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Damaging Value…..

Over the last few years I have acquired a few coaches painted by Larry Goddard.  As you can seen below, these are beautifully painted and, particularly, lined coaches.  Although he is not really building much any more, Larry’s work comes up from time to time on ebay and I have been nabbing a few of these.  They are not particularly cheap, but then there is a fair amount of work in building an etched coach and in reality the price I am paying for them is hardly a fair reflection of this time.

Whilst I have been able to line fairly well in the dim distant past of my teenage years, I don’t think my lining was as good as this and, more importantly, I have misplaced my lining mojo.  Although I have plans to try and rediscover the mojo, these coaches do provide a means to get a few very nice coaches to get the layout moving.

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This particular coach is to the LMS’s diagram 1778 and originate from 1925 – 28.  They were the first standard design for the LMS and will have been found throughout their system, including on the Highland section.  My intent for the layout is to have a pair of through trains to Edinburgh/Glasgow with through coaches to London – this  will form part of this.

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Whilst the basic building and painting/lining of the coach is top notch, there are some issues that I have sought to deal with.  First of these is that the bogies are fairly clunky and being assembled from components they are unlikely to be truly square.  Thus, I have disassembled these and used them as cosmetic sides to some Bill Bedford sprung bogies.

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The coach as built comes with some paper concertina corridor connections – all very 1970s in they look and as they are stretching, they look rather rubbish so off they came.  In their place, I have built some of my etched ones – these are a spin off from the dia 51 full brake kit that I am working on.  This shows them part built and I will be looking to do a posting on these in their own right once I am fully happy with them.

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If mucking about and making the coaches for P4 is not sufficient to undermine the resale value of the coach, the final task to weather down the very glossy paintwork will.  These were obviously predominantly aimed at collectors and are finished to showroom standards.  The railways of the steam age were amazingly dirty places and a loco or coach in an ex-works condition would be pretty mucky by the end of its first run, let alone its first year.

Thus, it can not stay as clean and glossy as this, no matter how beautiful it looks.  I have a weathering day planned for a couple of weeks time, and attacking this will be one of the tasks…………..

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One for the Paintshop

I am sure I am not alone in having in mind a list of modelling jobs to do over the Christmas break and to find that the bulk of the list remains uncompleted when it is time to go back to work!!

One item on my list was to finish a North Eastern Railway autocoach that I have had underway for a while and that at least has got itself off the list!

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The bulk of this is from a D&S etched kit which I have seriously devalued by opening the box!!   I have replaced the fixed bogies with some test build sprung bogies that I have had under development for rather too long now (they are finished, but for the castings which I need now to produce following the demise of Lochgorm Models for at least the time being).

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I also replaced the roof with some metal sheet rolled to the curves.  This proved a real challenge and took more than one attempt as I found you could not roll the section with the holes for the clerestory already cut as the bend all occurred at this weakened point.  I also took the effort to put on the gas lines with fine wire as I think these add so much to a model of this era.

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I think they are very attractive coaches but there is a problem with them – they tended to go in pairs so I have another to build!  Just not quite yet!  Fortunately, the BPT is not down to me, but I think you may find yourself under pressure soon John!!!!

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Cover Girl! ……..and a shameless plug!

Portchullin is a cover girl again, as it features on the front cover of the DVD supplement that accompanies the just available (perversely February 2019) British Railway Modelling.

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It features me blathering on about the inspiration for the layout, the origins of the real line and the prompting of its building.  I even managed to remember to thank Peter for building the signal cabins this time, so hopefully he will not cold shoulder me for six months this time……………..

This DVD is only available with the subscription copy or if you take it in a digital format, so you can not rush down to WHSmiths to get it – I dare say that this is the publishers of BRM seeking to encourage you to take out a subscription!

In addition to this (and probably partially as a result), Portchullin has also got itself nominated into the BRM/RMweb’s 2018 British Railway Model Awards – click the banner at the head of their website here.  It would be great to see the layout do well in the poll, so if anyone fancies doing a bit of voting, all contributions would be gratefully received!!

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If you wish to see Portchullin in the flesh, its next outing is in May at ExpoEm in Bracknell.  Look forward to seeing you there.

Its only a hobby………..

Although I try to model at a good standard, I do try and keep it in perspective and it does frustrate me when others don’t.  You particularly see this on the forums but the converse of this is that I have picked up many good tips from these same forums and, occasionally, they make me chuckle.

Whilst watching a film over the Christmas break, I was a reminded of one of these, a wonderful send up of those that can’t quite see that we are only, ultimately, playing with toy trains!  So as a little reminder not to take ourselves too seriously, I thought I would share it – click here,

There will be some followers of this blog that are not close enough to the specifics to understand the references in this video.  So for those that don’t P4 is the true scale version of 4mm modelling and EM is a compromise to make it a little easier to model.  The Model Railway Journal is the magazine of choice for the finescale modeller and in this particular issue there is an article (by a follower of this blog) about using the compromise on the true scale gauge.  This should give you enough to understand the video.

Happy modelling all in 2019 (and the tiny bit of 2018 that is left!) and something more serious to follow soon!

Rannoch Moor

Highland Railway – Cradle Bolster

A long time ago, I showed that I had conceived a design for a pretty unusual vehicle in the Highland’s fleet, a cradle bolster.   They gave this diagram no 25 and it has a square cradle that sits on the top of a fairly simple body.  The cradle had four bolsters protruding from its corners and I anticipate it was used in conjunction with another bolster with the cradle rotating to allow the load to twist on curves.  I presume it was conceived to support long but more flexible loads such as thin sheet steel/iron than a traditional bolster wagons could cater for.

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As this was my first attempt at designing vehicles, it is fair to say it went through a fair few iterations (or was that irritations!) which does largely explain why it has taken so long to complete from the first build – but it is now done and it looks pretty smart I reckon!  It is really small in reality – being dwarfed by other even relative moderate wagons!

The second main complication has been as a result of the need to source castings for the axlebox/springs.  I have used the Highland Railway Society’s but these do not come with attached springs (by design, so that they can be combined with differing springs to suit different situations).  They are also not conceived to accommodate bearings sliding up and down within them and need to be ground out from the rear to make a slot for this.  This makes them a bu**er to attach and therefore I am in the process of sorting out my own masters to overcome this problem.  Once these are complete and I have got some castings done, I will produce a run of these for sale.  So watch this space!  I am also taking a look at the realities of scaling this up to 7mm, so also watch this space (but probably for longer before you will see anything!).

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The error that I have had pointed out to me is that the bolsters ought to be tapered and now that I know this they do jar somewhat, so the next one will need to have this sorted out.  As they lasted into well into the LMS days, there will be a second one and the one shown here will appear from time to time on Benfieldside jostling amongst the NER stuff!

When I first embarked on this build, I thought that this was such an unusual subject that I was going to be building the first model example ever.  A rather foolish notion that was upset by a visit to visit Buckingham a couple of years back where I see Peter Denny had modelled one (it is believed he was friends with Hutchinson, who had measured one up in the 1930/40s) – as you can see below.  I have subsequently found out at least two others who have scratch built their own, so clearly I will need to search harder for originality!

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Still no words on Wednesday…..

Taking a layout to shows is a surprisingly tense experience.  There is the joy of the Friday traffic which typically adds 30% to the journey time (or rather more if the M6 is closed as I experienced once!).  But it is the setting a layout up at a show is always a tense moment; typically there is always something that needs a bit of TLC and at Portchullin’s last show (last weekend at Spalding) quite a large dose of TLC became necessary due to these little blighters…..

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Innocent looking isn’t?

It probably costs a tiny fraction of a penny but without it the layout is hamstrung because they are essential to the operation of the turnout motors.  Portchullin uses Fulgerex point motors and this is a spring that activates micro-switches in these that change the crossing polarity and act as limit switches to the motor’s travel.

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The frailty of the design is that these are only secured in place by their own tension and they are prone to bouncing out.  A long journey in a van is just the type of thing to dislodging them – which is just what happened over the weekend,  Indeed, it has happened before and has occasioned a number of the upside down sessions under the layout that Oly delights in telling you about.

We have now reached the stage where three of the five turnouts have crossing polarity controlled by separate switches.  This creates some excitement for the operators as they have to remember to change both the turnout and the polarity – so much show that they refused to do so for the show!!

So, my fulgerex point motors, your days are numbered………………………….

 

Midland Six Wheeled Full Brakes

Although not Highland vehicles, these full brakes have a strong association with the Highland’s branchlines in the post grouping years.  Once the LMS took over the Highland’s system in 1923, they seemed to have been horrified by the state of the coaching stock that they inherited!  Portions of the Highland’s fleet were speedily retired and large numbers of foreign company’s stock was drafted onto the system (especially the main line from Perth to Inverness, where the trains became fully corridor connected almost overnight).

When it came to the branchlines, the upgrade came primarily by the cascading of the better Highland stock onto these lines but there were exceptions.  Although the Highland had full brakes, it was a line that had a lot of parcels/packages traffic, so it seemed that they needed even more and a batch of these Midland six wheeled full brakes were drafted in.

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Many photographs of the Highland branchlines of the 1920s had one lurking in the background so I felt one should get to make appearances on Glenmutchkin.  Simple, I thought, Slaters do a plastic kit for one and whilst it is no longer available, it is easy to pick up second hand and it should be a nice quick build.  Unfortunately, I had not realised what a rubbish kit it was!  It is too short and too narrow, most of the mastering is really crude and the panelling in particular would be a scale 6 inches deep.  So the Slaters kit made it back on ebay only marginally quicker than it came off and I set about designing my own kit.

It has taken a couple of iterations and about three years, but finally I have got to the stage where I am happy with it but you can form your own view!

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The first iteration used a cleminson chassis but in the light of the success I had with sliding axles on some of my other 6 wheeled stock, I redesigned it to include these and some sprung W-irons in the style of Bill Bedford’s.

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This proved similarly successful and as you can see in the video, it trundles along quite nicely!

Other than the use of these sliding axles, the main unusual feature of the model is the arrangement of securing the roof.  I have found that it is essential to bolt these in place to prevent the roof becoming adrift at some point in the future (which has happened to half my stock over time).  Therefore, I designed a set of legs that allow the roof to be bolted through the floor from below and in the process also securing the separate chassis tight too.  Broken down, the components look like this and having them separated does make painting a lot easier.  It is definitely the route I will take in the future.

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It is intended that this kit will be made available for sale as a 4mm/1ft model – albeit you will need to source the fittings/castings yourself.  I have prepared some fairly extensive instructions (see link below) and this includes the details of what is required and where to get it from.  I am waiting for a quote from the etching company to be able to work out the sensible cost for these; so an update post will follow when I list it on the Miscellany Models site.

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In the meantime, here are a couple of additional views of the completed vehicle, awaiting its turn in the paintshop!

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Controlling Bottom Works Sidings

Followers of this blog will probably be aware that I share some of my model railway escapades with the two authors of the blog OTCM.  Both of the authors are in the process of putting together entries into a competition to build cameo layouts being orchestrated by the publishers Titfield Thunderbolt.  Cameo layouts was the topic of a book written by Ian Rice and seeks to describe a small layouts seeking to use presentation techniques to capture a slice of the whole in a convincing manner.

To be fair to Oly, his entry is largely complete as long as he does not seek to tinker with it too much(!), the same could not be said for Chris’s entry – titled Bottom Works Siding – so he has some catching up to do!  To assist Chris I offered to make his signals and after a few weeks of work we have reached the point where they are complete.

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Chris’ model is based on the GCR’s route over the pennines at its Yorkshire end.  It will represent a set of transfer sidings from the Woodhead route electrification to a industrial line serving a coking plant – so I suspect we will get to see a fair amount of grot in the finished article!   Its signals are LNER or BR(E) practise which is mildly different to what I have built before in some regards but not others as there was a lot of standardisation between the LMS and LNER (and BR more or less adopted LMS practise).  So first up (above) is an LNER standard wooden post with replacement BR miniature upper quadrant arms.  The post is a piece of brass square section that I filed to a taper (hard work) with predominantly Masokit’s fittings (which I found to be notably better than MSE’s equivalent).

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This one is effectively a standard LMS/BR tubular post signal (apparently with brewer’s droop – sorry!) with a small bracket that has another miniature arm signal to it.  This is assembled with a combination of tubes and angle section from Eileen’s Emporium, along with some more Masokit’s arms.

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And finally a miniature ground signal – which despite being startling small was not actually all that difficult to build – it being based on a excellent little etched kit from Palatine Models.

As a result of a lost camera, there are not really any meaningful photographs of the signals being created but fear not, I still have a few to go for Glenmutchkin, so there will be some to come!  In the meantime, and to prove that they really do go, here are some videos.

In the fullness of time, I dare say we will get to see these in situ, so why not subscribe to Oly and Chris’ blog, to get an instant notification?

Cornish Modelling and the Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Don’t worry – this is not announcement of being turned to the dark side of modelling “Green With Rivets” (aka the GWR)!  Instead it is a reference to a week’s trip to the extreme west of Cornwall to support my wife who was appearing in a musical that was running for a week at the Minack Theatre – more of this later……

As I was expecting to have a degree of time hanging around whilst the Mrs was on stage, I took a little modelling with me – in this case, a Jones era double deck sheep van.  As can be seen in this George Washington Wilson photograph of Kyle – sheep traffic was an important source of traffic to the Highland Railway – the majority of the train in the platform are sheep vans and there is also a row of them in the foreground.

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Ever with the eye to efficiency, the Highland developed a double deck van to double the number of sheep that could be transported in one vehicle.  I believe that the Cambrian Railway and several railways in Ireland had similar vehicles, but otherwise these were characteristic of the Highland’s lines to the west coast and clearly I have to have a rake of them.  Unfortunately, there is quite a lot of effort in each one………….for example each side below is made up of five layers of laminate (and they are delicate too)!!

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The highland had several versions of these vans, this time I chose the second era of van, which has a single door and diagonal bracing; I do have plans for some of the other diagrams so this is a topic we will revisit at some point!   The starting point for this vehicle was an etched kit from the Lochgorm range (presently unavailable, but we are all hoping……) and as already hinted, it is not an easy one!  This is mostly due to the delicacy of the parts and the multi-layering of the etches that take up a lot of care to line up with each other.  It takes a fair few hours simply to get the sides made up and ready for assembly and then you still have the metal bracing to do!

There were a number of elements to the kit that did not work for me.  The various tabs you see in the above image are to help locate the various floors with each other but in practise they are not correctly located and just get in the way – so I whipped them off!  I also ditched the compensated suspension and instead used spring suspension instead with some trusty Bill Bedford sprung units.

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However, I did not spot the biggest problem until it was too late.  There is an error with the design of the kit ends where one of them is missing the top gap between slats.  The correct end is as per the right hand picture and had I have spotted this prior to the assembly of the ends, I would have been able to insert the additional gap with a piercing saw.  Having missed the problem until after I had built the van, I decided not to sweat the parts apart to cut in the slat.  It only shows to those that know it is wrong; the problem is that I am one of them so it does niggle!

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Contrary to the instructions,  I did not loose lay the floors in place and instead created a cage arrangement by hanging the floors from rods that were secured to the roof.  As can be seen below, this enables the roof and the floors to be released from the interior of the van.  As with all my vans/coaches, this is secured in place with some bolts and nuts, so that the roof can be clamped tightly in place (I hate the cracks of doom that I see on otherwise fine models where roofs are not properly secured!).  The detachable roof is necessary to both paint the vehicle but particularly populate it with the necessary sheep.  You would be startled by how many sheep are required to fill one of these – around 50 and it costs a fair amount to populate each van.  Thus, I have in mind casting some of my own in resin, although that is a story for another day.

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The problems with the kit did not finish with the problems noted to date.  The iron strapping was not quite right, the springs for the axleboxes are too big and the brake lever/shoe seemed excessively skinny.  Thus, these were all adjusted or replaced with alternatives.  All this effort and problems to solve meant that the van took a great deal longer to finish than the week that I had available – so it has taken until now to photograph it.  This is what it looks like and rather dainty and different I think it is too!

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And what of the Minack Theatre?  Well, for any that do not know it this theatre’s setting is simply breath-taking, being set in the cliff side only three miles short of Land’s End.  As you can see, vertigo is an issue for visitors and all of the set, props and costumes had to be carried down to the stage level – exhausting work that took us three hours!  One of other downsides of the theatre is that the seals, dolphins and basking sharks can sometimes be seen over the shoulders of the cast – which is distracting as you can imagine!

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Only my wife was on stage, my duties including the stage building and front of house duties but with 7 public performances in five days, plus rehearsals there wasn’t that much time for modelling!

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The musical being performed was Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street which follows the revenge that its namesake extracts on a corrupt judge and his beadle (with quite significant amounts of collateral!) for wrongly arranging for him to be transported.  The most recent Hollywood version is pretty dark and definitely less watchable as a result – our version has just as death but with a great deal of humour too; especially as the leads had some pretty good comic timing to deliver it well.

The by-product of all these killings (ie bodies!) found its way into pies and one of the more jolly parts of the performance is where all the customers of these pies extol the virtues of their meaty dishes.  So with apologies for my rather crude phone videoing; enjoy……………(I did, although strangely I had no taste for pasties whilst I was down in Cornwall!)………..

 

 

 

Another Wordless Wednesday……

…………again because I cannot put the words I would like to use on a public blog!

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This was the scene that confronted me over the weekend when I was trying to fettle the layout for operation – a good number of broken chairs and detached solder joints.  All this resulting in some fairly severe gauge narrowing!

It has been fairly warm here in blighty (I know that is a relative concept to some of the readers of this blog in the more far flung corners of the world – the Brits like to moan about our weather!).  This has resulted in some thermal expansion and clearly I have not allowed enough joints to absorb this.  It will be simple enough to fix, but altogether a pain.

Perhaps more irritatingly (because it has happened rather more), it has closed the gap on a number of crossings.  This has resulted in a fair few short circuits and a campaign of dealing with these has taken a good chunk of my Sunday up!

 

 

 

Roger Farnworth

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