Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Getting A Handle On It

The wagon bodies glue together very quickly but there are lots of other details you can add which take a while longer, if you choose to put them on, like the grab handles which run along the frame of the B wagons.

There are small pilot holes in the master which show up on the casting and it's simply a matter of drilling through and then folding some pieces of 0.5mm brass wire to insert into them.

In reality it takes quite a while because there is a universal modelling law which states than when handling such small pieces at least one in every five will ping out of the jaws of the tweezers and land in the most unlikely place in the room.

You can follow the sound of it landing, or bouncing off something, and spend the time crawling around on all fours looking for it or you can just sigh, pick up the tools and make another one.

I usually opt for the latter strategy.

Needless to say, when I'd finished inserting the last one I looked around the desk and at least three of the errant ones appeared as if by magic.

I suppose it's all part of the fun of making models, eh?

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Lumps And Bumps

The basic wagon bodies have been glued together now.

One of the distinctive features of the SAR wagons is the pressed panels in the doors which have the big dent on the outside and the bulge on the inside face.

When designing the kits I represented this by casting the inner bumps as small detail pieces to be glued onto the flat back of the wagon sides.

I've found it's best to do this before fixing the sides together so you can make sure they line up with the indentations on the outside and, in the case of the DZ wagon, that they're aligned properly.

Then it's a very quick and simple job to glue the parts in place on the floor / chassis and the shape of the wagon emerges.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Component Parts

I'm having a little pause between personal modelling projects.

I had a customer approach me a couple of months ago explaining how he'd seen some of the wagon kits I made up and painted for a friend on his South African-themed layout and asked if I could do the same for him.

I said I'd do it after I'd got the last of the houses for the layout built, which is why this week I've got the resin out and cast and cleaned up the parts for a couple of B wagons and a DZ.

Wagon-spotters will notice that this DZ is being done with the high sided ends which make them look a little like mini B wagons.

I think they look rather nice like that but in Wales the FR has been going through a process of fitting its own design of ends which are hinged and fold flat to form a bridge between wagons running together in a rake.

I also have a couple of brake vans to make as well.

Once these are done I'll be turning my attention back to the carriage fleet and making the latest WHR saloon 2047.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Red Bull

We have some wheels for our Lilla at last.

The Robex 3D body is resting on top of the Minitrains F&C outside frame chassis, but there is still a section of print to be removed from inside the body before it sits in position properly, which explains why it's sitting so high at the back.

When I saw it my first impression was that it looked like a Red Bull F1 car which are set up with a very aggressive rake.

I've set Himself the challenge of doing something to trim the fly cranks.

The Minitrains chassis comes with the large balance weights which you can see in the picture above, but Lilla is fitted with basic cranks.

Hopefully some judicious use of a cutting disc on the end of the mini drill should sort that out.

Of course, that's easy for me to say....

Monday, 23 October 2017

Plotting Out

Now the final house is finished - at least in construction terms - I've been able to place the pair of them in their rough positions on the layout.

So for the first time we can see how the completed Oberon Woods estate is going to look.

Those who know the estate intimately will realise that there are a couple of houses on the empty land nearest the camera, but there wouldn't be enough space for the entire buildings.

Therefore our choices were to model houses chopped in half or just pretend they were never there, so we've done the latter.

There's still a little more work required to locate the houses properly.

The piece of board they're sitting on here is just a temporary cover and sits on a slope.

It will have to be taken up and levelled-off so the houses sit at their correct elevation and the landscape can be built up around them.

It's quite a nice aerial view, don't you think?

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Sizing Up

My recent visit to Wales (in fact my only visit of the year) was a chance to catch up on the research for all the models on my 'to do' list.

Among those are the new class of BZ wagons which have been built at Boston Lodge.

I'd seen quite a few photographs of the two which have been completed so far and have written posts on here about the differences I have noticed on them.

(If anyone's looking for a business idea to take on Dragons' Den I reckon you could make a fortune out of a series of 'spot the difference' quiz magazines each one featuring a nominal class of FR rolling stock. It would keep the people who buy these sort of things engrossed for hours!)

What I hadn't accounted for is that these two wagons would be different sizes, but looking at them in the sidings at the front of the yard, loaded up with locomotive ash, it looked as if one was taller than the other.

I couldn't be sure that this wasn't an illusion created by a difference in the track elevation, but stupidly I hadn't brought a tape measure with me.

Himself was very quick thinking and headed for the erecting shop to see if he could blag one (thanks Bob!) and together we ran the rule over them.

I'm sure it won't surprise you to know that one of them is 2 inches taller than the other, naturally.

I suspect this is probably because the one on the left appears to have been made by cutting down an existing B wagon whereas the one on the right had new side pieces fabricated at the works.

I was resigned to having to make two completely separate sets of masters for the resin castings of the sides but now it turns out I will have to make different sets of end pieces as well.

Lucky, lucky me!

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.