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Sentinel Shunter - Episode 2

I've been making steady progress on the Sentinel. I'd initially started out this project with the intention of making a model of a BSC shunter with the backstory that it had been purchased by ECC, just like Denise. However the more it progressed, the more I thought it'd probably be better to just make a model of Denise herself. Fiction is, after all, only so satisfying.

While studying photos of the prototype, I noticed I'd made a boo-boo:


Can you see it?

It turns out that the short nose of Hornby's Sentinel is more accurate for the rod drive version, but that most chain drive Sentinels (Denise included) had a slightly different hood. Instead of a filler cap on the top and grab handles on the sides, there were folding access doors along the top, and a small vent on one side. So my nicely painted short nose went for a swim in the isopropyl alcohol, and once it was stripped I set about making the requisite changes.


I wasn't entirely happy with the thickness of the styrene strips, so after taking this photo I set about thinning them down a bit before paint. I also filled the small rectangular indents, two in the front and one in the side. Here's the end result:


I also decided to paint the inside edge of the windows black to disguise the thickness of the plastic, and while I was there I also painted the steel gasket around the sliding window silver:


Once I'd decided to commit to building a model of Denise, I removed the side handrail panels, and cut off the mounting lugs. The lugs were then re-inserted into the holes to plug them, and topped off with some superglue.


I set this aside to dry, with the intention of returning to it later to sand it smooth. As you can see, I'm only part way through painting the buffers, hooks, and lifting eyes black - this is extremely fiddly work that is best taken in stages!

With this done, I removed the exterior brake arm (not present on Denise), and while I had the chassis in hand comparing it to photos, it occurred to me that the axle journals are not as prominent on the model as they are on the real thing. This got me started investigating why this might be, and it turns out that Hornby made a couple of mistakes on this model. The first is that the frames are too far inboard, which places the entire journal and spring pack assembly further inboard. The second is that the axle journals themselves don't poke out quite far enough. On the real thing, the journal caps are almost flush with the valances.

This was going to be fairly tricky to fix...


The first thing I did was to carefully pry out the cosmetic frames from the chassis, and then even more carefully slice the axle journal caps off. These were then superglued to a square of 1mm thick styrene sheet. Once this had dried, I set about cutting and sanding the styrene to match the circumference of the journal caps, and the finished journals were superglued back onto the frames:


The next thing I needed to do was figure out how to re-mount the frames in the correct position. They are supposed to be in-line with the back plate of the step well, as on the prototype this is a single piece of steel plate running front to back. I decided to use a styrene sheet spacer that would take the place of the original frames, and act as a gluing surface.


These spacers were then superglued in place into the chassis:


I cut away the ends of the frames after the notch so that they would fit between the sand boxes, and removed the mounting lugs:


It was then a fairly straightforward process of gluing them onto the spacers:


I now need to do some touch-ups to the paint, but the end result is much better and really captures the "chunky axles" look of the prototype. I couldn't resist plonking the body on the chassis to get an idea of the overall look:


Starting to really look like Denise now! I'm really happy with how the axle journals came out, they're just under flush with the valances, which as far as I can tell, is about as prototypical as it gets.

Obviously I will now need to fabricate some wire handrails for the sides, for which I will have to buy some brass components. I'll need to make a vac tank to go on the RHS of the engine hood, and the more I look at it, the more I get the impression that Hornby's air intake is inaccurate, so I'll probably have to pull that and scratch build a prototypical one. Photo etched windscreen wipers arrived from Shawplan to replace the one that fell off, as well as laser cut glazing. My Sentinel and wasp stripe decals also arrived from Railtec. Once the transfers are set in place, any minor paint imperfections will be touched up, and then the whole thing will be set with Testors dullcote. Which reminds me, I need to pick up some gloss and dull for the decals.

Once all that stuff is done, I'll have a "clean" Denise, so then it'll be on to the weathering! That's when this thing is really going to come to life, the weathering will dramatically change the appearance. For now though I've got a fair bit more work to do before I'm at that stage, so expect Episode 3 soon.


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Small update, I got her new axle boxes and modified sills painted up again (just need to repaint the sandbox spill plates silver):


As we say in Cornwall, Splann!

You'd never even know it wasn't like that from the factory.

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Looks very nice to me. 


A lot of work to convert to EM and get the details right but an interesting project. 

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The Shawplan laser glaze set makes a huge difference to the appearance of these, if you’ve not already considered it


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9 hours ago, Dave John said:

Looks very nice to me. 


A lot of work to convert to EM and get the details right but an interesting project. 

I appreciate the kind words Dave.

The EM conversion was actually very straightforward and just involved swapping the OO wheels for an EM set from Ultrascale. Sadly these were his last batch, so from now on if people want to convert a Sentinel to EM they're going to have to do it the "hard" way.

Re-spacing the frames and beefing up the axle journals wasn't all that bad either. I have an ESSO Sentinel planned and I'm definitely going to do the same for that one. The hardest part is carefully slicing the journal caps off, but if you get it wrong you can always buy Sentinel frames as spares from ebay.

Maybe more work than some people would want to do, but the Sentinel is one of my all time favourite locomotives, so for me it's worth it.


3 minutes ago, PMP said:

The Shawplan laser glaze set makes a huge difference to the appearance of these, if you’ve not already considered it


I wholeheartedly agree. I've done one Sentinel with laser glaze already (a while ago now) and was so impressed I pretty much consider it mandatory now.


Right now I have two sets, one for this project, and one for a future ESSO Sentinel, which will be in a lovely red-faded-to-pink livery! ;)

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Looks stunning already. Out of interest what paint did you use for the 'orange'? I've bought one as well to convert into Denise!

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Posted (edited)

On 14/06/2019 at 21:04, martyn11post said:

Looks stunning already. Out of interest what paint did you use for the 'orange'? I've bought one as well to convert into Denise!

I used a custom mix of vallejo model air. I based it on this photo:


Although to be honest I think I probably could've added a little more red. It won't really matter too much once it's weathered though. The colour reminds me a lot of the Elgin Joliet & Eastern's orange, so if you wanted an off-the-shelf paint rather than mixing your own, I'd see if I could find some EJ&E orange.

If you're doing a Denise conversion, then you might also want to know that she had two colour schemes in her lifetime, and three distinct phases. My model represents her in the original livery, which was quite a bright orange with yellow stepwells. This livery originated from British Steel who were the original owners, ECC simply kept the colour scheme when they took delivery in 1970, from which point she worked at Rocks dryers. At this stage she was still fitted with vacuum brake equipment, although I think the orange ECC used was a bit redder than the orange BSC used.


In 1987 she was refitted with air brake equipment in a cabinet on the left hand side to deal with the new CDA wagons (which also allowed her to handle larger air braked bogie wagons like Polybulks) the exhaust stack extended off to the right hand side to direct diesel exhaust away from the linhay, a warning light was added to the rear of the cab, and the "Denise" name plates were also added at this time. At this point her paint was starting to look a bit tatty in places.


Sometime in the 1990s, Denise was restored in preparation for her move to Crugwallins siding at Burngullow Dryer. This included a repaint into an ochre orange colour (Reefer Orange would be a very close match), the stepwells and edges of the bufferbeams were changed from yellow to black, and the exhaust extension was removed. This was the final time she was out-shopped, she stayed here until Burngullow Dryer shut down sometime around 2008/9. She was then moved to Burngullow sidings at the disused Blackpool Dryers complex, where she was briefly used to move tiger wagons around the sidings as they were being cut up. This was around the time Kernow Model Centre visited to scan the wagons. After this she was moved under the linhay awning, which kept her out of the weather, but she was still exposed to vandals who added some graffiti and broke a couple of windows.


There she sat for a couple years until she was removed to the Bodmin & Wenford. By this time the ochre orange paint was peeling off to reveal the original orange, and the B&W used this paint to create a "match" so her restored condition should be fairly close to her first paint scheme, minus clay and fading. The addition of the blue ECLP roundel and "Western Excavating (ECC) LTD Telephone Nanpean 822695" is pure fantasy, as is the "Sentinel" badge which she never carried in operation.

BTW I have absolutely no idea where any of these images came from or who took them, none of them are mine, they're just pictures I've had in my archive for a while, so if you're the owner I apologise for using your photo without giving credit.

Edited by Stoker
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Thanks Stoker, my memory of her was purely from the 90's at Burngullow & Blackpool dryers. Really helpful to understand the livery (if that is the correct word) variation. I did suspect the B&W restoration may have added a few bells and whistles(!) but it does look stunning and I'm glad she has found a good home. Much appreciated!

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Very interesting project, the photos of Denise have been giving plenty of inspiration for my own (fictional) sentinel for my clay layout.  In particular the removed side plates and box on the side for the air brake gear.   

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