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 vales, 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.

7 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. grahammuz – A railway modeller with a keen insterest in all things Southern Railway especially the 1946 to 1949 period. I can often be seen on the exhibition circuit with my Layout Fisherton Sarum or assiting MIke Wild the Editor of Hornby Magazine with his layouts at shows. I am also long time member of the High Wycombe and District Model Railway Society
      grahammuz says:

      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.

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