Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Floor Filling

The interior of 2046, the new Welsh Highland carriage, has taken a big jump forward in the last few days.

I cast 7 sets of the seats and tables and glued them into position.

I was pretty pleased with the way the design worked. Some of them required a little filing to ensure the seat backs lined up with the window pillars but the table heights are perfect with the waist line on the carriage.

A final job was to make up the tipping / swivelling seat at one end out of a couple of bits of styrene.

Then I turned it over and tackled the underfloor area which calls for a lot more modelling.

The WHR carriages have become a little more complicated down there over the years.

The first batch of Winson-built carriages in the late 1990's had everything hidden behind a long, boxy skirt, as you can see at the top edge.

Now, however, Boston Lodge install fancy things like diesel powered heating and so there are various tanks and drawers and others such things visible which have to be modelled.

Those of you who have built any of my Boston Largs Works SAR wagon kits might spot how I've employed some of the brass brake parts under there and cut down some others to fit.

I also hacked off the resin brake cylinder from a scrap wagon chassis to glue into place on this carriage.

It has the same fins around the edge as the SAR ones (Boston Lodge may even have used a spare SAR one for all I know)  so waste-not, want-not, eh?

Sunday, 28 September 2014

New Toys On Test

The show at the weekend was the first chance to give our newest locomotives a proper test run.

The one that did the most mileage was our 3rd Backwoods Garratt 138 which went into regular service straight 'off the workbench'.

It will in time be finished in the locomotive's current red livery and as running coal-fired.

Also getting a run out was Himself's impulse purchase, an RT Models kit of one-time FR resident Peckett tank Harrogate.

He was inspired to make a model after seeing the real thing in action while were exhibition the layout at Dinas on the WHR last year. It was on loan from the Statfold Barn Railway.

I believe I'm right in saying that the locomotive has yet to traverse the full WHR so this picture of it emerging from Cutting Mawr is a bit of futurology.

Even more improbable was our double heading of our new Brian Madge Britomart and Mercian Models Welsh Pony - not only because Pony is in the very early stages of a scandalously overdue restoration (in my humble opinion) but also because, as others have already pointed out, it's highly unlikely the pair of them could ever haul this length of train up the hill to Beddgelert.

Although I think I know a driver who given half a chance would give it a go!

Those there at the time also witnessed a minor miracle in seeing one of these Mercian England engine kits moving given that the gearbox, as designed, will not fit inside the locomotive.  It's taken all of Himself's ingenuity to make this model work.

I have a big soft spot for Welsh Pony - indeed I am one of the regular donors to the restoration fund - and I think this model's going to become one of my favourites.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Seat Master

In the end I decided to sort out the interior for the new carriage rather than tackle the stuff under the floor.

And as I have a feeling that there will be more of these design of WHR carriages rolling out of Boston Lodge in the years ahead I've decided to cast the seats this time so I can easily them out as required in future.

I used the same tactic with the FR superbarns last year when I had to make a big batch of the carriages.

However I couldn't use the same master for this one because the WHR carriage seats are slightly bigger and with a simpler seat back design as you can see above.

The way the design of this casting works is to have the table tops cast separately and then glued onto a base which doubles as a spacer to help me position each seat / table combo in place in the carriage.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Learning Curves

Taking a layout on the road for the first time is always going to show up little snags and so it proved at Woking.

There was nothing fundamental that stopped the layout operating - no phantom short circuit that required an on-the-spot rewire as some layouts have experienced - just some minor irritations like those devilish little pony wheels on an NGG16 derailing.

Getting these beasties back on the rails can be a maddening task - sometimes requiring Himself to don two pairs of specs - and it's not made any easier by those power units having such bulky, overhanging tanks and bunkers.

After much close observation - and tiresome re-railing - the problem was traced to one of the board joints in the middle which had moved out of alignment.

This was not due to an error in construction so much as the manner of construction.

Our boards, you see, were built sequentially, in a linear fashion, like most standard layouts, and the track joints were aligned longitudinally. But Bron Hebog is very unusual in having such depth and some of the boards towards the centre of the layout are connected laterally and well as length ways.

So when it was put together as one unit we discovered that the forces acting in all four directions for the first time pushed (or pulled) one of the joints slightly out of alignment. Enough to throw off those pesky little pony wheels - although everything else stayed on.

The other issue with the layout - which had been predicted from the outset of the project - is that there is a section of the track in the middle which is all but impossible to reach when it's all put up.

And guess where the dodgy board joint in question was??

Thus the otherwise simple task of getting out the soldering iron and resetting the joint forced Himself to contort his physique into positions no pensioner should ever attempt..

The other snagging point was one of the cow-catchers on the power units of our new NGG16 138 would brush the top of the rails where the track dips in Goat Tunnel causing a momentary short.

That should be easy to address by bending the brass parts upwards.

As for the dip we're just going to have to live with that because that can't be fixed without taking the top off the tunnel!

Monday, 22 September 2014

A Few More Pictures

Thanks to Jonathan Walsh for sharing these with us.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Woking - Day 1

A few snatched snaps from the first day of the first show for the final-size Bron Hebog for you to enjoy.

If you'd like to see some others then may I suggest you 'like' our Bron Hebog page on Facebook where people who came along to the show are sharing some of their pictures.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Here It Is!

The complete Bron Hebog!

These snaps were taken after setting it all up for the very first time at the exhibition in Woking last night.

It's a proud moment for the team after more than a decade designing and then building the layout.

If you'd like to come and see us this weekend details of the show can be found on our Exhibition Diary page.

Friday, 19 September 2014

The Moment Of Truth

In a few hours all will be reveled! We will see Bron Hebog put up in its entirety for the very first time - and that includes the people who have built it!

It's all packed up and ready for the journey to Woking for the exhibition this weekend.

You will note Himself's new pride and joy, the sack barrow, in the foreground.

I'll be keeping fingers crossed that it goes together as planned and that it's all been wired up properly.

I'm hoping Himself and the team will send me a few snaps over the course of the weekend and I'll post them on the blog at the earliest opportunity.

If you're going along to Woking and take some shots we'd be delighted if you'd share them on our Facebook page - search on there for Bron Hebog.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

WHR Superpower In Miniature

If you missed the chance to see 3 working NGG16s at the same time at WHR Superpower last weekend, don't worry, you've got another chance this coming weekend!

Because Himself has been working flat out to complete the layout - physically at least - in time for the Woking show it's been many months since he's done any work on our latest locomotive 138.

However he thought it would be fun to give her a trial run at the show this weekend so he gave her a week test along with our existing pair in one of the fiddle yard tracks.

I promise you it'll look a lot more impressive - and sound a lot sweeter - climbing up and around the big S bend behind Beddgelert station on Bron Hebog.

Monday, 15 September 2014

House Handover

The issuing of dire threats through the pages of this blog has forced the Artistic Director to surrender the two houses he's had in his possession for months for the purposes of painting.

So here's what the Oberon Wood housing estate feature on the layout's going to look like for those of you coming to see Bron Hebog in Woking this weekend.

When you attempt to recreate a location in miniature the acid test is always when you take a point-of-view shot like this one below.

I'm obviously biased but I have to say that between us me, the Artistic Director and Himself have really captured the look and feel of this modern bit of Beddgelert.

There are many more houses to be built to complete this part of the layout. There need to be more in the row in front of the cutting as well as a few running down the hill where the tunnel mouth is and some more in the space opposite the existing ones.

Himself assures me that the Artistic Director is in the process of producing the next set of plans (heard that one before!) and I shall look forward to adding to the estate as soon as I get them.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

One Week To Go

My personal and professional lives are currently dominated by the countdowns to some momentous events.

Here in Scotland we're all going to be taking a rather fundamental constitutional decision in the referendum on Thursday and my job is to tell the nation all about it on the wireless.

Then on Saturday we'll be unveiling the completed Bron Hebog at the exhibition in Woking - full details are on the Exhibition Diary page if you haven't already seen then.

The layout will complete in terms of the track layout and the full extent of it but it's by no means finished.

However I'm very pleased that Himself has put in a lot of hard work over the last few days to complete the basic scenic layer of wild grass on all the new boards so at least the layout won't have any big, glaring sections of brown painted plaster.

This is the view of the Rhyd Ddu end taken from the operators position behind the layout. The big brown expanse you see in the foreground is part of the fiddle yard which has yet to be hidden behind a backscene.

I only wish I could be there in Woking myself to see it, but duty - and democracy - calls! I'm going to have to wait a few weeks more until our second show of the year in Hull.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Carriage Update

While you've been entertained by such fripperies as decorated mugs in the last few days I've been busy getting the bodyshell of our latest carriage put together.

The roof is still a 'rough cut' at the moment.

The skin is oversize and needs to be trimmed and shaped at the sides and the ends and, of course, fixed into position but that won't happen for a while yet - certainly not until the interior is in place.

I am considering casting some seat and table units again like I did with the last back of all-resin Superbarns I produced.

It won't be possible to use the same seat casting because the seat backs are a different shape and I suspect they may be set slightly further apart in the more generously proportioned WHR carriages.

Making a new master may be the next move, or possibly the boxes and bits which hang down from the floor.  I haven't made my mind up yet.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

A Mug's Game

I've taken an executive decision that we're going make an attempt to look vaguely professional and corporate when we take the layout on the road this autumn.

Some go in for the team clothing look but I'm not sure that's for us.

Exhibition halls can get quite hot and sweaty so if you go to the bother of getting some jumpers embroidered they soon get shed, and as a militant scruff bag I wouldn't care very much for having to turn up in a shirt and tie.

T-shirts are another option but some members of the crew don't care for them much.

And even though I may joke about Himself's age sometimes,  he's certainly not old enough for a blazer yet!

So my compromise is to have a properly branded tea break.

But there's a problem.

It's likely that some people will desire tea while others prefer coffee, and as the mugs generally don't get washed and dried before they are refilled how are we going to stop them getting mixed up?

This is my solution.

That should prevent any confusion!

In case you're wondering where I got them from, and as I'm always happy to recommend suppliers who provide great service, it was an outfit called Printster.co.uk.

I found the website really easy to use. The prices seemed reasonable to me and the mugs turned up within 48 hours of placing the order - and that was using standard delivery rather than one of the express options.

Thanks are due as well the FR's Roger Dimmick for kindly supplying the crest artwork which keeps us 'on message'.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Building Site

A little bit more landscaping has being going on in the Oberon Wood area.

There will be no new houses appearing between now and the exhibition in a fortnight but Himself has carried out the tweaks to locate number 24 properly, reducing the height the garage sits at and building up the driveway.

From this other angle you can also see that the outline of the road through the estate has been cut out of plywood making it look like the early stages of a new housing scheme.

There are two more houses - the first I built - which will be placed on the far right of the picture but they're currently with the Artistic Director who (hopefully) has been painting them.

They will be liberated - by force if necessary - ahead of the trip to Woking.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Twenty Forty-Six

I've been working steadily on our new WHR carriage 2046 in the last week with most of the component parts made up now.

The main side sections and the entrance doors are made separately because they are set back on this design of carriage.

They've all had their second layer of beading detail added. The carriage ends are mostly done but I still need to make up the corridor connections which are rather fiddly and a bit of a pain.

 It's nice that for once we're actually keeping pace with the railway because 2046 is the latest new carriage to enter service also We will soon be in arrears again because there's a new, revised Superbarn due to emerge from Boston Lodge very shortly.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014


Don't ever say that we don't keep up with the social media trends on this blog.

While working on the layout the other night Himself was moved to attempt his first selfie.

Unfortunately he hasn't quite got the hang of holding the camera at the correct angle (yes, he's using an actual camera to take a picture, not a telephone - it'll never catch on) but his photographic malfunction did result in a rather nice portrait of the latest Oberon Wood house I've built being fitted in place on the layout.

A more conventional view from the front shows the base needs to be cut away to allow the garage to be sunk to its correct position.

I'm very pleased with how this corner of the layout is looking.

All we need now is for the Artistic Director to produce some more designs for the neighbouring properties.

Just remember, I've warned you before about holding your breath where he's concerned. We don't want any accidental asphyxiations among our readers.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Layout Recycling

It's all very well building all these extra boards to complete the layout - in terms of track layout - in time for the exhibition later this month, but it still leaves the question of how to store and transport them.

And that's where the racking system comes in.

It's probably more accurate to describe it as a pairing rather than racking system, because we fix our boards front to front for transportation, as you can see below with two of the fiddle yard boards.

The eco-friendly bit is that the L girders Himself has used to make up these latest end plates come from the baseboards of our very first exhibition layout, a OO preserved branch line terminus called Wickford.

In one of his more ingenious moments Himself engineered these so the transport pieces are attached using the same clips as the ones we use to connect all the boards of the layout when it is erected.

(Although Himself being Himself he's also drilled a hole and inserted an extra bolt as well because he doesn't trust the clips not to come apart in transit.)

He also tells me that he's invested in our own personal sack barrow so we can wheel the sections between the van and the exhibition space rather than relying the team carrying them one by one like pall-bearers at a funeral though the hall and out into the car park.

Given that this is not exactly a lightweight layout this may prove to be a very shrewd investment indeed.