Thursday, 31 May 2012

MOTW - 'Russell' (Cut Down Version)

This week we have a much older version of a younger representation of a classic WHR loco. If that sentence doesn't make any sense at the moment it will by the end of this post.

This model of Russell is built from a Chivers whitemetal kit for the 1923 Boston Lodge butchered version of Russell from the days when the FR and WHR were first connected - a botched attempt to make the locomotive fit the FR loading gauge which legend records was declared a paint-scratching, bodywork-denting failure in the depths of the old Moelwyn Tunnel.

The model came about for two reasons. Firstly we had a spare bespoke outside framed chassis for Russell (built for me, very kindly, around 20 years ago by renowned Colorado NG modeller Mick Moignard) when our first Chivers kit was superseeded by the exquisite Backwoods Miniatures kit.

The other reason was because the Artistic Director wanted something to wind up the punters at exhibitions and a model of Russell in its controversial cut down form fitted the bill perfectly. (He also tells them he thinks the WHHR should restore the locomotive to this condition)

The old hand made chassis still works a treat and so our ugly duckling still takes a wander around Bron Hebog to amuse the operators and the public alike.

Here, in a scene that will surely never be repeated in reality, we see it passing that other narrow gauge sight-for-sore-eyes, K1, at Beddgelert station on Bron Hebog.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

A Blanche From The Past

We had a few carriages left over when the stock was put out on the layout for the first day of Railex. Specifically a trio of the original Winson carriages, 2020, 2090 and 2041.

(The operation was being supervised by a current FR trainee controller who insisted upon setting out the carriage rakes in the current formations!)

Come Sunday I thought this a bit of a waste of good rolling stock so we put them on the track and hooked them up to Blanche which was very reminiscent of the days when this 'Lady' was based on the WHR for running off-peak services between Caernarfon and Dinas in the late 1990's.

The period scene is completed with a glimpse of the Parry People Mover in the siding in the background.

Please do get in touch via the comments section if you'd like to send us any pictures or videos you took of Bron Hebog at Railex at the weekend.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Railex - A Gutt Day Out

A few snaps from the first day of the Railex show at the Guttman Stadium at Stoke Mandeville near Aylesbury.

We had some lovely compliments about the layout, and were delighted when a couple of folk came over and said the chance to see Bron Hebog was the reason they made the trip.

The team had some fun changing about the formations and there were quite a few FR / WHR volunteers around to keep us right on the finer points of operating the layout in accordance with the rule book.

Towards the end of the day we ran the wagons together into a set typical of one of the 'Superpower' events with our NGG16's at the head.

And if you've ever wondered what the famous Himself looks like, he's the one with the very self-satisfied smile in the background in the picture above.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Pane-staking Work

The Parry People Mover has gained some glazing.

Himself has spent a number of hours on the very tricky task of fitting the flush glazing in the front windows of the railcar, and then trying very hard not to ruin them while applying tiny amounts of super glue and / or pva to fix them in place.

Our home made transfers for the big, red , bi-lingual stickers have also been stuck on, the bling headlamps inserted into the appropriate slots and windscreen wipers fitted.


I am delighted to have got it completed in time for another spin on Bron Hebog at Railex this weekend - the last confirmed appearance for the layout at the moment

Do say hello if you're coming along to the exhibition, it's always nice to put a face to a blog hit count.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012


I've been putting this one off for a while but the eve of Bron Hebog's last exhibition appearance of 2012 seems as good a time as any to wheel out the 'Mother of all Garratts' on Model Of The Week.

Our K1 is built from a Backwoods Miniatures kit and is pretty much put together as Pete intended.  One of the most obvious alterations is the extended railings around the coal bunker at the back.

The loco has also been through wired connecting the motors on each bogie which has transformed the performance of the machine which was previously prone to sticking on points with its relatively shortly four coupled bogies.

Himself is, justifiably, proud of the lining job on this model which took weeks to complete.

The two colours were applied separately and included small areas like the panels on the back of the front water tank which you can see in this shot below.

If anyone needs any introduction to K1 the story is it was built, in Manchester, for the North East Dundas Tramway in Tasmania in 1909, retired in 1929 when the line closed and shipped back to the UK for display at Beyer Peacock in 1947.

It was bought by the FR in 1966 'for future use' according to the official stock book. Not being around at the time it's a decision which has always intrigued me.

It strikes me there was either a top rate clairvoyant on the Board who foresaw the FR reopening the WHR one day or they were prepared to butcher any locomotive to within an inch of its life to make it fit for service on the FR.

(The third explanation, that it was bought for the sake of preserving an important landmark in articulated steam locomotive design seems frankly perverse for a railway that did not have a shortage of things to spend its money on closer to home in the 1960's.)

Whatever, K1 was bought, and ten years later was punted off to the National Railway Museum for 18 years before an eleven year overhaul, and a new boiler, saw it return to service on the WHR in 2006.

It hasn't seen much use in recent years as train loadings on the completed line have got beyond it, but volunteers are currently tinkering with it at Dinas and we're being promised it will appear in service again.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Big And Small

We've received another batch of FR crests from Precision Decals, this time in the smaller, or you might say standard, size.

Nothing is simple these days with the FR carriage fleet.

Once upon a time all the locos and carriages wore the same size garter crest stickers, but when they started rebuilding the Observation Carrs. a few years ago a larger version of our Prince of Wales-feathered friend turned up.

You can spot the difference in this picture of 'recycled' top end Obs 123 (formerly 101 of 1970-vintage). It has the bigger crest on the end but the smaller one on the side.

We've been supplied with 99 of these smaller crests - at a truly astonishingly competitive price - and so Himself is considering going back through the fleet replacing the existing dry rub transfers with these superior waterslide ones.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Thin Blue Lines

The Parry People Mover has been formally handed over to Himself to apply the finishing touches.

I am pleased to report that it survived its 400 mile journey at the hands of the Royal Mail intact.

The last job I did before packaging it up was sticking on the blue lining which straddles the raised waist panel.

For this I used 0.75 lining from the Fox Transfers range which was a pleasure to use as always.

So what's left to do?

The bodyshell requires a coat of satin varnish.

There are headlight jewels obtained from the USA to be inserted in the holes in each corner at the front.

I have pre-cut some glazing sections for Himself to fit, followed by etched brass windscreen wipers.

The very last thing will be a big bilingual transfer along each side saying Welsh Highland Railway / Rheilffordd Eryri .

Steve (of Narrow Planet fame) has kindly knocked up some artworks for us and we'll see whether a DIY transfer will do the job, otherwise it will be another commission for Precision Decals.

I'm looking forward to seeing it on Bron Hebog again at Railex next week.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

MOTW - Van 58

A slightly more obscure Model Of The Week this time.

Van 58 is one of those vehicles which is really only known to the staff and volunteers on the railway as it spends most of its time lurking out of sight in the yards at Minffordd or Glan y Pwll.

Yet again I'm showing my age when I say that I still refer to it by its original running number 999, which was another of those convoluted FR puns. The first bit of the is obvious enough when you consider that it started out on the railway as a Breakdown Van. The extra dimension to the joke is that it replaced one of the vintage FR covered fans, number 99, in the role.

The wagon itself was rebuilt at Boston Lodge from a 1955 Hudson vehicle purchased from R.N.A.D. Ernesettle.

After a few years it was transferred to the Civil Engineering Dept for use as a mess van and it is now used as a mobile workshop and stores van by the P Way crew.

I scratchbuilt the body from styrene about 16 years ago and it is mounted on Hudson bogies produced by Parkside Dundas.

The model doesn't do a lot of mileage on our layouts. Most of the time it is parked in the down platform headshunt / escape chute on Dduallt, and as van doesn't have vacuum brakes it's not likely to appear on Bron Hebog any time soon.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Stuck On You

Do you want to see some pictures of these new transfers I was raving about on a model, then?

Himself has stuck the crests and the 'Ffestiniog First' monograms produced for us by Precision Decals onto our model of new Observation Carr 100.

These are the finishing touches its been waiting months for.

I'm really, really pleased with how the monograms have turned out. As I wrote in a post two weeks ago, when we tried making our own transfers at home they came out a brown colour, but these are a lovely, shiny gold as they should be.

Here's a closer look at the crest showing the one on the end of the carriage..

And a view of the other side.

If you're coming along to the Railex show at Stoke Mandeville at the end of the month you'll be able to see these transfers in the flesh. I can promise you won't be disappointed.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

The Black & White Railcar Show

I've been cracking on with painting the Parry People Mover.

The combination of black and white couldn't be worse for doing the job by hand.

A particularly tricky bit its the bumper (for want of a better description) around the bottom of the body. It is a challenge to get a nice clean division between the two colours and requires a very steady hand and a top of the range brush: one false move, particularly when applying the black, and you have a big splodge on those big virgin white panels.

The camera is very cruel halfway through a paint job like this but I'm confident it'll look quite respectable by the end of the process.

The pillar box red underframe, the thick blue lining around the middle, the giant red sticker and the bling headlamps will distract the eye quite effectively on the finished model.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Buffets From Before

A few weeks ago a blog reader asked what buffet carr 103 used to look like before it was rebuilt, and I promised that I would dig out the model I made of it in something approaching original condition.

This model depicts the carriage as running in 1988, just a year or so before it was given a new look with flush sides and larger, rounded windows.

The picture above is of the side that faced the platform at Porthmadog Harbour Station (the clock side in Boston Lodge parlance)  and below is the seaward (or engine) side.

This model has been in store for at least 10 years now, if not more, since I made my model of the rebuilt version, which you can read about in the Model Of The Week archive.

Another redundant refreshment vehicle is this model of 14, the ex-Lynton and Barnstaple carriage which was rescued and rebuilt on the FR as a buffet carr.

This is the engine side...

It has since been rebuilt to look a lot more like an L&B carriage, complete with full length footboards and duckets, but this model shows it once again as it ran in 1988, complete with nasty bus-type seating.

And this the clock side.

In the Model Of The Week Archive you can also read about our model of the rebuilt 14.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

MOTW - Semi-Open 2022

If you're a railway enthusiast - as opposed to a tourist - then this will be the carriage you'll make a bee line for when you board a train on the Welsh Highland.

Even on a wet day - and yes, that has been known in North Wales - this is the best way to experience both the scenery and the sounds and smell of steam, standing and leaning on a perfectly-positioned handrail watching Snowdonia slip past.

(And if you do get a wet day then the scenery won't be the only thing slipping if my experience of riding behind the Garratts is anything to go by....)

2022 is one of a pair of second-generation WHR carriages built by Alan Keef in 2002.

There were a few detailed changes from the original Winson design, the most notable of which was a secondary bar / handrail between the window pillars.

That had me scratching my head a little when I came to make these models. The lower, square sections, were pieces of styrene cut to fit and glued into place, but this thinner, round bar would be too vulnerable if done the same way.

What I did in the end was to drill a hole in every pillar and thread a length of brass wire through the whole lot. I had to make a jig to ensure the hole was drilled in exactly the same place in each pillar. The extra effort was repaid with a much more rigid bodyshell as a result of the wire.

The park bench style seats, with their varnished wooden slats, were scratch built slat by styrene strip slat.

Today 2022, and 2021, are the only remaining semi-opens on the WHR. The original Winson carriage, 2020, having been rebuilt as a service vehicle instead of the brake carriage 2090 as had once been planned.

I'm sure it was done for the soundest of commercial reasons after careful study of the traffic data, but as an enthusiast I found it a disappointing move because for me nothing beats travelling in these semi-opens.

Monday, 7 May 2012

NGG16 Superpower

A few more snaps from our day out with Bron Hebog in Sussex a couple of weeks ago.

(You will tell me if you're getting bored with these now, won't you?)

Towards the end of the day we coupled up our two Backwoods Miniatures NGG16 Garratts and had a double-headed run around the layout..

One day in the future this corner of the layout will be festooned with trees but for the moment it's all very open and moor-like.

A few views now of them in the platform loop...

And at the other end of the layout - the Porthmadog end - emerging from Goat Tunnel.

I really like this shot.  To me it sums up what Bron Hebog is all about.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

It's All White

So, I've begun the process of painting the Parry People Mover.

I've made a radical departure from my usual custom and practise and am using a white primer.

Normally I give everything a coat of grey, but the predominant colour on the PPM is white, and the last time I painted a model which was mostly white (the cherry picker wagon) I lost count of the number of coats of white paint I had to apply to get a deep and even coverage. (It was at least half a dozen.)

So hence my move to invest a vast amount of money (£8) in a can of white primer.

The idea, at least, is that I will only need to give it one top coat of white enamel.

We shall see....

Friday, 4 May 2012


This week I received some wonderful new transfers. They are the best 009 decals I've ever come across and it wouldn't be fair to me to keep them a secret.

This came about because for a few years now Himself and I have been mildly irritated at not being able to finish off our models of the latest 'Barn' observation carriages 100 and 102.

The problem has been how to replicate the unique 'Ffestiniog First' monogram / lettering which is displayed along the sides. You can see it in this picture of 100 taken inside Boston Lodge Works below...

Our first effort was to try a DIY transfer having read about how some people were getting good results from their home photo printers.

We took a close up picture of the logo, and although I could make a reasonable stab at doctoring the image on the home PC and reduce it to the right size, the printer could never capture that gold lustre and when placed on the deep maroon on the model they appeared rather brown.

However, a couple of months ago one of the CHMRC clan (Simon aka 'Sparky') told me to try an outfit called Precision Decals. 'Just Google them', he said. So I did.

I sent them an even better close up of the logo, and measurements, both kindly provided by Roger Dimmick of the FR, and a week later a sheet of beautiful transfers was posted to me.

In an unexpected, and very welcome bonus, the owner told me he also had the artwork lying about for the standard FR crest which he had spent hours labouring over a number of years ago following a request from a client who messed him about royally and then demanded a refund!

'It seems a shame to waste all that effort', he said. 'Would you like some of those too?'

As you can imagine, I took him up on that straight away, and I have to say the results are superb. (There is also a black and gold version in the picture above).

I have never seen such a delicate rendering of the FR crest in 4mm scale, they are quite exquisite. Precision Decals will most certainly be getting repeat business from us and I cannot praise the service I have received highly enough.

To save you the Googling I have also placed a link to Precision Decals website in the Modelling Links section on the right hand side of the screen.

I will post some pictures of the transfers on the carriages when Himself has had a chance to apply them.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

MOTW - 'Bowsider' 20

I've not featured many vintage carriages on Model Of The Week, so it's time to put that right.

This one, number 20, is the prettiest of our 'Bowsiders' which, I would suggest, could be considered the classic Welsh NG carriage design.

This model is made from one of the Worsley Works 'scratch aid' kits and it shows number 20 as it ran in the late 1980's when it was the first of the FR's balconied beauties to be repainted into the two-tone livery with the panels picked out in ivory, aping the style in which these carriages reappeared after the restoration in the 1950's.

It was quite a latecomer to our fleet. For years we only had the one pair of 'Bowsiders', 17 & 18, which were built from Langley brass kits.

Until Allen Docherty entered the fray there was no kit for the second pair of composites, 19 & 20, which differ from the older carriages because they have  two first class compartments, marked by an additional small vertical panel.

Because of the waisted body profile I was not about to attempt to scratch build these carriages in styrene.

We do have a fourth carriage - number 19 - which has yet to enter service.

It is currently sitting in a drawer awaiting a roof and a coat of paint.

You'll probably never see this one on Bron Hebog, though. The intention has always been to finish 19 in all over cherry red livery which is what it was wearing in 1988, the year we nominally set Dduallt when we began building that layout more than 20 years ago.

In time I suspect we will end up constructing a second set of 'Bowsiders' which are now running in a mix of high Victorian and economy 1930's liveries and will make the occasional appearance on Bron Hebog on vintage train duties.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Naked Lady

Now there's a title to light up the search engine results!

Well sorry to disappoint any new visitors but there's nothing more erotic to see here than an un-painted Penrhyn engine. (I suppose a few people might find that a turn on?)

Our Backwoods Miniatures kit of Linda made an appearance on Bron Hebog at Sparsholt. Here she is on a running-in turn with Merddin Emrys..

If you click on the pictures to magnify them you'll get a better view of the 'Roman helmet' dome that was turned for us by Chris Veitch.

This is the big give away for the period in which our Linda is being modelled. There was a very short window in the mid-90's when she ran in the midnight blue livery with her original chimney back. Prior to that she was running about with a dreadful Lempor conical contraption.

In this picture below, where she is doubling up with older sister, Blanche, you can see the adaptions Himself has made to the tender for the oil and additional water tanks.

Himself has made noises about getting on the the paint job after an orgy of scenic work on the layout over the winter (apologies for yet another sex pun!) so Linda may be looking a little bit more colourful when we take Bron Hebog to Railex at the end of next month.