Thursday, 19 October 2017

The Final Furlong

The FR's recent Victorian Weekend was a fabulous occasion. (But then again, it always is.)

If there was one disappointing note, however, it was the absence of Welsh Pony from any role in the proceedings, hidden out of view in the old engine shed.

At one time supporters of its restoration to working order - which I have backed not just with words but with money from sales of my 009 kits - might have hoped that the engine would have been seen in steam in this year, its 150th birthday.

It is hard to avoid the impression that in recent times the Welsh Pony project has slipped down the railway's priority list - and of course there are many other competing priorities which are more important to day-to-day running of the business - but it does feel like it has lost momentum.

What puzzles me most is that while we are told the restoration fund is around £60k short of what is needed to complete the remaining work on the locomotive this is not being shouted about.

I have seen little evidence of a 'final push' to complete the job.

Yes, the collecting envelopes can still be found on the tables in the carriages of the trains on the FR, but we all know that fundraising involves a lot more than that these days.

Why is this?

The General Manager was asked about the state of play at the Heritage Group AGM over the weekend and very reasonably pointed out that a great deal has been achieved - such as the new frames, the new cylinders, the new boiler, the new tender with every new rivet painstakingly placed in the same position as the originals - and that the scale of the work was greater than was anticipated at the outset of the project.

He stressed that the company was committed to completing the restoration (although I note that he didn't say when) and also explained, once again very sensibly, that it is far better to take the time to do the job properly and not rush it, and who could disagree with that?

Forgive me for labouring the point, but this still doesn't explain why at this of all events, the weekend where the FR invites the world to come and celebrate its heritage and admire the many wonderful restorations and recreations, the railway was not shouting from the rooftops that they need us all to dig deep one last time to get Welsh Pony back in action.

So let me do that on the pages of this blog.

If you, like I, have dreamed for years of seeing the only Large England run again, to complete what Allan Garraway called the FR's 'unfinished business' please consider making a donation to the appeal.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Get It Right Next Time

It was very heartening to receive so many hints and tips on how to make the hipped conservatory roof after my post about being baffled by working out the shape of the end triangles without an exhausting process of trial and error.

All the solutions were obvious as soon as you thought about them for a moment, but I can be rather dense about these things.

In the end, though, I retreated to my comfort zone and made a template in plain styrene which I used to make sure the triangles were fabricated to precisely the right shape.

The first attempt ended up being far too tall, and as is often the way, making the second one was much faster because you've worked out the best way of doing it, and I got this assembled in a single evening session.

There's just some gutting to add, along with the window ledges and I think the house will be ready to hand over to Himself for painting.

And that, for me anyway, will be the Oberon Woods estate done.


Sunday, 15 October 2017

Vintage Distractions

Himself and I had a fabulous time at the FR's Victorian Weekend but seeing all the toys out of their boxes does become a dangerous distraction.

There was modelling inspiration wherever you looked.

I have enough trouble trying to keep up with the output of the carriage works without getting waylaid by all the new treasures in the Waggon Tracks shed like this bolster set.

I can see myself having to scratch build something like that very soon.

Also irresistible is this recently restored tank wagon which was acquired from Llechwedd.

The elliptical tank could be a real challenge to get right, as could replicating the pitted surface.

The weekend was also bitter sweet in that we saw the unique Hearse Van in service for the first time this century to carry the ashes of FR volunteer John Powell, in whose company we had both spent many hours, to his final resting place at Tan y Bwlch.

We do already have a model of the hearse which I scratch built at least 20 years ago, but in my naivety back then I made it with external axle boxes like 99% of other waggons.

Silly boy!

I think I will need to dig it out and see whether it would be possible to convert or whether I should just build a replacement.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Too Tall

There's good and bad news to report.

The good news is that I've proved that I can fabricate a four-sided, sloping conservatory roof.

(And damned tricky it was at times, too)

The bad news is that it has turned out to be far too tall, or steeply pitched if you prefer.

My calculations had failed to account for the overhang and the fact that the main side pieces ended up being a little bigger than I had presumed when I drew it out.

The net result is that like the Indian continent crashing into Asia and forcing the Himalayas ever upwards the ridge line of this conservatory was forced higher than it should be.

The sides should have a much less steep profile.

It's not really realistic to try to reverse engineer what I've got here so the most logical thing to do is to start again and make the pieces smaller this time.

It was only two evenings work wasted anyway.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

So What Now?

I may have hit my trigonometrical limit.

I've fabricated the two main pieces of the conservatory roof but now I'm left puzzling the size and shape that I will need to make the end triangles.

The problem is that in my initial calculations I didn't account for the overlap at the front and sides - where the gutter is - and so I don't feel confident that I know precisely what the height of the roof will be, and even the smallest margin of error will may leave some ugly gaps if I try to make the end pieces based only on my calculations.

Therefore I think I shall resort to doing what I usually do, which is take the time consuming, labour intensive option.

I shall attempt the glue these two pieces into a V shape and then form a template for the end pieces before fabricating the real ones and gluing them into place.

I only hope none of my former maths teachers are reading this - oh the shame!

(By the way, if you think the two pieces in the photo look wonky and not symmetrical it's just the angle the snap was take from.)

Monday, 9 October 2017

Maths Lessons

I suspect there's not a school pupil in the land who has never sat in a maths lessons and sworn that they would never ever find a use in their adult life for algebra, trigonometry or any of the other baffling formulae you get made to learn.

That is until you come to build a conservatory with a pitched glazed roof on a model railway.

I have written on this blog before about how I have always been absolutely useless when it comes to working on angles on a model.

I usually proceed by trial and error, which can be a lengthy and frustrating way to proceed at the best of times, but when it comes to these delicate styrene fabrications I would really like to cut down on the faffing about as much as possible.

So the question I was pondering was how to make sure I make them right first time.

The answer I realised one morning as I was taking a shower (apologies if that's too much information) was good old Pythagoras's theorem.

In order to work out the size of the two main pieces, so they met neatly in the middle, all I needed to do was imagine the cross section of the roof as a right angle triangle and the piece I'm trying to make would be the hypotenuse.


Well, that's the theory at least.

Let's see what happens when I try to do it.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Offering Up

There's a little more progress with the bungalow conservatory to report this time.

I've fixed a floor in place and added the 'foundation' to bring it up to the correct height to match the rest of the house.

Just like with the previous conservatory I had to build I'm going to keep this as a separate structure until the point that it is painted and glazed before being fixed onto the side of the house.

Being at the front of the layout, and the closest of the properties to the viewing public, I reckon I may need to make a little bit of furniture to go inside it otherwise it may look suspiciously empty.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Back To Work

For reasons that would be too boring to explain it's been nearly a week since I last sat down at the modelling desk to do any work on the bungalow.

I didn't have long but I managed to knock up the other two window frames for the conservatory and attach them to the base wall and get the three bits glued together.

This bit is simple enough so far but the challenge will come with forming the glazed pitched roof, but I'll put that off for a little while longer I think.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Wood Store

One of the consequences of showing off your models at exhibitions, or indeed, blogging about them, is that you will often have people telling you when you've got something wrong.

It would be more helpful, though, if they didn't wait to tell you until after you'd allowed yourself to think that you'd finished it.

Such is the case with the previous house I was making.

A close follower of the blog, and a fellow OO9 WHR modeller has got in touch to point out that the window I'd put in the side of the small extension should, it turns out, be a door.

He knows this because he was recently renting the neighbouring property for a holiday and thoughtfully took some snaps for me knowing that I was working on these buildings.

(The opening paragraphs, of course, have been written very much tongue-in-cheek because I'm very grateful for everyone who gets in touch to offer information.)

Fortunately it is relatively a relatively straightforward task to hack out a chunk of styrene to turn a window into a doorway and shove in a piece to represent a wooden door.

Thank goodness Himself has been caught up with building the new luxury animal accommodation and hadn't immediately started work on painting it.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

A Start On The Conservatory

The title says it all really.

I have begun fabricating the window frames of the conservatory which goes on the back (or the front, if you're looking at the layout) of the bungalow.

I use the same method as for scratch building carriages, carefully cutting and bonding together styrene strips.

This is the front of the conservatory which includes full length double doors and will have the base wall added below later on.

Friday, 29 September 2017

The Bunny Hutch

An obscure FR reference as a title for a blog post about a carriage, but I shall explain.

Himself's usually prodigious productivity has been curbed slightly in recent weeks, first by a sunshine holiday and then starting work on a luxury apartment for his granddaughter's guinea pigs.

He has been doing a little modelling, though, applying the first coats of paint to the latest Superbarn, 118.

(In case you were wondering, the Bunny Hutch title is a nod to the legendary sales kiosk on the FR - you can read more about it here.)

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Gap Site

When I popped in on Himself at the weekend I had a chance to take a peek at how the penultimate house looks in its position on the layout.

This is the view from the public side of the layout which shows the back of the house.

At the moment it is sitting far too high and we'll have to take off the piece off plywood which is currently covering over the gap in the baseboard so the house can be sunk down to its proper level.

This is the view that the operators will see.

It won't be too much longer until the bungalow is finished and we can get this housing estate scene wrapped up, which will be very satisfying.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Bunglalow Building

So the easy bit has been done, the solid house bit of the bungalow is finished.

Since I last posted about it I have added all the finishing details like the chimney, the ridge tiles, the brick foundations and the guttering.

The last part of the build now is to fabricate the large conservatory which is attached to the left hand end of the back of the house.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Slates Sorted

Now the roofing slate sections are cut and fitted it definitely could not be mistaken for anything other than a bungalow.

The pieces on the lower half are perhaps the biggest I've had to cut on any of the Oberon Wood houses using the best part of a full Wills sheet each.

At the back you can see that I have also added the outhouse which made this piece the most challenging one to cut out.

(Truth be told, I did have to do it twice.)

There's not too much left to do on the main part of the house but that big conservatory is never far from my mind.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

A Simple Box

I've spent the last couple of days completing the window and door details on the two main sides of the bungalow.

You'll notice that the house, like most others, is divided into two sections, at least as far as the roof profile is concerned, but at least this time is a basic, simple, straightforward box shape.

I've put on the window cills at this stage which will save me at least one item on the snagging list towards the end of the build.

Another feature which is worthy of note is how far inset the front door is, which makes this front section of the house rather more three dimensional than these usually are when I'm preparing them.

The next bit is the really exciting bit - gluing them together into a box.

You'll notice that I have now fixed the part with the stone cladding effect in place.

There are two intermediate walls to separate the roof heights.

This house could be completed in double-quick time were it not for the fact that it still needs a big conservatory added onto the back - or the front as the layout viewers will see it.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The Long House

Being a bungalow what you notice first about the pieces of this house - the last of the ones I'm building - is how long and thin the main front and back sections look.

You may be wondering why there's a huge rectangle cut out of the side of one of them it's because that is where the section with the stone cladding will go.

In the last post I described how I had set the windows much further back, and that is the reason for the cut out, so that the back of the windows can poke through the hole and it can fit neatly on top of the main section of the wall behind making it look like the stone cladding has been added to an existing wall.

I'll be taking particular care with this bungalow because I know progress will be monitored closely.

The owners have family links to the FR and they've come along and seen Bron Hebog when we've exhibited the layout in the goods shed at Dinas on a couple of occasions and taken a close interest in the development of the estate scene and I know they've been looking forward to seeing their house modelled.

I hope we can do it justice.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

One Last Time

Finally, after a number of years, I'm onto the final house to complete the Oberon Woods estate scene.

This one is, architecturally speaking, the simplest of the buildings I've had to make, being 'just' a bungalow.

However there is always a catch and this house has two of them - a big conservatory at the back and some ornamental stone cladding on the front which I scribing by hand in my usual manner.

If you're thinking that those windows look wonky, you're right. They are meant to be.

With the stone cladding added to the walls it means that the window frames on this bit are set further back than on the rest of the building, which is rendered, so to represent that I've used 60 thou strip to build up the back of the window openings before adding the frame detail.

How this fits in with the rest of the building I will show you next time.

Friday, 15 September 2017

One More To Go

The last details have been completed on the penultimate house for the Oberon Wood scene.

I added the ridge tiles, the gutters and the down pipes to finish it off

It feels good to be able to move on now to the last of the houses in a project within a project which has been going on for a number of years now.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Bricking It

Two of the remaining jobs have been ticked off.

The window cills have been stuck on now and I've added the brick courses which show below the render line.

This is another reason why I raise the houses up on a substantial foundation.

Not only does it allow us to sink the building into position on the layout we also need to have a surface behind the main walls to stick the brick pattern styrene onto.

To look correct the render must stand proud of the brickwork and this is achieved on the model by having the walls made of 60 thou styrene while the embossed brick sheet is only half the thickness.

An interesting feature on this house is how the land will have to fall away at the side of the garage where the line of the brickwork shows the change in level,

At the front there is a raised platform in front of the garage and there will be steps leading down to the door.

Although with the front being hidden from the public viewing side it's only going to be the operators who will usually see all this,

Monday, 11 September 2017

Under Cover

You can start to see the end of the build when you get the roof on a house.

The full shape of the property is clear now that I've got the sheets of slates fitted and you can clearly see how it is made up of three distinct sections.

At the back I've added the dormer window on the upper floor and you can also see the small bin store which is joined onto the back of the garage.

The chimney which is embedded in back corner of the upper storey has also been built up.

The next steps will be to raise it all up on its foundations before adding the ridge tiles, the guttering and the window ledges.

Once this one's done there's just one more house to go. Yippee!

Saturday, 9 September 2017

The Upstairs End

The house will start to make a bit more sense by the end of this post, I hope, to those of you who are not acquainted with the quirky estate beside Beddgelert station.

Laid out flat the parts for the two storey section look typically angular and unconventional.

As I begin to put them together you can see how this segment of the house is joined to the rest of it.

And along the back there is one single piece which ties both bits of the house together, giving us the first impression of the shape of the whole property.

It has yet to have the windows and doors marked out and cut - that's the next job,

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Grey Pony

Followers of progress on the FR will know that parts of the real Welsh Pony are being painted at Boston Lodge just now, and it seems to have motivated Himself to do something to our version.

This is the ill-fated Mercian kit - with a chassis that cannot be built without a great deal of bodging - and as you can see the arrangement is rather unconventional with the motor placed in the frame rather than fixed to the chassis.

We are hoping to finish our model in the same livery as the locomotive when its restoration is complete.

As it is likely to appear initially with a temporary paint job it looks like we will have to play the waiting game a while longer.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Back To Front

Another evening session resulted in the windows and doors being cut out of the big wall along the back and the frame detailing added.

I call it the back but in reality this is more like the front of the property for us because this is the side that faces the viewing side of Bron Hebog, so I've got to make sure it looks good.

With the piece glued into place the house has reached that illusory stage where you think you're making rapid progress and it won't be very long until it's finished.

Very soon you realise that there's a lot more to do - the foundations, the roof, all the window cills and guttering - and they all take a lot longer to do than you might expect.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Sprayed Superbarn

118 has got to the stage were Himself is ready to start painting it, which begins with a coat of primer.

In recent years he's been using red primer but he seems to have switched back to grey - I have no idea why.

(In fact the bogies appear to have been sprayed red. Maybe the can just ran out?)

It'll probably be a couple of weeks before he's able to put some of the top coat on so for the moment he's put it up on the display shelf in the study along with a few of our other superbarns including the service car and 150.

They look rather nice, don't you think?

Friday, 1 September 2017

Central Section

I've made more progress on the house in the last couple of days with what may possibly be the simplest section of building I've yet to make for Bron Hebog.

This is the central - or bungalow - section of the house.

It all looks a bit odd for the moment, especially as it only has three sides.

What will happen next is that there is a two storey block which will be added on the left and then another wall along the back which will link up with the rear of the garage.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Last But One

With the drawing done and the floorplan tested in place on the layout I have been able to begin work on the penultimate house.

This one divides into three clear sections, the first part of which being, what I suppose, was once double garage which has has half the space converted into a living area at some point.

This will be one of those houses which gets put together as a number of sub-assemblies, so there was no point in hanging around until the other walls had been cut out, so I've glued it together into a box already.

You'll notice how the wall at the back is deeper than the others - an typical quirk of these properties - and also the very stylised, steeply pitched roof.

A lot of useful storage space up there, I imagine.

In fact the whole thing would make rather a good railway room, don't you think?

Monday, 28 August 2017

Shades Of Grey

Himself has been busy having a go at colouring the rocks I cast using real pieces of shale from Wales.

The picture doesn't quite do them justice, I have to say.

He dry brushes them with acrylic paints starting with a range of greys and then adding other colours to pick out the details.

There is still more work to be done on the examples in the picture above but it gives you a flavour of the work he's doing.

I was comparing one them with the piece I used for the master and, as I held one piece in each hand, I became genuinely confused about which was the casting and which was the genuine piece of rock.

(It didn't occur to me to turn them over and see which was flat - and still white coloured - on the back)

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Brass Roof

Himself has being doing a lot of scenery work recently so he was probably secretly pleased when I handed over the latest Superbarn (118) for him to finish off - although he disguised his excitement well.

He's begun by cutting, shaping and fixing the brass roof skin into position which makes the bodyshell become very rigid.

Annoyingly, he also spotted something that I've forgotten.

There are supposed to be a couple of blocks that hang down from the frame in line with the centres of the bogies - I've no idea what they are for but I expect some of the Boston Lodge staff who read this blog may leave a comment to enlighten me.

What was annoying about it was that I also forgot to put these on the previous carriage I made, 117.

I'm obviously losing the plot.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Planning Permission

I'm very keen to get cracking on these last two houses for the estate scene and I've managed to get both of them drawn and cut out cardboard floor plans.

Yesterday on my way home from work I was able to pop in at Himself's and see whether they fitted into the space we've allocated for them.

(The novelty of just being able to 'pop in' and check out details like this has not worn off yet - previously I would have had to post the bits across the border and try to interpret the results from photographs.)

It looks like we've got it pretty much spot on, which is a tribute to the way the Artistic Director designed the the rest of the houses, and established the formula for the sizes of their component parts, which I have used as the template for drawing up the handful that remained to be done.

These two are also, by some margin, the simplest of the properties on the estate in terms of their shape.

There will be a little bit of empty space left at the very front edge of the board but there would only be room to model less that half of the houses which go there so we've decided it will look a lot cleaner, and neater just to leave it blank,

I shall begin cutting styrene very shortly.