Now, a chimneyless, domeless loco isnâ€™t really going to cut the mustard â€“ I donâ€™t think that even the Ffestiniog cut down the ex-NWNGR stock to quite that extent, and I certainly wasnâ€™t the man to go down in history as having mutilated a Vulcan Fairlie to an even worse degree.
Job one, fitting the dome and chimney actually went far more smoothly than I expected based on my previous experiences attempting to fit the chimney to Taliesin. It seems that the mouldings on the Chivers kit are slightly crisper and thereâ€™s a better fit by the locating lugs into the holes on the boiler and smokebox â€“ on Taliesin, I couldnâ€™t seem to get the chimney to stay vertical whilst the araldite set no matter how many methods of securing it I tried. When I go back to the latter, I suspect that Iâ€™ll be drilling out the base of the chimney and fitting a new lug made from brass rod or similar rather than attempting to mummify the loco. At the same time, the sandboxes were fitted in front of the tanks in the lower position (theyâ€™ve moved over the years, so a photo is essential if you want an accurate model).
At this point, hopeless optimism misplaced perfectionism hair-shirtedness kicked in again. Having gone to the effort of hacking away areas of whitemetal that could have no conceivable use apart from providing structural integrity to the kit, could I really live with a moulded smokebox dart?
The answer almost certainly should have been â€œYesâ€ as filing an Alan Gibson smokebox dart intended for a standard gauge loco down to narrow gauge dimensions requires both patience and a wide and varied vocabulary of profanities to see you through the times when bits snap, slip in your fingers or the jaws of the pliers, or, indeed, ping off into the near oblivion that is a living room carpet. Still, eventually, a comparison of the finished product against the moulded smokebox showed that the brass version compared favourably with the cast dart which was then carefully carved away, avoiding the hinges, and drilled for the new part. The results can be seen below:
So, with a new etched smokebox dart ready to be fitted, the whistle and safety valve must come next. The kit doesnâ€™t come with a whistle, so with much research of very small and pixellated photos of Markits whistles, a close match was hit upon in the form of a GWR Whistle (short type) or somesuch. [Why does nobody sell a specific whistle for a NWNGR Single Fairlie c.1906, I ask you? Thereâ€™s quite clearly a market, Iâ€™d buy at least two]
The safety valve was a different matter â€“ one was included in the kit, but it looked a little on the chunky side to me (mainly, I suspect, because it's very hard to represent the original, very spindly Salter type on the prototype in such a comparatively coarse material as whitemetal) and Iâ€™ve developed an aversion to gold paint representing polished brass wherever the former can be avoided (yes, yes, hair shirt, I know). However, with the prototype simply looking like a rod running through a tube with a bit of bar coming off at 90Â°, I was certain that I could find something in my bits box that looked like that. Dimensions were checked against a reasonably-sized profile photo and a trial piece was soldered up, with a piece of fret thinned down to fit onto the recess at the top of the dome. In the event, the test piece looked good first time, which I was rather pleased with! However, comments are welcome on the end result below:
When the loco is painted, the brass will be polished up and varnished with gloss, in the hope that it will stay fairly shiny...
A little more effort was required for the next stage, coming close to (horror of horrors) scratchbuilding. The kit doesnâ€™t supply a cab backsheet as the locos were (I believe) originally delivered without them, but as I would be modelling a loco c.1906, a backsheet would most definitely be required. A rectangular piece of brass was cut and soldered in behind the bunker (a little messily, admittedly, but some paint should cover that) and a replacement roof was made from brass. The new roof was intended to give a finer appearance than the supplied whitemetal, and also to be removable so that I could build an interior and be able to see it if I so chose. To this end, I've soldered a couple of bits of scrap fret on either side of the roof to provide locating lugs and the roof should just drop in.
With both new brass bits in place the backsheet was cut to the approximate size and filed to the roof profile shape. Measurements were again taken from the photo and holes for the spectacle plates were cut and filed out. Unfortunately these look like the work of a deranged badger wielding an oxy-acetylene torch, but the rough edges will hopefully be disguised by the etched spectacle plates that Iâ€™ve acquired. With the latter as-yet unfitted the backsheet was (again, messily) soldered into place and the cab roof placed on for effect.
I suspect that getting hold of some scrap whitemetal from somewhere and attempting to learn how to solder brass to whitemetal properly will be in order before long. The technique that I used was rather slapdash and involved the use of normal 145Â° solder and a standard 25W soldering iron, used very quickly. This was mainly through laziness but also through lack of practice at the proper technique â€“ as far as I know, what I should have done is to tin the brass with 145Â° solder and the whitemetal with low-melt, and then solder the two together with low-melt solder. If someone can confirm this, or indeed, correct me if Iâ€™m wrong, then Iâ€™d be grateful!
That leaves the loco substantially complete at this point. Drilling will shortly be commencing for the fitment of detail parts such as handrails, blower pipes and all of the other assorted gubbins that make it look like a loco rather than a pastiche of one. Couplings are now on order, although I suspect that some experimentation will be taking place before the loco enters service. I've not used Microtrains couplers before, and apparently they can be a bit of a sod to fit to certain locos.
I sense that youâ€™re waiting for the cock-up. You wonâ€™t be disappointed, although it is linked to the previous one. Donâ€™t try to solder brass parts into whitemetal next to a very, very thin area of the latter. It tends to go a bit runnyâ€¦