Thursday, 30 December 2010

Soldering On

I found a soldering iron in my stocking left by Santa on Christmas morning, Today I've had my first chance to try it out. (And I haven't needed to visit the local burns unit, either!)

Soldering is a new modelling frontier for me. Until now whenever I've needed to use brass I've managed to get away with bonding it to styrene. But I've had to cross the Rubicon with the Romanian ballast wagon.

The culprits are the control levers for the ballast dropping mechanism.

Brass wire was the obvious material to use but because there are two levers attached to each shaft there was no alternative to some brass on brass joints. It was time to learn how to solder.

Himself gave me some lessons on his last visit a few weeks ago and I practised joining up some random bits of brass wire, ending up with something that looked like Terry Gilliam's plumbing from the Monty Python title sequence. So far so good.

The tricky bit with the levers, I reckoned, was that the two joints are so close together that I wouldn't be able to put them on one at a time without the first one coming un-soldered when I tried to add the second. So I decided the best tactic would be to try to solder both with one application of the iron.

But how to hold them in place? The levers are only 9mm long so they were going to get very hot if I tried holding them in place with my fingers.

Next I thought of trying to hold them in place with blu-tac or plasticine but I couldn't find any in the house. The best I could do was my daughter's play-doh but that turned out to be a little too soft to hold the levers in place.

So I came up with the idea of inserting them into a rubber. And it worked rather well.

Here are the completed shafts / levers in place on the wagon.

And now with the frame in place around them.

Altogether an encouraging first adventure with the iron, I'd say.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas

I would like to wish a very Merry Christmas to everyone who logs onto this blog.

When you start a blog like this you're never too sure whether anyone's going to find it in cyberspace, and if they do whether they'll bother to read it or ever come back?

I'm thrilled that we've had over six thousand hits since I started back in May so thanks to everyone who's dropped in and to those of you who've taken time to leave comments.

I often affectionately refer to by cohorts in the Bron Hebog team as 'Himself' (my Dad, David) and Francis who readers will know as our 'Artistic Director', which as you'll see from this festive sketch of Rhiw Goch on the FR below is a very accurate description as he is a very talented artist indeed.

See you again, I hope, in 2011.

Best wishes


Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Clearing The Backlog

Heathrow Airport isn't the only place just now struggling to clear the backlog. The southern operation at Bron Hebog has a fair collection of unpainted carriages waiting for the attention from the airbrush.

Himself is taking a break from the Backwoods Manning Wardle 'Lyd' project and has decided to start working through the collection of unpainted WHR saloons which have been languishing in a drawer in the modelling room for close on two years.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Please Be Seated

As a little diversion from the ballast wagon I've been adding yet more of those missing details from the tamper - the snagging list doesn't seem to be getting any shorter.

This time it's the driver / operator seats in the cabs.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Glues Chutes And Leaves

The last major pieces of styrene construction on the Romanian ballast wagons are the twin sets of ballast chutes which hang from the underframe.

It didn't take too long to knock them up once I'd worked out the angles of the shoots.

If the picture looks a little odd to you it's because the wagon was upside down! As I mentioned in a previous post the model is a bit of a puzzle at the moment and I have to be very careful about what order I cement things on. If I fix on the chute assemblies now it'll make it more difficult to fiddle with the control shafts - I'll need access from underneath as well as the side for that job.

There's not a lot more can be done now until I get my hands on a soldering iron. Once the control levers are soldered onto the ends of the inner set of shafts they can be put in place, followed by the larger diameter one on each side of the wagon (for which I am waiting on the right size styrene rod to arrive).

After that there will be lots of fun to be hand bending and soldering the handrails at each end.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Rods For My Back

As more details go on this wagon is becoming more of a Chinese puzzle - or perhaps that should be a Romanian puzzle.

I've had to very carefully work out what to put on in what order to avoid snookering myself further down the line and so it's not always the most obvious, or most essential details, which have to completed first.

Which is why my efforts today were focused on the inboard pair of control shafts, which are hidden behind the support struts and probably wouldn't be missed if they weren't there. But it would be tricky to add them later if I had a late change of heart so best to put them on now while access to this area is (comparatively) easier.

First job was to make up some bearing plates to hold the shafts in position.

There are three of them in all - here they are in position on the hoppers.

And now with the brass wire threaded through to check the positioning.

The wires will now be left to one side and probably won't go on again until the wagon is almost complete. They also will need to have the control levers soldered at one end.

I've also done some work at the other end, adding the vacuum cylinders and the frame which supports them and eventually the cover over the reservoir which I will make out of thin sheet brass.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

News From The Frozen North

My model ballast wagon's starting to take on more of the look of the real thing as some of the distinctive features are added. This thing is like some rail-mounted Christmas tree there are so many bits hanging off it, especially compared to the simpler lines of the SAR ballast wagons.

Most of the details added today have been of the vertical variety. I started with the struts along each side of the hopper - these will later have the outermost control shaft for the ballast doors running along near the top. There are also longer struts at each end.

I've also started on the jumble of brake equipment at one end of the wagon. The first thing to go on is the vacuum reservoir which is up on stilts and will be joined next by cylinders either side.

Here's the real thing...

Here's my version so far...

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Devilish Details

Progress can appear deceptively quick with projects like this ballast wagon. The bodyshell and the frame can be knocked up quite easily but its when you start adding all the little details that things slow down suddenly.

Take today's session for example. 2 hours spent cutting and cementing on a dozen tiny pieces of styrene. Can you event spot them?

Take a closer look. See them now?

Here's what it looks like on the actual wagon.

A lot of that 2 hours, right enough, was wasted on working out how the heck to tackle it and getting the first pieces the correct size to use as a template for the rest. It a rather awkward spot to work it. All the surfaces are at an angle and there's not a lot of room to get tweezers in there to hold the bits while you cement them. And as you can see there's still an awful lot more to add to just these small areas of the wagon.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

A Complete Fabrication

My U channel styrene arrived today so I've been able to crack on with the frame for the Romanian ballast wagon.

This is quite a complicated structure with 4 main steel beams running the length of the wagon. The frame is mostly exposed to so there's not a lot of scope to cheat - you've got to build it just like the real one.

I decided to tackle it by fabricating two mirror image frames - very much like a ladder - and then link them together with the central cross beams.

It's probably easier to explain with pictures. Here's one of those halves...

And here are two joined together...

So I've now got the basic 4 beam outline there. I've linked them together with some chunky sections of stryrene strip. This is the one place where it's possible to cheat and beef up the structure. They'll be underneath the hoppers and as the wagon will be modelled loaded you won't see these strengthening pieces.

This next shot is with all the cross beams in place. You see, I wasn't exaggerating when I said it was a complex fabrication!

The main consideration when assembling the frame was to ensure the cross beams in the middle lined up with the 'feet' on the bottom of the hopper. Here it is with the hopper resting on top.

I've also been waiting for some 1mm square strip to finish off the rib detail on the hopper body. Notice also the tiny wee triangles which are resting on the lower rib.

And now I've got to do it all again on the 2nd model for a customer.....

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Odd Jobs

With my specialist styrene order still in the clutches of the Royal Mail I've had to find some odd jobs to occupy my modelling time today.

The only things I've been able to add to the Romanian ballast wagon is some detail on the doors / flaps at the bottom.

And the sloped internal divider pieces which feed the ballast into the separate hoppers.

So with time on my hands I've added a few more details to the KMX Tamper - the task seems never ending.

Today's big ticket item was the window at the rear of the cab at the business-end of the machine. This is so the operator can see the tamping head in action from the control desk which is set on one side of the cab.

I did this my making a square frame out of 0.20 x 0.60 strip. It needed three attempts to get the width pieces the right size for the frame to fit perfectly. Then I glued small triangles in each corner and filed them to make the corners round.

Here it is in position.

If you look at the top of the picture you can also see I've added the bulkhead at the top of the engine compartment and taken the opportunity to hide some more whitemetal ballast behind it. (Pieces of an old Golden Arrow 'Monarch' kit which I bought years ago on ebay to rob it of its 2 Ibertren chassis)

Finally for today I've put a stretcher above the non-powered end of the model with two large holes drilled to feed the pick up wires through. This cab doesn't have a bulkhead - it's the one with the window on to the tamping head so you can see straight through it - so I hope this device will keep the wires out of sight as much as possible