I have been a very long time lurker on this site but have never plucked up courage to post on the site before with some of my models. No time like the present so I have signed up and here we go. Comments, advice and discussion are welcome here. I will apologise about photography now and as the majority will be me, my iPhone, a glass shelf and a powerful lamp, they will not be to the great standard that we sometimes see here. My partner has a fancy camera and she will take a few snaps from time to time to offset this lack of skill on my part!
I don't have a layout but I hope to do so in the future. However, I wanted to get modelling. I therefore took the decision to start making kits and adapting RTR models to get the fleet of vehicles that I would like to own which leads me on to another point.
I am a member of the Great Western Society (usual proviso here about any opinions being mine and not the society's) and an active volunteer at the Didcot Railway Centre having a role in the restoration and overhaul of the loco fleet. I decided that having free access to a large fleet of preserved vehicles meant that it was natural to want to model them so that is what I am up to. Didcot's collection in 4mm scale. I chose to model the GWR / BR change over period from the late 1940's up to about 1954 (with one or two modellers licence type exceptions) so that I could get the greatest range of liveries in both the loco and rolling stock fleet. For the engines alone it means blue kings, black LNWR style mixed traffic locos, BR green locos, GWR liveries with British Railways in GWR text, a few in old GWR liveries and so on...
I know and understand the appeal of the late BR period with the ability to run early diesels on the layout too but the BR totem logo on a steam loco is to me a bit like it running around with a death sentence on its side so it isn't for me as a steam loco man. This is just my opinion and this is in no way a dig at anyone else's interests and I hope it isn't taken as such. There are some truly stunning examples that fall under the 'art of modelling' category when looking at the inspiring end of steam weathering jobs we sometimes see on this site. In any case, the engines from the immediate post war period were not far short of this condition and in fact a picture exists (published in the book 'The Didcot Story') of our own No. 6998 not long after it was built looking in a very sorry state, not unlike it probably did in 1963...
I like to detail things as far as is reasonably possible without going mad and I like my engines and rolling stock to look like they have had a life so weathering is the order of the day. Wherever a loco or bit of rolling stock isn't available, kits and RTR will be ruthlessly bashed chopped and hacked into a vague resemblance of the prototype. In a cheeky and thoroughly unprototypical move, my engines all have 81E shed plates. Destination / area markings on rolling stock is deliberately vague or of the 'Return to Paddington' type so that when I do get to the layout, I am not restricted or forced to repaint. I can hear the gasps from the purists but I think of it as my collectionâ€™s signature. These things are quite small and largely unnoticeable as they trundle past on a layout. if we put our models in a fictional setting, they are likely to gain things that are not as they would have been in life. I'll invoke the 'it's my railway' clause if anyone moans. So there!
I have fitted scale couplings and I will probably regret it but I really don't like putting something as hugely obtrusive as a tension lock or a knuckle coupling on my stock and I also want a layout where trains generally process past with perhaps a loco shed (not predictable at all that is it?) on the cards. The trains should therefore be pulled in most cases (auto trains excepted but I have a plan here involving rigid couplings) and from what I have read, the issues with this are mainly with propelling stock.
So there is the philosophy, such as it is, and I will from time to time post pictures of models and projects past present and future and preserved prototype photos to illustrate a point where relevant. Without further ado, for your education, entertainment and edification, here is some of my humble, ham-fisted cobbling.
I thought I would start with no real order and in a shock move for a steam fan, with the build of one of the newest residents at Didcot - Brown Boveri Gas Turbine No. 18000.
A bit of potted history: 18k was ordered by the GWR as part of their 'Next Station' modernisation plan but didn't arrive until 1949, well after nationalisation. She was a prototype and understandably she had her issues. The various reasons as to why she and her Metropolitan Vickers Cousin 18100 were not perpetuated are many and don't just centre on reliability. The rise of diesels, the cost of fuel, maintenance and further development requirements all played their part. For a prototype machine in a situation where her owners showed a progressively lessening interest in the type of traction and on a steam railway she actually did quite well! She eventually ended up back in Switzerland and was used (minus her power plant) as a test vehicle to investigate the interaction of wheels on the rail head. She went in display in Switzerland in 1975 and returned to the UK in the 1990's, her first home being Crew. She finally arrived 'home' to Didcot, after a long derogation process with Network Rail as she is an 'out of gauge' load, on the 29th July 2011. She will be put through a conservancy & restoration process that it is hoped will include the reinstatement of one of her cabs to the same condition it was in when she was a live loco. Kevin Robertson's book on the subject 'The Great Western Railway Gas Turbines - a myth exposed' is recommended reading on this subject.
Little known 18k fact: After she returned to Switzerland and was converted, she carried the name 'Elisabetta' between her front cab footsteps.
Back to the model - This is a Silver Fox resin body that will be detailed, fully lit, mounted on a brand new Bachmann Class 37 chassis (purchased as a complete loco and mega bargain at my local toy & train fair) and painted in my absolute favourite British 'modern traction' (it's a bit inaccurate calling 18k modern I suppose but it is to me and my fellow steam fans!) livery of black with silver roof and body stripe. A livery with its LMS origins I know, but we are all railway fans here!
The first photo shows a try at the Cab end of 18k with the chassis fitted loosely and the bogie side frames attached. The plastic of the Class 37 bogies didn't accept the glue easily so there was much fruity language as this process was done. Roughening the surfaces with a file to provide a key seemed to help. The moulded handrails have been pared away with a scalpel and wire replacements fashioned. The moulded buffers fared no better and were cut off in readiness for sprung replacements. Alan Gibson GWR short whistles (I couldn't find anyone supplying whistles for a 1940's prototype Gas Turbine loco surprisingly) are fitted too. The original 18k had these air powered whistles fitted earlier on in her career to be replaced with horns when it was found that they were not loud enough in the noisy steam railway environment she operated in.
Photo 2 - the windows on the side have been nibbled out with a drill bit in a pin vice, a scalpel and a further application of the afore mentioned fruity language... Also gone is the exhaust for the train heating boiler, replaced with a new version made in styrene.
Photo 3 shows the front end with the various lifting and step holes in the valance opened out. The etched lamp irons are from the ever useful mainly trains etch and have been straightened post photo! These were fitted despite the original having four electric marker lights in the appropriate positions. She started using discs that were not unlike Southern Region practice but ended up using regular WR lamps. Some little cast door handles (source forgotten), Slater's buffers and screw link couplings from Smiths complete the picture. The handrail and step pattern on her cabs changed throughout her life and the layout modelled is as she was when delivered with just steps and rails on the left side (when viewed head on). Presumably as the use of lamps became more prevalent, dicing with death stretching across with a relatively heavy lamp to do the far side on a wet or icy day became less and less attractive and the additional steps and handrails were fitted. Interestingly she was also fitted with a bracket below the centre cab window so she was able to carry train headboards but this also falls outside our time period.
Well, I will leave you to mull that lot over and I will get back to you soon with further updates!
All the best,
Edited by Castle, 21 August 2013 - 13:53 .