Friday, 29 April 2016

Empty Vessel

It's unusual for me to build a carriage without an interior, but, of course the whole point of the Disco Car was that all the furniture was stripped out to make way for the 'dance floor'.

You might think this would be to my advantage - there's less to make - and in that respect you're correct.

However the interiors of our carriages have a structural function as well.

We generally try not to glue our glazing in place but have it floating free, trapped between the inside of the body shell and the outside edges of the seats and tables etc.

I make them to be a neat fit. Sometimes too neat so that when a layer of paint is applied they no longer fit and the sandpaper has to come out!

It also helps to ensure that the bodyside stays straight and does not bend inwards over time.

So what am I going to do on 121 where there is no furniture to hold the glazing in place?

Well, I've come up with this.

They are lengths of L dimension strip glued along the edges of the floor with just enough of a gap - I hope - that they will trap the glazing firmly and help to make the body shell more robust.

I don't believe they will be too obtrusive and in any case I recall that there was a skirt which ran along the edge of each side of the floor in the saloon anyway.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

The Disco Car Rides Again!

It's a long way from being finished but I couldn't resist posing 121 for a sort of pre-works portrait the other night when I mounted it on its bogies and placed it on a length of track for the first time.

Seeing it on wheels feels like a significant step, and I suppose it is, but it's just displacement activity for all the foutery little jobs that have still got to be done.

Jobs like bending and fitting the vacuum pipes. The handrails. The bits and pieces that hang from under the frame.

And most fiddly of all, cutting the glazing.

Now this is going to be the job from Hell because the client would like to have some of the sliding windows in the open position, or at least the appearance of that. (The party-goers got rather sweaty back in the day, apparently, so maximum ventilation was required.)

Cutting perspex sheet neatly and without scratching the surface is a horrible job at the best of times because it's very tough to slice through compared to normal styrene.

Doing so with the accuracy required to line up with the tiny window pillars on this carriage is going to be an absolute swine of a job!

I'm thinking that I might try to make templates from thin styrene to begin with.  Not only will it be easier to cut but it is also much simpler to mark it out so you know where the holes have got to be.

No wonder I'm finding other jobs to be getting on with in the meantime... 

Monday, 25 April 2016

An Open And Shut Case

Another small job I got done this weekend - because I'm not getting much time to do any big ones, frankly - was to fit the corridor connections onto the Disco Car.

The bottom end - that's the end pointing away from Blaenau - is being modelled in the open position as if it had the rest of the train behind it.

Once upon a time I would have called this the Porthmadog end but since the advent on the WHR that's no longer the case, however I can't bring myself to refer to an FR carriage, especially one I'm building in pre-WHR days, as having a Caernarfon end.

At the other end - pointing to Blaenau - as the Disco Car was always the first corridor vehicle in the train this model is being made with them closed over.

I have also now got around to blanking off the right hand window at the top end.

This was a modification done when the carriage was fitted with gas heating when the INCa push pull train was being put together at the very end of the 1980's.

The heating equipment was hidden in a compartment taking up part of the first window bay at the top end on the clock side of the carriage.

I don't know why the window in the end was covered over at this point. Was it purely aesthetic or was there was functional reason why?

Maybe one of our readers knows?

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Make The Connection

It's not been the most productive of weeks on the workbench.

I have succeeded in getting the domed ends of the roof on the Disco Car shaped and finished.

And last night, looking for something that I could achieve in short bursts of activity - not having the luxury of a solid block of time - I decided to make a start on the corridor connections.

It's not my favourite job, as I have written before, but at least this time there is a little variety because on of the end is to be modelled in the closed position.

As ever, we must take comfort from the small pleasures in life.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

The Inter-Valley 125

I wrote the other day that I'm developing a backlog of carriage projects and here's one of them, the FR's latest 'Service Car' 125.

Pic: Bruce Brayne

It made a public debut last weekend along with its running mate Observation Car 150.

(The pair have to go around together because 125 has the brake setter.)

This Super Barn Service Car is going to be a very interesting build because it includes a lot of new features.

Firstly, unlike the other Super Barns, it is single-ended by which mean that it only has the inset vestibule doorway at the Down end.

Not only is the up end full width it is also more traditional in not having windows on either side of the corridor connection.

The big windows are worthy of note. Some have sliding openings which meet in the middle while others do not.

Some are full height will others have a horizontal bar about a quarter of the way up (on the other side which you cannot see here.)

Some are clear and some have a mirrored finish. Some are blanked out in black or opaque.

In common with the other Service Cars the 'engine side' is quite literally that, because in the centre of the carriage is a compartment with a generator unit which is accessed through vented doors.

On this carriage, however, the upper louvres have been painted black rather than ivory. I'm guessing this is an attempt to camouflage them in the middle of a body side full of large windows?

The really interesting feature - and that's interesting as in the sense of a total pain in the posterior to model - is the central doorway on the 'clock side' as seen above.

Because this is recessed I would normally have to build the main body side as two pieces which are then spliced together with a doorway that is then attached behind.

One of the challenges in doing this is to ensure that it ends up precisely the same length as the other side which can be made as one piece.

There is, however, another complication which is the cant rail which runs all the way along the top.

In the light of this I am considering another solution where I would make a full body side as normal, but then chop out the lower solid section where the doorway is to go, leaving the two halves held together only by this thin strip of styrene along the top until I can glue the new doorway behind.

That way I wouldn't have to worry about whether the body side is the correct length although I would have to take care that it remains square and level and doesn't bend like a banana when the new section is bonded in place.

The boys at Boston Lodge never make it easy, do they!

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Disco Domes

One of the design features which I think has always made the FR 'tin cars' easy on the eye is that they have very few hard edges.

Look closely at one of the carriages and you'll see it is softly rounded, from the windows to the thick pillars at each end and, of course, there's the trademark domes at the end of the roofs.

I've always thought they had a look of the BR MkII about them. Perhaps it was even a design influence?

To me it is recreating these soft edges which is the key to a convincing model of a tin car which I've noticed is sometimes overlooked on other models I've seen in both etched brass and 3D print.

So, as promised, a little detail on how we go about doing our domed ends.

In previous posts I've shown pictures of the roof skin with the triangles cut out of each end.

What I do next is to fit a smaller triangle, on a slant, inside the gap.

The only purpose to this is to reduce the amount of filler required and to give it a firmer base.

Once again my filler of choice is Milliput which is ideal for the job because it is firm enough that you can force it into the space and mould it with a moistened fingertip without it all spurting out at the other side, or going off so fast that you only have a few minutes working time, as is the case with some cellulose based products.

It's clay-like properties when it is freshly mixed allows you to over-fill your space and then slice the extra away with a sharp blade.

Because it reacts so wonderfully to water you can make your top surface really slopping knowing that a few minutes later it will have reverted to its previous clay-like state.

This also means you can get the top surface really smooth. If you nick it or drag across it then simply wet you finger and smooth it all over again.

I'm going to leave this now for a day or so by which time it will have set as hard as concrete and I can finish it off with wet and dry paper.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Back To The Dance Floor

It took up all my modelling time last week but I finished casting and packaging the kits to replenish the stocks at the Narrow Planet web shop.

It seems perverse but I hope they don't fly off the shelves too quickly because my 'To Do' list of projects is lengthening - more about that in a future post - and I've still got a lot to do to finish the model of 'Disco Car' 121 for a customer.

The first job is to form the domed roof ends and then do something about getting it on its bogies.