I had assembled the tender chassis originally using the Alan Gibson hornblocks supplied in the kit. This were the units with a tiny spring which provides some downward force but where the hornblock itself is designed to sit on the end of a bolt which passes through the top of the horn guide. The theory is that you can adjust the bolts to get the ride height for each axle correct. From my experience I find this very difficult and the resulting ride is very 'hard' and it is too easy to have one axle have either too much or too little load.
Techniques have moved on and these days people rave about the simplicity of 'continuous springy beams'. This is basically a posh way to describe a piece of wire which supports all the bearing. The clever bit is in the positioning of the pivot points for the wire but helpfully there is a spreadsheet available which make this simple. For this tender I purchased some High Level kits hornblocks and spring support tags together with Alan Gibson 'shoulderless' handrail knobs which make the pivots for the wire. Rebuilding the chassis only took an evening and the resulting transformation in the ride quality was remarkable. This picture clearly shows the spring wire, the handrail knob pivots and the socket which is used to connect the motor power from the DCC chip in the tender.
The construction of the body has come on too. I was able to purchase from Alan Gibson a lost wax casting for the front springs which I used instead of the white metal one originally supplied in the kit. This has meant that I could drill holes in the foot plate and solder the spring in place rather than try to stick white metal to the foot plate. These springs are situation in a position where I could just see them get knocked off with handling.
Obviously the motor isn't usually at that angle so the next picture has a little bit of wood just to hold the motor at the correct angle!
Friday evening also saw the lamp irons go on the front of the foot plate and then yesterday I made the pipe run down the foot plate and fitted the pipes and coupling to the buffer beam. At this point I was looking through photographs in various books and realized that the combination I have modelled with the side window cab also had a different arrangement of safety valves. This meant adding an extra casting and reattaching the valves. This has the benefit of meaning the locomotive now has a slightly different boiler in terms of its look to my existing Gibson built J15. It also means I have tied it down to a specific locomotive 62781 which is handy as this is one of the smokebox door numbers supplied in the kit!
This evening has been spent giving the body work a good clean with fibre-glass brush, Cif and a paintbrush. The downside is bits of fibreglass in the fingers but on the positive side no bits fell off in the process.
So I'll let it dry out now and take some pictures of it all assembled tomorrow.