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Matt's Lawley project

by "brianthesnail"

The Story So Far...


Acquired a Lawley chassis from that nice John fella at Track- Shack back in the Spring. Got it delivered to Laura's student digs while I was down there for a few days so I could do some testing at Tag's- there are photos of this event, but sadly they are on my mobile and, being a technical numpty, they are still there!
A chance conversation at Buckfastleigh the day before it arrived lead to the acquisition of a rather tatty Merlin Hunslet body. Initial measurements looked promising, suggesting that the length of the tanks would be spot on but the cab far too short, so it was out with the hacksaw and soldering iron to do some mocking up...

Which all looked rather promising, or would have done, if I had a better camera...

Next step was to cut the upper cab sides off, and then try and reshape the tank fronts to sit around the smokebox, much dremelling ensued. Inevitably, in trying to get a good fit and get both sides to look equal (not helped by the fact that Tom Cooper hadn't managed to get it particuarly symmetrical first time round!), I removed slightly more material than intended, so the body may be slightly narrower than planned. It'll still fit, but I may have to remove a smidgen from each side of the footplate to narrow it slightly- that'll be an out of hours job for the milling machine at work.

The (nearish) future

Current stage, everything is sat in paint stripper waiting for a good clean, the paint isn't much cop. I shall then attempt to make the new longer cab sides, probably recyling the Edrig sidetanks that were chopped up for the Edrig project before it gained the Caradoc body. The next big challenge is to hot metal glue it all together (I'll be rereading JR's guide, if the soldering is half as good as on Manuwani I'll be dead chuffed), followed by working out a cab roof. This will more than likely be screwed on- Tag has this on his RH Carrie and it's not a particular hindrance, and that's on a manual loco, whereas this will be full r/c.

On that note, I'm slowly fitting that too as I go along. The servo was pinched for a friends brand new r/c car the other day though, after it lunched it's one... I must get him to get us a new one!

Most the paint is now off and I've an unusually quiet weekend lined up, so I may actually make some progress on this!

Indecisive, Moi?

A spanner in the Works- "Ragley"

Came from Mr Bird the other day, who sent an email along the lines of "That Ragleth body you were asking about, still interested? If not I'll bring it to Exeter". Unfortunately I didn't pick the email up until after the show- luckily it didn't sell there, so I now have another option!

As can be seen, it fits rather nicely! The only issue is with the bunker- two options, one is fit an "internal" cab bunker (as Earl/ Countess), using the Edrig backsheet I have floating around. Option two is shorten the chassis to fit. This is actually the preferable option- in my opinion Lawley is a bit on the long side, so I'm not adverse to lopping a bit off- with a matching bit hacked off at the front. In fact the body will shuffle forwards a bit further than in those pics (that's actually lined up with the bolt holes), allowing about 1/2" to go from each end. Should change the appearance a bit.

What to do?

The current plan is to continue slogging away on the Merlin body over the quiet winter weekends, and try and make a reasonable hash of it. If I'm happy with it, I will then modify the chassis to suit (narrow footplate, drill holes etc etc). If not- it'll get the mods (more playing with the mill at workso as to not make too much of a mess of the chassis) to fit the Ragleth body, or I'll do the bunker mods as mentioned above.

If I am happy with the how the Merlin body ends up, well I guess I'll just have to save my pennies and put an order in to John for another Lawley chassis next year... Think the Ragley will look even better with a Ragleth smokebox, if I can find one (ex coal fired conversion perhaps).

Feel free to edit this folks, my first attempt at a page- hope I've not made too much of a mess!

A bit of an update...

Spurred on by an invite to play trains just down the road this coming weekend, I've made a small amount of progress. Not being quite as brave as Mike, I decided butchering the Ragleth body was preferable to chopping the chassis up. Soldering torch out and the bunker, handrails and cab back were removed.

The handrails are attached to a strip of brass that goes all the way round the top of the bunker so the whole lot came off in one piece- the idea being to transfer this wholesale onto the Edrig cab back I had left over from the Edrig/ Caradoc hybrid. Slight flaw there- it's bent so that the handrails are vertical when the brass strip is soldered to the sloping bunker. This meant that, when applied to the vertical Edrig cab back the handrails went off at a very jaunty angle. Of course, I only found this out once I'd desoldered the strip off the Edrig body and attempted to solder the Ragleth one on... So I resoldered the Edrig one back on to the top, and snipped the sides off the Ragleth one. This was then recycled to become the bottom rail for the non functional rear doors I've yet to make. The cut off bits are in the above piccy...

First attempt soldered some brass angle to the cab back. Went fine- bit blobby, but solid. Too much solder!

Unfortunately it didn't line up with the cab back (angle spacing too wide), so they got desoldered. Instead I soldered them to the brass strip that makes up the bunker sides, and then onto the cab back- everything lined up perfectly then. I'd intentionally made the sides over long, so I could trim them to be a close fit on the footplate. I was a little overenthusiastic with the trimming so ended up desoldering one side and replacing it- the brass strip was a bit kinked anyway so no hardship. It all came together good eventually...


Doesn't look much, but with a fair amount of trial and error involved I'm quite chuffed to end up here.
Previously I couldn't actually get anything to stick together at all, so this is a definite step forwards.

I need to make up a means of attatching the bunker sides to the doorways of the Ragleth body, short length of brass strip- which I will do with it bolted down as it is now. Then attach the handrails to the bunker sides, solder the uprights to the top of the cabsides (it's just propped up in the pic) and trim the uprights, and solder the upper cab back on. Rear doors I will make up and solder some wire handles on, but will probably cheat and glue into place.

Then slap some paint on 'cos it's too shiny!

What of the Merlin Hunslet body?

This has been a bit of a lesson in learning to walk before you run really. However... having hacked apart a bit of 16mm history I feel I shouldn't let it go to waste. I'm not sure what to do with it now. One option is to buy a Ragleth running chassis and build it onto that, but that would need even more significant hacking. When I've completed the Ragleth body I'd like to have a go at completing my original plans as I still really like the look of the loooong tanks and shortish cab on the 0-6-0 chassis. It was a bit too daunting before and I kept putting off "having a go", but learning gently with the Ragleth body mods has helped make it a little less scary.
That said, work has put me on a basic machining course- I've always wanted an 0-4-0 saddle tank (that was the intention for the Caradrig but working at my usual pace I left uni before I got around to bribing the workshop technicians to machine me up a tank), now all I need to do is find a suitable sized chunk of aluminium and convince our lecturer that we can do our own projects once we've completed the test pieces! 

Getting there slowly

The cab roof still fits!

As usual it took longer than it looked. I soldered the cab sides to the uprights first before putting the back bit on- this meant there was a gap, so I marked off and cut the excess height off the uprights, then desoldered the sides and soldered the upper backplate on, then eased it into line so the sides sat flush against the backplate & resoldered- a challenge making the final joint as the backplate kept coming desoldered. Four hands would have been handy but we got there in the end, and it only needed a few strokes with a diamond file to finish off. Most of this was with it bolted to the footplate to ensure it stayed lined up.

I still need to make up a couple of brackets to attach the bottom of the backplate to the doorway of the Ragleth body, and then solder the handrails in, then it'll be time for etch primer and paint.


Oh, and there's now r/c on the reverser- regulator next!

Some time Later...

Argh! He's got an update!

But not much of one I admit. Back- somewhat worryingly- last year, I did fit the rearward cab door handrails, chopped from the Ragleth body. They aren't the neatest thing out there but they look alright. Actually they look horribly bent in photographs, but they look better in the metal.

And in a sudden burst of enthusiasm brought on by the unexpected arrival of some yellow hot orb in the sky, I made up a pair of rear doors for the cab. Non functional- I did consider it but a.) I'd already had fun soldering up the top and bottom reinforcements for the back of the cab and didn't want to undo all that and b.) thought the necessary bracketry to make them slide might be a little clunky.

And have a photo. The one handle is rather bent in this one. It's less bent now, of course in trying to straighten it it fell off, more fun trying to solder it back in without the whole door falling off! 

However... we are now ready for paint (nearly). I need to strip the boiler down & etch prime the boiler bands. I just need to decide on a livery!

That reminds me, I need some extra chunky flavoured buffers too... 


No, it's not primer. Well, actually it is. But it's also topcoat- will get another light coat or two yet. I've always fancied doing an engine in grey, but wasn't sure if it would work or not. Then I realised that if it didn't, I could just paint over the top! I'm quite pleased with it so far though- sufficiently so to carry on with it and paint the boiler. Will look to lining it out- probably just trimline to start with, with black behind the lining (see JSJ's Baldwin)- and lettering to lift it a bit, plus my now traditional wasp striped buffer beams. White & red again I think with the grey. And the footplate is far too shiny!

Still not fixed it, but after a year of doing very little it's a bit of a mojo boost to see something that looks like progress!

Apologies for the poor pics in very unnatural light.
You can just about tell that I finally got some heatproof matt black to stick to the smokebox too- after about 5 attempts with one can, all of which ran, I gave up and bought some more (the lid of the can is sat on the cab roof- it's "Hotspot" Stove Paint for the record) which went on perfectly first time! Such is life. 

An example of what I'm hoping to achieve in terms of livery can be found by following this link: "Joffre"

Simple, but enough to break up the very dull grey I hope. I'm rather fond of the loco it's applied to too- nice to see several of them (as a rather un British and dare I say it, unpretty design) reappearing in steam in recentish years, after their long sojourn in a French quarry followed by a Welsh quarry. But I digress...

Detailing bits

Getting towards thinking about what detailing bits I'll be fitting. Actually, that should probably have been before I painted the thing but that's not the point...

Bits that spring to mind, in no particular order:

  • Glazed (non opening- they are lovely but too much like hard work) spectacle plates
  • Three of Tom's lovely lined boiler bands
  • Safety chains
  • Brake pipes
  • A lubricator (well, a suggestion of one) of some description- that'll be Locoworks again then!
  • Possibly a Westinghouse brake pump, to add to the industrial look. I need to do a bit more research into what other bits of gubbinry need to go with it. Any suggestions as to who does a nice one?
  • A blower pipe, as JSJ's Caradoc.
  • Some nicer cab steps
  • Chunky sprung buffers- not a fan of choppers, they tend to look a bit peculiar when not coupled to anything, plus I think normal ones are a bit more flexible.

And probably lots of other bits that come to mind!