With a substantially complete locomotive now on the workbench we now reach the point where I usually stall on the build and Linda has been no exception. I have several excuses (and excuses they are), but the main two being demands on my time from elsewhere and a pause whilst I evaluated some Microtrains couplers for their suitability. For ‘evaluated’ read ‘tried to get the infernal bloody things to work’ as the two bogies that I bought didn’t seem to want to uncouple with any of the magnets that I tried. Ah well, I’ve got a little more time available now and some of the actual Microtrains magnets rather than random others, so I might continue the experiments. Possibly with a hammer, if the frustration continues…
As I mentioned in Linda’s previous instalment, the replacement backhead arrived promptly and was thinned out to fit over the flywheel and soldered in place – I really can’t fault Parkside Dundas’ service one bit! With this fitted my attention turned to adding the detail – which, in my opinion, can mean the difference between a good model that’s got all of the right bits in the right places, and one that actually looks like a miniature version of the real thing – to date, I’ve not managed the latter on anything that I’ve built so far, but I live in hope.
I reckon that the parts provided for the cab fittings would be perfectly adequate to represent the loco in as-built condition (i.e. coal fired and not vacuum fitted) and would probably do for Blanche with her smaller cab opening from 1970 onwards, but I seem to have become something of a perfectionist – even though I probably don’t have the skills to be – so I decided to try to make the best representation that I could from bits of scrap plasticard and brass (I might be in a southern exile, but I’ve still got northern blood!) The backhead, made up as per the instructions, can be seen below:
With a few photos discovered on Flickr that showed a good amount of the cab detail from a couple of angles, I made a start – not on the cab though, because the sheer volume of pipework and valves is rather daunting, especially compared with what’s provided in the kit. Simpler things were in order first; so the handrails and vac pipe that runs along the tank from cab to smokebox were araldited in place with the pipe requiring a chunk to be taken out of the sandbox. True to form I, of course, took a chunk out in the wrong place to start with which necessitated the judicious use of a spot of filler to hide… hopefully it’ll look okay once it’s painted! A fine piece of rod was also used to replace the rather chunky whitemetal protrusions atop the sandboxes and the linkage that runs between them – part of the operating gear for them, I presume.
Eventually, I couldn’t put it off any longer (God only knows I tried) and had to make a start on the cab fittings. Despite the multitude of photos, I still couldn’t quite work out in my head where everything went or, indeed, what connected to what! A couple of sketches were in order, and I managed to produce a passable representation of a vacuum ejector and the mass of pipework on the opposite side of the cab. Passable if you’re moving past it at about 40mph, anyway. The safety valve assembly on the firebox was drilled to take some of the remaining assemblies, and some very rough valve wheels were made up by cutting some squares from 10thou plasticard and rounding them off. The results (along with the cabsides and steps fixed in place and a little excess araldite) can be seen below:
Subsequent to this photo, I also got around to adding the small table to the left of the firebox – I’ll have to get around to making a 4mm scale oil can and mug of tea to go with it!
The next step was the injector pipework and the mere thought of attempting this put me off for some time once again – I’d apply for membership of the Procrastinator’s Society but I never seem to get around to doing it – so instead, I soldered up some cylinder drains – I’ve not got around to fitting these yet as I found them so insanely fiddly that the injector pipework seemed like it would be a breeze in comparison. How wrong could I be! Close-up photos of the pipework were singularly lacking and many of the available shots showed the pipework wreathed in steam. Very atmospheric but not, unfortunately, much cop for using as a template.
After a trip to the FR on the ‘Back to Blaenau’ weekend, I found Blanche sat in the spare platform at Blaenau Ffestiniog, having recreated the buffer stop delivery that came into the station alongside BR’s inaugural train back in 1982. Clearly not an opportunity to be missed, I started snapping away like the tourist that I was and despite the funny looks, came back with some decent photos of the injector pipework. A comparison with the available photos of Linda in her current form showed that the pipework seemed near enough identical, and so I had a working diagram at last – or at least the next best thing. I never got a chance to take similar photos of Linda herself as the only time that I saw her was taking on water at Porthmadog… some decent photos of the backhead, lubricator, cylinder drains and whistle mounts were forthcoming though!
The first port of call was to add the tankside steps on both sides, as this would give me a datum point to work to as well as a sneaky place to which I could attach the pipes if necessary. Bit-by-bit, the pipes were built up and test fitted individually and tailored to fit the location, and a thinner bit of brass rod added to represent the control lever. It’s not perfect, but I reckon that a bit of paint (and possibly a coat of superglue to thicken the central part) will hide a multitude of sins. The current state of affairs is shown below, including the new table on the firebox. In an ideal world, I'd have made the pipework removable to make painting that much easier, but it's too late now. Also, having seen the regulator handle in the Brian Madge Alice-class Hunslet kit, I may have to replace the rod with something more accurate:
Next steps are to attach the cylinder drains and sort the whistle mount… and try to get the lubricator made. I’ve attempted the latter twice so far, and if it’s sturdy enough to survive it looks nothing like the real thing, and if it looks like the real thing it disintegrates if I look at it askance. Ah well, time to stop procrastinating and get on with it (yeah, right!).
Lesson for today? Plan ahead, as I reckon that that pipework is going to be a sod to paint...