Tuesday, 30 April 2013

B-ginnings Of Our Fleet

I recently presented Himself with half a dozen of my B Wagon kits to turn into a rake for Bron Hebog depicting the latest arrivals from South Africa.

This is the first one he's tackled which is awaiting lettering and weathering.

Fortunately nothing gets past Himself because it turns out that SAR operated to the same standards of standardisation as the FR / WHR, and it appears that you can't take it for granted that six supposedly identical wagons are, in fact, identical.

This wagon is going to be a model of B1621 which has a number of detailed differences to the wagon I based the kit on.

The most obvious difference is perhaps the diagonal handrail at the right hand end which is positioned the opposite way around to all the other B wagons.

The V hanger on the brake gear is also located slightly differently on this wagon - the right hand leg sits astride the right hand door hinge rather than being place up against it.

Himself has also added vacuum pipes and footsteps (which are also slightly at variance with other B wagons)and given it a coat of red oxide primer and picked out the brake wheels in yellow.

Only another five to go, then.....

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Tool Van Progress

I've had my fill of houses for the moment so last week I gave a bit more attention to the WHR Tool Van.

If you recall, this is a sort of shed-on-wheels which was plonked onto a stripped-down DZ wagon.

The latest developments are the doors at the 'platform' end of the wagon, the roof, and the handrail at the end.

The handrail is just resting in place in its locating holes, by the way. It's not really that wonky.

I'm rather pleased with the way the handrail has turned out.

Soldering is still a comparatively new skill for me and this handrail had to be fabricated from 7 bits of brass wire of different sizes.

The challenge, of course, is to not melt all your other joints as you add each subsequent bit.

I have no doubt that expert solderers will scoff at those joints but it will do for me for now.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Almost There

It may have sounded labour intensive the way I described it the other day, but adding roofing slates using my paper rows system is actually quite swift.

As you can see I've completed the slates on all the aspects of the roof now.

What do you think?

So this house is 99% complete - or maybe perhaps 98%.

The two halves still have to be joined together, the roof sections glued on and finishing details such as soffit boards and guttering added.

Put like that there's still quite a lot outstanding....

But I think I might put it to one side for now and start work on the second of the pair.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013


So the time has come to start slating the roof of the first Oberon Wood house.

For this job I'm choosing to use rows of thick paper strips which are cut to represent the individual slates.

This is the same technique I employed on the farm buildings at Cwn Cloch and I find it the best solution to represent traditional Welsh roofing slates.

There is a very good commercial product on the market produced by Slater's. Unlike most embossed plasticard sheets they have the proper three dimensional overlap, but the downside is the sheets are quite small and they are very thick (about 60 thou) and rather hard to cut to shape.

So instead I've developed this method which I first used on a model of Minffordd Weigh House I was asked to make as a retirement gift for the FR's Fred Howes.

That is why the slate shapes you see here have a diamond shape at one end because this sheet - which I drew on the PC at home and shrank to scale on the office photocopier - was intended for the ornate slates on the roof if this building.

However it works just as well for conventional, rectangular slates if you turn them 180 degrees.

They are cut from the sheet into rows and I cut a slice with the tip of my scalpel two thirds of the way up each line - enough to separate the slates while still leaving the row in one piece - before gluing them in place with a smear of PVA onto the styrene.

And repeat....

Eventually when all the rows are in place you end up with a full roof of slates, thus.

The trickiest bit is to get all the rows level and equally spaced.

I will be the first to admit they rarely come out without one row slightly different to the rest, but I guess that's the essence of s scratch built model, isn't it?

Monday, 22 April 2013

Laying The Foundations

Last week was one of those weeks where lots of little jobs got done on the house model.

If you've not been watching carefully then you might think that there's been little progress but the walls of the building are now pretty much complete and slating the roof is the only major job left.

The latest change is adding on the brickwork along the bottom of some of the walls.

We've had to do the best we can from the photos we have. There appear to be a few courses visible on most aspects of the house although in a couple of places the render does look to come all the way to the bottom.

Those who suspected that I might be mad enough to add them brick by brick or score them on may be disappointed to learn that I've used bog-standard embossed styrene for this.

Now I shall have to brace myself to tackle the slates.

Saturday, 20 April 2013


No, this post is not about Pamela Anderson, although is it all about horizontal extensions so I suppose there is some connection....

It is concerned with the very distinctive bay window on the eastern side of the Oberon Wood house I've been building.

This has been one of those details that I've been thinking about how best to tackle for a number of weeks before deciding to give it a go one night last week.

This is the very delicate side to building construction and requires some of the fabricating techniques I use in my carriage building.

I started by making up the three glazed sections of the bay window. Rather awkwardly there are very slim, glazed openings on either sides. It would have been an awful lot easier if they were blank...

My main consideration when planning it was not how to build it, but how best to allow access to slip the glazing into place when the model has been painted?

In the end I decided it would be too fiddly to try and do it from the inside with the window bonded into place on the outside of the house.

It wouldn't be too much of a problem if there was only the big pane to fit, but those small side ones would be very tricky indeed.

So I've opted to keep it removable until after its all been painted.

In this shot below you can see that I've glued the three pieces together and have offered it up to check for fit against the big hole in the side of the house.

This particular window also has sloping sections - a support below and a roof bit above.

I have chosen to bond the roof to the top of the window unit while the bottom shelf is fixed to the wall of the house and, until it's all put together for the final time, the glazed section can be rested, when required, in position on this shelf, as you see below.

I'm really rather pleased with how it's turned out, but I'm also glad I don't have to make a second one, because the second of this pair of houses has a blank wall on this eastern aspect.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Chim Chim Cheree

This post comes with apologies to Julie Andrews and Dick van Dyke, naturally.

It's just a small update - an oblong one, in fact - on the Oberon Wood house build.

I have added the chimney the the eastern aspect of the house.

This is one area where I have to report, regrettably, that I have found the Artistic Director's plans wanting.

His designs showed the chimney breast standing proud of the wall all the way down, but the research photographs I have to hand appear to show, quite conclusively it must be said, that it is entirely internal until it pops up out of the roof.

Sorry Francis.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Up On The Roof

This is always the bit of a structure model that I find the trickiest. Strange, really, because roofs are such simple things in essence.

In fairness I suppose these houses are a little more complicated.

The house is still in two sections but there are only three bits of roof. That's because the back is all on the same plane while the front sections have one placed higher than the other.

Hopefully these pictures will explain better than my words what's going on.

You can also see another dormer window has appeared at the back of the house, above what I assume to be the kitchen?

Despite studying pictures of these houses for weeks now and assembling this model I still have very little idea about the internal layout - which room is which, and where the staircase goes?

The dormer window here was made up as a separate, triangular assembly and glued into place on the roof.

You've probably noticed the absence of slates. I shall be coming onto that matter soon....

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Stoned Again

Sometimes it's best just to get the boring bits of a model build out of the way so you can move onto something more fun.

So I decided there was no point putting off scribing the stonework on the front wall of the Oberon Wood house and picked up my pointy stick and got on with it.

I was asked the other day what I used for scribing styrene. I'm not sure I quite described it properly so a picture is probably much more effective.

I use it in the opposite orientation to how you see it here, with the sort of spoon bit facing downwards.

Scribing stonework is the sort of job you need to tackle in sort bursts. After 10 minutes or so your fingers start to tire and the lines begin to swim in front of your eyes.

Fortunately this piece is quite small so I was able to get it done in about an hour.

Here it is fixed in place on the model.

I know it doesn't look much right now but you wait until the Artistic Director has got his hands on it....

Friday, 12 April 2013

A New Dorm

Having tested out the first Oberon Wood house in position on Bron Hebog and - I think - satisfied myself with the dimensions of the Artistic Director's design, I have got a little more construction work done this week.

The dormer window on the southern elevation is now taking shape.

I have also cut the piece for the wall beneath the overhanging section here at the front of the house.

This is faced with stone and will be scribed by hand when I can summon up the motivation.

From this angle the very complicated shape of these buildings is apparent.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013


Eagle-eyed Himself has spotted a boo boo with our new model of FR Superbarn 121.

It's only come to light halfway through the painting process, which is both unfortunate and fortunate at the same time because we were close to having a finished, varnished carriage with a bit missing.

So, in true puzzle magazine style, let's play spot the difference....

In case you still haven't noticed it the bit in question is a small, horizontal bar on one of the double entrance doors.

There are no tell tale chips in the paintwork to show that it was knocked off accidentally so the most likely conclusion is that I simply forgot to put it on when I made the carriage.

Whoops indeed!

Hopefully it should be simple enough for Himself to graft in a piece before he proceeds further with the painting.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Three Of A Kind

As part of my tour of inspection at home I also got to see how Himself has got on completing the three DZ wagons I built for the Bron Hebog fleet.

I'm much happier with the Franklin Heavy font transfers which look a lot more like the stencil type used in South African than the ones we had before as discussed in a previous post.

The wagon nearest the camera is what you might call a standard WHR DZ wagon - it is the only one of the three built as per the kit with U channel stantions.

The middle one is what I shall call the Boston Lodge Improved DZ. It has replacement, removable, ends and the stantions between the doors on the sides are made of T section.

The third wagon, on the right, has lost its ends somewhere along the way and its vacumm pipes have been extended upwards and moved into the corners of the wagon to leave the way clear for overhanging cargo.  It has been put to use carrying many unusual loads over the years.

At the moment they are a bit pristine and shiny but Himself will soon set to work with his airbrush to weather them.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Van Body

With three of the sides now made the WHR Tool Van is starting to come together and look the part.

Although most of the van body is now complete there's still lots of stuff to add to the wagon.

The Tool Van had all sorts of stuff hung on the side from what I can see in pictures of it in use.

On one side where two giant black boards with white crosses on them, for use during track occupations, and on the other side a big frame which looks something like the contraptions you see on the side of glaziers vehicles on the road.

I have no idea what its purpose was on this wagon but there's probably someone who's about to tell me.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Pic Of The Week 13

Unlucky in this case because its the last of this series of fabulous Chris Nevard shots of Dduallt.

Very appropriately its a departure shot.

Taken from a high angle - indeed higher than the level of the average pair of eyes when the layout is set up on its trestles - we see Taliesin leaving the Down platform while the rear of another train is heading off on its journey around the spiral.

From this angle you can see the way the loop line arcs around the trees in the middle of the station which I always felt made it one of the most distinctive and attractive locations on the FR, if not on any heritage railway.

The Down road is no longer connected to the main line at the top end but there is a small run round which is used as a turnback for works trains, slate trains and some short formations during gala events.

I hope you've enjoyed these series of pictures. I'll be bringing them together in a gallery soon so you can find them in one place.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Site Visit

An Easter visit chez Himself afforded the opportunity to check out progress at the other end of the operation in Oxforshire.

One thing I was keen to do was see what the first of the Oberon Wood houses looked like in position on the layout.

These have been designed by the Artistic Director, Francis, and have been carefully scaled to fit the available space.

The other building is a double garage we built a while back and which may have to be resized and rebuilt now we can see the size of the houses.

Both these shots are taken from the public viewing side of the layout.

And this the view looking south from the station platform.

I would be interesting to get reactions from readers who know Beddgelert station well as to whether this house looks 'right' in position.