Exhibitions, Books etc
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.
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.
A few more points from Harrogate:
- Ian from Modelworks told me that the problem in kit 13 with the top of the expansion link hitting the weighshaft bracket at the rear of its travel is being solved by producing new return cranks and new rods linking the return cranks to the expansion links. He said the control model has been run on air successfully and they now just need to produce a batch of the new parts. I guess this might take another week or two.
- Kit 15 includes brass covers for the cylinders, which means that all the filing and polishing of the cast iron in kit 11 was not really necessary, although having got a mirror finish on the cylinders I might ignore the brass covers.
- The ashpan and grate in kit 15 are made from stainless steel, and the fire can be dropped into the ashpan by pulling a rod that allows three sections of the grate to hinge down.
- Doug Hewson now has castings for the tender water filter boxes. They don't include the curved top section that fits to the underside of the tender, so these will need to be cut from the standard ones supplied in the kit.
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.
I bought two excellent new books today, both published earlier this year.
I've gleaned the following information about 70013's history from the first book above and other sources:
'Locomotives in detail - Riddles Class 6/7 Standard Pacifics' (ISBN 0-7110-3177-0), available from Amazon. This contains B&W and colour photographs of many of the Britannias, and gives a lot of detail on the modifications made to the individual locomotives during their working lives. If you want to represent a particular locomotive at a particular date it will be invaluable.
'How (not) to paint a locomotive' by Christopher Vine (ISBN 978-0-9553359-0-7). Chris won a gold medal at the 2004 MEX for his 7 1/4" Class B1 'Bongo' and this book describes in detail, with lots of photographs, how he achieved the superb prize-winning finish, including the lining and transfers.
Nigel Fraser Ker has added many
new pictures of 70000 being restored at Crewe to his website.
- 70013 Oliver Cromwell was built in May 1951 at Crewe as part of the first batch of 25, 70000-70024
- it initially had fluted coupling rods, but these were replaced by the fish-bellied type, as used from new on the second and third batches
- the main axles were initially hollow to save weight, but this caused the wheels on some batch 1 locos to move on the axles and they were soon replaced by solid axles
- the return cranks were initially the LNER forked type with a clamping bolt, but these were replaced by the LMS style with four studs set into the crankpin
- the smoke deflectors initially had a handrail around the edge, but following the Polar Star accident in 1955 which was attributed to the handrail obscuring the driver's view (!) the handrails were replaced by recessed handholds. On 70013, there were two cupped handholds plus a small horizontal handrail in line with the footplate
- the front vacuum pipe was initially the swan-necked style, but by 1953 this had been replaced by the low style
- from 1963 after electrification the top lamp iron on the smokebox door was moved down to the right of the dart handles for safety reasons, and the middle lamp iron on the buffer beam was moved to the right to line up with it. However, 70013 had the original position restored at some stage during preservation (although I'm not sure if this will remain the case during the current restoration, if 70013 is to run on the main line again)
- white and red electrification warning plates were fitted sometime after 1960
- initially the footplate side wall was continuous, covering the lubricator, but by 1953 the section in front of the lubricator had been removed to simplify maintenance
- two brackets were added at some stage to support the midpoints of the two sections of the regulator rod
- the lubricator pushrod was initially horizontal, but later the lubricator lever arm was shortened so that the pushrod sloped upwards
- initially there were two small steps below the smokebox door, but these were replaced sometime after 1953 by the large step spanning the frames with a supporting bracket in the centre
- a speedometer was fitted at some stage, with crank and cable on the left-hand trailing wheel
- AWS (Automatic Warning System) equipment was fitted in May 1959 - this comprised a circular contact shoe on the front of the bogie, a protective 'bash plate' behind the front coupling, a pipe running under the left-hand footplate to an air tank under the driver's side of the cab, and a battery box on the right-hand footplate in front of the firebox
- the tender is type BR1 with 7 tons coal capacity and 4250 gallons water capacity. It has the low water pickup dome (BR1A has 5000 gallons capacity and the higher dome)
- the footsteps on the top rear of the tender were not fitted originally but added soon afterwards
- canvas and rubber side screens were added to the front of the tender sometime after 1952 to reduce draughts in the cab
- the tender and pony axlebox covers were originally painted black, but this was changed to yellow for roller bearing axleboxes to indicate that grease rather than oil was to be used for lubrication. I'm not sure of the origin of the red stripes across the yellow covers (someone told me that it was artistic licence on the part of a chap in the Crewe works with a spare tin of red paint), but 70013 certainly did not have these when it was withdrawn from service
- from 1964 some Britannias were painted in 'economy' unlined green, but 70013 was painted in fully lined livery during its final overhaul in February 1967 - the last BR steam locomotive to receive an overhaul
- 70013 hauled the last BR steam service from Manchester to Carlisle on 11 August 1968, then ran light to Diss in Norfolk and was transported by road to the Bressingham steam museum where it remained until it was transferred to the Great Central Railway in Loughborough for restoration in 2004. It is owned by the National Railway Museum
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
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
- front struts on smoke deflectors
- bolts on edges of running boards
- sanding gear - using Doug Hewson's castings
- scale top clack valves
- additional washout plugs and mudhole doors
- scale safety valves
- plate divisions and bolts on firebox cladding
- scale steam manifold
- additional rivets on cab sides
- fully detailed cab fittings with Doug Hewson's reversing gearbox and driver's stand, Dave Noble steam brake valve, authentic injector water valves, and even a pair of tea cans
- sliding cab side windows and swivelling wind deflector glass
- scale injector on driver's side, and scale water valve and AWS reservoir under the cab
- speedometer fitting on left rear coupled wheel
- raised sandbox fillers on the running boards (as fitted to 70039, although 70013 doesn't have these)
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.
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
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!
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.