What’s on my worktable

Long time friend of Alton Model Railway Group and regular FebEx demonstrator Dave Cole talks us through what is currently on his worktable – an On30 D&RGW Rotary Snow Plough


My name is David Cole and I usually occupy a table at the FEBEX exhibitions giving a demonstration of scratch building locos, freight cars and structures using styrene and wood in On30 narrow gauge. The following article describes one of the many items I have been working on the last FEBEX exhibition, a D&RGW Rotary Snow Plough.

The Rotary Plough

The model has been constructed from plans in ‘Slim Gauge Cars’ plus photographs from the Narrow Gauge Pictorial Vol11 – D&RGW Work Equipment. This is a model that I have always wanted to build but was somewhat stumped by construction of the rotary wheel. Fortunately, I found an article in the ‘On30 Annual 2019’ where an MTH O scale model was used as the basis for conversion and decided this would be the way to go. So, a parcel soon arrived from the USA and I was ready to start work. On inspecting the model, I found it would be necessary to shorten the model, change the trucks to On30 units and move them forward on the model to match the plans. The body of the model would require Evergreen car siding and repositioning of the doors and windows. The conversion commenced by cutting the floor of the model to the new length and fitting new Grandt Line trucks into the new positions, some further work on the tracks would be required as the old units picked up power for the blades and lighting (more of that later).

The body of the model needed the door and window frames sanding flush to the body sides to allow the laminating of the new styrene sides. The new door and window positions were marked and cut out. The body was then overlaid with the car siding and plain styrene until the new sides matched the plans. To retain its strength, the model body-shell was not cut to length at this point. Laminated pieces of styrene were built up to form the door and window frames together with the inspection covers while continually comparing the model to the plans and photographs. Grandt Line NBW castings were installed and hand grabs were formed from 0.6mm wire. The roof received a covering of 0.020” styrene over the holes created when removing old incorrect details.

On checking the plough blades against the plans/photos I found they only needed minor modification and the addition of further details. Once all the side laminations were added it was time to cut the body to length and shape at the rear.  The rear inner wall was made and glued into the body shell to provide additional strength. One side of the model was painted grey to enable it to be compared to the photos and to see if any further work was needed.

The next problem was how to power the blades. The model had a circuit board and two internal lights plus a switch on the underside. As the new Grandt Line trucks have plastic wheels a new method of providing power was needed. I decided to fit a 9volt battery inside the model. After removing excess wiring and connecting the battery I found the light was on all the time and the switch only controlled the blades!

The Tender

This had to be scratch built from Styrene. On the original tender the frames and floor were both constructed from wood, this was reproduced on the model by the application of a razor saw to replicate the graining. A framework was made up for the shape of the tank prior to the application of the wrapper sheet which has embossed rivets. NBW casting were added to the frame and a flat piece of brass bar fitted as the draw bar. The wood housing on top of the tank to keep the coal dry will be added sing car siding and a water filler hatch needs to be either bought or made.

Water Car

In later years an auxiliary water car #W499 was added by adapting a tank car and a Bachman example has been purchased ready to be kit bashed to match the plans.

This is one of many models on the go currently including:

  • A Mason Bogie 2-8-6 DSP&P locomotive
  • A proposed EBT 2-10-2 locomotive
  • A D&RGW Piledriver OB
  • A D&RGW Derrick OP
  • A strange 2-2-0 Railcar
  • A heavy donkey engine moving flat car
  • A Jinty transport car for workers

All being equal the snow plough and some of the above models will be on display at FEBEX 2022, looking forward to seeing you there.

About the author

Dave Cole

I am 71 years old and have lived in Alton all my life; when I left school, I got an apprenticeship at my Father’s place of work in 1965 making artificial limbs.  I am still employed there 56 years later, now 2 days a week; but on furlough now, which gives me more time for scratch building and my allotment. As a child I had a Hornby O gauge clockwork train set but did not have an electric train until I started work, British steam era it was. I got a liking for American articulated locos a bit later, then while in AMRG got into American HO (Pine Bluffs). When Bachmann brought out On30 that was it! I have scratch built many examples of locos and rolling stock, many of you will have seen me giving demonstrations at FEBEX and Alton Limited exhibitions.