Saturday, 30 January 2016

Boogie Nights

We all have our reasons for becoming modellers and one of them, I suspect, is seeking to recapture our lost youth.

I'm pretty sure that is the motivation behind the latest 'outside contract' I've taken on to scratch build a model of the FR tin car 121, not as a workaday tourist carriage but it's alter-ego 'the Disco Car'.

This, by all accounts, was a very riotous form of staff / volunteer social event where the carriage would be stripped of its seats and a rudimentary sound and light system set up at one end and the train would chuff off to Dduallt, or somewhere else safely out of earshot, for a sort of railway rave-up.

I was far too young to ever be involved in this sort of debauchery so I'm relying on what I'm told by other people whose memories may have become corrupted over the years.

Apparetly once they'd arrived at Dduallt the DJ would take requests through one of the windows - and a rather dodgy character he looked too!

The client has issued very specific instructions.

They would like the carriage supplied as near as possible to the condition it appeared on these specials, even down to the sliding bus-type windows to be in their fully-open state.

(Apparently it used to get quite hot and sweaty in there!)

By this time the carriage was onto its fourth and final livery.

Although 121 was the last of the original series of 'tin cars' (if we exclude 111) it was the first to be withdrawn.

Its body was cut up although one of the distinctive end vestibules was saved and auctioned on ebay as a unique collectors piece, rather in the style of the diesel locomotive cabs that were bought occasionally.

The frame was re-used to carry the body of the first 'service car' 124 and today one of the so-called 'super barns' carries the number 121.

It should be an interesting project I'll be getting onto it as soon as I've got the next Oberon Wood house finished.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Just Seventeen

It's time to start thinking about the next house to build.

This will be the last one for a while.

If I'm honest I'm getting a little tired of building buildings, I think I need to recharge my batteries my doing something else.

I do have something in mind but more of than anon..

Anyway, the next one in line is number 17.

It is similar to the neighbouring house but with added fiendish features.

The most difficult of those features is the bay window at the side which has to be fabricated with great care from styrene strip.

I can take comfort from the knowledge that I did manage to do this relatively successfully with one of the first pair of houses for the scene.

I'm hoping I'll have some progress to report early next week.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Another One Done

I made such good progress with number 18 over the last few days that I think I can dare to declare it finished.

Well, as finished as it can be until we're in a position to mount it on the layout in any case.

There are a few details like the steps leading to the front door, a handrail and a post supporting the porch which will need to be added on much later.

The things which have been added on since the last post are the brickwork below the render line, the chimney, the guttering (what little of it is there is) and the capping on the top edge of the roof.

It was only after I'd done the brickwork that I looked again at the drawings and the research photographs and realised that this house is attached to the ones on either side meaning that almost nothing of those carefully measured and cut sections of brick on either side will end up being seen.

I've been trying to tell myself that at least I'll have the satisfaction of knowing they're there but it's not working...

Sunday, 24 January 2016

With The Roof On

This latest house has a mercifully simple roof.

Although it might look complicated because it is heading in three directions they are nice simple rectangles with the exception of the section which covers the garage and includes a few slates which form a porch over the front door.

Of course I wouldn't be me if I didn't manage to get the measurements mixed up and I wasted a good third of a sheet of Wills slates on my first attempt at the garage / porch piece - after carefully measuring it up I managed to chop off the bit I wanted to keep!

Next to add some brick courses below the render line.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Foundation Level

With all the main walls of the house together the next task is to make it all sit level.

I often add 'foundations' in any case because it helps to locate the model better in its final position, and to build up the landscape around it, but in the case of many of these Oberon Wood buildings it's a necessity because the base lines of the walls slope and you obviously need the model to sit level.

Of course, being Oberon Wood, it's not a question of simply adding extensions below four walls because these houses have lots of little nooks and crannies such as the inset front door, and the garage, which juts out here on number 18.

I still have to add on a couple of courses of brick work below the render but I am tempted next to cut out and fit the three roof sections because they're nice and simple with no dormer windows to fit around or anything like that.

'Nice' and 'Simple' are two words you don't hear very often when building these houses....

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

The Bit I Like Best

A couple of hours uninterrupted modelling time saw me complete all the window frames in number 18.

With those in place I was able to get on with the best bit of a house build - joining all the walls together to see the shape of the structure for the first time.

You can see very clearly in the picture above how the roof slopes in three directions and the main part of the house forms an 'L' shape with a gallery window which is a common feature on these Oberon Wood properties.

That long window is up high in the wall facing the east so I suspect that its purpose is not to look out of but instead to catch the morning sunlight which will shine down into what I suppose is a bedroom.

The window pillars on the big patio door are the most delicate feature on this model.

Because the bottom of the frame sits below the render line I had to butt join them at the bottom onto the sill and I've already knocked them off and had to re-bond them a couple of times.

I don't think it'll be the last time either, alas.

Monday, 18 January 2016

More Windows Than Wall

All my modelling time on Saturday was taken up hacking out the apertures in the ends of the latest house.

The architect may have had a slightly wacky sense of aesthetics (just my opinion) but you can tell from the way this house is laid out that that they had some common sense - it won't surprise you to know that the wall with all those windows faces south.

The next job is to add in all the window frames and then the best bit of the build when it comes together as a (slightly odd-shaped) box for the first time.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Shape Shift

So after spending a little time pondering it I have begun work on the next house, number 18.

I spent an evening in the week cutting out the blanks for the main wall sections.

It's quite a different shape to the other houses in the estate and these wall sections were quite straightforward to cut out.

Quite a few of them will remain blank, with no windows, while others have only a couple.

The exception is the main end section - which is the bit with two sloping edges at the top - which needs to have around half a dozen openings cut into it.

Won't that be fun!

Thursday, 14 January 2016

A Hard Life

The 'scrapped' wagons are ready to be sent off of their new owner.

They obviously look far too clean and well presented right now but I'm sure he'll have fun weathering and further distressing them.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

The Strangest Ones Yet

The next pair of houses I'll be tackling for the Oberon Wood scene will look very different.

While no two houses that I've built so far have been completely identical there are at least some common themes at work.

In the row that leads down the hill at the left hand end of the scheme - the Porthmadog end, if you like - there are these two in the middle which stand out from the rest.

As ever, the Artistic Director has prepared a great set of hand drawn plans for me to work from.

He gives me a full set of elevations marked with all the relevant measurements, but with shapes as complex as these it's also very useful to have these three dimensional sketches to give me clues about how the whole thing is supposed to fit together.

This is one of the sketches of number 18, the house on the right in the picture at the top of the post.

It should be an interesting project and I'll be able to get cracking on it later this week I reckon.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Any Old Iron

Generally I'm pretty satisfied with the success rate with the castings for the wagon kits but there are always a few which for various reasons emerge from the mould with flaws.

Fortunately they don't all go to waste.

I have a customer who is also happy to decorate his South African-themed layout with scrappers as well as runners, and all those rejected bits are perfect for the job.

So far I've made up a battle-weary B wagon and a DZ that's seen better days.

Waste not - want not, and all that.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Goodbye Mr Postman!

The big news this New Year is that almost a quarter of a century of long distance modelling is about to come to an end.

Himself is migrating North to join me on the west coast of Scotland in a few weeks time.

Aside from the joy of having family within 'popping in distance', as opposed to full-scale visitations once a quarter, as far as this blog is concerned it's going to transform our modelling opportunities.

Quite a lot of what we produce is a joint effort. The carriages are a prime example.

I will scratch build the bodyshells from styrene and make an interior, then, until now, it's been posted down to Himself to complete any aesthetic and mechanical fettling before he does the painting, varnishing and final assembly.

It's amazing that in all that time nothing has gone missing or been damaged in any of these 400 mile trips.

So thank you Mr Postman for being so reliable and careful all these years, but it's going to be wonderful not needing your services any more.

The only downside is that Bron Hebog and Dduallt will have to go into storage for perhaps as long as a year until they find a permanent home, but I'm hoping it will be a case of short term pain for long term gain.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Open House

One of the good things about this time of year is that friends come visiting, and sometimes, when it's a women-only gathering that means the men of the house are free to go and put in a few hours uninterrupted at the workbench.

That was all I needed to get number 20 close to the finish.

The remaining sections of roof have been cut out and fitted.

The one with the dormer window at the front was particularly tricky with cut outs for the window and the small overlap between the two halves of the building which required a lot of very accurate measuring and a good does of educated guesswork.

I've also completed the chimney - which is always fun to get perpendicular - and made a start on the ridge tiles.

So basically, it's just the guttering to go.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Seasonal Slating

I hardly got any modelling done during the Christmas / New Year break - mostly on account of my work room being pressed into service as a guest bedroom.

The little I was able to do was fix a couple of roof sections onto number 20.

I could probably have found the time to do a little more but I've run out of Wills slate sheets - or at least bits that are large enough to make up the missing sections.

While I wait on fresh supplies arriving I'm toying with the idea of cutting out some of the walls for the next house.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

A Tonic For ALCO-holics

Himself has added another string to his bow - that of movie director!

Recently word got out that back in the early 1990's he shot quite a lot of video footage around the railway and now this archive has been digitised and he's given permission for it to be used and sold as the latest edition of Jon Marsh's DVD series.

Now as far as I know he's not getting a cut of the profits (or least if he is he's keeping it a secret from me!) so I have no ulterior motive for promoting the DVD here.

I do so because I believe a lot of FR enthusiasts will appreciate some of the footage, in particular those who are still pining for the Alco Mountaineer.

Without a doubt my favourite scene out of all that we shot those summers a quarter of a century ago was a down train leaving Tanygrisiau.

Mountaineer stormed up the bank with the driver making good use of that amazing chime whistle which was echoing around the mountains.

Here's a still I took from that moment.

Don't buy this DVD just for the pictures - buy it for the sound track!

Other highlights include footage of Conway Castle in main line service and, in the light of recent news about a re-assigning of carriage 111 to the departmental fleet, the disc includes some nostalgic  sequences with the push-pull actually set being pushed!

Himself was also there with his camera when DLG made one of its first forays along The Cob in an incomplete state.

All in all this DVD comes highly recommended. You would expect me to say that, wouldn't you.