Wednesday 9 December 2009

Dapol WR Autocoach

Dapol WR Autocoach

The only modelling I’ve done in the last few days is to weather a couple of Autocoaches for Nigel’s Unnycoombe layout. One in Carmine and Cream livery, and one in Maroon. Where possible I’ll use photos as a general guide and most of the colour shots I have of the mid sixties period show fairly clean sided coaches with dusty underframes and grimy ends. However on this one, once I’d done that, I just kept going, making it absolutely filthy. I fear it may now be over-done, but it’s difficult when looking at something in isolation away from the layout that it will be displayed on. I’m also finding the wash technique that I’ve used for years on larger scale models doesn’t work so well with N gauge. There is an underlying surface-tension in the paint which annoyingly doesn’t scale itself down to suit.

Wednesday 2 December 2009

Do you need DCC?

Have we been sold a puppy? I’m suddenly aware of how much RTR models cost and that relative cost compared to a few years ago. If I want to buy a new Bachmann Peak it’s going to cost me up to £74.00 (or £171.00 as the RM review states. In error I hope). My at a glance judgement would suggest that that’s around a 20% increase in under five years.
What have we got extra?
Better motor? Well no. The motors in the newer stuff actually seem lower quality if anything. The transmissions have improved, but as far as Bachmann is concerned that is a simple transfer from their U.S. models. What it appears to me that we’re getting is chips. And what are chips? Cheap. And do we want them?
A decade or so ago I built an American layout. Stocked with Athern, Bachmann and Atlas locos, none of which cost more than forty quid. They ran... faultlessly. No chips. So they’re not there for the running quality. Do they improve the appearance? Err... no. What is happening, by stealth if you like, is that we are being sold a new operating system. Why? Quite simple... there’s more money in it. There was a glass ceiling above which models wouldn’t sell. This way they will.
But the vast majority of us don’t need it. Most of us build reasonably simple one-man operated layouts that can be run prototypically (with a couple of exceptions) with existing wiring techniques. Exceptions might be independently running the original train engine out of a terminus immediately behind the departing stock. And when was the last time you saw that move carried out on a model?
This wholesale rush to DCC worries me slightly. It’s a system that can’t easily be repaired by the user and most of us don’t need it, but there is going to come a time, possibly in about fifteen months where every RTR model will be pre-fitted whether we like it or not.
I’m off, back to the three-rail with my head in the fire-bucket.

Sunday 29 November 2009

Planning a Modern image layout in OO

My old mate Simon Hargraves came over a couple of days ago armed not only with a Corris open wagon in S, but literally a bagful of modern freight books. This is an idea which is gradually starting to bite even though it is so left-field from what I usually do; the whole ‘Modern’ thing is a bit of a black hole where I’m concerned, seemingly occupied by 25 year-olds with DCC controllers. However there is a bit of history here: One of the first RMs I bought was in May 1977 (that’ll be thirty two years I have no recollection of then!). Within its pages, and now preserved in a ring file, is an article by one John Allison called Porth-y-Waen. 20’ long and in O it seemed so different to all the other layouts in the magazine: Rural, diesel and freight only, and although I’ve never built a ‘modern’ layout, I think this particular article lodged in my head.

Jump forward to this year and a Steve Flint plan in RM thinly disguised as a plug for the Bachmann 150 and PECO’s double slip. The afore mentioned biker and railway employee suggested at the time that the track layout was unlikely and would probably be mirrored. But. Even though this is probably true, the general idea of something rural, pre-privatisation, and post-rationalisation remained. Something stripped down, blue diesel and just about pre-pretty liveries.

There are two problems here: Firstly I know nothing about the 1980’s (I think I was mostly sleeping). Secondly this will probably require stock that I have to buy, and not bodge out of card and bits of string. This is about me researching – with help from my old mate, and about buying things at knock down prices when I see them. The first case in point could be this: During the other night’s conversation scrap traffic was mentioned. Oh goody I thought 16 tonners! Err... no. It appears that by the notional date of 1986/7 they were gone. However. There was scrap traffic still carried in MDVs. The picture illustrating this information in the book was taken at an acute angle and the wagons looked like 16 tonners. Research led me to find that MDVs are these; 
what I think of as 24Ton minerals and only used for block coal trains. Traps everywhere. But these are vehicles I can spend some time with. I’m sure this is only the first step of what could be a long process and learning curve.

Photo: Paul Bartlett, from his excellent site on all things rail.

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Eggerbahn diesel conversion

Eggerbahn diesel conversion
Eggerbahn diesel conversion

Eggerbahn diesel conversion

The title of this being like something out of 009 News in 1978. Well.... it probably was, for this is just one such project. Bearing in mind that Garn has 1.5 exhibition outings in 2010, I thought it wise to build-up the motive power base a little knowing how shows can quickly wipe-out 009 locos. A few years ago I started picking up Egger/Jouef stock partly for a retro-layout and partly for a continental tramway idea. Therefore there have been several (5) locos in the loft awaiting attention. Knowing full well that the first idea probably won't happen I made a decision to convert a couple to run on Garn. This is the first.

Below the footplate and the cab are the Egger 'works diesel', the rest 30thou plasticard. The roof was smoothed and a vent flap added and a bonnet put together. The grill is an N gauge gate, surplus from Unnycoombe.
To add are Greenwich couplings, glazing and, when I work out where to put it, the original exhaust pipe.

Eggerbahn diesel conversion

Monday 26 October 2009

Wood End (Mk2)

Wood End with the rebuilt corner section by Alan Martin who purchased the layout from us, and as far as I know only exhibited once in this form. the new section is deeper than the original and possibly a little wider than the original 30". I have to admit that while he added a couple of things that we had deliberately left off, like the cottage, the result is a great improvement.

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Garn Station Building

Garn 009 Station Building
Garn 009 Station Building
The more I move on and the older I get I realise that I get most satisfaction from the things I make myself. The huge range of commercial items is all well and good, but...
This is a case in point. The original structures on Wood End were built from card blocks. So well was this received that I did it again for Garn. There is a longer story, but not for here. The 'station building' on WE was never finished, and still isn't by all accounts; the Garn structure however did get done. It's the same Corris design built from 4mm x 1mm card blocks (from the backs of refill pads) laid one at a time. The rest is a mix of brick-paper wood strip and coffee stirrers. With paper slates.
I like doing things like this; it's proper modelling.

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Building a Class 121 from a Lima railcar

Building a Class 121 from a Lima railcar
Building a Class 121 from a Lima railcar
The title would indicate that this was at least a steam age piece, but no. It is historical in as much as the prototype units for the project were built almost 50 years ago by Pressed Steel in 1960, and as far as I know there are still a couple of them floating around the system. That’s the historical prototype; this is also a historical cut and shut conversion.
The Lima DMU appeared in, I think, 1980 and it wasn’t long before several people pointed out that it was in fact two Driving-Motor-Brake-Seconds, not a DMBS and a trailer, therefore not impossible, but unlikely. There appeared in the modelling press a number of articles demonstrating that it was easily possible to convert the Class117 DMBS into a Class 121 single unit. Three of these articles were squirreled away by yours truly: Colin Hayward RM May 1981, Chris Ellis Model Trains April 1981, Tim Shackleton MRJ 93. All articles approach it from a different angle: the MRJ is done much in the house style and is the extra work to end up with the Class 122. The RM and MRJ pieces are also much concerned with renewing or improving the drive. It was however the Model Trains piece which tipped me over the edge. Not only had I kept the articles, but somewhere along the line I’d picked up a Blue/Grey 2 car DMU. The proposed mid ‘80s Llynfordd layout would be just the place for a 121, to complement the Sprinter units.
I’m not a fan of cut and shuts and even with the aid of an engineer’s square and masking tape guides I didn’t get the cuts spot on... but it’s OK. This is very much a work in progress post; the basic body mod’s are done and the roof strip replaced. That however is far from it finished. The bufferbeams need a lot of work (the couplings WILL come off this time) and there are steps to add. The inside will need some attention too. I seem to remember, on my one and only DMU trip that the seats were a standard BR blue cloth. There is the possibility that this work could go on and on up to the mythical MRJ standard –if I were capable that is, but I may just draw the line at a basic conversion.

Monday 28 September 2009

Weathered Hornby VGA for Rhiw

Weathered Hornby VGA for Rhiw

A quick snap of the finished VGA. The first shot is the lowered by 2mm, but otherwise untouched model. The second is the repainted and complete refurbishment. The Hornby moulding is excellent, but the whole thing sits too high and the ends (and possibly roof) should be red to match the stripe. The other thing which jars slightly is the moulded roof vent which I can't see on any prototype photo.

So changes were: lower by filing 2mm from the top of each truck, file off roof moulding and replace roof rib, re fix trucks, paint ends and roof and weather using wet wash then dry brush.
I've left the huge Hornby coupling until I decide what to use instead.

A visit to Scaleforum yesterday turned up a 'Modern Image' layout which wasn't a million miles from what I envisage the home for the VGA will look like, though obviously in P4. Now that I'm intimate with this wagon I was surprised to see that the example on Callowland was, despite being re-wheeled for P4, still bouncing along on tippy-toes, buffers a scale 6" higher than the next vehicle, and sporting the questionable roof vent. 

Weathered Hornby VGA for Rhiw

Saturday 26 September 2009

N gauge Watercrane

Ratio N gauge water crane Ratio N gauge water crane
Cruelly enlarged- the 2mm scale watercrane just painted ready to put onto Unnycoombe. Standard Ratio kit, slightly adapted using the photo on the back of Stephen Williams GW Branchlines Vol2. i.e. no brazier. This makes the look a little lighter and less cluttered. I think it's always important to stand back and look and decide whether something looks OK visually rather than what SHOULD be there. The two don't always fit.

Thursday 24 September 2009

Egger Diesel.

Egger Diesel.009 Shot of the Eggerbahn ex-electric loco. I was looking for items of small motive power for Garn and this is such a good little runner that it seemed daft not to use it. The pantogragh was removed, the roof filled and sanded smooth, a short exhaust pipe added and the whole lot repainted. The inspiration for all of this was a similar loco on Paul Windle's 'Rothby'.

Note also the hand-carved postbox mounted on a matchstick. I find it better to just add one or two little details like this to catch the eye rather than cram a layout with all the MickeyMouse flashing-light extras. Less is more.

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Garn & Miles.

Garn & Miles. 009
In an effort to get the half a dozen photos of Garn onto the blog here's another.
'Miles' and the Colin Ashby coaches in front of the station building. Loco is much bashed Chivers Sir Hayden on an Ibertren mech'. Building is the usual card/paper/bits of plastic mixture.

Monday 21 September 2009

Petrol station on Wood End.

Wood End 009 scale layout

Wood End petrol station
Scary to think that this was built 10 years ago. This was the tiny filling station based on the one still standing at Rodmell in Sussex. Rather disappointingly a photo of this never appeared in the RM article in 2004. All that remains is this snap probably taken in 2002 and scanned in on a slightly problematic scanner, hence the hazy reproduction.

Using kit parts
The basis of the model is a Wills greenhouse kit, the parts of which were used for the brickwork and the window frames. As can be seen there are no pumps as we know them although there are/were on the protoype building. A lovely book called 'Oil on the Line' remarked that many early rural petrol stations dispensed fuel from cans, pumps coming in bit by bit in later years. So that's how we left it. It was this small corner which tipped the balance to gain us the Reinier Hendriksen award for Wood End at ExpoNG that year.

Sunday 20 September 2009

Dapol SR Utility van.

Before and after...
During the showing of Unnycoombe at the Worthing exhibition it was decided that the RTR stock was too garish. A job now in hand is to weather and take off the shine.

First victim was this Dapol SR Utility van.

Hornby VDA.

Hornby VDA

Hornby VDA van
The first small project for the proposed new 'modern image' layout. The out-of-the-box Hornby wagon is a little too high. Here it is at the first stage having been lowered by a couple of millimetres. This done by grinding the top of the trucks down until there was nothing left holding the central pivot, then welding the whole lot back in place with solvent as square as I could get it.

The roof
There is also what looks like a fan moulding in a central position on the roof that doesn't appear in any of the prototype photos that I could find, so off it came with a 'wet-and-dry' stick; the roof-rib being replaced with some plastic strip.

The ends
All the photos also showed the van ends in Railfreight Red, whereas the Hornby ends are left in grey. Red is a pain. Whatever make of paint you use, won't cover.  This had had two coats and still looked awful.

Hornby VDA

Friday 18 September 2009

Garn - Station End

Garn 009 scale layout

Long full-length view of Garn with the card-built station on the left.

Colin Ashby 009 Coaches on Garn

Colin Ashby 009 Coaches on Garn

 'Miles' and three Colin Ashby coaches at the right hand end of the station. Note the very obvious point control situated to be advantageous to front operation using a small DPDT switch as the lever and as electrical switching.

Eggerbahn Electric

Eggerbahn electric loco

Eggerbahn electric loco
The quick conversion. Eggerbahn 'electric' loco with the pantograph removed, and repainted.
This runs surprisingly sweetly.
Towing a brake built from Parkside Dundas sides and a Peco chassis.


Unnycoombe N gauge layout

Overall shot of layout, all 43" of it, prior to it's first exhibition outing. Station building is standard Ratio, signalbox is highly bashed Kestral with new stone base to match everything else.

Peco cattle wagons

Peco cattle wagons

Peco cattle wagons. As this time with the interiors unpainted so the white plastic glares a bit with the flash.