Friday, January 23, 2009

Firebox fun

Whitemetal firebox
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
The dock tank locomotive firebox is giving me trouble. My intention was to use the cast whitemetal top supplied. It would have the right bulk, curve properly and add a bit of weight in the right place on the model.

As you can see from the photo, this was not to be. Having bent the casting back to flat and tried it in position there was no chance of fitting the thing. It was narrower than the boiler for a start. I know whitemetal shrinks as it cools but I have a suspicion that this one might be intended for the HO scale version of the kit. Mind you since the instructions don't make any mention of the part, then perhaps its inclusion at all was a packing error.

Aside from the reasons listed above the main factor behind my choice was that I didn't believe the etched firebox would work. It's formed from a half-etched wrapper with little corner pieces. The wrapper was pretty flexible and prone to creasing. The corner bits were tiny and had no locating tabs. All I could do was gip them firmly in some tweezers, heat some solder and poke them into position hoping I got it right.

Etched fireboxFirst though, the wrapper was bent over a small screwdriver - the bend falls along the line of washout plugs making this work even trickier. Then I started poking hot metal around. The first corner worked well. The second took a couple of goes. Then I fixed in the washout plugs which are on a plate fitted behind the wrapper. And one of the corners fell out.

Much poking and cussing later the part was formed and once trimmed, fitted to the locomotive. I'm now using 100 degree solder as the thought of melting any of the joints doesn't bear thinking about. The results look OK. Not as curvy as I'd like but there isn't enough meat to grasp for filing. Even the small amount I carred out caused a ripple in the top which has had to be filed away.

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