Friday, 12 February 2021

Lochgorm Tank 0-6-0T No.16/49 New Project

HR 16 Fort-George c.1899 at Gollanfield. (Am Baille, HRSoc collection)

I started work on this project, my third of the Lochgorm Tank class, at the beginning of January, the engine is being built without the aid of a kit, though using a good many brass castings, mostly sourced from Laurie Griffin's extensive lists. Only a single photo exists of No.16 in Highland Railway days and this is shown above. The engine carries the name Fort-George and is resplendent in Drummond I livery, the Jones chimney suits her lines and at this time there was no rear bunker fitted. 

In 2/1901 No.16 lost its number, which went to newly built Ben Avon, and became No 49A, the number being taken from a Barclay 14 class 2-4-0. This engine was recorded as "withdrawn " 9/1901 though it was said to be "idle" 7/1899 so it is probable that the actual number plate was taken from it for use by the Lochgorm Tank and presumably surmounted by a painted letter A. 

There are a few photos of No.49 in later LMS days and these show her with a rear bunker which was probably added about 1910. They also show the engine with a different chimney with a flared top, though when this change was made is open to question.

My model will represent No.49 in the plain post-1902 Drummond II dark green livery, without a name, which was removed when the engine ceased regular work on the Fort-George branch. 

Jones chimney in place, a quality brass casting from LGM.

Brake cylinders and cab steps are attached to horizontal extensions of the side frames. The footplate fastens to the chassis by means of a tongue which goes into a slot on the rear of the buffer beam. Note the etched brass wheel overlays which simulate the "solid" wheels of the Lochgorm Tanks, these are my own design. I have some left overs if you need them. 

Monday, 11 January 2021

Dunrobin, a joint effort, Painted.


Some notes on the livery of Dunrobin 1895 to 1965

Dunrobin’s livery can be generalised as described in Cormack and Stevenson's, Highland Railway Locomotives Book 2 “…dark green with black lining double-edged in gold.” This livery was carried throughout the engine’s varied career.

Photo Paul Moore

I received the accompanying photos of Dunrobin from Paul Moore this week, he painted and lined the model and has done a great job on it. It was intended to depict the engine in its earliest livery in the service of the duke of Sutherland, so reference was made to the photograph of Dunrobin of 1895 which shows the engine newly built at the Atlas Works of Sharp Stewart in Glasgow. The engine is shown in works grey and displays an elaborate though elegantly designed livery with double-edged lining in panels with a black border. The angle of the photo does not allow detail to be seen of the buffer beam, nor the tank front, cab front or the rear of the bunker. 

A photo from the Highland News of 17 Sept.1921 shows Dunrobin under the station canopy at Inverness decorated with a leek in front of the chimney, awaiting the arrival of the Prince of Wales. Closer inspection of the photo reveals a rather different livery to that shown in earlier photos, Dunrobin appears to have been recently refurbished in response to the royal visit. The black border to the lining on the tank and cab sides has gone, though it is retained on the front splasher. The lining panels, though still the same black double-edged gold as before, have been widened on the tank sides and double edged-lining can also be seen on the cab front and tank front. Evidence does not confirm that there was a panel of lining on the tank front earlier than this photo. An earlier photo does however show that there was no panel of lining on the cab front before 1921 and this is reflected by the model. It is probable, though the photo is not clear enough to confirm this, that the lining on the tank sides was changed at this time from a simple rectangle to a shape that enclosed the side window. 

The 1921 photo provides the first evidence of how the buffer beam was lined and panelled, it is thought that the buffer beam remained essentially unchanged throughout Dunrobin’s chequered history... green with a red central panel lined black. The buffer shanks may have been green originally too, or possibly red, there is no conclusive evidence. I like them green, so green it is for the model.


Dunrobin at Inverness 1921

It is intended to put the preserved Dunrobin into service in as near as possible original condition and carrying the pre-1921 livery, based on the works grey photo. After much deliberation Paul Jarman and his team at Beamish have decided that the full size engine will look the part in classy Landrover Bronze Green. Dunrobin’s original dark green was not Highland Railway green, nor was it the blue-green in which she was repatriated from Canada in 2011. Though the lining is described as “black, double-edged gold” this is not thought to refer to a metallic gold, but rather to a colour somewhere between straw and yellow. 

Paul Moore mixed the basic green for the model Dunrobin, it is not Landrover Green, it is his interpretation of the colour of the engine and the black double edged straw/gold lining was agreed between ourselves as being the most likely as well as the best looking lining to enliven the overall green. The brass incised nameplate was commissioned from Narrow Planet.

Dunrobin 1899 in works grey. Photo courtesy of the HRSoc

Photo Paul Moore

Photo Paul Moore

In 1946, after war service with the Royal Navy, Dunrobin was overhauled and repainted with the lining following the previous scheme of 1921. 

In 1949, the duke sold Dunrobin to Capt. Howey of the Romney, Hyth and Dimchurch Railway and in 1950 the engine travelled to New Romney partly under her own steam. Publicity surrounding the event led to a renewal of interest and a large number of photos which record the engine showing the livery unchanged during this period.

Initial interest waned and by 1965 Dunrobin was in the doldrums, she was sold to Harold Foster of British Columbia and shipped to Canada. Many changes were made during her 46 years of exile, which have fortunately now been removed at Beamish Museum, her new home. 

 If you look carefully you can see that this photo of 1902 shows Dunrobin in the livery of the works grey photo of 1895

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

HR Swivel Cradle Wagon Resin Parts in 7mm scale.


These accurate 7mm scale resin castings are designed to take the strain out of building a HR swivel cradle wagon, they are not a complete kit, they are aids to scratch building, they are the difficult parts of the wagon. Everything else needed to complete the multi media model can purchased from the trade or can be simply hand made. Below I'll show you how I completed the wagon, my build is not compensated, there are no rocking w-irons or sprung axleboxes, however these could be contrived, it's up to you how you complete the model.

Price for one set of resin parts...£22.50 plus p/pkg at cost £1.50

Order a pair and it's post free.

Order 3 or more and discount is 10%. 

Contact Pete on...

07342 637 813

017687 71302

Or by mail at..

21 Manor Park

Keswick, Cumbria,

CA12 4AB

The wagon bed is made from Slaters 7mm planking glued to a thickening sheet of 1mm Plastikard. The deck fittings are made from the drawings of this wagon on page 161 in Peter Tatlow's book, Highland Carriages and Wagons, the drawing is essential in order to complete the wagon. Buffers are HR single web type available from Invertrain. The underframe cross members are made from Plastruct 90779 styrene strip, the central section has a sheet of lead inserted for weight. The brake lever suspension point is only needed on one side so the extra one is removed.

The cradle is in place on the wagon bed, the brass corner eye bolts were purchased from Prime-Miniatures. I made a stanchion by turning a length of rod to shape using a file and an electric drill, the little eyes for the retaining chains were added later. I suppose I could have made all four this way but as I had some silicone rubber to hand I made a mould and cast the rest. Tensioning rods, made from 0.6mm nickle silver wire, can be seen in place alongside the cradle side members. The cradle swivels on a central 12BA brass nut and bolt.

I made two wagons as examples as I think they probably worked in pairs in service. The combined w-iron, spring and axle box castings are from my own master patterns, cast in silicone moulds in my workshop. It's a simple expedient and both wagons run very well indeed without compensation. Couplings are hand made, the hook being cut from 1.25mm nickle silver sheet and the links formed on a jig from 0.8mm wire. Suitable couplings, which match the square holes in the buffer beam, can be obtained from CPL. Horse hooks are brass castings which I source form 62C Models along with the brake lever guides, which can be seen to better effect below. I have added a few holes and the pin, which goes into these, dangles on a fine chain attached half way up the guide.

The simple one piece castings were drilled for Slaters' axle bearings then glued to the solebars with the axles in place, providing the axles are parallel in all planes the wagon will run smoothly. Castings similar to these can be obtained from Invertrain.

The brake arm and shoe was cut from 0.7mm n/s sheet and the brake lever from 0.45mm n/s. Retaining chains have been added to the stanchions and the chains, turnbuckles and hooks that secured the load can be seen attached to the corner eye bolts, these can be obtained from CPL Products.  

Watch this space for a picture of the painted wagon complete with number plate. 


Friday, 23 October 2020

HR 123 Loch an Dorb.

Loch an Dorb, from the Gallic meaning possibly Loch of the Minnows or more likely Loch of Troubles. The model is complete now apart from coal in the tender which I have in hand. The basic colour is Precision P727 which is now no longer available, I only have enough left for touching up now. Etched number plate, name and buffer beam transfers are from Guilplates, the latter are no longer available either. Footplate crew are my own sculpture, designed for this particular engine and now available from Invertrain. 

The cab interior is as complete as I can make it, I took the details from the drawing in Peter Tatlow's "A History of  Highland Locomotives". The backhead casting and many of the small fittings are from LGM though both have been modified to suit. 

Cab interior and crew with the roof removed for a better view of the works.


The superstructure owes a debt to some specially commissioned nickle silver etches from Lochgorm Kits, the chassis however was scratch built. Wheels are cast and turned by JPL Models as Slaters have no correct ones in their list. Motive power is provided by an M1833 motor mounted in an ABC Gears Mini Gooch gearbox. Loch an Dorb's debut on the club layout in Carlisle will be much delayed I fear by the renewed Coronavirus outbreak, I won't be going up to the clubroom this side of Christmas and probably for some months after, neither will I be able to photograph her in a realistic setting hauling a train, she'll just have to wait.

Saturday, 19 September 2020

Resin Sides for a 7mm scale HR Ballast Wagon

After building a couple of ballast wagons the hard way, as I described in previous posts, I decided to investigate a quicker way to build a wagon as I needed a few more to make my ballast train more credible. So, in collaboration with a mate who specialises in model aircraft kit accessories, I produced these interlocking resin sides and ends. The floor, "w" irons, wheels, buffers, couplings, axle boxes, springs and brake gear are not supplied but are all readily available from the trade. 

The castings are available for purchase at £20 per set + post/packing at cost £1.50 (UK).

Order 2 wagons and it's post free, order 3 or more and discount is 10%.

Contact Pete on...

07342 637 813

017687 71302


There is an inner step between the side planks and the solebar which it is intended that the wagon floor sits on. If the floor is made from sheet metal then the "w" irons can be soldered beneath which makes for a robust construction. You need 10mm between the bottom edge of the solebar and the axle center line so in some cases the "w" irons will need to be modified by soldering a strip to the top to deepen them. The metal floor can be faced with Slaters' 7mm Plastikard planking to make a convincing wagon bed if an empty is being modelled. 

The sides and ends are scale 3" thick and interlock to facilitate construction.

The draw plate has a square hole to take a CPL wagon hook (my preference) , or you can scrape the draw plate off and replace it with a different plate and hook.

There are mounting plates on the solebar to which the brake lever and brake handle are fixed, they are designed for Drummond's patent each-side brake gear. It's quite a simple matter to make the lever and handles from 0.45mm brass or nickel silver strip using, a drawing (see below) as a guide. The plates on the offside, without the brake lever, need to be removed and a new plate needs to be contrived to support the cross-shaft and handle on this side.

The fastening that holds the drop sides and ends in place, along with its chain are part of the casting,  which saves a lot of time and fiddling.

A drawing is essential when building the wagon and one can be found in Peter Tatlow's "Highland Railway Carriages and Wagons" page 172.


Underside of wagon showing Slaters' 3ft 6"springs superglued to the solebar. Suitable white metal springs are available from Invertrain.  

The floor is cut from 0.45mm brass sheet while the w-irons and associated trays are left-overs from a Lochgorm Kits wagon etch. The corners of the trays are cut away to allow for the buffers and a central slot  allows for the coupling spring. Using the drawing mentioned above, adjustments have ben made to correct the ride height.

The completed wagon with ballast load... Carr's 7mm light grey ballast glued to a Milliput base, which was shaped on a wooded former. Buffers are from NMRS and have the end door stop cast on the housing. The axle boxes are cast in my workshop in white metal from my own recently made master pattern, springs are Slaters. Draw hooks are cut from 1.25 nickle silver sheet and shaped with a file. The long brake lever and handles are cut from 0.45 nickle silver sheet. Only the oval number plate is needed now to finalise the model, I have this in hand and it will be added after painting but before weathering.

No.2534 complete and painted, the body colour is Precision P436 Caledonian Wagon Oxide which looks just right. Transfers are from HMRS sheet 20. The ballast load is Carr's 7mm light grey ballast, glued to a Milliput former and painted. The wagon measures 110mm over headstocks and weighs 115g without extra weighting. The oval numberplate is from my own artwork, sized on the computer, printed on the inkjet printer and mounted on thin Plastikard before being cut to shape, glued in place and lightly weathered.

Another method of building the wagon is shown here. I used a sheet of Slaters' 7mm planking for the wagon bed which clicks nicely into place under the corned uprights. This is too flimsy on its own so I built an underframe out of Plastikard. Slaters' sprung w-irons are glued in place to give 10mm of clearance between the bottom of the solebar and the axle bearing center. My own recently completed master patterns for the springs and axle boxes were used to furnish the castings to complete the model, these will be available commercially very soon. 

Thursday, 20 August 2020

HR Ballast Wagon No. 2745

 No. 2745 built 1901/2

No.2745 with ballast load and modified buffers with end-door stops added.

In early 2018 a Highland Railway Society member sponsored the production of a short run of cast resin ballast wagon bodies which were well mastered and cast by JLTRT, they  were accompanied by an etch for the W irons and brake gear. I missed these at the time, being too busy with other projects, though I managed to acquire recently what must have been one of the last resin bodies available, though without the etch which I believe was rather wayward in any case, a “curates egg“ according to one comment I read at the time. 

The resin body was crisply moulded and promised a less laborious path to a ballast wagon than my previous all metal conversion. I added the fine chains that held the staples that fasten the sides in place from twisted fine wire. I made the brake lever and the support bracket, on which it pivots, and made a similar support for the Drummond both-sides brake handle. These parts were made from o.45 nickle silver sheet and were glued into slots cut in the underside of the solebar. I used sprung w-irons from Slaters, white metal springs from Invertrain, axle boxes from Lochgorm and sprung 3-link couplings from CPL, so an eclectic assortment of fittings went into completing the model. All metal to resin joints where practical were pinned and glued for security. 

I decided that this wagon would not only complement 2525 but would contrast nicely with it if it was provided with a ballast load. I made this from Milliput which was shaped to fit inside the wagon as a former to which the actual ballast was glued with woodwork glue, this was Carrs' Ballast 7mm Light Grey. I glued lead sheet under the wagon bed to bring the weight up to 150g, equal to the weight of the all-metal version. 

Ballast wagon buffers have a single tapering fin on the outside and feature end-door stops cast on the upper part of the housing. I used HR wagon buffers from Invertrain’s range and added end-door stops from thin slices of appropriate sized “U” shaped brass, which I soldered on top with ultra low-melt solder.

The wagon was painted similarly to 2525 with Precision P963 Dark Brick Red, HRMS transfers competed the colour scheme.

Ballast wagon No. 2747 in 1938 displays Drummond patent braking gear, and an absence of safety chains. A canvas flap, which prevented dust entering the axle box, is in evidence. A photo of an Engineering Dept. ballast wagon in later days (D297205) shows a U shaped metal plate guarding the near axle box though nothing over the rear one. Photo... D.L.G.Hunter from Carriages and Wagons of the HR. 

Monday, 20 April 2020

HR Ballast Wagon Complete

Highland Railway Type J 8 ton drop-side ballast wagon 

The model was built with the aid of an etched brass kit from Lochgorm Kits' for a 4-plank open wagon, from which the model was converted with the addition of extra parts. It seemed simple enough at the outset but turned out to be a laborious and time consuming way of producing a ballast wagon. A limited number of resin bodied ballast wagon kits were produced recently by a Highland Railway Society member and I'm sure these would make a very nice model in rather less time than the road I took. Though I prefer all-metal construction, a quicker build second wagon to make a pair, one empty and one with a load, is a temptation.

I printed the oval number plate on the sole bar myself on an inkjet from my own artwork. Transfers are from HMRS sheet 20. The basic colour of the wagon is Phoenix Precision P963 Dark Brick Red. I used this colour as I've run out of Caledonian Goods Wagon Oxide, which I usually use, it seems to be more or less the same colour.

The inside of the wagon was painted with Humbrol matt 110, a light brown colour, this was dry brushed dark to light. The ironwork was painted matt black then this and the planking was lined with thin black paint which flowed round the detail and into the intaglio by capillary action.

A residue of ballast chippings and an old sweeping brush add interest to the interior.