Thursday, 27 February 2020

Non-Prairie Primed

Himself has begun painting the 3mm 2-8-0 tank, which means stripping the whole chassis down again so it can be sprayed black.

He’s not a fan of the ‘spray it as it runs’ technique because of a fear it might get gummed up!

The body has had a coat of grey primer which really shows off the lovely detail in this kit.

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Listen Up

He’s leaving it a bit late for a mid-life crisis, but it might be a plausible explanation for Himself’s latest purchase.

Some blokes seek out fast cars - or fast women - but Himself has decided to splash  out on a DCC sound chip for our Baldwin.

The fact that this minute piece of wizardry costs nearly as much as the model itself is just one of the aspects I’ve not yet got my head around.

I recall as a kid wondering aloud why we weren’t getting Zero One controllers for our OO trains and being put in my place about the pointlessness of new fangled technology,  so I’m not sure what to make of this latest development.

I shall be keeping a close eye on his behaviour.....

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Best One Yet

I spent a very enjoyable few hours in the company of Himself at the Model Rail Scotland show at the SEC in Glasgow this weekend and I have to say I think its been the best one yet.

The stand-out layout for me had to be the 4mm EM north London Hornsey Broadway which totally captured the feel of the approaches to Kings Cross set in the early 1970s.

There was some very thoughtful modelling, a muted and very subtle weathering to the scene, and most importantly, everything was to the same standard - there was nothing which jarred.

The Glasgow show has really come on in recent years, raising itself up to what I believe should always have been its place as one of the top shows in the UK.

This wasn't always the case.

For a long time I believe it was hamstrung by it's co-operative constitution, relying mostly on member clubs to provide layouts.

Since they began upping the number of layouts invited from across the Border so the standards of home-grown Scottish modelling have risen - or at least it appears that way to me as a visitor over the last 25 years.

Fallside by Clyde MRC was another which impressed me - not least because it featured a kit built example of my all-time favourite EMUs the 303 'Blue Trains'.

Hills Of The North - The Spirit Of Shap was a layout I wanted to pull up a chair and spend hours watching.

Just like Bron Hebog they capture the feel of the train running through the landscape.

The Bridge At Remagen justifiably won one of the prizes at the show and it was hugely impressive, although on a personal level I stilll have a mental block about Continental (and military-themed) modelling.

There was a Narrow Gauge fix courtesty of the evergreen Lothians and Miniature Railway Club.

They had a lovely couple of 7mm scale Englands.

Speaking of which I finally got a look at this wee beastie...

...but I won't say any more than that because I've got into trouble before for offering an opinion on something which is being put on public display...….

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Back On The Straight And Narrow

For the moment the flirtation with standard gauge is over and Himself has scaled up to resume work on Gwyrfai

The plan was always for me to make 3/4 of the body shell out of styrene and for him to fabricate the curved front in brass.

This is it having a test fitting, and it looks pretty good to me!

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Guest Blog :View From The Fiddle Yard

By the Engineering Consultant

If you can remember back to the blog post On Hold of Wednesday 11 December you may recall that it was suggested that the Engineering Consultant’s management of the fiddle yards on Bron Hebog left something to be desired.

Somewhat perturbed by this extravagant suggestion the Engineering Consultant has been persuaded to pen some notes on the operation of said fiddle yards.

We know that Bron Hebog is a model of Beddgelert station and its environs on the Welsh Highland Railway.

If there were to be a league table of the ratio of on-view points to modelled area then Bron Hebog would surely be at the bottom weighing in at a miserly 3.83 sq.m / point (ignoring the operating well).

This is well illustrated by the view from one end of the layout when it was first erected in its ‘complete’ format at the REC show in Woking in September 2014.

By contrast the fiddle yard area has a ratio of 0.26 sq.m / point which is a good indicator of the importance of the fiddle yards to the operation of the layout.

Part of the ‘Porthmadog’ end fiddle yard is seen below.

Beddgelert itself is a passing loop on the Welsh Highland Railway.

The next passing loop towards Caernarfon is at Rhyd Ddu which is at the foot of one of the popular walking routes up Snowdon.

The next passing loop in the opposite direction towards Porthmadog is at Pont Croesor where the Glaslyn Osprey visitors centre can be found.

The official Working Timetable running times from Beddgelert to Rhyd Ddu and Pont Croesor are 22 and 23 minutes respectively.

This means that having left Beddgelert the next train should not appear from either direction for approximately 50 minutes allowing for single line token exchanges.

Now Bron Hebog features some exquisite scale modelling of the railway stock and surrounding landscape but it would unrealistic to operate the layout to scale time.

Therefore, the prime objective of the fiddle yard operators is to have another train ready to despatch as soon as the previous train has arrived,  quietly overlooking the fact that this should not happen for a further 30 to 40 minutes.

The overall layout of each fiddle yard is best illustrated by photographs of the two control panels. The first is the Rhyd Ddu or the Caernarfon end.

The second is ‘Pont Croesor’ or the Porthmadog end.

Each yard is essentially split into two halves – one for dealing with the long WHR and FR passenger sets and the other for heritage trains, freight trains and other special workings.

The larger part of each yard consists of two long loops with a central release road which can also be used to hold a train, if necessary.

Each of the two smaller yards is slightly different, the ‘Porthmadog’ yard having an extra siding often used for stabling the Bridge Inspection train, the full sized version of which is occasionally used by the Engineering Consultant on the full sized WHR.

One important part of the design of the yards are the ‘kick-back’ roads which are used to stable spare locomotives waiting their next turn of duty.

It is important to limit the handling of rolling stock so we do our best not to use ‘crane shunting’.

The two ‘kick-back’ roads of the ‘Rhyd Ddu’ fiddle yard are illustrated.

Similarly, NGG16 138 can be seen resting between turns below.

The fiddle yard controls are shown on the photo of the Pont Croesor or Porthmadog below.

The seven main routes into the yard are selected by a rotary switch and the necessary point motors are actuated by pushing the large black button.

The route set is shown by green leds. Thus the route into the Bridge Inspection train siding 3a is shown set up in the photo.

Auxiliary points are operated by the yellow levers.

Isolation of sidings is by the silver levers.

The red lever at the right of the photo switches control of the yard between the Beddgelert station operator (main) and the fiddle yard operator.

It is normal practice for the main operator to drive trains in and out of the yard.

As soon as a departing train has passed the section break control is returned to the yard operator and they can begin disposing of the engine from the last arrival and shunt a fresh engine onto the next departure.

There is not much time to do this in the Porthmadog yard but the Caernarfon yard operator has a more leisurely time as there is a scale 1.5km of railway to Beddgelert station.

Virtually all of the stock run is made up into accurate sets.

Some of these may require prior authorisation from the FR Chief Mechanical Engineer if they were to run on the full size Welsh Highland Railway because of the ruling 1:40 gradient.

The task of setting up all of the stock takes over 30 minutes so this is a key part of the exhibiting procedure.

Hopefully, this note has given you some idea about the importance of the fiddle yards to the smooth operation of Bron Hebog.

The yard operators can usually be persuaded to demonstrate a particular locomotive whilst the previous train is travelling towards Beddgelert station.

Why not come along and see how organised everything is at our next outing in Perth in June when the Engineering Consultant will be absent!

Sunday, 16 February 2020

2-8-0 To The Paintshop

The large 2-8-0 tank - so synonymous with the South Wales valleys - is just about complete.

Himself is planning to strip all the motion and wheels off before painting the frame, which is why the crank pins are not cut to length yet nor the rods secured.

Painting shouldn’t be too much of a hassle - the Engineering Consultant wants it in unlined black.

It’s not the end of our adventure in 3mm standard gauge, however.

Himself has two more carriages and an (allgedly) simpler 2-8-0 kit to build after this.

Friday, 14 February 2020

Let’s Put This Van Into Action

Its been taken much longer than I would have liked but I’ve decided the time has come to start taking orders for castings for FR infrastructure Van 51.

The kit is designed to run on the Dundas FR quarryman's carriage chassis - as is the real thing - which is available as a separate unit from Dundas Models.

I had hoped to provide a bespoke etch for the handrail on the balcony but this has not been possible to arrange yet, but I’m going to go ahead with offering the body casting anyway.

What you get with the kit is the four sides of the main body, a floor which locates a cut-back Quarrymans chassis, a balcony steps casting and a casting to help you form a styrene roof skin (but there is nothing to stop you using brass if you wish.)

I’m offering these castings for £25 + postage - please email us at the Boston Largs Works address if you would like to place an order.

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Tell Me I’m Wrong

The title is an invitation, not a challenge.

You see, I’m starting work on the interior of Van 51 but I still have very scant information about what’s inside it, other than from what I can glean from photos taken from the outside.

So this is my initial best guess, but I am open to correction and modification, so readers, do your worst!

Monday, 10 February 2020

It’s Something

When you haven’t done any modelling all week then even a few snatched minutes feels like an achievement!

I picked up the Van 51 prototype and inserted some small blocks to fix the level of the chassis / floor.

I was intending to do more but the hoover exploded and so fixing that became the priority...

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Tanks & Bunkers

You’ll have gathered from more ‘not-a-Prairie’ pictures that there’s precious little happening on my own workbench, about which I am feeling increasingly guilty...

Now the chassis is sorted Himself has moved onto finishing off the detailing on the side tanks and the cab.

The one thing that does really impress me about this kit is the quality of the resin casting of the boiler and there’s some lovely detail at the back of the cab too.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

There's Lovely!

I missed a day’s posting - sorry about that, there was some minor constitutional tinkering which was keeping me occupied on a professional level - but I hope you’ll agree this was worth waiting for.

The pride of the Valleys is moving at last!

Himself has completed the slidebar / crosshead assembly on the other side and worked out a method of fitting pick ups (again no I instructions).

This is the only stretch of 12mm gauge track we have to test it on, so it’s not a fair assessment of it.

The crank pins still have to be cut back and the motion secured, but at least we’ve proved it works.

Hopefully the remainder should be more straightforward.