It feels like I’ve made some real progress on the 20 this past week. I’m lucky to be on some leave from work at the moment so I have quite a bit more time than usual to devote to the project. However the leave will end soon so it will be back to snail’s pace progress after that happens. I’m trying to use the time as effectively as I can and I’ve managed to essentially finish the chassis and footplate assembly in the last couple of days.
It’s probably tempting fate but I think I can say with reasonable certainty that I’ve reached a stage where most of the really hard work has been done. The loco runs and all the moving bits are installed: what’s left to do is really just building a series of boxes around what you can see in this photo and adding some jewellery. DCC and wiring up the wheels is a whole different phase that will come much later. I would also like to acknowledge the help I’ve had from Keiran Ryan, David Peterson and John Birch. All three of them have contributed ideas and help in tracking down parts and tools.
So where am I up to? Well I’ve reached the stage where I need to take the thing from looking like a 19 on steroids to a 20: that means making and installing the tanks, rear coal bunker/water tank and the cabin. These parts are what will make it look like a 20 class right? Well yes, but it’s not as simple as that. The front spectacle plate you can see in the photo is the one from the PME etch for the 19. This came from David Peterson and I’ve utilized it to overcome a problem: it let me secure the rear of the urethane castings (the big grey lumps of plastic) to the metal footplate. If you look carefully you’ll see a threaded bolt emerging from below just in front of the brass spectacle plate that runs across the top and down the sides of the firbox. There’s another one on the other side. This does a nice job of retaining the boiler and back head but it does present me with a small problem. While the side tanks, the cab and the rear bunker at all bolted and riveted together on the prototype, this operation was done in a particular way and I was planning to carry out construction in the same manner. The arrangement on the prototype loco is that they essentially plonked two tanks either side of the boiler, another tank and coal bunker behind where the crew worked on a platform that was bolted onto the precursor loco (remember these tank locos were converted from excess tender locos) and then the cab was made up from a chopped down spectacle plate with a new one added to the rear and the roof plonked on top of this. So the real front spectacle plate was not like you see in this photo of my model: the real one was a stubby little thing that sits on top of the side tanks. The brass you can see in the model photo would have to be chopped off just below the side windows if I was following the prototype.
So why is this a problem? Well it isn’t really but it is, if that makes any sense. I hadn’t done too much thinking about the way I was going to make the tanks and the cab till recently. I’d assumed that I’d make the cab first and then build the tanks around this. However as the cab literally sits on top of the tanks and is really just a bit of an umbrella help up front and rear by the tops of the tanks, I find I can’t really carry out the construction in this way. The complicating factor is that, while I would have liked to have followed the prototype and made the cab front, rear and roof like the prototype, now that I’ve used the etched front spectacle plate to hold the castings in place, I can’t cut this up and make it a stubby shadow of its former self and just bolt it to the top of the tanks. Instead I’ll need to chop into the tank and disguise where the spectacle plate travels down to my retaining bolts.
I can tell you one thing: the work you can see in the prototype photos where the old cab has been chopped up and new details added (such as the row of holes at the top of the rear spectacle plate) show the work was as rough as guts. This is not work of fine craftsmanship: it’s cut and shut of the roughest order! Look at the rough gap where the two plates of metal meet in the photo above. OMG! 🙂
There are times when you reach a stage in the construction of a loco project like this where you need things to be glued, soldered or bolted in place solidly so you can push against them while you work around them. This is one of those times. I put the wheels back on the loco this morning and took this photo with the intention of giving myself a bit of a break so I could think about how and in what order I was going to build the tanks and cab. Having the firebox/boiler castings solidly bolted in place lets me build things up against these solid objects: all I need to do is decide how I’m going to do this 🙂