Tuesday, 15 January 2019

So Solid

I popped in to check in on Himself and get the low down on the Garratt test running session the other day.

He was in the process of swapping round motors on the power units to confirm his suspicions that one was running much slower (or faster) that the other, and that is was nothing to do with the chassis.

We do have some spare Mashima motors in stock - and does appear possible to order replacements online - the issue is more that having loctite'd the worm gear onto the shaft of the slow running motor he has yet to find a method of removing it so it can be transferred to a replacement.

So the search is on for a source of additional worm gears.

We'll get there, I'm sure....

I also noticed on the workbench the first signs of something happening towards our fifth Garratt, number 130.

The final batch of Backwoods Kits came with spoked wheels, rather than the solid ones that the real locomotives had, so Himself's plan for that is to fill the holes between the spokes with Millput.

But the time it's painted black and hidden behind the frames and those huge balance weights no one will know the difference.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Go Forth And Multiply

143 is a runner!

After muttering that he was struggling to get the motivation to head back to the workbench after six months enforced break, imaging my surprise when a video shot by Andy Strathie pinged into my inbox the other night showing our fourth Garratt galloping around the test track at the Greenock and District MRC HQ.

Himself tells me that he's not entirely happy with it yet.

The front power unit is running about 50% faster than the rear, which he is putting down to a variation in the motors rather than anything mechanical in the chassis department.

I recall that we had this happen on our K1 and ended up re-motoring it.

More fettling required with this one, I suspect.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Not Much To See

The early stages of a model are rarely spectacular.

So it is with the masters for Van 51.

I've cut the base piece for one side to which I will later add the beading detail on top.

This is going to be my third model of this van.

The first shows it in it's almost original condition with a covered entrance vestibule in place of the balcony, and finished in cherry red livery.

The second one is finished in the later engineers livery with the grey at the bottom and the yellow in a band around the windows.

Since then it reverted back to red livery, and now back to its very first livery of green, but this time with a third window in the bottom end.

I hope it'll be an interesting little project.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019


I'm usually quite circumspect and diplomatic on this blog.

I try not to go in for polemics or to stir up controversy for the sake of it, or just to get attention.

Every now and then, however, I feel that there is something which has to be said, and this is such an occasion.

The subject is 3D printing.

Or to be correct, 3D printing design and the degree of care and attention which does - and more frequently, doesn't - go into it.

This is not a rant against the technology.

We have a couple of 3D printed locomotive bodies ourselves which were designed by Robex who have created wonderfully detailed and fine models.

Here, for example, is a screenshot of one of their FR slate wagons.
There is always another end to every spectrum, sadly.

The other day, as I was googling around for pictures to research a model, I was led to a 'shop' on perhaps the most well-known 3D print site where I was appalled to come across a fleet of what were purported to be scale models of FR stock - some of it of very rare items of rolling stock of which I know of only a few previous models, all painstakingly scratch built.

(Many of which by me.)

In most cases what is presented are computer simulated images, not actual printed models, so it is impossible to judge them in reality, but what I can see on the screen makes it exceedingly hard for me to accept the stated claim that they are accurate scale models.

There are some dimensions which are just grotesque, and other parts which, frankly, might as well be built using Lego.

It seems to me that many of these designs are being 'knocked up' in almost indecent haste with seemingly not a care that parts of them bear no obvious resemblance to the real thing.

Some of the prices are, frankly, iniquitous, and I don't mind telling you that it makes me mad.

In my view it is even more important in this digital age to keep the words caveat emptor at the forefront of your mind.

Monday, 7 January 2019

Area 51

I'm in that strange 'between projects' zone that I suspect every modeller experiences from time to time.

I've decided to make a start on a future project which has been at the back of my mind for a wee while and was brought to the forefront again my a message on a Christmas card asking if there'd be any new kits in 2019?

As you can see I believe in doing things in a very analogue way....

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Picking Up

Hopefully next week should see the resumption of work on our new Garratt 143.

Himself was taken out of service a few weeks before Christmas for a motion overhaul - having his clock side connecting rod replaced - and the fitter insisted on a six week spell of running in before he could be put back into traffic.

Now he feels ready to sit at the workbench again and finish off the construction work on the kit.

You'll remember that the mechanical work on the bogies had been completed, but they hadn't had their pick ups fitted yet, so that'll be one of the first jobs so it can be put through its paces properly.

On the main boiler unit the outstanding jobs are to fit all the handrails, fix on the chimney and the smokebox door, and the clips which secure the cab roof.

So long as he doesn't drop any bits on the floor while he's doing this we'll be fine.....

Thursday, 3 January 2019

A Large Wonder

One of the joys of the festive season is receiving new books and having time to read them.

Assuming they are average size books it's a reasonable ambition to get through them before going back to work - but the one I was given is very far from average.

Little Giants is a weighty publication in every sense of the phrase.

I've only managed to get through a couple of chapters, as far in the story as the introduction of the Small England engines, but already I am hugely impressed.

It's clear that a tremendous amount of research has been done by a the authors with lots of new information collated and reinterpreted.

What's struck me most is the way they are giving us the big picture and not confining themselves to a dry and purely technical history of the locomotives.

This book also delves into the social history surrounding the railway and the personalities behind it - I had no idea that Robert Francis Fairlie was such a cad or the machinations of the very Victorian George England.

The book is not cheap, and it weighs a ton, but it is a very impressive piece of work and comes highly recommended.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

New Year (Same As The Last)

I find myself beginning 2019 much the same as I ended the previous year - casting another batch of wagon kits.

Sales of my SAR range at Narrow Planet have been brisk again leading to a request to produce more stock to be sold on the website.

The turn of the year is traditionally a time to make resolutions and my intentions for the next few months are that I would definitely like to build up my stock of WHHR carriages to have a more representative rake to hang behind Russell and the Baldwin.

Himself is coming towards the end of his project to build Garratt 143 and when that's done I'll be giving him plenty of encouragement to start on 130, which I fully expect to see entering service in Wales this year.

I know that he's also keen to make progress on the second FR Observation Car 152 which has been in abeyance for a number of months now.

I cast and assembled the majority of the body but I'm waiting for him to make up the brass roof and the solder the front pillars into position before I take it back and add the interior.

He's also been mentioning to me that he'd like to build some models of bowsiders 17 and 20 in their current liveries to bring our vintage sets up to date.

So, all in all, there's plenty to be getting on with.