O Scale switcher – the longest project in modelling history

In the beginning…

A long time ago, in a modelling landscape far, far away… there was a UK Model Trains magazine (I cannot remember the issue) that described the conversion of the Atlas O scale Plymouth switcher; the aim being to turn it into an industrial UK shunter.

If my memory serves me well it would have been about 1982 or there about. In short order I found myself owning four of these locomotives, and set about modelling the shunter as I’d seen it a couple of years previously. Having said all of this the title of this article now becomes important because I am about to finish the project that I started sometime back in the early to mid 1980s, in the mid 2010s. Yep – that’s 30 years.

That ‘Model Trains’ magazine article suggested either:

  1. Keeping the cab height the same as it was on the original model and raising the buffer beam height to allow for buffers etc. or
  2. Raising the entire cab by about a scale foot and raising the height of the footplate at the same time to allow for buffers to be mounted on the end of the frame.

I chose the second option as I wanted a snappy looking locomotive and not something half thought out that I’d never be happy with. So with magazine, (I have the copy somewhere and I’ll update the article details when I have them) plasticard, liquid glue, files and a sense of adventure I started working on the model.

I left the length of the loco as it was, and raised the body height with a conveniently wide piece of plasticard stock to get the height visually right. In reality that was the easy part as you’re just adding that to the bottom of the body.

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All images are Copyright Andrew Martin 2015 unless otherwise noted

In the four photos of the unmodified model note the squat nature of the body. The last photo shows the difference in height between the modified and original loco that the two 40 thou shims of plasticard give. It should be noted that the loco models that I have come with a textured surface on the footplate simulating a safety tread pattern. This was sanded down and removed prior to installing the higher floor.

Next I cleaned up the four pane windows and made them single pane. Finally I sanded down and covered over the buffing faces on the loco ends in preparation for the 3 link couplings and buffers. The only problem was that having put all of that work into the loco – it did not look right to me. It looked like a higher roofed American loco and not something that would have been made in or for an English railway, especially a Quarry railway which I’d always wanted to model (and still do). So it was back to the drawing board.

The second coming…

Unfortunately I only have photos from the second rebuild that I started in 1996 or there about and none from that first effort as it was back in the early 1980s and I don’t remember owning a camera at the time (being a poor electronics apprentice).

Before I begin any modelling project (I over think them to be honest) I do a lot of work on how the final model will look; This locomotive was no different. First was a working sketch that I scanned recently and cleaned up below. (Yes I store all my sketches of train models.)

Modified_Drawing_O_Scale_Switcher

Figure 1: Concept Drawing – Copyright Andrew Martin 2015

There are some differences between the concept sketch and the final model that I’ll be completing in the next week or two – overall I’ve come pretty close to what I wanted. I’ve not bothered with the end rails and chain nor the MU stand. As the quarry locomotives were generally run individually and not in MU service in the UK from what I can gather. Additionally I took about 10 mm off the rear end of the unit since I did not want the air tank or a balcony on that end with the new look.

The changes

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Photo 1: The extent of the surgery

If it’s blue, it’s not new. The bubbly mess of plastic in the cab end of the hood is what happens when you try and speed up curing of putty with an incandescent bulb. The stove pipe chimney was the result of that and not planned. However, I did add 5mm in the front of the hood to extend the hood forward and rebuilt the front top are of the hood too as the bulky light on the original just irked me too much to live with. The entire cab roof, and rear wall was sawn out, and a plasticard cab end and roof was put in its place. This sounds fairly straightforward, until you see the amount of work that actually went into designing and building the new cab end.

O_Scale_Switcher_In_Build2

Photo 2: Cab end plate, and ribbing waiting for the skin to go on

 

Photo 2 above shows the planning and work that went into the design of the new cab. When the skin (10 thou plasticard) went on it was measured and cut in one piece to ensure that there would be no visible seams on the face of the loco. This went off without a hitch and I learned a lot out of that exercise that has helped me in my model building since. Photo 3 below shows what the cab looks like after the skin has been cut and glued in place.

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Photo 3: The new cab end completed

 

Also in Photo 3 above you’ll note the

  • Oleo buffers (from House of O Gauge in the UK – now gone I believe). These are working buffers and work as well as they look.
  • The electrical conduit to the light is fine solder Super-Glued in place. The light is a square styrene section with a circular section cut into the square frame and then drilled out to accept an LED. This will go back into the cab and into the DCC board. I had thought about having a duel sealed beam set, but I liked the look of this better.
  • To remove the need for a rear facing horn, I cut a small slot into the top left of the cab for the horn. I’ve yet to place a horn placed on the front of the loco.
  • The three link couplings are also working with draw gear behind them on the front and the back. Finally the electrical junction box is a 1:48th MU cover glued on to the face.
  • Finally the window frames are all 20 thou and allow a 0.5mm overhang into the window space. I am hoping to get some microscope slide covers cut and put in place in all of the windows. Should that prove too bothersome I will cut out some Monitor protector plastic that I’ve saved from work and use that in its place. It will be secured in either case by Revel clear cement.
Photo 4: The front of the loco

Photo 4: The front of the loco_

It’s getting late, so I’ll just add a couple more photos. If you have questions let me know in the comments and I’ll answer them for you.

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Photo 5: A 3/4 view of the front of the loco

 

I’m not sure if I am going to leave the running gear showing like this or turn it into a tram loco. But the tram idea has me in its grip at the moment.

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Photo 6: Rear left 3/4 view showing the fuel filler and tank gauge

 

The fuel filler and gauge are from a 1:48 scale add on kit I’m using on my GP38-2 rebuilds.

Well – that’s it for now. Talk to you all later.

 

 

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About Andrew Martin

After a long IT and Telecommunications career in the USA and Australia, I've decided I need a break. Professionally I'm focused on direct contact customer service - people helping people. Hobby wise I'm focused on model railway layout building and modelling. I blog, write and publish as often as I am able.
This entry was posted in 1:43.5 (7mm Scale), Modelling, O Scale and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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