So last night, after some burning of midnight oil over the last 3 weeks, I completed the Hudson Hunslet.
The last week has been painting and weathering - which I'll come back to in another post. The blue came out a little darker than I expected, but looks good, and I'm happy the loco is recognisable as the unique Thakeham example!
The layout was of course completed years ago, but I have still made some minor changes. For example the old man walking his dog didn't really seem to look at home, and in dark clothes was easy to miss. I've since found this plastic figure, which I've painted up in brighter colours and equipped with a dog lead (brown paper!), I think she looks much more natural.
I also wasn't really happy with the the tree at the front of the layout - a home-made effort, the shape of the trunk wasn't right. For speed, and frankly because it looked better than any I've made, I bought one at the Uckfield show to take centre-stage. My tree was moved in front of the engine shed, where it seemed more at home, and the weedy trunk and branches less obvious. While at it I've improved a few bushes and added some grass tufts.
While building the loco I carried out some clearance tests - fortunately the cab missed the bridge handrails (not by much), and fitted the buildings. Some plastic was removed from the tipping mechanism, but the main issue was the long overhang of the cab meant the wagons stopped short of the tipping dock. So the track needed extending about an inch. The rails were unsoldered to slew them parallel to the "wing" of the layout, the last sleeper removed, and a piece of copper-clad inserted extending all the way to the end of the new additional length. I've soldered rails on too, though I'm not sure they are needed - it's the overhang that's the issue. A new and more substantial buffer stop was soldered up and a foam block protects the loco. The copper-clad track is self-supporting but I added a block of wood to protect it.
I've even made a few extra sand "loads" for the wagons, and adjusted the collecting bin for them. So other than a few last-minute checks and packing up, I'm ready for EXPO-NG tomorrow. If you're there do say hello, you'll find me opposite Narrow Planet, just round to the left as you enter the hall.