Friday, 30 January 2015

Pecket Painted

It's just over a year since I posted a photo of our Peckett 'Harrogate' in its first coat of green paint and it's only now that we've managed to get it finished, but, hey, that's railway modelling for you.

So here it is varnished and with its Statfold Barn Railway initials in place on the tank.

Like 138 it is also awaiting a set of plates to complete it.

Alas its appearances on Bron Hebog will still have to be filed under modellers' licence because currently it has ventured no further south on the WHR than Waunfawr, but it's a nice wee engine so we're going to run it anyway!

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Lined Up

This is what I've been waiting to see - 138 all lined out!

Obviously it's not on its wheels yet, but Himself has now completed the painting process with a coat of varnish and all it needs now is a set of works plates which are on order from Narrow Planet.

The rim of the chimney has had some minor surgery after an eagle-eyed reader noticed that we had plonked on the original Beyer-Peacock version which comes with the kit, not realising that 138 and 143 currently sport a different one.

Thanks to one of my squad of F&WHR informers we were able to get comparison measurements and photographs taken of the chimneys on the real 87 and 138 which confirmed to us that we would be able to adapt the casting on the locomotive.

I think in this red livery it's going to look really striking when it's doing the business on Bron Hebog.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Tongue Tied

I've been building a trio of SAR wagons for a client who wanted them ready to run complete with couplings.

On his layout he's fitting all his stock with the new coupling PECO has developed for its L&B coaches and wagons which are designed to locate in a NEM pocket.

The task for me was to work out how to fit them to my resin wagons / brass bogies and get them set at the correct height.

My bogie design has a brass tongue which extends from the stretcher and, on our rolling stock, this is where we solder on the long shaft of the brass, fold-up Greenwich couplings which we are now fitting as standard on Bron Hebog.

It works well too with the old Bemo couplings which have a long plastic shaft which can be glued on.

The PECO ones, however, have a very short shaft because they're designed to clip into the pockets and a test run gluing one of them onto the end of the brass tongue on my bogies showed it was a whisker too short and there wasn't quite enough clearance for the coupling loop to rise as high as I'd like.

So what I've decided to do is solder a small extension onto the tongue using some offcuts from old brass frets - yet again proving the value of being canny about what you throw away.

My customer also sent me a PECO RTR wagon to enable me to set the coupling heights properly.

As lucky would have it the brass tongue is in almost exactly the right position and can be easily bent up or down a bit as required.

And here is is with one of the B wagons sitting on its bogies.

There's nothing like the satisfaction of a successful adaptation.

Saturday, 24 January 2015


I haven't got very far with my project to model the new WHR water tank wagon but I have obtained the single largest component part, and on the most favourable terms too!

The diameter of the tank scales down at 22mm which, rather fortuitously, is a common size of plastic household plumbing pipe.

I'm only going to need around 10cm worth of it, however, so those of you who share my tightfisted tendencies will readily understand why I was reluctant to go out and invest in a metre length of pipe (or more) when I only required a fraction of it.

This is where the benefit of living in a relatively isolated small town played into my hands.

We are fortunate to still have an independent DIY shop and I figured there was a chance I could talk the proprietor into selling me a six inch length of pipe.

In fact, such is his acute appreciation of customer service and the value of repeat business, not only did he cut me a small length he told me I could have it for free.

So I am more than happy to use the pages of this blog to say that if you ever find yourself in Largs and are in need of any miscellaneous hardware do not hesitate to call on Peter Valerio and his staff in their little Aladdin's Cave in Stanlane Place.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Happy Endings

In my naivety I used to think that making another 11 and 12 set would be a 'quick fill-in project' whereas in fact they're requiring as much time and effort as any other FR or WHR carriage.

Putting the beading detail on the two ends of 11, for instance, has taken up a couple of evenings in the last week.

At the observation end the challenge is to make sure everything is symmetrical and that the vertical bars in the middle are indeed truly central.

On the brake end it is the two narrow windows on either side which have had time lavished on them, in particular the rounded corners at the top.

As I have described in more detail in the carriage building How To section on the blog the technique I was taught is to glue small triangles into the corners and then attack them with a round needle file.

On these old FR brake vans I've had to go through the process three times.

Once when fabricating the basic outline piece.  Then again when the second beading layer is added on top.

Finally the window droplight, which I bond on behind, also has rounded corners at the top  - damnit.

As I don't have any decent pictures showing the top of these droplights I did, at the eleventh hour, contact one of my FR sources in the vain hope that they would come back and tell me that all four corners of the droplights are square - like on any normal carriage! - but alas they didn't.

Hey ho, out with the file again!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Single Yellow Lines

Some very painstaking work has been going on with the lining out of 138.

After many hours work - and the simultaneous wearing of many pairs of glasses, no doubt - the rear bunker is more or less ready.

For the fine lines around the edge we're using the smallest size of lining produced by Fox Transfers in that colour,  just 0.35mm thick.

These are waterslide and come in straight lengths and a ranger of corner radii.

More worthy of note is the WHR lettering.

We were unable to find any ready made transfers with the correct shading so Himself has had to achieve the effect by offsetting a yellow transfer above a black one and the result is very effective indeed.

The front water should be rather more straightforward and then there's the very fiddly lining complete around the cab.

It's going to look fabulous when it's finished.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Ducking The Issue

Little by little I've been adding the second layer of beading to the first of our new 'Garraway Twins' carriage 11.

If you're familiar with the carriage, though, you'll immediately notice something missing - the duckets at the side of the guard's compartment.

These are slightly tricky to make in styrene because you've got to get the plastic to hold the tight bend and the top and you also need to make sure you get a matching curve / slope on both sides of the carriage.

In fact when you factor in carriage 12 I also have to make four of them and get them all looking the same.

I did it before, of course, with my red liveried pair, but this time I thought instead I would make one master and cast the four I need from that.

I just haven't summoned up the motivation to make the master yet, that's all....

Friday, 16 January 2015

My Biggest Challenge Yet

Himself has returned from a week's volunteering on the FR which included a research trip into the darkest corners of Boston Lodge to view progress in the carriage works, and the photos he has sent back have confirmed my worst fears.

The new FR observation carriage 150 is going to be a complete and utter pain in the backside to scratch build!

Previously I've only seen a basic artist's impression and pictures of the skeleton framework.

Now they're putting the wooden flesh on the bones I can see that there are going to be two primary challenges - the roof with its curvy profile at the obs end, and the go-faster slope on the bodyside windows.

The roof on the model, is is clear now, will have to be made from brass just like with all the Super Barns. However, unlike them, there is going to be less scope to have a flat, false ceiling inside to keep the sides straight because it would be visible through the top of the end windows.

One way around that might be to solder a small lip beneath the brass roof to do the same job?

What's more it'll be very tricky to make that curvy valence at the top as a self supporting styrene structure. Along with the central pillar at the front it's going to have to be fixed in place only after the roof is bonded on.

I'm also beginning to think that it would be better to make the main bodyside sections as resin casts to make them more rigid.

Talking of casting, while rebuilt original-style Barn 106 was in the works he grabbed some good shots of its bogies.

One of my resolutions for 2015 is that this will be the year that we get around to producing our own, proper-sized, modern FR carriage bogies.

Steve at Narrow Planet has drawn up designs for a basic brass outline which is going to be test etched very soon and I'm intending to produce a resin overlay with the spring and axle box details as I have done for my South African wagons.

I shall, naturally, keep you informed of developments.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Black Lines

We're not afraid to cheat when it comes to getting our paint jobs as neat as we can which on 138 means using black waterslide transfer lining to get the edge where the red meets the black as sharp and straight as possible.

The Garratt has now had three coats of red which is now looking the right shade and Himself has begun cleaning up the brasswork.

The next job will be to apply the thin yellow lining on the bunkers and cab.

It's looking good, don't you think?

Monday, 12 January 2015

Conway Cab Alterations

We've got so many projects on the go at the moment it's hard to keep track of them but Himself can never resist a new kit and has soldered together the body for our 2nd Conway Castle.

The Five 79 body requires a few alterations to represent the locomotive in its more recent condition.

For a start it had proper cab doors fitted after a few years in service and he's knocked up something in brass to represent these.

It also needs two small grills cut out of the whitemetal panel on either side nearest the cab.

Other modifications will include a pair of air filters protruding from the bonnet and the headlights will be drilled out and replaced with some blingy jewels.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

More Painting Progress

Also going through the paint shop at the moment is the last of the 3 13m WHR saloons I batch built a number of years ago.

This is number 2045.

Yes, we are a little behind the times. This carriage entered service on the real railway when it was still terminating at Rhyd Ddu!

Himself is also cracking on with our replacement carriage 10 (Van 2 in more ways that one for us!) which is being finished in the Col. Stephens livery it runs in currently.

Again this has prompted some colour debate about the shade that should go on the ends and along the frame.

Do you go with something at the redder end of the colour chart or more orange?

After much discussion and comparison with photographs we have of the carriage we've gone for the more orange option - in fact it is called Lining Orange on the Humbrol colour chart.

It's a very tricky business.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Super Barn Signed Off

While I was down visiting the rest of the family over Christmas I took the opportunity to deliver the model of new Super Barn 119 which I was working on in the last months of 2014.

My part in the build is now over and Himself will finished off the remaining jobs which include a brass roof skin, handrails, the vacuum pipe and hoses and the bogies.

The last thing I did to it was to add the bits and pieces under the floor including the battery box, fuel tank for the heating system and something to represent the bit of the brake gear which can be seen hanging down beneath the frame.

I was also shamed into rebuilding the support struts for the truss rods following some feedback from a friend on the FR that the first attempt didn't look quite right.

Well, we can't have that!

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Paint Shop

So Himself is spending the first few days of the year working through the backlog of models which required to be painted.

Our new Garratt, 138, has been disassembled and the parts are being painted red and black as appropriate.

There has been a lot of discussion about getting the right shade of red.

Like most locomotives 138 can seem different depending on the light conditions on the day you see it.

Sometimes it can look almost scarlet and an other occasions it's a much lighter red.

Working on the theory that models should be finished a shade lighter than the prototype we've gone for the latter option.

The photo is, I think, a little misleading, because it's taken under artificial light and due to the grey primer still on parts of the locomotive which will in time turn black.

I hope the red colour will end up looking a little deeper.

The first couple of coats of red and ivory have also been applied to our model of the rebuilt carriage 116 which is looking pretty good.

I shall post more pictures as work progresses.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

In Honour Of 'The Goog'

The death of FR legend Allan Garraway has inspired me to bring forward a project which has been on my wish list for a number of years now, to build updated models of the bogie brake twins 11 & 12.

We already have two pairs of models of these carriages.

The originals which we made 25 years ago from ancient whitemetal GEM kits and a pair I scratch built in styrene.

Both sets, however, are in all over red livery which is what the carriages wore in 1988, the original nominal date we set for our layout of Dduallt.

Since then the real carriages were first given two tone red / ivory livery in the early 1990's and then, when they were relieved of the duty in daily service repainted into the LNER tourist green / ivory colour scheme they had in the 1960's.

Recently both have been given heavy overhauls to return them to a more heritage condition which is how I will be modelling them.

At vintage galas they've become known as the 'Garraway Set' in honour of the man who was at the helm at Harbour station from the very first days of the revival in 1954 until the FR steamed back to Blaenau in the early 80s.

It was Allan who had the idea of turning the two 1880s vintage brake vans back to back and running them as a pair.

11 had windows cut in the end and was fitted with comfy ex-Mersey Rail seating which was sold at a premium as an Observation Carriage - the start of a new tradition on the FR.

Carriage 12 had a buffet counter installed to relieve the passengers of even more of their money on the move.

It was a stroke of genius by a man who famously organised the practical side of the rebirth of the FR in a no-nonsense fashion with what we might now call a 'refreshingly direct' approach to volunteers whom he preferred to be 'enthusiastic railwaymen' rather than 'railway enthusiasts'.

The FR today bears no comparison to what he was managing in the 50s and 60s when his sense and strength of character was what was needed to ensure a focus on the infrastructure and not whimsy.

In Allan's day communication with supporters was by telegram, not twitter, while the railway was run on a shoestring with ancient equipment which had to cope with fearsome peak traffic volumes and a limited period in which to generate income.

It was very different to the current era of year-round operating, diverse revenue streams and multi-million pound grants and intense competition for a share of the tourism market.

Making these two models will, for me, be a way of honouring the massive contribution Allan made to getting the FR where it is today.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Celebrating The Spiral

Today, the 2nd of January, marks a significant anniversary for the FR, for it is 50 years since a spade was driven into the ground to begin work on the Llyn Ystradau Deviation, an epic volunteer-led project to reconnect the historic railway which had been severed when an upper section was flooded as part of a hydro-electric scheme near Tanygrisiau.

Although there have been many impressive achievements in railway preservation during the last half century, not the least of which is the restoration of the Welsh Highland Railway in full, of which we model at small section on Bron Hebog, the idea of settling out to build a brand new formation in such a remote spot remains a daunting enough proposition in 2015, it is hard to imagine how immense the undertaking must have seemed when a small group gathered at a spot near Dduallt station at the beginning of 1965.

So the building of the spiral, the New Moelwyn Tunnel and line along the lakeside, behind the power station, ranks with the achievements of the Victorian pioneers in the railway history books.

It is a history we honoured with the OO9 layout of the spiral we built more than 20 years ago.

Dduallt has been in semi-retirement since the Bron Hebog project gathered momentum but this 50th anniversary year of the Deviation seems too good an opportunity to miss.

So we are delighted to announced that we have accepted an invitation to show Dduallt at the WHR Super Power event in September alongside Bron Hebog.

This may very well be the one and only opportunity to see these two layouts operating at the same time - and that includes for us the builders! - so make sure you get the Super Power weekend down in your 2015 diary as a date not to be missed!