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.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

It's All About The Angles

Having cast a veritable avalanche of rock slabs for Himself to be getting on with I had a choice of what project to take on next.

The options are to try to play catch-up with the carriage works - always a lost cause - and make the latest of the WHR saloons, 2047, or I could get on with completing the housing estate scene by making the final two properties.

In the end I decided that with Himself doing well with the tree construction, and making a move towards lining the cutting, we are tantalisingly close to getting Bron Hebog to a point where you could sort of claim it was 'finished', so I plumped for the houses.

These two are slightly more straightforward than some of the others in the estate.

One of them is a pure bungalow and the other, which I'm starting on first, is another which is half on one level and the rest with an upper floor.

This one also has a garage attached which looks to have been partly converted into living accommodation.

Planning out these houses I find that the key to them is to establish the pitch of the roofs, then you can work out the width and the height of all the interconnecting sections.

Just to be sure that they will fit in the space that we have left for them in the scene I shall draw out both and cut out some floor plans first, and try those out on the layout, before I begin constructing them.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Cutting Casting

The story of my modelling week has been casting a job lot of resin rocks for lining the massive cutting at the back of the layout.

I've made five molds using pieces of shale collected in the North Wales area over the years and I've made a few copies of each.

In order to give Himself more options when using them, in a mosaic fashion, to line the cutting I have cast a number of smaller pieces by pouring resin into only a small area of the mold.

One of our concerns is that it repeated patterns could be obvious in the rock walls so this should help him break it up a bit.

The reason we're doing this is because Cutting Mawr is so long and deep that to line it with real rock would make the baseboard very heavy and more awkward to carry and lift into place when the layout is exhibited.

Incidentally, the difference in the colour of some of the pieces is because half way through I moved onto using a new bottle of Isocyanat.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Enigma Variations

I have posted before about how Boston Lodge has developed a hybrid SAR wagon design which has been dubbed the BZ.

It features a large centre door within otherwise fixed sides, just like a B wagon, but it is built to the much more user-friendly height of a DZ wagon.

It also has another Welsh innovation which is end pieces that are hinged to fold down flat so that, when parked, a rake of wagons becomes a drive-through platform.

Very clever.

Himself saw the second of these nearing completion while he was volunteering on repairs to the works recently, and returned north with the unwelcome (but inevitable) news that they are not identical.

Far from it, in fact.

This second once has been built with a major revision to the side door arrangement.

Instead of a door which was the same width as on B wagon, on this 2nd BZ it has been extended to occupy the space of two of the previously fixed panels either side.

Compare the latest wagon above, with the first version below.

It would also appear that the most recent one has been converted from an existing DZ - the brackets along the side being the giveaway.

The significance of this, of course, is that it scuppers any ideas I held of making one master model and casting a run of them.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Rock Formation

So it's time to put my rock casting plan into action.

One of the first hurdles to overcome is how best to make the mold.

Most of the time the masters I make are glued onto a sheet of styrene, and, crucially, they have at least one flat surface and very little undercut.

Neither is true of the pieces of rock we are making copies of, and I'm not especially keen on using acres of fresh styrene sheet either. (Have you seen the price of it recently?)

So what I've hit on is to borrow a technique from two-part molding and place the piece of rock on bed of modelling clay which is stuck onto a reusable wooden board, and then has a styrene box built around it.

This then has the RTV poured into the box in the usual way and once that's set I can begin casting copies.

One of the things which I have noticed already in casting the first few pieces is how fast the resin sets.

Compared to the carriage and wagon sides I usually cast, which are comparatively thin, these rocks are quite thick in places and it's noticeable how much more heat is generated as the two parts of the resin cure and harden in front of your eyes.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Oberon Gets Its Wood

Himself has spent the week on a tree-building binge.

(I've no idea what's come over him because it's a job he hates.)

Anyway, he's made enough to plant the hillside on top of Goat Tunnel.

Here's a view which you very rarely see, as if you were standing on the famous PB&SSR 'Bridge to Nowhere'.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Little Train Meets Big Train

Himself was down in Wales a week or so ago volunteering on what was once known as 'Kids Week', the FR's pioneering, and long-running, event to enthuse the next generation of volunteers.

He took with him our model of the new observation carr 150 so that it could be inspected by some of the team who built the real one.

While poking around the carriage works to gather information on what they're building at the moment he posed it for a photo on the front window ledge of the follow-up 152.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Done My Bit

The new 118 is ready to pass over to Himself for all the finishing off and the painting.

I usually leave it to him to do all the tricky metalwork such as bending the brass roof skin and fitting the brake pipe which runs all along the carriage, weaving this way and that.

There's also the devilish handrails to fabricate to go either side of the doors (he hates doing those) and the vacuum pipes to fit.

I've made up a pair of our brass and resin bogies but they'll need some precision violence to make sure they can swing enough for the tightest curves on Dduallt and they also need to be fitted with Greenwich couplers.

So actually it's quite a long way from being finished.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

School Of Rock

One of the major jobs left on Bron Hebog is to complete the rock faces of Cutting Mawr.

As long-term followers of our layouts will know, up until now we've been in the habit of using real Welsh rock as a scenic material, but that does have consequences for the weight of the layouts (and the poor team who have to carry them in and out of venues when we're exhibiting).

So Himself has decided that the time as come to experiment a little.

We still believe that nothing has an authentic texture quite like the real thing so he has set me the challenge of seeing whether I can replicate a few pieces in resin.

This should be easy enough, although I'm going to go through a job lot of RTV silicone and a fair bit of resin too.

The challenge for him will then be to paint them to make them look realistic.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

The Seats Are In

I'd saved up one of the most satisfying jobs of the carriage-building process to a moment where I had the time to enjoy it.

So with a the prospect of an undisturbed evening at the workbench ahead of me I sat down and fitted the seat and table units to 118.

These are my own modular design which I cast in resin and - with just a little bit of filing here and there - fit like a dream with the seat backs all lining up with the window pillars.

It's a very nice feeling to see something you designed and produced working so well in practice and it really takes the bind out of producing carriage interiors from scratch, which could be very time consuming.

Friday, 4 August 2017

The Pips

After the trauma of fitting the truss rods (every time!) making up the boxes which represent the various things hung under a modern FR carriage - such as the diesel-burning heating unit and the associated fuel - is child's play.

Of course, no model of the FR Superbarn carriages would look quite right if it didn't have something to represent the distinctive blocks along the side of the underframe.

In fact these are brackets which support the sightly wider wooden body which you can see on this shot taken earlier this week of the under frame of what will be 120 in the welding bay at Boston Lodge.

In my case I don't bother to try to make scaled-drown brackets, instead I just glue small cuts of styrene strip in the right places.

It looks effective as far as I'm concerned and that matters as much as rivet-counting accuracy in my book.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Doing The Chores

Everyone has tasks on a model project that have to be endured rather more than enjoyed.

As I wrote last time, for Himself it is making trees, and for me its always been making up the corridor connections.

It's not that they're particularly difficult to make, just slightly fiddly and drawn out with lots of bits of styrene to be cut, glued together and then shaped to make up the six finished pieces needed.

But they do look good, so it's worth it in the end.

The other job which I never look forward to is making up and fitting the truss rods which is just down to my pure incompetence when it comes to bending metal.

No matter how much care I try to take I can never get the angle of the bends correct at the first attempt, nor the holes in the floor which the ends are inserted into, which results in much tiresome faffing about.

It's just one of those necessary evils which has to be tackled as part of making a carriage but I'm always glad when it's done.