Thursday, 29 November 2012

MOTW - The Zoo Carr.

All FR enthusiasts probably have their own mental associations with certain items of rolling stock.

For me this semi-open bug box - or Birmingham knifeboard Observation Carr, to give it a more formal title - always brings to mind the 1930's and images of Tan y Bwlch and Bessie Jones in Welsh costume.

The real carriage is a replica which was completed in 1997 and makes use of some of the original components from carriage number 2 (or 6, if you prefer) which was re-rebuilt into a closed First Class carriage.

This model was built from a Chris Veitch kit and shows number 1 as it ran when first restored to traffic in a two tone green and ivory livery.

The actual carriage has subsequently been repainted into what I consider the rather drab 1930's colour scheme of solid green sides with red ends.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Ooh, I Like That!

At the risk of striking a nauseatingly self-congratulatory tone I have to say I am rather pleased with the way my casts for the business end of the ballast hopper have fitted inside the wagon.

The effect is very pleasing.

They fitted together just as I had intended, which I suppose proves that I had managed to make the master fit exactly half the space.

I have also glued together the casts for the vacuum reservoirs and the brake cylinders and fitted them in place at one end of the prototype wagon.

The cover which fits over the cylinder is being etched by Narrow Planet - along with the bogies, handwheels and the ballast door mechanism - and when they turn up I think I'll be pretty much ready to begin the production run.

Contact me through the Boston Largs Works address (on our sister website) if you're interested in ordering some of the kits.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Internal Divisions

I am hoping that I have now designed the last bit of the 3D jigsaw that is the NG Y ballast wagon kit - save for the brass bits which I shall entrust to Narrow Planet.

This last piece is perhaps the most complicated and ambitious on the wagon. It is the internal sections which guide the payload to the eight doors at the bottom of the hopper.

(The irony is not lost on me that all this effort will be wasted on buyers who choose to model their wagons loaded!)

As I have done all the way through the project I am trying to cast this in the least amount of pieces possible, which in this case means dividing it in half into two mirror image sections which meet in the middle.

Being mirror-image, of course, means I only have to make one master.

What makes it particularly challenging is the way the main sloping section rises up into the body of the hopper and joins with the sloping ends, which has been achieved by means of the small triangles at the top corners.

The three dividers have also had to be shaped to fit into the angles inside the wagon and have a triangular section along the top which protrudes to rest on the top of the frames,

It is these which concern me most.  I am hoping they will cast OK in the mould.

Here's how the master sits inside the wagon.

If - and it's always a big if - I have measured and made it accurately enough, two of the casts should fit neatly in the hole and meet in the middle.

The silicone mould is setting as I type, so I'll find out soon enough...

Friday, 23 November 2012

Diddy Dickie Bow

Yes, dear readers, another strange post title for you to ponder.

Take a look at the picture and then tell me if the title now makes sense to you?

Yes, that's right! This little bit of the NG Y ballast wagon does indeed look a little like a bow tie, don't you agree?

One of these will fit on either end of the door / chute casts I showed you on Monday.

I took a snap of it snug as a bug in its moulding box seconds before smothering it in RTV rubber.

As you will have gathered if you are a regular reader - and a very warm welcome if you're new, by the way - I have now ceased to bother with the virtually impossible task of measuring out 5% of a minuscule amount of RTV catalyst when I'm make a mould, and instead I've taken to slopping it in using the well known scientific measurement 'That looks about right', so the damn thing may well have set firm by the time I finish typing this,

Alternatively, of course, I could still be waiting to de-mould it on Christmas Day.

That's why resin casting is such fun!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

MOTW - Bug Box 5

For me this is the original FR 'bug box'.

The reason number 5 (as was) is so iconic to me is that visiting the FR as a child in the 1980s it was the only one remaining in service.

Or perhaps, to be more accurate, I should say it was the first one to come back into service, because it had recently emerged from being totally rebuilt, almost single-handed, by the late Ron Jarvis.

I think it is fair to say that it was his single-minded dedication to restoring these unique Victorian carriages that led directly to the wonderful fleet of original and replica four-wheelers which so enhance the FR these days, including the most recent addition the 'port hole bug box'.

Ron's work was taken up by the volunteer Team X whose efforts in turn can be traced through to the magnificent HLF carriage workshop, and the stupendous vehicles it produces, today.

Our model shows number 5 as it was running in 1988 (the year in which Dduallt was originally nominally set)finished in the cherry red livery with black ends.

It is made from a Chris Veitch brass kit, as are all our bug boxes.

These are excellent kits - and I'm not just saying that because Chris reads this blog.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Welcome To Bombay

The trouble with blogging is the longer you go on the harder it is to come up with nifty titles for the posts, and consequently the puns become strained to breaking point.

You might well believe that this one has indeed snapped!

So what follows has got nothing to do with travel and nothing to do with India. It is, in fact, all about the casts for the doors / chutes for the NG Y ballast wagon which I have now fitted to the kit prototype.

So why the Bombay reference? Well, to me these always seem a bit like the bomb bay doors on an old aeroplane because of the way they are curved and sit slightly back from the vertical.

It may not make much sense to you but at least I've given you the courtesy of an explanation!

Here's a view from the underside so you can see how they fix onto the wagon chassis.

My original plan had been to have them fit inside the frames rather than on them, which was the way I designed the original master for the door unit.

However when I fitted the first casts in place I thought they looked too far inboard, and they also hung down too low and would foul the track, so I modified the master and cast another pair (which are a couple of mm shallower) which are what you see here.

Now I've got these fixed in place and I am happy with how they are sitting the next step is to design the side / end pieces.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

More Kit Bits

I've had success, at the second time of asking, with the latest moulds.

As I predicted a few days ago the silicone did set super-fast this time.

Rather than still being soggy after four days, this time it turned solid overnight.

Clearly I have now gone to the other extreme with too much catalyst in there, but at least I've been able to reclaim the masters and start using the moulds and here's what's come out of them...

What you see here are the bits for the ballast hopper doors, the Z struts for each end and the brake cylinders and vacuum reservoirs which are cast in halves to be joined together.

The next step is to fix these bits onto the prototype wagon to check they fit properly and look right before I set about preparing some more moulds for the production run.

For these I will be grouping some of the parts together in the same moulding box to speed up the process when I come to run off the kits.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

MOTW - Superbarn 103

This model was just being built when I started this blog two years ago.

Indeed if you look far enough back through the archive you'll read about an almost catastrophic design cock-up on my part. (But if you want to find out about that you'll have to do the hard work and discover the story for yourself!)

We've had a lot of 'musical numbers' among the carriages featured in Model Of The Week recently and this one continues the theme.

This latest 103 has nothing whatsoever in common with the original 103. That was a 1960s buffet car which was given a radical face lift in the late '80s and then pulled apart in the 2000s.

This 103 has blazed a new trail in 21st century carriage design on the FR.

Much longer and wider and looking like a slimmed down modern WHR carriage, but with obvious styling cues taken from the 'Barns', it shares the inset door vestibules with its larger cousins.

Passenger comfort was the primary concern with wider seat spacings with more leg room as well as easier access for customers in wheelchairs or with limited mobility with the double doors at one end.

The design has been repeated in two new Superbarns, 121 which has already entered service and 108 which is in the early stages of construction at Boston Lodge.

Our model was scratch built in styrene, including the roof which, as other previous posts on this blog detail, was rather tricky due to the design over the vestibules. It called for styrene to retain a curve with very little support - something it is usually very reluctant to do!

That I managed to beat it into submission is something I'm very proud of, but I'm not going to try it again - my model of 121 (and 108) will have brass roof skins!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Take 2

Well, in the end I gave up waiting for the goo.

A full four days after I poured the silicone mix into the mould it was still soft and tacky.  (It should be solid rubber after 24hrs!)

So call me impatient, if you like, but I've decided to cut my losses and I spent a miserable hour last night scooping it out and laboriously cleaning up the masters to have a second go.

I've made up another RTV mix and this time I've gone to the other extreme and I fully expect this lot of silicone will be cured in jig time.

Most of the difficulties, as I explained in a previous post, are because I am attempting to mix very small amounts at a time as I am testing each of the master parts for the ballast wagon kit as I go along.

Once they're all proved, and the prototype has gone together, I'll be able to make a complete set of 'production' moulds in one go. For that I'll be measuring out sensible amounts of the catalyst, such as 5g, instead of silly wee dribbles like 0.5g which have caused me such grief over the last week.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Roll Out The Barrel

While I wait on the last lot of silicone gunge setting (yes, it's still vulcanising at a glacial speed) I've knocked up a couple more masters for the kit.

What we've got here is the end buffer beam of the wagon with a frame cum handrail above and one half of one of the brake cylinders which sit in the right hand corner at each end of the wagon.

Hopefully you'll see from the picture of one of the real wagon which bit is supposed to be what and where it's going to go...

The idea with the brake cylinder - which always seems to me to have a pleasing similarity to a barrel of whisky - is that I will be able to flat-back cast two identical halves which can be glued together into a whole.

It seemed a bit easier to do it that way (for me) than faffing about with a two-part mould, which I have yet to pluck up the courage to try.

I did initially consider dividing it into a top and bottom section at the point where there is that fat band three quarters of the way up, but instead settled on a lengthways split which will be easier to hide under that cowling if it doesn't turn out as good as I had hoped....

Friday, 9 November 2012

A Waiting Game

Buried beneath the white gloop are some masters for the ballast wagon kit - I don't know when I will see them again....

There are lots of tricks, tips and shortcuts on the learning curve that is resin casting, but for me the darkest art is making the silicone rubber moulds.

It's not so much the end result - the mould - that has me scratching my head, it's more the preparation of the rubber compound, and specifically how long it takes to set.

You see, it's never the same twice.

The stuff I'm using requires you to mix in a catalyst with a ratio of 5% of the rubber mix by weight.

That's the tricky bit - especially when I'm only needing to mix a small amount at a time.

The 3 moulding boxes in the picture above needed about 15g - which required 0.75g of catalyst.

I'm sure the boffins at Pfizer or GSK would have no bother measuring out such small amounts accurately but it's not so easy on my bargain basement set of electronic scales.

It's supposed to take 24 hrs to go off. And in fact the first mix I ever made did precisely that.

However subsequently I've had batches which set in 6 hours flat (Opps! Too much catalyst!) and others that were still soft after 3 days, which had me questioning whether I had forgotten to add in the catalyst.

These latest moulds show every indication of being a 3 day-er.

The good news is I've not noticed any appreciable difference in the quality of the mould regardless or how fast or slow it has set, but it's just a little frustrating.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

MOTW - Carriage 10 (The other one!)

A couple of weeks ago we featured carriage / van number 10 on Model of the Week, this time we've got the vehicle which nicked its number.

This is our model of carriage 10, a replica of one of the four wheel Ashbury carriages which were acquired by the FR a few years after the introduction of steam.

They were of a much more conventional design than the iconic 'bug boxes' and none of them survived into preservation.

This one was completed in 2007 and portrayed one of the First Class carriages which were later downgraded to Third.

Our model is from a brass kit.and the biggest challenge with it - much like the Curly Roof Van - is the ornate gold leaf lining.   Himself did the best he could with the finest waterslide lining available from the Fox range.

I seem to recall this task required the donning of three pairs of spectacles and I think the end result is pretty admirable considering the size of the blighter!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Kits In Colour

Here's one of the DZs given a quick blast of red oxide. What do you all think of it?

This is one of the wagons I've built up for customers which is made using the kit as it comes.

For our own trio of wagons for Bron Hebog I'll be adding additional details such as the vacuum pipes and I'm thinking about tarting them up with some resin transfer rivets too.

It would have been lovely to have had some rivet detail on the castings but I'm not too sure how well it would work.

The problem is that I make my masters out of styrene. In brass it's simple enough to press out the rivets - well,  perhaps not simple because it's quite a time-consuming and tricky business - but at least once a rivet is punched, it's punched.

With styrene the obvious solution is to use the terrific resin transfers produced by Archers, but I have my doubts about whether they would work on a casting master.

My fear is that they would stick to the silicone rubber used to make the mould and be pulled off the master when you removed it from the mould and you'd then have to try and dig them out of the rubber, rivet by rivet, before you could cast from the mould.

And of course you'd have to re-rivet the master again before you could use it a second time.

I'll maybe try a test piece next time I'm making some moulds, but as I say, I have my doubts.....

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Make Up & Brake Up

I'm building a handful of the DZ wagon kits as a favour to a couple of clients.

If nothing else it's a useful exercise to experience how easy or tricky it is to put them together.

Designing the masters and assembling the castings that are produced are quite different, you see.

I assembled the wagon bodies some weeks ago but I had to wait for the etches to arrive from Narrow Planet to complete the kits.

The picture should give you a better idea of how the brake gear bits go together and the very straightforward fold-up design of the bogies.

My favourite bits, though, are the hexagonal handbrake wheels which are such a distinctive feature of these SAR wagons.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Read All About It

Dduallt is featured in the latest issue of Model Rail magazine which hits the newsagents shelves today (Thursday).

Those with a subscription received their copies at the start of the week and I've already had some ego-boosting messages from blog readers telling me how much they enjoyed the article.

I think most of the credit for that should be laid at the feet of photographer extraordinaire - and fellow blogger - Chris Nevard.

This is one of my favourite images from the shoot he did with Dduallt earlier this year.

Picture copyright Chris Nevard / Model Rail magazine

I must confess I do not know if this picture has made it into the magazine because I haven't seen a copy yet.

I will be heading down to the newsagents today to buy my own to see which of the many stunning pictures Chris took have made it into print, and I hope some of you will be doing so too.

Perhaps as a Christmas treat (and if Chris and the team at  Model Rail let me) I will put up some of the shots which didn't get used.