Monday, 31 December 2012

Bron Hebog Review Of The Year

I know it's a bit of a cliche, but I thought some readers might enjoy taking a look back with me at the modelling activities of the Bron Hebog team over the last 12 months.

If nothing else it'll give you a reason to waste time when you're supposed to be working or, if you're on holiday, ignore those family members / relatives who you've spent a little too long in the company of over the increasingly elongated festive season.


2012 was a year when Bron Hebog re-emerged into the actual (as opposed to the virtual) gaze of the public, with two exhibition appearances booked, so January saw Himself braving the bitter chill of the workshop to crack on with scenic work on the front portion of the layout.

Goat Tunnel gained some genuinely rocky portals and liberal quantities of dyed carpet underlay were applied to the layout.


Himself continued working northwards, grassing over the Beddgelert station area.

Here at the Scottish end of the operation I was playing catch-up with the carriage works team at Blodge, continuing construction of my miniature version of the FR's latest Superbarn carriage 121, and helpfully pointing out to the team that their official plans for the carriage bore no relation to what they actually built....


There was no slackening of the pace as winter turned to spring.  Himself was now breaking new ground on Bron Hebog, building up scenery and trackbed on virgin baseboards. The Artistic Director was coerced into action once more to flutter his paintbrushes in the direction of the Cwm Cloch farmyard buildings I had made two years ago. The results - as we have come to expect - were stunning.

On my workbench I had started out on a project I'd been dreaming about for many years, scratch building a model of the WHR's infamously unsuccessful Parry People Mover.


And so to Sparsholt to show off what we'd achieved so far in front of the public and a knowledgeable audience of narrow gauge modellers.  The layout - or at least the one third of it we've built - ran pretty much faultlessly, no one demanded their money back so far as I know, and the huge Alsatian that was hiding under a trade stand in the corner of the room didn't eat us for lunch either. All in all as much as you could hope for from a day out, then.


A few weeks later we had to put ourselves out there in front of a much more critical audience - the punters at the Railex show in Aylesbury.  It's tough enough taking a narrow gauge layout to one of the big generalist shows - where the customers usually have eyes only for standard gauge or Thomas the Tank engine and little else in between - without your layout appearing to be an all-too-obvious work in progress.

The show saw the first running in turns for our Backwoods model of Linda, appearing in naked brass, and my model of the PPM also came out to play.


Our other veteran layout Dduallt had its chance in the spotlight, quite literally, as ace photographer Chirs Nevard trained his lens on it for a shoot for Model Rail magazine.

The previous month I had taken the plunge and bought a starter kit of resin casting materials to experiment with producing bits for some DZ wagons I wanted to make for Bron Hebog, a decision which was to have unforeseen commercial consequences.....

Himself completed his model of Linda in midnight blue livery. Nice!


It didn't take long from me first blogging about my intention to attempt to cast some DZ wagons in resin for folk to start asking if there was any chance I could run off some extra bits for them and before I knew it I found myself announcing that I would produce my very first kit.  What finally tipped me into it was an offer from the FR shop manager to buy a job lot and stock them among the narrow gauge modelling products in Porthmadog.

A few weeks later my first prototype broke cover.

The hot summer sun must have gone to my head (as unlikely as that seems given that I reside on the Clyde coast) because before the first DZ wagon kits had been produced I committed myself publicly to a follow-up kit for the NGY ballast wagons.
In another impulse move I invested some of my potential profits into one of Brian Madge's new kits for a cab-less Alice class Quarry Hunslet with the intention of using the outside frame chassis to revamp our ancient model of Britomart.


By this time I'm beginning to wonder what I might have started as orders poured in for the DZ kits almost as fast as the resin could be poured into the moulds. I posted a picture of the first dozen waiting to be bagged-up and dispatched.


While all that was going on in Scotland, at the southern end of the operation Himself had been busy with Britomart.  The original plan to graft the Madge chassis onto a Chivers body had to be abandoned and instead, with Brian's very generous assistance, he set about turning the cab-less kit into a fully enclosed engine.  I think it looks sensational.


Many months after the pictures were taken Dduallt finally appeared in the pages of Model Rail magazine.    

Progress on the ballast wagon kit was looking impressive although the reality was this was only the big, easy bits (the low-hanging fruit, as management types like to say) and there were still lots of fiddly, detailed bits to be designed, moulds made and test casts tried out.


We've rounded off the year with yet another media appearance,  Dduallt featured on nationwide TV - for all of 15 seconds - in a programme on BBC Four about the revival of the Welsh narrow gauge railways.  (Apparently borrowing our layout for an hour or so is cheaper than hiring a helicopter to get the same kind of shots - are we under-selling ourselves, I wonder?)

My range of kits continued to expand with an adapted DZ wagon kit - for the flat version of the wagons on the WHR - released as the start of the month and a start made on a kit for second generation type B wagons, due for release along with the NGY ballast wagons early in 2013.

So that was our modelling year.  Thank you so much for sharing it with us either virtually, here on the blog, or coming along to see us at exhibitions.

There are rumours that Bron Hebog may yet be going on tour in 2013 with an appearance mooted in the top left hand corner of Wales - when that's confirmed you'll read it first here.

All the best for 2013.

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