When I was a child and had a train set my Dad gave me these three coaches. They were gifted to him by a man named Dick Yeo, who had exhibition layouts. They are kit built coaches and we believe them to be based on London Transport stock.
However, I never had a suitable locomotive to pull them.
London Transport brought nineteen Pannier Tanks from British Rail as they were withdrawn from service for pulling engineering trains and such. Although not exactly prototypical, I always wanted one to pull these coaches.
The Hornby London Transport liveried Pannier was bright red and not really accurate. So 15 year old me (12 years ago, that’s frightening!) rescued a GWR one in really bad shape from a swap meet.
The locomotive was one of those projects that just wanted to work against me. The paint didn’t come out right and I just could not get the thing to run for more than a couple of seconds.
It got put in a box and left for over ten years.
As my Dad has been progressing with his garden railway. I decided to pull the loco out of storage and get it going. I’d also decided to repaint it BR black. The BR black and end of steam era locos were apparently quite heavily weathered and neglected in real life, and weathering a locomotive isn’t something I’ve yet had the guts to do. I figured that this would be the perfect platform to start on as I’d already ruined it.
Being as we weren’t 100% sure if they were London Transport coaches, I also thought BR black would be a suitable colour. Early BR coaches were also a maroon colour, and I don’t believe it’s too much of a stretch of the imagination having a BR black loco pulling a LT suburban train. (though we’ll come to more artistic licencing later.)
First things first, we’ll need to remove the body and get the loco running. To remove the body of one of these early Pannier Tanks, you must first remove this screw in the left hand side of the body.
The front of the chassis will then be free to swing down. Guide the two pins holding the chassis to the body out to remove the chassis completely.
The chassis itself is quite a simple thing but will not work properly unless the electrical connections are clean and it’s lubricated. Start by adding a tiny drop of three in one oil to the bearings at either end of the motor, and to the worm gear, which will lubricate the gears and keep the loco running quiet.
The locomotive picks current up off of the track through the wheels. Firstly, make sure the wheels are clean and free of any grime or dirt. I personally use a bit of WD40’s electrical contact cleaner and a bit of J-cloth.
The current passes from the wheels to the motor via these little copper connections. Make sure they are in good condition, touching the wheels and clean where between where the copper and the wheels meet.
The current has to pass through wiring to the brushes which make contact with the armature of the motor, which causes it to spin.
On this particular motor they are towards the front and are held in place by two spring loaded arms. Again, clean where the brushes meet the armature. It’s amazing how much dirt can build up in such a small space!
I then tested it on my Dad’s oval test track and it worked! It just needed a proper clean!
It was then time to start the cosmetic transformation. One thing I did want to to do whilst the chassis was to hand was paint the centre of the wheels. On many of these older locomotives the axle is still visible. I decided to paint those in black. An easy, 5 second job which improves the look of the loco.
Now onto doing the body itself.
First I removed the original running numbers. I’d assumed that being as these are such a common loco, getting replacement numbers for it would be really easy. Sadly it wasn’t, but that’s no worries as it will give me an excuse to experiment with decal paper in the near future.
One thing I didn’t know about this body, is that the top section can be removed for easy access to the motor. It just pushes up and out which will make it so much easier to paint!
It also made stripping the upper section so much easier. You can push the whistles out from underneath to remove them, the chimney top just pulls off and the brass coloured safety valve cover can be worked out (which is a lot easier to do with the top of the body off!).
Then it began to fight me again. I put a coat of primer onto the model, left it to dry overnight and then put on a black top coat. It reacted! It bubbled up and cracked!
Thankfully with the help of some water, a little clean spirit and a wire brush most of it came off. Right back to the original GWR green. It wasn’t the best surface, but I used a little Halfords high build primer and reapplied the black.
It wasn’t by any means a concourse finish, or even anywhere near close, but it will be being weathered over, so it will do.
From here my first job was to add a little gold around where the numbers will go, and a BR early crest to break up the black a bit.
I also added some real coal to the bunker. Adding the real coal really helps the look of the model. It’ll be something I’ll be doing with my future steam locomotives for sure!
Weathering consisted of both washes and powders. I started with a white wash around the safety valves and whistles to represent limescale and other water stains. It was applied liberally, given how bad the paint job was, I wanted to get some heavy weathering effects on there.
The rest of the weathering was achieved using weathering pigments. I used European Dust by Mig Pigments for an all over dusty look with some heavy build up to the front of the body, an unknown dark brown to add some streaking and build up elsewhere and some Peco grey ash streaking back from the chimney and around the smoke box door.
Weathering is great for disguising imperfections, which on this model there were a lot of. It’s heavier than I would normally do, and I’m not 100% happy with it and feel I have a lot to learn when it comes to weathering heavily, but it’s the beginning of a journey, and I feel I want to document it.
You will also have noticed the little lamp on top of the loco. I spent more time than I would like to admit researching the placement of these and I found this handy guide.
It appears to match up, as this Pannier is displaying number 3 and is clearly carrying a cattle wagon.
Therefore I went for option number 2: a normal passenger train.
The loco was a pain in the bum, and it’s in no way perfect. But it was good to experiment with some heavy weathering and hopefully it will look ok pulling those coaches around the garden until another loco turns up.
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By Richard Francis