As I write this it's pouring with rain outside so a return to modelling or rather the blog. I tend to vacate the modelling bench in the summer for other pleasures, this year a cruise round the Baltic and more recently walking the Cleveland Way. You just know it's time to get away from the television when Channel 5 do a programme "The Great Model Railway Challenge" and no I didn't watch it. As a result of these other activities I haven't even looked at RM Web for several months.
Those who have read my blog will know that I was constructing the Wills 517 0-4-2T. I was able to hand this over to Geoff Haynes at Expo EM for painting and it was returned a few weeks ago. Rather than just focus on this one model I thought it might be more interesting to have a look at the five 0-4-2T locos I have which emanate from four different manufacturers and were built over a period of 40 years.
Let's take the latest, the Wills 517 kit first:
I'm pleased with the result but I always think a professional paint job makes a difference. This was the first loco I constructed with CSB suspension and I think in a previous blog I mentioned that I did not notice much difference in the running over a compensated chassis. Having run it in I now think that it is better than most compensated chassis and is worth the extra effort. In one respect it is far superior and that is noise level. My other locos, when running on Blagdon, are quite noisy but are quiet in the fiddle yard. This one is very quiet even on the ballasted track. The reason for this is obvious, when ballasting Blagdon I used diluted PVA which sets like cement. Under that ballast is foam underlay but it may as well not be there for all the good it does. In future I will use Copydex as suggested elsewhere in other blogs.
I think the running must be quieter as all axles are separately sprung and therefore insulated, if that is the right word, from the chassis. I also used Alan Gibson sprung plunger pick-ups and they seem to have curbed any tendency to hesitate when running. The model has Ultrascale wheels, a Mashima motor and High Level 60-1 gears, the whole assembly contained within the side tanks so nothing intrudes into the cab or under the boiler. It certainly runs as well as any Portecap fitted loco.
The Wills kit represents a 517 in later life, fortunately I had good photos of both sides of 848 which was auto fitted. This meant a fair amount of additional detailing was necessary in particular the cylinder in front of the right side cab sheets which may be something to do with the auto gear. This is no criticism of the kit, every 517 seemed to be different so this is not a kit that can just be assembled without reference to any photos.
The other 517 is quite different as it represents a survivor that was little changed in its' later years. Number 559 always had the straight backed bunker, open cab, most unusually a round top boiler, inside frames to the trailing wheels but, conversely, acquired the modern innovation of top feed.
This loco's stumpy and severe appearance makes it a particular favourite of mine although, looking at its' condition in the two photos I have found of the original, clearly not with the crews as it looks quite unkempt. This was, I think, an M&L kit which I thought was well detailed, went together perfectly and had a number of useful alternative parts. It is fitted with a Portescap RG1219 motor and runs superbly. Looking at photos of 559 and 848 you would think they were from a different class.
Leaving now the 517's, we turn to their replacement the 48xx/58xx 0-4-2T. I have three of these but without doubt the best one is 5807 in as built condition:
This is an etched kit from Rod Neep marketed by a model shop in York (long since closed). To my mind this demonstrates the superior appearance of sheet metal over cast white metal (or plastic for that matter); after all it's what the protoypes were made from. I've studied many photos of the prototypes and to my mind this captures the appearance of this very popular class well.This one is another favourite.The model has a Portecap RG1624 and runs superbly. I possibly could have shoehorned the larger Portescap into 559. In those days too Portescap motors were just a bit expensive, not stupidly so.
Whilst I was able to construct this etched kit, I did have a lot of problems with the Mallard 517 to the extent that I gave up. This had overlays which I could not get on with so whilst I appreciate the improved appearance of an etched kit I am reluctant to go down that route again hence the pain free Wills version.
The last two 48xx were both constructed from K's kits. Those younger than me (very much younger!) may not be aware that this was the first cast white metal kit introduced, I think in about 1957. You can certainly criticise the chassis and the motors of these kits but to my mind the body, with a little work, doesn't look too bad. After the flash and casting imperfections, the biggest issue is with the smokebox door which is easily replaced. Oddly the Airfix 48xx had exactly the same issue. In those days the chassis was two strips of 1/16th inch (?) brass strip with 1/8th inch holes for the axles. The K's motors were abominations, even the earlier metal ones were Araldited together and as for the plastic ones.....
I guess I must have built this kit in the mid 1970's. It now has the identity 4836 and is in as built condition. It was painted by Larry Goddard (as was 559 and 5807) and has had quite a few chassis since then. It now has what I think may be a compensated Comet chassis with High Level Gears and a Mashima motor. Once I realised the issue with the smokebox I managed to replace it and match Larry Goddards' finish. Yes you can criticise it in several respects but it is a part of my modelling history. You cannot keep throwing the last kit you made away because the latest one is better. I've tried to look after it but after 40 years or so wear and tear is apparent on the paintwork. I view it not as an accurate model but as part of my past that, within the constraints of keeping the paintwork has evolved.
The last of this collection is another K's kit representing the class in BR days when one worked the daily freight to Blagdon. This loco, 1463, was shedded at Bristol St. Phillips Marsh so probably did work to Blagdon.
I was given the model by a friend so after applying paint stripper I did a little detailing once again replacing that awful smokebox door. As an auto fitted version the gubbins on the buffer beams and associated piping were added and this time I kept the steps on the fireman's side of the bunker. Unfortunately I did not do a good job of removing them on 4836 (on the prototype the steps were added later) and you can still see where they were. One other change that was made later was the addition of the whistle shield. Otherwise few changes were made to the class over their life, perhaps the other most noticeable feature was top feed which was added to some of them (but not 1463). This more uniform appearance makes them easier to model than the 517's.
I painted 1463 using car matt black spray and of course got what I think is called an orange peel finish. Again it has an etched compensated chassis with Mashima motor and High Level gearbox.
It's interesting to compare the different kits and see what progress has been made over the years. It's also interesting to reflect on my journey through this hobby over 40 plus years, I'm fairly sure the K's 48xx (4836) was the first kit I made so even if a little ropey, it still means something to me.