Monday, 24 April 2017

Red Lilla

Himself has put his repairs to the cab front of our 3D print of Lilla to the test by giving the body a coat of primer.

The join is not quite invisible but it doesn't stand out especially, the only difference to the rest of the model is that the lines are vertical rather that horizontal.

Now the body has a coat of paint, rather than the translucent finish of the print,  you get more of an idea of the quality of it.

In places, particularly the rear cab sheet, I am surprised just how visible some of the lines are, even having opted for the best quality print.

Despite that I remain impressed with the way the body has been designed, and it is clearly a very impressive technology.

For the moment, however, it is clear that it cannot compare to the quality of finish that can be achieved with etched brass or injection moulding.

The one consolation is that the pictures of the recent repaint of the real Lilla at Boston Lodge show just how rough and pitted the surface of the platework is, so perhaps by the time our engine has been top-coated, and lining distracts the eye, the imperfections of the 3D print might not be quite so obvious.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Roofing Begins

I have started to fit the roof to the latest house.

It appears at first glance that it might be simple but in fact these pieces are very complicated to cut and fit.

The lower section was particularly tricky because it needed a slit in the middle and a slice out of the right hand end to fit around the wing walls either side of the recessed gallery window.

The upper piece also has to be done carefully with its double dog leg

I'll be moving round to the front of the house next but that also has its challenges with a piece which needs to fit around the dormer window and the section on the top of the garage which includes a tongue which goes up into the bottom of the gully.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Last Windows In

It's always hard getting back into the modelling groove after a week on holiday but I did manage to restart work on the house and get a couple of hours in.

I've finished off the main structural elements of the walls of the house now, adding the dormer to the upstairs room nearest the camera and the wall on the opposite side with the gully that connects it to the opposite side of the building.

The long gallery window at the back, which is a feature of a number of the houses in the development, has been made up and fitted into place.

The obvious next step is to cut and fit the sections of slate roof.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

The Faerie Queene

Our Britomart is finally complete.

The name and works plates have been fixed on and she's been reunited with that wonderful little chassis.

You only really see just how dinky the loco is when you see it lost in the middle of the expanse of Bron Hebog and sitting next to one of our NGG16's.

The project has been a slow burner but I'm really delighted with how it's turned out.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

It Came Off In Me Hand

Our first adventure in 3D print modelling has got off to an interesting start.

I mentioned in my first post after the arrival of our body for Lilla that Himself's first impressions were that it felt flimsy - we'll he's just discovered quite how delicate they really are.

The print came with what we assume was a blow hole in the cab roof where there is supposed to be a small hole where the safety valve pops out.

Himself had used Milliput to fill the gap and was working to smooth that out, holding the model with a finger on the front of the cab, when it went clean through the very thin panel between the spectacles.

What you see in the picture above is the repair job he's done with some styrene.

A number of other small and vulnerable bits have also been knocked off during attempts to polish the surface - the supports on the end of the springs and the handrails in the cab for instance.

These can easily be replaced with styrene or brass, so it's no big deal.

While it's very impressive that these small details can be printed it does leave me wondering whether it's wise that they should be?

Due to the nature of the way the print is built up modellers are still going to want to smooth and polish off any obvious ridges - even with the best quality products - however it's clear that they must be handled extremely carefully while doing this.

Perhaps instead of trying to create something that is as near as ready to run standard as you can get it, might be better to treat these prints more like scratch-aid kits, leaving the modeller to add finer details in other materials?

Or maybe it's just Himself being all fingers and thumbs after decades working with white metal and brass?

Friday, 14 April 2017

Also In the Carriage Works

Welsh Highland brake coaches are quite the fashion at the moment.

On the real railway Boston Lodge has been converting one of the original series of Winson-built saloons into a vehicle with a on-board toilet and storage for catering supplies.

It will re-enter service renumbered from 2041 to 2091, continuing a series which started with the original brake coach from the first set, 2090.

This has also undergone many modifications over 2 decades in service but our model remains in the condition it was first delivered to Dinas.

Ours too have also undergone a programme of improvements over the years, with the bogies being swapped from the plastic Nine Lines L&B wagon bogies we began with to my own fold-up brass and resin SAR diamond frame bogies, a pair of which have just been fitted to our 2090.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Service Car Sprayed

Our latest carriage, the service car 125, is just about finished.

It's been given a coat of matt varnish with the aid of an airbrush and there are just a few details to finish off before it's ready to join the rest of the Superbarn fleet.

The footsteps at the doorways need to have their yellow safety line added along the front edge and there are also those pesky handrails to fix in place either side of the passenger entrances.

After that it will just be a case of slipping the glazing pieces into place.

There is previous post about these describing how we painted the back of the clear styrene to create the effect of the blanked out panels in the kitchen area and, of course, the toilet.

Of course what the service car really needs is its running mate 150, but I won't show you a close up of that until it's completely finished.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Tool Box

Here's a closer look at Britomart, one of the models which were being given a coat of varnish in the previous post.

Himself has fixed in place a couple of the finishing touches including the oil can on the back corner of the running plate and the rather natty wooden tool box which is perched on the top of the saddle tank in front of the cab.

The final job is to fix on the nameplates and the Hunslet works plates which have been etched for us by Narrow Planet and then slot in the chassis.

It's a beautiful little model and I look forward to it appearing on many special charters and 'jollies' on Bron Hebog in due course.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Soft As Satin

Himself has been saying for months that he would wait until the weather turned warmer to catch up on his backlog of painted models which require a final coat of satin varnish.

Now the clocks have gone forward he's decided it's time.

The models you can see here - split into their constituent parts - are the new Britomart, the service car 125 and the observation car 150.

The latter is an interesting case.

I have restrained myself from posting any pictures of it while it was being lined out because I intended to do a big reveal when it was finally finished.

That was around Christmas time, though, and my resolve appears to have weakened.

The one thing preventing us from considering it properly finished is that Himself needs to think of a way too represent the curtains in the window of the rear saloon.

All suggestions appreciated, I'm sure.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Front Rooms

Finally we have four walls connected - or to be more correct, four elevations - because these houses are made up of umpteen segments.

The new bits in this picture are the walls at the front left.

The upper one has a dormer window and is suspended a few feet in front of the ground floor one creating a sheltered area in front of the main entrance door.

There is still one very tricky bit to do in adding on the other side wall which creates a distinct gully in the roofline between the two halves of the upper floor.

It is, however, undeniably beginning to look like a house, and unmistakably like an Oberon Wood house, too.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Put The Rubbish Out

Another of the distinctive features of the houses in Oberon Wood is that many of them have these built-in cupboards with slim, slatted doors for keeping the bins or your mop and bucket in.

The flats on South Snowdon Wharf next to Harbour station are the same.

That's the bit I've been working on these last couple of days.

As you can see this bit of wall also includes the front door and a full length window plus a sloping roof, just to keep me on my toes.

Even more entertaining is that, as you can see above, it still doesn't connect with any other bit.

You have to be so careful when putting these house models together or you'll end up with something really wonky looking.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Bald Yins

I don't know how much excitement it's possible for narrow gauge modellers to take - and I know I'm late with the breaking news here - but the first of the Bachmann Baldwin tanks have broken cover.

(I nearly required fresh underwear, I don't mind admitting.)

Photo: Bachmann

These follow on from Heljan's L&B Manning Wardle models and are also expected to go on sale before the year is out.

We're hugely excited by these models because a Baldwin 4-6-0 is an iconic WHR loco, although very much in the modellers' licence zone as far as modern day Beddgelert is concerned, but we can dream.

The other reason is because I had never expected us to be able to have a realistic model of one of these locos,

Yes, there have been body kits around for a long time but no way of getting a chassis with the proper wheel arrangement - with the big gap between the 2nd and 3rd driving axles - unless you built your own from scratch (which I did once see done beautifully in a magazine article).

We've already got our reservation in with the lovely people at Festshop.

These engineering prototypes looked to have captured that perfectly as well as all the messy plumbing (to the eyes of those brought up on British designs) and I'm really looking forward to getting to see if they've captured that top heavy, about-to-roll-over-any-moment look of the real thing.

Hopefully the extra 1mm in the gauge hasn't spoiled that.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Up And Over

It's been one of those weeks (yes, another!) so I will freely admit that progress has not been spectacular.

However I have moved forward a little with the house build, and as long as you're moving forward that's all that matters, right?

The wall at the front with the garage door has been made up and fixed in place.

For the garage door I use a sheet of Evergreen's Passenger Car Side styrene.

What is supposed to be wooden tongue and groove looks just as convincing as a pressed metal door to me.

Next I will have to create the L shape section which include the front door and a wall which sits beneath an overhanging upstairs bedroom.

If you were wondering why the door comes below the bottom of the wall it is because there are a couple of brick courses to be added on later.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Walls Come Together

This is the most exciting stage of a model build when you glue the first bits together and you get the first hint of the form it's going to take.

Form here on there's a lot of hard graft and you never make such a great leap forward again.

In particular with these Oberon Wood houses this is where it begins to get tricky when you have to add on lots of different sections of wall which all have to be kept square and straight.

It's hard to know which bit to tackle next - the bedroom on the first floor on the left or the garage and porch which extend out on the right?

 I think I shall prevaricate a little longer.

Monday, 27 March 2017

The Back Door

The simplest part of the house I'm building, from an architectural point of view, is the ground floor at the read which is one long piece running the whole width of the house with no strange angles or bits that jut out.

It does, however, have almost as much window as wall in it with a set of patio doors, a large window and that back door to be cut out and the frames formed behind.

This is quite a vital piece because it will form the main connection between the two distinct halves of the house so now this is ready I can start fixing bits together and it will begin to look something like a building.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Taxing Windows

The windows all have to be cut out of the blank wall pieces before any of them can be glued together.

As you can see some of them are in quite unusual positions.

Doing the job turned out to be easier than I expected, probably in part due to a brand new blade in the scalpel and perhaps a slightly softer sheet of styrene which I bought just a few weeks ago.

I have also added the strip behind to form the window frames so these are basically good to go, apart from the the sills which I will fit at a later stage.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

We Have The Technology

We've made the giant leap into 3D printing - albeit just buying in a model rather than designing or producing our own.

In this case it's a Robex model of Lilla, the Hunslet tank which has long been on our wish list.

Himself's first impressions are not just how light it is - which is not necessarily a good thing on a layout with a hill - and how it feels a little fragile. (Although to be fair he's more used to working with brass or white metal so that's not surprising.)

I have not inspected it myself yet but I know that some people have created very fine models using one of these prints so I'm very much looking forward to seeing what he does with it.

It's worth remarking, though, that once you add in the cost of buying a Minitrains 0-4-0 chassis for it to run on it doesn't work out that much cheaper than the projected price of the RTR Baldwin 4-6-0.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Blank Look

I know it may have looked as if I was never going to finishing the drawing (it was, if you will pardon the expression, a rather drawn out process) but I have now taken the first steps towards building the next house.

The first stage is to cut out the blank walls, without windows yet, for the sides which have all the tricky angles on them.

It's only when you have the pieces in your hand and can place them back to back and compare them that errors in the drawing become apparent - and there were quite a few it turned out.

The next stage is to hack out the windows which is always the most tedious bit of a building project.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Foliage Photo

There's not been a tremendous amount of work down in the last week, except for a few new trees appearing.

My day job has been rather full on with lots of fuss about some vote which may or may not happen, and with spring almost upon us Himself has been ordered out into the garden.

However he did find the time to plant a line of trees in front of the farm yard.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Not As Easy As It Looks

I've been plugging away at the plans for the new houses.

It's been slow progress at times and involved a lot of rubbing out as I wrestled with the various angles of the different roof sections and the bits of the building that stick out.

I think I have the shape of the blank walls sorted out, so all that remains before I begin cutting styrene is to mark in where the windows go.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Making Plans

Completing the Oberon Wood scene has been delayed by not having any plans for the missing houses, and my failure to pull my finger out and design them.

(I've been spoiled up until now by the beautiful works of art that used to be supplied by the Artistic Director)

However, I am slowly attempting to put matters right.

All of the houses in the estate are all different in some way or another, but as far as I can tell one of those I need to make is effectively a mirror image of one I've already done.

So what I need to do is create a reverse plan.

Yes, you're right. I could have just run the previous drawing through a photocopier or scanned and flipped it on the computer.

But we've never knowingly taken the easy way out on this project, so why start now?

Monday, 13 March 2017

Barn Painted

Well, that was quick!

Because we use acrylic paint on the buildings (as preferred by the Artistic Director) rather than the enamels that we use on the trains, the process is a lot swifter due to the difference in the drying times.

We still have to complete the landscaping around the barn which is just resting on its plot in the photos here.

Once it has a few trees camouflaging its position I think it will blend into the scene nicely.

So that's one of the big outstanding jobs ticked off, now I really need to get on with those remaining houses..

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Tree Planting

Himself has been playing about deciding where he might want to plant the latest handful of trees which have sprouted on the workbench.

He's decided to spread them around the layout with a couple in the area around the farmyard and a few on the inside of the other 180 degree bend.

These are only a tiny representation of the real number of trees in these spots, but it at least show's willing.

(As I explained previously, tree building is not Himself's favourite job)

One thing I should explain is that we won't be leaving the 'train set' round bases on the trunks - that's just a means of trying out the position on the layout.

Himself will drill a hole up the trunk from the bottom, insert stiff brass wire and plant them firmly in the ground.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Barn Trial

Having finished the slates on the old barn roof I dropped it off at Himself's place, ready for him to paint it.

We dropped it in position for a couple of quick photos.

Above is the view the punters get, and below is the side we see from the operating area.

It doesn't look very subtle in the landscape in plain white styrene like this but it shouldn't take too long for Himself to make it blend in rather more.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Waste Tip

There is something which connects the real Festiniog and WHR and our modelling of the railways other than just the prototype itself.

It is the amount of rubbish produced as a by-product.

This bucket full of scraps is just a portion of the waste resin from casting a batch of wagon kits this week.

How very inefficient - it's almost as bad as the slate industry!

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Spring Has Sprung

Himself came back from the Glasgow show last weekend having spent all his pocket money on various bits and pieces, including more bags of Woodlands Scenics tree kits.

He might be able to build Garratt power units which run like Swiss watches but he doesn't do trees.

Which is unfortunate because there's rather a lot of them around Beddgelert so he doesn't have much of a choice.

So this week he's been bending, twisting and sticking to create these.

We're using the same type of tree kit we employed on Dduallt and as those have survived well over 25 years he sees no reason to do anything different on Bron Hebog.

Rather like the fencing, this is a job that's going to be a marathon rather than a sprint.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Houses On Hold

Plans have changed slightly.

I did indicate in the previous post that I was going to start making a couple of the missing houses from the Oberon Wood scene, but commercial interests have intervened.

It appears that my wagon kits have been flying off the virtual shelf of the Narrow Planet webshop in recent weeks and so I am answering a call for a re-stocking of the DZs and NGYs.

I can't deny that it's a nice problem to have.

It's also a procrastinator's dream because it gives me the perfect excuse to once again delay having to sit down and draw out plans for one of the missing houses.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Are You Ready To Run?

I got my first chance at the weekend to take a look at Heljan's 009 ready-to-run Lynton and Barnstaple Manning Wardle tank loco, and mighty impressive it looks too.

This really does mark a watershed for the scale.

For the first time a manufacturer is giving us a model of equivalent standard to that which standard gauge modellers have been able to take for granted.

I hope that they, Heljan, will have massively underestimated the demand for models like this, are both rewarded for their gamble and encouraged to look for follow ups.

This model was being held captive inside a display case in Glasgow so we were unable to take a close look at it.

Himself's first impression was that he still thought the Backwoods Miniatures kit - which we used to make our Lyd - is a better model.

But then he would say that, because he can build them!

For the likes of mechanical imbeciles me like this loco looks like a glimpse into the promised land.

Do not take from what I have written that we are kit and scratch building snobs who turn our noses up at ready-to-run, for we long ago put down a reservation for the long-awaited Bachmann Baldwin WD 4-6-0's.

There is nothing wrong with top quality RTR in my eyes, nor with the best of the 3D printed bodies that are being designed by enterprising people like Narrow Planet and Robex.

I will admit, though,  to being more than a little frustrated at some of the utter abominations that I do see being knocked out on printers by modellers who it would appear are content to have something that bears only the most passing resemblance to the prototype.

It looks suspiciously like in many of these cases the truth is that all that matters is that the model is designed and produced at the fastest possible speed.

Many of the people behind these seem to be young, and impatience goes with the territory. Perhaps they will be in less of a busting rush as they mature.

What really irks me, however, is that in this age of cyber commerce many of these 'models' are put out there to buy through 3D printing websites.

Which brings us back to ready-to-run 009 which must be carefully nurtured in its infancy.

I believe strongly that we should not baulk at the prices the manufacturers charge for models such as this Manning Wardle, nor judge it against the cost to some of these 3D print offerings.

That would be to compare oranges and rotten apples.

The other thought I have is whether we, as a scale, will be able to exploit the potential for bespoke ready-to-run in the same way as the 00 fraternity has?

Look in any of the model magazines and you will see adverts from some of the most well known model shops and specialist firms for exclusive, short-runs of unusual prototypes.

Others, I note, are embracing crowd funding.

Can this not be done in 009? And who might be brave enough to do it?

One of the delights of Narrow Gauge is that there are so many one-off locomotives, and I suppose it could be difficult to find a market for hundreds of models of one single engine.

But there are other examples of small classes that can be exploited just as Heljan and Bachmann are doing.

For example, what about the Rhiedol tanks? Yes, there are only three of them but look how many livery variations have they worn between them over the years.

The current VoR owners seem very enterprising and go-ahead people.  Might they not like to explore the idea of commissioning a run of models to sell exclusively?

You've got a retail and marketing proposition rolled into one there.

Then there's my own first love, the FR. And how many opportunities there are here!

Can anyone seriously argue that a top-notch RTR 009 England engine wouldn't sell?

What about the Penrhyn Ladies?

If Heljan can provide for interchangeable cabs on their L&B locos then surely it's not impossible, with a common chassis and basic body dimensions to mass produce some lovely models of Linda, Blanche and Charles.

I suspect the lead-time on a model would be too long, and Boston Lodge would beat them too it, but what a marketing wheeze it might have been for the FR to commission a 009 model of their new Double Fairlie James Spooner?

The chassis is always the stumbling block in 009. Once you've got that look at how many other Double Fairlie variants you could plonk on top.  (So long a the rivet counters would overlook the variations in wheelbase and other minor details.)

Can I be the only one thinking along these lines?  I'd love to read your thoughts.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Old Barn Ready

My first project of 2017 is complete - or as least as much as I'm going to be doing on it.

The old barn, which sits in the middle of the upper part of the S bend is now ready for Himself to paint.

He's been nagging me for years about this.

(Okay, maybe nagging is a bit of an exaggeration - try regular reminders)

It was, however, one of the very obviously unfinished parts of the layout along with the rock face of Cutting Mawr and the filling the Oberon Wood estate up with houses.

The houses are what I plan to turn my attention to next.

I looks as if I shall have to design them myself this time as pleas for plans have gone unanswered.

It really is back to the drawing board.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Fence Spotting

You know things have gone too far when you start taking a close interest in the finer details of fencing - but that's the stage of advanced obsession that Himself has reached.

He is also rather pleased with his latest effort to represent the boundary along the uphill platform at Beddgelert.

He's done this using etches from Wizard models which I think look really effective.

There's also been a policy decision to take more photographs with trains posed at the work site.

I'm sure that's something we all approve of, yes?

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Still Slating

It's not a fast process, but I am nearing the end of fixing the strips of card slates onto the roof of the old barn.

This side (which is south facing) is in a worse state than the first and has a whole section of slates slipping off en-masse on the right hand side.

Once these are finished I can fix them into position on the building and hand it over to Himself to paint at his leisure.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Site Visit

I probably should have done it before I'd got 90% of the way through the build, but at the weekend I took the old barn over to Himself's place to see what it looked like in place on Bron Hebog.

The reason for testing it out is because I reduced the dimensions of the building by around 15% compared to the mock up which had been made by the Artistic Director.

It's always hard to judge when a model is still in naked styrene because it will inevitably stick out like a sore thumb, but I reckon that should be OK.

In fact it will have to be because I'm not about to do all that scribing again!

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Slipped Slates

This last week I've been working on the roof of the old barn - the end that still has one, that is.

The challenge with this has been to make it look suitably distressed.

On all the houses I've been building for the layout I've been able to use embossed plastic sheets but here the only realistic solution is bespoke slating.

I use strips of very thin card - or perhaps, more accurately described as very thick paper - onto which I have run through a photocopier with repeated design of rows of slates.

I cut out a row and then slice with the blade on the markings between each slate, leaving them connected by a sliver along the top edge, and then I glue them, row upon row, onto a styrene sheet using PVA.

Doing it this way I can break the row at any point to create the look of a missing slate, or one that has slipped.

In case you were wondering why there is the triangular marking at the top it's because I first created the pattern when I was asked to make a model of Minffordd weigh house as a retirement gift for FR permanent way legend Fred Howes.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Fine Lines

Britomart is edging closer to completion with Himself working hard on the fine white lining.

It's not a job that can be rushed so it's taken most of the week to get to this stage.

The nameplates and rather small  Hunslet works plates are on order from Narrow Planet.

Incidentally, if you ever wondered about the brass band which adorns its distinctively tall chimney, it's not just baby Hunslet bling.

The story goes that after the engine's arrival at the FR, following it's purchase from Pen y Orsedd quarry by a group of volunteers, it was discovered that at some point there had been a very rough repair to the chimney and the band was added as a colourful way of covering it up.

I've always thought it rather suits it and completes it's rather cheeky character.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Droning On

This is a post purely to share a photograph rather than to update you on any particular progress.

While taking some snaps of how far he's reached with the fencing Himself took a shot from directly overhead the area of the farm which looks like the kind of image you'd get from a camera on a drone.

Or possibly one of those satellite pictures on Google Earth of maximum magnification - without the pixellation, of course.

What it does show up, more clearly than a normal viewing angle I think, is the way we have used different shades and textures of scenic material to represent the vegetation - from the mowed lawn of the farm garden, to the grazed fields around the barn to the long, tufty grass elsewhere.

I reckon it looks very effective - what do you think?

Monday, 13 February 2017

Stick With It

This is a model railway blog, so readers don't generally come here expecting investment tip offs - but if they did I would advise them to buy shares in firms which manufacture cocktail sticks.

Yes, Himself is still hard at work on fencing, and as you can see there's still a lot of layout to go - we've only just reached the top points.

If you will indulge me in a little immodesty, I can't help remarking that this almost eye level view looks damned good!

All it needs is a Garratt descending into view with a train to complete the scene.

You can also see how there is a notable change in the gradient as the trains depart the station heading north.

We quite often find that when an item of rolling stock is brand new - when there is the least resistance in the axle cups and when the couplings have not been adjusted quite right - that we can have breakaways further up the layout and the vehicles which have broken free roll quite happily all the way down into the station.

The model HMRI would have a kittens!