Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Narrower Gauge Bogies

Producing kits - much like a lot of other aspects of modelling, I suppose - is a continual process of refinement.

Customers who buy the NG-Y ballast wagon kit will find there has been a welcome redesign of the fold-up brass bogies.

The middle section along the top has been narrowed ever so slightly. This has the effect that the shouldered brass bearings can now be fixed flush inside the bogie, rather than having to be left sticking out a little to retain the wheelsets in the optimum position, as in the first generation of kits.

This should make an already simple and robust design even easier to assemble and my CAD design genius at Narrow Plant and I  hope that builders will appreciate the change.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Box Of Bits

It's not a lot to look at but this is the result of 3 days of hard graft resin casting.

Contained within this humble Tupperware box are more than a hundred castings which will make up 7 complete NG-Y ballast wagons.

Yes, folks, production has commenced in earnest.

To start with I am making up the kits for customers who have placed advanced orders and then I will turn my attention to providing some to sell from stock via the FR shop and Narrow Planet's trade stand at exhibitions.

It's a slow process, however. Such is the complexity of this model I can only produce, on average, 2 kits per day.

But, as British Rail used to say, we're getting there.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Pony's Missing Pieces

Himself has received a new fret from Mercian Models with the bits which were missing from our England engine kit.

As you can see it's quite a big piece of brass and a very complicated etch. (click on the image if you want a closer look)

Some of most crucial missing bits were the main frames which you can see at the top right.

They have been designed to make both a Small England with a 4'6 wheelbase and the later Large type with a 5' wheelbase which is why there are 2 holes on the right hand side of each frame.. You apparently fill in the hole you don't require.


You might also note there seem to be more than enough coupling and connecting rods to make more than one engine.

Once again two different lengths are provided for the different design of engines, but also there are double the amount there because you are required to laminate them due to the brass being so thin.

Once again this looks, erm, interesting.

We will, as ever, keep you posted.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Pony Trap

Some developments to report in our struggle to mechanize our Welsh Pony kit.

You will recall our Mercian Models kit was saddled with a gearbox and motor which didn't fit, and no chassis frames to attempt to mount them in anyway.

Trevor, from Mercian has been in touch promising to send the missing etches and offering to put us in touch with other modellers who have successfully completed the kit.

It will be fascinating to find out how much they had to adapt it to make it work.

We have also had an offer of assistance from Brian Madge, who has recently brought some Quarry Hunslet kits to the market - we used one for our replacement Britomart - who has suggested ways one of his belt drive design chassis might be adapted to fit the bodyshell.

We'll update you all when we've decided how to proceed.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Shrink To Fit

I've got another building to build for Bron Hebog. Or, to be more accurate, a building to re-build.

This detached double garage is part of the Oberon Wood development.

It sits next to the two houses I have already built. Anyone taking the footpath towards the footbridge across the cutting will have had to pass by it.

It was made a couple of years ago to some rough dimensions worked out by Himself.

However we have discovered that it does not match with the houses designed by the Artistic Director - it would appear to have been built to a somewhat larger scale.

So my mission is to design and make a slightly smaller one, ideally in time for us taking Bron Hebog to show in Dinas Goods Shed on the WHR in September.

It's a relatively simple structure so the chances are good.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Did You Spot The Difference?

Ok, I'll put everyone who's been puzzling over what's different about the FR's latest 'superbarn' 108 out of their misery.

It's the handrails beside the vestibules.

For whatever reason, be it aesthetic, practical or just to save some cash, 108 only has them on one side of the doors whereas the previous carriages have them on both.

Here's the proof.

Goes to show that as a modeller you can't let your guard down for a moment - you've got to watch them like hawks.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Chinese Puzzle

Our Welsh Pony project has moved onto the mechanical stage - and progress has come to a grinding halt!

Himself approached this kit knowing it had a reputation for being difficult, mainly on account of it being a scaled-down version of the 7mm scale kit.

It may, however, be the first one he has ever had to declare unbuildable - it is currently configuration at least.

Part of the problem is illustrated below in this picture of the motor / gearbox which appears to be more like one of those Chinese ring puzzles you get in a Christmas cracker than a drive unit.

The long shaft you see in the centre is suppose to pass through the bearing at the top - but as you can see from the picture there's absolutely no way that gearbox is going to fit onto it with the amount of clearance available. In fact the cog jams solid against the side of the motor.

What's more the entire assembly is also then expected to fit up inside the saddle tank in its transverse position.

Guess what? It doesn't!

(Not so much of an issue on the 7mm kit, I should imagine)

Right at the moment, though, this is the least of our worries because it transpires that the kit we were supplied with does not have a chassis.

That's right, I'll type that again. There is no chassis!

Himself has checked, double checked, and checked once again all the etches in the box but there is nothing in there that can be put together to get our Large England on the move. There are only components to make one of the small 4'6" wheelbase locomotives, despite the claims that the kit will do for both.

Attempts to contact Merican Models to seek their advice have also proved unsuccessful, which is most disappointing.

We appear to be rather stuck!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

They're At It Again!

Boston Lodge has produced another new carriage for us to model.

The third of the 'superbarns' 108 was rolled out the other day and appropriately enough, in this age of the 40 mile railway, made its debut in traffic on a WHR service to Caernarfon.

And once again the skilled craftsmen of the carriage works have achieved their aim of confounding modellers every by conspiring to make this carriage different again from the other two thus ensuring that no vehicles on the railway are ever identical.

Himself took some snaps of the carriage in service last week.- have a good look and see if you can tell me what the difference we've spotted is?

I shall not spoil your fun for now but will reveal all in the future.

Monday, 15 July 2013

It Fits!

In a manner not unlike Prince Charming's search for the girl who's foot would fit the glass slipper I can annouce to the world that I have finally found the etched hood which fits perfectly over the brake cylinder on my NGY ballast wagon, and thus the final piece of the jisgaw that is this 009 resin kit is complete.

It was indeed third time lucky with the latest test etch from Narrow Planet so it now looks as if we as good to go ahead with production of the kit.

The process has taken far longer than I ever anticipated - about 9 months now I reckon - however it's a great feeling to finally get all the componet designs signed off.

Alas the production rate of the kit will not be as high as I would wish, mainly for season reasons.

Family summer holidsys and the like get in the way at this time year and until this silly heatwave the UK is experiencing moves on it is not wise to attempt any resin casting - the stuff will cure too quickly in the moulds before you can make sure it has flowed into all the surface details and tease out any air bubbles.

However as I live on the west coast of Scotland I can be pretty confident that cooler conditions are just around the corner, surely?

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Auld Aquaintances

I have recently returned from a family holiday in North Yorkshire staying in Pickering, so naturally we took a ride on the NYMR.

It was my third visit to the line. The first was back in the mid 1980's when it was the diesel preservation mecca of the UK scene.

I recall we had a fantastic trip to Grosmont behind the Hymek D7029. This machine is now to be found on the SVR and has, I reckon, spent more years under 'overhaul' than its entire active career on BR. I hesitate to criticise the DTG who got Western Champion back on the mainline, which is a magnificent achievement, and their Warship 'Greyhound' is a credit to them too, but I do think it is a crying shame that the Hymek has been out of traffic for 26 years now.

Our locomotive this time was the B1 61264 which is currently masquerading as 61002 'Impala'. I'm not too sure about swapping loco identities in this fashion, it doesn't fool me and I struggle to suspend my disbelief.

I was delighted, though, because it's the first time I've ever seen a B1, let alone travelled behind one. It was also wonderful to finally see a locomotive I played a minute part in returning to steam. More than 30 years ago Himself and I were dragooned into completing a sponsored cycle ride for the Thomson B1 Locomotive Trust.

We journeyed to Goathland which I have always considered to be among of the most atmospheric stations on our many heritage railways - up there with the SVR and K&WVR's stations and the likes of Horsted Keynes on the Bluebell.

This visit was also my first look at the magnificent newly recreated overall roof at Pickering station. I always found it a strangely unsatisfying place to visit previously, but now it is very evocative. To me this is a sign that the NYMR - which is celebrating its 40th anniversary - has truly matured as a railway.

Our return journey provided another link with my childhood visit to the line with a ride back behind the Black 5  45428 'Eric Treacy' which I recall seeing in steam on that day in the 80's along with the National Collection's 9F 'Evening Star'

There was one final treat in store for me. I finally got to see a Class 24!  They were withdrawn by BR before I was old enough to remember them, although there may been a chance I came into contact with one on the Cambrian as a toddler, and I had never seen one of the preserved examples before.

This wee beastie ran past us on a very short freight train while we were walking next to the line - or should that be incline? - between Goathland and Grosmont, but alas my good lady was in possession of the family camera at that moment. (Needless to say no snap was taken!) But I did find it lurking in the sidings at Pickering upon our return.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Third Time Lucky?

Another test etch has arrived courtesy of  Narrow Planet for the brass bits and pieces for the ballast wagon kit.

This is the third version of the design in a process of trial and error to get the parts to fit as best we can.

The one remaining issue - which we're hoping will have been sorted this time - is the semi-circular cut out in the cover pieces which fit over the vacuum cylinders.  (Those guillotine blade shaped pieces you can see on the fret.)

I haven't had a chance to cut them out and try them on the prototype yet but I will report back here when I have.

If all is present and correct then I can get the first production batch ordered and my exceedingly patient customers can look forward to receiving some kits.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Wounded In Action

Himself has assembled more bits of Welsh Pony, but not without great personal sacrifice!.

As I have written previously it is a rather complicated kit - Himself refers to it as a 'Burnt Finger Kit' - and his digits have had to endure some extreme temperatures over the last couple of days.

The smokebox and firebox are now permanently attached to the footplate. The tank and Cab will be left of until the chassis is made and tested in the footplate, they are pictured just resting on the footplate.

He reports it took him a whole day to assemble the firebox and cab which has to have 0.3mm wire soldered around the cab sides

The next logical step is to tackle the chassis which, he says, appears to be even more daunting!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Tender Moments

Himself has made more progress with the back half of our Welsh Pony.

The tender was the bit of the kit he started work on all those years ago before the project was aborted, so it hasn't required a lot of work to bring it to this point.

The main items which are still outstanding are the handrail knobs at the front.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Saddle Up

Bits of Welsh Pony are starting to come together now.

The saddle tank and the main frame, which you've seen on here in recent days, have now been joined by the outline of the smokebox, complete with the distinctive weights that the England engines wore at the front to stop them performing wheelies as they worked in the Vale of Ffestiniog.

And weight is indeed an issue with this kit.

One thing that has become apparent during construction so far is that because it is mainly composed of etched brass parts it's not very heavy.

As Himself has not started work on the chassis yet is is hard to know how much space there will be inside to add weight but he will have to stuff it in where ever he can.

I'm hoping that smokebox is hollow and the motor won't fill too much of the saddle tank.

Perhaps whitemetal figures for the crew in the cab will be in order too?

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Fiddly Frame

Another update from Himself detailing progress with Welsh Pony.

You may remember a picture on a previous post showing how complicated the instructions for folding the main frame were.

We'll, he's done it!

He had to be careful to ensure he was folding all the right folds to make the Large England version of the kit. I would imagine it would be very easy to get bamboozled by all the different half etch lines on the fret.

Talking of the fret, here's a shot showing how many parts there and how small they are - the £1 is there for comparison.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Tiny Shiny Things

I have been plugging away at the trio of ballast wagon kits I am completing for a client.

Since the last update on them here I have been adding the ballast door mechanisms.

This is perhaps the most delicate part of the kit construction process but I hope most buyers will find it eminently doable as long as you take your time and don't try to rush it.

What it involves is threading four cogs and two hangers onto a length of 0.7mm brass wire, one by one, and fixing them in position with the tiniest drop of superglue at the appropriate spot at the edges of each of the ballast chute doors.

The whole assembly is then fixed in place on the wagon with another few drops of glue.

Perhaps a picture explains it better than words.

As you can see there are two separate shafts on each side - so four to be done on each wagon.

The parts are very small so it does take a considerable amount of focus - both in the metal sense and in terms of giving the eyeballs a work out, so prefer to break the task up and do just one, or perhaps two, shafts in each session at the workbench.