Sunday, 24 March 2019

17 In Service

Our new Garraway-era 17 is finished and has been taken for a test run on Dduallt.

Comparison with the twins 11 and 12, show that the shade of green on this latest carriage is different despite using nominally the same paint.

I can only assume it’s something to do with it being a new tin and there being a discrepancy in the product.

I also wanted to draw your attention to one of the significant little details that Himself adds to these carriages.

He makes up tiny little heritage door handles which look for at the world like minute split pins.

It must be terribly fiddly.

Friday, 22 March 2019


152 has been turned upside down to begin work on detailing the chassis.

One of the distinctive features of these two obs carriages is he twin vacuum brake cylinders, which are mounted opposing each other at a jaunty angle.

All the other superbarns have single ones which are set vertically, as far as I can tell.

These are made with a length of styrene tube which has a thick cap added at one end, and then filed into a very shallow dome.

The other end has a plain cap before a piece of strip is glued around the outside to form a ring, and the tanks are then mounted on some small blocks to give them the angle.

The have some very circuitous pipework running around them, but that’s a topic for another post.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Scores On The Doors

Bowsider 17 has reached the stage where Himself is adding the transfers, the most obvious of which are the big numerals on the doors.

For this he’s always used the HMRS presfix decals, but this carriage has required him to start on a new sheet, and his is not impressed.

Can you tell the difference?

The first two ‘3’ on the left hand side are from the old sheet, and all the rest are from the new one.

Himself thinks they are a little ‘blobby’.

I’m not sure I would have noticed if he hadn’t pointed it out.

He tells me he’s seen a few similar comments online recently about a perceived drop in the quality.

What I do know is that the Precision Decals FR crests we use are superb.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Getting A Handle On It

The latest superbarn saloon is inching closer to completion.

Himself has added the grab rails onto the ends of 120.

He hates these with a passion - and I don't blame him.

They're very fiddly to fabricate out of brass wir.

The carriage body has been given a coat of varnish so all that's needed now is to install the glazing, and the door handles, and it's ready to join the fleet.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Making Connections

Work has started on adding all the wiggly bits to the power bogies of the new Garratt - the fifth one, if you're counting.

You can see that the fly cranks and coupling rods are fitted, and all the bits of the valve gear are ready to be assembled.

Each of these power bogies really are a work of art in their own right.

The thing that really stands out is how huge those cylinders are for a 2ft gauge locomotive - could you imagine that scaled up on a standard gauge machine with the same diameter of wheels!

It's also worth noting that the chassis is driven off the front axle - which makes sense when you think about where the tanks sit on an NGG/16 - and all the drive goes through the motion.

This is proper miniature engineering.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Cocktail Carr

Sometimes modelling is about finding pragmatic solutions to tricky tasks, and so it is with painting a panelled bowsider.

Himself has started adding in the ivory inserts on 18 and tells me that he’s been using a cocktail stick as a more precise way of getting the paint where he wants it rather than a brush.

Who knew?

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Front Passenger Seats

Time for modelling has been limited this last week (I seem to be saying that rather too often!) but I managed to grab half hour to fix more of the interior of 152 into position.

The bit which takes the time is the upright screens which separate the observation section from the main saloon.

There is a concave corner where it joins the window pillar which I form by filing an indent into a piece of styrene, then I slice off the little right angle section and fix it onto the top corner of the screen.

This is why I like working with the material because you can graft on pieces like this so much easier than with metal - or at least, I can.

Now I just need to form the cupboard in the entrance vestibule at the back before turning it over and starting on the underside.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

What’s All This Then?

In the wheeltracks of 143 Himself is cracking on with 130.

There’s a limit to how much he can do without seeing how the real one is going to look when its restoration is completed at Dinas.

This kit, which is one of the last produced by Backwoods, has thrown up some challenges already on account of the alternate wheelsets which were supplied with it.

The back to backs are tighter, and the bearings also had to be slimmed down to stop them squeezing the gearboxes.

There may well be other surprises to come, but I’m confident Himself will find a way to overcome them.

Friday, 8 March 2019

And Another Thing

I've had a surprise delivery.

I returned home from work yesterday to discover Himself has been beavering away on bowsider 20 (version II) and has got to the stage where I'm expected to provide an interior for it.

This will require a little research before I begin, specifically with regards to the furnishing in the first class compartments, following my faux pas with 17.

There's just the one more bowsider to go before we've completed the replenishing of our fleet, and that's number 18, which I can't imagine Himself will be in a hurry to do given it has the most complicated of the liveries, and that he finds them rather fiddly to put together.

Not that he struggles to do it, of course - this is a man who makes light work of a Backwoods Garratt remember - it's just that these scratch aid kits can be a bit of a faff in the way they go together.

Our first 20 is also a Worsley etch and was finished in its 1988 condition, when it was the first of the bowsiders to be painted in a mock vintage red and ivory livery with the panels picked out.

This one will be finished in the exceedingly drab 1920's Col. Stephens green with red ends livery, which is a complete waste of one of the most exceptional Victorian carriages, whether on standard or narrow gauge, in my opinion.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Quarryman’s Train

Among the interesting things to see at Model Rail Scotland recently were these samples of PECO's next OO9 products.

I'm delighted to see another FR product being launched on the market and I've always had a soft spot for these very basic carriages, and their brake van variants.

I could be tempted by a model of Van 2 in its green livery myself.

Our only model is one kit-bashed from the Dundas kit in the distinctly orange colour it sported at the end of the 1980s, so by now it's rather outdated with a lot of our other stock.

I do feel a little bad for Dundas who will inevitably see a decline in sales of what is a very good, and easily put together kit which has served the hobby well.

Models like this feed the narrative of some critics who argue that ready to run is bad for the hobby.

I prefer to believe that the entry of the likes of PECO and Bachmann will have the effect of expanding the market for narrow gauge, bringing new modellers into the scale.

Hopefully those people will progress to expanding their rolling stock from kits, thus making up for any impact on a couple of product lines.

Monday, 4 March 2019

Green For Go

I’m delighted to report 143 is finished and has had its maiden run around the test track down at the Greenock MRC HQ.

Andy Strathie shot this little movie of the moment, including a double-header with 138.

The build has taken five months - although at least a month of that can be discounted while Himself was in works for a mechanical overhaul.

The club test track is a great facility to let it really stretch its legs and run everything in.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Varnishing Act

Himself is starting on the rather involved process of giving Garratt 143 a coat of varnish.

As you can see, the model has to be broken down into its many sub-assemblies for this.

In the picture above are the footplates and buffer beams of the two power units along with the cab roof and the (genuine) coal insert for the rear bunker.

Out of shot are the two bunker bodies and the main frame / boiler / cab unit which are yet to go under the airbrush.

The chassis are brushed by hand to avoid gumming up any of the mechanism.

Not long to go now, I hope...

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Furniture Delivery

I was determined that this week was going to be more productive than the last and that some actual modelling would get done at my end of the operation.

An hour of free time the other night allowed me to begin sticking the seats in place for 152 on the chassis unit.

These have to be lined up precisely with the window pillars, which are only around 1.5mm wide, which is where the 60 second superglue I'm using really comes into its own for bonding resin to styrene.

There are a couple of bulkheads to shape and fit before I carry on with fixing down the seats and tables in the observation end.

As with all my carriages these are not just decorative but are placed strategically so they will hold the glazing snugly in place.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Blue Green

The colour curse has struck again!

We really should learn to do our research properly first...

Himself has been getting on with painting bowsider 17, inside and out.

The outside has had a first wash of green.

(Don't worry, the ivory panels will be filled in later on.)

No, the problem is with the interior.

Himself asked me what colour the seat squabs in the first class compartment were?

Blue, I replied with absolute certainty, because that's the way it works on the FR, right?

Red moquette for third class, blue for first.

Except that over the weekend he came across a picture he'd taken, lost deep somewhere within the thousands of pictures on the laptop, which show that it's neither of those - it's actually green.

Because it turns out the restoration to 1950's 'Garraway' condition includes putting back the same style of green cloth that came with the ex-Mersey Rail seats which were installed when the carriage was first put back into service in the revival years.

Fortunately it's not too late for us to fix that.

Sunday, 24 February 2019


Imaginary modelling is much easier than doing it for real - some might also say it can be more fun?

Anyway, in the absence of actually making any progress with anything this week I've been turning my mind to how I'm going to create the interior for the Gladstone Carriage.

The posh saloon bit in the middle is easy enough - that just has two upholstered longitudinal benches along either side.

The tricky things with be the seats in the open section at either end.

They're done in a traditional wooden bench style with slats, very similar to the ones fitted to the Winson semi-opens built in the mid-90s, and just like those they have the disadvantage of very highly visible, so cheating is not really an option.

When I modelled these I made them from scratch, gluing on every slat made with a styrene strip.

What I have to decide is whether I can face doing this again or whether there is a better alternative?

I'm toying with the idea of whether it's possible to etch in brass some kind of ladder-style thing which could be bent and glued in place onto a base - maybe resin cast?

Or would that all be just as much of a faff as just doing it from scratch?

Friday, 22 February 2019

Sole Man

Himself has got bowsider 17 almost ready to be painted.

It’s had the ventilator hoods above the doors added in styrene and the grab handles fitted.

The other major addition is to fill in the the solebar with a long piece of styrene to properly represent 17 in its current state.

He’s not planning to add a couple of resin transfer bolt heads to really finish it off before he gets the primer out.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

The Posh Seats

Now I've got 152 back from Himself it's time for me to fit the interior I made many months ago.

Fortunately, although there are some obvious changes to the exterior of the carriage compared to 150, the same seat design has been used so I was able to run off another batch of resin castings to the same design.

These then have fiddly details, like arm rests and legs, added in styrene.

The high back chairs are cast individually and then glued together to make pairs for the middle six units.

There are a couple of internal partitions to be added in styrene but it's mostly a case of just glueing everything into position.

The underframe will be more involved with the vacuum cylinders, which are unusually fixed at an angle, to be formed out of styrene and lots of very curly pipework to be represented in brass.

I may have to ask for the other one back to remind myself how I did it.

Monday, 18 February 2019

Orange Lines

The lining on 143 is complete.

It’s looking rather tasty, wouldn’t you agree?

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Just Varnishing To Go

Himself has had another busy week.

As well as lining out 143 (more on that to come soon..) he's putting the finishing touches to superbarn 120 with the application of the crests and the word Third on the doors.

I never cease to be impressed with how good the crests produced by Precision Decals are.

All it needs to be finished is a coat of varnish, but that will have to wait until the weather warms up a bit because spray painting inside the main part of the house is frowned upon.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Just 17

Making up an interior for bowsider 17 has been satisfyingly swift and straightforward.

It's helped by this carriage only having the one first class compartment and for the third class sections either side not being separated from each other as some of the other carriages have.

As you may be able to see in the picture above, it has been made in three sections to account for the raised platform above the bodies at either end.

I can hand this one back to Himself for the roof to be soldered on and it can join the queue for painting in its current 'Garraway' green and ivory livery.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019


Himself has a neat little trick for getting straight edges to the panels when he paints locomotives - transfers.

He uses thick black lining from the Fox waterslide range.

You can see how effective it looks on 143 here which has had all its coats of green and is now ready to move onto the lining out.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Like Buses

Yet another carriage has appeared.

Himself has now fixed the roof and front pillars onto 152 and it’s been handed over to me for the interior.

All the seats are already cast but I shall finish the job on bowsider 17 first before I get onto this one.

I don’t think Himself will mind because i’m Sure he’s in no hurry to do the painting and lining on this one knowing how tricky 150 was.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Fitting Out

Projects are piling up on my desk now.

I already have the Gladstone Car to make an interior for and now Himself has handed over the body of the new bowsider 17 to fill.

This needs to be made in at least three parts on account of the stepped floor at each end above the bogies.

Unlike some of the other carriages of this type, 17 only has the two interior divisions on either side of its single first class compartment - the third class ones either side are open, at least in the sense that there are no walls.

Being mostly bench seats it shouldn’t take too long to make.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Seventeen Times Two

Himself has soldered together yet another new carriage - this one is going to be our second version of bowsider 17.

The first was made around 30 years ago from a Langley etched brass kit and was finished - inaccurately - in the simple two tone 'Mountain Prince' livery.

(Inaccurate in that at this period the carriage had most of its distinctive panelling removed in favour of flush plywood sides, but the Langley kit has all that detail on.)

This version is from a Wosley Works scratch aid kit and will show the carriage running as it does currently in the green and ivory 'Garraway' livery and will go very nicely with our 11 and 12 pairing.

It's not been completely straightforward, though, because we discovered that the ends which come with the kit have too many vertical strips to show the carriage as it currently is.

As luck would have it we've been able to arrange a transplant from the body which was supposed to be turned into carriage 20.

So what's happened to carriage 20?

Well, it turned out that there's bit a of a cock up.

Since the last time Himself assembled a model of the 19/20 kind of bowsider it turns out the Worsley etches have been redrawn, with the result that when he put it together he discovered the frame was much longer than 19, by a couple of scale feet.

While we wait for a replacement set of etches - with the previous proportions - at least we can made some use of part of the otherwise redundant body.

Monday, 4 February 2019


Himself has cracked and done what he said he'd never do - try mixing his own shade of green for 143.

The latest effort is the one on the far left of this piece of brass which is doubling as a swatch card, placed beside the rear bunker which has had two coats of what we now agree is something that's too light.

His reticence about mixing is the uncertainty that you'll be able to perfectly replicate the shade if, for example, it turns out that you've not mixed quite enough.

He's happy enough, though, if it can be a 50/50 mix - which is what we do with our FR carriage red - and what he's come up with here is a blend of Railmatch 'Multiple Unit Green' and Humbrol 'Mid Green'.

The colour of this engine has been driving us gently demented over the last week or so.

It is such a difficult shade because on the real engine it looks very different depending on the lighting conditions, whether that's in a photograph or when you're standing in front of it, and that's before we consider the unfortunate fact that the paint on different bits of the locomotive have visibly weathered.

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Going Round In Circles

This is one of the most useful items of modelling equipment I ever bought - a compass cutter.

If you’ve never come across one before it’s absolutely brilliant at helping to form the end pieces of carriages.

The roofline of Van 51 has a very shallow radius and on the end with the three windows I will cut off the top piece, with the curve and fix it onto the top of the window pillars to form the end.

I’ve now made the two sides and will soon begin to add panel detail on top.

Thursday, 31 January 2019

How Green Is Your Garratt?

It appears my eyes may have deceived me, after all.

I posted a few days ago about how Himself had asked me to help choose an appropriate tin of paint for 143 - because he's not too good with his greens.

In the tin, and on a test patch, it looked like it might do a passable impression of the current colour of the WHR's youngest Garratt, but now I've seen it with the first two coats applied I'm no longer so sure.

It looks a bit too much like an LNER apple green to me.

So, with a little harrumphing, I've sent Himself back to search through his paint store to see if he has anything a few shades darker.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Picture Window

After many months in abeyance there has been progress on 152.

I'd reached the stage with the body that I couldn't do much more without Himself making up the roof and the front window pillars.

Usually when I build a superbarn I still put in a false ceiling to support the top rail of the body and strengthen the structure, but that's not possible on the observation cars because of the huge window in the end which goes all the way up to the roof, which would give the game away.

The pillars are soldered in position at the top and will be glued to the bodyside at the bottom once we've decided that we're 100% satisfied with their positions.

At the moment I've still not seen it for real - I've only got these two snaps to go on - but Himself is planning to bring it over later this week where I shall run my beady eyes over it before we commit to fixing it all in place.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Ready To Paint

The last of the superbarns is ready to get a coat of primer.

This is our model of 120, made the same as the rest of the fleet from a resin cast body with a styrene chassis and a brass roof, plus various other details in wire such as the handrails (not fitted in this view) and the gutter downpipes.

When I say 'the last' what I mean is that we've finally caught up with the prodigious output from Boston Lodge and our FR carriage fleet will be up to date when we've got this out outshopped.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Red And Green

Himself has begun the process of painting 143.

We'd had a debate about whether grey or red oxide primer was the way to go and it appears he's chosen the latter.

I've also been called upon to make the decision on the shade of green it will be finished in.

That's something of a poisoned chalice because it's one of those colours which, to me at least, appears different depending on the light conditions, and even more so if involves a photograph rather than using the naked eye.

There's also the issue that over the years the colour on some parts of the locomotive have faded.

At these points my mind always goes back to the discussions we had on what colour to paint our DLG many years ago.

Various mixes were brushed onto a piece of card which was posted up to me to peruse.

Unfortunately the colour I chose looked very much lighter and brighter when painted on the model that it appeared on the test card, and I've never lived it down.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Brass Roofs

Himself is doing that thing he often does where he's progressing multiple projects at the same time.

As well as preparing 143 for painting and assembling the body of bowsider 20, he's also got around to cutting and bending the brass roofs for a couple of superbarns I built last year.

Nearest the camera is the latest observation car, 152, which is quite a complex job.

As well as making the sure the front edge of the roof followings the curvy profile of the carriage body he's also going to solder in the two window pillars made from brass, create a lip along the underside which will keep the top rail of the sides nice and straight and also add some depth to the underside to represent the ornate ceiling on these latest luxury carriages.


The one behind is rather more straightforward.

It's 120, the latest of the second series of third class saloons.

Most of the other details have been completed on this carriage, such as the interior and under floor detail.

Once the roof is fixed in place he'll be adding the finishing touches like the vac pipes and the handrails either side of the entrance doors before moving on to paint it.

152 will be heading back in my direction for the fitting of its exceptionally posh interior, the parts of which are already cast in resin.

Monday, 21 January 2019

Twenty Twenty

After my (assisted) efforts to construct a Worsley carriage body Himself has continued with another of the batch I have bought, which is an additional model of bowsider 20.

Our existing model, which is also a Worsley one, is finished in the two-tone red and ivory livery the carriage was turned out in back in 1988 - which was the original nominal year setting for Dduallt.

If my memory is correct, 20 was the only one of the bowsiders which escaped having all its beading stripped off in the 1970s, and so when the 'Mountain Prince' livery was introduced the ivory went in the panels aping the green and ivory livery so familiar from the revival era in the 1950s.

Now, of course, 20 wears the incredibly depressing pain dark green livery of the Col. Stephens era.

As such it will make a nice wee set for the layouts running with our model of 16 and van 2 (I still call it 10).

Saturday, 19 January 2019

In Bits

143 has moved into the paint shop (sort of).

The last detailing parts have been added to the main boiler unit and it's been split into the sub-assemblies readying for a coat of primer.

The issue with the two motor units running at different speeds has been resolved by exchanging the slower running one for a spare we had in stock.

Himself did manage to get the metal worm gear off the shaft with the application of brute strength, but it was damaged in the process, so he's ended up robbing one of the unbuilt kits for a nylon replacement and begun scouring the internet to find a source for another one of those.

The only one he's found is from a supplier in Germany who don't ship to the UK - has Brexit already happened? I think we should be told!

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Brass Master

I've been getting a masterclass in soldering carriage bodies together from Himself - it was long overdue.

I've obtained a selection of 'scratch aid' kits from Worsley Works for vehicles which we need to add to our stock, or update other models, and I thought the easiest one to start with might be the NWNGR 'Glasdstone Car'.

Well, the body might be rather simple, with no droplights or ventilator hoods to solder on, nor tricky tumblehomes to bend, but easy? Not really.

One of the issues, as I discovered, is that the etches are something like the 3D puzzles you got on the Krypton Factor (kids, ask your parents) on account of the fact they come with no instructions.

So it took a while to work out how it was intended to go together, in particular with the blocks which hold a nut to secure the floor to the body - we eventually realised they were supposed to go within the central glazed compartment.

I learned a number of useful wrinkles during the afternoon, like employing a good old bulldog clip to hold one piece down on the edge of a thick sheet of glass, which also makes an excellent surface for helping to ensure your body remains square and sits flat.

Another tip was to have a small piece of thin cardboard you can place between the model and your finger tips which acts as an excellent insulator when the brass heats up.

One of the most awkward aspects of these kits, especially this one with its exceptionally flimsy window pillars, is the need to butt join at the corners.

The idea was that I was supposed to do most of the soldering but, inevitably, it ended up with Himself taking over for jobs like these.

Still, we had a basic body shell at the end of the session.

Now it's up to me to do something about making up the interior.

Oh, and don't mention the bogies, especially to Himself. It's a bit of a sore point.

(But let the record show I was right!)

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....