MAKE AN ‘04’ FIT FOR TRAMWAYS
George Dent uses a mixture of ‘off-the-peg’ and scratchbuilt parts to create an ‘N’ gauge Drewry Class 04 suitable for tramway use.
Graham Farish’s delightful Class 04 has been around since 2007, but it’s never been offered as a tramway version. Happily, a conversion is possible, being made a little easier with a set of cast resin ‘cowcatchers’ from Osborn’s Models. I opted to create these from scratch, employing plastic sheet and strip, although Ultima Models does offer an etched brass set, including cowcatchers (www.ultima-models.co.uk).
Apart from the challenge of working in such a small scale, the task was simple enough, with more time spent trawling
through prototype images than during the practical stage. My preference was for a late-1960s green-liveried version and, eventually, I came across an attractive image of D2212 at Yarmouth in 1970. Wearing a shabby, weathered appearance, it certainly gave me an inspiration boost.
As well as ensuring that the side skirts fitted well, having removed various cast metal and plastic detail fittings, and trimmed the footstep assemblies, it was important to allow adequate clearance so that the wheels and coupling rods could rotate freely.
A locomotive wrapped in protective skirts makes for a curious sight and is ideal for working a dockland or tramway setting. The Osborn’s Models’ cowcatchers require modification to allow the Rapido couplings to be retained.
Separate the body from the underframe by removing the four tiny screws at each corner of the chassis block. The guard iron brackets will also be released, so keep these and the screws in a safe place.
To increase the surface area of the glued bond, affix lengths of 0.030in square strip to the upper edges of each skirt. These will ensure a more secure bond while maintaining internal clearance for the coupling rods.
Trim away any unwanted metal features with end cutters before dressing the solebars and the edges of the footstep frames with a needle file. Ensure the surfaces are smooth, flat and square. Clean the bodyshell thoroughly.
For each side, a trio of 3mm by 2.5mm rectangles were cut from 0.3mm thick plastic card and fixed over the axle centres to form access flaps. Align them carefully and secure with a thin liquid poly cement.
Loosely refit the chassis to the body and use the assembly to discern the necessary dimensions for the side skirts, which need to fit inside the frames and around the footsteps. I used a sheet of 0.7mm thick plastic card.
The recessed panel lines were created using a Tamiya profile cutting tool. Carefully draw this towards you while working against a steel rule. Just a couple of passes are enough to create a subtle, yet discernible groove.
The undersides of the solebars need to be stripped of all raised details, including the sandboxes and air tanks, most of which are plastic and can be pulled away with finenosed pliers or cut away with a stout knife.
Cut and trim the skirts, testing for accurate fit and filing away any excess until the parts sit snugly in position. Mark out the axle centres and panel lines with a set square and a fine pencil.
Extra detail was added to the skirts, including strips of copper wire to simulate hinges for the inspection flaps. Lengths of 0.010in by 0.020in plastic strip was secured along the lower edges to mimic raised beading.
If the Rapido-style couplings are to be retained at one or both ends, the resin cowcatchers require a slot cutting into the centre. As the resin is brittle, this requires careful use of a jeweller’s saw and/or needle files.
After priming and painting the new parts, the bodyshell was weathered with a mix of Tamiya XF-10 Brown, XF-52 Earth, XF-85 Rubber Black and XF-1 Flat Black. Save for the protruding coupling, there’s no need to treat the chassis.
Run a thin bead of slow-drying cyano glue along the solebars, using a precision applicator tip, before fixing the skirt into position. Epoxy adhesive is also suitable, allowing more time to adjust the part. Once dry, fit the other skirt.
Pop the body back onto the chassis and test-run the model to check that the wheels and connecting rods rotate freely. If all is well, fill any external gaps with putty and sand smooth once it’s fully cured.
Osborn’s Models offers a set of cast resin cowcatchers to suit the Farish ‘04’ and these can simply be fixed to the bufferbeams with a small drop of cyano or epoxy glue, aligning the lower corners with the edges of the skirts.