Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Copy Cat

I'm afraid to say I've had one of those periods where not a lot has moved on the project on my workbench - Superbarn 120.

My intention is to start work on the underside of the chassis first and to remind myself what needs to go under there and where I've borrowed one of the fleet of other Superbarn carriages as a guide.

Hopefully its presence might spur me into action.

Monday, 29 October 2018


With the tap needed to fit the cranks still not arrived Himself has been continuing with work on the body of NGG16 143.

Working backwards from the front power bogie he has begun to assemble the boiler unit.

All the window details have been added onto the cab and a small alternation to the pivot point of the rear bogie has been made - as we do on all our Garratts - to let it bend a little bit more on the tightest corners.

The front water tank it looking pretty much complete.

It's had the wrapper - with all the rivets rubbed off - fitted, and he's also extended the cut out section at the rear to make it a more accurate representation of 143.

The doors on the top of the tank, giving access to the filling hole, are made from styrene.

He's still got to add the lifting eyes in each corner and we'll be fitting our 143 with it's big, sexy lamp on the front rather than the silly little SAR headlights.

As well as that he's also made the first folds on the footplate of the rear power bogie.

Looking very good so far, don't you think?

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Mending Merddin

It looks like we've finally got to the bottom of what was the matter with Merddin Emrys.

You may remember a couple of weeks ago I posted about how Himself was going to remove and refit the power bogies and the drive shafts to see if that was the explanation for its increasingly arthritic performance.

Initial performance on Dduallt at the exhibition last weekend was promising, with it having a fair turn of speed again, but as the show wore on it slowed down to a crawl again.

Himself decided that he could no longer avoid opening it up to take a look at the motor.

This is not a simple operation on a Backwoods Fairlie.

As you can see from the picture above he had to remove the boiler / smokebox castings, the cab roof and the firebox wrapper to get at it.

He tells me that what he found under there was a motor caked in filth.

By twisting the motor around in its mount he could get to the brush holders, and having removed them, discovered there was barely anything left of them!

Fortunately there was just enough meat on them that the commutator had not suffered any damage.

Our Merddin must be at least 15 years now, and has run many thousands of scale miles on Dduallt and Bron Hebog, so I suppose we shouldn't be surprised.

He recovered some spare brushes from a disused motor and has fitted those and reports that it appears to have revived the locomotive, although it has yet to have a proper run on a test track because both the layouts are still packed away.

It says a lot for the regard in which Backwoods designer, Pete, held Mashima-san, that he was prepared to trap the motor in the firebox cradle on these engines so as to make it virtually impossible to remove them again.

He always said the only maintenance you'd ever have to do was possibly replace the brushes - let's hope he was right.

Himself is making noises about getting in a stock of spare brushes in case the Earl and DLG begin to show similar symptoms.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Dduallt at Greenock

I did promise to post some more footage of Dduallt running at the show in Greenock at the weekend and here it is.

If you like what you see here then why not plan yourself a trip to the 'Fair City' of Perth to see it for yourself next June?

Details of our confirmed appearances can be found on the exhibition diary page.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018


In the days leading up to the Greenock show with Dduallt Himself got some more work done on Garratt 143.

Progress on the chassis has come to a halt while he awaits the arrival of a new 14BA tap for the fly cranks, his previous one having disappeared somehow.

He has got the wheelsets and the gearbox fitted and the cylinders are loosely in position.

So in the meantime he's started work on the front water tank.

He tells me that he's had to make a change to the way it's attacked at the back.

Usually there's a long screw comes down from the top of the tank but it can't be used in this case because of the difference in the fittings on the top of 143's tank compared to the earlier batch of NGG16s which the kit was made to represent.

Instead he has made up a bracket to attach it to the frame.

The outline of the tank is clear to see here although it has yet to have the outer wrapper fitted.

The overlays for the front and the rear are in place though and - much to the designer's horror, no doubt - the rivet detail has been filed off because 143 has a smooth-sided, welded tank.

It's very early days, of course, but it's terrific to see that distinctive Garratt shape emerging already.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

The Resurrection

An old Presbyterian kirk seems a very appropriate place for what is starting to look like the second coming of Dduallt.

We had a terrific first day showing the layout at the annual exhibition of our new home club in Greenock, and were very pleased to receive a number of enquiries about taking Dduallt to exhibitions in what will be its silver anniversary year in 2019.

We've already confirmed that we'll be going to the excellent Perth exhibition in June and it looks like there are others in the pipeline now, too.

Truly this is the layout which refuses to die.

Having spent most of the previous quarter century being exhibited around southern and middle England (with a healthy number of forays to what the English touchingly insist on referring to as 'the North') it's been very rewarding to show to whole new audience here in the west of Scotland.

Those with long memories may recall that Dduallt did make a cross-border raid to appear at the Model Rail Scotland show at the SEC in Glasgow once.

We'll try and post some more pictures and videos from the show during the week.

Friday, 19 October 2018

Table Tops

Sometimes it's tricky to find a task to fill a spare half hour at the modelling bench.

If time is limited you don't want to start on something involved only to have to put it aside as soon as you've started.

This is partly why there hasn't been any progress on the latest Super Barn 119 for a while - that and the need to produce that batch of wagon kits I was working on.

Anyway, I had a few minutes to myself the other night, and wondering what I could usefully get on with, I decided to clean up the interior castings and glue the table tops into position.

I think will try and get the underframe detail fixed onto the floor first before I glue the seats into position - tempting though that is as a 'quick win' - because sometimes the effect of the glue can cause the floor to bow upwards.

As always in this game, patience pays off.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

The Fourth Garratt

Himself has officially begun work on our fourth NGG16 - this one will be 143.

He tells me that he's taking it slowly and doing his very best work on it, but to me the progress looks very impressive already.

The front power unit has had its running plate folded and the buffer beam overlay and cow-catcher fitted, which involves a lot of very careful bending and a good deal or rivet pressing-out.

The picture below shows the chassis mainframes with the springs and equalising beams fitted along with the brake pull rods soldered into place.

The next step with this will be to fold them and fit the gearbox and axles.

I imagine there's a lot of re-learning and refreshing of memories going on for him as it's been four years since he completed our most recent Garratt, which was finished as 138.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Waggon Tracks

Lilla will be one of the models getting a first run on Dduallt at an exhibition this weekend, having only been completed last year, long after the layout was last shown.

It's been used to give our slate waggon rake a test on the layout, here seen double heading with Moelwyn (one of my favourite models).

I'm told that Lilla is able to haul the full rake around the spiral unassisted, which is rather impressive for a very lightweight 3D printed body, I think.

The slate waggons are starting to show their age.

They're made from Dundas plastic kits and some of them are getting on for 30 years old, and inevitably that material starts to get brittle as it ages.

This is manifesting itself around the axle boxes which are the most vulnerable parts of the model.

Himself is taking about a rolling replacement programme for the fleet.

We shall see.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

The Old Wizard

Part of the pre-exhibition testing process has been taking a look at Merddin Emrys to see why our oldest Fairlie has been getting a bit arthritic of late.

It had to be restricted to light duties in service on Bron Hebog at Dinas because in one direction is was reduced to a crawl at full power when running with a full rake of FR stock.

The difficulty with these Backwoods Fairlies is that the motor is not accessible for servicing - it is built into the body at an early stage of construction.

Himself's greatest fear is that it should fail completely or become burnt out.

One theory he had was that during the servicing he carried out on the bogies prior to the Dinas show, he might have got the drive shafts mixed up, or somehow not located properly.

He's reported back that he's had a fiddle with it and it seems to be performing a bit better.

Let's hope so.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Still Stocktaking

The process of giving every item of rolling stock a check before the exhibition next week continues.

These two 'Bug Boxes' have been brought in for a coupling transplant.

Being old school I still refer to them, even today, as 5 and 6

For many years when I was a kid number 5 was the only one of the iconic Small Birmingham carriages in traffic, and it wore the regulation red livery.

(A lot of younger people won't remember this, and part of me suspects that at the moment we're not allowed to.)

This model is a legacy of our original dateline of 1988 for Dduallt, which was the last year that the passing loop remained available for operation and the 'one livery' policy was just beginning to break down.

Prince had emerged in red in 1986 and then then next year the 'Mountain Prince' two-tone carriage livery was brought in, followed in '88 by the reappearance of Merddin Emrys from its cosmetic surgery and carriage 15 going into a royal purple and cream colour scheme.

In the decades since then, of course, we've kept up with all the developments in livery, locomotives and rolling stock, but there was some historical logic to our modelling, once....

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Lyn And Linda

Test running continues as we count down the days until Dduallt goes on show in Greenock next weekend.

When I popped in the other day and took a peek into the railway cave I noticed a very distinctive, golden shape in the lower fiddle yard.

Our Backwoods Lyn made its debut at the Superpower event on Bron Hebog last month, but that's a very different sort of layout - as is the WHR a very different sort of railway.

So the big question - to which I honestly do not know the answer - is will Lyn get around Dduallt?

Will it squeeze through Rhoslyn Cutting (beneath the bridge which carries the spiral) or will it get stuck?

All vote now!

(Of course, the real locomotive wouldn't get through Garnedd Tunnel, but Rule Number 1 applies.)

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Eking Out

I blogged a couple of days ago about how I was down to the dregs of my current stock of resin - well, at least one of the two liquid components - so I needed to be very sparing in how I used it.

The good news is that I've managed to cast enough sets of seat and table bases for the interior of superbarn 120.

I've also been able to cast a few more side pieces for our own design of the standard modern FR carriage bogie, which Himself has been pestering me for.

The few drops I have left I'll be using up over the next couple of days casting a few more seats for a friend who's asked very nicely.

I've no idea why he wants them, because to the best of my knowledge he doesn't have a superbarn or an observation car to put them in, but I shall endeavour to do as I am requested.

Because I'm nice like that.

Friday, 5 October 2018

Ticking Time Bomb

I've been caught out again by the deadly combination of lead and PVA glue.

This is like a silent killer that lurks within your models, forgotten about, until it slowly, remorselessly, tears it apart.

Such as Himself discovered was happening to my scratch built cherry picker wagon.

I'd forgotten I'd even filled part of the chassis with liquid lead to give it some weight when I built it.

Fortunately, as you can see above, the main body of the wagon has come off in one piece and although the chassis is broken in two pieces it was able to be glued back together.

The wagon is now back in service on Dduallt.

The question is, what other stock is fitted with this kind of time bomb?

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Training Day

You can't put on a show without a proper rehersal, so Himself has been diligently checking all the stock we'll be using when we take Dduallt to the show in Greenock last this month.

He took a couple of snaps during a running session at the weekend.

The fact it's also, in FR-speak, Jolly Good Fun, is neither here nor there.

Monday, 1 October 2018


My supplies of resin are dwindling after casting another run of a dozen SAR wagon kits for sale through Narrow Planet and I'm going to have to prioritise what I use the last few millilitres for.

I think the best thing to use it for just now is to make up a set of seats and tables for superbarn 120 which is midway through construction.

These could be scratch built, of course, but that's very boring.

Before that I think it would be wise to make up a fresh mould as the old one was beginning to stretch ever so slightly.

The units were designed to fit exactly between the window pillars but on the last carriage I built they needed a little bit of filing so that each one lined up exactly.

Incidentally, if anyone has any suggestions for a good supplier of reasonably small amounts of suitable fast cure resin please so let me know.