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Sunday 2 July 2023

Railway Ballast Cleaning Train - Part 1

Little Bro' kindly gifted me a Hornby T9 no. 30313. This is a loco I always fancied but had not got around to obtaining. I had in the back of my mind for some time making up the ballast cleaning train that I saw in 'Southern Steam from Lineside' page 69. The photo portrayed the train as (in order) T9 30729, 20T grampus wagon, ex-SE&CR 'birdcage' BCL or BT staff coach (have not worked out which yet), A Matisa 3B5 (or variant) ballast cleaning machine with separate electric power generator wagon, another grampus and a 20T brake van. A close up view of the same train (front end only) appears in 'Southern Steam in Action 1' page 36. Matisa, a Swiss company, supplied the 3B5 to British Railways in the 1950s and it remained in service into the 1960s.

Watch it in action at YouTube.

I already have a brake van. I have ordered two Dapol unpainted Grampus wagons that I'll paint rusty black. I'll purchase the coach later. However, its livery for departmental use was likely a dark green. R.T.R. model coaches do not depict this. The ballast cleaning machine is a very complex piece of kit that is not available in model form from the trade. I'll need to make one which, is the subject of this posting series.

After much research on the web I have gathered a number of photos to work from. (Example:  http://www.leedsmrs.org/jpegs/Gallery/AlanSmith/P/Ponteland%20plant%20exhib%20Matisa%20Ballast%20Cleaner%201961.jpg). Being photographed on a track bed allowed the track sleeper pitch of about 2.5 feet to be used for scaling purposes. However, the 'jumble' of machine parts are in an open frame making it difficult to understand function and form. Therefore, my model cannot be accurate to prototype, it being just an interpretation.

Having made rolling stock before I always start with the wheel bogies (or underframe for fixed wheel sets). The bogies were designed in 3D CAD and 3D Printed (FDM) in three parts that were glued together. The coupling is by Hornby and wheel sets are from my spares box. For wheel bearings I found some electronics, brass terminal posts in my spares box that have mounting cylinder posts just about the right size. These were cut off and pressed into the side frames.

Wheel Bearings

To Part 2

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