Catching Up and Introducing Sasha (the Scion)


Sasha the Scion

I must apologize. I’ve not been around here much recently, due to heavy family and work commitments. The hours have been long and I’ve really not felt like sitting at a computer after I got home from work in the evenings. That said, it’s not that nothing has been going on. Far from it.Libby has been earning her keep.


Libby in the sun. Note the plywood under the engine bay to catch the diff oil leaks.


I recently had Libby inspected by a local Land rover Specialist (Treasured Motor Car in Reisterstown, MD – great service for unusual vehicles), as not being a professional mechanic, for my peace of mind I feel it’s worth occasionally having someone do a once over to ID any potential faults. The long and the short of it, is that she’s basically OK, but they identified a number of issues that will need attending to in the not too distant future. These are all mechanical and should be feasible to do myself, consisting of renewing the track rod (tie rod) ends, the front wheel bearings (LHS is starting to get a bit iffy and I might as well do both at the same time) and the UJ’s on the propshafts need replacing (I knew about all of these and so it was nice to have my assessment confirmed. The front and rear diff pinion seals also need replacing, as both diffs are leaking oil all over the drive. OK, it’s a Land Rover, but I try to minimize the oil leakage as much as possible.This may be a bit more of a complex job, as I have a Salisbury rear axle and setting the pre-load on these is more complex. I need to read further to see if this is something I feel that I can do myself. All of this is dependent upon time, which is often in short supply at the moment. However, if we do build the garage this year, it will mean some where nice and comfortable to work. I have recently replaced the front window tops with superior aluminium Rocky Mountains ones, which are superb, but not cheap. I’ve also replaced all the window tracks in the rear windows and middle doors using the aluminum window tracks from the same manufacturer, which are far superior to the OEM type, though stiffer to slide the windows in. Pictures of some of the work are shown below and it will be detailed more fully later.


Rusted out Middle LHS door window track


Rusted Out Middle door window track


Middle door window removed and rusted out track being extracted.

At some point in the future, both the front lower doors and the middle doors will need to be replaced, but for now, this will keep things more watertight. Further Landy posts to follow.

In other news, Canyon is doing well. He’s been off work for a few weeks due to some stiffness in one of his rear legs, but he is now recovering well. He’s growing a long coat with the onset of the colder nights.


“Who are you looking at?”


“What are you doing back there with my tail?”


“No you can’t have my tail as a hair extension!”


“OK, well I thought it was funny!”


“Ahhhhh, that’s better. Grass,my favorite food!”

I’ve been commissioned to build a model for a friend of my fathers and have also been building an identical one for myself. These are 2 of the Vivian style industrial garratts in 7 mm (O) scale. It has been a long slog, but we are starting to make some progress now.


Boiler – almost completely scrathbuilt




Two Garratt Boiler units




Garratt with front and rear engine units attached

More details to follow later

And finally, I had to replace my regular car after it was damaged in a collision with a deer. This was an extremely unpleasant situation and re-inforced my opinion that insurance companies will screw you. The incident occurred when I was driving into work and a fawn ran right out in front of me and into the side of the wing. There was no way I could stop and unfortunately, the fawn was killed. I felt terrible about that, but at least it was quick. (We are over run with deer here and one has to be very careful driving at this time of year with all the young inexperienced ones around) It also stove in my bumper, the wing, the rad grill (but not the rad itself) and crumpled the hood / bonnet. Neither the airbags were deployed or any glass shattered and the vehicle remained driveble. Immediately afterwards, as required, I contacted my insurance company and from then on the situation went down hill. The long and the short of it, a very exasperating situation developed in which the insurance company screwed up just about everything and wrote off the vehicle based on very nebulous understanding, with no recourse. I felt that the vehicle was not badly damaged and this was confirmed by the body shop, who said that it was a relatively easy repair and that the frame was not twisted. I normally keep my vehicles for at least 10 years and 200K+ miles, so I was very annoyed that the insurance company wrote the vehicle off seemingly arbitrarily, without allowing any second opinion. This was despite the fact that I was prepared to pay for repair of the majority of the damage myself. I have actually taken action against them due to the fact that I have since discovered that they either misled me or flat out lied. This is still ongoing, but I can say that we shall be changing our insurance company shortly and that the current one will lose our business for insuring both the vehicles and the house. Ultimately, I have had to replace the vehicle and was fortunate to find one of the same make, but with only 31ooo miles on it. Not bad for an 11 year old vehicle. But, I would have preferred to have my original vehicle repaired (and it would have been cheaper as well).

So meet Sasha.




It’s a first generation Scion Xb, and basically looks like something a young child would draw if asked to draw a car. Basically a box on wheels with all the aerodynamics of a brick. Scion is a marque of Toyota and the Xb is a lightly re-designed version of the Toyota Bb, which was available in Japan (and which may now be entering the UK market on the grey market). I think you either love them or hate them. I love them as they are small, economical, and you can stuff a huge amount of stuff in the back. I also like the fact that there is plenty of head room, even for someone of my height. Diane thinks that it looks like a miniature Land Rover and I have to admit when the two are close to each other, there is a certain similarity in appearance. I’m not that fond of the leather seats in this one and so a set of seat covers will probably be added at some point. And this one has a spoiler on the rear door, which will probably go at some point. Quite why anyone would put a spoiler on something shaped like a lego brick, I don’t know. I’m happy with the car, but I still wish i had the original one. However, I guess I’ll have this one for a good few years yet.

More to follow shortly


K1 All Ready for Departure

I’ve been building a model for a client back in the UK. It is for locomotive K1, one of two K class garratt articulated locomotives built by Beyer Peacock in 1909 for operation by the Tasmanian Government Railways. These were the first ever garratt class locomotives built and the first one, No K1 was repatriated to the UK and now lives and operates on the restored Welsh Highland Railway in North Wales. More information on these locomotives can be found here and here.

I was asked to build a model of this loco for a client in OO9 scale. This is the same that I model in and is 4mm/ft (OO scale, 1:76.2), with 9mm (N-gauge) track. This results in a narrow gauge model. I’ve always wanted one of these locomotives for the railway, so ended up building two in parallel. The models were based on etched brass and nickel-silver kits by Backwoods Miniatures, though I modified the kits with a certain amount of scratch building including replacing the boiler barrel, new firebox front sculpted from brass and new smoke-box door. These were certainly tricky models to build and get running well, but the first one is now finished and ready for dispatch to it’s owner in the UK. The locomotives is equipped with DCC control, which drives two motors, one for each power bogie. Valve gear is functional and the locomotive is outside framed with both axles of each power bogie driven through a layshaft worm / gear drive. The full story of the build can be found here, though you may need to register to access the content. The boiler unit of my own locomotive has been completed, as have the front and rear tanks, and work is ongoing on the two powered chassis units.

So without further ado, attached are some pictures of the build.

Opening the box

Opening the box

Etched sheets

Etched sheets

Boiler cradle assembled and firebox structure being assembled

Boiler cradle assembled and firebox structure being assembled

Firebox and new boiler barrel

Firebox and new boiler barrel

Test fitting cab and boiler to cradle

Test fitting cab and boiler to cradle

Cradle unit and boiler ready for permanent attachment

Cradle unit and boiler ready for permanent attachment

Boiler in brass

Boiler in brass

Boiler unit nearly complete with smokebox door and boiler fittings added

Boiler unit nearly complete with smokebox door and boiler fittings added

Initial cylinder assembly

Initial cylinder assembly

Cylinder units

Cylinder units

Basic chassis Units

Basic chassis Units

Motor and gearbox assembled into chassis

Motor and gearbox assembled into chassis

Gear box

Gear box

Front and rear tanks with details

Front and rear tanks with details

Interior of reat tank / bunker

Interior of rear tank / bunker

Test fitting assemblies - starting to look like K1 now

Test fitting assemblies – starting to look like K1 now

External flycranks assembled, added to axles and painted

External flycranks assembled, added to axles and painted

Valve gear assembly - slidebars, cross heads and connecting rods

Valve gear assembly – slide-bars, cross heads and connecting rods

Further valve gear sub-assemblies

Further valve gear sub-assemblies

Four assembled valve gear sets ready for fitting

Four assembled valve gear sets ready for fitting

Close up of valve gear assembly

Close up of valve gear assembly

Valve gear fitted to chassis units

Valve gear fitted to chassis units

Painted and detailed firebox backheads.

Painted and detailed firebox backheads.

Backhead installed in locomotive cab

Backhead installed in locomotive cab

Completed loco working a short freight on my layout

Completed loco working a short freight on my layout

Waiting for the off

Waiting for the off

Completed loco working a short freight on my layout

Completed loco working a short freight on my layout

So there we are. A very tricky and frustrating build, but it finally yielded a decent model. I hope my own comes out to the same standard.

It will go in the mail tomorrow and i hope the client is pleased with it. Now to finish my own loco and on to the next project…….

(PS and by the way i hate this new WordPress – it makes it very difficult to lay out pages with pictures correctly. There, I’ve gotten that off my chest now!)

Building the Kitson Meyer

In one of my earlier posts, I mentioned that I was building a Kitson-Meyer style loco for my model railway. This is a “might have been” freelance narrow gauge loco. However, the Kitson-Meyer power bogie arrangement did occur, although it wasn’t common, so the design isn’t that far fetched. The model is based on a design developed by John De Fraysinett, of County Gate fame. I liked John’s loco and wanted one for myself. I was fortunate to work with John and the desperado team at the 2013 Peterborough exhibition, during which I was able to measure up his model. I have built my own version as closely as possible to the original, so it is a true sister loco and the second in the class. It does however, have one or two detail differences for my own preferences, (e.g. location of the turbo-generator). With the exception of the N gauge Farish Class 08 chassis used to form the power bogies, the Roco valve gear and the cab sides, front and rear (spare etches from a Backwoods Miniatures etched brass kit), it is completely scratch built from soldered brass strip, tube. rod, wire and section. So the photo’s below show how I went about it.


Basic Body Structure


Basic Body Structure from Rear


Internal Tank Structure


Basic body structure complete, with whitemetal chimney and dome castings, smokebox and smokebox front, smokebox saddle finished


Farish 08 chassis before dismantling. Two are needed


Chassis dismantled and modified. Roco Valve gear before butchering.


Roco Valve gear grafted to Farish 08 chassis


Both power bogies converted




Trial fit of power bogies to the main body. Note details have started to be added, including smokebox door hinges.




The arrangement for the pivot points for the power bogie. The central spline will be soldered into the body along the boiler centerline.


Central spline soldered into place within the body, with pivots screwed into position.


Shortening the power bogie units on the inside ends – a nerve wracking procedure.


Cut almost complete. The chassis was completely dismantled, degreased and cleaned upon completion of this operation to remove any cutting debris from the gear train.


Power bogies in position, along with roof and lower firebox. The main part of the build is almost done. Detailing beginning.




The loco dismantled into it’s major components. The mounting arrangement allows the power bogies to be removed whilst the lower firebox remains attached to the main body.


Some detail parts – a vacuum tank and Safety valves, all scratchbuilt. Pencil tip and US dime show how small these items are.




Main body detailing almost complete, including tank fillers, turbo generator, head lamp, smokebox door dart, brake cylinders and actuating arms (alongside lower firebox). Still to add are tool boxes alongside the smokebox.


LHS of completed main structure showing vac tank. blow down valve, etc.



Into Primer


Then into all over black. Satin for the main body, matt for smokebox and frame front



Cow catchers (pilots) for the power bogies. Cobbled together from bits of brass strip and some etchings.




Mounted on the outboard ends of the power bogies. Look like NGG16 garratt power bogies!



Loco fully assembled, just awaiting the lining.


Lining Out


Almost completed model, including lining, varnishing and addition of name “Hercules” (Well, it’s supposed to be powerful!) and builders plates (courtesy of Narrow Planet).


From the rear. The slight lean observable has since been corrected.


Internal electrical connections to DCC chip


Picture showing home made PCB containing the DCC control chip shoved up into the firebox.






Pictures showing completed loco with Front and Rear lights. I think these are too bright and need toning down a little, as well as the colour hue adjusting.

There are still a few things to do to the loco to finish it off. These are installation of fine lead ballast into the tanks, installation of couplers and weatherng. Couplers and lead ballasting has subsequently been completed. Weathering still to be done, along with amending the safety valves, and building the ashpan.

And that is how I build a locomotive!