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After advice, the ‘ole was not dug, but the guitar was finished, and works.


A brief investigation led to the conclusion that there is something wrong with it, so a further brief tussle resulted in two broken crankpins, and the removal of the wheels, which following removal of the remaining crankpins, were cleaned up & the backs polished. Following a brief swim in the ultrasonic cleaner, the wheels were metal-blacked, and oiled.


The crankpins followed my usual practice of 10BA screws glued into the wheels, with Slater’s bushes tapped to suit. The trouble was that the glue (superglue I suspect) that secured the pins in the wheels was not secure enough, whereas, the bushes were immovable on the pins. There was simply no way of unscrewing most of the bushes.


Moral of the story, DO NOT glue your crank pin nuts to the crankpins - if they undo themselves, fix the problem, not the symptom.


I’m not sure whether to install suspension / compensation, but since it’s all in bits anyway, and it’s bizarre to have a sprung tender and a rigid loco chassis, I might just do so.


A few more photos for your delectation.








Edited by Simond
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I suspect you did well with that... one of my very favourite locos. I've loved them ever since 'City of Birmingham' first arrived at the Science museum there, and used to trundle six feet up and down in the early 70s.

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An interesting project. Before we found the “railway room with house attached” my next project was to have been the Finney7 Princess Coronation kit, making up City of Birmingham, also my favourite from the Museum of Science and Industry days. I think I will buy the kit anyway for the future but pennies are a bit short right now, in fact they look like centimes.



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  • 2 months later...

Well, after a short delay, the jointed rods arrived from Premier Components, and that meant I could “do” the chassis, which, as I noted above had been built rigid. Nearly all my locos are compensated, though a few are sprung, and having this with a sprung tender and rigid drivers just seemed wrong...


I had purchased a set of Slaters hornguides, which I’d have no reservations about recommending, and so needed to cut gurt lumps out of the chassis. The easiest way was to dismantle it completely, carry out the surgery with the frames soldered together, separate, clean up, reassemble, fit the hornguides, and solder up, then give it a further clean to get rid of the flux.


The frames are 1.2mm brass. It takes a bit of soldering. As I was using the blowlamp, it’s easier to use Powerflo which is horrid stuff, but doesn’t half do its job well... it does need to be washed off, thoroughly.


So, the photos,



Frames as taken from the loco, Premier Components, milled brass. Square frame spacers with cask 8BA screws. Stiff, solid, weighty. Presume the previous owner had an issue with the original etched chassis - I am 99% sure the loco is built from a Gladiator kit. It’s lying on a drawing I made, which will be cut & glued to the frames, it’s quicker and probably more accurate than marking out, though I did a bit of that to be sure.



This is a bit of a problem. When converting the chassis, the previous owner did not allow for the thickness of the plate that supports the expansion link brackets, which screws on here. The effect of that was to make the body sit too high, and at a slight angle. To be sorted. Meanwhile, out with the gas axe, or the scale equivalent thereof.



Frames dismantled & soldered together. I used the screw holes for the spacers to ensure alighnment, then three blobs of solder.



Ditto, with plans cut, and glued on. Fretsaw peg, with carborundum paper glued on. Helps prevent slips.

Hornways cut but not filed to size at this point. Drilled guide holes for the weighshaft and the expansion link pivot. Also a couple of guide holes for the cylinder axis, as the cylinders are bolted on, and I wasn’t convinced about their alignment



Assembly! The hornguides are fitted to the hornblocks on dummy axles. There’s a compression spring pushing each of them outboard firmly against the inside of the frames. The dummy axles are 3/16” silver steel, with the ends turned down to engage in the coupling rod holes. These are retained by elastic bands. The dummy axles sit on two blocks of Tufnol (they’re my crossing jigs, but reasonably heatproof flat and the same thickness) on a piece of marble tile.


The hornguides are soldered to the inside of the frames whilst supported by this arrangement. This guarantees that the axle spacing is correct. I’d checked that the axles are perpendicular to the frames with a set square before soldering the second block on the first axle. The Slaters guides have a rib to fit to the top of the cutout in the frames so all in all, it was quite easy to align.



Wheels on. There’s too much side play. 1.6mm, probably will sort it with washers.



Bogie & pony truck in place



Body back on and back on the shelf.


Next job is crankpins. Maybe tomorrow. Then the moment of truth...



Edited by Simond
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Further progress, albeit a tad slower than hoped for.


The hornguides have 0.5mm holes cast in - but when I soldered them on, they were covered by the extensions on the frames. I had thought that this was not an issue, as I’d just mill the frame extensions back.... well, I did, on one side, and I’ll spend 3/4 of an hour doing the other side tomorrow.... for which you can see I have set up the frames on the baby mill. If I’d thought a bit more, I’d have filed them back in about 5 minutes, before soldering it all together. What was that ? Plan Ahe?




I also degreased half a dozen 10BA cask screws, and countersunk the backs of the wheels. Then I discovered I’ve got lots of rapid epoxy, but none of the good stuff. :(. Shopping tomorrow lunchtime.




More soon



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Hello Simon.


I like what you are doing with this loco but judging by the huge amount of work you have done so far would it have not been better to buy a new kit?


I feel this project is a labour of love but at the end it will be a superb model after the Simon touch.



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At the Reading show last December, I made a bit of an impulse purchase, looking at Duchess on the BnB with a pal, he decided to buy a Minerva pannier instead, and, for reasons of pure nostalgia, I treated myself. In 1964, or thereabouts, Mr-and-MrsD-the-elder has provided a young SimonD with a Hornby Duchess of Atholl.


When I got home, MrsD promptly said “I’ll give you that as your Christmas Present” which was rather nice. History sort-of repeating itself.




So it sat in the cabinet, until after Christmas, and after more-or-less finishing my model of Tre Pol & Pen. Yesterday evening, I got it out and started to assess what I’d got.


It did run well, but locked up on the test track prior to purchase - I’m not quite sure why but suspect a valve gear issue to resolve. It also looks lovely, and is quite well painted.








The tender is sprung, but lacks brake gear




And the loco has obviously been refurbished considerably, because the original chassis has been replaced by a Premier version, which has cunningly been inserted within the front frames. It was a little difficult to extract, and the fixings are unusual but functional.


On extraction, it has a Ron Chaplin two-stage gearbox in a fetching shade of purple.




The chassis hasn’t been painted, and is rather lacking in detail, as you can see, but there is also a bumper bag of bits, including springs, and some brake components, so we’ll have to see what’s needed to make a job of it.


So, what’s first?


Well, the front coupler tail interfered with the chassis cross member. Remove, redrill & abbreviate. Replace spring with short length of silicone rubber tubing.




The motor interfered with the splashers and firebox cutout, which made getting the chassis in and out difficult, sorted that with two minutes’ filing.




Put the chassis on the rolling road and there’s definitely a snick somewhere. The return cranks were linked to the crank rods by loose screws with nuts soldered on, so these were removed, and the crank rods tied up out of the way, and the chassis has had a run on the rolling road, where to my surprise, the motor got quite hot. This suggests that the chassis is quite tight, so further investigations required.




And that is pretty much where we’re up to, today.


Now I have to dig a hole in the garden to plant MrsD’s Christmas present, and assist the younger MrD (he’s 20, so “Master” would be inappropriate) with the painting of his present, an electric guitar...




Just found this Simon. Nice looking model, a bit better starting point than my Midland tank.


Howdo you find the mini mill I have been contemplating one, but would be nice to have first hand report about them.

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Thanks for the kind comments.


It doesn’t feel like a huge amount of work, yet... if you break down a kit build, you have chassis, valvegear, electrics, body, detail, & paint, and the same for the tender. If I look at this model, the body, tender & paint are sorted, I got a Premier chassis, Ron Chaplin motor gearbox, and a full set of wheels, and the chassis & electrics are the easy bit, for me at least (he says before he’s put the rods on!). I did a bit in getting the driving wheels off, cleaned and ready to use again, and then it’s sat on the shelf waiting for coupling rods.


You’ve seen the rest of the work, which only restarted on Monday afternoon, after an Easter weekend visit to my mum’s, followed up by an hour or two yesterday, and a bit more today - for which, see below!




Yes, a bit less butchered!


The milling machine is good value. It’s rigid, fast (20k) and compact, and certainly big enough for anything 0 Gauge. The only grumble I have is that the vertical feed has a load of backlash. I am sure this is correctable by adjustment, I need to have a look. I bought it with the intent of fitting it with numeric control, and got a cracking deal from a German supplier. I doubt that would be the cheapest route for you in Brazil, but the email of the web shop is [email protected] in case it is. Very good service too, usual disclaimer.


I need to get the b****y laser fixed before I take on any more machine tool projects, particularly as I can’t presently use it. The big lathe is en panne too, due to a failed flexi joint, which requires me to lie on the garage floor for 30 or 40 minutes to get it to bits, and a similar time to put it all back together once the new bits arrive... summers coming, the floor will get warmer! And I don’t do a lot of work on it, or the Dore Westbury Miller, but of course, there’s always something that just needs the tool that’s not working.


Thanks both


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Here’s the latest instalment!


Managed to get some Evo-stik 24 hour epoxy in Bunnings on the way to work this morning, it was the only place that seemed to stock it, every one else has 5 minute, everything’s rapid, stuff the quality, rant, mutter, grumble, complain...


Deliberately mixed far more than was required, and mixed it for a good five minutes; makes sure that the mix will go off properly, I’m not worried about 50 pence of wasted glue when gluing £60 of wheels.




Sorry, don’t have a photo of applying the glue to the screws, so a thousand words will have to do instead: the wheels were already tapped 10BA and countersunk on the back. I screwed the screws into the wheel until the end just protruded, then using a cocktail stick, I smeared the epoxy all around the threads, and then screwed the screws home, and wiped the excess off the back, and the screwdriver.




The cutouts were finished on the other side of the chassis whilst MrsD finished work in the study. The little miller is excellent, but can be a tad noisy.




I cleared out the holes with a suitable drill in an Archimedes driver, and then set the chassis upsid down on the Miller and milled the ends of the spring pegs - leading & trailing to the same height, and the middle axle to 0.5mm higher, so it will never rock like a see-saw.




I then assembled the hornblocks, as I said yesterday, these are Slaters, and I’m really impressed with them. Tad fiddly to assemble, but they all went in ok, and were secured by their little wire links. Slaters do supply cast keepers, but I doubt they’re visible, and they’d be right fiddly to fit, so the bent wire’s doing for now!




Once the axleboxes were in, I put the wheels back on, and tried it through the pointwork on PD. There’s still too much side clearance in the leading & trailing axles, I’ll look in more detail soon, but it will need spacer washers, which is a shame, I like to get the frames close behind the wheels when I can. I bet there wasn’t two inches gap on the real thing!


Anyway, here’s a plan shot on the tightest bit of PD, 1750mm




Next step is the crankpins nuts, which are Slaters bushes, tapped 10 BA, and with flats milled on the flange so they can be screwed onto the screws I’ve epoxied into the wheels. Then we see if I got the assembly of the hornguides right!


A bientot


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Checked the height of the frame tops. By my reckoning, it should be 44.55mm, and current measurements suggest the rear end is at 44.74 and the front at 44.69. I’d say that’s probably more good luck than good guidance, but I now know how much to take off the spring pins. Given I machined them at the same setting, I wonder why they’re different.


Or ignore it, as we are talking 340 thou on the real loco, about a third of an inch...


Either way, not a priority.


Dropped the body on, the bogie wheels now foul the cutouts in the frames. Not worried about this as the bogie appears to have several mm of fore-and-aft play which needs dealing with, but it will need side control too, so once the rods are on, I’ll do that.




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Thanks for the tip!


Added to “to do” list. Currently more important to get loco round corners, and over crossings, although the necessary work to get the body and chassis to sit nicely together are under way.


News to follow




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If you go to the old Comet Models web site there is a download on Coronation class tender types and allocations.




Go to Downloads and it's half way down the list.


The rebuild is looking good - but I will probably buy the Finney 7 kit one of these days (when I have built all the other unopened kit boxes!)



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Progress report.


Yesterday involved the milling machine again. Two jobs. The first was the crankpins nuts, to fit the 10BA steel screws I epoxied into the wheels earlier in the week.


My normal approach is to tap the Slaters bushes 10BA, and file flats on their flanges, whilst still holding them in the lathe. Having acquired the milling machine, I felt a more engineered solution was called for, so faced, drilled & tapped a bit of hex brass bar, and superglued a short length of 10BA threaded rod in it.


This could be used as a filing jig on the bench, but I mounted it in the Emco dividing head, and mounted that on the miller, and could then cut flats on two bushes, reverse them 180 degrees and cut the other sides.




And installed




Both the crankpins and the bushes will need to be shorter. Firstly the bushes, drill a 2.4 mm hole in a bit of plastic or brass of appropriate thickness to give the necessary clearance to the rod. Place it over the bush, flange down, on the workbench, and file off the protruding bit. Spin a larger drill in the threaded hole to give a lead-in to the thread. Simples.


For the crankpins, I will work out how long they need to be, screw a steel nut on to the right length, snip the screw off with the during shears, and file back to the nut. I’ll then unwind the nut, which will push any burr or scarf out of the thread, and I’ll stone the end to deburr.


I will not forget that the driving axle pins need to be twice as long, for the conrods!


With a bit of luck, the bushes will then screw back on without a fight.


The second job yesterday was to mill the top of the frames where the motion bracket support fits. The previous owner or whoever modified the model to use the Premier chassis kit didn’t allow for the thickness of this, thus making the footplate sit at the wrong height, and at an angle. Again, possible with a file, better quicker, and noisier with the milling machine.




The non-milling job yesterday was to straighten, and then reform the bend in the rear frame extension on the left hand side, which was incorrect. For reasons best known to the previous builder, this had been cut, and then resoldered with a doubler plate. This had been very nicely done, so I couldn’t anneal it without having to undo and resolder, so I went gently, used the other side (which was pretty much spot on) as a template and reformed the bend. This has two beneficial outcomes, additional to looking right ‘cos it is; the Bissell truck can swing the same both ways, and the rear cross member is now perpendicular to the chassis centre line.


This morning, I have cleaned, blacked and oiled the bogie & truck wheels, and tapped a couple of holes to retain the motion bracket. Next job is to fabricate a drag link, to replace the rather curious & ineffectual arrangement that was fitted when I bought it.


Then I think I’ll drill & tap the frames to carry the cast springs. I’d also like to arrange the truck pivot better, so it doesn’t dangle forlornly when I lift the loco up, but still pivots, ideally without the bolt undoing itself. Possibly consider some springing too.


Then see about a motor mount, and replacement pickups, and give it a try under power


That would get me to a point where painting the chassis might be appropriate. Then on to the valvegear & cylinders, and other sundry details, like reinstating the injectors that were taken off when sorting the rear extensions.


More later


Edited by Simond
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A little progress during the evenings this week; not modelling now because there’s a cork out...


Earlier in the week, I drilled and tapped the frames 10BA either side of each axlebox. After drilling but before tapping, I spotted through onto the spring hangers, which I filed down in thickness to fit nicely under the frames.


I then went to order some 10BA stuffing, ‘cos I’d run out, and found the prices were absurd, £9 to £12 plus postage, for a 12” length. They’re taking the p-155 I thought. So I looked at the supplier websites, and bought 100 1” 10BA brass screws for £9. No, I don’t understand either, but I now have 8 feet of brass screw, for less than the price of a foot...


I digress. The screws were inserted in the frames, adjusted to a reasonable length, dotted with Powerflo and soldered in place. Excess snipped off on the outside, and then the frames scrubbed, and ultrasonic bathed. Then the stub was filed off flush with the outside of the frames, the whitemetal cast springs fitted, with washers & nuts to secure.


Sort of in parallel, I soldered up the rear frames and cross member, and tacked the retaining nuts onto the frames, as they were an unmitigated pain to get to engage the threads of the screws when they were loose. One of those jobs where the inexplicable failure of evolution to supply me with an extra pair of hands and a prehensile tail is to be regretted. I also arranged a tapped fixing for the front of the chassis, and checked the rear ones still fit. The front fixing was a bit of brass, with a nut soldered to it, blob of Araldite to secure it under the inside cylinder covers, temporary bolt whilst the glue set.


I also drilled and tapped a pair of 8BA holes in the pony truck pivot cross member, which will serve for fixation of the motor anti rotation fixing and, if needed, a piano-wire spring for the truck.


And disaster! Came to trial assemble the motor and discovered that with the hornblocks, the gearbox is too wide... happily, I had one of Bill Connell’s new gearboxes, which I had put aside to go in my mogul, when I get round to it, so grabbed that, it fits easily. It has a Canon motor, same as I fitted to my recent Dukedog, so, with the new, more efficient gearbox, I’m sure it’ll cut the mustard. We’ll see, soon enough. Anyone wants a Ron Chaplin motor and 2-stage gearbox, I’m happy to haggle!


I fitted the spring hangers this afternoon, and sprayed the ensemble with the last of Master D’s Warhammer Chaos Black (it’s lasted well, he lost interest in Warhammer when he was 12 or 13, and he’s 20 now - shame he lost interest, he was damn good at painting the character models) and it’s been drying off this evening.


I’ll continue tomorrow. Key steps are now getting the crankpins & nuts cut to length, installing the motor & anti-rotation link, and pickups. This will allow me to have a running chassis, which can settle in before I set about the valve gear, which will be a new endeavour for me.


A few photos;












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I wasn't happy with the all-black frames, and repainted them in red oxide spray, and then brushed a dark grey Vallejo acrylic outside coat.


I turned up a set of pickups, I think these are better than the typical plungers as they float freely from side to side - if the axle has sideplay, the pressure doesn’t change. These are my third iteration of a sketch that David LO Smith kindly provided a while back. I think they’re the easiest version to make. There is a simple flanged Tufnol bush glued in the frames, the plungers are 2mm rod, centre drilled at one end to form a solder pocket, and these press into a simple plastic top hat bush which insulates the plunger from the spring. The springs I use are spares from Premier Components couplings. The plungers can be removed from the frames without removing the wheels, which is a further benefit.


Then put it all together, and it goes! Needs a bit of loosening up, that’ll be on the rolling road during the evenings. Once that’s done, I’ll have a look at the valve gear.














Sorry about the poor photo, I’ll take some better ones tomorrow, assuming it’s not raining!




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I must admit that I knew very little about Duchesses when I bought it, on a whim, from the Bring & Buy at the December Reading show.


The loco & tender are clearly Gladiator (it actually says so on the underneath of the tender!) and have been put together quite well. The bodies are really good, though lacking in some details like the lubricator pipework. The paintwork is also pretty good, possibly professional, and it’s got a number plate, tender plates and transfers, and is probably varnished. There’s no shed plate, which is a curious omission. The chassis, on the other hand, are grade A weird.


The tender chassis was sprung with Slaters horns, it’s unpainted, there are no brakes, no scoop, and none of the cross frame stiffeners, etc, which will try my scratchbuilding patience in due course. It also drags, rather than runs sweetly. That’ll be rather easier to resolve.


As I noted above, the loco chassis is from Premier. It looks like the original was removed with a Dremel, as the underside of the footplate shows signs of the disc cutter. The frames at the front are still in place as they hold the buffer beam and lower footplate and they’re very much wider than the Premier frames, which makes me wonder whether it had been built using the S7 spacers, which I presume are part of the kit. The cylinders had obviously been cut away from the painted (presumably completed) loco, and bolted (rather oddly) to the new frames, as bits of the old frames are still present.


The workmanship was excellent in some areas, and rather less so in others. Really quite odd, to the extent that I’d suggest I’m probably the third or fourth person to have a go at sorting this loco out.


Eventually, the rear steps will go, and the tender frames will get lining. Got to make her go properly first!




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