Oswestry Works

Locomotive works diorama in 4mm

Category: Locomotive Detailing

The Workhorses of Oswestry Yard

The Cambrian system featured relatively few Panniers compared to other corners of the GWR, the exception being Oswestry.   57xx, 74xx and 54xx classes were represented over the years, but the most numerous were the 16xx class.  These little Hawksworth engines were not introduced until 1949 but were pure GWR design, specifically built for light branch work and shunting.  At Oswestry they were employed extensively shunting in the yards, as station pilots or on the branches around the Oswestry area.   Oswestry shed had 10 class members on its books at various times between 1949 and 1962.  Of these, 1602, 1603, 1604 and 1636 had long associations, 1604 spending its whole life of 11 years at Oswestry.  1604 and 1636 are two that I’d like to model in Oswestry Works.

Tom Wright's 16xx and a NuCast 16xx

A while back I picked up a built NuCast 16xx with a view to improving the detailing and adding it to the works roster.  Other than replace it’s incorrect 57xx chimney with a 3D printed one its not had any other attention since I bought it.  In the mean time, Tom Wright has produced a very nice 3D printed 16xx, including frames available via Shapeways.   The design and build of the 3D model is chronicled here on RMWeb.  Tom has kindly modified his original design to exclude some details which I’d prefer to add myself, such as sprung buffers, etched lamp irons and the like.    I ordered it from Shapeway’s on the 17th Feb and today it arrived.

Tom Wright's 16xx

Tom Wright's 16xx

The model includes a body shell, OO gauge spaced frames with nem pockets and a separate smoke box door and roof.  It has a nice solid feel, the lines are crisp and the body shape is captured perfectly – thanks to Tom’s design skills.  The wall thickness is good, the cab sides in particular look better than some RTR offerings.   The main benefit over the B9C is being able to print the loco in one piece, whereas on the B9C due to the restrictions on the build volume at 30 microns, I’d have to print the loco in parts.  However, when it comes to the surface finish the grainy/frosted look needs attention.  The whole body is going to need sanding down, fine for the cab and tank sides but a challenge for anywhere else.  Finer details such as the boiler fittings and smoke box door will be easier to remove and replace with prints from the B9C.

The key point though is that the design itself is great and it will be another nice detailing project to get stuck into.  It’s the material that’s the problem (for me at least!) unfortunately, though I’m confident with some sanding and fine detailed parts it will really lift the model.  It will get the same treatment at 5726 – handrails, boiler fittings, buffer beam detail, pipework, scratch built pull rods and lamp irons etc and will be out shopped as 89A’s No.1604.

It will have to wait a little while though as I’m currently converting our garage into a workshop, I’ve had too many days in there with the temperature hovering just over freezing whilst I’ve been working on the printer!  With the garage/workshop finished in a few weeks time I’ll be ready to get the new 3D business going in earnest.  I’ve still been working my notice so I’ve not as yet been able to devote a lot time into getting things off the ground, but come the end of March 3D design, scanning and printing will become my day job! It’s a bit daunting/exciting/terrifying, but so far so good.  There should also be a surge in progress on the actual building of Oswestry Works in a few weeks, finally…

Being back in Wales now its been great to have Oswestry only an hour away. A couple of weeks ago I had my first experience volunteering with the Cambrian Heritage Railway, the days task being clearing out the cattle pens near the Coney Green.  About 12 of us spent the day tackling the undergrowth as well as clearing old sleepers from the mainline.  Back breaking work but great fun and a nice change to be working on the real thing!

Oswestry Cattle Pens

No.9000 – Back to Black

Considering the benefits 3D printing gives when tackling something like the top feed and sandboxes, there is still a good deal of traditional modelling required to integrate them into the model.  The sandbox pull rods have given me a few hours of amusement trying to solder them (mental note: now might be a good time to look into etching some!); the casing for the top feed pipe, where it runs up the side of the boiler, was equally challenging.  I’d originally tried used masking tape to replicate the thin metal that encases the pipe, but I didn’t get very good results.  Having some time away from the problem was what I needed and this morning I realised that tin foil would be perfect for the job.

Shaping tin foil around the top feed pipe

2 hours later I was still battling with the umpteenth strip of tin foil, having tried and failed with 3 different methods for accurately shaping it around the wire.  The final method which worked well enough was to bend some wire around another Dukedog boiler, take an inch long strip of tin foil about 2.5mm wide, tape one end to the boiler/wire and then smooth the tin foil down the wire making sure it shaped to the wire.   Then using a flattened end of a cocktail stick you can tease the tinfoil gentle into the wire.  Even at that stage the process is fraught with danger, as slightly too much pressure with the cocktail stick tears the tin foil.

Shaping tin foil around the top feed pipe

With that fiddly task completed I turned attention to the front of the loco.  No.9000 was one of a few class members that had a lamp iron on the smokebox door, another nice fiddly task to challenge me.  The lamp iron on the smokebox door would need to be quite fine so as not to jar with its surroundings, so I decided to use Shawplan Extreme Etchings Lamp Brackets as these are a lot finer than the Mainly Trains etch.   Iain Rice’s Etched Loco Construction was my guide for folding the etch into shape, not as tricky as I thought but still a testing task with the Hold’n’Fold.   To keep things the same I replaced the other lamp irons and for variation fitted a new smoke box dart.

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With those jobs finished the last task tonight was to mask and then coat with Halfords black primer.  This wasn’t quite as straight forward as with the Pannier as the open cab has fantastic detail which needed preserving.  A few layers of Tamiya masking tape did the job but for me it still takes a bit of a leap of faith when using maskol.  This time however I’m completely sold on it, it worked great used directly on the cab windows and peeled off easily after starting with a cocktail stick.

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Of course once the primer is on then the niggles start to show.  The top feed has an unsightly gap where it meets the boiler that I’d forgot to tackle, I think I’ll have to try some modelling putty and another coat of primer.  Anyways, that’s it for now, I’m waiting on the numbers still so No.9000 will go back into the queue.  I think it might now be time to blow the dust of the High Level Chassis for No.5726! I’m booked onto the Loco building course at Missenden in March, so I think making a start on the kit now would be good and I’ll take a Comet Manor and Mogul chassis’ to Missenden as I imagine they will be quite a lot harder.

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No.5726 – Primed, Numbered, Allocated

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No.5726 finally gets her numbers! They’ve been in the project box since last May so it was quite a moment finally putting them in place.  I thought I was 99% there with No.5726, but boy does the macro lens show up a lot …. I’m happy though, this has been a fantastic starter project in detailing, its been quite a journey since March 2014…! Credit to George Dent, Paul Marshall-Potter, Mikkel and Iain Rice for the inspiration to first take a scalpel to 7739.

Since the last entry on No.5726 quite a few jobs have been finished, firstly priming with a Halford’s black rattle can after masking up using the method detailed by PMP on Albion Yard.  The finish the primer leaves is great, flat black and looks like it gives some protection too.  Unfortunately as I peeled the maskol away, the route/power indicator decals came off.  Something else to add to the list!

Next up was fitting the etched plates, early emblem and shed code all from Modelmasters.  Seeing Tom Fosters lovely results with No.4645, I also went for Pacific Models smoke box plates.

Once the primer was on a few more last minute detailing ideas came to mind.  Fitting the porthole windows from the Mainly Trains etch reminded me a photo of No.7792 / L.94 I’d taken at Tyseley last year.  The spectacle windows were open, a nice feature.  Two other smaller details to note – the steam heating cock and chain; and the pet pipe draped out of the cab.

GWR 5700 Class No.7792 / L.94 at Tyseley Open Day 5th July 2014

The steam heating assembly is made of a mix of types of wire, scrap brass etch, romford wound brass vacuum pipes and a 3D printed steam heating cock.  It was winding the wire to make the retaining chain that gave me the idea for the pet pipe, the pipe used to wash down the cab and dampen down dust in the coal bunker.  For this I wrapped 40swg copper wire around some 24swg wire.

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Jobs still to do – varnish the decals, real coal, screw link coupling for the rear, steam heating cock and pipe for the rear buffer beam, left tank filler lid handle missing, paint the whistles with brass paint. Then weather… then… build the High Level Chassis and get No.5726 into the world of P4! That’s a job slated for Missenden in the Spring.

Full set of the build is here on Flickr – https://www.flickr.c…57641881239955/

A few notes on the open spectacle windows which I’ve forgot to mention as it was so long ago!  I used a tapered reamer to remove the moulded window rim, then opened the window up just enough to slot in brass spectacle window from the Mainly Trains etch.  Glue’n’Glaze was used beforehand.

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Dukedog variations – Sandboxes

No.9000 Sandboxes and Top Feed fitted

A number of the Dukedog’s had above footplate sandboxes as determined by the frames of the donating Bulldog.  No.9000 and No.9005 will feature in the Works, both of which had this particular trait.  There is also another slight variation, No.9000 and No.9005 had their pull rods above the filler lids, whereas 9008 had them running along side the sandboxes, in between the wheel splashers and springs (it’s quite hard to make out, but here is a picture courtesy of the GWSR)

This evenings task was seeing how the 3D printed sandboxes for 9000 and 9005 would fit.  I’ve had to tweak them a few times to deal with the slight lip on running plate near the rear wheel splashers.  First job though was to remove the front sandbox lids from the running plate.  These are part of the metal chassis and were not going to budge with a knife, so I threaded a piecing saw blade between the boiler and the running plate in order to cut them away.

Removing the sandbox lids

First complication was that the front grab rails needed removing in order to get a decent cut.  These are also metal and quite hard to remove cleanly, in fact I only successfully pulled one, with the other three snapping off and leaving the peg in the chassis.  After taking off the sandbox lids I redrilled these ready for fitting replacements.

The sandboxes ping off their build supports really easily, but they do need a little cleaning up with a knife or needle file to ensure a flush fit.  The build support penetration can be configured, in this case it was set to 25 microns, so if you remove the supports carefully they just need a quick once over with a file.

I’ve experimented with what angle to build them at quite a bit, the best detail being printing them in the normal orientation, but this does mean the base of them is rather uneven – this is due to the resin dripping away and some of it curing.  I’m sure that can be resolved, once I replace the layer of silicone in the printer I should get even sharper prints.  But for the time being I’ve rotated the prints 45 degrees which gives best of both worlds.

Dukedog Detailing Parts

On the top of the sandboxes I’d added the short spigots for the pull rods to connect to, more as a test if anything to see if the printer would cope with them. It did, but in practice they are useless, there is nothing for the pull rod to attach to and its too fine a point for glue.  These were clipped off and 0.4mm handrail wire used instead, allowing the brass strip pull rods to be soldered to the handrail wire.

Fitting 0.4mm brass spigots

Sandbox pull rod fitting

With that done the next jobs were to bring No.9000 up to the same basic detailed level of No.9018 – replace all the buffer beam fittings, add the ATC electrical conduit etc.  The top feed also needed fixing and the pipework modifying, all tasks which involve a fair bit of handling and not ideal after just fixing the sandbox pull rods!  Next time round I’ll put them on last as the pull rod connection to the spigots is quite delicate.

No.9000 Sandboxes and Top Feed fitted

No.9000 Sandboxes and Top Feed fitted

Dukedog variations part II – No.9000

Tonight’s detailing has been some tentative steps with a revisited top feed design for the Bachmann Dukedog.  It’s still not 100% right but I’ve made a start anyway, by fitting the pipework temporarily I can get some idea of anything else that needs adjusting.

No.9000 has a couple of detailing tasks, the top feed and the next post will be on the sandboxes.  For the top feed I started out with some 24 swg (0.559mm) copper wire, taped to the boiler with some Tamiya masking tape to get the right shape.

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With the wire tacked in place it can then bent to shape, with a pair of 16 BA washers added to represent the pipe join before it dips behind the wheel splasher.  I’ve cut the tape here in about a 3mm wide strip, thinking that this could be a good way of simulating the thin metal sheet that covered the pipework from the top feed to just before the bend in the pipe.

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With the top feed temporarily fitted with Tacky Wax it can then all be jiggled around until it looks somewhere near right.  I had to make 2 slight cuts in the Tamiya tape to get it to bend around the shape of the boiler, as well as the wire.  I’m not sure its worked too well, though once I come to fit it permanently some super glue will help it mould to the shape of the boiler and the wire.  I think bend in the pipework where it runs back towards the cab needs to be lower as well.

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That’s it for the first entry on 9000, the next post will be fitting the top feed permanently and fitting the sandboxes and pull rods.

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Dukedog variations part I – No.9018

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With 5726 waiting on some final bits (smokebox number and shed plate) I thought I’d make a start on the trio of Dukedog’s that will feature in the works.  At this stage its detailing I’m concentrating on, converting them to P4 will be a challenge for later when I’ve developed some better skills…! There is a well documented process to convert a Dukedog to EM on Alan Gibson’s website, hopefully this could be a good starting point.

The 3 Dukedog’s will give some opportunity to model some of the slight variations between the class members as detailed by Russ Elliott on the GWR Modelling website.  Another great source is Railway Bylines Vol 16 issues 2 and 3 (Jan & Feb).  Both have 14 page or so articles on the life of the Dukedogs and some great photos. For the works I’ve selected first in class No.9000, No.9004 and No.9018, all 89C:

9000 (great reference photos at Dovey JunctionAberystwyth and Machynlleth)

  • Sandboxes above the footplate (determined by the particular donating Bulldog frame)
  • Top feed
  • No whistle shield
  • Small Dean/Churchward tender
  • Fluted rods
  • Lamp iron on smokebox door
  • Black background number

9004 (On shed at Portmadoc, in store at Wellington)

  • Top Feed
  • Short whistle shield
  • Fluted rods
  • Lamp iron on smokebox door
  • Red background number

9018 (On freight at Aberdovey, not long till the end, Oswestry)

  • Parallel buffers
  • Tall whistle shield
  • Red background number
  • Fish belly rods
  • Faded GWR shirtbutton motif on tender

Other options in the future might be 9005, 9014, 9017… can you tell I like Dukedogs… 🙂  Looking at the works registers for the period I’ll be modelling, there are plenty to chose from.

Works Entries - 9000 Class

9018 spent it’s last days in store out on ‘the batter’ siding at Oswestry.   Along with 9017 and 9004, these were the last of the Dukedog’s to see service in 1960.  I’d picked up a cheap Bachmann GWR Dukedog from Ebay with various parts broken or missing – the perfecting starting point for 9018 as most of the stuff which was missing I was planning to replace anyway!

First up are the buffers, I’ve used Alan Gibson parallel Collett versions.  I can’t say how easy or hard it was to get the original ones off – they weren’t on there in the first place! The remains of the old buffers are part of the chassis casting, so these were filed down slightly before fitting the replacements.

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Next was the electrical conduit for the ATC equipment – a small pipe routed through the cab front, down through and then along the running plate to the ATC kit under the front buffer beam.  This was a pretty straightforward task with some 0.4mm hand rail wire and some holes drilled in the cab front and the running plate.  Photos from a trip to the Bluebell to see 9017 in store helped with this.

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Next step, though probably a little early considering what else there is to do, was to fit the fine whistle and mounting bracket.  I’d printed this a few days ago after a couple of days of fine tuning the B9 Creator settings.  This is the finest detail I’ve got so far, though amazingly there is still some room for improvement looking at what others are achieving!   It’s fitted to a Comet Model’s long shield, part of the LS74 GWR detailing etch.

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That’s it for 9018 now until a few orders come in next week – I’m waiting on cabside numbers from 247 Developments and smokebox numbers from Pacific models. For 9000 and 9004 I’ve final samples of the 3D printed top feed and sandbox prints currently curing in the UV oven.  Both these designs needed some revisions as the first round of prints weren’t quite right.  The top feed was a pig to design, not having an diagrams to work from just photos, but I think I’ve got it somewhere near now.  Sandboxes are quite straight forward, there are 2 types, the more common type with the pull rods running along the top, and a less common variation with pull rods running along side the sandbox.

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Pushing the envelope with a B9 resin mix

GWR 9000 Class Top Feed test print

After what was in retrospect disappointing results with Spot HT – through my own ineptitude I must add, I went back to the tried and tested  1:1 mix of B9 Creator Red and Cherry resin.  This isn’t to say one is any better than the other, but with little life left in the layer of PDMS silicone before it needs replacement I didn’t have the leeway to experiment further with Spot HT.

This last batch of prints has been more experimentation with what level of detail is possible.  Second time round I reduced the size of the whistles and the steam heating cock to be a more prototypical size, even more challenging for the printer.  After quite a few false starts (left the projector lens cap on, build table not calibrated properly, not enough resin, ultrasonic died), I finally got a successful batch of prints of the highest detail so far.

This feels like uncharted territory because I’ve not wanted to let myself believe that it was capable of this kind of detail, until I’d seen it with my own eyes, coming out of my own printer.  I firstly revisited the design of the top feed for the Dukedog, the previous version not having a recess for the pipework.  This was designed to fit 20 swg copper wire, but the printed hole is slightly tight. It was a good exercise to see how well the resin could be worked with and the small hole could be opened up easily twiddling with a small drill bit.  This top feed will end up on 9014.

The whistles came out almost perfectly, considering that some of the detail in the design was under 0.25mm it would be impossible to see with out a macro lens or magnification.  Once cured these fine parts are quite robust, they aren’t indestructible but they did handle tweezers and finger tips, positioning them and trimming away traces of Tacky Wax under a magnifying glass!  It’s the detail presented on these that has really left me speechless.

GWR Standard whistles and mounting bracket test print

GWR Standard whistles and mounting bracket 30 micron xyz print

The beauty of this resin is it’s use to complement traditional materials, in this case matching up the whistles and mount with a Comet whistle shield etch and two strands of 36 swg copper wire to represent the whistle pipework.  The whistle print stood up to the finicky task of glueing everything together well, with impatient tweezer nibs looming, third hands full, trying not to drown the details out in glue.  This is the kind of detail I was hoping to attain after a few abortive attempts last year.

So with that done I think I’m out of excuses as to why 5726 can’t be finally painted and have its correct numbers fitted!

5726 with new whistle assembly

Comet Whistle Shield Etch, 36 SWG copper wire and 3D printed whistle and bracket assembly

5726 with new whistle assembly

5726 with new whistle assembly

Experiments with Spot-HT Resin

Other B9 Creator users have had some impressive results usingSpot-HT resin, in particular for small highly detailed components.  The main difference with this resin to the proprietary B9 resins is that you cannot use it for casting, it is also much less viscous which should mean that it settles quicker.

I’d just about enough life left in the layer of PDMS for another print, so today I tested printing some detailing components using Spot-HT.   The test parts I’ve roughly drawn up in Sketchup, some will need a little more work depending on the results of the print.  The test pieces were:

  • 4x Pannier tank rear steps
  • 1x Top feed for 74xx
  • 12x GWR Whistles pairs and mounting bracket
  • 14x Steam heating hose cocks

Spot-HT Test Print components

First up, the steps have come out really well, with a thickness of 0.5mm they look just right.  The rivet detail has come out nicely but I will probably increase the size next time round.  There is some flash to remove from the edges of the steps, due to the positioning on the build table.  Another thing for next time is printing these small components on a sprue. They were a devil to get off the build table without damaging! That said, this material is pretty tough even before curing under UV light.

The whistles have lost quite a lot of their detail but I think this is down to the clouding of the PDMS.  However, the small nut on top of the whistles has printed really well, considering its 0.25mm wide its pretty amazing!   The steam heating hose cocks also look pretty good, with the addition of a turned brass pipe and handle made from 0.4mm handrail wire.  However both these items are slightly overscale, I’ll have to get the micrometer out next time and make them more accurate!

Spot-HT test prints

5726 with 3D printed steam heating hose cock

For now that’s it for printing.  I’m waiting on my spare vat to return from the USA as its being fitted with a replacement for PDMS called Nuvat, developed by Evert on the B9 Creator forum (details here).  This new material should last a lot longer than PDMS.

Happy New Year

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Happy New Year! What a wet and windy start it is here in Mid Wales.  Thankfully we’ve been making the most of the good weather in the last days of 2014, spending Monday at Llangollen for a first trip on the new extension to Corwen.  It was a beautiful clear blue sky day, very cold but the mulled wine and mince pies served en-route helped!  It’s also the first time I’ve seen 5199 in steam after seeing her in the works earlier in the year, paired up with a set of crimson and cream stock.   This was the perfect day to experience the line, the sun warming the south facing hillsides and the lee sides in hard frost.

I spent New Years Eve with friends in Rhayader and our last outing of the year was to walk part of the Mid Wales line north towards the remains of the Wye bridge and Marteg Halt.  I’ve only seen the track bed from the road before so it was interesting to see what was left of the line, if anything.  The biggest surprise was what I think is remains of a concrete distant signal post, about a mile north of Rhayader.  Some cast iron kissing/crossing gates were a few yards further up the line, along with a few piles of bricks from a demolished plate layers hut in the undergrowth.  Before we turned back we took a look at the remains of the old Wye bridge, the concrete stanchions still standing tall either side the river.

Today I’ve finished the replacement pipework on 5726.  For the injector overflow pipe I’ve used slightly smaller washers, reamed out to fit the copper wire as I think they look a little more to scale than my previous effort.  For the steam heating pipework I fancied having a go at creating the effect of cloth cladding so I’ve experimented with some surgical tape.  Micropore has a fibrous texture and I think might be just about fine enough to look something like the real thing.

The handrails have also been completed, using Markits short 1.6mm knobs, not Alan Gibson as I’d originally thought.  Final job now is the whistles and shield before painting finally!

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Blowing the dust off 5726

5726 progress

It’s been 8 months since I did anything to 5726, it being the first locomotive that I’d attempted to detail.  It was turning into a bit of a test bed to try out techniques, some worked well, some didn’t and some need revisiting (again!).

It’s been a big help seeing the progress Tom Foster is making on his Panniers and we’ve both being taking inspiration from similar sources – PMP’s Albion Yard and George Dents excellent Detailing and Modifying RTR loco’s, both which have been invaluable to the beginner in detailing.  The push I needed to do some modelling again was reading James Wells post about his 57xx project, detailed and weathered to a high standard in a short space of time.  Cheers James!

The last time 5726 was out it was in quite a sorry state: hand rails removed; whistles removed and refitted a few times, still not happy with them; and lastly I’d started to remove the moulded pipework along the running plate with a view to replacing with brass and copper wire.  Today’s tasks have been to finish the handrails, redo the sandbox pull rods and replace the moulded pipework.   Jobs for 2015 are to have a go at 3D printing a new whistle/manifold/shield assembly, build the etched chassis and finally paint and weather.

Handrails – I’d started work on replacing the handrails back in April and would have finished that step today had I not run out of handrail knobs… the main tank handrail is finished, using AG 0.4mm brass wire and handrail knobs.  Now just the small tank grab rails and cab rails to finish.

Sandbox Pull Rods – Both Tom and James have fitted their RT sandbox etch in a more prototypical manner, which looks much better, so this was the first task to rectify.  Previously I’d had the pull rod fixed to the top of the sandbox lid, where in reality it should be attached just behind the lid to a short pivot.  I used AG 0.4mm handrail wire and soldered it to the end of the pull rod, then positioned into a small drill hole in the running plate.

Replacement Vacuum and Injector Overflow pipework – this was another task inspired by reading Iain Rice’s Etched Loco Construction and something also on the list for 7410.  It was surprisingly easy to remove the moulded pipe work with a flat tipped Xacto knife blade, working along the running plate.   Before starting out, as with trying to make my own injectors for 7410, I needed to understand what I was trying to recreate first.  To help with this I’d recently picked up a BR era copy of the Handbook for Railway Steam Locomotive Enginemen, which has descriptive colour coded diagrams of everything, just what I need for my non-mechanical brain!

Looking through the Pannier papers and at other photos, it looks as though the vacuum pipe runs the length of the left hand side – for these I used AG’s 0.7mm handrail wire. The slightly smaller diameter steam heating pipe runs the length of the right hand side, usually insulated in cloth cladding – 0.4mm handrail wire seemed about right for these.   For the small fastening clips I’ve folded over 1mm phosphor bronze strip and used 14BA washers for the pipework joins.

The injector overflows look like a slightly larger diameter pipe to the vacuum pipes – for those I used 20 SWG copper wire and 16BA washers for the joins.  I’m not 100% happy with them, the bends need to be a bit neater but I’ll see what they look like when painted.  Overall though, I’m happy and its been another good learning exercise!  Next update will be once the handrails are sorted and I’ve had a go at printing the whistle assembly, or part of it so I can still use the turned brass whistles.