Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Fencing Again

adding the little details can be what eats up the time during the scenery phase of a layout build.

For example take the two accommodation crossings on the board we're currently working on. Building up the complex fencing around them out of styrene strip has taken a couple of days to do.

This is the first crossing which, as you can see, is still partly at the 'post' stage..

The second one, which is near to the scenic break has been completed and painted.

Those of you paying close attention may also notice that the track has been ballasted now which I forgot to mention in the previous post.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Two Months To Go

Time is racing towards the next exhibition appearance for Bron Hebog and the question is how much will Himself manage to get done before we roll up in Woking?

All the scenic boards have been built now but a fair number of them are still in a state of bare track and painted plaster.

In the last couple of days he's begun to stick some of the base coat of long grass (dyed carpet underlay) on the first board (at the Porthmadog end).

As time is now against us we can't really wait for the Artistic Director to put in an appearance to paint the walls so his apprentice has had a go...

There are a lot of stone walls on this layout. This is a particularly long stretch running across the hill.

They've built up from the Ten Commandments plaster range it may not be  unreasonable to presume that the owner of the business is presently browsing through holiday brochures for Mustique!

Saturday, 19 July 2014

New Van Unveiled

I've finished putting together and painting the first of the the V-16 brake van kits which was commissioned by a client.

It compares very favorably to the brass Worsley Works version we use on Bron Hebog. This resin kit, however, shows the van in its current condition on the WHR following an overhaul which saw a pair of windows cut at one end and the single door blanked off - the Worsley version has a window.

I don't mind admitting the yellow stripes on the end were a complete pain to mask and paint.

There is still scope for extra detail to be added to the basic body kit, such as footsteps and vac pipes.

Should you wish to have one kits are available now in the FR Shop at Harbour Station or by mail order from Festshop

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Plaster Last

Plaster has now been applied onto the last board, showing the stretch of the line along by Cemetery Crossing and Himself has started sticking on the stone walls which are from the Ten Commandments range.

Supplies have run out (again) so the positions of the remaining sections of wall have been marked out in blue.

You can also see a culvert which has been built towards the bottom left of the picture.

The basics of the level crossings are in place but he has still to make up the cattle grids to go on either side of the cemetery road.

Once the plaster has fully cured it will be given a coat of mud brown emulsion all over and then the track can be ballasted.

Now thoughts are turning to the fiddle yard design.

The complicating factor here is that the tracks enter at different heights at each end - the Rhyd Ddu end is 6.5cm higher than the Aberglaslyn end - so Himself is going to consult with the fourth member of the team, the Structural Engineer, to get some ideas together.

This brainstorming session will probably happen in the top left hand corner of Wales and may well involve the consumption of ale.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Cemetery Scenics

So, the basic structure of the layout is complete!

You can define that in lots of different ways, or course, but a milestone has certainly been reached in the last couple of days with Himself placing the last of the Mod-Roc in position on the cemetery crossing board - the last one at the Porthmadog end of the layout.

He's also made up the crossings for the road to the cemetery and the accommodation crossing just along from it.

He has also finished laying the track around the curve past the scenic break into the fiddle yard.

The actual fiddle yard, it must be said, is not even a doodle on a piece of paper yet, so we're still not quite at the stage where we can run a train all the way around Bron Hebog - not that we have the space to put the whole thing up anyway.

These, as I'm sure you'll agree, are just very minor inconveniences.....

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Prototype Approved

I've reached the stage with the development of the V-16 Brake Van kit where it's time to glue together the first set of castings and see if they all fit as they should.

The bodyshell went together just as I'd intended...

Now for the new innovation (for me) on this kit.

All my resin kits so far have been for open wagons, but this van, of course, requires a roof.

Long experience shows that unsupported styrene is not a good solution because sooner or later it will sag in the middle.

The ideal solution is a roof made from metal sheet, but my conscience tells me it's too cheeky to sell a kit that includes only 5 sides of the box, so I've come up with a compromise.

On my scratch built carriages I install a false ceiling with longitudinal ribs to support the roof skin. For the kit I've come up with something similar but easier to cast.

It is s cast block with the top profile that matches the roof. It is sized to fit inside the bodyshell.

All you have to do to get a perfectly formed, non-sagging, styrene roof is to glue this to a piece of thin styrene sheet, starting along one edge and then when that's set bending it over and gluing down the other side - super glue works best for obvious reasons.

And there we have it - a van with a roof!

Now, there is a downside to this solution, and that is the weight of the roof casting which sits very high in the vehicle.

To avoid it being top-heavy and wobbling excessively it will probably be necessary to add some weight to the floor to compensate.

I've quite satisfied with it, though, and see no reason not to press ahead with a production run for the FR shop.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Relative Humudity

When The Boss sets up the ironing board once a week I usually take it as a sign that it's safe to sneak off to the modelling room for an hour or so of uninterrupted work.

So it was this week when I thought I would grab the chance to get stuck into the mountain of resin casting work I've got building up. (The FR shop has ordered another run of all my SAR wagon kits.)

However, things didn't turn out quite as planned.

Now, anyone who's ever cast in resin without the aid of a vacuum chamber knows that air bubbles are an occupational hazard. Mostly they're either so tiny they can hardly be seen with the naked eye or can be easily attended to with a spot of filler.

On this occasion, though, I had my first experience of the phenomenon of what is known as 'champagne bubbles'.

In fact it was so extreme you could be forgiven for thinking I had used expanding foam instead of polyurethane resin...

What was going on I gather, after a little bit of googling, was the resin was reacting to excess moisture in the air as it cured.

In hindsight I realise I was casting in something of a perfect storm.

The weather had been muggy for days. There were pans of veg boiling away on the stove in the kitchen. And to put the tin lid on it, The Boss was using the steam iron enthusiastically less than a metre away from where I was casting.

(When I say ironing enthusiastically, imagine for a moment a Garratt starting off with all its cylinder cocks wide open - you get the picture)

To test out the theory I rummaged in the loft and brought down the dehumidifier I bought years ago for coping with a condensation crisis in an old house.

I shut the door to the study, left it to run for a while and then mixed up another pot of resin.

I'm pleased to say the resulting casting was flawless and another lesson was learnt.

Namely, don't attempt any casting when the weekly ironing session is in progress.....