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David's Workbench

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David Holman

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Congratulations to Laurie Griffin for his Stephenson's inside motion kit - it really goes together well. The only downsides are the castings are very hard indeed [& so take a lot of time to polish & finish], while there are also still elements that you have to make yourself. Chief of these are the rear plate of the inside cylinders/valve chest and the associated motion bracket.

Made mine from .028 nickel silver & reckon that, with the cutting/polishing of the castings, it has taken me around 20 hours work since Saturday. Indeed, the motion bracket is a mark 3 version as I made a right Horlicks of the first two. The main problem was working out how far apart the two needed to be & then work out how to fix them together & also how to mount them on the loco. The issue here is to ensure it can come apart/re-assemble again for painting, maintenance etc. In the end, made the cylinder rear/slidebar/motion bracket as a single unit which bolts to the from chassis spacer with 10BAs. Don't worry, the bolts will be cut down!

The crank axle is the other unit, to which the connecting rods have been added. A fair bit more fettling was needed to get everything running smoothly, so [for once], held off from assembling everything until each element ran smoothly by hand. Finally though, installed the motor gearbox and coupling rods again, before turning on the power. And [b****r me], it works!. A tad tight in places, but Laurie recommends running in with generous amounts of liquid metal polish. so, out came the Brasso and [surprisingly quickly], things started to settle down. After half an hour in each direction on the trusty old H&M clipper [basic rheostat controller, which shows up any tight spots], I then gave the mechanism a good dousing of WD 40, followed by a wipe down & a light oiling. By now, it was responding to the lightest touch of the controller, so things seem positive in terms of the loco becoming the next new piece of motive power on Arigna Town.

Trouble is, I will now have to dismantle it all for painting, so can only hope it goes back together again afterwards.

Did some video footage on my camera, but the site says the file is too big. Will see what I can do, because even though I say so myself, it looks fab twirling round. Chuffed? You bet!






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The loco has been going through the paint shop and final detailing this week, though there still remains much to do - not least because one or more of the pick ups is shorting out against the body at the moment. The perils of brass engines!

However, thought it was worth a preview, even though in freshly applied black [automotive spray can], much of the detail is lost because it can be such a flat colour to photograph.

After Christmas, will get busy weathering, which should help highlight the details, but an air brush is not the thing for the festive season - though aspects of the latter may help to steady the hands [but also blur the eyesight].



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Seems like the festive period has not produced much modelling - or at least, none of it has been photographed/written about yet...

Chrtistmas & New Year used to be one of my most productive times when still working. A two week break from school and little on TV to distract [not much change on the latter], meant I could get plenty done, just with a work board on my knee and glass of falling down water by my side.

Current work on Sir Henry & the coaches is not something that can be done this way at present & though I managed to get a few figures painted, the loco has had to be fitted in during gaps when relative/friends were not present & I could sneak into the workshop. However, I'm sure my wife didn't feel entirely left out, as she could certainly hear all the swearing as it was a case of one step forward, two back.

The issues stemmed initially from painting the chassis/body work, then re-assembling. It seemed there were shorts everywhere when I tried to run the loco on the track. add in a sticking bogie wheel, sticking bogie itself, the drop links from the reversing gear fouling the inside motion, etc etc and it has taken many hours of trial and error to get what was a very smooth running chassis on the work bench, translate that to running well on the layout.

I also had to think the connecting rods by about half a millimetre and do the same to the front bearings, in order to get enough side play into the coupled wheelbase. The various shorts were cured by cutting back bodywork inside the side tanks and using insulating tape and/or cyano on the underside of the footplate/insides of front splashers.

This all resulted in needing to refit the brake shoes, repainting of large parts of the wheels & chassis, plus taking off & replacing the wheels more times than I care to remember. Such are the perils of all metal locomotives. It is just as well Sir Henry is analogue & not DCC...

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Began work on this model on 14th September, so 111 days later, it is finally complete. Did a weathering job on it yesterday, which involved getting the airbrush/compressor/spray cupboard out. Always fraught for me - was the clean up from last time thorough enough on the airbrush? Will I get the paint mix right? Will the spray pattern be ok or paint come out like a muck spreader, etc etc?

Happily all was well & the paint mix [as per Martyn Welch's bible] of Humbrol Metacote Gunmetal, Tarmac and Leather in ratio of 2:1:1 is just right for toning down & highlighting the very deep, flat black you get from an automotive spray paint can. After a couple of hours letting the paint dry, then did some gentle work with weathering powders. This involved grey on the tops of the boiler & cab, with browner tints for the smokebox & footplate, plus burnt sienna around the brake shoes, base of firebox etc on the chassis.

Then left it overnight to dry hard [find this works better than covering with matt varnish as a seal for the weathering powders], before joining the body & chassis again. While doing the latter, found that the sandboxes were too far inboard, so had to prise them off the chassis & pack them out to the correct width. The sandpipes now sit much better, which explains an earlier issue!

The last bits of work were glazing the cab windows, adding the crew & finally putting coal in the bunker. The latter is from a pice I liberated from the concentration plant entrance in Arigna a couple of years ago - so am guessing it is more likely Polish and Irish...

The photos show the finished model, note comparisons between weathered and plain black from last time, also alongside Hazlewood to show the differences between a Small Tank & a Large one. Also some poses on the layout. Not sure if I will get the two coaches finished in time for St Albans in two weeks time, so Sir Henry may well have its first outing running the excursion train with the three MGW six wheelers.

The working inside motion shows up quite well & anyone who doesn't notice will certainly have it pointed out to them!

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Edited by David Holman
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Many thanks folks. It is by no means perfect, but it does seem to capture the character of the prototype & also [at the moment] runs very well, which is all I ask really. I keep promising myself I will improve my soldering skills, but it is amazing what you can get away with under a coat of paint. Have now built over 50 locos in both 4 & 7mm scale over the last 30 years, so have learnt a few things in that time I suppose, even if mostly not how to do things!

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I particularly like the low own 3/4 front view of Sir Henry on the cattle train it could almost pass for Dromahair on the "main line". Any chance of building a roundy-roundy layout with Glenfarne as a centre piece so your locos can show their paces on the 06:30 & 10:30 Sligo-Enniskillen & 2:15 pm Enniskillen-Sligo goods trains and 7:30 pm Ennskillen-Sligo mixed.

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I particularly like the low own 3/4 front view of Sir Henry on the cattle train it could almost pass for Dromahair on the "main line". Any chance of building a roundy-roundy layout with Glenfarne as a centre piece so your locos can show their paces on the 06:30 & 10:30 Sligo-Enniskillen & 2:15 pm Enniskillen-Sligo goods trains and 7:30 pm Ennskillen-Sligo mixed.


Now THAT would be the layout of all layouts!

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In my dreams! Would that I had the space for a 20 van cattle train. That said, I did actually build a 7mm scale tail chaser a few years ago. Trouble was only the 16' straight section on one side was scenic and though it fitted in a Transit van, a 30x15 layout with only a 16' scenic section did not endear itself to exhibition managers. Plus it was a huge thing to manage. Did appear in RM though after its one outing at Chatham in 2009.

After that decided any future layout had to fit in its entirety in my workshop. Hence 16x2 for Arigna.

When I win the lottery, it will be high on the list. Trouble is, need to buy a ticket first!

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  • 2 weeks later...

The St Alban's show last weekend went pretty well [see my blog to read more], but while packing up, I managed to knock the box containing my G2 2-4-0 off the top of a pile of 4 box files which I use for other stock & on to the floor. Not expecting any problems, I was dismayed to find the loco has suffered some significant damage. The cab roof and only recently renewed fall plate had come off, but, as you can see from the photos, the left hand side of the the cab front/spectacle plate are mangled, while the chimney was bent over with a dent in the smokebox. At the very least, a word that rhymes with what rowers put their oars in seems appropriate and plenty more besides.

Fingers crossed, the damage will not be too hard to put right [though doubt the can will go back completely flat], though a fair amount of work will be needed to match up the paint work again. Will keep you posted.

All goes to show that exhibitions can really take their toll on a model railway & the end of a show is especially dangerous...DSCN1789.jpg



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  • 4 weeks later...

Have been hinting for a while that I am keen to get into a new 7mm scale narrow gauge project. The theme is Clogher Valley, which I would hope you folk over the water are well versed with. That said, the line closed in 1942, so anyone with first hand experience of it will be well into their 70s by now...

Why CVR? Well, there are a few photos around, albeit black and white, plus [like the SLNCR], there is a good book on the subject [EM Patterson], while kits are available for a fair amount of the locos and rolling stock. So, the maroon coloured box contains a range of goodies that will hopefully keep me occupied over the next few months. Hence, we have a Ragstone Models kit of a Sharp Stewart 0-4-2T, a Branchlines kit of one of the third class coaches [they do one of the first class coach too, plus a wagon chassis], while my old friend Alphagraphix does card kits of both Railcar 1 and its tractor unit cousin, which will form the starting points for scratch built models of these in due course.

They will all be done to the correct 21mm gauge [of course!] & I have in mind a small working diorama to begin with, which will cover a wayside station [with a couple of short sidings, plus a hint of roadside tramway and street scene at either end. Hopefully, it will be operable as a through line for exhibition purposes. That will be some time ahead of course, so don't hold your breath!

Pictures show the various bits I've assembled thus far.







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Always loved that railcar, and the original having survived is a miracle - due of course to the CDR's Henry Forbes.


On the CVR the railcar (their No. 1) was mid brown, with gold lettering and a white roof. The "Unit" thing, according to Patterson was grey; eyewitnesses I spoke to don't remember definitively, though I've no reason to doubt Patterson.


There were two distinct green liveries for CVR locos, and No. 3 ended up in lined maroon. Carriages were maroon, and a sample of actual paint can be seen as the background to the crest hung in the Headhunters Railway Museum in Enniskillen. Initially carrying the full crests, carriages latterly had an attractive gold monogram.


I can't wait to see the CVR given the Arigna Road treatment!

Edited by jhb171achill
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Have tried all sorts over the years, Harry, but these days stick mainly to wire scrapers. 0.5mm nickel silver or phosphor bronze, depending on what is available.

Where possible, use small pieces of copper clad strip [4 or 7mm scale sleeper strip], stuck to the frames with 5 min epoxy, then solder the pick up wires to that. If I can, I arrange the wire pick ups to bear on the back of the wheels - either horizontally or vertically. On both the Sligo small tanks, the pick ups drop down vertically behind the driving wheels. On the J26, there is space to hide the pickups horizontally, so they bear on the back of the top of rear face or the tread of the wheels. Hopefully the photos show this.

Overall, have found this method better than plunger pickups. Though these are neat and tidy, I find the springs can be too strong and end up acting as a brake. Goes without saying that the more pick ups the better and cleanliness comes well before godliness - track, wheels and pickups, to enable best quality running.



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Decided the other day, that I'd make a formal start on my new project by doing something nice and simple, like an open wagon. The subject is the Clogher Valley Railway and Branchlines do a nice wagon chassis of the prototype, while in E M Patterson's book there is a very fine picture of a CVR 5 ton open wagon from 1937.

The reason for doing an open, is that [at first sight], it is a simple open box. Three planks to scribe and just five pieces of plastikard to cut out and weld together. Well, how wrong can you be!

The photo in Patterson's book [probably 4x larger than the actual model would be] showed a wealth of detail. Numerous large bolts hold the iron corner plates to the wooden sides and these looked too big to represent by using my GW Models riveting tool. So, 56 cubes cut from 20thou square strip used instead and put in individually. Then there was the iron strips fixed to the top edge of each side. Common on all open wagons, but rarely modelled it seems & probably little point in 4mm scale. However, in 7mm, I reckoned they were worth adding, especially as they are held down with 14 iron clips. Three pieces for each of these, so another 42 parts to cut, this time from 20x15 strip. Strapping, hinges and catches added umpteen more pieces of microstrip & then there are 8 cleats on sides and ends to wind the rope used to hold down tarpaulins when used. One bit of plastikard and two bits of bent 0.5mm wire for each of these.

In all estimate there are close to 200 separate pieces in this one wagon body! Am thinking how I might do a master for sides and ends so I can resin cast future versions. However, none of it was over complicated - just a bit tedious at times, so might still build each one separately. One option will be to drill the strapping and use 1mm wire for the bolts, so these can then be seen on the inside of an empty wagon [or two]. Thankfully, this project is not going to require masses of rolling stock - probably a dozen or so wagons, a couple of coaches, two locos, the railcar & the tractor/unit. Hence tempting to try and do it to the highest possible [for me] standard with a much detail as I can find. Not sure if the lettering I've done [by hand with a white gel pen], is good enough, so may have to invest in some custom transfers. That's the plan anyway, with regular reminders to myself that it is not a race!



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