Thursday, 27 June 2019

Clearance Run

Himself tends to have a number of jobs on the go at once - or perhaps we should just call them 'concurrent projects'.

One of them is the Observation Car 152, which has recently had a pair of bogies made up for it and has been taken for a test run around Dduallt by Blanche, which has itself been undergoing a strip down and clean of its pick ups ahead of the show in Perth this weekend.

The wisdom of a test run at this stage may be recalled by long-time readers of this blog, who will know that I made a very elementary mistake building the chassis of 150 and managed to drill the holes for the bogies not precisely along the centre line of the carriage, meaning it walloped the side of the very tight Rhoslyn Cutting as it passed under the bridge.

Thankfully, I haven't repeated that mistake, and the sister carriage passes through very sweetly with an equal amount of daylight either side.

Himself is now gathering the mental energy to take on the task of making the curved glazing for the observation end...

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Test Build

I've made quick progress in getting the masters for Van 51 turned into rubber moulds and cast the first copies, which I've now cleaned up and glued together to see how it looks as a body shell.

At this stage I haven't established a design for the floor / chassis, so I've put the four sides together as a box with only a very small contact area on each corner, which is a little tricky.

When I come to write the instructions for the kit I will most likely advise builders to fix either the sides or the ends to the floor first, which will make it a lot easier to put together.

Compared to an injection moulded plastic kit these resin sides are a lot thinner, but because I used open back moulds there is always likely to be a tiny variation in the thickness from cast to cast.

I am very pleased with how the front balcony step has cast, and it looks good fixed in position.

The biggest outstanding issue is the handrail on the front edge of the balcony, but I have a plan for that.

Sunday, 23 June 2019


Himself has been doing some lovely detailing work on our Robex Gelert.

This is what really lifts a 3D printed body and makes it something that can live alongside a loco built from an etched brass kit, or one of the current, highly detailed, ready to run products.

I hope other modellers who are at the start of their journey in this hobby use this as inspiration, and perhaps in future decide not to settle for what comes off the printer as the finished article.

Most of the new bits have been made from brass, so they show very clearly in the pictures.

The most obvious are things like the coal rails on the bunker and the whistle, but look closely and you'll see lots of other things like the footsteps and various bits of pipework coming out from under the cab.

Most importantly, at the front end, he's made up something to represent the air brake pump and created a dart for the smokebox door.

This has mostly been done with scraps that you might find among your modelling materials such as hand rail knobs 16BA nuts, brass tube, wire and styrene rod.

I appreciate that for someone who never scratch builds that probably reads like one of those recipes that blithely refer to 'store cupboard ingredients'.....

Friday, 21 June 2019

Prime Minister’s Carriage

Himself has begun the process of painting our latest carriage, a reminder of the days when our most senior politician was probably regarded with a great deal more reverence than the men scrapping for the keys to Downing Street this week - although I suspect there was no less intrigue.

There was a request for a blow-by-blow account of how we paint our models so I’ll start with an image of them being primed.

We do this to give the top coat a better surface to key into.

We spray them using bog standard primer aerosols you can buy in a car parts store.

The red is for the brass parts and the grey for the plastic (or in this case, resin) bits.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Van Parts

I've finished making the masters for the body of Van 51 and will soon bury them beneath silicone rubber to make the moulds.

I'd spent a lot of time considering how best to deal with the balcony.

I had to decide whether to try and cast it as a one-piece as part of the end of the van or do it as a separate casting.

As you can see, in the end I decided to make it a piece on its own which can be glued in place.

One of the reasons for this is I will put both the ends in the same mould box, and if the steps were attached to the end it might increase the chances of getting reject castings.

What I hope will be noticed when the finished model is put together is that I've put brass chequer plate onto the balcony steps and platforms, which should be a nice little detail.

Now to make the moulds, cast the first set and build a prototype.

Monday, 17 June 2019

Parliamentary Majority

Nearly all the construction work on the Gladstone Carriage is done now.

Himself has made up some air brakes pipes for each end, and fitted a basic underframe - all things which are DIY on these body-only kits.

He also noticed the etched holes for the door handles and handrails were in the wrong place at one end of the carriage (it's supposed to be a mirror image) and he's fitted the footsteps and beefed them up with some brass wire behind to try to protect them from being knocked off by accident.

Now we're just waiting on a new pair of bogies arriving.

Dare I suggest that it may make an appearance in traffic at Perth in a couple of weeks?

Saturday, 15 June 2019


Himself has been giving the Gravity Train some TLC ahead of the exhibition in Perth at the end of this month.

At the previous show in Troon we had a couple of rather impressive pile-ups at the bottom of the spiral, the cause of which we eventually traced to 2-ton waggon with ageing wheel centres which were moving on their axle.

Himself was also anxious to finish exchanging all the original BEMO couplings for the rather less bulky Greenwich type.

Having done this he did a little bit of research and re-marshalled the train into what he assures me is the correct order for braked / unbraked 2 ton / 3 ton waggons on the present day demonstration gravity train, and marked them underneath accordingly so the train can be put away in the correct order in the stock box.

I'm not going to double check this and shall take his word for it, because it's getting dangerously close to rivet counting as far as I'm concerned.

The more important thing is that he has done some test running and tells me that it is running very sweetly downhill through the points now, which may, or may not, be less entertaining for the punters in Perth in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

New Buffer Beams

A small update on our Gelert project.

A pair of etched brass overlays have been fitted onto the buffer beams at the front and rear of the engine.

The designer of the chassis kit (for whom we have been test-building this prototype) was unhappy with this part of the Robex 3D printed body which came down too low.

You will notice that Himself has also replaced the moulded buffer with a pair of Greenwich couplings which are the standard on our layouts.

These couplings also swivel, which was a necessary adaptation because of the long overhang on this locomotive, which meant that when a fixed coupling was used it would drag the rolling stock off the rails on tight bends.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Roof On

There's been a lot of work done on the Gladstone Carriage since I finished the seats and passed it over to Himself.

The most obvious change is that a roof has been made and fitted.

Roofs are what you might term an 'optional extra' with Worsley Works scratch-aid kits, and Himself always likes to make them from brass, which is no doubt the best solution.

He tells me this one was a bit of a struggle to fit, probably on account of the very flimsy top rail of the carriage body compared to most other vehicles.

The seats are all now fixed to the removable floor, and the glazing is in place in the central compartment, although it will be slipped out when the carriage is painted.

At the moment it's sitting on temporary bogies from our pile of redundant Dundas ones from the FR corridor stock bogie replacement programme.

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Bottom End

I’ve been working steadily on my Van 51 project this week with the first of the ends made.

These are quite tricky to fabricate because you have to cut a blank piece with a curved top, then slice it off and fix the pillars with very precise spacing, chop them to the correct height (ensuring it’s level) then bond the top piece in place.

It’s rather flimsy to begin with but the second layer of beading makes it all nice and solid.

Friday, 7 June 2019

Seating Solution

We came up with a way of fixing the bench seats into the Gladstone Carriage - but it required liberal use of the disc cutter!

The problem was caused by the large box structures which hold the captive nuts to hold the chassis in.

They are part of the body because they soldered to the compartment dividers, and where what was stopping us attaching the interior seats to the floor / chassis.

The solution we came to is to removed the material at each side so that all which remains attached to the body is the central section with the nut inside.

This clears the way for the longitudinal benches to slip in from beneath, and retain the glazing too.

So now Himself can form a brass roof and get that soldered into position, which will protect the very flimsy and vulnerable top rails of the carriage.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019


My Van 51 project has taken a back seat in recent months while I’ve been making interiors for various carriages, but now the Gladstone Carr is done there’s no reason not to pick it up again.

I’d got so far as to make the basic outlines of the sides, and the next stage is to add the beading, which I’ve just completed.

My plan is to make a resin cast body which will fit onto a Dundas Quarryman’s Carriage chassis, and I’ve got one of them on order to help with the design.

The railings on the balcony will, I think, have to be an etched part.

Monday, 3 June 2019

More Couplings

Do you ever regret starting on a job?

I think that’s how Himself is getting to feel about the process of replacing all the couplings on our fleet.

Most of the carriages have been done and now he’s ploughing through the freight stock.

It’s a slow process because the original Bemo couplings have to be removed with the minimum of damage, and it’s a two stage process to fix on the replacement Greenwich couplings - first with superglue and then with epoxy resin (just to be in the safe side).

You also have to ensure the coupling heights match perfectly before finally touching up any paint chips that appeared while all that was going on.

Saturday, 1 June 2019


The last of the seats for the Gladstone Carriage have been finished and now I’m beginning to wonder why I agonised so much before starting on them.

The last ones were the long benches at either end of the open saloons.

Now it’s time to let Himself solve the conundrum of how to fit the seats in the centre compartment - and the glazing - while having no access from above or below if we follow our usual routine of fixing the roof in place before the carriage is painted.....