Saturday, 30 June 2012

Three Doors On My Wagon

So, after success casting single DZ door units I have now moved on to trying to reproduce whole wagon sides.

And here is a mould full of resin...

...and here is one of the castings removed and given a quick clean up.

I've cast 8 of them now and I think I'm reasonably satisfied with the way these have come out.

It's quite tricky to get the rear surface - the bit that is on the top as you pour the liquid resin into the mould - as smooth and flat as I'd like it to be.

I have tried the trick of passing the edge or a sheet of clear plastic along the top, but perhaps I've not yet got the knack fully.

There are a few pinprick air bubble holes here and there, but mostly they'll be easily sorted with filler or something like that.

The other issue has been with the wee dangly bits below the frame. Not all of them cast perfectly every time - which is not surprising given how small and thin they are - but as the WHR wagons are more than a little battered and have quite a few of them missing hopefully we'll be able to get around it.

It may be possible to graft on some of the good ones which have to be sliced off in place of a couple of the ropey ones. The question is whether the bond will be robust enough for life on the exhibition circuit??

Thursday, 28 June 2012

MOTW - NGG16 ???

This is the loco which kicked off our adventure in modelling the Welsh Highland around 15 years ago.

It is an unusual Model Of The Week in that the model in question is not of any particular prototype engine.. Allow me to explain.

Himself was tempted to buy and build this Backwoods Miniatures kit when it hit the market, I suspect because he couldn't resist the challenge.

At the time we hadn't set out to model the WHR, it was just another exciting new locomotive to make, and so we didn't set out to represent one of the repatriated Garratts (138 & 143) which at that time were confined to shuttling between Caernarfon and Dinas looking for all the world like the steam-powered equivalent of a great beast in a small zoo enclosure.

For that reason the kit was built as Pete McParlin intended.  Although the coal in the bunker has come back to meet us  - when we made it the NGG16 fleet was on an exlcusive diet of oil - there are other features such as the sunshades over the cab windows and, most notably, the huge single headlamps which mean that this model wouldn't stand up to scrutiny if we tried to pass it off as one of the WHR's current quartet.

And if you hadn't spotted those subtle bits and pieces the ACR (Alfred County Railway) stickers on the bunker will certainly cure you of any misapprehensions you may have about what it is you're looking at.

Despite all that, because it is finished off in SAR unlined black livery, and because 143 spent many years running about on the WHR in this livery, it still blends in on Bron Hebog.

I've been badgering Himself for many years (as children tend to do) urging him to dunk it in paint stripper, attack the errornous details with a soldering iron and rebuild it as a more accurate representation of one of the WHR Garratts but so far he has either been too busy or is just hoping that if he ignores me for long enough I will forget about it. (As parents tend to do.)

Whatever the debate about the bits and bobs it does or does not have on it, there's no question that it is another fine example of Himself's ability to assemble these brass kits so as they not only look superb but run like sewing machines to boot.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

It's Superbarn!

Here's a look at our latest completed model: Superbarn 103.

These hurriedly taken home snaps don't really do the carriage justice, and you'll just have to take my word for it that when formed up with a rake of our latest FR stock it looks great.

The real Boston Lodge has turned out the second Superbarn 121 in recent weeks and is cracking on with a third, 108.

I'm busy playing catch-up. My 121 us waiting for a brass roof and 108 is just a collection of styrene strips for now.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

3 In 1

My adventure with resin casting continues.

As you may recall, at the end of the last post on this I had produced one DZ door panel casting, but of course these wagons have three drop down doors on each side.

So I went into mass production and using my rubber mould cast another 5 pieces.

The instructions and advice with the moulding compound suggest it is good for about 20 castings before it gives up too much silicone and the resin begins to stick.

With each DZ requiring 6 castings I figured I'd soon end up having to make another mould. At which point an alternative thought crossed my mind.

I had been intending to make up each wagon side from 3 castings connected with styrene channel representing the uprights between the doors.

It occurred to me it would be a lot more efficient to make up just one of these complete wagon sides and use it as a master to make another mould.

You can see in the picture above that the cast pieces have had extra styrene details - such as the door hinges - added on.

Why did I not include them on the first single panel master?

Because it turns out when you look at the DZ's closely that the hinges are handed - ie. the bottom bit can be on the left or the right hand side - and none of the three doors on the wagon are identical.

Isn't that just typical!

Here is the master, then, in its styrene coffin ready to be entombed in rubber.

So I'm off now to make up the RTV (Room Temperature Vulcanisation) silicone mix and we'll see how it turns out in 24 hours time.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Midnight Oil Burner

A truly sumptuous pun to introduce a few snaps of our new Linda.

A pun? Well..

1) The 'first lady' of the FR has been finished in her short-lived Midnight Blue livery

2) Himself truly did burn the midnight oil to get this finished in time for Chris Nevard's photo shoot with Dduallt last week for Model Rail magazine.


3) Linda is, of course, an oil burner (Much to the distress of the present day accountants at the FR, it must be said.)

Here we see the Backwoods beauty with the lining all complete, sporting her name and works plates and with a model crew.

In fact the crew is probably the most unauthentic bit of this model. Most of the occasions when I've seen Linda running her cab and tender footplates have been packed out.

I know the livery choice is a little controversial, but do you like it?

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

MOTW - The Water Crane

There is no rule which says the Model Of The Week has to run on rails, although to be fair, our subject does still move.

The water crane at the North end of the platform at Beddgelert is one of the most prominent features of the station.

Our representation of it was scratch built by Himself and brought to life with the assistance of the legendary Stefco.

The component parts are brass tube and rod plus a few brass washers all soldered together.

The main upright is tube with a slightly smaller but much longer solid rod inside which extends below the baseboard, which is how it swivels.

The top horizontal pipe is solid rod as it was easier to bend the end to shape, with a bit of tube added on the end for the counter weight. Washers were slipped on to show the flanged joints and soldiered into place.

The bottom flange is just small pieces of brass fashioned and soldiered in place.

The drip stand was similarly made from brass.

Motorising it was an afterthought. Steve Coulson came up with a mechanism made up of components sourced from his man cave full of various dismantled electronic consumer products.

At the heart of it is a low geared 3v motor – probably liberated from an old video recorder or something similar – which is wired to a three position switch hidden beneath the baseboard and gets its juice (currently) from a battery.

The drive from the motor is connected to the aforementioned inner brass rod and the crane thus swivels – delightfully sedately – hither and thither.

Alas, at the moment, there is no auto-stop feature. So if the operators become distracted, and forget to turn the switch to the central ‘off’ position when it has turned 90 degrees, you sometimes look down the platform and notice the water crane turning round, and round, and round like a malfunctioning clock!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Going Mouldy

So how did my first go at resin casting turn out? Read on, all will be revealed.

The first task was to glue the master face up in a homemade moulding box, which is nothing more fancy than four bits of styrene glued onto a thick base.

(I don't have photographs of this bit - sorry - Mrs Bron Hebog had taken the camera to work with her.)

Then it was time to mix the rubber moulding compound. It's probably the trickiest bit because the recipe calls for you to add 5% of the catalyst - by weight - to the rubber goo.

With such a relatively small part to cover with rubber this meant I needed just 1g of the catalyst, which necessitated the purchase of the most economical set of electronic scales I could find in the Argos catalogue.

Well, they did the job. I'm proud to be a cheapskate!

What followed was a bit of mixing and pouring - that's really not very technical, honest - and you have something very boring like this which you leave for 24 hours to cure.

Being the first time I've ever done this I have to confess I couldn't resist the urge to give it the tiniest wee prod every couple of hours to see how it was setting, but finally 24hrs were up and it was time for the big reveal...

To my untrained eye the negative image in the mould looked a little rough around the edges, and a little messy, to be frank, but the acid test - or perhaps I should say the epoxy test - would be to fill it with resin and see what happened.

The resin is a little easier to make up - the instructions say an approximate 50/50 mix will do - but the flip side is it sets really fast.

You're given 30 seconds to introduce the two liquids and blend them, and then just another 90 to pour it carefully into the mould, which when you've done it looks like this..

This is a lot easier if you're an impatient type of person, because just 20 minutes or so later the resin has set hard and you can release it from the mould, which peels away easily as soon as you flex it.

And here we have my first cast DZ wagon panel.

I don't think that's bad at all, for a first effort, you know. Not bad at all.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

A New Adventure

I am finally taking a leap into resin casting.

I say 'finally' because it's been nearly a year and a half since I revealed my intentions here on the blog.

The reason for the adventure is my desire to build models of the ex-SAR DZ wagons which can be found on the WHR.

They look like this...

Now, if you're a long-term reader of this blog you might be thinking: 'I thought he made some of those before?' Well you're right, I did, but they weren't for me, they were for a client.

And do you know what else? They were a right pain in the proverbials, mainly on account of those sunken panels in the doors. Making the wagons out of styrene meant I had to carve each one out by hand, scraping the styrene away with the tip of a scalpel blade.

There are 12 panels on each wagon, and the client wanted 4 wagons, and so by the end of the process I was very bored indeed and swore I would not be doing that again any time soon.

And so the idea was born of trying to cast the doors in resin. That way I would only have to make one master.

Here, then, is the one I made last February, and now finally I've got around to trying to make castings with it.

At the Railex show last month I invested in a starter pack of silicone rubber moulding compound and casting resin, which is what is in the bottles at the top of this post.

I shall let you know how I get on....

Thursday, 14 June 2012

MOTW - Carriage 24

I'm featuring the other half of the WHR heritage carriage fleet today - there's not a lot of it, is there?

In fact, 24 is only really 'heritage' in that it looks old and is uncomfortable. The actual carriage is newer than some of the WHR's modern carriages, being built at Boston Lodge in 2002.

It is a replica of one of the NWNGR (North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways) 'Summer Coaches' which were built by Ashbury, to the original full height rather than the cut-down condition in WHR days.  The FR has two of these survivors from the old WHR, one of which, number 26, has been so comprehensibly rebuilt I'd be fascinated to know if there is anything at all of the 1894 vehicle remaining at all?

It might even be the case that this replica has got more original bits on it, because when it was being built them found some old NWGNR axleboxes in one of the stores at Boston Lodge which were fitted to the bogies along with authentic curly-spoked wheels.

The model was scratch built in styrene and in the same way as our model of WHR carriage 23 had each of the matchboard strips glued on separately.

I fashioned the top hat ventilators from various bits of styrene tube. I think they're probably a bit too tall and thin, but I didn't have many good pictures take from a high angle to judge their dimensions properly. 

Today there is just such a picture in the official FR & WHR stock list book, so I may in future get round to making some shorter, fatter, replacements.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Snap Happy

A glimpse of the talented Mr Nevard at work yesterday taking pictures of Dduallt for Model Rail magazine.

The figure lurking in the background is our Artistic Director, Francis. It was Himself who snapped the snapper.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Smile Please!

Our old layout Dduallt is getting a turn in the spotlight today - quite literally.

The very talented Mr Chris Nevard is coming along to a secret location in the Chiltern Hills to photograph the layout for an article in a future edition of Model Rail magazine.

I'm not able to be there for the shoot but I'm very excited about seeing the results. It's not the first time Dduallt has been featured in a magazine but I'm expecting the pictures Chris takes to be among the best I've ever seen of it.

At the start of this year one of our other CHMRC layouts, New Mills, was in Model Rail - in fact it was the cover feature - and if you're a regular reader of that mag you'll already know how handy Mr N is with a camera. (There's also link to his blog over on the right hand side of the page.)

Naturally I will let you know which edition of Model Rail the article will be in when the time comes.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Superbarn Update

Himself reports that he's been having a tough day completing our model of 'Superbarn' 103. Quite a lot of the reason for this is my fault, I must confess.

This is because when I built the carriage two years ago it turns out I set the truss rods too low. This error was only discovered 75% of the way though the process of painting the carriage when he sat it down on the new style bogies- which  he had spent a whole day fashioning from a pair of Parkside Dundas VoR bogies -only to find the truss rods swooped lower than the railhead.  Oops!

The easily fix, you might think, would be to add some packing beneath the bogie pivots and raise the carriage up a bit, but he didn't want to do this because the middle paint line matched perfectly with the rest of the stock.

So, no doubt cursing my name, he ripped off the truss rods and the king posts and made and fitted some new ones, which you can see in these pictures.

And he's still got to solder up four pairs of handrails to go either side of each of the doors.

All in all he's finding it rather fiddly, but I must say it's really got the look of a Superbarn, don't you agree?

Friday, 8 June 2012

Pass The Popcorn

Yes, it's Bron Hebog movie time again.

Part-time operator Max Brayne has kindly sent me a link to a video of the layout he shot at Railex two weeks ago.

And here's another filmed by Matt Wickham.

Many thanks to Max and Matt for allowing us to include their work on the blog.

I hope these short films will give those readers who've not had the chance to see Bron Hebog at a show yet a better idea of what the layout is like.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

MOTW - Carriage 16

Once upon a time there were very limited rolling stock options for 009 modellers of the FR.

Langley did their brass kits for 'bowsiders' 17 and 18, and Parkside Dundas had the plastic semi-opens 37 and 38. And that was about it apart from some ancient GEM and FR whitemetal kits for old Obs 11, WHR pair 23 and 26 and sundry box boxes which all weighed not far short of a real NG carriage.

So there wasn't much choice other than to scratch build, which is how we came to have this model of 16 which is entirely built from styrene. (Yes, even the curvy handrails on the balconies!)

My technique for building this carriage wasn't dissimilar to the way they these pioneering iron framed bogie carriages were built in 1872.

In those days - we're talking 18 years ago now - I was still building carriages with a fixed floor and a removable roof.

On these carriages there was a bit of a problem doing that because the bogies are tucked up into the carriage body and hidden behind those big iron frames.

What I did was to build the bottom frame and the end balconies as a rolling chassis unit and make a separate square carriage body to mount on top.

As the model is so old there are a few things I find a wee bit unsatisfactory these days - the windows should be slightly rounded, for a start. But I think its still quite a creditable effort.

This model shows 16 as it was running in 1988 in the all over Cherry Red livery, so we can't reasonably run it on Bron Hebog, so I think in time we'll replace it with a Worsley Works brass kit finished in the Col. Stephens green livery that 16 is running around with currently.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Midnight Express

Here's the answer to all the questions we've been getting about what colour our new Linda will be turned out in.

Our Backwoods Penrhyn lady was liberated from the paint shop for the Railex weekend for some more running-in turns on Bron Hebog, seen here paired with sister, Blanche.

Linda wore this midnight blue livery through most of the 1990's, before being put back into lined Penrhyn black, and our model shows her in the short period when she was reunited with her proper chimney.

As the pictures clearly show, the paint job is not finished. There is more lining to go on and the model is yet to be varnished, which is why it is so ridiculously shiny.

As well as double-heading with Blanche we also recreated a recent WHR scene when Linda had to be paired with Criccieth Castle as emergency substitutes for a failed Garratt.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Silly Half Hour

In our two exhibition appearances this year Bron Hebog has been operating at what you might call reduced power.

That is to say the way we run the layout has been dictated by the size limitations of our temporary fiddle yards which means that our mighty Garratts have been tootling around with 5 and 6 carr trains when the layout has been designed for operating prototypical 9 or 10 carr rakes.

But towards the end of Sunday at Railex, when the crowds thinned out, and at what is traditionally seen as the silly half hour when some more unusual combinations are run for the amusement of the operators, I decided to send out an 8 carr train so I could get an impression of how impressive it will look when Bron Hebog is finally completed.

Now you can see how we're going to get that 'train coming back on itself' effect around the S bend that so many visitors to the exhibition remarked upon when recounting their rides on the WHR.

I hope you won't think me conceited if I say so myself, but the completed Bron Hebog is going to be worth waiting for.