Saturday, 26 February 2011


If you've been puzzled by a lack of posts this week it's because I've been busy finishing off a contract for a couple of 7mm ballast wagons.

(There are progress updates over on the Boston Largs site)

They're pretty much finished apart from rivets, for which I will be trying out resin water-slide transfers from the U.S. for the first time.

Here's how it looks at the moment...

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Final Chapter

The last installment of the epic carriage building guide has been posted.

This update covers building the floor and roof and completing the model.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Attention Scratch Builders...

If you're following the carriage building guide (on the page menu on the right of the screen) a little more has just been added.

Friday, 18 February 2011

A Little Alteration to Lyd

After much havering Himself has elected to put our model of Lyd under the knife and carry out some cosmetic surgery on the cab.

As you may know the FR’s new L&B replica engine has removable sections at each side of the cab which slightly alter the profile to enable her to fit through Garnedd Tunnel. When running on the Welsh Highland, with its much more generous loading gauge, these extra pieces are replaced to give Lyd her traditional cab outline.

Here she is wearing her FR profile..

Because we plan to run our Lyd on both our layouts, Dduallt (FR) and Bron Hebog (WHR) we thought we should really have our Lyd (a Backwoods Miniatures kit) built to the FR profile.

The alteration has been quite a challenging one, mainly because Himself had already made up the cab in original condition before committing to the modification.

The tricky part is that the modification requires a strip to be cut from the top but there is not enough brass above the doorway to do this while still leaving a linking piece.

So what he did was this.

First he cut the top of the doorway out, then cut 1mm off the top of the remaining cab side and then fitted a 1mm strip of brass across inside to bridge the gap in the doorway and keep the shape.

As the kit has various cab style etches for the modified cabs that were fitted to the class he cut out the top doorway from a spare etch with the same size doorway, soldered this to the new brass strip so that the top of the door arch was level with the top of the window arch, then filed the top all level.

He then re profiled the corners of the front and back cabsheets to meet the the cut down sides and then altered the cab roof to fit by bending in a vice.

What do you think? Have we got the effect right??

Thursday, 17 February 2011

105: The Final Steps

Construction of Barn 105 (2005 era) is now finished and it’s ready to be sent down south for the attentions of Himself and his tins of Humbrol.

The final stage was to cement the roof in place and attach footsteps to the underframe beneath the doors. I used brass wire to represent the vacuum pipe along the seaward side of the carriage, made up vacuum hoses and something to represent the electrical connections which you can see in this picture.

Unfortunately the vacuum pipe has to have a section missing to allow for the coupling shaft to swing with the bogie.

Some extra details have been added to the underframe as well. You may be able to make out the waste pipe from the toilet and also a pipe connection between the two big tanks.

All in all a pretty swift and satisfactory build.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

By Popular Demand

I have added a new page to the site - an illustrated step by step guide to my technique for scratch building carriages.

This follows requests from members of the forum on Narrow Gauge Railway Modelling Online

You can find it on the page menu at the right of the screen.

The page will be added to over time. What is on the page at the moment takes you through the first stage of the process.

Please do comment and let me know if you find it useful or if there are things I could be explaining better.

K1 On Test

Our Backwoods K1 isn't just pretty lining job, it moves as well. Here's a shot of it being tested on the rolling road.

Having been lined last week the model has now been given a coat of satin varnish and you may be able to see it's not as shiny in the picture.

For the first time since the kit was put together (about 5 years ago) the two power bogies have been wired together which should improve its running. Being
0-4-0's and not having the benefit of a big lump of white metal body above them, the power units sometimes struggled over pointwork on the layouts. Now with all eight wheels picking up and feeding power to both motors there should be less need for a finger prod or a thump on the baseboard to get it moving again.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

The Mystery Is Solved!

I'm sure you've all been desperate to find out exactly how many tables there are lurking at each end of carriage 105 on the Engine Side.

(What's that? You haven't?? Silly me!.)

Anyway, Roger Dimmick has kindly provided a swift answer to the question by emailing me this snap of the interior of 105.

I shall have to find something else to keep me awake all night worrying now.....

Friday, 11 February 2011

Table Teaser

Another day long session on 105, concentrating on the underframe and interior detail.

The first job on the floor is to bend and fit the truss rods followed by any other gubbins found underneath like vacuum cylinders and reservoirs. (I generally don't bother with all the brake linkages on the carriages) On 105 there are some big boxes which appeared at the last rebuild connected with the toilet installation - but I wont' go into exactly what they all do in case you haven't had your tea yet!)

There are still a few bits to be added, such as the - ahem - discharge pipe, but this shot gives you a good idea of what I've got going on under there.

While I suspect most modellers build their interiors as separate drop-in units mine are a key part of the structure. The styrene sides are very flimsy things and because they are a laminate structure, and the effect of the solvent on the styrene, they curl up like bananas unless you can force them to stay flat. Fortunately they bend inwards so all you need to do is have a structure inside the carriage which pushes them outwards and keeps them flat. And the seats and tables are the obvious thing to do that.

So our carriages are built with the roof permanently fixed while the floor / interior is left removable.

I have to be careful to leave a little less than 1mm gap between the carriage side and the interior for the glazing to be slipped in after painting. This needs to be a tight fit so that a) it doesn't shoogle about and b) it keeps the force onto the carriage side stopping it bending inwards.

I do have a little difficulty which a reader may be able to help me with. None of my research pictures show the type of table installed in bays at each end on the Engine (seaward) side. Do they have double width tables or just a single width table?

The reason for the doubt is that to make room for the corridor connection the seats at each end of the carriage are in a 1 + 1 formation instead of the usual 2 + 1.

The original 'Barn' tables tapered to make room for the end door to swing open but I can't recall what solution the carriage works adopted when the tables were replaced. Can anyone help?

Thursday, 10 February 2011

More On The Bog Barn

The last time I blogged about my latest FR carriage build - 105 - I had one side piece about 75% done. Now there's a complete bodyshell with a roof and floor in place (although not fixed down yet).

As I mentioned the last time one of the interesting aspects of 105 is how it has retained features and details from its various incarnations over its 45 year career, one of which is the rubber seal around some of the windows which was a 1970's / 80's alteration to the 'Barns' to make them more weather proof. The current generation of carriages being built on the FR don't have this, I guess because of the improvement in flexible sealant technology.

I thought it might be interesting to show you how I represent these in my styrene carriage models.

(If you'd like to read a step-by-step guide to the whole process take a look at some previous posts over on the Boston Largs Works blog)

What I do is glue small triangular off cuts into each corner of the window and shape them using a round needle file. This picture shows the two sides of 105. The top one has had its window corners filed, the bottom one still has the triangles showing.

Incidentally, to try and get the triangles as regular as I can I cut them from a piece of strip 0.60" wide. Make a cut at 45 degrees - while trying to ensure your triangle doesn't ping off into the distance - then cut once again to return to a 90 degree edge at the top of the strip. You *should* have 2 nice identical triangles. And just keep doing that until you've got as many as you need.

When gluing them in place I put the carriage side onto a piece of glass. I guide the triangle into the corner and hold it there with some tweezers in one hand and apply a tiny dab of solvent into the joint using a paint brush in the other hand.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Shine A Light

Although I was bowled over by Himself's lining job on K1 it was clear that something wasn't quite right, and that something was the loco's giant oversize front headlight.

The basic whitemetal casting which came with the kit looked so crude in the context of that beautiful paint job and the lovely Walschaerts valve gear.

The same thought occured to Himself and so he's had a go at creating something more like that giant shiny lampshade on the real loco.

Here's a before and after shot....

Narrow gauge bling indeed!

Monday, 7 February 2011

K Wow!

Himself has finished lining K1 and I think it looks amazing!

I've heard supplies of midnight oil are running a little low in Oxfordshire - it took 3 days solid work to complete the job. I must confess I hadn't realised just how much lining K1 has.

During the protracted restoration of K1 for its new life on the WHR it was jokingly referred to as 'K When?'and the build of this model has been rather like that too. It spent a number of years in grey primer, and then appeared on Bron Hebog (placed right in front of the real thing at the Warley show at the NEC) in plain black.

Well, there's nothing plain about it now!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Going Social

So here we are then, the 100th post!

Thanks to everyone who's logged on over the last seven months to see what we're up to - just over 1150 of you if the counting software is to be believed - and especially to those who have left comments, it's always great to get feedback.

Today's big news is that Bron Hebog is embracing social networking. The marketing manager at work is always banging on about the importance of making use of the latest technology trends to drive traffic to the radio station's website, so I thought why not try the same with the blog.

From today you will also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

This blog's not going anywhere though, so don't worry. The latest updates will always be posted here first.

So if you tweet or read the book of face may I invite you to follow us or like us or do whatever else you wish to spread the word about Bron Hebog.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Barn 105 & The Born Again Bog

I've embarked on another little fill-in project while I wait for Boston Lodge to turn out its latest carriages.

I'm building another model of carriage 105. For people like me who're into FR rolling stock archaeology this is one of the more interesting carriages.

105 was part of the original batch of Centenary stock, or 'Barns' as they are now known, and was the first FR carriage with an on-board toilet - an Elsan chemical bog which must have given the coach a special atmosphere during the long hot summers of the 1970's!

This somewhat unsophisticated contraption was removed during the 1980's and the compartment replaced with an additional bay of seating although it leaves a legacy to this day. There is a extra window pillar at the Portmadog end of the coach, on the seaward side, where the compartment was located.

At the end of the 1990's the original 'Barn' bodies were getting very tired and sister vehicle 106 had its bodyshell scrapped and a brand new one - ever so slightly wider and taller - put onto the steel frame.

105, however, soldiered on for another five years or so until it came in for a rebuild. This time, though, the changes were mostly internal. The First Class compartment in the centre of the carriage was ripped out and for the second time in its life 105 gained a toilet compartment.

This makeover has left 105 with a fascinating blend of old and new 'Barn' features. (If you're an FR carriage geek like me, that is) The latest carrs, 106, 107 and 103, have gone back to 60's style square-edged windows, but 105 has retained its old rubbber-sealed main window units.

However it does now sport some of the latest design features, such as wooden half droplights (in place of the louvred windows) and it has had beading placed beneath every window pillar.

Here in this view taken during the later stages of the conversion you can see the frosted windows for the toilet and if you look carefully at the far end you can see the extra pillar where the '70's bog compartment was.

Here's how it looks from the inside..

I should have explained at the start, by the way, that I'm building another model of 105 because our current one (itself a second attempt at the carriage) is finished in 1980's cherry red livery so it really can't be used on Bron Hebog - 30 years out of date is stretching things just too far!

So here's a shot of one of the sides (the landward side)75% completed...

I'm also planning on making a model of the 2nd generation 106 to go with it.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Another Fine Mesh

At last the brass mesh to finish off the Romanian ballast wagon - for the operating platforms at each end and the footsteps - has arrived and has been swiftly sliced and glued onto the model.

If you're interested in the technicalities it is Scalelink 0.5mm diamond fine mesh.

So that's the Romanian Ballast wagon project finished - or at least my part in it. It will be handed over to Himself to paint later this month when the Bron Hebog team make their annual pilgrimage to Model Rail Scotland at the SECC in Glasgow.

Here are some portrait pics.