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.
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!!
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.
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!
The stock for Glenmutchkin has a recent addition and a rather beautiful one too.
This is a Clyde Bogie; the prototype being designed by David Jones and delivered in 1886. Initially this was a top link locomotive of the line but as time went past it was relegated to lesser duties. On Glenmutchkin it will be one of the locomotives for the branch passenger trains – equivalent to what the real locomotive did at the end of its live. This particular example was the last in service and lasted until 1930 and, as you can see, it picked up the LMS’s first livery of fully lined Crimson Lake.
The model was built for me by John James from a Lochgorm Models etched kit. It is fair to say it was not an easy kit to master and John has cursed me a fair amount I believe for asking him to do this particular prototype…………… He would have cursed more if he also had to make the louvred chimney!
Since John has delivered it to me I have fitted a sound chip and some AJs. I need to fit some loco crew too before long. I suspect I am not going to find another sound fitted Clyde Bogie anytime soon as I have only ever seen one other built example so I can confidently say this is a first! I also seem to have disturbed the seating of the tender chassis as it is sitting rather low – a little task to attend to soon.
I have not been entirely idle whilst John has been busy and have been doing a number of little projects. Most of these will appear in future blogs but the pair of Wilsons & Clyde open wagons will not because this is effectively the same as the NB Jubilee Wagon I discussed previously. However, it is worth noting that Wilsons and Clyde were known to be one of the major providers of loco coal to the Highland so I am presuming these to be loco coal wagons.
And here is a picture of 14278 in action; albeit not at this point with sound fitted.
My last post recounted the difficulties that I was encountering correctly wiring up a slip and the technique I had arrived at to overcome this, This precipitated various bits of advice including an alternative approach provided by Richard.
Richard’s solution is certainly a little easier than my approach to wire and does not need an additional point motor to run the extra switching required. It is, however, slightly less idiotproof in use than my version – this is because once the approach turnout is set for the branch in my version, the whole of the run was also set electrically. On Richard’s version, it is also necessary to decide whether the main line to yard is to be set for the yard.
This is what it looks like as a wiring diagram and it is important to note that the approach turnout (A) is also operating one of the slip’s switches too.
I need to fire up the soldering iron now and undertake the correction, so that we can play with trains!
Now, I wonder if that heading will gather a few extra viewings………..?
As I have mentioned before on this blog, every few months I catch up with a group of mates to have a joint modelling session. The general gist of these is a combination of banter, a bit of modelling, more banter, a visit to the pub, even banter, a bit more modelling and all nicely rounded off with some more banter.
Last week saw us on the south coast to do some weathering – or rather some of us. One of our number was preparing for their imminent marriage whereas Oly (one half of OTCM) felt his budding TV stardoom was a sufficient excuse to hang up his airbrush. We do fear that Oly may not return to the fold; preferring instead to do his modelling with Brad, Leonardo and Denzil once he makes his silver screen debut in the autumn – don’t forget your roots Oly……….
We were all concentrating on different things; Peter constructed the better part of a bridge for his Aultbea layout and Chris was weathering some rather neat little shunters. For my part, I concentrated on weathering some of the stock that I have been building lately (and sometimes not so lately!):
First up is a pair of horseboxes. On the right is my HR version based on a Microrail kit – still in need of some glazing. On the left is the Caledonian’s equivalent based on a kit from by Spratt & Winkle. Both are in their pre-group livery as can be seen. As such stock was used in passenger trains, I have sought to give them an aged but largely cleaned feel – with the dirt largely present around ironwork and difficult to clean spots.
Having mucked up the weathering of some brake vans at the previous weathering session, I was also keen to get these corrected. This is where I have got with them.
As can be seen, I do not follow the school of thought that the pre-group or 1920’s era stock was constantly pristine. If you bother to look at contemporary photographs, little is clean and some of it is downright grubby. Railways in the steam era were very dirty places; it is inevitable where so much coal, ash and smoke prevail. Furthermore, I can not see even the most houseproud of railway companies regularly (or probably ever) cleaning their goods stock and most of these show stock that is care worn and soiled. This is the feel I am seeking to capture; not the utterly neglected and on its last legs look of the final days of steam but of railway materials that earn a living the hard way.
The pair of brake vans above are to HR diagram 39 from 1922 and are from a Lochgorm Models kit. There is some doubt whether they were delivered in 1922, as there are no known pictures of any of them in HR livery. However, I applying the “its my trainset rule” a number of modellers have painted them in Highland colours; including Paul Bannerman whose example is below.
The other highland brake van I weathered was the diagram 38 brake van. This originates from a Microrail kit and may well still be available from David Geen occasionally at shows as he does own the rights to the artwork. I have modified this with the early pattern roof look outs. These allowed the guard to look over the train around the twisting curves that characterised parts of the Highland’s system. However, there were complaints about whacked heads as the guards came up and down the steps to look onto the lookouts and as a result they were modified with approach cutouts on the roof – take a look at the Lochgorm’s page above to see an example.
Next up on the weathering front were some wagons and NPCS. The first pictures being the weathering to a couple of the items I have described in the pages here – the Oxford Rail NB jubilee wagon and the Mousa Models LNWR van.
And then some rather more ancient models of mine, a Highland Railway meat van from a Sutherland Castings kit and a GC van from another Mousa Models kit.
Finally, a group of wagons for Benfieldside. The hoppers have been seen before and the brake van we will hear more of another day.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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……….
Then onto the wiring itself, which takes a surprisingly long time…………….this is only about 50% finished!
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:
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:
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!
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).
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!
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!)
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.
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.
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.
The missing ironwork to the solebar was from a left over etch; Mainly Trains do alternatives. I found that the bolt heads to the straps either side of the door had some of its bolts 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.
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!
Here we can see the benefit of the brass strip to hold the model with during painting and weathering.