Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Manchester Museum of Science and Industry

Over the Christmas break while visiting my family "oop north" we visited the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry. I remember visiting as a child and found it really exciting, and in that respect it hasn't changed; there's a floor full of hands-on "experiments" for kids to play with that demonstrate scientific principles, a hall full of aircraft, a (replica) sewer, and a "Power hall" full of stationary and rail steam engines.

In this hall is a 3' gauge Beyer Peacock "Pender" from the Isle of Mann that has been sectioned to show how a steam engine works, it's a great educational visual aid and even to someone who knows the principle, the detail of the fittings is interesting. It does seem a sad waste of a lovely engine, though fortunately the other side looks unmolested.

Pender is the smallest but there are a few other Manchester-built locos including one from India, and an electric that ran in Holland, but the biggest loco is also Narrow Gauge - this 3'6" gauge Garrat that ran in South Africa.

Outside, this unassuming brick building is the original Manchester station, dating from the opening of the first public railway in 1830.

While short passenger rides through the site were provided by this well-kept industrial loco.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Outside Framed Hunslet

A while ago I posted that I'd got hold of a Minitrains outside-framed chassis (from their Fiddletown & Copperopolis tender locomotive) and wondered whether it would be suitable for a Dinorwic large Hunslet. Unfortunately the distance from the motor to the cylinders is too short and would put the cylinders too far back from the smokebox.

However undeterred I got a new kit for the "Cackler / Jerry M" Hunslet (by Five79) and set about adapting it to fit the chassis! The dummy run trial below shows the smokebox set further back to line up with the cylinders (well nearly), and the saddle-tank scored with a line 4mm from the rear where it will be shortened. I'd already carefully removed the filler cap from the casting, which can hopefully be re-used, and the other round plate on top of the tank (purpose unknown!) was filed smooth. The footplate has the hole for the motor opened out towards the rear a little.

The chassis has some modifications. The plastic "footplate" around the motor is cut away along with a section of the rear frames, allowing the kit's footplate to sit on it, and some plastic "pegs" glued just below the motor that protrude just above the kit's footplate to hold it down. At the front of the chassis the extended keeper plate is cut short and a 2mm hole drilled for a fixing screw. On top the plastic plate/clip has it's vertical "wings" removed to clear the boiler.

The whitemetal footplate has been shortened by about 3mm, including the dummy frames below, and both the front of the footplate and the bufferbeam filed to a 45 degree chamfer to fit the buffer beam better (that's been done at the rear too). A mounting plate for the chassis has been bent up from brass, with a 2mm hole drilled and a brass nut soldered on. This will be glued into the front of the footplate/frames casting.

The boiler, smokebox, and cab front are glued together so time for a trial run on the footplate and chassis. The cylinders are still a little too far to the rear but I hope to disguise this further, otherwise all looks promising so far.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Train Set Features

I thought I'd post a few more pictures of my Son's train set, last seen when I'd just finished the track-laying and wiring. The few buildings so far are Hornby, most of which came from my childhood train-set, they are nice and robust which is ideal for this situation. They are stuck to the board with impact adhesive for when the board is folded up.

A busy view with some favourite trains on view! Lots of brick walling will be needed.

I found my old car transporter wagon and loading ramp, which adds a bit of fun.

Joshua got given a PECO turntable for his Birthday, so we spent a little time putting the kit together. I'd left enough space for it, so it was simply a case of mark out the circle and cut out with a jig-saw.

The kit is easy enough to assemble, so soon it was in place and having the tracks laid. The turn-table track takes it's power from the approach track, but I have yet to power the spur tracks - I'm sure there is a clever way to power them from the turntable position but I'll probably use a rotary switch.

Finally - in use! That track to the right needs a bridge now...

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Atkinson Walker - Polishing Off

Work has continued on the under-frame of the Atkinson Walker, adding details like spring hangers, track rods (perhaps?), and those distinctive sand-boxes, made from pieces of plasticard, microstrip and microrod. I even added sand-pipes from brass wire, though they are barely visible.

You may also notice a change in the buffer-beams. The plastic ones were starting to bow already, and I thought they'd be vulnerable, so looked again at the ones on the etch. They seem to be based on the Clougher Valley loco rather than the Redlake one, and were too deep - and too wide too - so I trimmed them to size with a cut-out for the couplings. Although not quite the right shape they are pretty close now, so out came the soldering iron again. They are soldered to the bottom of the body, the square valences help to locate them. The under-frame then had the plastic buffer beams cut and filed away until it was a snug fit between the brass ones.

A bit more work with scraps of plastic made the odd shapes in the foreground - can you tell what they are for? A bit of time cleaning up excess solder and polishing the brass with fibreglass brushes and pencils, and I think it's ready for the paint shop.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Atkinson Walker: Steps and Chimney

The Worsley Works etch included the steps, so these would be simple I thought. However it quickly became apparent there was an error in the etch. As you can see the lower step is easily folded up, and the upper should slot onto the vertical - but the vertical plate narrows in the middle, so the upper step is too wide to fit. A check of the drawings and photos confirmed that the upper step should be narrower, in line with the vertical plate.

The only solution was to narrow the step. One "end" was cut off, the step cut short to match the narrow part of the vertical plate, and the locating tab shortened. Soldering the remaining tiny pieces together was rather fiddly, and I've got rather too much solder in there, but it worked and looks OK as long as you don't look too closely! The steps were then soldered to the underside of the body, behind the valance and in line with the cab entrance, and the plastic chassis support lower footplate was trimmed to clear.

Next the chimney, which is not very clear from the drawings and barely visible in any photos, so there is some guesswork. I found some brass tube, 2.3 mm diameter which seemed about right, though the hole in the roof needed filing out to accommodate it. To give it the impression of some kind of cap I made a loop of brass wire a tight fit around the tube, and applied plenty of solder. A little filing afterwards tidied it up and gave it a more probable shape. Since it is barely visible in photos it can only just have protruded through the roof, so I set it low to the roof and soldered it in place from behind. The nice thing about this is the chimney can be seen continuing through the cab.

The other roof feature which is also hard to make out from the drawings and pictures - though it protrudes enough to be noticeable - is the large plate or raised section. I found a piece of scrap brass the right width, and about 0.5mm thick, which was cut to length and curved to match the roof profile. Soldering it in place really tested the capability of my 25W Antex iron though!

The roof features and the steps really do start to give the model some character. I think that's all the soldering done now, so the body is being cleaned of flux, and I can add the final details to the chassis.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Atkinson-Walker: More Soldering!

At the weekend I'd managed to pick up some square section brass for a more reasonable price than I'd been able to find it at the Bognor show. This is just what I'd been looking for to make the valance along the bottom of the body, though at 1.6mm square it is slightly over-size it looks fine. This was carefully cut to length and soldered on.

With that done I could solder the upper body in place, taking great care to get the pieces vertical and fitting together. The roof took ages to roll, being quite a thick piece of brass - perhaps I should get some rolling bars, but the fingers/pencil/carpet along with holding one edge in a vice got me there eventually. Those mini pegs came in useful again, soldering the roof in place was easier than I'd feared.

The brass section valences actually do lot to keep the body rigid, particularly through the doorways, which helped when adding the roof. They also help locate the under-frame (which needed a little filing to fit nicely) and hides the lower plastic footplate.

So I couldn't resist posing the assembled loco on the layout. It is certainly large - not surprisingly for a 3' gauge loco modified from a Standard Gauge design - however it isn't so far off some larger stock that I have. I'll have to compare it to a GVT tram loco, which are quite bulky.

There's still lots to do. The drawings show a large plate or raised area on the roof - it's barely visible in photos, as is the top of the chimney, so I'm not sure what these should look like or how to make them. They will add a lot to the model though. I also need to solder on the steps, then it's on to detailing like the water filler cap (again it's not visible in pictures), cab doors, and perhaps some basic interior detail. Brass etched buffer beams are provided, but to the profile of the Irish loco rather than the Redlake one, so I've started cutting some from plastic which will attach to the under-frame, and need to allow for couplings. The under-frame also needs sand-boxes and a few other details to finish.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Atkinson-Walker: Making an Under-Frame

When I last posted about the Atkinson-Walker steam tractor I was pondering how to make the under-frame, which is not included in the Worsley Works "Scratch-aid" etch. I found some wagon under-frame mouldings in the bits box, I think from an W&L open wagon, and came up with a cunning plan.

I started by opening out a recess above the spring, which gave space to add a few extra leaves from micro-strip, a fiddly job but now they look like they could take the weight of a loco. The W-irons were cut away, and the axle-boxes rounded off slightly, as per an approximation of the drawing. The wagon frame was 1mm shorter than the wheelbase of the chassis so I cut and spliced in a piece of 40 thou, with a splice behind. The notches in the top are cut to clear lugs below the motor. In the photo below one frame is prepared, the other is just started on...

Then on to the outer frames. I'd remembered to take the book to work and photo-copy the drawing at 82%, bringing it to 4mm scale, which makes life easier. I did a few copies while I was at it, allowing me to cut out the frames and stick them to some 20 thou plasticard with a few drops of solvent. It is much easier than all that marking out, a few cuts and I had the basic shaped of the side-frames, there's a mark where the paper was stuck but I'll just stick that on the inside. 

Micro-strip was added to the frames according to the drawings and pictures, and the wagon-frames with axle-boxes and springs positioned behind. A dummy lower foot-plate was also cut out, as seen above. The nearest side-frame shows the rear with the wagon sole-bar, this sits just below the motor with notches to clear the plastic motor support brackets on the chassis. The 20 thou frame sits against the side of the motor, which should give the right ride-height. It's now clear why it was useful to have the springs and axle-boxes from one piece of plastic - there is nothing to support them except from the frame above, strictly speaking there should be a gap above the springs too but the lack of that won't be visible!

Holes were then drilled through the plastic lower footplate and the brass footplate of the body for the bolts - I decided one at each end, off-set to allow for couplings to fit centrally. An M2 nut is soldered above the floor, by threading a Vaseline covered bolt with another nut from below and tightening. A little flux applied around the nut with some small pieces of solder, then apply the iron. In theory the Vaseline stops the bolt getting soldered too, and it did - but on the second one some solder got into the bolt thread between the nut and the brass sheet. I managed to unscrew the bolt though, and as it didn't need to be so long, just cut off the clogged end!

Then the side-frames and lower foot-plate were joined with 40 thou plastic cross pieces, that are fitted to just clear the ends of the chassis. In the picture above you can just see a plastic "lug" is bonded to the inner face. This fits into the notch in the end of the chassis, it has a chamfered top edge but flat sides and bottom. The chassis is fitted into the frames from above, and with a screwdriver gently prising the cross-members over the ends of the chassis until the lug slots into the notch.

The frame/chassis assembly can then be bolted to the body from below as shown. A valance will need to be added below the body, which will disguise the edge of the plastic lower footplate. From above you can see I added some brass "M" shaped brackets from spare etch, which press on the top of the chassis. Actually the plastic lugs previously mentioned do the locating so these aren't really necessary, but may add some strength. Brass brackets also press against the motor sides to hold the chassis/body vertical.

The frames look OK, axle-boxes line up (reasonably), and ride height matches the drawing, so all good to continue with the build! I've yet to add buffer beams and some details to the under-frames, as well as the valance mentioned, but now I can progress the body too.