Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Weight Watcher

As a general principle of modelling in 009 you aim to make your locomotives as heavy as possible and your rolling stock as lightweight as you can get them.

I'm completely ignoring that with the WHHR brake van project because I spent time last night trying to discreetly add some weight to it.


Well, this kit-bashed Dundas van is made entirely from plastic / styrene and our thinking is that with it being the end vehicle of a set it pays to have a little bit of mass about it so it avoids being caught in a tug-of-war between the locomotive and the bogie carriages behind.

Especially if your coupling heights are a little off, you can end up with the first vehicle in a set wheelie-ing along the line behind the engine looking like a plane about to take off.

As I didn't have any sheet lead to hand to fix between the fames I decided the best thing to do was form a wee box on the floor of the van, fill it with some 'liquid lead' shot that I've had in the drawer for years, and seal it with a lid on top like a coffin.

(I was careful to leave it loose and not make the mistake of fixing it in place with PVA glue because the lead will react to it and expand, with unfortunate consequences.)

The other benefit is, should be wish, we can now form a Bron Hebog percussion section using the WHHR brake van as a maraca!

Monday, 28 May 2018

Blue Van

The painting of the WHHR van is going very smoothly so far.

The exterior has now had three coats of Rail Blue.

For a colour that was so ever-present all through my childhood it's very novel, and fun, to be applying it to a narrow gauge model.

It won't be properly finished in time for Bressingham but I'm hoping it might be possible to get the van, and the Bro Madog carriage, in a state fit to at least make an appearance as the first stage of a WHHR set.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

First Coat

Yet another week has gone by with less progress than I might have hoped for on the brake van project, however I have been able to begin applying some of the final finish.

It's been given a coat of cream around the interior and the underframe received some matt black last night.

Hopefully over the course of the weekend I might also be able to begin applying a little bit of Rail Blue to the outside.

I ordered a bottle of Railmatch enamel from a very well known, large, model shop in the north west of England and was very impressed when it turned up on my doorstep within 36 hours.

The packing was perhaps a little over the top for a small glass jar (and thanks to postal restrictions these days the courier charge was more than one and half times the value of the product) but these are just minor grumbles,

I'm really looking forward to having narrow gauge model in BR blue - the colour of my childhood.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Running Out Of Puff

Being a legendary cheapskate I decided that rather than buy a whole new can of primer just to coat the new brake van, I would try to eak out what was left in an old aerosol on the shelf in my modelling den - with predictable consequences...

Well, at least the outside is more-or-less covered - it's a thin coat but it'll do.

There wasn't any paint (or puff) left in the can to spray the inside, but I'm sure it won't matter too much in this case if I paint the top coat straight onto the styrene - it's not as if anyone's going to see much in there because the van doesn't have many windows.

As it is I've already had to set free the digital moths from my wallet by ordering online an entire bottle of BR blue paint for one wee model - I'm hardly likely to need it for anything else!

In the same manner I'm also facing the prospect of having to fork out for a whole sheet of double arrow transfers when I'm only going to need 2 of them.

My dedicated to the cause is unstinting, as you can see.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

It's All In The Detail

Himself and I spent an enjoyable afternoon at one of those typical small, local shows at the weekend - in this case the Kyle MRC event in Troon.

I hadn't expected to find much of narrow gauge interest - continental modelling is surprisingly popular here in Scotland in my experience, much more so that south of the border it seems to me - so I was delighted to find an excellent little OO9 layout called Bachdale and Dibley Level.

It's not large - in fact so may call it a 'rabbit warren' - and it's completely freelance, basically running anything which will fit inside a loading gauge which makes the original FR seem generous.

What impressed me, though, was the high standard of execution in everything to with the layout, especially in places that you can't ordinarily see into.

The engine shed is a case in point.

The interior has been modelled in exquisite detail, but you won't see any of it unless the operators are kind enough to remove the roof for you.

Among the items of rolling stock which caught my eye were these four wheel carriages.

As far as I can tell they've been made from plastic kits which are readily available, but they've been finished with a beautiful teak-effect scumble.

I clearly wasn't the only one impressed because, quite deservedly, it was voted the best layout by the visitors.

The other thing which really pleased me was to get my first proper look at one of the new Bachmann Baldwin 4-6-0 tanks.

Previously I'd only seen them in a display case so this was an opportunity to hold and examine one and see it running.

(And it was a case of only seeing it because it ran almost silently.)

The level of detail and finish is extraordinary - like nothing that's ever been seen in 009 ready-to-run before.

Bachmann haven't just raised the bar, they've shot it into orbit!

It's only increased my excitement for receiving the 590 version which we have on order, and I can't wait to see what sort of job they do on the Quarry Hunslet tanks.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Van Rails

I've been adding the final details to the WHHR ex-VoR brake van, such as the couplings, air brake pipes and grab rails.

The holes have also been drilled for the T door handles and the glazing cut to size.

The next stage, I suppose is to prime it.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Hitting The Road Again

It's still two weeks until Narrow Gauge East at Bressingham but Himself is already getting things organised and Bron Hebog has been packed up ready for the long journey to Norfolk.

The main reason for getting so far ahead of the game is that the stacking arrangements have had to be revised since it last went out.

The boards are paired up, face to face.

In the last could of years, however, we've done a lot more scenic work, in particular planting trees.

Trees have an awkard tendency to raise the height of the scenery and so some of the bracing pieces have had to be adjusted to take account of this, making some of the units slighty wider.

What we won't know for another fortnight is whether we've gone our back of the envelope calculations correctly so that it still fits in the same size of hired van it always used to fit into......

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

More Bling

On Monday I showed you the finished 'blinged up' bowsider number 19 - but work continues on our other Victorian extravagance, number 15.

Himself has finished applying the gold lining - and my goodness isn't there a lot of it! - to one side, and he's also added the FR crest and monograms.

(These may be slightly overscale, but who's measuring?)

He's also intending to try and fit a tiny number 15 inside the middle of the crest!

One end of the ends he's started to apply the white lines around the panelling.

Again, this is not strictly prototypical because there should be two incredibly thin lines either side of the beading, whereas the solution we've got for here is one single line on top of the beading,

But quite frankly, this is so damned small and fiddly to do that I think it's remarkable enough that there's anything there at all, don't you agree?

Monday, 14 May 2018


Our new model of bowsider 19 is ready to join the fleet.

The carriage has been given a coat of varnish - which has come out a little on the matt side, but never mind - and put together with its glazing and the final details added like the door handles, which Himself made from scratch from very fine brass wire.

I think the lining looks absolutely stunning, especially the stuff along the frame at the bottom.

It's going to look great running in a small Victorian set along with the curly roof van, 15 (which is coming along nicely - more on that soon) and the first class Ashbury 4-wheeler.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

I Love It When A Van Comes Together

I was able to enjoy the best bit of a model build last night when I glued all the basic parts together and you get your first impression of how the finished thing's going to look.

The plan to graft a new body on top of the 'frames' of the Dundas kit for the VoR brake van seems to have worked out well, and I've clearly been able to accurately replicate the dimensions of the original kit because the roof still fits on perfectly and when you offer up the redundant sections of body side (which I sliced off) they match the new ones.

I've made a couple of adaptations to improve it's longevity and performance.

Just as with my scratch built carriages I've installed a flat false roof at the top of the body shell to try to ensure that they don't bow inwards over time.

On the chassis, before I glued the parts together, I drilled out the axle boxes and fitted brass bearing cups.

Experience teaches us that pin point axles running in plastic axle boxes is a recipe for wheelsets working loose, and eventually dropping out.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Plastic Surgery

I had a couple of hours free last night to do a little bit more work on the WHHR brake van.

First, I cut out the windows and then added the panel detail - such as it is - onto the two end pieces.

Then it was onto the make or break bit which was slicing the frame and footsteps off the Dundas kit mouldings and grafting them onto the bottom of the new body sides I'd scratch built.

It seems to have gone quite well but I need to add the window drop lights to the back of the doors on each side and fix some blocks on the back to set the height the floor sits at before I glue it together into a box, but I'm very satisfied with how it's progressed so far.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Gold Blend

After many long sessions of painstaking work, one side - just one side - of our carriage 15 has its ornate gold lining applied.

Looks amazing, doesn't it!

Himself tells me that it took the best part of a whole day's work to complete the last half of this side, and he felt quite cross-eyed at the end of it.

He's got to do exactly the same on the other side and then there's a lot of white lining to put on each end of the carriage plus more gold leaf around the panelling on along the frame, which you cannot see in this picture.

So it's going to be quite a while before this carriage joins the fleet.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Name Board

Himself is slowly working through the list of things to make Bron Hebog look more like it's 'finished' for taking it to Bressingham.

Something that we'd never got around to until now was making up a proper name board and some lighting.

It's not an optimum solution, because what we'd really like is a pelmet that goes all the way around the front of the layout, but the difficulty we have with Bron Hebog is it's unusual depth on the main S bend section.

It's not realistic to have it supported from the rear without some advanced, lightweight engineering and we really don't want to break up the views by having posts along the front or at the corners.

(Another curiosity about the layout is that you can view it on three sides.

We've mounted as many LED spots as we can on the brackets and they'll hopefully improve the illumination a little but it is a big area to flood with light.

The big test will come at Narrow Gauge East next month.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Side By Side

With anything in life once you've got the first one out of the way it's always easier to do a second, so it only took me around an hour to panel up the other side of WHHR brake van 2.

I've been pleased with the positive response I've received to my plan to finish it in the BR blue livery it's wearing in 2018, complete with the 'arrows of indecision'.

I suppose this might be because narrow gauge modellers are by definition rather deviant from the mainstream, and perhaps a lot of you share my affection for quirky items.

However I'd also like to think that perhaps my generation - the children of the '70s - are beginning to reclaim their own heritage which has decried and denied for too long in my humble opinion.

On the big railway diesel preservation came of age a long time ago and so many of them are now being proudly displayed in rail blue livery.

In fact, nostalgia for the '80s is creeping in with more of the machines sporting the large logo livery again.

I'd like to think that one day the Vale of Rheidol might be brave enough to explore its own unique heritage as the last outpost of BR steam, but sadly, for me, they seem determined to present it as a 1930's 'chocolate box' GWR branchline.

It's perhaps not the most original offering in UK railway preservation, but they have a business to run and they must do what they feel they need to do.

They're not the only ones apparently determined to forget the '70s, alas....

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Side 1 Of 2

I found time for a little bit of modelling over the weekend and began adding the panelling to one of the sides of WHHR van 2.

I haven't cut the windows out of the end pieces yet, and nor have I been brave enough to take a scalpel to the sides in the Dundas kit to sever the frame and the footboards from the rest of the bodyside.

The downside of the plan is one false move with the blade and I could end up having to buy another kit, or rethinking my plans.