Some recent[ish] loco builds

Ex-Midland Railway 2000 Class ‘Flatiron’ 0-6-4 tank


Opposite [courtesy of Wikipedia, with thanks], the first of Richard Deeley’s class of 40 ‘Flatiron’ tanks. Building commenced in 1907 but after not terribly distinguished careers [which saw a number of accidents] all had gone to the torch before the last War.

This model was assembled from an old white-metal Finecast kit [body only] and runs on a largely scratch-built chassis. It is powered by a Portescap motor driving Romford wheels. The chassis required re-building three times [and a change of motor] before it started to run acceptably. The body is built as it came although some added detail has been applied to improve it appearance. The crew are from ModelU.


The first chassis build, using components from the bits-box. The chassis block was formed from two brass plate frames attached to front and rear spacers cut from an old Triang Jinty chassis. It ran, just, and is really a bit of a mess….

A rebuild was obviously on the cards, and a Portescap RG4 motor with an integral gear box was substituted for the XO4 type shown opposite. A little tinkering and it ran well. With the running gear sorted, attention could be given to constructing the body.


Above is the later chassis, an altogether neater and more handsome affair. It is shown with the wheels and rods painted and the rear bogie fitted [although adjusted later].


Above, two photos of the body at an early stage during its construction. Two-part epoxy glue was used and a first coat of primer has been laid on to check for any need for further filler. Some of the detail castings have also just been attached. A great deal of fettling and filler was required to obtain a square and acceptable fit of the various body parts. Not unusual for old white-metal builds though.

By now though, the characteristic outline of the Flatiron, with its ‘hole in the wall’, is quite unmistakeable.

With the body complete, the whole casting was primed again and then sprayed with Halfords’ Rover Damask Red, a near-enough approximation of LMS Crimson for me. The black areas were hand-painted and the lining, numbering and lettering applied with Pressfix decals.

The crew [the driver opposite holds an oily rag]was painted up and attached to a plastic-card floor which had been inserted into the tank for that purpose. The interior of the cab was painted cream and the bunker filled with coal. Etched spectacle bars were attached to the rear cab windows to protect them from breakage through over-enthusiastic coaling of the bunker. Lamp irons have also been attached.

The above photos show the first fit of all of the completed parts. The tank ran well but I was unhappy with the positioning of the rear bogie. Using the components supplied in the kit, the bogie sat far too close to the driving wheels. A new bracket was fashioned out of brass scrap and, as the photo below shows, the bogie now sits further back, looking far happier for it, too.

Elsewhere in my workbench is a description for a build of the first two of three Keyser white-metal ex-LNWR six-wheel coaches. These are so heavy that the Flatiron is the only loco I have that is really comfortable pulling them!


Ex-London & North-Western Railway 18 Inch Goods: the ‘Cauliflower’ Class 0-6-0 tender locos

By Ben Brooksbank, CC BY-SA 2.0,

By Ben Brooksbank, CC BY-SA 2.0,

The photograph opposite shows a member of the class in Workington, in BR days, towards the end of its long working life. It ran both passenger and freight traffic on the Cockermouth, Kewick and Penrith line for most of its time, and was withdrawn in September 1953. The ‘Cauliflowers’ [so called because of the LNWR’s flowery crest on their tenders] were designed by Francis Webb and comprised a class of 310 powerful locos. Building commenced in 1880 and ceased in 1902. All were gone by 1955.

This build, another white-metal model, was a 50 year old George E Mellor kit. It is powered by an Anchoridge DS10 motor and runs on Romford wheels. It was constructed pretty much from the box although some replacement and additional brass and etched parts were added to improve the detail.

Being an old white-metal kit, the castings presented the usual problems of distortion and poor fit. The boiler was particularly problematic with highly visible and prominent seams requiring filling along both its top and bottom. Any failure to remedy this would have rendered the build void: there would have been no point in continuing. I used two-part epoxy resin to manage this, over-filling both seams, allowing it to cure thoroughly and then [arduously] sanding back. The photos below show a ‘before and after’, with the visible top seam completely eliminated.

The back end of the tender presented similar difficulties, although Milliput epoxy filler was used on this occasion. The coal rails were particularly difficult to line up and careful filing took it about as far as was possible. When later detailed, painted black and filled with coal it was all but unnoticeable.

The tender was the first part of the model to be completed. It is a heavy but free-running model and required additional detailing to make it look all but basic. The W-irons are incorrectly spaced also, making the wheelbase look just a little odd. This does not affect the running properties but, for me, jars just a little. In hindsight, it may have been possible to have cut up the lower chassis to rectify this prior to building, but it would have been extremely difficult and may just have made matters worse. The lamp-irons, coupling hook and hand rails are bits-box additions. The wheels came with the kit but they run in brass top-hat bearings.


With the tender put to one side to await painting, later, work commenced on the loco body and chassis. The chassis was a simple white metal casting which screwed up into the body once complete. This type of chassis is relatively unsophisticated and can be problematic if the axle holes have not been drilled carefully. In this case, all was fine however and the unit assembled quite easily, running freely immediately. The photo alongside shows the chassis at an early stage, checking for fit and clearance. very little adjustment was required within the body to avoid fouling. Below, the chassis complete and in place.


The body was assembled in my usual fashion. Once all parts had been dressed, two-part epoxy glue was used in the construction. I like this method as it avoids potential damage to the castings from a hot soldering iron and allows for final adjustment and jiggling before the glue cures. It also acts as a filler where necessary. Nevertheless, some filler was required in various places and Milliput was used [particularly around the joins between the cab sides and the boiler].

To add / improve detail, some after-market brass parts were fitted at this stage, a more accurate chimney and riveted cylinder covers. Both made a great deal of difference once in place. See above.


The only other addition to the body was some brass strip, applied to extend inwards, slightly, the rear-most splashers, so that they were properly in line with the running plate and also met the cab sides. These strips were attached with superglue and whilst they do change the profile of the splashers, they are not so noticeable when painted up.

The photographs below shows the body in primer prior to fitting the splashers. The boiler-side pipework and handrails have been attached however [fiddly!]. A kit of relatively few parts, the only real difficulty presented by the body was ensuring that it sat fully square and level on the footplate / running plate casting. The smoke-box saddle area presented some problems, and a great deal of filing was required. Fortunately, there was too much metal there, not too little.

To complete the body, various final detail parts were added, including buffers and brake pipes, sand boxes and the reversing lever. The body was then primed once more and then sprayed satin black with the buffers, buffer beam and other detail parts being picked out in their appropriate colours. With all paint fully cured, lettering and numbering was applied with Pressfix decals. These were sealed in place by giving the body a light spray of satin varnish. The chassis [already completed and painted] was then screwed into place. the tender was detailed with coal and a lamp, and the cab backhead picked out and a crew glued into place. The backhead did not come with the kit but was found in the bits box. It was carefully trimmed so that it would fit around the slightly exposed Anchoridge motor: it, and the crew, do quite a good job of hiding it. The following set of photos show the completed model.