Sunday, 22 July 2012

A Fourth Fairlie

I've finally got around to doing something about another long-time modelling ambition - a model of Livingston Thompson 1980's style.

Photo taken by the late John Halsall, courtesy of FR Society

This is the FR's fourth Fairlie that currently lives in the National Railway Museum at York, looking rather smarter than she does in the picture above, although that's how I'm going to model her.
First, a quick history lesson for those who don't know the background to this locomotive. (Those that do can skip on a few paragraphs if they wish..)

Livingston Thompson (or LT for short) was one of two Boston Lodge built Double Fairlies which survived the FR closure and was restored to steam in 1956, but by that time called Taliesin. (The same name the Single Fairlie carried. Confused yet? You will be....)

In 1961 it was renamed (again) Earl of Merioneth before being retired for good in 1971. A rebellion by FR staff and volunteers - the so-called Active Forty - headed off a plan to give the old girl a radical rebuild with a new parallel double boiler, and the (new) Earl of Merioneth we know and love (or perhaps even loath) was built to replace it and had its debut in 1979.

The old superstructure, ex-LT, ex-Taliesin & ex-Earl was stripped of any useful bits (like bogies) and placed in store until finally in 1986 it was placed on ambulance bogies and dragged up the line to Glan-y-Pwll by a gang who called themselves the Active Four.

Eventually a plan was hatched for a proper cosmetic restoration, the corpse was dragged back down the line again, got taken away to Winson Engineering where it was buffed up, plonked on a pair of withdrawn bogies and handed over the NRM for display, having been pulled halfway up the line yet again for a ceremony at Tan y Bwlch.

Photo - Roger Dimmick

(Here's where FR anoraks who knew all that can start reading again!)

I've always been fascinated by this loco, I think because I am too young to have seen it in steam.  I remember seeing a picture in the FR society magazine in the early 1980's showing the superstructure resting on a couple of slate wagons in a shed in Minffordd Yard, apparently unloved and forgotten about.

I've only ever seen it in its embalmed state when it came back to the FR for a visit a few years ago and got a really close look when we exhibited Dduallt directly in front of it as the centrepiece of the Warley show at the NEC.

Knowing that it had been towed at least twice around the spiral I have for years wanted to make a model of it like this to drag around on Dduallt behind our Earl of Merioneth. The difficulty has always been finding a kit to essentially ruin for the purpose. A Backwoods Miniatures one is quite obviously far too valuable to vandalise in this way, and even the old Langley whitemetal ones retail for a small fortune (for what they are).

So I was very grateful indeed when FR shop manager, in-house film maker, 009 modeller and 'Isle of Stoner' blogger John Wooden offered to give me one he had (with a few bits missing) for free.

Here it is with the main bits laid out. LT was stripped of a lot of its fittings before its lost decade and a half in Minffordd Yard, but happily all the big bits that remained on LT are there in the kit.

The big challenge on this project, aside from cleaning up and straightening out some of the shockingly rough castings, will be the scrapyard-style weathering job to be done on it. I hope it'll be an interesting one to watch.

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