Building the front footplate
The next sub-assembly to build is the front footplate unit. We begin with finding all the etched parts for the platework, these form the saddle and the front dummy frames visible above the footplate. The component marked ‘A’ is the saddle and needs rolling to match the diameter on the smokebox.
The saddle is then folded up and the cross members that will support the footplate are soldered in. This was all straight forward and went together well. There are a few nuts to solder onto the cross members and a washer to build up the detail around the lifting hole in the dummy frames.
The next bit needed a little care and the boiler which I’d prepared earlier. The smoke box saddle has a rectangular frame (item marked A in the first photo) which needs rolling to the shape of the smoke box. I started it with the rolling bars but with it being a thin frame and quite small it would roll the centre bit but then just put a crease in near the edges. I wanted the edge of the saddle to fit close to the boiler I used a polished hammer and gently knocked the saddle into a curve at the edges.
The other bit to note about this frame is again there are two ways it can fit. It has etched slots in it for tabs on the footplate to go through and locate the boiler, So these need to line up with those on the boiler and there is a wide end (the one with the A on in the photo) and a narrow end.
How this fits on the boiler means that with the wide side to the rear then the saddle fits flush with the back of the smoke box. Judging as best I can from the photos this is the way it should be. If it’s the wide end to the front then there is a step between the saddle and the smoke box, so in the first photo I laid it out the wrong way, the wide end should be to the rear.
Another point to note is that to get the saddle to fit flush I had to remove some of the etched rivets on the rear of the smoke box.
Once that was sorted it was all soldered up including the side frames and half etched overlays. Whilst soldering it up I threaded a small steel rod through the front lifting holes in the frames, an attempt to keep everything square.
Note that the tabs at the side of the saddle are filed flush however the four main ones at the bottom of the saddle are left as these form locating lugs with the boiler.
The next stage is to fit the front footplate and buffer beam, the front footplate has the ends folded over and then is slotted into the frames before fitting the buffer beam, this will fit either way round so take care. On the loco I’m modelling the longer of the two drop brackets is on the left hand side. However I can’t guarantee this for every loco, so check your prototype photos carefully. In the instruction booklet it shows the long drop bracket on the righthand side of the coupling, so I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it already but check your prototype photos carefully.
We then turn to the top footplate which runs from the front of the tanks and down to lower footplate, this is a thinnish half etched sheet and the instructions recommend folding up some of the tabs around the saddle prior to removing it from the frame. It’s thin enough to bend by hand over a square edge.
Once folded up the footplate can be fitted to the frames, it slots in quite cleanly. On the underside of the footplate are a couple of location slots etched in to locate the footplate on the saddle cross members. It works well to locate the footplate but it does mean that the metal is “half” etched on both sides. So around the cross members the metal on the footplate is getting rather thin so take care when soldering. Apply gentle pressure when soldering it up to prevent ridges forming where the cross members are.
The next stage is fitting the front steps, again a little bit of folding and slotting into place. There is also all the webbing behind the step, each bit fits neatly bit but I decided to clean up the soldering after each one as I wasn’t sure that I could get in to clean up once the step and all the webs were fitted.
To complete the footplate running board there is a thin etch to form the sides of the dropping footplate which needs to be bent into an S shape to fit into place. This has various half edge slots to locate it on the main running board, however on the top running board by the S-shape it’s rather flat and square edged, where as further back along the footplate the edge is rolled over.
To replicate this rolled edge I used a polished bradawl at about a 45 angle to the footplate. This was gently rolled backwards and forwards along the footplate to roll the edge. I dare say a short length of polished 1/8″ silver steel will do the same job. The footplate is etched underneath to locate the side frame so the metal is getting quite thin around this area. Hopefully you can see the polished edge around the top of S-bend in this photo.
So this is the current state of the front footplate. All the main platework has been completed, just a lot of detailing to finish off, handrails, buffers, lubricators etc. That’ll be a later update.