Saturday, 30 March 2019


With Himself taking a working break on the FR I’ve been holding the fort, which explains why there’s not a lot of progress.

What I have managed to accomplish, in a snatched half hour, is to add the exhaust pipe onto the diesel heater and the filler pipe for the fuel tank onto the underside of 152.

All I need to add now is the footsteps and the electric connection on the end and then I can pass it back to him on his return from the top left hand corner.

Thursday, 28 March 2019

You Dare?

Himself has learned the hard way never to second-guess the FR - so he has done almost as much as he dares to 130 before the real one breaks cover.

The valve gear has been fitted to the rear unit and the former for front tank unit had been folded up.

I’m sure he’s probably being very wise.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019


I've been getting on with one of my least favourite jobs - anything which involved bending wire.

Maybe I just have a mental block about it, but I've never found it easy to manipulate metal into shapes, even with something as pliable as brass wire.

In this case I'm having to knock up a representation of the rather convoluted pipes which can be seen around those tilted vacuum cylinders underneath 150 and 152.

I'm reasonably happy with what I've got there and now I'm moving onto the fuel tank and diesel heater behind.

Not long now before I'll be sending it back in Himself's direction for him to start painting it - which will be his turn to have a job he doesn't relish.

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...