Tank Engine Conversion

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You may be familiar with Hornby’s 0-4-0 tank engine “Smokey Joe”, it’s a good little model and pops up on all kinds of layout. For me, it does have one problem – the words “Smokey Joe” graffitied on the engine’s sides. Now graffiti may be true to life (indeed, on a recent train journey I passed a rake of mineral wagons where every single one had been “tagged”) but it’s not something I want on my locomotives. With that in mind I went to work improving the paintwork.

I didn’t think the chassis needed any work so I removed “Joe’s” body and set aside the chassis for later. The body on this model is quiet easy to remove, a firm but careful pull and it comes right off. As the words “Smokey Joe” are slightly raised from the rest of the body they would need to be removed otherwise they would show through after painting. I tried using sandpaper to do this and I wouldn’t recommend this. Sandpaper is to rough and I ended up with tiny scratches on the model. Railway modelling magazines recommend using T-Cut or similar to remove details so if you are planning your own project invest in this instead. After this small disaster I removed the whistle as I didn’t want this painted and I covered the chimney and top and inside of the cab in masking tape. “Joe” was now ready for painting.

For the paint I went with green enamel spray paint from Halfords. This paint is meant for touching up car paint work but it’s good for modelling too. If you don’t have or don’t like Halfords I imagine spray paints for plastics from any other supplier will do just fine. Use spray paint outside wherever possible. I went with one liberal coat all over and was satisfied with the result. As an added bonus the thickness of the paint concealed the small scratches left by the sandpaper. Once the paint was dry the body was reattached to the chassis.

Wanting to add some extra detail I ordered up name and number plates from Narrow Planet. Narrow Planet makes the plates out of brass to order and prices are reasonable enough. The only thing is delivery can take some time as they only make the plates when they have enough orders so plan in advance if you are going to use them. When the plates arrived I used super glue to attach them to “Joe”. The name and number are in relatively the same place on each side, I didn’t have any guides to work from so placement was guesswork.

All that was left was to glue in the plastic crew as supplied with the model and paint them. I’ve glued them in but they are still waiting for paint. I haven’t weathered the model, I only have weathering powders at the moment and I don’t think they will stay stuck on to enamel paint very well. With the conversion as finished as its going to get for now private owner engine No. 1 Mio is ready for duty.

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The Other Layout(s)

IMG_20170812_132152202Thanks to some re-decorating work in my house the inglenook layout is on hold for the moment. I do however have a new project. Something of a rarity, it includes both N and 00 scale running.

When I first started building layouts I had a large 00 circuit based on one of Hornby’s track mats. This worked well and gave me many years of enjoyment even though I never got around to adding some finishing touches. A few years ago I started to model in N gauge as well as 00 and having no room for another layout the one I did have would need to be scaled back. The 00 layout ended up half its former size and I now had two layouts, both 3’ x 4’, one in each scale.

This worked Ok for a while, the N gauge never got further than ballasted track with a few card buildings and the 00 gauge only progressed to the nearly finished stage because it was built on the baseboard of its predecessor. After a while I got bored with the 00 layout. It was too small and as the track was only two circles that didn’t even join together it didn’t offer much in the way of operational enjoyment. I wanted a bigger 00 layout again but this would mean getting rid of the N layout. Or did it?

I remembered an article I had seen on split level layouts that used the difference in level to show different locations or, more importantly, different scales. It was with this idea I set to work. Using the massive plywood offcut from the inglenook layout I made a new baseboard measuring 5’ x 3.75’ it is on this I have set down a new 00 plan. When finished, it will have two circles of track and trains will be able to cross freely between them thanks to some point work. I have made provision for a station, something the last layout didn’t have, and there is a siding for the station pilot.

In the middle of the baseboard, where others would either cut a hole for the operator to sit or cover in scenery, I have sited a raised baseboard where I had planned the N gauge layout to sit. I haven’t fixed this raised area down, the plan was to leave it detachable so it could be lifted off and used on its own elsewhere. After having tested this I have realised it’s too heavy to be practical and visions of smashed stock and scenery should I drop the board were enough to persuade me I need to re-site this board somewhere more practical. I’m thinking of putting it on one of the ends.

Watch this space for more news of both the new double level experiment and the inglenook layout.