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!

Friday, July 15, 2022

We Need More Heat!

Whilst soldering the smokebox end of the boiler was reasonably straightforward, soldering the boiler to the cab was an absolute nightmare, although I did get there in the end and without any burnt fingers. Positioning the boiler was reasonably easy as there is a nice hole for the whistle that makes sure I know where the top is, and then it slots into a half etched ring on the cab front, and there are three little tabs on the end which further slot into holes on the cab front. The problem was that I just couldn't get enough heat into the joins to solder it in place.
As you can see I did eventually get it soldered on but not without having to find a different source of heat. When I used the soldering iron the solder paste would run but not melt, and the solid solder would melt into a blob but I couldn't get it to flow. Both issues were caused because I couldn't get the solder hot enough as the heat is pulled away into the rest of the brass that makes up the cab and boiler rather than staying close to the tip of the soldering iron where I want it. The solution was to switch tools to something with a bit more heat.
As you can see from the photo I own two gas torches. I've tried using the large cooks one before and managed to burn a whole through a brass part, so my plan was to use the small modellling torch instead. Unfortunately the small torch is useless. I had no problems filling it with gaz but couldn't get it to light properly. With the valve open the gaz was coming out and would light if I held a match in front of it, but it wouldn't stay lit when you removed the match. No idea what's wrong with it as although it's been in my toolbox for a while this was the first time I'd actually tried using it. So with more than a little trepedation I used the large cooks torch instead.

With the parts held gently in place, using a mixture of masking tape and coffee stirrers, I added some solder paste and then gently wafted the flame over the joint. Within no time at all the paste melted, flowed, and formed a nice joint. It's difficult to get the larger flame into odd places but I think I'll be using the torch again in the future for cases like this. Although I might see if I can find a smaller modelling torch that actually works.

Just as a final photo here is the mess I made on the inside of the boiler when trying to use the soldering iron. As you can see the solder turned into a blob but I just couldn't get it to flow and form a join. Anyway it was a useful lesson to learn that I can use the torch to make these kinds of joint if I need to.
Still some cleaning up of the joint to do before I move on, but I think that is the hardest part of the body built quite successfully.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

It's Still a Cylinder

Having rolled the boiler the next step is to fit the smokebox door (or what amounts to the smokebox door on Ivor). This is basically just a flat circular part that cabs one end of the boiler. It has a slight half etched rim around the edge to help positioning the two parts. I gently cut away the sacrificial pieces (needed to help during rolling) and then carefully taped the two parts together as best I could.
Even having removed the sacrificial pieces there isn't a huge amount of space to get a soldering iron inside the boiler but I managed to avoid burning my fingers and am pretty happy with the result.
In the cruel larger than life photo I can see a couple of tiny spots that might need a little filler, although I can't really see them with the naked eye. Either way, I'm really happy with that, given it's the first boiler I've rolled and assembled. Now I just have to solder it to the cab front hopefully straight so that the chimney will be properly vertical.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Mangled Brass or a Brass Mangle?

Those of you who have followed my modelling adventures for a while may remember that all the way back in 2014 I bought a Hold and Fold tool to make assembling etched kits easier. At the time I said it was nice and easy to use and in the years since it's become an indispensable tool. Also in that original post I mentioned not having a tool for rolling metal. Over the years since I've not found myself needing to do much rolling, mostly just needing a slight curve in cab roofs etc. For those parts I've made do with using a metal bar to gently introduce a curve. That works, but it's difficult to be precise. What I've not needed to do, until now, was to turn a flat sheet into a cylinder.

To date all the steam locomotive models I've built have used either a tube or a casting for the boiler, but for Ivor the boiler has to be rolled from a flat sheet to form a cylinder which then has a circle soldered on one end, while the other attaches to the cab.
Given all the time and effort I've put into this build the last thing I want to do is completely mess up the boiler, and there is no way I could accurately roll that part using a simple bar so.... I've invested in a new tool.
This is a set of 6" rolling bars from GW Models. I would normally point to a website when talking about a new tool, but they don't have a website, in fact I had to ring to check they had any in stock and then post a cheque to pay for them. Even before I tried using them I was impressed. They are just a lovely bit of engineering in their own right.

For anyone who doesn't know how they work, essentially the handle turns the two bottom rollers and thetop roller can be moved up and down. So you gently feed the metal through the gap and turning the handle moves it through. You then move the top roller down a little and repeat. Each time you move the top roller down it produces a tighter curve. I did about a quarter turn of the bolts each time so that I slowly increased the tightness of the curve until I had the right shape.
Once happy you can undo the bolts and lift the top roller off which allows you to simply slide the part off the end. A quick check against the circle for the front of the boiler and everything looks good.
Of course I still need to solder it all together so there is still plenty of time for me to mess it up!

Given how easy it was to roll the boiler you will be unsurprised to know that I think the rolling bars are fantastic and well worth the initial investment. Obviously it won't get as much use as the hold and fold (most kits will have tens of folds and possible only one part needing rolling) but it's one of those tools that does it's job so well and easily that it's worth having in your toolbox.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Welsh Tea

I mentioned in the previous post about the tap on the outside of the cab which is there for tea making purposes. While here is a terrible photo not only of the tap but also the teapot.
As you can probably tell from the 1mm square grid these are tiny, but even so required some soldering; the tap is three layers and the teapot five. The cruel magnification shows there is still some cleanup to do as well.

Ivor's Cab

Although I seem to have done quite a bit of work on Ivor over the last month, amazingly I'd not actually used any new parts from the kit given that the wheels and gearbox were all made/bought separately. Building the cab, seems to have involved almost all the remaning etched parts though, so has been a bit of a mammoth session.

First up was building the back of the cab that also forms side of the coal bunker. This was nice and straightforward as it only involved soldering one detailed piece in place and making two simple folds.
Annoyingly the door looks a little wonky in the photo but having stared at the part closely it seems level so not sure what is going on with the photo.

The rest of the cab is made from a single piece which needs folding and carefully soldering together.
Prior to folding it up though, the backhead needs a lot of detail adding. There are no indications on the part itself as to where everything should go though, so I scaled one of the drawings from the instructions and stuck it to the etch. I then used a modelling knife to gently mark some of the lines and positions so I would know where everything should go. The paper was then removed, the glue cleaned off, and then the detail parts are put in place.

Of course "the detail parts are put in place" hides quite a lot of work. Each of the gauges and controls have to first be made by laminating three layers of etch together before they can be soldered to the cab etch. After a lot of work with the soldering iron I gave up and used superglue to fit wire to represent the pipework. I've also not fitted all of the pipework shown in the instructions. Specifically it shows a pipe going horizontally to the edge on both sides of the cab; these are to feed the taps (for making tea) on the outside of the cab. I've been using the Ivor story collection book I've had since I was a child for prototype information and that only shows a tap on the right side of the cab, hence I've only fitted one pipe as I'll only be fitting one tap.

With the backhead detailed the next step was to fold up the cab and incorporate the first piece I made up to build the coalbunker into the back of the cab. Including the coal bunker was nice and easy as there is an etched line it sits in. As the cab is all right angles the rest of it is prety easy to form as well. The only real problem is with the outiside of the coal bunker. This essentially folds across from one side and should nicely line up with a half etched seem on the other. Unfortunately it's slightly too wide. My guess is that when the artwork was drawn no allowance for material thickness was made, and so the part is too big by the thickness of the sheet. I filed it back a little and it's now mostly right, although looking at the finished can it's still ever so slightly wrong, but it's not visibly unless you are looking directly down on the model and I think once I've cleaned everything up (and yes I took the photos before cleaning up the excess solder) and put coal in the bunker it won't be noticable.

I know I'm not the most skilled person with a soldering iron (possibly as the soldering iron is cheap and fairly rubbish) but I'm pretty happy with how that all turned out... it's going to be a nightmare to paint the backhead detail but that's a problem for another day.

Saturday, July 9, 2022

It Works, It Actually Works!

Having proved that the gearbox worked nicely under power it was time to finally fit it properly within the chassis. Doing so is amazingly fiddly as you have to get 7 parts all in alignment before you can slide the axle through: chassis frame, gearbox frame, washer, gear, washer, gearbox frame, and finally the other chassis frame. After a lot of swearing I eventually had this.
Not that impressive I know given that it looks basically the same as before, especially given from this angle you can't see most of the gears. Anyway with everything in place there really was only one thing left to do..... apply some power!

After all the trouble I've had with this kit seeing it move for the first time was immensely satisfying; ignore the wheel slipping as that was just because of the drag from thw wires providing power as it doesn't yet have any pickups fitted.

Gearbox Testing

Having sorted out how to keep the gearbox in position the next step was to finish assembling it. This involved cutting two shafts for the intermediary gears and then simply slotting all the parts into place. With that done I had this...
The only downside is that one of the screws to affix the motor is not accessiable through the gear train. Fortunately it's possible to fit the screws to the motor then fit. As long as the bottom screw is as tight as possible while still fitting then everything is held nicely in place.

Of course the important question is does it actually work. Well...

Friday, July 1, 2022

Locked in the Vertical Position

Annoyingly although I had the day off today I only managed to grab about 10 minutes to work on Ivor. Fortunately that was long enough for me to sort out how to lock the gearbox in place whilst allowing it to still be removable.
It's a littly tricky to see in that photo, but essentially I took a short piece of brass strip and put a 90 degree bend in it. I then soldered that to the inside of the chassis with it pushed up against the gearbox. I made it big enough that with the geabox in the right place it can't rotate on the axle, but if you remove the axle you can work the gearbox out without too much difficulty.

You can see exactly what I added a lot better in this photo with the gearbox removed.
I know it's quite a simple solution but it seems to work so fingers crossed.