Friday, 31 March 2017

Up And Over

It's been one of those weeks (yes, another!) so I will freely admit that progress has not been spectacular.

However I have moved forward a little with the house build, and as long as you're moving forward that's all that matters, right?

The wall at the front with the garage door has been made up and fixed in place.

For the garage door I use a sheet of Evergreen's Passenger Car Side styrene.

What is supposed to be wooden tongue and groove looks just as convincing as a pressed metal door to me.

Next I will have to create the L shape section which include the front door and a wall which sits beneath an overhanging upstairs bedroom.

If you were wondering why the door comes below the bottom of the wall it is because there are a couple of brick courses to be added on later.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Walls Come Together

This is the most exciting stage of a model build when you glue the first bits together and you get the first hint of the form it's going to take.

Form here on there's a lot of hard graft and you never make such a great leap forward again.

In particular with these Oberon Wood houses this is where it begins to get tricky when you have to add on lots of different sections of wall which all have to be kept square and straight.

It's hard to know which bit to tackle next - the bedroom on the first floor on the left or the garage and porch which extend out on the right?

 I think I shall prevaricate a little longer.

Monday, 27 March 2017

The Back Door

The simplest part of the house I'm building, from an architectural point of view, is the ground floor at the read which is one long piece running the whole width of the house with no strange angles or bits that jut out.

It does, however, have almost as much window as wall in it with a set of patio doors, a large window and that back door to be cut out and the frames formed behind.

This is quite a vital piece because it will form the main connection between the two distinct halves of the house so now this is ready I can start fixing bits together and it will begin to look something like a building.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Taxing Windows

The windows all have to be cut out of the blank wall pieces before any of them can be glued together.

As you can see some of them are in quite unusual positions.

Doing the job turned out to be easier than I expected, probably in part due to a brand new blade in the scalpel and perhaps a slightly softer sheet of styrene which I bought just a few weeks ago.

I have also added the strip behind to form the window frames so these are basically good to go, apart from the the sills which I will fit at a later stage.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

We Have The Technology

We've made the giant leap into 3D printing - albeit just buying in a model rather than designing or producing our own.

In this case it's a Robex model of Lilla, the Hunslet tank which has long been on our wish list.

Himself's first impressions are not just how light it is - which is not necessarily a good thing on a layout with a hill - and how it feels a little fragile. (Although to be fair he's more used to working with brass or white metal so that's not surprising.)

I have not inspected it myself yet but I know that some people have created very fine models using one of these prints so I'm very much looking forward to seeing what he does with it.

It's worth remarking, though, that once you add in the cost of buying a Minitrains 0-4-0 chassis for it to run on it doesn't work out that much cheaper than the projected price of the RTR Baldwin 4-6-0.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Blank Look

I know it may have looked as if I was never going to finishing the drawing (it was, if you will pardon the expression, a rather drawn out process) but I have now taken the first steps towards building the next house.

The first stage is to cut out the blank walls, without windows yet, for the sides which have all the tricky angles on them.

It's only when you have the pieces in your hand and can place them back to back and compare them that errors in the drawing become apparent - and there were quite a few it turned out.

The next stage is to hack out the windows which is always the most tedious bit of a building project.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Foliage Photo

There's not been a tremendous amount of work down in the last week, except for a few new trees appearing.

My day job has been rather full on with lots of fuss about some vote which may or may not happen, and with spring almost upon us Himself has been ordered out into the garden.

However he did find the time to plant a line of trees in front of the farm yard.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Not As Easy As It Looks

I've been plugging away at the plans for the new houses.

It's been slow progress at times and involved a lot of rubbing out as I wrestled with the various angles of the different roof sections and the bits of the building that stick out.

I think I have the shape of the blank walls sorted out, so all that remains before I begin cutting styrene is to mark in where the windows go.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Making Plans

Completing the Oberon Wood scene has been delayed by not having any plans for the missing houses, and my failure to pull my finger out and design them.

(I've been spoiled up until now by the beautiful works of art that used to be supplied by the Artistic Director)

However, I am slowly attempting to put matters right.

All of the houses in the estate are all different in some way or another, but as far as I can tell one of those I need to make is effectively a mirror image of one I've already done.

So what I need to do is create a reverse plan.

Yes, you're right. I could have just run the previous drawing through a photocopier or scanned and flipped it on the computer.

But we've never knowingly taken the easy way out on this project, so why start now?

Monday, 13 March 2017

Barn Painted

Well, that was quick!

Because we use acrylic paint on the buildings (as preferred by the Artistic Director) rather than the enamels that we use on the trains, the process is a lot swifter due to the difference in the drying times.

We still have to complete the landscaping around the barn which is just resting on its plot in the photos here.

Once it has a few trees camouflaging its position I think it will blend into the scene nicely.

So that's one of the big outstanding jobs ticked off, now I really need to get on with those remaining houses..

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Tree Planting

Himself has been playing about deciding where he might want to plant the latest handful of trees which have sprouted on the workbench.

He's decided to spread them around the layout with a couple in the area around the farmyard and a few on the inside of the other 180 degree bend.

These are only a tiny representation of the real number of trees in these spots, but it at least show's willing.

(As I explained previously, tree building is not Himself's favourite job)

One thing I should explain is that we won't be leaving the 'train set' round bases on the trunks - that's just a means of trying out the position on the layout.

Himself will drill a hole up the trunk from the bottom, insert stiff brass wire and plant them firmly in the ground.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Barn Trial

Having finished the slates on the old barn roof I dropped it off at Himself's place, ready for him to paint it.

We dropped it in position for a couple of quick photos.

Above is the view the punters get, and below is the side we see from the operating area.

It doesn't look very subtle in the landscape in plain white styrene like this but it shouldn't take too long for Himself to make it blend in rather more.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Waste Tip

There is something which connects the real Festiniog and WHR and our modelling of the railways other than just the prototype itself.

It is the amount of rubbish produced as a by-product.

This bucket full of scraps is just a portion of the waste resin from casting a batch of wagon kits this week.

How very inefficient - it's almost as bad as the slate industry!

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Spring Has Sprung

Himself came back from the Glasgow show last weekend having spent all his pocket money on various bits and pieces, including more bags of Woodlands Scenics tree kits.

He might be able to build Garratt power units which run like Swiss watches but he doesn't do trees.

Which is unfortunate because there's rather a lot of them around Beddgelert so he doesn't have much of a choice.

So this week he's been bending, twisting and sticking to create these.

We're using the same type of tree kit we employed on Dduallt and as those have survived well over 25 years he sees no reason to do anything different on Bron Hebog.

Rather like the fencing, this is a job that's going to be a marathon rather than a sprint.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Houses On Hold

Plans have changed slightly.

I did indicate in the previous post that I was going to start making a couple of the missing houses from the Oberon Wood scene, but commercial interests have intervened.

It appears that my wagon kits have been flying off the virtual shelf of the Narrow Planet webshop in recent weeks and so I am answering a call for a re-stocking of the DZs and NGYs.

I can't deny that it's a nice problem to have.

It's also a procrastinator's dream because it gives me the perfect excuse to once again delay having to sit down and draw out plans for one of the missing houses.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Are You Ready To Run?

I got my first chance at the weekend to take a look at Heljan's 009 ready-to-run Lynton and Barnstaple Manning Wardle tank loco, and mighty impressive it looks too.

This really does mark a watershed for the scale.

For the first time a manufacturer is giving us a model of equivalent standard to that which standard gauge modellers have been able to take for granted.

I hope that they, Heljan, will have massively underestimated the demand for models like this, are both rewarded for their gamble and encouraged to look for follow ups.

This model was being held captive inside a display case in Glasgow so we were unable to take a close look at it.

Himself's first impression was that he still thought the Backwoods Miniatures kit - which we used to make our Lyd - is a better model.

But then he would say that, because he can build them!

For the likes of mechanical imbeciles me like this loco looks like a glimpse into the promised land.

Do not take from what I have written that we are kit and scratch building snobs who turn our noses up at ready-to-run, for we long ago put down a reservation for the long-awaited Bachmann Baldwin WD 4-6-0's.

There is nothing wrong with top quality RTR in my eyes, nor with the best of the 3D printed bodies that are being designed by enterprising people like Narrow Planet and Robex.

I will admit, though,  to being more than a little frustrated at some of the utter abominations that I do see being knocked out on printers by modellers who it would appear are content to have something that bears only the most passing resemblance to the prototype.

It looks suspiciously like in many of these cases the truth is that all that matters is that the model is designed and produced at the fastest possible speed.

Many of the people behind these seem to be young, and impatience goes with the territory. Perhaps they will be in less of a busting rush as they mature.

What really irks me, however, is that in this age of cyber commerce many of these 'models' are put out there to buy through 3D printing websites.

Which brings us back to ready-to-run 009 which must be carefully nurtured in its infancy.

I believe strongly that we should not baulk at the prices the manufacturers charge for models such as this Manning Wardle, nor judge it against the cost to some of these 3D print offerings.

That would be to compare oranges and rotten apples.

The other thought I have is whether we, as a scale, will be able to exploit the potential for bespoke ready-to-run in the same way as the 00 fraternity has?

Look in any of the model magazines and you will see adverts from some of the most well known model shops and specialist firms for exclusive, short-runs of unusual prototypes.

Others, I note, are embracing crowd funding.

Can this not be done in 009? And who might be brave enough to do it?

One of the delights of Narrow Gauge is that there are so many one-off locomotives, and I suppose it could be difficult to find a market for hundreds of models of one single engine.

But there are other examples of small classes that can be exploited just as Heljan and Bachmann are doing.

For example, what about the Rhiedol tanks? Yes, there are only three of them but look how many livery variations have they worn between them over the years.

The current VoR owners seem very enterprising and go-ahead people.  Might they not like to explore the idea of commissioning a run of models to sell exclusively?

You've got a retail and marketing proposition rolled into one there.

Then there's my own first love, the FR. And how many opportunities there are here!

Can anyone seriously argue that a top-notch RTR 009 England engine wouldn't sell?

What about the Penrhyn Ladies?

If Heljan can provide for interchangeable cabs on their L&B locos then surely it's not impossible, with a common chassis and basic body dimensions to mass produce some lovely models of Linda, Blanche and Charles.

I suspect the lead-time on a model would be too long, and Boston Lodge would beat them too it, but what a marketing wheeze it might have been for the FR to commission a 009 model of their new Double Fairlie James Spooner?

The chassis is always the stumbling block in 009. Once you've got that look at how many other Double Fairlie variants you could plonk on top.  (So long a the rivet counters would overlook the variations in wheelbase and other minor details.)

Can I be the only one thinking along these lines?  I'd love to read your thoughts.