Thursday, 30 November 2017

Drawing A Blank

I posted a couple of days ago about how I was going off to search through my file of drawings to look for something to use to make a model of 2047.

I didn't find anything.

All of which left me scratching my head and wondering how on earth it was I managed to make the previous one, 2046?

This was the first WHR saloon with the big windows and the sliding toplights.

Then, from the very depths of my mind I remembered that perhaps I never did have a drawing?

I vaguely recall that I'd approached my usual inside source to enquire about a plan, but they replied that they hadn't got round to drawing it yet!

(There is indeed nowhere quite like Boston Lodge.)

I also remembered that my man in the know told me that the new design was a very simple adaptation from the original and that the window pillars were in the same position as on the previous carriages - all I needed to do was take out the ones which were left over.

Thinking about it now I think that I may simply have used one of the original drawings when I made the last model, but this time it seemed like a good idea to create a proper one.

What would we do without good old Microsoft Paint, eh?

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Painting The First Bridge

Himself has been lured away again for a spell of 12 inches to the foot modelling, which partly explains why in recent days this blog has been filled with waffle rather than posts about actual progress.

The cause this time has been the repair and repainting of Tan y Bwlch footbridge.

(Some might say the real footbridge but we'd never stray into controversies like that on here, oh no, not us....)

It's one of the few remaining monuments from a frantic period of development on the FR when function mattered far more than form.

Form is rather expensive, though, and there weren't so many people with deep pockets or agencies with funds to distribute in the late '60s and early '70s.

That said, it is interesting to note that the construction of this bridge - which was felt to be necessary when a more formal island platform was created after the reopening to Dduallt - did receive some corporate sponsorship from, of all people, the owners of the John Player tobacco brand.

That may seem hard to imagine to some people these days.

Pedants may take issue with me calling it the first bridge in the title, because properly speaking it was the second footbridge on the site, but it is the first, and the only one, to allow access to the platform.

(Steady now....)

As a child of the '70s It is also the only way I have ever known Tan y Bwlch station.

Incidentally, the person in the foreground holding the drill - in what could be construed as a mildly threatening manner - is none other than my mother.

No wonder Himself always does as he's told!

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Same Again, Please

I have to confess that I haven't started work on 2047 yet, so you'll have to make do with a picture of what it's hopefully going to look something like.

This is 2046 posed at the very back of the layout where the line plunges into Beddgelert Forest.

These WHR saloons have always been scratch built out of styrene, rather than cast in resin, mainly because their construction has been rather sporadic and I've never been sure that it's worth the time and expense of making a master and moulds.

I also am going to have to dig back through my file of drawings to find the one I used to make the last one, otherwise it will be a literal case of back to the drawing board!

Friday, 24 November 2017

Black And Grey

It's not been all about casting this week, I've been doing a few more bits on the wagon kits I've been building for a customer.

While I'm waiting on the wheels arriving I put a coat of paint on the roofs of the two brake vans.

They're still not fixed in place because I've still got to make and secure the glazing to go inside, but you get a good impression of what they're going to look like when they're finished.

The foot boards have also been painted black now as well.

Once these are off the workbench, and the current batch of kits I've been casting sent off to Narrow Planet, I can get cracking on another project of my own which I think will have to be the Welsh Highland saloon 2047 - I'm in danger of falling behind the Boston Lodge carriage works again....

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Sticky Stuff

The story of my modelling week so far is the boring reality of commerce.

Enough of my wagon kits were sold at ExpoNG a couple of weeks ago that I need to replenish the stocks at Narrow Planet.

It's a nice problem to have, I suppose.

I find the best way to tackle it is to try and blitz it over a couple of days.

If you get into a good rhythm, and the atmospheric conditions in the house are conducive, I find I can complete a casting cycle every every half hour or so.

Most of the designs need two sets of each casting per wagon so if I'm going really well I can knock out one an hour if everything's going smoothly.

Factor a full time job and family life into the equation, however, and I regard it as good progress if I can get a set of bits for two wagons made each day.

How you 3D printing people must shake your heads and laugh at the labour-intensiveness of it all!

Monday, 20 November 2017

Slide Bars

Himself has been working on fitting the new cylinders, slidebars and crossheads to the Minitrains chassis on our Robex Lilla.

He told me there were a few adaptations required, but then we never had time for him to actually explain to me what they were, so you'll just have to look at the pretty pictures instead.

I've yet to see it run but from what Himself tells me it is sensationally back-heavy which is obvious from the position of the motor which is positioned vertically in the cab area,

Fortunately for us there is a lot of space inside the saddle tank, and even the smokebox which can be stuffed with weight, which as well as stopping it doing wheelies every time it moves should also do wonders for its tractive effort.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Yellow Lines

It's only a few brush strokes but the bits of the SAR wagons which are picked out in yellow make all the difference to how they look.

The most challenging bit is the stripes on the end of the brake van.

It takes quite a while to mask it off, and then inevitably there is some touching up to be done afterwards.

(The photographs are still cruel, though.)

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Primed But Not Ready To Go

The weather conditions have, at last, materialised to allow me to spray the SAR wagons I'm building for a client; dry, mild, calm and low humidity.

Being calm and dry is most important because the models have to survive the journey to and from the nice warm house to the garage, to be sprayed, and back into the house again to dry.

If it is windy at all then there is a serious risk of them being blown off the tray that I'm carrying them on.

The problem with the rain is obvious.

There are some details to be picked out in yellow, such as the brake wheels and the handrails as well as the stripes on each end of the guards van, but that's about all I can do at the moment until the new supplies of wheels turn up.

In the meantime I need to get casting again because I've received a request to replenish the stocks of kits at Narrow Planet.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Sofa So Good

I wrote in a previous post that I was concerned that the conservatory on the back of the bungalow was going to look conspicuously empty unless we made some attempt to put some furniture in there.

Unknown to me Himself has had a go at knocking up a table and a couple of armchairs and I think he's done a jolly good job of it.

He tells me that he has also stuck an old Tiny Signs poster on the wall of the house to look like a picture has been hung up.

As you can see he has also built up the rather complex patio and steps around the back of the property.

There are other details which we might get around to adding to the scene.

When I have the time and inclination I might see if I can make something up to represent the owners' hot tub which sits in front of the French windows.

The question is whether we should model anyone actually using it?

So here's the state of play with the houses sitting in position.

In case you were curious I got an answer about how the decking was done and it turns out that Himself did indeed glue on each plank individually.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Waiting For Wheels

Nearly all the construction is done now on the batch of SAR wagons I've been making for a customer.

Since I last posted I have made up the roofs for the two brake vans, added the handrails, all the brake gear below and the footsteps.

At this stage the roofs are just resting in positon because they will need to be painted inside and have the glazing fitted before they can be fixed on.

There's nothing to stop me spraying them their red oxide colour, but I have not done so yet because I was waiting for slightly milder weather as I usually do it out in the garage, and this week has been rather cold up here.

I am also waiting on the delivery of the Romford wheels to fit to the bogies which the reconstituted Dundas Models (our preferred supplier) are expecting to get back into stock imminently.

Friday, 10 November 2017

White And Cream

Himself has been busy painting the final two houses for the Oberon Woods scene.

On our rolling stock we usually use enamel paints but the Artistic Director taught him how to use acrylics to the best effect on the buildings.

One of the major advantages is the much faster drying time which explains why he's got them to this stage already.

I think he's done a terrific job with the stone cladding on the front of the bungalow, especially since he has challenges seeing his colours.

This house is the only one in the scene which is not painted white, although in our research I spotted there was one small area, above the conservatory, where there is still a wee patch poking through.

He has also been working on the neighbouring property which has had some of its landscaping features fixed to it, such as the sunken pathway to the front door and the driveway in front of the garage.

At the rear is an extensive area of decking.

I'm not sure (because he hasn't told me) whether he made this by laying individual strips of styrene or used an embossed styrene sheet.

It will be good to see them sitting in position on the layout and with all the rest of the gardens around them.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Blooming Marvellous

Some exciting news! We're going back on the road in 2018.

We've accepted an invitation to show Bron Hebog at the inaugural Narrow Gauge East show at Bressingham in Norfolk in June.

It's been over two years since we last had the layout on show.

Much of the hiatus can be put down to the inevitable disruption caused by Himself's migration north of the border.

We've also been working hard to get Bron Hebog looking much more 'finished' rather than merely complete from an operational point of view as it was last time we had it out at the WHR Superpower event at Dinas.

Admittedly Norfolk is one heck of a long drive from the west coast of Scotland for a one day show but we said yes to it for a couple of reasons.

I can't deny that we enjoyed having our ego tickled by the museum telling us that they would like to have us as their 'headliner' for their first NG event.

I was also intrigued by the prospect of visiting Bressingham for the first time.

In my mind I had the museum, started by Alan Bloom, down as one of the classic locations of the early days of steam preservation when it was home to famous locomotives like Royal Scot and Oliver Cromwell.

The locomotives were steamed but I always had the feeling that it might be rather like going to see a magnificent beast kept in a cage in a zoo, as opposed to roaming on a reserve (like a preserved railway) or being stuffed by a taxidermist. (The NRM anyone?)

Those two giants have since been released onto the mainline again, of course, but Bressingham still has a large collection of steam engines including a couple of Quarry Hunslets from Penrhyn, so it must be a good place!

Anyway, we shall find out next summer, won't we.

We've also had another invitation from rather closer to home.

Himself has been having a look around our local model railway club in Greenock who put on an annual show in the town in October where in recent years there has been some very good modelling on display.

As well as talking him into taking out a membership the club also asked if we'd be willing to bring Dduallt of retirement at take it along to the show next year.

This layout has had so many comebacks it's fast becoming 009's answer to Frank Sinatra.

Full details of both shows are on the Exhibition Diary page.

Monday, 6 November 2017


I am plodding on with the order I have for a rake of SAR wagons which includes a pair of the V-16 brake vans.

Before I joined the sides together on the chassis block I had fitted the handrails while I was still able to handle the pieces on their own which makes it a lot simpler to file down the backs to make them completely flush so you don't have any problems fitting glazing.

It's not in view in the picture but when I designed this kit I came up with an idea for making it easier to form the roof and stop it sagging.

There is a solid block of resin which is the size as the interior of the van and has its top surface curved to match the roof line.

All you have to do is cut a very thin piece of styrene sheet the right size and stick it onto the top of the resin block.

Then you simply glue it in place with the block sitting inside the top edges of the body.

Not only does it mean that the roof cannot sag it also ensures that the top of the body won't bend inwards either.

Yes, there is a small weight penalty and you might be concerned about the effect it has on the van's centre of gravity but I've had no one reporting any problems to me so far.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

On Level Ground

Having taken a month's sabbatical from modelling to scratch build a luxury guinea pig apartment complex (or a hutch, if you prefer) I'm pleased to report that Himself is back to work on Bron Hebog.

He has begun by preparing the ground for the siting of the final two houses of the Oberon Woods scene.

You may remember that previously this bit of baseboard had a temporary sloping cover.

Now that has been taken off and replaced with a flat base for the buildings to sit on.

The houses still have to be painted and once that's done they will be fixed in position and the land built up around them so that they sit in the landscape not on it.

Oh, and in case you were curious, here's a snap of the aforementioned hutch.

And, no, he's not taking orders!

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Brake Bits

You have to look hard at most narrow gauge wagons to see whether or not they have continuous brakes.

In most cases the main giveaway will be the vacuum or air pipes at each end.

The monster wagons of the SAR two feet system are very different, however sitting high on their bogies with all the gubbins on show underneath for all the world to see.

That's why when I was designing the kits - with more than a little help from the clever chaps at Narrow Planet - we came up with an etched brass fret which includes the bogies and all the hangers and other bits and pieces which can be cut out, glued into place on the body and the chassis to look something like the brake gear.

It's not an exact mechanical representation, but it looks good enough when the wagons are running on a layout I reckon.

The best bits, in my opinion, are the handbrake wheels, with their distinctive dented rims.

Two of those get soldered onto a bit of wire and fixed onto each end of the wagon.

You can just see them if you look carefully at the left hand side of the picture.

They'll stand out a treat when they're painted yellow against the red oxide colour of the wagon body.