Atomiser for an LNER A3

Amongst the minor casualties of the strip and repaint of my DJH A3 that I am aware of is the atomiser casting that sits on the side of the smoke box. Now I could have bought a casting from Ragstone or Finney7 but where’s the fun in that. And so, I set out to make one using the mill and lathe.

In the absence of having any collet blocks (subsequently ordered and received) I used a pin vice with a hex head to index milling the flats on the bar to create accurate hex nuts. I used a toolmakers clamp fastened to the rear jaw of the vice as a stop so that I got the pin vice back in exactly the same position as I rotated it after each cut.

Using a hex head pin vice for indexing on the mill
Using a hex head pin vice for indexing on the mill

I had a first attempt which came out alright but I felt it was a bit small. I dug out a casting from my Finney A3 kit and it was certainly longer than the one that I had created.

Atomiser For LNER A3
Atomiser For LNER A3

Learning all the while, I thought that I would have another go.

Atomiser For LNER A3
Atomiser For LNER A3

Setting the Unimat on its fastest speed, I found that I could not only successfully turn down the spigot for the handwheel, I could also grip that spigot in a 1mm collet and turn the head down to size with light cuts and a sharp tool.

I was concerned that the spigot being turned down to 0.8mm wouldn’t have enough strength and that the turning forces would cause the head to shear off. I proved it wasn’t a fluke by doing a second aft inadvertently crushing my first attempt when I didn’t get it sat square in the collet.

The 4 year project is complete!

Papyrus is officially finished Yeay!

Last night I fitted the buffers that arrived true to their word earlier in the week. I don’t plan on any photos since nothing much has changed until I get the opportunity to give her a run in the garden.

Ash Pan Damper Lever MarkII

A kind gent, Pete (Greenglade of many modelling parishes) posted a view from his 5″ gauge drawing on the Guild site. this has allowed me to add a bit more detail to the ash pan damper lever (I was nearly right in my guess).

It now looks like this


Continuing last night’s roll I made this, fitted it and while I had some epoxy mixed I smeared some on the tender buffer heads, the underside of the fall plate and the top of the tender inner chassis (with the thinking that if I use plastic screws to fasten the tender top on it’s another potential short source eliminated. Whilst handling I noticed that some of the tender brake shoes had come loose to they got treated to some epoxy too.

I also worked on the reversing lever – a look in the spares box found me a milled nickel link that I reduced in size and tapped one end 12ba to take a former 4mm scale crank pin that I think came out of a Mainline B1 (never throw anything away!!!). I just need to cut the revering lever to final length now when the glue has dried (hopefully this morning).

Final bits of detailing.

As I mentioned in a previous post one of the bits that have been lost along the way is the etch for the lever arrangement that sits under the fireman’s side of the cab on the A3 (and A4’s) which I think may be the ash pan lever?

In the kit there was a single layer etch that looked (as far as I can recall) a bit like this:


Thankfully having seen a photo of a Finney A3 posted by Richard Lambert which showed quite clearly the missing part I remade one from bit’s of scrap brass:


It’s not quite as elegant as the one on Richard’s loco but it’s infinitely better than the original etch.

I still need to file down the top arms to form pins to fit in holes in the footplate.

She’s Alive!!!!!

She’s alive!!!

A couple of dodgy videos showing that she does move after all – after removing the offending plugs I still had issues which were narrowed down to one of the rear drivers shorting all sorted.

Apologies if anyone doesn’t like Harry Potter the sound track was on the radio in the background

The A3 moves steadily to the finish line….

In between my efforts at weathering stock I have still been beavering away lining, and glazing the cab.

Here are a few cruel close ups. There are still a few smudges of white that I need to remove. But this one is going to be weathered not ex works so any blemishes will blend in.

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Hopefully the transfers will go on the cab and tender over the weekend…..

Cabbing the A3………

One step forward and three back. Having stripped and repainted the cab, I initially started to spray the exterior with Klear to get a glossy surface to line onto. It promptly ran to the bottom and sat there as a ridge Grrrr!

So being the diligent soul that I am I had read the back of the bottle so knew that you can remove Klear with ammonia. Did any of my local shops stock ammonia these days? – Did they chuff!!! Chris ended up ordering some from Amazon for me..

Anyway, it duly arrived and I eagerly painted some on and….. nothing happened!!!

DOH, so I read the instructions = dilute it 3:1 apply and then let it dry for 5 minutes. When dry scrub off with warm soapy water and surprise surprise a Ronseal moment – it did what it said on the tin.

Then onto plan B I tested letting gloss varnish down using tamyia thinners using a tin can and it works. so the next step was to carfully apply some thin coats to get a nice glossy surface to line onto.

Being as happy as I am going to get with this – it will need a bit of weathering to hide some blemishes I think…… I thought about painting the inside of the cab and painting the cab floor as weathered planks. My success with this was what got me started on weathering the Midland wagon.

I wasn’t too concerned about the line between the stone and black being dead straight as the cab fittings break it up anyway.

All the painting has been done with a mixture of Anitas Acrylics and Vallejo Acrylics

That’s enough of a preamble here are the photos

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The A3 still moving along…..

The A3 moves nearer and nearer the finish line.

The chassis is now painted and lined. -I wasn’t 100% sure that the red line ran all the way along the chassis bottom but in will be lost behind the wheels and weathering. I have only got one cylinder back on at the moment as I need a small soldering job on the other – the link to the middle cylinder came adrift as I dismantled it.

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I also learned something that is worth sharing today. I use Ronseal satin hard glaze as my protective coat (the water based version). In the past despite letting it down for spraying with de-ionised water and mixing it well I have problems with blobs appearing. Today I thought that I would try letting it down with Tamiya acrylic thinners. What a difference it made to the quality of finish and the speed with which it dries. I will be trying a similar approach to spraying both matt and gloss varnish to see if it improves that too.

“Cabbing the A3”

I have now completed the cab for the A3 (I think!).

As mentioned earlier in the thread I have now made the roof removable and following the lead from a gent on the Guild forum I have made the cab doors hinged and removable.


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The hinge pins are made from 0.8mm nickel rod with small section of tube soldered on one end and then filed down.

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Now for a good clean up and a final check to make sure that nothing is missing before re-visiting the paint shop – The seats will be added when it’s assembled after painting I looked at soldering them in now but if I do I cannot get the backhead in…. (hmm I have been here before!)

DJH A3 a few steps closer to the finish line…

I am still beavering away with the A3 and another bit is now complete. I have also managed to make the roof removable while still being secure when it’s attached. I will take photos once I start putting the can back together. In the meantime this is some of the fruits of my painting endeavours.

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Painting and Lining

As a bit of a break from construction I have had a couple of days doing some painting.

Just after the new year I went along to Warren Haywood’s house (Warren is another resident of Wakefield). Warren had kindly offered to give me some hints and tips on painting and lining (for those of you who don’t know Warren’s work, Warren is a professional model painter who paints for among others Tower Models and Finescale Brass).

When we arranged it Warren suggested that I take along my bow pens, bow compasses etc. so that he could try them out and suggest which may need attention (or throwing away :lol:). I also took along the tender for the A3 working on the theory that if I needed something to practice on that could be it.

Once he had tested my pens etc. Warren kindly suggested that he line the red and white of one side of the tender to give me something to work to when I started myself – As you might imagine I jumped at the opportunity.

Yesterday I had a go at the other side.

A3 Tender lining

I am sure that you can work out that the top image is Warrens fine work, while that below is mine. My mlines are not quite as fine as Warrens in places but that said I am quite pleased with the result, and as someone else once remarked – you cant see both sides at once 😀

Update on the Cab for the A3

Yesterday I decided to take the cab back out of the paint stripper – I have been checking it and to be honest I could have taken it out some time ago but I was distracted by coaches.

First let me share with you what I used to strip it – Cheapo local Coop Dettol substitute. I got the idea from fellow Gauge O Guild member George T, I would have used proper Dettol like George does but when I went they only had their own brand. In the end it too worked fine, nice smell, easy on your hands win/win with the household authorities!

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So here are a few shots of the state of play now that I have taken the roof off.

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The cast roof vent came out and one of the round castings in the cab side came adrift too so I will need to remove the false floor which shouldn’t present too many problems. Now having seen the detail that Nick has added to the princesses cabs I am on the lookout for cab detail before I put it all back together.


Regards Rob

The A3 see’s the light of day

In between working on other project I have been doing a bit more towrds finishing the A3. I have fixed a few bits on the chassis – a loose spring hanger, one of the slide bar supports and added the front sand pipes.

I have also done quite a bit at the backhead. Getting it finished and ready to fit into the cab

A3 001

A3 002


The steam hose on the pictures above I scratch built to replace the cast offering that came with the kit below. I made it from a Connoisseur Models Clack valve casting that I cross drilled to fit a cast hand wheel from Hobbyhorse and the hose itself is a length  of 24 gauge soft brass beading wire bound with 32 gauge brass beading wire and soldered.

A3 003


What I hadn’t reckoned on was the fact that there is no way that I can get it into the cab without taking the roof off – which is soldered on.

Now you might think that this is a bit drastic but having slept on it I think that it’s for the better – I had a go at lining one side of the cab and I wasn’t entirely happy with it so into the paint stripper it has gone.

To be continued when the paint has come off.

A ray of sunshine in the build

Today’s efforts have been very positive.

First I stripped the wheels and axles from the tender chassis and used a couple of 15″ or so lengths of 3/16 round bar through the front and rear axle bushes to twist the chassis until it felt better.

I tried in the front and rear axles but it still didn’t sit square on my pane of glass so a little more tweaking was in order. Once I was satisfied I tried the tender chassis behind the loco just with the front and rear axles fitted. All ran smoothly so I loosely fitted the tender top. Astonishingly it moved under it’s own power without hiccup although the loco wheels did slip a bit. I popped a lump of lead sheet across the front of the frames to stop this during testing.

The next step was to fit the two middle axles and try again with the tender top loosely fitted. It ran even better.

Lastly I bit the bullet and fastened the tender top and on thankfully it seems that is one problem solved.
I was so elated that I took a video which I will post as soon as the camera battery charges.

Next up I tried the boiler/footplate on and discovered that it wouldn’t fit over the Maxon motor. Out with the mini drill and a drum sander which made short work of it. I still need a little fine tuning then I hope to have her running with the boiler in place.

Another long term build makes progress

The first 7mm scale loco kit that I got was a present from Chris at Christmas 2009 I first started to build it in Agust 2010 and I have been building it sporadically ever since.

So a couple of weeks ago in between finishing off the bogie van I got it out of the cupboard and started to think seriously about what needed doing to complete it. The first thing was fitting the front bogie I got it and the spring/screw and put it together and discovered the first problem. My lovely home made brake cylinders fouled the bogie and wouldn’t allow it to turn at all – a proper Doh!!! moment. Undeterred I unsoldered them and started to cut them back in an effort to get them to sit further back. Several attempts later and there was nothing left

So here we are without any brakes but the chassis runs nice and smoothly and goes around curves as best as I can tell in the limits of my layout boards

A3 006

A3 007 A3 003

During the process one of the front springs can adrift at one side so that needs soldering back at some point.

The next problem that those with a long memory may recall was that when test running I had to rest a pair of pliers on one side of the tender to get it to run. My first thought was that this was down to a bad contact so I drilled a hole in the tender chassis, tapped it 8BA and soldered in a short length of screw (the end off one that I had shortened for something else – I struggle to throw stuff away thinking as now that they will come in useful). You can just see the mark on top of the tender chassis where I filed the paint off to do this.

I then reconnected the tender to the loco and all ran really smoothly. So far so good. however when I fitted the tender body it wouldn’t run despite having a much better connection. It did run if I rested a finger on the tender side. Mmmm! I took the tender body off and examined it and realised that with the whitemetal castings that form the corridor connection top the body is top heavy at one side. Because I am using the american method of pick up the weight was lifting the chassis enough to make running intermittent.

My thoughts turned to how I could weight it from the inside of the tender body because any weight put into  the tender top under the coal would be central not to one side that I needed.

I then thought about swapping the pick up sides on the loco and tender which would mean that the tender picked up from the side with the most weight and in theory it should solve the problem.

While all this was going through my mind I took the tender body back off and pondered while running the loco and tender chassis up and down my 4 metres of track. I noticed that the rear most wheels didn’t always turn so I applied some oil to all the axles and running improved. It was while messing with this that I noticed that without the body on although the tender chassis ran up and down quite smoothly and appeared to pick up okay there was a pronounced rock between the front and rear axles and it was biased away from the pick up side. Closer examination revealed a bent bit of the chassis that looks like it has been dropped. I don’t recall dropping it but I must have because no one else touches them.

This is it after a bit of minor straightening with a pair of sooth jawed pliers.

A3 005

A3 004

While the tweaking with the pliers hasn’t solved the rocking it has made the rear axle run smoothly. So the next task is to strip down the tender chassis and attempt to straighten it. I will try initially without stripping any paint but if that fails it’s going to be a back to basics job as I am now determined to get this of the bench once and for all so I can with other things without feeling guilty that it still lurks in the background.