Sunday, 30 October 2016

Farm Garden

Despite a multitude of distractions Himself has made some good progress on the garden around the Cwm Cloch farmhouse, the most obvious of which are the pair of trees.

He's also finished the lawn with static grass and added various other bushy-type things.

This means that the old barn in the middle of the S bend and a few more Oberon Wood houses are the only remaining blank spaces on the layout.

Guess what he's expecting me to be getting on with this winter....

Friday, 28 October 2016

Oh Oh!

I posted last week about my fears that Himself was about to be distracted from the narrow gauge project by his grandson (aka The Trainee) and my prophesy has come to pass even sooner than I had expected.

I suspect Himself may already be regretting his innocent suggestion of taking The Trainee along to the local exhibition last weekend.

No sooner had we entered the venue that The Trainee zeroed-in like a cruise missile on a box of old OO track being sold off behind one of the trade stands.

Anyone who has ever had dealings with a 3 and a half year old will appreciate that from that fateful moment there was no way that Himself was going to be allowed to leave empty handed.

He is now the proud owner of 10 yards of finest concrete sleeper PECO Streamline which The Trainee is expecting to be transformed into a basic train set by his next visit.

(You can take it from me that Himself's life won't be worth living if it's not! The Trainee will see to that.)

Incidentally, I suspect the choice of concrete sleepers was a deliberate move - he's no doubt anticipating high speed running!

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

That Will Do

I think I'm ready to hand 150 over to Himself to add the finishing touches and then get on with painting and lining it. (Which I'm sure he's going to love me for!)

The last bits I've added are various pipes which poke in and out and round about around the vacuum cylinders.

I've done the best I can with these from the photographs I've taken, which has meant almost lying down on the station platforms to see what's under there, so tucked away out of sight is it all.

The things that remain outstanding are the brake pipe and bags - always his speciality - and the handrails either side of the doorways which have to be soldered up from brass wire.

I shall turn my attention back to the service car 125 meanwhile.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Swap Shop

One of the more mundane jobs on the workbench at the moment is a re-bogieing programme on the Super Barns.

The final two are going through the process.

Because these bogies, which we make ourselves,  are much longer than the Dundas-based mash-ups we've been using since the we started scratch building FR carriages over 25 years ago, they don't have enough room to swing under the body and Himself has to carefully hack away at the underframes so they can run on the tighter curves on Dduallt.

We still have a mountain to climb, though.

While we'll soon have the Super Barns all sorted, nearly all the rest of our modern carriage stock will need to be tackled.

That's more than two dozen carriages, I reckon.

This is going to be a long road indeed!

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Mr Forgetful

I'm getting slapdash in my old age, it's a good job Himself is on the ball!

It was his eagle eyes which spotted a rather silly oversight in the model of the rebuilt carriage 116 which I finished a couple of years ago - I'd forgotten to put any footsteps on it!

He's corrected the error for me.

Indeed, it gets worse!

Looking through the old stock boxes I was ashamed to discover that neither did I fit any to the previous model of 116 in its face-lifted composite form.

What was I thinking?

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Up Pompeii!

The other day I got a reminder of a time before Narrow Gauge.

It was something like the model railway equivalent of a paleontologist discovering a fossil from the moment the dinosaurs died out, or those plaster casts of the bodies buried in the ash at Pompeii.

Around a quarter of a century ago Himself was in the process of tarting-up an ancient Triang 'Hall'  with a Crownline detailing kit.

This is as far as the project got until work was suspended, never to be resumed.

My memory is a little hazy but I think it's likely that this was the moment a teenage me presented him with a Chivers kit for Conway Castle and the rest, as they say, is history.

We came across the half-finished Hall the other day while my youngest was rooting around in the crates of old 00 models kept in the garage - his favourite activity.

(As everyone else who appears in this blog has a nickname I propose that henceforth he is known as The Trainee.)

Back in those days Himself's modelling ambitions didn't extend much beyond detailing ready-to-run - a far cry from his Backwoods-building exploits of today.

The signs were there, if you looked, however.

If you were able, as he was, to make white metal MTK look half-decent than an NGG16 is a walk in the park by comparison!

Since discovering the Hall he's been making noises about trying to finish it off.

This is causing me some concern because he's also being nagged non-stop by The Trainee to build him a small 00 set so that he no longer has to be content with pushing things along on the carpet.

Could the wheel be turning full circle?

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

In The Night Garden

While I was away last week Himself was getting started on landscaping the garden around the farmhouse.

It's a mix of our usual underlay for long grass technique and fancy-pants static grass using the electric sieve.

He also added a pathway leading to the front door.

Perhaps it's the blue colour of the render, or perhaps it's a sign I've spent too long in front of the telly with the kids when they're watching CBeebies, but the first thing that came to mind was this...

All aboard the Ninky Nonk!

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Boxes & Cylinders

The slow process of finishing off 150 - at least the constructional part of it - continues with adding some representations of the various bits that lurk beneath it.

I've never been one for rivet counting nor for mimicking every bit of the brake gear because unless someone picks it up and turns it upside down, or you have a catastrophic derailment, no one is really going to see very much off what is going on under there, especially with carriages which sit as low as the FR's.

So what I'm aiming for is to create an impression of the main bits which are lurking there, and in the case of 150 the most obvious things, apart from the fuel tank and battery compartment, are the vacuum cylinders which are rather unusually set at an angle.

Even so, when it is running on the layout all you will see is the merest hint of their presence, and only them if you crouch down to rail level.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Posts Post

One of the drawbacks of building a stupidly large layout set in a rural location is that there is an enormous amount of lineside fencing which needs to be modelled.

We have completed the maze-like installations around the level crossing but have barely scratched the surface of the post and wire boundary fences.

This week Himself has made a start on the far corner, beyond Bron Hebog crossing where our track curves off into the fiddle yards.

The posts are chopped-up cocktail sticks which are inserted into holes drilled in the scenery and they will have some strands of cotton strung between them at some point in the future.

The real railway used contractors to do this rather tiresome job before they got on with the exciting business of relaying a railway on the track bed.

I doubt there's anyone interested in submitting a tender to do the same in the 4mm world, alas!

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Man Of Letters

The nice autumn weather hasn't done much for Himself's productivity this last week.

(And neither has a new leather reclining chair which he's bought and placed next to the big picture window in his lounge, for that matter!)

However, when he has found time to tinker at the workbench he has applied the lettering to the new pair of B wagons.

He has taken great care to study pictures of these vehicles after they arrived from South Africa his patience - and eyesight - doesn't extend to adding transfers for all the Tare and Load figures on the right had end.

And who can blame him? Not I, certainly.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Commercial Break

There's going to be a little delay in finishing off the Observation Car 150 while I answer the call of commerce.

With the high point of the narrow gauge modelling year approaching - the annual ExpoNG show - those nice people at Narrow Planet have asked if I can replenish their stocks of my resin SAR wagon kits.

Naturally, I am only too happy to oblige, and the process is it going to be as easy as it can ever be because I produced an almost entirely new set of moulds for the last batch I made so I can get straight on with the casting rather than messing about with silicone rubber first.

With luck this should only take a few days so hopefully normal modelling activities can resume next week.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Meanwhile, On The Back Burner

I've got a number of what you might call 'long term projects'.

Models that I tell myself that one day I will get around to building.

And I will.

One day.

Among those is an ambition to build a model of the Statfold Barn Railway's Jung Mallet which visited the Welsh Highland a few years ago.

In a fit of enthusiasm for this project I went so far as to obtain what I hoped would be a suitable chassis from a Minitrix German N gauge locomotive.

Previously I'd only been able to test this on a 1 foot long length of track on the workbench and its performance seemed a little hesitant.

Not a dud, but perhaps needing some tender ministrations from someone a little more mechanically minded than myself - ie. Himself.

So last weekend while carrying out more clearance tests with 150 on Dduallt it occurred to me that it wouldn't do any harm to get this thing out of its box and let it stretch its legs properly.

On a proper run I was pleasantly surprised with how smoothly it ran.

In fact it has prodded me into thinking about whether I should bump the project up the 'To Do' list a little?

The difficulty is that I have yet to discover any drawings or obtain any information about the basic dimensions of the loco.

What's more, whereas previously the SBR was only an hour's drive from where one of us lived, now we are both 300 miles away from it so arranging a visit to run a tape measure over the real thing is a lot more of an undertaking.

This is probably the biggest obstacle to ever getting this off the wish list and onto the layout.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Made It Round

We've been tinkering with the chassis of 150 and it seems that it finally makes it all the way around Dduallt unscathed.

In fact tinkering is a bit of a misnomer, it was more a case of precision surgery with a mini drill and cutting disc to the rear bogie to ensure it had enough swing to get around Dragon curve.

It's got a bit of a wobble which will have to be addressed further down the road, but at least now we know it can operate successfully on the layout.

Himself also extended the shaft on the coupling and added a loop so we could test it in a train with another of our superbarns.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Domestic Distractions

By his own admission Himself has not had one of his more productive weeks.

He's been having other tasks and activities set for him which have kept him out of his modelling den, although he did find the time to coat a couple of B wagons with red oxide primer and add on the yellow highlights.

There's some lettering to add before they can be given a coat of varnish.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

A Chink Of Light

I finally got around to taking 150 over to Himself's place yesterday to check if the alterations I made to the bogie pivot bolts did the trick - in other words that I runs through Rhoslyn Cutting without scraping the sides.

The good news is that there is now clear daylight along the right hand side. Phew!

We took it for a test run all around the layout.

The only issue we identified is that there's still a slight issue with the bogies having enough clearance around the tightest curve - Dragon - where the spiral exits into the fiddle yard.

Himself will take a look and make some final alterations to fix that before it goes to be painted.

That won't be far away - it's really just the underframe which needs to be finished now.