Monday 30 November 2020

Westykits cattle wagon kit

 Slightly on the back of the last but one post and because maybe it's time for another build project on here, I had a rummage in the box. What came out (second, first was another Cambrian 16 tonner) was this Westykits LNER cattle wagon purchased a couple of years back off a club stand for £4.80. Cheap, old, different. 

I don't know much about Westykits though this was marketed by, and possibly made by Ian Kirk. The question that I'm asking is, is this the same as the LNER cattle sold by Parkside (now Peco)? I tend to think not, though there are links. This is not the crisp moulding of Parkside. The diagram is dated as 'drawn by PMW 1980' making the kit 40 years old.

First impressions are good: it looks to be all there, in fact more than there as there are six buffer parts. The instructions are of course typed and copied as was the style then, and are backwards for me starting with the bodywork. The stand-out phase is, '...unless you are batch-building go and have a fag or a cuppa to give the plastic a chance to harden.' This is what is surely missing from modern kit instructions, encouragement to develop lung disease.

I could probably build this quite quickly, but I'll slot in in amongst the other bits and run it over a couple of posts... after I've had a fag...

Saturday 28 November 2020

Saturday ramble


It can't have escaped many people's notice that Roy Link passed away this week. regulars will know that I have been a fan over the years and that one particular piece of his artwork has featured here possibly more than it has anywhere else before or since. I first encountered Roy when he was working at Pecorama though I didn't realise who he was then and didn't make the connection until a lot later. His illustration work for RM  covered perhaps a decade and included quite a bit more than Plan of the Month designs, including many technical drawings which were very recognisable not least because they often had 'LINK' in draughtsman's style in the corner; this style transferred neatly to the early NG&IR issues and added to the retro-feel.

The RM Plan of the Months were always inspirational, though often contentious in that they were sometimes high on inspiration, but low on actual do-ability. The AotC's issues have been extensively discussed here, but the N gauge 'Watching the trains go by' is often sited as a real turkey in actual operation  terms.  There were real gems in there: would the teenage me ever have been aware of the Spurn Head Railway if Roy had not snuck it into a PoM - I hardly think anyone else would have considered such a minor line as being appropriate for a mainstream  magazine, even now. Though for me, AotC aside, this was the stand-out gem in the set. Roy's death is a sad, loss, though in consolation we do of course still have his work in our hands.

Thursday 26 November 2020

Detailing a OO gauge Airfix lowmac

I think most people have a modelling happy place. If I had to pinpoint mine it would come down to two, or a combo of two: kit-building wagons and/or taking something and upgrading it. Preferably some thing low-cost and out of the club rummage box.

I'm not 100% sure where this Lowmac came from; I don't remember buying it, so it must be somebody's cast off. It was all fairly intact except one missing coupling and it ran perfectly. It's pretty much a one piece mould  and it has 'Airfix 1975' on the bottom making it not much younger than me and likely one of the first of the Airfix range. By todays' standards it's crude, but then I could drop it and not worry about it disintegrating and having to take out a loan for a replacement. In other words it fits the bill perfectly. What's more, our friendly scouse retailers were still selling them under the Hornby banner until recently here .

A quick bit of research turns up that it's a Lowmac EU (which proves that in 1955 when it was built we were more interested in being friends with people rather than enemies) and was unsurprisingly designed for ferry traffic and was full 'continental' spec. Through air pipe and vac-fitted, with the buffers with the holes.

The holes were easy -  a whizz with a .5mm drill. The brakes are odd. The moulding tries to do everything in one go and everything in line, but not in line with anything at all. Very much of its time. I sliced off the push-rod parts which should fit inboard, pondered the outer cross-rods and I'm still pondering the pipes. These may go on later. The rest is paint and a new (the last in stock) Airfix-mount coupling. A length of chain and a slice or two of coffee stirrer and she's a good'un.
Happy place.


Wednesday 25 November 2020

Rhiw something

There's been some tweaking... but not much. I'm very aware that I'm falling straight into Minories territory here, in fact I found myself browsing through an RMweb thread that dissects the CJF plan and 'improves' it. This means that I've essentially done the same. If you want to disappear down the same rabbit hole the thread is here .

The tweak from my original below is a two parter: the throat points have been shifted more to the left to give a little more space at the entry, therefore closing the loop slightly. This will still take three Mk1s... just. This is of course irrelevant as the standard FY roads won't. The second part is that point 1 is changed to a RH. This means the parcels road at the back is a tad shorter and more S-shaped on entry.

I'm at the point where I'm not sure this is a good idea. I'm not even sure if the name is right. What the world doesn't need now is another exhibition layout, though it is as usual rear op' so far more likely to go out to play than all the front op' boys post Covid. The reason is because I can and not having some sort of layout project on the go seems, well, weird. This will all go to plan until you-know-who demand an N gauge layout to be built in Setrack for Warley 21. 

Monday 23 November 2020

O gauge brake van

 I finished the 7mm brake off last week. Apart from a couple of niggles it practically falls together. but isn't a particularly quick build. However it doesn't say this on the box and this is supposed to be a pastime not a race. Finished in a scruffy, but not filthy paint job with the usual mix of acrylics form Humbrol.

Saturday 21 November 2020

7mm scale signals

Never open you big mouth. I sent the review in for the Simon Paley book (mentioned below). A short while later: 'As you're well read in this now, do you fancy building these up for review?'

I have said many times over the years that I don't do wires - nasty tangly things full of stuff I don't really understand. The subject is a triple modular kit of a 7mm 3 aspect with a feather arm - the bit pictured above, the post and the feather in separate kits. The bit with resistors I didn't get so I rang AWK for some knowledgeable advise. That bit partially achieved I returned the instructions only to find that the bit I'd done I didn't need to do...yet.  The three sets of instructions are worryingly interlaced. I'd hesitate to say that this is bad practice, but it did take me a while to work out where to start. I'm sure it will all be fine.


Friday 20 November 2020

Track plans

First the plague, then the flood. Just waiting for the locusts to rock up. Back in the back room sans floor and carpet and using the trestles that were built for the AotC - i.e. 13" wide and 3' off the deck. The boards are as shown a couple of days ago and will obviously get backscenes and facia. (Tut. nearly said lightweight again there instead of lighter-weight).

The track layout is as the plan though I'm still tweaking. Access to the parcels road (right) will need reversal into the FY which won't go down too well with Mr. Hill, but as I said, still tweaking. Track is standard code 75 - I've mostly moved over to this, but there is still some code 100 knocking about in the cupboard. The PG Tips box represents the parcels depot the other boxes, a low relief extension to this. I'll need some building flats with lines of dirty windows. The platforms will be canopied for much of their length and be accessed via underpass from somewhere. In essence this is the bastard child not only of Hopwood/Rhiw, but leans heavily on Messers Futers and Freezer though there will be what amounts two two separate fiddle yards (up and down) on one board using the existing fan of sidings that are currently used for Svanda and adding an extra pair (don't think three will fit) alongside.

Sunday 15 November 2020

Lightweight baseboards

 The first board for the new Rhiw or Rhiw 2 or something else that rhymes. After the marginally heavyweight pre-cut boards, it's back to my own from 6mm MDF. The last lot had reduced cross framing, now I've gone the whole hog and done the side frames too. Debating whether to link the holes into long ovals. You wouldn't think this made a difference, but compared to the last efforts, the above is almost down to grams. It does feel slightly over the top, but then I remembered reading about touring cyclists drilling holes in plastic spoons to cut weight so...

Compared to Mk 1 it's positively frantic with track, but in reality it is a different beast and hopefully replicated all the good bits of Hopwood, while removing the bad bits and all in a little less space.

Wednesday 11 November 2020

O gauge in Railway Modeller

 Slightly delayed from its originally planned November slot to hit the (again planned) appearance at Warley, the O gauge layout Oake starts its trilogy this month. This should hit the shops tomorrow- if you could get to the shops that is.

Sunday 8 November 2020

Replacing a Scandinavian model

For no particular reason Svanda was pulled out of its corner and set up. This was before it was twigged that this was its first glimpse of daylight for a year. The last being an outing to Wycrail. A quick wave of the track rubber and all worked perfectly. There are small questions - much as there are about any exhibition layout. Svanda is slightly different in that it has lasted; a quick bit of digging found that it was started in 2010. That's almost unheard of with layouts that I have had a hand in building, but then in a lot of ways it's my favourite to operate. Smooth-running Heljan, Roco, NJM locos and stock with finely tweaked couplings usually see to that. My only thought is that it looks a little tired. Is it time for a complete refurb', or time for a replacement?


Saturday 7 November 2020

Saturday Ramble

A month into life (not physically) at RM and what have I learnt? Well, it's mainly been un-learn in many respects. Probably different for me as I've never been in this situation before - that is, having a day job. This is very much a good thing being that the self-employed have been royally shafted by the government, while the banks and listed companies have been propped up to the tune of millions. I get quite ratty when people moan about the new current lockdown and how put out they all are. The arts and entertainment industries didn't come out of the first lock down and probably won't for the foreseeable future. Support? Not a chance. Ironically the first thing that people have turned to is TV. Who makes TV work? Self-employed arts freelancers.

The other notable thing this month is me dropping the editorship of 009 News (ending April). These two things aren't linked at all; I'd waved my intention to do this back in the spring and had been persuaded to continue. Things have changed now and the final straw was the subtle shift from it being the 'newsletter' of the society with a magazine element, to a push for it to become the mouthpiece of the commercial wing of the organisation. When it starts looking like Exchange and Mart, then it's time for me to go.

I've just reviewed this. I wouldn't normally mention it, but it is rather good. Not a romping read, but the information is solid and concisely presented. The title is a little misleading; it's not about lights, but about train control. I approached it with a little trepidation, but now I want a copy.  If you are a modeller of what used to be called 'modern image', and possibly a fair bit before, then you need this book on your reference shelf. Five stars.


Friday 6 November 2020

O gauge brake van

This has been a bit of a slow-burn build. Not as slow as Phil's GWR steam railmotor, but slow nevertheless. Yesterday I girded my loins and finished all the handrails which are individually folded and inserted into marked holes. Easy enough, though they still need tweaking, but the wire supplied is on a coil. My only improvement suggestion thus far would be to supply this in straight wire form - there's enough space in the box.

As normal I've inverted the instructions. These said get the underfame built and running first. This is good practice, but bolting a load of flimsy footsteps on an the beginning of the build is not. I've taken what I consider to be the more pragmatic route of leaving them till last. Likewise the afore mentioned handrails were supposed to go on post-body build. Nah...  far easier to do this while the parts are flat and then build the box. Although this looks sort of done the roof is only dumped on for effect and there is a surprising amount still to do. It should feature in a blow-by-blow in RM in the coming months.

Wednesday 4 November 2020

Layout destruction

 The current crisis is generating much deep thought on lots of levels for everyone; what's important and what can wait.  I suppose that railway modelling is no different and I, like a lot of people, am revaluating certain things. 

I had begun a layout which was springing from the period of the GWR book (available to your right) and the AotC layout, which may still exist somewhere in Lincolnshire. The basic plotline was to look at the subject in a more 'finescaley' fashion. Me and finescale are not natural bedfellows, but some improvements could be me made by giving the idea more space and by making use of the Peco bullhead track. So far so good and the boards were built and the track went down. Then I got the request to build Hopwood and the layout was stacked neatly in a corner for a while. Then shortly after Hopwood had been shown at Warley, the O gauge project was mentioned... it remained in the corner. Now, some two-plus years later and with the room lightly flooded it ended up in the garage getting in the way.

I took it into the office and gave it a good looking at. I'd moved on. The world had moved on. Did I need another exhibition layout when there may be no exhibitions for a very long time? The answer was quite mixed: yes I do, but my head is thinking more compact and to be honest the bullhead wasn't singing to me. 

The other factor was the idea that while I quite liked Hopwood as a concept, it was a little short, too wide and waaaay too heavy. Taking the basic premise and mixing that with the previous idea for Rhiw (tabs above) and looking at a Rhiw 2 which had been on the board for a while.

This is a very long winded way of saying that I stripped the boards down for materials that could be used for this. And while not a lock-down project (yawn) the materials for this are all in stock.

Sunday 1 November 2020

Digging a trench

 Not what I was expecting to do last Sunday. I got a phone call from my step-granddaughter - she needed some 'help' with a half term history project on WW1. The brief was to build a trench in a shoebox.  Unfortunately she didn't mention the 'compulsory and optional' items so there was a lot of scrambling. 

The prototype research was a few photos of mainly French trenches - I'm far from expert in these things so whether these were French trenches or just trenches in France I couldn't say. Anyway I just copied  as best I could with a certain amount of 'help'. The scale is about 10mm-1' because it was easier and to her mother's amazement the whole thing just cost time and about 20p. Draw from that what you will.

Materials used are: Adidas shoebox, Amazon box card for the carcass, masking tape as the base groundwork poster paint and PVA to seal it. A bundle of coffee stirrers, corrugated paper from a biscuit wrapper, DAS sandbags, ground up chalk and soil from the garden dried in the microwave.  Paint and a wisp of static grass. 

Got to be worth an A*