Gladiator J6 – Bodywork almost completed

Although it hasn’t been without its trials, I have made good progress this week and the bodywork is almost complete.
The left side handrail caused a few problems because the etched hole in the cab front, to which I had soldered the tube for the handrail proved to be slightly out of position. I am not sure whether it was a vagary of the hand drawn art work which I have then exacerbated as I have opened the hole with a broach or that my positioning of the boiler was slightly low.

To make it all line up I had to remove the stub of tube, fill the hole with brass rod and file flush then redrilling the hole slightly lower.
I also drilled the rims of the buffer stocks and inserted some scale hardware fittings the collar of the buffer stocks is quite small so it was a bit nerve wracking drilling with a 0.4mm drill bit, but it came out okay.

All the boiler fittings are soldered in place with the exception of the smokebox door which it just resting in place for the photos.
The front steps come with an interesting fold up support which makes them fairly rigid but before I had finished fitting the front one’s, I had managed to bend the rear ones so I soldered some 2x1mm bar behind them to give some strength.

The only things left to fit, are a pair of globe lubricators that sit on the front of the sandboxes either side of the smokebox. The reason that I haven’t fitted them yet is that I have lost them. I bought them at the same time as the backhead and some additional valve rods so I know that they are here somewhere but can I find them….

Of course, the moment I order some more to replace them they will pop out from where they are hiding so I am holding off for the minute.

Gladiator J6 Body almost complete
Gladiator J6 Body almost complete
Gladiator J6 Body almost complete
Gladiator J6 Body almost complete
Gladiator J6 Whistle
Gladiator J6 Body almost complete

GCR Class 5A – running chassis

I managed to sort the crank pins and get clearance. I removed the short 10 ba screw from the rear of the Mundy crank pins on the front axle and then cut the pin back to the boss.I then filed the boss back to approx half thickness and fitted a long 10ba screw through to become the crankpin. A tapped Slaters crank pin now acts as the retainer allowing clearance for the cross heads. I ended up doing a similar but not quite the same exercise on the middle axles in order to get it to run smoothly.
It’s running in on the rolling road as I type.


https://youtu.be/QDBUtobGelE

Starting to look like a J6 at last

This week has seen the lubricators fitted along with the firebox/ashpan sides. Then I fitted all the main components together and fitted it to the chassis. I needed to file a bit of the undersides at both ends to get the chassis to mate with the body. This is because I have used the narrowest frame spacer due to the need to get the loco around 5’ curves.

Gladiator J6 Body details
Gladiator J6 Body details

But it all fits now; I have just rested the chimney and dome on for the photo.

Lokking like a J6 now

I have also fitted the splashers and cab floor and fitted a couple of short lengths of tube through the front of the cab for the hand rails. On the GA and on internal shots of the C1 cab the right side handrail has a handwheel attached to it so I have added that too.

Gladiator J6 Cab details

Once I had the cab floor fitted I could determine the fit of the backhead. The Laurie Griffin castings although quoted as being for a J6 among other locos was a little short so I added a strip to the bottom. I suppose that makes a change from hacking bit of the sides to make them fit in cabs.

Gladiator J6 Backhead

Gladiator J6 Scratch built Wakefield Mechanical Lubricators

The latest bit of modelling madness is a couple of Wakefield mechanical lubricators.

The kit provides a couple of nice but generic lubricator castings which have a lid and a hand wheel but no pipework. The lubricators fitted to 64206 are a little unusual to my eyes at least in that the pipes all come out of the bottom whereas I am more used to then coming out at the bottom of one or both sides. Now I could have followed Tony’s example and gone for some Ragstone castings but where would be the fun in that.
Cutting out and drilling all the parts (18 each not including the pipes) was relatively easy the fun part was soldering them all together without it all collapsing in a heap.

Gladiator J6 Scratch Built Wakefield mechanical Lubricators
Gladiator J6 Scratch Built Wakefield mechanical Lubricators
Gladiator J6 Scratch Built Wakefield mechanical Lubricators
Gladiator J6 Scratch Built Wakefield mechanical Lubricators

Not the easiest thing in the world to photograph but after taking the earlier shots I remembered the quite prominent wingnut on the top holding the lid shut.

Gladiator J6 Scratch Built Wakefield mechanical Lubricators

I made it from a 16 ba cheese head screw with the head squashed in a pair of pliers and then filed to shape.

GCR Class 5A Chassis assembled.

What a difference a day makes (or was it the night off and a bottle of cider?)
Yesterday afternoon I scoured the etches to gather up the 18 parts required to make the two crossheads. As always one of them was quite elusive and took a couple of searches before I found it.

After a little bit of testing to ensure I had them in the correct orientation they were soldered up. They are a very clever design and they were both done in just over an hour without any of the stress of fitting the splasher tops to the J6.

GP Models GCR CLass 5A Crossheads

Following on from this I added the piston rods using some brass tapered clock pins that I bought a while ago. I then assembled the crossheads onto the slide bars and attached them to the motion brackets.
This was followed by the cylinder wrappers and then after cutting short the crank pins I assembled the chassis with the coupling and connecting rods with a view to giving it a test run.

Sadly, this is as far as I got because the Derek Mundy crankpins are so big on the front axle that they won’t clear the crossheads. Although the screw in caps are a reasonable thickness, I don’t think there will be enough meat in them to create the clearance just by filing them down.

At the minute I am pondering what options I have that don’t involve taking the crankpin back out of the wheels. My concern with removing them is getting them back in square without wrecking the wheels.

GCR Class 5A assembled chassis
GCR Class 5A assembled chassis
GCR Class 5A assembled chassis

Gladiator J6 Footplate and cab interior details

Although I am working in the general direction of getting the footplate complete so that I can attach the cab/boiler etc. to it. I am not ding things in any particular order so when I glanced at the sketch in the instructions for the cab floor I thought I would have a go at that before fitting the splasher tops.

The sketch only shows the rear of the cab splashers/floor and at first, I took the etched lines at the rear for fold lines. Having folded it I couldn’t get the floor to fit so I ended up straightening it out and soldering it up. Surprise, surprise, it now was too long for the cab. I surmised that I would have to cut along the half etched lines to get it to it. However after a bit of head scratching I emailed David Hill (Gladiator) to ask how he had done it on his before doing something that while not irreversible would make a good bit more work. David replied very quickly and advised that the cab floor did indeed need cutting at the half etched line because the kit has options for both the 521 536 series locos with the 521 series having a much deeper cab. A point that I had completely missed!!

Gladiator J6 Cab floor

You can see the half etch lines in the shot above. What isn’t apparent is that the half etched lines in the splasher tops are approx. 3mm different from those on the floor etch. I cut at the splasher lines first but needed to cut at the floor lines to get it to fit so anyone else building one of these as a 536 series you need to ignore the lines on the splasher tops and use those on the floor etch.
Once I had it a good fit in the cab, I added the splasher top sandbox filler plates and the fillers themselves. Curiously the splasher tops and the half etched sandbox top plates have a recess/hole for the top which I can only assume is for location purposes as the filler cap needs to be slightly proud of the splasher top. Like those on the front I cut a slice of tube and gently squashed it into an oval with pliers before soldering the top on.

Gladiator J6 Cab floor and Splashers

I made up the reverser and fitted it to the cab.

Gladiator J6 Cab floor and Splashers
Gladiator J6 Cab interior Details

After having a look at the reverser in the C1 I added a couple of bits of scrap etch to give a little more detail – not very clear in the shot below. Strictly speaking the lever should be on the outside of the ratchet plate not in between as shown in the instructions

I decided to leave it as is, as it will be lot in the gloom of the cab.

GNR Atlantic 251 detail shots

It was probably a sign that I should have left it alone at this point but for the life of me I could only find two of the four splasher tops. I decided to cut some replacements out of 10 thou sheet on my “Mini Formit” guillotine (which I have used extensively throughout this build). Parts duly cut, the first front sandbox/splasher went on easily then it took over two hours to fit the rest and, in the end, I cut it off the cradle to make it easier to solder from the back.

For whatever reason they sorely tested my patience. It was even more frustrating when trying to fit the ashpan sides as again one went on easily without issue to the second was a nightmare which resulted in the splasher top coming adrift several times before I had both in place to my satisfaction. On the back of that I had an evening off last night.

But here is the state of play.

Gladiator J6 Footplate Details
Gladiator J6 Footplate Details
Gladiator J6 Footplate Details

Still a bit of detailing to go on before I fix things together but I am getting there.

GCR Class 5A The Chassis continued.

Next up was looking on the etches for all the bits for the cylinders and it was at this point that I discovered a couple more frame spacers that aren’t mentioned in the instructions. Thankfully they are quite easy to spring into place having trimmed the tabs shorter. As I was doing the first one I recalled having to do the same exercise when I built mine (and that was despite having Mike Cole’s build notes which seem to have been lost In the house move). What was more puzzling was where each one was supposed to fit within the frames.
Thankfully all I had to do was look under mine to refresh my memory.
I have highlighted the two in question in the photo below.

GCR Class 5A Chassis – additional spacer behind cylinders.

The one at the rear is mentioned in the instructions and it needs the hole for the brake cylinder to be to the left as you look towards the front of the loco.

In the apologies section in the instructions Garth apologises for there being no brake cylinder included. Having knocked one up from tube/rod etc. it seems that the reason for omitting it is that it interferes with fitting one of the plunger pick ups (and oddly the spacer had the hole for locating the cylinder in a vertical spacer which necessitated fitting a locating spigot in the side of the cylinder. I would have thought it much simpler to have made the frame space deeper with a fold line that would allow the cylinder to be fixed from the top. I am sure there was a reason why it was designed like that but we will never know what it was.

GCR Class 5A Chassis Sand boxes and rear spacer

I consulted with Brian as to whether to add a wiper pickup instead of a plunger for this wheel and his view was that having gone to the effort of making the cylinder it would be a shame not to use it so a wiper it is.

Having sorted the frame spacers and the brake cylinder I moved onto the sandboxes and the cylinders themselves making reasonable progress. All in all a good weekend’s effort.

GCR Class 5A Chassis
GCR Class 5A Chassis – front spacer
GCR Class 5A Chassis Sandbaoxes and Brake Cylinder
GCR Class 5A Chassis – Sandboxes

Gladiator J6 – final details before fitting the castings and pipe runs on the boiler/smokebox and cab front

Still working on the detail from my photo of 64206 and I noted that there was a semicircle of rivets/bolt heads on the left side of the smokebox just above the handrail surrounding the bottom half of an oval patch.

The patch is made from some very thin brass shim that I bought from china via eBay several years ago. It’s just under 0.1mm thick

Gladiator J6 Smokebox details

Next up I fitted the internal window frames and the associated rivets/bolt heads on the cab front.

Gladiator J6 Cab details
Gladiator J6 Cab windows

Hopefully that should be it for the boiler/smokebox and external cab details until I start fitting the castings pipe runs etc.

GCR Class 5A Crank Pins and Coupling Rods

Another good session at the bench on Saturday saw the wheels blackened and the Derek Mundy crankpins installed. I have to confess that I am not keen on them. I am not that comfortable with drilling such big holes in the Slaters wheels with the resulting chances of something going wrong.
I enlarged the holes with the pillar drill and I also used the pillar drill to push home the crank pins to keep them vertical and despite that one of them wasn’t in square and needed a little tweak.

Derek Mundy Crank Pins

Next up was the coupling and connecting rods, there is a diagram in the instructions on how to cut the coupling rod layers to allow them to articulate on the crankpin. Not knowing any better or having enough confidence to do it any differently that’s how I did mine. Sometime later, Steph Dale went to some trouble to post on Western Thunder a “how to” on cutting the rods to show me how to make them articulate as they should.
Having stored this up for a rainy day I adjusted the cuts and made use of a couple of the spare part rods supplied to make them articulate behind the middle crank pin as they do on the prototype.

There is an etched hole in the outer layer (presumably for a dummy pin) I used this to mark up where to drill the rear layer 6mm. Once all the layers were soldered together and cleaned up, I tapped the hole in the back layer 14ba. Then I threaded some .9mm nickel rod 14ba and made a nut from tube files to a hexagon. Once soldered to the threaded rod I was able to use a 16ba nut spinner to tighten it in to the rods making a nice neat articulated joint.

GCR Class 5A Coupling Rods

GCR Class 5A Basic Chassis

Last weekend I managed to get the basic chassis together with the compensation beams.

One thing to note if anyone comes to build one of these, is that all the spring layers go on the outside of the frames or they interfere with the compensation beams. Needless to say, I had forgotten this from when I did mine and the instructions are a bit vague in this area. Which meant that after making a really neat job of fitting them both sides, I ended up taking them off the back and adding them to the front.

The kit comes with one of the frame spacers in the form of a motor mount which I made use of in my original build but I left out because Brian (Wainwright) whom I am building it for, has supplied an ABC motor gearbox. It does mean that I will have to do something about the holes in the frames though.

GCR Class 5A Chassis
GCR Class 5A Chassis
GCR Class 5A Chassis

Gladiator J6 Boiler and Smokebox Details

I am still beavering away at the J6. The boiler bands are on but despite having Tony’s build as a guide I added two 0.7mm infill pieces down the side of the smokebox as Tony had but initially made them too deep thankfully this was all done before attaching it to the smokebox so it was a simple matter to take it of and adjust it.

I made a new mounting plate for the snifting valve which it now fixed in place and I have made a start on fitting the very prominent set of bolt/rivet heads bellow it on the photo that I am working to. – They still need a bit more work with files to make them a bit shallower and more even.

Again, I followed Tony’s lead and started to drill out the chimney in my little lathe. Sadly I don’t have Tony’s touch because I had only got to a 4.5mm drill when I must have gone a little too deep and the spigot came away from the chimney. I attempted to make a collet from wood as suggested by Davis Smith (DLOS) but my chimney casting was ever so slightly misshapen and I couldn’t manage to get it to centre in my 3 jaw chuck (I don’t have a four jaw at present). 
I did the rest, the old-fashioned way and set to with a 2nd cut round file. In all honesty I think that it took less time to file it out than I had spent messing about trying to hold the casting to use a drill. I am just glad that I had drilled the base for the bolt heads before starting on drilling the inside or I may not have had the patience for it at that point.
Like the chimney casting the dome comes with a cast threaded spigot I suppose the original idea being that you would screw it to the boiler top. I opted to cut the spigot away and then using some emery paper wrapped around the boiler. I rubbed away at the dome until I got a good fit before cutting a couple of slots for the boiler band with a slitting disk in my Dremel.

Gladiator J6 Boiler Details


Not really much to show for all that work… as you will note it’s all just propped in place for the photo.

Great Central Railway Class 5A

In an attempt to get caught up with my backlog of builds I have taken a leaf out of another modeller’s book and have decided to try to build one loco during the week and a second over the weekend. The idea is once I am on top of my back log of commissions, I will build my own stuff on a weekend.

Having made the decision a couple of weeks or so ago, I made a start that weekend on a GP Models Robinson GCR Class 5A. I previously built one of these for myself but finished mine as an LNER J63. Which the Class 5A became, when inherited by the LNER in 1923. This one is to be finished as a GCR example.

Upon opening the box I found that the gent that I am building it for had already supplied a few extras but after examination of the castings bag, it revealed that some of them were quite poor. I Although I replaced a few of the more vulnerable castings like Oilers etc. I don’t recall the castings in my kit as being too bad so I was a little surprised. An exchange of emails later had me placing an order with Laurie Griffin for a few items. The one casting that was in my view poor but not available anywhere as a replacement (that I know of) was the backhead. This is a resin casting and perhaps the moulds were worn from when I got my kit, as mine was perfectly usable.

When I saw the casting I recalled that lurking in a spares box was a piece of brass that I had cut to shape for a round top backhead prior to getting more information and making a second more accurate backhead for a 4mm scale loco around 12 or so years ago. I dug it out and to my delight it only needed a minor amount of filing and a few mm cut off the bottom, to be the right size/shape to replace the resin casting. What it did lack was depth, but that was overcome by soldering a curved strip of etch offcut to the back of it.

This is the original casting which aside from anything else is slightly lopsided.

GCR Class 5A Backhead

This is what I came up with as a replacement which should pass muster in an enclosed cab.

GCR Class 5A Backhead
GCR Class 5A Backhead

Finally a side by side shot for comparison.

GCR Class 5A Backhead

Gladiator J6 Cab Details Continued

Having sorted out the additional bolt/rivet heads on the left side of the cab I drill out the punched version on the right side and made them match. I also fitted all the hand rail knobs but I will fit the rails themselves a bit nearer the finish line.

Gladiator J6 Cab details
Gladiator J6 Cab details
Gladiator J6 Cab details

Gladiator J6 Cab Details

Modelling took a bit of a back seat last week because everything I touched turned pear shaped so I didn’t risk it.

This week I have made more progress with the cab adding al the additional bolt heads that are visible in the photos and replacing those already pressed out on the right hand side of the loco to match. A couple of weeks or so ago I was given an RSU which was surplus to requirements by a neighbour who was moving house and I got around to setting it up and trying it out on these bolt heads/rivets. I have to say that it doesn’t look much (I was told that it was made eons ago by Bernard Weller) but it does what it says on the tin and I am converted. I just need to get used to it’s vagaries and how little solder I can get away with now.

Gladiator J6 Cab details
Gladiator J6 Cab details
Gladiator J6 Cab details

After seeing that Tony Geary had done a proper job on fitting the rather shapely rain strips above the cab cut out’s I bit the bullet, took them off and fitted them as correct as I can. They say practice makes perfect and so it did the first one was a right pain to get somewhere near right but the second one almost fell into place.

Gladiator J6 Cab details
Gladiator J6 Cab details

Gladiator J6 Cab Roof

Having noted the pattern of rivets in the centre of the cab rear when viewed from above and making use of the photos that Caroline kindly took of the C1 Cab. I was able to come up with a representation of what can be seen.

Gladiator J6 Cab Roof

A little Snifter anyone?

I was working on the cab roof when Dave Lester posted the dimensions of the snifting valve on my thread on RM Web and casually mentioned that I might like to make one since I had most of the details. Now this struck a bit of a chord because I have always been disappointed with the snifting valve castings supplied in kits and to look at the best I have ‘seen’ is the turned example sold by Markits. I say seen in inverted commas because I have no idea if it’s dimensionally accurate it just looks good. The trouble with Markits, is actually getting your hands on anything from the catalogue.

If I had any suitable bar in stock, I might have had a go at turning one but sadly everything I had was far too thin. I did have some brass tube of just the right OD though so this was pressed into service I cut a length off that I could grip and hold safely and soldered a square of scrap etch over the end and snipped/filed it round. Finally finishing it in the lathe chuck. At this point it became a bit “Triggers Broom” because Mike Trice posted a selection of close ups of snifting valves on locos and I realised that I had drilled the holes in the side too big and too many (the hole size was one dimension that Dave didn’t have).

Armed with more info I made a second cover salvaging the end cap and the 14BA hex headed screw that I had fitted to the first attempt. Next came the base plate and five goes later I had something usable, albeit it to my eyes it seems a bit small at the measurements quoted. I may revisit this once I have the chimney fitted.

This is what it looks like.

Scratch Built Snifting valve
Scratch Built Snifting valve
Scratch Built Snifting valve

Finally one with the obligatory 5 pence piece for scale – small ain’t it?

Scratch Built Snifting valve with 5p coin for scale

I have to say that I had immense fun making it and learned a few things about my lathe in the process.

Gladiator J6 Firebox Fittings

I haven’t managed any modelling today but I had a really productive day at the bench yesterday. I will appologise in advance that this post is going to be a bit photo intensive.
I started by cutting the recess in the firebox top for the safety valves to sit.

Gladiator J6 Boiler fittings
Gladiator J6 Boiler fittings
Gladiator J6 Boiler fittings


The eagle eyed amongst you will note that I rose to the challenge of the angle beading around the cab/firebox joint. I was sure that I had seen it done before but when I spoke to a couple of the guys that might have done it both sad that they did such things in two pieces. In for a penny as they say I thought the worst that could happen was that I ruin a quid or so’s worth of 1x1mm milled brass angle.
I have to admit I am really pleased with how it turned out and I have no fear of doing it again in future.

Gladiator J6 Boiler fittings
Gladiator J6 Boiler fittings
Gladiator J6 Boiler fittings


Finally one shot to prove that it really is brass angle and not a subterfuge.

Gladiator J6 Boiler fittings


Still a bit of tidying up to do and the overlong stud to cut short.

Gladiator J6 Safety Valves

While discussing the cab beading, a gent (Dave Lester) on RM Web pointed me at a photo which shows the tops of the cab and upper boiler of a couple of J6’s and other locos stabled at Hammerton Street Depot in bradford in the period that this loco is destined for (the photo is on page 38 of Great Northern Railway Engine Sheds volume three – I have the three volumes in my library). What the photo lso shows is that the Safety valves don’t just sit on the top of the firebox as you might think from ground level photos.

This is a snip from a scan of the photo that I referred to

J6 Safety Valves

As you can see the base of the valves are inset into the boiler clothing and fastened to the top of the firebox with studs. Yesterday’s task was to replicate this with my trusty filed rod and tube.

J6 Ross Pops and mounting plate
J6 Ross Pops and mounting plate

The next task is to cut out the firebox top so that I can mount this in place – I may need to trim the mounting plate as I had cut it big enough to hold while drilling all the holes with my pillar drill.

Scratch Built Mud Hole Clamp

Flushed by the success of the washout plugs and covers I deviated from the kit and decided to see if I could make my own mud hole clamps
After all this is what modelling is about for me at least.

I started by taking measurements from the Ragstone castings. Then I found an appropriate diameter tube in my tube stock and cut a 3.9mm length. This I squeezed gently to make the oval and promptly squashed it. I was about to cut another when I decided to have a go at straightening it using a pair of round nosed pliers. A piece of scrap etch provided a backing plate and I drilled a .8mm hole for the stud. another piece of scrap had a hole drilled in it and then filed and bent to shape for the clamp itself. A short stub of tube under the clamp and a nut I made earlier completed it. a few tiny slivers of solder and a waft with the microflame and I had this.

Scratch built Mud hole clamp
Scratch built Mud hole clamp

Gladiator J6 Mud Hole Covers and Washout Plugs

Before closing up the boiler seam I worked on the washout plug holes, mud holes and the rivets/bolts on the side of the firebox – they were interesting to punch out with the boiler pre-rolled.

There are some etches that could be modified for the mud hole clamps but I didn’t use them. I had some nice castings from Ragstone for the clamps and surround in stock. They are round when they come and need to be squashed a little to become oval. I heated them to glowing with the microflame and gently squeezed them in the vice.

Next up I tackled the washout plugs/covers. Again there is an etch provided for these.

Gladiator Mud Holes covers-Washout Plugs

They are included on the chassis etch and are nickel silver. Even at half etch they are still quite thick but due to them being hand drawn the spigot that represents the stud and nut was misshapen and not quite central on some. There are six provided where only four are needed so you have a bit of choice.

I decided to use these as the covers but to modify them to have a bit more detail. I soldered them to a backing strip having marked this to ensure that they fit through the holes in the firebox. I had opened these up with a series of broaches and reamers until they were just bigger than the cover plates. I filed off the spigots and punched the centres, then I drilled them with the proxxon. Finally I soldered a short stub of wire in covered by a home made (from filed tube) nut to complete the fitting.

Modified Gladiator Mud Holes Covers-Washout plugs
Modified Gladiator Mud Holes Covers-Washout plugs

I popped them in the holes in the firebox to see how they fit.

Gladiator J6 Boiler with modified Mud hole covers-washout plugs


In this shot you can also see the Ragstone clamp castings which I have soldered in place.