Gladiator J6 Inside Motion progress – valves almost fitted

Yesterday saw more progress on the motion for the J6, with the valves almost complete.
I still have the arms to make that connect the valve rockers with the expansion link etc. But I am pleased that I have got this far as I had hit a bit of a mental brick wall with concern that attempts at soldering on the valve rocker supports would result in them dissolving into individual parts again.

As happens often when procrastinating, I worried for nothing.

Gladiator J6 Overhead Valves
Gladiator J6 Overhead Valves

Modification of Buffer Heads from NER wagon kits

In my varied kit collection I have a few items of NER rolling stock from Medley Models/NER Days and it recently came to my attention via a fellow modeller that among other things the buffer heads in some of the kits need a little attention.
I had a vague recollection of Steve Hoyle mentioning something about his supplier having supplied them as they are and has subsequently passed away so no chance of doing anything about them.
These are what came with some of the kits (appologies for the slightly out of focus photos). You will note the interesting collar that would prevent any kind of compression…


I bought a couple of B1 opens from Mossy and they have been sat on my desk with the buffers beckoning to me each time I sat at my laptop. So this afternoon I decided to turn the collar off.
In the end I did about 30 and it was quite a good exercise in repeatability on the lathe using the graduations on the lead screw handwheels although the minor variations in sizes proved that they weren’t done with a CNC machine. I also took the opportunity to file off any centre pips and rub over the heads with emery while I had them in the chuck.


David Andrews Princess Tender Body

Further progress on the tender has seen the basics of the body put together.

DA Princess Tender Body
DA Princess Tender Body

So far, the only issues have been some bowing of the half-etched sheets which has taken a bit of work to get them soldered up straight. The worst being the rear sheets with the steps and the coal door.

DA Princess Tender Coal Doors

In the end I added a second sheet of 10thou nickel to back off the coal door.

DA Princess Tender basic Front
DA Princess Tender Rear of front plates.

I still have more detail to add to the coal door.

DA Princess Tender Body Just resting in place

Gladiator J6 – Boiler Back plate dressing

While I am distracted with outside jobs during the good weather, I have been working on another of the key outstanding jobs that is simple to pick up and put down. The back head/plate, is as I mentioned earlier in the build, a GNR Boiler Back Plate set from LG Miniatures. It wasn’t quite deep enough so I added a strip of thick brass along the bottom. Also missing from the set as delivered, were the injectors. Laurie includes a layout drawing in the set and it showed the missing injectors. An enquiry to Laurie had an apology and a pair of injectors in the post.

I am not sure if they were from the GNR set or another more generic pair but a little bit of scratch building had them looking the part. I had to fabricate one of the levers for the right hand injector from a .9mm rod with one end squashed and drilled out for the pin and then tapered with a file in the mini drill (too small to old securely in the lathe).

In the end I only used one of the hand wheels from the set because they came with cast stems on them and I wanted to fit them to the stem already present on the castings so I used some cast hand wheels from the spares box which had holes in the centres. Had I not had them to hand I would have cut the stems of the castings and drilled them for the ones with the cast stems but it would have been a bit tedious.

J6 Backhead
J6 Backhead

The GA showed some kind of inline valve down the right hand side of the cab at the side of the back plate so I knocked one up from a couple of bits of tube and a cast handwheel from the set.

J6 backhead – scratchbuilt inline valve

My apologies for the greenish tinge it’s reflections from the green storage box that I propped it against for the photos.

David Andrews Princess Tender chassis – Brakes fitted

With the brake hanger height sorted it was time to fit them. Because the wheels are on telescopic axles, they need much more wiggle room to be removable than the Slaters et al, types. It’s actually quite surprising how little room you need to remove a Slaters wheel.

The lack of space around the brakes meant that for the wheels to be removable the brakes need to be removable too. I did this by adding a collar from microbore tube over the .9mm rods that the brakes hang from on the frames. And at the moment the cross shaft at the front of the tender is removable but I am sure that if this were fixed the brakes would pivot out of the way to get the wheels out.

DA Stanier 4000 Gallon Tender inner Chassis – brake support sleeves
DA Stanier 4000 Gallon Tender inner Chassis
DA Stanier 4000 Gallon Tender inner Chassis

Just to prove that they are removable.

DA Stanier 4000 Gallon Tender brakes

I also made the two quite hefty support rods for the water scoop.

DA Stanier 4000 Gallon Tender water scoop detail

Plus, a Blue Peter moment in that here’s one I did earlier. I fitted the brake cylinder that I turned when I first got the Unimat 3.

DA Stanier 4000 Gallon Tender brake cyinder

A few general shots of the inner chassis, for no other reason than I got a bit carried away with the camera.

DA Stanier 4000 Gallon Tender Water scoop details
DA Stanier 4000 Gallon Tender inner Chassis – brakes removed
DA Stanier 4000 Gallon Tender water scoop detail
DA Stanier 4000 Gallon Tender water scoop detail

GCR Class 5A Ready for Paint

I received the chimney from Mike last week but the good weather meant that outdoor jobs took precedence. However, some modelling time yesterday afternoon and evening, saw the final touches to added the loco. I am now going to sit and look at it for a few days before arranging painting with Warren. Just in case I spot something that I haven’t noticed…

GCR Class 5A Ready for Paint
GCR Class 5A Ready for Paint
GCR Class 5A Ready for Paint
GCR Class 5A Ready for Paint
GCR Class 5A Ready for Paint

David Andrews Princess – A comparison of tender brakes

The next interesting bit of the build was when I came to look at fitting the brakes. The kit provides etched brakes for the tender in the usual dual layer fashion. I had some nice casting from the Hobby Horse Reynolds range. They were the ones that I was drilling out when I showed my use of pliers to clamp them for drilling a short while ago.
When I put some rods through the chassis in the holes provided and dry fitted the Reynolds castings to the stretchers and pull rod frame they wouldn’t fit because they were not long enough. After a bit of head scratching I checked the drawing and sure enough they are to scale length. However when I checked them again the etched ones provided it all made sense.

David Andrews Princess Tender Brakes comparison


The answer to this little dilemma was to re-drill the holes in the frames 1mm lower down. There was just enough frame depth to do this without having to resort to adding hanger brackets.

DA Princess Tender chassis

When I started on the brake pull rods and fitting the water scoop, I quickly realised that the kit is very lacking in detail underneath the tender.

After being kindly supplied a drawing that showed the detail of the inner frames of the tender, I started to add some additional details. My spares box yielded a couple of balance weights which I added to the linkages supplied in the kit. Not perfect but better than nothing. This is still a work in progress.

LMS Princess Water scoop gear
LMS Princess Water scoop gear
LMS Princess Water scoop gear

As you can see from the photos it does all move at the minute but I may need to solder it solid depending on how far I can go with the remaining linkages and how controllable they are.

I also started work on the brake linkages adding a bit of 3D detail to the joints using scrap etch and brass rod.

LMS Tender Brake Pull Rods
LMS Tender Brake Pull Rods
LMS Tender Brake Pull Rods

David Andrew Princess Princess Marie Louise 6206

It’s time for another weekend project to break cover. Another of my outstanding jobs is the build of a David Andrews LMS Princess Pacific kit. The Loco is to be 6206 Princess Marie Louise depicted in the late 1930’s.
I was pleasantly surprised upon examining the box contents, that the gent that I am building it for had ordered all nickel etches.
6206 was slightly unusual in that for much of her life she was attached to a tender equipped with a coal pusher. The additional parts for this have been supplied by Finney7 from their Duchess tender.
The box also contains a lot of additional extra castings to upgrade the kit parts.

DA Princess Tender Chassis
DA Princess Tender Chassis


The wheels are Alan Harris castings turned by the gent that I am building it for.

Gladiator J6 further work on the inside motion

Modelling time this last week has seen me back on the J6. I have been making progress with the inside motion starting with soldering the front of the slide bars to the cylinder front and then removing the motion bracket and moving it backwards to match the drawing in order that it would then clear the front horn guides.

Motion bracket and cylinder front joined together with the slide bars

Getting them square to each other was a little challenging so I cut a couple of rectangles of 10thou sheet to set both the distance between the cylinder front and the rear of the motion bracket and keep them square at the same time. I used a couple of aluminium hair grips to hold them in place while I soldered the ends of the slide bars to the motion bracket.

I still need to plot out and drill holes for the support rods for the expansion links in the cylinder front.

I still need to plot out and drill the cylinder front for the support rods.

I have temporarily assembled most of the motion but I still need to add the parts to the motion bracket which support and operate the valves.

Motion parts temporarily assembled
Motion parts temporarily assembled

Having extended the clearance between the cylinder front and the motion bracket so that the cylinder front sits in front of the horn guides, I found that the slide bars still fouled the horn guides. T next task was to reduce the depth of the front horn block in the lathe so my four-jaw chuck got a turn. Because I only wanted to effectively face them off. I cheated a little and fitted a short length of 3/16” silver steel into the tailstock, slipped a bearing on and used that to quickly centre the four jaw.

Front Hornblocks reduced in depth on the lathe

The next task is to remove a section of the horn guides to clear the slide bars.

Hornguides now need reducing to suit.

As soon as funds allow, I plan to buy a mill to compliment the lathe and boy would a mill make this task easier. I can see now why Nick plans his inside motion fitting as he builds the frames. A lesson learned for the future! Onwards and upwards as they say.

Globe lubricators from brass bearings

Further to my last post, when the brass bearings arrived I knocked one up into a lubricator to see how I would do it.

It was a bit interesting drilling out the bearing but following advice given I got a short length of tube the same diameter as my bearing and made a slit in it to make a split collet. This I gripped in one of the collets on the lathe and then I centre drilled it. Followed by drilling right through. They are slippery little blighters and one flew off into space as I was attempting to load into the lathe collet. Surprisingly I found it a couple of hours later.

I was fortunate to have some 1mm square bar in stock so I drilled right through one way and then half way on one side. When I fitted the rod through the bearing and into the square section I filed half of it away for the last millimetre which gave me a bit more room to solder the piece in that goes into the boiler.

Globe lubricator from a brass bearing

With the obligatory scaling piece.

Globe lubricator from a brass bearing

As with all such things in modelling making one is sometimes the easy part making another or several is more difficult. So it proved with the second one

I ruined one bearing when I hadn’t quite tightened the collet enough and the bearing wasn’t centred, then I didn’t get enough solder on the cross pipe so that came adrift as I cut it short and I ended up having to re-drill it in the pillar drill before I could solder it back in.

But get a pair I did. My collection of bits for the D2 is slowly coming together.

Globe lubricators from brass bearings

Making a form tool to turn Globe Lubricators

A fellow Gauge O Guild member asked if I would tell him how I made the form tool for the whistles. Because I am a bit impatient* I was planning to make another one to turn Globe lubricators (if I could).

So, I made another form tool and took photos as I went along.

Using a second cut file I filed away approximately half the thickness of the bar (in the event it was nearer to 35/40% than half).

Then I used a centre drill to drill a 1.5mm starter hold which I opened out to 2mm. I think my 2mm drill bit must need sharpening because I struggled to get it to go through the last bit.

I had drilled quite close to the end so I put the rod drilled end upwards in my vice and tilted it forward to file away until I had just over half the hole exposed.

Then I transferred it to the lathe. I put my cone shaped grind stone in the collet chuck and ground the inside of the hole to put my rake on it. The black pen mark on the stone was at the 2mm diameter mark so I didn’t inadvertently make the hole bigger.

Grinding the inside of the concave section
Grinding the inside of the concave section
Grinding the inside of the concave section

Next, I used the diamond cutting disk to grind back the outer edges to refine what I had filed and get it nearer to final size. But before removing the tool from the cross slide I marked with a pencil the angle which I had ground at to make replacing the tool at the right angle easier should it need regrinding. 

Globe Lubricator form tool
Globe Lubricator form tool
Grinding the inside of the concave section

Then I hardened and tempered the cutting end. I did this by heating the end using my Microflame to a red heat then I quenched it in a jar of water. I repeated the process but only heating until it changed to a blue colour before quenching again in water.

I tried cutting a globe but I made a couple of mistakes: 

The material I was trying it on was too thin (2.5mm diameter) and I had predrilled the centre thinking that I was going to thread a rod through it.

The ‘globe’ broke off long before it remotely resembled a globe and I realised that even with thicker material I needed to grind more off the tool to make the forming half circle shallower. At this point I used thicker material but still predrilled it.

Another try; another failure and another regrind.

The last go was cut from 4mm bar and no predrilling and I also took some of the edge of the ‘globe section with a diamond file prior to applying the form tool. 

Globe Lubricator
Globe Lubricator
Globe Lubricator

Having done all this I now think that I may get away with thinner rod now that I have refined the form tool and my technique.

Of course, the law of sod dictated that not 15 minutes after finishing the successful lubricator the postie came with some brass bearings that I had ordered from China and wasn’t expecting for another three weeks or so.* I an Middleditch in his original advice had suggested buying brass ball bearings and drilling them to make the globes from

The subject of those will make another posting at some point.


Not quite as fast as a speeding tortoise

I had a long morning finishing of some fencing at the back of the house yesterday so modelling took a back seat. I did however manage to do some test running of the Class 5A on my rather rough and ready test track which it passed with flying colours.

I took a video of the slow running. It’s only just over a minute don’t fall asleep.

GCR Class 5A The Final Countdown

The final part of the build while awaiting the chimney casting was how to fit the cab windows.

I drilled each one top and bottom and added a pivot pin.

GCR Class 5A Opening Cab Windows
GCR Class 5A Opening Cab Windows

After thinking about bits of tube etc. I realised that I could add some bottom ‘hinges’ in the form of pipe type bracket and do the same at the top but only solder one tab so that the bracket could be eased back to make the window unit removable for painting.

GCR Class 5A Opening Cab Windows

A few shots as she stands awaiting her chimney. I also added lead to the side tanks and as I suspected she now runs quite smoothly on the rolling road. I will continue to run in while awaiting the chimney and when the weather improves, I will dig my test track out of the shed and test run around curves.

GCR Class 5A Just awaiting its chimney
GCR Class 5A Waiting for its chimney
GCR Class 5A Just awaiting its chimney
GCR Class 5A Just awaiting its chimney

Whistling a Different Tune

Under the kind tutelage of fellow Gauge O Guild member, Ian Middleditch I have been playing with turning whistles.

First, I made a form tool from a length of 3/16 silver steel rod ( based it on a photo that Ian kindly sent me of some that he had made.

Once filed to shape the cutting end was hardened and tempered using my microflame (the last time I hardened and tempered anything was when I was at school).

Whistle form tool

Next I drilled out the centre to take a 0.8mm rod and then roughed out the larger top part of the whistle.

Then I used the form tool to create the final shape. It did create the final shape but I think that it would do even better on a slightly narrower piece of rod this one was 2.4mm and I think that a 2mm rod would create a better shape with this particular tool. In the event I touched it with the diamond file to finish it off.

I then parted it off and I took Ian’s advice and put a length of 0.8mm rod in the tail chuck and through the hole in the part so that it didn’t disappear into the mists when parted off.

Repeat the exercise for the bottom part and solder together on a length of rod with a 0.5mm spacer in between to create the whistle (I used a small piece of 20thou styrene with a hole and slot made in it to slip over the centre rod).

LNER D2 Whistle

The nuts were added after the whistle was made up and are from microbore tube filed in a pin vice to a hexagon shape.

GCR Class 5A Chimney troubles

The build slowed down a little when I realised that the chimney casting had the flare cast lopsided. This meant that when you had the chimney sat on vertically on the smokebox there was more flare at one side than the other. I tried to reshape it with bars rolling it over a former the same size as the smokebox but I couldn’t improve it much.

After some discussion with Brian, I emailed Laurie Griffin and Andy Beaton to ask them if they had anything suitable in their ranges that might do (as long as it looked right it wouldn’t matter which loco it was originally designed to fit). Sadly the nearest we got to was an LNER standard chimney from Laurie.

The next step was to ask fellow Guild member Mike Hopkins who has been posting some excellent stuff on the Guild forum where he has been designing in 3D then printing waxes and having them cast in brass.

I supplied Mike with a drawing a couple of days ago and he went away to draw it up.

Below are some photos of the wax prints prior to removing the supports and sending them away for castings. Photo’s copyright of Mike and posted with his kind permission.

GCR Class 5A little details

I had some Milliput out for making some modifications to some axlebox ready to make some castings of them. I needed a miniscule amount so it seemed a shame to waste the rest of what I mixed so I filled the back of the balance weights for the Class 5a.

They still need a little tidying up but they do look a bit better than just an etched skin.

Balance weights filled from the back

When I did my J63 I had some etched washers that were just the right size to make the front windows into opening ones by sticking them either side of soe glazing material and wrapping a strip of brass around them.

I wondered if I was able to turn a couple with a proper recess rather than a wrap-around overlay, now that I have a little more confidence with the lathe. I ordered a 3.5mm boring tool and when it arrived, I thought I would have a go.

I cut a length of brass rod and turned a section of it down to the required width and then drilled progressively bigger holes in the end until I reached 5mm in diameter. Then I tried the boring tool ad had a gotcha moment. The tool might be 3.5mm wide but it’s also 3.5mm deep and it wouldn’t fit when trying to centre it in the hole for cutting…. In order to get the tool in I would need a bigger hole than I wanted.

I scratched my head for a bit and then had a rummage thought the box of tools that came with the lathe. One of them had been ground with boring holes in mind but the corner of the cutting edge was chipped so while it would cut, I didn’t get a square edge to the bottom of the hole.

It was at this point that I remembered that I had bought a mini bench grinder from Lidl about 3 years ago and it was sat on a shelf under my bench.

Out it came and I had my first go at grinding a cutting tool for the lathe. Light touches soon restored the missing bit of tip and I now see what Ian meant when he said a sharp tool makes a lot of difference to how it cuts.

While I had it on the bench, I reground a couple more tools that had dings out of the edges too.

Front Windows
Front Windows with 5p

And one with the obligatory 5p for scale.