When it comes to trains there is a long history of anthropomorphism. Everyone knows of Thomas the Tank Engine, where the trains are the main characters and definitely have human personalities, but there are plenty of similar books and TV programmes. My favourite is probably Ivor the Engine, who has a distinct personality without being given a human face. On occasions this even happens to preserved steam engines; some attempts being more successful than others! A couple of examples, from my childhood, were Stepney, seen at Sheffield Park station on the Bluebell Railway in 1984, and Percy and Thomas at Wansford on the Nene Valley Railway in 1986.
The idea of a locomotive having a face doesn't just imply that they have a human personality though. The worst criticism you'll find in a review of a new model locomotive will always be reserved for those cases where the face (i.e. the front) of the engine is wrongly modelled. If you get the face wrong, it doesn't matter how good the rest of the model is, you can almost guarantee it will attract a terrible review. So when building the Quarry Hunslet I wanted to ensure I got the face right.
Fortunately I've played with fitting smokebox door handles in the past so I ordered a set from Eileen's Emporium. The main locating pin requires a 1mm hole so I went and drilled out the centre of the casting. Unfortunately I hadn't really thought through the fact that these handles are meant for standard gauge locmotives not narrow gauge.
I knew that the handles would be too long, but trimming them to length is easy, what I hadn't thought about was that the central boss would be way too large for the Quarry Hunslet. Once I'd drilled the hole and test fitted the main part the problem was obvious though. The central boss was unbelievably huge in comparison to the door. Fortunately all was not lost. I simply filled the hole I'd drilled, and then drilled a 0.45mm hole through the centre to take a small piece of brass wire onto which the handles threaded nicely. I also filed down the loops on the handles so that they sit closer to each other and the door.
The final step was to then glue the door to the front of the main casting. This took a couple of attempts as I found it difficult to position in easily as the hinge on the right makes it difficult to accurately judge if it is centred or not, although it does help with making sure it is the right way up! While it looks as if the door is very low to the footplate, this appears to be prototypically accurate and it does lead to a pleasing gap of roughly the same width around the sides and top of the door.
I would have taken a more recent photo of the door after removing the stray bit if blutack, but that would spoil the next post in the sequence as it would show you what I did next.
The issue of 4mm detailing parts, such as the smokebox handles, being mainly designed for standard gauge rather than narrow gauge models, does lead me to a question. Do any of you know of a supplier who offers narrow gauge detailing parts? I'm specifically thinking of steam whistles and the myriad of other brass fittings you usually find on the outside of a Quarry Hunslet, none of which are catered for in the kit I'm building. While I can cut down some parts, such as the door handles, to better suit the smaller size of narrow gauge locomotives, I don't think the same approach would work for the majority of fittings so any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.