Shiny domes and safety valve covers

Oooh… shiny! This is the dome belonging to SECR No. 592 on the Bluebell Railway….

…and this was the dome on my ageing GWR Buffalo class loco, painted brass on a whitemetal casting. Not a very favourable comparison, and my loco crews were in uproar.

It was time for drastic measures. The whitemetal dome was removed by drilling from underneath. The safety valve cover caused more trouble, and had to be sawn off and filed down.

I bought some brass castings from Alan Gibson…

…and polished them by hand, using progressively finer grades of wet and dry to get that shiny look (other methods are available). The mould lines can be tricky to get rid of, but as Gareth kindly pointed out, if you just keep at it they will eventually disappear.

So here is my “Buffalo” after a good clean and sporting her new fittings. She could do with a new chimney and various other mods, but for the time being I’m happy with this.

My 517 class loco got a similar treatment, although in this case the existing fittings were unpolished brass beneath the paint, and were fixed very firmly to the loco. So I had to rub down and polish the dome and safety valve “in situ”. A bit fiddly and not quite perfect, but at least I managed to avoid major damage to the paintwork.

So that’s it, the new fittings are in place and the footplate men are content again…

… and feeling slightly superior about the SECR’s approach to safety valve covers.


  1. Well it was certainly worth all that hard work Mikkel, those fittings have polished up a treat and look lovely.

  2. Hi Geoff, glad you think so. It adds a bit of extra "class" to the GWR livery, I think.

  3. Well worth the effort I think, nothing looks more like brass than brass. Copper chimney caps might prove to be more troublesome though...

  4. Hi Paul, yes the copper caps are a bit tricky. I'm working on one right now actually.Several failed attempts so far!

  5. It's often a chastening discovery that sometimes the prototype just isn't built that well! At least with our models, all can be "Sir Garnett"! The new domes look fantastic, well done for persevering :-) It looked like hard work removing that dome and safety valve cover.

  6. Hi Iain, yes it's interesting to see the gap between the boiler and safety valve "cover" on the Bluebell's 592. A relief for those of us who havd struggled with litle gaps under boiler fittings!

    It was a bit nerve-wracking to replace the dome and safety valve cover on my Buffalo class loco. I had promised myself to do a repaint if I scratched the paint too much, but I managed to avoid it.

  7. Nice work. Don't worry about any minor imperfections: the real things were made from sheet metal, and could easily acquire the odd dint - as your photo from the Bluebell Railway clearly shows!

  8. Thanks Simon, yes it's reassuring to look at those photos and realize that th prototype wasn't always perfect either - including gaps between boiler and fittings, although when scaled down they shouldn't show too much of course.


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