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Hornby A4 "De-valancing" Conversion Kit - Messers Harvey & Martin

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Originally seen in the Copley Hill Blog, Part 1& Part 2, and in the RMweb 2012 Innovation Challenge, where the conversion kit was first described.




Summary of the Project




For anyone modelling the years 1945-1949/50 on the Eastern region of British Railways, or locomotives in the exchange trials of 1948 there was little choice in order to get a fully accurate garter blue Gresley A4 Pacific. A full repaint of Hornby's BR green or BR express passenger blue models to full garter blue livery, including the not particularly easy parabolic lining of red and white.


Understandably, this is not a route many wish to go down - Hornby's livery application on their models has always been of a very high standard, and that of their LNER garter blue A4s is a clear example of this.


The reason for this lack of choice is simple. Hornby have never offered a variant of their A4 Pacific in garter blue, without the valances.


This throws up a few problems for the modeller intending to make a garter blue A4 without valances: first and foremost, if you decline fully repainting a later era Hornby A4 model, and instead focus your attention on their garter blue models, you can in theory remove the valances and have a fair representation of a 1949 era Gresley A4 Pacific. The crucial details missing would be:


1. The reverser rod, which is not included on valanced models.


2. The lower firebox sides, which are modelled on BR era A4 Pacifics but not (understandably) on the valanced LNER era models.


3. The access hatch below the parabolic curve, added to the A4 Pacifics during the war years for improving maintenance regimes.


4. The BR era smokebox numberplate bracket, crucial for A4 Pacifics modelled in the 1948-50 time period (though of course, as with any class, there are exceptions to this rule).


5. Finally, replacement lamp irons for the lower and upper lamp irons (the latter of which requires repositioning for 1948-50 garter blue A4 Pacifics).


This set of etches as drawn by Peter Harvey and commissioned by myself, provides all of the above, as well as providing two specialised cutting tools for removing the streamlined valances to their correct shape. The etches also provide the later AWS Plate, a spare lubricator rod and cabside doors.


The kit has been entirely drawn by Peter Harvey to my specifications, hence this joint entry. The product is intended for general sale in order to provide modellers with the tools necessary for producing a model of, say, Mallard as no.22 in the 1948 exchange trials, more easily than stripping and repainting a whole model.


Stage 1: Base Model






The base model chosen for the test conversion is Hornby's single chimney A4, Kingfisher. Easily available on eBay and no doubt at swap meets or shows, this one was a "non runner" which with some soldering was easily returned to working order, to meet our criteria as "guinea pig". Removing the bodyshell is necessary for cutting the valances to shape, so removing it and the lubricator drive must be done first.


Now we bring in the etches for the conversion. The first one includes the shaping tool, which you attach to the valances by way of folding over the etched in tab, and attaching to the valances.






I attached the valancing shaping tool to the valances through a few careful drops of superglue - since the valances are coming off, it matters not that it ruins the plastic it's attached to! And then ran a sharp scalpel over the length of the shape.






Once this was done, I removed the shaping tool carefully, and have soaked it in some meths to clean it off for reuse.


Using a set of pliers, I carefully bent the valances at the scalpel cuts, until they came clean away. The valances were filed down using a hand file, and finished off with a wet'n'dry pad.






The guinea pig is not as fine as it should be, as I was in somewhat of a hurry - a spare set of test etches have been made available to Graham Muz to look over, and I wanted to be able to produce the guinea pig in what little time I had to prove the theory, and compare the model against an unmodified model, as seen below.










Stage 2: Adding the Details



Using the second set of etches, you can start to finish off the conversion.






I started by adding the missing access hatches on the streamlined casing, and the blank smokebox numberplate bracket (which allows the modeller to add an etched replacement, or put a transfer on for the locomotive of their choice), along with an upper lamp bracket replacement.







Then I added the lower firebox side etches, along with the reverser on the left hand side (Hornby don't include this on the models with valances, understandably, as it simply wouldn't be seen under the valances). These can just be folded and super glued into place (as I have done) but to produce a finer finish, solding the etch and then attaching it would be best.








It's the reverser to lower firebox arrangement where there needs to be a modification. There is a notch on the left hand side lower firebox bracket for the reverser to go through, but on the etches it is at the bottom, rather than the top, and consequently some modification is required on these etches to allow the reverser to sit in its correct position. A minor discrepancy which didn't take long to sort and also doesn't detract particularly from the quality of the conversion kit.



Stage 3: Finishing



The model's valances were further cleaned up using a wet'n'dry sanding pad, and a curved file. Railmatch's Garter Blue enamel was applied to the inside edges of the valances.





Railmatch's garter blue enamel paint brush applied to the etched front access hatches on the smokebox. These were given a coat of Johnson's Klear to make the blue match more closely that of the Hornby model.





The etched lower firebox sides were giving a going over with Gamesworkshops Abbadon Black (the new version of the much trusted and lamented Chaos Black acrylic).






Cabside numbers, nameplates and numberplate were provided by Fox Transfers. Transfers were sealed in by a coat of Johnson's Klear, and the overall model was given two coats of Klear.





The relative ease of conversion from the full valances A4 to the post-war modifications is apparent. When the model is weathered in the future, the etched reverser will be dulled down in colour.





Finally, a comparison between an unmodified Kingfisher model, and the modified prototype in the form of Haymarket's 60011 Empire of India.





We have identified further areas for etched components; namely etched cab spectacle frames, and the lower firebox side artwork for the left hand side, has been modified as per the prototype.


There is little doubt in my mind that this conversion kit allows the modeller to have a choice between a lengthy repaint of a non-valanced Hornby A4 in BR Green, or a fairly quick and painless conversion of an existing LNER garter blue Hornby A4 model. The additional details including the exquisite etched components (accurate lamp irons, smokebox numberplate bracket, front access hatches, lubricator, lower firebox sides, reverser and cabside doors) really do serve to create an accurate and pleasing model.


These etched components fill a clear gap in the market, and also caters for modellers who purchase second hand Hornby A4s; most of which will be missing components such as the reverser. The conversion kit also includes an AWS plate, should modellers wish to recreate 4498 Sir Nigel Gresley as it was seen in the 1970s and 1980s on the mainline, in garter blue but with stainless steel accoutrements.


The conversion kit will go on sale soon, once the final modifications to the artwork have been completed.


Messers Harvey & Martin

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  • 4 years later...

Sorry to drag up an old thread, but are these etches still available? I'd like to model Sir Nigel Gresley in blue as she was in 1988, but Hornby doesn't seem to want to release this particular version of the class. Thanks

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