Further Improvements to a Roundhouse Fowler

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Old Man Aaron
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Further Improvements to a Roundhouse Fowler

Post by Old Man Aaron » Fri Oct 23, 2020 4:16 am

When I finished my Fowler "Victoria" in late 2018, the intention was to weather it and add a crew. But as I'd never weathered a live steam loco, and had a lot of other things going at the time, I simply didn't have the time or energy to finish this loco quite the way I wanted. The intention was to get the loco running, work through the other projects, (learning to weather in that process) then come back later and properly complete "Victoria". According to the date on this ex-works shot, that was two years and four days ago.
SAM_0882 resized.JPG

The keen-eyed may notice this loco's had many small changes, and details added. Working at the heritage line with the last surviving Innisfail B9½ has it's benefits. Should anyone want to detail their own Fowler, I've uploaded my reference photos here: https://anzaccreekworkshops.blogspot.co ... owler.html
IMG_4437 resized.JPG

I wasn't happy with how the RH Darj. headlights looked. The bulbs, arranged vertically, looked more like the glass chimneys of early kerosene headlights, and being mounted that way, certainly weren't bright enough to represent Stones electric lamps in operation. The internal surfaces were sprayed with Alclad II's "chrome", which I must admit looks excellent, but in the end was no less trouble than simply machining proper reflectors, as I should've done. The domed glass wrist-watch lenses, once fitted in place of the plastic lenses supplied by Roundhouse, helped obfuscate this shortcoming, but they really needed gutting and re-doing properly.
IMG_3562.JPG

Back in June, I was able to make a small start on the Fowler between other work. The rear headlight was removed from the tender, and it's glued-in bulb broken and scraped out. I could then accurately-measure the innards of it, and with a bit of trial-and-error, was able to machine a pair of aluminium drop-in reflectors.
IMG_7324.JPG


03/10/2020
By early October, I was able to make a start on this loco. I was going to do a blow-by-blow write-up on the pre-cleaning and weathering, so that others might have a go at weathering their own kettles. But this loco differs from the last (first) live steamer I weathered, (An Accucraft Ruby) in so far as that loco was a complete strip-down to bare metal and full repaint. Which is of course easier, because virtually all of the oil comes away with the paint, when stripped in lacquer thinners. Any residue is dealt with in the usual surface prep routines.

This loco is very different. I need to fully, properly de-grease it without damaging the paint-work. There's also the matter of the motion being more complex, and not only is it an unusual case in that it's painted, but I also want to avoid the inevitable paint-wear and hassle of having to re-time it when I'm done. So this loco is very much a learning experience of it's own. Once it's finished, I'll have another Roundhouse-based loco to receive the same treatment, a Bundaberg Fowler. By then, I'll have worked out my technique, and can properly document the preparation and weathering - along with the other detailing and improvements that loco will receive.

In any case, "Victoria" had a handful of parts with rushed, lumpy touch-ups of areas chipped during final assembly. Weathering was as likely to highlight these, as much as hide them. It was quicker and easier to strip these bits in a jar of thinners and repaint them. Not shown is the cab roof which was also stripped.
IMG_7914.JPG

Before dismantling, the loco was hit with automotive degreaser and washed down, taking care to avoid the lights fitted in the dummy ashpan under the footplate. This dealt with the "heavy" soiling of oil - Not that there was much, being a Roundhouse, having done little running. And I'm not one of those people that pours a bucket of oil over the motion. Each to their own, but it just makes a mess of loco and track alike.

Once dry, the loco was pulled to bits and individual parts degreased again, to remove any heavy soiling trapped by assembly. Note the motion has been removed from the axles, but is otherwise assembled. I think with some care, I can clean the motion ultrasonically, then give it a light-coat repaint (because I'm now using a different shade of red) without dismantling it and losing the timing. If I'm successful, I'll do it again on the Bundy and record it properly.
IMG_7916.JPG

Speaking of oily messes, I noticed oil from the bearings quickly tends to run down the frames and "pool" along the bottom edge. In my book, shiny oil running over a matt, weathered surface defeats the purpose of weathering itself, so I'm going to minimise that by replacing the plain bronze bearings with ball bearings. Sealed bearings of the right dimensions are hard to find at any remotely reasonable price and quantity.
I ended up ordering some from Yankeeland on Evilbay. That was in May, to allow plenty of time for them to arrive; orders from there usually take 2-8 weeks to reach me in Southeast QLD. If you've not already figured, I've yet to see them. I presume The PlagueTM to be mainly responsible, and don't expect to see the bearings any time soon, if it all.

Searching for another supplier yielded only shielded bearings, which aren't preferable, but may work. It does mean that I can no longer periodically spray-degrease this loco and wash it down. But as a Roundhouse, it doesn't really make a mess of itself, and when needed, I can clean the motion with rags and careful use of a squeezy bottle filled with white spirit.
The new bearings being much thinner than the originals, and may have me turning some spacers to fit behind the cranks. Or, I could hand-strength loctite the axles into the bearings to prevent sideplay
IMG_7918.JPG

Going past the point of no return. After removing the plain bearings, the holes in the frames were drilled out to 9.5mm for the new bearings, which were fitted with a little retaining fluid. Worst case, and ball bearings don't work out, I'd just have to buy a ¼" reamer and machine six new bronze bearings to fit the enlarged frame holes. All things considered, that wouldn't be too bad.
IMG_7920.JPG

In order to properly clean them, the valve chests (and therefore the valves) had to be removed. This would upset the valve timing. So in order to put the valves back correctly when I'm done, the covers were removed, the internals of the valve chests degreased and scrubbed with meths, then once dry, a dab of acrylic paint was applied where the spindle screws into the valve. After that dried, the valve could be unscrewed from the spindle, and the spindle withdrawn from the chest. Before removal, the top of the left and right valves were marked "L" and "R" with a scribe, just in case of any tiny difference between the two. That also shows me which way to orient the valves during re-assembly.

It goes without saying that I should probably photograph that process for anyone new to that sort of work, when I properly document the process on the next loco.
IMG_7921.JPG

I neglected to photograph the process of thoroughly cleaning components, because I'm learning as I go. Long story short, the cylinders, after a few trips through the ultrasonic cleaner, are receiving some extra detailing because they're so prominent on a Fowler. Roundhouse kindly sold me Silver Lady cylinder overlays for three locos, along with an unpainted pair of their clip-on covers. With a bit of hammer-fettling of the clip-ons, their fit was slightly improved.

When fitting the front covers and SL overlays, I substituted the supplied M2 cheeseheads with hex-heads. Whilst the heads are twice as thick and of slighly larger width than the etched dummy bolts of the SL overlays, it really improves the appearance. It's even the right number of bolts for Fowler cylinders. The aluminium disks originally fitted during construction were made to mimic the small decorative covers fitted to most Fowlers.
IMG_8050.JPG
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Re: Further Improvements to a Roundhouse Fowler

Post by dewintondave » Fri Oct 23, 2020 6:44 am

Excellent work Aaron! I've used ball races on two locos :thumbup:
Best wishes,
Dave

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Re: Further Improvements to a Roundhouse Fowler

Post by Hydrostatic Dazza » Mon Oct 26, 2020 9:00 pm

Super stuff, keep the progress reports coming.
Do you ever go up to visit the Mary Valley Rattler ?
If you do, check in with me the week before as I am a regular on train crew, I am next on as guard 14th Nov to keep my 12 month competency and back on the loco 15th Nov. Also on the loco 28th 28th Nov. Call in and say hello. There are another two members of the Rattler crew who are into garden railways.
Cheers from Dazza, The Hydrostatic Lubricator 8)
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Re: Further Improvements to a Roundhouse Fowler

Post by Old Man Aaron » Wed Oct 28, 2020 5:31 am

Cheers, gents!
dewintondave wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 6:44 am
Excellent work Aaron! I've used ball races on two locos :thumbup:
Oh that's right, I forgot you've used almost identical bearings in your Fowler. What was the other loco? You've not had any issues with the bearings so far?
Hydrostatic Dazza wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 9:00 pm
Super stuff, keep the progress reports coming.
Do you ever go up to visit the Mary Valley Rattler ?
If you do, check in with me the week before as I am a regular on train crew, I am next on as guard 14th Nov to keep my 12 month competency and back on the loco 15th Nov. Also on the loco 28th 28th Nov. Call in and say hello. There are another two members of the Rattler crew who are into garden railways.
Would love to come visit Mary Valley.
I've been there a few times over the years, but not since that last train in 2012. First and only day volunteering there, as a carriage attendant. I know one of those garden railwaymen. Ben's a good mate of mine, met through the 5" & 7¼" club at Nambour, of which we were both members at the time. I think I was one of the people responsible for his getting into the garden gauges! I've been meaning to come up for a visit, but haven't been up to making such a trip. Well, that and The PlagueTM. I'll speak to Ben and find out when he's rostered, then liaise with both of you to visit when you're both on. I'll try for November if this wet period keeps things tolerably cool, but if not next month, then certainly next Winter.


24/10/20
The cylinders were painted with "Low Gloss Black" engine enamel. I prefer to use black etch primer, as when paint chips, it tends to leave the primer behind - and a chipped or worn area with black primer underneath, is a lot less noticeable than the usual grey primer. It's more expensive and difficult to find, though.

The cylinders really need a pair of valve spindle guides sticking out from the front of the valve chests, but those are beyond my capabilities to make. As a lost-wax casting, or even pre-fitted to a variant of DJB's cylinder covers, I do think they would sell reasonably well. They'd be ideal for the numerous Fowlers about, along with the less common Bundy Fowlers and 16mm "Victory" Decauvilles, in addition to anything else with standard RH cylinders. I can even provide photos and measurements of the prototype. I should speak to DJB about it..
IMG_8103.JPG

Anything too big for the ultrasonic cleaner was cleaned with a 50/50 mix of water and isopropyl alcohol. The alcohol dissolves any oils and contamination, along with removing the oxidised surface of the paint. The water is needed because straight alcohol is too strong for most enamel paints I use, and will damage it. I used a clean toothbrush and scrubbed in sections, wiping each section dry as I went, with clean rags. Use those drying rags only once. You'll burn through rags, but it's not worth the potential of smearing contamination over the next area to be cleaned.

The frames' black paint was then painted over with the aforementioned low gloss engine enamel. After that dried for a few days, the cab, domes, boiler cladding and repainted spectacle plate, were hit with a satin clearcoat.

The motion was also repainted with the same brand of red engine enamel as originally used between the frames. The formula seems to have changed, it's far brighter and more candied than the old stuff ever was, though the satin clearcoat helped. I'll have my work cut out toning it down with weathering..
IMG_8104.JPG

27/10/20
On a barely-related note, I've converted the next loco to have this work done, to manual control. As it'll also receive working lights, now's my only chance to run a loco in the rain, just so I can say I've done it.
IMG_8106.JPG

28/10/20
Back to "Victoria", which is quickly coming together again. Cab walls were brush-repainted with a mix of flat Tamiya enamels. I forgot to repaint the boiler's aft section and the lubricator, so I may brush paint them and weather the interior, before proceeding much further with re-assembly.
IMG_8109.JPG

I think I'll leave the brightwork to dull by itself, as anything I apply to it, is liable to chip away and look even worse. The smokebox was painted with the same stuff we use on full-size smokeboxes at Woodford - Potbelly stove paint. That one's a bit annoying, as it requires baking to cure. The headlight was later sprayed with the satin black engine enamel, though I've yet to brush paint it's mounting bracket to match. Will do that and any unpainted fasteners during final touchup before weathering. Everything else has been painted and awaits re-assembly. More of the same for the tender, is yet to follow.
IMG_8110.JPG

Regards,
Aaron
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Re: Further Improvements to a Roundhouse Fowler

Post by Jimmyb » Wed Oct 28, 2020 8:00 am

Aaron, i have a new Fowler purchased earlier this year from RH, so am following this thread eagerly. I run trains for fun, and am not a "rivet counter" (though I do admire a lot of their work), but i do enjoy enhancing my models, and i think my next step could be working lights.

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Re: Further Improvements to a Roundhouse Fowler

Post by Hydrostatic Dazza » Wed Oct 28, 2020 9:00 pm

According to the current Rota, Ben is on as guard 29th November and I am on the loco (967) and we have a cab rider booked as well.
Cheers from Dazza, The Hydrostatic Lubricator 8)
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Re: Further Improvements to a Roundhouse Fowler

Post by bambuko » Sun Nov 01, 2020 8:17 am

I love the photo of loco running in the rain - it looks "very realistic" :thumbright:
Keep up the good work Aaron - all the "toy like" gloss converted into dull flat paint does wonders for the appearance of your loco.
I hope you will eventually get it "properly dirty" as well :mrgreen:

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Re: Further Improvements to a Roundhouse Fowler

Post by tom_tom_go » Sun Nov 01, 2020 8:40 am

Looks great, brilliant job.

Replace the cheese head bolts then it would be complete to my eyes.

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Re: Further Improvements to a Roundhouse Fowler

Post by dewintondave » Fri Nov 06, 2020 6:19 am

Old Man Aaron wrote:
Wed Oct 28, 2020 5:31 am
dewintondave wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 6:44 am
Excellent work Aaron! I've used ball races on two locos :thumbup:
Oh that's right, I forgot you've used almost identical bearings in your Fowler. What was the other loco? You've not had any issues with the bearings so far?
I've got them on the steam diesel, and live diesel locos. No problems so far. Less oiling to do :thumbup:
Best wishes,
Dave

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Re: Further Improvements to a Roundhouse Fowler

Post by Old Man Aaron » Sun Nov 08, 2020 4:11 am

Thanks again, fellas. High praise indeed, coming from you lot. :)
Hydrostatic Dazza wrote:
Wed Oct 28, 2020 9:00 pm
According to the current Rota, Ben is on as guard 29th November and I am on the loco (967) and we have a cab rider booked as well.
Cheers, Darryl. Unfortunately, looking at the short and medium-term weather forecast, I'm not surprised it'll almost certainly be too hot. Being drenched in sweat and smelling is something I can live with whilst getting filthy in the workshop, but not so for a day out - to say nothing of combining chronic fatigue and hot weather.. I'll wait till it cools down again, and get back to you and Ben then..

Those cheese-heads were at one point replaced with hex bolts, but were a pain to fit and remove from their respective locations, so were switched back. Weathering however, might highlight them and force me to use the hexes..

Speaking of weathering, the loco certainly will receive more, once it's all re-assembled. Weathering powders and Tamiya enamels seemed to work well on the now-sold "Baron". That weathering came out a little too subtle, and was more noticeable in person. It represented a loco that was worked hard, but very well looked-after.
"Victoria" will receive a somewhat-heavier treatment. I've realised the brightwork on the footplate would best be obfuscated a bit, so a bottle of gun black is on it's way. I've done no other work beyond that, (or even checked the forum until yesterday) due to having a "crash" period.. Might have some more progress to show in about a week or so; Will start on the tender once the loco's just about re-assembled.
IMG_8069B.jpg

Regards,
Aaron
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Re: Further Improvements to a Roundhouse Fowler

Post by Keith S » Sun Dec 13, 2020 4:10 pm

Aaron, I'm enjoying watching your work on the locomotive, but I think someday you must write a bit about how you've laid the track in your garden. It looks absolutely real- in fact in the first picture the only thing that gives it away as being a model is the locomotive sitting on it and the fence in the background.

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Re: Further Improvements to a Roundhouse Fowler

Post by Old Man Aaron » Tue Dec 15, 2020 3:52 am

Cheers, Keith. I'm also pleased with how the track has turned out - the odd problem notwithstanding..

You'll be pleased to know I did in fact write about it in my layout build thread "What to do with a tiny, barren Wasteland?". Laying and ballasting the track is covered over pages 2-4.

Still no more progress on "Victoria", as the gun black should've arrived a month ago at the latest. I've contacted the seller through EvilBay and am waiting another "5-7 business days" for Australia Post to "investigate" this missing parcel. I could always rebuild the tender while I'm waiting, but there's enough half-dismantled projects slowly grinding along here as it is. Don't want to touch it until the loco is at least mostly re-assembled..
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Re: Further Improvements to a Roundhouse Fowler

Post by Soar Valley Light » Tue Dec 15, 2020 7:02 pm

Keith S wrote:
Sun Dec 13, 2020 4:10 pm
Aaron, I'm enjoying watching your work on the locomotive, but I think someday you must write a bit about how you've laid the track in your garden. It looks absolutely real- in fact in the first picture the only thing that gives it away as being a model is the locomotive sitting on it and the fence in the background.
I'll second that Aaron!

The shot of the loco standing in the rain looks exactly like most of the quarry floors it's ever been my misfortune to fight my way through! The track sits in it in a completely realistic way. It's barely possible to tell it's a model. If you hadn't realised - I'm impressed!

Andrew
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"'cause I can't manage on three gaffer!"

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Re: Further Improvements to a Roundhouse Fowler

Post by Old Man Aaron » Wed Jan 06, 2021 4:54 am

Cheers Andrew. Traipsing through old quarries must yield some fascinating discoveries.. Sorry I missed your reply, only saw it the other morning when I started writing this..

31/12/20
After a two-month delay, (original, realistic intention was completion of the loco by year's end) I now have the gun black and wasted no further time in blackening the cab fittings. Turns out Roundhouse lacquers their fittings, but putting them in a jar with some acetone, then running the jar through the ultrasonic cleaner for 20 minutes, saw to that. A thorough deoxidising with scotchbrite, and final degreasing with meths, proved necessary for the blackener to work.
I thought about removing that horrible bright white insulation from the steam pipe, but I'll just brush paint it a dirty grey when I get to weathering..
IMG_8253.JPG

03/01/20
As I'd like to lower the height of all my couplings from the 16mm standard of 25mm above railhead, to 18-20mm, I figured the easiest way to do this was to replace the standard LGB-style-mounted couplings, with their stud-mounted equivalent. To provide a mount for the stud & nut, I'll find some suitable brass or steel plate, drill a hole in it, then JB Weld it to the backside of the standard RH headstock.
IMG_8247.JPG

After refitting the pipework, domes and spectacle plate, the new bulb was painstakingly soldered into place. Careful use of heat shrink and epoxy glue should prevent any shorts, (touch wood) and the machined reflector glued in with more epoxy. A pair of tweezers held in a small bar clamp laying on the bench, stops the reflector from falling out as the glue sets. Looks good when supplied with 3V, so far, but will have to fit the lens and test the lamp in the dark, yet..
IMG_8256.JPG

05/01/21
The Roundhouse Stones generator was detailed next, referencing an old Stones service manual I have as a PDF file.
IMG_8257.JPG

Once the glass lens was fitted to the headlight, I put a pair of batteries in the tender and plugged it into the loco. When machining the reflectors, I just did 'em by eye, so the shape looked about right. I didn't expect it to reflect the light this well! Camera doesn't do it justice; it projects a nice solid beam about 12ft/3m ahead, on 3V. Extremely pleased with this, couldn't have asked for a better outcome.
IMG_8262.JPG

06/01/21
Not fitting the crew yet, of course, but wanted to show what I've prepared so far. A very nice cast resin figure from Evilbay, that I painted along with navvies, and crewmen for other locos, a while back. Currently thinking I'll glue a small magnet in his foot, and another correspondingly, under the footplate. They sell loads of different figures, many of which are scantily-clad women, but they've also plenty of useful figures for our purposes. Used the layered acrylic dry-brushing methods as described on Rik's helpful blog, and a mix of various face-painting techniques from Youtube. I think I need to be a little braver with the contrasts between shading, colour and highlights, but this'll do fine.

The fireman is also resin, but 3D printed by a bloke down in NSW. For a price, (think ModelU) he'll print 'em at any scale up to 7/8ths.
Haven't yet touched the fireman, as I'd expect his delicate resin shovel to be damaged in storage, if I cut away his support structure and painted him now.
I'll get to him when the loco is nearly finished.
IMG_8277.JPG

With the roof and dart re-fitted, (the latter with JB Weld, as I lost the nut during original construction) the loco is far enough re-assembled to allow a start to be made on the tender..
IMG_8271.JPG
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