Wednesday, 30 November 2011

MOTW - 111

Push-pull driving trailer carriage 111 is celebrating its 21st anniversary in 2011. This model isn't much younger, dating from the mid-90's.

Although it was built for use with an off-peak push-push set 111 has spent most of its time in service functioning as one of the first class observation carrs at the Porthmadog end of the train sets, albeit very much the third choice these days.

111 was the last in the line of the 1970's design of 'tin carrs' which were built on former Isle of Man Railway underframes and used a lot of off-the-shelf components from the bus industry including seats and the beclawat sliding light windows.

As a child of the '70's I've always had a soft spot for these carriages. Along with the new Earl of Merioneth - unkindly dubbed 'The Incredible Hulk' or simply 'The Square' - they impressed me with their modernity during my visits to the FR as a kid.

Our model of 111 shows the carriage in its original green and ivory livery and runs with the other 5 carriages that made up the INCa train set and is most often paired with the push-pull fitted diesel locos 'Conway Castle' or 'Criccieth Castle'.

We run it in proper push mode too, with the loco at the Blaenau end of the train propelling the six carriages down the spiral and through two sets of points in the Dduallt station loop.

It does so time after time with barely ever a derailment and I happen to think that's no mean achievement in OO9.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Back To The Drawing Board

I'm about to make a start on a follow up commission for the other WHR Pullman carriage 'Bodysgallen' now that I've completed 99% percent of the construction work on 'Glaslyn'

This was built by Winson Engineering, like the other five original carriages, but it was a metre longer and arrived a year later.

I've never had a works drawing for this vehicle and so I made my 4mm scale model from measurements of the carriage I took myself in the shed at Dinas. So as you can see I am having to produce my own scaled up design for a 7mm model.

The drawing board, incidentally, is one of the best purchases I've ever made as a aid to scratch building. Yes, I know there are free computer programmes like SketchUp out there but I'm quite happy back here in the 20th century thank you very much.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Trial Run

If you'll forgive the diversion I wanted to share with you a picture of another fine NG layout this time.

It's not entirely irrelevant because it's a snap of the 7mm observation carr I recently built getting a trial run at its new home.

The layout is Rhyd by David John and from the pictures I've seen it looks a real beauty.

David will be showing this layout at the exhibition in Perth - that's Perth, Scotland, in case any of my Australian readers get confused - in June.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

MOTW - Service Carr 124

This Model of the Week is bang up to date and represents the very latest in passenger provision on the FR: the Service Carriage.

This vehicle takes the railway back to the Victorian era of the curly roof luggage vans (and their non-curly cousins) as a bogie vehicle in front-line service which doesn't carry any passengers - apart from the one's sitting down to use the loo, of course.

The concept is a carriage which combines all the functions that would normally be dotted about the train in other vehicles such as the guard's compartment, a toilet and the kitchen / buffet area.

124 goes a stage further because it also holds a generator to provide the electrical power for the carriage's equipment.

124 is not an entirely new carriage. The bodyshell - which is rather ugly, if we're being honest about it - is brand spanking new but it has been plonked on a third hand underframe which was once upon a time a carriage on the Isle of Man Railway, then ran around as 1981-built 'tin carr' 121, before that was scrapped and re-born as 124.

It most respects this model of 124 was a fairly standard 'Barn' build with the exception of the glazing.

To give the crew some privacy some of the windows on the real carriage are covered in a reflective film, the kind that allows you to see out from inside but which looks like a mirror on the outside.

How, we wondered, were we going to recreate this in model form? The answer, in fact, was to do exactly the same as on the prototype. We were kindly given an off cut of the self-adhesive film used on the windows of 124 which was applied to the back of the styrene glazing, and it works a treat!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Big One

My first 7mm scale carriage, a model of FR Observation Carr 100, is finally finished and has been submitted to the tender mercies of the Royal Mail to be delivered to its new home in the Highlands of Scotland.

Himself has blown a coat of matt varnish over it with his airbrush and the glazing has been slipped into place.

And that's about all there is to say, other than that building this model has been a real eye-opener for me and if I was starting modelling the FR again from scratch again I think I would definitely go up a size to 7mm.

Do you like it?

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Too Hot To Handrail

Among the sundry details to be completed on 'Glaslyn' are the handrails on either side of the doors at the rear of the carriage.

These are quite tricky things to make because they cannot be done by simply bending one piece of wire into shape. The struts that fix the vertical hand rail are positioned a little way in from the ends.

The only way to replicate this is to cast or etch a single piece or to fabricate it. I have done the latter.

Now, those of you who have been reading this blog for a while will know that me and soldering irons have only recently become acquainted, and making bits like these provides many exciting opportunities to suffer third degree burns.

There is also plenty of scope to muck them up, too. It's vital to make sure that they're all identical and that the struts are all soldered on in the same spots.

Himself had made some in 4mm when completing some of the latest WHR carriages and informed me that they were complete swines to make!

All these considerations led me to one conclusion - I needed a jig.

My solution was to start off by drilling parallel holes into a piece of thin tongue and groove to hold the struts...

Not only would this guarantee I could make each of the handrails identical it would also do most of the holding for me, which is just as well because I definitely don't have asbestos fingers!

Here you can see the wire being offered up to complete the handrail...

A dollop of solder on each of the joints and the job's a good'un. Here are all four now made up...

Here's how they look on the model during a trial fitting..

Friday, 18 November 2011

Arc de Triomphe

As I mentioned a few days ago, our Artistic Director has indeed been busy. As well as twisting up the first of the trees for the layout he has painted the 'Bridge To Nowhere'

I think the finished result looks absolutely fantastic, a triumph in fact, but I couldn't really tell you much about how it was done other than the self-evident fact than the Artistic Director is very talented.

So I was pleased when he offered to tap out a few observations on how he did it:

Himself has excelled again in his recreation of 'The Bridge to Nowhere', that iconic entrance arch to Beddgelert. The archeology of the early railway history in this area forms an important component of our layout and this particular structure will be a key feature at this end of our model.

Studying this bridge as we have for many years, it reveals a complex mix of materials including slate, limestone and a warm, almost orange, sandstone. The southern face gets the sun and is consequently paler but the north facing stonework is another story, dark and damp! After more than 80 years minerals leaking through the structure have created wonderful staining and crusts more often associated with underground chambers and caves.

Consequently the wonderful model, faced with appropriate embossed plastic, deserved the very best paint job if all that character was to be captured.

I worked from over 30 images of the bridge, each capturing a different aspect, colour or stain, and not forgetting a piece of presumably Welsh graffiti under the arch!

Only acrylic paints can produce the blend of colours, the streaky and crusty mineral deposits and the subtle colour transitions, sometimes within an individual stone. As with our stock weathering I rely largely on matt white, leather and for built structures like this, a dark grey rather than black. Acrylics may dry fast but nothing beats them when you are working up a different hue on each individual stone. A real challenge but hopefully we have delivered!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

MOTW - Vale Of Ffestiniog

We're going modern image for this latest Model Of The Week feature, the FR's handsome Funkey diesel 'Vale of Ffestiniog'.

Not everyone is a fan of its aesthetics, however. Among railway workers it was colloquially referred to as the 'Blue Brick'.

While researching this post I had one of those moments when you suddenly notice how the years have flown by. If you'd asked me I wouldn't have guessed that this model is now 10 years old but I realised it was when I looked out an article I wrote for Railway Modeller in January 2002 about its construction.

Oh dear, I'm feeling rather old now!

Anyway, back to the model. The basis is a Worsley Works scratch-aid kit running on a Farish Class 90 chassis.

(See a previous post about our model of the WHR's original outline Funkey 'Castell Caernarfon' for more on our solution to represent the much bigger bogie frames on the locomotives.)

There is no such thing as a 'bog standard' Worsley model. Because of the concept of the kits, which provide only a basic bodyshell, there is tremendous scope to detail the model in your own way.

Thus there is gratifying payback in the look of the finished locomotive for all the extra effort a modeller puts in.

For example, some of the added details which Himself put on our Vale were handrails on the front and sides, the upper and lower headlight clusters and windscreen wipers to name just three.

He also took care to shorten the roof which is well-over length as etched.

Our 'Vale' is finished in the original National Power livery - in deference to the firm which sponsored Steve Coulson's radical rebuild of the South African machine to fit the FR loading gauge. We used paints from the Railmatch range and the transfers (decals for foreign readers) are those produced by Fox for a 4mm scale model of the handful of GM Class 59's which once upon a time wore NP livery.

Since the WHR was once again connected to the FR the locomotive has seen extensive use on the 'Dark Side' but, of course, not in this technicolour livery. (It now sports a two-tone green not unlike that originally applied to the Class 47's.) This, of course, will preclude us using this particular model on Bron Hebog and we shall probably have to build a replacement in the 'correct livery'.


Oh sod it! Why rebuild a perfectly good model? Let's just run it out of period. It'll give the smug pedants something complain about at exhibtions!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Interior Design

I'm getting tantalisingly close to the end of the build phase on the 7mm model of WHR Pullman Obs 'Glaslyn'.

The task this weekend was to fix all the interior details in place, and there are a lot of them.

Just like with my 4mm carriages the seats, tables and the internal dividers are fixed directly to the chassis and are designed to fit up inside the bodyshell with just enough clearance to slip the glazing in place after the carriage is painted.

Here's how it looks if you take a peek through the windows..

Now the only major items left to put on the carriage are the two B's - the bogies and the bags (vacuum hoses) - and then it's probably ready to paint.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Branching Out

The onset of autumn has seen a burst of modelling activity from our Artistic Director.

One of the jobs he's been getting on with is starting work on some of the many trees we will need on Bron Hebog. Our intention is model the principle trees around the station as closely as we can.

The basic structure is being developed by extracting the copper wires from Tri-Rated Cable and twisting them into various tree forms e.g. oaks or beech.

Stage two sees the application of solder to bind the fine copper wire and then a covering of a filler over the main trunk and branches before final spraying.

Woodland Scenics will then be applied to provide the foliage.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Chair Man Of The Bored!

That's all the seats made for 'Glaslyn' now - thank goodness for that!

I didn't particularly want to write a negative post, or give you the impression that I don't enjoy my modelling (of course I do) but the fact remains there are some bits of the process that are more absorbing than others and some that are downright boring.

I often find that making the interiors falls into the latter category, particularly with a carriage like this where I have to repeat the same process 14 times for one type of seat and the other 12 times.

I love starting work on a new model and seeing the outline develop. There's another high point when all four sides are joined together and it starts to look like a carriage, and again when the roof goes on.

But, frankly, I can take or leave doing the bits like the corridor connections and the seats.

I wouldn't say I had a short attention span, and neither am I one of those people who starts lots of projects and never sees any of them through, but I can't deny that midway through a build I find myself longing to get it finished so that I can start work on the next thing.

I think that's why my heart sank when Boston Lodge turned out a job lot of three WHR saloons a couple of years back and I spent many months avoiding the issue - getting on with other models instead - before I forced myself to knuckle down and get the job done. (In business-speak they are a very 'core' part of the stock for Bron Hebog and had to be done.) I can distinctly remember the moment when I told myself to 'get a grip' and 'get it over with' while on an especially relaxing holiday strolling on one of my favourite beaches on the beautiful Isle of Islay.

Is it just me, or is this something that a lot of other modellers experience as well?

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

MOTW - Mountaineer

Another Model Of The Week request has flooded in.This time a reader is asking for details of our version of ALCO Great War veteran 'Mountaineer', and I am delighted to oblige.

Here it is pictured in the Down loop at Dduallt with the green and ivory push-pull set.

This is the 2nd version of 'Mountaineer' to have run on the layout. Both have been built from venerable GEM whitemetal kits but the one you see here has been altered and improved in a number of places to more accurately show the loco in the condition it ran in the late '80s and early '90s.

The most obvious change is to the cab. The GEM kit shows 'Mountaineer' with the slope-sides it received during its first rebuild at Boston Lodge. It took full advantage of the FR's loading gauge but left little room for the the driver and his mate to safely poke their heads outside. It was changed to a more traditional FR Fairlie-style profile in 1983 after one too many of the Alco's crew had brained themselves on lineside structures.

At the front end we built up the are around the cylinders to look like the piston valves it received in 1982 and - although you can't see it in the picture, unfortunately - Himself knocked up something approximating the not-so subtle lubricator.

The chassis is one of the least sophisticated in the fleet. It is an unaltered Arnold 0-6-0. There are no outside bar frames, cranks or clattering bits of Walschaerts valve gear to be seen and wouldn't be surprised if the layout operators visibly wince every time it emerges from the fiddle yards into public view.

Getting something better down below has long been on my wish list. For a while I considered fitting a Roco outside framed chassis, as others have done. I don't mind admitting it was the cost of purchasing one of these which put me off and it was probably just as well seeing how other 009 modellers who have shoehorned these mechanisms beneath heavy whitemetal kits have watched helplessly as they self-destructed and wobbled into oblivion.

At the moment my current thinking is to adapt a Backwoods outside frame chassis, but as with so many other things it's just a question of getting round to doing it.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Supplementary Seats

In a few snatched minutes of modelling this week I have knocked up the first pair of the big Pullman armchairs for the back of 'Glaslyn'.

Now I've sorted out how I'm going to make them, what size of strip to use where etc, I should be able to rattle off the other 10 fairly quickly.

You'll notice that these seats are rather less detailed in the leg department than the smaller chairs in the observation compartment, and that's for no other reason than you wouldn't be able to see them even if they were there. (Unlike at the front of the carriage where I can't get away with such shortcuts.)

Such a slipshod attitude is the reason I will never be inducted into any finescale fellowship, but I've never really seen the point in doing details you can't see. There are too many models to make and too little time.


Friday, 4 November 2011

Celebratory Sneak Peak

And so the Bron Hebog blog passes another milestone - the 250th post.

Himself doesn't usually like posting pictures of models midway through the painting process, preferring the world to see them as the finished article, but I discovered he had taken a snap of 123 in its almost-there state so I imported it onto the blog when he wasn't looking.

(It was taken on a camera phone so please excuse the fact that it's a tiny bit blurred)

At these anniversaries I also enjoy taking stock of where the blog has got to in terms of readership. (After all, there's no point doing it if no one's reading it, is there?)

I was very gratified the other day to have finally 'bagged' Sweden, getting my first visit recorded from there - I was beginning to think the Swedes don't go in for modelling narrow gauge railways, unlike the Danes and Norwegians who seem to log in here on a regular basis.

Surprisingly, for the world's most populous country, I've not picked up any hits from China. But then again, given the nature of the Government and its control over what's viewed on the Net, perhaps that's not such a surprise?

However, I am getting close to a full set of states in the USA. There are just a handful of missing ones 'to get'. So if any of our Stateside readers have modelling acquaintances in Vermont, Michigan, West Virginia, Rhode Island, Minnesota, the Dakotas, Idaho, Utah or Alaska please suggest to them they take a quick look at Bron Hebog and you'll make this blogger / modeller very happy!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

MOTW - Linda

Time, I think, to feature another locomotive on Model Of The Week and I've chosen the FR's recently-returned workhorse 'Linda'.

Linda and her sister Blanche have been on the FR for so long now (it'll be 50 years for Linda next year) that I've begun to consider them as 'native' engines like the Englands and Fairlies.

I've got a couple of reasons for wanting to feature Linda now. One is that this model will be retired in the coming months when a replacement, built from a brass Backwoods kit, comes into service. (You can read the latest entry about this project here)

There is a second reason why Linda is on my mind at the moment but I'm afraid you'll have to wait a while for me to tell you about that - it's top secret.

This Linda is mostly made from a whitemetal Parkside Dundas kit. I say 'mostly' because 20 years ago when she was constructed the only kit available was for Linda (and Blanche or Charles) was in original Penrhyn condition, ie. no tender.

So how did we go about making a tender for Linda? We did exactly what the FR did - we adapted one from an England engine, in this case a Langley 'Prince' kit. We widened the sides of the tender by building them up with styrene and dug out the whitemetal casting of the coal and replaced it with the oil tank.

The other obvious alteration was the retro-fitting of outside frames / cranks. This was done by disassembling the Ibertren chassis and replacing the original axles with longer ones, hand-filing and drilling a set of cranks and fitting them onto the ends and then slipping a false frame, made of very thin styrene, behind in the cranks and in front of the wheels.

This arrangement served both Ladies very well until Blanche dropped her knickers in spectacular - and terminal - style at an exhibition earlier this year (read the sorry tale here).

This event prompted Himself to resume work on a pair of Backwoods Miniatures kits which had been languishing in a drawer for too many years.

Blanche is now finished (see here) while Linda is awaiting her new dome which is being turned up for us with the safety valves on the top which will be correct for her intended livery - the Midnight Blue she wore in the mid-1990's.

The wheel has come full-circle on the real railway with Linda returning to service this summer once again sporting FR green, once again making our model correct.

Here's another shot of her double-heading with 'Mountaineer' on Dduallt.