I was attending the Stafford exhibition last February, and, as I usually do, I checked out the Gramodels stand for anything new that I could use for my 2mm scale layout. Although he produces predominantly military models, I have used a few of his products and found they made up and painted very nicely. His latest product was a "Clyde Puffer", in both OO and N scales.
The Clyde Puffer was a small, steam powered vessel mainly used to deliver coal, food and general mechandise around the Highlands and islands of Scotland. It had its own derrick for loading and unloading at small ports with limited facilities, and could even ground itself on a beach as the tide went out to unload to horse drawn carts on the sand, and then float away on the next high tide. They were built between 1856 and 1939. In the early years, they had an open air bridge, but later, enclosed wheel houses were added. More than 20 different ship yards built Clyde Puffers, so there were plenty of minor differences to be seen. For the Second World War, some more modern vessels, the Victualling Inshore Craft (VIC) were built, although the basic design was very similar.
The Clyde Puffer gained fame when it featured in a series of short stories by Neil Munro in the Glasgow Evening News starting in 1905. A feature film "The Maggie" followed in the 1950s, and the Neil Munro stories were turned into a TV series, "The Vital Spark". The TV series was later remade as the "Tales of Para Handy".
The Gramodels kit was very reasonably priced, so I purchased one for use on a couple of projects I had in mind for the future. When I examined the kit at home, I found some items were missing, and some extra items were present instead. A quick email exchange saw the kit being replaced by a complete one at the Alley Palley show. It would be a couple of months before I got around to starting the build.
The photo shows the resin parts supplied with the kit. In addition, there is a white metal mast, and white metal derrick, which appears to be cast around a metal rod for strength. There was also a white metal ladder. There are very brief instructions and a line drawing showing where the bits go, but viewing photos of the real thing show that there are plenty of alternative variations that could be employed.
There were some inevitable air bubbles in the castings, but when filled with fine Milliput, and sanded back, the castings were mostly nicely detailed. They were given a quick spray with primer.
I was a little disappointed with the steam winch casting, which was a very simplistic representation, so I wanted to replace this with something better looking. Also, it had not proved possible to cast the wheel house in the same way as the OO scale version, so it is a solid resin block. I wanted to replace this with a scratch built wheel house with interior details.