The Southern Railway class E1 tank engine was about 12% bigger all round than the LB&SCR Terrier and we can exploit this difference to make a 1:87 scale model E1 from a Dapol or Hornby 1:76 scale Terrier. The conversion is discussed at length in the December 1990 issue of Scale Model Trains (sorry I don’t know the name of the author), and there is an account of a simplified conversion by Tim Stevens in issue 46 of Satellite. I have made one of the Isle of Wight engines and I think this project is different enough to the other accounts to be worth writing up here.
Most of the work is in changes to the cab, bunker and smoke box, but this is all cosmetic and the conversion does not involve any modifications to the chassis unless you choose to fit some better wheels. So it is all fairly easy to do - you can't really "go wrong" unless you stick something on crooked - see later.
A good place to start is with the weight diagram - if you print this out to 1:87 scale you can lay the Terrier on top of the drawing and decide which changes you want to make. This is very much “impressionist” railway modelling - the result looks like an E1 (well it does to me), but if you get out a rule the wheelbase of the model is too short and the dome is a bit too far forward.
If you decide to lengthen the footplate at both ends to match the drawing, you run the risk of making a model which emphasises the errors in the chassis. So I chose to lengthen the footplate by the minimum I thought I could get away with. The main changes which I made are as follows:
1. Reduce the height of the cab by 2 mm (not 3 mm described by others)
2. Reduce the height of the chimney by 2 mm
3. Extend the length of the bunker by 3 mm (the footplate here remains the same)
4. Make a new toolbox (I cut the original in half and filled in the middle with Milliput)
5. Remove unwanted boiler details and add the safety valve cover from the original accessory pack
6. Extend the front end of the footplate by 1.5 mm immediately in front of the upper sand boxes
7. Extend the length of the smoke box by 0.75 mm and add the fairing below the smoke box door from 0.75 mm styrene
8. Flare the upper sand boxes into the splashers to match those on an E1
9. Add some extra weight
10. Add new buffers
I started with the cab. I removed the original moulded window frames and bars and added some etched brass ones to try to "scale up " the model. The brass ones have 5 bars while the original moulded ones had the corrext four bars, but the brass ones look better. In this photo I have already trimmed 2mm from the base of both cab mouldings.
I glued the two cab mouldings together, left them to set overnight, and then cut a vertical slice through the bunker and packed out with 3mm wide strips of styrene. Then I filled the bunker with lead shot glued in with superglue (I discarded the original weight).
I shortened the reversing lever and then glued the completed cab onto to the footplate and secured overnight to let everything set solid. Shortening the reversing lever was the most difficult part of the conversion for me because the lever seemed to be made from some kind of unglueable plastic. In the end I settled for a blob of hot glue, this is inside the cab and does not show unless I look for it.
Before painting, I removed the unwanted boiler fittings. I trimmed down the safety valve cover from the accessory pack and glued this on in a compromised location to look reasonable with the original dome.
I masked the cab roof and gave the body shell two light coats of grey primer and filled the obvious defects with knife stopper. I did this only once - real engines have plenty of dents. In these photos, the pale grey is knife stopper, the yellow colour is filler, and the black is exposed plastic
When I saw this photo I realised the top of the chimney is offset to one side. Oh well . . . I'll leave it alone for this engine, but try harder next time.
With lead inside the bunker, inside the smokebox and a small sheet on top of the bunker too (below the coal) I managed to increase the gross weight of the model from 102 to 114 grams. It hauls one bogie coach (but not two) up a 1:20 gradient. For comparison, the more modern Rivarossi USA Class (USATC S100) manages two coaches easily and somehow manages to weigh 30 grams more.
If you want to have a go at this conversion, be aware of eBay sellers claiming these models are “rare” and asking £70 or £80 - I picked up this lovely Dapol model of “Boxhill” for £29 at a toy fair last month (June 2016) - and I had a choice of two. Make sure the model comes with its original accessory pack - this includes a safety valve cover usable for IoW variants and also extended bunker rails.
Detailing, 29th August 2016
I have finally tracked down some transfers for the model and added these. I have also toned down the gloss on the paintwork and painted the smokebox in a paler shade of black, this is Revell 'Anthracite'. I crushed a small piece of coal inside a bag and glued the fragments into the bunker with Superglue.
Varnish coat, 6 January 2019
The finished the model always looked a bit blotchy and it was suggested, a coat of varnish would pull it all together. And so, I gave the model a very light coat of Humbrol enamel matt varnish from an aerosol. This has rather transformed the appearance:
The halos around the transfers have all but disappeared, and the varying levels of glossiness are much more uniform. The different black on the smokebox still shows too.
Dapol or Hornby: Terrier with its original accessory pack
Mainly Trains: 1:76 scale etched window frames with bars
Markits: set of four 1:76 standard wagon buffers (code RBUFwr)
Fine lead shot (“Fluid Lead” or similar)
Milliput: two-part epoxy filler
Halfords: grey primer
Halfords: "Dark Volvo Grey" top coat
Revell: matt red (number 36) for buffer beams, matt Anthracite (number 18) for smokebox
and especially John ('Hayfield') of the forum for suggesting the varnish coat