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P4NewStreet

Old stuff

While I’ve been in a brake van kinda mood I finally got around to improving an old Hornby LMS 20ton version I had and making it a tad more suitable for Brettell Road.

Pretty basic detailing job on this one. A selection of Midland versions.

Actually this brake van originally came from the Amlwch layout along with the above 47 and 24. Of the three the class 24 is as it was brought. the 47 having been brought a bit more up to date (well 1987 anyway).  I wonder if Amlwch is still around somewhere?

Bit of a different angle.  Let’s call this train an internal user?

Haven’t done a rainy pic for a while. NBL class 21 nestles between another pair of type 2s.


Building plastic kits – some thoughts

Thought I’d do a bit of a more detailed post about building and finishing plastic kits and the thoughts behind it as I go along. As always other methods are available and no one has to follow every step slavishly. Just take from this what you want if it helps at all.  The intended victim in this case is a Parkside LMS (ex MR) 20 ton brake van, kit PC58.  Im not sure how long this kit has been in the Parkside range but it has the look and feel of one of the later kits however the instructions do refer to the Woodhead transfer sheets as a source of lettering and they vanished a long time ago now. More importantly and the reason to devote a little more than my usual ‘heres a bunch of pictures, hope you like them’ approach is this is the last original Parkside kit in my stash so it’s also the last kit I will build that I brought from Richard Hollingworth himself.

So armed with the kit, the instructions, a selection of glues and other rudimentary tools plus the all important prototype references I set to work. Generally parkside kits are as close to model railway lego as you can get.  They kind of fall together however don’t take this for granted and in this case I found that the floor was about 30thou too narrow.  This was evened up with a couple of bits of microstrip either side. The importance of a dry run to check the fit of all of the parts parts cant be overstated.

Another thing not to assume is that the kit is right or accurate. Again generally speaking the vast majority or Parkside kits are but theres a couple that have a few clangers. The vac’ braked 16ton mineral wagon with a 10ft chassis not 9ft and the LMS fruit can with the wrong shaped ends are the better known examples. It’s strange how the right chassis is in the range for the mineral wagon and the common fix for the fruit van is to use the ratio LMS van ends and roof.  As these are all under the Peco banner now you would think this would be an easy fix for them. Perhaps they don’t know?The glues I will be using. as theres no metal to metal joining required the soldering iron can stay turned off for this one. The main glue I will use is the Tamiya extra thin cement.

Building the body

The body assembled,  I drilled the holes for the handrails before putting it together, the instructions say to do this after but i find it easier this way.  Although not really a decision as such with this kit as the handrails aren’t moulded on this is usually the first point where you will start to make your own decisions.

Handrails – do models look better with separately fitted ones?  Yes provided you don’t mangle the body too much removing the moulded ones and the replacements are not all wobbly.  I use 0.35mm nickel silver wire and flat nosed tweezers to shape them.  You need to keep the bends crisp and the straight bits straight. If you mess up a bend don’t waste time trying to straighten the wire out as you wont. Just start again. Separately fitted handrails that are all out of shape against a gouged body will not look any better than the moulded ones you carved off. Whatever you do though if you do have messed up handrails and someone points it out don’t try to claim its because they were bashed about in real life as it’s obviously a bodge! I think this stems a lot from the late 90’s when people were fitting all manner of after market bits and dodgy etches to Lima diesels. The fact that a lot of these parts were worse than what people were carving off the original body seemed to pass people by as separate bits was what you did back then!

Decision 2 – the lamp irons.  Will they look better separately fitted?  Yep but theres another thing to consider, will I knock them off in layout use?  When people are new to finescale models (I don’t like that term but it serves a purpose here) theres a tendency to fit every tiny bit of detail that you can.  With experience of operating your stuff at exhibitions you will find that you tend to draw back from that to point where practicality takes over. Where that point ends up will naturally be different for each of us.

It helps a little to delve into how human beings work. When I was working as an illustrator we placed a lot of emphasis on learning to see. Although we have sight we are not really wired to properly look at things. We are designed to make quick judgements and move on, basically can I eat it or is it going to eat me? What we are good at though is spotting something wrong or out of place.  So a moulded lamp iron in this case will go unnoticed by most people. But one thats been knocked off wont. This pre-determined fascination with the out of place can cloud our judgement of many things.  We notice graffiti on a wall so we think it’s prevalent. We don’t notice the 100 other walls we walked past that didn’t have any. We notice the wagon in a train that looks like it should be in the scrap yard and ignore all those that don’t look like anything like that. This extends to our history too, especially our photographic history. Photographers like the rest of us will ignore the mundane as focus on the thing that catches their eye. If you look at pictures of New Street in 1987 you would believe pretty much every train had a class 50 on the front and there was one DMU a day, as for EMU’s you can forget those completely!

This next stage will be dictated by how the kit in manufactured and can in the right circumstances save time later. If the kit is moulded in all the same colour (and its not black) you can skip this bit. However if the body is one colour and the underframe is black you can safe a lot of painting later if you paint and finish the body before you move on to the underframe which is what I have done here.

The Underframe

A wagon of this size is border line for needing springing or compensation in my experience. On wagons that don’t need it one tip I’ve found that works is to slip a piece of thin paper between the axle and the bearing at one end only while putting it all together. The other end should have no slop but the width of the paper gives just enough movement of 1 axle to keep everything on the rails. A piece of glass to check that the wagon sits square on all 4 wheels at this stage is another must however. Another handy thing is the Brassmasters axle spacing jig that ensures the axles are parallel.  It doesn’t matter how nicely your wagon sits on the glass if its constantly trying to steer itself off the track!

This is the underframe with all the supplied bits in place (except the steps) Its up to you if you chose to stop here or not.

I went for ‘not’ and added the break linkages and safety loops. If you are going to do this drill the holes you will need in the brake shoe moulding before you fit them to the model, it’s nigh on impossible to do after. The safety loops are glued in to bits of 80thou microstrip that have a hole drilled through them.  This is my stop point as there’s more detail that you can add regarding the correct shaped linkages and operating gear behind each wheel.  It’s not something i can see on the layout unless I make a really determined effort to look for it.

Hang on a minute, what was all that rubbish about bits of paper and not compensating stuff then?  Well sometime you can kill 2 birds with just the single bit of garden aggrigate!  Of all the options I am on record as believing that rocking compensation is not the first or even second best option of the 3 we have. However the internal ones do handily provide more rolling resistance than pinpoint bearings and on a brake van and a layout with gradients thats not a bad thing.

Let’s talk about buffers. If your plastic kit has moulded plastic buffer heads, let’s not beat around the bush here, they will be crap! I have yet to see any that aren’t! Options for replacements come from Lanarkshire models, MJT, Wizard and Accurascale. As always check your prototype pictures as the ones on the wagon you are building might not be the ones the kit represents. This applies to axleboxes a lot of the time too.

In this case I opted to keep the moulded stocks and replace the heads with those from MJT, The housing was drilled out very carefully using a hand held pin chuck. Don’t be tempted to use a powered drill as the wall you are left with is very thin and even the slightest bit of heat from the drilling will melt it.  A 0.5mm hole was drilled through the centre of the buffer and through the bufferbeam to account for the tail of the buffer head.   You can chose to spring the buffer if you like. I don’t find it makes any real difference though.

Weight – I try to aim for 50 grams for a 2 axle wagon.  If you have the room inside then these self adhesive car wheel weights are ideal.  This brake van needed an extra 30 grams adding.

Next stage is the running trial. With any kind of van I do this before fitting the roof as once its on i don’t want to try and get back inside. The wagon is tested through all the pointwork and sidings and any derailments or unpleasant jolts or bumps are investigated and corrected. In this case I’m happy to report there were no problems.

The finished build, even at this stage you still need to constantly check your work. note the bit of white near to the closest handrail?  Something I’d not noticed until I looked at the photo. I used the Revell liquid polly shown earlier to fix the roof.  The reason is that the Tamiya stuff evaporates too quickly.  The Revell version is thicker, wont run and gives me a little longer to position the roof.

Weathering

Im very much of the opinion that a restricted pallet is best for all sorts of modelling applications, You don’t want to go too mad! As discussed earlier unless you are going for the scrap yard look you kind of need your weathering to be one of those things thats there but its not really noticed.  An important point I feel is don’t expect one technique to give you all the effects you want and try to work with each technique rather than against it, Things are so much simpler if you do!

So stage 1 washes – to represent washed on dirt you need to wash on the dirt! I make the wash from a mix of Revell 89 and no 9.  If you are doing multiple wagons at once keep changing the mix and the paint to thinner ratio unless you want them all to look the same. Don’t be afraid to go in with neat paint as well to mix it all up a bit and work ‘wet in wet’. Ive done that here on a few planks and the roof. It doesn’t matter if it looks a mess at this stage as you will need to leave it for no longer than 24 hours and potentially clean it all off again with cotton buds and clean thinners. A big part of weathering is not about how you put stuff on but how you clean it off. Having said that I have found on many occasions, especially with planked vehicles, you can skip the cleaning stage and this was the case here.

Next stage is airbrushing.  For this I use AK interactive dark mud as it comes and a mix of black and Humbrol gummetal for greasy/ sooty deposits. Think about in the real world the direction that the atomised dirt hits the vehicle and try to emulate this. Track dirt from about 45 degrees below the model and roof dirt straight down. As aways refer to photos.  What you don’t want is a rally car look as if the model has been flinging itself around a Welsh forest for a week!

The last stage is best described as titivating (and its pretty hard to show the effect it has in pictures but i still think its worth doing).  I use the burnt umber gouache for small deposits of rust. It doesn’t want to sit on enamels all that well so will naturally give a rust like effect. This can be fiddled with with water or paper towels/ cotton buds until you are happy. Its worth noting that if you are doing a vehicle with a lot of rust it’s best to do the gouache stage before the washes.  Ak interactive also make sets of weathering pencils, including a set just for rust, which work well in combination with the gouache.

The lighter brown and gunmetal were used to dry brush areas of wear on the steps and the underframe respectively.  The grease is a wash that contains particles and is used neat around axleboxes and bits of the underframe that are greased in real life.

As I said its hard to see the difference this has in photos. The oval crop is before and the main picture after. While you have the gunmetal out you can pick up some of the thicker paint that always forms on the inside of the lid with a cotton bud and dab it on to the buffer faces to represent more grease.

And there you have it. All that work for a mundane wagon that will hopefully just blend into the scene and go about is business in a most unremarkable, unnoticed way!

 


New stuff

With the growth of 3d printing theres been quite a few new companies appearing this year offering 3d printed products. The quality of these can vary somewhat and many show CAD renders on their sites so you can’t be all that sure what you are actually going to get. Ive mentioned 3d Printing corner before on my road vehicles thread as supplying some good stuff and recently I’ve been equally impressed with Model Railway Scenes as supplying equally high quality bits and pieces. Some of which are shown below.

The salt and grit boxes come a pack of 4 (2 of each) while the platform litter bins (ideal for New Street) come in 12. The oil drums (which incidentally are a close match to the Bachmann ones although these are a fraction shorter) also come in packs of 12 while the 2 different sized lineside relay boxes come in packs of 6 each.   None of the stuff I’ve had so far show any of the layering you sometimes see from a 3d print.

Another new (to me) product that I’ve come across recently is this…

Mr Surfacer liquid filler.  It seems to be something that the aero-modellers are familiar with as they use it to fill unwanted panel lines. It comes in several grades,  500, 1000, 1200 and 1500 and much like sandpapers the lower the number the coarser it is. The 1500 also comes in black and they can all be brought as a spray as well. They can be used as primers although I haven’t tried mine for that use yet.

Links

3d Printing corner

Model Railway Scenes 


A slight diversion

One thing that’s always bugged me a little about the above image is the coupling rods on the class 11 (left). I cant remember why but I used the Brassmasters standard rods rather than their finescale ones. Well I finally got around to swapping them over.

Another little distraction is this Bachmann anchor tank wagon.

A simple wheel swap with a new etched discharge wheel and new ladders from Stenson models.

A bit more of a ‘proper’ project was this diagram 1/163 iron ore hopper from Wizard models. Quite a neat little project this one.

Finally, i don’t want to remind anyone but the nights are drawing in again!


A few more trailers

Been busy knocking up a few more trailers.

Starting with this offering from Knightwing. Although the cabs they supply are to a slightly larger scale the trailers, or at least this one, is pretty much spot on for 4mm scale. I changed if from a 3 axle type to 2 axles and fitted some spare Base toys wheels but that was pretty much it.

This 40ft flatbed is something I’ve had for a while. Its from RTI, brought when Frank was still with us. It’s a somewhat basic kit with just the bed, bogie and wheels supplied. The rest is knocked up from bits and bobs.

When I built my last batch of tractor units I printed enough registration plates for the trailers too. Do you think i can find them now?


The Bachmann Compound – part 1

I found a relatively cheap Bachmann Compound recently and thoughts have turned to what to do with it.

Lets start with a little disclaimer. Alan Gibson supplies a set of wheels to convert this loco to P4 and I would have every confidence that just swapping the wheels would get a p4 steam loco up and running pretty quickly. After all a 4-4-0 has got to be about the best case scenario you could really ask for. I didn’t try it myself but we’ve had a wheel swapped GWR Grange (I think) running on Moor Street for years now.

Being relative new to RTR steam locos, this is actually my first RTR tender loco I’ve had since i was a kid, there’s always 2 areas that stand out to me as looking a little weak on pretty much all RTR steam locos. No, not the wheels although big, in your face, wheels do perhaps yield the greatest benefit of swapping to p4 visually. The areas I am talking about are bogies and tenders. More specifically in the case of the latter, tender underframes. They just always seem so, for want of a better description, flat!

The bogie

So to the bogie. There was nothing about the supplied RTR one that i wanted to keep so its a straight swap with a Comet example. As supplied they can be built with central springing for side control but no springing on the axles. Setting some simple springs up however couldn’t be easier.

The loco chassis

To the loco. I decided I wanted to use some of the Comet chassis bits but not exactly as intended. So the first process was deciding what of the RTR offering I wanted to keep and what I wanted to replace.

I wanted to use the sideframes in a sort of Brassmasters easychas inspired way and keep the original Bachmann drive. Initially I thought the crosshead was just an RTR bodge but they do actually look like that. So that and the cylinders were keepers. I also liked the brake gear so that stayed.

The Comet chassis is not designed for this model and is too long. The wheelbase between the driving wheels and hence the coupling rods are also too long. Comet do specify this is the case on their website. The Bachmann frames are actually the right width at the front of the loco but narrow from the cylinders back to accommodate the 00 wheels. The cylinders look, from underneath that they might fit on little pegs coming down from the footplate. They don’t, they slot sideways into the chassis. Its best to pop them off and keep them safe.

I decided to split the chassis behind the forward step to loose some of its extra length. The front part being a relatively easy fit. The rear part needed some trial and error to cut away little sections to get it to fit. The Bachmann model is driven on the front driver ( it looks like the chassis was designed for gears but to both axles but it doesn’t have them), so the Comet chassis was carefully titivated so that the rear axles position matched. I wasn’t too worried about the front driver as I has decided to keep it rigid.

By leaving the RTR style bearings off the rear driving axle you get a little room for vertical movement. A Brassmasters sprung bearing was modified with a bit of tube (the Bachmann and hence Alan Gibson axles are an odd size). The frames were glued in place using 60 thou plasticard to space them out to something more prototypical. The springs are part of the RTR keeper plate so they are too to far back but I decided to leave them as is.

The brake gear needs a bit of modification to fit over the new frames and it was here that I hit a little unexpected snag. Bachmann use bigger wheels than scale. I wonder if this is because its a development of the national railway museum model which being an earlier example had bigger wheels? Anyway the effect of this is the brake gear sits too low and would likely hit the rails when crossing pointwork. The solution is to take a mm out of the top of the keeper plate so that everything moves up a little.

Valve gear

Lets be honest RTR valve gear is generally a bit weird. Its often both too big and to thin at the same time. The Bachmann coupling rods are about scale height (ignoring the bosses which are huge!!) but being only 1 piece of metal aren’t thick enough. So these were discarded and the Comet ones used in their place. Suitability shortened by 2mm.

The connecting rods as supplied are quite good though. Much more meaty and they feature the big square bosses that the Comet ones don’t, so hybrid valve gear it is then! The Bachmann crank pins are 2mm wide (really!) so a bit of tube was soldered in to make them fit the Gibson crank pins. While I was at it I made another 2 collars for the trailing driver a the coupling rods on a compound are outside of the connecting rods.

On to the tender

Body great but underframe – ugh!

Luckily Lanarkshire models do a replacement chassis kit for a Fowler tender. This was assembled as per the instructions. For the outer frames I was kindly supplied a spare etch by Brassmasters and mated this with some Comet springs and axleboxes. I decided to keep the Bachmann steps as they are moulded as part of the tender body.

As is often the case with this sort of stuff, the most pleasing view is the one you wont ever see!


Class 120 revisited.

One of my earlier DMU conversions was a class 120. Built from Craftsman overlays on a Lima 117 it’s done many shows on Moor Street and was probably due a bit of an overhaul.

I had already rebuilt the underframe to better match the prototype and a few years ago I swapped the bogie side frames for Dapol ones* as they better matched the Swindon design the class ran on.

*the older ones from their trans pennine mode not the newer ones from their bubblecars

The big thing I wanted to address was the inner ends. When I built the model the inner ends were void of detail and the instructions just said to stick the Lima gangways and exhausts back on. However the class 120 exhausts are somewhat distinctive and look nothing like what Lima supplied. So the ends have been detailed up to better match the real thing.

As mentioned before I am a fan of the Masokits gangways for DMU’s however I don’t see a lot of point using them if they are hidden behind the exhausts. So for this model i have use paper bellows and moulded gangways I had in my spares box.


Working on wood

Tim Horn and I have been working on a few ideas recently and here are some prototypes.

Starting with a wall mounted version of his display shelving.

Next up a stock box. I’ve long used Ikea ‘Fira’ boxes but for a while they disappeared before returning in some less handy configurations (as well as costing a lot more). The little handle on the front is to stop the drawers sliding out in transit which was an ongoing problem with the Ikea ones.

Each draw can hold 24 standard 10 ft wheelbase sized wagons.

These are a work in progress and Tim is very much snowed under at the moment with work so these are not available yet. I will post here when they are.


Some Steel wagons.

The diesels have escaped to Brettell Road again. Actually its just a convenient photo background but there you go.

New Street isn’t known for its freight operations but there were some services booked through the station on a fairly regular basis. Normally late at night and of those steel traffic was quite common. To that end I have recently finished off a few old Cambrian bogie wagons that have been lurking in my half started box for a while now.

First up a BDA. When I started this model there was no Stenson Models so sometimes, letting a model live in the half started area for too many years works out as a positive. The little kit for the braking gear lifts the model. I’ve used Jon Hall etched bogie inserts with the cambrian bogie sides but if you want better, sprung bogies with nicer sideframes then Stenson models do those too.

I replaced the supplied bolsters (when i say replaced I actually mean lost!) with microstrip which better suited the wooden ones fitted to the earlier conversions anyway!

In a not entirely unrealistic scenario, a class 56 heads towards Round Oak.

BAA also from a Cambrian kit.

… and a BBA.

Although my Yorkshire DE02 is part of the Brettell Road fleet they were still very much around in the late 1980s and still in their original wasp livery so this scene isn’t implausible either!


A few more road vehicles.

Been tweaking a few more road vehicles starting with fitting better wheels (from RTI) to a couple of old cargos. The WH Smiths lorry seems to draw a lot of attention at shows and for many people sets a time and place quite specifically.

Next up another little batch from Oxford diecast waiting form my usual treatment…

… which is to paint the inside of the window apertures and wheel arches black and a quick spray of matt varnish before some gentle weathering. I might see if i can get some more standard looking wheels for the Land Rover.

The Volvo (760) required a bit more effort as out of the box (on the right) it did not capture the look of the real thing very well at all. The solution was to file the windows so that they are much deeper. I enlarged the windows of the Rover 3500 too but not by anything like as much. Wing mirrors are just a bit of microstrip.


J94 Project – Done!

When I picked up my nearly finished J94 kit it came with an already assembled Branchlines Gearbox. Try as I might I just couldn’t get on with it. For some reason it seemed to have very little torque but this wasn’t sacrificed for speed as it didn’t really have much of that either (perhaps the energy was being used up by the noise it generated?). So admitting defeat I swapped it for a High Level Road Runner +. What a difference that made!

Another little problem I came across was the lack of space between the inside motion and the springs I fitted on the front 2 axles. I had used a short handrail knob in the same way that the advocates of CSB systems use but it was all just a little bit too tight for comfort. So I ditched that and just soldered a couple of springs to the inside of the chassis – Number 10 guitar springs for the center axle and number 12 for the front bearing on the top of the axles. Anyone with any kind of knowledge of how things should be done are probably reading the rest of this post from behind a sofa but it works so that’s fine in my eyes!

Anyway its done so here’s a few pictures.

Here’s a very short video of the inside motion at work

Below are a few evening images.

Another little video – this time a spot of shunting. There’s a few stutters which I am hoping a little more running in will iron out.

Finally one of those unplanned shots you sometimes get when you are focussing on something else and they just catch your eye. A simple line up of coal wagons.


More mk1s

As coach building continues for New Street, much of it is more of the same and to some extent so is thisnse-mk1

Another Bachmann mk1, fitted with replica bogies and the usual details. Like the rest of my Bachmann based NSE liveried stock I repainted the blue to something lighter which I feel better matches the early vehicles so painted. The IC liveried coach behind was completed at the same time.


Here comes the rain

Regular readers will be aware that I plan to model Brettell Road in the rain. While falling rain is not doable and if it was to scale wouldn’t be visible anyway I believe it’s worth trying to show the effects of rainfall. Of course it will be frozen in time but I don’t think there’s a lot I can do about that and I’d like to credit those who view the layout in the flesh with a degree of imagination.

Aside from things looking wet the other thing I wanted to try was raindrops in puddles and the canal.

The canal itself was done with multiple layers of varnish as per Gordon Gravetts book then the area where the bridges were masked and more varnish added (Humbrol clear) with baking soda sprinkled on while wet. I did try cold and warm varnish  to see if it made any difference but found it didn’t.

The above image shows the canal in position (again you will have to imagine the walls) and below in something approaching the light I plan the final project to have.


New Street, new board

Back in the latter half of last year when Tim and I did the boards for Brettell Road we also cut the next 2 boards for New Street. While the boards for Brettell Road were experimental both in design and materials we didn’t want to jump that far with New Street so sticking with what we know we opted for ply.
20150314-131649.jpg
This is the first of the two. A simple rectangle but the awkward part was that the surface isn’t flat as the trackbed drops down as you leave the station. This board will be entirely under the tunnel but I plan to leave a letterbox in the front so you can peek in. The jigsaw shape in the top surface is due to Tim’s cutter not being long enough (he now has one that can do boards this size with ease).
One thing I did forget was although we etched the track plan and cut holes for the point droppers into the top sheet I forgot to include the holes on the bottom one! (note for next time). I also mistakenly glued the back boards the bring way round (hence no jigsaw as Tim kindly re cut it for me on the bigger cutter).

The next board will be similar and will recreate the area I originally did for the plank.

As always, thanks to Tim for his help.


Riveting stuff

The title does not refer to the quality of this post, don’t expect anything like the screenplay for Inception but there might be a very minor cliffhanger ending!  The title refers to what I have been doing, riveting the cabs of my 2 panniers.
class 15xx pannier cab
The Hornby cab I used for my 15xx had no detail really so the rear window framing was added from the Mainly Trains etch. The rivets are the water slide ones from Archers which have been around for a while now. They make the whole task quite enjoyable but they are a bit tricky to use. The main problem is they come off very easily. You can overcome this by working in small areas and sealing them with Klear (or Humbrol Clear) to protect them while you work on the next bit. The other tip is don’t be too adventurous. It’s very tempting to try to add a nice long line of rivets in one hit but the transfer tends to break so I find it best to work with strips of about a dozen or so (you can even count them if you like! You might be the first person to actually do this in the history of ever mind you!).
detailed lima 94xx cab
The detail on the Lima 94xx cab is much better but oddly when it comes to the rear it doesn’t match the rest of the model at all. It’s almost like an early EP sample and when the final model was completed, the guy charged with doing this area pulled a sickie! As with the 15xx, archers rivets, Mainly Trains rear windows and bits of strip metal and plastic were used.

While work will continue on the 15xx (Handrails next) contrary to my last post the 94xx will now take a back seat while a third party looks into doing a chassis for it.  (That’s the minor cliffhanger bit you see?)


5th January 2015

It’s a bit late I know but happy new year to visitors to my site.

For those who like to read my writings I have an article in the current issue of Finescale Railway Modelling Review. A relatively recent magazine from Bob Barlow and Tim Skackleton. Sort of pitching itself at the MRJ end o the market it’s a nice looking and feeling (I always like a decent paper to be used in magazines) publication.

20150105-151048.jpg

My article covers the building of New Street’s lamp building along with some thoughts on what I would do differently if I were to build it now. I hope you enjoy it

http://www.greystarpublications.com/fsr/


Point rodding and hints of the past.

Signal detector
What you see above is a representation of a detector for the ground signal on Brettell Road. It was knocked up from scraps of brass using photos and Steve Hall’s articles in MRJ 113 and 115. I always enjoy fiddly details like this even though I know it will go unnoticed to most people.
There’s only going to be 1 point on Brettell Road that’s operated by the off scene signal box, the rest being operated by hand levers. However I wanted to include remnants of what was there before meaning the double slip would have been operated either end with facing point locks. Also given the distance a couple of compensators will be needed so while it’s not exactly complicated stuff it is worth doing.
My chosen route is the Brassmasters etched bits with rodding from MSE. I have also included the odd rodding stool where the rodding has been removed to help with the idea that it’s not so much added to the layout as taken away.
Point rodding compensators
Most of this stuff is quite basic if a bit fiddly. Above are a couple of compensators. The ones supplied are cosmetic and don’t move and that’s fine for the disused rods as per the one on the right however with only 1 run that does anything it would be rude not to make it work. Ok it’s driven from the point rather than driving the point itself but let’s not worry too much about that. 2 Brassmasters compensators were used to make the one on the left with the centre arm from one and a few brass pins meaning it will move when the point it thrown.
All in a fun little project.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QrJsLczids&w=600


Signals

I’ve always liked mechanical signals, the ones on Moor Street are great fun to play with but for New Street I wont get the chance to have any.  However for Brettell Road there are 2 (one of which is abandoned) so I have got to have a go at making some from MSE kits.
disused signal
First up the disused one, based on a photo I found. This one would actually be a repeater for the main signal the other side of the bridge due to sighting problems. Weathering is done with gouache. I replaced the supplied ladder with one of Colin Craig’s.
ground signal 1
ground signal 2
The other signal is this little ground signal (yellow so that the headshunt can be used when its set to danger) I deviated from the MSE instructions by making the counterweight arm work too. Theres a fibre optic in the lamp but its a bugger to photograph – you can just make it out in the second picture. It looks a bit blue but I was using a white light source – changing it to a yellow one should correct this.

Finally as I was tidying up I left a pack of LED’s lying on the layout and purely by chance it illuminated the signal. Thinking it looked quite nice I took the image below – I’d like to claim it was carefully planned but nope – this was just lucky!
signal in the dark
Click here for Model Signal Engineering’s website


Peak performance

Those who have been following my efforts for a while now will know I really like class 45’s.  However the model ones seem a bit lacking in performance especially when it comes to road-holding. The problem is usually down to the pony trucks which are really just along for the ride in a flopping about kind of way.  I wonder if RTR steam loco’s have the same problem?  The problem is to my mind two-fold.  1 – staying on the track, they are just too light and while there’s some rudimentary springing its more of a token effort than a real attempt at a solution.  2 – no side control, a pony truck should lead the bogie into curves and without some sort of side control thats just not going to happen.
Peak pony truck
The solution? These rather natty sprung pony trucks from Rumney Models. They also provide side control and a handy ballast box to get some much-needed weight in there. For more details see www.rumneymodels.co.uk


The image above shows progress on the embankment section. I can’t claim any expertise in modelling nature as it’s not something I’ve come across much before however a while spent looking at local plant life for the “what” and Gordon Gravetts book on the subject for the “how” has produced something I’m quite happy with although I am undecided if the nettles are a bit bright. I drew a quick fencemade from sleepers and Tim kindly laser cut it for me for the top of the bank. I guess it does mean that Brettell road will be set in early October mind you. If you haven’t got Gordon’s book yet then its well worth finding a copy.

I’ve made a start on some wagons. From the left are a Cambrian 5 plank open for which I found you need to remove a bit of material from the base of the w-irons for P4 wheels. Then there’s a Ratio Van and open (I’ve never built Ratio kits before) The open is really too old but I have a plan for an off scene steelworks (sort of Round Oaks ish ) so I will use this as an internal user. Followed next is a Parkside 7 plank open, simplicity itself and a Bachmann RTR van- this was supposed to be a quick win picked up from the bargain bin at Modellers Mecca but conversion to p4 was a bit more than just sticking wheels in with material needing to be removed and new brakes added from MJT. Right at the end is a Peco wonderful wagon tank. Quite advanced for their time with working buffers and springing. In reality the springing is a bit too hard to be of any real effect so I will fit some Bill Bedford sprung W-irons.

detailed GBL Jinty

Finally back to where it all started , the GBL Jinty. The body has been detailed with bits from the Brassmasters kit, some parts from Markits (and London Road Models as well as some home brew parts such as lamp irons from brass strip. I haven’t done any work under the footplate yet as I need to look at the High Level chassis next.


New(ish) technology or modelling witchcraft?

New technology, there are those who embrace it or those who reject it or seeing it as cheating in some way. It’s not a new phenomena or even restricted to railway modelling, I remember such discussions when digital illustration started to appear. With a hobby of course it’s up to you how you pursue it. Do you want the end result to be the best it can be or do you enjoy the route to the end result more? No one is ‘right’ in such circumstances but if someone choses to embrace new technology is it fair to accuse them of cheating in some way?

The finescale end of the hobby has always had a reputation for valuing the journey over the destination and for a long time detailed or converted RTR was frowned on as not proper modelling by those who scratchbuild stuff when in many cases the RTR looked much more like it was supposed to than the scratchbuilt stuff anyway. In reality though the finescalers have usually been the ones to embrace new technology and ideas first and the current crop of high quality RTR is largely down to people wanting something better. You hear it all the time, we’ve never had it so good and it’s probably true but things don’t get better if people just accept what they are given – they have to ‘want’ better too. It’s probably worth at this point mentioning that we never had it so good 20 years ago and we will probably still be saying it 20 years from now. Does anyone really believe that the current crop of RTR is the best we are ever to see?

So to the point – Laser cut buildings. Already people are saying that its cheating, that you just push a button and a building pops out of a machine but in reality it’s just a very very clever scalpel and while I believe the end result is better is it any easier or quicker?
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What you see above is a simple canal bridge drawing for Brettell Road. Its drawn in illustrator and while I have used some time-saving tricks like custom brushes for the arch and a custom fill for the brick pattern it seemed to take a lot longer than just getting a sheet of brick plasticard and cutting it out. The thing is though I could convert the pattern to lines (expand appearance for those interested) and then tweak it. For example I could easily recreate the half width header near the corners in an English Bond wall while doing so with plasticard would have been a massive faff. In fact I wonder if anyone has even bothered, I know I didn’t think it worth the effort!
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Above is the actual wall loosely positioned on its canal bed and towpath. The top row are routed and cut by Tim.
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However laser cut can be a bit clinical. For the towpath I wanted a cobbled section but also a dirt section to – the finished cut was attacked with files and sandpaper to roughen it up. Going back to the point of New technology and illustration, I always thought, if Michelangelo or Leonardo Da Vinci had Photoshop would they have used it? Id bet that they would!


Transit, nearly there

20140920-232312.jpgWell thats another transit van nearly done. Just need to add a tax disk and wing mirrors.


Some more wagons

Despite not really getting caught up in the rush for the latest thing when it comes to RTR I do find that the new wagon announcements have an effect on what I’m up to. It’s because most of the new stuff actually isn’t. It’s been available before as a kit and if it suits what I’m doing there’s a good chance there’s an example or two in either my unbuilt kit pile or half started in a box somewhere. I’ve had to admit I’ve never really understood the clamour for new stuff we already have especially if the example is something simple like a 4 wheel open wagon. I mean you will see comments on forums that it’s the greatest thing ever, that someone has wanted one of these for years etc etc. I just think they can’t have wanted one that badly or they would have built the kit! Don’t dare suggest it though as such people seem to rejoice in explaining that they are so inept that they can’t stick 2 sides and 2 ends to a floor, or even better puff their chest out with pride when they tell you they have never even tried! And yet after all this time waiting they will absolutely buy 3 dozen of them just on a written specification, yeah right!

Getting back to the point, this time it’s Bachmanns tube wagon which so far does look nice. If starting from scratch I’d probably buy a couple but I’ve had the Parkside kits half done for many years. Having said that I would be surprised if Bachmann manage to match Parkside’s lovely thin sides.

20140613-211414.jpgHere is one of them after changing the w-irons for Bill Bedford ones, adding brakes from MSE and a few bits of wire for linkages and safety loops.

20140613-212312.jpgAbove is a Bachmann VGA also done with Bill Bedford w-irons. The original axle boxes look nothing like those on a VGA so it’s worth changing them for slightly cut down hooded roller bearings, again from MSE. the break gear is from microstrip and wire but you can’t see the wire when the wagon is the right way up. The end steps are from DEMU member Martyn Normanton. I thought they were a bit too long so moved the top fold along by 1mm to reduce the height. Martyn also does steps for BAA and BBAs.

20140613-211425.jpgOne little tool I’ve had for years but never really used is this, which is like a temperature controlled hot glue gun designed for sticking etched details to plastic. It’s kind of like a soldering iron for plastic because if you get it wrong you can over heat the part and the glue breaks down and just rubs off. More faff than using superglue but the joint appears to be stronger.


A glipse of the future provided by memories of the past.

When I was a kid, standing at New Street I only had a little brownie camera that took 110 film (remember that?) and couldn’t really take a decent picture of anything, not that I could afford film anyway so while I was there at the location and period I am modelling I never took any pictures of my own.  It’s somewhat taken for granted these days that we can just have access to images of whatever we want due to the internet and sites like Flickr but unless people were there at the time to take the images and today give up their time to upload them for no reward we would really struggle to get even basic info on our chosen subjects.  It is these unsung contributors that play a vital role in our hobby and its worth now and then taking a moment to stop and appreciate the efforts they go to.

Recently I found a video I hadn’t seen before that featured New Street, just a few months after the period I intend to model from Brian Hancock. His Youtube channel is well worth checking out and with his kind permission I can share with you his video.

This look back at the past is a prediction of my future. It is scenes like these that I am ultimately trying to recreate.

Theres a bit of Marston Green before and Reading after but these are still well worth watching, so if you have a spare 25 minutes – make your self comfortable and enjoy.

Some thoughts on the video

The first thing that stands out (because it’s the first train) is how un-colourful freightliner trains were in the 80’s with mostly white, blue and red boxes. The class 31 apparently rescuing a failed 47 (2.46) seems to be putting in a good performance.

The New Street stuff starts at 3mins 33 seconds and its interesting to note the lack of uniform rakes of coaches, there’s a set of nearly all Mk1s in blue and grey at 7min 50 though. Also worth noting is that none of this set is running on B1 bogies.  In fact there’s an awful lot of Mk1s throughout the film.

The Class 158 test bed, class 154 puts in an appearance just before 12 minutes as does the yellow 312, albeit in the background.  Is also worth noting the high number of light engine moves the highlight of which is a lash up of a class 56 and 2 class 58s in the 14th minute. I have no idea what the markings on the side of the DMU seen at 14.40 are but its worth noting that these 4 car 115/116 hybrids were common place at the time.

Theres an awful lot of platform enders throughout the film and this reaches a peak in the 15th minute as a class 45 generates much interest – I must remember to add the various bags they seem to leave lying arround to the model!  At 18 minutes there’s one of the Express Parcels liveried 128 DPU’s which is causing much frustration on one of the Model Railway forums at the moment due to the new model apparently being in the wrong colour. The last train seen at New Street is a bit of an oddity with a class 31 hauling a rake of what seems to be mostly first class air cons. Perhaps an excuse to use up some of those cheap Airfix Mk2 FO’s that we all seem to pick up as the years go by. It would certainly give the exhibition critics something to get excited about.

Theres a few highlights in the Reading bit too with 50027 (Lion) making a nice getaway, a class 56 storming through the station and one of the class 210 DEMUs.

Thanks to Brian for uploading it but as mentioned before thanks to anyone who uploads videos and pictures, the hobby would be all the worse without your efforts.