This is a project which I have been wanting to undertake for quite a while. The L1 4-4-0 was a beautiful, uncluttered and well-balanced Maunsell design and the Triang model caught the outline reasonably well. First issued [as BR] in 1960, it was the first Southern model to be made by Triang and their first loco with 'see-through' wheels, too. Only available between '60 and '72, no-one has done one in r-t-r since. The one I have used, the Southern gloss green L1 version, was Triang's last throw of the dice for this engine and was available in '71-'72 only.
My initial problem lay in acquiring my donor model however. The three usual eBay profiteering cowboys weren't worth considering: one could sell me one for Â£189, and another for Â£159 and the third, a tender for Â£45. There were a few between Â£50 and Â£80, but as invasive surgery was going to be a necessary option, I was neither keen to cut up a good example nor spend a lot on something which might not succeed anyway.
In the end, I bought a â€˜spares or repairâ€™ L1 for Â£24.99 post free as a buy-it-now. It doesn't run and has a broken step and some damage to the footplate: none are problems as I have a couple of low-mileage XO4s which I can drop in and the broken step comes with it.
I also acquired a Bachmann N Class tender to accompany the loco [the Triang tender being incorrect and rather more LMS in outline - possibly originally manufactured for their 2P?].
This is where I started:
As you can see, a near mint loco with easily rectified damage to the step. The planned livery will be all-over black with 'Sunshine' lettering.
Work on the body has commenced. The damage to the rear of the footplate has been remedied, all of the handrails - and what maybe the long ejector pipe on the right hand side - have been removed, the broken step replaced and the buffer beam sawn off and replaced by a more-detailed white metal one.
Removing the long runs of railing and pipe work was time-consuming but not difficult [the photos earlier show the amount of plastic to be removed]. A sharp scalpel and some wet-and-dry saw to that (with no body damage to speak of). The Triang buffer beam was removed because it was hopelessly undernourished and far too shallow. Fitting a replacement (not 100% accurate, but good enough) will also result in the new buffers sitting at the correct height, so eliminating the traditional Triang problem.
It is likely now that I will use the original Triang chassis but fitting a new five-pole motor and, if possible, Romford wheels. Had the club been open and I had access to the workshop, I could have adapted the massive Triang chassis block to take a different motor and gearbox, but I have no vice at home and I have also run out of beefy hack-saw blades.
Two of the really prominent features of the LI's body are the external plumbings. I fitted those this afternoon: the short pipe entering the smoke box is made from solder, a really useful material for pipe-runs, being so malleable. I had no idea what that pipe was for but RMWeb advises that it is the feed to the exhaust steam injector. The long pipe run along the other side is the ejector pipe and I made that out of an adapted white metal GWR ejector pipe. Like the buffer beam, it is not 100% accurate as the bore is a little large [and it is also a fraction short] but it looks like what one would expect to be there. It is fitted to the boiler half-way along with a split-pin [which actually looks quite realistic].
The small hole in the running plate below the smoke box door is there to take a screw to attach the front of the chassis to the body. You can see from the photos at the beginning of this topic that the screw is unattractively prominent. I had hoped to eliminate this but the chassis adaptations referred to below mean that it has to stay - there being no other easy method of securing the chassis at that location. I have found a much smaller and less visible screw however and when painted black and hidden by a route disk, it shouldn't be too visible.
A few more bodywork jobs will follow, including drilling out holes for all of the handrails, reinstating some rivet runs with resin rivet decals, cutting out perspex side windows and fabrication some of the under-footplate pipe work.
The chassis also had some attention. In spite of what I said earlier above, swapping the wheels was a game-changer in every sense. Once the original Triang wheels had been removed, there was no going back: refitting them was simply not possible and one had to hope that the Romfords would fit. Happily, they did, although the axle holes required a little reaming to accept the bushes [which themselves required a little reaming out as well]. The wheels spin very freely. At this point I realised that I could not fit the replacement XO4 motor that I had lined up because I had no suitable replacement for the Triang plastic gear cog. I wasn't able to pull the worm off the XO4 either, to fit a larger one, and so a complete re-motoring/re-gearing was the only option. This took a long time but everything fits at last. A great deal of metal work was cut away from the Triang chassis so that I could install an Anchoridge five-pole DS10 motor with its integral gearbox. Luckily, I had just one gear cog that would engage with the worm and it spins nicely. I'll put some electricity through it soon, but I'm not antiicipating any problems.
I have also decided that the remaining boiler-side detail was too two-dimensional and have ordered some turned and lost-wax brass snifter valves and clack valves from Markits. They should make a lot of difference.
I have also ordered a lettering sheet for the build. Itâ€™s Methfix though and so this will be new for me [I'm used to Pressfix].
A couple of little jobs done to progress the project: Clack and Snifting valves removed from each side, together with associated pipework [arduous], injector pipes and overflow installed under footplate and the long run of pipework for the vacuum pipe attached under the length of the right-hand running plate [made of 1mm solder]. The last item will barely be visible when the body has been painted black, so I might pick it out very lightly in a sort of blackish rusty silver.
Incidentally, 1mm solder is absolutely ideal for pipe-runs which wander here and there. Being so malleable, it can be formed to match just about any profile - just gently press it into place and add glue.
One of the other highly visible features of the L1 are the large sandboxes. These are not modelled on the Triang model although, oddly, their covers do appear on the running plate - you can see them in the photo, above. The forward cover is not quite in the right place however and so will not match up with its sandbox, which has to be placed closer to the rear of the step. I filed these up out of pieces of white metal and plastic card this morning.
They look a little irregular, but better for primer. When painted black and placed under the running plate they should look alright.
They are, actually, just a little undersize, but they'll have to do!
I have removed the long white-metal ejector pipe I fitted the other day as it really was too over-scale and was beginning to annoy me. I have replaced it with a finer steel rod and am more comfortable with it now. The sand boxes have been fitted but fitting their discharge pipes will be the very last part of the build. All of the separate handrails have been fitted, as has a small smoke-box door handle. The clack valve is a push fit at this stage, for photographic purposes only. I did not use the brass snifting valves either as they were not of the correct profile. I have filed up some white metal ones to use in their place [filed up from a white metal LNER safety valve!].
Work has commenced on the tender also and the imitation coal load has been cut out. I'll make a box from plastic card in due course for real coal to be inserted.
That's it for the time being!