I have long had a love of the LNER's pacific, especially the Class A4, starting I believe as a small child seeing Mallard at the National Railway Museum in York. One of the first "proper" locomotive models I purchased was a Hornby A4. Over time modelling interest shifted and the focus turned to modelling "modern image" before eventually moving to the Great Western. But the love of the A4 never really went. At one point I had the latest Hornby Mallard before selling it due to it being out of my area, while a plan was once in place to model Sir Nigel Gresley in preserved condition.
Rather inspired by all of the photos in Tony Wright's thread, coupled with finding some photos of Mallard running a Paddington – Penzance service prior to the locomotive exchanges has led to a model which is going to be (just) out of period for Brent. A basket case Wills Finecast kit on ebay (with an untouched SE Finecast etched chassis and wheelsets) pushed me over the edge. Yes I would get a better model if I bought one of the Hornby models, though I think the only garter blue example with no valances is in the 2019 range as a very pricy LTD). But as this is non core, it needs to earn its spot in the fleet through several hours of modelling enjoyment.
Upon inspecting the kit was a mix of soldered and glued construction, with a few bits in the wrong place and a very badly modified tender. There are a couple of parts missing (the cast brass cross head / slide bars and the cut away valances that I will need), while one side of the tender has been chopped down (does a job for me for a third of the length, but the valance needs adding back for the rest). Oh, and it was smothered in a thick coat of paint.
The first job was to strip the model down, unfortunately when trying to remove the backhead (that was glued in the wrong position) one cab side broke off.
The ebay listing
The damage to the cab side
All the metal parts were stripped of paint, tidied up and reassembled. The fit of some parts was not great, so a fair amount of filler was needed to finish things off. Some areas had damaged detail (particularly the cab roof) so what remained was filed smooth and will be replaced with plasticard glued in position. The pipe along the left hand side of the boiler was damaged during the paint stripping, and has been added to the SEF shopping list (it will be primed and glued into place, as will replacement buffers). The joint between the damaged side was cleaned up before soldering back together (leaving a thick layer of solder over the joint which was then filed back.) A further modification from the kits design was to solder the side frames of the rear Cartazzi truck onto the underside of the cab floor, rather than the unprototypical swinging arrangement as designed. This will give more than enough movement for my layouts curves.
After giving the model a coat of etch primer to show up imperfections, I am now in the process of smoothing out the remaining imperfections in the body work, especially around the area of the crack in the boiler side and the cab roof. The next job will be making a start on the new chassis, (after recovering the bar frame spacers from the original chassis). I am both looking forward to making the complicated valve gear and dreading making it in equal measure.
As well as highlighting areas that need more sanding or filler, it also highlights the limitations of the source castings in how many rivets are missing. Need to order some Archers transfers for the roof, end and bodyside panels