7mm On Heather's Workbench - a baby Small Prairie

Discussion in 'WR Action' started by Heather Kay, 2 August 2017.

  1. Craig Warton

    Craig Warton New Member

    Heather, this is my first foray into Western Thunder (apart from lurking) and thank you very much for this thread. I have a 4mm scale kit which I intend to build in early 1920s condition - as 4403 (show on GWRJ P451 top). This is proving invaluable for me. looking forward to seeing more.


    Craig W
  2. Heather Kay

    Heather Kay Western Thunderer

    Thanks Craig!

    I think by the early 1920s most of the class had acquired the intermediate size bunker, and possibly the front deck struts. Many had the side steam pipes as well, and watch whether front steps had been fitted or not.

    All I can say is you ought to be able to follow Malcolm's written instructions, in tandem with the exploded diagram of the main construction, and have very few problems. Do please share the results when you start work. ;)
  3. Heather Kay

    Heather Kay Western Thunderer

    A bit of a bitsa day today, what with one thing and another. I've been beavering away all afternoon, but don't feel I've got very far. In actual fact, I've got a fair bit done, but it just doesn't feel like it.


    That bunker. It's a bit of a fiddle, all told. The top edge beading doesn't have a half-etch slot on the back side, which would help locate it neatly. With care, and tinning the beading strip, then carefully forming it to the complex shape down the cab sheet, along the side of the bunker, round the bend and along the back edge, followed by careful zapping with the RSU, and it sort of ended up okay. The beading is wider than the way it looks on the real thing, which is handy as it let me carefully file it down to a finer appearance. Not entirely happy with the finished result, but I don't know how I could do this any better.


    The next thing was the rivet strips along the bottom of the tanks. Again, careful cleaning up of fine etches drives me nuts. More careful RSU work, and this is where I got to. The tank front steps went on without a problem. Time to fit the bunker top beading…

    Where is it? Who knows! I've been all through the remaining etches, and I can't find anything left that is an L-shaped strip. Oh, bother.

    Right, I think I'll leave that for a while. Perhaps my braincell will come up with something, but in the meantime, if any of my loyal readers have a method of scratch building beading along an edge of a tank top, please chime in!
  4. OzzyO

    OzzyO Western Thunderer

    Hello Heather,

    it looks like you have fitted the bunker top beading in one of your photos.

    But if your thinking about the beading around the tank top you could try using some 0.3mm copper wire on the outside edge. IIRC the half etch at the top of the tanks looked OK on the 44xx that I built.

    Wagonman and Heather Kay like this.
  5. Heather Kay

    Heather Kay Western Thunderer

    That's a splendid idea, Ozzy. I shall consider it further. Meanwhile, time to contemplate the boiler.

    You may recall I spent a while measuring and calculating before I started the build, because some modifications may or may not have been required to the smokebox. I concluded no mods were needed. Well, now I come to look at things again, it turns out I was wrong.


    Here we see the smokebox and parallel section of the boiler, the coned section (well, the bit you see above the tanks), and the firebox, in the flat. Several things occur to me. Those boiler bands are pretty heavy, and the one behind the smokebox has a recess for the smokebox lubricator cover which isn't wanted on this build. There are strips for the top feed pipework, also not wanted on this build. There are washout plugs on the firebox… well, you can guess the rest!

    The washout plugs and superfluous strips and bands can be dealt with by inverting the pieces. I think I have suitable cast washout plugs in stock - and will look out for some more at Telford in a while - which can reinstate them where required. The boiler bands are all but invisible in the photos, so the recourse to thin strips of tape will sort those out. It appears the smokebox, as mentioned back up the thread, is about right, so what probably needs to happen is a slice needs to come out of the parallel section of the boiler to shuffle everything back enough to get it all more or less in the right place. I note a pair of holes etched for the handrail that was fitted at the top of the boiler in later life.

    I think some more intensive photo scouring is required, but I can see some serious cutting, and possibly scratch building, may be required for this stage. That's kind of put the mockers on things, as I had hoped to get the main upperworks completed this week. Let's see how I get on.
    Last edited: 24 August 2017
  6. Steph Dale

    Steph Dale Western Thunderer

    Heather, surely you can just turn them inside out and add whatever detail you need?

  7. daifly

    daifly Western Thunderer

    I think Heather's ahead of you Steph!
  8. Steph Dale

    Steph Dale Western Thunderer

    Aah, small screen reading; I missed the vital sentence; sorry Heather!

  9. Heather Kay

    Heather Kay Western Thunderer

    Steph and Dave - yes, turning things inside out would be the way to head. Unfortunately, as a discussion going on between here and Basingstoke is beginning to reveal, there's a bit more involved.

    When, or indeed if, we get to the bottom of it, I may be able to share. Let's just say, right now, it seems there is a distinct possibility that a scratch built smokebox is in the cards! Something, somewhere, is not quite right, and it's proving hard to pin down where the potential error might be.

    I do pick 'em!
  10. Dog Star

    Dog Star Western Thunderer

    And very nicely too...
  11. Heather Kay

    Heather Kay Western Thunderer


    You'll love this! In GWRJ 81 is this photo of 3102 in as near as-built condition as can be. While not a perfect broadside, I felt it good enough to attempt scaling from it. The only known dimension I can trust is the smokebox saddle, which is as near as damn it 3ft. The photo measured ANADI 15mm, giving me 5mm to the foot.

    Ticking off 5mm on a bit of paper, I set about guesstimating key dimensions to help me figure out what I need figuring. The first surprise is the smokebox. I've been labouring under the misapprehension that the smokebox was 4ft front to back, when it seems a lot closer to 3ft 9in. The handrail knob centres matches my drawing at 2ft 9in, so I know I'm not far off. You can see the other dimensions, such as restraining strap and start of cone/end of parallel, so I think I now have a reasonably clear idea of sizes and shapes.

    Note how the smokebox appears flush with the boiler cladding? The demarcation seems to be purely paint and perhaps the first boiler band.

    Anyway, food for thought. I've consulted with the client about how we might proceed. In the meantime, perhaps I should amuse myself by making a new cab roof!
  12. Heather Kay

    Heather Kay Western Thunderer

    I tackled the boiler today. I wasn't really looking forward to it, but by being methodical and careful, things went well.

    The client agreed that, what with one thing and another, some level of compromise with this build is inevitable. The potential variance in lengths of parallel and coned section from original to rebuilding was felt to be interesting, but not really worth the time and effort of worrying about.


    So, plan A was put into effect. The firebox was formed up first, inside out so that unhelpful etched detail was lost. As usual, I annealed the parts, and with the help of the kit formers made the curves in the right places. Soldering them in place tried my patience - I could, as many modellers, do with at least one more pair of hands, preferably in heat-proof material!


    I've come across a couple of flaws in the sheet brass in this kit. It takes the form of a delamination. Most of it has been hidden inside fabrications, but with the firebox inside out the flaw was on show. I was careful not to make it worse, and subsequently flooded it with solder and cleaned it up. The coned section followed in quick order. Time to consider the front parallel section and smokebox.


    I used the kit part as a basic template, aided by my scaling from the photo in the previous post. I chose nickel silver sheet over brass, mainly because I had some suitable thickness sheet, and I felt it would respond better to my attempts at soldering the brass formers in place. Locations for the chimney and handrail knobs were marked out and dimpled with a 0.7mm bit as a marker. I think a proper hole would have left a weak area that may have influenced the subsequent rolling, so preferred to drill things out later.


    Two formers are provided in the kit. One is the front face of the smokebox, the other is a segment for the rear end. I created a new one for the back end of the full round section. This proved a good move. It took me a while to roll the shape. I rather think I need some proper training in the use of my rolling bars.


    Incredibly, my scratchbuild effort fitted almost perfectly. A little filing at the tank fronts, and the saddle sheets will need more forming, but I am pretty pleased. Having noted the prototype shows little surface level difference between the cladding and the smokebox wrapper, I opted to score a demarcation around the barrel to help me with painting later. With hindsight, I ought perhaps have scored a little deeper!

    Anyway, I will sort out the smokebox saddle, and drill out the various holes, and then I think I'll call that a successful day.
  13. john lewsey

    john lewsey Western Thunderer

  14. Heather Kay

    Heather Kay Western Thunderer

    A long time since this build was front and centre. Time to make some progress.

    The roof. Now, as you know, this build is backdating the kit to the first version of this little loco. As time went on, the bunker grew and the roof was rebuilt using steel. As they emerged from Wolverhampton works the roof was a timber affair covered with canvas. The ventilator, too, was not in the more familiar centre of the roof, sliding back and forth: it was offset to the driver's side and slid sideways. Obviously the kit roof is not really usable.


    These are the bits in the kit. The overlays and curved ends can be used, and I decided to use the ventilator etch, slightly modified. The problem, then, is what does the roof look like.


    There are precious few images of the locos in as-built condition.



    And only one shows the fireman's side, plus useful information about the rear of the cab.


    I started by tracing the kit roof onto a bit of paper. Then, by some educated guesswork and eyeballing the photos, I worked out a plausible location for the vent. Time to break out the brass sheet.


    This might work.


    After a session with the rollers, I think it really will work.


    The curved kit parts were fitted, and things begin to come together. Since this shot, I've soldered on the vent. I recognise there seem to be more bolts on the kit part than appear in the photos, but without further information, I'm happy with the compromise. The next job is to arrange a method of locating and holding the roof in place.


    Meanwhile, the client had noted the original builds had fewer rows of rivets on the tank sides than the kit. It was suggested, politely, I might consider whether it would be possible to remove the extras, along with the prominent seam around the centre of the sides. Well, it turns out it is possible. With spare bunker sides in the box, I used them to experiment with rivet removal methods. The best was to use a flexible sanding disc in the Dremel, and finish off with fine grades of emery board. If you know where to look you can see evidence of the removed rivets, but as with so many things these days, I am happy with the finished result. I still need to plug and make good the extra handrail holes around the cab doors.

    Back to figuring out how to make the roof hold in place.
  15. Heather Kay

    Heather Kay Western Thunderer

    I've still not worked out the roof fixing. Instead, I got a bit sidetracked detailing the inside of the back of the cab.


    Rather than do something constructive, I ended up being a little destructive - and made this pile of whitemetal filings. :confused:


    The pile was made from reprofiling the cast toolboxes. As you might expect, the provided parts were too big in several dimensions. That back shelf is quite narrow, and it's obvious from photos the toolboxes were set back a little from the front edge. They also didn't impinge on the bottom edge of the spectacles. Of course, making toolboxes fit led me on to making the spectacles themselves. I added brass angle each side of the back plate doors, and in due course I will make a representation of the doors and latch mechanism. Why this stuff isn't in the kit when it's actually quite visible through the cab openings defeats me.


    From outside, a thin beading round the openings. There really ought to be castings for this stuff, but nothing in the box. The Bits Box coughed up a few spare castings, but nothing quite fitted properly. Nothing for it but to scratch the frames, as I did for the 2251 documented elsewhere. Basically, I traced the openings in the cab sheet, formed 0.7mm brass wire to fit the shape, soldered it to some suitable scrap sheet and set to with piercing saw and files.

    Now I've had enough. I've got sore fingers and aching back! Happily, a couple of the castings I found more or less fit the front spectacles. I will have to do something about the portholes, though.
  16. Heather Kay

    Heather Kay Western Thunderer


    Today's shenanigans: making representative coal hole doors and latch. Just scrap bits and wire. Sounds easy, and it was.
  17. Heather Kay

    Heather Kay Western Thunderer


    I had hoped I would get some decent progress made today. 'Twas not to be. Best Beloved thwarted me by making me into an ad hoc Windows 10 sysadmin, which isn't my favourite pastime - even when I know what I'm doing! While I was otherwise entertained, Mrs Mojo wandered off somewhere.

    I have been fiddling about doing odd jobs on the bodywork, hoping inspiration would strike. I couldn't see any good reason for not fitting the buffer housings, so that was the first thing I tackled. As the castings come from Slater's, I managed to install them straight and true. That's always a good sign, as I normally fit them like Marty Feldman's eyes - all pointing in different directions. I then futzed about with more cab detail, chiefly working out where the handbrake column goes. The cast one in the kit is about a scale six inches short. I can either buy a better one, or make a new column for it. The latter option is the simplest, as I can make it the right four feet high. Enthusiasm dissipated soon after making that decision!

    There is a multitude of holes in the top of the tanks. While I can't see this area on photos of the original builds, I feel confident to infer from various photos I don't need all the holes. There's a tank filler and a vent. There might be a stop block for the filler lid, it as the fillers are low such a thing doesn't show. My inclination is to make new blank tank top overlays rather than fill the holes. Another job. To add to my list!
    Last edited: 20 February 2018
  18. Hal Nail

    Hal Nail Member

    Interesting to see this early build. I am planning to do 4552, a St Blazey loco, c1959 but this had a side roof vent right to withdrawal.

    Having studied various photos, the crew always seem very high in the cab compared to the floor. I went to see 5572 at Didcot recently to investigate and there are a couple of raised wooden platforms on either side, c6 inches high. I’ve got all the dimensions if of use (no idea when these were fitted).

  19. Heather Kay

    Heather Kay Western Thunderer

    Hi Ian. Interesting about the cab height thing. I note you're building a 4500, so I wonder if there was a difference.

    The beast I'm working on is the earlier class that eventually became the 4400, with the tiny driving wheels. I've checked the drawing I have, and it doesn't indicate anything other than a flat floor to the cab.
  20. Hal Nail

    Hal Nail Member

    I've had a quick look on Google (a lot more shots of 44xx with the cab doors open than I found when looking at 45xx!) and looks like this mod happened later - total guesswork but I assume at the same time the bunker was rebuilt, passibly to help visibility with more bunker behind? Anyway seems I've brought up a red herring so apologies!