Friday, 30 October 2015

Book Of Barns

Notwithstanding my dictum not to finish one project before starting another I have taken the liberty, while I had the resin out, to cast myself a new pair of Super Barn parts.

They're destined to become models of the FR's newest carriages 117 and 118.

The former is about ready for painting as I understand it while the latter is being built up from a kit of parts.

My only hope is that I haven't jumped the gun and that both of them will turn out exactly the same as 119.

If not I'm in trouble....

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Baby Steps

The big news this week is that Himself has made it back into his workroom for the first time since his 'intermediate overhaul.'

He's started tackling the job of finishing off the new models of 11 and 12 starting with making up bogies for 11 and fitting the brake pipe run.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Barging On

I've got some more progress to report on the farmhouse this time.

I've added the barge boards and the very obvious joist ends that stick out on this building.

I think I will leave the roof just now and begin building the lean-to shed which goes on this northern end of the house.

You can see where it goes where there is the blank corner in the scribed stones.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Tile Time

A few more short sessions on the farmhouse this week have seen me add the ridge tiles to the roof which makes it look more complete.

There's still a lean-to shed sort of thing to built on the northern wall but I think next I shall tackle the barge boards and the roof joists.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Departmental Dilemma

The vexed question of the FR's modern heritage has reared its head again in recent days and forced me to rethink my long-term carriage replacement plan.

The vehicle in question is Observation / Driving Car 111.

I try to avoid having too many project on the go at the same time - I like to get a model finished before starting on something new - but that doesn't stop me carrying around an extensive wish list in my head.

One of those 'must get around to' projects is a replacement for our model of 111.

As you can see ours depicts the carriage in its original condition when it doubled up as the First Class Observation Car (with toilet facilities) at the bottom end of C Set and also as the driving trailer of the 6 car push pull set which, at least in the early '90's, saw a lot of use on the first and last trains of the day in summer and for winter running.

Here is it doing just that rounding Boston Lodge curve on the return of a high summer 'Early Bird' service with Conway Castle propelling at the uphill end.

Yes, kids, that manky, malfunctioning diesel you see dumped at the end of the headshunt at Dinas was once front line motive power and here's the proof!

To get back to the situation today, with the entry into traffic of the new, and rather posh, Obs 150 next year 111 will be surplus to requirements and the plan is to reallocate it to departmental stock as additional mess accommodation on works trains.

(We are to presume that the armchairs and the carpets will be removed but that marquetry will still make it quite the plushest P-Way vehicle on any railway ever I would suggest?)

The FR has form in this, of course, because the pioneering Barn Obs 100 saw out its days as a mess car on the WHR rebuilding before it was broken up for firewood.

I've always believed that was a mistake.

Its construction was a very significant moment in the modern FR story coming just a little over 10 years after the reopening.

Yes, the body was utterly life expired, but it could easily have been replaced.

Vintage engines and carriages are like Grandad's proverbial broom - by way of evidence I point to the current 'restoration' of Welsh Pony or indeed the HLF rebuilds of carriages 15 and 16 where the woodwork was almost entirely replaced.

EDIT *Breaking News* And I have just received this photographic evidence that  the underframe of 100 is still in existence at Dinas so maybe it could still rise from the ashes one day?

So coming back to 111, whilst I cannot disagree with the commercial logic of removing it from front line service - despite the valiant efforts to tart it up inside it can never compare to the new 100, 102 or 150 for customer appeal - and accepting the need for better facilities for the workforce on engineering trains, I hope it does not undergo too much alteration to equip it for its new role so that in a few decades time, if attitudes to modern heritage were to change, it may be possible to restore it to its original condition.

While understanding that a railway cannot keep all former items of rolling stock as museum pieces I do wonder whether enough attention is being paid to the FR's modern heritage?

The 'Tin Cars' are a significant part of the story of the period when the railway was trying to cope with the challenges of booming traffic and the task of getting back to Blaenau.

Yes, they were utilitarian and passengers' expectations of comfort have moved on, but it was a big thing at the time to build these vehicles at Boston Lodge and 111, although coming a decade later, was the ultimate expression of the tin car design philosophy.

It also marked the end of the FR's drive for modernity in its front line operation before a change in direction towards more traditional looking stock, something that you might detect in the new wooden bodied Barns and Super Barns or the semaphore signals and associated buildings at Porthmadog. (A moot point, perhaps.)

It has been stated that the prototype, 110, will be preserved but I would have liked to have seen an example of each retained - the production version 117/118, the toilet car 119/120 and the sliding window 121 - and then in years to come it would be possible to present an authentic 1970's / 80's trains. (In cherry red with The Square at the head, naturally.)

It does also beg the question about why the railway continues to use 'lock up' carriages, including the magnificent Victorian ones, as high summer spares rather than keep the corridor Tin Cars which would arguably be more customer friendly?  (Although the current disposal strategy does free up bogies and brake gear for redeployment.)

This is all rather getting away from the original point of the post which is that I'm in a dilemma about what to do about a new 111.

I was intending to make a 2nd model in its current livery with the smarter interior but now I'm wondering whether it would be better to 'future proof' our stock by doing it as the departmental 111?

There is a tantalising second option. though.

It has recently been repainted and it has been said that it will continue to wear these colours in its new life.

Assuming there were to be no exterior alterations perhaps it would even be possible to have a model with removable alternative interiors?

Now there's a thought...

Monday, 19 October 2015

The 3 Chimneys

I think my mojo is making a comeback.

I made some satisfactory progress on the farm house over the weekend.

Nothing spectacular but the three chimneys have been made up and fitted and I'm in the process of adding the pots on top.

The house (as in the real one) is something of a moving target.

It underwent a number of improvements in the years when we were researching the layout and while the railway was being rebuilt; replacement windows, snazzy duck egg blue render and repairs to at least one of the chimneys, so I'm not exactly sure in which condition to model them.

What I've decided to do is give both of them, on the main house, a sort of bulge at the top which I fashioned out of Milliput.

It's at the back of the layout any way, I'm pretty sure we'll get away with it if it's wrong.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Ladies At Dduallt

With no modelling done this week myself - and no confirmation of whether Himself made it as far as the modelling room with his sticks  - I have precious little to blog  about.

Time, perhaps, for one last video clip from Super Power?

Thursday, 15 October 2015

El Tee

I'm on a week's holiday with the family near York, which, of course, necessitates a visit to the NRM to see dear old Livingston Thompson.

This is the FR engine which as always intrigued me most.

Whilst I've long dreamed about seeing Welsh Pony and Princess steam again (which is going to be 50% fulfilled very soon) LT has been something of an enigma.

Books about the early years of the FR revival are stuffed with pictures of the engine, more so than any other I reckon, and yet it was only in use for 15 years between 1956 and its withdrawal 1971, and not continuously either.

So here we have a loco which would seem to be synonymous with the 'preserved' FR but hasn't worked for getting on for half a century now.

It last steamed two years before I was born, and, in fact, the first time I ever saw it was only a few years ago when it was removed from the NRM for a short stay back in Wales, during which time it was the centerpiece at the Warley show at the NEC right behind our layout.

I then saw it a second time at the railway for the unprecendented '5 Fairlies' line up, but those are the only times I have clapped eyes on it.

I think my strongest impressions of it are still of the images I saw occasionally in the FR magazine in the mid-80's of the superstructure stored in the furthest recesses of Minffordd yard.

I still intend to make a model of it in this condition.

There is a Langley kit lying in my drawer earmarked for this project.

Himself has always said we should use it as an opportunity for him to instruct me in the dark art of soldering white metal.

Perhaps in the next couple of years we will get a chance to try that out.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Convalescence Project

Himself believes he is on the brink of being able to hobble into back into his work room for a little light modelling.

He's decided to have a bash at finishing off and painting the new models of 11 & 12 which I made earlier this year.

The major outstanding item is the truss rods on 12.

It's almost impossible to get a proper view of them in most pictures of the carriage you see but fortunately it was in use at Super Power last month and I had a chance to crouch down and take some very low level snaps which should assist him.

Assuming he makes it to the work bench unscathed I'll let you know how he gets on.

Sunday, 11 October 2015


So, the sum total of my efforts last week was six chimney sides for the farmhouse.

Not very impressive, I know.

If the truth be told I'm struggling to get the momentum going in this project again.

What has been built was against the deadline of having something vaguely presentable to fill the space on the layout at Super Power.

Then, upon our return, I had a fortnight of flat out kit casting which I'd held back on because of the need to prioritise on the exhibition.

So a month later I've lost my mojo a bit.

The temptation now is always to start something new. 

That would certainly provide an injection of enthusiasm but I do not want to end up being overwhelmed by half finished models, so I shall carry on the slow graft on this one.


Friday, 9 October 2015

Meanwhile At Dduallt

Again, not too much modelling to report today.

I have managed to cast a batch of FR bogie sides for Narrow Planet to sell and I have liberated the incomplete farmhouse from its box to remind myself what remains to be done.

So in the meantime, until I have something of substance to report here's another video, of Dduallt this time.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

How Does This Grab You?

One of the perennial problems with a layout as large as Bron Hebog is how to reach rolling stock which derails catastrophically beyond arms reach.

It hasn't happened to us yet, and the chances are diminished by the layout being mostly plain single track, but it's always a possibility.

This,  therefore, may come in very handy....

In case you're wondering, no, one of us has not been sentenced to community service, or had a rather drastic career change.

The explanation is that Himself has undergone something of an intermediate overhaul (fitting a new connecting rod in steam engine parlance) and this is his only means on picking objects up off the floor for the next wee while.

He'll soon be bending like a Garratt again but he does think it'll come in very handy should the worst happen in the middle of the S bend in the years to come.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Bonus Bogies

There was a bit of a misunderstanding when my latest order of bogie frames was being etched.

As well as a fresh sheet of SAR bogie frets (to put in the kits destined for the FR shop)I also ordered the first production run of my new modern FR carriage bogies.

The first of these has been on test under our new Super Barn 119 and it ran very well on Bron Hebog at Dinas.

The bogie swing clearance is at its absolute limit on the curve into the fiddle yard at the Rhyd Ddu end but we can probably do something about that.

So we've decided to go ahead and order a whole sheet, which is roughly A4 size.

For whatever reason Steve (at Narrow Planet) received two sheets back from the etcher, with a total of 56 pairs of bogies.

That is far more than we will ever need so between us we've decided the best course of action is to keep half for ourselves and attempt to sell the rest as bogie kits.

This is why I have been preparing a master for a mould with four bogie frame castings on.

It it turns out OK I am going to try to cast around a dozen for him to take to ExpoNG later this month and see whether we can shift any.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

End Of The Marathon

At last the marathon casting session is at an end!

All the bits for 24 wagon kits are done.

I left the trickiest ones - the ballast wagons - til last, now that I am properly back in the flow of casting.

All that remains now is to finish trimming, secure them in the packaging and post them to Porthmadog, hopefully early next week.

Then I can start making models for myself again.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Triple Whammy

Three things are conspiring to restrict the amount of construction content I'm able to post on the blog currently.

I'm still working through a large order of kits for the FR shop - yes, still! 3/4 done now, by the way.

While that's tying up my time Himself has not had anything to contribute. In fact he's going to be out of action for a few more weeks.

And lastly my elderly laptop has expired and there's only so much copy you can type with one thumb on a smartphone before it becomes terminally tedious.

So here's another snippet of video to keep you entertained in the meantime.