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A Gaggle of J15s

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A bit more progress on the "White Engine" I haven't decided on a number at this stage, though I will probably pick one of the saturated locos that was based at Tuam or Limerick that worked over the Burma Road.

The mystery of the driving wheels sorted it self out when I found another set of Sharman driving wheels in the J15 bits and pieces box that matched the leading and driving wheelset in the photo in the last post. There must be a matching set somewhere for the wheels for the training axle.


I fitted new matching hornblock bearings to all three axles, the bearings required minor fettling to slide up and down in the leading and center hornblocks the trailing axle is rigid with the bearings a push fit into the hornblocks. The compensation beam assembly and main frames and ashpan sides are the only remaining parts from the original chassis.

I set the wheels up using a GW Wheelpress which also quarters the wheels on the axles and ran into a problem with the trailing and driving wheel set binding when I fitted the coupling rods.

I swapped the rods with a set from another J15 and the problem disappeared, I set up the hornblocks on 3 J15 chassis at the same time and may have got the roads mixed up.

I test fitted the body and completed some of the finer detail at this stage before tackling the brake gear and tender chassis.


 The wheels revolved without binding when I pushed the loco along the workbench and all 6 wheels were sitting on the workbench a very good sign!

I fitted the cab spectacle plates and replaced the sandbox operating rod on the drivers side, but still need to fit lampirons and do something about the riveted strip between cab and footplate.


The cab interior needs a lot of work the original builder cut off the section of firebox that projects into the cab, though luckily enough I have a spare cab backplate.



I produced a set of etched J15 brake gear parts, the brake gear from the original kit was missing and its difficult to drill and fold the nickel silver brake gear parts from the SSM kit.

The replacement brake gear parts are basically a 'blown up' brass version of the SSM brake gear. 

First challenge was to test the concept by assembling a driving brake hanger and shoe using an 0.5mm drill bit as its not practicable to etch an 0.5mm  dia hole in o.4mm brass.






Hanger & brake shoes drilled and pivots folded.

Soldering the brake shoes to the hangers is extremely challenging without some form of jig or fixture.





I threaded a piece of 0.45mm mire through the holes in the brake hanger and soldered at on end, leaving the other end free


Crude but it does the job, I fixed a short piece of strip wood to a block of balsa as a stop, then pinned the brake hanger to the balsa with a short piece of 0.45 brass wire, then threaded the brake shoe in position before soldering.


Assembled brake shoe and hanger before removing the ends of the pins and cleaning up.


Brake show and hanger fitted to a Superheated  a Chassis

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Continuing on with the loco and tender brake gear assembly.


The phosphor bronze wire through the hornboxes is to temproarily secure the bearings and wheel sets in position while I am testing the chassis for free running and fitting the brake gear.


I set up the brake gear by first threading the inner brake pullrods onto the 0.45mm wire stretcher bars. 

I soldered the pullrods to the hangers before soldering the inner pullrods in place.



I used card packers to make sure that there was adequate running clearance between the outer pullrods and the wheels in order to avoid a short.

The inner pullrods should be closer to the wheels, I find it easier to line up the inner pull rods with the main frames useful when using OO/EMF wheel standards and running clearances.




Completed brake gear, showing the misaligned pull rod on the leading driving axle which will need attention before painting and final assembly.


The tender brake gear is similar but with a different brake hanger arrangement.

The chassis was assembled by the original builder and incorporates the original machined brass frame spacers, I replaced the original S4 wheels and bearings and painted the chassis after I bought the loco about 20 years ago. 

The first job in the current re-build was to drill/clean out the pin holes for the brake pivot rods and spacers, I began using short pieces of small dia brass tube for setting up brake gear on brass kits during the 1990s and assembling the brake gear as a removable sub assembly.

I used to cut the tube to length using a crude jig, but picked up a cutting jig from a visiting Australian model makers tool supplier which makes things a lot simpler.


I bought a similar tool from Micromark in the US which was not really suitable for small scale modelling.


The GSWR tender brake hanger arrangement is reasonably conventional, I used my usual assembly set up using a short piece of 0.45mm wire drilled into a piece of hardwood bolted to the workbench.


Tender brake gear sub assemblies. 

I dropped a clanger on setting up the pullrods as they fouled on the wheel bearings and was unable to fit them outside the tender main frames.



This turned out simple enough to amend in situ by lining up one of the pullrods with the inside of the frame on one side and gradually moving the opposite rod over by heating with the soldering iron.




I fitted the outside rods again using card as packing pieces while soldering then trimmed the ends of the stretcher bars .


Loco and tender with break gear fitted, the next major jobs are completing the cab interior, fabricating a loco tender drawbar, setting up a power connection between the loco and tender and general tidy up and complete loco detailing

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A bit more work on the "White Engine" mainly completing detailing and fitting the loco tender drawbar.


I thought I had mislaid the smokebox door and ended up fitting one of my own GSR style doors complete with hand wheel before finding the original in the scrap box, one of the next big jobs (after painting) is finding the bufferheads and fitting the front 3 link coupling .


I used some suitable riveted strapping from the scrap box to represent the riveted strip between cab side and running board a distinctive feature of these locos, the original strapping was still in place on the fireman's side. Although its difficult to see I fabricated and fitted the loco-tender drawbar from an offcut of PCB sleeper strip.


The cab interior involved some skulldugery. The splasher tops/seats are part of the original model, the backhead  from another J 15 kit and the cab floor from a MGWR 2-4-0. I used a piece of scrap brass to replace the section of firebox that had been cut away/removed during the assembly of the original model.

Next stage will be to dismantle the loco and tender to its component sub assemblies to prepare for painting.

Interestingly I 'found" another Mashima 10X20 motor in the J 15 parts box to complete the assembly of the "Coey" J15 .


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"White Engine" dismantled for cleaning and painting showing brake gear sub assemblies.


Next job was to sort out the parts for the other 2-3? members of the class.



I originally bought two J15 kits in 2007-8 complete with wheels gears and motors as it seemed to be a good idea at the time, then designed a set of frames for a superheated loco. The idea was to scrap the chassis from my original 1986 J15 193 and re-use 193s wheels in one of the new chassis, somehow or other I ended up with an additional pair of 21mm gauge wheelsets that I have no recollection of buying or setting up for 21mm gauge, fitting crankpins and painting!.

I seem to have used one of the motors to motorise a J16, but luckily enough did not loose any of the gearbox parts, coupling rods or bearings since I assembled the chassis 3 years ago.

The Alan Gibson wheels have plastic (nylon?) centers which are a push fit on 1/8" dia axles, in this case the 21mm gauge axles were cut slightly over length from 1/8" silver steel and finished in the Unimat.

Next job will be to assemble the brake gear, I will probably make up a jig for assembling the pull rods and stretcher bars to achieve greater consistency than assembling the gear on the individual chassis.

The main hurdle to completing the locos at this stage is difficulty in obtaining suitable motors as one of the main Uk suppliers is furloughed as a result of Covid restrictions.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well I left everything on the workbench for a week and no long lost parts turned up, I better put them back in the scrap box for another year or so.


The white engine is now another grey engine. I washed the loco and tender in hot water followed by a good scrub with an old tooth brush & washing powder to remove any residual flux and 10-15 year grime and gave the loco & tender body a mist coat of grey aerosol etch primer. Luckily the etch primer did not react with the existing white primer. 


A some sanding followed by a second coat of primer disguised most of the blemishes.



It looks like the loco will be in late GSR early CIE condition with hungry boards on the tender modeled from ply sleeper strip to be followed by another coat of primer and GSR grey enamel.


I removed the driving splashers from Coey J15 229 as there was insufficient clearance between the driving wheels and splashers when I test fitted the wheel sets.

The Alan Gibson wheels which I am using in the two new locos are approx. 0.24mm wider than the Sharman wheels which I fitted to my older J15s. The problem arose because I did not remove the temporary splasher sides that are used to align and support the footplate while fitting the valences and forming the curved running board.


I am using a piece of hardwood to support the running board when I replace the splashers.


The valences and running board were assembled with a higher temperature (179) solder than that used in the general assembly of the loco to minimise the risk of parts falling off during final assembly.





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  • 2 weeks later...

The "White Engine" has finally become the "Grey Loco", I haven't decided on a number at this stage, I need to check on the locos rostered to Tuam Shed between the 1930s & mid 1950s.


Sub-assemblies on the assembly bench. I primed the loco with a Finixia grey etch primer followed with a grey laquer topcoat matched to a sample of GSR/CIE paint provided by JHB.

I decided to assemble "The Grey Loco" to reduce the number of incomplete projects before undertaking further work on 229 and the Superheated J15.


I tidied up the splashers and sandbox linkages on both locos, the main challenge is achieving sufficient running clearance between the splashers and the locomotive driving wheels set with a 19.3 B-B gauge. 







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One down two left to go! The White Engine now the "Grey Engine" successfully re-assembled  and test run though there is some work left to do including weighting the tender, finding and fitting buffer heads, lettering/number plate and couplings.

Interestingly the GSR grey looks darker when viewed under soft lighting on the "layout" rather than a daylight bulb on the workbench.





The loco test run without any sign of shorting despite full brake gear and very tight wheel/splasher clearance and runs slightly shorter than my two older J15s 191 & 193.



Some work on 229 & the Z boiler loco grinding off excess metal and solder inside the splashers and test fitting a set of AGW driving wheels set with a 19.3 B-B leaving cigarette paper wheel-splasher running clearances. I am very reluctant to reduce to reduce the B-B Gauge to 19mm and adapt OO running clearances as this is likley to lead to running problems with the majority of my 21mm gauge locos which are fitted with the narrower Sharman driving wheels.


Edited by Mayner
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 I am quiet happy with the way the 'Grey Engine" turned out as the original builder "gave up" on the loco after running into difficulties assembling a working chassis. The builder ran into similar difficulties assembling a number of locos to S4 standards and I picked up the J15 together with 4 other part built TMD loco kits at a UK exhibition.

The J15 is a good example of how metal kits are nearly always salvagable as a lot of parts were missing and the chassis was nearly a write off, although the original Protofour wheels were not usable I used the motor and gearbox to re-build a C&L 4-4-0T.

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