Wednesday, 31 August 2011

MOTW - Toastrack carr

With the 009 Society recently releasing a specially commissioned kit for the Colonel Stephens era FR / WHR 'Toastrack' semi-open carriages (exclusively available to members) it seems an opportune time for me to show off mine.

This model was sort of scratch built and sort of kit bashed about a decade ago. A Parkside Dundas kit for the FR's 1970's built semi-opens 37 & 38 provided the bogies, the main chassis and the seats.

The sides and ends I made myself from styrene. The hoops were bent from wire and glued on one by one.

The carriage I modelled is FR number 39, which is a replica built by Winson Engineering in the 1992. (One of the original carriages - number 42 survives and has been restored to service at the WHHR) It is shown it the condition it first ran. If it were truly accurate it should have tiny safety chains across the doorways but I reckon it would be very hard to find any that wouldn't look overscale.

In recent years the carriage has been fitted with small mesh doors and painted in a dark green livery which, to my mind, is not as attractive as the two tone scheme it is shown with here.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

On The Bridge

Himself has been continuing with work on the 'bridge to nowhere' which will be a feature of the front left corner of Bron Hebog.

All the (styrene) stone cladding has been added to the wooden formers - which he tells me was a lot of work - and just the parapet stonework remains to be done.

Himself says he has it on good authority (A1 on the Bletchly Park scale) that an RT bus will fit under the real bridge so he's been using a 4mm Routemaster to help scale the model arch.

The completed bridge will then be sent off to the Artistic Director for painting.

If you take a look at some of the pictures in the gallery you'll see the fabulous job he's already done with the bridges at the north end of the station. His subtle mixing and application of acrylic paints really make these look like one hundred year old structures.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Behind The Mask

A brief update with pictures of progress on the paint job on 116 and 114.

The masking tape has been removed now. On 116 the doors have had their first coat of cream on the lower panel to complete the 'Battenburg' effect, but the window frames have been edged in bare metal and black respectively....

There's still the black on the ends and solebars and the dark grey on the roof required to complete the exterior paintwork.

As all modellers will know, painting is a very time-consuming process. Not necessarily because of how long it takes to apply each coat, but the period required for each colour to dry and be safe for handling before adding the next bit.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

A Cover-Up

It's not often I use masking tape when painting my carriages, but 116 is an exception. Nearly all other FR and WHR carriages have a line of beading which separates the maroon colour from the cream, but 116 is completely flush.

The stuff I'm using (cos I know folk are interested in these things) is a roll of orange stuff I bought donkeys years ago at the Glasgow exhibition. It's got the name 'Eurostar' on the cardboard ring inside - the same as the Chunnel choo-choos.

I began the painting with the maroon before masking off the join...

And here's it is after a couple of coats of cream..

116 also has the latest reverse livery on the doors, but I can't add the cream on the lower door panels until the tape has been removed.

Friday, 26 August 2011

You'd Better Sit Down....

It may come as a shock to you - it certainly did to me! - but Himself has being doing some work on the layout. (I think it may be over 18 months since the last session on it)

He's sent a few pictures of his progress on the 'bridge to nowhere', the impressive stone arch that guards the southern approach to Beddgelert village and is a relic of the aborted PB&SSR scheme.

The bridge is being built using a plywood base with embossed styrene stonework on top.

Here's the central section of the bridge..

And a shot of the wingwalls in the process of being bent...

Let's hope it won't be another year and a half before I post the next update!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

MOTW - Prince

I've been pondering for a while whether our venerable 'Prince' is a fit and proper subject for a Model Of The Week post? I've decided to include it though, because the intention when I began was that this would build into a kind of online stockbox, and we all start our modelling somewhere, don't we? There's no shame in a 20 year old model that continues to give sterling service on the exhibition circuit, even if it doesn't look as good as the latest stuff.

Prince was our second 009 model. It's a Langley whitemetal kit on an Ibertren chassis - which is now powered by a Mashima motor. There are two main issues with the Langley kit. I believe it's supposed to represent Prince as he first ran under the new administration in the 1950's, so almost every part of the locomotive is undersize to represent the modern Prince, which emerged from Boston Lodge after a rebuild in 1980 not so much a Small England but an England-on-steroids!

As well as being too small all round the cab roof is the wrong shape - it shouldn't turn down so much at each side, even on the 1950's Prince the roof profile was flatter.

The other challenge is the quality of the whitemetal castings. The loco body is divided along the centre in two big castings each with half a smokebox, saddle tank and cab. The problem we've always found - and we've built three of these kits - is that one half has usually shrunk more than the other, sometimes failing to match up by as much as 1mm.

Our Prince represents the locomotive as running in the early 1990's with the obtrusive large capacity oil tanks in the tender (which have since been removed in favour of a much more subtle arrangement.

For me the weakest aspect of the model is the lining, which was done by hand by Himself with a bow pen two decades ago. Many times I have considered nagging him into dunking it in paint stripper and doing it again with some fine waterslide lining. What prevented this more recently was the purchase of a Mercian etched brass kit for the England engines which was intended to replace our faithful 'Old Gent'. But to date Himself hasn't got any further than soldering together a tender before getting distracted by NGG16's, Lyd and all the carriages that I keep sending down from Scotland for painting.

So our old Prince carries on in frontline service, bless it.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Glad Tidings

And so to the third of the trio of contract carriages I’ve been working on - the NWNGR / WHR ‘Gladstone’ observation carriage.

I’ve always been a bit of a hoarder so it’s always gratifying when something you’ve been storing for nearly 20 years comes in handy, in this case a book of 7mm drawings of WHR stock. I first bought them when a kind fellow modeller was helping me scratch build a chassis for a Chivers ‘Russell’. (He did 90% of the work and I did a bit of the filing on the frames, coupling rods and cranks) Anyhow, the book it was just the job when I was asked to knock up a ‘Gladstone’ in styrene.

Compared to some of the FR carriages with all their beading and rounded windows this one really is a bit of a doddle.

Very unusually for my carriages this one has fixed internal divisions which help a lot with strength and keeping the shape, this is due to the carriage’s open / closed / open design.

There’s not really too much to say about the build of this one, it’s rather straightforward.

Of more interest, to me at least, is its nickname of the ‘Gladstone Carriage’, so-called because the Victorian Prime Minister is believed to have travelled in it during a holiday in Nant Gwynant.

It’s strange how there is this connection between Liberal leaders and the FR / WHR.

Some wag once suggested the FR, as well as having England engines, Fairlies and the ‘Ladies’, should have a grouping known as the ‘Dead Liberal Prime Minister’ class. Indeed, once WHHR trains are running properly on the FR/WHR system we could have a train hauled by Palmerston and David Lloyd George pulling the Gladstone Carr.

Gladstone himself is one of our more interesting political figures. Not because of his debates at the despatch box with his great rival Disraeli but for his dedication to seeking out fallen women to ‘rehabilitate them’, an activity he continued during his periods in Downing Street. Imagine what the tabloids would make of that today?

It’s also got me thinking about how in the 19th Century it was quite the done thing for railway companies to ingratiate themselves with political leaders by naming locomotives after them, and how attitudes have changed since the Second World War.

True, there was a Battle of Britain called ‘Winston Churchill’, and we could also count the renaming of an A4 ‘Dwight D Eisenhower’ after the Supreme Allied Commander and later US President, but I wonder whether we will ever see a modern locomotive named ‘Lady Thatcher’ or ‘Tony Blair’?

I haven’t forgotten, of course, that the wreck of Palmerston was briefly and most-unofficially renamed ‘Harold Wilson’ as a prank on the FR in the 60’s, but that doesn’t count.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

The Final Steps

114 & 116 are now ready for painting.

They've had their roofs glued on, tables added to the interior, glazing cut to size and, last but not least, the footsteps made up and fixed on.

Friday, 19 August 2011

114 Comes Together

I've been cracking on with a 4mm model of 'Carnforth' buffet carr. 114 over the last couple of days.

I always enjoy making buffet cars because there's more variety in the design. In the case of 114 not one of the sides or ends is identical, and I've always liked the aesthetics of the design as well.

Here's the kit of parts laid out. You can see how one of the ends pieces has a blank panel on one side instead of a window. This was a feature of these three carriages which, as built, had a cupboard containing a gas cylinder on the left hand side at the Blaenau end of the carriage to fuel the heating system. These have recently been removed and replaced with diesel-fueled systems in no small part due to the cylinder in 114 exploding and starting a fire a couple of years ago.

Fortunately the set was stabled at Boston Lodge at the time and the fire was quicky put out before too much damage was done to the carriage which subsequently received a full interior rebuild. During this process the cupboard was removed and an extra window inserted. A vertical piece of beading on the otherwise flush lower body panel is the tell-tale sign of this alteration.

So the bodyside was 'boxed-up' and a floor and roof made up. The underframes on these Carnforth carriages are very distinctive being of a square profile with a stepped central section. I believe I was once told, or read, that these double as the vacuum pipes (there being two because these carriages operated in the push-pull set for a while) however I would be only too happy to be corrected if this is not the case.

This shot shows - I hope - how I fabricated these out of 1mm square strip.

And here it is with the underframe in place and the roof in position as well.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Roofing Contractor

116 is looking much more like a finished carriage after a morning session working on the roof.

It was made using my usual structure - flat false ceiling with longitudinal ribs supporting a styrene skin - as illustrated in many previous posts here on the blog.

What's slightly different about 116 is there is a much less obvious edge to the roof like there is on the Barns - where the gutters run - I think it is quite reminiscent of the monocoque structure of the BR MkII carriages.

This is achieved with lots of rubbing with wet and dry paper. I like to do this by moving the object rather than the paper. I have an A4 sized piece on the desk and rub the edge of the roof fore and aft, trying to maintain an even pressure so that the styrene is worn away evenly along its whole length.

There's just a few tables to make and glue in place (which is the clients specification) and then I think this one will be ready to paint.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

MOTW - 116

In my jet-lagged state I've somehow managed to get a little behind with the Model Of The Week feature, so I suppose technically this should really be titled 'Model Of The Fortnight'

With me currently building a model of carriage 116 this week's post is a bit of a 'Blue Peter' job - here's one I made earlier...

The real 116 has been through a number of rebuilds in it's near 40-year career on the FR, and so have my model versions.

This is the 2nd one I made which shows 116 in the condition it ran between 1982 and 2007. During this time it had a first class compartment at the Portmadog end with a distinctive wider window and a smaller pane, with no opening, dividing it from the open third class saloon.

After the latest rebuild it is now a completely third class saloon, with six windows spaced evenly along the bodyside and better quality seats and fittings.

My first model of 116 was only the second carriage I ever scratchbuilt, and I still think it was a pretty good effort. The problem with it was I didn't have access to a drawing when I made it. I based it on the known dimensions of a 'Barn' saloon and worked out the window positions for myself. Unfortunately at the time I didn't realise 116 was almost a foot longer. Oops.

I have built a 3rd version of 116, in its current condition, which is languishing in the ever-growing line of carriages waited to be painted by Himself.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Now, Where Was I?

It's always tough getting back into the groove after a holiday, isn't it? Especially when you've been away for best part of a month as I have.

I have, though, dragged myself back to the workbench and continued with my latest contract carriages.

Here's the state of play with the model of rebuilt '70's prototype 116.

Strip has been added to represent the bus-style sliding windows and the doors, which are ever so slightly recessed on this carraige, were made up by bonding a layer of styrene behind the main section of bodyside.

The ends were made up in the usual way. These were nice a quick to do because they are flush metal panels, and it was glued up into the box shape you see here and a floor and underframe added.

Later this week I hope to get the roof done and bring buffet carr 114 up to same point.

After these two are finished there's a 4mm NWNGR 'Gladstone Carr' to make and then some really big challenges. New clients have asked me to make some 7mm FR and WHR stock. They're going to seem really huge to work on after a lifetime in 009!

Monday, 15 August 2011

In Print

The story of the build of our ballast wagons (both the South African and Romanian types) is featured in the latest edition of the excellent Narrow Gauge and Industrial Railway Modelling Review.

Roy Link's quarterly magazine is always a fascinating read and this time as well as my ramblings about how I bodged up a few ballast wagons Chris Walker has a piece on two stunning 16mm L&B Manning Wardles and Dennis Harrison has another of his very enjoyable articles about a chassis-graft on one of his scrath built 6mm Towy Valley Railway Sharp Stewart tanks.

If you've not come across Roy's magazines before they're not available in high street newsagents but you can subscribe or buy back issues on his website.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Trend Setting

It's not often that a replica ends up altering the original but it's happening on the WHR right now.

The quote below is taken from Barrie Hughes' website..

The Tuesday Gang North spent the 2/8/11 completing the recovery of gateposts from Bron Hebog level crossing (Cwmcloch Top crossing).

I can now reveal the inside story of how our layout has inspired the renaming of a location on the real railway.

My sources tell me that the safety inspectors, who must be obeyed, were uncomfortable with having two level crossings called Cwmcloch. (This is the point on the S bend north of Beddgelert where the railway crosses a lane twice in the space of a few dozen yards on the road.)

The inspectors were concerned about possible problems identifying the correct location in the event of an incident on either of the crossings.

It was at this point someone remembered our layout and suggested calling the upper crossing Bron Hebog. And the name has stuck.

All of us on the team, Myself, Himself, our Artistic Director and The Guru are rather chuffed.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

On The Other Side Of The World

It’s time to confess. I’ve been kidding you on for the last four weeks. Thanks to the wonders of automatic advancecd posting I’ve been able to create the illusion that it’s been business as usual at Bron Hebog when, in fact, I’ve been on the other side of the world, in New Zealand, for the best part of the last month.

(For my sister-in-law’s wedding, as it happens)

So if you’ll forgive my indulgence I thought I would share with you some of the things of railway interest I came across during my travels around the South Island.

I know I have some Kiwis among the readers of this blog so I apologise in advance for any errors or ignorance. Corrections or additions are very welcome in the comments section below.

There is some relevance to all this as NZ trains are Narrow Gauge in that they run on 3’6” ‘Cape Gauge'.

The best train spotting on the trip was when we stayed a night in Arthur’s Pass, a small settlement high in the southern alps where both road and rail climb to over 3000ft to cross the spectacular mountain range that forms the spine of the island.

There is a station and passing loop here.

The Midland Railway is without doubt among the world’s greatest train journeys, and there is a neat link to the WHR here.

The line between Christchurch (on the east coast) and Greymouth (on the west) was finally completed in 1923, the same year as the WHR. Its main function remains to carry coal trains from the west coast mines to the east coast port of Lyttelton.

And what a journey!

Just before reaching Arthur’s Pass (on the loaded eastbound journey) the trains pass through the Otira Tunnel. It is over 5 miles long with a gradient of 1 in 33 and climbs 820ft. From day one the line though the tunnel was electrified, as it would have been impossible to operate with steam. The wires were removed in 1997 and diesels work through the tunnel which has been fitted with doors on the lower portal which close behind the train to help the ventilation fans remove the fumes.

As you might expect, trains need to be assisted for such an extreme incline, and I watched in wonder as a loaded train arrived at Arthur's headed by 5 locomotives. The 3 pilot engines were then detached leaving the remaining 2 to take the train on to Lyttelton.

From what I observed it seems these three ‘bankers’ shuttle between Otira and Arthur’s day and night, attaching to the front of the next downhill train or returning to the bottom light engine(s).

There is also a daily passenger service on the line – the Tranz Scenic- which makes one return journey from Christchurch to Greymouth.

Among the pleasant discoveries on our trip was this immaculately kept former signal box in Greymouth which looks uncannily like an old GWR box, don’t you think?

We saw some preserved steam on our trip too. This 0-6-0 tank ‘Kaitangata’ at the ‘Shantytown’ village museum was built close to home by Sharp Stewart & Co in Glasgow in 1896. For those who know about these things it’s an improved F Class tank.

I also looked in on another steam site.

The ‘Kingston Flyer’ is an 8 and half mile line near the adventure tourism mecca Queenstown. It ran into financial trouble and has been closed for the last two years but just today it’s being reported the line has been bought by New Zealand businessman David Bryce who plans to have the train back in operation by late October.

Expecting everything to be locked away in sheds I was very surprised to find these lovely wooden carriages stabled on an open siding near to the station building.

The line’s two pacific steam locos were stored in a fenced-off yard, again open to the elements.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Waiting For The Paintbrush

Here’s a shot of six months work lined up on the cutting matt. Or perhaps more accurately, six months work on my own models – you could at least double it if you included the carriages I’ve been churning out for clients.

In the picture is the WHR Service Carr 2011, FR 3rd class ‘top end’ Obs 123, and Barn saloons 105 & 106. They are about to be transported south to join the ever-lengthening queue for carriages waiting to be finished off and painted by Himself.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

MOTW - B Wagons

Our subjects this week are a little less glamorous, but as the years go by are becoming ever more essential to the smooth running of the F&WHR system – the B wagons.

Eight of these were imported from South Africa at the start of the WHR project along with various other wagons. They didn’t see much use during the construction phase because some of the other types – the low-sided DZ’s and flat DZ’s – were more practical for those purposes.

After being overhauled by a volunteer team and repainted into SAR livery two of them were employed as bike carrying wagons, marshaled at the Porthmadog end of the WHR carriage rakes. The drop-down doors were modified into ramps and cycle racks were placed at each end of the wagons. For the 2011 season they have been relieved of these duties as passengers’ bikes are instead being stowed in the guards’ area of the Service Carrs.

As oil prices soared in recent years the FR began a converting some its fleet of steam locomotives back to burning coal and some of the other the B wagons, as the biggest load carriers on the system, are used to ferry coal from the storage area in Minffordd Yard to Boston Lodge and the re-fuelling area at Harbour Station.

They’re also being increasingly employed as general utility wagons. Due to its severe gradients the WHR rule book specifies that all trains must be fully fitted. Although the FR has a large fleet of wagons they are almost all unfitted. A couple of weekends ago Himself was riding in a B wagon on the‘Greasers Express’ when volunteers oil and fettle all the point mechanisms on the F&WHR system.

Our models are built using Worsley Works kits as the basis of the bodyshell to which we have added brass angle to complete the detailing.

Himself made the racks for the bike wagon from styrene strip while the ramp adaptations were made from brass and the luggage and bike symbols knocked up on the home PC from photographs of the signs on the actual wagons.