Thursday, 27 June 2013

Saddle The Pony

Himself is bored of B Wagons! 

He's unable to spray paint the ones he's finished and apparently can't face the prospect of starting some of the unmade kits so instead he has turned his attention to one of our great unfinished projects.

I suspect every modeller has something that they have started work on which subsequently stalls and gathers dust on a shelf or is tucked away in a drawer.

In our case it is Merican Models kit for the FR England engines which hasn't had any work done on it for the best part of four years.

It was originally intended as a replacement for our 24 year old model of Prince made from a Langley kit and still doing sterling service with its original Ibertren chassis - albeit with a motor transplant.

The recent announcement of a decision to restore Welsh Pony to working order appears to have prompted Himself to pick up this kit again and complete it as a model of the only surviving Large England.

(It can be adapted to represent either the Small of the Large engines.)

Progress so far this week has been to assemble the most distinctive bit of the England engines - the saddle tank.

His first report suggests that he has been reminded why he put the kit down in the first place. Apparently it is very tricky.

Legend tells that it was designed as a 7mm kit I and has been shrunk for 4mm and the instructions are still as for the 7mm kit with a few tips for 4mm.

If you enlarge the photo below you may get some appreciation of the predicament.

The next job, he tells me, is to tackle the running plate, which apparently means remembering to fold it to the larger Welsh Pony size.

I will let you know how he gets on.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Elbow Room

A little glimpse behind the scenes for you of Himself's Deviation project to create more room for building Bron Hebog.

I think it should be pretty self-evident from the photo where the fresh construction commences.

Hopefully this extra space will allow us to errect the whole length of the layout to work on, if not the full width which may, or may not, assist completion of the project.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Production Line

The first three of my new ballast wagon kits are coming together well.

I'm assembling them for a one of my clients.

Most of the resin parts have been glued in place in the picture about and the next step will be to add the brass shafts and cogs down by the ballast doors and the large and small handwheels.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Corrections & Clarifications

A regular reader is concerned that I have been misrepresenting matters regarding Himself.

This is a serious charge to level against a time-served member of the Fourth Estate (Radio Division) so before Lord Leveson sets about reconvening his inquiry I believe I should set the record straight

I may have misled you in a previous post if you took literally my comment that Himself has been confined to his modelling room.

This, it transpires, was a false statement because he has, as a matter of fact, surfaced in North Wales and my source - who, of course, must remain anonymous according to the ethics of my profession - leaked this photograph of Himself assisting with the construction of the new signal box at Porthmadog Harbour Station last weekend.

We trust that this lapse has not spoilt your enjoyment of this blog.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Pipe Down

I have finally completed the first two Oberon Wood houses for Bron Hebog.

The last 10% of a model always drags. Either it's very fiddly or you get distracted with new projects.

In this case it was the latter, but this week I got around to ordering in a new pack of Evergreen channel strip which I used to complete the gutters on the second house and added the downpipes as the finishing touch.

Here are some views of the two houses together. You will notice some subtle differences however I am not going say how many or challenge you to spot them.

This pair will shortly be delivered to the Artistic Director for him to work his magic with the acrylic paints.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Sweet Sixteen

As you can see casting has begun for the NGY ballast wagon kits.

It is going to be a slow process compared to the previous kits for the DZ and B wagons because there are so many more parts to cast.

The photo above shows all the pieces for 1 wagon laid out. There are 16 separate castings.

That's a lot of casting....

I know there's a lot of anticipation for these kits, and I would like to have been able to have released them six months ago.

Everyone who's already got their name down on the reservation list has been very patient, however, and I thank them for that.

Not long to go now, I hope.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Builders & B Wagons

Himself is confined to his office cum model workbench while the builders get to work on the Bron Hebog Construction Suite  (in other words the garage extension)

This week he has been working on a couple of the stack of B wagon kits I sent him to build up into models of the new arrivals on the WHR from South Africa.

He's finished two of them plus added some extra details to the model of B934 I built for him, which was one of the first tranche of wagons imported to Wales and is being shown during its spell as a bike wagon running in passenger trains.

It's the one at the front in this picture. 

The other pair are B922 (left) and B1680 (right)
They have required some modifications because our research showed that at some point they acquired new vacuum tanks which were put back in a different place to most other B wagons.
He has had to slice off the tanks  which are part of the one piece chassis casting on the kit and replace them with new ones I knocked up for him.
They are more or less ready for painting, but that can't happen until the extension work is complete - spraying inside the house is against the domestic bye laws!

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Ballast Wagon Brass Bits

The second test etch has arrived from Narrow Planet for the brass parts required to complete the ballast wagon kit and there's good news.

The re-designed brake cylinder cover piece is a perfect fit this time. It is a piece of shaped brass which is folded twice to create the inverted U shape you can see in the picture below. There is one in the right hand corner at either end of the wagon.

I have also fitted the large and small hand wheels which you can also see in the photo above.

The big one controls the ballast chute doors on the real wagon and the small ones on the frame work the handbrakes.

The other revised components that had to be checked were the pinions which are positioned under the main frame of the wagon and which are there, on the real thing, to engage with racks on the ballast doors to raise and lower them.

We were trying to get more definition on the teeth this time around and I think we succeeded. 

If you click on the picture you should be able to get a closer look and judge for yourself.

That you can see any details at all on components which are so tiny is a  real tribute to the quality of the design work of Steve at Narrow Planet.

There are just a couple more tiny tweaks still required and with luck the third test etch will be the final one and we can sign off the first run of production etches.

Time to get casting...

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

In The Gutter

Almost there now on the first pair of Oberon Wood houses.

One of the final niggles was to fit the guttering.

This is always problematic, I find. There are not many commercial products on the market.

Wills do a nice pack of plastic building details including gutters and downpipes. The pipes are good but the gutters are not hollow - they are solid semi-circle sections - and if I was looking for something like this then the easiest thing to do would be so use some Evergreen half rod strip.

Fortunately these houses appear to be fitted with more modern square shaped gutters so I have used some channel section, again from the Evergreen range, which I think looks quite effective.

The downpipes are simply plain square strip of the appropriate size.

I've got the first of the houses done but have run out of the right size to do the other which will have to wait a week or so for fresh supplies to arrive.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Ta Ta For Now...

Bron Hebog and Dduallt were carted away on the back of a van yesterday.

But don't worry - it's not how it looks.

The layouts were only being taken away for safe storage while Himself has the builders in to extend his garage - or perhaps we should adopt some estate agent speak here and refer to it as a Model Railway Construction Suite.

The ,which is due to start this week, should give him a lot more space to erect more of the layout to work on at any one time.

The extension scheme required planning permission not only from the Council but also the domestic authority for whom the deal was sweetened by the prospect of a second bathroom and a utility room.

(Don't be fooled by Himself's easy-going manner - he's a cunning as a fox!)

Hopefully the layouts will be back safe and sound in their new palatial premises in a couple of months and Himself can get on with developing the scenery further for the visit to the Welsh Highland Great & Small event in September.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Welsh Pony - My Pledge

Yesterday my dream came true as the FR announced its intention of restoring the surviving Large England Welsh Pony.

The news came just a few weeks after it was unveiled at the Steam 150 event following a remarkable cosmetic makeover.

There are probably very few people still alive who can remember seeing the loco in use. It is thought it last ran in 1939.

I have wished to see it restored since I was a child. Like many of my generation my clearest memory of Welsh Pony is the 17 years it spent, in essence, as a kids climbing frame on a plinth in the car park at Harbour Station.

For me the restoration of Welsh Pony is the great unfinished business of the FR revival.

Back in the 1950's it was considered 3rd in line for overhaul following Prince and Taliesin (as the youngest Double Fairlie was then known) but the boom in traffic and the almost continuous motive power crises saw it drop down the priority list as ready-to-run reinforcements Linda, Blanche and the Peckett (!) were obtained.

By the late 60's with train loads ballooning, and even Prince now out of traffic, no one was talking about needing Welsh Pony any more.

Yet come the new Millennium with the FR fully restored and Heritage the buzzword any suggestions of getting Pony back in harness were still firmly rejected.

I recall conversations over a pint with FR movers and shakers who insisted it would happen over their dead bodies, while others would proclaim there was no use for any more puny locomotives.

It was the current GM, Paul Lewin, who got the restoration band wagon rolling in public, expressing the view that the locomotive had deteriorated so much during 70+ years of neglect that doing nothing was not an option and so what was the harm in going the whole way?  And besides, he argued, future generations would learn much more about the early days of locomotive power on the FR by seeing these historic engines in steam and doing what they were built for.

To an outsider it must seem incredible the way the FR has apparently neglected such priceless artefacts / assets. Which other railway has close on a complete set of original equipment but either kept it hidden away or worse, still, rusting in a car park?

I think future generations will wonder why it took so long, and why there was such a political battle that had to be fought to get Welsh Pony restored?

It will have a major contribution to make to WHR heritage as well as its own place in FR history. As far as I am concerned it is, along with Russell, one of the iconic WHR locomotives.

Just how fabulous is it going to look posed next to the recently restored water tower at Beddgelert, eh?

So let's cut to the chase.

I've explained why I have wanted all my life to see Welsh Pony run again, and this is my pledge.

From now until the day the locomotive turns a wheel under its own steam once more I will donate 10% of revenue from the sales of my 009 Boston Largs Works kits to the Welsh Pony Appeal.

As one of our major retailers would say, every little helps.

If you wish to help too you can find details of how to donate here

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Getting Darker

Himself has really been cracking on with the WHR Tool Van.

Its had a darker shade of maroon applied (EWS colour according to Railmatch) and most of the metal work has now been picked out in black and various steps and rails in bright yellow.

I'm told some of the lighter red is still showing through so it may need another coat.

I think it's looking very good indeed, although Himself tells me the finish comes complete with cat hairs. (The moggy was apparently having a rave with his pals in the modelling room while Himself was on holiday)

Monday, 3 June 2013

Back In Action

I have shamed Himself into a return to the modelling bench.

Most of the last month was frittered away with building a signal box on the real FR and lazing about on a Greek Island - such are the joys of semi-retirement it seems.

He arrived back on these shores, however, to find a box containing the WHR P-Way Tool Van and seemed somewhat taken aback when the reply to his question, "What am I supposed to with this?" was a simple: "Paint it!"

So he has - or at least the first coat.

There is currently a debate raging about whether the maroon colour should be the WHR carriage red, seen here in the pic, or the darker shade we used on the Romanian ballast wagon, which is described as EWS Red?

I think we're moving towards agreement on the darker option.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

More Moulds

I'm feeling confident enough to press ahead with making some production moulds for the ballast wagon kit.

I was holding off until I saw the prototypes for the cogs and brackets of the ballast door mechanism which is being etched by Narrow Planet, just in case it required any changes to the design for the chassis or the main side piece of the wagon.

Having see the first test etch, however, I'm very confident that the finished version will fit without any changes to the resin cast components.

Laid our here, for your entertainment, are all the masters required to make an NGY wagon..

The only mould that actually requires to be remade is the main side piece, which includes the hopper and the frame, because I have added the resin transfer rivets since I made the prototype mould.

For all the other bits I do have moulds with plenty of casting 'life' left in them but given the number of advance orders I have taken for the kit there's no harm in having a second set because I will need them soon enough.