Tuesday 28 December 2010

Trouble comes in threes

I couldn't face a return to the computer last night, so it's a post-event write-up...  They say that trouble comes in threes, and yesterday proved the truth of that.  After the gearbox glitch, and the tender hornguide hiatus, came the soldering iron woes!

I thought that I'd do something very straightforward and knock up some wagon suspension for a little side-project (of which more in a couple of days time).  I switched on my Antex TC660 soldering station, the "heating" light flashed once, and that was it :-(

Much switching on and off, dismantling, probing, etc, etc, and it still did exactly the the same.  Flashed once for heating, the element got _slightly_ warm, and nothing more.  My suspicions are that the temperature sensor in the element has died, so that it gets to the minimum level of heat (75 degrees C) and then switches off.  Replacement elements are available, but not readily on a bank holiday evening.

Fortunately, my nearest Maplin is only ten minutes drive away, and after a quick phone call to confirm that they woul be open until 6pm, I whizzed off down there for a replacement soldering station.  It's Maplin's own model, 48W, and with a digital temperature display.  With a packet of spare bits, it cost me 55 quid as an emergency purchase, versus about £30 for a replacement element for the Antex - not that I could have got one until the New Year anyway.

It does the job, but I have to say that I don't like it as much as the Antex.  The iron itself is more bulky, and somehow feels more "clumsy" to use.  The bits don't seem as well built, and are not as fine to use and don't seem to hold the solder on the bit cleanly.  And the up/down temperature control is not as quick to use as the dial on the Antex.

All this makes it sound as though the Maplin iron is rubbish.  It's not.  However I've clearly been spoiled by the Antex, and I'll be getting a new element for it as soon as I can.  I can then keep the Maplin station as a spare in case the Antex dies again.

So that is my three items of bad luck out of the way!  Let's hope that is it for the festive season...

Monday 27 December 2010

A couple of glitches

Just when it was all going so well...  Actually, the two glitches that I've hit that will disrupt progress for a little while are not the fault of the Alan Gibson kit.  It's solely due to the way that I'm building it using CSB suspension, and the learning points involved in that.  Again, no fault of the theory or practice of CSBs, just that they need alternative approaches.

The first glitch arose last night when I started putting together a High Level RoadRunner+ gearbox to use in the Y14.  I picked up a couple of these at Scaleforum, knowing that they are lovely quality items.  However, when i got it part-built, I tried it between the frames and...

The gearbox is too wide to go between the axleboxes.  I've already thinned as much as I dare from the back without losing the High Level beam-fixing tags, but there is still a lot to lose before it will go.  So I've put the chassis to one side, and will phone in an order for a couple of SlimLiner+ gearboxes after the New Year.

I may also get chance to pick up one of the High Level mounting point jigs for CSBs at the same time.  They were so popular at Scaleforum that Chris had sold out before I could get to his stand.

With progress on the loco stalled, I thought that I would have a crack at the tender.  This should be pretty straightforward, and again would have CSB springing all round.  I have more High Level 2mm axleboxes and hornblocks in stock, so the first thing that I did was get them out for mounting in the (inner) tender chassis frames.

The Alan Gibson frames come pre-milled with cutouts for the standard AG hornblocks for springing.  Unfortunately, these holes are actually larger than the entire High Level hornblock, including the mounting plate.  

So I'll have to make up some frame sides of my own, and go from there.  Not enormously difficult, but a little tedious with a piercing saw.  So that's for another day.  In the meantime, I'm going to knock up something quick and easy...


Saturday 25 December 2010

Detailing the chassis

A few pieces of brass strip, and couple of bits of bent wire, and a rather impressionistic detailing of the chassis has come together.

Now to find the instructions for my High Level gearbox kit and get some movement into it...

Wednesday 22 December 2010

I think that's it...

After watching Jezzer, James and Stuart on the seasonal Top Gear, I returned to the workbench last night to do some more on the Y14.  I must have got in the metaphorical steam of things, as it was 23.58 when I soldered the last lamp iron into place, and dunked  the body into the ultrasonic bath.

And I think that this is it.  I believe that I've got in place every detail from locomotive no. 643 that I could identify on the photographs in place.  I used a picture of 642 for the port-side, and even between apparently sister engines in the class, I noticed one difference, in the number of handrail knobs on the side of the smokebox.  There is a lot of GER standardisation, but very little consistency!

So here are some pictures of it.  The blotchy colours of the metalwork are due to the use of Acidip then neutralising Rinse to clean off the flux and oxides.  It isn't actually that bad in real life...

Comments and criticisms are all very welcome.  I know that the whistle is absent from the side of the safety valve, as that is polished brass and won't be fitted until after painting.  Also, I know of two very small errors in the style of the components fitted, when compared to the prototype photos.  However I'll keep those to myself unless someone spots them - they really are very, very minor.


Tuesday 21 December 2010

Santa Claus arrives early...

Or at least the postman does.  Bringing with him the etches for my Great Eastern Little Sharpie 2-4-0 kit.  This is from PeterK, part of the Kemilway portfolio:  http://www.kemilway.com/peter-k.html

Having virtually forgotten about it, being some fourteen months since I placed the order and the cheque was cashed, I gave a random phone call to Kemilway, when I remembered last week. Part of the overall delay was due to me having moved house in August, and the first delivery sometime after that wasn't swept up in our postal re-direct.

But now I have it!  The next step is to review what suitable castings are available from Alan Gibson to complete it, and put it into the Works queue.

One picture from the Kemilway website of what the finished model should look like.  

Despite the delay, I'm really looking forward to building it...

Saturday 18 December 2010

An evening's work...

Making progress is great when you put your mind to it.  For once, I had an evening with very little in commitments to do anything.  We were staying in to wait for a friend who is coming up from Bristol for the weekend, so I retired to my modelling desk to get started on what was initially quite a daunting set of details that I'd identified.

The kit instructions are generally quite vague at this point, and there is only a single exploded diagram of the locomotive that shows *everything* that is in the kit, regardless of period or option.  Points that I came across on the way, and that I include for the education/amusement/despair of you, gentle reader, include:

- The Westinghouse pump mounting bracket does not have an identifiable location to fit to the kit.  It isn't visible on the instructions, nor any of my photos.  Logically really, as it's hidden behind the pump itself.  So I concluded that it can only go behind the lower part of the pump, as to be behind the upper would interfere with the reversing rod.

- Getting the lower ends of the pipes from the clack valves and the Westinghouse pump fixed firmly to the footplate promised to be problematic, as I didn't want to leave a visible gap at the end of them.  I solved this by flooding a blob of low melt solder onto the footplate, then fixing the pipe into this.  I could then use the tip of a scalpel and some needlefiles to pare back the excess solder until only a pipe-width remained.

- Most of us have an excess of different solders in our tool kit - USE THEM!  Last night I used four different types.  These are all from Carrs/C&L (no connection, just good quality stuff) and were 188 solder paint, 179, 145 and 70 degree.  Use each in its proper place and the job is so much easier.

- Details of what I believe are the sandbox operating linkages are not included in the kit.  I made these up from a couple of spare AG short handrail knobs and some 0.45mm straight wire.  They curve under the boiler, where it appears that the operating linkages to the cab run on the prototype.  I think that they are an extra detail that is rather quite convincing.

- Bending the front curve of a handrail is an absolute sod!  I've always struggled to get this even on any loco that I've built (not that there have ever been more than three of them before this), and of the correct radius.  This one isn't perfect, but it's not too bad, and I seem to have got the "elbows" to bring the length of wire back down the boiler side in roughly the right places.  I did it with a series of very small wreaks in AG straight wire using snipe nosed pliers.  If anyone has any other tips or methods that they can share, I'd very much appreciate it.

So what is the result of all this labour?  Here are a couple of (slightly blurry, as they were shot using the grey natural light this morning) pictures of it:

There are still a few more external details, such as pipe runs and hinges, to be fitted, but it's starting to look much less clean-lined than before, but is a workmanlike, good way.  Maybe some more to be done this evening, but in the meantime it's Christmas shopping!

Thursday 16 December 2010

Starting the detailing

So, to make a start on the fine detail of the locomotive.  The picture below shows my initial stage:

Thanks to Adrian Marks of the GERS, I have photos of the left and right sides of sequential locomotives from my intended production (1899) batch of the Y14.  They are also in roughly the correct period.  You'll see that I've printed them off at A4 size.  I've then ringed each detail that I can see on the locomotive and that isn't already on the model.

Some of these fittings already come with the Alan Gibson kit.  Some I will have to make from scratch.  And so to the soldering iron...

Well, I've just booked myself on the Missenden Modellers Weekend.  That's 11-13 March 2011, in deepest Buckinghamshire.

Now I really *must* get on and finish the Y14, as I started it at last year's course, and it's going to be so embarassing if I'm *still* working on it :-(

To the workbench (after dinner and a glass of red wine, that is)!

Sunday 5 December 2010

Getting things moving

After another couple of weeks of no real progress on the demo board, yesterday I had chance to start work on it again.

I'd already obtained from Maplin some terminal posts and a rotary selector switch as components, so I was ready to go with drill and soldering iron.  The interesting thing about the Maplin rotary switch, if anyone is contemplating using one is that although they are sold as (in this case) a three-way by four contact switch, this appears to be defined by the position of a tab-washer inside the switch.  This can be moved to give a different number of clicks.  This presumably gives a different number of discrete selections.  I didn't test this with a multimeter, but is worth exploring if you think that you have the wrong component for the job in hand.  Oh, and I found this little gem out when the switch fell apart after I'd taken the locking ring off to install it.  So be careful!

Anyway, this is how it looks from above the baseboard:

The nearest posts, by the switch are the ones that take the power feeds.  I will produce some proper wires for a controller with banana plugs, rather than the temporary flying leads that I use for testing locomotives at the workbench.  The far posts are for the power feed to go in for the point motors.

And this is it underneath:

I'm using a piece of copperclad sleeper strip as a wiring bus, so that I don't have to try and fit all of the return feeds into a single point or onto a single component.

And so if I get chance today, it's on to finishing off my first Turnout Operation Unit, and seeing if it can be installed.