Workbench Witterings#13 Backdating Hornby Bulleid Merchant Navy to 21c11 General Steam Navigation as she was in January 1947

Following on from my previous Workbench Wittering posts where I have been forward dating Hornby Series One Merchant Navys #10 21c7 and #11 21c3 to their 1947 condition, as Hornby have so far only produced the very early ‘Widows peak’ style, this post is about how I have, this time, backdated a Hornby Series Two to create 21c11 General Steam Navigation (as I am part owner, Society Trustee and Director of the full size GSN locomotive owning company) as she was in service between January 1947 and September 1948.

21c11 General Steam Navigation in her 1947 condition at Bournemouth. Picture courtesy GSNLPS collection
The nearly finished 21c11 General Steam Navigation
Another view of the nearly finished 21c11

21c11 General Steam Navigation was the first of the Second Series of ten Merchant Navys and was introduced in December 1944, she differed from Series Ones by having a flat front cab rather the previous swept forwards style and,  unique to her, deeper bulbous front fairings between the cylinders and buffer beam. When introduced she had short smoke deflectors but was fitted with the now standard length deflectors in January 1947.

So far Hornby have only produced one Series Two version in the main range as R3861 35017 Belgium Marine, this represents her in post July 1954 condition with a modified wedge shaped cab, no front fairings and the safety valves resited to the later rear position over the firebox crown. One slight error with the Hornby Series Two model is the position of the Stones steam generator that they have modelled in the Series Three lower position (I assume to simply tooling options) that gave greater access  to it, rather than the position for the first 20 locomotives up behind cab side casing and beneath the cab floor. To create 21c11 for my chosen period I amended all these items and in addition I replaced the smoke deflectors with finer etched versions.

A deep breath and use of the razer saw
The cab takes shape
Trial fitting the cab to the body
The cab is glued in place and any gaps filled, the replacement Stones generator is also mounted under the floor at this foreground corner.

Replacing the cab is the biggest challenge for this conversion, I started by removing the body from the chassis removing the deflectors, safety valves, pipework and then removed the cab cutting the bottom edge level with the cab floor.
For the replacement cab I used as a starting point the Light Pacific Original Cab etch 4AGBWOC that is available from RT Models, the Merchant Navy Cab is longer,  so I extended the etch by soldering to it an additional strip of 15thou nickel silver cut to size including the cab roof rear overhang.
The cab was then shaped to match both drawings for the roof and the cab side curve allowing the rear turn-ins to be soldered in place.  At each stage it was tested to ensure a suitable fit against the loco body. The join being at the cab floor level also coincides with the position of the lower lining that will also aid concealing the joint along with a small amount of filler. Etched window frames, also from RT Models were fitted and I used some scrap etch to make representations of the cab roof lifting eyes.
To create the flat front of the cab I used Milliput filler to fill the gap between the cab and the casing, smoothing the front flat with a wet knife blade and using a small rat tail file created the shape of the front window.
A replacement white metal Stones steam generator also from RT Models , was added in the correct location under the rear corner of the cab floor on the driver’s side. Just like the Series One and Two prototypes it is virtually hidden but I know it is there.

Resiting the safety valves

I drilled three new holes for the three Hornby brass safety valves in the original as built forward location and filled the later rear position above the firebox crown with Milliput filler. I carefully filed this to the correct roof profile and scribed it to recreate the joint lines around the dome cover.
I also filled the front washout plug (as this was moved to be slightly offset from the boiler centre line when the safety valves were resited), and created a new washout plug position in its original position back on the boiler centre line, I started with a with a small drill and then elongated the hole slightly, a small amount of Milliput filler was pushed up from the inside and shaped to create a representation of the plug itself.

Creating the bulbous front fairings
The etched smoke deflectors are prepared, and include batons for the Devon Belle wing plates.

I created from scratch the uniquely deeper bulbous front fairings between the cylinders and buffer beam on 21c11, see the image left, I started by cutting some 15th brass sheet to an approximate developed shape, before bending to shape. For the spherical front I made a number of cuts in the brass to create ‘leaves’ to allow the approximate sphere to be folded up (think like creating a globe) before filling with solder and finally filing to shape. A piece of 0.4mm brass wire was soldered to the front edge and filled flat to create the beading.

Once again I have used etched smoke deflectors from RT Models and I show the preparation of these in my Workbench Witterings#11 21c7 post here. I replaced the lamp irons using ‘Bambi’ staples cut to length.

The base malachite green is applied from a rattle can
numbers and lining is applied taking care to get the lining parallel

The locomotive and tender bodies have been painted using aerosol paints, following masking the buffers and buffer beam with maskol, I started by giving a light dusting of Halfords etch primer before two thin top coats of Railmatch 1632 malachite green. The smoke deflectors are painted and lined separately to allow the body area behind the deflectors to be painted first.
Lining and numbers have been applied using HMRS Presfix transfers from sheet 10 (10a for the lines). Care is taken to ensure the horizontal yellow lines are level and parallel, I use a rule and a pair of dividers to ensure these are correct. Note how the application of the yellow lining appears to the eye to change the overall colour of the base malachite green. Once applied the transfers are sealed in place by spraying the bodies and deflectors with Railmatch 1408 Satin varnish.

A view of the completed 21c11 General Steam Navigation as she was from January 1947

The cab roof, casing ‘flat top’ and tender top were then brush painted matt black and the smoke box cowl given a satin finish as per the prototype. Etched nameplates from Fox Transfers are glued into place, as per my usual method of a tiny amount of super glue applied with a cocktail stick.  The wheels have been brush painted with Precision Paints P78 malachite.

The cab side and front windows have been cut to shape from 10 thou clear plastic and glued into place using a very small amount of Delux materials Glue ‘n’ Glaze as this dries very clear. The detail items removed from the body prior to the conversion, are refitted, such as some of the separate pipework fittings and the turned brass safety valves fixed into their new location. A replacement white metal smokebox dart from RT Models was fitted into place after I had glued into position the etched smokebox roundel, that is supplied along with the etched nameplates by Fox Transfers.
I have also replaced the supplied front steps with the excellent and stronger lost wax brass casting from RT Models but fitted other details from the supplied Hornby accessory pack such as cylinder drain pipes to complete the look .

Just a couple of little paint areas to touch up and some light weathering and she will be ready to add to my ever growing (no don’t ask how many…) fleet of Bulleid pacifics.

For more information on how to support or get involved with the project to restore the full size 2c11 / 35011 General Steam Navigation back to original condition complete with air smoothed casing and Bulleid’s unique chain driven valve gear check out the General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society website here.

25 thoughts on “Workbench Witterings#13 Backdating Hornby Bulleid Merchant Navy to 21c11 General Steam Navigation as she was in January 1947

  1. * white metal Stones steam generator also from RT Models *
    Lots of good stuff available from them. Was delivery prompt or did you have to wait a month, as their website warned?

    1. I order regularly from Robert at RT Models and have never had to wait too long, but please bear in mind he has a full time day job as well as the model side of things.

  2. I read your article on the SR Email Group website on replacing the cab on a West Country/BoB loco. In the third photo where you are removing the rear spectacle plates the backhead casting is shown laying on the work surface. How did you get the backhead out? Is it a separate piece held in place by friction or what? I have 2 of the RTmodels cab kits on the way and will be doing this project so knowing how to remove the backhead will help. Thanks

      1. Graham—thanks again fir that. Have you found a reliable way to remove just the yellow lettering when renumbering one of these?

      2. Hi Larry,

        My trusted method for both Hornby and Bachman is good quality enamel thinners applied via a cotton bud, left to soak for 5 mins and then gently rubbed off with the cotton bud. This should not remove base paint but will leave a shiny patch suitable for applying new decals too and I then seal and restore to the factory finish using Railmatch satin varnish.

    1. Graham—the tender I am working on for this model had British Railways on it so instead of wearing out my hands rubbing off all that lettering I decided to just strip it and repaint. Then I started looking at photos of your models posted on RMweb and noticed most had green on the outer side of the coal bunker but a couple did not. In looking at photos it appears this was true on the prototype and my Hornby Sir Archibald Sinclair does not have the green on the side of the coal bunker. I am changing this model to Winston Churchill and the B&W photo I have seen appears to not have the green on the coal bunker. Is there any info as to whether and/or when the coal bunker sid was painted green or black?

  3. Graham, have you missed these questions or just don’t know the answer? Also, I have been looking for a closeup photo of the cab roof lifting eyes but roof shots are rare and those,of the cab roof even rarer. Were these basically a metal strap mounded slightly in the center? Can’t tell,fro your photo above.

    1. Hi Larry,

      Sorry I had missed replying.
      There is no clear record of those that had green sides to the coal space, it only appears to be a small apparent random number of the first build that had green, with majority being black.

    2. The cab roof lifting points were a flat strip affixed at top and bottom with the middle part bent outwards to allow a small lifting hook underneath front the side.

  4. Graham—thanks as always for your reply and sorry to be a bother, but from over here in the US it is difficult to find anything on these locos. I am converting 21C159 to 21C151 and have a question about the cab window sashes. On the Hornby model the sashes are painted green not the tan/orange color of most of them. Was this an aberration or did Southern actually switch to painting the sashes green at some point? I don’t want to waste a bunch of time repainting them by hand if not necessary.

    1. Hi Larry,

      The light pacific cab window frame were gunmetal and painted.
      The Mechants 21c3 to 21c20 were wooden frames, usually unpainted, whilst the other 12 were also painted gunmetal.

  5. So painted gunmetal, interesting! So were they painted green to match the rest of the loco? And does that mean all the Hornby models having cab window sashes and frames painted to look like bare gunmetal are incorrect?

    1. My understanding was they were generally painted green, but without reference to individual loco photos at a particular time we can’t be certain.

  6. Before I hit the spray booth I want to confirm we are talking about the Bulleid Pacifics in the original malachite green paint before Nationalization. I ask because all of your light pacifics that I have seen photos of have the bronze colored sashes and frames same as on Hornby factory painted models. Thanks

    1. Yes I am referring to malachite Green. As always it is best to refer to prototype photos rather then other people’s models. My collection has been built over many years and some details possibly require updating.

  7. Your website and models have been an inspiration to me and your willingness to share your knowledge is greatly appreciated—Larry

Leave a Reply