A Ray of Sunshine….

The sun came out today so I thought I’d grab a shot of Glen Roy outside in the Autumn air.





A West Highland Stalwart – Building a Gem D34 ‘Glen’


Anyone building a West Highland based layout needs at least one of these hardy mixed traffic 4-4-0s. An adaptation of the existing sucessful ‘Scott’ class, the 6ft driving wheels of the ‘Glen’ were much more suited to the tight curves & steep climbs of the West Highland Line than the 6ft 6inch drivers of the ‘Scott’

Introduced by Reid in 1913 they were a constant sight on the line until the end of steam on the line in the early 60s. They could handle a 5 coach train unaided, but are most associated with double heading trains on this difficult route as trains generally exceeded their solo haulage limit of 190 tonnes. Through their near 50 year career they could be seen working as a pair with a K2, K1, Black 5 or Standard 5, as well as a sister ‘Glen’ of course.

I decided to build my ‘Glen’ using the whitemetal Gem kit on a Triang L1 modified with Markits’ 24mm wheels – quite an ancient combination, but comparatively inexpensive compared to a lot of kit builds. A compromise lies in the coupled wheelbase, which is 40mm due to the use of the Triang chassis rather than the 38mm it should be for a ‘scale’ D34.

This kit is showing it’s age. As you can see from the photo below, the upper part of the frames is not well formed. What you can’t see from the photo is the two halves of the boiler being different lengths!


Below: body fittings & hand rails added. Smokebox door handle is a stub of wire & 2 shoulderless hand rail knobs.


I decided the Triang bogie & coupling rods wouldn’t cut the mustard, so replaced them with Hornby T9 spare items purchased from Peter’s Spares. Upon reciept of them I realised the bogie was too long in the wheelbase, so a cut-n-shut job was required. (The T9 wheels are in the Triang bogie behind.)


More detail added: Steps, pipework from 1mm rod. Frames above the bogie are 10 thou brass with rivets formed with a screw tapped lightly with a hammer & then soldered the the basic kit originals.


Westinghouse pump & pipework added. Replacement bufferbeam added from brass then buffers added. You can also see I repaired the poorly moulded frames with low melt solder, building them up before filing back to shape.


Driving wheels sprayed with Railmatch ‘Weathered Black’ & replacement Gibson wheels added.


The tender was built as per the instructions. The moulded coal rails were poor though, so I replaced them with 0.7mm brass wire & bits of scrap brass for the uprights.





I then knocked up a basic tender chassis from 10thou brass & sprayed it Weathered Black


Here is the painted model. Halfords Satin Black with yet more Weathered Black to give an ultra Matt effect for the Smokebox, Cab roof, tender top & running plate.


It then got a coat of Humbrol Clear (a gloss acryllic varnish) before lining, numbering & naming. Boiler & tender lining as well as numbers are HMRS. All other lining was done with the bow pen. Letters for the name came from a sheet of 2mm letters from Fox. I chose the name because it was short! It then got a coat of Railmatch Satin varnish to seal the transfers.


Here is the finished loco, now weathered. Weathered Black & Sleeper Grime aerosols were gently wafted below the waistline. The boiler was dry brushed with the top of an unstirred tin of Humbrol Metalcote before being polished to a shine with a cotton bud & the rods were then painted with the now well stirred Metalcote to hopefully give a nice metallic finish. Black MIG weathering powder was then added to the smokebox, running plate & the boiler top with a little on the front side of the dome to give smoke staining & generally tone everything down. Finally, spectacle glass was added with Glue N’ Glaze.



All in all I’m happy with the result. This was my first whitemetal kit & it required a bit of ‘fettling’ to get parts to fit, but with a bit of patience & time it’s all come out OK. I’ll certainly need more ‘Glens’, but I think I’ll be trying the PDK version next time. It’s a much more modern kit in etched brass, which is my preferred medium & it won’t have the compromises of the Gem kit.

Converting a Bachmann K3 to LNER K4 – Part 1


Modelling the West Highland as I do means I need at least 1 of Gresley’s K4s (I eventually intend to have all 6). Designed specifically for the West Highland line with it’s tight curves, steep climbs & strict weight limits they were mainstays of the line on passenger & freight services from 1937 until scrapping in the early 60s. No. 3442 ‘The Great Marquess’ is preserved & is a regular on chartered heritage trains.

The inspiration for this conversion came from Modelling Guru Graeme King on the LNER forum. He mated a Hornby B17 boiler with the Bachmann K3 chassis & a cut down 4200 gallon tender to produce an excellent result. The undersized Bachmann K3 wheels made the conversion possible & gave a convincing effect. Graeme’s conversion was later written up in one of the major railway modelling magazines (Model Rail #181).

In my wisdom (or lack of), I decided for my version I’d try & produce the boiler in brass as an exercise to improve my soldering & it proved very worthwhile as my soldering has improved greatly since I started my first conversion.

Below is the beginnings of a boiler in the raw:


The main tube is 23mm brass from Eileen’s Emporium. I cut the slot out for the motor & front mounting lump with a cutting disc, then form the firebox sides with smooth pliers before trimming excess brass to ensure the boiler sits nicely on the K3 running plate which is used unmodified.

The smokebox wrapper is 10thou. I trim this to exactly the correct length to go around the boiler before soldering it on, starting at the base where the join can be hidden. I then add solder round the front & rear edges of the wrapper before tidying up with a fibreglass pencil. The upper part of the smokebox saddle are strips of 10thou on the pictured loco, however I’ve used 20thou on my latest K4 to give a heavier appearance.

The steam pipes were formed by wrapping a sheet of 10thou round two pieces of pipe & soldering it all together.


& then trimming to shape


& soldered to the smokebox.


More to follow in part 2.



Welcome & Introduction


I’m Will & I model the West Highland Railway. If you didn’t already know that by now, I need a new header!

You may or may not recognise my work from RMWeb & The LNER Forum, where I have had workbench threads running since late 2013. I decided to start an external blog, however, to keep my updates in a more structured format & to encourage me to use better English & Grammar (though I feel I’m already falling down on that one).

I model in OO gauge & my upcoming layout(s) are planned to be built to the OO-SF standard for better appearance & running.

Anyway, enough chatter. Here are some pictures of my projects so far (in various stages of completion). Apologies to those who have already seen these.

GEM D34 ‘Glen’


K4 ‘Lord of the Isles’


K4 ‘Loch Long’


West Highland Station Building

West Highland Station building - Work in progress!

Thanks for looking in. In my next post I’ll discuss my layout plans.