Sunday, 22 January 2012

Building an Avalon Line Enclosed Coach Kit

Frustrated with watching paint dry (badly), and inspired by a trip out to the 7mm NGA members' day at Derby, I decided to scout about for a quick project to occupy my time.  My eyes fell onto an Avalon Line kit for a 12-seat enclosed coach that had been sat awaiting my attention for many years. This was one of the first sets of parts that Steve Bennett had cast from masters that I had designed for Howard Martin at Avalon Line.

Having been sat in my cupboard all that time the sides and floor of the kit had taken on a banana-like shape, so theses were immersed in hot water and then flattened between a glass worktop protector and glass drinks coasters, held flat by that good old standby of Lima loco weights (every ex-OO modeller of a certain age has a stash of these!).  All flash was removed using a sharp craft knife and parts cleaned up using nothing more than pound shop emery boards.

The chassis was assembled first:

Araldite Rapid epoxy adhesive was used, the footwells were set into the chassis frame dry and the adhesive carefully delivered to the joints using a cocktail stick.  The seats were then added on top - this was just possible from one mix of the glue!

The sides and ends of the body were assembled in a slightly different way, due to an unintended tumblehome in the sides I opted to use superglue to attach these to the ends (so as to straighten the bow and set quickly), then re-enforced the joins with Araldite from inside.

So far this build has been as per the intended sequence, I'll be showing a few tweaks I've made in a future post.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

The Great Barnes, Clayton and Lowke Connundrum

It may sound like a firm of solicitors caught up in a Sherlock Holmes tale, but the purpose of these scribblings is to give an idea of the dilemma I'm currently having as to what outline my embryonic 'Atlantic' will take in the future.  Given that I will probably only have one shot at building an Atlantic (donor chassis are not easy to come by at my near-Yorkshire kind of price), I want to ensure that the final choice is one that I'm happy with.

So what are the options?  Ruling out the earlier Bassett-Lowke class 10 and 20 'Little Giants' on size (I've already blown the class 30 drawings up to 7.5mm scale), there are three key options to consider in outline:

1) Bassett-Lowke Class 30 outline, - 'Synolda' or 'Count Louis'...

'Synolda' on a visit to the Kirklees Light Railway
'Count Louis' at the Evesham Vale Light Railway
The classic Greenly design of these locos is a big plus point for me, however there are many differences between the survivors (and indeed the lost machine 'Sans Pariel' had a flatter cab roof), note the different drop in the rear footplate for example, whilst 'Count Louis' retains it's later cab, possibly built by Trevor Guest.  The greatest temptation is perhaps 'Count Louis' with the larger Fairbourne tender, not one for the purist but at least a Kato bogie chassis can be secreted away in there.

2) Clayton/Cannon Iron Foundries/Hunt outline - 'Sutton Belle' or 'Sutton Flyer'...

'Belle' and 'Flyer' with authentic stock at Cleethorpes
The two Atlantics that I am most familiar with, 'Belle' is very much an "improved class 30", constructed by Douglas Clayton (and indeed originally named after him) from Bassett-Lowke castings, whilst 'Flyer' is a later, further refined design completed by Hunt's for the Sutton Miniature Railway.  They may superficially look the same, but as with the surviving class 30s, there are many differences.  Tender drive would be a Kato 4w unit disguised as a 6w tender.  My biggest problem here is which one to choose - and how to explain to people that I won't necessarily be building the other one!

3) Barnes 'Albion' outline - 'Joan', 'John' etc

'John' at the Evesham Vale Light Railway
I'll be honest, in the past I've always looked on the Greenly designed, Albert Barnes built Atlantics as inferior to the class 30s.  I am of course wrong, perhaps my view was tainted by the pictures of the Rhyl line in the 80s in a rather run down state.  However, as the picture above shows, they can scrub up rather well, also evidenced by the recent restoration of 'Michael' at Rhyl.  I'd need to drop the ex-V2 Cartazzi truck at the rear and find a suitable wheelset, but these rugged machines have an advantage over the others in that the driving wheels are spaced slight further apart.  Tender drive would be as above, the disadvantage here is a slightly more open tender frame, less easy to hide that Kato unit!

4) The outsider - the 'freelance' approach...

It isn't inconceivable that a miniature railway operator could have built a loco themselves, perhaps like Douglas Clayton they bought the castings and drawings from Bassett-Lowke and slowly built it over a period of time?  We have no idea how many other sets of 15" Atlantic castings Bassett-Lowke sold that were never built, there may have been many, or simply none.  Or perhaps a complete new build?

Austin Moss' Atlantic project at Windmill Farm
 In the world of miniature railways, almost anything is possible!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Washed Up

It's funny how you forget things that you have done with a purpose.  Having washed and cleaned two locos ('Intrepid II' and an industrial i/c loco), summary parts and two wagons for painting and placed them in my drying boxes, I opened the airing cupboard door and remembered that when I constructed the new shelves I had installed an extra one over the hot water tank specifically for keeping these boxes out of the way of the towels and sheets...

Sunday, 8 January 2012

An Oceanic Odyssey

Gather a small bunch of O9 modellers together and at some point the conversation will turn to the fact that what they would really like, really, really like, is a model of a 15" gauge Atlantic.

It can be done, Tim Ellis as has demonstrated on the  NGRM Online Forum with his model of 'Count Louis', based upon a Minitrix chassis.  Seeing Tim's model made me even more determined to have a go at this myself and a little asking in the right places produced a Minitrix 'Britannia' chassis in a state of flux, it had been subjected to a half-started attempt to build a Barlow stream-outline loco by Andrew Blackwell (who went on to use a different chassis for his project).

After a thorough examination of the parts to hand, I set to work, reducing the chassis from a Pacific to Atlantic be removing the front  driving axle position, but retaining some metalwork above to hold various new parts such as the cylinders.  A new front bogie came from an N-Brass kit fitted with Parkside wheelsets and various other modifications were made such as reducing the length of the con rods by 3mm.  After an attempt to use some old crossheads from the spares box I eventually made new ones from Nickel Silver scrap and brass rod, these slide in N-Brass GCR 'ROD' slide bars, sitting in temporary cylinders for the time being.

The rear truck is a Farish 'V2' spare that Andrew had fitted as part of his Barlow build, it certainly looks the part here.  There is one slight problem with the chassis as built, and that is my fault due to my scratchbuilt crossheads... it is a little too wide.

Although the whole thing it too big anyway (think of it as a 7.5 mm scale loco), the extra width could cause a few issues as and when a body is built, although I may be able to loose some of the excess in due course with some cunning new cylinder covers.  As to what the cylinders look like will depend on what the final outline is, there is an equal chance of Basset-Lowke Class 30, 'Sutton' outline or a slimmer chance of a Barnes style loco from Rhyl (with a new rear axle of course).

Watch this space....

Monday, 2 January 2012

The ones that got away... No. 5 'Diamond Jubilee'

Digging through my half-completed projects from early 2011, I found this much hacked-about Dapol railbus front that had been the prototype for a conversion I had in mind.

The idea was to build something long the lines of the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway's 'Silver Jubilee' railcar from a complete Dapol kit and the left-overs of the loco conversions I have completed.  As it was likely to be built/ready for 2012 I had rather tongue-in-cheekily nicknamed it 'Diamond Jubilee'...

I think it was James Bond who once said "Never say never...", but we shall see.

Edit: Yes, this was posted as 'Golden Jubilee' earlier today, I seem to have lost the last decade somewhere along the line....

Sunday, 1 January 2012

My travels in the land of Milliput

The other day I opened a new packet of Milliput, only the second I've ever bought!  Glancing at the packet I saw that I had purchased it in the rather traditional Clarke's Ironmongers in the Norfolk town of Aylsham whilst on holiday a few years ago.  Thinking back, the packet that had recently been used up had also been purchased on holiday, in Dixon's Discount Warehouse in Filey, way back on the first holiday my (now) wife and I had together.  A love of the Yorkshire coast was born on that holiday, in 2011 we stayed near Bridlington and I bought some terracotta Milliput in the branch of Boyes there (which includes a fascinating company museum on the top floor).  I can't put my finger on why I've always bought Milliput on holiday, but it makes a much more practical souvenir than some things I can think of...

Of course I was in Aylsham for another reason, to visit the 15" gauge Bure Valley Railway, where through the kindness of the railway's chairman, I had been granted a footplate pass.  Shortly after buying that Milliput I was on board BVR no. 8 for the trip to Wroxham:

Great times!  A Happy New Year to all readers of the blog.