I recently took delivery of one of Accucrafts new 7/8ths Wrens. I was suitably impressed when it arrived but with Roger from Statfold as my aiming point, there were (I thought) just a few tweaks that I could make to lift it.
I dropped the end beams off, replaced the couplers a little higher with some Talisman 78-019 Bellmouths, and swapped out the Philips screws for some hex heads. The beams were sprayed up with a darkish red, and brighter tones were introduced with drybrushing, along with scratches and grime
I wanted an open coalbunker in the left side, that involved unsoldering the lid, that of course damaged the paint, oh how we laughed! This obviously meant a strip using standard cellulose thinners, and re-spray of all the tinwork with enamels. I took the opportunity to add some shading and highlights to break up the sameness of the gray before lacquering, and sending it off to Matt Acton for lining and lettering. The most complicated bit was removing the cylinders, valve chests off upwards and then the cylinders unbolt and come away sideways.
By now replacing the right hand bunker lid with a nice wooden one was on obvious call.A nice piece of well seasoned pear wood had a lovely fine grain, and following a hard fought struggle with my table saw, the job was a good one, but strewth that pear wood was hard!
By this stage I have reduced a £1600.00 loco to a pile of bits in poly bags and an ice cream tub, still onwards and upwards!
With the wheels and the brake gear off I was able to get the chassis into the dishwasher to get it completely grease free, prior to paint.
At this stage I replaced most of the visible Philips screws with hex heads mostly M 1.6 with a few M2 and the chassis was ready for paint. Sadly not possible with the front beam mounting angles, there was just no clearance, however I am not sure I can live with them so still searching for a solution.
The chassis was airbrushed with enamels for durability, aiming for a warm dark grey rather than pure black. I left this for several days to set up before an oilwash and drybrushing in the usual way. To complete the worn feel I added a few watermarks and rust streaks, taking care not to overdo the effect
The wheels were stripped and painted the same shade of gray, with the rims in white for a bit of contrast.
With all this set up, I was finally able to start reassembly. The rods were stripped of the red paint, blackened and polished, and with the horn blocks oiled, the rear wheelsets went back in.
I dropped the packing plates off of the front horn guides and added a pair of coil springs each side. The horn blocks come with a pair of indents and the top of the horn guides have a convenient pair of lugs so adding the springs was really straight forward.
The basic chassis back on its feet with the end beams and brake gear reattached.
I had the bodywork back from Matt Acton this week, beautiful job.
Here the cylinders and slide bars have been refitted, again replacing Philips headed screws with hex heads. The rest of the bodywork is just placed, note the wooden lid on the right hand coal bunker.
I have worked on the various brass castings, stripping the original paint, cleaning up and blackening. A final working over with a nylon pan scourer gives the effect that you can see. The castings are really nice and look good against the gray paint work.
I have re-lacquered the bodywork to bury the lining and lettering, and have started to add some subtle weathering and water stains.
Valve gear and rods refitted along with the lubricator.
One of the last jobs on the chassis would, I thought, be fairly straightforward, the reverser.
I have fitted the excellent David Bailey reverser to most of the steam fleet, so that was my first choice. I was aware I would l need to limit the travel to suit the Hackworth valve gear, and while I was at it I bushed the mounting holes for the quadrants to use 12BA bolts rather than the original 8BA which I find a little too robust.
Sadly no joy, even with the smaller bolt heads it was still to wide to fit between the boiler and the right hand bunker.
Aha I thought if we raise the quadrants above the bunker cover all would be fine, so a new mounting bracket was fabricated.
This worked but raised the lever so far up it looked ridiculous plus it was likely to hit the driver in the reverse position and the cab support in forward, back to the drawing board.
The third, and successful solution was to keep the original support bracket, and fabricate a new lever, that looked more realistic. The latching mechanism is a dummy, the original Accucraft arrangement works on a different principle, although you can still fiddle with the handle. All of the non prototypical elements are hidden between the bunker and the boiler, all the bits you can see look believable.
The version shown here is just blackened, I will get it painted up and installed, next up tweaking the boiler fittings, and getting the boiler back in.
The reverser painted and installed
With bunkers , roof and driver placed, it is possible to get an idea of how the finished loco will look.