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The carriage shunter

It's been a few months since my last blog entry, partly because I been distracted and partly because it's summer and things like the garden need more attention. However some progress has been made on Maenamburi, in particular on doing the artwork for an etched brass sheet. I use etched brass to save time making fiddly things, to achieve consistent results and to work to greater accuracy than I can manage myself using file and fretsaw. It may be useful for readers for me to give a shout out to PPD, who have done getting towards a dozen of my projects over the years and who do a decent job for a decent price. And they will take on projects as small as A4 sized sheets. I draw up the artwork using the Inkscape free drawing package and then send PPD some pdf files, however I'm sure others on rmweb have dealt with this topic in far greater detail already

 

This latest sheet was a right miscellany, Thai level crossing gates, the ornamental eaves decorations for a Thai temple, signal arms to 1:100 scale to replace the HO arms on Viesmann signals (the HO posts are the right height for 1:100 but the arms are too big), and experimental motor bogie for a GEK Co-Co and, the major item, a sort of kit for a Henschel shunter. I say sort of kit because any kit manufacturer putting that level of completeness out would be roasted. Perhaps I should use the term "scratch aid" as used by Allen Doherty of Worsley Works fame. It's this shunter that is the topic of this blog entry.

 

The "fact" behind a lot of Maenamburi is Bangkok's Thonburi station. At one time Thonburi was the terminus of the line from Bangkok south to Malaysia and Singapore but after the Chao Praya river had been bridged the chief trains were redirected to the main Hualamphong station and Thonburi became a backwater. Some fifteen years ago the actual Thonburi station was closed and the land "donated" to the Siriraj Hospital for an extension and today's Thonburi is actually Bangkok Noi halt, as an old nameboard still says.

 

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Talingchan, incidentally, is the junction with the mainline of the Southern Line, and as the sign states, the original Thonburi was 866 metres back down the line

 

The Thonburi station buildings weren't demolished, at least not this time though the USAF did for the original building in 1945, and they have been restored and are in use as a museum. Not a railway museum even though the old platform side is still nicely presented.

 

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But I digress. I should be talking about a feature of operation at Thonburi as it is today, and why I need a six wheeled shunter.

 

All the trains that serve Thonburi are what the SRT call "Ordinary Trains" in other words third class only, stop at all stations trains with basic facilities. Something to bear in mind if your holiday firm offers a trip to the "Death Railway" at Kanchanaburi by train from Bangkok. Two trains a day go to Kanchanaburi and Nam Tok, a couple more trundle down the Southern Line halfway or more to Malaysia and in between them a railcar set shuttles back and forth to Salaya, a small town some 25 kilometers from Bangkok.

 

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I want to replicate the sort of operation seen at Thonburi on my layout with one piece of fiction added, namely I want to include a train that requires deploying one of the SRT's Class 158 sets. But that is for a later blog.

 

Although Thonburi is effectively a single line terminus, it is still operated as a mainline terminus. On arrival the train engine is uncoupled and trundles off to the shed, leaving the train carriages in the platform road. A small shunter is kept at Thonburi solely for the purpose of collecting the carriages and shunting them into the carriage sidings where the cleaners can sweep through and do tasks like fill up the water tanks. Whether the shunter is operated by mainline qualified drivers or by trained station staff I don't know, but the shunter does nothing else. In any case the operation involves hauling the carriages further along the line and then reversing them into the carriage sidings which lie parallel to the platform roads. The trackplan of Maenamburi was designed with this specific operation in mind.

 

That then requires a shunter. The Henschel shunters the SRT bought in the 1980s looked to be quite do-able as an etch, and were also prototypically correct. The shunter at Thonburi is one of these.

 

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As can be seen, the design is nice and boxy without difficult curves, unlike most diesel and electric classes. Even the cab roof is angular. There was a line drawing in Ramaer's book to use as a basis, though it is inaccurate as well as very small. However as the overall dimensions of Ramaer's drawings are generally correct even if the details aren't, this was the starting point. Fortunately too, I had photographed one of the class from the Rama 1 road bridge at Hualamphong some years earlier so I had that all important from above shot for the roof details.

 

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I ordered a suitable motor bogie from Hollywood Foundry - the ordering process allows you to specify the exact wheelbase - and then, as is so often the case, it lingered in a box while I worked on other things. However earlier this year I started on the artwork, driven I have to say by the need for some of those scenery bits and bobs mentioned above. The shunter was drawn up really to fill up space on the sheet. However drawn up it was, using the normal conventions of black being unetched, white as etch through, red as half etch from the front and cyan as half etch from the back.

 

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In May the files were sent off to PPD and a week or so later a brass sheet arrived in the post. Then I discovered I had mistakenly removed all the halfetch lines from the back. Aaargh! Nothing for it but to manually score them in. Fortunately I hadn't turned them into full etch lines and fortunately there weren't too many. Eventually I got round to building the shunter.

 

So where are we now? Well the basic body has been soldered up and almost ready for the primer. Which means I'm probably half way towards completion. However a quick shot of the work done so far in the company of some rolling stock does give me confidence this will turn out all right.

 

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