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Nick Mitchell

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    2mm Finescale
    Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway

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  1. Hi Julia, I haven't used one of these myself, but a friend cleaned one of my models with his for my a couple of years ago, and the results were very impressive. One thing to watch out for is that after cleaning, any steel parts will be more than usually susceptible to corrosion if you get them damp. I have been toying with the idea of getting one myself, but so far haven't answered the question of where I'd find room for a cabinet. After reading your post I found a video on YouTube of a guy reviewing a tool which looks remarkably similar to yours... and with similar frustrations. In part 2 he makes a new nozzle, external grit hopper and cabinet. Maybe there are some ideas there worth pinching? Part 1: https://youtu.be/fnK17v7Wbzs Part 2: https://youtu.be/-dr1kp6tSOg Nick.
  2. I finished off the other seven axle boxes, then I listened to my voicemail. I wish I'd done things in the opposite order, for through the speaker of my phone came the dulcet tones of Mr Hunt, gently pointing out that I had got the little ribs at the wrong ends of the horn cheeks! Better to find out now rather than after they were attached to a loco and painted. The beauty of soldering things together is that you can un-solder them just as easily, and enjoy driving yourself mad trying to put them together all over again - especially when they're as fiddly as these... Nigel told me the slots in the cheeks should have been pointing down instead of up as well, but I struggled to get the ribs to fit with them that way round, so they remain the wrong way up. I don't think it is too noticeable, as the ribs reach almost to the top of the cheeks. They're all finished (again) now:
  3. It is about 3 years since I started my one of these. I got as far as putting the bearings in the frames, but kept looking at all those bits of tender axlebox on the etch and put it to one side in fear and trepidation. Anyway, seeing these posts prompted me to take another look. Well, 3 years later the bits don't look any bigger, and there are still as many of them, but I must be feeling more confident. So far I have completed one - and I can understand why you want to have some cast, Jerry! Here are a few pics of how it went together, in case anyone else is scratching their head and needs a bit of encouragement. Maybe it'll even encourage me to tackle the other seven. Here are all the bits cut out and with the tabs removed as best as I can... thank goodness I didn't sneeze: The top row above are the 4 layers of the axleboxes themselves, sand the "wedge" that needs to be home made; The second row (apart from the left had one which somehow swapped places!) are the base layers. The third row are the base layer overlays with half-etched detail. The fourth row are the spring overlays; The fifth row are the horn cheeks and their triangular ribs. The ribs were originally attached to the guides, and need removing with at least some of the tab remaining. Thank goodness there are plenty of spares on the etch. The second layer up is supposed to have slots in it, but they hadn't quite etched through and needed opening up. Here's a before and after picture: Because of the slight under-etching, the rivets haven't come out very well - one of the inherent risks of attempting to etch such minuscule details. I used a bit if scrap etch filed into a point as recommended by Bob Jones, held in a pin vice to scrape out the slots. I needed to check the horn cheeks (which themselves have slots to open out) fitted into these slots. They need to be able to slide all the way up to the full thickness bar at what will be the bottom edge of the plate. I didn't tin the two base layers (or any of the parts), but fluxed them well and introduced solder from the sides. The base layers were thus soldered together with the horn cheeks in position in their slots. Extra solder was added in the gap between the cheeks, to make sure they were secure. Most of this solder wicked down the slots and between the layers: At this level of magnification, the cusp from the etching process shows up horrendously. Next the microscopic ribs were added to the cheeks. I ended up holding the cheek vertical with stainless steel tweezers, with the tips of the tweezers forming a rest for the rib to stand against. It took some persistence to get the parts all vertical and square to one another, and with the ribs fully flat down onto the base plates. You can see the tabs protruding into the gap between the cheeks in the picture above. This was filed away after soldering was complete and checked thoroughly under magnification. I also tickled the top and ends of the cheeks with a file to make sure they were level and didn't protrude beyond the square base plate towards the springs. Next, the axleboxes needed to be made up. The bottom three identical layers were stacked up with flux in-between them, and soldered together from the side as before. While the stack of parts is molten, there is opportunity to tweek the alignment - or ruin it(!). The instructions tell you to make a wedge the length and width of the fourth layer of the axlebox (which, incidentally, has rivets to be pressed out) sloping from 0 - 0.5mm in thickness. You then have the challenge of soldering the top etched layer to the wedge. I filed a taper on the end of a long strip of 0.5mm nickel silver, and soldered the axlebox top layer to the taper. I could then cut off the tapered end of the strip with the etched component attached. This was finally held down on top of the 3-layer stack and soldered in place as before: All these layers originally had tabs on their sides, and once complete, the whole thing could be smoothed off so that it could fit between the cheeks. Finally the spring overlay and the axlebox can be soldered into the base. I have tried to file round the edges to remove the cusp. Obviously this is easier round the square base plate than round the spring. I think it looks quite good. It is certainly pushing at the boundaries of what is possible to achieve with etching... and I will never complain about etched wagon axle-boxes again! If this is the most difficult bit, I should be alright to continue with the rest of the loco - once I've finished off one or two other pending projects.
  4. Hi Gareth, The pivoting platform looks to be above the tops of the side frames near the pivot point, so maybe you could add a cross piece to this, and have one fixing screw either side of the motor rather than a single screw on the centre line? There appears to be plenty of room in the sides of the tender for this, and you could slide the motor as far back as you like. You'd just need to make sure the screws were positioned so you could access them between the rear pair of wheels. Nick.
  5. With cunning. I came across this issue when I had to re-quarter some wheels and couldn't see through the bits between the frames to the spokes on the other side. (Not that you can always rely on the spokes being in the same place relative to the crank pin, if using wheels from different production batches...) I solved it by marking the spoke (or whatever) position on the inside of the wheel tyre on one side with a fine permanent marker, and the outside of the flange on the other side. I could then line the marks up by eye, looking across the bottom of the chassis, without difficulty. Nick.
  6. Sitting on my workbench at the moment is an ex-LMS parallel boiler 2-6-4T, it having elbowed my almost-complete Coal Tank out of the way. The loco is from the first production etch of Nigel Hunt's latest kit, and I am attempting to build it quickly while I write the instructions for Nigel. Even if the loco is not fully finished, I'm hoping the instructions will be in the next couple of weeks (I'm already up to 40 pages...) and the kit can be released. I'm not on commission, but Nigel has really excelled himself with this kit with some very clever design work. Not only is the footplate on 3 different levels, but the valances bend in an out in several places on each side. The bunker side bends in subtly too, but everything fits perfectly. Nigel posted some photos of his own builds from various test etches on a separate thread a while ago, so I'll just show a couple of the hundred-plus I've taken to accompany the instructions... Having started on the body just before New Year, this is where I'm up to: I did encounter a problem - entirely of my own making - whereby I had mis-measured the length of the brass tube for the boiler. Lining everything up at the front end, I had a gap between the firebox and cab front as seen below. I thought the solution to my faux pas might be interesting to read about... I must admit I was tempted to just fill the gap at the back, but sanity prevailed and Nigel kindly advised. I didn't fancy my chances removing the two layers of the smokebox wrapper in order to replace the tube with one of the correct length without ruining them. Instead, I have attempted to lengthen the tube. This was eventually achieved by soldering a piece of nickel silver over the end of the boiler, and filing it down to the profile of the tube. At the smokebox end, the alignment needs to be precise where the steam pipes need to line up with holes in the footplate, so the length of the tube is fairly critical. The etched parts have all fitted together perfectly so far, and there is a wealth of detail - my favourite bit being the screw reverser in the cab, sitting on accurate representations of the cab splasher: There is also some crochet work to do with the cab rear window protector bars - each bar being an individual 0.15mm phosphor bronze wire. A bit more effort than an etched grille, but it looks really good: Finally, and incredibly, there is one detail Nigel missed out of the kit. On studying the diagrams in the Wild Swan book about these locomotives, I couldn't help notice there should be a lamp iron tucked away in the back corner of the cab on the fireman's side. Well, having admired the one on Valour's tender, I couldn't live without one... It will never be seen, and was tricky to photograph, but at least I know it is there, nestling behind the water pickup dome. (Sorry, Tim!)
  7. The real things tended to bow outwards to a certain extent. I have tried to replicate this on a few of my plastic bodied wagons such as this slope sided mineral by wedging the sides slightly apart with a cocktail slick and dunking it in very hot water for a few seconds. Years later it is holding its shape, and I still haven't finished painting it! As far as I can recall, it was assembled with MEK. I don't see why the technique wouldn't work in your circumstances.
  8. While procrastinating over whether to try and slim down the N Brass tool boxes or make new ones, I thought I would have a go at adding the footsteps and test out the clearances. I say clearances, but it turns out there aren't any included on the etches, so I have had to make my own through low cunning and subterfuge. To strengthen the running plate, I had used .5mm square section brass in lieu of the 8 thou etched strips in the kit. This enabled me to drill holes in the centre of the brass valance to mount the steps. The etched treads are soldered onto 8 thou steel guitar string. By drilling the hole in the valance 0.3mm, I was able to insert the wire (which is approx. 0.2mm) at an angle, sticking outwards. By bending the wire down to the vertical, it gave me the extra few thou I needed to enable the coupling rods to pass behind the steps. The bottom edge of the steel wire is chamfered, so if it does touch, a shourt sircuit will hopefully be the worst that can happen rather than the rods catching, jamming and mangling. I don't think the bend is too noticeable: There is some sideways movement in the wheels. When they are pushed right over to one side, the clearance is only a couple of thou. Mind you, the clearance for the brake pull rods is similarly negligible... At the rear end it is a similar story. The cab step backing plates actually fit into a slot etched into the floor. This is set back quite a way from the valance. I decided to make use of this slot as it would ensure the alignment of the steps, but I needed to crank them out to allow the radial truck to swing. The picture below is angled to accentuate the bend, but it doesn't look too obvious in real life. I could have filed off the tab and soldered the backing plate to the rear of the valance, but this way gives the sense of them being set further back. It is only at the extreme edge of the bottom steps where there is a chance of contact being made. I have moved them out so that when the radial truck is at maximum deflection, there is a few thou. clearance remaining. At least half the time making the steps was spend crawling on the floor looking for wayward treads. Most of the rest of the time was spent re-soldering on the vertical handrails which my fat fingers kept dislodging as I was gripping the body. Speaking of wayward step treads, as supplied, the sides of the treads have a half-etched line to bend up. I felt they looked a bit silly as the bent-up sides were very tall. I cut these down to about half their original height which looks a lot better. I know the back part of the upper treads under the cab should bend down under, not over the tread, but I was concerned that with the half-etched fold lines, if I folded it (or the side pieces) the wrong way I would be in danger of weakening and snapping something off. As it is, I felt it necessary to flood the inside of the step tread with solder to add a bit of strength. Everything about this loco seems so very delicate! So far, on test, it still runs! Here is a general view of the underside of the loco, showing how busy things have got:
  9. I think I've finished work on the "face" of the engine now. Since the last update I've added (in roughly this order): The smokebox hinge plate, filed from 5 thou shim - I found a redundant half-etched buffer beam from another kit that was just the right height. Having the subtle dished shape to the smokebox door helped to get the curve of the plate the right right, and also to line it up correctly. The hinge itself is just a length of brass rod. The dart handle and wheel. The handle is yet another etched handrail knob, cut to length and with the shank rounded off as best as I could with a #6 cut needle file. I thought long and had about whether to have a locking handle or wheel - the wheels being gradually replaced with handles on surviving coal tanks round about the time of nationalisation. In the end I found some LNWR smokebox door wheels on another etch (a shot-down Brassmasters Prince of Wales / Experiment) and decided to use one. At least if I never get round to building the Prince, I can convince myself that buying the etches really was a smart move! I spaced these bits out along a shaft of 0.3mm brass wire with really fine washers left over from my Nigel Hunt Jubilee chassis etch. The smokebox door handle. This was made by squashing a length of 0.2mm nickel silver wire flat in the vice, and then bending it over a former. I say former, but it was nothing more exotic than a bit of scrap 10 thou. etch 1mm wide. I made the handle with long "tails" on either end, and trimmed these back once I was happy with the shape. The shed code plate, which was provided on the coal tank etch. The two dogs at the bottom of the door. In the past, I have used yet more handrail knobs for these, with the shank trimmed close to the eye, and threaded over short lengths of wire. This time I used some etched dogs on a fret of spares which was kindly given to me by Nigel Hunt a couple of years ago. These etched dogs are a feature of some of his kits. The vacuum brake stand-pipe and hose. Nothing unusual about this, other than having to drill a hole in the top of the buffer plank to locate the stand-pipe. There was a part on the etch - an oval shape with two bolt-heads - which I thought might be a flange for the bottom of the vacuum stand-pipe. Unfortunately when I tried it in position, it looked about double the size of the ones in photographs, and besides looking silly it would have prevented me fitting the central lamp bracket. I can;t think of anything else this piece might be used for... but if I do work it out it is almost certain I'll have lost it my then! The lamp irons. These were present on the coal tank etch, as flat T pieces. The 3 on the buffer plank were simply bent up and soldered in place. For the top bracket, I carefully cut a little slot on the cross-piece with a piercing saw, so I could locate it over the middle handrail knob on the front of the smokebox. Speaking of the handrail knobs, I have adjusted them to make the handrail stand more proud of the smokebox front. Especially with the handle/wheel in place, the handrail looked a bit to flat against the smokebox. Finally, an etched brass screw-link coupling from Scale Link. Soldering all these bits on has been a real test, as the turned brass smokebox door has acted as an effective heat-sink. As the details were added, I was prevented from using a large bit in my soldering iron (to counter the heat-sink effect) because there wasn't room for it. The job of cleaning up the excess solder has been similarly hampered, but I'm pleased with how things are looking. The list of jobs is shrinking rapidly now... I'll be turning my attentions to the cab and bunker next.
  10. I have added the fireman's side handrail and sander operating linkages. It is probably easy to tell that the crank from the front of the handrail to the upright pivoting shaft is an etched handrail knob. The next crank down is another handrail knob, but this time with the shank cut off completely, and the half-etched tab (one in three knobs on the fret have these) used as the crank arm. The cross shaft is a single piece of 0.25mm nickel silver wire passing through the smokebox like the prototype. (On the real thing it moved inside a tube - mine doesn't, which made for an interesting job finding the hole from the inside when threading the wire through...) I squashed the end of the cross-shaft wire flat with pliers to solder to the handrail knob / crank. I couldn't do that with the steel wire of the handrail itself. On the other side, the vertical shaft is shorter. I used nickel silver for these vertical bits - 0.3mm, which is on the thick side, but I wanted them to be a bit more robust - there's nothing really holding them in place at the top end other than the cross shaft, which is free to slide sideways. I chickened out of using 0.2mm steel (as used for the handrails) partly because the etched knobs are a slightly loose fit and would therefore be more difficult to avoid getting them wonky, and also I find nickel silver generally easier to work with. I'm on the edge of what I find possible to hold and solder with these details, without having one bit dropping off when the next bit is soldered on. The things I chickened out of adding were the brackets/pivots that hold the top end of the uprights to the sides of the smokebox. I did have a go at making some from flattened out 0.2mm copper wire wrapped round the shaft. They are quite well hidden in most photos, and with the other bits being over-scale thickness, next to the cranks it was all starting to look a bit too "full", so I decided to leave them off. There are more rings of micro brass tube (the next size up from Albion Alloys) at the bottom of the uprights. Now that the smokebox has numerous bits of wire poking into and though it, I needed to revisit the chimney I made and shorten the mounting spigot. That and the other turnings for dome and safety valves are just balanced in place here, and so is the roof. I decided to pose the body on the chassis just to get an up-to-date impression of how the overall picture is coming along. It is certainly starting to look like a coal tank, and well worth the effort. Here's a last view (for now) and a rather cruel one(!) looking along the top of the loco. At last I've managed to get a shot where the lighting shows up the crease under the smokebox door, where the cylinder fronts are angled at 1:8.. I will have to make sure I line up the turned boiler fittings more carefully when I finally fix them in place... I'll be moving on the the"face" next, I think. Alas, nothing is supplied on the etches by way of a hinge plate or door wheel.
  11. A tiny bit more progress to report. In the photo below you can see the driver's side handrail, which has the blower valve fitted at the front end. The handrail is plain steel 0.008" guitar string. The knobs are Association etched ones. I slid a length of micro brass tube (Albion Alloys) over the end before bending to form the body of the valve. Also in the photo above, on the other side of the smokebox I've made a start on one of the lubricators. This is a turned brass handrail knob (I keep finding uses for them other than as handrail knobs!). Once soldered in place it has been filed town to approaching half its height to form the bottom of the lubricator body. Below is the matching one on the left hand side. I turned two cylinders (0.8mm diameter to match the handrail knobs) from brass rod, to represent the upper part of the oil pots. The idea is that these will peg into the knobs. Once fitted, I think these lubricators have turned out as well as I hoped they might. I remembered to put filler in the gap above the drain cup on the left side before fitting the lubricator body. Milliput says it is heat resistant up to 130°C, but it has survived the much higher temperature of my soldering iron. Some of the Milliput I'd used to fill the wrongly placed holes in the boiler side did turn green when I soldered next to them! I've had to think quite carefully about the order in which the details are being added round the smokebox in order to maintain access for the soldering iron. The operating linkages for the sandboxes are under way...
  12. I haven't been doing much model making since the AGM (October is always a bit of a "dead" month modelling-wise with the start of the academic year) however my thoughts have recently turned to finishing off my Coal Tank after a 2-year hiatus. It has been travelling round the country with me this year, assisting with various talks and demonstrations on DCC Stay Alive. Being unpainted and sans-details has had its advantages given the amount of handling it has endured, but now I just want to get the poor thing finished. (Tempted to add "and painted", but better not get carried away!) Earlier in the year I managed to re-set the quartering to left-hand lead without having to un-solder the crank-pin cap washers, simply by repeatedly tweaking each axle in turn. Amazingly, I didn't bend the coupling rods and it still runs very nicely. The irony is that I may yet have to remove the rods and make them thinner if I want them to pass behind the front footsteps! (The rods are still the stainless steel version, laminated with superglue while the nickel silver variants have now disappeared altogether from the Shop 2 list...) This week I made a (re)start on the body detailing. First job was to fill in the holes in the boiler I'd drilled for fitting the handrail pillars and make some new ones. I used Milliput to fill the holes. Originally I'd drilled these holes before the boiler was in place on the model. I'd used the rotary table set vertically in my Proxxon milling machine, and taken angular measurements from published drawings... but by a combination of incompetence and wishful thinking managed to get them not only in the wrong place, but out of line as well. (how is that even possible?) I don't know if the side tanks are too tall, or the boiler is too low, or something else is wrong... but there is definitely something strange about this kit as I had earlier needed to reduce the height of the cab sides to make everything fit together. Still, it looks the right shape for a Coal Tank! The second attempt at positioning the holes involved scribing a line along the in-place boiler tube, spaced from the bottom of the footplate valance using my digital calipers. I also drilled other holes for various fittings to the smokebox, and the thing is starting to do a good impression of a piece of Swiss cheese. For an example of Victorian elegance, there are an awful lot of "bits" to put on. I seem to be having difficulty drilling small holes in exactly the right places at the moment. You may be able to see in some of the photos below where my holes aren't exactly on the scribed lines. I usually make a dimple with the point of my scriber to start the hole, but I've had the drill wander off on a few occasions. Maybe it is because I am drilling into a curved surface. I'm hoping the end result won't look too rustic. There are some tank-top details on the etch which needed to be added before any of the pipes or handrails. I started with some plates with 6 rivets (which needed pressing out from behind) to hold the tanks to the boiler at the front. These needed shortening at the non-riveted end, which I did by eye. Next to them are some round plates with 3 rivets which again needed pressing out. Amazingly I managed to solder these on without un-soldering the tank tops or anything else. Next layer up on the fireman's side is the vacuum ejector pipe which lies along the tank top. This is made from Nickel Silver wire (0.5mm diameter - it's a 3" pipe on the prototype). There was a little collar on the etch to go on the smokebox end, but the hole in this had over-etched making it hard to locate accurately. I decided to make a replacement by filing an etched crankpin cap washer down to about 4 thou thick. On the other side of the boiler I've added a representation of the top end of the reversing reach rod. The cast sand-boxes from N Brass were quite a bit too tall as they came, so needed filing down. (In fact, all the Coal Tank castings I got from this source are over-sized) This meant removing the detail cast onto the top of the sandbox. Fortunately, the etch has sandbox filler lids, which I have added. I've also drilled holes to locate the operating rods. All the above can be seen in this view looking down on the tank tops: The lubricators on the sides of the smokebox are required a bit of thought. At the moment I've got as far as the little trays that catch the drips. (These were added to the prototype to prevent oil drips getting into the sand boxes, and they drain into the smokebox) These are formed at either end of a piece of 0.8mm brass wire which passes through the smokebox. A short length of wire at each end was bent up to 90° and then filed back flush with the horizontal piece to make the rounded ends. It took a couple of goes to get the overall length right. The lubricators themselves will plug into the holes above the trays. The ball of a turned brass handrail knob is about the right diameter for one of these, and may form the basis of one... The fireman's side tray can bee seen in this picture: Somehow I managed to get the hole for the tray on the driver's side too high, and had to drift it downwards. The photo below shows clearly the mess I've made (which will require filling) along with a comparison of the sandboxes before-and-after reducing them in height: The two little holes higher up on the smokebox are where the blower valve will fit. This attached to the end of (and operated by) the handle. The other hole in the side of the smokebox (near the front) is where the operating linkage for the sanders passes through the smokebox in a tube. These are operated by the other handrail. Making the little cranks and supports for these is going to be fun! The ones I made for my L&Y Radial tank (photo below) are positively chunky in comparison (and hidden under the boiler). There is still quite a long list of little details to make and add... plus the as-yet unanswered question of how to fix the cab roof in place.
  13. Hi Jim, It is a "Sincere" Geneva pattern 8mm watcmaker's lathe from China. I've had it about 10 years, though they are still readily available alongside a whole bunch of accessories on eBay. The threads of the collets are metric rather than WW, but a WW threaded drawbar is available to use with other fittings. The basic model is around £700, but other packages with various accessories included come and go from time to time. I believe it is a rough-finished out of the back door of the factory version of the Vector lathe, which retails for several times the price. https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/1Set-Brand-New-Watchmakers-Precision-Lathe-Basic-Machine-New-Free-Shipping/362479888571?hash=item54657c28bb:g:pv0AAOSw~vNb4UgX
  14. Well I learnt from you Nigel, so I guess I have Mike to thank as well! A couple of years ago I posted this video showing the process of making a dome using my watchmakers lathe: https://youtu.be/l4u1OauT-u0
  15. Hello Nigel, I'm interested in your experiments and observations, having recently bought a set of this lining to apply to my Jubilee later this year (he says, optimistically!). I also have a brace of Fence Houses / Association '5's to build... It all looks fiendishly difficult to get lined up - I'm impressed with what you have achieved. Did you apply the tender and cab-side panels in one piece, or separate sections? Of necessity the lining is over-scale, and I think that weathering will knock back the starkness of it and in the process disguise any slight imperfections. I might even be tempted to try weathering a sample (not on the loco) in the same black you painted it in, to see if it will make the lining "disappear" a bit? One thing that does stand out to me is how low the top curve comes down at the back of the tender. I thought the vertical section at the rear of the tender should be much closer in height to the vertical section at the front? Nick.
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