Monday, November 07, 2016

Back on Track

So, I said that I was going to talk about model railways today, didn't I?  Despite all the US election and Brexit-related stuff kicking off over the weekend, I'm a man of my word, so we'll return to that model locomotive I bought off of eBay the other week.  As I mentioned last time, I finally got it running.  It turned out to be very simple problem - so simple that it took me three hours of tests to spot it.  Quite simply, one of the commutator brushes was missing.  I say missing, but something had dropped out of the body when I removed it from the chassis to carry out my tests.  I employed my usual methodology with unknown objects: put it to one side and come back to it later.  Of course, once I realised that I was abrush down, I went back and looked at the mystery object: it was the missing brush.  How it come loose and fallen into the body (it is held in place with a sprung wire), I really don't know, but when put back in its proper place, the locomotive ran perfectly.  So now I can move on to the next stage of my restoration: removing the existing paint work.  This is how it looks right now:


Now, the eagle eyed model railway aficionados amongst you will have spotted that this is both a Wrenn  (ex Hornby Dublo) Rebuilt West Country and also wearing a completely fictitious livery.  I have no idea who 'N R' were (I'm assuming the 'R' stands for 'Railway'), if they even existed, but they certainly never ran West Country class pacifics in this, or any other livery.  Indeed, it should look more like this:


This is another Wrenn West Country I've owned for over twenty years.  The BR green livery was the only colour scheme that these locomotives wore in this form during their working lives.  That said, you'll doubtless have noted that this one carries the name and number of a Merchant Navy class pacific.  Whilst very similar in appearance, the Merchant Navy class were, in reality, somewhat larger than a West Country, with bigger driving wheels and boiler.  (The West Country class were originally designed for the Southern Railway as a scaled down, lighter, version of the earlier Merchant Navy, with greater route availability).  Wrenn, however, used to put their models out in all manner of guises, with little regard for authenticity.  (Many of their name/number/livery variations were produced in very small numbers, making them beloved of collectors, which pushes the prices up on the second hand market.  For what it is worth, the 'Clan Line' model I own is one of the most widely produced variants of the 'West Country' model).  This one is due for a change of identity as part of a planned refurbishment, when it will revert to being correctly named and numbered as a 'West Country'. 

You'll note, also, that it has metal tyred bogie, trailing and tender wheels- this marks it out as coming from Wrenn's later, post 1972, production run.  Earlier models, like the newly obtained one, sport plastic versions of these wheels - which marks the blue one out as coming from the early days of Wrenn production.  The box (seen below) confirms this and allows me to date the model to roughly 1967-68.  (Earlier boxes were slightly different in design, whilst 1969-1971 boxes are marked 'Triang Wrenn', rather than simply 'Wrenn'.  From 1972 until the company's demise in the early nineties, the boxes reverted to 'Wrenn' and carried the new company logo of a styleised railway guard).



To return to the recently purchased, blue painted, model, before repainting it into the correct livery, I'm going to have to take the body back to bare metal, (bare plastic in the case of the tender).  Doing this is going to require soaking it in some kind of paint remover - I've had various suggestions, ranging from expensive professional products to weak household bleach and even Dettol.  None of these are corrosive to plastic, so I'm assuming that they won't damage the die cast metal of the locomotive body.  But, even before I tackle the body, I'm going to have to address the chassis: you'll note that whoever did the repainting has also painted the driving wheels, bogie and trailing wheels and the bogie and pony trucks themselves red.  Oh, and then there's the tender chassis, also bright red. Unless I disassemble the valve gear and tap the axles out to remove the driving wheels, I'm going to have to paint then in situ, which could be tricky, but probably less tricky than taking the valve gear apart.

So, that's my long-term model railway project.  If it goes well, I'll post the progress here, but if you hear nothing more of it, then you'll know that something has gone horribly wrong! 

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