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A pair of 551 Class tank locos (J26)

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Two versions of the same loco built nearly 30 years apart more of a long running saga than a workbench. The TMD (Terry McDermott) MGWR E introduced 1983? was the first brass kit for an Irish steam loco. The kit like the J15 was originally designed with a chassis in 0.40" brass which is considered a bit flimsy for a chassis, a stronger nickel silver chassis has been supplied with kits produced from the late 80s.


The original kit was a must for someone who modelled the Midland though a tender loco would have been a lot more useful, I had no real need or intention of building another of these locos until I found an unbuilt MGWR tank among a job lot of part built TMD & SSM kits at Expo EM about 15 years ago. I finally got round to building the loco in GSR/CIE condition a couple of years ago.





A pair of 551 Class tanks at Keadue possibly the GSR has re-gauged the line in the face of competition from the SLNCR at Arigna Town. The tanks were less powerful than a tender engine but may have been easier on the curves.




The first loco was originally assembled in MGWR condition in Dublin about 30 years ago, before a rebuilt into 553 in CIE condition while living in the UK in 1993, the riveted smoke box is an overlay from an SSM J15 not sure where the funnel came from. The original (brush painted) paint work was stripped down and finished in Howes "Dirty Black" with an airbrush with a satin finish using an air brush. The loco got a misting with some form of Floquil weathered black and a coating of satin about two years ago.


553 need a new cab roof/cab interior and vacuum pipes to match the ne 55w loco.




553 still has its original brass chassis & 1980s state of the art Sharman wheels, 40:1 gearbox and Anchorage DS10 motor. Mike Sharman & Iain Rice popularised the idea of compensated or flexible chassis, Mike producing an excellent range of wheels and enclosed gearbox. M.G. Sharp of Sheffield imported the "Anchorage" range of small powerful 5 pole motors. The DS10 designed for American N gauge was one of the smallest available was happiest at very high speed and bearings not up to the end trust with a typical British single stage worm/gear transmission



The loco has a slight rear end waddle otherwise a smooth and reliable runner with a good turn of speed.




553 was assembled with a compensated chassis by simply letting the bearing float in the axle cut outs in the chassis. I made a keeper plat from brass rod and wire to represent the brake pull rods and to prevent the wheels falling out ;)


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The original brass frames are quite flimsy compared to the nickel silver chassis but have stood up well to 30 years use. I upgraded the chassis during the 1990s rebuild by bending strips of brass sprue into a U shape (horn guide) to prevent the axle brushes from rotating and adding a compensation beam to allow the 2 leading axles to rock up and down, the horn guides on the rear rigid axle are set to the correct ride height.




Pick ups are simply short strips of phosphor bronze wire fixed to short strips of copper clad and hard wired back to the motor.


I am unlikely to modify any of these locos to DCC.


TMD/SSM Nickle Silver Chassis


The replacement nickel silver chassis is unusual as it is designed to be assembled as a compensated chassis with integral compensating beams rather than the usual arrangement of a rigid chassis with compensation or springing as an option.



NS chassis with equalising or compensating beams on the leading axles.


The holes for the leading and middle axle are slotted rather than round to allow the axles to move up an down. The top hat axle bearings are pushed through the axle holes then soldered to the compensating beams which are supported by a central pivot. The rim of the top hat brushes supplied with the kit were too small and it was necessary to use a washer to stop the bearings pushing through.



Close up of compensating beam and pivot


The chassis for the new loco is kind of 90s state of the art with Alan Gibson wheels (Sharman no longer available) Branchlines 50:1 Multi-box gear box noisy but really good low speed torque for a shunter and a Mashima 12X24 motor smaller than the DS10 without the drawbacks.


During the final stages of assembly I managed to ring the end off one of the coupling rods. The rods are not interchangeable between the brass and NS chassis due to a difference in axle centres. I have designed a replacement set of rods closer in profile to the prototype, Attock 6 coupled locos had a plain one piece coupling rod similar to the brass chassis.




I am experimenting with phosphor bronze strip partially hidden behind the wheels rather than wire for pick up on this loco.




Riveted smoke box my own design etched in brass, though these days I would make the part from sheet brass for a one off

I am not satisfied with the funnel does not quite look the part. Must remember to add the boiler bands (paper) before painting

I am not sure of the number at this stage most likely to be a loco that worked on the Midland during the 1950s

Edited by Mayner
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