The Pretenders

My Father’s Day present was ‘The Pretenders’. No, not Chrissie Hynde and crew, but a book about the steam-outline internal combustion locomotives running on miniature railways.

I must admit I like steam locos and I like internal combustion locos, but I’ve never been a big fan of pretend steam locos powered by diesel or petrol engines.

However, this book has changed my mind. Dipping in and out of it I’ve found myself thinking ‘That’s nice, I’d like to model that’.

For example, who could resist this Hudswell Clarke Pacific.

Yes, I’m growing to like the the steam outline pretenders…


P.S. If you are interested the book is available here

(I’ve no connection to the book, the publishers nor Amazon)


A Tale of Two Locos (Part 2)

This is the other secondhand O9 loco that I brought recently. I really like the model, the green livery and the driver with his moustache and fancy tie.

There were a few things I wanted to do to the model. The biggest job: it had a Grafar 0-6-0 chassis (like the first loco) and I wanted to exchange this chassis for a Kato 103. There was a small hole in one side where, I suspect, an exhaust may have been fitted. This hole needed to be repaired… or disguised! Lastly, the easiest job of all, I wanted to add Greenwich couplings.

The Kato chassis had to be shortened slightly so that it would fit into the motor cavity. I added a 2mm diameter bolt at one end to attach it to the body.

Cutting these resin kits generates a lot of unpleasant dust. For this model I fixed the pipe of our vacuum cleaner right next to my workspace and used this as a simple form of dust extractor. Working as close to the hoover pipe as possible, I cut the base of the body using a Dremel with a grinder attachment until the Kato 103 fitted snugly. I glued a nut in place to attach the chassis to the body. (You can see the previous owner has glued a weight into the body to counterbalance the weight of the whitemetal driver. As a result the loco is really nicely balanced).

Next the couplings were fitted.

Inevitably, during all these modifications, I made some marks on the buffer beams and the frames on the sides of the model. I repainted these, then weathered them with a light touch of rust colour. While my paint box was out, I added some brown ‘mud’ around the drivers feet.

Then my thoughts turned to the hole in the loco body. I decided not to repair it because I couldn’t match the colour of the green paint. This meant the best option was to disguise the hole. I rummaged through my ‘bit box’, found a small buffer from a N scale loco, gave it a lick of paint and plugged the hole in the body with it. In my imagination it is a filler cap of some sort.. (well, it is a freelance loco!). Finally, to finish the job, I applied a layer of ‘Dullcoat’ varnish. And here’s the finished loco.

The Kato wheels are a little bright, I will probably darken these down.

What have I learnt from these two locos? Well, buying secondhand has been a great way of increasing my O9 stock quickly. I think it’s good to buy stock you really like, that you don’t feel you want to modify too much. Spending lots of time making many modifications defeats the idea of buying secondhand. You might as well buy a kit and spend the time building it the way you want it to be. For these two locos I think I got the balance about right, but I wouldn’t want to do more work on a secondhand loco. I will keep this in mind when buying secondhand in the future.

A Tale of Two Locos (Part 1)

I brought a couple of very nice, secondhand O9 locos and I wanted to get them up and running.

First, this little red loco. I really like the model, particularly the red livery, but there are a few things I wanted to change. The couplings have to be changed to my standard coupling, the Greenwich. The current chassis was an old Grafar 0-6-0 and I hoped to exchange it for a Kato 103. Finally, I was not sure about the figure. He’s really well painted but he doesn’t look quite right for an English layout.

The Kato chassis was just slightly longer than the cavity in the loco body.

So the first job was to cut the chassis to size. Now here’s something you dont see every day – a Kato chassis wrapped in cling film. I read somewhere that one modeller wrapped a chassis in cling film before cutting it to stop dust and debris getting into the mechanism. It seemed to be worth a try.

I used a razor saw to cut approximately 2mm off of each end.

I’m pleased to say the cling film worked well, no dust got in the mechanism.

However, there was more cutting to do. The cavity in the loco body was designed to accept the Grafar chassis and it would have to be extensively modified to get the Kato chassis inside.

I used a small Dremel drill with a grinding bit to cut away at the body. Cutting the resin was really messy and made a lot of unpleasant dust. Here’s the result. I’ve added a couple of strips of plasticard to stop the Kato chassis moving from side to side.

I’m pleased to say the modified body fitted the chassis very well.

I fitted a 2mm diameter bolt to hold the chassis in place. The seat was a very useful useful way to conceal the bolt.

While I was working on the chassis I removed the N gauge couplings and the seat. The coupling blocks came off when I removed the N gauge couplings.

To finish the loco, I glued the coupling blocks back on, added the Greenwich couplings, and repainted the seat, the buffer beams and the chassis. Here’s the loco after a spray with ‘Dullcoat’ matt varnish.

I must admit this was much more work that I expected and cutting the resin chassis was not a pleasant task. However, I’m pleased with the result.




Meet ‘arry the ‘unslet

The A1 Models Hunslet has progressed through the workshop and the engineering team tell me she’s finished. This is the first O9 loco, and the first brass kit, to come from the workshops.

The paint work is complete, the loco’s been weathered and the windows have been added.

When I look at the close up photos I see the windows have scratches and marks on them. This wasn’t intentional, but perhaps it makes the loco look more prototypical…

Eagle eyed readers may think this a “driverless loco”. Google haven’t invaded O9 modelling yet! I am recruiting a driver at the moment. Applications from experienced 7mm scale diesel drivers are most welcome. All applicants must be able to fit in the cab!

Obviously, the loco’s correct name is Harry. However, this Hunslet was built in Essex so it is known as ‘arry the ‘unslet.

The Hunslet Moves Forward

Work on the Hunslet is progressing and it has visited the paint shop.

The components were stuck together and held in place while the glue dried. I never thought a locomotive could look sorry for itself until I saw this one wrapped in elastic bands.

There was a small gap between the front of the body and the footplate that I filled with filler.

After a little sanding and repainting, it looked a lot better.

Now I need to repaint the footplate and frames, then I can varnish the Hunslet. Things are moving forward… slowly.

Preparing for the ‘Beccles’ Open Day

Wheel ClenaingMy layout, ‘First’, will be appearing at the Norfolk and Suffolk Narrow Gauge Modellers Open Day in Beccles on Saturday 4th of March. Full details of the Open Day: Here.

I’ve spent the morning cleaning loco wheels, checking point motors and running some trains. Everything seems to work, so I’m hoping (fingers-crossed) it will work well next weekend. I’ve really enjoyed ‘playing trains’ and I’m looking forward to a whole day operating the layout on Saturday.

These Open Days are always great fun and if you are in Beccles please say ‘Hello’, it would be nice to meet you…

Creating a Cab Interior

Cab DetailI’m adding more details to the O9 Hunslet loco I’m building. I’ve been focusing on the inside of the cab.

I made a small control board from scraps in my ‘bits box’. On the right, a brake lever (an old Fleischmann N gauge buffer and a piece of wire),  and on the left a throttle (part of a Peco N gauge coupling and a pin). I used a leather punch to cut two discs to represent gauges (in the middle). They are probably a bit too big but this is the smallest size on my leather punch.

Control Panel

To cover the Kato chassis I added part of a plastic medicine bottle. This wasn’t quite wide enough to cover the whole chassis so I added a small piece of plasticard to cover the part that was still visible. The other side will be at the rear of the cab and the gap wont be visible.

I created a gear lever from a scrap of plasticard and a pin. I’m finding that pins are surprisingly useful!


The seat is a little wonky, but the driver will mask this. Overall, I’m pleased with the result.

Now, where’s the primer?

With Driver