Wednesday, 30 October 2019

What’s The Point?

Some running repairs have been required to the fiddle yards following our exhibition outing.

A couple of the points became a bit iffy over the weekend, needing repeated presses of the push buttons - and a burst from the CPU - to throw.

Another one had a freak failure of the shaft connecting the motor and the point.

All those dodgy units have now been replaced.

It’s remarkable that we should have so many fail in one weekend given how those installed on Dduallt have done nearly 30 years.

One of the rotary switches to select the roads has been changed - a big job with so many connections to be unsoldered and replaced - and there were a number of failed LEDS to be renewed.

Components are not what they used to be, it seems..

Monday, 28 October 2019

You Tube Train

This was one of the more unusual trains we've ever run on Bron Hebog.

I suspect many of you have already guessed that the object on the wagon in front of Taliesin is a miniature digital camera.

It was being used to record a 'driver's eye view' sequence on the layout by a model railway You Tuber who posts highlights packages of exhibitions.

Bron Hebog is towards the end of the film but I would encourage you to pour yourself a cup of tea and watch the whole thing through because there were many great layouts on show in Greenock.

Saturday, 26 October 2019

152 On Test

It's amazing to think a week has gone by already since the Greenock show last weekend.

One of the pictures I haven't published until now is when Himself decided to give the new FR observation car a trip around the layout to see how it ran.

It was attached to the rear of one of the two full-length FR rakes we were running, taking the place of number 100 for one round trip.

It's at the stage where the gloss paint has been applied and the - very tricky - glazing cut and fitted.

Now the next job is to apply intricate Pullman lining using various kinds of waterslide transfer sheets produced by Fox.

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Golden Garratt

The only time we ever get to put the whole of Bron Hebog together is the rare occasions - a couple of times a year if we're lucky, when it gets invited to exhibitions.

If we've set up on the Friday evening the hour or so before the public get let in on the Saturday is our chance to have a little play for ourselves and so at the weekend our latest Garratt, 130, was taken for a spin around the S bends.

It's still very much in the running-in stage, with the front unit working much harder than the rear, and its test run came to a premature conclusion when the back one went on strike at the station throat.

I'm confident it won't be anything too serious.

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Post Exhibition Blues

We had a great weekend at our home club exhibition in Greenock giving Bron Hebog its Scottish debut.

Rather like with the return from a holiday, however, the days following a show like this leave you feeling rather flat.

I suspect it will be a few days before I get my mojo back.

Part of it, I think, is a subconscious feeling of dissatisfaction that local shows like ours don't always get the credit, or the clientele, they deserve.

This year's show in Greenock might have been small compared to one of the events in a big city but I would argue the quality of what was on show was on a par with anything I've seen elsewhere in recent years.

There are good things happening in Scottish railway modelling right now, but I have a suspicion its not getting the recognition it deserves.

The OO layouts which came first and second in the public vote in Greenock would find a place at any of the best exhibitions in the UK - Kilbowie (the Caley in Clydebank at the end of steam) and Barnsford Bridge (a bang-up to date depot layout) combine excellent scenic modelling with beautifully detailed and modified models plus the immersive experience of DCC light and sound.

We were humbled to receive a great many compliments for Bron Hebog but I suspect that for many of the ordinary punters, who are not dyed in the wool railway enthusiasts, it went slightly over their heads.

It's probably a taste of what it's always felt like to be exhibiting a continental layout at any time ever...

The truth is narrow gauge modelling - especially with 'weird' engines like Garratts - is very niche.

You can never get the same ego boost at a show like the one this weekend as we do when we've had it on display in the goods shed at Dinas station, with the real engines simmering outside and surrounded by an audience who know what they're looking at and, dare I say (?), fully appreciating what's gone into creating it.

It's a similar story in the online modelling world.

I've spent nearly 10 years writing this blog and posting on social media but still attract a fraction of the followers than many other modern image OO bloggers and vloggers can attract.

Is it frustrating? Frankly, yes it is.

Perhaps I'm just crabbit with the post-exhibition blues.

Friday, 18 October 2019

New This Weekend

In a few hours time (as I write) we’ll be in the process of setting up Bron Hebog for this weekend’s exhibition in Greenock - our ‘home’ show now - and the layout’s Scottish debut!

We’ll have a number of new models getting their first run on the layout.

Garratt 143 brings our active NGG16 roster to four, making life a lot simpler for the fiddle yard operators who should have less of a struggle finding suitable motive power for the two long WHR rakes.

(If only it we’re that easy on the real railway sometimes...)

Our heritage set will be appearing for the first time along with Gelert to take a turn hauling it.

Do say hello if you’re coming along to have a look.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Dee See See

I spent a happy couple of hours at the weekend helping to operate on one of the Greenock club's layouts at a local exhibition in Renfrewshire and renewing my acquaintance with all things standard gauge.

Inverboyndie is a compact terminus / shunting layout based on Banff in Morayshire in the 1960s but has one link with our layouts because it also has a gravity train feature - loose shunting of carriages in order to get the engine on the other end of the train without the aid of a run round loop (or a second locomotive).

This feature (achieved by cheating with a powered carriage bogie) is made immeasurably easier since the invention of DCC - and it was my first experience of using this new fangled technology.

I can't deny I was impressed but I would be lying if I said I enjoyed it more than running an old-fashioned DC wired layout.

Frankly I found it a bit of a faff!

There's something very intuitive about twiddling a knob to control a train but I didn't get any of that with a DCC handset - it felt more like a double maths period with a scientific calculator in your hand.

There's nothing pleasingly tactile about pushing buttons for me.

Ah, said my friend, but with DCC you're really driving the train, not just controlling a motor, and I could see what he was getting at, because the simulated deceleration does mean you have to concentrate and anticipate what you're doing a lot more.

(It also massively increased the opportunities for pile-ups with inexperienced operators....)

But it was all the upshift, downshift, function x, y and z to control the whooshes, hisses and toots that got my eyes glazing over.

There's an old saying, that people in my trade like to hang on to, that the pictures are better on radio, and part of me thinks that this applies to model railways as well.

I quite like daydreaming and hearing the sounds in my head as I operate a layout rather than having a computer chip in control.

Just me?

Monday, 14 October 2019

Getting Gwyrfai Going

A rare Saturday night with the house to myself (sleeping children excepted) meant the chance to have a the first sustained spell of modelling in many weeks.

Sustained in this context meaning two uninterrupted hours at the desk.

This gave me enough time to produce the first layer of the body sides for the new WHR observation carr Gwyrfai

It’s been a while I last scratch built a carriage in styrene so I thought some readers might appreciate seeing the process illustrated again.

I work with a scale plan of the carriage placed under a thin sheet of glass and tape the lower part of the body shell in place above it.

Then I glue vertical window pillars in their positions, chop them all to the correct height using a ruler as a guide, and glue a cant rail into position.

On this carriage I’ve also added in bars to represent the opening windows at this stage.

These have to be cut to the most precise possible tolerances to be fixed in position with a drop of solvent on the joints.

Doing in on glass means everything stays perfectly flat but my big is to keep the pieces inside a book - as if you are pressing flowers - between sessions working on them.

Saturday, 12 October 2019

This Time Next Week

We’re starting to get excited about taking Bron Hebog out on show next weekend in Greenock.

Our Gelert is ready to make its debut but it was a close run thing!

The loco has needed major surgery after the prototype chassis developed a serious issue that threatened to leave it as a static exhibit.

What went wrong is that the sleeve holding the drive gear on the leading axle became loose resulting in the motion locking up going in reverse as the quartering went out of alignment.

To fix it one crank and a wheel had to come off to enable the axle to be released so the sleeve could be relocked onto the axle.

The problem is the axle has to be reassembled complete with gear, bearings and wheels before it can be returned into the chassis and there is no way of getting it back in without cutting off the little lugs on the bottom of the chassis that hold the axle and bearings in place. Having done that the axle is popped back in, but there is now nothing to hold it in the frame! 

In the end the bearings were held in place by carefully applying a tiny bit of solder before refitting the crank and rods.

Thanks to Himself’s ingenuity it looks like it will indeed be in use next weekend.

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Boiler Bits

A few more bits are appearing on 130

Himself reports that he’s been drilling holes in the top of the boiler and attaching the various fittings.

In addition the mainframe pipes and steps which appear to have been fitted in the photos to emerge from Dinas have also been attached.

This hasn’t been discussed but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was building up to a cheeky test run on Bron Hebog at the Greenock show next weekend.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

The Start Of Something Posh

It’s always a very satisfying moment to make the first cut on a new model, in this case the WHR observation car Gwyrfai which entered service at the FR vintage weekend.

One of the most crucial things for getting this carriage looking right is the step in the body side where the front saloon begins.

What I did was cut two identical, plain long rectangles, then mark the bit to be cut off with a 45 degree angle at the end rather than a curve.

Once that was removed the corner was created by careful use of a round file.

Next I’ll be adding vertical strips of styrene for the window pillars.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Welsh Highland Heritage

With two weeks to go until Bron Hebog goes on show for the only time in 2019 at the exhibition in Greenock, here's an image to whet the appetite.

The two WHHR Ashbury corridor carriages are finished and ready for service, having been given a coat of varnish and reassembled.

What you see here is the rake used for Russell's historic trips to Beddgelert earlier this year, although ours seems to have ventured further north...

During the exhibition we'll also be using Gelert and the Baldwin on this set which will make a very colourful addition to the layout - especially the Rheidol brake van which we've depicted in the BR blue livery it carried for a short while.

The real one has since been repainted into a rather drab chocolate colour. (correction: maroon)

To which all I can say is: spoilsports!

Friday, 4 October 2019

Observable Progress

While my mind is turning to the next observation car build Himself has picked up the previous project which has been stalled for a while.

152 has been given a coat of paint and the fiendishly difficult glazing, with the curved section at the front end, has been made up.

To bring you up to speed if you're relatively new to reading this blog, this model of 152 has a body made up of resin cast sections from a styrene master, with a brass roof and metal pillars at the front end.

It's been given a coat of the dark plum colour and the very detailed first class interior has been painted.

Although the painting is relatively straightforward, applying the intricate Pullman lining is anything but....

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Not Seiont

At last my mole has come up with the goods and I have a document which appears to be an outline plan for the new WHR observation carriage, which in turn means I have a project to work on.

The new carriage is very different in detail from the first one, Glaslyn, although very obviously sharing a family resemblance.

One thing which amused me on the drawing I have is a glimpse it offers into the politics of FR/WHR names.

The first carriage was officially named Glaslyn by no less a personage than HM Queen, who rode in it to Dinas for the ceremony with the carriage marshalled (for security reasons we presume) in the middle of the train, making a mockery of the huge curved window at the front which is the iconic feature of this generation of observation carrs.

The second one, we now know, is to be called Gwyrfai.

In the drawing I have, in the traditional Pullman name space in the middle of the bodyside, it has the words 'Not Seiont'- which is the river which flows into the Menai Strait right past the railway's northern terminus at Caernarfon.

Now, would seem a logical choice given how the Glaslyn flows into Porthmadog Harbour at the other end - or perhaps we should say the middle? - of the line.

It doesn't begin with the letter G, though.

Something tells me there's a story behind this.....