BR Class 14

building the Dave Alexander kit

by Simon Dunstall

The Dave Alexander kit for the BR Class 14 shunter (D95xx, or 'Teddy Bear') comes with bonnets, cab, footplate and fittings in whitemetal. The chassis is etched nickel silver, as are the coupling rods. The kit also contains some screws, wire and instructions. Apart from the ordinary additional loco building materials such as brass rod and strip, the motor, wheels and gearbox need to be obtained separately. Alan Gibson makes correct pattern wheels for the class 14 – these are 3'11" diameter and have a large cast-in balance weight.

As a rule, do not rely on the positions or sizes of the location pips, guides and bars cast into the parts on the kit. This is especially true of the footplate casting, where they are asymetrically placed, not parallel and not spaced correctly. These guides must be removed before assembly starts.

Some parts of this kit offer the challenge of doing some extensive modifications. The cabsides are not good representations of the prototype; the doors are inset far too much and the windows are the wrong shape. I cut out the cast window bars, re-shaped the window and built the outer window frame from brass rod. I also cut out most of the metal in the door and built new doors out of 0.030" styrene.

I found it best to fit the roof to the cab fairly early-on in the piece. I needed to do a lot of filling in order to get a good fit here, and so new rainstrips were required (0.012" brass rod). No cab interior was provided in the kit: this can be built up in styrene. (A useful photo of a Class 14 cab appeared in an issue of Railway Magazine.)

The bonnet castings are okay, but like some of the other castings needed a fair bit of cleaning up. I added latches, for the lids of the toolboxes, on the sides of the shorter bonnet. These were made up from thin brass wire and some round rod ground square. Lifting rings need to be added to the bonnet tops. The best way to make the lifting rings is to wrap some small diameter wire around a small drill bit – lay the wire over the drill bit, twist the ends of the wire together to make the shaft of the ring, and then apply solder. I decided to file off the handrail stubs in the bonnet-top castings and replace them with 0.020" brass rod soldered into holes drilled into the bonnet. I used 0.040" wide brass strip for handrail itself.

Some photos show lamp brackets in the centre of the handrail at the bonnet ends. My best guess is that this is a feature only on preserved examples. The top of the exhaust stack benefits from being filed flat and then having a new hatch and exhaust port added.

The four footplate steps located at the corners of the loco are too narrow. If fitted as intended, the sides of the footsteps are too far from the end of the fuel tanks and toolboxes that are mounted alongside the bonnet. This gives a very noticeable inaccuracy, because the handrails for these footsteps turn 90 degrees and secure into these tanks and boxes. So, I needed to get the footstep edges and the tanks and boxes closer together. I decided that it was easiest to lengthen the tanks and boxes, so that their ends would be roughly in the right place with respect to the steps. This course of action obviously makes the tanks and boxes longer than they should be, but overall there is a significant net gain in appearance. Note that the slots for the steps, in the footplate, are not well shaped and need a bit of careful work in opening and closing gaps.

I decided that the buffers were too difficult to spring, and that suitable sprung replacements were not available, so I fitted those as they were supplied. However, I'm now considering whether I can use some K&S metric-series tubing could be used to spring the buffers...

I scrapped my first attempt at the chassis, for various reasons mostly of my own making. I will point out, however, that I suspect that the axle holes were etched about 1mm too low.

Note also that the jackshaft cranks have a throw which does not match that of the correct Alan Gibson 3'11" drivers. I obtained a spare pair of drivers, filled them using a styrene-based car body filler so that I got plain discs, and then cut out the crank shape – despite the basic nature of this idea, it worked well and the loco runs around quite nicely.

The second attempt at the chassis was more successful. The frame spacing on an 14 is reduced due to the outside springs: I used 12.2mm spacers in P4. A Mashima 1624 flatcan is used to drive a Branchlines 38:1 Midline gearbox via a NorthWest Shortline double universal joint. It is the jackshaft which is driven, and the driveline is angled up into the long bonnet. For simplicity, I chose to keep one of the driving axles fixed and gave the other pair twin-beam suspension where the beam is of springy 0.020" music wire. The non-fixed axles use MJT hornblocks.

Sideplay decisions are constrained by the need to avoid clonking the outside springs. If you think you will be driving a P4 Class 14 over some radii tighter than that posed by a B8 turnout, I recommend that you use frame-spacers of about 12mm or less.

A photo of the body for the Dave Alexander Class 14. This shows the modifications to the cabside: the new rainstrips (brass), short bonnet door details (plastic) and handrails (brass strip and rod). The extensions of the toolbox and fuel tanks (on the sides of the bonnets) can just be made out – brass inserts have been soldered to the castings, placed next to the cab. The bits of black are remains of self-etch primer that was sprayed under the wrong conditions and had to be stripped off.

© Simon Dunstall

December 1998
updated March 2002