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Dia 51 Full Brake – Test Build Part 1

Following the last delivery from the etchers, it was time to get on and do the first test builds.  First up was the dia 51 Full Brake.  This vehicle was one of the later coaches from the Highland Railway and was of similar design to the cove roof corridor coaches that have been available from Lochgorm Models for some time.  They were also amongst some of the last highland coaches to service as tool vans etc.  This is what one looked like late on in its career after its corridor connections had been removed.

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As with my efforts for the scrap tank, I am seeking to try and be a bit smarter with some of the kit design to draw together ideas of assembly of my own and also those of others.  So starting with the ends, these will be made with a double skin to both provide the footsteps and, less commonly, some tabs to allow the sides to be secured to them.

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I have always found that too many etched coaches have flimsey sides that become distorted as they are made (or when ham-fisted me does anyway).  Therefore,  I have designed this such that the head and base of the side have significantly sized stiffening pieces, as can be seen below.  These are designed to interlock with the tabs at the ends such that most of the locating of the parts is largely defined by the kits components.

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Once the basics of the shell are together, this is what it looks like.

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The roof proved to be one of the most challenging parts of the build.  I had originally designed this with an inner to form the shape of the roof and then a thinly etched outer layer to go over this to provide the rainstrips and other detail.  It proved too difficult to get the two to laminate well or even be rolled to a similar curve.

Instead, therefore, I ditched the outer layer and relied only on the inner.  This had been half etched on the underside to assist its rolling to the curved profile.  I found that it was still difficult to roll the roof due to the tightness of the curves at the extremity of the roof but by simply using bending bars it was quite easy to put the curves in with a limited amount of faceting.  Faceting is where short straight sections with bends to the next short section that gives the impression of a curve.  Once this was then filed on the outside to smooth out the facets, a smooth curve became pretty good.  Thereafter, it was necessary to form the rainstrips with wire and file them back to square sections and as you can see, the effect is pretty convincing.

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The underframe and bogies are to follow, in part 2.

Fastrack Finescale – Mousa Models Cast Resin Wagon Kits

I have been building a couple of Mousa Model‘s kits lately; which has been a bit of a tale of the good, the bad and the ugly.  Whilst the bad one will be written about in due course, this is the good one!  The remarkable thing about it is its ease and speed of construction – so much so, I timed its construction just to see how fast I could build and paint it.  The prototype is a LNWR dia 32 covered goods van, with a door to one side only but also with a roof door.  This is the tale of its construction:

0hrs 1 min – Straight out of the box, the body & underframe are separate cast resin parts, as is the fret with the axleboxes, springs and brake gear.  The underframe is an etch kit and the buffers are 3-D printed.

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0hrs 15mins – The operational underframe has been folded up and fillets of solder run down the joints.  Waisted top-hat bearings inserted in the bearing carriers along with the suspension springing wire.  The first two carriers have been cleaned up and are inserted in the W-irons ready to receive the first wheel.

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0hrs 25 mins – The remaining bearing carriers have now been fitted and the operational underframe has been stuck to the underside of the cosmetic underframe – wait 10 mins for the araldite to fully go off – so time for a cuppa!

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0hrs 45mins – the casting has been cleaned up to remove any casting burs/flash, which was apparent in small amounts around its base but actually the main casting was pretty good.  The first two axlebox/spring assemblies fitted – but only after I opened up the rebate to their rear to ensure that the top hat bearings had room to slide and cleared away rather more flash.  Being cast resin, the vehicles are pretty light so some weight has been added – 25g per axle is my rule of thumb.  One thing I have found with vans is that the weight can detach so I tend to mechanically fix the weight too now, in this case with a couple of 8BA screws.

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1hr 0mins – the second set of axle guards and springs now affixed, as is the body to the underframe.  I decided that the bolt heads on the solebars were a bit too proud, so took them down a little with some wet and dry paper.  A brake block has been attached – the kit provides a choice of timber brake blocks (for early periods) and cast iron – I went for the latter.  I also decided, however, to cut away the brake lever as I felt it was both a bit too delicate to survive and also it was not quite straight.  Instead, I provided a piece of 0.6mm brass rod to both help secure the brake block in place and to provide a mount for the replacement brake lever.

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1hr 15mins – the buffer shanks have now been fitted (a tiny amount of fettling was required to the open the holes out slightly) and coupling hooks have been added.  The kit does provide etched versions which I only failed to use as I thought I could save 5 minutes of the build by using Exactoscale hooks).  A new brake lever and lever guard are etched brass from 51L models and should be more durable than the resin one provided in the kit.

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Still 1 hr 15 mins – a piece of PCB has been provided for the eventual fitting of AJ couplings and I took advantage of this to provide a temporary bracket of metal to hold the model by during painting.  A good scrub in warm soapy water, followed by a rinse and a second clean with a cream cleaner (washing up liquid leaves a residue, so I always do the final clean prior to painting with a cream cleaner) occurred next.  So that is the model built in only an hour and a quarter, which is faster than anything I have built before – including converting r-t-r stock!

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1hr 45mins – after masking the inside of the bearings, the whole model was painted in a mid grey – Tamiya TS 4 (German Grey).  I thought this was about right for LNWR grey but as all greys of the time were lead based and thus darkened considerably over time, I tend to be quite cavalier about wagon greys!  I did have a bit of an accident such that it ran on the roof but this was salvagable with a little bit of wet and dry once it had dried off.  These paints finish to a semi gloss and thus are ideal for taking transfers, in this case HMRS Transfers sheet 16 in methfix because the vans were pretty archaic by the time that the grouping occurred, so I presumed that few would have been repainted in LMS livery.

2hr 15mins (but 10 mins of this was me correcting my messed up roof painting!) – ironwork below the solebar, the draw bar, buffer shanks and brake lever were all picked out in black.  All then sealed with Testors dullcoat a couple of times.

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So whats left?  – I do need to weather it, some AJ’s need to be fitted and the “holding tab” will need to be removed.   I am waiting to do a batch of weathering, so it will be a bit quicker; maybe 30 minutes for the vehicle.  So I reckon this will be a complete, painted and weathered very good quality van or wagon on the 3 hour mark – well worth doing and no need to moan about when the r-t-r manufacturer is going to produce it!

 

 

 

 

Two Steps Forward and One Back

Having taken a few days off to make a long Easter break and absent the family for a few days, I have set about the wiring of the layout as it has laid untouched for too long!

First things first was to mount the control panel and rather smart it looks too……….

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Control panel mounted in situ; a gap for the controller to the left and the aluminium strip to the right masks the power district switches.

Then onto the wiring itself, which takes a surprisingly long time…………….this is only about 50% finished!

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The two key boards to the station throat

One of my slightly better ideas (you’re about to find out about a less good ones!) has been to make up mounting pieces for the DCC Concepts Cobalt point motors.  These are inspired by those designed for the Tortoise units and work on the same principal; they have a uniform mounting arrangement so once set up the actual point motor can be swapped over if need be without disturbing the set up.  This is what they look like:

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Cobalt Point Motor Mount

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Nothing too revolutional, but I hope it will make changing these at exhibitions a lot easier as this is the absolute devil on Portchullin.

And the less clever idea?   Remember the multigang sockets I had used on the control panels (link here) well they are not rated at a sufficient capacity to operate the point motors.  I think this is because Cobalts operate on a stall basis (the motor doesn’t turn off, it just stalls when it reaches the resistance of the physical stop).  My guess is that this results in quite high ampage draw and has led to the following:

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The multi-gang sockets with burnt out sections to the left.

Ooops!  Back to the drawing board (or rather traditional tag strip) for the linkage of the control panel to the board.

There have been other problems too; the carefully recorded wiring lists proved to be wrong on occassions so I have had to prove each cable run (dooh!) and I found one of the power district switches was defective (but only after a couple of hours of trying to trace the fault!)

So things are getting there, but we are still not at the stage of the first wheel moving!

Goodies – time for some more test building….

I had a delivery at work which was rather more interesting than the average box of lease documents I usually get…………it looked like this.

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There are a number of items in this, some parts for some locos I have underway and an attempt to adjust the ECJS 6 wheeled bogies but the key goodies in this are a MR 6 wheeled full brake (to dia 530) and an HR bogie full brake (to dia 51).

The MR full brake should look like this:

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and the Highland’s full brake here

So all I need is some time to do some more testing building…………..

Nothing to See Here

Well, that’s true of the top side, where nothing visible has happened of late but there is progress when you look underneath.

I have spent more than a few hours soldering dropper wires on about half of the track that has so far been laid.  All is neatly colour coded (hopefully).

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Another development in comparison to Portchullin is the painting of the entirity of the underside of the layout white.  This is to make everything clearer and will, hopefully, make it easier to deal with issues with the layout set up – although I am hopeing for less issues!

Even more hours (weekends even!) have been spent making up jumper connections, so hopefully the wiring will speed up in the coming weekends!  I have spent this time to work through the logic of the wiring across all boards and there is a full wiring schedule in place – none of the wonky logic on Portchullin this time!

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Portchullin at St Neot’s – 11/12 March

Portchullin’s next outing will be this forthcoming weekend at the St Neot’s show:

Come along and see some noisy diesels like this?  I rather hope to have a type 1 make an appearance over the weekend and any HR enthusiasts might wish to see a Barney put in an appearance (still in brass, don’t get too excited!)

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Christmas Layout Wiring (Not!)

I promised a number of people that I would be making sure that the layour had at least the main elements wired up over christmas, so that it could at last run.  But then it was a bit wet and cold so I did not fancy it out in the summerhouse so I applied rule no 1 – its my trainset!

Instead, I stayed at the bench and made a pair of the signals that still remain to be made for Glenmutchkin. The signalling plan has developed very slightly since I originally showed it back here and is shown below (actually this is the artwork for the control panel facia).

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The signals that I built were those that control the main loop prior to the shed link – levelrs 27 & 28 – and then the outer starter (that covers both the main loop and the main line) – levers 23, 24, 25 & 26.   Only a pair of two doll signals, I thought, they shouldn’t take more than a day or two?  Phew, well that wasn’t right; the more you look at the prototypes, the more you find there is to model!

Having created much of my own etchings and castings for MacKenzie & Holland signals I have obviously made good use of these.  In this case, the small brackets, arms, ladders and castings.

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Both of the signals have used the small brackets to create smallish landings.  The smaller of the two signals has only one arm per doll, the larger two.  The dolls and the posts are made up of square brass section which is filed to a taper – a certain amount of elbow grease is needed to acheive this!  The posts are then sandwiched between some transom beams that also clasp the doll post – this is all soldered with a high melt solder to stop it ungumming later.

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The brackets are then offered up from below, with scrap etch forming the bearing plates to pick up the transomes.  In the etch I also included smaller brackets to pick up the free end of the landing, along with the landing itself.  This gets you to the stage shown above.

But this is not the half of it on a signal, there are the finials, lamp brackets, lamps, cross stays, access steps, access ladders, pivot plates, handrails, operating cams, safety hoops and ladder still to do………..

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In a departure from my previous practise, I made the main ladders detachable (they will be held with the wire that can be seen in the pictures being turned over in secret pockets.  I am also going to paint this prior to the final assembly; which will mean some touching uo of the painting later but I hope will make it easier.

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And of course, I had to sign them with these rather nice custom name plaques from NBR 4mm Developments.

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This is the first time that I have used the brackets in signal making and I was pretty chuffed with how they have come out.  This is where things presently stand and we head for the paint shops tomorrow…….

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A Return Ticket to Buckingham – Part 3, the Automatic Crispin

Peter Denny’s Buckingham branch was very much an operational layout; for many years Peter’s children – Stephen and Crispin – were his chief assistant operators.  However, as his children grew up they weren’t always available and Peter found himself operating short-handed.   He found this frustrating as the need to cover the missing person interfered with the remainder of the operators.

This provoked the creation of the Automatic Crispin, one of the more famous parts of the layout.  Long before the use of DCC, micro-processors or automatic shuttles, this was an electromechanical computer – and very ingenious (and mind bogglingly complicated) it is too.  This was designed by Peter’s other son – Stephen – and took the place of Crispin to operate a portion of the layout automaticaly, in response to requests and commands from the other operators.

The heart of the system are a pair of disks and a paper chart with holes in it; all powered by motors and the enivitable mechano!  The disks contain a series of metal studs or runners, each of which is connected to either the bell, the block instrument, the track or turnout relays.  Running across these were a series of wiper blades of brass that connected power to the studs or runner as required.

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The operation of the disk was initiated by Grandborough Jct’s signalman.  As he sends a bell code, this sends a pulse of power to initiate the motor to rotate the disks or the paper chart on one segment; this first segment sends power to activate a bell code reply (each stud giving a ping).  When this is answered by Grandborough Jct, in addition to acknowledging the offering forward of a train with a further bell code, it sets the block instrument.  The acknowledgement of the latter being the next command to operate the correct route into the fiddle yard and power up the track in order to allow the train to arrive.  The arriving train would hit a dead portion of track at the end of the fiddle yard to stop it running away, but in the process would send the “train out of section” bell code back to Grandborough Jct to allow the line to be cleared.

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The story always told by Peter was that the Automatic Crispin was required when the real Crispin went to University but I think it is time to share with the world that this was a white lie.  Crispin’s more prosaic explanation was that he had discovered girls at the time and all of a sudden, playing with Daddy’s trainset didn’t seem quite so interesting…….

As can be seen in the pictures, at present the Automatic Crispin is presently in bits, but is all beleived to be complete.  It is part of Tony’s master plan to reassemble this; its orignator Stephen is apparently up for assisting to, so who knows?

To conclude the last of these three posts on Buckingham Central, a few photographs and to give you a chance to see the Automatic Crispen in action, take a look at this link to the BBC News article on Peter’s death and some video from circa 1980 of the layout – enjoy!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/cornwall/hi/people_and_places/history/newsid_8700000/8700293.stm

It is fair to say that Peter Bond and myself were not as proficient as Peter and his sons in this, sounds like we need some more practise Peter……..

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A Return Ticket to Buckingham – Part 2; Peter Denny’s Modelling

When I was still in my shorts, I used to peruse my father’s extensive collection of railway magazines for hours on end – the Railway Modeller, Model Railway News and the Model Railway Constructor.  I even marked in pen articles I particularly liked (not for long, the old man soon warned me off that approach!).  My memories from this period of Buckingham were not about its operational possibilities but for its modelling.

Whilst the years have passed and there are now a fair number of fine layouts that have eclipsed Buckingham, back in the 1970s (when I was leafing through these magazines) these were not common and going back to when the articles were being written 10 or 15 years before, only a very few even got close to the standard of Peter’s modelling.  So this post will illustrate what state of the art 1960s scenic modelling looked like.

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As can be expected of a layout that is 50+ years old, wear is showing in places and prior to his death, Peter Denny did have a programme of repair and improvement underway.  One of the aspects to be dealt with was the trees made of sprigs of lichen on trunks made of wire or heather – these had not faired well.

Tony had been mulling over what to do about this and consulted with Peter’s children who still have an interest in their father’s layout and seem to act as “non-exec directors” to the board.  The conclusion was “do as Peter would have done” and as a result little upgrades and repairs are being completed to Buckingham, so the layout will still develop.  In the case of the trees, replacements will be made of sea moss and ground foam.

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One story that Tony was able to share with us, which I do not think is widely known, is why Peter selected the Great Central for his modelling.  Apparently, he initially started modelling the Great Western but soon found that there were a few too many people that knew a too much about the GW.  He was concerned any incorrect details would be found out and so he sought out a rather lesser known prototype.  He settled on the GC because he wanted a prototype that had wooden post signals (he could not work out how to make lattice posts); he liked the brown and cream full coach livery that the GW & the GC shared and he did not want a company that used outside valve gear because he was concerned whether he could model it!

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The layout contains a number of quite clever little cameos, often segregated from one another with a bridge or a blocking building.  This means that there are quite a number of such scenes within close to each other without it looking too crowded.

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Beyond the buffer stops of Buckingham, a market square and a pair of streets were modelled.  Obviously, it is market day to generate a couple of extra trains – you can’t call this a cliche, because it was essentially the first example so every other example is the cliche!

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In the final part, I will take a last look at the layout and also one of its more iconic features – the Automatic Crispen; with a shock horror revelation………..

 

A Return ticket to Buckingham – Part 1; A Running Day

For my 100th post we ought to choose an interesting topic, so it is fortunate that I recently  wangled a return invite to visit Peter Denny’s Buckingham Great Central on a journey back home from the north east!

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I was accompanied on the visit by Peter Bond and although perhaps not initially intended, this turned into quite a long operating session.  Fortunately, there were several cameras on hand; so there are plenty of photographs – sufficient to split this posting into two or even three, so look out for further installments in a couple of days time!

Pete managed to blag command of Buckingham’s control panel; which is the most complicated of them – so he did regret his decision at times!  Here he is looking suitably perplexed!

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Perhaps with good reason…………..this is the control panel:

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And this is the signal diagram:

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All platforms have calling on arms, all lines have inner/outer homes and the platforms operate to receive and deliver!  So, there are a fair number of signals to contend with – all (well, nearly all if we are honest!) of which work and need to be complied with.  Here for example is the main home gantry………….

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On this occasion, I operated Grandborough Jct, which has a less exacting timetable but even so, its control panel has a few idiosyncrasies.  It (like that to Buckingham) is entirely handbuilt including its switches so some of them need to be coaxed across, others need to be pushed firmly and a few – most of the signals – do not yet work.  There were also hand made block instruments and some signal bells to contend with.

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Buckingham operates to a careful conceived timetable, that plots a “day in the life” of a busy market town station, not so inconveniently located for travel to London.  There is a variety of fast and semi-fast commuter trains to London; a pair of pick up goods trains; local services services and a couple of services that come off the Leighton Buzzard branch which continue through Grandborough Jct to terminate in Buckingham, such as this one just coming to a stop at Bourton Halt and disturbing a hunt:

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Even with over three hours at the regulator, we managed less than 20% of the day’s timetable; so we were going at around 120% of real time.   Peter originally had a speeded up clock to keep the pace moving (which Tony, the layout’s now owner has on the wall but does not use).  Apparently, you needed an experienced team to keep up with the clock and – just like the real thing – if you started to fall behind the whole system quickly becomes bunged up!

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The timetable contains just over a hundred train movements.  It starts in the morning with newspaper and milk trains, getting the town ready for the day.  Then the early morning commuter trains start, along with connecting local services.  A little later, the London expresses start, timed a little faster for the city suits to use (and pay for, they are posh coaches!).  Here is one waiting for the right of way.

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Once the morning rush is out of the way, a more settled period starts and the freight trains move around the layout interspersed with local passenger trains.  However, towards the end of the day the reverse happens with the returning commuters.  By the end of the evening, Buckingham is chock-a-block with trains, as you can see here:

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But this is not the end of the day, because all of the locos need to be released and sent to the sheds, the trains remarshalled and made ready for the next day (which was great, because Grandborough Jct had no moves so I could go and poke Pete for all the errors he was making…………).

And here are the day’s operating crew!

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So thanks for joining me on this blog; we are a minnow by some standards with around 40,000 hits but I hope there are things in here that interest you and maybe even some sources of inspiration!

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