Friday, 30 March 2012

What's On The Workbench?

I feel it's easy in a blog like this to give the impression to the occasional reader that you're only working on one model at a time, so I thought you might be amused to see all the part-built models I've got on the go at the moment lined up together.

Unfortunately, only two of them are mine to keep.

The two big ones are 7mm scale models of WHR Pullman carriages 'Bodysgallen' and 'Glaslyn' which are being built for a client. They will shortly be painted once their wheelsets and couplers arrive for fitting.

The small one at the back - without a proper roof skin yet - is a model of new FR Superbarn 121. The latest post on this carriage can be found here.

The three complete carriages in front of that are also being made for a client. They are FR carriages 100 , 124 and 112. You can read about them here and also here on the Boston Largs Works site.

And last, but not least, my little modellers licence indulgence, the Parry People Mover. Here you can read the latest on it.

I'm going to have to get at least one of these finished soon because I'm running out of space to store them all on the shelf above the workbench.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

MOTW - David Lloyd George

OK, time for another locomotive on Model Of The Week. Lets have the last remaining oil fired Double Fairlie, David Lloyd George.

Our model of 'The Dave', or if you prefer 'The Soup Dragon - on account of its similarity to the colour of tinned tomato soup - is a kit-bashed Backwoods Miniatures masterpiece.

The most obvious of the changes that had to be made to represent the 1992-built machine was the wider opening on the cab sides as well as lots of extra bits and pieces on the top of the boiler and representing the oil tanks where the kit has coal bunkers.

As I understand it, one of the reasons the locomotive has not yet been converted to burn coal is because it was designed as an oil drinker and its unique tapered boiler means the fuel spaces in the tanks are not simple square boxes as they are on Merddin and the Earl.

The picture above shows DLG running on Dduallt when it was brand new, before Narrow Planet etched some lovely name and works plates for us.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Beddgelert Illuminations

Himself has finished the fiddly task of fitting lights - or more correctly, LED's - into his exquisite hand made signals.

This is one of the 'Ladybird' starters. Nice!

And this is one of the point indicator lamps which confirm to the drivers of inbound trains that the automatic trailable points are functioning correctly and it is safe to enter the station loop.

This one with the swan neck is positioned in the cutting at the Porthmadog end of the station.

Himself tells me he's going to have to look into connecting this up to a transformer to reduce the rather dazzling glare from the white LED.

Here are some of them in position at the north end of the station platform.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Heading South

The Welsh Highland in common with the FR and many other narrow gauge railways takes a wandering and rather indirect course through the landscape, so much so that at two points on the northbound journey from Porthmadog to Caernarfon you find yourself heading back to where you started.

The first of those locations is the S bend behind Beddgelert station, which is where Himself has now reached on the 'Hebogometer'.

We're breaking new ground here with a virgin baseboard.

As Himself writes: " It must be one of the most complicated boards on the layout, with the river, road and rail crossing all together plus getting the alignment right with the farm road and buildings in a compact area plus 3 river bridge abutments to make."

"I will not be able to progress the other half of the board until the 2 boards with the loop are built, then I will be able to set the track height towards Bron Hebog crossing."

As you can see in this picture below, this board is set at 90 degrees to the ones along the front of the layout.

It is also staggered in the way it is positioned next to the end board with the loop on it, which is also in an up-down orientation as opposed to the sideways positioning of the boards with Beddgelert station on.

As Himself alluded to, this board will eventually have two sections of track on it, at the top and the bottom, positioned as it is at the right hand end of the upper loop around Cwm Cloch Isaf farm.

Here's a reminder of the eventual layout plan to put that into context for you.

Hmm, still quite a way to go, eh?

Thursday, 22 March 2012

MOTW - 103

When you model one railway for a quarter of a century things start to get confusing, especially when the running numbers of the rolling stock are recycled.

Carriage 103 is a case in point. You're showing your age if, like me, the vehicle that comes to mind is the 1968 Barn buffet car rather than the new 'Superbarn' which has absolutely no link to the previous carriage to bear the number, other than the number itself.

This is my second (of three) models numbered 103. Two of them are of this buffet carriage.

The version you see above shows it in the condition it ran for much of the 1990's and through until its withdrawal in 2006 with smooth, aluminium-faced panels and the MkIII style sausage-shaped windows in the buffet area. I always felt it brought a bit of Inter-City chic to the Welsh NG!

Someone - arguably with too much time on their hands - once pulled together some statistics from 103's 38 years service on the FR.

They calculated that it ran 524,233 passenger miles - which apparently gets you to the moon and most of the way back - which is the equivalent of 19,416 return trips to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

And if you assume that there was a different bum on each of its 17 seats for each of those journeys it could have carried up to 30,800 passengers - and more importantly relieved them of a lot of money for refreshments.

Refreshments which in recent years have included bottles of ale from the Purple Moose Brewery, which is a neat link into this picture below.

If the reference is lost on you, allow me to explain.

A number of years ago a spoof picture was published in the Ffestiniog Railway magazine showing 103 painted up to advertise the local brewery - run by an FR volunteer - and which was a reference to a wind-up a couple of decades previously when the magazine reported that one of the carriages would be painted to advertise the Yellow Pages. I believe a number of people were taken in by it at the time.

Of course, all the best jokes have an element of credibility about them, and I recall that this Purple Moose spoof came about around the same time we were beginning to see standard gauge trains being used as mobile billboards thanks to vinyl wrap technology.

Some members of the layout crew have always enjoyed winding up the viewers at exhibitions, so the picture from the magazine was scanned, reduced to the same size as the model and a print out stuck on top. It matched the dimensions of the model carriage almost perfectly, which is a bit of luck!

It was not very high-tec - just ordinary paper stuck on with some tiny blobs of blue tack - and was only supposed to last for one exhibition appearance, but goodness knows how many years later it's still stuck to the side of 103.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Farming Today

A few days ago I showed you the painted farm buildings. Here they are being tried out for size on the layout.

The shot above is taken from the operators side of the layout. The picture below is looking from the right hand side - in the top right corner you can just make out the top of the first loop of the S bend.

And this view below is the one that most paying punters will see at exhibitions.

The washing machine will not form part of the rural Welsh back scene you wlll be relieved to learn.)

Recently, at the Glasgow exhibition which we were attending with one of our 'club's' other layouts, New Mills, Himself spent a small fortune on white metal bits and bobs to represent some of the agricultural detritus which was spread liberally around the farm yard buildings at Cwm Cloch on all our research visits to the Beddgelert area.

Such scenic additions will be spread about the area around the buildings in due course.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Weighty Matters

I've decided that the Parry People Mover needs a little more mass, so I've been pouring liquid lead into every available space in the chassis.

The irony is not lost on me that the reason I first began scratch building carriages in styrene was to make them as light as possible, whereas the PPM, being a self-propelled railcar, needs to be treated more like a locomotive, where every gram helps.

In this case it's not for traction but to improve current collection on the four- wheel chassis - and the extra weight might also help to tame the somewhat wild acceleration of the Kato chassis.

Inside, I've had to address the issue of how to disguise the motor's presence in the passenger saloon.

To get the running height correct the motor unit has had to be mounted above the floor, which means there is much more to cover up. Also the cover has to be removable so that we can access the bolts which secure the Kato chassis to the floor for maintenance.

The problem is that the design of the PPM, with the bus-style folding doors, mean the the glazing runs the full height of the bodyshell at the doors, and whatever you do with the motor unit, whether you try to hide it or not, it will always been seen.

The solution I've chosen is this.

I'm hoping that the sloping sections, which are positioned in front of the doors, is the most unobtrusive way of covering up the motor.

I have also fabricated and fixed in place the interior dividers beside the doors. The driving positions are located in front of the wider panels.

Next I'll be attempting to bodge up some bits of styrene to represent the seat backs as best as I can.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Down On The Farm

The Artistic Director has completed painting the buildings for Cwm Cloch farmyard.

They're up to his usual standard, I would say.

I made these four buildings from styrene using detailed plans drawn by the AD. My favourite among them is undoubtedly the longhouse.

The stonework was all carved by hand into the plasticard.

On this building I particularly enjoyed the challenge of matching the state of dilapidation of the real buildings, especially the areas of the roof where missing slates allow the rafters to show through.

The slates, by the way, were made from strips of thick paper, with cuts to represent each slate, and glued onto a styrene base.

It's only fair to point out that in the years since we did our research at Cwm Cloch the farm buildings have been renovated and what was left of the slate roofs replaced by corrugated metal sheeting.

Francis has promised to write another guide to how he paints and weathers the buildings using acrylics, which I hope to post here in due course.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

MOTW - 105

Our Model Of The Week is the great survivor: 105.

It may sound a little silly to talk about a carriage built in the mid-19060's in those terms, but of the first generation of Barns it is the one remaining in the most original condition - at least as far as the bodywork goes.

The model you see here, in a picture taken on Dduallt, is the second version I have of this carriage.

The first, I have to confess, was a bit of a cock-up, because when I made it - and it was about the 3rd or 4th carriage I ever scratch built - I did not appreciate that the two sides were not identical!

What I failed to twig, until many years later, was that on the 'engine side', the side you're looking at here, 105 had an extra window pillar at the bottom end, which was a legacy of it being fitted, when new, with the FR's first toilet compartment.

It had a camping-style Elsan chemical bog. Lovely!

This was removed in the mid-80's. which is the period in which my model shows the carriage, and the space where the compartment used to be turned into a standard seating bay, but the extra window pillar was never removed.

Incidentally, 105 has since been rebuilt again with a toilet compartment, but now it has been placed in the centre of the carriage where the first class section once was.

(There are some pictures of my latest model of 105 carriage in its current guise here)

This 105 is one of only a handful we run on Dduallt in the Cherry Red livery of the 1970's and most of the 1980's. Some may consider it a little dull but I think it suited the Barns very well. It certainly looked a lot better on them than it did on the tin carrs.

Monday, 12 March 2012

PPM Progress

I've been getting on well with the Parry People Mover to the point where most of the outside of the railcar is complete now.

This vehicle has two very distinctive bands around - at the bottom and at the waist - which have been built up with styrene strip.

In the case of the centre band this was made from a strip (about 4mm wide and 30 thou thick) which had to be chamfered and sanded to a rounded profile before pieces were cut from it and stuck in place on the bodyshell.

Once glued on they had to be smoothed over with emery paper once more, particularly at the 45 degree joints at each end of the railcar.

After this was done holes were drilled for the headlights which I did by starting off with a small drill bit to make sure the hole was centered in the strip and then expanded them with a larger bit.

The hexagon panels - which are also curved - were cut from styrene sheet and, when glued in place, had model filler applied to the gaps behind them.

The skirt beneath the body - which has a double angle - is attached to the chassis which fits up into the bodyshell using the same technique I have with my styrene carriages.

I have also completed the raised section on the roof - which I suppose is there for ventilation equipment? - and so the next stage will be to begin work on the interior.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Going Round The Bend

The Hebograph* has reached the first stage of the S bend as landscaping and scenic work reaches the extreme right of the layout.

Here the line turns 180 degrees for the first time as it climbs and curls around Cwm Cloch Farm.

The first stage of the scenics - the carpet underlay - has been fixed in place right across this board, but there is a lot more to be added to it, including a large number of trees on either side of the line.

At the far right hand side you can just make out some of the embankment of the unfinished PB&SSR alignment, which was intended to take a much steeper and more direct route towards Rhyd Ddu than the circuitous route that the eventual WHR was laid out on. The abutments of a bridge are the most obvious sign of the earthworks.

Here is a close up view of the area where the cluster of farm buildings will go.

The big barn, which recently featured as the Model Of The Week on the blog, has been put in place for the photographs.

The other stone buildings, which are in varying states of dilapidation, are in the process of being painted by the Artistic Director.

He's making good progress with these and I hope to have some pictures to show you in a few days time.

* In case you were puzzled by the reference to the Hebograph, this entirely made up word is inspired by the log kept by the Deviationists who built the spiral on the FR at Dduallt. They called it the Ffestergraph, so I thought we should refer to progress on Bron Hebog as the Hebograph.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

MOTW - KMX Tamper

This is, without doubt, the model of which I am most proud.

The true joy of scratch building models is knowing that you have made something completely unique, and that is most certainly the case with the Welsh Highland's tamper.

The KMX was purchased in 2005 at the start of the final push to Porthmadog. As bought it was a metre gauge machine (built in Austria in 1995 by Plasser & Theurer's French subsidiary FRAMAFER for use in an underground coal mine in France.

It was taken to Boston Lodge where the complex task of overhauling and re-gauging it began, with Bron Hebog blog reader Chris Hoskin taking a leading role. (So I shall not show my ignorance by writing any more about that here!)

Our model was scratch built in styrene and brass (the roof) and motorised using a Kato Shorty chassis which had one bogie removed and mounted independently as a trailing bogie at the other end of the model, but wired through so it could still pick up current.

Like many of our models it was a team effort, with me building most of the styrene body, and Himself fabricating the roof (one of the many Boston Lodge alterations) from brass and taking on the job of painting and weathering it.

It was something of a stop - start project which took the best part of three years from the first cutting of styrene to it's debut on Dduallt in May last year.

If you'd like to read in much more depth about how the model was built, and to save you searching through the archive, links will take you to the pages here, here, here, here, here, here, here and finally, here.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Power To The People Mover

The railcar project continues with the installation of the power source. In this case it's a Kato tram chassis rather than an engine from a Ford Fiesta and a flywheel.

I'm building this vehicle in the same way I would usually tackle a carriage, so the bottom will be removable and the roof fixed in place.

The first job was to cut out a floor to fit inside the bodyshell and then hack out a hole to mount the tram chassis in, which is easier said than done when dealing with 80 thou styrene, and a number of scalpel blades were lost in the process, but fortunately no fingers.

As you can see in this view from below, a lot of the existing detail on the chassis as been hacked off and ground away with the aid of a mini-drill and disc cutter. The skirt on the People Mover is so low that none of it can be seen, and it meant the hole in the floor could be smaller.

So, here's how the project stands at the moment. I've also made a basic roof which you can see in this shot below. (Please excuse the rather ethereal yellow glow..)

It has been tested and I can confirm it does indeed move, so I hope we'll be giving it a wee test run on Bron Hebog at the Sparsholt show next month.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Sign Post

We've begun installing the signals and signs at Beddgelert station.

Himself has sent some snaps of the installations at the south end of the station.

Here are the 'ladybird' starter signals.

And here, on the reverse, are the end of section signs, which you may just be able to read if you can magnify the picture enough.

The signals are made up for the other end (the north end) of the platform loop, but they haven't been placed in position yet in case they are damaged while work on the scenics continues around there.

Friday, 2 March 2012

MOTW - Britomart

Our Model Of The Week is the most diminutive member of the locomotive fleet: 1899-built quarry Hunslet ‘Britomart’

This delightful little blue engine was brought to the FR in 1965 from the Pen-yr-Orsedd Quarry by a group of railway workers, principal among them the legendary ‘Stefco’ (Steve Coulson) and today given tender loving care by his son, and current Boston Lodge fitter, Rob.

Our model is made from a Chivers Finelines whitemetal kit and runs on an old N gauge Arnold 0-4-0 chassis.

In fact this is Britomart’s second chassis. The original was a very elderly second hand example which was so decrepit only the rear axle was powered. With the weight bias of the body well towards the back anyway it meant the locomotive was prone to performing wheelies when setting off.

It is rare to see the locomotive running solo on the layout. Its very small wheelbase - and the old Arnold’s rather crude mechanism - mean it is prone to stalling when running through the points.

On occasion, however, it has been seen heading a train on its own, like here with the vintage twins, carriages 11 & 12.

There have been tantalising glimpses recently of a prototype outside framed chassis and body kit for the quarry Hunslet on an narrow gauge modelling forum and we are among the many crossing our fingers that the designer will be able to bring it into the market.

Remarkably, the real Britomart has run the entire length of the FR & WHR network in one day – an 80 mile round trip – double-heading with Baldwin tractor ‘Moelwyn’ on a charter train last year which we recreated days later on Dduallt.

A few weeks ago Britomart took a two carriage charter train to Beddgelert alone.

These occasions meane we have all the justification we need for our little blue engine to see service on Bron Hebog.