Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Dduallt - The Movie!

For those of you who couldn't get to see Dduallt at Railex last weekend here's a chance to see our models moving.

Paul Burkitt-Gray shot this video sequence at the Stoke Mandeville show. He shot close up and has taken care to edit the sequence and it's one of the best videos of the layout I've yet to see.

Dduallt from Paul Burkitt-Gray on Vimeo.

As is the way these days there were many, many people filming the layout over the weekend, and as Paul didn't want to interrupt us to introduce himself I have no idea which of the multitude of cameramen (and they were all men) he was.

Also, as the operators are not shown, I do not know who was responsible for the instances of speeding in the video, but rest assured if I do discover their identities reprimands will be issued!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Railex- Day 2

A very enjoyable second day at Railex 2011. It was great to see many familiar faces from the FR at the exhibition and to meet fellow bloggers Chris Nevard and Phil Parker.

As I mentioned in yesterday's report Blanche is in disgrace having shed a crank in spectacular fashion and spent the day marooned in the headshunt the bottom of Dduallt station.

An amusing postscript to this episode is that one of our Saturday visitors, an FR volunteer driver, posted a message on Facebook stating simply that 'Blanche had broken a crank at Dduallt' and number of his friends took the bait and fired back messages of concern for the actual locomotive.

Sister, Linda, turned back the clock to the 1980's double-heading with Mountaineer on the red set...

And also fulfilled one of our reader's requests appearing on the green push-pull consist....

This time two Garratts took a gander round the sprial...

And the detente between the FR and the WHHR seems to be developing....

Grateful thanks to the Risborough and District MRC for organising a superb exhibition and looking after the exhibitors very well with a limitless supply of free tea, coffee and biscuits (!) as well as an evening buffet at a local pub with a terrific array of real ales on tap.

Railex - Day 1

A few snaps from the first day of Railex at Stoke Mandeville with Dduallt on show for the first time in 18 months.

It was a day of debuts for some of our latest models.

Firmly in the realms of modellers' licence WHR NGG16 87 made a few light engine trips around the spiral.

A WHR construction train also appeared to have continued onto FR metals using the cross town link in Port....

As promised Mr Rudd's birthday special was recreated. Our Moelwyn is in green livery and our 101 had to be turned to face Blaenau to double for 123 which is still on the workbench, but not a bad effort....

The cherry picker was on show for the first time, taking its place in a P Way / S&T train..

There is one casualty to report. Sadly Blanche is out of traffic for the rest of the weekend after a catastrophic loss of quartering on the rear axle which lead her to shed a fly crank. Quite an achievement for a model which is all-gear drive!!!

It was great to meet a number of blog readers at the show, look forward to maybe seeing some more today.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Dduallt Debuts

A last post before I head for the tropical climate of the home counties of England, and a last plug for Dduallt's appearance at Railex in Stoke Mandeville this weekend.

Visitors be treated to the public debut of our newest models including Lyd, the KMX tamper and the cherry picker wagon.

There's still time to help decide what train formations we run on the layout this weekend - see the previous post called Request Show.

If you're coming along please say hi and tell us you read the blog.

And for those who can't make it I'll do my best to post some pictures here over the weekend.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

All Together Now

I found some time this morning for a short session on the pair of Barns I'm building for a client.

I'd finished detailing the sides last week and they had been stored in photo album beneath some heavy books to keep them vaguely flat. (The action of the solvent on the styrene makes them curl up a little.)

Before they could be glued into a box shape I added the corridor connection pieces onto the ends and mounted some blocks on the rear of the sides to set the floor at the right height.

The next job was to make a floor and the flat false roof which keep the assembly nice and square from now on.

Incidentally, is anyone interested in some step-by-step details of how I go about making the FR corridor connections out of styrene?

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

It's Looking Grim

I should be getting really excited about the prospect of playing with Dduallt at Railex this weekend for the first time in a year and a half.

Instead I find myself, like thousands of other airline passengers, nervously scanning weather forecasts and official aviation statements trying to second guess whether my flight from Glasgow to London this Friday is going to happen or not.

Being a radio reporter many people might suppose I've got the inside track on what Grimsvotn's going to do next and where the wind will blow the ash, but the reality is we in the media have got no more idea that the rest of you.

The situation changes every couple of hours and there's no point worrying about it because I won't know for sure until Friday morning whether my travel plans have turned to ash or not.

That's easier said that done, of course, so at least I have these new pictures sent by Himself of the completed Combination Carr to try and take my mind off it.

Himself tells me that he's never making another one because it was a job and a half to get all the windows in place - it took him the best part of a day apparently!

One final thought on the volcano / ash cloud.

I have checked and it seems I have never had any hits on this blog from Iceland, so with there being little chance of offending any readers I would like to state for the record that their geology sucks!

There, I feel better to have got that off my chest!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Identical Twins

The absence of new models appearing on this blog in recent weeks may have given you the impression that I have been slacking but in fact I have still be beavering away at the workbench on another (yes, yet another!) pair of Barns for a client.

These will turn into a 123 and a 107 to run alongside the 102 and 105 recently delivered to the Line With No Name

If you've been paying attention for the last few weeks you will realise that this means I have a set of (near) identical twins on the go - 2 123's, a 106 (for me) and now a 107 (which is as identical to 106 as FR carriages ever get).

Here's how mine are looking at the moment.

I've had a little pause in the work on 123 because I was unsure what bits and pieces it is carrying underneath the floor since its rebuild, so I would like to record my grateful thanks to the FR's Roger Dimmick for finding time to slip out into the sidings at Harbour station to take some snaps for me.

Just a week remains now until I will be heading down south to join up with Himself and the rest of the Bron Hebog crew to show Dduallt at Railex, and I must confess I'm getting very excited at the thought of playing with my 'train set' again for the first time in 18 months. Hope to see some of you there.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Mess Coach Progress

A couple of snaps from Himself to show how he's getting on with painting the ex-C&U Combination Carr / WHR track gang mess coach.

It's quite a fiddly job applying the black around the window frames so it's good to see that he can still keep a steady hand after his return from the arduous mission to sample the real ales on offer in the city of Derby last weekend on the fimsy pretext of showing New Mills at an exhibition.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Request Show

A wonderful example of the quirky and cuddly side the FR / WHR this weekend - as opposed to the slick, standard-setting daily services - when tiny Quarry Hunslet'Britomart' and WW1 veteran 'Moelwyn' combined for a mammoth 81 mile jaunt along the combined system to celebrate Ian Rudd's 60th birthday.

Ian has been a good friend to all the Bron Hebog team over the years and Himself had to reluctantly decline his invitation of a place on the charter due to a prior engagement with one of the CHMRC's other layout's New Mills in Derby.

For those who don't know Ian he's been a stalwart volunteer and staff member on the FR, at one time running the railway's catering operation, firing steam locos and driving the diesels and more recently encouraging and cajoling teams to rebuild Rhiw Goch signal box and improve the appearance of Rhoslyn cottage at Dduallt. He's also a generous host who makes a mean bacon butty!

Which brings me on to the main point of this post, which is to announce that we will be staging our own tribute to Ian by replicating his birthday special when we show Dduallt at Railex next weekend.

(Our Moelwyn is the wrong colour and we might have to make a wee change to the carriage formation but I don't think anyone will mind too much.)

Over the last 20 years we've modelled almost the entire rolling stock of the FR, so if you're intending to come along next weekend, and if there's a particular formation or combination you'd like to see running on the layout leave a note in the comments below and we'll do our best to oblige.

And if you'd like to see some more of Ian's special train here's a video of part of the trip on the WHR section posted on You Tube by Tom and Matt Waldren.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Second Service

With the lion's share of the work on 123 completed thoughts are turning to what I'll be tackling next and I think it'll probably be 2011, the WHR's second 'service carriage'.

Over the winter the boys in the Boston Lodge carriage works have been converting the line's original semi-open carriage 2020 into a closed vehicle which combines the functions of the brake / guard's van, catering facility, mobile generator and lavatory.

Himself took these pictures at Blodge a couple of weeks ago which show the exterior is more of less complete, which means with all the beading detail in place it's safe for me to start making the model.

This view of the other side of the carriage shows the generator which sits on a sliding platform within the compartment. A large pair of doors have yet to be fixed to the bodyside.

This shot of the progress fitting out the catering end of the vehicle shows the quality of the design and finish that the FR carriage team produce time after time.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Interior Design

I've been getting on very well with 123. Yesterday the bodyshell was taken to 90% complete and today I've added the interior, using my usual method of fixing the seats and tables to the removable once piece floor / chassis which will also keep the glazing in place when the model is finished.

123 has been fitted out with what are now the standard FR Third Class seats, albeit in an unconventional pattern. At the Observation end - where in its guise as 101 there were fixed swivelling seats - there are now 2 x 2 longitudinal seats followed by a bay and a half of 2 x 1 laid out in the normal fashion. In this it is rather reminiscent of vintage Obs 11 (or Van 4 if you must insist on the current designation - still can't get used to it myself.)

The other change is that the seat backs are no longer all in line with window pillars, an unfortunate compromise which I suppose is a legacy of its original design to fit the much bigger Pullman armchairs.

You may also notice towards the rear (guard's comp) there are tip up seats where a wheelchair can be accommodated on each side and the folding oval tables - one is fully open on the model the other has half folded, as they were when Himself took some research snaps for me on the AGM train a couple of weeks back.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011


123's reached that most satisfying stage of the build when the four sides are glued together, a floor and roof are made up and for the first time you glimpse what the finished carriage is going to look like.

The final detailing job before gluing it into a box was to add some bits of sytrene rod and thin brass wire to represent the electrical connections at each end of the carriage. These, of course, are rather a contradiction because really when running in a train formation they should be connected to the neighbouring carriage, but just like with vacuum pipes it's one of those massive compromises most modellers make and conspire to ignore.

I use Milliput epoxy putty for forming the domed ends of the Observation Carrs (and the Tin Carrs) and it has yet to be finished off with the abrasive paper in the photographs - it takes a day to set - and I will need to add a lip at the front above the end windows and add a little more filler because I've made the roof base just a tiny, weeny bit short.

So, onto the interior now....

Monday, 9 May 2011

A Great Combination

Having completed his recent big projects, 'Lyd' and the KMX Tamper, Himself is now working on finishing off some long-term projects before hopefully getting down to some more scenic progress on the layout.

One item that's been sitting incomplete on the shelf for a wee while now is the ex-Chattenden & Upnor passenger brake.

Its main use on the WHR has been as a mess coach for construction trains, but it has also been employed as a passenger brake during gala events.

It was built to 2' 6" gauge in 1957 by D. Wickham & Co. Ltd for the military and was known as a Combination Car (because it had separate compartments for officers and ratings). It was then sold to the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway in 1961, who in turn sold it, minus bogies, to the 2' gauge South Tynedale Railway in 1989. It was not used there either and was subsequently bought at the outset of the WHR project.fo It has been regauged from 2'6" to 2' gauge, by fitting a pair of South African bogies, and has been painted to match the standard FR/WHR carriage livery.

I was intending to scratch build a model of it, and took down some basic measurements many years ago, but in the meantime Worsley Works produced one of their scratch-aid kits in etched brass, which provides the basis of our model.

It has had a roof and other details such as handrails made up and is now being painted. Here is it is below dismantled and given a coat of primer.

You can see that Himself has made up a basic interior including the slatted bench seats.

It may possibly be taken for a run around the sprial when we take Dduallt to Railex at the end of the month

Friday, 6 May 2011

Obs & Ends

One of the most satisfying parts of carriage building, I've always found, is making the ends of the FR's Observation Carrs.

I think it's because they're such iconic vehicles, especially the first generation of Barns, such as 101 / 123 which I'm working on at the moment, with their triple windows at the downhill end. For me these have always shouted 'FR' more so than Double Fairlies, strangely enough.

This afternoon after a 12 hour shift at work, from 3.30am, editing our coverage of the Scottish elections - what an utterly astonishing result! - I managed an hour at the modelling bench to knock up the ends for 123, without slicing off a finger in my rather sleepy state.

I've also noticed something about 123 which I thought was worth mentioning to show how carefully you have to research your prototype when scratchbuilding.

Compare the two pictures below and see if you can spot the difference...

If you saw it, well done! If you didn't let me put you out of your misery.

Look at the thin panel at the end of the carriage on each side. On one (the 'clock side') there is a tiny window at the very top corner, while on the other, (the 'engine side') it's a blank panel.

I guess this is a legacy of one of the many rebuilds this carriage has had over the last 40 years (see the previous post on this blog) but it shows 'even in 009 modelling' how carefully you have to study your prototype.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011


Carriageology - the study of Festiniog Railway rolling stock.

A made up academic discipline, maybe, but one in which consider myself reasonably well schooled after two decades scratch building FR carriages.

The latest model on my workbench is 123 which makes a fascinating case study in the development of the Barn design if you're interested in such things.

A quick recap:

123 is what used to be known as 101, built in 1970 as a First Class Observation Carr. Retired from that role a few years ago it was intended at first to scrap the wooden bodyshell and re-use the underframe for a new-build carriage. However, a counter proposal was put forward to refurbish the existing bodyshell, which was not beyond repair, turn the carriage around, downgrade it to Third Class, and place it at the Blaenau end of trains. This cunning plan also made use of the double doors in the guard compartment to create dedicated spaces for passengers in wheelchairs.

123 is fascinating because it has been adapted and altered many times over its 40 years and the carriage today, like an ancient building, shows evidence of the changes over the years.

Some of them are illustrated in the picture below...

1) These windows are 123's 'Back to the Future' feature. When first built the Barns had square edged windows, but during rebuilds in the 1980's they were replaced with rounded rubber sealed units which 101 carried up until its latest rebuild. Now, just like the new generation Barns (100, 103, 124) it has square-edged windows again.

2 The project to turn 101 into 123, however, was a very pragmatic affair which kept costs to a minimum by not replacing anything that could be reused. Hence 123 has kept the Beclawat half droplights it acquired part-way through its life as 101. Nearly all the other Barns (with the exclusion of 104) now have Boston Lodge designed and made wooden half droplights.

3 The beading is interesting too. Once again, to save time and cost, the panels were kept as they were when it was running as 101, whereas all the new generation Barns, and the rebuilt 105, have matching strips of beading beneath every window pillar.

4 The double doors have been retained to be used as access for wheelchairs. However, the bulkhead which divided the guards' area from the passenger accommodation has been moved further back. The double doors themselves are another feature of 101's 1980's rebuild. They replaced the original sliding door, which sister carr. 100 retained until it was scrapped.

5 Another of the changes to form the wheelchair area was to insert another window here in half of what was once a blank panel in the guards' van.

Yes, I know, I am very sad and a total anorak!

Anyway, here's how my 4mm model (another world first, perhaps?) is looking after a day's work.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Lifting The Lyd

Here they are, the long-awaited photos of our finished 'Lyd'.

From the feedback I've had here and elsewhere it seems going for the loco's current spoof BR livery is a popular choice.

I am very impressed with the way Himself has managed to get those tiny numbers on the smokebox plate...

The livery isn't the only difference between this and other model Manning Wardle tanks you may have seen before. The cab roof has been kitbashed to show Lyd in its Garnedd-friendly FR profile.

See the model for yourself running on Dduallt at Railex later this month.