Thursday, 31 January 2019

How Green Is Your Garratt?

It appears my eyes may have deceived me, after all.

I posted a few days ago about how Himself had asked me to help choose an appropriate tin of paint for 143 - because he's not too good with his greens.

In the tin, and on a test patch, it looked like it might do a passable impression of the current colour of the WHR's youngest Garratt, but now I've seen it with the first two coats applied I'm no longer so sure.

It looks a bit too much like an LNER apple green to me.

So, with a little harrumphing, I've sent Himself back to search through his paint store to see if he has anything a few shades darker.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Picture Window

After many months in abeyance there has been progress on 152.

I'd reached the stage with the body that I couldn't do much more without Himself making up the roof and the front window pillars.

Usually when I build a superbarn I still put in a false ceiling to support the top rail of the body and strengthen the structure, but that's not possible on the observation cars because of the huge window in the end which goes all the way up to the roof, which would give the game away.

The pillars are soldered in position at the top and will be glued to the bodyside at the bottom once we've decided that we're 100% satisfied with their positions.

At the moment I've still not seen it for real - I've only got these two snaps to go on - but Himself is planning to bring it over later this week where I shall run my beady eyes over it before we commit to fixing it all in place.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Ready To Paint

The last of the superbarns is ready to get a coat of primer.

This is our model of 120, made the same as the rest of the fleet from a resin cast body with a styrene chassis and a brass roof, plus various other details in wire such as the handrails (not fitted in this view) and the gutter downpipes.

When I say 'the last' what I mean is that we've finally caught up with the prodigious output from Boston Lodge and our FR carriage fleet will be up to date when we've got this out outshopped.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Red And Green

Himself has begun the process of painting 143.

We'd had a debate about whether grey or red oxide primer was the way to go and it appears he's chosen the latter.

I've also been called upon to make the decision on the shade of green it will be finished in.

That's something of a poisoned chalice because it's one of those colours which, to me at least, appears different depending on the light conditions, and even more so if involves a photograph rather than using the naked eye.

There's also the issue that over the years the colour on some parts of the locomotive have faded.

At these points my mind always goes back to the discussions we had on what colour to paint our DLG many years ago.

Various mixes were brushed onto a piece of card which was posted up to me to peruse.

Unfortunately the colour I chose looked very much lighter and brighter when painted on the model that it appeared on the test card, and I've never lived it down.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Brass Roofs

Himself is doing that thing he often does where he's progressing multiple projects at the same time.

As well as preparing 143 for painting and assembling the body of bowsider 20, he's also got around to cutting and bending the brass roofs for a couple of superbarns I built last year.

Nearest the camera is the latest observation car, 152, which is quite a complex job.

As well as making the sure the front edge of the roof followings the curvy profile of the carriage body he's also going to solder in the two window pillars made from brass, create a lip along the underside which will keep the top rail of the sides nice and straight and also add some depth to the underside to represent the ornate ceiling on these latest luxury carriages.


The one behind is rather more straightforward.

It's 120, the latest of the second series of third class saloons.

Most of the other details have been completed on this carriage, such as the interior and under floor detail.

Once the roof is fixed in place he'll be adding the finishing touches like the vac pipes and the handrails either side of the entrance doors before moving on to paint it.

152 will be heading back in my direction for the fitting of its exceptionally posh interior, the parts of which are already cast in resin.

Monday, 21 January 2019

Twenty Twenty

After my (assisted) efforts to construct a Worsley carriage body Himself has continued with another of the batch I have bought, which is an additional model of bowsider 20.

Our existing model, which is also a Worsley one, is finished in the two-tone red and ivory livery the carriage was turned out in back in 1988 - which was the original nominal year setting for Dduallt.

If my memory is correct, 20 was the only one of the bowsiders which escaped having all its beading stripped off in the 1970s, and so when the 'Mountain Prince' livery was introduced the ivory went in the panels aping the green and ivory livery so familiar from the revival era in the 1950s.

Now, of course, 20 wears the incredibly depressing pain dark green livery of the Col. Stephens era.

As such it will make a nice wee set for the layouts running with our model of 16 and van 2 (I still call it 10).

Saturday, 19 January 2019

In Bits

143 has moved into the paint shop (sort of).

The last detailing parts have been added to the main boiler unit and it's been split into the sub-assemblies readying for a coat of primer.

The issue with the two motor units running at different speeds has been resolved by exchanging the slower running one for a spare we had in stock.

Himself did manage to get the metal worm gear off the shaft with the application of brute strength, but it was damaged in the process, so he's ended up robbing one of the unbuilt kits for a nylon replacement and begun scouring the internet to find a source for another one of those.

The only one he's found is from a supplier in Germany who don't ship to the UK - has Brexit already happened? I think we should be told!

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Brass Master

I've been getting a masterclass in soldering carriage bodies together from Himself - it was long overdue.

I've obtained a selection of 'scratch aid' kits from Worsley Works for vehicles which we need to add to our stock, or update other models, and I thought the easiest one to start with might be the NWNGR 'Glasdstone Car'.

Well, the body might be rather simple, with no droplights or ventilator hoods to solder on, nor tricky tumblehomes to bend, but easy? Not really.

One of the issues, as I discovered, is that the etches are something like the 3D puzzles you got on the Krypton Factor (kids, ask your parents) on account of the fact they come with no instructions.

So it took a while to work out how it was intended to go together, in particular with the blocks which hold a nut to secure the floor to the body - we eventually realised they were supposed to go within the central glazed compartment.

I learned a number of useful wrinkles during the afternoon, like employing a good old bulldog clip to hold one piece down on the edge of a thick sheet of glass, which also makes an excellent surface for helping to ensure your body remains square and sits flat.

Another tip was to have a small piece of thin cardboard you can place between the model and your finger tips which acts as an excellent insulator when the brass heats up.

One of the most awkward aspects of these kits, especially this one with its exceptionally flimsy window pillars, is the need to butt join at the corners.

The idea was that I was supposed to do most of the soldering but, inevitably, it ended up with Himself taking over for jobs like these.

Still, we had a basic body shell at the end of the session.

Now it's up to me to do something about making up the interior.

Oh, and don't mention the bogies, especially to Himself. It's a bit of a sore point.

(But let the record show I was right!)

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

So Solid

I popped in to check in on Himself and get the low down on the Garratt test running session the other day.

He was in the process of swapping round motors on the power units to confirm his suspicions that one was running much slower (or faster) that the other, and that is was nothing to do with the chassis.

We do have some spare Mashima motors in stock - and does appear possible to order replacements online - the issue is more that having loctite'd the worm gear onto the shaft of the slow running motor he has yet to find a method of removing it so it can be transferred to a replacement.

So the search is on for a source of additional worm gears.

We'll get there, I'm sure....

I also noticed on the workbench the first signs of something happening towards our fifth Garratt, number 130.

The final batch of Backwoods Kits came with spoked wheels, rather than the solid ones that the real locomotives had, so Himself's plan for that is to fill the holes between the spokes with Millput.

But the time it's painted black and hidden behind the frames and those huge balance weights no one will know the difference.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Go Forth And Multiply

143 is a runner!

After muttering that he was struggling to get the motivation to head back to the workbench after six months enforced break, imaging my surprise when a video shot by Andy Strathie pinged into my inbox the other night showing our fourth Garratt galloping around the test track at the Greenock and District MRC HQ.

Himself tells me that he's not entirely happy with it yet.

The front power unit is running about 50% faster than the rear, which he is putting down to a variation in the motors rather than anything mechanical in the chassis department.

I recall that we had this happen on our K1 and ended up re-motoring it.

More fettling required with this one, I suspect.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Not Much To See

The early stages of a model are rarely spectacular.

So it is with the masters for Van 51.

I've cut the base piece for one side to which I will later add the beading detail on top.

This is going to be my third model of this van.

The first shows it in it's almost original condition with a covered entrance vestibule in place of the balcony, and finished in cherry red livery.

The second one is finished in the later engineers livery with the grey at the bottom and the yellow in a band around the windows.

Since then it reverted back to red livery, and now back to its very first livery of green, but this time with a third window in the bottom end.

I hope it'll be an interesting little project.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019


I'm usually quite circumspect and diplomatic on this blog.

I try not to go in for polemics or to stir up controversy for the sake of it, or just to get attention.

Every now and then, however, I feel that there is something which has to be said, and this is such an occasion.

The subject is 3D printing.

Or to be correct, 3D printing design and the degree of care and attention which does - and more frequently, doesn't - go into it.

This is not a rant against the technology.

We have a couple of 3D printed locomotive bodies ourselves which were designed by Robex who have created wonderfully detailed and fine models.

Here, for example, is a screenshot of one of their FR slate wagons.
There is always another end to every spectrum, sadly.

The other day, as I was googling around for pictures to research a model, I was led to a 'shop' on perhaps the most well-known 3D print site where I was appalled to come across a fleet of what were purported to be scale models of FR stock - some of it of very rare items of rolling stock of which I know of only a few previous models, all painstakingly scratch built.

(Many of which by me.)

In most cases what is presented are computer simulated images, not actual printed models, so it is impossible to judge them in reality, but what I can see on the screen makes it exceedingly hard for me to accept the stated claim that they are accurate scale models.

There are some dimensions which are just grotesque, and other parts which, frankly, might as well be built using Lego.

It seems to me that many of these designs are being 'knocked up' in almost indecent haste with seemingly not a care that parts of them bear no obvious resemblance to the real thing.

Some of the prices are, frankly, iniquitous, and I don't mind telling you that it makes me mad.

In my view it is even more important in this digital age to keep the words caveat emptor at the forefront of your mind.

Monday, 7 January 2019

Area 51

I'm in that strange 'between projects' zone that I suspect every modeller experiences from time to time.

I've decided to make a start on a future project which has been at the back of my mind for a wee while and was brought to the forefront again my a message on a Christmas card asking if there'd be any new kits in 2019?

As you can see I believe in doing things in a very analogue way....

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Picking Up

Hopefully next week should see the resumption of work on our new Garratt 143.

Himself was taken out of service a few weeks before Christmas for a motion overhaul - having his clock side connecting rod replaced - and the fitter insisted on a six week spell of running in before he could be put back into traffic.

Now he feels ready to sit at the workbench again and finish off the construction work on the kit.

You'll remember that the mechanical work on the bogies had been completed, but they hadn't had their pick ups fitted yet, so that'll be one of the first jobs so it can be put through its paces properly.

On the main boiler unit the outstanding jobs are to fit all the handrails, fix on the chimney and the smokebox door, and the clips which secure the cab roof.

So long as he doesn't drop any bits on the floor while he's doing this we'll be fine.....

Thursday, 3 January 2019

A Large Wonder

One of the joys of the festive season is receiving new books and having time to read them.

Assuming they are average size books it's a reasonable ambition to get through them before going back to work - but the one I was given is very far from average.

Little Giants is a weighty publication in every sense of the phrase.

I've only managed to get through a couple of chapters, as far in the story as the introduction of the Small England engines, but already I am hugely impressed.

It's clear that a tremendous amount of research has been done by a the authors with lots of new information collated and reinterpreted.

What's struck me most is the way they are giving us the big picture and not confining themselves to a dry and purely technical history of the locomotives.

This book also delves into the social history surrounding the railway and the personalities behind it - I had no idea that Robert Francis Fairlie was such a cad or the machinations of the very Victorian George England.

The book is not cheap, and it weighs a ton, but it is a very impressive piece of work and comes highly recommended.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

New Year (Same As The Last)

I find myself beginning 2019 much the same as I ended the previous year - casting another batch of wagon kits.

Sales of my SAR range at Narrow Planet have been brisk again leading to a request to produce more stock to be sold on the website.

The turn of the year is traditionally a time to make resolutions and my intentions for the next few months are that I would definitely like to build up my stock of WHHR carriages to have a more representative rake to hang behind Russell and the Baldwin.

Himself is coming towards the end of his project to build Garratt 143 and when that's done I'll be giving him plenty of encouragement to start on 130, which I fully expect to see entering service in Wales this year.

I know that he's also keen to make progress on the second FR Observation Car 152 which has been in abeyance for a number of months now.

I cast and assembled the majority of the body but I'm waiting for him to make up the brass roof and the solder the front pillars into position before I take it back and add the interior.

He's also been mentioning to me that he'd like to build some models of bowsiders 17 and 20 in their current liveries to bring our vintage sets up to date.

So, all in all, there's plenty to be getting on with.