Thursday, 14 December 2017

Carriage Progress

No visit to Himself's place is complete without popping into the study to inspect progress on the workbench.

Last time I observed further coats of red and ivory have been applied to the latest superbarn 118.

There's not much more painting required now but Himself has still to face his least favourite job which is fabricating and fitting the large handrails either side of the doors.

The pleasure at getting this carriage almost ready to join the fleet is tempered by the knowledge the carriage builders in Wales are already putting the next one - 120 - together.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Bells And Whistles

The latest FR magazine arrived through the letter box the other day which is always a good thing.

I was pleased to see it came with a new leaflet making an appeal for the funding to finish the restoration of Welsh Pony, which is something I called for on this blog a couple of months ago.

(Not that I'm taking any credit, I'm sure the wheels were in motion anyway.)

It was also making the case for cash to pay for all the bits to build the new James  Spooner, complete with ornate bells, without robbing the mortal remains of Earl of Merioneth as it goes into its enforced hibernation.

There was a statement in the leaflet that struck me as a little odd, though.

It explains, in not so many words, that the Earl is knackered and needs a new boiler, new tanks and new carrier frame.

Therefore, it says, it makes sense to use these new parts as the basis for a brand new locomotive.

How so?

I get that these parts are the basic ingredients of a Fairlie superstructure, but why does it 'make sense' to designate it as a new locomotive?

Why not consider it a rebuilding of the Earl, (in its existing shape, of course) in the best FR tradition?

It is the precise opposite of the logic of the Welsh Pony project.

With that engine requiring a new boiler and new frames critics have asked why not have left the original alone and called the new one Little Giant?

I can't help thinking that the James Spooner project only 'makes sense' if you start from the assumption that all Fairlies should be curvy and not angular like the dear old 'Square'.

That said, what does make sense about the appeal, and is the reason I endorse it, is that it will ensure that my favourite Fairlie will be kept intact and not suffer the indignity of Livingston Thompson, which was unceremoniously dumped, denuded of all its ancillaries, resting on a pair of slate wagons for a decade and a half before it was done up for display.

I know there are many of us who are determined 'the mighty square' will return to action one day, and your support of this appeal will make that more likely.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

First Two Sides

I can't remember the last time I had a midweek day off to myself, but my employer insists on a use-it-or-lose-it policy on annual leave so who am I to argue if I've got a few days to use up before the end of the year?

A whole day to yourself - or at least the bit in the middle when the kids are at school - is the ideal time to tackle a job like making the first layer of a carriage side out of styrene because it's not the sort of task you can stop half way through.

It took me longer than I would have liked to make the first side because I reckon it's at least a year and a half since I last did this, when I was making the masters for the observation car 150.

The second one was a lot easier once I'd rediscovered the knack and probably took less than an hour.

In case you're wondering why the cant rail is extended at each side, or where the doors are, it is because the larger WHR carriage design has entrance vestibules which are inset much more so than on the FR's superbarns and they will be made up as separate parts to be joined to it further on down the line.

The next stage is to add the second layer of beading detail, but for the moment they are being stored nice and flat in traditional photo album until I have a few hours free again.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Spoiler Alert!

So it turns out our Lilla is indeed going to be finished in black.

I popped over to Himself's place at the weekend to discover that he'd grown impatient waiting for a response from me (it appears he was expecting this almost instantly) and has given it a first coat of gloss and matt black.

He's grumbling a little about the time it is taking to dry and wondering whether this is something to do with the 3D material, but this seems a little odd to me given than it was primed first.

He's also decided that we're going to do it in fully lined Penrhyn livery, which is just as well seeing how he's the one who's going to have to do it.

In my role as arbiter-in-chief of colours I helped him sort through his vast collection of part-used packs of Fox Transfers sheets to find out what he needed to order and left him to it.

This could well be a three pairs of glasses job!

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

In Reverse Order

The first bit of work on our next WHR carriage - the latest 3rd class saloon 2047 - are the parts which I would usually leave until towards the end of the build.

I've cast the seat and table units for the interior using a mould I developed for the previous carriage, 2046, which is something I hit upon when I was making a job lot of FR Superbarns.

The reason I've begun with the inside rather than the body sides is that I was waiting for Himself to bring over the model of 2046 so that I could remind myself how I built these WHR carriages.

All that needs to happen with these castings is for the table tops to be glued onto the uprights and then they'll be put to one side until I've got the body shell ready to receive them.

You can also see at the top of the image that I've also cast the detailing covers for the bogies.

These slip over a pair of the SAR diamond frame bogie etches I use in my wagon kits but these castings are adapted to represent the extra suspension and the roller bearings which are now standard on the WHR carriage fleet.

I can't make the bogies up just yet because I'm waiting on a new delivery of bearing cups and wheels.

Monday, 4 December 2017

I See A Red Engine And I Want To Paint It Black?

With apologies to Sir Mick and Keith, but it appears I have a decision to make with regards to our Lilla.

Himself has been adding a few brass embellishments to the 3D printed Robex body, such as the handrails and whatever it is on top of the dome.

(UPDATE: since this was posted a reader has got in touch to tell me it is a regulator lubrication valve. Every day's a school day.)

I get the impression he finds working with this inherently brittle material rather stressful compared to brass or white metal.

(His last email to me began with the words 'before I wreck it completely....')

Those of you who are familiar with the Minitrains chassis which is used on this kit will notice what a good job he's done reshaping the fly cranks so they no longer have the big counter weight on them.

He has also made use of a handy etched fret from RT Models to replace the slidebars and the original, and rather chunky, couplings have been changed as well for brass ones.

So now he's asking me about my preferences for painting it?

It seems to me we have three choices,

For a while on the FR it ran it plain black livery.

(I'm sure he'd be delighted if we plumped for that.)

Then for a long while it was in lined out Penrhyn Quarry Railway livery, and last winter it emerged from Boston Lodge in the rather natty Cilgwyn green.

What do you all reckon?

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Square Go

I had a trip down memory lane a couple of weeks ago when a friend revealed he is planning to make a model of Earl of Merioneth aka  'The Mighty Square' using one of the Langley white metal kits as the starting point.

I told him that this was how Himself built the first of our models of it around 25 years ago, so I thought it might be nice to dig it out for another look.

The key to our model was that we used as much of the Langley kit as we could as a solid base to build up the magnificently modernist (and under-appreciated) superstructure of the Earl.

So beneath those iconic side tanks, which were cut out of styrene, is the outline of a curvy Spooner Fairlie.

One of the things that made this a 'no brainer' is that the Earl's tanks are flush with the bottom of the superstructure whereas the traditional design has a lip which makes provides a very secure footing for the overlays.

We also filed down and reshaped the one-piece casting for the cab roof and cut a hole for the luxury sunroof.

For the very plain D shape smokeboxes and the chimneys we obtained examples of the white metal castings from the Dundas kit for Linda and Blanche.

All these pearls of wisdom were duly passed onto my friend who is blogging about the progress on his own model.

My reward for all this assistance was the publishing of a scurrilous slur which suggested that this faithful old model was withdrawn from service and replaced another built using a Backwoods kit because it was unreliable!

I feel compelled to set the record straight and state very clearly that this model, powered by an adapted Bachmann chassis, was epitome of reliability.

Let there be no doubt that the primary motivation for the construction of a second Earl was the absurdly small wheels on the old diesel chassis.

To even suggest that Himself would accept an unreliable locomotive is tantamount to a defamation or the worst kind.

So there!