An apposite title in both sense, as this is a cobbling together of 54398 Ben Alder, the last Highland Railway 4-4-0, which was withdrawn in 1953 and set aside for preservation, only to be scrapped in 1967 as it had a replacement Caledonian boiler, so was deemed as unworthy of saving. A great loss to the Scottish preservation scene, I'm afraid.
Anyway, in common with a lot of modellers of my generation, I have a stache of whitemetal loco kits dating back thirty odd years, and also painful memories of trying to put them together and then persuading the often laughable lump of metal that passed for a chassis block into a moving object. They were usually configured for an X04 as well, and in my experience, un-runnable. I must add that building engines and chassis is not my forte, and is done only as a means to an end, although I have built two or three Comet ones that worked well enough. These days, however, the current R-T-R puts my efforts to shame.
Over the past few years I have on occasion taken some of these onto the workbench and had a few half-hearted attempts at breathing life in them, but have always given up and packed them away again- my only successes to date being the two Caley tanks- the 0-4-4 and 0-6-0, both of which having commercial chassis. More work has been done on a Caley Pickersgill 4-4-0 using a Hornby T9 chassis, which is quite accurate, but I haven't managed to get it to sit right, and had been sidelined again. Just a while ago I came across Kingfisher 24's gallery (link at bottom of post)of his loco conversions, much along the same vein as myself, but with more output , and include a Small Ben conversion using the T9. This was something that hadn't really clicked with me as the driving wheels are too large and the boiler is about 9mm too long, but his pictures showed he had captured the look of the engine. So, spurred on by this, and the knowledge that I don't have the luxury of letting decades pass by while I decide what to do any longer, the kit and Hornby chassis were taken onto the bench and the butchery began.
The Southern and Highland Drummond 4-4-0's are very similar, fortunately, and the removal of the smokebox and reprofiling of the cab sides went a long way to changing its appearance, and the addition of the kits smokebox and chimney shows the start of a Ben.
The next stage was to add the boxes to the front splashers and because I wanted to retain the Hornby tender pick-ups, shorten the T9 tender to a more suitable length, as seen in these pics. The cut out piece of the tender is leaning against it in the second picture.
The tender underframe had to be trimmed back a bit to fit the shortened body.
And a view of most of the work done, with it sprayed with black to show any imperfections that needed filling- plenty there . I opted for the engine as it was in the latter half of its life with a Caledonian boiler, so all the original Hornby fittings were removed. The boiler and dome is a casting, so I took the lazy way out and just filed and filled the dome into something approaching a Caley shape.
Getting there- the tender has the kit sideframes fitted to it and my usual Tony Wright loco/tender coupling is in place.
The kit smokebox is devoid of rivet detail, and I thought of leaving it like that, but when I posted the first pictures of 54398 up here, the only three people likely to know that immediately spotted their omission , so a remedy had to be applied. This came in the form of Archer transfers of 3D rivets, little bits of resin on a carrier sheet, and designed for the military modelling side of things. The catalogue was very interesting, the levels of detail and precision would put some of the diesel detailers to shame- I took a pass on the human eyeballs sheet for example.However, the rivet sheet is worthwhile, and I can see a lot of uses for it, and here is a shot showing them applied, along with guard irons and pipe attached. I put a coat of Clear on the loco and floated the transfer on while wet and some Microset after, then when dry, matt varnish, followed by more weathering to tone it down. The curved rivets on the front had to be in two's or three's, but it doesn't take long, although I should have taken the paint back to the metal to see what I was doing, as putting black rivets on to a black background was a challenge to my diminishing eyesight, but it was worth doing.
Transfers came from Modelmasters, and I put the smokebox number onto a strip of plasticard to provide some relief. A rather crude photo shows the method used.
And finally, the completed conversion on shed, minus the lower half of the front coupling I never noticed before I posted it up here in my layout thread It'll be replaced soon. The only other work to be done is to replace the Hornby drivers with Markits wheels to get rid of those awful traction tyres, and am waiting for these to arrive. I decided to stick to the T9 diameter rather than have a correct size looking lost in the splashers, and just accept the fact that the whole thing is a bit beefy compared to the original, but at least I now have something running rather than living in a cupboard for decades. Whether this is the ruin of two good models or an acceptable compromise depends on ones viewpoint, but I can live with it.
The traction tyred axle has been replaced with a plain set of wheels from another T9, and the engine now runs very smoothly. There is enough grip without these tyres for my needs, and it pulls a couple of coaches and eight or nine wagons without any problems. I had to resort to using this method as the axle diameter of the T9 is not a standard- it measures up at c1.6mm- and I did not wish to ruin its good running qualities by my attempts at increasing the diameter. I would have attempted this if it were an enclosed space but as it is a half open one it is beyond my engineering capabilities.
Here is the link to Kingfisher 24'sgallery.
Recent work on another Small Ben conversion made me realise that for some reason I had made the sandboxes too large. These have been trimmed down, and now give a more proportioned look to the loco. A photo is included to show the difference.