Thursday, 20 January 2022

The Green Vale

Apart from a few etched brass finishing touches - such as windscreen wipers and nameplates - our second Vale of Ffestiniog is ready for action.

The body has been given a coat of varnish and the glazing fitted.

Tests runs on the upper part of Bron Hebog show this Funkey is able to haul a reasonably prototypical 6 carriage rake up the hill without doing its transmission a mischief.

Given the lead times on custom etched plates I doubt it will be named in time for the Glasgow show at the end of next month but it will certainly be getting a run on the layout.

Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Home For Retired Rolling Stock

Having powered up the narrow gauge test track at the weekend I soon found I exhausted the entertainment value in running a light engine around a circuit, or pushing wagons with no couplings (yet).

The obvious solution was to raid the collection of rolling stock at Himself's place which is not usually required as part of our exhibition fleet.

A number of years ago I sold off most of the redundant carriage stock (which had been replaced by improved models) to help fund the purchase of the last pair of NGG16 kits from Backwoods Miniatures as the business was wound up. 

However, I was careful to keep hold of models which will allow us to run Dduallt at its nominal date of 1988.

I only need a few items to make up a token train for the 'test track' while I build up my own stock for it.

So in the picture above you can see, from left to right:

* Our first model of bogie brake 10 shown in the all-green livery in which it was first restored to service, from the excellent Dundas kit.

* Carriage 16 in as per 1988 red livery which I scratch built in styrene donkeys years ago.  This has been replaced in the exhibition fleet by a brass Worsley body in Col. Stephens era green and red.

* Carriage 17, from the Langley brass kit. Our very first bowsider  (in fact, our first brass carriage) showing it in 1988 'Mountain Prince' livery, but with all the panelling detail which is not strictly correct.

* Bug Box 3 is from a Chris Veitch brass kit. It's a lovely wee model, but it's always been out of era for our layouts in it's all-over red livery.  (Would look lovely behind the new green Earl of Merioneth though...)

* Jerry M is a Chivers white metal kit running on an unaltered Ibertren chassis.   At the time we built it the idea was it could masquerade as Lilla for those who couldn't tell the difference. Since the arrival of the Robex print for Lilla it has been made redundant.

Also out of shot is our first Dundas model of quarryman's carriage 8, with the wood panelling smoothed over with filler to show it as it was in 1988 with its plywood-faced bodysides.

It's nice to see them getting a run again, anyway.

Sunday, 16 January 2022

It Really IS A Test Track

I've had this weekend marked in the diary since Christmas as an opportunity to make some significant progress on the electrics on the 'test track.'

I'm pleased to report that in a full-day session yesterday Himself and I managed to install and wire up all but one of the remaining point motors on the standard gauge side, and were prevented from completing that only by the need for an unforeseen additional switch.

We got that done so efficiently that there was time to get some power into the narrow gauge circuit and sidings.

I've always used inverted commas when referring to the test track, because I fully expect it to morph into more of a home layout project in the fullness of time.

However, I would like to place on record that one of the first things I did when it was wired up was to test propel the well wagon around the circuit, as until now I have not yet been able to do any more than push it by hand along a short section of straight track.

And the test track immediately proved its worth because I discovered the bottom edge of the frames below the axle boxes on one bogie needed a little attention from the file when they fouled on the points.

Thursday, 13 January 2022

Bits Of Bob

One of the best things about resin casting is that once you've made the masters (and the moulds) it's delightfully quick to turn out most of the key parts you need to make up a carriage or wagon.

The body shell for 808 was poured and cured in the time it took for me to cook and serve up the kids tea a few evenings ago.

This is the point, however, where progress stalls to the speed of any other scratch build project.

The castings will need their windows cleared of flash and tidied up very neatly before I can think about gluing it together into a box, and then it will need a floor / chassis cut from thick styrene sheet to help keep it all together.

I shan't be rushing ahead too much on this project in case I come up against some detailed differences with the real carriage, with an update expected from the carriage works any day soon.

Tuesday, 11 January 2022

2001: A Narrow Gauge Odessy

I noticed by chance the other day that this blog has reached the 2000 post milestone - in fact this is number 2001 - which seems like something worth marking.

Having never been a diary-keeper I'm quite chuffed at being able to maintained a regular stream of updates over the last 10 years and more.

It thought it might be amusing to have a look at the stats and see which of the posts have proved the most read over the years.

By part the most popular single post is one that's relatively humdrum about our indecisiveness on a colour for WHR Garratt 143 which has received more than two and a half thousand hits.

The figures are far higher for the pages and advice articles - boosted, no doubt, by the number of photographs in each piece.

The most-read section here is the Model Of The Week Archive, which was something I was doing for quite a while where I wrote a post explaining the background of an individual model, and collected them in one monster thread.

That section along is responsible for more than 10 thousand page views.

The other one which has done really well is a 'how to' I wrote describing my technique for making carriage sides using styrene strip and sheet.

This piece is also getting close to five figures for page views.

It seems a lot of people have read it, but so far as I can tell very few seem to have been tempted to try the technique for themselves.

Oh well, as long as you all enjoy the read, anyway.

Sunday, 9 January 2022

Class Divisions

I walked into my modelling den the other day, fully intending to look out the superbarn moulds and make a start on 'Bob', when my gaze fell upon the empty brass shell of bowsider 18, and my conscience got the better of me and I decided I'd better get this job finished before starting on something new.

This will be the last of our second generation of bowsiders.

Our existing model of 18 is one of the Langley kits, finished in the very basic maroon and ivory 'Mountain Prince' livery of the late 1980s - although it is strictly speaking not accurate because the carriage features the full panel detail which had been pulled off 17/18 as an economy measure all through the '70s and '80s.

This version - a Worsley body etch - will complete our rake of Victorian bogie carriages showing 18 as it runs today in its plum and off-white livery.

When it went through (*edit) privately-funded restoration in the HLF workshop it also regained a 2nd class compartment, although in effect this functions as standard class in service today.

As a result I need to be very accurate lining up the compartment wall at the bottom end because it has to hide behind a very thin pillar, whereas there's a nice chunky panel either side of the 1st class compartment which hides a multitude of sins.

I'm also reminded that 18 also runs with the fake lamp pots on the roof, these days, so have to try and find the mould I used for the resin ones on 19.

Friday, 7 January 2022

Bob's Your Next Project

Now the festivities are over it's time to start thinking about what will be the next project on the workbench.

Himself spent the days following New Year re-organising all our stockboxes, much like the way a music fan sorts out their album collection, with our various models sorted into a more coherent system - with a box for FR locos, vintage carriages, freight stock etc.

He also knocked up a new wooden case for the current FR corridor stock and left a space for the new superbarn 'Bob'  - 808 to give it it's proper name - which is under construction at Boston Lodge this winter.

Pic: Glenn Williams

As ever, getting ahead of the boys and girls in Glan y Mor is a dangerous game.

Even a 'standard' design like the superbarns can catch you out with differences between the carriages, particularly on the underframe and the small windows at the top.

From what I can see, however, it looks pretty safe to fetch out the resin and run off a set of castings for the body sides from my moulds, although I shall be paying careful attention to images which emerge over the coming weeks to check I'm not making a big mistake.