Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Battle Of The Bulge

Himself has been working hard to sort out the last of the baseboard joints after some issues cropped up during the show at Bressingham last month.

Eventually, after a lot of measuring, we discovered the problem was that the boards at the Porthmadog end of the layout were ever-so-slightly shorter than the ones at the Rhyd Ddu end.

Although it didn't stop the layout being put together it was having the effect of putting a  strain through the structure (which forms a large square) with the consequence that some of the boards were being pulled apart a little.

And with the tiny wheels of 009 even gap of a couple of millimetres will affect the running. 

The discrepancy probably occurred as a result of the boards being built many years afterwards in a place where there was no opportunity to erect the layout to check how it fitted together.

The fix he decided on was too add a 9mm fillet to the joint between the lower fiddle yard and where it joins the first scenic board.

This also had the effect of moving the edge of the fiddle yard out by 15mm and so the tracks had to be slewed to match and the locating dowels repositioned as well.

The effort has been worth it, though, because the board joints at the front of the layout, in the station area, have closed up nicely and it's been tested by propelling a long rake of B wagons (the stock most vulnerable to derailing) all the way from the station into the fiddle yard.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Baldwin At Beddgelert

There was something very exciting in the post while I was away on my summer holidays, something that until very recently I never thought I would see - a stunning ready-to-run 009 locomotive.

Usually there's not a lot to look forward to when you return home but this time I was full of anticipation for getting to take a look at our Bachmann Baldwin 4-6-0.

Most of Bron Hebog is set up for testing and fettling of the board joints at Himself's place at the moment so we've actually had the chance to give it a proper test and have some fun taking a few snaps.

It's been 80 years since a Baldwin was last seen at Beddgelert.

I do hope it won't be too much longer before either 778 or the pretend 590 being restored for the WHHR can play out these scenes for real.

Friday, 27 July 2018

Utterly And Ruthless

It's not usually my style but sometimes, if you're ever going to achieve your goals, there is a moment where you have to be ruthless.

For us that came a couple of weeks ago when we secured what I know to be the last pair of Backwoods 009 NGG16 kits produced.

To say that these are sought after since the business was closed down is a Garratt-sized understatement.

When, by chance, I discovered a seller who had these up for grabs it was clear to me that I had to ensure we secured them for Bron Hebog.

The layout, you see, has been a 20 year project, and we've never rushed or hurried.

We'd been merrily going along collecting the locomotive and rolling stock no faster than we were building them, so when Pete called time on Backwoods we were caught napping having only built 3 NGG16s, with only 2 of them finished as WHR examples (87 and 138).

This left us stuck in the herd chasing the finite number of unbuilt kits which very occasionally pop up for sale.

(Because, as friends of ours have discovered to their cost, you can never be sure what you're getting if you purchase one that someone else has completed....)

In this case the seller was getting out of model railways - indeed, getting out of the country - and having seen the prices that other Backwoods kits had sold for in online auctions was intending to throw these to the wolves on eBay as well.

Now, as well having a well-hidden ruthless streak I will also admit to not being too proud to beg.

I had to find a way to tie down a deal for these kits before they went on the open market, not only because there would be no limit on the price but also because of the jeopardy which goes with the timed-auction situation.

To cut a long story short, it was to my immense relief that the seller was eventually persuaded that the most fitting home for the last two Backwoods kits was for them to be completed to a high standard and run on Bron Hebog for everyone to enjoy at exhibitions, rather than gathering dust in a drawer or exploited for profit.

We still paid a very inflated price (compared to the nominal box prices for the kits) but we have no complaints - that's the reality of the market for them these days.

And can you put a price on getting the opportunity to see through a project you've put 20 years of your life into?

So what will we be doing with these two?

One of them will certainly be finished as 143 in its current green livery.

The other, depending of developments on the real railway, may be turned out as 130 which is coming towards the end of a major restoration at Dinas, or it could be that we convert our original ACR black-livered Garratt to represent it.

In which case the final kit could potentially be finished as 140 or 109, if either of them ever turn a wheel on the WHR.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Being Bee-Zee

I hope you've enjoyed the posts showing off some of my favourite models while I was away on holiday over the last few weeks.

Now I'm back I haven't wasted any time in getting on with the BZ wagon project.

I'm starting with the simpler of the two which follows the same pattern of struts as a B wagon with a small central door.

I've made the masters for the side pieces and also a first stage for the ends.

I say first stage because the ends on the BZ wagons - which fold flat to form ramps between them when they're coupled together - are not identical.

So what I've done is made an initial master with the details which are common to both ends, then I shall cast two copies of it and add the extra bits which are unique to each end, and use them as the final masters to cast from.

Monday, 23 July 2018

Brown Paper Packages

You never forget your first Pullman!

When I was first shown the design for this carriage in the early days of the WHR project I really did wonder how I was ever going to manage to copy it in miniature in styrene, especially with those oval window and door frames.

So that fact that I did, and I remain rather pleased about that, is the reason I've chosen it as the last of my favourite things for this series.

(Sound of Music fans can breath a sigh of relief now.)

Although I've now seen quite a few of these made using the Worsley Works scratch-aid kit in brass I'm still rather chuffed that mine was the first and entirely scratch built.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Wild Geese That Fly

A very important part of the fleet in the weather we've been having so far this summer is the water tank wagon.

In South Africa vehicles like these were towed behind the Garratts to extend their operating range, in Wales its role is as a strategic, mobile store of fire-fighting water in case of a lineside conflagration on one of the more remote sections of the WHR.

I puzzled for a while about how to build the tank before I discovered the diameter was pretty much a match for plastic pipe I could by at the local DIY store, and for the domed ends I adapted parts from that old faithful, the Airfix / Dapol four-wheel oil tank wagon kit.

The whole thing was mounted on one of my resin cast DZ wagon chassis.

On special occasions the wagon does get a run and performs another useful purpose as a barrier wagon between double headed NGG16s to prevent any strain on the heritage bridges on the WHR.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Schnitzel With Noodles

In this case the noodles definitely come in a tomato soup sauce!

I love everything about this model, except the colour, but I can't blame anyone except myself for that.

Himself did a fine job converting the Backwoods LT kit to look a little more like DLG, especially with the much wider cab opening.

It's just a shame it's so orange.

More DJT than DLG!

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Doorbells And Sleigh Bells

And so to the pride of our FR fleet.

Our model of Merddin Emrys was the first of three Backwoods Double Fairlies built by Himself.

If it looks a little different it's because we finished ours to look like it was in 1988 when it first emerged from its Victorian rebuild with oil tanks and less bling about it than it has theses days.

What a beauty it is with those lovely big Fairlie wheels.

It wasn't Pete's first 009 kit but I regard it as the one which changed the rules on what was possible in this scale.

I hope that one day a manufacturer will take the obvious step of producing an RTR Fairlie, I'm certain it would be a big hit.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Crisp Apple Strudels

Or perhaps gooey goulash, in this case, because this wagon has Romanian roots.

It was built for the WHR push to Porthmadog to supplement the SAR ballast wagons, and it's party piece is to spread the stones in all sorts of directions rather than just to the side of the track.

It was a hideously complicated shape to make out of styrene and I'm really chuffed with it, including all the brass bits I shaped and soldered for it.

There's no way I could have taken it on without a very kind insider taking pity on me and giving me a copy of the plans and lots of photos of it under construction.

Friday, 13 July 2018

Cream Coloured Ponies

Since I began modelling the FR I've always been drawn to the quirky items of rolling stock, and they don't come quirkier than the Parry People Mover.

This complete technological flop - sorry, but it was in Welsh Highland terms - never made it beyond Dinas before it left the railway.

(In fact it barely made it to Dinas at all without frequent stops to spin up the flywheel.)

So running it on Bron Hebog is a classic case of Rule Number 1.

However, I justify it on the basis that if it stayed on the railway long enough - and if it somehow managed to limp to Pitt's Head - it would certainly be able to freewheel quite happily all the way down to the sea again.

It runs on a Kato 4 wheel chassis with a body I made out of styrene.

I think it has something of the spirit of the BR / Leyland prototype railbus, which morphed into the Pacers, about it.

As a kid in the 80s I remember thinking that machine was pretty cool.

Alas, the PPM looks unlikely to lead to a railcar revolution on the WHR.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Warm Woollen Mittens

It's totally unprototypical to be sitting in the siding at Beddgelert, for lots of reasons, but this model of one of the FR's former oil tank wagons counts as one of my favourite things.

The model was a challenge to make because I had to kit-bash a plastic kit for a vintage road tanker - from Cooper Craft if I remember rightly - to get the distinctive oval shape, and then scratch build quite a complicated chassis.

The bogies are also home made being a very unusual Polish design which the FR acquired a number of once, and for which I could find nothing similar on any N gauge wagon or carriage.

It also makes very creative use of waterslide transfers to represent the livery carried by this vital, yet unsung, fleet of waggons which have now passed into history.

Can you see how the word oil is made to look like a loco?

Monday, 9 July 2018

Bright Copper Kettles

I suppose, by rights, it should be steam engines we're featuring today, but I'm posting these photographs in the order I took them so you've got a pair of diesels instead.

Both of our Funkey locomotives are made from Worsley Works kits sitting on Farish class 90 chassis, but we've added quite a few extra details to improve them.

Most obviously, we've added false pieces on the chassis block to create the effect of the very tall bogies on these engines.

Himself has also cut back the front of the roof on the Vale of Ffestiniog, which is too long as supplied, and they both have some headlight jewels, handrails and extra bits like horns on the bonnet.

Our Caernarfon Castle is currently confined to light traffic, suffering from some transmission issues.

How prototypical!

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Whiskers On Kittens

I can't pretend that the Rodgers and Hammerstein lyrics bear any relation to the models in these posts, so please don't waste any of your time looking for hidden meanings.

This time I thought I would feature our Cinderella Garratt, K1.

For the locomotive which was supposed to be the icon of the WHR reconstruction - the WHR's Double Fairlie - it's remarkable how low a profile it had once it returned to steam.

I suppose that's the WHR for you - commercial to its wheel flanges - and K1 just couldn't handle the loadings the railway requires.

I hope we will see it steam again, though.

This is a Backwoods Miniatures kit, and until the latest vintage carriages came along, with all their gold leaf, I thought it was Himself's ultimate lining job.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Raindrops On Roses

Recently there have been comments that there are not enough pictures of our collection of rolling stock on this blog.

(In fact, for those who care to look, there is a link to archived Model Of The Week posts from a few years back which feature a lot of what we have in our stock boxes.)

However, I thought I would take advantage of a fortnight's enforced separation from the modelling bench to show you a few of my favourite things.

(Have you cottoned onto the title now?)

For me, the most satisfying models are always the ones you've scratch built, because you have the double challenge of working out how to do it and then actually doing it.

It also means you can own unique and obscure models like our version of the FR Cherry Picker wagon.

The bucket at the end of the boom was really difficult to form out of styrene - and it was even more difficult to get it to keep its shape - so I have no hesitation in choosing it as my first favourite thing.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

It's A Start

Things are progressing quite slowly at the moment - I blame the weather.

However, I have done something about beginning the 'Erics' project, casting the chassis so that I can begin making the masters for the sides and the ends.

I've decided to use one of the B wagon chassis as a base.

They differ slightly from the DZ wagons which are a little longer, mostly on account of the way the kits are put together.

I could extend the procrastination by going on to make up the brass bogies and cast the side pieces for them but I think I'll probably pull out my scalpel and start cutting some styrene.


Sunday, 1 July 2018

Master Of Disguise

Efforts to continue fettling the board joints have been thwarted by the freak heatwave on the Costa del Clyde this week.

To make sure that everything's correct at the Porthmadog end Himself ideally needs to erect the whole layout, but the garage is not big enough.

He reckons it might be possible by poking the southern end out beyond the garage doors but the heat has been so intense that were he to try doing so we'd probably end up with buckled rails, just like those which have been stopping the full sized trains running at times this week.

So instead he's been getting on with another little task, to try and disguise the board joint which runs the length of the layout and across the fields above the station.

One way of doing this is with a strategically placed wall.

For our stone walls we use the plaster castings by Ten Commandments, and the one here is in the condition them come in the packet before they are painted.

We're also having to do some spot re-turfing after a little bit of damagae was sustained dismantling the layout at Bressingham last month.