Friday, August 5, 2022

A Painted Wheel

In parallel to trying to determine the right colour of green paint to use, I've also been experimenting to try and find the best way of painting the wheels. Obviously I need to keep the paint off the flange and tread to ensure it can pick up power from the track. I initially thought about 3D printing some masks that would allow me to spray (at least the primer) onto the wheels and while they did work, I found they didn't give the best result around the edge of the wheel face. So I resorted to painting them by hand.

My first attempt involved painting on black primer, then the green for the rim, and then painting the spokes red. This worked but I found the very stark transition between the paint and the brass wheel tread was very obvious. What I've ended up doing is cleaning the wheels thoroughly, and then using Birchwood Casey Brass Black to darken the face of the wheel. The tread was then polished to remove any that had run down the side, before again applying paint, primer, and matt vanish; all by hand with a brush.

So far I've fully done one wheel. I'm sure the result could be better, painting between the spokes is a pain, but I'm happy with how it looks. More importantly I think it matches up with the pictures in my book pretty well.
Now I just need to paint the other three wheels.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Colour Matching

With the curved handrail made up, I can think about moving on to painting Ivor. There is still work to do to the body (filling some gaps etc.) before it can be painted but I want to get the chassis painted and fully assembled, including pickups and coupling rods, first. Whilst I can easily paint the chassis black I also need to paint the wheels. These are always depicted as having red spokes and central boss, with a green balance weight (when it's drawn) and rim. The problem is what colour green should I use?

The instructions suggest that the model should be painted using "Plastikote 104S Enamel Paint Garden Green" but to my eye looking at this photo (lifted from the instruction sheet) that is way too bright a green.
Given I'd like to use a paint I can use both with a brush and in the airbrush I had a look at the Vallejo Model Air colour chart I have (possibly a bit out of date now) to try and find a good match. The problem is that the colour of Ivor also seems to change from drawing to drawing in my childhood book and in the end I couldn't find a single colour that matched perfectly, although I did find four colours that seemed close to what I needed. A little bit of shopping later and I had four dropper bottles of paint. Of course paint in a bottle can be very misleading so I made up a quick test piece.
I tried to replicate the final colour as close as possible (I settled on using a brush rather than the airbrush for speed) by giving the brass a black undercoat, then adding a patch of each colour, before sealing with a matt varnish. The numbers are part of the code of each paint so that I know which is which. My inital thought was that the one on the left (Model Air 71.006 Light Green Chromate) might be the best match. I know it's tricky giving varying lighting conditions and problems of the camera trying to correct etc. but does anyone want to have a guess before we go any futher?

Armed with the test piece the next step was to try it against some of the plates in my book. First stop, the front cover
Now I've always thought that the front cover image is a bit dark, but my first thought of the paint on the left does look like a reasonable match, at least amongst the four paints on the test piece; the two on the right have way too much blue in them.

Next I had a look at the classic drawing of Ivor singing with the choir for the first time.
As you can see the colours are much brighter than on the front cover, and now I think the second colour (Model Air 71.095 Pale Green) is a much better match, although not perfect.

I had a further flick through my book though and settled on this plate from the story where we first meet Idris
Now to my eye that second colour is an almost perfect match to that plate, or at least as good as I'm likely to get without trying to mix my own custom colour. What does everyone else think?

Monday, July 25, 2022

A Curved Handrail

After the success of using a small jig to produce the straight handrails, I then attempted to do the curved rail for the front of the loco. I couldn't think of a clever way to design a jig for this one so had to do it freehand. Amazingly it turned out pretty well.
I started with a straight piece of wire which I pulled round the handle of a small file (as you would when trying to curl ribbon when wrapping a present). This introduced a nice consistent curl to the wire, although one that wasn't quite as tight as I needed.I then slid on the five short handrail knobs. The middle one was soldered solid to the centre of the wire and was then gently fitted to the loco. This was then held in place with a piece of masking tape that ran along the top of the boiler over the knob and on to the smokebox front. I then fitted the other handrails into the holes and taped everything down. I could then solder these to the wire as well.

I then removed the handrail from the boiler and taped it flat to a piece of wood. The straight lengths which lead back to the side tanks were then soldered the best I could to the back of the handrail knobs. The extra wire was then trimmed away and the whole thing trial fitted back onto the model. Amazingly it all still fits (although yes it still needs cleaning up) and just about stays in place on it's own -- it's springing out slightly but nothing that won't be fixed once it's glued in place after the painting is done.

Friday, July 22, 2022

Handrail Jig

I hate making up handrails. It's not too bad if they are straight and attach to the locomotive via handrail knobs, but if you have to bend the wire at each end to fit into holes it's a complete nightmare. Previously I've done it by eye and ended up making a bunch before I get one that is just right. Some kits will proivide a jig (often just two correctly spaced cutouts on the edge of the fret of edged parts) to make life easier, but no such luck with this kit.

For Ivor I need to make up three rails. For now I'm ignoring the complex curved rail around the smokebox and am concentrating instead on the other two which are at the front of the cab to help Jones the Steam climb up into Ivor. Instead of struggling I thought I'd make up a quick jig so I could make two idenitcal rails, one for each side of the loco. I'm sure for many people reading this the idea won't be novel or exciting but I thought I might as well document it anyway.... if for no other reason so I remember the approach for next time!

First step was to stick a strip of masking tape down the side of the cab over both holes. I then used a 0.5mm drill bit to pierce two small holes inthe tape.
The masking tape was then carefully transfered to a piece of thin plastic strip and the 0.5mm drill used to make two holes.
I then removed the tape and cut a V shapped notch from the end of the stip down to one of the holes. This completes the jig showing just how easy it was to make.
To make a handrail I started by putting a 90 degree bend into a short length of 0.5mm brass rod
The short end of the bent rod was then pushed through the hole in the jig and flat nosed pliers were used to grip the other end, making sure to hold it tight just shy of the hole.
The wire was then bent through the notch into the hole to give the second 90 degree bend against the pliers.
The completed handrail can then be easily removed from the jig.
And the most important bit, it fits perfectly into the holes on the locomotive.
I still have to attach the handrails to the loco but that is usually trivial in comparison to making them up.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Two Small Steps for Ivor, One Giant Leap for Jones the Steam

Most of the remaining detailing of Ivor will involve me fabricating parts (like the hand rails) but there is one detail that needs making up from etched parts and these are the steps to help Jones the Steam up into the cab.
The photo shows one assembled and one still as the flat part. Given their small size they were a nightmare to fold (even with the hold and fold) and in fact the close up photo shows I didn't quite get the right hand edge of that one completely square. I'll probably end up gluing these to the body as I won't be able to use the blow torch to attach them without them coming undone and I doubt I can get the heat in with the soldering iron, but at least the tricky part of making them up is done

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Side Tanks and Boiler Fittings

With the cab and boiler fixed to the footplate the last piece of bodywork that needed fitting was the side tanks. These were simple to fold up and attach, again using the blow torch; still no burnt fingers and this time not only did I not undo any previous joints I also didn't set anything on fire. With the body essentially complete except for details like hand rails etc. I couldn't help but fit the chassis and rest the chimney and dome/water filler in place to finally get a feel for how the completed model will look.
My first thoughts are that it looks prety good. The question is how well does it actually compare to the drawings in my childhood book that I'm using for prototype information.

Well it's not terrible although there are a number of things that jump out at me as being not quite right. I think the body is too tall; specifically there is way too much boiler visible above the top of the side tanks, which in turn forces the cab to be too tall. The dome (not actually sure what it is as it seems to have a lid, but it isn't part of the tanks) is also too tall compared to the chimney. I might see if I can design and print a better proportioned replacement. Also I can't see guard irons by the wheels in any of the original drawings, so I wonder why they were added to the model chassis. Trying to work out if I should cut them off or leave them on.

I guess the issues are that the original drawings are obviously 2D, and so there is no requirement that the dimensions shown also work across the width of the loco; i.e. with a boiler that small the tanks would have to be much wider (across the loco) in order for them to touch the boiler and be that close to the edge of the footplate. Making the tanks wider would have looked really odd, so they increased the boiler size instead which then stretches the height of the cab etc. Basically the model was never going to be able to perfectly match the original drawings and I think the designer has done a reasonable job of making something that looks about right.

All in all, I'm happy with how it's turned out so far. Next step will be sorting out some of the detailing parts (hand rails, steps etc.) and then I can move on to painting. I'll start with painting the chassis and wheels so I can then deal with the coupling rods and correctly quartering the wheels, before I attempt to paint the body.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Fire in the Boiler

Having attached the boiler to the cab, the next step was to join that part to the footplate. After the previous issues with getting enough heat into the joints using a soldering iron, I didn't even bother trying and went straight to using the blow torch.
Amazingly I managed to do all the joints without burning my fingers or having any of the previous joints come undone. I did manage to set fire to the piece of wood I was resting things on though which had the nice effect of smoke curling out of the hole where the chimney will fit!