Oswestry Works

Locomotive works diorama in 4mm

Tag: injector

Happy New Year


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!


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.

Injectors part II and a visit to Oswestry

In the last entry I was trying and failing to get an injector built with the soldering iron.  I had some good advice about using 188 deg solder combined with 145 deg to build up the injector without it melting into a lump, I’ll give that a go when I’m back home in Brighton.  In the mean time I’ve retried the process using super glue.  It’s been pretty successful, except I’ve not been able to make it small enough – without the pannier body to give it some sense of scale, it looks ok but it still needs to be about 20% smaller to fit between the running plate and the tanks!

74xx injector test build

74xx injector test build

For the time being I’ll put this little side project to one side, there is still much to do in Illustrator to get the works ready for the laser cutter.  Once the 3D printer is up and running it will be a good test of its abilities.

Whilst back home in Wales, Oswestry is only an hour or so away so I usually get up there to have a look around for new ideas.  The gates to the inner yard are usually closed, but by chance they were open on yesterdays visit.   This yard was situated between the machine shop (which was linked to the loco works) and the smithy. In the yard to the southside were the coppersmiths, brass foundry, engine house and the boiler house.

Oswestry Works Inner Yard

Oswestry Works Inner Yard

The yard itself had a number of wagon turn tables though by the 1950’s it looks as though only one was left in use to access a short spur off of the works thru road.  This spur was used for the loading of refuse, ash and such into wagons for disposal.  On the north side of the yard were the stores and departmental offices.

Seeing the low afternoon sun shining on the buildings got me thinking… it would be quite something to make the works a modular layout, in the same vein as Mikkel’s Farthing layouts, building the works up with 3 cut-a-away diorama’s.  This would include a 4th module to represent the works sidings and up/down main lines to the north of the works.  To get an idea of the scope, I’ve put them together in Sketchup and colour coded the proposed modules:

  • Red – Locomotive Works (Erecting Shop, Traverser Shed, Tender Shop, Loco works yard)
  • Green – Machine Shop, Offices & Stores, Inner Yard, Smithy
  • Blue – Wagon Department, Carriage Shops
  • Yellow – Up/Down main line, loops and sidings, works bridge
Oswestry Works - Modular diorama design

Oswestry Works – Modular diorama design

Oswestry Works - Modular diorama design

Oswestry Works – Modular diorama design

These views show the whole works, but I still think a cut away has the most potential, extending the cut from the existing diorama, exposing the inside of the machine shop, the inner yard, the wagon shop and the carriage shops.  Quite a challenge but building it up in manageable sections like this should make it more achievable.

Oswestry Works - Modular diorama design showing cut away

Oswestry Works – Modular diorama design showing cut away

Surprising what an afternoon wandering around in the sun can lead to!

Oswestry Works - 5/11/14

Oswestry Works – 5/11/14

A test run at scratch built injectors

I’m back in Wales for a few days and to keep up the momentum of progress I figured I’d set myself a small project, something that doesn’t take up too much space or need too many tools – making some injectors to replace the whitemetal ones with the NuCast 74xx.  By the time I’d packed the reference books, tweezers, pliers, components, lamps, soldering iron etc I might as well have brought the whole tool box, but that’s another matter.

Whitemetal kits and etched kits are completely new territory for me, so for about a year before I bought a soldering iron I read, read and read so more.  Not that it changed much, I still didn’t feel confident enough to even open the wrapper on the Dean Goods chassis, certainly not the High Level Pannier I’d bought eagerly at ScaleForum months ago, still sat neatly packed in its box… time was the main factor, I needed a clear head and some hours set aside to have a go.  Now I’ve got a bit more free time there are no more excuses left.  Soldering iron has been bought, Whitemetal kit attempted.  No turning back now!

I’d first heard of Iain Rice’s Building Whitemetal Locomotives and Etched Loco Construction through Geoff Forster’s blog Chronicles of Penhydd and I managed to find them both very cheaply second hand.  As well as explaining the whole process extremely clearly and with some humour from time to time, it’s the level of scratch built detail that really captured my attention – vacuum pipes (with pipe couplings!), backheads, washout plugs and so much more.  It was the injectors that caught my eye though as these are nearly always poorly reproduced in plastic.  So here goes, an attempt at creating one of these small Iain Rice masterpieces.

A few months ago the components were collected:

  • 1/16″ Brass Capilliary Tubing for the Injector body
  • 0.75mm Copper Wire for the steam and water pipes
  • 1mm Copper Wire for the Top feed and Overflow pipes
  • 16BA and 14BA washers and nuts for the fittings and valves

Injector scratch building materials

Before starting however I realised I had no idea what all these mysterious pipes actually did.  So a bit of reading up was the first job and thankfully the Bluebell Railway have a full description of the process, documented when they replaced the injectors on 9017:

Steam from the boiler, and water from the tank or tender, pass through a stop valves (taps) controlled by the fireman. When he wishes to increase the level of water in the boiler he turns on the water and steam valves.

Initially water passes into the injector by gravity, where it lifts the hinged combining cone flap, pushes down the overflow valve and runs out of the overflow pipe onto the ground. When the steam valve is opened, a jet of steam escapes from the steam cone. This jet has a high velocity, which it imparts to the surrounding water. At the same time the cold water starts to condense the steam jet. During condensation the volume of the steam is vastly reduced, so a partial vacuum is formed which (a) draws more water from the tank, (b) closes the overflow valve, and (c) shuts the hinged combining cone flap. The mixture of condensing steam and cold water continues to gain speed as it travels through the combining cone. It emerges from the small end of the combining cone as a jet of hot water. It then travels across the gap and into the divergent delivery cone. Here the speed of the jet is reduced, but its pressure is increased sufficiently to lift the delivery clack (non-return valve) and flow into the boiler.

To help get my head around the various pipes, valves and their purpose I put a 3D model together in Sketchup.  This is based on the 74xx, though there is an additional thinner pipe from the water inlet valve which goes into the cab – I’m guessing this is how the fireman controls the water inlet from the tanks?

74xx Injector for possible 3D Print

74xx Injector for possible 3D Print

Just getting the thing drawn on paper was a challenge, its the kind of device that no matter how many times I look at it I spot another pipe I’d not seen before, or then looking at it in reverse, on the opposite side of the tank might as well be the first time I’ve seen it.  A few sketches and the 3D model helped though and I think I’ve now grasped the concept!

For a test I’ve started out with just the basics – fitting 2 types of wire to the capillary tube and fitting a washer and nut.  Straightforward enough I thought, before I started to employ every tweezer I owned and still needed an extra hand.  After a while of remelting all the solder and the whole thing falling apart for the 10th time, I switched tactics – drown the whole unit in flux, melt the solder onto the new item to introduce and quickly jam it in place before the solder hardens.

Or alternatively, tomorrow I’ll try to do the whole lot in a 10th of the time with super glue (I’m sure it will still be a challenge though!)

Or, I’ll 3D print the body and still use the wire for piping…

Injector test build

Injector test build

Injector test build

Injector test build