The painfully slow progress of the 45xx build continues. The loco had a test run at AbRail where it showed a tendency to derail. After readjustment of the pony truck springs it had another run at Macclesfield and was much better behaved. Over the past few months I've been gradually making progress with putting the cylinders together and tonight the second one was finally fitted to the loco.
I've got to say that they weren't the easiest of things to put together - annoying issues like the square holes to take the slidebars being too small. The crossheads come as a set of 3 loose bits that need to be held in alignment somehow during assembly and you need to provide the piston rods yourself (mine are made from some suitably thin bits of scrap etch). I didn't like the use of a single etch thickness for the motion brackets so I soldered some nickel silver wire along the outside edges which results in something that looks a bit more beefy. All of these little niggles are probably why I kept losing interest and finding other things to do.
The kit as it comes also has an issue with the alignment between the outside steam pipes and the cylinders - the steam pipes should be central to the cylinders but they are quite a way out. My answer to this was to take a large file and remove one millimetre or so from the front end of the chassis so that the whole thing can sit further forward. This improves the alignment of the steam pipes a lot and also puts the front pony wheel and front driver into what looks like a more prototypical alignment with the bits above the footplate. This change also needs the motion brackets to be moved back along the slidebars from the etched 'pips' provided but the new position seems more in keeping with drawings of the real thing. Another slight downside is that the rear pony truck is now a bit too far forward but that's not an unsolveable problem.
Anyway, the cylinders are at least tacked into place now and the chassis still runs properly so I can move on to the next jobs. I think the next task will be to sort out the body fixings (complicated by my having moved the chassis forward by 1mm so the holes no longer line up). The motion brackets might need some more work because at the moment there is a gap between them and the footplate but I'll wait and see what happens when the body is fixed down properly. I'm also intending to try brush painting two pack etch primer on the cylinders to try to make the paint stay put on these exposed bits of metal. The instructions say it can be done, so we'll see.
Another pic with the body removed...