Monday, 31 March 2014

Connect Three

The most tedious bit of the Super Barn build is done - making three sets of corridor connections.

It took about three night's work to get them all done.

Each element is made up of 5 pieces of styrene which all have to be cut to the correct length, glued together in a very precise manner, and shaped with a file and emery paper.

Each carriage requires 6 elements - that's 30 pieces of styrene. And so for all three carriages I had 90 bits of small plastic to deal with in total.

So I'm very glad that's done.

The next job is much more enticing, not least because it requires a pint of beer to be consumed first....

Saturday, 29 March 2014

More Tracklaying

Himself is well and truly round the bend! As you can see..

Track now extends all the way around the southern half of the Cwm Cloch S bend taking us into the depths of Cutting Mawr.

Himself has also been working on a few of the trackside features including the drainage ditch on the floor of the cutting which he fashioned out of styrene which you can see on the left hand side of the track here along with a the large inspection pipe brickwork made up from embossed plasticard.

The white bits under the track on the embankment are pieces of 10 thou sheet to give a very small degree of cant on the curve.

He's also taken a shot inside the cutting - probably just as an excuse to play with the macro function on his funky new digital camera - but with the Pulllman Obs Glaslyn posed in position at the end of the cutting it does emphasis just how deep it is, even in model form.

One of the next tasks will be to liberate some slices of genuine Welsh rock to fix onto the cutting walls.

Hopefully we'll be able to find some bits that don't say Beddgelert all the way through them...

Thursday, 27 March 2014


The work on the trio of Super Barns has got to the stage where there's a lot happening but not necessarily a huge amount of progress visible at the first glance.

Take the underframes, for example.

In the last few days all three of them have had their bogie mounting points fixed and drilled, the strip to represent the main frame added around the edge, the truss rods bent and fixed in position and a pair of basic battery boxes glued on.

The advantage of batch building is that although there is three times as much work to do it doesn't necessarily take three times as long because you do tend to get into the swing of it and you don't waste as much time hunting through a bundle of packs of styrene strip to find the right size for the bit you're doing.

I will concede, however, that it is probably three times as tedious.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Head Of Nickel Silver

Exciting news! Another few feet of track has been laid on Bron Hebog in the last couple of days, so this great decade-long project is inching towards completion.


There's another of the WHR's reverse curves in this stretch of line between the two halves of the big S bend around Cwm Cloch.

If you compare these shots with the ones I posted a couple of days ago you will notice Himself has given the baseboards a coat of plaster mixed with a colour of emulsion we like to call natural earth - others may have another description for it....

One amusing little detail.

Himself tells me that the complex of culverts and ditches on this board function just like the real ones so if you pour liquid in at the pipe at the top of the bend it runs all the way down and spills out of the pipe nearest the camera underneath the farm track.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

138 - Almost There

I have some great new pictures to share of 138 which is almost complete.

Having worked hard on the multitude of pipe runs on the the boiler unit Himself has posed the locomotive made up with the two power units.

You may have spotted that it doesn't have the pony wheels on the power bogies yet among many other bits and pieces to be finished off.

A classic three quarter view shows that its definitely got that very purposeful look of these machines.

A matching view from the rear shows that it's really looking the part. The cab roof is just resting in position which is why you can see that gap.

Another detail to point out is that Himself has reversed the fitting of the small window in the rear cab side sheet so the brass frame is more prominent.

I think it's going to make a very impressive sight painted and lined out in that lovely rich, red livery.

Make a date in your diary and come take a look at it at our exhibition appearances in Woking or Hull later this year.  Details are on the Exhibition Diary page.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Cutting More

In between bouts of Garratt construction and finishing off our model of Super Barn 108 Himself has ventured briefly into his new Layout Construction Suite (ie. his recently extended garage) to make a little more progress on the new section of Bron Hebog.

He has spread Mod Roc on the board with the second 180 degree curve around Cwm Cloch farm which includes a transition from a considerable embankment into the depths of Cutting Mawr.

After the plaster bandage has set a coat of plaster is brushed over it all - none of your lightweight scenery construction techniques here!

One of the next jobs will be to add the rock facing to the walls of the cutting using genuine Welsh rock.

Can anyone lend us a fork lift truck??

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Third Floor

I've been able to make a little more progress with the three Super Barns I've got on the go at the moment.

When batch building like this you don't tend to see massive leaps forward and I'm trying to keep them all coming together at the same rate.

This week I've cut out the floors for all of them and started on the false ceilings which keep the tops of the carriage body straight and true.

This, we've found, is a necessity on bodies built of styrene. The resin bodysides have more inherent strength but I've decided it's no bad thing to retain the box structure.

The interesting thing about putting these together is that once again it has shown than no two sets of resin castings are identical.

Each of the three floors are a slightly different size because the inner dimensions of the three carriages vary so none of them will properly fit inside any of the others.

I believe this is due to very subtle variations in the thickness of the castings because of the nature of making them in an open back mould.

It is also possible that the pieces can be glued together in subtly different ways because unlike an injection moulded plastic kit there are no lumps, bumps or grooves to ensure that pieces are joined together in precisely the same position every time.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Grape & Grain

Although the intention of this blog is principally to entertain we hope, too that occasionally we may educate a little as well.

Today's lesson is all about how your alcohol consumption can help your modelling.

If you read the posts about building a batch of FR Super Barn carriages earlier this year you'll already know that an empty beer can may be recycled as a very passable carriage roof.

(In the case of the Super Barn, as it is such a long carriage, it needs to be a Pint size beer can.)

But those of you who prefer the grape to the grain do not despair, because I have found a modelling use for a bottle of wine - or at least some of the packaging.

The material in question is the wire net around this bottle of cheap Spanish plonk which I have taken to using as an alternative to brass picture hanging wire.

It takes a little time to untwist it all, because it's made up of around seven strands, but I can find a number of uses for it.

For example it can be used on the ends of my FR carriages to represent the electrical connection cables or some of the long hydraulic pipe and cable runs on my KMX Tamper models.

It may even be a substitute for the fine wire from point motor coils which we twist around 0.5mm wire to represent vacuum hoses.

What more excuse do you need?

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Plumbing Again

A short progress report from Himself on the complicated task of adding all the pipework to the outside of 138's boiler unit.

All this stuff on the right hand side took most of a day to do.

He says he isn't claiming that they all go to the right places but it's a good representation of them.

The job wasn't without it's moments of frustration.

At one point there was contact between the hot soldering iron and the rim of the white metal chimney with inevitable consequences - and probably some bad language.

He assures me that he's been able to patch it up with some low melt solder and careful filing.

Having sorted out that crisis one of the cab steps proceeded to fall apart.

It was one of those days......

Thursday, 13 March 2014

The Body Shop

While Himself has been playing about with the pipework on the Garratt I've been getting on with gluing together the three new Super Barns which have been ordered by a regular client.

As you can see I've started the process of cutting out and fitting the styrene floor / chassis units for them. The one at the back of the shot already has one in place.

In this view you can clearly see the lumps of styrene which I fix inside the body shell which set the height of the floor and stop it disappearing too far up inside the carriage.

One the basic floors and false ceilings are cut out then the next job will be to make up the corridor connections.

This is a bit of a bind because haven't yet thought of a way I could cast them so each of them has to be made from scratch from a number of pieces of styrene strip.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014


Himself has been getting on with the Garratt again and started tackling the mass of plumbing on the side of the boiler unit.

I can't pretend that I know what all the bits are or what they so, so I'll invite you mostly just to enjoy the pretty pictures.

The one comment that Himself has passed on to me is that he has to - and I quote - "fabricate a lump that goes at the firebox end of the end of the exhaust steam ejector pipe that runs from the smokebox RH side. Did something similar for 87. The very small group of pipes will go on after painting."

I hope you understand what that means because I certainly don't.......

Oh, and one last thing. Yes, he does know that some of the handrail knobs have fallen off!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Return Of The Super Barn

So, I'm back to building resin carriages again. This little lot will keep me busy for at least the rest of the month.

It's a batch of 3 FR Super Barns (103, 108 & 121) for one of my regular clients who's furnished me with a wish list as long as my arm and will keep me tied to the workbench for a year and a half.

It will be interesting to see if these go together quicker and easier than the first four I made. (One was for us and there was another customer who also wanted models of all three of them.)

Unlike our latest Super Barn, which Himself has recently rolled a brass roof for, these will have aluminium ones recycled from Pint-sized beer cans which - naturally - have to be emptied first.

So it's not all hard work!

Friday, 7 March 2014

Topping Out

So the third house for Oberon Wood is almost ready to be sent south to be painted.

The roof sections - made from Wills slate sheets - have been cut and fitted.

At the rear this has also involved making the dormer window and the chimney as well as the small shelter above the back door.

All that is left now is to finish off the capping tiles on the roof and add the gutters and down pipes.

It'll probably be a few weeks before I make a start on the fourth house because I've got some work for a regular client I need to get cracking on with.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Brass Roof & Bogies

I think Himself might have been a little wounded by my comments a couple of days ago about unfinished models languishing in drawers because he has suspended work on the 3rd NGG16 to complete the resin model of 108 which I handed over to him when he was up in Glasgow recently.

As he does not approve of my beer can roof technique he has prepared a brass cover for this carriage.

He's also included some snaps of the adaptations we carry on out the Parkside Dundas Vale of Rheidol bogies to try to make them look more like modern FR carriage bogies.

He adds new false frames and extensions made out of styrene and also fits them with brass bushes as otherwise the pinpoint axles do bore out the holes in the plastic bogies when stock does as many miles as ours is expected to.

The effect is quite convincing at a distance although the wheelbase is far too small.

I do intend to get around to making my own accurate modern FR bogies using the etched brass outline / resin cover technique I use on the SAR bogies on the wagon kits.

It's one of those many things crowded onto the back burner, although Himself keeps on at me to lift it onto the front burner because he finds adapting these plastic bogies rather tiresome.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Tear Down These Walls

Well, I suppose it serves me right for getting cocky about finding faults with the Artistic Director's plans for the latest Oberon Wood houses.

At the weekend I discovered I had made a mistake by not studying the plans carefully enough and making the house a couple of mm too narrow with the result that I had to rip it apart and graft on some extra pieces in a couple of places to correct the error.

I expect Francis will have a good chuckle about that when he reads this.

You may be able to notice the additional strips on the far left hand side of the house in this picture and also either side of the window at the top right hand side.

Fortunately, because I've been gluing this together with Limonene rather than Mek Pak - on account of having run out of Mek - it was much easier to pull the joints apart without doing any major damage as Limonene is a much more gentle solvent which melts the plastic a lot less.

Correcting this cock-up took the best part of a day's work - although I should point out that for me a day in this context means a few minutes snatched here and there between family duties. I don't get many long, uninterrupted sessions at the workbench these days.

Despite the setback I've still been able to make a very satisfactory amount of progress.

As you can see the upper left dormer section is now in place and the garage front and porch have been completed.

I've also been able to put the brick pattern styrene in place to represent the couple of rows which can be seen below the render. A lot of what you see here will end up being buried in the scenery which means we are, in a very real sense, modelling the foundations of the house too.

On with the roof next, I think.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

House Progress

Starting a new project is great because you always appear to make very rapid progress with it compared to the seemingly endless snagging list you find when nearing the end of a model build.

It's all a trick of the mind, of course, but I expect that explains why so many of us have so many unfinished models sitting on the shelf or tucked away in drawers - something which I regret we too are guilty of.

I do generally try to be disciplined and finish something off before I start on another.

The new house is in that satisfying stage at the moment where it is developing very quickly.

I've now got most of the outside walls in place.

The strange shape of the building is becoming apparent now. There is a big overhanging dormer structure to go on the upper front left and the other three sides of the garage to complete.

At the rear the northern half of the building appears to be suspended in the air because it still needs to have a secondary sheet glued on behind onto which I will attach the brick courses which are visible just above the ground where the render stops.

I'm afraid I do have to report that I found a minor discrepancy in the Artistic Director's beautifully drawn plans which meant the big side piece with the windows was cut the wrong shape at the bottom.

I obeyed all the rules about measuring twice and cutting once, but that only holds true if the thing you're measuring is correct of course!

The beauty of working in styrene though is that once I worked out what was wrong it was simple enough to graft an extra piece on and no one will ever know.

Apart from the thousands of people around the world reading this blog, of course....