Thursday 30 April 2020

Packing the O gauge boards

Packing the O gauge boards
I had a small concern. One of the issues with Hopwood has been the packing. This is due to the fact that the structures on the layout stretch up to near the top of the backscene in a lot of places and 50% of the height in others. This means that the usual dodge of pairing the boards in diagonally opposing fashion with the two back scenes going either side thus creating a nearly closed box doesn't work - the roofs of one building will meet the top of the bridge etc. This means that the paired boards are wider apart than I would like. This wouldn't be a problem until loading the car happens. I'd normally load the trestles flat in first with the layout boards on top. This won't work as the top of the 'box' is now pushed against the head lining.... bad. The trestles are therefore loaded at the front crossways behind the seats. With Hopwood's 900mm long boards this is OK, with the longer 1,200mm Board 1 of Tiley Road, that can't happen.

A small experiment was carried out with one back board clamped in place. The issue was going to be the halfway backscene board on board 3 which would crash though the centre of board 2 with the boards paired. With the Hopwood pros-arch board deputising for this (albeit half the depth) it was quickly realised that the only thing in the way was 8mm depth of track...phew. I may only need to move it the once, but that once has to work.

Tuesday 28 April 2020

O gauge platform

O gauge platform
Unlike Hopwood the killer structure was always going to be the platform simply because it dominates. Though a day slicing up bits of card didn't make it quick either. The basic structure is in, just the edging stones and the surface to go down sometime in the future. It's a little rough round the back and at the ends, but this will be covered with other scenic bits and bobs so it hardly matters.
Am I feeling warm to this? Not as yet.

Monday 27 April 2020

Hopwood - green

I'm probably not the only modeller who's starting to rethink the shape of things and I outlined what I thought some of the possible general outcomes would be last week. One a more personal level (and assuming the worst case scenario) it may now be time to consolidate the projects. I have to admit this is not recent thinking, but the current situation has thrown it into sharper focus. There may be some drastic cutting involved, or at the very least some boxing of things that don't fall within this new remit and stashing them in the loft out of the way. 

A while ago I mentioned Hopwood in green and due to a couple of items arriving from the Reverend Ian shortly after this and a couple of purchases it is possible to do this. There is a slight lean to an Eastern Region or now I'm looking at this photo maybe more Midland-ish. As the photos were taken upside down with Hopwood stored against the wall it was logical to invoke the shade of Brian Monaghan  - even though I'm pretty sure all the wheels are on the track.

Saturday 25 April 2020

Saturday Ramble

It's been a funny week, but then aren't they all now?
I got asked to leave a Facebook group. No names, no pack drill. As far as I could see it was because I questioned the wisdom of an exhibition manager picking layouts, or not, dependant on the coupling used: i.e. tension locks were not permitted. This seemed ridiculous to me and I pointed out that AJs and Sprat and Winkle were both basically tension locks so did it include those? I then got a short lecture on 'the finescale ethos' which I was fairly familiar with so didn't really need the patronising 'you're talking to the experts now sonny' tone, but there you have it. Draw your own conclusions.

I can't remember who, what or when, but there was a line in an RM article years ago which went something like 'once you get away from 3 links, it doesn't matter what you use'. I pretty much agree with this and tend to use what works the most efficiently for the particular project: I use Kadees for the American HO because it's set up for it, Svanda uses the standard Euro loops (which are essentially a reversed T/L) the 009 is usually the Greenwich/Bemo types and the British 4mm gets the smallest T/Ls usually a mix of Airfix type hooks and a Dapol wider loop.

To some extent this is all about exhibiting and showbusiness. I want reliable auto-coupling and a quick flip with a coupling hook to disengage and don't want to be faffing about yo-yo-ing over  a reluctant magnet which will doubtless be on the wrong place and nor do I want to fiddle with links. Neither of these are particularly visually attractive to punters, so I go for efficiency and speed over looks. Does this make me a lesser modeller? Well, no.

My argument, or rather my comment in this case, suggests that this is snobbery and nothing less. If you don't wear these clothes, go to this restaurant, use these couplings that you don't deserve to mix with us regardless of you modelling ability. I did think (hoped) that these sort of sentiments had died about a decade ago - obviously not.
All a bit of a shame.

Thursday 23 April 2020

7mm scale platforms

Rolling now. I always find that the track and wiring takes too long, but if I rush it I pay for it later. Today, bufferbeams and marking out the platform. There's always a debate around heights. The official minimum is 2'8" above rail, but there are numerous, though mostly historical, instances where things were a lot lower. Todays mainline stations are a bit of a bum steer as they've a) grown  and b) have to cope with being disabled friendly. Not so the classic 1930s-50s branch terminus which can head down quite a bit and I found a cracking shot featuring one of the Woodhead locos standing at a platform which looked to require a small step ladder.

The rule of thumb is somewhere between the dead centre and the bottom of the buffer head. A wagon was placed and a bit of Wills sheet was marked. No, you're not going to escape the Wills sheet even with this. Ground level to top came out at 26mm - near on 8mm of that is track depth in O. now I just need to slice up a dozen or so lengths of the stuff and build it.

Wednesday 22 April 2020

Painting Peco O gauge track

Painting Peco O gauge track
See where I am? HOe to O without gear changes. First thing in the morning and outside in the standard lock down attire of dressing gown, leopard skin thong and beret with the Halfords rattle cans. Two to be precise. A bit of Nevard-ing in the early sunshine with some camouflage brown base coat and a waft of grey primer. Leave the boards out in the sun to bake for an hour and inside to be attacked with the track rubber. I have a niggle that with the current situation this layout won't actually see the light of day, but I travel hopefully. Warley or... well sit at home again I suppose.

Tuesday 21 April 2020

Damned lies and the French

Well now that the PPE has now arrived from Torquay after not leaving on the day before we'd first ordered it. What was it? Lies, damned lies and statistics? Well we're all living that now.

Back to reality. This appeared quite some time ago in a box brought over by our Mr. Hill. It stayed on the shelf for a goodly while and is a conversion from the body of the Liliput HOe loco of about 30 years past. I took a few bits away and added hinges, one of those faintly ridiculous Gallic chimney caps, some beading and then threw some paint at it. It needs crewing, works plates and some Greenwich couplings and runs on the expected Kato 103. It may be the first loco on the long planned French 60cm layout, but don't hold your breath.

Red Update: FYI the bufferbeams here are a special red mix of the usual Humbrol 60 and about 30% of the cheap Craftsman paint that comes from The Works in shite brown. Darkens slightly (no surprises there) but improves the coverage. The quest continues.

Sunday 19 April 2020

Saturday extended ramble

The comments on yesterday's post seem generally in agreement. The underlying factor here may be one of age. Specifically that as we all know, the hobby attracts those from the 40-80 bracket - possibly not those who will be wanting to stand too close to large numbers of people in a confined space. The indication from a few of those commenting that they are in this bracket and frame of mind confirms my suspicions.

We are not being pessimistic here, more cautious and protective which is right and understandable None of us want to be a victim and we do not want to spread to family members.

The last show I did was East Grinstead about five weeks ago.  A few days before two friends pulled out of exhibiting at two different shows that weekend. I was at that time slightly sceptical about their motives and I carried on while working within the advice given at the time, which was one of sanitising, hand washing and low contact. My scepticism was ill founded and I was wrong in not understanding their concern. I'll say again, we have to be cautious here and we have to adapt as best we can and possibly even turn this to our advantage. I've said before on here that the exhibition circuit has become unwieldy at times and by consequence this may result in a slimmer, fitter exhibition scene as well as a slight change of mindset among modellers.

As CC pointed out in the comments, home layouts do not mean poor modelling - quite the opposite - perhaps this will change our view that those who publish/exhibit are the pinnacle of skill; they're not. They (me) are just the show offs and I mean that in the nicest possible way. Wanting to show your layout and high skill are not always the same thing, just that some have an entertaining bent, while some are happy to stay at home.
Home birds, your time may just have arrived.

Saturday 18 April 2020

Saturday Ramble

The end of lock down week three and no real end in sight. I know I am probably repeating myself, but what is this likely to mean as far a we are concerned? There are three possible end games and a couple of results as far as I can see.
1. The UK and Europe in general opens up in June -ish and everything returns to how it was before (unlikely).
2. We open up in June but retain social distancing and there is a ban on groupings of more than 10-20 people for a long period (more likely).
3. Neither of these and we sit in a cycle of lock downs for several months possibly as far as summer 2021 with a further long extensive limit on social grouping (possible).

For health/safety reasons I would generally support any of these. This is a different argument, but how would these affect our thinking as modellers?
2 & 3 would severely impact on both model exhibitions and clubs, not to mention the manufacture of modelling goods. If this were to be the case, do we need to alter our thinking? This is very much a personal question for me, but there are a great number who sit where I am. If it were long term, some traders and shows would not survive, the circuit would remain, but in a very Darwinian fashion: only the rich and the small and fleet of foot would remain. Less shows, smaller crowds, less stuff to buy. It's quite a frightening thought. I'm a serial layout builder who is in a cycle of build/show/publish/dispose. This is a crude explanation, but that is the bones of it, and I can include most of my closer associates into this pattern.

Will there be a shift in thinking away from this? If there are less shows and therefore less opportunity to show, why build multiple layouts - even over a decade? Would the hobby shrink overall due to this hitting the magazines and the producers? Specifically, are we at a turning point where the exhibition layout builder becomes the rare exception?

I'm fully aware that exhibitions are not the bulk of the hobby, despite those in that loop thinking that they are. The hobby is people opening boxes and running things around their lofts - that's where the money is - but we may all morph into something approaching this, box openers and raw scratch builders alike, all retreating into our modelling rooms and lofts. If so the serial layouts are out, unless you have unlimited storage. And what would be the point of me designing a rear-operated exhibition layout if there is no audience? This may be the new norm', and we may have to adapt.

Friday 17 April 2020

Film Friday - Sheffield

I can't remember whether I've put this up here before. Worth a look if only for the wagon lift and the mech-horses near the end.

Wednesday 15 April 2020

Airfix Class 31 repair

Airfix Class 31 repair
Well not so much a repair... but the couplings had dropped off.
The trouble is that there is enough overhang to make getting at the coupling mount awkward, so body off and bogies out. At which point I wished I hadn't bothered. The couplings were replaced with a touch of super glue - the original Airfix with a hook at one end and a wide bodied Dapol at the other. Then all the faff started.

The 31 is you will remember now some 40 years old and I described the minor upgrade back in 2012 here. I does still run reasonably well, but is very much on the spares team for Hopwood.

Problem 1: the frame cracked again. The plastic is OK if you leave it alone, but under load is quite brittle. The only thing that will stick it is the tiny bit of Daywatt that I have left.

Problem 2: I couldn't get the bronze tags back onto the carbon brushes - then the frame cracked again. Much swearing. Then one of the carbon brushes fell out. Logically you need to take the keeper/bogie side frames off to get it back, but I wasn't going to trust the plastic and try to lever the clips to do that, so spent a cheery ten minutes contorting the brush back at a funny angle. Then the frame cracked. Model Railroading is fun. as the catchline once read. Whoever though that one up needs stringing up by the balls.

I squirted some oil at the motor bearings from about 30 paces hoping it would go in the right place, and as the hour approached (remember this was just new couplings) it all eventually went back together and the body was screwed back on... carefully. It was tested on Hopwood - not great, maybe the wheels need a going over with a fibre brush, but at least it was back in service.

Sunday 12 April 2020

The trouble with red paint

The trouble with red paint
Firstly, thanks to the several people who emailed and offered hard to get stuff  as mentioned yesterday. I wasn't on the scrounge, just commenting on the situation which I'm sure is short term. The Range is indeed still open and some research notes that they have received an understandable amount of flack for doing so. Les: I need to measure up.

What is it with red paint? The fire buckets on the latest building are a case in point. I dread anything with two or three colours - red, cream and white. Red in particular. Both the buckets and the board have had some three coats on top of an oxide undercoat. The net result is that it looks as though the paint has been applied with a piece of scaffold board. The problem is that it doesn't cover. I've tried several brands over the years for a basic pillar box red, but return to the Humbrol 60 as it's the best of the worst. Mr. Hill suggests the Games Workshop version, but the trouble with them is continuity of supply.  I wonder how tram modellers cope when the range needed is almost exclusively these three problem shades. 

If it's your thing, Happy Easter.

Saturday 11 April 2020

Saturday Ramble

As we come to the end of the three week lock-down, and with no real end in sight, I've noted a couple of things. At the start there were a lot of Facebook posts mostly saying 'we've stored kits for this moment!!!'. Has this happened? Some people have made inroads, but equally as many have done even less than normal; getting out into the garden and starting a little decorating. A few have actually retreated further back and done nothing. This suggests that time, or the availability of it, is nothing to do with modelling although lack of it is often the quoted excuse. I think what we really mean is that we prioritise other things with the time and use the perceived lack of it to excuse this.

Aside from a couple of supply problems, I'm quietly enjoying it all. No one is pushing me to go out, Mrs F. doesn't require accompanying on family trips to darkest Hampshire and I don't have to load the car up and work. Quite frankly, things could be worse. the supply issues are the greatest possible problem. I'll soon be at the stage with Tiley Road that I will need full sheets of artists mounting board for platform areas - no shops open and tricky to mail order undamaged. Looking ahead there is a sniff of future layouts coming up, but if you scoot around the normal sellers such as Rails or Hattons, the popular sizes of RTR pointwork have vanished. The cause of this is probably an upswing of 'getting some track down' in the lock-down, which is all well and good except Peco et al are also in WFH mode so the root supply chain has slowed. I'd seen this coming, but my concerns were batted away with the idea that all the mail order companies will still function. Yes they have, but they can't sell me what they can't buy.

What we are doing is adapting. I'm very anti the current trend of invoking war analogies  - we're queuing at Tescos, not heading for the bomb shelters as the government and the right-leaning press would have us believe. However if you gaze upon the social media platforms, what you notice is that people are quickly changing the way they do things: club meeting are now taking place on Skype/Zoom, there are more round-robin emails in my inbox and the rise of the 'use up what is in stock' mentality for modellers is to the fore. This is a good thing. we are thinking and changing and I'm positive about the way that the hobby will emerge from this.

Friday 10 April 2020

Laying the O gauge track

Laying the O gauge track
Although I've been doing other things this week, I can't remember it ever taking this long to lay and wire a simple crossover before. Laying your own allows a little wiggle room, whereas here you are on fixed sleeper spacings so a bit of a learning curve. Laying the OO stuff is easier in that the usual trimming of the plan track sleeper ends to splice into the point doesn't really notice too much. Doing it with O has the potential to look shite, so much juggling to minimise this and I'm still not 100% happy with it.

I did complicate it marginally by opening up the 'six foot' on the loop by adding an inch or so between the points making it a more fiddly than needed, and then this created a similar stupid tiny length to be added bottom left.  I can't imagine that the mix of a right and a Y closing the loop at the other end is going to do me any favours either. theoretically this is all a doddle, maybe I just make life hard for myself.

Wednesday 8 April 2020

Station building for the O gauge

Station building for the O gauge
I know I said I'd get this done in two days, but I keep fiddling. Curtains were one - simple magazine paper - but with internal walls fitted was a bit of a fiddle. The already mentioned fire buckets needed a) painting (more on that later) b) a back board made up from some Ratio building sheet mounted back to front with curved hooks made up from staples.
I went a bit full on with the weathering. This is probably wrong as most wiggly tin buildings on railway property are quite well maintained, but the temptation to add some oxidisation is too strong.

All that's left to do is add finials to the bargeboards and a stove pipe chimney round the back, both left to the end of the build as I knew the handling would knock them off. Plus a minimal amount of signage to set it off.

Quite a bit of this leans on Gordon Gravett's piece in MRJ 245. I only wish etc.

Monday 6 April 2020

Sunday woodwork classes

Sunday woodwork classes
 A slight change of tack was needed. With Mrs. F. alternating between weeding and reading outside on a remarkably sunny April Sunday and with some furious rail-cutting going on in the workshop on Tiley Road. it dawned on me that it was all too easy to drop into a commission-based work schedule for seven days a week, especially with the lock down and nowhere else to go.
'I need to do MY stuff at weekends' I announced while picking at the moss around the abandoned 16mm line in the flower bed. Mrs F. just rolled her eyes and looked at the moss. 'Something to run?'

Les Coleman had given me a part- built laser-cut kit some time ago. Since then it had taken pride of place in the office (OK, it sat in the corner in a carboard box). I hadn't really examined it that closely; but now its time had come and with young Phil building Polar Bear...

Houstoun Gate Locomotive Works were a new one on me, but every scale has it's cottage industries hidden from the mainstream.  The upper shot is what I started with - a constructed chassis and part built body. You couldn't call it detailed, but it goes together very nicely. This detailing lark seems to be frowned upon in 16mm circles, mostly as you are viewing from a distance. 'It's a running scale' is the phrase oft used. I could add some louvres from coffee stirrers on the bonnet sides and an exhaust pipe, but then you start heading toward a seat, a driver and controls. It's a nice distraction.
BTW, thanks to the huge number of you dropping by yesterday, heading toward a thousand in one day.

Sunday 5 April 2020

Saturday Ramble

As we enter week three of the lockdown I haven't really noticed too much difference during the day - I now just don't go out at night. This isn't a problem as now all the crap TV is wound back and they are running more films (Ealing Comedies all next week) who needs money anyway when all the shops are shut? For those of you who still have a job; be grateful.

The primary work at the moment is the O gauge. The station building is done and only needs a couple of painty things to get it sparkling. Yesterday was 'hunt the fire buckets' - not as much fun as 'hide the sausage' and not a game I'd played before, but one that I can recommend for those with time on their hands. I was going to buy some from Invertrain, but was warned off slightly by their Covid 19 postal service. This was mentioned on the phone to our Mr. Hill who reminded me that we had used some on Morton Stanley. These would be stuck to the station building - which is now resident in the loft - which can be accessed by the ladder - which is behind the car - which is unlikely to move out of the garage for the foreseeable future. How many buckets were purchased? Well I can now inform you that it was ten, as eight whitemetal 7mm scale buckets have now been retrieved from the deep, dark depths of the cupboard and all is well with the world, I don't have to ring Invertain and I don't have to play that little wavy dance with the postman when he bangs on the door then jumps back and gesticulates at the doorstep from the end of the drive.

The rest of yesterday was spent avoiding gardening (nearly) and getting point one down on Tiley Road. This was a nail-biting affair as the last time I built my own track; here some Devon stuff is the order and I couldn't be 100% sure that the standard DPDT switch would work with the throw of the point blades. If it didn't there was no plan B in stock and no shops that sold one. In the end I did a little happy dance around the patio when it went 'clunk' and the blade hit the stock rail. The very old Lima motor bogie, which is the test unit, ran happily up and down in all directions, so hopefully all will be well.

Friday 3 April 2020

Film Friday

I think that deep down we all have a hankering for a reasonable size home layout that can be operated realistically. This may be it. Once again commercial bits put together in a very convincing way. There are a few of these beasts about.
The sound's a bit weird - probably best off.

Wednesday 1 April 2020

Peco sprue lamps

 The was a lamp issue on Hopwood. The original Ratio SR style lamps disintegrated and so were removed. What I noticed while researching possible replacements were the flu-tube type like this, that appear in many 1970s platform shots. There are variations some have names on the face, some don't. Some face the train, some down the platform. Some on tubular posts some tapered concrete. I'm guessing that they were introduced in the 1960s to clear the gas lamp types, but they are all gone by the 1980s. Whatever the history, Hopwood needed four, but there don't seem to be any 4mm items available.

The base of the posts could be sliced from 2mm id brass tube and the main post from 2mm plastic rod - both in stock. I thought Id have to carve the lamp part from plastic strip. Then the lightbulb moment. Cast you minds back 24 hours and the comment about Peco's overindulgent sprue supply used then for the station building footings. Here I needed a tapered part, almost square, but not quite, about 3mm accoss. Looks across bench.... sprue! A bit of 30 thou on the top and we're away.