Tuesday, 31 May 2016

First Coat

I told Himself there was no urgency on getting the Disco Car painted, which means, of course, that he's started work on it immediately.

The first coats of red and cream are looking good.

However, to my horror I've discovered a couple of oversights - and halfway through painting is not the best time for that!

Firstly, I realised that I forgot to make and fit fall plates on the corridor connections.

That, at least, is easy to fix.

The other thing will be a little trickier.

When I built it I only had a very small image - in terms of file size - which showed the ends on the 'engine side' where the push pull connections are and so I had to take a bit of a punt on the bits that I fitted on the model based on what I thought I could see there.

Well, it turns out that Himself has superb close-up picture of the top end of 121 but never thought to reveal this too me until it's almost too late.

Now that I can see what's there, or at least what was there at one point in time - because they're always fiddling - I feel morally obliged to try and correct it.

The tricky bit is going to be doing it without compromising the paint job,

Sunday, 29 May 2016

I'll Just Be 5 Minutes

That phrase has got to be one of the biggest fibs in the English language, now that we no longer send cheques to each other in the post!

In this case the 5 minutes in question is the time it is alleged that a popular brand of rapid-set 2-part epoxy resin glue takes to set.

Not in my experience this week it doesn't. More like 5 hours, if at all!

Allow me to explain.

I usually fix resin parts together using a slow-set 'super glue' which gives you quite a few seconds adjustment time, but I have run out of that at the moment and I only have the standard stuff in the house.

The Super Barn castings are quite tricky to join together and you've got to position them very carefully so I thought it would be best to allow myself a little wriggle room and I elected to use epoxy resin instead.

Perhaps it is because the tubes are quite old - maybe as much as two years old - but it has been very slow to cure. In fact 24 hours on from being mixed the stuff left over on the pallet remains soft and tacky.

I wanted a glue that allowed me some adjustment time but what I definitely didn't need was one that allowed the parts to adjust themselves by the force of gravity whilst they set!

I had to leave it a whole day between gluing the doors on either end of the main body sides for them to be fixed firmly enough to be handled without moving - and during that time I had to return to them every so often to check they hadn't slipped out of place. (And they had.)

Trying to put the ends on was even worse!

Six hours after I'd joined them together, and with countless visits back to the workbench to fiddle with them, there was no sign of the joints curing into a firm hold, so I pulled them apart, cleaned up the parts and resorted to Super Glue.

Within minutes the basic carriage body was formed and I could cut out a basic floor to slip inside to help keep it in shape.

Epoxy resin?

Poxy resin more like...

Friday, 27 May 2016

Labour Saving?

It is open to debate whether resin casting carriages ends up saving you much time and effort over scratch building the parts in styrene.

Yes, it is undoubtedly much quicker to cast a number of them once you have made the master and the mould, but it takes rather more time to clean them up and get them ready for gluing together.

For example it was an evening's work this week to tidy up the bits for Superbarn 117.

It's also the case that when you come to build up the carriage that comparatively brittle resin is not as easy to bond and work with as soft, melt-able styrene.

Very much in its favour, however, is the fact that the whole body side is much more rigid and robust than one fabricated out of styrene.

Next time you seem them here I hope these eight pieces will be a single carriage body.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Pre-Fade Checks

I took my client's model of the 'Disco Car' 121 over to Himself's place the other day for a wee test run just to check for any snags or alterations required before it gets painted.

Here are a couple of short videos.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Carriage Kit

Some time last year the carriage works crew told me, on their word of honour, that the next two Superbarns 117 and 118 would be identical to the recently out-shopped 119.

Ignoring a lifetime's bitter experience I choose to believe them and cast the body components for another two carriages from a master I made for our model of 119.

They've been stored nice and flat in a photo album since then waiting for their time to come.

Well, with 117 in service on the railway, and my model of the Disco Car handed over to Himself for painting, I've decided that time is now.

I'm getting close the point where I feel brave enough to have a go at the new Observation Car 150 but think I should probably get at least one of these out of the way first.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

The Final Steps

Well, I hope they are.

I've been putting some final touches to the Disco Car 121 this week such as the footsteps and the vac pipes which run along each side beneath the frame.

They were really tricky to do because on this carriage I've made the 'frame' a strip which is attached behind the main bodyside as opposed to being an extension of the floor / chassis.

This means it somehow has to be attached to the chassis, which is removable, while giving the impression that they are firmly attached to the rest of the carriage.

I've also received a public correction (on our Bron Hebog Facebook page) for erroneous remarks I made on this blog about the various electrical connections I modelled on the end of the carriage.

I stated that some of them were part of the push-pull control system - they weren't.

It also appears that in true FR fashion they went through a number of iterations during the carriage's time in service so the pictures that I've been working from may or may not be correct, but I have failed to source any other photos which show that side of the carriage in enough detail.

My instinct tells me that this is maybe the time to do the modelling equivalent of 'publish and be dammed' and sent it into the paint shop.

Besides, I really am getting rather impatient to get on with the next project now.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Socket To Me

No one has ever gone so far as to accuse me of being a finescale modeller, and if they did I'd soon be able to show them things to disabuse them of the notion.

Over the years, though, I have developed a masochistic habit of adding smaller and smaller details to my carriage models, such as the electrical connections on the ends of the carriages.

On the push pull carriages there was a double set because of the control system running between the locomotive and the driving compartment in carriage 111.

It's quite a fiddly job but it really enhances the look of the carriage and now there are not many jobs left before I can consider construction phase finished.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Pipe Quartet

Adding the vacuum pipes to a carriage is something I have to psyche myself up for.

It's not that it's an especially tricky or boring job but it does involve bonding metal to plastic with super glue which is never the most satisfying of jobs.

On the Disco Car it's twice as bad because these push-pull vehicles had two sets of brake pipes - one for running as a normal train and the other was also required to operate in push-pull mode.

I don't really feel qualified to explain it so if you'd like to know more I'll refer you to this Festipedia page.

Anyway, all that really matters is that it looks good, eh?

Sunday, 15 May 2016

The Wrong Kind Of Weather

Entry number 1 from the British Rail book of excuses for not getting much modelling done.

I should explain, however, that this week the west of Scotland enjoyed what may possibly end up being its summer with days of glorious unbroken sunshine so it would have been foolish not to have made the most of it.

That's not to say that I have been completely idle.

I have glued the roof on the Disco Car which always feels like a significant moment, if for no other reason than once you've fixed it on it's very tricky to prise it off again if you discover you've overlooked something.

I've also added a few more details to the interior - not that there's very many of them - in this case the thin screens either side of the entrances to the main saloon.

The focus will move to the exterior again with the double sets of vac pipes and electrical connectors to be made and fitted.

Friday, 13 May 2016

On The Decks

My customer took umbrage last week when I described him on these pages as demanding.

Well, you can read through this post and decide for yourself!

As I have mentioned before the interior of the Disco Car is pretty much empty but there are a few fixtures which remained such as the cabinets which enclosed the gas heating gear at the top end.

These were added when the carriage was first refurbished for the push-pull train.

In Disco Car configuration the top of the low cupboard was used to support one end of the shelf upon which the DJ's decks were placed, while the other end rested on the window ledge.

Naturally my client wanted this included as part of his model and I obliged.

Was he happy? Was he hell!

Some snaps, like that above, were taken and emailed off for approval and back came a list of faults so lengthy that the only option was to rip it out and do it all again.

This time, thankfully, he was satisfied.

Customers, who'd have 'em, eh?

(Editor's note: This post is not to be taken literally)

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Greenwich, Meantime

I've had a change of plan with what to do next on the carriage.

Instead of adding the vacuum pipes I got out the soldering iron and added the couplings to the bogies the other night.

We have standardised with the fold-up brass Greenwich couplings on our rolling stock and they are the default option for any stock I am building for a client too.

Among their advantage is that it is very simple to re-position them, you just apply the hot tip of the iron and melt them off and fix them back in place.

I don't know what the client has planned for his Disco Car yet, and whether it will ever run on a layout as part of a train, so it is hard to know whether to set them in a close-coupled position or not.

So I have played safe and set them very generously so to reduce the chances of things like the corridor connections or the vac pipes locking with those on any other stock it is coupled do.

It's possible, after all, that it may make a guest appearance on Dduallt or Bron Hebog one day.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Garratt Gives Up Its Secrets

A couple of weeks ago I posted that Himself has taken in a Backwoods NGG16 which a friend had bought second hand, and discovered didn't run very well, to see if he was able to improve matters and I thought you may be interested in reading about what he's found so far.

I'm posting this not to denigrate or humiliate the builder, whoever it was, but because one day it may be that that someone who is struggling to build one of these kits turns to Google for advice and might just benefit from what I've posted here.

It would appear that the person who put together these power bogies was struggling to fit all the valve gear into the available space and thought the solution was to slice the cylinder block assembly and the motion bracket in half so they could be positioned further out.

The effect, however, was the leave the brackets floating free whereas they should be joined together and attached firmly to the frame with a beam running along the top.

You may just be able to see the fault in the picture below.

At the front end they spliced the cylinder block back together with a piece of brass sheet...

But crucially they failed to solder it in place, so as the power unit ran the forces pushed the cylinder blocks upwards.

In the picture below the bogie on the left is as-constructed, the one on the right has been soldered into place.

The different attitude of the cylinders is quite obvious, you will agree.

Himself has found other errors with the assembly of the valve gear, although nothing that will stop it running, but a more serious flaw, and one that would not be fixed without deconstructing the entire bogie - which he is not about to do - is that the builder did not pay careful attention to setting the back-to-back measurements on the driving wheels when he assembled them.

Take a look at the the right hand leading axle and compare it to the other two....

Only when we get the locomotive reassembled and running again will we be able to assess whether this is a fault which will merely hinder silky-smooth operation or scupper any chance of this Garratt ever passing through a set of points.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Bits Beneath

The Disco Car has reached the stage where there are all manner of small details inside, outside, above and underneath to add to it before it can be declared finished.

Two of them are the bits that hang from the frame, but you have to look closely to see them.

Truth be told this is the first time I have put any underframe detail on any production Tin Car I've built because until now I'd always assumed that they sat so squat on their bogies that you couldn't really see anything.

(110 was a different case because it was built up on a central spine rather than the bulky ex-Isle of Man frames used on 117 onwards.)

When it came to this model I was looking at a photograph closely and I could just make out two things lurking underneath - which I presumed to a vacuum reservoir and a battery box - on the 'engine side' of the carriage.

Knowing that I am working for a very demanding client I had no option but to knock something up to represent them.

I think the next task will be something more obvious, the two sets of vacuum pipes.

Two sets? Yes, and if you don't know why that is I'm going to leave you in suspense until next time.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

One Hour's Work

So having had a play about with the positions of the new buildings Himself decided to request an alteration - he thought the garage wasn't long enough.

Once upon a time the would have involved a trek to the post office to send it across the border for me to fiddle with.

Now that he's just a couple of miles up the road it was simple enough to collect it, bring it home with me, and I enlarged it by 15mm at the back in the time it took my youngest to have an afternoon nap.

I'm not going to pretend that you can't see the join, but even so it's a neat enough job for me and once it has been given a lick of paint I hardly think that anyone's going to notice.

(Unless, of course, they read this blog and make a point of looking for it.)

So the next day I dropped it back over at his place and popped it on the layout to see how it looked.

And the good news is he's perfectly happy with it.

Another satisfied customer, indeed.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

The House In The Corner

A little bit of scenic work has been taking place over the bank holiday weekend.

Himself had started work on fixing the position of the house in the top left corner of the Oberon Wood scene and the double garage which goes with it.

The tricky thing here is attempting to estimate where the rest of the houses in the row will fit.

I have another two of them finished but the next one along is still on the Artistic Director's drawing board (he assures me) so nothing can be set in stone - or in this case plaster - just yet.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Feeling Blue

There are some signs that Himself is getting back into the groove after an enforced six month modelling moratorium.

He's started work on painting the farm house which is going to be quite a distinctive feature on the layout.

Around the period when the railway was reopened through Beddgelert there was a lot of work done on the exterior of the house with the windows replaced and the rendered walls on the front and back repainted from a mustard-colour finish to this pale blue.

Selecting a colour such as this is always a tricky business.

The research photos can be rather misleading. Some were taken on a bright, sunny day when the blue looks a deep colour while on others, shot on an overcast day, it looks much more pale.

The danger is you could end up with something that looks very gaudy and unrealistic if the colour is too bright so we have aimed low, if that makes sense.