Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Making Myself Unpopular

Himself's birthday has come around again, and just like last year I decided to treat him to a Robex 3D print.

We've seen what a fabulous job he made of the Lilla so I thought I'd challenge him with the WHHR's Bagnall 0-4-2 Gelert.

As the real one has made a test trip as far up the line as Beddgelert it would be nice to be able to represent that on Bron Hebog.

It's true that in his first experience of the material he found it very much less robust that he was used to with brass, and it was quite a steep learning curve, but at least the project with the Minitrains chassis was quite straightforward.

Not so with Gelert.

The Robex print is designed to fit the Fleishmann 0-4-0 chassis, and no problem there because I've had one of them in strategic storage for years.

The difficulty is that the Bagnall is outside-framed and Himself looked rather unimpressed when I broke it to him that his challenge is to try to covert it with new driving axles, fly cranks and all the rest,

I've no doubt he'll be able to achieve that because he managed it brilliantly on a pair of Ibertrens under our original Penrhyn ladies more than 20 years ago.

I am expectiing my name will be mud when he gets round to trying to do it, though.....

Monday, 19 March 2018


Altering the Dundas WHR carriage to make the flood removable, as we do with most of our other carriages, has meant a lot of changes on the inside too.

On the kit the seats are supposed to be fixed to the insides resting on these moulded ledges.

Not only are the ledges not required if the seats are going to be free-standing, they will also prevent us slipping in the glazing, so they'll have to be removed.

Fortunately this kind of plastic is very soft and it's easily done with the scalpel.

Next, the seats need to have new ends made to support them where they would have been fixed to the inside.

All these seats, once they've been made up, are fixed in place on the floor, which has also had its footsteps glued in place.

Here you can see it in place inside the body.

The roof has not been fixed in place yet and is just resting in position for now.

It's been handed over to Himself to get on with painting it at his leisure.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Tools Of The Trade

There's been more work done on the gardens of the houses since the thaw set in and the temperature in the garage has nudged into positive figures again.

He's added details like garden sheds, fences and quite a lot of hedges.

I thought you might be interested in seeing the way he's done these.

The secret ingredient is a former made out of thick, green felt which is a hangover from his former life fixing pianos.

The felt is fixed and supported with brass pins and then Woodlands Scenics foliage is added onto it.

It looks rather like Fuzzy Felt for adults

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Purple Patch

Hot on the heels of bowsider 19 Himself has already begun painting 15.

This is going to be another exceptionally intricate transfer challenge for him, attempting to replicate the gold leaf lining around all the mouldings on the bodyside.

At the moment it's had some coats of the Royal Purple and cream base colours.

If we were sticking with the nominal year of 1988, with which we started the Dduallt project all those years ago,  then this would be all we would have to do on 15,  but the abilities and ambitions of the Boston Lodge carriage works have expanded since then, and so unfortunately the challenge for us is to try to match them.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Breaking The Rules

I am one of life's rule-followers.

If there's a queue, I'll stand it in. If there's a notice, I'll obey it.

All of which makes me a little uneasy about casting aside the instructions for putting together the Dundas kit for the WHHR Bro Madog carriage, but I think I'm doing it for the right reasons.

Many years ago when scratch building our carriages we realised that it made more sense to have the roof fixed in place and leave the floor removable.

On most plastic kits, though, just like this one, you are advised to build the body shell by fixing the side end pieces onto the floor and leave gluing on the roof until last.

The problem with this is what you do when it comes to glazing and varnishing the carriage?

If you fit the glazing and then glue the roof on, making a sealed box, when you come to give it a protective coat of varnish you end up spraying (and ruining) the glazing.

If you don't fix the roof down, so enabling you to spray it without the glazing in there, then you have to run the gauntlet of using solvent to secure the roof later and any runs, spills or drips could ruin all your hard work.

Keeping the floor / chassis removable until the very last minute solves these problems, which is why we do it that way.

So although it looks like I've built the carriage conventionally in the picture above, the floor is, in fact, removable.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Pot Black

The temptation to declare "That'll do!" is something that has to be resisted in modelling - I had that drummed into me by Himself years ago.

Other times though, you have to accept that something's probably as good as it's ever going to be and stop fiddling with it.

So it is with the lamp pots on the roof of bowsider 19.

These are the second lot I cast which are quite a bit lower than the first ones we tried.

They're still not perfect, I know. They're probably too thin around the middle, not quite tall enough now and the tops are probably curved too much.

Ironically this time it's Himself who's said "That'll do" because when I popped over a few days ago - after they'd dug themselves out of the snow - he showed me this and told me that they've already been painted and glued on.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Have A Bash

In idle moments between casting another batch of SAR wagons for Narrow Planet I have been having a go at adapting the Dundas kit for the WHR Bro Madog coach to represent it more like it's current form.

(I say current because, just like Boston Lodge across the Traeth, Gelert's Farm is always fiddling with things and the entrance doors have been altered again with a double opening to give better access.)

There has been a large degree of trial and error in the process so far.

I had hoped that I would be able to leave a very thin bar of the original plastic along the top of the windows but it proved to be too flimsy so I ended up chopping it off all along and fixing a new strip along the top of the opening windows to form the toplights.

At the far end, as you can see above, I was able to leave the pillars full height and just put to horizontal strips in to form the new window.

Once I've got the second side done I can start making up the kit as per the instructions.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Pots And Carriages

Carriage 15 has been given a coat of primer after I returned it to Himself with its interior made.

As well as chatting about how he should tackle the horrendously intricate Victorian livery Himself and I had a useful discussion about lamp pots.

You may remember a couple of weeks ago I was casting a set for our model of bowsider 19.

After he trial fitted them to the roof (they have had little brass pins inserted in the bottom of them so they can be located accurately into holes drilled in the roof) he sent me couple of snaps and both of us concluded that they were a little on the tall side.

So I set about altering the master, formed another mould, and have been casting some shorter ones.

It occurred to me that we might find a use for some of the original ones on 15, which has taller pots.

I wonder why this is?

Is it because there are half the number of lamps (3 on carriage 15 versus 6 on carriage 19) and therefore they had a bigger lamp which generated more heat and so needed a bigger holder?

Or is it just an historic case of the FR never making anything the same, ever?

Monday, 5 March 2018

Talking Turf

A little more scenic work has been done on the last bit of the housing estate scene.

I guess Himself must have wrapped up warm before heading into the garage because my post last week about the weather getting milder appears to have been classic case of speaking too soon given what we've just been through!

The areas around these two houses are quite complicated with a mix of lawn, tarmac, slate waste and gravel to represent.

There are still quite a lot of small details to add, such as fencing, sheds and even a playhouse.

Speaking of which, if we're being completely accurate the bungalow should really have a hot tub on the patio if we're being completely authentic.

Should we?

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Yo Bro!

Last weekend at Model Rail Scotland I finally got around to doing something I'd been meaning to do for years, to replace one of my very first 009 models from nearly 30 years ago.

It was the Dundas plastic kit for the WHHR's 'Bro Madog Eisteddfod' carriage which was built at Gelert's Farm in the late '80s.

It may strike those you know me as an FR carriage anorak as strange but at the time I really didn't know my Bug Boxes from my Barns and I recall thinking that what I'd bought was a model of the iconic observation cars 100 and 101.

I think it was probably the 3 end windows which made me think that.

(To be fair on myself, I also remember asking the trader who was selling the kits whether it was a model of an FR carriage and he didn't demur.)

I thought that perhaps I could pull the wool over some eyes by painting it in then new FR 'Mountain Prince' livery - and it looks very good, I reckon - but ultimately I was just fooling myself.

In consequence we've never really run the carriage much at all.

That could be about to change, though,

When we take delivery of our Bachmann Baldwin tank we'll need something for it to haul around, and a number of years ago when the survivor 778 visited the WHHR this was one of the carriages it was running with.

(We'll just pretend it went all the way to Beddgelert.)

The issue is that the carriage was rebuilt with toplights added in - to make it look even more like an FR Barn! - but it would be hard to alter the existing carriage and painting over it with green would probably fill in the matchboard detail.

So what I've decided to do is buy another kit and adapt it while it's still a flatpack.

I'll probably also get some brass Worsley kits for the vintage bogie carriages to go with it in due course.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Slow Modelling

The end of February marks the traditional visit of the extended Bron Hebog team to Model Rail Scotland at the SEC in Glasgow.

On a couple of occasions over the years we have even been invited to exhibit there ourselves with Dduallt and other standard gauge layouts.

There's no doubting that the standard of layouts on show in Glasgow is night and day compared to what was once the case, I suspect spurred on by many of the visiting layouts from over the border, and it's evident that there is now a lot of very high quality modelling going on in some of the clubs in Scotland.

As I wandered around the show what struck me was how quiet and empty a lot of the layouts were.

In many cases you could see over into the fiddle yards behind the operating team where there were sidings stuffed with what looked like some very interesting trains, but you'd be waiting a very long time to see any of them come past you because there was very little moving out front, and what was running was generally running rather slowly.

Now, of course, this is not necessarily a bad thing.

It is a tribute to the great strides the manufacturers have made in how ready to run locomotives perform, and to the quality of the construction of the layout and the track by the people who've built them.

It's not a good look to have trains chasing around a break-neck speed, either.

However it was disappointing that on some of the biggest layouts, where the standards of modelling were most impressive and consistent,  which depicted a section of main line,  there seemed to be very few trains running at what you might consider to be main line speeds. Everything was proceeding as if running under a signal check.

Most of the layouts where this was a 'thing' seemed to have something in common, and I think I have a theory why.

Not only were they DCC, they also had sound.

Although I've never had a go on one of these it seems to be that the most interesting sounds are made when they're running slowly, and it occurred to me that perhaps this is why this trend has developed?

Is this a problem? What's so bad about operating layouts realistically, you might ask?

Well I think we're maybe in danger of forgetting who we're exhibiting for - the people on the other side of the barrier - who've paid a rather large wedge of cash to get into a show such as this one and who would rather like to see the conveyor belt of your interesting models moving a little faster in front of them.

Because at a busy show, where you have to fight to get into a position where you can even see the most popular layouts, you don't want to be hanging around watching nothing much happening - well I don't anyway.

After a couple of hours your feet begin to ache, your back gets sore, and if you're like me you begin to get a little impatient.

It would be lovely in a comfy chair with a glass of something nice in your hand to sit in front of one of these layouts for hours at a time and see everything slowly processing past you, but that's not what the experience of being an exhibition is for most of us punters.

Once upon a time we used to help our friend operate his OO main line layout New Mills. It had two levels of continuous run tracks and we did out utmost to try to ensure that there was something running on at least one of them at all times.

Some might say that it was too busy, that a service level like that is not realistic, but it always kept the crowds entertained and was a popular exhibit.

It was also in the age before DCC and all its trickery. Coincidence?

On another note, getting back to Narrow Gauge matters and descending from my soap box, the main thing I'd gone to the show for was to get my first look at the new Bachmann 009 Baldwin tanks which I understand are due to arrive on these shores very soon.

We have a 590 on order and we're very much looking forward to running the first Baldwin to Beddgelert for around 80 years.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Vintage Interior

Productivity has been much improved at my end of the operation in recent weeks.

Over the course of a few evening sessions I have been able to complete the interior for the Worsley body for 15.

Unlike the styrene carriages where I attach the seating to the floor and it becomes a part for the chassis, on this one I have left it removable, which will certainly make it easier for Himself when he comes to paint it.

In its current condition this carriage is a tri-composite and so the two compartments with comfy looking seats towards the centre are, in fact, a first class and a second class.

(The upholstery in the First comes up slightly higher than the other if you look closely.)

The biggest challenge with compartment stock is with the dividers between them.

They have to be placed very accurately because the window pillars are very thin on this model, and you also want to ensure, as much as you can, that they remain vertical.

This is why I've chosen to use relatively thick 30" sheet and anchored them at the bottom with some chunky square section before I attached the seat bases on either side.

As always, the only true test will be time.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Out Of Hibernation

It would be foolish to declare the end of winter is in sight but we've enjoyed a comparatively warm spell on the Costa del Clyde in recent days, warm enough, in fact, for Himself to venture into the garage and resume work on the estate scene.

He has started work on landscaping around the final two bungalows (mostly) at the front of the layout, with the aid of some plaster.

The area towards the bottom of the picture above (in front of the conservatory) will be grassed over as the garden.

On the other side - facing the operators, so the bit most folk don't see - are the front entrances to the houses which will be mostly gravel or paving.

How much more gets done, and how soon, is very much in the hands of the weather systems I suspect, but Himself has plenty to keep him busy indoors and outdoors right now.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Another Obs

I can't put it off any longer, I have decided I'm going to have to begin work on a model of 152.

(My reluctance is on account of the fact that these are very complicated carriages to build)

I'm able to re-use most of the moulds I made for 150 so while I had the resin out for making the lamp holders for 19 I decided to cast a set.

The only major alteration on this carriage is that the front needs to have a very subtle curve on it.

So what I've done for that is very gently reshape the master I used for 150 - which was a composite piece with a brass backing and styrene moulding detail on the front - and I'm going to make a fresh mould from that.

It's not in the shot above because it's currently sitting in a bath of gooey RTV silicone rubber - I'll post a before and after pic once I've taken a casting from it.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Mr Fixit

Himself is cracking on with WHR saloon 2047 after I delivered it to him last week.

Already it's been primed and he's begun applying the top coat to the interior and the outside of the body.

Much to my embarrassment he discovered (another) error which I had made.

Somehow I had managed to fit the electrical connections on the wrong side on each end of the carriage - goodness only knows how I managed to do that because I was using 2046 as a guide alongside be.

I'm beginning to believe that this carriage is cursed!

He also did some delicate soldering to firm up the brass brake rigging underneath which had been secured (or indeed, unsecured) with superglue.

Despite the litany of errors during construction on my part I'm sure he'll turn out a carriage which looks as good as all the other ones.

Monday, 19 February 2018


With the name and works plates from Narrow Planet fitted our Robex Lilla is ready at last.

We'll just leave these here.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Top Hat Tale

My contribution to the carriage 19 project is to try and come up with something to represent the reproduction lamp pots installed on the roof when the carriage was restored a few years back.

My plan was to try and make something out of styrene as a master which could be copied and cast.

I've made a guess about the dimensions based on what I can see from pictures and the sizes of styrene tube available and come up with this.

The close up, enlarged photograph is a little misleading, I hope, although it maybe that when I cast some copies we conclude that the top cover is a little to thick and should be a little smaller in diameter, but you'll have to take my word for it that it doesn't look like that with the naked eye.

Anyway, the RTV rubber is setting around it as I type so I shall update you when I have some cast.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Off My Hands

I've done as much as I can on 2047 and handed it over to Himself to finish off.

That innocent phrase - finish off - involves a lot more than you might first imagine.

There's the handrails which go either side of the entrance doors to be soldered together from brass wire, which probably Himself's least favourite job.

The bogies will need couplings fitted, which may well involve grafting on an extension to the shaft.

There is the glazing to cut and fit and the roof to glue into position.

Then, and only then, will he be able to begin to think about priming and painting it by hand.

It will be finished off with transfers, a coat of varnish and the interior populated with a few people.

(Only a few, mind. Have you see how pricey they are!)

So as you can see, it's a real team effort.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Fill It Up

Himself is loading me up with jobs - which is a reversal of the usual situation, it has to be said.

Not only has he tasked me with finding a way of making the lamp pots for the roof of 19,  I have been presented with a bare body shell of number 15.

Long term readers will recall that this is the result of a rather silly error when we were making a second model of 16 in Col. Stephens livery to use on Bron Hebog.

Not considering the difference between the carriages we accidently ordered a Worsley scratch-aid kit for 15 which features the windows in the balcony end of the first and last compartments.

You may recall that he had soldered the frets together before we twigged.

Not wishing to waste them we put it to one side with the intention of making another model of 15, in its present high-Victorian condition, and so the time has come for me to make up an interior in styrene.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

One Sided

One side of 19 has been fully lined out now.

Posed on the layout it does look most impressive, don't you think?

We've had to make a compromise which we're not fully decided on yet.

The panels in the doors beneath the windows are not wide enough to accommodate a regular 4mm transfer for THIRD or FIRST.

Instead what Himself has tried out is using 2mm scale ones to see what they look like.

They're undoubtedly smaller than they should be - but are they too small or could we get away with it?

Better to have them than nothing at all?

One of the ends has also had its white lining added.

It'll look very nice running with the Curly Roof Van, I think.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Tables And Chairs

To borrow a phrase from Britney: Oops, I did it again!

There's been another blunder, this time with the interior.

(This carriage seems fated.)

The re-cast table and seat units went in easily enough in one evening session, and I sat back to admire my handiwork.

It was only a couple of days later when I was looking at it again, and comparing it to 2046 that I realised something was wrong - the single and double seats were on the opposite sides of the carriage.

Which one of them had I got wrong?

I delved back through by research pictures and confirmed that, yes, both carriages confirm to the normal FR / WHR standard of having the double seats on the clock (inland) side.

I had made a very simple error when gluing them into place.

I was so concerned with ensuring that the seat backs lined up perfectly with the window pillars that I failed to notice I had it the wrong way round.

Fortunately, because they are resin and fixed in with superglue it's quite easy to snap them off without damaging them, and I can confirm that they've been replaced in their proper positions this time.

I really to need to start paying attention, though.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

The Bits Beneath

So I've been getting on with the chassis of 2047 - and also getting it wrong (again)!

The original WHR saloons built by Winsons were very modest and keep all their gubbins covered up behind large panels which ran almost all the way along the underneath between the two bogies.

Quite literally a case of 'nothing to see here!.

Since then progressive designs of the carriages have opened everything up and all the brake gear and other stuff is on show, which is bad news for the modeller when the carriages sit so high on their bogies and there's so much daylight underneath them.

So what you can see here are representations of the vacuum cylinder and the reservoir along with the boxed areas which contain, among other things the fuel tank for the heater and the batteries for the electrics.

I had still to add the brake gear fashioned out of brass when I took this picture.

I have also since discovered that I've once again made the mistake of using 2046 as a guide and making a wild assumption about them being identical.

In fact it turns out that the longer of the two panels, nearest the camera, is cut back on 2047 allowing sight of the brake gear from both sides.

This is easily corrected at this stage, but it's annoying all the same.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Gold Lining

Himself has been busy starting work on lining out bowsider 19 with its gold leaf lining around the panelling and the first results are looking spectacular, don't you agree?

It's very intricate and tiring work, as you can imagine, and this is the result of one day's labouring at the workbench.

The product he's using for this is the thinnest waterslide lining sheets from Fox Transfers which come in packs with straight lines and corners of various radii.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Skin A Car

At long last Saturday night was modelling night.

With the two ladies in my life away for the weekend, and the youngest sound asleep, I had a couple of hours undisturbed to make some serious progress on 2047.

The first job was to finish putting in the remaining ribs and fixing the roof skin in position.

Fortunately the WHR saloon design has always had a flat area immediately above the inset entrance doors which means I can employ my usual styrene skin technique, rather than being forced to use a brass one (which shows the curve beneath) as we do on the FR Superbarns.

I also got a lot of work done on the underframe, but I'll show you that in the next post.

Friday, 2 February 2018


Himself has been getting on with painting carriage 19, moving onto the interior which is fixed onto the brass frame / chassis of the carriage.

If you read my earlier posts you'll know that the making of this carriage has been somewhat protracted (that's understatement for you) to the extent that we've had to update some of the details of the styrene interior bits which I made more than a decade ago.

The first class compartments now have headrest squabs fitted above the old Mersey Rail seat units and there is also now an upholstered back to the benches in the recreated second class compartment.

The irony is that compared to the modern carriages with their very large windows you can see very little inside a 4mm scale Bowsider and you could probably get away with fitting nothing more than the compartment dividers, but that's never been our style.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Big Rib

Once again I find myself lamenting that I've not spent as much time as I would have liked to at the work bench in the last week or so, but there has still been a little bit of progression on the 2047 project

I've cut and fit the laminated false ceiling which along with the chassis will help to keep the sides of the carriage straight, and in particular the delicate top rail along the top of the windows.

One piece of it rests on top while there is a slightly smaller piece beneath which sits in between the sides and stops them bowing inwards.

Along the top is the first of the longitudinal ribs which will help support the stressed styrene skin which I will fix in place over the top - these are to stop it bowing like a banana in the middle.

There will be another two lower ones glued on either side before the roof skin goes on.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Deep Purple

Himself has been seized by a mania for vintage carriages.

This is not a problem - indeed it is something I am doing all I can to encourage.

19 is making rapid progress having been primed and given a couple of coats of glorious deep purple livery since I last posted about it.

The tricky bit with this carriage will be attempting to replicate all the ornate gold leaf lining around the panelling.

Given the size of a 4mm scale model and the limits of how fine the transfers available are it will probably have to be some kind of lining-lite compromise.

The mania I mention is that he has also dug out a Worsley body for 15 in its current high-Victorian state in order to finish it off.

(It was purchased and soldered together a couple of years ago when we were making a new model of 16 and to our shame didn't initially notice that the one we had had windows in the ends and the one we needed, didn't. Opps!)

He's also talking about repainting, or replicating, our models of 17 and 18 which currently are Langley ones painted in the basic, two tone Mountain Prince livery as per their condition in 1988.

This is not entirely satisfactory because the etch for the bodies shows the full panelling but back in the 1980's this pair were running around with most of it stripped off. (Such different times!)

So option A is to dunk them in a bath of paint stripper and repaint them in their current livery BUT only if it is possible to replace the existing Grandt Line bogies with Dundas FR ones.

That will depend on whether there is enough room beneath for them to swing.

If not then he is talking about purchasing another pair of frets from Worsley Works and making complete new carriages.

As I said previously, I'm not about to stop him.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Bogie Swap

Building bowsider 19 has caused Himself to have a rethink about out existing model of its sibling, 20.

This was also built from a Worsley Works kit but we opted to go our own way on the bogies.

We used the same ones that are running under our Langley pair 17 and 18, which are plastic Grandt Line 'trucks' - plastic wheels and all.

25 years ago it seemed like a better option that using the fold-up brass bogies which came with the kits, but they've always wobbled like nobody's businesses.

So for 19 Himself has decided to try and fit a set of Dundas FR 3'6" bogies, but he was concerned about whether they would have enough swing tucked up between the bowsider's frames to get around the tightest curves on Dduallt.

Well, it turns out they do, so he's decided to retro-fit them to 20 as well, which also means mounting the coupling on the bogie (as opposed to a an independent sprung fixing) and chopping away a tiny bit of the frame beneath the balcony.

Hopefully there'll be a whole lot less wobbling going on now.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

One One Eight

Our latest Superbarn is passed for traffic.

(I'll be in trouble for writing that - officially we're supposed to call them Super Saloons.)

As the kids used to say, whatever!

So we now have a fleet of six of them - three of the original style and three of the later style with the big windows - to go along with the service car and the Obs 150.

I'm looking forward to being able to run all of them together as one rake when we show Bron Hebog at Bressingham in June.

It won't be long before I'll have to start work on the 7th of them because Boston Lodge are busy building number 120.