Dia 51 Test Build – Fox Heavyweight Bogies

After the painting disaster, I have been working on the latest version of the Fox Bogies.  The prototype utilised a patented design with pressed steel plates to form the sides and ends which produced a stiff and resilient frame, better than the other contemporary options.   Thus these bogies were very common amongst the pre-grouping companies with most of using them to at least some degree.   

Although there are several model manufacturers that produce Fox bogies, there are no versions that use springing which I now prefer.  As they were the primary form of bogie used by the Highland Railway, I need a few of them and thus I have been putting some effort into getting a top notch solution.  In this regard, I have been assisted greatly by Justin Newitt if Rumney Models whose design of sprung bogie has formed the basis of this. 

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The model has primary suspension on the pin points based on guitar wire springs,

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In addition to this, the design has a sprung bolster, also based on a guitar string suspension.

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The castings I have used on these are from Lochgorm Models and the design has been conceived to enable these to be used either retaining their dampers (the cylindrical appendage at the end of the leaf springs) or with replacements  that are a little more defined.

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The etch is also designed to be provided with full stepboards as below or with only a short section to one end – as they typically were converted to during their life.

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There is full brake gear provided, with a little trick where they do not pass under the axle (remember this view is upside down!) – this enables the wheel to be removed if this is required.

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This is not the first version of these (don’t accuse me of not test building my designs!) and they are very close to done.  The final change is to adjust the primary spring hangers slightly so that they are not visible when they are depressed (you can just see it poking above the sides in line with the axlebox),  The advantage of computer drawn artwork is that things like this can be changed relatively easily.

These, and indeed the rest of the dia 51 full brake, will be made available for sale quite soon.

Previous parts to the test build can be found here:

 

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Holland, no seriously……..

After Oly’s somewhat mischievous description of our trip to the Rail 2018 Modelspoor in Utrecht, I thought it might be worth taking a slightly more serious look at some of the layouts that will be unknown to most of the readers of this blog.  Thus, even though there were some fine UK based layouts, I won’t include pictures of these as I am presuming more will be familiar with them (and if you are not, get out there and visit them at a show!).

First up was a model of Montherme station in N gauge.  The real station is in the Ardennes and the railway really does come out of a tunnel, through a small station, across a river and back into another tunnel.  The builders have used N gauge to its full effect, the hillsides rise up 3 feet (although this does make the layout excessively low) and it is very much a layout in a landscape which I like.  It is based in northern France and the operators are very friendly, so if there are any brave show managers in the UK it could be realistically invited.

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Regrettably I did not get the name of the following layout and ordinarily I don’t particularly like the steelworks/chemical works type of layouts as I find they are a bit contrived and consequently fake.  However, I thought this one was a rather nice example and when you homed in on the detail, rather than let yourself get overwhelmed by the whole there were some really nice touches to it.

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The next layout was a very fine rendition of a small Dutch village scene with a tram running through it.  It was called Halt Tombroekstadt and whilst perhaps a little too neat, it was wonderfully modelled with lots of careful observations.  It was automated and this could be worked on as the tram was either one or off!

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Last up was my favourite – a layout called Pocahontas Mining Co built by a group from Dusseldorf.  It was huge by most people’s standards and this enabled them to get full length coal trains on it without this looking silly – on occasions they had a double headed Norfolk & Western mallet with a similar banker at the back and that really was impressive to watch.  You could imagine the houses in the foreground literally shaking on their foundations as a the whole train trundled by,

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A few years back, I harboured desires to do something Canadian Pacific and regularly used to peruse Model Railroader.  Pocahontas Mining reminded me of a number of the big basement layouts that so many Americans seemed to have – boy was I envious (indeed I still am!).

The layout had a number of great examples of modelling, just capturing the mundane and reminded me lots of O Winston Link’s photographs.

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There were other very good layouts at the show but being one operator down and suffering from the tendency of my operators to either take the sit back form of management or engage any willing recipient into an in depth analysis of Scottish geography, there wasn’t time to photograph them all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wordless Wednesday – because I can’t publish my word…………

I am not one to fall behind trends (!!), so I am following the “wordless Wednesday” trend of many people’s blogs today.

However, my reason for not putting down many words is that the ones I would like to write ought not appear on a public blog.

Thus I will have to settle with “matting agent” and “where’s the paint stripper” as my words instead……….

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The final installment of the test build sequence is a little further away than I had hoped!

Oly’s Holland

I am not quite sure why I am reblogging this given the grief I get within it but here is a not quite complete story of our trip to Holland with both Portchullin and Six Quarters………….

All that needs adding to the story is to add that the last we saw of Oly at the end of the weekend was his very worried face as he was in the Customs Shed at Dover whilst surrounded by several large burly men putting on rubber gloves in the search for HO scale contraband and assuring him that it would not hurt a bit…………

The Model Railways of Oly Turner and Chris Matthews

It all started with sound logic. The plan made perfect sense, Mark Tatlow had been invited to “Rail 2018” in Utrecht, Holland. Mark has always, religiously, hired a van around 10 times larger than required. This van was usually a classic long wheel base Sprinter, in which Portchullin had received many a war wound on the motorways of Great Britain by being allowed to slide around freely in the rear while the vehicle was driven like it had been stolen by a middle class mad man from Sussex.

Portchullin requires around 5 operators, 1 to operate and 4 to spend the weekend fixing it, so to make the proposition of 5 of us on the beer in Holland more appealing the spare space in the van would be taken up by SQ. So a sort of free layout for the exhibition manager.

That was where all logic ended.

The first…

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Sliding Axles – A Reprise

Following my last post on sliding axles, I put the coach through its paces last weekend when Portchullin visited the Netherlands.

We I am pleased to say we did not have any bother with road holding it at all, even on Portchullin’s famously rubbish track – as long as you wait to the end of this clip you will see the proof of this.  The axle has about 1mm play on the centre axle – 1/2mm either way – and this proved to be more than enough for the 4 foot curves on the layout.  We did find it would be defeated by the rather tighter curves on Horselunges which was nearby but as these were down to around 2 feet radius, I don’t feel guilty!

The one issue I encountered was that as the axle slid over, the wheel rim would touch the side of the W iron and thus electrify it.  This lead to some shorting issues if it came into contact with a vehicle of different polarity (I know it shouldn’t but well it seems to do for my stock!).  Thus, for the next vehicle I will look to insert a layer of very thin copper clad paxolin below the W iron to isolate it.

So even with this issue I consider that the experiment to be a definite success and for relatively short bodied 6 wheeled coaches this will be my standard approach going forward.  This suits the Jones shorter 6 wheeled vehicle of which Lochgorm and Microrail have examples.  I think the jury is still out on longer 6 wheeled vehicles and a further experiment is going to he required as I am still a bit concerned there may not be enough side play.

 

Sliding Axles

Six wheeled coaches are pretty and they are quite characteristic on branch services on the Highland system in the early 1920’s.  The problem is that they are bu**ers to get to properly work because there is a tendency for the middle axle to rock on any raised sections of track or for it to fail to swing on curves.  OO modellers can typically get away with this as those deep flanges do come in handy for it.  P4 modellers, such as myself, have a tougher time of it and whilst I have built a couple of six wheeled coaches, the count that can master the trackwork of Portchullin is rather less than the number built!

Having got better over the years at getting things to run properly (still a work in progress mind…..) I have turned my attention again to some more six wheeled vehicles.  The first one to write about uses a less usual approach to accommodate curved/lumpy track – the use of a sliding axle.  Although this has been written up before, I have not seen it actually executed so maybe I am a first (or perhaps fairly near to the first to do so!)  Actually, I have found it pretty easy and the completed vehicle manages my test track with ease, so it will get an outing on the layout next week.

This is how I did it……………

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As I don’t have a lathe, creating the pin point axles is beyond me even though it would be a very simple bit of lathe work and this was one of the main stumbling blocks to trying this approach previously.  Then I had an inspiration…………Exactoscale axles.  These have a notional outside diameter of 1mm which I found to actually be about 0.96mm – even better as it is thus an easy fit to a 2mm brass tube with a 1mm bore!  Tube in this dimension is readily available and can be purchased from Eileens or your preferred metal stockist.  The first task is to remove the moulded plastic cosmetic inner axle which proved to be really easy as it came off very cleanly.

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Alan Gibson wheels are structured around a 2mm axle (which again was actually fractionally below 2mm) and have a tendency to be a little loose, so popping them off was easy!

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I cut the brass tube well over length and mounted it in the drill.  Prior to inserting it into the wheel I ensured that the ends were burr free by spinning the drill whilst holding a piece of wet and dry over the end.  Not doing this leads to the plastic boss getting damaged and the wheel being less likely to be perpendicular to the axle.

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My pillar drill doubled up as a neat wheel press.  With the brass tube inserted in the chuck, a wheel blank was laid on the base and the depression lever closed to push the tube into the boss.  Even though the tube was to the full 2mm, I used a dab of superglue as this was inserted to ensure it stayed there.  The first wheel blank was pushed approximately 10-15mm through the face, so that there was a good projection of tube beyond.  This comes in handy when the second wheel blank is added as the projecting end can be held in the drill chuck so that the process can be repeated.

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And this is what you get once the second wheel blank has been pushed onto the wheel blank.  The free ends are then cut back with a piercing saw & file so that they project no more than 1/4mm.

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A quick ream of the bore of the tube and the old Exactoscale axle can be inserted.  It is a nice smooth but not sloppy fit and the tube can easily slide back and forth without a trace of effort.

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There is nothing radical about the vertical suspension; each axle being supported on a Bill Bedford sprung W iron.

This whizzes very nicely along my test track, including where this has reverse curves so I am hopeful it will stand upto a proper test on Portchullin over the forthcoming weekend.  If so, then I will adopt it for my future relatively short wheelbased 6 wheelers – specially where there are full footboards that restrict the movement of the any moving w-irons (of which this Microrail kit is an example).

So fingers crossed and I will report…………

 

 

 

Going Dutch – Two for the Price of One!

Portchullin’s next exhibition may not be the furthest it has travelled but it will definitely be a first for the layout and indeed myself – an exhibition on the continent.  In this case Modelspoor 2018 which takes place on the 23 – 25 February in the Euroteco Centre, Houten, near Utrecht in the Netherlands.

To the Anglo-Saxons amongst us, do not be put off by the website being written in Dutch.  Basically almost everyone in the Netherlands speaks good English (embarrassingly perfect English typically) and it is a really easy country to travel around, engage with people and see what they have to offer.  Although I have not been to Modelspoor before I have heard a lot about it – think Warley * 3 seems to be the gist of it (which may be a bit much in truth!).  However, it has a core of “finescale” from across Europe to which I was very flattered to be invited and I hear is worth seeing in any case.

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And of seeing Portchullin is a sufficient excuse to high-tail it over to Holland, coming in the van will also be Oly’s Six Quarters layout.  In contrast to the fresh air of the west of Scotland, Six Quarters has air laced with Cumbrian coal dust and grime!

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There are a number of other very good layouts there, including Jerry Clifford’s Highclere Colliery (under a new name I hear) and Gordon Gravett’s Arun Quay.  Se even if you don’t fancy Portchullin or Six Quarters much (shame on you), it is still worth a visit.

So if anyone that reads this blog (well, either of you!) is over in Holland in a couple of weeks time, do pop over and say hello!

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The Far North – Let it Snow!

With portions of the country suffering from a bit too much of the white stuff of late and with some trains embedded in both snow and mud blockages, I thought it might be fun to look back at the problems that snow caused one part of the Highland Railway’s system in the past.

Even though it was not as high as many other parts of the Highland’s system, its northerly position and exposure to winds makes the Far North line prone to drifting snow; especially where the line rises across the flow country between Forsinard and Scotscalder.  This has long been a sore to the Highland Railway and there are a number of fine photographs of snow ploughs in action.  Here are a few of them.

Believed to be near Scotscalder Station; what looks like a Barney in the rear and a Medium Goods to the middle – there is a further loco lost behind the plume of snow!  Photo courtesy of the GNSRA.

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Potentially the same train with a pair of Medium Goods and a Barney look to have a lot of trouble with a significant drift at the County March Summit (a bit to the south of Altnabreac).  You can see plenty of evidence that the ploughs could not clear the line on their own in the top photograph – note the sides to the “cutting” have lots of shovel sized depressions.

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And proof that a lot of digging was required!  Both photographs are the NRM’s.

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Snow is still a big problem in these lines; in the mid 1970’s a full train was stuck for a couple of days and needed to be supplied from the air (if anyone has any pictures of this I could use, could you let me know?).

The picture below was taken in 2010 where some DRS class 37’s had obviously been hard at work.  Photo from Outpost North RSPB.

From Outpost North RSPB

And after the exertions of clearing the line, this Barney looks as if it needs some attention if only to remove the snow.  Remember, this will have been in steam yet is still has snow on its boiler!  Photo of a Barney at Helmsdale from the HRS.

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All of the ploughs shown in the HR era are of the medium size.  There was a bigger one which begs the question of what size drifts were these used on?!?!?

 

 

 

Something Fishy…….

Fish was an important traffic to the Highland Railway and as a result fish trucks were one of their most numerous classes of wagons. Given that Glenmutchkin is conceived to be on the coast, fish traffic will also be an important feature on the model too. There is to be a line to an off-scene harbour, so that I can justify a significant traffic. I already have a shortish train of fish vehicles, mostly open trucks, but I definitely need more

Back in April, I reviewed the Mousa Models LNWR covered van, which I was generally impressed with. Buoyed with this I spent portions of the last couple of weekends making a pair of the same manufacturer’s HR Drummond Fish Trucks. The kit is arranged for the variant that had a centre drop door, but there was an alternative variant with full length drop sides and at least some acquired morton brakes during their life. Thus, there are a few modifications that can be made if you wish.

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The above is a full drop side version of the fish truck at (I think) Kyle (AB McLeod, HRS Collection).

Having built a few Mousa Models kits and however regretful it is, I was not surprised to find there were no instructions included in the kit.  This is a pain as there is enough going on with the model to justify some guidance and anyone who does not have my father’s book will struggle.   Unfortunately, I did not take any mid way through photographs before I realised that some notes on its construction would be of assistance, but hopefully these notes and the pictures of the completed model will be helpful.

A first issue I discovered was that the resin casting was a touch distorted. The ends in particular bowed into the well of the wagon and the whole wagon had a slight twist to it. This is a common problem with resin kits but with care can easily be corrected. Put the body casting in hot water – as hot as you can tolerate with hands (so less than boiling – 40C is about right) and it softens sufficient to allow these to be corrected.

Although the resolution quality of the LNWR van was good, the quality of the prints that formed the masters for these resin castings was not nearly good enough.  Significant portions of them looked as if they were sand castings and did not look real.  The body sides were better and were capable of being improved to an acceptable standard with some work with wet and dry sand paper.  The solebars were worse, possibly because they received less effort to tidy them up prior to being used as a master.  I managed to tidy it up a bit more in the areas that were more free of rivet heads, but above the W irons this was not possible and will have to be masked with some weathering.

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The roughness of the print is apparent to the solebar

The kit is conceived with sprung W-irons to Mousa Models normal design – details of the assembly of which can be found in my previous blog post.  However, these need to be carefully lined up to the bolts on the outside of the solebars as the locating slots to the underside are oversized and allow too much slop.  It is also necessary to use the Brassmasters axle spacing jig to ensure that the axles are parallel and correctly spaced.

As I noted previously, Mousa Models seem to wish to use resin parts for as much of their recent kits as possible.  There were only a few parts where this was a problem on the LNWR van but the problem is rather worse on these fish trucks due to the additional elements of detail that they contain. Had some of the components been produced as etched parts, they would have been a lot more durable without compromising fidelity.  I replaced the brake levers, coupling hooks, vacuum brake plunger and brake tie bars with etched components or wire but if I were doing any more of these, I would also swap the brake blocks/hangers because I have managed to damage two of these.  Masokits do some that are suitable, although there may be others too that I do not know of.

Page 147 of the carriages and wagons book shows a drawing of how the Drummond patent brake levers operated.  In this, it can be seen that there was a long lever running to the right hand end from the fulcrum of the “scotch brake”.  This then met a smaller lever that operated in a cam arrangement on the long lever but also connected through a rod to the other side of the wagon.  On this side, there was another short lever (so appeared on the left hand end on this side).  In the kit, the brake lever is rather crude due to the need to beef it up so that it is durable but even then it is very vulnerable.  Furthermore, there is a second long lever, which is not correct at all.  Instead, I made up a rod from brass and utilised an etch from the Highland Railway Society.

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The principal side to the wagons, showing the missing brake lever now provided by way of a Highland Railway Society etching.

The patent braking system was, however, found to be unsafe because one side could be operated without the user on the other realising it (it cost someone some fingers, I believe) and the Board of Trade banned them for new construction. Therefore, many wagons had their braking arrangements changed, either by the use of full length levers and a ratchet or even a full change to morton brakes. I converted one of my wagons to the former by the use of some etched levers from 51L and an extra V hanger from the scrapbox.

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And now the subsidiary side to the wagons, showing the Drummond Patent Brake lever to the left hand vehicle and a replacement long lever on the right hand vehicle.

I also took the view that the buffers were too delicate to survive in use and therefore swapped them for Drummond buffers available from the Highland Railway Society.  I also found it necessary to cram the whole of the underside of the chassis with lead, to get the wagon’s weight to a level that would operate the wagon’s springs.

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The underside – the rod to the Drummond brake is visible to the left hand end of the top vehicle.

Although these will have been green with yellow lettering for much of their lives, I chose to do them in LMS crimson lake. Rather fine they look too! When carrying fish boxes, it is known that turfs were used to provide thermal insulation around the fish for the journey but my guess is that this was covered within tarpaulins.  I have tended to find that the paper tarpulians (Smiths etc) are not that durable so I need to do some experimenting on alternatives – I do have something in mind.  That will be for another post though!

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Painted (well I seem to have missed the rims!) and awaiting weathering

All in all, these are quite attractive vehicles, very core to the required stock for Portchullin and the kits are a pretty good – but they could be better and easier to build if Mousa models had dealt with what are relatively obvious points.

 

 

Zimbabwe Steam 2

As mentioned in my last post on my visit to Zimbabwe, due to the kindness of Alan Crotty and Fabrice Lanoue, I have access to a number of other great pictures of steam on Zimbabwe’s railways.  It is a shame not to share them………..

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