Thursday, 9 July 2020


Curved plastic roofs on carriages are a thing many modellers struggle with - especially their tendency to sag in the middle.

We've always got round this by making our carriages roofs as a composite structure with a flat ceiling at the bottom with ribs running along the length to help it keep its shape.

Then I fix a skin of styrene sheet over the top, gluing it along one edge first before rolling it over on it's back, forcing the styrene to bend to shape, and holding it down while the solvent cures on the opposite side.

As you can image, styrene sheet puts up quite a fight and doesn't give in to being forced into a curve like this, and I've recently been experimenting with ways to pre-curve it by heat treating it.

The ingredients for my most recent technique are a wooden rolling pin, lots of elastic bands and wooden stirrers.

The stirrers are the breakthrough here.

Without them the styrene bulges up in between the elastic bands, giving you a very lumpy profile.

The stirrers keeps it flat along both sides.

All you have to do is truss it up like I have in the picture and pass it through the steam from a boiling kettle for a few seconds, before letting it cool and removing the bands and sticks.

Although the styrene still does not match the radius of the carriage roof I'm confident there will be a lot less resistance when I come to fit it onto the ceiling frame.

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Big Bonnet

We're indulging in another little fantasy - well, in fact, quite a large fantasy - with our latest loco project.

Ever since we ran one of the giant Lyd2 Polish diesels from the WHHR as a guest loco on Bron Hebog  I've fancied having one of our own.

Following an offer to build a bespoke chassis for us I've gone ahead and bought one of the Worsley Works body kits.

I warned Himself that it wouldn't be wise to build it until we receive the chassis but, as usual, he can't resist tinkering so as much of the body as he dares is already made.

There are those that say these machines would be very unkind to the permanent way on the WHR mainline, and others who declare they won't fit.

I couldn't claim to know enough about either, but just as we run Russell on Dduallt even when it would never fit just because it's fun, so we will do so with this beast on Bron Hebog.

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Tree Max

Himself has been planting more trees around Bron Hebog and he swears these are going to be the last!

We're probably still nowhere near the actual amount of vertical foliage to be found around Beddgelert, but we don't want to hide the trains from view too much, and besides which he finds them really tedious to make.

Just like real trees you never actually notice them growing, it just sort of happens over time.

It's only when you look back at the layout as it was first exhibited at its full size that you realise how bare it used to look.

Friday, 3 July 2020

Tentative Tanks

James Spooner is definitely a back burner project just now - there’s no point trying to get ahead of the boys and girls at Blodge - but Himself was keen to see how much adaptation the tanks from the Backwoods kit would require?

His concern was mainly about length but comparisons with the plans for JS which have been published so far suggest all will be well.

Of course, like all our Fairlies, this is going to be a comprised model, trading true scale for something that looks like it has the right proprotions, because the Backwoods kit is based on Livintgston Thompson and the modern machines have rather bulked up. 

(Haven't we all?)

Not being brave enough to scratchbuild entire bodies - or mechanisms - it looks like this is a compromise we're going to have to live with for some time because I suspect the promised RTR Fairlie model from Kato / PECO will end up being Victorian size - and perhaps of no particular prototype like we're told the England will be.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Little Blue Guinea Pig

Himself and I are not known for being early adopters of new fangled technology, but we've finally caught up with everyone else in starting to glaze the spectacles in our locomotive cabs with Glue 'n Glaze.

Having never used it before Himself thought it wise to try it out on an old model where it wouldn't matter if he made a Horlicks of it.

Our old Chivers Britomart was the chosen guinea pig for this.

The results were encouraging and he's cracking on with the rest of the main running fleet.

There is a limit to the area the product can be used on and the biggest we've tried is the big plate-sized windows on Lyd.

It does seem to work better on whitemetal kits where the rim is quite deep, and for that reason we probably won't be able to do very delicate etched brass windows like those on the Fairlies or Garratts.

So far, so good, though.

Monday, 29 June 2020

Harnessing The Pony

Wasn't it marvellous to see Welsh Pony move for the first time in 80 years at the weekend!

As one of those who was a regular contributor to the fundraising effort over the last seven years I was delighted to see the dream I've had since childhood become reality.

Our Pony has been waiting patiently for the real one to catch up and now we can finally see how it's going to look Himself has begun adding some of the final details, such as the handrails on the tanks and the smokebox, and the blower pipe which runs along the clock side of the tank.

He's also stripped the locomotive so he can begin painting the frames black.

You may be wondering why you can't see any evidence of the worm gear or a motor?

That's because thanks to the unique (!) design of the 'unbuildable' Mercian kit the motor and worm are trapped inside the water tank!

While the real engine will be put through its paces in its deep brown running in colour ours will stay in primer until the final lined FR livery is applied, expected next year.

Oh well, we've waited long enough, a few more months won't hurt.

Saturday, 27 June 2020

King Of The Castle

The rebuild of Welsh Pony - being steamed for the first time in 80 years today - may have been protracted, but the build of our 2nd Conway Castle runs it pretty close!

The sticking point - excuse the pun - has been the lining.

Himself was never quite happy with the first effort but it's taken a number of years to summon the motivation to rip it off and have another go.

The complicating factor is that it's two thin lines together.

The solution he reached in the end was to begin with a thick line of cream / yellow - if you call 0.75mm thick? - and secure that with a coat of varnish.

Then on top of that he's laid a 0.35mm green line, all complicated by the need to form the 'whiskers' on the front and back.

I think it's looking rather good, and after many years on the back-burner it should be racing to completion now.