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NWNGR Single Fairlie - a question of detail



blog-0801017001328086074.jpgNow, a chimneyless, domeless loco isn’t really going to cut the mustard – I don’t think that even the Ffestiniog cut down the ex-NWNGR stock to quite that extent, and I certainly wasn’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 there’s a better fit by the locating lugs into the holes on the boiler and smokebox – on Taliesin, I couldn’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 I’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 (they’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 “Yes†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:



Nose job?


So, with a new etched smokebox dart ready to be fitted, the whistle and safety valve must come next. The kit doesn’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? There’s quite clearly a market, I’d buy at least two]


The safety valve was a different matter – 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 I’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 90°, 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 doesn’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 I’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 145° 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 – as far as I know, what I should have done is to tin the brass with 145° 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 I’m wrong, then I’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 you’re waiting for the cock-up. You won’t be disappointed, although it is linked to the previous one. Don’t try to solder brass parts into whitemetal next to a very, very thin area of the latter. It tends to go a bit runny…

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I just love this sort of project!

Taking something (either kit or RTR) and making it into something better, especially when the bits involved come from the scrap box.


Marvellous piece of ingenuity! It's the little details like this that can make or break a model.


look forward to the next instalment




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That safety valve looks most convincing, and being in 009, I can imagine how small it is!


I'm enjoying watching this come together, and it's possibly even inspiring me to get on with my 101 projects!



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Thanks gents!


The safety valve really is pretty small - it's made from 0.6mm rod and 1.2mm o/d tube, which means that on my monitor the bottom image is about 3 times life size! However, being that small hides a multitude of sins and I haven't even tried to represent some of the smaller bits like rings around the main rod.


The installments will eventually slow down as I write up the backlog of progress, but if people are still interested, I'll keep writing them up as I progress...

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Yes, tinning the brass with 145 is the right way to do it because the 70 degree glue (it's not really solder) won't bond directly to the brass. However, there is now a much easier alternative. Carrs (from C&L) do a 100 degree solder that will adhere to both brass and white metal. I've been using this for a couple of years now and hardly touch the 70 degree stuff any more.


I like the Salter valves. I was tempted to make my own for a recent build until laziness struck when I discovered that Alan Gibson do a brass casting.



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Thanks Nick - I did consider the AG Salter valves but as I couldn't guarantee that they'd look right on the Fairlie I took the simpler option! They're probably nowhere nearly as fine as the Gibson ones, but it looks reasonable from normal viewing distances so I'm happy.


Thanks for the info about the 100 degree solder too - I've been using that for the whitemetal rather than the 70 degree stuff that I've also got, but didn't realise that the 100 degree solder would adhere to brass without tinning with 145 degree... it's a very useful thing to know.

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The drawings that I have show Taliesin as 22' 3.5" over buffer faces and Moel Tryfan as approx 21' 5" over the same - so pretty close. Both are 6' 8" wide. MT is 8' 9" from rail top to chimney, but Tal is only 8'. In short, they're pretty close, but it's worth noting that as the drawings that I've got are of the 1999-built Taliesin, it's to be expected that the loco will be somewhat bigger as I believe that it was built at around 13" to 1' scale!


I've seen models made of Taliesin using the Chivers NWNGR kit as the basis, so it's certainly feasible. If that's what you have in mind, I'd advise getting hold of a copy of the drawings and overlaying them to see where the differences are - what you can live with, and what you'll need to modify.

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