Blog Archives

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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Improving the Oxford Rail North British Jubilee Wagon

As I mentioned in my previous post the Oxford Rail Jubilee wagon is a pretty good rendition of the original but it does have a few small issues and is fundamentally the wrong colour!  Actually, these proved very simple to fix and the conversion to P4 was relatively painless; so within a couple of hours you can have a good rendition of this typically Scottish wagon.

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First off was the conversion to P4 which is not possible to do with the existing underframe as it is too narrow.  In an approach that I have not seen before, Oxford Models have created an underframe that slips between the solebars.  Even better, this is not secured with glue and merely popping out the buffer shanks from their housings allows this to drop out.  Neither the buffers nor the brake gear are secured with glue either and I elected to temporarily detach these from the model throughout to prevent any damage to them.  Bill Bedford pre 1907 RCH sprung W irons were then used but it was necessary to scrape back about ½mm of the inside of each solebar to get these in.  Checking the ride height against the buffer height gauge I found that the right height was achieved without the need for any packing.

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Although the axleboxes that are provided as part of the model are a bit crude, I did not have any better ones available (although 51L do provide them) so sought to retain these.  There is a fair amount of cutting required to remove the remains of the plastic W iron and open up the rear of the axle box to take even a waisted pin-point bearing.  Definitely do this with a finger drill and not a powered one as you need to remove as much plastic as you can short of actually going through it.  Cutting these rebates was the slowest part of the whole task.

The end stanchions were separate pieces and popped off without bother but the planking joints did not run behind them continuously.  Therefore, whilst it was easy to reattach the stanchions with glue, I had to score the missing plank joints in first.  The buffer shanks are a tad too long, more appropriate for NBR fitted wagons than unfitted but these were easy to deal with.  The metal heads pop out easily and then a few strokes with a file takes off about ½mm to reduce the length.  The fixing hole needs to be deepened slightly and then the head can be resecured with a dab of glue.

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The missing ironwork to the solebar was from a left over etch; Mainly Trains and ???? do alternatives.  I found that the rivets to the straps either side of the door had some of its rivets in impossible locations (in the joint between planks) and I therefore shaved these off prior to applying replacements with Archer transfer rivets.  This is the first time I have actually used these and they are really easy to use; much quicker than any other method.  The strapping to the inside of the wagon was missing, so this was added with microstrip and more Archer’s rivets.  The hinge rings to the end door should be almost a full circle so these were replaced with pieces of bent wire to conclude the physical modifications.

The model comes fitted with scotch fulcrum brakes to both sides which is correct for some vehicles but I cut away one side as I wished to represent the more common variant that had these only to one side.  The actual fulcrum and brake block detach from the underframe without difficulty and I found that I could reuse it, after first mounting them on a piece of plasticard secured to the underside of the floor.  I did, however, change the brake lever which I thought to be a bit clunky with an etched replacement and added a fair amount of lead as the model is very light.  I also attached a piece of scrap brass to the underside – as seen below – as a temporary means to hold the wagon whilst it is painted.

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I chose to lightly abrade the surface of the existing lettering with a fine wet & dry paper as I was concerned that they might leave an impression through the new paint.  Thereafter I painted them all over with Tamiya Paints, German Grey, picking out the ironwork to the solebar and below with black.  The lettering was from PC Transfers sheet 20 but it will be partially lost below weathering; when I get it to this stage!

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Here we can see the benefit of the brass strip to hold the model with during painting and weathering.

1955, somewhere in North London

In my travels, I have managed to blag an invite to see Bob How’s developing model of King’s Cross and portions of the Great Northern’s main line in north London.  This is depicted in the mid 1950’s when the pacifics still reigned supreme and there was a full mix of locals, semi-fast and express passengers, along with a modicum of freight on the metropolitan widened lines.

It is hardly surprising, given the magnitude of the layout, that this is still a work in progress but what has been built is largely operational and therefore playing of trains is a regular feature in the How household.  Given the location of the prototype, this means even the relatively short trains were 6 coaches in length and the full expresses upto 10.  All this is in P4 and includes various gradients/curves to allow the lines to cross each other, so it tests the haulage power of loco’s upto prototype levels!

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The more scenically finished portions of the layout are on the continuous run outer loop which comprises twin tracks to one side and four tracks to the other.  This culminates in a very impressive junction where the main line to Kings Cross joins and a dive under to give access to the fiddle yard passes below.

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As can be seen, there is still lots of work to do to these areas, including the provision of signals but the impressive nature of the layout is immediately apparent.  But the real magnitude of the endeavour becomes apparent once a look at the terminus is made.

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Even without any meaningfully completed elements of scenery, this is unmistakably Kings Cross that no doubt all of us are familiar with either from personal experience or photographs.  Just imagine what it will be like with the full trainshed and a batch of northbound trains waiting their due departure time?

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Bob’s intentions are to model the full station, including the MPD, the suburban station and milk depot; although at present these last areas are sill to be started.  It will be a monster when it is finished!  As you can see, even the fiddle yard is somewhat of a giant, although Bob was close to admitting that it is rather too small for the layout!

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Apologies for the grainy photos, the layout lighting is a task still to be confronted and photography was pushing the camera to its limit!

You have some catching up to do Mr Hanson………….

Control Freak

I have been back onto the layout of late, with a view to get the first wheel turning on it before too long.  That means attacking the electrickery things, beginning with the control panel.

I made a start on this by drawing up a diagrammatic representation in MS Paint and then using this to get one of the online firms (Vistaprint) to print me up a poster board to form the basis of the control panel.  I am not sure I chose the right material as it turned up on a light weight foam board and I had to mount a sheet of aluminium behind for it to be stiff enough to be useable.  But it did look pretty smart I thought………….

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The control panel deals with all of the signals and turnouts that the cabin will have controlled, with local ground frames (which will be located on the boards locally) to be used to control the goods yard and the MPD.  The latter will be arranged such that it can be located either to the front or the rear, to allow some flexibility in operation.

I have got to the point where the full extent of switches have been wired in and I am just completing the jumper leads.  I took a lot of care to plan the wiring prior to any construction – despite the locos being DCC controlled, there are an awful lot of wires.  This is because I have stuck with traditional control for the turnouts and signals.  There is further complication as a result of the desire to incorporate some bells and even a block instruments (well maybe, at the moment it is just the wires!).  So in all, there are 90 odd wires doing something or another on the layout.

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Somewhat in contrast to Portchullin, I have sought to keep the wiring as tidy as possible; everything is neatly collour coded and even labelled (to be fair it was labelled on Portchullin, but in a non colourfast ink………..!).  I am hoping that this will make the wiring easier to debug at the start of the matter and repair if it does get damaged.

I am proposing to use a variety of connectors between boards and to the control panel, including this rather nifty varient of the D-sub range that is wired directly onot a cheeseblock wireless connector.  Available to a variety of types from ebay including from this seller.

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Going Long – Part 2; Bogies Most of the Way There

As originally conceived by Barry Fleming, the floor was to be permanently attached to the body sides and so too were the lower roof sections.  The only access internally, therefore, was to be the clerestory roof/sides to the centre of the roof.  In addition to being very restricted, over time there was a little distortion of this section relative to the more chunky body, such that it has developed a bit of a bow – see the final picture of this post.  I have been building a few coaches of late and have arrived at the view that it is desirable to have the underframe detachable from the body and if at all possible the roof too.  In this case, I am going to give up making the roof detachable but will keep the underframe as a separate piece and arrange for the floor and interior to slide out of the body.  In order to provide a mount onto which I can secure the securing bolts to retain the two parts together, I came up with a metal bracket that has been glued into the coach vestibule where it is hidden as below.

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With this completed, I turned my attention to the bogies.  These are based around the Bill Bedford sprung bogies, now supplied by Eileen’s Emporium – there is one with the right dimensions for the ECJS bogie.  These are only the sprung assembly and offer no detail of the real bogie at all and these were quite characteristic riveted plates.  I am not aware of any offerings from the trade for these, so I have had to create my own – out comes the CAD machine again!  Actually, they are quite easy to draft and there was a fairly good drawing available.  As with some of my other etch designs, I have used folding jigs to ensure that the layers come together correctly without bother.  In the photo below you can see the basic Bill Bedford sprung frame on the left upper, the basic etch to the bottom right and the finished side with the layers laminated to the bottom left.

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And this is a close up of the bogie sides fitted and some of the brake hangers fitted.

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After searching around, I decided that the best means of making the axleboxes and springs was to use the Drummond pattern axlebox/spring assembly from Lochgorm Models. These are really nice but the springs are too long such that the hangers are a bit far out for the six wheeled bogie – hence I formed a hanger point as part of the etching, which you can see yet to be folded down on the above picture.  The intention will be to insert a brass rod through the hole in this and to then mount small washers on it to give the impression of the springs.  A similar rechnique is used on some of the 5522 models bogies and is quite effective.  With this representing the hangers, those to the casting could be cut away.

The axleboxes are rather nice, as you will see, and are of cast brass.  The bad news about this is that they are really hard and quite a lot of work is required with a dental burr to open out the rear to be free of the bearing.

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And a look at both bogies together, now with the bearing spring hangers in place along with the brake hangers and rods.

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A key feature of these bogies was the transverse bolster springs, which are apparent between the axle spacings.  I did come up with a scheme to form these but they have not proved to work.  I think I can cut and paste a pair of the bolsters from what I have produced (ie half the number I need) so I am going to have another bash and if not, it is back to the drawing board!  So whilst I work out how I am going to wrestle with this (I do have some ideas, I just need a bit of time to implement them!), lets at least admire what the coach looks like in its semi-complete state:

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There are other things to do with the coach; the centre part of the roof has a bow, there is various detail missing from the underframe, roof and ends yet to go – but it does look the part doesn’t it?

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In response to the first part of this blog, Bill Bedford did contact me to help with some prototype details.  He was able to tell me that the buffers that I used would only be correct for the brakes and that the udnerframe only had two trusses, not the four that I have modelled.  So some corrections will be required……………but first those transverse bolster springs and maybe give the carriage a bit of an outing (I will bring it to Scaleforum for that).

A New Ending (and Beginning) for Portchullin

Don’t worry, it is not as dramatic as all that, I have not burnt it or anything……………………oh hang on a minute, I have – well a bit of it anyway!

One of Portchullin’s quaint little foibles was it did occassionally like to derail trains as they left the fiddleyards; especially the fiddle yard representing Kyle.  There were various reasons for this; including some proper cr*p woodwork on my part, the hand shunting that occurred every time a train was turned around, the effects on thermal expansion that was not catered for and, something that I had not seen until recently, a bit of a dogleg at the baseboard joint.  Add to this the rather Heath Robinson approach to the legs for the fiddle yard boards, electrical connections and facia support and it was fundementally a b*ggers muddle.  So something had to be done and, a mere 8 years after the layout’s first exhibition, it now has!

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So with lots of thanks to Tim and Julian at the Electric Loft Ladder Company again, we have a new fiddle yard at the Kyle end and redesigned legs at the Inverness end.  The design adopted is an adaptation of the sector plate that was in use before but with a refinement that it uses cassettes for the locations that the loco arrives and departs at.  The idea being that these are both storage points at the end of the fiddle yard roads but also the means to move/turn the locos ready for their next duty.  This is a development of the system used by Simon Bendall on his layout Elcot Road, but with a rotating sector plate rather than a traverser.

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Other halfway novel ideas are the use of the tray below the traverser as a storage tray for stock (and maybe tea!) and the projection of the sector plate beyond the end of the fixed board to make the ensemble smaller to transport.  The facia also folds up rather niftily as well – photos of this will follow once I have taken them!

The new fiddle yard has not yet been tested but will very shortly get its chance to prove if it is a good’n.  Portchullin will be out at the Barnstaple MRC’s show in Bear Street, Barnstaple – you can find details here. If you are in North Devon at the weekend, stop by and say hellow?

New Shoes for Some Old Friends

Over the last few weeks, I have been revisiting a number of model coaches that I have built in the past, typically quite some time in the past as most of these have been around since either my teens or twentys!

Over the years techniques have changed and I undoubtedly would not build most of them in the manner that I originally built them if I was confronted with doing them again.  Having said this, on the whole my handiwork – especially in respect of the painting and lining was really quite good.  I seem to have lost my lining mojo in particular, so I am not sure I could line as well as this now.  This is something that I really must get to grips with this, as I still have a lot to do!

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a pair of full brakes, the one to the left is a West Coast Joint Stock (from a London Road Models kit) and that to the right is straight LNWR (from a Microrail kit)

But the biggest area of difficulty with the coaches is that the bogies were generally formed around beam compensation units.  These are OK for a couple of coaches behind a branch train but they impart far too much friction for a full main-line train as I aspire too.  This is impossible to overcome whilst retaining the compensation units, the bar is the cause of the problem and it has to go!

To overcome this, Bill Bedford sprung boiges are being retro-fitting to all of my existing stock.  These rely on separate hornblocks that secure a pin-point bearing in them – so rolling resistance is significantly reduced.  The hornblocks are held in place by way of guitar wire and the effect is that they glide around the trackwork.  They thus give the impression of weight and inertia that is much better than compensation (it is possible to get compensation that does not use the rocking beams that are the cause of the fritchion I am complaining about).

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A Midland & North British luggage composite (from a PC Models kit) and a LMS (ex Midland) dining car (from a 5522 Models kit).

The Bill Bedford units are only an inner bogie and they still need to have some form of detailing on the outside.  Some of these have entirely cosmetic outers, either of plastic or white metal but the two Midland coaches and the Highland TPO have something slightly different.  On these, I utilised the original etched bogie sides and laminated them onto the Bill Bedford inners.  This is very successful as it improves the Bill Bedfords notably by making them a lot stiffer and you get the crispness of the etching process.

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This is one of my fathers, so I can’t claim credit for anything but the bogies.  A Highland Railway TP (fully scratchbuilt).  Obviously, no painting has as yet been done, so it does rather look like a ganster with gold teeth!

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It is rather challenging to see how the Bed Bedford sprining unit sites inside the outer skins (from a Lochgorm kit) – so I will write up the process in a future blog – but this is what it looks like from the outside.

If, by the way you fancy some Fox Pressed Steel bogies that are neatly sprung and look the part – and almost all pre-group modellers ought to – keep watching the space. Subject to a test build or two, there will shortly be one available on the market.

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To test them, I took them and a few other coaches to ExpoEM to use their test track.  Here we see a Barney with eight on – albeit a rather od mix for the train and there is a fair amount of painting and lining still to be done.

And to prove that they really do work and also to allow you to see how they glide, a quick youtube video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6D7a_cWwGhg&feature=youtu.be

 

 

 

Gresley Buffet – Part 4 Finished!

…..but, before it was counted as finished, it needs to be doing the job it was designed for – buffeting.  And that means it needs to be populated with people.

Regrettably few modellers, even finescale modellers, actually put people in thier coaches (and sometimes in contrast to platforms which are stuffed with them!).  This is a shame as they do make a difference to even a fairly casual viewer.  At a show recently, a dad and his son who were probably not modellers spotted the people in my coaches instantly.  I’ll take that as proof of the point!

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As is common with rtr coaches, the seats are moulded in place such that there is no room for the little peoples legs, so some severe amupation is required!  In the case of Hornby’s buffet, the seats are also modelled pushed tightly underneath the tables – which has meant that the backs to the seats or the lip of the table also needs to be hacked away a bit.  As all of this surgery occurs below the waistline of the coach, it is not visible from outside so your Dr Crippins’ tendancies will go unnoticed!!

Next up was to paint the exterior where the new plastic was cut in and here I had some problems.  I was warned by Brian of Shawplan that I should paint the whole side when I repainted the new sections but I decided not to follow this advice – something I now regret!! So having masked up theadjacent areas and sprayed in only the affected sections i found that the grey that Hornby used was notably bluer than that provided by Precision Paints.  The first attempt at repainting had the colours sticking out like a sore thumb and even on the second attempt, with a dab of blue in the mix is not perfect but is just ok underneath the grime.  So, if you are proposing to do follow this build follow Brian’s advice, not mine!

Once a couple of new windows were cut into the reshaped windows in the kitchen area of the buffet car, it was necessary to weather the vehicle.  These buffet cars were notorious for being  really tatty by the 1970’s; partly because the paint supposedly was prone to debonding from the underlying teak but also because the automatic washers were not good at getting into the corners of the panelling.  After an overall spray of dirt to tone down the colours and another to represent the brake dust and track muck, I used two techniques to represent the weathering on the panelling.  The first was to spray the whole coach with a mist and once it had started to dry a stiff artist’s brush was dipped in thinners was used to remove the bulk of the paint.  The areas that it does not come away from are the nooks and crannies around the panelling; the same areas that would have retained the dirt in the real things.  I to find, however, that the margine between where the paint has been removed and not can be a bit stark, so I used a second technique to both hramonise this and also acceptuate the effect.  Using a heavily thinned dirty black paint, run a brush over the whole of the sides – the paint runs to the corners and achieves the same effect.  It pays to be brave with this as the wetting effect of the thinners makes this initially look much darker until the thinners have dried off.

And this is what the finished article looks like………

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So thanks Hornby for supplying the model in the first place and the inspiration to do some plastic surgery.  Whilst this write up may have lasted some months, actually this was quite a quick conversion – the basic surgery on the side was only 4 hours – so why not have a go?

A Quiet Day at Portchullin…………

Although it may be that there is a train in the yard as the shunt signal is off…… I suspect it will be one of the class 24s?

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Portchullin is just back from a trip to the St Alban’s show and its next outing will be in Telford, for the Diesel & Electric Show on the 20-21 February.

With thanks to David Brandredth and Tim Venton for the cracking photo.  Now my fav of the layout!

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