Monday, 31 August 2015

Farmhouse Progress

Since my last post about Cwm Cloch farmhouse I have finished scribing the two gable end walls and added the window frame details.

In the period between our first research trips to Beddgelert and the reopening of the railway the owners had clearly been splashing some cash because all the windows in the house were replaced with uPVC units with the fake vertical bead in the middle to make them look olde worlde.

My way of trying to reproduce this on the model is to fix a very fine styrene strip behind.

This will slightly affect the placement of the glazing but I have filed them to make them as thin as I dare in the hope that it won't be too obvious.

So, as you can see, the central section of the house has been glued together.

The next stage is to add the window frames to the three walls of the front extension.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Testing, Testing - 2 Weeks To Go

Himself has erected the scenic bit of Dduallt to check it all still works and all the bits like trees and signals are still in place ahead of the show at Dinas.

A fortnight from today we'll be there running Dduallt and Bron Hebog side by side in the old NWNGR goods shed for what might possibly be the only opportunity you'll ever have to see them together.

Apart from some track adjustments at some board joints it runs well, and at nearly a quarter of a century old I reckon that's quite a tribute to the builder!

There was one fault which left Himself scratching his chin for a while.

On the control panel are push buttons which return the home signals to Danger to permit wrong line running in the Down direction but they weren't working.

To begin with he thought perhaps a diode had blown somewhere but eventually it dawned on him that for some reason, which he's long since forgotten, he took the feed for this function from the upper fiddle yard, which at that stage wasn't attached!

The observant among you may also notice the presence of our 2nd Conway Castle at the head of the push-pull rake.

The loco got halfway through the paint shop earlier this year but the process became stalled.

Himself was talking about using the remaining days before the trip to Wales to complete painting some of the rolling stock that is currently unfinished so there is still a chance it may make an appearance at Dinas.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Great Gables

As if cutting out two dozen windows wasn't tedious enough I've moved onto something that takes even longer on the farmhouse project - scribing the stones on the gable end walls.

I'm not attempting to create a stone-by-stone match for the real wall, because that way surely madness lies, but I do aim to create something that looks vaguely like it.

The main feature of the wall is that it has a few quite large stones here and there so I'm aiming to get that effect.

I don't have a particular scribing strategy, it's more like a kind of scratch doodling - one stone leads to another stone until the whole of the wall is filled up.

What you're looking at is one evening's work - I reckon there's another two to go on this one and then there's the other gable end to do.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015


With just over a fortnight to go until the Welsh Highland Great & Small (2) show at Dinas it's time to stop construction and start the preparations.

That includes giving Dduallt a once-over to ensure that it's in a fit state to be exhibited again.

The layout hasn't been exhibited for about 4 years we reckon, so over the weekend Himself got out the Fiddle Yards and tested that they all worked as they should.

Among the functions to be checked was the route-setting logic, the point motors and the working of the traversers at each end.

Himself reports that all seems to be working well.

The final job was to give them a quick lick of paint around the outside to ensure they're in a fit state to be seen by the public.

The next job is to check the pretty bit - I'll have some photos of that to show you in a few days I hope.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Fairy Lights

.Himself has been busy wiring up the fiddle yard control panels which are festooned with LEDs

I must confess I'm not entirely sure I understand how they work myself so the show at Dinas next month is going to be a steep learning curve for the entire operating team.

From what I can gather the red LEDs indicate the isolated sections for loco holding as stabling.

(What I don't know yet is whether light on means the section is live or dead - I can see collisions!)

And the green ones show which road / route has been selected.

I'm presuming that the rotary switch relates to the maze of point work at the yard throats and the ones at the run round end are linked to the vertical switches controlling the direction of the points connected to the head shunts.

What's truly remarkable about all this, if you ask me, is that it's entirely analogue and there's not a DCC chip anywhere to be seen.

Which is just how it should be.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Short Back & Sides

The ever-so-slightly monotonous process of cutting out the window holes for the farmhouse continues.

There are rather a lot of them, I can only conclude that the house at Cwm Cloch was built after the repeal of the Window Tax!

I've now got holes in the right places for two thirds of the building, the two sections that make up the L shape of the accommodation.

What's left to do is the small extension which is built at the back.

Then it will be time to scribe the exposed stonework and begin adding window frame details.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Front Of House

After more than a week off I've been easing myself gently back into modelling.

Last night's effort was a whole 2 windows cut out of the front facing wall of Cwm Cloch Farmhouse.

Well, it's a start.

There are four windows to open out in the back wall and then another seven or eight (I can't quite remember) on the gable ends.

Once that's done it will out with my scribing tools to make those gable ends look a little more like they're built of exposed stone rather than styrene.

Second Showing

I'll confess from the start that there isn't anything new to report today.

For the last week I've been banished from my modelling bench on account of Himself occupying the study on a visit north.

On top of that he's had best part of three weeks out of modelling action including a week in Wales working on the FR.

All of which doesn't give me a lot to blog about, but as a time-served member of the Fourth Estate I refuse to be defeated by the mere absence of anything new to report - I'm more than happy to recycle old stories!

So I thought I would whet your appetite for the WHR Great and Small show next month with a reprise of the videos that were shot on the layout the last time we were there two years ago.

That was filmed by the F&WHR's John Wooden with the footage from the moving train filmed using a small camera placed on a flat wagon.

Our second movie is a true miniature driver's eye view shot using a special camera wagon belonging to the the railway's Huw Jones.

Back in 2013 we were only running trains on around half of the layout, the rest of it had yet to be built.

This time, however, Bron Hebog will be on show in its entirety and I'm very much hoping that we will be able to repeat the filming exercise.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Loaves And Fishes

Exhibiting both Bron Hebog and Dduallt at Dinas next month is going to require a lot of thought in rolling stock distribution between the two layouts.

Even when the two railways were disconnected there was an element of FR stock being shared with the WHR and ever since the '40 Mile Railway' became a reality that process has accelerated.

In modelling terms we have done our best to keep pace with the construction of new carriages, and restoration of locomotives as we built Bron Hebog, but we did not necessarily make duplicates of the FR stock which operates on the railway, failing to foresee a situation where we would have to operate them simultaneously.

So how are we going to get by over the Super Power weekend?

Well fortunately we have managed to keep pace with a lot of the FR carriage refurbishment programme so, for example, we have models of the 1st generation observation carriages 100 & 101 as well as their replacements 100 & 102.

We also have four of the new 'Super Barn' carriages, the service carr 124 and Stefco's 122.

Locomotive-wise we have modern interlopers like Lyd which were only being dreamt about when we started building Dduallt in the early 1990's.

So my plan is to conserve rolling stock by running Dduallt in an early 1990's configuration.

This means we can keep back locomotives like DLG, Taliesin, Vale of Ffestiniog, Lyd and Palmerston to bulk out the train roster on Bron Hebog along with the carriages built for the FR over the last 20 years, while hopefully still having enough trains from the earlier era to provide interest on Dduallt.

Friday, 14 August 2015


So I have begun cutting holes in the blank walls of the new farm house.

This is not a quick or easy process because I am using 60 thou styrene sheet to make these buildings, but the hope is that this means they will not go wonky in a hurry.

These are the three walls for the section of the building which faces the front of the layout with huge picture windows in what I assume are the living room and the master bedroom.

My plan is to cut all the window holes, and add the detail of the frames and panes, before I join all the pieces together into a complete house.

It'll take quite a while to get all that done but it'll be very satisfying to see it all come together at once.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Water Tanker Finished

Well almost. It's as near as damn it completed.

It still needs to get a spray varnish and some transfer lettering as the finishing touches, plus a couple of footsteps to be attached to the frame at the ends.

Here you can compare how my version compares to the real thing photographed at Beddgelert last week.

Its one of those models which has spent a long time on my to do list and I'm so looking forward to see it running on Bron Hebog next month.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Blank Spaces

I have started work on Cwm Cloch Farmhouse having received the drawings from the Artistic Director last week.

This is the project that I have been saving myself for and will be my sole focus in the remaining few weeks leading up to the layouts being shown at Dinas.

After working on the very complex Oberon Wood houses for the last couple of years it is a relief to get back to a traditional and straightforward dwelling.

Although the farmhouse is substantial is is essential just three connected boxes - not the convoluted jigsaw of the modern houses.

With Oberon Wood I had to build them by finishing each piece in turn and building up the structure bit by bit.

On the farmhouse, I have the luxury of being able to cut out all the blank pieces in one go with utter confidence that they will all fit together as they are supposed to.

So what you see before you here is all the component parts of the walls of the house.

The next stage is to cut out the window apertures.

That won't be so simple because there are rather a lot of them!

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Access Ladders

I reckon on any model there are always some details that you can get away without fitting but also some that are absolutely essential if you're going to capture the feel of the real thing, and on the WHR water tank wagon I reckon that feature is the ladders.

I'd given these a bit of thought all through the build process.

I looked at seeing whether I had anything in stock which would do the job.

I had a spare section of Plastruct ladder but it was way too thick, with too many rungs and not quite wide enough.

Even so I experimented with filing it down and chopping out every other rung to see if I could get away with it but in the end I decided it was too much of a compromise.

Similarly for a while I toyed with the idea of using the plastic ladders which come with the standard gauge Dapol oil tanker kit - which I'd robbed to make the masters for the ends and the tank filler on top - but it was a similar scenario.

So in the end I pushed the boat out - really quite far out in fact - and ordered a fret of Scalelink etched brass ladders.

I think they're pretty much bang-on for width and not too far off the correct rung spacing either but, jeezo, it's pricey for two measly bits of ladder!

With them cut to length and bent at the top they were given a coat of red oxide primer.

My youngest's Play-Doh came in rather handy for holding them in place while I sprayed!

So here they are ready to be fitted, but I shall tease you for another couple of days before showing you the finished wagon...

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Tanked Up

The moment has come to fix the tank permanently on the wagon now most of the painting is complete.

Until now the pictures I've posted have only had the tank resting on its supports and I knew I was only going to get one chance to get it right - if the filler and platform a the the top ended up slightly tipped to one side or the other it would be indescribably irritating.

To give myself the maximum amount of fiddling time I used epoxy resin and squinted and stared at it from all angles.

I'm as certain as I can be that it's straight.

I'm quite pleased with how it's turned out,  I think it's certainly got the look of the real wagon.

Perhaps the ends aren't quite as bulbous as on the full sized one but I don't think it notices too much.

The real test will be to see it attached behind one of the NGG16's with a train of SAR wagons hung on the back on the layout in a few weeks time.

There is still one major job to do, however, bend, paint and fit the ladders.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Farmhouse Plans

The Artistic Director has produced plans for Cwm Cloch Farmhouse.

He's finalised the design after the mock ups I showed you a couple of weeks ago were tried out on the layout.

When I've built it it will finally fill in one of the very obvious remaining blank spaces in the middle of the layout.

The building itself will be quite complicated.

It has three distinct sections, lots of windows, and added extras like porches and lean-to sheds attached as well as two walls which will have to be scribed with exposed stones.

As ever I shall chart my progress here.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Black Magic

it quite often feels as if painting a model takes longer than building it!

It took me most of a week to get this far with the water tank wagon.

The one picture does not do justice to the number of processes which have to be gone through.

First the sections were sprayed with a primer. In this case it was red oxide because I didn't have any grey or white to hand.

This was fine for the tank body which received its all-over black from an aerosol can, but the grey on the frame, which was hand painted, required two coats.

Then the saddles had to be picked out in black, as well as underneath the frame.

Then the grey had to be touched up where there were any stray bits of black, then the black re-touched......and so it goes on until you're satisfied it's as neat as it's ever going to be.

The finish line is in sight, however, and I can say with confidence that it will be appearing at Dinas next month.