Getting Jiggy with Eccentric Sheaves

A post on a few forums by Nick Dunhill on his build of a Rhymney Railway R class on preparing the eccentric sheaves couldn’t have been timelier.

I am just at that point so the night before last I made up a similar jig from a couple of bits of wood that I had on the bench and having consulted the GA for the length of the sheave I marked up and drilled a hole for the pin (a 0.8mm drill bit). Finally, I filed and soldered up the first sheave. Last night I managed a couple more.

Gladiator J6 Eccentric Sheaves Sizing Jig
Inside Motion Eccentric Sheaves – for Gladiator J6
Inside Motion Eccentric Sheaves – for Gladiator J6

Gladiator J6 Home Brewed Inside Motion Parts

Although I haven’t posted an update since before Christmas, I have been doing a bit here and there. Mostly this has been making the additional bits and pieces needed for the inside motion. The motion for the J6 differs from other versions of Stephenson’s motion in that it has four valves rather than the more usual two. There are two between the cylinders and two above them. Although I have the full LG Stephenson’s motion set, in the end I doubt that I will be able to use much more than the connecting rods, eccentric rods and the slide bars and cross heads. The other bits will go in the spares box for a future build.

Gladiator J6 Scratch Built Inside Motion Parts

The arms that fit to the lower linkages still need to be shortened to 5.5mm between hole centres.

The expansion links in the motion kit are a couple of millimetres longer than the GA and have a lug on one side which I would have to cut off for this particular application.

Gladiator J6 Inside Motion Parts
Gladiator J6 Inside Motion Parts

As I am making all the other parts to match the dimensions on the GA, I opted to make a pair of expansion links to match. Working on the theory that I always have the LG castings as a fall back, if my home brewed ones don’t fit for any reason.

Gladiator J6 Scratch Built Inside Motion Parts
Gladiator J6 Scratch Built Inside Motion Parts

A Little Bit Of Motion on the Gladiator J6

I have been distracted for the last few days by teaching myself to draw in QCAD with a view to getting a few things etched. Before that I had made some progress on the rest of the inside valve gear.

Early in the week Tony Geary kindly pointed me at a photo of the inside valve gear on a 7 ½” gauge N2. Armed with this as a starting point I searched online and found a Facebook page chronicling the guy’s build. In his photo section I found loads of photos which have gone a long way to clarify in my mind what I was struggling to interpret from the GA.

I have a few photos of the full sized N2 valve gear which again are great for showing how things fit together above the slide bars but not below which is the area that I was struggling with. The build photos have clarified things now I just need to make up all the parts. Unfortunately, most of mine will need to be made from scratch as my spares box is nowhere near as comprehensive as Tony’s.

Gladiator J6 Inside Valvegear
Gladiator J6 Inside Valvegear
Gladiator J6 Inside Valvegear

The sections are just resting in place for the photos I have a lot more to attach to both the motion plate and cylinder front before finally joining them.

Gladiator J6 – New Frame Spacers

After reading Tony’s struggle to fit all the inside motion in his J6 and observations made on a couple of forums by Ian Middleditch and Jim Snowdon. I decided to take the plunge and cut some new frame spacers to give me more room to play with. With the new spacers I have given myself a couple more millimetres. The downside is that I need to make a new motion bracket but I am sure it will be worth it.

Gladiator J6 new frame spacers
Gladiator J6 New frame spacers



Gladiator J6 More work on the chassis

Not a great deal to show for this week’s efforts on the J6.

I filled in the lightening holes in the front of the frames as the photo that I am working from doesn’t show any. I also cut away the bottom of the etched ashpan sides and fitted a representation of the bottom. This may need a bit of trimming to clear the gear wheel once finally fitted.

Gladiator J6 Ash Pan and Lightening Holes
Gladiator J6 Ash Pan

The rest of the time has been spent patiently filing the hornblocks, hornguides and the cranks to enable the cranks and eccentrics to fit between the centre hornguides and rotate freely.

Gladiator J6 Cranks and eccentrics
Gladiator J6 Cranks and eccentrics
Gladiator J6 Cranks and eccentrics

Due to the need to get the loco around 5’6” curves the frames are a bit narrower than they might have been if I had been building for myself.

So far, so good.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Gladiator J6 Sandboxes

Not much to show for two evenings work, but I have completed the sandboxes.

I did the same as Tony and removed the fold over top plate to shape and fit as a separate item. I didn’t have any brass channel to replace the front section so I scored the back with an Olfa cutter and then folded it as designed.

The first one went together without much trouble but I had to have a couple of goes at the second one before I was happy with it. The fillers are the etches provided sat on a short section of brass tube which I squashed into an oval with some pliers.

Gladiator J6 Sandboxes
Gladiator J6 Sandboxes


Gladiator J6

Despite being head cook and bottle washer at the minute I have found a little time to pick up the J6 again.

The cab of the J6 has half round beading both around the cab opening and, after studying photos closely, around the front of the cab too. – On the cab etch there is a half etched lip for both and initially I thought that the one at the cab front was to allow for the front to fit better but realised that on the other side were half etched dimples in rivet locations which meant that the half etch would be on the outside not the inside where it would need to be if the cab front sat in it. This lead me to have a look at the photos more closely and note the beading on the front. Despite seeing Tony’s recent build I was doubting myself.

The kit has options to build both the Ivatt and the Gresley versions of the J6 and I am building the latter. The kit has two wrap over cab etches and two etched beads, (because the cab openings were a lot bigger on the Ivatt version). Having seen Tony’s build I elected to follow his lead and use half round soft brass wire instead of the etch supplied to give more shape and definition to the bead.

Because of the need to shape the bead around the cab openings I added it while the cab was still flat. the half etched guide on my cab was slightly over etched in places so it made for an interesting job but enjoyable task. Despite carefully finding the centre and measuring the start of each bend I still needed to do quite a bit of adjusting of the bend before it sat nicely on the front.

Gladiator J6 Cab
Gladiator J6 Cab
Gladiator J6 Cab
Gladiator J6 Cab