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RTR conversions

Local Flavour

This post can best be described as a taste of local flavour if not the full meal itself.

Anyone familiar with railways in the Stourbridge area will be aware of the Parry People Movers that operate between Stourbridge Junction and Stourbridge Town. Little 4 wheeled railbuses that spend their days shuffling along the UK’s shortest passenger branch line. The line itself is still jointed track meaning the ride is somewhat best described as lively! While famous now for these little vehicles Stourbridge didn’t really embrace the railbus idea the first time around, The line begin operated by autotrains and GWR design railcars at the time railbuses were being tried elsewhere.

However as Brettell Road is a loose interpretation I have gotten hold of a Heljan one as a nod to the little people movers. This was always going to be a nice to have rather than a need so having kept my eye on eBay for a cheap one, just on the off chance, this AC version popped up as a non runner with a dodgy motor for less than half the price the runners were going for.

The motor was replaced with a small Mashima I already had. One of the drive shafts was bent out of shape too but as these little models are very heavy for their size I binned that and now its just powered on one axle. For what it needs to do that seems absolutely fine.

I’ve fitted a Zimo MX634D decoder in the space in the roof linked to a TCS KA2 stay alive hidden behind the door and weathered it, The wheels are Branchlines 3ft using the original gears and bushes. You do need to grind a little bit of the chassis away to get them to fit. A couple of passengers and its good to go.

Same idea – different generations!

Another bit of local flavour. The yard crane at the real Brettell Lane was a bit of a chunky affair. In line with my upcoming demo at Scaleforum on making the most out of older models, I’ve come up with this representation using the Airfix dockside crane as a start point. The jib is scratchbuilt from plasticard. I’ve only seen a few distant pictures of the real thing so this is very much a loose interpretation.


A couple of old ‘uns in progress

Recent attention had been on a couple of older RTR efforts. Starting with…

…a Lima CCT. Yes I know there’s a Bachmann one now but the Lima one isn’t all that bad given its age. It suffers from the sometimes common Lima trait of getting most of it about right but then blowing it on something obvious for no apparent reason. In this case the W-irons are just too far from where they should be.

This can be addressed with replacement from ABS (or at least it used to be!). New roof vents and underframe bits and bobs plus filing off the, freelance, window frames and we’re about there.

Next the old Hornby hand crane. This one uses rollers and a counterweight from Jon Hall. I’ve widened the jib and added extra details.


Hornby Hacks 2 – The NBL class 21, part 1

I’ve mentioned before that Brettell road is a ‘what if’ layout and that extends to the stock as well. So what if the NBL class 21s were trialed in the Midlands? It’s not a huge leap to make from reality really and its reported that they did appear on the Condor’s occasionally (anyone got any pictures of this?). I’ve always had a passing interest in the Hornby class 29 as its melancholy look seemed to stand out from the other diesels in their catalogue as a kid. I never had one though so why not get one now?
I prefer the original look of the class 21 to the re-engined class 29 so that’s the plan. The Hornby model has bits of both. (I know about the upcoming Dapol model but I figured going this way would be more fun!)

The Prototype

©53A models of Hull Collection, used with kind permission. Click here to go to the original.

Although the class 21 and class 22 became something of an irrelevance in the history of British locomotives their story does hold a bit of interest.  NBL could have been said to be at least as experienced in British loco production as anyone else at the time with their LMS commissioned prototype 10800 and the class 16s which shared a strong resemblance. Both were powered by Paxman engines and both were somewhat problematic.

When it came to type 2 units (or type B at the time) they abandoned the Paxman power unit turning to their own built MAN units, built under licence from Germany.  It’s not clear if NBL actually had any real experience in building these engines at the time and to say they were somewhat disastrous wouldn’t be far from the truth. NBL would return to Paxman to repower some of the class 21s and they would be class 29.  Truth is they were little better. Poor cooling and badly laid out equipment only made matters worse for the class.

Where they do hold an interest is in that the class 21’s were diesel electric while the class 22’s were diesel hydraulic. If they hadn’t have been so problematic then a reasonable comparison of the 2 propulsion types would have resulted.  This was the only opportunity for main line locos in the UK. The 2 classes look very similar with the class 21s being just a smidge under 5 feet longer and at least to my eye, looking more ‘designed’

D6109 the odd one out.

D6109 became the odd one out of the true class 21s having received most of the body modifications for conversion to a class 29 but not the Paxman engine (reportedly down to problems discovered in the frames). So D6109 became the only class 21 to get a headcode box.  Interestingly there was one class 29 that didn’t but got all the other modifications.

The Model as it comes.

Being reasonably unfamiliar with the real thing some time has been spent comparing the model to pictures of the real loco and I’ve drawn up a (quite long) list of things I think are off.
So here we go then

A – I think the peak of the roof is wrong – it looks flatter on the real locos. Also the rib behind it doesn’t seem as prominent as it is on the model.

B – The water fillers seem the wrong shape and are missing from one side completely/ the handrail next to it is too long.

C – The bodyside steps seem a bit too round and are too shallow.

D – Ignoring the moulded fan/etch thing for a moment. the whole panel with the radiator fan on is in the wrong place. It should like up with the bodyside grills.

E – There’s a lot of rivet detail on the model. It’s too heavy and I am not convinced it’s all really there on the prototype.

F – As with all Hornby diesels from this era there are moulded on paint guidelines.

G – I think the lower faring tucks under the loco more than it does on the model.

H – Wheels are too small and should be spoked not solid.

I – Central part of the lower bodyside faring looks a lot deeper than the prototype. It looks more like a class 31! I wonder if this was deliberate to compensate for the body being mounted too high as was the norm for Hornby models of the time?

J – Battery box detail is kind of suggested at best.

K – Bodyside door windows aren’t deep enough – they should line up with the bottom of the other bodyside windows. The lower bodyside rib goes across the door on the model – it doesn’t on the real loco.

L – Bodyside grills arent deep enough, they too should line up with the bottom of the bodyside windows.

M – Bogies look a bit filled in to me. Brake shoes don’t line up with the wheels (again common with Hornby diesels from the era. )

N – Steps under the doors are a bit freelance.

O – Bufferbeams blend into the lower bodyside – there’s a distinctive shape to these visible on the prototype.

P – Buffers and bufferbeam are too high.

Q – lower cab front isn’t deep enough

R – Horn covers are a bit basic

S – Cab end lights are very basic too! the upper ones are too near the cab edges.

T – More moulded on paint lines. the lines for the doors stand out. they should be grooves.

U – Headcode box – not on a class 21 (except D6109 as mentioned above.

V – Its well-known that the cab windows are not wide enough. I don’t think they are right vertically either. The prototype seems a pretty even height all the way along. Hornby’s are taller in the middle.

In addition the exhaust port is the wrong shape and somewhat freelance.

So, to work

Side views compared. Woking down from the roof I’ve replaced the exhaust and flattened the cabs a bit.  The radiator grill was cut out as an offset before turning it around and sticking it back in so that it now lines up.

The bodyside steps have been drilled out and the handhold replaced (not really worth the effort with hindsight) and the bottom of the grill frames carved off to be replaced with microstrip. The bottom faring has been reduced (the white strip is where I took a bit too much off).

Power wise the model uses a Bachmann class 25 chassis with the bogie centers spaced out by about a mm each end. I kept the original Bachmann brakes and overlaid the Hornby sideframes after opening them up a bit. The original battery box was shortened and mounted in a new plasticard frame.

The cab fronts have been detailed with Extreme Etches window frames and headcode disks. The bottom of the can being extended and the original detail filed off.  I scored the inside of the tumblehome and bent it in further to match the prototype pictures. The bufferbeams being cut off first and rebuilt.  Hopefully a bit warmer weather and i can get it painted.


The Dapol Flying Banana

Dapol have recently released a 4mm scale model of the GWR streamlined railcar.  The model depicts one of those ordered in January 1935 to lots 1546 and 1547 meaning it can cover railcars number 8 to 16 (number 17 was ordered at the same time but was a parcels version).  Overall first impressions are good. Not being all that familiar with the real thing it looks the same as the pictures in ‘The History of the Great Western A.E.C. Diesel Railcars’ by C.W.Judge.   There are a few things that stand out immediately though as room for improvement. The interior isn’t great being a 1 piece moulding with a huge lump in the middle to over the underfloor (well below the window line anyway) motor. With something with such big windows this isn’t ideal. The bogies look very under nourished.

First steps in converting to P4

The model uses a single driven bogie which has split axles, picking up through the bearings. The other end is a more traditional coach type bogie with wipers on the backs of the wheels. You might be able to use the Branchlines class 108 conversion for the power bogie as it looks a similar arrangement but as I didn’t have one I can’t say for sure.

I used standard wheels and drilled the center gear out 2mm to fit. I disconnected the wire from one side and used a little bit of copper clad and phosphor bronze wire to arrange new pick ups.

At the ‘trailing’ end things don’t looks so easy.  The bogie is very, very narrow. No doubt a compromise to allow any sort of swing on the full skirted versions on 00 curves. You can see from the picture that a standard 26mm axle is wider that the bogie.   You might be able to fit P4 wheels on the original axles as they do just about fit between the sideframes but…

… lets face it the super skinny bogies look more than a little bit naff. The quite low relief details really don’t help either. No doubt another compromise for the skirted models. The powered end has plug on sideframes, like a Heljan diesel so these can be easily spaced out to something approaching the real thing. The difference is quite marked to my eye for as good as no effort.

This is the driven side after its been re-spaced – the additional drive details go some way to mask the low relief nature of the basic sideframe.

I await a Brassmasters 7 ft bogie to redo the trailing end with new pickups which should kill both of the problematic birds with the same piece of small aggregate!

EDIT – Tony on the scalefour society forum has tried the Branchlines class 108 conversion and reports they don’t fit.