Chronicling the development of my Cambrian and Narrow Gauge 4mm scale model railway

1 Comment

Ending the year on a high

A few weeks ago I sent an email to the County project at Didcot volunteering (while noting I don’t live anywhere near Didcot and am very busy) but noting that as a York resident I may be able to help with trips to the archive at the NRM.

Straight away came back a reply saying yes please and can you go and look if they have drawing 59919 smokebox door.

Interestingly, as I replied in my emailing confirming that I would, 59919 was in a batch of drawings drawn between Jan 1914 and Feb 1921 and thus must be a standard part. I suggested it could be the door for a Castle.

Anyway my trip to the museum happened yesterday. The NRM doesn’t have drawing 59919 but do have a subsequent drawing from 1954 which superseded 59919 and is described as smokebox front plate for standard boilers 7, 8, 12, and 15, or to put it another way 47xx, Castle, King, and County proving it is a standard part and therefore is probably fairly easy to source someone who can make one.

While I was there I requested to see the development sketches for the County drawn in 1943-4. These are fascinating.

Sketch 4 has had the wheels printed and then the rest of the loco sketched. Note the Churchward bar frame front end, curved splashers, and Collett tender.

Sketch 6 has by now got the Hawksworth plate frame front end with a high running plate so no need for splashers (note the double drop, one behind the smokebox, and one at the front of the smokebox, outside Walchaearts valve gear, and a modified cab with no side window and a Collett tender.

Sketch 10 has the straight splashers, but this time with a concept tender looking almost like a cross between a Bulleid Spam Cam and S15 tender and the modified cab.

Sketch 13 looks very much like the finished article including the Hawksworth tender and includes a scribbled remark of what number the final design drawing is, but interestingly is still classified as 99xx as the change to 10xx was made very late.

I also had a look through some test reports from tests done by County no 1000 County of Middlesex and no 1009 County of Carmarthen.

What was clear from all this is a) they were rough riders when first introduced and this was fixed, and b) when on dynamometer car trials they ragged the locos trying different things. The log that states “recaulked firebox seams” suggests the blast pipe modifications they did must have had an adverse effect at some point. Also interesting that many of the tests included removing firebars to increase the primary air flow and thus primary combustion.

Indicator card from a test run presumably from WR dynamometer car W7W (GWR 790) which was of Churchward vintage:

Report into the balancing issues and scribbled response.

Report into loco oil consumption:

Hand written log of test runs:

And finally, on the back of a test report letter I found this pro-forma letter to respond to requests to visit the works.

Finally I’d just to wish everyone a Happy New Year and thanks for reading my meanderings over the last year. With the stats showing 50 odd countries reading this stuff I am often astonished at how widespread my writing gets. Thank you all.

Leave a comment


Well having finished my Christmas Eve jobs (emergency table out of the garage and into the conservatory to be joined with its more presentable sibling for tomorrow followed by laying of the same) I managed to get a bit more work done on the Court.

A new chimney and buffers and screw link couplings and gluing the cam boxes in place have made a big difference.

I’ve still to sand the footplate back following its fixing but it’s still quite delicate. As I’m using Sprat and Winkle couplings I’m going to run the wire for the coupling back along the underneath of the body gluing it all the way which should give the reconstructed front footplate much more rigidity and then I’ll finish the butchery.

Leave a comment

A holey week

Well I’m going to miss my deadline of finishing Caynham Court by Christmas. Partly caused by being in London, Christmas delays to the post, and it being far too cold in the garage. With any luck I’ll get some time over the holidays to get it done.

However, I finally managed to get to the garage the other evening. The plan was to drill a set of holes equidistant from an edge to form the supports for the cam chests. Doing this on the milling machine was a breeze and a good thing too since I ended up doing it three times…

Unfortunately, my initial thoughts on materials were a bit poor. Firstly I tried hardboard, and then ply but both delaminated when trying to cut out the supports. Then I found some left over plastic I’d used to form a splash back for a sink.

I then cut out 4 of the holes (the others were just in case spares) and mounted them on one of the cam chests I’d previously turned.

With some ridiculously complicated clamping…

…that allowed me to cut out the supports I needed.

Which were then glued to the turned chests having given them a quick scuff on the surfaces to be glued to give it a key.

Initial trial fitting suggests it’s going to look ok.

Leave a comment

Correcting the 2017 errors

There’s definitely two I know about and there may be more…

Firstly, I said the other day that a company had cancelled production of a particular liveried vehicle I had ordered. This turned out to be cobblers.

Basically the saga was that I’d ordered the new Dapol flying banana ages ago, and then got an email the other day from my chosen ex-Liverpudlian supplier to say that the manufacturer had cancelled the model and so my order was cancelled. I checked online and sure enough the models that were pre-order had disappeared and my order had been cancelled. Two days later I got the round robin email newsletter saying the one I’d ordered was now in stock. I therefore rang said Widnes based supplier and they didn’t know what had happened either but gladly fulfilled my order so I suspect an over enthusiastic sales team (or non-sales team to be more accurate) member had made what is known as an “administrational error”.

Secondly in a post back in March I said the Patriarch’s Duke model was a K’s kit. I had a feeling at the time that wasn’t right. And I was right. His Bulldog is a K’s but the Duke is the much superior Mallard Models kit. It still can’t pull the skin off a rice pudding though so may require some serious weight added to give it some better umpty before it goes into service on the Cambrian.

Leave a comment


The other thing which makes the approximate Saint look terrible is the front bogie which has a way too long wheelbase and is not centred on the cylinder centreline.

However a quick(ish) replacement with a Hornby Castle / County bogie improves the look.

I also took the opportunity to remove the reach rod ready for fitting of the cam reach rod which is higher.

Some way to go, especially with filling the yawning chasm under the front footplate but it is starting to look the part.

Leave a comment


No it wasn’t a flash in the pan. I am challenging myself to see if I can finish one model by Christmas so I set about the Hornby Saint model with relish. As an RMWeb contributor put it, “while you e got the body off, line it up with a drawing of a Saint and have a good laugh”.

He’s right, it’s not the most accurate model but with a bit of hacking, a decent looking model can be achieved. Things that bother me the most are the smokebox and front footplate being comically long and the curve to the front footplate being too shallow – this apparently back from the days of a Triang Hall which was an approximation at best.

I therefore hacked 2mm off the front of the smokebox, having removed the door and at the same time cleaned up the mould lines – the pictures make the lines look worse than they are. I decided to keep the smokebox door but removed the moulded dart and replaced it with a Markits one (remind me to remove that last bit of flash that missed my attention).

Additionally I replaced the safety valve bonnet with a W/m one and will replace the chimney with a lost wax cast one.

For the footplate I copied a dodge from our friendly RMWeb contributor. Rather than repeat it all you can read about it here. It looks brutal at first.

But the result is worth it. I’ll get some Dean buffers to complete the look.

The eagle eyed will have spotted the steam pipes have been removed. This is to make way for the Lenz Cam boxes which will be fitted next.

Leave a comment

Deliver what you promise

In one of the Facebook groups I follow, Accurascale UK posted a survey to fill in to say what you wanted to see in the way of ready to run. At the end it said “what should we do to stand out from our competitors?”

I replied “deliver what you say you will deliver and when you say you will, and if you don’t then at least give regular updates”. Usually I don’t sit around waiting for new models but I see the chuntering of many, particularly recently with the Bachmann and Heljan 009 offerings. However the other day I was on the receiving end of such a thing. Ages ago I ordered a GWR Flying banana in post war Livery. Then the other day I got an email saying the model wasn’t going to be produced. No explanation given. Just that it’s not happening. To be frank that isn’t good enough. You can’t promise something for a year and then pull the plug on it with no reasoning. So to me, that is the key the requirement.

If you want to do the survey, it’s here:

If you’re interested what else I wrote, here it is:

What locos would like to see?

15xx – the sales of the K’s kit suggests it would sell well

Saint – the Hornby one is terrible and with Lady of Legend on the way isn’t it about time we had an accurate one – and how about doing an Atlantic version

009 Double Fairlie – rtr Merddin Emrys or the newer Earl of Merioneth – what’s not to like!

What coaches would you like to see?

GWR Slip coach

GWR articulated set

009 Ffestiniog Barns and super barns

What wagons would you like to see?

Decent Toad – both the Bachmann and Hornby ones are compromises

Any Oddities – I do like a good oddity

Snowdon mountain service truck – impractical but it made up the numbers!

What DMUs would you like to see?

009 / 00-12 County Donegal railcars

GWR twin railcars

009 FR push/pull set – not truly a DMU but how cool would that be!

What EMUs would you like to see?

1938 stock particularly IoW version

Tyne and Wear metro


What accessories would you like to see?

009 stub points

009 working incline

GWR coaling Stage

Leave a comment

Super 7(30 pm)

Well amazingly I got a few minutes the other night and used my lathe. To keep up the image of having a million projects on the go at once, I set about making the cam boxes for the Lenz valve gear for Caynham Court. As I said to the Patriarch it’s nowt more than a twiddly bit on one end and parted off flat at the other so only took about 10 mins but it’s a start!

1 Comment

Warley thoughts

Well, better late than never. I thought I’d give my thoughts on the Warley experience this year.

Well I thought it was good. I heard some mutterings about it not being as big as before etc but it depends whether you want to see lots or quality really.

I tried to have a quick catch up with Phil Parker as I’ve emailed him a few times but never conversed face to face (and to say I tried the fruit cake – substantial but I’ve had better) but the length of his fan club queue meant I had to give that up for another day.

Best conversation of the day was with Brassmasters where one chap read out my list, one got the bits, and one totted up the score. Well honed procedure over many years, said I. No, came the reply, the first bloke turned up half an hour ago with a list and it was a bloody shambles.

Some photos of things I found interesting in no particular order: