7/8ths Scale‎ > ‎

RWM PPS De Winton

by Chris Bird

The "De Winton"

This vertical boilered loco was designed and produced for a number of years by Alan Whitaker of PPS Steam Models. I often looked at them in his showroom, but was never tempted. Then, in 2012, my good friend Roy Wood bought the design for De Winton and Janet and I remember that I did point out that neither of us had ever liked it! But Roy was convinced that he could improve the design - and he certainly did!

Early on, we talked about fitting a chuffer in a resonator, as I had done for the Regner Willi a couple of years back. Roy designed a simple installation to take a standard Summerlands Chuffer and I duly went over to film it. To say I was surprised was an understatement. Not only had Roy redesigned the pipework to make the whole loco much tidier, but the sound it made was fantastic. Gone was the "ugly duckling" and in its place was a quirky, vertical boilered loco that was great for 16mm, but perfect for 7/8ths. We made a couple of videos and suddenly there was a waiting list and Roy was making them as fast as the parts suppliers allowed!

Here are the videos we made:

You can see all the details and current options on Roy's RWM Steam website: www.roywoodmodels.co.uk

My PPS De Winton Project

I was a convert, from shaking my head in disbelief at Roy's purchase, I found myself planning what I might do to one. Could radio control be fitted? Could I modify the footplate with angle? Mmmm...

Then, by chance, Keith Vincer emailed the 16mmngm group about some items for sale on their group website, and when I visited, there was a radio controlled PPS version at a price that was attractive. Well we were heading for Devon the following week, so a deal was done and I met the owner in a layby on the A30 to complete the deal.

Now this is my favourite sort of loco project - it is totally freelance and I can make it up as I go along. If you follow this project below, you will find that I change my mind quite a lot and make all sorts of mistakes. But the pondering, planning and making is all part of the fun!

The loco

This is what it looked like when I got it home:

As you can see the loco has a large bell type whistle fitted, plain disc wheels and radio control operating from a servo in a bunker at the rear. There was no receiver but one was quickly installed under the coal and it worked fine, though the pipework flexed somewhat at the end of the servo travel.

Priority jobs, before the cosmetics were tackled were:
1. Fit a chuffer in a resonator
2. Move the whistle from the front sheet. I have never liked these whistles, but when warmed up it works OK, so I decided to keep it.
3. Move the lubricator/regulator nearer to the boiler to allow more room for the footplate crew.
4. Brace the regulator in some way.

The days listed below are not necessarily consecutive - I do have other duties!

Day 1

The nice thing about this loco is that it is a machine with all its working parts exposed - there is no cover-up with the De winton. So on my first day on it I spent a pleasant few hours  making a Chuffer resonator. I decided to go for a larger resonator than Roy uses to give it a deeper sound.

I preferred the taller design which exhausted at the same level as the chimney, but the result was disappointing on first test - certainly not as loud as Roy's.

Next I tackled the regulator plumbing which encroached too much on the footplate space as you can see below.

I raised it and moved it a bit closer to the boiler, but still in reach of the servo rod. I also made a bracket and re-mounted the whistle nearer to the footplate. I was short of 1/8" pipe and nipples, so joined the pipe with 5/32" brass pipe and soft solder. It is not beautiful but did the job.

At this stage I was thinking that I would mount a second servo in the coal bunker so that the whistle could be radio controlled. A test, though, revealed that the new regulator plumbing was even more flexible than before, and that the whistle needed about four pulls to clear - no good at all for videos.....

I finished for the day, puzzling avout how to brace the regulator and what to do with the whistle. And if I am honest, I was also thinking it looked better before I started!

Day 2

The next day, while staring into my brass stock box, I spotted a sturdy offcut and quickly formulated a plan. I cut a piece to fit round the cylinder block and it would be bolted to the footplate via a silver soldered bracket. The regulator T could then be clamped to it. Not a thing of beauty, but it is very rigid and does the job.

I also decided to have a go at making a new Chimney. As a 7/8ths model, I could get away with a taller one, but the question was, would a narrower on still allow the burner to 'breathe'?

In my scrap box, I found a brass boss that I could turn down to fit the boiler flange (the stock chimney is just a push fit), and a plumbing fitting that I could turn down to make the cap. Incredibly, they both had exactly the right bore for some 5/8" K&S tube! It did take three attempts (and far too long) to get it right to make and I have to admit that I was pleased with the result - photographed here before painting:

Day 3

When I woke the next day, the decision about the whistle was made - it had to go! I made a blanking plug and then headed over to Roy Wood's to compare chuffers. 

Well the result was convincing - Roy's was much louder and definitely a case of small is beautiful! (see below on his test bed loco)

As Roy had all the fittings to hand we quickly removed the whistle and then re-plumbed the regulator using a bango bolt instead of a a gland. This got rid of the vertical pipe. I also replaced the huge water fill valve with a RWM small one. Suddenly the top of the boiler was looking a lot less cluttered.

When I got home, I tried shortening both the Chuffer resonator and the resonator exhaust, but was still not satisfied with the result - it made plenty of Chuff under load, but didn't seem quite right so I decided to make one to Roy's exact pattern. At the same time I noticed that the paint on the boiler had been chipped and had begun to flake. No primer had been used so touching up was not an option - it would have to be stripped.

Day 4

In fact I had planned to strip the boiler as I was not happy with the colour or the fit of the boiler cladding. My local model shop stocks walnut strip wood so I bought three yards of this and a suitable glue to tack the planks in place. 

The boiler is removed very simply by removing the steam pipe and then undoing the two screws at the base. It then just lifts off.

The planks were eased off with a chisel, after removing the bands. They mostly sprung off with the paint, so that was easy. The paint yielded quickly to a modern paint stripper and was cleaned up with fine wet and dry and a 3M fleece. I rubbed down the water gauge fitting and the gauge syphon (the gauge was removed). I degreased three times with cellulose thinners, blanked the various holes with Bluetac and then put it to warm while I did the same to the various pipes, fittings and cylinders.

The parts were warmed in front of a 2Kw fan heater and then etch primed with Upol Acid Etch 8. This was followed by Halfords Acrylic satin black and baked at 100 degrees C for about 20 mins.

Here is the chassis with the black cylinders re-fitted. it also shows the ceramic burner in place.

Day 5

This was the day for the boiler cladding - and the best way to do this is to get Roy to do it!

I used walnut about 6mm wide by 2mm thick and after marking one side with a pencil line, I scanded the other side with 600 grade wet and dry (used dry). I considered various ways of cutting the wood (which was pretty hard) but settled in the end on using a pair of sheet metal shears. By using the tips of the cutting blades it made a clean cut (further down and it crunched the wood). I cut at 71mm to allow 1mm for sanding on the bench belt sander. It is essential (in my view) to have them all the same length so I sanded the ends while holding them together in blocks of eight. It sort of worked. I then made the cut outs for the water gauge fittings and took a long time to satisfy myself that the first one was vertical before using three tiny spots of glue to hold it. Then it was a matter of working my way round until a couple of thin fillets of wood completed the task - phew!

Here they are:

I had sprayed the boiler bands satin black and then thought that I really should have made new, thinner ones (as Roy does), but that may be a task for another day. I stained the wood with Georgian medium oak stain (in stock) and might oil them as well.

Here they are with the boiler balanced back in position:

Now the eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed that I have reverted to the original chimney. There is a reason for that. Just as I was starting the cladding, I was summoned away to deal with a minor problem, and on returning to the workshop, I was distracted by the fact the the new chimney didn't look quite straight. This is a press fit, so I decided that it just wasn't seated properly in the brass ring and tried to press it home using the jaws of my large vice. This was stupid of me  - the thin walled brass tube, which had been softened by the silver soldering, collapsed. Oh bother I thought.......  

Day 6

The first job of the day was to make a new chimney. By heating it to red heat, I managed to recover the bottom fitting, but the cap was just too soft at that temperature and quickly distorted. So it was back to the scrap box for another ancient water pipe fitting to make a new one. This was not without its problems, but in the end I had a slightly more sturdy cap made and was able to silver solder it together from the inside (to avoid the inevitable runs on the outside0.

Here it is:

Alter posting this photo in the fiddle yard, Tom pointed out that the mangled one would have made a great chimney for a decrepid old loco.......

Later that day, I started on the rear cab sheet. Again it would have been much easier to buy one, but I fancied something different. Photos of old De Wintons show a heavy rolled edge on the top, so I planned to replicate this with some brass rod.

As always, I used what I had to hand. This mean't 0.3mm brass for the sides and a piece of 2mm brass for the back - this was thick enough for a solft soldered butt joint to be strong enough. I used 3mm rod for the rolled edge. It was bent to shape and then the back was flatted on the bench sander. This was soft soldered in position and all smoothed off nicely. A waste of time as it happened, as it all came unsoldered when I did the corner joints. I will not describe how I held it all together, but suffice to say it needed a little car body filler on the edge!

Day 7

After a fair bit of rubbing down and cleaning up the solder, I degreased and etch primed the cab panel. Then the three coats of Halford's satin black showed me all the bits of solder under the beading that I had missed. I was not tempted to strip it! I also sprayed the new chimney, which is definitely straight.

The wheels are much too plain and shiny, so I de-greased them with Cilit Bang as I had run out of proper automotive degreaser. Not a success. I had to do many passes with the thinners and kitchen towel before I was happy with them. I then warmed them up in front of the fan heater and applied a brush coat of etch primer. As usual, I managed to lose an E clip while removing the connecting rods.....

Next I wanted to deepen the footplate by adding some pretty substantial brass angle. The Chuffer side needed a cut-away for the drain as well as a cut out for the cylinder gland. I drilled the steel footplate and tapped corresponding holes in the angle.

I then came to the difficult matter of rivets - which I am not good at.  I had considered some for the cab sheet, but then found a prototype photo without and so decided against. For the frame, though, they were a must. Despite precision measurement, careful centre-punching and the use of a rigid Slocombe drill, I still managed a less than perfect result. Maybe the other side will be better! 

I decided to paint and try this before making the second one. To get a proper idea, I trial fitted all the parts and so far, am happy with the result.

Plans now include the following:

1. A wooden seat in the "cab"

2. A hand brake centally at the rear of the cab

3. Some sort of water tank conversion where the gas tank is.

4. Matt black wheel centres

5. Respraying the coupling rods - red again I think.

6. Touching up all the bolt heads with black paint.

7. A name or number plate somewhere.

8. New buffer beams with multiheight couplings and wooden dumb buffers.

Day 8

Very little done. I found time to paint the wheels matt black - brush painted with Wilkinson's Matt Black acrylic exterior paint (water based). This is amazing stuff that lasts for years outside.

Day 9

It's amazing how one finds extra jobs that seem to take a lot of time to move no further forward. When I removed the connecting rods, I found that they had been given a rough coat of Humbrol red, so I stripped them, then primed and sprayed them with Ford Radient Red. While I was re-fitting them, I found that my trusted matt black seemed very vulnerable to scratching. I decided to overcoat with a satin varnish and chose the humbrol varnish for acrylic paints. I sprayed some in a cap and brushed it on - only to find that it dissolved the black and went grey. Oh dear I said. I tried overcoating this combination with Halfords Acrylic matt black on a test piece and it seemed to blend OK - so I used that on top of the previous coats. It dried good and hard - phew. And yes, I should have sprayed it!

I also made the second frame angle - and this time I managed to get the rivets spot on. For the record they are 8mm, 18mm and 28mm from the end of each angle.

After spraying, I fitted both angles using cut down 8BA round head setscrews. I heat blued them before fitting.

I also fitted the rear cab sheet properly. It was about a1mm too wide, so I used small washers as spacers where the small head 8BA bolts went through. To say this was fiddly to get the bottom nuts on would be an understatement!

I made a seat from some stripwood - just three planks and a couple of battens underneath.  I stained this with the Wilkinsons matt black - much diluted.

The front of the loco has been the subject of much pondering. On the prototype, this tended to be the position of the water tank, so I had many ideas about how to achieve this. I thought of an overall wrapper to cover it - perhaps with rivet detail. But then I decided against rivets. I thought of a lid that could be removed easily to allow access to the burner. This would necessarily be deep enough to cover the curve and perhaps bolt through the handrail hole. Then I thought - why not use the curve as part of a 'welded" water tank?

This is very much at the experimental stage, but you can see the first part balanced in position here:

Oh yes, I do plan some fancy buffer beams, but decided to fit the RWM ones with their multi-height couplings for the time being. I fettled the first one to fit, but then realised I had no idea where I had put the other one - or the couplings. Mmmmm.........

Day 10

The first task today (between other duties) was to finish the 'tank'. It was simply bent up from K&S 0.3mm hard brass and so needed a lot of bracing. I used angle from my stock box - various sorts. I made sure I clamped each part before soldering the next one.

Now with the 'tank' in position, it was possoble to see into it from the other side, so I made a piece (from a piece of less than perfect 0.8mm brass)  to fit in front of the gas tank, to be secured through the handrail holes. With this in place the 'tank' would look like it would hold water!

Here is the brass ready for sprraying:

I had also raided the scrap brass box to make a water filler and cap. Here you can see the neck, tuned from an old water fitting (as usual):

The parts were degreased and etch primed before spraying satin black (sorry this is getting repetetive!)

I drilled and tapped the various pieces of angle for 8BA and used small head bolts (cut short where necessary) to fix it. I needed to elongate a couple of holes in the DW steelwork to make it all fit.

I had an extra hole either side of the tank, where the gas tank strap and whistle bracket had been fitted. My faithful Pegie nameplates covered the holes nicely - until I get some proper ones. Some readers may remember these plates came soldered to what became 7/8ths Betty - waste no want not! I had some of the excellent Roundhouse Numbers in stock, so a quick spray with red and they brightened up the 'cab' end. In fact for 7/8ths, I think I need some big makers plates.

Despite my searching, I failed to find the other red buffer beam annd so reverted to the rather nice wooden ones that came with the loco. More work to do there.

And another quick cosmetic touch was to spray the 3/4" pressure gauge. This has a laquered finish so no etch primer necessary. I just masked the front ring and the thread, then one thin coat of black as a warm in front of the heater. Job done!

I then touched up various screw and bolt heads with some black satin, sprayed into a pot and allowed to thicken. Then out to take some photos:

So I still have the buffer beams to sort and that handbrake. Oh - and steam testing of course!

Day 11

Some time ago I saw a photo of one of Rob Bennett's locos (Magulfin I think) which had Mamod car tyoy 'acetylene' lamps. Well I acquired sone and this morning I sprayed one black and made a bracket for it. I know there is not a lot of logic to a lamp on one end - but hey - this is make-believe!

I then took the plunge and gave Pegie a steam test. All worked well and even on blocks, I could hear that the Roy Wood design resonator was MUCH better. Clearly the volume and construction was spot on for the best resonance.

Next I thought I would try a quick fix on the buffer beams. The original De Wintons had a curve at the bottom to create a 'slate-catcher'. I toulght I could add one by taking a slice out of a piece of brass tube. I found an old piece in the scrap box and cut a slice - about a thrd of a 15mm diameter. I found it was pretty rough inside:

I tried to flatten one edge in the vice, but no luck, so I heated it to red heat and tried again (the vice has soft copper jaw covers). It worked well - flattening one edge. It then took an age to emery and file all the lime and copper lining smooth. I had the bright idea that I could drill and tap the very hard wood buffer beam - no way! After priming and spraying, I ended up gluing the slate catcher in place.

At this stage I could not fac erepeating the exercise for the rear beam and ironically, no sooner had I finisher the job, but I found the missing RWM buffer beam......

While taking photos of the loco I finally accepted that the plain water filler cover needed a knob. I turned one from brass and centre drilled the cap to take it.

And here is a video of the modified loco in action:

Some time later

And so the months went by and I was distracted by other locos and rolling stock. The De Winton sat in the cupboard - forgotten - until Shawn put a photo of his new Regner tram on the Fiddle Yard and asked about a chuffer. I posted a photo of the resonator and in doing so, remembered that I still had a buffer beam to do.

Now being a UK loco, the buffer beams should really be painted red and made from metal, so I had a look in my metal drawer....and found a nice piece of 6mm thick brass about the right size for two beams. After checking for squareness, I taped it to a piece of wood and cut it in half using the bench chop saw. This has a 'Rage' blade that cuts steel and wood. It is seriously scary to use in this way and proper eye protection is essential as it showers you with hot metal!

I finished it with coarse then fine files until I had a matched pair. Then it was a case of marking, drilling and tapping. I had planned for a row of 1/16" rivets along the top, but found that I only had four - so I used 10ba bolts intead.

Here the slate catcher is on and it is pretty much ready for painting:

After etch priming and spraying with Ford Radiant Red acrylic car paint. I heat blued the steel centre buffer and then fixed it all in position.

I am still wondering if I should add wooden dumb buffers.....and then there is the other one still to make.........

Dumb Buffers

Well I decided that I would go for the wooden dumb buffers. It appears that size really matters here as there are strong views on the subject. The real De Wintons had various sizes, some coming right up over the cab sheets, some thick and some thin. As always, I made it up as I went along. The two governing factors were the top of the buffer beam and the top of the slate scraper. I also decided that I only wanted to cover up one of my 10BA bolt heads each side - so that was that.

The oak was from an old table top, cut on the chop saw and sanded to size on the linisher. With the buffer beams removed, I positioned the block and then tapped it with a hammer to make a mark where the 10BA bolt head was. I then drilled a clearance hole for that. The with the block properly in position, I marked the mounting bolt holes from behind and drilled them under size. I effectively 'tapped' the hole with a bolt and the super-glued a piece of 6BA threaded rod it (cut from a bolt). These then became the mounting bolts.

I stained the blocked with a medium oak stain and then used a little boiled linseed oil. The cross cut oak shows a nice grain.

Brake Handle

The eagle eyed will see that the loco has gained the brake handle seen on all real De Wintons. This was turned from brass rod with a flat hand filed so that it mates with the cab back sheet. A bit more rod is silver soldered in for the handle. Very often the real ones had the vertical nearly worn to a point by constant use, but I didn't opt for that.

Initially I painted the whole thing black and had planned to glue it in position, but when I came to fit it, I stripped the handle and used Blacken-it to give that old look. Then I drilled and mounted it with two small head 8BA bolts, cut to length.

Blackening the Brass

There were a few too many shiny bits of brass on the loco, so I cleaned up the safety valve, tank filler, steam pipe banjo and lubricator cap. Then, after thorough de-greasing, I used Blacken-it (purchased from Ebay. The initial black changes to bronze after rubbing, but looks good to me. In fact, I was so impressed that I stripped the chimney cap and blackened that too.

Weathering the beams

When the linseed oil on the wood had dried overnight, I just dusted the beams with a dilute black, matt varnish mix from the airbrush. I masked the rest of the loco as I have not yet decided to weather my locos properly......

Much Later!

I have been asked about the radio control installation which was carried out by the previous owner. It is important to remember that this uses the pipework and regulator as supplied by PPS Steam Models and the quarter turn on the regulator gives plenty of power. It is worth checking with Roy Wood if you are planning to use the RWM regulator for R/C.

The following photos explain the installation. The servo is mounted flat on the footplate with the receiver above. The red socket is for charging.

The key part of the installation is to use a made up battery pack (4xAAA cells) under the footplate, between the frames. The twig is purely cosmetic!