Tuesday, 29 September 2020

A Bit On The Side

I've been puzzling for a while - and putting off - how to tackle the very prominent brake levers which are on the sides of the bogies on one end of the MOD flat wagons.

Much as I would like to it's clear that it's not going to work to cast them as a one-piece fitting to be glued on, so what I've decided to try is making a second set of bogie frames which include all the anchor points and then making a separate casting for the levers themselves.

To do this I cast another set of the basic side frames and added the extra pieces in styrene.

There will be a lot of fine details which I won't be able to feature - such as the saw-toothed ratchets that the levers pass through - but sometimes in this scale you've got to accept some compromises.

Sunday, 27 September 2020

Flat Bed

It's always satisfying to do a first cast with a new mould and find it works well.

This is the prototype for the MoD flat wagon kit with two pieces for the chassis and the deck which hide the heads of the nuts for the bogies.

I've assembled them to see if it works as designed.

Based on the first cast I think this is good to go, so it's just the bogies left to complete.

Friday, 25 September 2020

Modest Progess

I'm glad I decided to switch the focus on the MoD flat wagon project onto the main body section because its given me the feeling I'm getting somewhere with it.

It only took a couple of sessions to get the parts ready for a trial casting.

I'm attempting to make it in two pieces - a lower part which is the main steel body and the wooden deck.

The reason for doing it this way is to so that the bolt for the bogies can be counter-sunk into to the top of the lower casting and will be hidden by the deck above.

My only concern is that all the detail of the girders at each side cast reliably.

It's not very thick, and also quite wide, so it should be possible to get access in there with a cocktail stick when the resin is poured.

I still have all the handbrake detail to design for the bogies, which will be quite challenging, but the project is definitely moving forward.

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Desperate Times

It has come to pass.  

Himself has been left with no choice but to carry out this threat to open up the collection of animated dioramas built by the late, great Steve Coulson and give them a wee overhaul.

If you've never heard of these, they are quite marvellous examples of Steve's robust and pragamatic approach to engineering, which made use of various recycled components from expired household machinery to the internet access CDs which once upon a time used to pour through our letterboxes as junk mail.

He's begun with the drift mine diorama. 

To get it working again he's replaced one of the fishing lines which control the bucket hoist via a series of  tubes and wheels. 

He reports being very pleased at managing to thread this thin, transparent line along its path.

For anyone interested in how this model was built Steve wrote an entertaining article in Narrow Gauge and Industrial Review issue 57 in 2004.

Monday, 21 September 2020

Multi-Coloured Waggon Show

Himself is getting perilously close to running out of modelling projects.

If the situation does not improve he may have to resort to overhauling the collection of Steve Coulson animated dioramas, with all their fiendish cams and fishing line mechanisms, which is a task he's been putting off for years.

The last job on the To Do list is to paint the latest 3-ton slate waggons which have been brought into the fleet to replace some very old and brittle Dundas waggons.

This time he's decided to liven up the fleet by finishing them in an array of authentic, contemporary colour schemes, all to be matched their their correct running number.

Sounds like hard work to me, but it should lived up the gravity trains on Dduallt no end, shame they'll never be used on Bron Hebog.

Saturday, 19 September 2020

Second Prototype

My revised idea for how to cast the bogie extension for the MoD Flat Wagons seems to work.

I've had to beef up the frames at the sides but that's probably no bad thing.

And in putting together this first one I followed my hunch that you'd get a better result if you glued on the side pieces before cleaning the flash from the main frame part.

The very thin film is effective in disguising the joint and, I hope, makes it easier to assemble what are quite small parts.

The last part of the bogie to design is the very chunky brake levers, but I might leave those to one side for the moment and concentrate on the body of the wagon instead.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Second Attempt

It seems my design for the beefed-up Hudson bogie was a little two ambitious.

Two failed casting attempts from the new mould have convinced me that it's not going to be reliable enough for a production run.

If I just needed to get a couple for myself I could persevere until some came out properly but that's not viable. 

The idea of having a one piece casting was a nice one but the axle box parts are too thin for the undercut details to cast properly.

I poked a cocktail stick around when the resin was poured but was never possible to chase out all the air bubbles.

So I've reverted to Plan B which is to cast the side frames and axles boxes as separate, flat pieces to be glued onto rather basic skeleton.

I'll be a little more fiddly to put together but I'm hoping it'll be just as effective.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Crimson Sandwich

Today's update is posted a little later that I would like, time seems to be running away with me this week...

Anyway, better late than never I've got a pretty picture of progress with painting 130.

Both the front and rear bunkers and tanks are fully lined out, and you can see that Himself has had a go at creating something to represent the SAR headlights with their LED fittings.

The bogies are without their pony wheels which have been removed for painting on their own.

The boiler unit will have to wait until we see all the plumbing in place on the front of the cab on the real one, which really shouldn't be too much longer now.

There's also the question of whether the cladding on the cylinders will get painted and lined as per the published designs.

We're sticking to our rule of never second-guessing the railway so we've left ours in a neutral black for now...

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Back To The Bogie

I finally managed to find half an hour to sneak into the study and get a little bit of modelling done after weeks fighting with Covid paperwork.

Last time I blogged about the MOD flat wagon project I had built a basic bogie frame to be cast to fit around the Dundas Hudson bogie.

The next step was to add on the axle boxes which I got done yesterday.

I think it's got the short but chunky look of the real ones.

Now to cover it in RTV and see how well it casts...

Friday, 11 September 2020

Wishing Well

In week when I've not managed to get any modelling done at all I find the In Tray for future projects is piling up.

Himself is now expressing a desire for a model of the FR's well wagon which was deployed this week to transport the painted cab of 130 to Dinas to be united with the rest of the locomotive.

Being part of the modern infrastructure fleet, with vacuum brakes, it's a really useful wagon which can be found all over the 40-mile railway, so its appearance on Bron Hebog could be well justified.

No sooner had he popped up with his wish list comment than other people were suggesting it should be the next Boston Largs Works kit - notwithstanding the fact I'm making very slow progress with the MOD flat wagons project.

On the plus side I would be able to make use of the Polish bogie castings which I developed for the Livingston Thompson project, but I'll have to do some clever thinking about how I could produce a wagon body in that shape using an open-back casting method.

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Bogies Waiting For A Body

Himself is keeping busy doing what he can to complete 130 while we wait for final photographic confirmation of where all the pipework will go on the real thing.

So in the meantime he's finished painting the bogies, and the good news is that they are still running sweetly.

The issue we have is that there's still some pipework to be completed around the front of the cab / firebox, and as these are brass parts which will need to be soldered in place it doesn't make any sense to paint this area first - unlike on the real locomotive.

Hopefully now the painted cab has been transported to Dinas it won't be too long before it is bolted in place and we'll see the things we need to see to crack on and get this beauty finished.


Monday, 7 September 2020

Tank Waggon Test Run

A coat of varnish has completed the Maenofferen tank waggon and now its been taken for a test run with the rest of the vintage freight stock and Palmertston.

I'm really pleased with how it's turned out.

It's a very distinctive shape and if I say so myself I seem to have captured it, when comparing this to a similar picture in the 2020 FR calendar.

The first batch of my kits for this waggon have sold out and there's a reservation list for the next batch.

Email Boston Largs Works to secure yours.

Saturday, 5 September 2020

Dinas In A Box

An update for you on progress with the newest stock box, which is now finished and home to most of our Welsh Highland rolling stock.

As I explained in the previous post, this box is a little wider, so each row can fit four saloon carriages.

So the top four rows are filled with the two main corridor service sets.

I'm sure there will be any number of people ready to write in and explain that they're not in the correct order, and I'm also very aware that the original set of Winson carriages have undergone radical changes from how we depict them here in the condition they first ran.

Long ago now we reached the conclusion that the best way to retain sanity while attempting to model the contemporary FR / WHR is to finish a model in the condition it first appeared, or the condition it is at the point you complete the model - and just live with it.

That's why our NGG16 87 will remain in grey. (And also because I like it like that.)

The new box is so commodious we've also got our WHHR set in there as well as my original pair of ballast wagons, scratch built long before the idea of making a resin kit for them ever occurred to me.

The Pullman car Bodysgallen is a bit of an outlier given that it's now stored out of service, but it's too nice a model not to run on the layout so we'll have to think about the best way of sneaking it into a set.

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Tank Lining

 This feels like the moment that 130 really gained its identity.

Himself has spent many hours this week getting cross-eyed applying the lining to the rear bunker and front tank, and you can just make out the background of the WHR initials.

We haven't quite caught up with the custom decal bandwagon and are still doing it the hard way (don't we always!) so the shaded lettering on our Garratts is done with a yellow transfer sitting on top of a black one.

One the cab is on the real one, and all the plumbing connected up, he'll be able to do the last of the part fitting and begin the painting process.

Tuesday, 1 September 2020


You know those things you spend years saying you must get round to, but never do?

For us, one of those things is more stock boxes - and Himself has decided now is the time to put that right.

Over the last few years, as our collection swells, we've resorted to carrying the newly constructed models around in an assortment of extra boxes and tubs balance precariously on top of our existing tower of sturdy wooden boxes.

Previous ones have been custom built for us by skilled carpenters, but this time Himself is doing it DIY.

The good news / bad news - depending on how you view this things - is that he's needed to acquire a new toy: a router.

This is to make the slots at either end to locate the five dividers which run lengthways to form the six rows. 

At the moment these are rather flimsier than he would like because he was unable to get the 3mm MDF he would usually use and has had to settle for thin plywood.

This latest box will be longer than the previous ones to more comfortably accommodate a row of four WHR saloons, which will rest on a protective layer of bubble wrap.

Then there will be a cascading process as we rearrange all the other boxes.

I wonder what items of rolling stock will be left standing after this game of musical chairs?