Sunday, 31 March 2013

Fake Frames

More progress to report with the WHR Tool Van.

I've started faking up the framing on one of the sides.

Why do I say fake?

Well, it's another one of those occasions where a model is made in completely the opposite fashion to the prototype.

On the real wagon the volunteers began by forming a framework out of metal angle section and then installing the walls behind, whereas I have started with the walls and added the frame on top.

Because I am cheap I have used channel section styrene and sliced off one side rather than investing in a pack of L angle, but it looks effective enough.

Its propped in place for the photo, hence the presence of the bottle of correction fluid.  (No brand names for non-modelling products here!)

Friday, 29 March 2013

Mock The Wagon

I've begun work on the WHR tool van.

As I have no measurement for the van part of the wagon I've had to work it out from photographs using the known dimensions of the DZ wagon chassis on which it sits as the starting point.

Because my maths skills are not the most reliable I started out cutting the blank pieces for one side and end to see if they looked as if they are reasonably right size when mounted on a flat wagon.

I have concluded they are acceptable, so I shall give myself permission to press on with the project.

You may notice that the frames on the wagon chassis are very plain.

This is because I have used pieces of plain styrene rather than the cast sides that come with the DZ flat wagon kit which have the remains of various hinges and brackets attached to them.

The tool van chassis had most of these gas-axed off when it was converted, except for a few at the platform end of it.

I had intended to shave and file these details from the castings but soon realised it would be far simpler to add a few details to plain sides than attempt to remove lots of them from fully detailed ones.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Pic Of The Week 12

It's downhill all the way as we approach the end of this series of pictures from Chris Nevard's shoot for Model Rail magazine.

This one shows our gravity train descending the spiral.

In a still shot like this it's much easier to spot where the motive power comes from than it is when the waggons are running on the layout.

They are a mix of Parkside Dundas 2 ton and 3 ton kits.

The loads were made the hard way with hundreds of small pieces of rectangular styrene glued together in neat blocks to fit inside the waggons.

This is an authentic scene because on very special occasions gravity trains are run from the summit of the Deviation route behind the power station at Tanygrisiau.

The Bron Hebog team were honoured to be invited to ride one of the trains from Dduallt down to Porthmadog a number of years ago.

It was a fantastic experience, and the journey up behind Palmerston was wonderfully authentic and atmospheric as well.

If you too love the unique spectacle of the FR's gravity trains then please consider making a contribution to the FR Society's Waggon Tracks appeal to provide covered accommodation for these these humble Victorian relics so they can continue to be enjoyed by generations to come.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Blank Page

Don't worry, there is something to read. It's just another one of my appalling puns.

While the first of the Oberon Wood houses is still at an early stage, and in two bits, I have taken the opportunity to use it as a template to cut some blank sides for the second house.

I'm not going to do any more to these until I've had the opportunity to take the first one down south and try it out in position on the layout to check that we're all happy with the way the Artistic Director has scaled the design.

Only then will I do any more to these pieces because its such a time-consuming business to cut out all the windows that its not the sort of job you want to have to repeat it you can avoid it.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

The Extension

This is the other half of the house I showed you at the weekend.

As you will see it is the most complex half of the building.

The Oberon Wood development was built in the wacky style of the 60s and 70s and the properties have many bits that stick out or are arranged at a jaunty angle.

This is how the halves are going to look when they are joined together.  This is the view from the back, or, if you perfer to orientate yourself this way, from the train in Goat Cutting.

And this is from the front where there is the road access to the houses.

Although it may look like it now the upper storey is not suspended in the air in this fashion. There is an entrance porch to be built underneath which will support it, but it is faced with stone and that's going to take a lot of scratching with a sharp tool to replicate in styrene and I've yet to get around to that yet.

At first glance the buildings look pretty complete but in reality there is a huge amount still to do to complete them.
It is satisfying, though, to see such substantial progress early on.
I shall be taking the house down south in a couple of weeks to check it in position on Bron Hebog to ensure we're happy with the design and the scaling of the buildings before I crack on with the second one.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Pic Of The Week 11

I make no apologies for another shot featuring the Earl of Merioneth.

As a child of the 80s I've always had a soft spot for it. You cannot deny that it always makes an impression on you the first time you see it, and Himself did a fantastic job scratch building the body onto a Backwoods Ministures kit for a traditional Spooner Fairlie.

It is taken from what is probably the classic view of Dduallt with trains going under and over Rhoslym Bridge.

The Earl's train, of course, is very much out of era with the condition of the locomotive by as much as 20 years.

On the line above is the permanent way diesel Harlech Castle with a short works train including the mess coach 1111 and the tool van wagon made up of a pair of BT van bodies.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Scrap Building

It's true what they say - there really is a market for everything. Even for my casting catastrophes.

A few days ago one of my regular Boston Largs Works clients, who is building a model of the South African NG, wrote to ask if I had any reject castings he could obtain to make some models of scrap wagons.

He was in luck.

Being a natural hoarder I do keep aside most of the casts that go wrong. Often it is possible to slice bits from them to graft onto other imperfect examples and make one good one from two bad ones.

This wagon floor was beyond hope because of a gigantic air bubble that developed beneath the perspex sheet that sits on top of the mould to give it a smooth top and I don't know why I kept hold of it rather than putting it straight in the bin...

For whatever reason I did keep hold of it, and when the customer told me he was looking to have wagons positioned with vegetation growing out of them I realised I would be able to find a use for it after all.

I also have some dodgy B wagon sides and ends in the scrap pile and I've been able to gather enough bits to make up 2 wagons which have had their central doors removed.

A quick blast from a can of red oxide primer and these will be done, ready to be sent down south to be distressed further by their new owner.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Laying The Foundations

I've begun work on the first of the Oberon Wood houses.

Francis, the Artistic Director, has designed the building in such a way that it can be be built in two sections.

What you see here is the basic box for one half...

The main walls are made from 60 thou styrene.

This is very thick stuff, It's easy enough to score and snap the pieces from a large sheet but a much more challenging matter to hack out the window frames and a lot of scalpel blades are sacrificed in the process.

More to follow in the coming days.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Tool Van

With so much commercial kit production going on recently I've rather been neglecting model making for Bron Hebog.

So I've decided to put that right with a small project which usefully utilises the fruits of my resin casting sideline.

It is the WHR Tool Van.

This mobile lock-up was built by volunteers on top of a flat DZ wagon - number 2002 I think - and so I've got a big head start on this project.

There are quite a few photographs of it on the web and an excellent side on view in the FR / WHR Stock Book from which I should easily be able to extrapolate the dimensions of the van bit from the known dimensions of a DZ wagon chassis.

As ever, progress reports will be forthcoming here.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Pic Of The Week 10

Light. It's funny stuff isn't it?

David Lloyd George is a chameleon-like locomotive which has a very different appearance depending upon the conditions in which you view it, and our model is much the same.

Getting the colour right was a big challenge.

Some times I'm not at all sure we succeeded, but then when I see Chris Nevard's picture I'm pretty pleased with the shade we plumped for.

I think the real locomotive's hue is best described as Heinz Tomato Soup, whereas what we ended up with on this Backwoods model is more like the Strathclyde PTE orange livery of blessed memory around the area where I live.

We were conscious when choosing the colour of the convention of painting models a shade lighter than the prototype. Some people even advocate using dark grey in place of black at all times.

However I do wonder whether DLG is the exception to this rule.

What do you think?

Monday, 11 March 2013

Stocking Up

The resin has been flowing into the moulds at a fair old rate in recent weeks.

Having fulfilled all outstanding orders I have finished casting a batch of B Wagon kits destined for the shelves of the Ffestiniog Railway's model shop at Harbour Station (and through the Festshop website).

With those completed I have now turned my attention to producing a selection of B and DZ wagon kits for Narrow Planet to try and shift on their trade stand at exhibitions.

I've also managed to produce enough bits for us to make models of the six wagons recently delivered to the WHR from South Africa for us to run on Bron Hebog.

A very rough calculation suggests that I have already cast around 40 of these B wagon kits. Not bad going.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Broaching The Subject

I made an excellent investment the other day - and now I wonder how I ever managed to make models for more than two decades without one of these tools?

They are - in case you were wondering - a set of broaches, and they've already proved invaluable in clearing the axlebox holes in the Bettendorf bogie castings for my kits.

Until now I've been managing to do jobs like this with a round file. And to be honest I was rather hesitant about shelling out £20 for them at the trade stand at Model Rail Scotland, but Himself told me (not in so many words) to stop being so tight. And he was right.

Although a file did clear the holes it was a time consuming process and I snapped quite a few of the very delicate castings while attempting to open them up enough for the brass bearing cups to fit through.

With a broach the process take seconds and I'm much less likely to damage the castings while doing it.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Pic Of The Week 9

For my 500th post I can think of nothing better than one of the best pictures of our layouts I have ever seen.

Chris Nevard took this exquisite shot of the Ladies Linda and Blanche in the woods at the back of the sprial on Dduallt.

It shows off the stunning Backwoods kits and the lovely painting and lining job by Himself perfectly.

Indeed, I am given to understand that this shot was considered as a possible cover image for Model Rail when Dduallt was featured back in December, but a standard gauge, 00 subject was chosen instead.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

It's Hammer Time

I'm intending to make a Mallet.

My apologies to those who don't immediately get the pun. I appreciate these locomotives should properly be pronounced mal-ay, in a poncy French accent, but I'm a journalist and I can't help it!

The loco in question is this one.

I call it the Jung Number 9, as do many others, because we can't get our tongues nor our fingers around the full name of the machine which was built for service a the sugar mill railway in Indonesia and which now resides on the Statfold Barn Railway in the English Midlands.

It visited the WHR in 2012 where it took part in the 'King of the Hill' contest, which was embarrassing won by the elderly Ladies of Penrhyn, Linda and Blanche - the four-coupled sisters putting various articulated competitors firmly in their place in the timed runs to the summit of the line.

My plan is to use an N gauge Minitrix Mallet as the basis of this project, and so I recently paid a small fortune on a popular Germanic auction website for this example.

(Fortunately I managed to secure it before the UK lost its AAA credit rating and Sterling plunged against the Euro!)

I'm sure there will be pedants out there who will delight in pointing out that this chassis isn't a perfect match because the Jung Mallet has inside frames on the front, articulated bogie, but outside frames on the rear - fixed - half, whereas the Minitrix doesn't.

This is perfectly true, but - unless Himself volunteers to attempt to deconstruct the rather small mechanism and try to fit extended axles and cranks - I'm sure I'll be able to live with it.

It is, after all, only supposed to be a 'nice to have' novelty loco as opposed to a core member of the Bron Hebog fleet.

A more important consideration is that I have not come across anyone who says they have seen drawings of this machine. Apparently there was a fire at the makers which destroyed many records. So it seems that our only option is to measure the loco ourselves.

I am very grateful that the bosses at the SBR have readily agreed to allow us access to the locomotive and hopefully I'll be sending Himself along there with a tape measure and a notepad in the not too distant future.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Property Development

A certain Irish brewery once had the slogan: 'Good things come to those who wait.'

The strap line was alluding to the inordinate length of time it takes for a barman to pour the beverage but they might equally have been referring to the productivity of our Artistic Director.

It's never a good idea to hold your breath when Francis tells you he's going to do something, but when he does finally come up with the goods the results - assuming you haven't inadvertently asphyxiated yourself in the intervening period - are always top notch.

He hasn't disappointed me with his latest production, a set of plans for some of the modern houses we have to model in the Oberon Wood development to the south of Beddgelert station, beside the cutting leading to Goat Tunnel.

These are not mere sketches - they are works of art in their own right, as you can see.

These are the two houses in question which we will tackle first.

I'll be showing you how I get on with building them here on the blog in the weeks and months ahead.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Rhyd Reunion

My main reason for visiting the Model Rail Scotland exhibition in Glasgow last weekend was to see one of my 7mm models in its new home.

Last year I made this model of FR Observation Carriage 100 (the original one) for a modeller called David John who lives in the Highlands and he brought his layout Rhyd to the show at the SECC.

If you're wondering where you've seen it before, the layout is the cover star in the latest edition of Narrow Gauge and Industrial Railway Modelling Review.

It's not a large layout but it is superbly detailed with beautifully observed features. One of my favourites was not a locomotive, carriage or even a structure but the representation of a riverside path. It was so good you felt you could almost step into the scene and take a stroll.

David does have some super stock to run including this model of Prince which, unusually, portrays the 'England engine on steroids' as it exists on the FR today. The taller cab and the fatter smokebox are giveaway features.

There was also a heavily weathered Funkey, Vale of Ffestiniog making occasional forays into the scene.

I very much enjoyed seeing my carriage being put to use and admiring David's layout.  If you ever notice Rhyd on the bill at an exhibition near you I can highly recommend a visit,  You won't be disappointed.