Monday, 28 September 2015

Funkey Freight

I had another very busy weekend at the workbench casting yet more kits to be sold in the FR shop. (Halfway through now - yay!)

It was rather more productive too.

In contrast to the B Wagons which were a little troublesome with an irritatingly high number of mis-casts the bits for the batch of DZ wagons came out almost faultlessly with hardly any wastage.

I doubt, however, that you'd be interested in seeing another picture of dozens of resin casstings curing on my desk, so instead here's another wee bit of video from the layout.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

A Little Bit Of Lyd

It's been a quiet week on the modelling front - other than wall to wall resin casting.

(Around a third of the wagon kits for the FR shop have now been cast, you'll be pleased to know, so there is hope that I may soon be able to return to more interesting topics on the blog)

In the meantime I hope I can amuse you with a short piece of video I filmed on the layout at Super Power a fortnight ago.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Out Of Practice

A fresh consignment of resin has arrived so I've begun work on this big order for the FR shop,  but it's not going as smoothly as you might imagine.

When it comes to casting you need to be in the grove and after a number of months away from it it's been a but hit and miss so far.

It's taken me 2 days (or at least the bit of the day I have available) to cast the buts for 3 B wagons with a 1/3 wastage rate so far.

I've had all the usual niggles: casts that don't set right because I misjudged the 50:50 mix, air bubbles in awkward doors that can't really be filled and times when the cover had lifted so half of it goes missing.

The autumn climate (and my stubborn refusal to put the heating on yet mean I've also had one that went all bubbly, necessitating the use of a dehumidifier.

We'll get there in the end though.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Winter Work Programme

The pace has slowed a little after our return from Dinas and the flurry of activity in the weeks leading up to it.

Himself will be taking an extended break from modelling and right now I've got my commercial hat on to meet an order for more SAR wagon kits to restock the FR shop.

I have decided to make a strategic reinvestment and have cast a fresh set of moulds for all the components of the four kits, expect the main chassis pieces which get 50% less use.

These are just a small selection with the rubber curing in the moulding boxes...

Casting a couple of dozen kits is going to keep me busy for a couple of weeks.

There's the Cwm Cloch farmhouse to finish as well

Then I'm going to push the boat out - and break my biggest golden rule - and cast another couple of MkII Super Barn carriage bodies.

Photo courtesy of FR
That's carriage 117 which is fast approaching completion at Boston Lodge and work on a replacement 118 is already underway.

The insiders who whisper information into my ears are utterly insistent that these two carriages will be identical - note the word, identical - to 119 which was rolled out last year.

When I made a model of that last year you'll remember I very optimistically made styrene masters and cast the body sides in the hope that I would be able to use them for the following carriages.

The moment of truth is nearly here and if I should subsequently discover any significant difference between the three carriages.......

Following on from those, and something that I'm really going to have to be in the mood for, is the fancy new Observation Carriage 150.

It was on display in the bay platform at Dinas during Super Power: Great & Small II so I had a good chance to poke around it and take lots of research pictures.

I've got a fair idea how I'm going to go about making it.

That's my mid-winter project I reckon.

And finally, more houses...

After the carriages I shall crack on with the end row of properties in Oberon Wood.

As you can see they are as idiosyncratic as the rest,

Lucky me!

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Take A Trip

During the show at Dinas last weekend we were able to update our Driver's Eye View videos of the layout.

Last time we tried this exercise was two years ago at Super Power when the layout was only half-complete with track running as far as Cwm Cloch Crossing.

 The videos are shot using a nifty little miniature camera belonging to one of our operators, and Dinas shed fitter Huw, mounted on a 4-wheel flat wagon and propelled along by one of our locomotives.

You want to ensure that you'll get a nice, smooth run with no jerking or hesitation so we rostered one of our NGG16's for the job.

We also had the unprecedented opportunity to repeat the exercise on Dduallt.

Please also take a look at the Layout Videos page on the blog where you'll find a wonderful 14 minute film of Bron Hebog in action last weekend.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Doesn't Time Fly?

I can't believe it's a week already since WHR Great & Small II.

Last Friday morning five of us were hard at work erecting Dduallt and Bron Hebog side by side in the historic NWNGR Goods Shed at Dinas.

To be honest it was much more work than I had anticipated when we agreed to exhibit the pair of them.

Dduallt, being a quarter of a century old now, was constructed in a very traditional manner and the boards are secured together with coach bolts, which can become a little tiresome when you're on your hands and knees on a very cold and grubby floor.

Bron Hebog, by contrast, is a work of precision engineering, and being so big with boards interlocking at all angles can be troublesome to fit together on anything other than a perfectly smooth surface.

By no stretch of imagination does the Goods Shed floor fit that description - it took all five of us to force some of the boards into position.

Over the years it's been a matter of quiet pride to us that the layouts generally run very reliably, even when, in the case of Dduallt, it has been in storage for a number of years.

Bron Hebog, alas is still being developed and suffered some minor teething troubles over the weekend.

We were caught with our trousers down by the electrics on the revamped fiddle yard.

Naturally these were subject to extensive testing after construction, but one of the fundamental difficulties with a layout as ginormous is that it's unrealistic to put the whole thing up outside of exhibitions.

So while the yards were tested and worked as intended on their own, when connected to the rest of the layout the electrons got into a bit of a disagreement.

The question we are still trying to answer, as I write, is where?

The issue didn't stop the layout operating, it just made it tricky to run trains smoothly in and out of the yards using a combination of control panels as is supposed to happen.

For me part of the joy of this exhibition was at last being able to run full length WHR trains around the layout.

The show had a delightfully informal feel which meant we felt able to have a play ourselves and try out some unusual combinations and spoon on a big dollop of modellers' licence, such as when my friend Marcus brought his NG15 models over to stretch their legs around the layout.

Over in the real engine shed NG15 134 was being shown off with its wheel sets back in the frames at last.

The day is coming nearer when we will see this scene for real, I hope.

I had posted in the build up to the show about how we were going to have to divide our stock carefully between the two layouts with the current 21st Century locos and carriages on Bron Hebog and running Dduallt as a late 80s / early 90s period piece.

The plan seemed to work perfectly and it was a bit of a revelation to me.

As our fleet has expanded ( mainly on account of the FR churning out new locomotives and carriages over the last 20 years) so the layouts, Dduallt in particular, have suffered what you might call 'British motorway syndrome' - struggling to cope with volumes of traffic for which they were not designed.

What this show reminded me was how much easier (and perhaps even more fun?), they are to operate with fewer trains on them and room for manoeuvre in the fiddle yards.

It seems that sometimes less is indeed more.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Super Power Video

There were many cameras being pointed at Bron Hebog over the Super Power - Great & Small II event on the Welsh Highland over the weekend, including mine.

I managed to grab a few snaps and some small video clips which I'll be sharing with you here over the next couple of weeks.

Dinas was our first exhibition with the proper fiddle yards where we were able to run full-length WHR trains of 10 carriages, which was the reason we build such a ridiculously big OO9 layout in the first place.

So here is a shot of our black NGG16 (not meant to represent a particular WHR locomotive) climbing around the big horse shoe bend into Cutting Mawr.


Sunday, 13 September 2015

Sensational Super Power

We had a fabulous weekend at Welsh Highland Super Power - Great & Small II. 

Here are some snaps from our 3 days at Dinas. 

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Show Home

I've got the farm house looking reasonably presentable for the exhibition this weekend.

It's a long way from finished - there are no chimneys for a start and there's a lean-to shed at the back missing - but as least it looks like a house.

The hipped roof gave me headaches as they always to - I'm hopeless whenever sloping angles come into play.

It was complicated this time by the need to leave large gaps for the lead flashing in the gullies and the considerable overhangs.

Hopefully it won't look too silly sitting in its space on the layout.

Perhaps people who don't know the area will just think its a very clean white-washed building?

Whatever, we haven't got long to wait to find out because this time tomorrow (Friday) we'll be erecting Bron Hebog and Dduallt in the Goods Shed at Dinas.

I've been looking forward to this for the best part of a year now!

The first time the F&WHR staged the event two years ago there was a lovely relaxed and friendly atmosphere in the shed and I'm sure it'll be the same again this time.

If you can't get along I shall try to post some photos on the Bron Hebog Facebook page over the weekend and maybe even a few here as well.

A word of warning though: the wifi connection is in the pub so the words may make even less sense than they usually do.


Tuesday, 8 September 2015

New For Dinas

Our model of Brown, Marshalls number is 16 ready for action this weekend.

This has been build from a Worsley Works, brass scratch-aid kit to show the carriage running in its present condition for use on Bron Hebog.

Our existing model was scratch built in styrene more than 20 years ago and is finished in all over red livery as the carriage was running in 1988.

That's fine for trundling around on Dduallt, as it will be at Dinas, but it was clear we would have to start a vintage fleet renewal for the new layout and 16 is the second to be completed after a 2nd version of van 10.

Over the winter the intention is for it to be joined by the new 11 & 12 which I scratch built over the summer.

I'm particularly pleased with the way the interior of the first class and coupe compartment show up.

The photo is a little dark so I'm really looking forward to seeing it with my own eyes when the Welsh Highland Great & Small show begins on Friday.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Finishing Touches On The Tanker

A couple of weeks ago I handed over my new WHR water tank wagon for Himself to have a tinker with.

He's stuck on the transfers.

There's lots of other tiny wee technical blurb on the real one but quite frankly life's too short!

I also left it for him to make and attach the footstep which you can see at the right hand end of the frame.

These are hangers-on (excuse the pun) from the chassis' days as a DZ wagon but strangely it only still has one at one end.

He'll give it a protective spray of varnish before it join the fleet for the show at Dinas next weekend.

There may be some squabbling about what we do with it.

His idea is that we'll leave it parked in the siding at Beddgelert where the real one spends a lot of its time as an mobile emergency source of water in the event of a major lineside fire.

I , on the other hand, would prefer to see it hung behind one of the NGG16's at the head of a full rake of SAR freight stock.

I wonder who will get their way?

Friday, 4 September 2015

Front Extension

The farmhouse is coming together steadily.

I'm hopeful that we'll at least have a basic, roofed shell to plonk on the blank space on the layout next weekend even if it will stick out like a sore thumb.

I spent one evening this week putting the window detail on the front extension.

The two big picture windows were a challenge.

They had to be fabricated with many of the right angle joints having no support other than the strength of the plastic bond itself. (In other words no strengthening pieces behind them and no large surface areas in contact)

As long as it doesn't get handled by the windows - which is unlikely - I think they'll survive ok.

With these three sides joined together and fixed in place on the front of the house you begin to get an impression of the size of the property.

All this time I've been referring to it as the front extension but I have no idea whether it was actually an original feature,  but it hardly matters.

The point is it's on now and I'll move my attention round to the back next.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Colourful Carriages

Himself is very busy attempting to finish off some more rolling stock with the exhibition at Dinas just a little over a week away now.

Carriage 16 looks a real rainbow of colours when it is disassembled like this..

He's also been putting the finishing touches to the third of the 1st generation Super Barns 108...

It isn't just carriages, either.

Work has restarted on our new Conway Castle

The main blocks of colour are all there and the challenge now is to add the rather complicated lining where they meet.