Friday, 30 August 2013


Himself has begun weathering the Tool Van, starting with the end doors.

The rest of the wagon will also be made to look a lot grimier and unloved.

This weathering business is quite a recent departure for us.

For years we kept all our fleet of locos and rolling stock looking as they were on the day they left the paint shop.

I suspect it was mostly down to a mortal fear of buggering up the finish of a model you'd spent ages building and painstakingly painting but in recent years Himself has been working hard on refining his artistic skills with an airbrush and learning from some of the excellent tutorial DVD's on the market.

Having said all that, I doubt whether he's ready to cover his beloved Backwoods Garratts in a layer of filth yet. Good job the F&WHR crews keep them looking spick and span.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Yard Work

A new fiddle yard for the Caernarfon end of the layout means we will be able to put on a better show for the visitors to WHR Super Power - Great & Small at Dinas next weekend.

It's still only a temporary arrangement but it will allow us to run longer, and more representative, train formations than before when we had lashed up one of the yards from our other layout Dduallt which can only handle 5 carr sets.

Himself has retrieved one of the untouched baseboards from storage to be adapted for the job at Dinas.

It's a good opportunity to show you how be build our baseboards which deploy an open framework supported by two L shaped longitudinal girders.

For its role as a fiddle yard the board is having a sheet of plywood fixed in place but this will in time be removed and a sinuous trackbed piece will be cut out and put in its place supported on risers.

These next photos show how it's been laid out with three sidings in an arc to make them as long as possible.

Isolating sections have been added at the end of each of them to enable a us to run a new locomotive onto the Porthmadog end of the train for the return journey.

To help you orientate yourselves I should point out that this board sits behind the board with the north end of the Beddgelert station platform (to the right of the picture below) and will eventually form part of the S bend around Cwm Cloch.

I'm beginning to get really excited about the prospect of 3 days playing with the layout again at Dinas - it's nearly 18 months since we last had it up and running. Too long.

Monday, 26 August 2013


There isn't going to be a lot of time to develop the layout further before we take it to Wales to show at the Welsh Highland 'Super Power - Great & Small' event - it's spent most of the last six months in storage - but Himself has been able to do a little work to landscape a corner of the Oberon Wood housing estate around the two houses I recently built.

The houses are not fixed in place yet because they still need to be painted by the Artistic Director, but it will allow them to be shown in a little more context at Dinas.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Tool Van Varnished

Now that Himself has access to his extended workshop once again he has been able to get his airbrush out again. (The boss won't allow it in the house.)

First in the queue for a coat of varnish is my model of the WHR tool van which was built up on a DZ wagon chassis which has been given one of Himself's excellent paint jobs.

I'm particularly impressed with the way he's picked out the edging of the cupboard at the back and the running number transfers on the blue panels.

This tool van will be one of a number of new items of rolling stock you will get to see if you make it along to visit us at the WHR Super Power - Great & Small event at Dinas next month.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Pony Progess

Welsh Pony is close to getting on her wheels.

Having obtained the correct etches for the chassis from Mercian, Himself has made good progress putting it together.

It's quire intricate for a 009 chassis as you can see below.

As you can see the chassis is not on its wheels yet and there is no sign of any drive train, That is because, as I wrote in a previous post, the gearbox we received with the kit does not fit together - some of the gears foul the motor - and even if you could get the gearbox together it would not fit beneath the saddle tank.

Himself has been given the contact details of some other modellers who have succeeded in making one of these kits move and we await their wisdom.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Plotting Buildings

There has been activity on the layout for the first time in many months.

The enforced break has been due to the construction of an extension to Himself's garage cum workshop which is now complete.

The enlarged space will allow him to erect the full length of Bron Hebog, although not the entire width, and should make life a lot easier.

Now the layout has been retrieved from the builder's yard where it was being stored - boy, am I relieved to see it back unscathed! - Himself has been spending a little time finalising the position of the first two Oberon Wood houses which I completed earlier in the summer.

I think they look rather good in position. What do you think?

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Ready At Last

After many months of patient design work the final components to complete the NGY ballast wagon kits arrived last week - the etched brass frets with the bogies, the hand wheels and the cogs for the ballast door mechanism.

I was surprised and delighted to discover the company which carries out the etching is based here in Scotland in Lochgilphead in Argyll, which is rather ironic when you consider that they are normally sent as part of a larger batch of etches down to Narrow Planet HQ on the south coast of England before being sent back up across the border to me here in Ayrshire.

And I then sent then on their travels, yet again, as part of the kits.

(The Royal Mail's doing rather well out of this little cottage industry!)

So in the last few days I have been able to dispatch the first batch of kits to customers who placed advanced reservations.

If you would like to see what one of the kits looks like made up take a look at the Boston Largs Works blog where I have posted some snaps of a wagon I completed for a client.

Friday, 16 August 2013

In Print Again

At your local newsagent you will find not one but two exciting opportunities to read about our layouts.

Our models of the FR and WHR are featured in a new special magazine from the publishers of Model Rail (who also happen to be the same media giant I work for) called Great British Model Railways.

It is packed with some of the very best of Chris Nevard's photography which can also be found in the current September edition of Model Rail itself which also features an article on the FR's 150th anniversary of steam celebrations and a piece I wrote about the collection of locomotive and rolling stock we are building up for Bron Hebog.

This features Garratts and the latest WHR super-sized carriages posing rather improbably on the spiral at Dduallt.

I wonder how many of their readers will spot that?

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Up And Over

I'm a lot older and wiser than when I built the first garage model and I've learned how to save myself a little time, effort and frustration.

One of the shortcuts on this second version of the building is with the garage doors.

Back in the day when I made the original model of the garage I produced the corrugated effect on the up and over doors by cutting an sticking single pieces of strip.

This time I've short circuited the process by using matchboard effect styrene sheet.

At a distance it is probably just as effective. Does this mean I have sold out?

Monday, 12 August 2013

The Hippy Shapes

Time to put a roof onto the Oberon Wood garage.

Once again I am using the roofing slate sheets from Ratio. These are quite thick - around 060" I would guess - and the plastic is harder to cut and work than styrene.

On this model I have gone to the effort of slimming down the edges which has to be done by scraping away with the scalpel and can be a little tiresome.

A complication with the garage that the neighbouring houses don't have is that it is a semi-hipped design which requires me to get my head around angles - never a strong point for me.

It went about as well as can be expected. Just the ridge tiles to go and that'll be the roof taken care of.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Garratts Great And Small

Four weeks from now Bron Hebog will be getting its next outing on 'home territory' as it were.

We're very exciting about having the layout on display at Dinas for the WHR Great And Small event from 6th - 8th September.

For the last few months the FR / WHR has been promoting the event on its Facebook page with this merged image of the real number 87 its first grey livery on the S bend at Beddgelert with a snap I took of our pair of NGG16's on the layout.

Looks rather good, don't you think?

I hope some readers may be able to come along to the show and if you do please say hello and let us know what you think of the blog.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

In With The Bricks

A very straightforward update: the styrene brickwork's been stuck onto the 'foundations' of the garage for the Oberon Wood segment of the layout.

The slope at the bottom of the render on the side of the building is quite apparent in this view.

It's very satisfying after a couple of more challenging projects to have something that is coming together so swiftly.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

A Slippery Slope

Something that makes the garage at Oberon Wood more interesting to model is that it is built into a slope.

In order to be able to mount the model on a flat surface you are obliged to build it like the proverbial iceberg with a certain amount of the structure hidden beneath the surface.

It is complicated further in this case by the rendered walls following the contours of the land around the building with a foot (30cm) or so of brickwork exposed at its lower edge.

My solution to this has been to make the building in two distinct sections.

The upper part, with the rendered walls which slope at the sides and is taller at the front than the rear, was made up from four sections of 0.60" styrene.

Then a second box, which sits flat / square at the bottom was built up inside.

The picture probably explains this better than words.

What I will do next is fix brick embossed styrene sheet to this lower section. This sheet is about half the thickness of the 0.60" which I made the top section from so I will still get the effect of that lip between the render and the brickwork.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

The Art Of Instructions

I might also have called this post The Art of Compromise, because that appears to be the primary concern when composing instructions for building kits as I have been doing this week.

The kit in question, of course, is my very soon to be released NG-Y ballast wagon for 009.

You have to strike a balance between making the steps easy to follow whilst also anticipating all the traps and misunderstandings that modellers might have while attempting to assemble your handiwork.

It's tricky because I've been living and breathing this kit for the best part of a year and naturally I know instinctively where every bit goes and, perhaps more importantly, what I need to do to coax the bit that doesn't immediately fall into place into its intended position.

Some people have the artistic talent to provided beautiful exploded diagrams. Alas, I most certainly don't.

However I do have the ability to paint pictures with words - or at least that's what I tell my boss - so I try to get the message across through description and a few photos illustrating different stages.

The art is editing it down to the bare minimum. Sometimes I feel it would be possible to write a small novel about what I have found is the best way of putting together one of my kits, and a homemade resin kit by its very nature offers up many, many more variables than something produced by a machine does.

I don't want to bombard the seller with reams of paper and paragraph upon paragraph of text that's going to be hard to follow. I've also got to consider how I'm going to stuff this into the most efficient form of packaging I can find.

That's why for the ballast wagon I have boiled the instructions down to a double-column, double-sided A4 sheet with a pretty picture on the front so folk can see what they're buying, and a plug for the Welsh Pony appeal which I am supporting through the sales of these kits.

I am conscious, though, that the explanations may be slightly too brief for some, the 8 point text a little too much of a strain on the eyes and the photographs lacking in detail.

So that is why I will also be posting a more detailed and discursive set of instructions on a dedicated page on the Boston Largs Works blog which customers will be able to view whenever they wish.

It's what my boss would call a 'hybrid model' and I hope it will meet with my customers approval.

Friday, 2 August 2013

The Reduction

A few days ago I mentioned that I needed to make a slightly smaller model of the detached double garage in the Oberon Wood estate - the first one we made many years ago, it transpired, was out of scale with the pair of houses I have recently built.

There was quite a of guesstimating involved because I have already sent the houses down south so I only have the Artistic Directors plans to compare the garage against.

In the end I've opted for making the new one 80% of the size of the first one.

As you can see this is as far as I have got so far.