layout, in that it was in a comparatively narrow space and was a dead end facing a street! Had it been built it would have required some sort of Fenit / Killybegs / Ardglass / Bantry type spur to serve the harbour.


Now there's a remote Midland branch terminus in the making!


A MGWR six-wheel coach kit is well overdue, as is a standard H van of beet truck.....


I digress...

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Monday afternoon saw a start made on the loco chassis and a couple of hours saw the basics folded up and soldered. Like the centre tender wheels, the front pony is lightly sprung with .7mm wire. Tyrconnel kits use a fold up chassis, which removes the risk of chassis sides not lining up & this seems to work well as this is the third kit from their range I've built & each time, things have worked out well.

A double session on Tuesday got the coupling rods fitted and, with the loco rolling nicely first time, the motor fitted and a test under power with some fly leads connected to my trusty old H&M Clipper. A basic 'rheostat' type unit, I find that if things work well with this, they will work even better with my Gaugemaster hand held unit that I use on the layout. A change to the instructions has put the motor driving the rear axles, where it can be hidden in the ashpan and enable dummy inside motion to be fitted. Note also that, to enable building to 5'3" gauge [allegedly 33.98mm back to back], the wheel bearings have been installed back to front, as Tyrconnel locos are designed to run on 32mm track if required and the frames are to the narrower gauge. Don't think this is too noticeable.

In the afternoon, made up the footplate - a ticklish job with some complex curves, but the kit design makes this quite simple with some neat half etching. One extra here is that my chosen loco has a clear line of rivets along the footplate valances, so made use of my GW models rivet press to do these.


Hope the pictures show progress, if not necessarily in the right order.DSCN1329.jpg










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Progress has rather stalled on the G2 of late. Though still a nice kit, my preference for 36.75mm gauge has raised some issues.

However, first of all thanks to JHB for the dark grey - an interesting model too. however, 'twill be late 50s, so am assuming all over black will be the 'colour'?

As for the footplate assembly, like anything with curves, it is a bit of a fiddle, warmly spiced with dark mutterings and occasional profanities. The footplate curves were in two parts - a half-etched section, split in the middle on the 'plate itself, then further pieces soldered over the top. Did these after I'd soldered the valances in place, using various hair clips for clamps, along with singed fingers.

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Managed to assemble and wire up the chassis, which runs quite nicely, even without any running in. Since then, stripped it down for priming and painting - grey primer and my usual mix of Humbrols 53 and 133 [gunmetal & bauxite], plus plenty of talc to give that oily effect on a chassis.

Once dry, this gave me the chance to check to see how footplate and chassis fitted together. Not very well was the answer - because of my 36.75mm gauge, the drivers would not fit inside the splashers. Likewise, because the kit is designed for 32mm gauge, there is nowhere near enough room for the front springs either side of the boiler. Meanwhile, a slight issue with the latter was that the circular formers are actually about 1mm diameter too big as well, so it overlapped the firebox.

So, much unsoldering and fettling was required. Said something like 'fettle it' a few times as well.

Managed the splasher problem by moving them out slightly on the footplate, though in the case of the small splashers over the front wheels, these were ok on the outside edge, but needed trimming on the inside edge to enable the springs to clear the boiler. The latter was easy enough to roll, but had to undo it from the formers to file a bit off these so it would fit. A bit of a giveaway should have been the fact that there was a 3mm gap along the 'seam' when I first did it.

The smokebox was more of a fiddle, because the shape is slightly more complex. The front edge comes with a nice set of rivets etched on, though in the case of my engine [659], these are absent, so I soldered it in wrong way round. The smokebox door is also a bit of a challenge. The instructions suggest 'dishing' the etched version using a screwdriver handle on a mouse mat. Not sure about this though [see pics], while there is also included a cast whitemetal 'blank' to help forming too - though not mentioned in the instructions. Am thinking I may use this casting for the smokebox door, though either will need additional detail in the form of the very noticeable fixing clips. Will decide once I've done more work on the model.

Because of all the above, things do not fit as snugly as hoped, though my usual ham-fistedness [and an ability to ignore instructions at times], mean I've had to become well practised in the art of filling & sanding. Once the paint is applied, a multitude of sins are hidden!DSCN1339.jpg






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Progress has rather stalled on the G2 of late. Though still a nice kit, my preference for 36.75mm gauge has raised some issues.

However, first of all thanks to JHB for the dark grey - an interesting model too. however, 'twill be late 50s, so am assuming all over black will be the 'colour'?


Some CIÉ steam locos look black in photos, but it was actually the same dark grey. :)

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Thanks GG - that is not what the kit instructions say! Quote 'CIE black all over'. Doubt if Halfords do an appropriate shade, so will need to get the airbrush out. That said, my preferred weathered 'BR Black' - a mix of Humbrol dirty black, grey , gunmetal, plus a hint of bauxite, should be not far off. Most pics I have show them pretty dirty, though a colour pic of 659 at Sligo shows it fairly clean & may well be my 'template'.

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That one does look black. The picture was taken in the late 50s or early 60s by the look of it. In those final years, a few locos were indeed repainted black, but not many. That may well be one. The tender, though, is certainly grey!


No J15s were black - I say that as they were the most numerous class, but grey's the thing for them. The loco above is a G2; I'm away from my notes tonight so can't tell offhand which classes did have black examples.

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Garfield - even late 50's, only a handful were black. Few locos saw a paintbrush after 1954 or 1955, and of those that did only some wore black. Obviously, those that did only did for a very short time before withdrawal.


Prior to about 1954, and going right back to GSWR in 1915, nothing was black - all grey excerpt:


800 class - always green. Their own unique GSR green livery until 1945, then (darker) CIE green until withdrawal.


Late 1940s on - CIE green on many (but not all) main line passenger locos, many Dublin suburban tank locos plus a single 60 class 4.4.0.


A layout based, say, about 1955-64 with steam on it might statistically have thirty grey locomotives (if the owner was wealthy enough!) and one black......

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OK, I now have five steam locos, so this one is going to be grey!

Colour photos can be very deceptive, methinks. Interestingly, my J26 0-6-0T was painted full matt black first, but a heavy weathering job knocked it back to grey. Will probably do the same with the G2.

Am sure you can get into etched brass, Nelson. I started with plasticard and white metal, then did a brass coach and found it OK. Start with something simple and you'll soon gain confidence. You already have some enviable skills to build on.

Edited by David Holman
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Here it is - from Tom Ferris' first colour album. The loco is clearly cleaner than its tender.





Francis Shuttleworth's photo appears to be part of a series of photos taken on 29 May 1957, I have a dated black and white print of the same train probably taken a few moments earlier as the fireman boarded the loco and a photo of the train consist of 19th Century MGWR stock and brand new tin vans.


659 is probably on pilot duty making up the train for A Class haulage to Mullingar or possibly Westland Row.


The 650s regularly worked mail and other passenger duties over the Sligo road in the 1950s until bumped from main-line duties by the A Class


The weathering of the tender is interesting, the design is almost guaranteed to throw up road dirt on the sides.


I tended to use Howes Railmatch "Weathered Black" for CIE steam locos and used a satin or matt varnish depending on whether I wanted an ex-works or worn finish. The "colour" is more a grey than a black.

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The G2 is approaching the end of the construction phase and moving into preparation for the paint shop. Have included a few pictures of where filling is needed - mainly around the splashers and firebox. If I was tidier at soldering, there'd be less general cleaning up too.

The main tools I use are a set of 'whifflers' I picked up a few years ago. Essentially these are odd shaped needle files, which enable you to get into awkward places. Another favourite is a conical burr in the mini drill.

While things are looking a lot neater, doubtless there will further work to do, though will probably do a 'witness' coat [car primer from a spray can], as this can help hide minor blemishes, but will also show others not easy to spot in raw brass.

Another bit of work has been to chop out the middle section of the footplate [shouldn't be there anyway], to enable a small section of dummy inside motion to be installed - something not possible if I'd followed the instructions and put the gearbox on the front axle.

As is often the case, the pics have not uploaded in the right order, but hopefully you'll see what I've been doing.









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Approaching 40 hours work on the Tyrconnel G2 kit now & getting close to completion. Interestingly, close to half the total construction time has been spent on 'fettling', painting, lettering & weathering.

Something that has made a real difference was to fix the smokebox door clips. Not included in the kit, I made then from small pieces of plastic strip [40 thou square], fixed with cyano & then drilled to take .7mm wire for the handles. The smokebox is the 'face' of a loco, so adding this bit of detail really makes a difference for me. At this point, it was worth doing a thorough clean up and giving the loco a witness coat of grey automotive primer. This showed where there were still things to fill & file, before a second coat of primer was added over the bald areas.

For the top coat, it was a case of girding my loins to get the air brush out. Not my favourite modelling job, because the amount of setting up and cleaning time is significantly more than the actual painting - plus I always seem to end up wearing a fair amount of paint myself. Referring to The Art of Weathering again, decided that a fair representation of CIE dark grey would be a mix of matt black, gunmetal, plus some 'leather' as well [all Humbrol]. Thinned 50/50 with thinners, the first coat came out too light, so added more black and got what I hope is a reasonable result. not that any of you will be able to judge though, as the loco has since been weathered. Did this by stippling, with a flattie brush, using a similar mix to before, but with more leather, gunmetal and a blue/grey tarmac shade. More brown/leather on the tender sides, but blacker on the boiler top and cab roof.

However, before the weathering, added the numbers. Cabside ones are Fox waterslide transfers from a Southern Railway sheet I had to hand. Seem the right size, though the 5 is not quite square enough, while the 6 and 9 could be more curly. The bufferbeam numbers are pressfix, 4mm scale numbers from a LSWR sheet which I must have had for over 20 years! They seem to match the shaded type used quite well, hopefully.

Additional work has included fitting a fall plate, to cover the gap between loco and tender, plus adding couplings, vacuum pipes and coal in the tender. The fall plate is 10 thou nickel siver sheet to which I soldered some 0.7mm wire, which fits into holes drilled in the cab splashers. Another very fiddly job was to wire the loco to the tender, to give additional electrical pickup. Got some tiny plug and sockets so the tender can be separated from the loco. The extra pickups certainly make a difference, as only the driving wheels have them on the loco.

Still needed to be done are to add some sheet lead to the inside of the boiler, plus the driver & fireman. Will also do a bit of extra weathering, using powders and talc, plus add a bit more coal. After that, must go back to the 6 wheel coaches & attempt to sort out the paintwork, then 569 will have a short excursion train to haul at the York exhibition over Easter. Before then though, look out for the April Railway Modeller, which has a full article on Arigna Town, with a feature on locos and rolling stock likely in October.

The photos show the loco both in its initial primer paint, plus how it is now, lettered & weathered.








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Thanks chaps - though a good coat of paint hides a multitude of sins!


Some of you may have noticed that, while the G2 wheelbase fits ok on my turntable, the loco currently fouls the buffer stops. Seems I have two choices - move the buffers back a bit, or remove them entirely. Thus far, have failed to track down any photos of SLNCR buffer stops - maybe they were like the Donegal and largely did without. The latter is the easier option for me as would only need to titivate the foliage a bit. Moving the 'stops back is a lot more work as will have to dig into the scenery a little. No prizes for guessing what I'd prefer, so any info on getting away with the easy route is welcome

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