Saturday, 30 November 2013

Then There Were Two

I won't pretend that batch building isn't a little boring sometimes - I'm always itching to get started on the next project - but building identical models back to back does mean that subsequent ones come together a lot faster than the first one.

So, in the space of a few days, I have a second resin Super Barn which has reached the same point in construction.

The plan is that these will both be models of 108 - one for me and one for a client.

Still sitting on the shelf above the workbench are the castings for a model of 103  - the prototype Super Barn - for the same customer and I have learned in the last couple of days that he would like a 121 as well.

I shall have to decide on my construction strategy now.

The question is whether to bring these two to a finish and then put the other two through as a pair or if I pause work on these and start working on the remaining couple until I have four carriages all at the same point?

The advantage of starting the other two right away is that I can capitalise on having 'got the knack' of making the particular design of chassis and roofs for these carriages rather than having to get back up to speed a few weeks down the line.

On the other hand, having to repeat all the remaining processes - such as underframes and interiors - four times over would be, frankly, extremely tedious.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Peckett Painting

A trial run of top coat has been brushed onto our Harrogate Pecket, primarily for the purposes of approving the colour.

Colours are a moot subject among the Bron Hebog team on account of the fact I'm the only one of the three of us who can see them properly!

Despite this I find myself at a disadvantage on account of a) being in a minority and b) being 400 miles away from where the painting is being done.

And so I get sent snaps like this and expected to say yay or nay to the colour which has been chosen, or on other occasions a selection of samples to pick from.

Sometimes this goes a little wrong, as it did with our model of the Double Fairlie Daffyd Lloyd George. What I was supposed to be choosing - and indeed thought I had done - was a concoction resembling Heinz Tomato Soup (the nearest anyone has ever come to accurately describing the shade of the locomotive) but what we ended up with was a Fairlie that looks more like its been outshopped in the Strathclyde PTE Orange livery of the 1980's.

Our DLG is not so much a Soup Dragon as A Clockwork Orange.

So you will appreciate why I am naturally a little hesitant about passing judgement on this shade of green for the Peckett. But I have compared it, exhaustively, with all the pictures I took of the actual locomotive on the WHR in September and I'm pretty sure it's close enough.

I think I shall give Himself permission to proceed.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

White Out

There's been some dramatic progress in the last couple of days on the extension to the layout.

Himself has started laying the mod roc (plaster soaked bandages for those not familiar with the brand name) over the chicken wire which forms the landscape.

I've always found this to be one of the most fun parts of the process of building scenery. Lovely and messy and tactile giving a real childish sense of delight.

It also makes it appear that the project has taken a huge leap forward which is mostly an illusion.

Here you can see a close up of one of the culverts in a bit more context now...

And an eye level view around the big 180 degree bend - that's quite an embankment, eh?

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Super Barn Progress

There's quite a bit of work gone into the first of the resin Super Barns although you might not notice at first glance, so let me take you through what's been done.

As you can see it now has a false ceiling which has had its central supporting rib glued on.

What you can't see in the picture is that the flat part of the roof is a four layer laminate.

The first layer fits in between the top of the carriage sides (the wide central section) and when it's glued on will hold them firmly in position ensuring they neither bulge out or become squeezed in.

The second layer sits on top and is slightly wider and its outer edges will be fixed to the curved brass roof skin eventually.

Next there is a thicker piece of sheet (but much less wide) which acts as a step up for the final layer which extends all the way along the length of the carriage including the vestibules.

This arrangement is necessary because of those windows above the entrance doors which are positioned higher than the top row of windows along the side and so the ceiling must have a step up at each end to avoid being seen.

Below the carriage the removable chassis has received its downward extension which represents the frame the carriage body sits on, and although you can't see them there are also lots of wee lugs (brackets in reality I think) which are in line with all the ribs on the bodyside.

Finally, I have fabricated and glued on the corridor connections on each end.

So, as you can see, there's been quite a lot done to it. I think I may set it to one side for now and set about assembling numbers 2 and 3 on the production line,,,

Friday, 22 November 2013

Primed Peckett

Himself has picked up the Peckett again and finished it off with the final detailing and it's looking pretty good to me.

The RT Models kit really has the squat, purposeful look of the prototype, even if it does rather flatter to deceive being designed for short bursts of power rather than sustained output.

Himself tells me that although the smoke box door looks crooked in the photo but isn't really.

He also reports that all the holes around the front of the tank have been pre-drilled or cast slightly off centre.  Oops.

It's now been given a first coat of primer to show up any faults of blemishes that need to be fixed before it is sprayed with a top coat.

I think it's going to make a nice little model - a shame it's only been a special event performer on the FR & WHR but I suspect we may find a few more excuses to run it.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Super Barn Assembly

With enough parts cast for a whole Super Barn carriage now I suppose it's time to try to put one together.

The first job was to clear the flash out of all the windows which was quite a boring task but an inevitable consequence of making them in an open mould.

Once that was done I wasn't sure whether to begin by making up the end vestibule sections as and them joining them up with the 2 side pieces or to do what I've always done with my scratch built styrene models of these carriages and attach the doors to the sides first and then add on the ends.

Eventually I settled on the latter option, as you can see below.

Before gluing the ends into place I turned the sides over and added these blocks of styrene.

Just like with my scratch built carriages I am planning to have the floor / chassis as a removable unit. So as it's not glued into place these blocks - and gravity - will keep the floor in the right place and maintain the carriage's ride height.

As I have learnt to my cost previously it is much easier to position these on a flat piece rather than attempting to fix them in place inside a built-up bodyshell.

This is where I got to at the end of the evening session - the sides and ends all glued up and the basic outline of the chassis hacked out of a sheet of 60 thou styrene to keep it all square.

One of the disadvantage of using resin parts is that it is a lot more difficult to glue the carriage together. You have a choice of instant bond super glue or epoxy resin - which can take anything up to 10 minutes to set, even with the supposedly rapid stuff - and neither are as user-friendly and adjustable as liquid solvent on styrene.

On the other hand once a resin carriage gets to this stage it is much more robust than a styrene fabrication and you don't have to handle it like a fragile relic for fear of bits breaking off.

Also - and this is the big plus with resin castings - once they are fully cured they more inclined to stay straight rather than bend like bananas as the styrene sides too.

So far so satisfied....

Monday, 18 November 2013

T'other Side

I'm delighted to report that the second Super Barn side has turned out as well as the first with a 100% success rate in the early castings from the new mould.

As you can see below each side is a mirror image of the other

So here we have gathered together the parts required for the basis of a Super Barn bodyshell.

There's quite a lot of flash to be removed from all those windows - especially the letter box ones which run along the top - but it won't be too long before I can attempt to glue it together and see how successful my first attempt at resin casting a carriage has been.

Saturday, 16 November 2013


Himself has been continuing to create the culverts I showed you a couple of days ago.

While the basic trackbed outline can be laid quite quickly its the little details like these which can take quite a time to build which really make the difference I believe.

To start with here's a shot of the culvert before installation. You can see how it has now received its capping of random vertical slates - offcuts of styrene - glued into the top.

Behind it is a smaller structure which is another drain which is positioned at the back of the layout where the stream emerges from Cutting Mawr.

And here's a picture of that one in position.

At the other (lower) end of the bend you can see where the first culvert sits. It is, in fact, under the farm track rather than the railway which is up above on stilts. The stream passes though the embankment in another large pipe which is represented by the other length of brass tube in the picture.

Only the very ends of the pipe will be visible poking out from the embankment when the scenery is completed here, of course.

Finally, here's a close up view from the other side showing how the pipe feeds into the culvert.

The water in this steam connects with others which flow into the low lying area that originally helped to supply the old reservoir that served the Goat Hotel. There was once an aqueduct which bridged the cutting just before the tunnel.

By the time the railway came to be restored here it had collapsed into the cutting and was removed.

So, you see, it's not all just about rivet counting this railway modelling game, you get to study hydrology too!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Turned Out Nice Again

I've made the first casts from the mould for one of the Super Barn sides and I'm delighted with how they've turned out.

Unlike the doors and end pieces, where I couldn't seem to chase out all the tiny air bubbles from the surface details, the first side - all 130mm of it - tuned out almost flawless.

Unsure whether it was a fluke I tried a second, and a third, and they too have turned out perfectly satisfactorily.

So now I shall crack on with making the master for the other side - which is a mirror image of this one - and before too long I should be able to start assembling my first resin Super Barn body.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Cork And Culverts

On the two new boards Himself has begun to lay the cork cushion the track will be laid on.

He has also started planning the culvert retaining walls where the stream pops under from the big embankment with the aid of some of hundreds of research pictures we have taken over the years around the Beddgelert area.

The model of the culvert is made using the embossed plastic coarse stone sheets produced by Wills.

However, to make them look like slate blocks - and I think this is rather ingenious - Himself has sanded them down so all the mortar joints are still clearly visible but there is none of the rough stone texture left.

I think it looks really effective and will be even more so after the Artistic Director has performed his magic with the acrylic paints.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Getting Alongside

It's been a while since I made a carriage side using my styrene strip 'ladder' technique. I'm glad to report - somewhat immodestly - that it appears I haven't lost my touch.

The first stage is to create the basic outline of lower bodyside and window pillars on a sheet of glass with a scale drawing fixed beneath.

I use 20 thou styrene for this.

Once that's done you can remove it from the glass and fix on a second layer of detail to represent the beading.

Straight after taking this snap I took the side and glued it onto a piece of 60 thou styrene which will form the base of the moulding box.

Left to their own devices these bodysides will soon curl up like a banana due to the effect of the solvent on the plastic so it was important to fix it down as soon as possible and ensure that there were no gaps the RTV silicone could find.

To do this I brushed a generous amount of limonene onto the sheet, placed the side onto it and buried the whole lot beneath a pile of the heaviest books I could find.

It seems to have done the trick but I'll only find out for sure when the mould rubber is pealed off.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Chicken Run

The first stage in transforming random wood shapes into a slice of Snowdonia has begun with chicken wire laid and attached over the plywood formers on the first of our new boards.

You may have noticed, as well, how the flat area for the level crossing in front of Cutting Mawr on the board nearest the camera has been adopted as a perch for the essential cup of builder's tea.

Himself suggests to me that you might also like to see a snap of the underside of one of these boards.

The clips which we use to connect them, in conjunction with metal dowels for locating the boards horizontally, are prominent but there doesn't appear to be a lot else of interest.

Unless, that is, you are a carpentry tutor, in which case please be assured that all feedback will be passed on to Himself.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Glass Half Full?

The first casts with the Super Barn door moulds have not been a complete success.

They haven't been a complete failure either.

In fact, taking the two sets I've cast so far 50% have been acceptable and 50% not.

I can't decide whether or not I should be satisfied with this - bearing in mind I'm accustomed to something more like 85% with the parts for my wagon kits.

Here's one lot that I am happy to use which I will deploy in my prototype.

The problem has been tiny air bubbles becoming trapped in the beading and droplight details.

I can't be sure yet how much of this is because the details are finer than my wagon masters or whether it's just new mould syndrome (the first ones can often turn out badly for whatever reason) or just one of those things.

Either way it hasn't filled me with confidence about how well the sides are going to turn out.

They are very long (about 130mm) with a lot of beading detail.

I'm unsure of whether there will be enough time to chase out all the bubbles with a cocktail stick before the 90 seconds of working time with the resin is used up?

I suppose there's only one way to find out which is to press ahead with making a master, forming a mould and seeing how I get on.

But this is the reason why I'm being a little cagey with all the people who've been getting in touch asking me if I'll be doing Super Barns as a kit?

If I can't manage to cast the components at more than a 50% success rate then it's not a very productive use of my time and the answer will probably be a no.

And in any case I would only be able to offer sides and ends because doing the roof and chassis are not going to be practical, flat back casting projects.

The one advantage of having a few rejected casts at this stage means I have at least been able to glue a couple of them together as a test to see how well the vestibule section goes together.

I'm very pleased with how it all fitted - now I've just got to learn how to cast them better.

Monday, 4 November 2013

A Use For Old Relics

Himself has been shaping the scenery formers and 'adding lightness' in the style of the late, great Colin Chapman, to the latest board with the big U bend on it.

If you assumed that the old relic in the title referred to Himself you are firstly very cheeky and, secondly, wrong.

Because if you look carefully in the left hand corner of this picture you will see that there is a very special weight being used to hold down the plywood trackbed.

It is, in fact, a track chair we recovered from the depths of the bog in Cutting Mawr on one of our first research trips to Beddgelert and took back for careful conservation. (Lest any of you think that we just nicked it!)

Not being experts in such ironmongery we don't know whether it is a genuine lump of original WHR track which had been lying there since the 1941 demolition or whether it is of more modern provenance and appeared on the scene in the 1960's when track components were taken to Beddgelert in one of the early revival attempts.

All expert views on the matter would be welcome, but you're not getting it back because, as you can see, it happens to have become rather useful!

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Boxed In

The first Super Barn masters are ready to be covered in rubber.

You'll see that as well as the two sets of ends - single and double door style - I've also made a master for the end of the carriage, which is fortunately a mirror image so I only have to make the one.

The only part I can't include on the master is the corridor connections which I don't think would be possible without using a two part mould and that's beyond the scope of my casting abilities at the moment.

They should only take a day or two to set so I may able to show you the first casts soon.