Saturday, 31 December 2011

Blwyddwyn Newydd Dda / Happy New Year

Best wishes for 2012 to all our readers around the world. (I know it's still Hogmanay here in GMT-land as I post this, but some of you will have already had 'the bells' by now.)

2012 is going to be an exciting year for Bron Hebog. We'll be taking the layout out twice in April and May to shows in Hampshire and Buckinghamshire.

Between now and then Himself, the Artistic Director and The Guru will be putting in a lot of hard work on the scenery. The layout will most certainly not be complete - far from it - but we hope you'll be impressed by what we do have to show you.

Up here at the Scottish end of the operation my modelling resolutions are to keep pace with the Boston Lodge carriage works and get models of the new Super Barns 121 and 108 made this year.

I would also like to make a start on a model of the prototype Parry People Mover, which I flagged up on the blog last year. I have a Kato tram chassis ready in the drawer so I've no excuse, other than lack of time and space on the modelling bench, for not getting it done.

I anticipate Himself will also be finishing off Linda in the next few months.

And there's one final aspiration, for this blog to break through the 100k barrier. Please help us along by liking Bron Hebog on Facebook or following us on Twitter.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

MOTW - 'Bodysgallen'

The Model of the Week this time is the 4mm version of a carriage I'm currently building in 7mm for a client - WHR Pullman 'Bodysgallen'.

At the time I made this carriage, at least ten years ago or possibly more, I considered it the most challenging model I'd yet built.

Some of the trickiest bits were the oval windows, which I described making for the larger model a few days ago.

This model of 'Bodysgallen' is in the condition in which the carriage was delivered to the WHR, complete with the table lamps which didn't hang around for long. Our solution for modelling these was to break open and steal the cast lamps from a OO Hornby model of a Pullman coach which was lying about in a box at home. They were a perfect fit.

Other details intended for a 4mm standard gauge carriage are the transfers which are from the Fox Transfers range. They're perhaps a tiny, weeny bit oversize, but they do the job and look very effective.

My one regret with this carriage is that I built it with the corridor connections in the closed position at both ends, because that's how it was running on the railway when I researched the model. It's been on my mind for a while now to make some bits which I can graft onto at least one end of the carriage to look more like the corridor is open and in use.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011


The bodysides for 'Bodysgallen' are almost finished.

The challenge on this carriage is creating the round corners of the panels. I've done it the same way on this 7mm model as I did on my 4mm version which runs on Bron Hebog.

I curl a small length of styrene strip and then feed it into the corner gluing it along the straight edges on either side. When all the corners are done I fix some more runs of straight strip in between to complete the panel effect.

Model filler is deployed to deal with the gaps that remain in the corners.

I've also used more strip to finish off the windows, starting with the long horizontal bar and then cutting some small pieces to very fine tolerances to fix in place for the vertical divisions.

The next stage is to complete the four door sub-assemblies and the two ends and join them all together into carriage shape.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Nadolig Llawen / Merry Christmas

I'd like to wish a very Merry Christmas to all readers of this blog wherever you are in the world.

We appreciate you taking the time to linger a while and read about what we're working on as Bron Hebog inches towards completion.

Highlights of the year for me were the completion of our models of Lyd, K1, and finally finishing the KMX tamper, a project I had been working on for more than two years.

It was also a lot of fun to take Dduallt out on the road again and to get the chance to meet a number of readers face to face.

I can only hope you've enjoyed reading about our models as much as I've enjoyed writing about them.

PS. Thanks to the Artistic Director (Francis) for the lovely festive illustration of Dinas (FR) in times gone by.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

MOTW - The Cherry Picker

Our festive Model Of The Week would be perfect for putting the fairy on top of a giant Christmas tree: it's the FR's Cherry Picker wagon.

It's one of our models that I am particularly proud of because of the challenges I had to overcome making it and because, as far as I know, it's the only model of this wagon.

The Cherry Picker was conceived, designed and built by the FR's Signal and Telegraph department staff and volunteers as a faster and much safer way of maintaining the railway's 'pole route'.

The guts of the machine is a self contained, skid mounted unit which was found in a scrapyard near Blaenau Ffestiniog still attached to a life-expired Bedford CF van.

It was bought and the hydraulics fully overhauled by the team.

Boston Lodge built the well wagon onto which the skid was mounted and the wagon runs on a pair of spare Hudson bogies, one of which has a hand brake.

The team had a stroke of good fortune when they discovered that the base of the lifting unit would fit neatly inside the shell of an old mobile generator unit, which in turn was a snug fit on the well-wagon.

Just as I wrote last week (about mess coach 1000) it's another fine example of FR recycling and ingenuity and the wonderful thing about it is the whole machine looks as if it could have been designed that way on a blank piece of paper.

My model is entirely scratch built (except for the Hudson bogies which are made by Parkside Dundas) and 99% of it was done in styrene. (The 1% is the etched brass non-slip chequer plate surface on the well-wagon.)

I am particularly proud of my representation of the picker basket on the end of the boom which was also fashioned out of one piece of thin styrene which was curved, bent, folded, and finally, bonded into submission.

If I was a much better metal-worker it would have been more logical, I'm sure, to have made this out of brass, but I'm not and so I didn't.

Neither am I much of a micro-engineer so I'm afraid the picker boom is very much a static model.

Unfortunately this is one model you'll probably never seen running on Bron Hebog unless the FR retro-fits the real wagon with vacuum brakes to comply with the WHR safety regulations.

But as there's no pole route on the 'Dark Side' why would they ever need to?

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Hairy Moments

Himself has been cracking on with the scenery around Goat Tunnel and things a have been getting pretty hairy!

The hairiness in this case is dyed carpet underlay which we use to represent long, straggly wild grasses, a technique we previously employed on Dduallt.

In the first shot above, of Goat Tunnel Cutting, you're seeing the underlay as it is first applied in a thick layer. When the top layers are pulled off and it is teased out it looks much subtler, as here below..

Here you can also see how other flocks and tiny pieces of stone have been scattered on top of complete the effect.

Of course, what you're looking at in these pictures is but one tiny corner of Bron Hebog, so Himself will have many more hours of teasing and sticking the underlay to cover the many scale acres of layout.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Total Ellipse

More elliptical entertainment for you today - this time as I begin work on the main bodysides for 'Bodysgallen'.

These are quite simple to knock up with relatively few, thick, pillars compared to your average carriage.

It also has two distinctive Pullman windows at either side so it was ovaltime again and the challenge was not to make a horlicks of it.

(Did you see what I did there?)

It took me a few goes to get them right. The key is getting the size of the guide triangles in the corners correct.

My first attempts were either too thin or not tall enough. These windows are a lot fatter, and more circular than the ones on the doors. I got there in the end though.

Here's a before and after shot.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Chimney Mystery

The last, and the smallest, of the Cwm Cloch outbuildings is now getting some attention on the Artistic Director's turntable.

He's blown a first coat of paint over it...

We're quite intrigued by what the purpose of this building was? It has a quite a distinctive chimney and it is positioned away from the main buildings. A drying process or power for machinery such as milking or shearing, perhaps?

Do any readers with agricultural expertise have any suggestions?

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

MOTW - Moelwyn

Our Model Of The Week this time around is one of Himself's favourite FR locos: the Baldwin tractor 'Moelwyn'.

This jaunty little diesel is another of the FR's Great War veterans which has been in Wales since 1925, although it spent its first 31 years as a petrol drinker.

For me the secret of Moelwyn's charm lies in its outside cracks and the unusual layout with the jack shaft at the front. It is quite a sight when running at speed as it pogo's up the line with a metronomic bouncing motion.

Our model was built from one of the wonderful Meridian Models kits for the original spec 0-4-0 Baldwin tractor which Himself adapted to add the frame extension and pony truck at the front which date from a 1957 rebuild at Boston Lodge.

Moelwyn is also a favourite of FR stalwart Ian Rudd who coerced Himself and other willing volunteers into repainting the loco into a rather smart crimson livery a couple of years ago.

The pictures above show Moelwyn running with Britomart on Dduallt recreating, as accurately as we could, Ian's 60th birthday special this year which traversed the entire FR & WHR system.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Final Resting Place

Himself has sent me some pictures of the Bridge To Nowhere installed in its position on the layout.

The embankments have been made up with Mod Roc and the next job will be to paint and weather the plaster cast walls which are a Ten Commandments product, by the way.

These pictures again show off the quite superb painting job from the Artistic Director which really emphasises the first class work with embossed plasticard and styrene on the bridge by Himself.

Overall a great team effort!

The Bridge To Nowhere is going to be a very eye catching feature of the front left corner of Bron Hebog.

I think it's going to look even better to the naked eye than in these photographs and those of you within easy travelling distance of the south east of England will be able to see for yourselves when the (incomplete) layout is shown at exhibitions in Hampshire and Buckinghamshire in April and May.

See the Exhibition Diary page for details.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

What Did The Romans Ever Do For Linda?

Not a lot for her looks, that's for certain.

During one of Linda's FR overhauls - in the mid-80's I believe - her safety valves were moved from their position inside the cab onto the top of her big, shiny dome, which was given a little upward extension, which some people refer to as a 'Roman Helmet'.

You can see it here in this mid-90's shot of Linda leaving Tanygrisiau.

This is all relevant to Bron Hebog because Himself is in the process of building a Backwoods Miniatures 'Linda' to replace our ageing Dundas / Ibertren model.

Our intention is to finish the loco in the Midnight Blue livery as in the picture above.

If you look back through previous posts - or indeed if you've been reading this for a while - you'll see how we had to call in outside assistance to turn up a new dome for our Backwoods 'Blanche' because the one supplied with the kit is a little undersize.

Our friendly man-with-a-lathe, Chris Veitch, also volunteered to take on the tricky task of turning up a dome for Linda complete with her helmet, and here is a glimpse of how he's getting on.

It still needs something to represent the actual safety valves in there but I for one thing it looks terrific.

The helmet, incidentally, is now history, with Linda's safety valves returned to their original position during her most recent overhaul and her dome restored to its proper dimensions.

Friday, 9 December 2011

On Tour

The Bron Hebog boys are going on tour this weekend - or should I say the Old Boys are.

Himself, the Artistic Director and The Guru are taking the road to Wigan to exhibit the Cooper Hire MRC's flagship WCML layout New Mills at the finescale show this weekend.

So if any of our readers are going along to the show do please say hello to the them.

New Mills will be shown this weekend in the 1960's steam / diesel transition era.

There will be another chance to see it at the end of February at Model Rail Scotland at the SECC in Glasgow.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

MOTW - Mess Coach 1000

Narrow gauge railways like the FR have been recycling long, long before it ever became fashionable and the WHR mess carriage 1000 was just one of the more recent examples.

It began life in 1965 as the first of the 'Barn' Observation Carrs and was truly revolutionary in terms of passenger comfort and luxury on the FR.

By the early years of the 21st Century the wooden body was well past its designed life-span and rapidly reaching the point where it was financially and practically more sensible to scrap it and start again: which is exactly what the railway did.

The original 100 had a final fling in passenger service on the WHR before it was stripped of its posh Pullman armchairs in the rear saloon, mounted on a pair of ex-SAR bogies, and saw out its days as a mess coach for the volunteer gangs laying the track on Phase 4 of the rebuilding project from Rhyd Ddu to Porthmadog.

And when the rails reached Porthmadog it was no longer needed and was scrapped.

To avoid confusion with the brand new Observation Carr 100 it had an extra 0 added to its running number.

Our model of 1000 is also a neat piece of recycling.

It began life in the passenger fleet on Dduallt as a model of 100. In time, as my scratchbuilding skills improved, I made a second model of 100 and this one gathered dust in a drawer.

When the real carriage was requisitioned for 'departmental service' at Dinas, Himself decided to give our old 100 another lease of life.

Accordingly it was mounted on a new set of bogies, had most of its interior detail stripped out and received some wasp stripes at either end.

Running as 1000 this previously discarded carriage now has many years service ahead of it on Bron Hebog.

The Green Party would be proud of us.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


So, I've begun work on the 7mm model of Pullman carr 'Bodysgallen'. And because I'm running rather short on stock of 30" styrene right now - and the bodysides need rather a lot of it - I've decided to start off with the doors.

This carriage was designed to look like a mini-version of the famous Brighton Belle Pullman parlour carrs on the Southern Railway and has doors dominated by those very distinctive elongated oval windows.

So how am I going to make those? Well, I'm doing exactly the same as I did on the 4mm scale version I made a number of years back.

It relies on the same technique of curving a styrene strip that I have demonstrated before to make round-framed windows.

From left to right here you can see how I start by making a rectangular frame, then glue some triangular pieces into the corners. Then I curl in the strip which is 40 thou thick so it stands a little proud.

The next step is to fill the gaps with Milliput and they'll be ready for the second layer of detail such as the framing around the door.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

That Reminds Me...

The Artistic Director's efforts painting the Cwm Cloch farm buildings reminded me that there's one of them missing.

After I'd built it we realised = on a subsequent research visit to Beddgelert - that the smallest of the buildings had been made with a door where it should have had a window.

So I have set about fixing it.

Here's the offending door...

Fortunately correcting the error was relatively straightforward. By good fortune I found an off cut of 60 thou styrene which was exactly the right width to fit in doorway...

After a few minutes work scraping away with one of my dental instruments of torture we end up with a reasonably convincing styrene graft...

I am comforted by the though that once the Artistic Director has finished with his brushes no one will notice the alteration.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Colouring Cwm Cloch

Our Artistic Director's getting on with the job of working his magic on some of the buildings for Bron Hebog which I've made.

Here you can see some of the Cwm Cloch farm buildings after they have been given a base coat with the airbrush.

These barns, longhouses and sheds were made from plain styrene sheet with the stones scribed into the plastic one by one and the slates were applied as strips of thick paper with a cut to define each tile.

Now the models are one uniform colour it's pleasing to see how convincing are my efforts to represent the dilapidated roofs on these buildings.