Building and Alan Gibson 'Crab' 2-6-0 kit

For my next BR London Midland Region locomotive, following on from the 'Patriot', I've decided to build a more typical locomotive in the form of a 'Crab' 2-6-0. I saw 140 of the 245 locomotives so it was a clear favourite to build one.

The construction starts with the folding up of the ingenious jig which holds the footplate valances in place whilst the footplate sections are soldered in place.

This is the result of several hours work with the six sections of the footplate soldered in place. Once again the instructions were extremely poor, not helped by the etchings not having all the part numbers marked on.

I've deviated from the instructions by removing the jig at this stage as all it did was  to act as a heat sink for the soldering iron. The brass wires are temporary and are needed to hold the middle sections of the footplate apart at the correct distance.

As there was neither a boiler or firebox with this kit I had to make my own. As I dislike having to do heavy soldering, and because I've now built so much rolling stock in cardboard, I decided that the boiler was going to be made from card. I had a length of brass tube of the correct length but a few millimetres smaller in diamemeter which was used as a former.

 The method I adopted was to coat the tube with vaseline to stop any adhesive sticking to it and to make it easy to remove the brass tube from the finished card boiler. A strip of paper was then wrapped around the tube and glued in place where the ends overlapped. I then cut a length of very thin cardboard and rolled it around the tube several times to pre-form the curve. A smearing of contact adhesive was applied on the leading edge and the card rolled until the first revolution was made. This was then allowed to set. The next stage was to cover the inside of the remaining length of the card with a thin layer of two-part expoxy and roll the card several times around the tube. This will need to be done carefully to ensure the card is rolled exactly in line with the edge of the tube. When the adhesive starts to set I rolled several elastic bands around the card to hold the end in place. The tube has now probably got about 2 or 3 layers of card wrapped around it.

When the first stage has hardened I repeated the process, this time butting up and gluing  the next layer against the end of the previous one. The card had another thin layer of epoxy applied to it and was then rolled  and secured in place as described above. Once set the brass tube should be carefully remove from inside the card. There are now about 5 or 6 layers of card strengthened by epoxy and the boiler tube is almost as rigid as the brass one. To make it even firmer the card should be painted with some wood hardener (as used for petrifying rotten wood).

The 'Crab' has a Belpaire firebox with a profile as shown on the front of the cab. The firebox is also exactly the same width as the boiler so this has to be born in mind when fabricating the firebox.

I used a similar technique for making the firebox as I did on the 'Patriot' model, although the 'Crab' has a much more complex shape. An end profile were cut as accurately as I could from thin brass sheet. Next a firebox wrapper was cut to the correct width, but longer than will actually bee needed as it will be trimmed later. The wrapper was then carefully formed using screw driver shafts and finger pressure to the correct profile on one side and along the top of the firebox. It was then soldered to one of the end profiles with the wrapper being outside of the profile piece. Once secure the other side of the firebox was gradually formed to shape and soldered in place.

Then the front profile of the firebox was cut to shape, slightly bigger as this time it needs to overlap the edges of the wrapper because the front edges of the firebox are curved and will need to be filed to shape. There needs to be plenty of solder used inside the front former to allow this to be done. At the stage shown in the photo I have don't this yet.

The photo above shows the cab, firebox and boiler in their correct positions.