I'm not normally an Eastern Region modeller although a few classes do stand out. The big Pacifics don't interest me as such and it's the more humble classes like a J15 that appeal to me more. One class that I've always thought had really graceful lines was Gresley's LNER B17 with a short GE tender.
Earlier on in the year I brought a BR version and I really must say this is a beautiful model that Hornby have produced and captures the protype welll. It doesn't have the robustness of a Bachmann loco and the detail is very fine/fragile.
I had a look at suitable names of B17's allocated to March shed in the mid-late 50's and one stood out. Living about 15 minutes away from Kimbolton 61633 'Kimbolton Castle' it had to be. However, in this period the prototype had been fitted with a 100A boiler-which I believe was based on the B1 boiler. Modifications included an additional washout plug each side and a B1 type 'dished' smoke box door. Hornby's model represents an earlier variation.
Tim of this parish had been doing some fancy modifications to get a B17/6 variant and I was fortunate to meet him a few times in passing and glean information on the conversion (Thanks Tim). Here's a link to his take on the subject:
The main problem was sourcing the smoke box door. Then I remembered PDK Models do a B17 kit and the castings are available as spares. Unfortunately spares where no longer available as mail order and the only way to source them was through exhibition sales. Thankfully, PDK where at the Peterborough show a few weeks ago and I was able to source one there.
Therefore it was game on and the conversion could take place and here's the finished model
Before I startled chopping the model up I removed the boiler handrail and gave the loco and tender a polish with 'T' Cut removing the loco numbers at the same time. This gave the loco a lovely surface to work with and was almost reminiscent of those Hornby glossy finishes from the 1980's.
The valve gear and buffer heads had Birchwood Casey Gun Blue painted on them to try to tone them down.
The additional washout plugs were made as Tim suggested from the the 'nipples' from a Parkside old fashioned Hornby tension lock coupling block, drilled out and a piece if wire inserted. These were glued according to photographs and touched in with Precision GWR green.
Next came the the part of the conversion I was least looking forwards too-removing the smoke box door. It's a shame Hornby never considered doing this as a separate moulding so they could do the later versions of the class. However, the Hornby plastic is thin and easy to work with and all went well. I chain drilled around the smoke box door then cut out the opening to take the PDK casting. Prior to fitting it I'd made a lamp iron out of a bent staple, added a Comet smoke box door dart and used a piece of wire to make the small knob to the left side of the door. This was then primed with Halfords grey primer then glued into place. I masked off the smoke box area and sprayed it with Tamiya NATO black. A dry brushing of Games Workshop gunmetal brought up the area nicely.
I then sprayed a coat of Humbrol Clear over the loco and tender ready to apply the numbers. These are Fox decals and went on easily as did the 31B March shed code plate from the same source. The nameplates/numberplate are from the 247 Developments range and were glued over the existing nameplates.
I then sprayed the loco with Valejo matt varnish to seal the transfers. I wanted the loco to look not long out of works and have a shine to it so it was lightly weathered. I sprayed Tamiya NATO black across the top of the boiler to represent soot deposits and cab roof going gently over the green sides on the roof as well. I then dry brushed some Games Workshop gunmetal and Valejo dark rust around handrails, the top of the boiler, steps and areas affected by wear.
Homebrew track colour was sprayed around the loco/tender underframe and details picked out with a combination of the above colours using dry brushing.
The tender itself received additional weight and a plasticard filler was cut for the bunker space, Real coal was then added and fixed with a diluted PVA/washing up liquid mixture. Once dry the top of the tender had been sprayed with NATO black as well and further dry brushing took place,
The cab, boiler and tender sides received another couple of coats of Clear to represent a clean and polished loco.
To finish some fire irons were bent up from handrail wire and painted with Valejo acrylics, a Springside LNER lamp was given a wash of the same paints and I've given the loco a local stopping lamp code. The crew are Dapol figures suitably modified and painted once more with Valejo colours.
Overall I'm pleased with how this conversion has turned out. 61633 will be a bit special and I think the modifications and weathering have added to the original model's qualities giving the look of a late, fairly clean working B17/6.