Tuesday, 30 May 2017

The Big Reveal

At last our model of 150 is ready to show you.

I don't think any of our models has taken so long to paint, line and varnish as this one.

Himself began painting it in the final weeks of last year and I had hoped to be able to post some pictures of it finished in January, and now it's almost June!

One of the delays was because we didn't want to risk spraying the varnish until the ambient temperature improved (it is not done in a heated part of the house, you see) and then when it did get sprayed some of the lining, in particular the really fiddly bits on the window pillars, blew off and had to be replaced.

We'll be the first to admit that some of the lining is a little over scale because we're using transfers designed for 4mm standard gauge rolling stock but I think trying to get some bespoke crests produced for 009 is going just a little too far.

I'm particularly pleased with how the curtain effect turned out

In the end Himself decided just to go for it with a brush painting onto the back of the glazing and given how difficult it was to make up and fit the glazing with both the bend and the curved roof line at the front it was a real one-shot, hero or zero, moment.

Along with the WHR Obs 'Glaslyn' it is one of the trickiest scratch building projects we've ever taken on and it's a true team effort between us.

The question is how we're going to summon up the will to do it all over again with 152?

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Upstairs Downstairs

Time to start work on the final house in the row, and perhaps even the last building I need to make, depending on what we decide to do with the area currently used as a display area.

I'd been wondering for a while how tricky it would be to draw up the plans for this house because it is very different to the others being half bungalow and half house.

In fact it was quite straightforward because once you get familiar with the houses on this estate you discover that although they all have different shapes there are lots of common elements, such as the size of the windows.

I'll try to get this one made as quickly as I can because Himself is not able to finalise the siting of the others in the row until we know how this one is going to be placed.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Shape Shifter

I got into a groove with the alterations to the house in the last few days so that since the previous post about it I've managed to get it finished.

(Which is the second time I've said that - hopefully there won't need to be a third!)

To illustrate what I've done to it here are pictures of how it looks now and what it looked like before.

I'd like to think that you can't really tell that it wasn't supposed to be like that all along.

So if I hadn't have confessed to the cock-up on here no one would have been any the wiser.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

A Bit On The Back

I've moved onto the second extension which needs to be added on to the house to make it more like the shape it appears in the aerial picture I posted the other day.

Here, I've simply had to build on an extra part of the ground floor.

I'm not sure whether it is an extension to the kitchen or some kind of sun lounge, and there was not much of it I could see from the photograph, beyond it's basic shape.

So I've made some assumptions (always dangerous) and put in a door to the garden at the other side and a large window at the front.

I have also decided to level off the bottom of the render and not extend the up-slope, which seemed the logical thing to do if it was indeed an extension to the original house.

It's been quite fun to do, so far.  Maybe I should make more models wrong to start with?

Monday, 22 May 2017

Half A Million Milestone

I know these things must be taken with a pinch of salt, but I was very please last night to notice that the pageview counter on this blog has passed the figure of half a million.

According to the statistics provided by Blogger May 2017 has also set a new record for the number of views.

Whether that is really an increase in the number of you coming here to take a look at what we're up to, or just attracting more attention from the bots, I have no way of knowing.

I notice also that it's now just over seven years since I began blogging.

I've never managed to establish the habit of keeping a diary of my daily life but it occurred to me the other day how, by accident almost, this has developed into a comprehensive archive of our modelling since he beginning of the decade.

Seven years ago I was working on our first Superbarn carriage so in many ways very little has changed.

The layout still isn't finished, but it is complete enough to have been shown a couple of times at exhibitions.

The last time was back in the autumn of 2015 but as I write this now I regret that there are no shows confirmed for the future.

That's no reflection of any unwillingness on our part so if there are any exhibition managers reading this who would be interested in having Bron Hebog at your show please do get in touch.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Getting The Builders In

I have begun the reconstruction of the house after pulling various bits off it last week.

The front of the upstairs bedroom has been moved forward and the frame for the dormer window built up.

I've also blanked off the two small windows on the side nearest the camera.

There will be an extension added in front of the area with the back door and another two windows will be cut in the new side piece.

I've also blanked off the bottom of the old patio door to create one very large window at the back of the house.

I would like to hope that you have to look very carefully - or certainly will when it's finished - to see the joins.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

In Service

The poor weather so far this week has had at least one compensation - it's forced Himself to retreat from the garden into the safety of his modelling den,

He's been getting on with finishing a few off jobs including final assembly of the service car 125 after it was varnished many moons ago.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Measure For Measure

I saw a discussion online recently where a young narrow gauge modeller was thrown to the lions for asking for confirmation that in OO9 4mm equalled a foot.

As one has come to expect on social media this person was mocked and condemned for their ignorance, and the lack of initiative for asking the question in a post rather than researching the answer themselves.

However it made me realise that those of us who scratch build or work from drawings on a regular basis probably take it for granted how many conversions and calculations me make as a matter of routine.

As well as scaling down the dimensions we also have to convert between metric and imperial repeatedly.

Even the scale I'm working in - 4mm - is a mix of the two.

So take, for example, a model I might decide to make of one of the FR's latest carriages.

These days they're designed using metric measurements, expressed in mm.

So my first task is to convert this to an figure in feet and inches and then scale it down and get a value based on 1 mil for each 3 inches.

(I'm not too proud to admit that a calculator is involved at this point.)

That is not the end of the process, either,  because when I come to make my model - in metric - I'm building it using styrene strips from America which are sold according to imperial sizes.

So, for example, if I need a strip to be 1mm wide (a scale 3 inches) then I need to reach for the packet with strips that are 0.40 thou of an inch thick.

It's no wonder people who are relatively new to the hobby go online in search of answers, is it?

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Pulling It Apart

Having discovered the errors in the house I've just built (see the previous post) I thought the best thing would be to start the deconstruction immediately - thus avoiding any temptation to procrastinate.

There isn't that much that needs to come off because the changes that are required are mostly to add bits on.

I have managed to slice the roof sections down the middle and prise the left hand side off the upper and lower ones.

The patio door has been ripped out and a small section of wall which sat between that and the window the right has been sliced out.

It looks a bit of a mess right now, but hopefully I can cover all that up an the only people who'll know it ever happened will be you who've read this.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Spy In The Sky

It's happened again!

Just when you're congratulating yourself on finishing a model some new information comes to light which, with a sinking heart, makes you realise you're going to have to pull it apart and rebuild it.

The model in this case is the latest of the houses I've built for the Oberon Wood scene.

I'd said all along that I was having to make an educated guess about what the back looked like, because I didn't have any pictures.

That was until this week when the renowned FR photographer Peter Johnson posted some aerial pictures from a helicopter trip he took along the route of the FR and WHR, and he has kindly given me permission to post one here.

For the first time I've got a fuzzy glimpse of what the back of this house looks like, and guess what?

Photo: P Johnson
For comparison here is the back view of the model I've just built.

As I wrote above, the detail on the picture is pretty grainy, but it is enough to see the rough outline.

The things I will need to change will be to extend one of the bedrooms upstairs and add a dormer window, remove the patio door on the ground floor and try and add an extension.

Fortunately because of the way I make these out of styrene it's usually possible to do a cut and shut job and disguise the joins.

Of course I could pretend I've never seen these pictures and just put it on the layout regardless, but I know it would just nag away at me.

Out with the scalpel then....

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Preservation? Restoration? Conservation?

The truth is I haven't done a lot of modelling recently, and neither has Himself for that matter.

You see we've just had a week of unbroken sunshine here in the west of Scotland.

What a time to be alive!

(I was also kept busy making a batch of castings for a customer.)

So instead I thought I would offer up a few thoughts on a subject of narrow gauge current affairs - the rebuilding of Welsh Pony.

I was most amused by an intense debate on a narrow gauge interest group on a popular social media network which was sparked by this picture of the new frames and cylinders for the engine alongside the old ones which were judged beyond repair.

As is often the way it degenerated into an ill-tempered flame-war which led to users blocking each other.

The gist of the argument, to start with, was about whether it was right to embark on a rebuild / restoration which has required the replacement of parts which some believe are the essence of a locomotive - its frames.

It then developed into a row about to what degree historic objects should ever be repaired and renovated?

A very militant argument was advanced which suggested that an object's value is based solely on its antiquity and authenticity, and thus replacing bits of historic steam engines like Welsh Pony is wrong.

The logic of this position is that to do so is destroying the value of the entity and it should be conserved as a static exhibit - if we want steam engines we must build replicas.

The problem with this line of argument is that any machine deteriorates as soon as it is used, and a steam engine more than perhaps any other

Today's replica soon becomes tomorrow's artifact.

Many steam engine components are by their nature consumables and the machines were generally intended to be either rebuilt or recycled or replaced.

Questions about when a object ceases to be itself anymore quickly move from the science of engineering to the art of philosophy.

For myself I tend to take a rather Humpty Dumpty-esque view that it is because I say it is.

My position on question of Welsh Pony is very clear and as a long-term supporter of a return to steam I put my money where my mouth was as soon as the plan was announced, as you can read in this archive post so I won't repeat it here.

Should you wish to know more about what has done to the engine during the rebuild , including details of what parts are being reused and which replaced, it has been extensively documented on the Society website.

What I was reading online got me thinking about the nature of preservation, restoration and conservation, and the peculiar context of the FR.

Many believe - and I'm one of them - that the present day FR is an extension of a history which began in 1836.

We are not about 'preservation' so much as 'continuation'.

(This was one of many moot points in the online debate with the argument advanced that FR history ceased in 1946 - I regard this as nonsense.)

To get back to Welsh Pony, however, it occurred to me that there is a peculiar distinction with the FR in that as well as asking how much original material there may be in a locomotive or carriage we much also ask to what it extent it is in original specification?

The England engines are a case in point.

Take Prince, which when it was rebuilt in the late 1970's emerged oil-fired, superheated and with a superstructure that had been force-fed a diet of maxi-muscle.

This resulted in it being used once more in front line service in the years of the final push to Blaenau, rather than the vintage attraction that it is mostly today.

There was a logic to what was done then although I doubt anyone would seriously propose doing it again - I think the lesson has been learnt - but this too is now part of the story of the England engines.

As a man in my 40s I can only remember seeing Prince in this condition.  To me, and anyone younger than me, it is Prince.

That is also why it is important that Palmerston and Welsh Pony are restored to steam, because if they weren't how could future generations know how an authentic late 19th / early 20th century FR England engine performed?

No amount of study of Princess is going to tell you that, however much it remains mechanically in a 1946 timewarp.

This is why we will learn more from Welsh Pony in steam, and appreciate it more when it is back in steam than languishing like this.

The same argument could even be applied to the Double Fairlies.

If Livingston Thompson is never to steam will anyone ever again get to know how a saturated double engine with slide valves performs?

Anyway, I have rambled on long enough here.

There is a comments section below, so let the flaming commence!

Monday, 8 May 2017

The List Grows

I'm in danger of developing serious backlog of carriages to be built - not for the first time, I might add.

The FR and the WHR have new carriages joining the fleet this summer and I will have to play catch-up later this year after I have made the missing house for the Oberon Wood scheme.

Himself took some snaps of 2047, the new WHR-sized saloon, stored in the new heritage shed last weekend.


The look of the carriages is synchronising so the the main difference between the WHR stock and the FR Superbarns is their size, and that they sit much higher on their bogies than FR carriages ever have.

I notice, of course, because I'm a self-confessed carriage spotter but I suspect the average passenger would not notice much difference between 2047 and 118 which is now in traffic on the FR.

Which is what those in charge intended all along, I suspect.

118 is probably what I will work on first because I have some castings for it sitting in a photo album on the shelf above my desk,

Why a photo album, you may be wondering?

It's the best way to make sure you keep them flat and don't lose them.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Best Of Both

The list of future projects has grown now I've finally got some pictures of the unique BZ wagon.

This is a hybrid that's been dreamed up at Boston Lodge combining the most desirable aspects of a B Wagon (the fixed sides) with the best bits of a DZ (its more user-friendy height).

There's just the one been made so far and it's currently sitting in the new heritage storage shed being used as a place to leave bits of Blanche.

You can see in these pictures that it has been designed with the fold-down, drive-through ramps at each end which are also being retro-fitted to some of the DZ fleet to assist which delivering small diggers and various other pieces of self-propelled equipment to work sites on the lines.

So I think I shall inevitably have to build one.

The question is whether I scratch build it as a complete model or create masters of a kit of parts I can cast?

Will they be making any more?

If they do, will they be identcal? (Stop sniggering at the back!)

And would there be any demand from other modellers for a kit?

What I will do will depend on the answers to these questions.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Never The Same Twice

Himself spent the weekend in Wales enjoying the Quirks and Curiosities II weekend on the FR.

(Some of us still have to work for a living on Bank Holidays.)

Naturally I armed him with a list of things I needed pictures of during his visit to Boston Lodge Works.

The first thing reported back to me - which will come as no great surprise to readers of this blog - is that the second of the Super Barn observation cars, to be numbered 152, will not be an identical twin of the first.

152, or at least the steel skeleton, was transferred from Dinas a few weeks ago and the carriage works team are already working their magic with wood.

The breaking news, for me at least, is that 152 will be different at the front to 150.

Instead of one single pillar at the front of the observation saloon it will have two either side of the centre, making it look a bit more like the WHR Pullman 'Glaslyn' perhaps.

More frustratingly there is another very subtle change at the front.

Unlike 150 which was flat across the centre above the drawbar, 152 is being built with a very slight curve, as you can see in the picture below.

This means that I will certainly have to create a new master for casting the front section of 152 when I come to build it - and this piece was one of the most challenging aspects of doing 150, so as you can imagine I am delighted about that!

I now have my fingers crossed that the sides will be a match for the first carriage so I can at least re-use those parts.

It is probably a forlorn hope.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

House Handover

So all of a sudden, after what seemed at times like very slow progress, the house is finished and ready for Himself to paint and plant.

The things which it needed to complete it were the ridge tiles, the window cils and the guttering which I managed to get done over the space of a couple of evenings during the bank holiday weekend.

There is just one more house to make to complete the row up the left hand side of the estate which is an unusual half bungalow - two storey house affair.

I can't begin work on building it immediately because I will have to work out the design and draw some plans first.

It is also attached to the house below it - in fact they slightly overlap on one corner - so I will need to fetch that one back from Himself's place to take a look and see exactly how I'm going to do it.

In the meantime, however, I have some casting to be getting on with.