Wednesday, 29 February 2012

A Great Leap Forward

This update isn't just an excuse for a cheap, topical pun, there's some serious progress to report.

The scenery front line has marched northwards to the upper end of Beddgelert station.

Himself has completely revamped the board with the River bridge. When the layout was last shown it had some experimental static grass which upon reflection was a little short, a lot too green and very train set-ish.

The old static grass taken off, carpet underlay laid and then new static grass and more scatter materials added on top. (There is still more to go on.)

Some fencing has been done down by the road as well.

Here are some long range views of two of the station boards. The scale length platform loops - which can take a 12 carr train - are spread over three boards.

Here you can see some more of the Artistic Director's handiwork on some more bridge stonework and the water tower which Himself fabricated in brass. There's more on the tower in the Model Of The Week archive which you'll find in the menu at the top right of the page.

The next board up the line towards Rhyd Ddu is still pretty skeletal and has nothing on it apart from the ballasted track, land contours, some walls and bridges. This is what Himself will be tackling next.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Moving On

I'm keeping my New Year Resolution to make a model of the Parry People Mover - a flywheel powered rail car which had a pathetically brief career on the WHR in 1999.

You can read more about it in this post.

For this I'm using an outline drawing of the machine which I discovered on the Parry website, which has been scaled to 4mm by cross-referencing with measurements I took of the railcar in the shed at Dinas twelve years ago.

The tricky bit on this model is getting the angles at the front correct. I used a cut out of one end of the floorplan as a guide when assembling the bodyshell.

Here it is with all eight panels bonded together...

And now with the bus-style folding double doors added on behind...

It feels good to have made a start on this project after so long on the wish list.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Some Tree Surgery Required?

Himself has been joining in with some horticultural vandalism - others call it gardening - on the real FR, and his efforts lead me to wonder whether we need to make some alterations on Dduallt.

Last weekend the lineside gang removed the prominent fir tree which had grown up inside the spiral at the Porthmadog end of Rhoslyn Bridge.

As you can see, it restores the view south from the station to something approaching how the area looked in the 1970's and 80's.

Our model of Dduallt is nominally set in 1988. That was relatively current when we began the project more than 20 years ago, and our fir tree in the corner is a mere sapling compared to the monster it developed into.

If you're having trouble locating it, it's just behind the B Wagon in the headshunt...

And here it is again, apparently sprouting from the Darjeeling tank's smokebox...

So, the question is, should we move with the times and pluck ours out? Answers on a postcard - or if you can't afford a stamp feel free to use the comments box below.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Standard Gauge Diversion

The 2012 exhibition circuit begins for me this weekend close to home in Glasgow with Bron Hebog's 4mm scale, standard gauge stablemate New Mills.

This West Coast Main Line themed layout is being shown at Model Rail Scotland at the SECC - now spread across 2 halls - with 1960's stock, the era when steam was giving way to diesel and electric power.

I first operated this layout as a school boy more then 20 years ago when Himself was one of the team building it at our local model railway club and, like a fine wine, it is getting better with every passing year.

If you're coming along to the show please do say 'hi' to the team - me, Himself, the Artistic Director & the Guru - and let us know what you think of our blogs.

Thanks to Chris Nevard for letting us use his excellent photo at the top of the post. You'll find more of them in a feature on New Mills in the current March edition of Model Rail magazine.

And you can keep track of developments on the layout by reading the Cooper Hire MRC blog - click on the link at the top right of this page.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

MOTW - Russell

This week it's time to set the record straight.

I was ticked off recently when I described NGG16 number 87 in a Model Of The Week post as the flagship of the restored WHR.

'Surely', wrote a correspondent, 'There's only one WHR flagship, and it's Hunslet 2-6-2 'Russell'?'

It's an interesting point, but I'm sticking by my original statement for a couple of reasons.

Firstly because this blog is almost exclusively concerned with the FR-controlled rebuild of the WHR but also because a flagship, in a naval employment of the word, can be switched from vessel to vessel, or as in this case locomotive to locomotive.

Russell, I would argue, is in an altogether different and more prestigious category. The sole surviving NWNGR locomotive is the icon of the WHR.

Our Russell, the one seen here, is a second generation model. The first was a Chivers whitemetal kit running on a semi-scratchbuilt chassis. The chassis is still going strong running with another Chivers body representing the loco in 1930's cut down form. (Good for winding up the audience at exhibitions.)

This one is a Backwoods Miniatures kit. It runs as well as it looks and represents the loco the first time it ran on the FR after restoration in 1988.

Of course on that occasion, and since, it has never ventured further than Rhiw Goch, but we don't let such minor details as the fact it couldn't squeeze through Garnedd Tunnel deter us running it on Dduallt.

Let us hope that when Russell's current overhaul is completed (and the appeal is still open donations) relations between the FR and the WHHR at Gelert's Farm will have thawed even more than they already have in recent months and we will not be straining credulity when we run our model on Bron Hebog.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Rear View

With just over 50 days to go until Bron Hebog gets presented to the paying public again Himself has been stepping up the grass planting around Beddgelert station.

A couple of weeks ago I showed you pictures of the base layer of dyed carpet underlay being applied to this board.

Now, not only is that complete, Himself has also added a second layer of foliage including a lot of static grass in the field behind the station. (On the right of the picture)

The view you're seeing here is the one the operators get from behind the layout - although eventually there will be another two rows of scenic boards behind this which will show the first of the S bends on the climb towards Rhyd Ddu.

Getting the trackwork right on this section is going to be critical because if a train were to derail in the middle of the layout it will be out of reach from any direction!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Signs Are Good

Himself writes: I have been making some of the plethora of signs and signals that have sprung up at Beddgelert. It's quite a task because none of them are anything like standard gauge railway signals so there's nothing available commercially which can be adapted.

(The 20 pence piece is there just to give you a sense of the size of the signs)

We have been fortunate to have been given the signalling schematic drawings which enabled me to scan each sign individually and reduce them to 4mm. I then laser printed them onto photo paper, which then has to be sprayed with 'Crystal Clear' to protect the print, and then they are bonded onto 20 thou plasticard, which is in turn glued onto the posts and painted.

The most difficult ones are going to be the 'ladybird' signals which are illuminated by two amber lights positioned where the top and bottom black spots would be.

This will require some experimenting to find the best way to make them work - either fibre optics, grain of rice bulbs or LEDs - the maximum size for the light hole is 1.8 mm. I suspect the fibre optics strands will like the sharp 90° bend down the post so that option may not be a goer.

The other signal to make is the point indicator light which is in the style of a single lamp traffic light.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Inside & Out

Steady progress with Superbarn 121 - most of the interior and underframe is complete now.

As you may have seen before if you're a regular reader - and apologies if it's a little boring to see it again - I make up the interior directly onto the chassis unit which fits up inside the body.

When it is in place - as it is in the picture above - there is just enough room to slip in the glazing. This is important because it stops the styrene bodysides from bending inwards over time.

Underneath the truss rods are in place as is the battery box, diesel fuel tank (for the carriage heating) and some representation of the vacuum brake gear - or at least the bit of it that you actually see underneath a low-running narrow gauge carriage like this.

Inside the seats and tables are in place.

I think the next stage will be to hand it over to Himself to put a nice rolled brass roof on it.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

MOTW - Fuel Tank Wagon 66

It's Model Of The Week time once more. Comes around quickly, doesn't it?

This is another example of a scratch built model of one of the less-glamorous, workaday FR wagons, but one which is essential to the running of the railway.

These wagons carry fuel for the shrinking fleet of oil fired locomotives on the FR as the line moves increasing back towards coal firing.

Today wagon 66 is generally filled with much lighter and more refined products than the waste motor engine oil which was being used in the early 1970s when it was built.

The basis of the real wagon is a 2000 gallon oval tank recycled from a road vehicle so I adopted a similar solution for my model.

I spliced together two tanks from Cooper Craft plastic kits for a 4mm scale lorry tanker.

This was fixed to a scratch built chassis fabricated from 'I' section styrene strip and mounted on bogies knocked up in styrene to represent the ex-Polish State Railways plate frame bogies.

I used fine etched brass mesh from Scalelink for the walkways on top of the tanks.

The red stripes were done using thick lining from Fox Transfers and the word OiL made up using pieces of big white letters such as L's and T's.

If you look carefully at that word OiL you'll see how it's designed to look like a steam engine. The O is the cab, the i the boiler with the dot representing a dome and the L the smokebox and chimney which is emitting some spherical puffs of steam. It always makes me smile.

The actual wagons are mostly seen parked at the fueling point beneath the water tower at Harbour Station or at Boston Lodge Works. If you're around at the right time you might see the empty ones being taken away or full ones brought down from Minffordd Yard.

How then do we justify running this model of Wagon 66 on Dduallt?

Our excuse is a special trip-working to Glan-y-Pwll to service a steam loco which has been based there for a short season of workings, for which there is a precedent.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Station Views

Himself has been putting a lot of work into the board with the bulk of Beddgelert station on it in the last few weeks and, I hope you'll agree, the results are very impressive.

These shots are taking from the viewing side. My pride 'n joy, the KMX tamper, is posed in the siding to give a little context and scale to the scene.

Here's a view looking south towards the cutting leading to Goat Tunnel. (The Oberon Wood houses I mentioned last week will be in the top left of the picture.)

This view of the whole board and the adjoining one (on the left) gives you a good impression of how this section of Bron Hebog will look when we take the layout to shows at Sparsholt and Railex in the spring.

When the the layout is finally, finally finished there will be another 2 rows of boards, of the same depth, behind the ones in the picture with the first of the S bends circling Cwm Cloch farm.

Yes, it's going to be a biggie!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Watching The Grass Grow

I've been writing a lot on the blog in recent weeks about using dyed carpet underlay to represent long grass on Bron Hebog and so I thought there was no harm in showing you some pictures of how we do it.

The stuff is coloured in bulk using a cold water fabric dye until it turns a yellowy-green sort of colour.

When we come to use it we tease it out into thin clumps in much the same way as you would do with a big pad of cotton wool.

As you can see in these pictures below we spread an area with PVA glue and press the teased out clumps down into it.

At this stage the effect is still rather 'shagpile' so once the glue has fully set we go back over the area pulling off the top layer which leaves a much more realistic, thinner, covering.

This, then, is our grass base to which to which we may add other flocks, static grass or even crushed rock and ballast to complete the effect.

Any questions class?

Thursday, 9 February 2012

MOTW - V-16 Guard's Van

This week we're back to departmental stock, and another South African import.

This guard's van (an NG.V-16 to give it its full title) was given to the WHR as a gift from the Sandstone Heritage Trust & Railway in South Africa in 2003 to celebrate the twinning of the two organisations.

It was rebuilt by volunteers at Dinas and was used on the WHR for the first time in 2006.

This model was built from a Worsley Works scratch-aid kit, which provide a basic brass bodyshell (minus roof and any of the strapping or handrail details)and shows how, with care and time spent on them, they can be turned into really nice, detailed models.

The real vehicle's primary role has been as a tool van / brake vehicle on construction trains on the Phase 4 project to rebuild the line from Rhyd Ddu to Porthmadog.

The V-16 wagons included a primitive toilet. This was stripped out during the refurbishment and replaced with a cut down mobile chemical toilet, of the type see seen at music festivals and the like.

It has also been used in demonstration freight formations at the Superpower events.

Much to the relief of anyone who has to go anywhere near the van, the chemical bog has recently been removed.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

A New Approach

I've decided to try something different on my latest carriage, Superbarn 121, compared to the model of 103 I made 18 months ago.

The steel frame on these carriages is a very obvious feature of the design.

There are two ways of doing these: either as part of the chassis / underframe unit, or attached as a layer behind, and continuing below, the main bodyside panels. Over the years I have carriages which have been made both ways.

On 103 I went with the false frame as part of the chassis solution, as you can see below...

In retrospect, this was rather awkward, because it necessitated a cut away beneath the vestibule doors, as you can see above.

So on 121 I've elected to have the 'frame' as part of the bodyshell.

You can see here how a section of wide strip - 5.5mm wide in this case - is bonded to the back of the main bodyside panels..

The really big difference between 103 and 121, however, is in the treatment of the roof.

The Superbarns are tricky because the top of the doors rise up above the cant rail line. This is unique among FR / WHR carriage designs.

This compromises my normal styrene roof technique which relies upon a flat underside / base to attach each side of the roof skin to, and to allow supporting ribs to run the length of the roof.

On these Superbarns if I had a flat underside along the complete length of the roof you would see it through the top lights above the doors.

I managed to work around it on 103 and successfully fashioned a roof out of styrene, but, frankly, it was a bit of a hassle.

So for 121 I've decided to go for a thin brass roof skin. However, the carriage still requires a flat base to fulfil the function of strengthening the top edges of the bodyshell and keep it all square and straight up there.

Here it is in place...

You will notice how it has stepped sections at either end. These are there to lift it clear of the raised top light windows while strengthening the ends of the carriage.

I know, I know, I'm a traitor to the cause of styrene modeling. I feel rather unclean for submitting to brass.

On the other hand, perhaps I am just mellowing with age?

Sunday, 5 February 2012

The Estate We're In

The scenification of Bron Hebog - if there is indeed such a word - has reached the station area.

You can see clearly in the picture below how additional layers of material are placed on top of the dyed carpet underlay base to create the look of the semi-wild and fractured cutting leading to Goat Tunnel.

The pristine track and ballast rather spoil the effect right now but as I mentioned in a previous post these will be weathered in due course.

The big grey area on the left of the picture is the concrete base for the intended permanent station building at some point in the future. The wooden hut in front of it serves that purpose for now.

Himself and the Artistic Director have also started thinking about how we're going to represent the Oberon Wood housing estate which occupies the area immediately in front of the cutting at the Porthmadog end of the station.

As you can see in this view, taken from behind so to speak, this development was carefully planned and designed in the vernacular Welsh style to blend in with the Snowdonian landscape....

As with so much of layout planning - although a lot of people don't like to admit it - this is as about creating an illusion as much as faithfully recreating reality.

To make a more interesting, and a more sensibly-dimensioned layout, we have slightly shrunk the length of the cutting between the station and the tunnel which means we don't have space to model every single one of the houses in the scheme.

So H and AD have been playing around with cut outs of the floor plans of the houses to see what works best.

Hopefully this means that before too long a set of the Artistic Director's exquisite, hand drawn building plans will be handed over to me and I can get to work on making these houses.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Breaking My Golden Rule

There's an old saying: Never assume, it makes an ASS of U and ME. And it's never more true than when modeling the modern FR.

This time, though, I've taken a gamble and jumped ahead of Boston Lodge Works with construction of Superbarn 121, or, at least, further ahead than I have photographic evidence for.

The added complication is that the FR's carriage shop makes it up as it goes along. No, really, they do. I shall prove it.

121 is the second of a new design dubbed the Superbarn. When I came to model the first, 103, I was provided with a drawing by my mole inside Boston Lodge.

The drawing, it turned out was wrong. (The layout of window pillars did not match the finished carriage.) I thought I'd been slipped the wrong drawing and went back to my source to ask for a copy of the correct one.

'But that's what I gave you,' they said.

'No, it's wrong,' I insisted. 'Go and compare it to the carriage.'

'Ooh, so it is!'

So we are driven to the conclusion that they built the bodyshells for the new carriages paying no attention whatsoever to the original design.

And so, you can also see why I have justifiable reason for doubting whether 121 will turn out looking exactly like 103? (I already know that the windows on the carriage ends are taller than on the first one).

Anyway, to get back to the point of this post, I have (rashly, perhaps) pressed ahead and made the vestibule door and end units even though they were very far from completion when Himself photographed 121 in the works in October, as you will see below.

For the purposes of this model I have assumed the beading detail on the doors and ends will be identical to 103.

Don't let me down now, Boston Lodge.....

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

MOTW - The Big Barn

This time let's have a building as the Model Of The Week.

What we have here is the biggest structure we've built for Bron Hebog so far, a modern steel framed barn on Cwm Cloch Farm which sits inside the S bends beyond and above Beddgelert station and sits at the right had side of our layout.

The design was prepared by the Artistic Director, working from photographs, and turned into three dimensions by myself in styrene.

The frame was built using I section styrene from the Evergreen range, which was where I also obtained the corrugated skin for the sides and roof.

The final element was the low breeze block walls between the uprights of the frame for which I scribed the courses on plain styrene sheet.

The completed model was sent back to the Artistic Director to be painted, and fine job he made of it too, don't you agree?