Thursday 28 April 2011

Art of Compromise - planning

Now I've managed to get most of the ground covered on Rhiw it's time to think of the next project - like you do. I think after much consideration it will be to have another crack at the Art of Compromise plan that has been much discussed on this page in recent months. This is in essence a case of what to alter. Most projects start with a photo or other idea and a blank sheet of paper; this is a set piece with defined dimensions and themes.

Because it's different in this respect it can be approached almost upside down. What I would normally do is start with a full size paper plan, build the boards and adjust as I go. This will be more of a shopping trip. That is, decide what the individual elements are to be, and construct these prior to the boards getting built. What I don't want to do is stray too far from the original; that would be pointless. If I do that then I may as well strat from scratch. Therefore there are two alterations: The re-siting of the coalbins to north of the siding now to face the road and the omission of the platelayer's trolley hut and the watertower by the bridge. The hut will go and the tower shifted to the front thus giving a few more inches of platform face. Other than that I'd like to stay as per the plan.

The Prototype Models structures are no longer with us so the station building and goods shed will be scratch-built. I've sort of decided on the station from Wrington on the Blagdon branch as drawn in the June 1965 RM and the shed from Lambourne. Both GWR branches, but neither GWR built. Both fairly small and timber so as not to dominate the scene. There is possibly an idea to use the card-stonework that I used on Wood End/Garn. This will stop it being a 'quick' project and give a little individuality as no one else is stupid enough to do it this way.

That then is the plan. None of the above will now happen and all will be altered.

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Nellie the elephant..

I wanted to run a few odd bits of trunking around the trackwork coupling to relay boxes. There seems to be a habit of the trade bringing out just what I want at just the right time - it happened with the GWR water crane and cattle wagons for Unnycoombe. Those nice people at Ratio have done it again, now flogging trunking and boxes for 4mm. The trunking retails at £4.25 for 600mm. Now times are hard right now and as I'd need around 3'+, I'm looking at getting two packs - that's £8.50 which I don't have. What Ratio are selling is the lids which as far as I can see are panels around 1'x2'-ish. On the shelf here was a packet of Evergreen strip 80thou 188thou that I'd probably bought for solebars for something. Half an hour of marking up and applying razor-saw cuts gave me 3' worth of plastic which doesn't look too far from what Ratio are selling and a quid at the most.

Sharp-eyed will have notice that there is quite a bit of ballasting going on. The base of this is W&T Magnesium chips of which I am running very low. Is there a similar replacement out there?

Friday 22 April 2011


I can't quite explain why (possibly the Unnycoome issues) but signals and their workings are starting to interest me more these days. As far as modellers go it's almost a no go area - they seem to get ignored and yet they add so much to train set operation. It is like walking into a minefield though with endless quirks and variants. Below is the starter at Tenterden opposite the site of the infamous three armed post that stood here through the line's working existence.

Lamps at Bodiam. Originals, or copies thereof. Another excluded subject.

Rhiw wall

At long last the walling on Rhiw has finished - all 7'6" of it. Considering that there is very little relief on it; it's just a sloping lower section and a vertical upper; it's taken weeks to do. The problem was that it tapers to the LH end and ebbs and flows a little. What I didn't want was a completely un-natural flat structure.
Rhiw wall OO gauge layout
The base is thin-ish corrugated card from a file pocket box and when that ran out some 2mm mounting card, topped with the larger Slaters stone which is marked as 7mm scale. These markings are academic - I used the 4mm sheets for Unnycoombe. the gap at the top was covered in a mix of cornflake and tights packet card, painted with brown emulsion and topped with a mix of Woodlands Scenics green and various tea leaves.

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Natural stock

I always think that the KESR feels better when running with terriers and rattly DMUs - more its intended state. That and nice private compartment GER 6 wheelers.

Sunday 17 April 2011

Amersham model railway exhibition

Amersham -the run down.
food -9,
Unnycoombe- 6.5.
Nice friendly show. I hadn't been before even as a punter; very much a mix of modellers and families. Good school dinner type lunch. Unnycoombe, despite getting an awful lot of praise and three and a half invites behaved rather erratically.

All the problems that we had envisaged with N gauge that had so far not really appeared reared their ugly heads yesterday with both of us getting a little frustrated. The morning was fine, but by lunchtime three items of motive power had packed up and the couplings seemed particularly awkward. We need to think this one through.

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Dapol pug

Firstly the explanation: There is, in Ian Allan's Industrial Steam, a lovely photo of a huge rib sided bogie scrap wagon being shunted by a Barclay 0-4-0 ST in Crossley's yard in 1986. Key words here are: scrap,0-4-0 ST and 1986. It dawned on me that this was all the excuse I needed to run a steam loco on Rhiw.Dapol Hornby pug And in the loft there just happened to be the Dapol Pug, unloved and unused. And that children is where we started the story; the split footplate and the bouncing motor. 48 hours later... The motor issue was fixed by a) running a tiny amount of solvent under the motor mount, welding it to the footplate, but hopefully not enough not to be able to break it again and b) making up a T section from scrap sprue welding it horizontally to the inside of the cab so that it just touches the back of the motor and stops it leaning backward. That seems to have fixed it.

The paint job was a joy. There was an unused tin of Humbrol enamel in the junk...perfect. NER apple green; spot on for an industrial. A couple of coats of that followed by all the usual reds and greys in acrylic. I planked both sides of the cab cut-outs with timber from a PECO kit although you can't really see it here. The nameplates are I think Golden Arrow, Kingston is from the Hampton Waterworks range. No idea why I had them. I left the whole loco largely un-weathered. Most industrials unless steel or coal tend to be quite well cared for. A quick project and cheap. the loco was free for a few hours in a model shop pulling ginger hairs from Hornby Dublo locos, the paint was just about to be binned and the nameplates and other bits were from the scrapbox. I'm tempted to do another, but this loco now retails for fifty quid! I fancy chopping the dumb buffers and fitting 23" discs and a few cab variations with open backs, weather sheets etc.

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Dapol Pug problems

The below is an original run Dapol L&Y pug that was given to me in exchange for a days work in a model shop long, long ago. It's basically only been test run, but I had an idea to use it on Rhiw (I'll explain that later). On taking it out of the box I noticed that the footplate had split lengthwise

Dapol Pug problems I can only assume this is plastic fatigue due to pressure from a self tapping screw. This screw goes through the motor mount and into the footplate holding the motor in mesh. I repaired the split with Daywat Poly and just to be safe put a thin strip of plasticard over the bufferbeam to bridge the fault as a belt and braces method. So far so good. The problem has now arisen that the motor mount 'flexes' backward toward the camera under use and drops the gear out of mesh. What it needs is something to secure it from the front as well as the self-tapper at the rear. Any ideas?

Monday 11 April 2011

Birdcage brake van

After a few days less internet service - thanks vodaphone.Birdcage brake van 009 scale Stig's brake van. Finished and weathered: Bog paper -cotton bud etc.

Friday 8 April 2011

Monday 4 April 2011

Festiniog coach No1

A little while I generated an idea for a competition, not the competition itself, but the rules for it this year. This meant that I really had to enter something and I stuck an idea for this here:

Several weeks later I ended up with this.
Festiniog coach No1 Ffestiniog coach number 1 as delivered to the FR at the back of the 19th century. Apart from the PECO wagon chassis providing the rolly bit, it's all plastic. And it's tiny; just a scale 10' over the bowed ends.

Sunday 3 April 2011

N gauge Hymek

Yesterday's post generated no comments, but a lot of emails. Reason for that? Due to the creeping dieselisation of Unnycoombe I was passed a couple of items to weather. The first, this Dapol Hymek. Referring to an RM profile article from the 90s with a good colour photo of the period I set to work with a No3 brush and a couple of pots of acrylic. N gauge Hymek I've said before that I find it hard to get my eye in weathering N gauge, for some reason the paint particles scale differently. What I was going for was dusty rather than the filthy mid sixties steam, so: red leather,brick red followed by german grey on the underside and as little german grey dry-brushed on the body as I could get away with. The Hymeks, although newish, would have had a couple of years service so would have generated a fair bit of underframe dirt. As it was I just copied the photo.
N gauge Hymek

Saturday 2 April 2011

The Peter Denny Effect

It’s probably a bit of a hackneyed ideal, but when you look over this photo and take in the fact that almost everything is hand-made with the minimum of commercial parts, you realise why the Reverend is placed on such a pedestal. Then you realise how much we have lost; not just in his recent demise, but in how the hobby has changed. Despite the headings on the current crop of magazines we are in the main not modellers, but assemblers.

Today’s contributors to a magazine (even the hair shirt P4, Scale 7 etc) are mere put-together-ers of kits and arrangers of structures. You could say that today’s style of layout is no more modelling than painting-by-numbers is art. There are a few out there: Jas Milham springs to mind as does Gordon Gravett – using the merest smidge of commercial componentry preferring to plough a very individual scratch-built path.

I wonder where the acceptable lines are now. None of what you see in the magazines is what is actually built. Everything is visually manipulated in some way. Is this the direction we want to go in? Will we get to a point in a short while where there are no real layouts in the magazines, just computer-generated layouts as ideals to aim for with digitally arranged subjects and photo-shopped backgrounds. Don’t shake your head and say it will never happen; I did the same 25 years ago about the recording industry. Now nothing you hear on the radio is real and un-touched. This is going to happen; it possibly already is. When Nigel and I took Unnycoombe to be photographed, toward the end of the shoot Nigel stuck his day-old Dapol Hymek down on the track. There was a comment that there were no head-codes on it. Someone quipped that they could be photo shopped in. And if you look... there they are. Modelling, sorry... assembling, now eradicated.

There is a desire on my part to get back to a point of modelling. Where I am now is possibly the most RTR based place that I’ve been since I was 15; it’s time to pull back from that once Llynfordd is up and running. The Denny/Ahern ideal is often quoted as an influence(less so as people age) but it’s an ideal that is rarely followed; there is just too much tempting stuff out there. I would add that in many cases the temptation is all there is, as much of the stuff which is bought is discarded or kept ad infinitum in a drawer remaining unbuilt.

It is possible; as Rev. Denny has shown to, in his words, build a model railway with the minimum of skill. The rush to meet exhibition and magazine deadlines has reduced the method of picking a subject and gradually building it using one’s ingenuity. Perhaps we should become less assemblers and return to being railway modellers once again.