Monday, 29 November 2010

Hopping Along

Progress on the Romanian ballast wagon is being constrained by a lack of materials.

I would like to be getting on with making the frames but I'm waiting on a delivery of the right size of U channel which was ordered a week ago from a well known exhibition and internet component and tools supplier. I still haven't received a notification of the consignment being shipped yet, which is a little frustrating when I have two clear modelling days on the horizon later this week.

I've now added the last section at the bottom of the hoppers. The side sections are adjustable doors cum flaps on the real wagon which control which chute the ballast is delivered from. Needless to say on my 4mm version they're very much fixed in place.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Withdrawal Symptoms

The FR's up to its old tricks.

Just when you think you've got everything sorted out, you're ahead of the curve (as those business gurus like to say) the railway goes and throws a double six.

The latest spanner in the works - from a modeller's point of view - is the late change of heart on plans for a second service carriage for the WHR.

This week its been revealed that instead of rebuilding brake carriage 2090 (for a second time) the original 'Winson'-built semi-open carriage 2020 is going to be transformed into a fully-enclosed service carriage with, we presume, a diesel generator, toilet, buffet / catering area and guard compartment.

It will be a very radical makeover but these WHR carriages are something of a blank canvas. Beneath all the fancy wood panelling outside and in is a very simple steel skelton which, once it is stripped down, can be adapted relatively simply.

For the Bron Hebog team this leaves us with a dilemma. To build a second, new look 2020 or not?

2020 was the first WHR /RhE carriage I made and the model is now at least 11 years old. In fact I have a full rake of the first 5 'Winson' carriages in original condition. Each of the enclosed vehicles has undergone a number of changes to livery and moulding details in the past decade leaving our models looking somewhat 'heritage'. I consoled myself with the thought that we could just about get away with running an 'as built' rake on Bron Hebog alongside another set of the second generation carriages.

That was until we found out about the changes to 2020. This isn't just a little cosmetic tinkering - this is nothing short of rolling stock sex change.

If I build a new 2020 I'll have to withdraw the original from service on the layout and will feel compelled to make updated models of all the first generation 'Winson' carriages because they would no longer be all of the same era.

The trouble is I don't think I'll be able to resist the temptation...

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Happy Hoppers

I've had a rare full day at the modelling desk today and have made some good progress on the geometry puzzle that is otherwise known as the WHR's Romanian ballast wagon.

After much careful studying of the drawings and all the photographs of the wagon kindly passed on to me by my spies in Wales I've been able to establish the general shape of the wagon beneath the jungle of ribs, struts and operating mechanisms. To put it really simply there is a horizontal box in the middle with slanting sections above and below.

I got the box built in the first session, today's task was to try and get the slanty bits in place.

I started with the lower side pieces which only required angles cut at each end and managed to get them to meet up with the angles at each end relatively easily.

The next job was to add a square rib section around the top of the 'square box' - this was a little more time consuming than it should have been because I've run out of 0.40 x 0.40 strips so had to double up with 0.20 x 0.40 to get the correct thickness.

Then it was onto the bit that always has me scratching my head - the sloping lid on the top of the hopper and its four corner angles. It doesn't matter whether I'm making a roof on a building or something like this wagon, I can never get the corners to match up first time despite all my efforts to cut them to an accurate 45 degrees. Does anyone else have this problem or is it just me?

If you look inside the hoppers you'll see evidence of the strengthening pieces that I've put in to try to ensure the styrene sides of the hopper stay as straight as they can over time. Because the wagon will run loaded on the layout these will not show.

I was feeling quite please with myself by this point and turning my thoughts to how the frames should be assembled when I noticed a rather glaring error - I'd forgotten there's daylight between the two halves of the hopper.

It was only a few seconds work with the scalpel to put matters right, but it was fortunate I spotted it when I did before I'd started adding more of the fine detail or glued the hopper onto the frame.

Oh, and I forgot to mention I'm doing all this twice because I'm making a second wagon alongside for a customer.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Behind The Iron Curtain

I know I said I wanted to get the Tamper finished before I started a new project, but I couldn't resist any longer. I've been itching to tackle this monster for months...

It's the WHR's Romanian-built ballast wagon, and a very sophisticated bit of kit it is too, capable of spreading its load in three directions (not at all at the same time, though).

I appreciate the title is a little behind the times but even twenty years on from the fall of communism in eastern Europe I can't help thinking of countries like Romania as very distant and exotic (in a grey sort of way) and off limits. Now, of course, they're in the EU.

Anyway, onto the model.

When I built the ex-SAR wagons I started by making the frames before the hoppers. This time I've chosen to do the opposite, mainly because the hopper is such a complex shape and getting it right is going to be the key to making the model look convincing.

I'm fortunate to have a set of general arrangement drawings for the wagon which is going to be an immense help.

Because we're going to be running our ballast wagons loaded on Bron Hebog I'm taking the opportunity to use some formers to help get the angles right and give the hopper a bit more strength.

Here they are laid out as a kit of parts...

And glued together...

The hopper on the wagon is divided into two compartments, allowing the loads in each half to be spread differently in the same run, which explains the positioning of the formers in the middle.

Then I added in the first of the angled pieces at each end.

I can't help feeling that this wagon is going to seem more like a 3D geometry puzzle than a modelling project at times.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Tamper Tubes

Lots of fiddly details are still being added to the KMX tamper.

The latest challenge has been to replicate the 4 pipes / cables which run from inside the engine compartment to the 'clock' side of the up (Blaenau) end bogie.

Yet again I must confess my ignorance of the workings of this machine - I do not know if they are electrical cables or pneumatic pipes, although I suspect the latter.

I've been thinking for a while now about the best way to tackle these and decided to use some ordinary single strand wire, the sort you wire layouts up with.

Plan A had been to attempt to connect these to the bogie as per the prototype. The difficulty is that the bogie still needs to swing and so the wires would need to be very flexible.

What I decided to do was to pull the wire out and use just the plastic sheath. Small pieces of wire were inserted back into each end and glued to anchor them in place on the bogie and in the slot in the engine compartment where they disappear.

But in a trial fitting with only one sheath in place I could feel a lot of resistance when I tried to swing the bogie - with all four connected the bogie would be almost locked solid.

The compromise I've ended up with is to fix the cables / pipes in a little block on the frame in line with the connection points on the bodies.

These blocks aren't prototypical either but on balance I think the cables are too much of a feature of this end of the tamper not to have something there to represent them.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Dduallt Rides Again

Call me out of touch but I've just discovered that Dduallt is being dragged out of retirement for another exhibition appearance.

Dduallt will be appearing at the Railex show in Stoke Mandeville next May. Details at

It appears Himself has been keeping me out of the loop - or perhaps I should say shunted into a siding?

The layout will need a bit of TLC before it is shown. In particular the stone walls, which were made 20 years ago using pyruma fire cement have begun to crumble recently and will be replaced with cast plaster versions.

Seven months should also give us time to get some new items of stock ready so visitors to the exhibition will hopefully catch the debut of the first 009 models of 'Lyd', super-barn 103, the cherry picker and a completed KMX tamper.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

A Tin Lyd On It

Himself has been making steady progress with Lyd.

Some small sections have been removed from the main frames at the front (just in front of the cylinders)and underneath the cab to make sure we don't have any problems with the front pony wheel on tight curves. This is a manufacturer approved modification: there is a half etch on the frame at this point for that purpose.

The side tanks have been filled with lead shot to maximise traction.

There have been some other deviations from the ever-so-comprehensive Backwoods construction instructions.

Pete's encyclopedia recommends the boiler and smokebox should be left removable but on our model they have been soldered in place.

An extra screw securing the body to the chassis has also been added underneath the cab.

Connecting rods have been offered up to testing but not all the cranks are fixed in position yet.

The motor's been made detachable from the gearbox by cutting a slot in the motor cradle.

The next challenge will be the infamous Manning Wardle valve gear. Oh joy!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Dirty Pictures

Himself and Francis (aka The Chairman) have been playing with a new toy this week - a compressor for the airbrush. So their Thursday 'club night' was taken up with weathering instead of the usual blethering!

This is a new departure for us because until now all our models have been finished in ex-works condition but that wasn't tenable for the WHR construction stock.

So after studying a How To DVD carefully for a number of months they've taken the plunge and sprayed mucky paint over a few vehicles. Take a look below and see what you think.

In case you were wondering this is (or perhaps I should say, was) the WHR construction gang mess coach which started life as FR 'Barn' Observation Carr 100 in 1965.

When a new Obs 102 was completed at Boston Lodge the old 100 was punted up to Dinas to be used on WHR services. After a couple of seasons it was replaced by 101 which by then had also been cascaded from the FR fleet and 100 was mounted on ex-SAR bogies and used as a mess coach on the construction trains.

It was withdrawn, for good, when the railway was completed through to Porthmadog and the bodyshell was scrapped at Dinas. The frame will be recycled for another new build at Boston Lodge.

I feel it's a shame the carriage was scrapped, it was, after all, the first of the Barn observation carriages which I have always thought of as icons of the modern FR. Sure, the 60's bodyshells were only expected to have a working life of 25 years and so it had a good innings, but even so I wonder whether future generations will come to view the scrapping of the original 100 as we would have if the early preservationists had sacrificed a bowsider?

In a neat twist this model has a history which matches the prototype. It was once in frontline service on Dduallt as Observation Carr 100. It was built on the kitchen table of my student digs back in 1993. In time I made new, more detailed models of both 100 and 101 and the originals were retired. When 100 was transformed into mess coach 1000 at Dinas our redundant 100 was dug out and given a makeover.

The ex-SAR Guards Van, ballast wagons and B wagon (cycle carrying wagon) have been given a lived-in look too.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Bits And Pieces

Some more bits and pieces have been added onto the tamper in the last couple of days.

The model is getting to that, frankly, rather frustrating, stage where there are still quite a lot of details to put on but you no longer get those big visual leaps forward, until you come to paint it.

At the same time you know that if you put it in the drawer and give in to the temptation to start an exciting new project that all progress will cease for many a long month.

Rather than try and write down everything that I've done I thought I'd try let some pictures tell the story instead.

In a Sky News style I've deployed the 'wallerstrator' to point out on the photos of the real tamper the parts which have been added on.

Because of the way the chassis fits inside the model from below some of the details beneath the engine compartment have to attached to the Kato chassis instead of the bodyshell, thus:

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Lyd Latest

As promised some pictures on the latest progress with 'Lyd'.

This model of the FR/WHR's new toy is being built from a Backwoods Miniatures kit.

It'll be a pure-bred Backwoods with no Grafar chassis grafted on as other respected 009 Manning Wardle modellers have done.

And in response to some questions from readers I can confirm that it is being modelled with the cut-down cab profile for operating over the FR.

An early observation from the builder (Himself - not me) is that the kit (for an original L&B loco) differs from the modern replica in the bunker area. 'Lyd' has coal rails on both sides but as you can see from the pictures the kit only has them on the left (as you look from the cab) so something's going to have to be done about that.

Monday, 1 November 2010


A wee bit of post-varnish touching-up required on the WHR Service Carr 2010.

Soon after the pictures of the completed model were put online I realised something didn't look quite right with the horizontal windows 2/3 of the way up the bodyside.

They'd been painted to represent wood (like the droplights in the vestibule doors) when in fact they're metal and finished in black.


Himself was quickly on the case, as you'll see below.

Surf by later this week for an update on the Backwood's 'Lyd' build!