Oswestry Works

Locomotive works diorama in 4mm

Tag: 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.


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.

P1180304 P1180305

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.

P1180307 P1180308 P1180310

No.5726 – Primed, Numbered, Allocated


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.


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.




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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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!


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

74xx – First attempts at a whitemetal kit

Oswestry had a number of 74xx Panniers on its books, as well as Machynlleth and Aberystwyth, so I’d been keeping an eye out for a cheap NuCast 64xx/74xx whitemetal kit on Ebay when one came up a few months back.  I’m an absolute beginner when it comes to kit building in anything other than plastic, the only contact I’ve had with whitemetal was a brief foray into Warhammer 40k when I was 18 and that didn’t involve any soldering so probably doesn’t count!  The rough plan is to use the kit to get some experience and build static under repair in the works.  The kit came without a motor or gear box, but has wheels and axles at least and spacers for OO gauge.

74xx’s were used in various tasks on the Cambrian such as station pilots and yard shunters, though rarely on passenger services outside of Barmouth being non-auto fitted.  Prototype wise, there were 5 or so 74xx’s that spent most of their BR lives on the Cambrian.

  • 7405 – Oswestry until 1962, spending its final year at Carmarthen
  • 7406 – Aberystwyth until withdrawal in 1962
  • 7410 – Machynlleth to 1954 then transferred to Oswestry until withdrawal in 1961
  • 7417 –  Mach to 1960, Oswestry for a year then back to Mach for the end, withdrawn 1961
  • 7434 – Oswestry (from new), to Mach in 1959, back to Oswestry in 1961, withdrawn 1962
7410 shunting on the Coney Green at Oswestry (Ben Brooksbank via Wikimedia Commons)

7410 shunting on the Coney Green at Oswestry (Ben Brooksbank via Wikimedia Commons)

A notable addition is 7428 which spent it last couple of years as station pilot at Aberystwyth (coming from Croes Newydd in 1960), still with GWR letting adorned on the tanks in yellow chalk.  This tradition was kept up even after she was withdrawn at Oswestry and left on the cripple sidings pending its last journey to the cutters. (A great colour picture here on Rail Online)

All 5 were frequent visitors to the works:

74xx Works Entries

74xx Works Entries

7410 seems like a good choice seeing as it spent so much times visiting the works.

Onto the build.  Being a first timer, I’d started the build using 2 part epoxy, for the cab and splashers.  This seemed to go ok-ish, but minimising the amount of excess epoxy was tricky.  That was about 2 months ago… in the mean time I’ve bought a soldering iron and got on with the rest of the body.  I had to modify the tank/boiler assembly considerably to get it to sit flush on the cab and frames and its still not as good as it should be.  It’s been a good learning experience though, using a soldering iron for the first time and learning as I go.  I’ve been using Iain Rice’s Whitemetal Loco Construction and George Dent’s Kit Building for Railway Modellers Vol 2 books, both which I would be lost without.

7410 Build Progress

Dry fit of the boiler/tank assembly. Some work needed to minimise those gaping holes!

There is another issue with the running plate being slightly out of alignment, so looking straight on the whole loco is slightly lopsided.  As it happens 7410 was in the works in 1954 for bent front and rear buffer beams amongst other things, so I could just about get away with the poor quality of my construction 🙂 It’s rapidly becoming more of a test bed than a model that will actually be usable but I’m learning a lot so not all bad.

7410 - Oswestry Works entry for October 1954

7410 – Oswestry Works entry for October 1954

There are a few missing items in the kit, no top feed for starters, that I’ll 3D print, but there should also be a cover under the smokebox, in front of the tank supports.  Using some scrap brass etch I fashioned a cover with the piecing saw, I think it works, but not under any close inspection!

7410 Build Progress

So far, so… ok.  Learnt a lot and feel a bit more confident with a soldering iron, especially after trying brass to whitemetal.  There needs to be a little more time cleaning up the body before I can get stuck into the list of detailing tasks.  More to come shortly.

7410 Build Progress

Missenden Abbey 3D Printing Course

I’m fresh back from attending Missenden Abbey’s Autumn weekend with a few test 3D prints.  8 of us took up the 3D Printing course which was running for the first time, involving an introduction to Sketchup and then as much 3D printing as you could fit in!   The course was self paced so worked will with the variation in knowledge of Sketchup, with people being able to help each other out as they progressed through the course material.  Having 3 printers between 8 of us also ensured there wasn’t too much waiting around for your turn on the printer.  It was a great weekend, with so much else going on in the other rooms as well.  I was able to drag myself away from the 3D printer for a half hour or so to see Kevin Wilson demonstrating soldering and having a bit of hands on myself.  I’d highly recommend the weekend, not only was the modelling good, its a nice place to spend a weekend with good food and good company – being able to put some names to faces and chat to some of the best in the field was great.

My aims were to improve my abilities with working with some of the solid tools in Sketchup and creating complex shapes such as fillets and bevels, along with getting an understanding of how 3D designs need to be engineered with 3D Printing in mind.  Such as taking into considering overhangs, bridges etc, by either using support material or printing in multiple components.  Here’s some examples of what was produced:

GWR 9000 Class 4-4-0 ‘Dukedog’

I’m interested recreating some of the subtle variations between the many Dukedog’s seen on the Cambrian (as superbly researched here on the GWR Modelling site).  These 2 items were good first steps to try out with the printer – above footplate sandboxes (as per 9000 and 9005), tall top feed (9021, 9004, 9000 and many others).


Top Feed

The sandboxes were straight forward enough, taking the sandbox and wheel arch/splasher measurements from J.H. Russell’s Pictorial Record of Great Western Engines.  The top feed was a tougher to get right and I’m still not 100% happy with it, but it was a good test of skills using the follow me tool in sketchup.  I’d not been able to find any drawings of it before hand so it was a best guess from photos and drawings of other top feeds.

Craven Crane Hoist

This is part of the Erecting Shop crane that I have on my list of things to do for the works.  It’s a little early days to be thinking about detailing the works interior but this was a good chance to see what the printer could do.  I’ll need to revisit the 3D Design later to get it right, but this wasn’t a bad first pass.  I’ve roughly modelled the crane within the erecting shop to get an idea of scale as I’ve no drawings to work from, just photos from the surviving crane at MOSI.


Craven Crane

GWR Manor Chimney

Lastly, by far the hardest task was attempting a chimney.  I’ve been looking for a BR-era Manor chimney for about a year, the DMR model seeming to be the best production but they are very hard to find.  Next best option has to be printing my own!  Find drawings however has been a challenge, I had a quick look at the NRM but didn’t have enough time for a thorough search.  This drawing is based on the GWR Chimney (loosely!), but it was more of an exercise in learning how to make the complex curves and shapes as the chimney meets the smokebox.  After getting a headache from trying to get this to work natively with sketchups toolsets, I had to use a plugin after reading this post on RMWeb.

Manor Chimney

Finally, here are all the bits printed out!  They were made using a MakerBot Replicator 2.0 at 200mn resolution.  They certainly have given me an idea of what is possible and more importantly got me thinking about how things need to be made in order for them to be printable.  I’d already taken the plunge and bought a 3D printer before doing this course.   After reading up and also seeing Rab’s achievements with his printer, I bought a B9 Creator 1.2.  The 1.2 B9 is capable of 30mn resolution so my first job will be reprinting these pieces as a comparison.   I’ve bought the kit version of the printer and haven’t started the build as yet, I’ve another course on Monday evening at the B9 distributors in London, I think it best to go there first to see one in action before making a start.

Missenden Abbey - 3D Printing Course