Project Lockdown – Fuel Tanks and Battery Boxes

So we’re back on with the class 31! The break/delay was brought on by work and home schooling!

The underframe on the Lima class 31 is basic, as we have seen, but this straightforward bit of work will transform it. Even if you leave it without finer detail, the reduced width and increased depth will make a huge difference.

It’s a basic Plastikard box, extended at either end. We have the battery box covers from when we prepared the underframe which will be attached later on.

The basic layout is here.

The fuel tanks and battery boxes.

The parts are made from Plastikard sheet, 40thou and 60thou. They can easily be cut using a knife and a set square/engineer’s square. If you’ve not worked in Plastikard before, this is a good and straightforward introduction to it – for other projects it opens up all sorts of possibilities, from detailing and modifications to full scratch building!

So, we will need the following –

Two each in 40thou –

  • 9mm x 24mm
  • 9mm x 18mm
  • 9mm x 26mm
  • 9mm x 5mm

One piece in 60thou –

  • 22mm x 26mm

One piece in 60thou

  • 18mm x 30mm

As shown here with the parts laid out.

The parts required – all are 40 thou but that marked with * needs to be 60 thou.

The 18mm x 30mm part will require notches cutting which at 4mm x 3mm at each corner. They are 3mm from the ends and 4mm deep, towards the centre.

And to help identify the locations of parts, the colour coded parts as they should appear once assembled.

The assembly but showing the colours corresponding to the individual parts.

The main box is the first thing we need, using the 22mm x 26mm piece as the base. Take one of the 9mm x 26mm pieces and fix the the outer end of the base, using an engineer’s square to ensure its perpendicular. Once happy leave briefly to begin setting before taking the other end and fixing in place in just the same way as the first. You should now have an interesting U shaped assembly in front of you.

Take the 9mm x 24mm pieces (mid-green on the diagram) and fit the either side of the U piece.

Once you’re happy, cut some thin strips of 40thou Plastikard and reinforce the joints inside the box and this should be the result.

The basic box, note the strips of Plastikard reinforcing the joints.

Leave to dry for a bit, have a drink and biscuit, s chocolate one if this is your first time doing anything like this.

The battery box covers should already be prepared so take the first one and fix in place on the outside of the box (shown mid-green on the diagram), line it up carefully. Once you’re happy, repeat on the other side.

Next you’ll need one of the 9mm x 18mm (orange) pieces, fix it on one end centrally, this means you’ll have 4mm either side of it (not measuring the battery box covers, just the Plastikard).

Here I’m going to change the order from that in the pictures as I think it’ll make it easier and more straightforward. So take the big slab of 60thou, the 18mm x 30mm (blue) piece. Glue this on place so it lines up with the orange end as per the diagram – use an engineer’s square to ensure it’s not skew whiff. By fitting this sooner, it makes fitting the end box simpler.

End pieces attached and battery box covers fixed in place.

So next add the two 9mm x 5mm pieces, on top of the ‘blue’ piece and the end, checking for squareness. Then just the remaining end piece needs to be added, all being well it should fit nicely.

The structurally complete fuel tank and battery box assembly.

The remaining joints should be reinforced with strips of Plastikard as before once you’re happy.

Now leave it do properly set/dry, and next time we’ll be fitting to the underframe.

The Quietly Progressive Railway Modeller

Railway Modeller, March 1995

There was quite an exchange on a Facebook modelling group today – magazines came.

I said I felt that Railway Modeller should be there to inspire and guide those who wish to try new things (after suggesting a loco body kit on am RTR chassis could be followed up with a similar attempt but showing readers how to move on and construct their own chassis). Incidentally, the response from someone that “not everyone wants to build their own chassis” and therefore it shouldn’t be covered? Well I disagree, even if you never do so, an article could have techniques you could find useful elsewhere in your modelling.

Then I remembered this article from the March 1995 issue of Railway Modeller. Fitting a Lima model with an all wheel drive mechanism for an Athern model and directional lighting, twenty five years ago! This was quite some, especially of you compare what else was written on diesel mechanisms, the only thing comparable was fitting Dyna-Drive, which was very expensive. Plus we had Ultrascale wheels in the mix too. I’ve done the same conversion on other classes. As has Jim Smith-Wright, see his site for more of his modelling.

Railway Modeller has been there for much of our hobby’s development, it’s featured all sorts of niche scales and standards, some of the very best layouts our hobby has seen. But never has Railway Modeller been over the top but quietly progressive.

The latest issue has an Irish narrow gauge layout in 7mm scale, complete with the correct gauge of track at 21mm. Beautifully niche and not the slightest bit mainstream.


This sort of modelling can easily inspire people regardless of what they’re modelling.

Project Lockdown – Advanced Underframe

The developing loco – now the underframe is beginning to take shape.

This is probably best described as ‘optional’ I think – I think it makes a big difference but if you’re not sure, it’ll still look ok.

The buffer beams on the Lima models which depict locos with their valances removed, are too wide. It’s only by a little, but enough to make a difference – once you’ve rectified this, it becomes obvious!

So we begin be making replacement pieces for the side framing. This is what we see of the body’s structure, much like in class 47s and 56s. Originally the class 31 had valances around their buffer beams to hide this but as time went on most locos had them removed – the odd example lasted into the nineties though carrying the valances and the bodyside band!

Marking out the side framing.

We’ll be removing the original moulded framing so we’ll need replacements – this is easy! Using the non-powered end of the chassis, take 20 thou Plastikard and, as in the photo above, scribe the outline of the existing part. Once scribed, remove and cut with a knife and straight edge. I’d make five or six so you’ve got spares as soon making more will be difficult.

Removing the side framing – this is the non-powered end.

We’re back in destruction mode again!

Remove the side of the framing so the cut on the buffer beam is level with the inside face of part to be removed. A brand new blade for each one too is wise. File the chassis flat along the long edge and clean up the rear of buffer beam but not the side of the buffer beam yet – wait until the new framing is in place and set to allow a nice, smooth joint to be made.

Side framing fitted and braced with pieces of 40 thou Plastikard.

Fit the frames in place, at the same angle as the originals, but so their outer surface is flush with the edge of the buffer beam. Once you’re happy with the position, run plenty of solvent round the inside edges. You need to prepare some strips if 40 thou Plastikard, about 2mm or 3mm wide and reinforce the joints with these, just as in the photo.

Unfortunately the powered end is a little trickier…

Attacking the powered end.

The frame is removed as before but you’ll need to cut through the support for the of the motor bogie – though on the Hornby Railroad model, this isn’t needed as the revised motor bogie has a revised pivot arrangement which does use the same outer guides.

Do these one side at a time, attaching the new frame and letting the joint harden for a time before doing the other side. With these sides removed, the chassis structure is severely weakened so doing them in turn helps us retain the structure with risk of snapping the end off!

The powered end with both sides of the framing in place and the joints reinforced.

The joints need to be reinforced as before, and then you can leave the chassis to dry thoroughly.

Time for a drink and a biscuit.

So now it’s dry, file the frame and buffer beam ends gently to make a good, smooth join between them.

You’ll notice there’s a rib along the frame on the side below the cabs. I’ve used 10 thou strip, 1mm/40 thou wide. If you don’t have strip, just cut it from a sheet.

31271 at Butterley again – the photo shows the rib on the side of the frame below the cab quite clearly.

Use the photo as a guide for the positioning – the end should be cut to a 45° angle. You can easily bend the strip to achieve the angle where it turns towards the cab door. Solvent will not only make the join but soften the bend which will then harden and be nice and strong. Once set, the edges of the frames can be tidied up lightly with a file/emery board.

A front view of the now narrower buffer beam.

From the front the difference is very noticeable and it helps correct the relationship between the cab sides and the body frames.

Until next time…

Project Lockdown – Preparing The Underframe

The underframe on diesels, pre 2000, were pretty basic – just looking at the underframe on the Lima class 31 shows this – though, oddly, the much older Airfix model is much better in this respect. Bachmann’s underframes are still quite basic too in fairness, though it does leave room for modellers to make models their own.

The underframe as supplied – very, very basic.

At one time we were happy just to add basic details to the buffer beams using Craftsman or Westward detailing packs. But since my first attempts at detailing diesels, I think we’re moving on. Certainly friends of mine have been attacking RTR diesels with vigour and making them into something special, not just bodies but the underframes too. Gareth Bayer influenced my enormously with his approach to modelling class 47s. Detailing all aspects of underframes can add a whole new dimension to our models and I find it very satisfying.

My model of D5176 – it uses a Hornby body, a Bachmann chassis, Penbits sprung bogies and everything was extensively rebuilt. This is an example of how far we can take detailing diesel underframes.

When it comes to something like the class 31, beyond a couple of tasked you can really pick and choose what you to do, to suit your own taste and ability. The battery box/fuel tank is too wide on the Lima model so just addressing this will improve be things enormously. It’ll make things look much less toylike and much more realistic.

The tank needs to be cut off level with the bottom of the body – with the chassis frame in the body, run a knife along the edge of the body to mark where the cuts will need to be. Remove the chassis from the body and then continue to cut the tanks along the same marks with a sharp knife. Make light cuts as this reduces the chances of the knife slipping and causing damage to the model or you.

After a while you should begin to break through and at this point the two cuts need to be joined up. You can use a knife for this if you’re careful but I used a piercing saw as I found this easier, but regardless you’ll need to finish off with a knife around the corners.

Checking the underframe against the body.

Check the underframe against the body to check all is well. Once you’re happy, clean up the cuts and edges with emery boards and put to one side.

First battery covers removed.

The battery box covers are needed so remove these from removed section of the underframe – we’ll reuse these when rebuild the area. A knife makes light work of the plastic.

Cleaned up and as removed.

Once they’re removed, they need to cleaned up on the inside to remove traces of the mouldings and give a nice flat surface when we come to reuse them.

We’re not done with the underframe moulding yet! But how far you go depends on how brave you are!

Project Lockdown – NRN Pods

Upon its introduction the National Radio Network (NRN) was quite something, finally a way for drivers to contact signalmen directly (though not the other way round!) and the ability for drivers to receive emergency messages via control where previously the only form of contact were signals themselves. Though many of us were very relieved when the new GSM-R network replaced it!

On locos and multiple units various types or aerials and pods were fitted as a result – we’ll look at one type of fitting here, as carried by many of the class 31s.

The first part is a 6mm x 6mm square of 5 thou Evergreen Styrene sheet, glued on with an absolute minimum of solvent. The leading edge needs to be 5.5mm from the front of the headcode box and the square placed centrally. It should be in line with the walkway along the loco’s roof.

The 5 thou base in place – 7mm back from front edge of the headcode box.

Leave it to dry – plastic sheet this thin is very vulnerable when the solvent is wet. This is also why we use use the solvent very sparingly too.

Pods marked and scribed/’scrawked’

The top part of the pod is 30 thou Plastikard – using an engineer’s square, mark two 5mm x 5mm squares. Following on from this, the pods need four lines scribing/’scrawked’ to represent the grooves of the real thing. Fortunately, with them being 5mm wide, marking these grooves is easy as they’re spaced a millimetre from each other! The scrawker, as described previously, is ideal for this task as it leaves lovely, burr-free, grooves.

Cut out and ready to be filed.

The edges need to be filed – 20° or so apart from the 45° for the front edge. You need to work carefully and slowly otherwise you may file away too much and have to start again! Voice if experience speaks… I held the piece in smooth jawed pliers and used a sharp needle file to do the job. It didn’t take many passes if the file to put the angles on the piece.

Filling the edges.

Once you’ve filed the front, you’ll have reinstate the grooves down the front face of the pod. There are a few ways to do it – knife or the edge of a sharp triangular needle file. The scrawker doesn’t work for such a small groove like this. I actually used a piercing saw to do this.

Ready to be fixed in place.

Once you’re happy with the appearance it’s time to fit this in place.

As before, a minimum of solvent will do the job.

The finished NRN pod.

Leave to set thoroughly – the solvent can still cause the 5 thou sheet damage when applied on top.

You’ll noticed the new headlight – this is a high intensity from Replica Railways. The front of the loco is angled so the rear of the lamp needs angled just as the NRN pod – the same method will work too.

There are a couple of variations in position if headlights on class 31s – work from photos of your chosen loco if you’re fitting one.

And this brings us up to date on the body – the chassis is where we turn out attention next. And this can be as simple or as ‘fun’ as you want it to be!

Project Lockdown – The Long Goodbye

The Long Goodbye, the farewell tour for EWS class 31s. Photo by Malcolm Wells.

I think we’ve earned a little break.

The class 31 has long been a favourite of mine – trips out with my dad to places like Crewe and Warrington would mean we’d see the occasional ones in the late nineties but they were becoming rather scarce. I remember vividly the sight of 31110 passing Milford in its tatty and battered Dutch livery. It was a favourite for a time, until it became a ‘celebrity’ following a repaint into BR green – I lost interest in it a bit them.

We spent a significant part 3rd January 1998 to see The Long Goodbye railtour passing through Barnetby. We weren’t alone, lots of people had the same idea!

Although this was a farewell tour, the
final four EWS locomotives wouldn’t be withdrawn until February 2001. One of the tour engines would also be the only class 31 to carry the new EWS livery in service, debuting at the Toton open day in August 1998.

The class has continued in service until the present day too, one is still working in the mainline at the present time, twenty two years after The Long Goodbye!

31466 at the huge Toton open day in August 1998, by this time wearing its freshly applied EWS livery.

Project Lockdown – Fiddly Details!

We’re moving on to some smaller details today.

But first let me introduce the ‘Scrawker.’

The Olfa Plastic Cutter or Scrawker

For cutter plastic, scribing grooves (such as plank detail) in plastic and marking straight lines for cuts in metal, they’re amzing! Not essential but very useful, as we will see next.

On the class 31 the covers over the screen washer jets are very prominent – I can’t think of another class where this the case.

Close up of end details on 31271

There are two options (and a third, model D5500/31018 which never had them fitted!) with the first being a piece of 2mm x 1mm 20 thou Plastikard, slightly angled on the ends, carefully secured in place with plastic solvent. They’ll look good from all normal viewing distances. If you’re more comfortable with plastic than small bits of metal and soldering then this is the way to go.

I chose the second option!

This involves making them from 5 thou brass sheet. Basically we make our own 1 x 1 mm L section in thin brass and solder a U shaped piece of wire to it. Simple! Ish… The sheet is marked like this –

Marking out the brass. horizontal lines marked with a scrawker and vertical lines lightly scribed with a scribe or a sharp point. The blue lines are the cuts we need to make. All dimensions are in millimetres.

The scrawker is preferred for the horizontal as you can easily use the line to break off the piece of metal and, when on the inside of a bend, allows a nice, sharp bend to be made – much like a half etched line on an etched kit. Using an engineer’s square mark/’scrawk’ two lines, one a millimetre from the bottom anmd another a further millimetre further up.

Marking out.

With either a scribe or just a sharp point and an engineer’s square mark the vertical lines – maybe best to try just marking the one plate first. Two cuts are required – I used a piercing saw as this is the best thing for the job. You may have your own prefernces, but don’t use a cutting disc, the metal is too thin really. You could also use very sharp nail scissors at a pinch, but you may have to flatten the part afterwards. You need to cut along the blue lines, as shown in the diagram above. Which leaves it looking like this –

Making the cuts with a piercing saw.

I ‘snapped’ the piece out by bending it back and forth at the top line – this fatigues the joint at the point of the groove we create by use of the scrawker or a heavy scribed line and gives a nice, clean break which, in metal this thin, will need little in the way of clearing up.

Once it’s free, bend it into the L section required with pliers.

The U section soldered in place.

We next need to make a U shaped piece of 0.45 mm wire – bent so it measures 2 mm across its outer edges, leave plenty of length to hold it without burning your fingers when soldering! The wider part of the plate is the front facing part so the U is soldered onto the rear of this bit – it seems difficult but lay it on the bench, place the loop gently into place and hold the loop down with finger pressure. This will also hold the plate in place. Then as with the handrails it’s Carr’s Green Label Flux and 145° solder to secure it together.

The finished cover.

Cut the legs down to about two or three millimetres – using side cutters or pliers will give a sharp, pointy end which is useful here… Hold the cover in pliers and line up the legs where they need to go and push against the plastic. This leaves small marks which we can mark and drill (0.5mm) as we have done before. Fit the part and glue from inside.

And the parts in place.

Despite the small size and delicate nature of the individual parts, once assembled and in place, it’s surprisingly string and resilient to knocks. It also refines things rather nicely, giving a finesse not normally seen on models of diesels.

If you’re feeling brave, why not give it a try?

Project Lockdown – Handrails and Lamp Irons

So where were we?

We need to start today by drilling out the exhaust ports – use a 1.0mm drill in a pin vice. Drill from the inside at either end and then in the middle before joining the holes, as with the roof grille, with a sharp knife. Finishing is harder because the opening is quite small – not that small openings are a bad thing, far from it in certain circumstances! A fine needle file can be used but it’s often easier with plastic to take an emery board and cut it down to a thinner strip using old scissors – this works surprisingly well! It allows you to file within small gaps quite well. A freshly cut strip will also give you a decent sharp corner too. Try it on an offcut of Plastikard first if you’re not sure.

With that done, we’re ready for handrails.

We also need to drill the centre handrail in front of the centre windscreen – I forgot to mention this yesterday! The handrail joins the body just where the curve of the bottom corners of the centre window join the lower edge – use photos as additional reference too to mark with a scribe or sharp point before drilling with a 0.5mm drill.

Drilling the top handrail – the centre of the holes should be in line with the start of the curve of the centre windscreen.

This will be one of the things which will really transform any older or more basic model – coaching stock and wagons too. Making handrails and lamp irons is a skill which will help you improve your modelling no end too – a real key skill.

For the class 31, the handrails are all formed using the model a direct reference point – don’t mess about measuring off the model or drawings, you’ll just make life harder for yourself.

So take a length of 0.33mm (though my nickel silver wire from Eileen’s is 0.31mm but it makes no difference) and a pair of small pliers, ideally with smooth jaws and make a 90° bend with about a 15mm ‘leg.’ Incidentally, don’t use thicker wire, there’s nothing to be gained in strength and it’ll look clumsy. Place it in the lower hole of one of the main handrail on the cab front. Hold it so it is in the correct position going upwards and by eye take hold of the handrail where the next 90° bend will be needed to turn it towards the centre of the loco.

this should now pass over the handrails other hole above the tail lamp – if it doesn’t, start again. You may need a few attempts if you’ve never done this before. But don’t be despondent – no one is born with these skills and they all take practice.

When you’re happy with the position, hold it in position and by eye take hold of the handrail with your pliers where the final 90° bend will be needed and make the bend. Trim the end to leave about 15mm again. Check the fit again – are you happy with how it looks? Honestly? If you’re not, have another go. If you are trim a 15-20mm length off a piece of 0.45mm wire. This will be the intermediate support for the handrail. I solder these together, with the handrails on the model but stood off the surface – hence the 15mm legs. Nickel silver wire is better as it conducts heat more slowly than brass.

The handrail in place ready for soldering.

I used 145° solder as its low melting point allows a joint to be made quickly which is advantageous when soldering so near plastic, and Carr’s Green Label Flux. If you have your own preferences go with them but this combination works very well.

Geeting ready to solder – Carr’s Green Label Flux and 145° solder.

The flux is applied a fine brush to the joint, carefully or you’ll knock the support out of line!

Applying flux with a fine brush.

Ideally the soldering iron should have a fine, pointed bit but if you don’t have one, just go careful. The advantage of a fine tip is that you can concentrate the heat which allows the joint to be made quickly with less risk of melting anything! The iron needs to be clean with a minimum of 145° solder on the tip. Touch the side of the joint, the solder should flow easily, withdraw the iron and allow to cool.

Soldering. Note the fine tip – this allows a small concentration of heat at the joint minimising the risk of melting the surrounding plastic.

Once cool, remove the handrail very carefully – it should come out ok, but if it breaks, just start the process again.

Soldered and ready for trimming.

Once you’re happy, trim the excess wire away to leave legs of about 3mm.

Handrail finished and ready to fit.

To fit the handrail, use a piece of 20 thou Plastikard as a spacer to keep the handrail at the correct distance off the surface – once in place secure with a small amount of superglue applied from behind. Simple!

If you’re not comfortable for soldering these or don’t have the equipment you can use a minute blob of epoxy – just trim the wires before gluing the two together as they’ll not survive being removed.

Now repeat for the other three!

The handrail in front of the windscreen is a simple, make a 90° bend with about a 3mm leg on 0.33mm wire, put in a hole at one end, use the other hole to judge where to make the other bend – trim, check and if happy secure as above using the same 20 thou spacer.

You’ll need some 0.25 mm wire next – mine is 0.25 jewellery wire intended for hand making your own jewellery, craft shops and Amazon are good sources. For the small handrail in the middle of the plated doors is a small diameter material than the other handrails so I used this her – just as before using pliers, but you’ll need pointed ones to make sure they’re not too wide for the job.

The fan and grab irons on the roof.

The grab irons (small handrails) on the roof are simple, there arte just a lot of them!

Drink and biscuits before starting and pop on some relaxing music.

For the smallest ones I abandoned pliers as they’re took large and used my point tweezers, which worked by well – as before use a 20thou spacer whilst gluing them in place from behind. Though when they’re in pairs, do them at the same time – having two next to each other at the exact same height looks very nice! It’s laborious but the end result, especially with the Extreme fan, looks very good.

Still with me?

Right lamp irons – we need four for 31569. Read on…

Lamp Irons

Lamp Irons are very delicate items which so many people in the past have beefed up to make them more durable. And the results have often been terrible. At one time office (Bambi?) staples were recommended – bent in a way which meant everything was represented but looked terrible!

Too thick in the wrong places and too thin in others – but we can improve on this. You’ll need either 5 thou/0.15mm or 10 thou/0.25mm strip from Eileen’s Emporium. There’s a different method for each, the thicker strip is simpler and what I used to do but I prefer the thinner strip as the result is stronger.

In both cases the lower detail of the bracket, where the real thing attaches to the body is on the body itself – either left in place as with our class 31 or separately applied for a wholly new bracket.

10 Thou Strip

This is quite simple, as the diagram shows, the folding is quite simple. Reinforce with solder once it’s made before trimming to size – you can use superglue if you prefer but it won’t be quite as strong. Round the edges as required by the prototype – use photos as a guide as it varies from class to class. I taper the leg which goes into the body to allow a tight fit in a 1.0mm hole, this is my preference for a good, firm fit.

5 Thou Strip

This is a bit more involved – I prefer this way as it’s stronger, but I think you need to solder it together for strength, I doubt glue would be as effective.

Basically, you need to make a ‘T’ shape, where it’s double thickness throughout – it takes a little practice but once you’ve got the knack it’s quite straightforward. Once soldered, it’s very strong! Cut, trim and shape as before! I taper the tail to allow it to fit in a 0.7mm hole.

Open out the holes for the lamp irons to either 0.7mm or 1.0mm depending on your chosen method.

Cutting the lamp irons to length.

To trim the lamp irons to length I drill a 1.0mm hole in a scrap of wood (a spare shelf from a flat pack bookcase will do) and put the tail in the hole and rest the lamp iron itself on a small metal ruler as in the picture. A curved scalpel blade can then accurately cut the lamp iron to length, it’ll make light work of such small metal section. Round off the edges, as shown above, carefully with a needle file – work slowly too.

Trim the tail to about 2mm – 3mm and fit in the same manner as the handrails but use a 10thou spacer.

The developing class 31.

And we shall leave it there for now! Final body details next.

Project Lockdown – Roof Detailing

Ready? Then we’ll begin.

So straight on where we left off. The microrod will now have set solid so the excess can be removed and the remains sanded flush with the inside of the body – this ensures the chassis will fit properly with the lower ones and for the upper, it looks a lot better if the ends aren’t sticking out into the cab! A degree of finishing may be required on the outside, scraping with a curved blade is the easiest way to do this, but sanding or filing can be done with care.

Microrod cut down and sanded/filed flush with the inside of the body.

Once you’re happy with the finish, mark the centre of the microrod with a scribe/sharp point and drill using a 0.5mm drill ready for the new handrails.

Just a little more destruction first though.

Shawplan produce an absolutely superb fan etching for the class 31 – the one we’re using suits both the Lima and Airfix models – which comprises of a number of etched parts. There is the older Shawplan part (DP31-00) if you’re not feeling as brave – it still looks ok, but not as good as the newer part.

We need to remove the moulded fan – you’ll need a 1.5mm drill in a pin vice.

Drilling out the moulded fan.

For the simple fan etching drill, as shown, inside the moulded surround – if using the Extreme Etching fan grille, aim to drill so the centre of the drill starts to cut on the inside edge of the surround. You don’t need to mark for drilling as the drill will grip in the moulded mesh on the fan grille.

Holes joined up and cleaning has begun.

Once you have drilled all the way round, join the holes up with a sharp knife – a straight scalpel type blade is best but a normal craft knife with snap-off blades can be used with care. Use the fan etching to gauge the correct size, it’ll need to be rolled to match the roof profile – see below. For the Extreme fan, the hole will need to be opened up so it’s just beyond where the moulded surround was. Take care, work slowly, checking regularly as you go.

The class 31 needs a bit of extra care here – the centre portion of the fan is flat!

Rolling Etches

Putting a curve in a flat piece of thin metal is quite easy. Easier than you might think.

You will need a piece of dowel – even a round pencil will do! Readers of British Railway Modelling may choose to use a thick, round wax crayon. Also you’ll need a suitable surface – a cutting mat or a thick-ish magazine will work – it needs to not be hard but have some resilience to pressure. Place the part on the surface and roll the dowel over the part with light finger pressure, in the same manner as one would with a rolling pin on dough.

Place the part on the surface to which it will be fitted and check to see how it compares. If it needs more rolling, repeat and check again. And so on and so forth.

If you over do it, flatten slightly and roll again lightly to regain the correct shape. If you go too far, roll at right angles to completely flatten it and start again. Most brass parts will survive you doing this once but not repeatedly.

The fan comprises of an etched brass base piece which is fixed to the underside of the roof, an etched brass spacer which goes on top of the base, an etched stainless steel mesh and an etched brass surround.

Test fitting the bottom piece of the fan.

The base and space have lines to guide the bending, which also make forming the curve easier. The base should be fitted from inside the body – make sure it’s a good fit too as it’ll make your life easier. Secure with a quick setting epoxy – you don’t need much as we don’t want the glue going where it’s not wanted. Allow to set.

The base secured in place.

At this point, it’s a god opportunity to begin to improve the exhaust ports – I paired the moulded ones down slightly. The pieces are made from 10 thou Platikard and need to be cut so they are about half a millimetre than the existing surrounds. They need rolling to match the roof profile and this can be done just as you do the brass parts. Secure them in place with plastic solvent.

Now go and get yourself a drink and a biscuit – you’ll need to maintain your blood sugar levels for the next bit.

Improving the exhaust ports.

Shape and fit the spacer – the supports for the mesh need to be parallel with the body sides. A very small amount of epoxy should be used to secure it. Fit and allow to set.

The spacer in place – the supports for the mesh should run along the loco.

The mesh is a 2 thou stainless steel etching – paper thin and very delicate. Shape it very, very, very, very carefully – brass is forgiving, this isn’t. Check it fits, then secure with thin superglue, applied with a piece of thin wire, very sparingly. Do to points, front and back and leave to set. Once you’re sure it won’t move, work your way round the outside edge of the mesh. You can use the tip of a cocktail stick to hold the edge in place until the glue ‘grabs’ and then move on if this helps. The mesh is so thin, it’ll stay in place without being perfectly formed.

The mesh in place.

Despite all my checking, I didn’t quite manage a perfect fit between the mesh and roof.

Black Milliput filling the small gaps between the fan mesh and the roof.

I had to use a small quantity of filler between the edge of the fan mesh and the body – Black Milliput was used as it was to hand and Milliput is very hard and strong so it’s ideal. The filler was applied with the tip of a blunt scalpel blade as this gives good control. You’ll have to let it cure so it’s a good few hours I’m afraid – overnight if possible.

Once it is set hard, you need to sand/file the filler to match the roof profile. I prefer emery boards for this as the filler clogs needle files terribly. But be very careful as one slip could destroy the mesh. So be careful! Once you’ve done this the etched surround can be fitted to finish things off.

Applying superglue with a fine piece of wire.

It’s shaped as before, but it is very thin, so take care – as with the mesh, glue in place with thin superglue once you’re sure its fitting as well as you’d like it to.

The finished fan grille.

And now go and rest!