For Christmas this year I have received a rather nice Ruston-Bucyrus Crane (made by Corgi). This is exactly what I need for Quarry Transfer. I doubt that it will remain in the Southern Railways Livery (I am currently thinking about painting it red and white) but we will see.
I have always been a big fan of diesel shunters. I loved watching little shunters moving around Bescot Yard and the various industrial complexes in the Midlands.
BR Class 13 Diesel Shunter
One shunter I never had the privilege of seeing was the BR Class 13. The Class 13 was a special locomotive, designed to operate over the ‘hump’ in the large marshalling yard at Tinsely. Each one looked like two locos stuck together (which is exactly what they were). Two BR Class 08s were used to create each Class 13 loco. One of them had the cab cut away and was linked, via multiple-working gear, to the other. Thus only one driver was needed to operate these two locomotives; the cabless one being the slave and the cabbed version being the master.
The class 13 was also fitted with large buffer plates which helped counter balance these Siamese locos. Only three were ever created, each with various differences in detail. I saw a model of one on the Rail Express stand at Warley show a few years ago and was eager to try my hand at creating one out of the RTR class 08 models currently available.
While visiting the Mickleover Model Railway Show in 2010 I was discussing with a fellow visitor my plans to build a class 13, and how wonderful it would be, having two motors and all, but the chap quickly countered: ‘why use two motors?’ he said ‘wouldn’t it be easier to take one of the motors out’? I must admit, the chap had a good point. I decided that life would be easier if one of the motors was removed, but thought it would be nice to keep the model picking up across both wheel sets.
The two best models to undertake this conversion with are the Hornby and Bachmann 08s. It is apparently easier to modify the Hornby 08 (as it is easier to remove the cab area). Plus the Hornby version is regarded as a superior model. Unfortunately, superiority comes at a price out of my budget range, so I stuck with the Bachmann models.
In October 2010 I came across the perfect donor locos in the form of x2 Bachmann models (08623 and 08672), and so armed with a photocopy of an old Rail Express article on creating a class 13 (Feb 04, No.93) I set to work.
Converting the Bachmann 08 into the slave unit.
I started by removing the motor from the slave unit. I soon discovered that if I wanted the slave unit to continue running smoothly I would need to retain the large cast weight that sits under the motor. The motor really, really didn’t want to be parted from the metal casting and became the most difficult job of this project, particularly removing the motor from the small plastic harness surround (see below).
I then began attacking the slave unit cab. Now it is important to know that the cab is in fact a separate moulded item and actually slides off the Bachmann body (with difficulty). This does leave a chunky area of plastic and interior detail in the location of the cab that needs removing with a small hack saw.
Once the cab plastic was removed it was then time to remove a chunky section of metal-chassis casting which sits in the cab area. Once this was removed with a suitable metal hack saw, it was clear that my 08s were starting to resemble a class 13.
I then used modelling putty to fill in the gap in the cab floor and sanded it to a smooth surface, while also smoothing the cut edges of the bonnet. I then removed the buffers and detail from the buffer beams and sanded them down flat (so they could be used to stick the new ‘meaty’ buffer beams to).
Modelling made easy
It was at this stage that 2011 took me off in another direction and although the new buffer beams were designed and made out of plasticard, I never fitted them. The thought of designing the cab bonnet area on the slave unit put me off.
And so by coincidence RT Models decided to create a class 13 conversion kit out of resin, white metal and nickel-silver parts. I quickly purchased the conversion kit and then got back to work on the loco.
The RT Models conversion kit is easy to put together and was quickly glued into the cab area of the slave unit. I decided to use the new buffer beams supplied with the conversion kit because they already have the holes punched out of the casting for buffers and vacuum pipes.
After refitting the wheels to the now motorless slave unit, I realised that my removal of the cab weights meant that the metal cast no longer fixed to the rest of the chassis (I had cut away the screw holes). I solved this issue by adding a motor harness from an old brass kit to the inside of the bonnet (which provided some rigidity to the body and frames).
It is worth noting that although there were only three Class 13s (now long scrapped), my Bachmann models include conflicting mouldings to any of the three prototypes. The main offender being a tool box (or radiator) on my slave unit that was never included on any of the three real locos. I opted to solve this problem by creating a fictional forth loco (rather than scarring the loco with modelling knives). This also allowed me to be more flexible with livery choice and detail. I have also fitted the larger buffers seen on some of the class 13s, which I think give the model a nice ‘chunky’ appearance. I want to model the engine in approximately 1968 condition, so I plan to keep it in BR Blue, but with the number 4503, which will put the loco in the period just before it was renumbered into the TOPS system as the fictional 13004.
I have linked the master and slave units together with a screw link coupling (managing to make the one on the front of the master fully sprung!), so I need to next test how the loco operates over short radius curves and point-work.
In the mean time, here is a video of the 13’s trial run.
Today involved resolving errors in painting-judgement from the day before (with a can of black spray paint). The error was mixing far too light a shade of grey to paint the rock faces. Not only did I paint it too light, but also over far too much of the diorama.
So this morning all of yesterdays work was erased and I started again using a much darker grey, with the aim of gradually bringing the cliff face up to the desired colour. I also decided to have a go at adding some colour to the skyline, while also providing a white base for the vegetation straddling the top of the cliffs.
All painting was undertaken with artist’s acrylics, as they tend to be much cheaper than hobby paints for this scale of work. I used ‘Neutral Grey’ (from the graduate acrylics range) to create a base for the cliff faces; and ‘Burnt Umber’ (from the Galeria range) as a base for vegetated areas.
This is the very early stages of painting so expect these areas to look very different as I progress.
I even managed to construct the wooden narrow-gauge platform today, which I am surprised I managed to fit in. I always planned to have a wooden platform extending over the quarry face for the narrow gauge engines to run tippers over, and I knew that I would have to tackle the super structure for this before I could start fixing down the trackwork.
I originally planned to construct the platform out of wood, but soon realised that it was incredibly difficult to cut wooden strips to appear as planks. I then discovered someone selling copper-clad strips (for track making) and realised that this would do the job nicely.
I cut up standard(ish) sized strips and soldered the group of planks together using three long support beams. Having test fitted the platform for alignment I have retired for the evening.
The next thing to do is find a nice design for the legs on the platform.
At the start of this blog about Quarry Transfer, I mentioned that one of the purposes of the diorama was so I could take pictures. Well after having waited patiently for the grout to thoroughly dry, I have just placed a couple of different diesels on the diorama along with a little JCB and had a go at some test shots.
I am really, really pleased with the look of the photos, as the shots appear very different to the small diorama that currently resides on a book case in the front room.
The little JCB is a plastic Dapol kit of some vintage that my wife built and painted. She has done a very good job on the yellow highlighting. This will not be the construction vehicle that lives on the layout when it is finished. I hope to purchase a nice elaborate digger, maybe one from the Langley range.
I am also pleased with what appears to be tillage (well, I’m calling it tillage) at the base of the cliff, which was done by sprinkling bits of drying grout onto the still wet grout surface.
So what are the next steps? I think it would make sense to flatten out the colour of the rock face next, so likely an overall paint with black or grey. This can then be gradually highlighted up again.
The running quality of my locos is important to me. Irrelevant of how well made they are or how detailed, if they cannot run along a piece of track smoothly or cross a point without stalling, then the loco is of little use to me.
The long suffering Craftsman BR 07
My BR Class 07 Shunter is one such loco that looks much better than it runs. This Craftsman kit was purchased partly completed in 2003. One of the areas completed was the chassis, which was quite jerky and the rods appeared to be binding. I decided to deconstruct the chassis and start again.
I rebuilt the chassis with a new set of wheels and a new Mashima can-motor. I spent a very long time making sure that the chassis was set up properly so it would run smoothly. This was all done on a straight test track. I didn’t realise that the engine would not enjoy going round curves or crossing points.
I persevered, redesigning the pick-up arrangement on the wheels. I was also trying desperately to find a method of keeping the motor from rocking backwards and forwards, which made the fly-wheel skim the inside of the bonnet. My attempts at stabilising the motor eventually led to the DCC decoder blowing up, and the 07 quickly went back into storage (it was that or out the window).
After purchasing a couple of the new Bachmann Class 03 Shunters, I started to wonder whether one could be adapted to replace the Craftsman chassis. I did some quick measurements and decided it was worth a go.
The first thing I did was widen the opening for the chassis and cut away some areas inside the 07’s body cavity. This modification also required removing the floor of the cab and cutting away the control panel (no doubt much easier if the body has not been constructed). The opening into the rear bonnet also required opening up slightly for the DCC decoder harness.
It looked as if the 03’s chassis may actually fit inside the frames, but the chassis itself would require some modifications.
The main modification required was to remove the front end of the 03’s die-cast chassis. The length of this section of metal restricts the chassis from sitting where the 07’s wheel sets are prototypically positioned. My new hacksaw was used to cut away the front of the chassis, with some masking tape around the motor core; stopping any metal shavings getting inside.
Once this was finished I unscrewed the axle nearest the crank shaft from the coupled wheels and used a mini-saw to grind away the coupling rods so the cranks could be removed. At this stage I was a bit nervous whether the new chassis would still operate properly.
The new chassis runs very well and sits as low as I hoped it would. The 07 will now happily cross the point work of Brewery Pit. I next need to reattach some bits to the 07 that unfortunately fell off while I was accosting it with a mini-saw. I also want to see if I can fit some of the former chassis’s little details to the new one.
I am fully aware of the inaccuracies in the chassis including: the wheel sets not being entirely accurate, with a slightly different spoke arrangement; and the brakes being fitted the opposite way around, but (as I said at the start), if I have to compromise the accuracy of the loco to ensure I can actually run the darn thing, then so be it.
Across these three cold months in Ilfracombe, I seemed to get a lot of modelling done.
The Metcalf buildings were built and placed and Peco back-scenes were installed on the left and right back-boards. At this stage these back-boards were made of plywood and fixed down to the base-board with small pine blocks; these will eventually be changed. The Peco back-scenes were affixed with wallpaper paste, but the right one quickly rippled, which I was not happy about.
Over the years much thinking was applied to the masking of the railway exit points. At this stage the remaining sections of the Metcalf brewery were butchered to create an implausible wall of buildings to act as an off-scene break on the left side of the layout.
I also started the creation of an extension to the retaining wall which will eventually have a signal box perched on the top (to the right). The most effective area of these early trials with back-scenes and exit point concealment was ironically the simplest: a weathered down section of Will’s brick wall with the Peco back-scene peaking out behind (behind the class 08 shunter). I always found this quite effective in photographs.
This is all academic now, as most of these features were removed for various reasons, which will be discussed some other time.
I have wanted to construct a fiddle yard (an off-layout shunting area, allowing you to change locos and wagons etc.) for some time. The main constraining factor has been space, as I live in a one bedroom flat. I had previously concluded that building fiddle yards either side of the layout was just impractical in the flat. Plus I had no clue how to fix them onto the layout; wishing I would have constructed them with the base board at the beginning.
While at a recent model show in Lichfield, I noticed that one of the layouts had strapped their fiddle yard to the under frame of the model, this seemed the solution to fixing them onto Brewery Pit; making the layout support the weight of the fiddle yard.
I then had the revelation that, if designed properly, the fiddle yards could slide up against the main frame when not in use.
So today I have constructed the outside frames for the fiddle yards. The outside frames have holes drilled through at regular intervals allowing large SQ bolts to slip through both the fiddle yard and layout frames. These are then fixed with wing nuts and washers. Two or three bolts per side give strong support to the frame.
The original plan was for the holes to line up in any position, but this has not quite worked (due to my cack-handed drilling), but I think I can sort them out tomorrow, by either widening the holes in the layout frames or setting fixed positions for the fiddle yard.
The pictures below show the left fiddle yard open and closed.