The Roco NS 500/600 class diesel shunter, being an English Electric locomotive, lends itself to conversion to the British Railways 350bhp 0-6-0 shunter built at Ashford in 1949 to a Bulleid design. They were put to work around the Southern Region and remained there until their withdrawal. The most notable features being the SR style electric headlights and the classic Bulleid boxpox wheels.
Being a glutton for punishment and maintaining my interest in the Southern Region I decided that it would be a good idea to have this version of the diesel shunter for a future British Southern Region HO layout. No narrow gauge here.
After checking photographs and drawings provided by Steph (head honcho of this website) it became apparent that the Roco model contains a few inaccuracies and these were corrected as the model underwent conversion (or a rebuild in some quarters) as shown here. Also referring articles originally published in Scale Model Trains and sucessor magazine Model Trains International, which is now available on The British 1:87 Scale Society website.
The photographs above show the original Roco model and two broadside views of the finished model next to the original model. It is apparent that two glaring errors are the dimensions of the roof panels over the engine compartments and the lack of louvres on these at cantrail height.
Work commenced on the body (the chassis being dealt with later) by removing the NS details. Being an earlier Roco model it also required the removal of the moulded handrails. Any holes being filled with sprue left over from plastic aircraft kits.
As we can see here the roof panel mouldings have been removed and saw cuts made to the correct dimensions ready to receive 0.5mm plasticard. Three layers of insulation tape, which incidentially provided the correct height of the replacement ribs, were used to protect the new panels whilst filing the new ribs to the correct level.
The radiator was removed and set aside for re-assembly later. The front of the body was filed to leave the two raised strips on the outer edges. Beading was added to the rear of the cab and louvres added to the corrected roof panels. The tool and battery box detail was filed flat and then scribed to reflect the revised panels. The model was painted grey to reveal any imperfections that may occured during modification. After correcting the aforementioned imperfections handrails were formed from 0.33mm brass wire and fitted to the body. This was then laid aside in order to commence work on the chassis..... aaargh!
After finding my marbles the chassis was disassembled carefully. The Roco wheels were disposed of however the gear, outside cranks and connecting rods were retained. One geared and two new wheelsets were made up using Alan Gibson Bulleid 4mm scale Merchant Navy trailing truck wheels, albeit underscale at 4' rather than 4' 6" this was a compromise I was prepared to make. These were mounted on new axles cut to the correct length from 2.0mm steel rod not forgetting to allow for the outside cranks. These were then fitted to the axles and quartered (a slow task) which were in turn installed in the chassis. The connecting rods were fitted and then the whole assembly tested to ensure that there were not any tight spots.
The photo here shows the Alan Gibson Bulleid wheels and SR style buffers on the finished model.
A new Mashima 14x24 motor and flywheel was installed. I did this by modifying the old Roco motor frame to make a new motor mount thereby retaining the original motor fixing point and worm centre. As can be seen the NS style shunters step situated on the running plate above the rear driving wheel were removed from the outside frames and the front buffer beam trimmed to the correct width. Alan Gibson 4mm scale SR style buffers were fitted along with coupling hooks and handrails. The bottom step of the cab steps were trimmed back to match the width of the remaining treads to bring them within the British loading gauge.
The body was painted using a Revell military green (SM363) and being slightly lighter it gives a used finish. Revell Lufthansa yellow (SM310) was used for the ends as it appears to my eyes a better match than those that are alledged to be accurate. Another good match which I have used on my Lima HO Southern Region class 33 (watch this space) is Polly Scale Reefer yellow. The decals are British 1:87 Scale Society wasp stripes and Fox Transfers emblems and numbers. The ensemble was sprayed with Testors Dullcote and the glazing added together with Weinert etched nickel silver windscreen wipers.
To complete the model I added twelve SR style electric headlamps made from plasticard fitted with 1.4mm MV lenses, electric cable conduit formed from brass wire, cut down staples for the twelve lamp irons (now we find the Southern didnīt use small numbers). Finally, weathering was applied.
A Lenz 'Gold Mini' decoder and Power One module are installed as standard together with Kadee couplers. The model runs very smoothly and having the Southern appetite whetted a stablemate is required. Perhaps a USATC 0-6-0T (madness) or the Maunsell 0-6-0 diesel shunter (straight jacket territory).
And finally, here are a couple of photographs of finished locomotive in service. Since completing this model my Roco NS 600 shunter used for the comparisons has received the engine compartment roof improvements described above and will be covered in due course. As they say - watch this space.