Monday, 31 October 2011


Regular blog readers will know that I frequently tease Himself about the amount of time he spends playing at the real FR / WHR when he should be hard at work building the layout, but I have to admit that sometimes it pays off.

Take one of his visits this autumn, for example, when he joined the crew of the Greasers Express - a train which tours the entire system over the course of a weekend, stopping at every point to service the mechanism, remove gunge and apply fresh grease.

While riding in the open B Wagon he noticed a distinct kink in the formation on the run from Cemetery Crossing to Goat Tunnel, to the south of Beddgelert station.

This is at the far left hand corner of our Bron Hebog layout, a section upon which he had recently completed the scenic outline - but without the kink!

Unfortunately I don't have a snap of this bit of the layout to hand but I have doctored a copy of the picture above to try and illustrate how our trackbed cut straight across the kink and the hillside, instead of having a hollow, continued down to meet the track.

There was nothing else for it but to hack back all the scenery that had been so carefully crafted: peeling back the chicken wire and modroc surface and re-profiling the wooded formers beneath.

These views below show the section following the scenic re-design and should conform a little more closely with the real location.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Legs 56

Another fiddly session with the observation armchairs adding the legs, four of them on each of the fourteen chairs.

With the huge window at the end of the carriage there's no hiding place here so each of the styrene sticks had to be cut and glued in place individually.

Here are two of them posed in position.

All 14 have been done but they won't be fixed in place until the other bits of the interior - like the compartment dividers, tables and the big wing chairs - are made up and ready to go in.

So there's still a way to go but I'm getting there....

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

MOTW - The Iron Bogie

Interactivity is all the rage in the media these days. It's no longer any good for professional journalists - like me - who've spent their whole careers researching a subject to tell you what to think about it, now every ignoramus has to have their say. (*Irony alert for those with no sense of humour!*)

So in this spirit I'm delighted to be able to respond to a reader's request for the subject of this Model Of The Week feature, the 6 wheel coal wagon or 'Iron Bogie'

Or, as my correspondent referred to it, the 'I can't believe it's not a Cleminson' wagon.

It was built at Boston Lodge Works in 1880 and mounted on flexible two-wheel trucks, but later investigations revealed its underframe arrangement does not conform precisely to Cleminson's patent. Although the outer axles can turn and the middle one can swing there is an extra link between them missing.

Some have suggested this may have been an error born out of ignorance or a cunning wheeze to avoid paying for the use of the patent, but either way they probably need not have bothered because experiments running the chassis around sharp curves during restoration in the 1990's showed the centre axle hardly moved anyway.

Which is all the justification I needed for not bothering to articulate this model at all! The one concession on an otherside solid chassis is the some side play on the centre wheelset. Instead of a pin point axle it has a longer axle and the centre axle boxes are drill through allowing it to move about 2-3 mm either way.

I confess I can't remember a great deal about how I built it (it was probably more than 15 years ago now) but I seem to recall I chopped up some old Egger wagon frames to make a 3-axle chassis and the body was built from styrene.

What I do remember very clearly is attempting to slice the thinnest possible slivers of styrene rod to represent rivets on the strapping on the iron body and gluing each one of them on by hand.

In these days of waterslide resin transfer rivets these now look horribly crude and make me wonder whether I should build a replacement with more subtle detailing?

So, to bring us back to the theme of interactivity with which I began this post, I'll throw the question out to you all.

If this was your model what would you do?

Monday, 24 October 2011

Armchair Modeller

I'm turning my attention to the interior of the 7mm WHR Pullman Obs 'Glaslyn' now that most of the main construction work on the body is done.

I've begun with the posh armchairs in the Observation Saloon. There are 14 of these to make. Here's a snap of the early stages of four of them.

If they look a little short to you that's because I haven't added the legs yet!

I make the semi-circular sides by rolling a pre-cut and shaped piece of styrene around a small cylinder - something like a pencil - which releases enough of the tension in it for it to be glued to one part of the base, left for a while, before curling it around and bonding it on the other side.

Another 10 to go and then I'll start on the big 'wing' chairs for the back half of the carriage.

Friday, 21 October 2011

100 Ready To Varnish

Here are some shots of my 7mm scale model of FR observation carr 100 which is now more or less complete.

It only requires a coat of varnish to be applied and the glazing slotted into place before it is ready to be sent off to its new owner.

For my first attempt at 7mm carriage building I have to say I'm quite chuffed with it.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

MOTW - S&T Tool Van

We're back with the engineering fleet on Model Of The Week. This time our subject is the Signal & Telegraph department's Tool Van.

If you're being pedantic about it then this wagon should probably be referred to in the plural as Tool Vans. The wagon is a three-in-one contraption - something we only found out once we had built it! But more on that later.

The main bits of the Tool Van wagon - the big square bits - are a classic piece of FR recycling. They started life on the roads as the back bit of BT vans and just happened to be just the right size to fit within the FR's loading gauge when mounted on a four wheel chassis.

The two are linked together by a platform with steps in the middle on both sides.

Now, when I first made the wagon, I assumed the boxes and the platform were a fixed structure and the two chassis swiveled underneath like normal bogies, and built it as such.

But how wrong you can be.

I can't remember whether we discovered our error by someone telling us at an exhibition, or whether Himself got down on his hands and knees and looked beneath the real one, but we discovered the wagon is articulated by very different means.

Instead it is the vans at each end which pivot on the centre platform - the chassis are fixed beneath the vans - and not only that but there is also a tiny pair of wheels beneath the centre platform.

The model had already been finished when we found this out, but Himself managed to prise the three sections apart and reverse-engineer the proper articulation.

The wagon was scratchbuilt in styrene and two vans are sitting on chassis from Parkside Dundas V tipper wagons. The wheels beneath the centre platform have had their tyres removed in order both to fit them under there and to aid smooth running.

Some other later additions to the model were the 'X' boards carried at each end, the skylights on the ex-BT vans and the lights on the inside ends.

It is pictured in a typical S&T train formation on Dduallt with 'Harlech Castle'. Van 51 and the Cherry Picker, which will be the subject of a future Model Of The Week.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Front & Rear

While some carpet fitters were doing their thing on the stairs today I grabbed a couple of hours at the workbench to get a few more bits added onto 'Glaslyn'. In fact they were the final few big ticket items which means the bodyshell is more or less complete now.

I began with fashioning and fitting the two window pillars at the front of the observation compartment.

These two pieces are among the trickiest bits on this model to get right because not only have they got to be placed on a curve (and what's more, a curve which is not a constant radius) they are also leant back. So it really is a three dimensional puzzle to get them placed correctly.

As you can see from the picture above, looking at them from the side, or three-quarters on, is not very helpful because of the illusion created by the lean of the pillar. A more reliable guide to whether you've got them positioned correctly is to look end-on or from above.

You'll see that the front skirt has been added as well. These bits really do make the model look 'complete' although, of course, it is still a long way from that.

At the back I added the corridor connections and the footsteps, which are chopped off at an angle to keep this 14 metre carriage within the dynamic envelope. It's 1m longer than any other carriage on the WHR, which is the reason why the roof is cut back above the doors at the back too.

So for the next session I think I will start work inside. I feel some armchairs coming on....

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Pullman Progress

Here's a shot to show progress on the 7mm model of 'Glaslyn' I'm making for a client.

I probably should have posed it next to a coin or some other everyday object to give you more of a sense of the size of the carriage: it is over a foot long but looking at this picture you could be forgiven for thinking it is a 009 model.

The domed end to the roof on this carriage is a big challenge. It fills a considerably larger area and is much shallower than on other FR /WHR carriages and is one of those bit of a model that you're continually tinkering with. Each time I go over it with the wet and dry paper I walk away satisfied, then return a while later, squint at it from all angles and pick it up and give it another going over, and so the process is repeated.

I shall have to call time on this palaver soon, however, because I can't get on with the next bit - fitting the two window pillars at the front - until the roof unit is glued in place.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Rock On

There has been some more work done on the layout, on the southern portal of Goat Tunnel to be precise.

Portal is probably a bit of a poncy word to use in this case given the way the tunnels were left as bare holes in the rock.

If you have seen any of our layouts at exhibitions before then you will know that Himself is a believer in robust construction. He eschews modern trends for lightweight structures and instead our baseboards are made from 2 x 1, with the scenery built up with chicken wire, mod-roc and lashings of plaster on top.

So it probably won't surprise you to learn that the rockfaces on Bron Hebog are made out of - you guessed it - rock. And authentic Cambrian rock too!

At the bottom right of the picture you can see that he has also modelled the new outflow from the drainage channel which runs from Beddgelert station, through the cutting and out at the bottom end of the tunnel.

And a rather nice job he's made of it too, I hope you'll agree?

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

MOTW - Taliesin

This week we present for your enjoyment the one and only 'Gentleman's light sporting locomotive'.

That's how one of the pre-war FR drivers affectionately referred to the Single Fairlie 'Taliesin' which was reborn at the beginning of the 21st Century.

(Let's not get into the debate about whether it's a rebuild or a replica here.)

Our model is a pretty standard Backwoods Miniatures kit and it's a beautifully quiet and smooth running machine.

The real 'Taliesin' will be worth watching in the coming months as it emerges from Boston Lodge with a pair of beautifully disguised piston valve cylinders.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Him-Self Service

I can unveil what I believe may be the first ever model of the WHR's second Service Carr 2011.

(If I'm wrong I'm sure someone will let me know)

Himself has been painting this over the course of summer and has now applied the last transfers and given it a final coat of varnish.

If you're a relatively new reader of this blog you can find some of the posts detailing the construction of this carriage including the saga of the generator door louvres here, here and here.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Practical Modelling

I've been getting on with a few of the odd jobs still left to do on 100, like sorting out a way of attaching the couplings.

This is something I've been mulling over for a quite a few weeks now, and for two reasons:

1) I've not attached couplings to a 7mm scale model before


2) It's not my model.

Of these the second is of much greater concern to me because I want to ensure the client is delighted with the finished product. In this case the customer has advised me he needs the couplings attached to the bogies (as opposed to mounted somewhere on the carriage) and set at an exact height, which has been a big help. So the main issue was how to achieve it.

There's another difference to the 009 models I normally work with in that these are whitemetal bogies with just a central cross-member and no frames at the ends.

Clearly, then, there would need to be a long shaft of some kind running almost 2 inches from the centre of the bogies to the end of the carriage. And there was also the issue of avoiding the leading axle.

The pics below will show you the solution I've adopted.

A bit of (rather untidily cut) brass has been Araldite-d onto the whitemetal stretcher and then takes a cunning step up, which not only avoids the axle but also raises it up to the specified height for the top surface of the bemo couplings.

Then at the other end I've soldered on another bit of scrap brass to form a jaw into which the shaft of the plastic bemo coupling will fit snugly.

The beauty of it is that if, when the carriage is delivered to the Scottish Highlands, the couplings are either too low or too high to mate with my client's existing stock all he has to do is give the brass shaft a little tweak one way or the other and all should be well.

I'm not pretending it's the prettiest bit of model engineering you've ever seen, but I think it's practical and effective, and that, I would suggest, is what matters most on a layout.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

MOTW - 'The Cric'

Our featured model this week is another of Himself's kitbashes.

The starting point for our model of the FR's diesel 'Criccieth Castle' (which was built at Boston Lodge in 1995 from a kit of parts bought from Baguley-Drewry's liquidator) is a Chivers Finelines whitemetal kit for sister locomotive 'Harlech Castle' running on a Grafar 08 chassis.

In recent years Farish have revamped their 08 with pukka outside frames and cranks but back when we made 'The Cric' the conversion had to be done the hard way, stripping down the chassis, replacing the axles, fashioning our own cranks, not to mention drilling into the chassis and creating a fourth axle and new rods for the jackshaft drive.

The alterations to the body were simple by comparison to the mechanics. The main difference between 'Criccieth Castle' and 'Harlech Castle' is the front bonnet which extends the full width of the locomotive, and is decorated with brass handrails and the go-faster grill with the whiskers.

We used the existing whitemetal structure as the base and bulked it out with styrene extensions and other details such as the grill and the exhaust.

Himself added more finishing touches including the buffer beam detail around the coupling, the windscreen wipers and the cab is flush glazed with each window cut out of styrene and fitted individually.

The model is most often seen on Dduallt doing what the real one was originally built for, operating in push-pull mode with the green & ivory InCa carriages.

'Criccieth Castle' has, however, been run to Beddgelert since the WHR was reopened so our model has many years of legitimate work ahead of it on the exhibition circuit on Bron Hebog.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Shunt The Pony

I thought we'd take a deviation from modelling, just for a little while, to show you some evidence of why nothing much is happening on the building the layout (the real purpose of this blog, after all) and because if you're reading this it's likely you've got more than a passing interest in the FR and the WHR and so might quite like to see the pictures anyway.

Himself has 'wasted' another weekend of valuable construction time playing around with 12 inch to the foot trains in the top left hand corner of Wales, once again lending his services to the 'Greasers Express' team during their quarterly fettling of the points on the FR / WHR system.

One of their extra jobs this time was to move Welsh Pony to another stable at Glan y Pwll.

I've always had a very soft spot for this rusty old nag, and there has been a great deal of intriguing talk in the last couple of years about whether the time has now come to return her to service?

There is, however, a very nuanced debate about the rights and wrongs of restoring one of the few remaining untouched artefacts from the orginal FR company which centre around the fact that to make it work again there wouldn't be very much of the original loco left. (Just like the 'original' FR engines which are in service - Prince, Merddin Emrys & Palmerston)

I'm firmly in favour of getting her going again and my money is ready and waiting for someone to start up a proper Welsh Pony restoration fund.

(I do realise that the FR Society has had a Welsh Pony fund for many years now but it is not, and this is the pertinent point, for the express purpose of restoring the locomotive to running order.)

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Brush Strokes

Here's a shot of progress painting the 7mm scale FR carriage 100.

Apologies for the picture, which isn't the best, but it shows you where I've got to.

So far it's had two coats of maroon and cream and will probably need at least another of each, and then there's all the wee fiddly jobs touching it up here and there, painting the grab handles and the vac bags etc...

And then we'll have some fun with the dry rub transfers. Oh joy!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Pull The Other One

In the absence of anything new to build for the layout - although I'm keeping an eye on the progress of Super-Barn 108 at Boston Lodge, ready to pounce when it's rolled out - I've taken on another super-sized commission.

A new client has asked me to make a 7mm version of WHR Pullman Observation Carr 'Glaslyn'.

Here's a pic of my 4mm one on Bron Hebog...

The challenge with this carriage, as I explained in this Model Of The Week post is the curved observation end.

But that's waiting a little further down the track. The first task is to do the main bodyside pieces.

They are also a little more complicated than your average carriage. On a normal vehicle I can use styrene strip for the window pillars, which are easily chopped to an equal height before the top rail is fixed in place. On this Pullman, though, the pillars at the rear are very wide and it isn't so simple to chop them off at the top, especially on a 7mm scale model when they are 0.75mm thick.

Instead I had to prepare them in advance, taking care to ensure they were all exactly the same dimension so there wouldn't be any gaps when I came to glue the top rail in place. This rail is also very wide on this carriage (6mm) and unlike a normal narrow top rail there is no lateral 'give' if one of the pillars is a fraction short.

The other side has also had the second layer of detail added.

The beading is limited, compared to the standard WHR design, but the challenge is the curved corners. I'm using a similar technique to the one I have for raised window frames I described here, curling thin styrene strip into the corner and using model filler to get rid of the gap.