Following a good weekend at Missenden Abbey with my new High Level kit I didn't want to just ditch the Duke in favour of the new kit. I had decided not to take it to Missenden this Autumn as there was little new to do on it and also the Black Hawthorn would fit better on my little shunting puzzle. It seemed sensible to make the most of the time with expert advice on hand to start something very different from my previous modelling attempts.
So this weekend it was the turn of the Duke again. On Saturday evening I dusted off the Duke and set up my workbench on the kitchen table. Following a few hours last night and a few more on this wet Sunday afternoon I had managed to move the Duke forward a little. I built the four spring units and installed them above the driving wheels. The springs were a bit of a challenge to make, with the main body being a white metal casting, some little etched brackets for the ends and then wires to hang the springs on. The instructions call for the brackets to be bent into a U shape, wires to be soldered to the base of the U and the the white metal casting to be trapped in the top of the U. It was very fiddly and I soon dropped the idea of the plain wire in favour of some brass lace pins. The heads gave me a better area to solder to and made the whole thing a little more resilient. Getting the spacing of the pins right, and getting them parallel with each other and the dropper from the base of the casting was also an issue, so I made a simple jig to hold it all in place - having three hands would make this loco building business so much easier! Especially if they could be heat resistant.
I also added the etched cab beading, handrails, treads on the steps and installed the chimney. I decided to not go with the solid white metal chimney in the kit, but rather choose a nice hollow brass one I had. There were two reasons for this; one it looked nicer and two is was lighter - given the balance issues of this 4-4-0 that was an important consideration. I am looking for an alternative to the big white metal dome next, anything to help balance this thing.
I also turned my attention to the back head and cab detail. It turns out that my second hand Mallard kit has a few casting missing, so I had to build the back head detail of a scrap brass, handrail knobs and an etched regulator handle I found in my bits and pieces box. It now has a regulator handle that moves - just got to work out how to make it move as I open the controller up - or maybe not!
Installed the springs was a little bit tricky, since the holes did not line up, the one in the photo on the front driver has a bit of an outward lean to it, I think I will need to take it off again and reposition it to stop this.
It is really beginning to get there however, and does look the part. There is a lot of detail to add to the loco and the tender needs the rest of it's steps, toolboxes etc. I also have to sort out the tender ride height, fit the springs now that I have some new castings (there were only 4 in the box for six wheels) and arrange the coupling to the loco. I want to see how the balance of the loco goes before I attempt to couple the tender - there is room for some lead in the firebox, which may bring the back down enough that I don't have to hang the tender off the rear to make it balance - we shall have to see.
These etches have been sitting in a box for a long time - they are dated 1975 I believe, it looks like they may become a complete locomotive before they reach their 40th birthday!