Exhibitions, Books etc

20/1/06 My wife and I visited the Model Engineering exhibition at Alexandra Palace and met up with Harry, who is also building the Britannia. I was a little disappointed by the exhibition - there were lots of supplier stands, but not that many large steam locomotives on display. However, we did see a nice 5" Britannia from View Models, not kit-built, and a smaller but very finely detailed gauge 1 Britannia. I bought my paints from Phoenix Precision Paints at the show - post-1954 BR Loco Green, Black and Signal Red, all in gloss, single-part etch primer for the brass, and rust stabilising primer for the steel.

6/5/06 I drove up to the Model Engineering Exhibition at Harrogate and stopped off on the way at the Great Central Railway workshops in Loughborough to see progress on the restoration of 70013. I met David Slack, the project manager, and signed up as a volunteer to help with the restoration - I'll aim to spend a day working there every month. I've added some further pictures and details of progress here. I'll aim to add further pictures and notes each time I visit, since I can find no other record on the web of the progress of this restoration. At Harrogate I met up with Richard R, Harry L, Nigel from the GCR, and Ray, another Britannia builder whom I hadn't previously been in contact with. We saw the control model on the Modelworks stand, completed up to kit 15, and no less than five other 5" Britannias - four of them scratch-built, and one Winson version on Doug Hewson's stand which featured a number of his improvements. Pictures of some of these models are shown here.

7/5/06 A few more points from Harrogate:

21/5/06 I attended the Modelworks owners' day at Sutton Coldfield. There was a very good turnout despite the rain, and several owners braved the elements to run their models on the excellent SCMES track. My photographs of some of the models are shown here. I met up with a number of other Britannia builders - Barry, Harry L, Ray, Richard P, Richard R and Ted - and I finally got to meet Debbie, after exchanging dozens of emails over the past six months. We had a couple of interesting talks from Phoenix Paints and from Mike M, who has built a number of Modelworks kits. Mike recommended the book 'How Steam Locomotives Really Work' (Oxford University Press, 8.99) which I happen to have a copy of - it's about full-size locomotives, but it explains a lot that is very relevant for models too.

15/11/06 I bought two excellent new books today, both published earlier this year.

21/11/06 I've gleaned the following information about 70013's history from the first book above and other sources: 11/12/06 Nigel Fraser Ker has added many new pictures of 70000 being restored at Crewe to his website.

19/1/07 I visited the Alexandra Palace exhibition today. It was quite crowded and there were a lot of trade stands, although not a huge number of large-scale models. Modelworks were there, showing the Duchess, 57xx, Bagnall, Foden, and Burrell. I spoke to Dean who confirmed that the final kit 18 of the Britannia will be delivered in two parts, the first part hopefully very soon. I met up with John W, who is up to kit 8 on his Britannia build.

I also spoke to Bob Shephard, author of 'The Finishing Touch', on the Precision Paints stand and bought some more paints, including a small tin of P134 BR Signal Yellow gloss which Bob confirmed is the correct yellow for the Timken axlebox covers. He also agreed with me that 70013 had never had red stripes on the yellow axleboxes, and confirmed that the works painting instructions specified black rather than red for the edges of the buffer beams - he said that restorations often get the painting details wrong.

an impressive 5" model of 70014 Iron Duke, for sale at 12,500

a 5" Black 5, nicely built from the Modelworks kit

a very fine working Gauge 1 Britannia - coal-fired, unlike most of the other G1 models which smelt strongly of meths as they steamed past!

21/6/07 I've been in contact with Jon from the Colchester club who is scratch-building a 5" Britannia, using some Modelworks parts. He also has a Modelworks 14xx tank engine and I'd put him in touch with Mike at my North London club who has a Winson 14xx. We met up at the track this afternoon and both locos were steaming well - the photo shows Jon in the foreground and Mike following on behind. Ted was also there, having the steam test on his 5" Polly V tank engine which he's built over the past year while waiting for the final Britannia kits. He's achieved a superb paint finish using a half-size spray gun rather than an airbrush, and I can see that I may have to do the same on my Britannia if I'm to avoid it looking inferior to Ted's - there's a degree of friendly competition building up between us. The Polly raised steam quickly and all seemed to be going well until it got up to working pressure and the water gauge glass shattered with spectacular results, as shown in this photo. Luckily nobody was hurt and the glass is easily replaced, but it's as well that it happened when it did rather than during Ted's first drive.

18/1/08 I visited the Alexandra Palace exhibition today. As last year, it was quite crowded and there were a lot of trade stands, although not that many large-scale models - perhaps fewer than last year. I suppose that I can't really complain, since I didn't take my own model. Modelworks were there in their usual location, showing the Duchess, 57xx, Foden, and 2" Burrell. I spoke at some length to Dean and to the Chairman, Bob Jones. They say they are committed to recruit more production staff and improve on their recent performance, and they are also getting a completely new website built. They say that there is plenty of demand, particularly for the road vehicles. Dean said that the main problem with the remaining parts for the Britannia is the injectors - they are finding it difficult to source the quantities required for the Britannia and Bagnall, and Steamfittings are just at the prototype stage with their No 4 injectors. The water gauges and name and number plates are ready now. Ted has seen the latter and he says that they look good, although Modelworks are not including the additional shed plates etc as standard - these can be bought directly from the maker if required. If I'm still waiting for the injectors in a couple of months time I may buy them elsewhere and invite Modelworks to contribute to the cost.

I met up with Ted K, John W and another Britannia builder whose name I didn't catch; Mike A, Paul T and Alex S who are building the Duchess; and Brian A and Brian B who are building 7 1/4" Britannias.

I bought a pair of Doug Hewson's steam heating hoses and his steam heating valve casting from Blackgates, some copper pipe and end fittings from Polly, and some pipe bending springs from Chronos. I had a go with a Beugler pinstriping tool and managed to paint an impressively uniform line on a piece of steel, so I'll think about getting one of these for the lining on the boiler and tender.

Brian B's 7 1/4" model of 70014 Iron Duke, being built from a Winson kit with many improvements (the grey colour on the smokebox is caused by the camera flash - it's actually matt black)

the Duchess control model on the Modelworks stand. Kit 10, the inside cylinders, is due next week

the Foden control model on the Modelworks stand, complete with the boiler which is currently being shipped

the 2" Burrell control model on the Modelworks stand, with a dummy boiler at this stage to hold everything together

Keith Spence's model of 70049 Solway Firth, built some years ago to the Perrier plans

the cab of 70049 - the lever in the foreground is an extension for the regulator

3/4/08 We're just back from a day's 'Advanced Driving Experience' at the Mid-Hants or 'Watercress' Line, which my kids bought me for my birthday. This was a brilliant day out, which I can highly recommend. There were six of us taking turns at driving and firing on three return trips between Alresford and Alton, a distance of about 10 miles each way, with two intermediate station stops and quite steep gradients to contend with. We drove a BR Standard Class 5MT - I was initially a bit disappointed that they weren't running their Merchant Navy class Pacific, but in fact the 5MT is closer to the Britannia in the sense that the cab controls and the valve gear and many of the other fittings are almost identical, and the tender is also almost the same. We hauled three carriages, accommodating just friends and family, so the load was not too demanding but even so one of my fellow trainees managed to spin the wheels by over-enthusiastic use of the regulator when pulling away. As fireman I shovelled the coal and operated the injector, although I found it quite difficult to place the coal evenly across the grate to the real fireman's satisfaction - not helped by confusion as to whether the 'back' of the grate was the bit nearest to me or furthest away. As driver I had full control of the reversing gear, regulator, steam cocks and the steam and vacuum brakes, although for some reason the instructor was very protective of the blower valve. The most difficult part of the driving was coasting down the steep gradients and adjusting the vacuum brakes to keep to the 25mph speed limit - compared to this, pounding up the hill was easy. The loco took a surprising time to react to movements of the controls - it took several seconds after cracking open the regulator for the steam pressure to show up on the cylinder gauge, which tended to make one open it further than intended. Likewise it took time for the vacuum to rebuild after releasing the brakes, which made it difficult to slow down by just the amount intended. A bit like steering a yacht, really.

73096 backs up at Alresford station for the first of the day's runs

I'm in the driving seat, under the
watchful eye of the instructor. The broad grin says it all!

a look of intense concentration as I back gently up to the carriages, trying not to spill the wives' coffees

now where does this go? - coupling up the front of the loco to the carriages for
reverse running back from Alton

the view from the driver's seat -
the controls are almost identical to those of the Britannia

a view of the roaring fire and the injector controls

11/12/10 I visited the Model Engineering exhibition at Sandown Park today. The main reason for going was to see Rod's Britannia, which he had entered in the competition, and he won first prize in his class - very well deserved, since his model looks superb and was attracting a lot of admiration. He has added a lot of additional detail beyond what I've added to mine - including:

Rod's Britannia in the competitors' area

the cab interior showing the authentic
controls and the sliding windows

the front end showing the sanding gear,
and scale clack valves, mudhole doors and washout plugs on the top of the boiler

the area under the cab showing the
working scale BR injector, the injector water valve and the AWS reservoir

10/1/11 I've been invited (or to be more precise I've had my arm twisted!) to show my Britannia on the North London SME stand at Alexandra Palace from 21-23 January. The setup is on the afternoon of Thursday 20 January and I'll post an update here then to confirm that it is actually on the stand, for anyone wishing to take a look.

20/1/11 I delivered my Britannia to Alexandra Palace this afternoon, so it will be on display for the next three days on the North London SME stand. I'll be back there on Sunday afternoon to see the show and then to retrieve my engine - I just hope that there are as many willing volunteers to help move it as there were this afternoon!

23/1/11 I spent today at the Alexandra Palace exhibition, and successfully recovered my Britannia at the end of the day. It had to be manhandled from stand to trolley and trolley to car because we didn't have a jacking trolley available, and it suffered minor damage to one of the rather delicate Doug Hewson front steps as a result, but I think this is repairable. The whole process of exhibiting is rather nerve-wracking and I probably won't do it again. The exhibition was quite enjoyable and I thought that one of the highlights was the demonstration of the gas turbine powered locomotive - the turbine has an idle speed of 50,000 rpm and top speed of 160,000 rpm! There was a nice 7 1/4" Winson Britannia with lots of enhanced details, almost completed, and another 5" Britannia which I'd also seen at Sandown Park before Christmas and which won a silver medal about 20 years ago. I met another Modelworks Britannia builder who hadn't previously been in touch - he still has some way to go to complete his engine, but is hoping to make quicker progress once he retires.