Friday, October 19, 2012

Etching A New Identity

I finished the last post with a teaser for this post, in that I had a solution to the problem of two Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway (L&YR) pug locomotives bearing the number 19. The answer to the problem is Narrow Planet.

Narrow Planet specialises in making scale name and makers plates in etched brass. While they have a wide range of styles you can choose from they didn't have L&YR makers plates. Steve, the owner, is, however, more than happy to make up custom artwork for etching any type of name or makers plate you may need.

While I didn't have ready access to an actual L&YR makers plate (this all happened before I went to Model Rail Live and saw number 1300 in steam) it turns out that Barry C. Lane's excellent book includes a full page just on the shape, style and dimensions of the L&YR works plates. While most pug's used the same makers plates as all other L&YR locomotives, the final 20 built in 1910 were fitted with slightly smaller plates; just 22 inches wide instead of the full size 25.5 inch wide plates. So armed with this information I knocked up rough drawings for both plate sizes on the computer. Steve then used my rough drawings along with the information from the book to produce artwork that could be used in the etching process. As you can see the results are spectacular.

The full size plate (number 730) was etched mostly as a test but I do have long range plans for it. The small pug plate, however, was etched as number 8 quite specifically. I'd started the process of getting these plates etched before I knew about Dapol's standard model of number 19. My original intention had been to try and repaint and re-number Hornby's current model BR 51240, which was the first model pug I showed you way back in July. If you remember that post I pointed out that 51240 was built in 1910 and originally bore the number 8. However, when I got hold of the docker's umbrella model, it became clear that I would find painting the red lining by hand almost impossible. At that point my plan was to simply paint the model black and leave off the red lining. Of course plans changed when I ended up with two models of number 19.

Here you can see the successfully re-numbered model. I say "successfully" although I'm not entirely happy with how it turned out.

It turns out that the transfer of the number 19 plate is a little over sized for the model (Steve and I were quite careful about sizing the plates accurately), and would show around the outside of the replacement etched plates. Unfortunately I couldn't get the transfer off without using T-Cut, which although it removes transfers and paint well results in a very shiny surface which I would have had to cover over.

In the end I decided to try and paint out the old plates and then attach the new plates on top. This would leave just a small amount of new paint around the plate which I didn't think would be too obvious. So I carefully painted out the outside of the old plate, leaving the central area alone so that I could glue the new plate to the model rather than to new paint. This seemed to be working perfectly until I actually tried to glue the new plates in place.

I'm guessing that when the model was originally painted the surface was sealed in some way (which might explain why I had problems removing the old number plate), but unfortunately whatever they had used reacted badly with the superglue I was using. It set instantly on contact with the plastic and worse it bubbled up and turned white. The fact that it'd tried to reposition the plate slightly meant that I'd also managed to smear glue in slightly the wrong place. Let's just say it was a bit of a disaster.

In an attempt to rescue the situation I removed as much of the glue and paint as possible to try and bring back a mostly flat surface. I then glued the plates back on, taking care to get them right first time. I then painted the now badly scratched panel black (taking care not to go over the red lines). Of course the matt black paint wasn't a good match for the original plastic surface, so I then brushed on a thin coat of satin varnish. While the finish isn't a perfect match for the rest of the model it's not too bad; you certainly can't tell from a distance.

While my modelling skills may leave a lot to be desired I think we can all agree that the etched makers plates are fantastic. The L&YR plates aren't listed on the Narrow Planet website but if you contact Steve he'll be more than happy to etch you a set.


  1. Gosh Mark you really do go to an awful lot of trouble. I do not think I would have either the patience or the skill to do that.

    1. Well my patience was certainly being taxed by the super glue debacle, and most of the skill involved was Steve's in finalizing the artwork and etching the plates.