Mike Trice's 4mm Workbench

Mike Trice

Western Thunderer
I thought it about time I posted something on here showing what I am up to. I don't tend to model very often being involved in prototype research and occasionally producing artwork for the full size railway.

In the past my modelling projects have been described in detail on RMWeb and include the following:

1. Reproducing a Stirling Single from a Bachmann "Emily" from their Thomas the Tank Engine series. Typically this was before Locomotion announced their model:

2. Extensively rebuilding the Rails LNER Dynamometer Car to 1938 condition correcting a large number of issues with the model: IMG_7656.JPG

3. Playing around trying to improve the original Bachmann Thompson Coaches:

4. For a while I have been producing 3D printed detailing parts which are available via Shapeways. This is one of my GNR Carriage models completed:

5. I also own an Anycubic Photon 3D printer which I use to develop parts for my own use. This one was a free download from Thingiverse that I could not resist:

6. Some railway related mouldings produced on the Photon:

The effort I had to expend correcting the Dynamometer Car and the ever escalating cost of modern RTR has led me to change my philosophy going forward to become more self sufficient relying more on components I can produce on the Photon such as the V2 body posted on a previous thread:
I did this more as a challenge to see if I could.

So having set the scene I will move on to something more worthy of WT.

Mike Trice

Western Thunderer
My first love are LNER/GNR Teak Carriages. Some of you might be aware that many years ago I designed and put into production the MJT range of etched Gresley kits now available through Dart Castings. When we sold the business a few were put aside for my retirement and after 4 years none of them have been built.

So for something different I thought I would try using some Comet Models Gresley Sides with new body, roof and ends.

One early question I had for WT folks was a recommendation for what solder they recommended as I was experiencing problems soldering with my usual one. Armed with their recommendation for 145 degrees I commenced joining the two halves of the etched side by tinning the join, holding in place with specially shaped wooden clothes pegs and sweating them together. The new solder worked a treat so thank you for the tip.

I noticed some etching errors in one of the set of sides:

They really should have gone back to the supplier but WT readers are made of sterner stuff and I though I would attempt a repair as seen in many of the other threads. So suitably inspired I took some 0.45mm brass wire, softened it in a gas flame torch then flattened it with a hammer:
Small sections were carefully soldered into the gaps:

After clean up they look OK I reckon so I have WT to thank for providing the confidence to have a go:


Western Thunderer
3D printing, especially for coach components, always grabs my attention! I wish I could get GWR "Collett/Hawksworth" pressed-steel bogies complete with all the stepboards. (I could if Hornby would sell theirs as spares).

Mike Trice

Western Thunderer
The way that Comet reproduce the three level panelling on thier coach sides means there is no "crease" for the door opening on the lower panels. These were scribed on carefully using a small engineer's square:

A permanent marker was used to provide a background against which I could determine the centres of the door hinges. These were scribed using a pair of dividers from the bottom edge at 3mm, 12mm and 22.5mm:
The scribed positions were centre popped and drilled 0.5mm ready to receive some Frogmore etched hinges (currently on order from Dart).

I had great difficulty finding a pin vice that would actually go down to 0.5mm and even resorted to two pairs of pliers to get it to grip the drill sufficient for hand drilling (recommendations for a decent set of pin vices that can go down to 0.0mm welcome). Whilst drilling the hinge positions I have also drilled for the door handle and grab handles. I am going to pass on the door stops at the moment. Fortunately for this particular prototype there are only 4 doors to drill:

Dave Holt

Western Thunderer
I find that the normal, small pin vices (originally made by Eclipse, I think, but now no doubt made in China), which I buy from Eileen's, will close down to zero when new but gradually lose the sharp inner corners so that, after a while, will only grip down to about 0.5 mm. In view of this, I try to be disciplined and keep one new item specifically for the smallest drill bits, although I find 0.35 mm to be about the practical limit. Smaller than that just seem to snap on first use, or perhaps that's just me.


Western Thunderer
Mike / Dave,
I tend to buy 2.3mm shank drills for these smaller sizes. Since different diameters of drill all share the same shank diameter, it means they can all be gripped in the same chuck / collet. They are a bit more expensive to buy as individual bits but I fondly imagine them to be less prone to breakage - if only because I take more care because they are a bit more expensive ...

As an alternative, you can buy them in sets of solid carbide at unbelievably low prices - though of course the same ones get broken from each set you buy. They are more brittle, but will cut anything! Given a steady hand, you can use them in a mini drill - much faster than hand-winding...

Millions of suppliers - first web link -
PCB Drill bit set 0.1 - 1.0mm ( 10 pieces ) | 3D printing experts | reprapworld.co.uk


Mike Trice

Western Thunderer
In addition to a set of PCB drills I have also ordered a set of 3 0.5mm Proxxon drill bits with the 2.35mm shank. I am assuming that the larger diameter shank will improve adhesion within a collet.


Western Thunderer
I rather agree Michael - though I find I can manage with them in a mini-drill (with appropriate care) as the high speed means that very little pressure is needed. But trying to use them in a pin chuck is asking for breakage.

Perhaps also mentioning that worst of all are the very cheap drill presses from the likes of B&Q - there is just too much slop in the quill.


Mike Trice

Western Thunderer
The turnunder was formed around a length of 22mm copper pipe. The half etched lower panel is easy to form using finger pressure and is a good test for my soldered joint along the waist:

A piece of K&S 1/64 x 3/32 is soldered along the top edge to act as a reinforcement and provide a gluing platform for the roof: IMG_1799.JPG

Frogmore hinges were pushed through the previously drilled holes and soldered from the rear: IMG_1802.JPG

The Frogmore etch includes two sizes of hinge, a longer one for the lower hinges: IMG_1805.JPG

Unfortunately the lower hinge should be angled so it does not lie on the turnunder. Shame they did not realise. At present the hinges are different lengths: IMG_1807.JPG

Modified pegs are used to hold the droplights in place whilst they are soldered in position: IMG_1809.JPG

Here the hinges have been filed so all three form a straight line. The angle of the lower hinge is not so evident: IMG_1810.JPG

And after initial clean up. Only obvious in the enlarged photograph I still need to do further cleanup around the lower hinge: IMG_1814.JPG


Western Thunderer
Hi Mike,
Very nice build. I've never built a coach but I do enjoy reading the builds of those who do, especially the good ones.

I like the use of the modified peg and will bear that in mind for future use. Did you know you can get mini pegs in Hobbycraft? They are about 3/4" long and I bought a bag full after seeing them and thinking they might come in. Not used them yet but my brother has pinched one of two for use on his builds.

As to cleaning up, we all need to stop taking close ups of our models. After all, the "tinned" layer around the window frame and on the beading by the middle hinged won't have any negative impact on the painting and won't show. Its debatable whether the excess on the bottom hinge would show either when painted and looked at with the naked eye. However, like you I would remove it as well.


Western Thunderer
Mike, might I suggest you solder the "gluing platform" along the top of the side from the top and not underneath. Surplus solder is easy to remove from the top whereas excess solder under the platform atop the windows could get in the way of the glazing and prevent it from lying flat.

Mike Trice

Western Thunderer
Mike, might I suggest you solder the "gluing platform" along the top of the side from the top and not underneath. Surplus solder is easy to remove from the top whereas excess solder under the platform atop the windows could get in the way of the glazing and prevent it from lying flat.
Fair point that I had not considered. Thanks.

Mike Trice

Western Thunderer
Time to pick some brains. For the floorpan I need to fold the two sides through 90 degrees hopefully keeping the main unit flat and true.

As a first step I think I will do additional scoring along the etched fold line.

Given a choice of clamping along the middle and folding over the edge, or clamping the edge and folding over the middle I think the latter will be the better option.

I am thinking of getting two pieces of 2*1" timber screwed together to clamp the outer edge to fold against. This means I can clamp the brass along the whole length using the screws. I will probably need to add a spacer between the timber pieces to keep them parallel. The bend will be formed by pressing the middle against the worktable.

Does that sound a sensible approach?



Western Thunderer
Score the grove to assist bending, as you said. Then I would simply get the long nose pliers on the fold up part and bent it up lengths at a time. It's only there to firm-up the 12 thou floor, so tidiness isn't important.

To be honest, I break fold up sides off floors when they are on other manufacturers kits.