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.

Cab Beading mark II

I had posted an update of the J6 build over on the Guild forum and Malcolm Stlefox and Dave Lester, kindly pointed out that all GNR engines had beading on the inside of the cab opening as well as the outside so last night’s session was to add the internal beading. Oddly it only took an hour to ad the beading with the cab made up and I am sure it took longer than that to add it to the outside while the cab was flat.

Gladiator J6 Cab Beading Mark II
Gladiator J6 Cab Beading Mark II
Gladiator J6 Cab Beading Mark II

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

Scratch Built NER Implement Wagon

Back in September 2017 I posted some views if an NER Implement Wagon that I was scratch building using parts cut with the Silhouette Cutter.

Now that my workshop is finally finished I managed to get it finished too.

Scratch built NER Implement Wagon
Scratch built NER Implement Wagon
Scratch built NER Implement Wagon
Scratch built NER Implement Wagon


I should note that applying the transfers was an absolute pain until I discovered what I was doing wrong.
I like to use methfix transfers where ever possible because I find the ability to fine tune the placement (as long as you keep them moist) a great help. In this instance I was using the HMRS sheet for LNER wagons. Now I normally use Johnsons Klear as my gloss coat to apply the transfers to but I had some Vallejo gloss varnish to hand so I used that instead. It turned out to be a big mistake. As soon as I applied the transfers they stuck firmly to the gloss varnish in what ever position they landed in and couldn’t be adjusted without destroying them. After a couple of attempts and some head scratching I decided to coat the other side in Klear to see if that made any difference (before considering buying in new transfers). Lo and behold they worked perfectly as they always had. 

LNER Pipe Wagon – backdated from a Parkside kit for the BR version

Back in September 2015 on these pages I started to convert a Parkside kit for a BR Pipe wagon into the earlier LNER version. I got it almost finished when I popped it aside for some reason and there it languished until recently. Looking at it, it looked like all it needed was a set of couplings and it was good to go so a couple of weeks ago I made up soe of the rather nice castings from Sanspariel and fitted them.

LNER 12 ton Pipe Wagon
LNER 12 ton Pipe Wagon
LNER 12 ton Pipe Wagon
LNER 12 ton Pipe Wagon

Of course it was only after viewing these photos that the penny dropped that it was also missing it’s vacuum pipes….

These have been added and photos of the completed wagon will follow. When I say completed, it would have been and is pending me deciding whether to repaint it. I recently received a late fathers day present from my son (it was out of stock at the time) in the form of LNER Wagons part 4B by Peter Tatlow. This combined with a discussion on Tube wagons on one of the forums caused me to study the Pipe and Tube wagon section of this book in detail trying to ascertain if the bauxite came down to and included the solebars with all below the solebars black or as a few people have painted them with the solebars and headstocks in black. By good fortune, despite them being in monochrome there are a couple of period photos that quite clearly show that I was wrong and that the solebars and headstocks should indeed be black. The jury is still out on whether I repaint it.

LSWR Brake vans part 9

Connoisseur LSWR Brake vans – roofs

More work on the workshop has reduced modelling time somewhat but a little progress has been made on the brake vans. A lot of progress has been made on the workshop with my spray booth now fitted and vented externally and for the first time my Mini Formit (guillotine/folder/rolling bars) are permanently bolted to the bench and following Pete’s post I had another look at the alignment of the blade and anvil and had a lightbulb moment. Unseen previously, underneath the front edge of the anvil are two adjustment screws which push the anvil against the blade. Once I slackened the retaining screws and then used the adjustment screws the blade now sits tight against the anvil and it will happily cut shim so although I haven’t tested it yet it should cut the 10 thou nickel and brass sheets that it previously just bent down between anvil and blade.
To help with the location of the roofs I cut a strip of brass sheet (scrap etch) and then curved and  scored it to represent the planking above the verandas. These were soldered to the underside of the roofs.

Next the  roofs were covered in lense cleaning tissue to represent the canvas and finally the chimneys soldered on.

Connoisseur LSWR Brake Vans – Canvas Roof
Connoisseur LSWR Brake Vans – Canvas Roof

LSWR Brake Vans part 8

It has taken going on for 6 hours to get the step boards assembled. I can see why Jim says that this is not an afternoon build. Even taking in to account that I am doing two at once, I reckon that it would take a long weekend at least, to build one of these.

Connoissuer LSWR Brake Vans – Stepboards
Connoissuer LSWR Brake Vans – Stepboards
Connoissuer LSWR Brake Vans – Stepboards
Connoisseur LSWR Brake Vans Stepboards complete and ready for fitting