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.

Model Rail (UK) - - Masterclas­s – Class O4 -

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.

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