A few years ago I decided to attempt building a number of my locomotive kits in tandem, as a means to improving my abilities at each stage of the build; normally I spend years labouring over one locomotive and then completely forget any of the lessons learned along the way.
And so started my ‘five shunter challenge’ where I plan to build five shunter kits and do a bit of explaining along the way. Unfortunately, a few life crises destroyed my momentum and both this challenge (and the blog in general) have not moved very far in recent years.
Today I decided to revisit my kit boxes and look through the blog posts, so I could try and work out exactly where I got to.
My original plan was to get each of the chassis completed (including gearboxes etc.) and then move onto building all of the bodies. Although, I really fancy building something that isn’t a chassis right now, I still think this method probably makes the most sense.
Here are some notes on progress for each of the locos:
x5 Shunter Challenge Progress
BR Class 02 Diesel Shunter – DJH
The BR02 chassis is complete and the body is also very close to completion (it is a small number of well moulded white metal blocks). I do need to do a bit of work sanding the nose down smooth as there are still a few flash lines. The original motor and gearbox were replaced by a High Level Kits Slimliner gearbox, but I am yet to start assembly of the gearbox. I may have to make some adjustments to the chassis block to allow it to fit, and I’m hoping that the amount of research I did a few years ago hold up and that the motor will fit inside the bonnet. If I build the gear box up, then this loco leaps in front of the kits and will be almost complete and probably move to paint shop.
One of the buffers broke off, which is a bit annoying, but I can glue or solder it back on again. The chain links that came with the kit also look dire, so I will replace those.
Sentinel post war 100HP 0-4-0VBT – RT Models
The Sentinel chassis and gear box is complete, other than fitting a white metal ash pan beneath the chassis, which I didn’t do as it doesn’t quite fit, and I wanted to fit the body first. I am itching to fold up the frames, but I am going to try and hold back for now. Annoyingly, a few very fine bits of etched details have been bent out of shape while I played with the etched frames (that will teach you not to fiddle with things, Tom), but I have unbent the damaged bits for the moment.
Ruston & Hornsby 88DS – Judith Edge
The Ruston 88DS has a completed chassis and gear box and is also ready for the frame build. Both this kit and the sentinel have the same super small gearbox.
For some reason I seem to have removed the inner plastic wheels from the tyres, and I can’t remember why.
11001 – Judith Edge
The Bulleid super shunter chassis is built and the rear compensation is fixed on, but I seem to have had some troubles with the middle balance beams, which are no longer attached to the frames. I may have opted for removing them when I took the axles out of the chassis. This loco also has a High Level Kits slimline chassis to be fitted, and I have started building the motor harness, but never got around to fitting the gears; I assume this was the last thing I did on the challenge many moons ago.
English Electric/Hawthorn Leslie 0-6-0DE – Judith Edge
The Hawthorn Leslie lags behind, and is still just two side frames. I did consider putting the frames together, but it seems a bit daunting after being away from the hobby for so long.
I’ve bought myself another sentinel shunter, which is based on the same chassis block as the sentinel in the x5 Shunter Challenge (also from RT Models).
This sentinel was in the news not too long ago, as it is the former Fry’s Chocolate factory shunter, which was missing for many years and found in a shed! I’ve always liked this little thing, so I’m looking forward to building this one up soon.
I also have a little OO9 Fowler shunter from Backwoods Models, which I have been making for years and has progressed very well. I am bit apprehensive about the next stage of the build, as I assume I need to tackle the rather complex outside frame coupling arrangement. I have quite a few little narrow gauge locos to build, including a few more little diesel shunters (maybe I should start a ‘x5 OO9 loco challenge too’.
There is also my Class 13 shunter to finish off too.
So many models, so little time.
Following a recent article in BRM by Phil Parker, I was inspired to complete my little 009 sentinel. I have constructed the ‘protected’ variant. Most of the work was already completed a few years ago, but I needed to make some adjustments to the rubber band drive (to stop the band rubbing on the supporting etch) and I needed to glue down the cab.
A spent a few minutes adjusting the chassis braces to keep the body square and there we have it.
Now he just needs to be sent to the paint shop.
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.
These past two evenings we (me and Ruth) have added some landscaping to the front of Quarry Transfer. We started by cutting up some more blocks of polystyrene and sticking them to the lowest section of the diorama. We then attacked them with an assortment of tools. My aim was to continue the profile of the highest rock face (at the back of the diorama), so it looks as if the entire area where the railway is placed has been quarried out of the rock face.
I obviously had to make sure that the scenery at the front of the layout was quite low, so I can take photos, but I endeavoured to continue the profile of the rock strata. I also wanted to represent a small quarried area of rock where I can eventually place a little digger. I cut the face of the rock using my propane soldering iron with a cutting head attached. This gave a nice crescent shaped finish to the polystyrene.
More grout was then plastered over the polystyrene, which was easily manipulated into what looks like a muddy quarry track. I’m really pleased with the results so far.
To ensure that I don’t reflect too long on the development of Brewery Pit, I thought I would also include some details of my current diorama project.
Quarry Transfer depicts transfer sidings from a raised narrow gauge system and standard gauge siding at ground level.
Building Quarry Transfer fits three purposes:
- It allows me to take pictures of my fleet of circa 1968 BR Green/Blue transition diesels (so Brewery pit can stay a circa 1948 layout).
- It gives me justification to build the small fleet of OO9 engine kits that I have purchased in the past few years.
- It allows me to experiment with some terrain effects that I haven’t had the chance to develop while building Brewery pit.
For those that are unsure, OO9 is the same scale as OO (i.e. the people are the same size), but OO9 locos run on much smaller track than OO engines. The difference is depicted in the picture to the left. Note that the man in the picture could fit easily in both engines, but the smaller engine runs on much narrower track (Narrow Gauge).
Narrow gauge railways are often constructed to: traverse terrain unsuitable for larger railways; and as a cheaper alternative to developing a standard gauge railway (such as for mines, quarries and sewage workings etc.).
As this diorama is primarily being produced so I can take photos of my locos, it is important that I can get a good perspective on the model with my camera. In a similar manner to how I produced Brewery Pit, I started by placing the main items of scenery and took trial pictures to see how well framed the final pictures would be (see right).
Based on this picture, I felt that although nicely framed, the OO9 locos would be obscured by their larger friends on the lower track. So I decided to raise the level of the narrow gauge track for the final layout.
The rocky outcrops are constructed from polystyrene, historically not one of my favourite materials. The use of a small hacksaw on the polystyrene has given a good impression of the blasted rock-face effect I was after.
Plaster bandages were used to bed in the rocky outcrops, and also as a front facing surface for the raised narrow gauge sidings. The bandages should provide a good surface to detail with some nice upland vegetation.
I haven’t worked on this project in a while (probably because I know I have to get the jigsaw out for the next step), but now the days are getting darker and colder, I will no doubt be pressing on with construction.