I struggle with building locos.
I’m capable of doing it, but I’m never happy. Why? Well, having gone to the trouble of building the layout based on the plans that reside in the National Archives, I want the stock to be unique. I know that, theoretically, the HLR could have operated, for example, a Hunslet 0-6-4T just like Beddgelert. What if the directors had seen Beddgelert in operation on the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railway, and liked it so much they asked Hunslet for a 2′ 6″ version… That’s possible, but many of the loco kits currently available are so well associated with the lines their prototypes ran on that I would like to avoid obvious choices, and stick to true ‘catalogue’ items or scratch build unique ones to give the HLR’s stock an identity.
This yearning to be different has lead me to throw away more than a few offcuts of plasticard, and change my mind about stuff more frequently than perhaps I should. But tonight I think I reached a bit of a breakthrough.
A while back I started adapting a Roxy Mouldings kit for ‘Famagusta’, a 2-6-2T based on a prototype which was owned by the Cyprus Government Railway. I adapted it by removing it’s features for operating in hot climes, namely shutters on the cab sides, a double skinned roof etc. I fitted the whole lot on a new footplate, along with a longer boiler, and added a winged smokebox front plate (very Scottish feature). This instantly made it less recognisable, and much more suitable for my needs.
The project then sat for a while whilst progress on the layout continued. During this time the footplate warped, turning upwards and looking rather more like a banana, than a solid base to fit several tonnes of machinery to! So it sat in the naughty corner of my workbench waiting to be attended to once I’d decided how to progress.
Whilst in the ‘man cave’ yesterday I decided to remove the salvageable bits of Famagusta to try and work out what I could make of them. I started looking at using the Graham Farish 08 chassis with the superb RT Models valve gear kit, but the chassis doesn’t quite work under such a large body – the wheels are too small, and it doesn’t lend itself particularly well to fitting leading and trailing wheels.
Given the gradients on the line I’ve been thinking of large tank locos as the mainstay of the motive power. The largest chassis I have at present sits under a part completed Backwoods Miniatures Darjeeling Himalayan Railway C Class 4-6-2. So I plonked the salvaged bits from Famagusta on top of the C class’ chassis.
The coupled section of the chassis is actually very similar to the Farish 08, the wheelbase is almost identical, as is the diameter of the wheels. This is what lead me to experiment with the chassis from the C Class in the first place. I rather like the result, it looks purposeful, but elegant, and the size of the drivers is well hidden behind the frames anyway.
Now, I can’t ask Backwoods for an etch of the chassis only as it’s not appropriate for this model. The reason being the their tender loco kit is powered from a motor contained in the tender, the driving wheels are powered by a universal joint running through the firebox. So the tank loco would be unpowered. Also it sits a bit too high relative to my other stock, so the frames will have to be slightly lower. I should be able to produce something when I’ve got to grips with Adobe Illustrator though. It’ll certainly be a steep learning curve! But at least I’ve got a reference point in the current chassis that I have, and I won’t be selling any so shouldn’t fall foul of any problems with copying it.
So, that’s it, blog now up to date. I’ll try and keep the prototype/model balance a little more even in future.