Wednesday, 31 August 2016

DFS - Damned Fiddly Seats!

Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet.

I've been chewing over how I would make the first class seats for 150 for quite a few weeks - not in any kind of constructional detail, just thinking about how curvy and awkward they are.

You see what I mean? Not your average seat, is it.

Having said that (or indeed, written it) it's reasonable to aspire to make up something that looks vaguely like it in 4mm.

It is not, however, reasonable to make sixteen of them. Not for me, anyway.

So I shall reach for the resin and I have begun work on a master I can make a mould from.

The trick here, given that I don't do split-mould casting (yet) is to break the seat down into bits that can be cast in an open-back mould.

One of the issues is that these high back seats have a pronounced bend in the lumber area.  (The old Pullman seats do as well, of course, but it's hidden by the wings to a large extend so you can get away without representing it)

To do this in a way which is mould-able I have filled the gap with my old friend Millput.

I have also had to leave off the front legs.

I may add them on later, or a may not, given that no one will ever realistically see them and the seats should support themselves quite adequately because they are either placed back to back or up against a partition.

The same goes for the armrests.

I will most likely add them on to the castings with strips of styrene, but to put them on the master would increase the probability of miscasts greatly.

I don't need that much frustration in my life, I have quite enough already, thank you.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Amazing Glazing

One of the most satisfying aspects of scratch building models is the challenges you have to find solutions to.

A good example of this is the glazing at the front of the observation car 150.

The angle of the bend is such that you need a piece of perspex which keeps its shape rather than something which will spring back flat at the first opportunity.

Initially Himself experimented with heating some clear sheet before bending and then letting it cool, but it left a blemish.

Then he found some sheet which could be bent when cold without marking, but he had a very limited supply of it.

Furthermore,  once you've got the angle correct you've also  got to account for the curve which follows the roofline at the front.

Ultimately he decided to make up two large pieces which have the L shape at the front and extend all the way along the sides of the carriage, meeting in the middle at the central window pillar at the front.

I think he's done a superb job, again.

The only downside is that now he's handed it back to me I've got no excuse not to get on with trying to make the rather fancy first class seats to go in it!

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Pantomime Horse

The new service carriage 125 is rather unusual in that it is one ended.

That's not unique, on the FR, of course, because the railway is the home of the Observation Carriage.

No, 125 is different because the it's the narrow gauge equivalent of a pantomine horse.

Allow me to explain.

The Caernarfon end - I want to write Bottom End but that's not allowed any more - is pure Super Barn with the inset double doors.

The Blaenau - or Top - end looks like it is derived from the gene pool of the original Barns being full width with no end windows and no entrance doors either.

Most of the carriage, as you will know from previous posts, is being scratch built in styrene.

I can cheat, though, with the bottom end because as far as I can tell it is built like a regular Super Barn and so I can cast those bits.

I feel something of a fraud but I'm sure the feeling will soon pass.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Straight Down The Middle

So now the vital central window pillar is in place on the front of 150 it's time to pose the question whether we have captured the look of the real thing?

After much discussion we decided to make it out of brass rather than styrene which should have a couple of advantages.

Firstly, and most obviously, it should have much more strength and be much less vulnerable than a piece of plastic.

Himself has also hit on the idea of making the glazing in two parts which will meet in the middle on either side of this pillar rather than attempting to curl a single piece around the inside of the front.

As you can see from the sideways-on shot the brass is fixed so it comes down behind the lower body panel and we will be adding a layer of styrene on top.

It's also worthy of mentioning the fantastic job Himself made of forming the piece of brass strip which sits underneath the front of the roof.

I'm really pleased with how it's turning on, now the pressure's on me to make an interior which lives up to the exterior.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Rio Not So Grande

Now the Olympics are over I may be able to get a little more modelling done.

I'm not a massive sports nut but I must confess that in the last two weeks I have succumbed to the temptation to plonk myself on the sofa in front of the TV of an evening and attempt to understand what's going on in various strange disciplines.

(And just why that diving pool turned into a giant garden pond?)

So I'm afraid that all I have to report today is that I've managed to add the sliding windows on the basic sides for 125.

In my defence, it's rather more work that it appears because they're formed out of very fine and flimsy 10 thou strip which needs to be cut and fitted with a very high degree of accuracy.

Now those are in I'll set about adding the second layer of beading detail.

Assuming there's nothing much to watch on the box, of course.....

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Running Repairs

Himself has been confined to barracks by some unseasonal Scottish summer weather of late - note I said unseasonal, not unexpected - but that has given him the chance to catch up with some odd jobs which needed doing.

These odd jobs included making good all the cat-related damage to Dduallt.

So the Up Home signal has been uprooted and repaired.

He's going to add some strengthening pieces before inserting it back in position and reconnecting it.

Collapsed  S and T workers have been got back onto their feet.

Fallen trees on the spiral have undergone root canal treatments and been restored to vertical.

Telegraph poles have been spliced back together and the gate by Rhoslyn cottage once again has five bars.

Finally, dozens of sheep that were lying prostrate across the landscape are grazing once again and the area has been cleared of cat hair.

The moggy, by some miracle, has yet to be recycled into a tennis racket...

Friday, 19 August 2016

First Class Roof

Perhaps it was because I uttered the magic words, "There's no rush", or maybe a summer of non-stop garden rebuilding and home-making has brought on withdrawal symptoms, but Himself has knocked up a roof for 150 faster than I'd imagined possible.

What's great is that this time there's no need to post the carriage to the opposite end of the country for us to do alternate bits of work on it, and neither to I have to try and make a judgement on whether its hit the mark with a handful of photographs but I can pop over any time and make a thorough physical inspection.

The really tricky thing with this roof is that the underside has to be made so that it supports and holds the top of the body side in place and locates the top of the glazing.

This is what the flat false ceiling I fit in all the other carriages is there for but because of the huge front windows on 150 which go all the way to the roof line that's not an option this time.

My first thought was that we could solder on brass strips or channel on the underside of the roof but Himself was worried about how the brass might react to the heat and so he's bonded on a layer of styrene so we can use plastic strip instead.

He's indicated that he's not entirely happy with it so I shall make it my business to head over to his place in the next few days and take a look for myself.

Don't worry, I shall be the epitome of tactfulness, as always.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Hole In The Middle

Tearing up my usual rule of only having one project at a time one the go I've taken the opportunity, while Himself is working on a roof for 150, of starting work on its twin, the service car 125.

It does not have the fiendish curves of the observation car to contend with but it's challenging in other ways, particularly the doors in the middle.

The tricky bit on the 'engine side' is the generator compartment doors.

My solution to this huge gaping hole in the middle was to build the body side as separate pieces connected only by the continuous cant rail along the top and then glue in a section of strip at the bottom.

At this stage, before other layers of the styrene sandwich are put on it is, as you can perhaps imagine, an extremely flimsy piece.

The 'clock side' is also chopped in two by a train crew access door which is deeply recessed.

This time, however, I decided on a different approach and I've made up the basic side with a continuous lower panel.

Once I have added the beading layer on top and it's all a bit stronger I shall slice out a section where the door is to go.

If you were wondering, it's the window where there is no toplight bar.

How quickly this carriage progresses is very much down to Himself's speed of progress on 150.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Top Hat-Trick

I have deposited the body of 150 with Himself so he can form and fit a brass roof for it.

There's not really much more can be done on it until that's in place and then I can add the front window pillar.

A roof will also make it properly rigid because the unsupported top of the body sides are still quite vulnerable.

In the meantime there are some other important jobs I can be getting on with, such as making up the bogies.

I'd delayed doing this because I was 1 top hat bearing short, but when I dropped the carriage off with Himself I was able to raid his stores and procure an unopened packet.

Thus restocked, and with an otherwise empty evening ahead of me, I decided there would be no harm in a little forward planning so I made up three sets in total and cast the resin detailing bits to go with them.

So as well as a set for 150 the plan is that another of them will go under 125, the new service car, which will be my next project, and Superbarn 118 which you may recall I already have the resin body shell parts cast for.

That should keep me out of trouble as the nights draw in this autumn.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Happy Ending

I was really pleased the end piece cast perfectly first time, which is no mean achievement when you consider that it includes both an undercut - from the beading - and the very thin brass tongues which stick out at each side.

Having cleaned the flash off the casting the next job was to shape the end of the floor to match.

And finally the big test - gluing it into position.

We'll only know for sure if I've truly captured the look and feel of the observation end when we get the roof on and the central window pillar in place but so far so good.

It has also made the body shell pleasingly rigid, which is very positive.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Plastic Fantastic

I decided I was as happy as I would ever get with the size and shape of the brass base layer for the curved end of 150 so I have progressed to fixing the styrene layers on top.

What you see here is two layers of 10 thou styrene which is thin enough not to have excessive urge to spring back flat and will hold the shape of the brass when it is bonded to it with superglue.

That's equal to the 20 thou base layer of the main body side parts and the next step was to add the beading using 15 thou strip.

I made the curved corners the same way as for the main sides by filing a crescent into a piece of styrene and cutting it out very carefully and fixing it into each corner.

I think now it's ready to be used as a master to make a resin copy which will be the 'production version'.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Curved Ball

This is going to be one of the make-or-break moments building my model of 150, getting the curved observation end to both look right and perform a key structural function.

Curves, of course, are the one thing that styrene doesn't do very well because once it's made flat it is desperate to stay flat.

It is possible to change its shape permanently by heating it, manipulating it and then cooling it rapidly, but it's not as easy as it sounds to do that accurately.

So instead I've decided to use a multi-media approach.

The first step is to use brass as the base layer - a material which does hold its shape - and this is my attempt at that.

You may be wondering about the writing on it.

That's because being parsimonious as ever I have used some otherwise waste material from around the edge of a sheet of etched bogie frets.

(A notable case of  'That'll come in useful on day' coming true)

The designer includes his name in the design and it just so happens this section is the perfect width for the height of the body side at the front of the carriage.

The plan is that I will now glue layers of 10 thou styrene on top to build it up to the correct thickness and add the beading detail in the same way I do on any 'normal' carriage.

The ends of the brass part will stick out to provide more surface area to bond the front on with and give it some extra strength.

That's the theory, anyway.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Support Structure

I ended my last post writing about how the body shell of 150 is going to be a rather flimsy affair until I can get the rounded observation saloon end fitted.

So I've been trying to do what I can to protect it and make it more solid in the meantime.

The first step was to make a floor / chassis in my usual way.

I've left it slightly over length at the open end for now.

However this still leaves the issue of the long, unconnected sides flapping about and nothing to support the top rail.

So what I've cope up with is some temporary pieces which will hold the sides roughly in position and help the body shell to keep its shape in the meantime.

This was one of the main reasons that I choose to cast the body sides out of resin because they will put up with far more abuse at this stage compare to side made from styrene which might possibly bend or break apart if left unsupported.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Three Dimensions

So, the moment has come.

Time to join the five castings together to see if they resemble carriage 150 in any way.

The first is to fix on some small pieces on the back to set the height of the floor / chassis.

It is possible to do this at a later stage but it is a lot simpler to achieve when you can lay it flat like this.

The problem is that all the excitement of being about to see the pieces come together I forget and have to retro-fit these blocks.

If you were wondering, I set them at 3mm above the bottom of the bodyside which is pretty standard on our carriage fleet.

The next job is to fix the recessed entrance doors at the Blaenau end of each side.

Finally - for now - glue on the corridor end casting.

Most normal carriages would be a box by now, but 150 is not normal, and so for the moment I'm left with a very flimsy structure that I'm going to have to be very careful with.

It will become as rigid as any other carriage once I've got the Obs end piece fixed in place but I didn't want to begin work on that until I could be absolutely certain of the size and shape it needed to be.

It's the modelling equivalent of the chicken and the egg.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

When I'm Cleaning Windows

With apologies to fans of George Formby here's a quick snap of the two sides of 150 with the resin film / flash cleared from the windows.

This is quite a simple - albeit tedious - task, especially when the mould is brand new and you get a nice sharp edge on the window frames to run the tip of the scalpel around.

It'll be obvious that the thinner the film is the easier it is to trim it out.

You'll have noticed that there is one window which is still filled. This is a small storage area at the end of the saloon.

As it is just a very thin film I shall glue a small piece of  5 thou styrene on the back just to ensure that it doesn't get pierced or ripped over the lifetime of the carriage.

So now there's nothing stopping me fixing on the doors at the end of each side and joining it up into a 3 sided open box.

All I need is an hour's guaranteed peace and quiet to make sure I can do it neatly - this is, after all, a showpiece model.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Two's A Pair

This feels like the moment when my model of Observation Car 150 properly exists now that I have successfully cast both of the main body side pieces.

The inset entrance doors and the corridor end have already been cast although I haven't lined them up here for the snap.

They're still in fresh out of the mould condition with the very thin film of resin in the windows which is the consequence of the open-backed casting method I use.

This means that the thickness of each cast is likely to vary ever so slightly, which is why I always cut my floor pieces from styrene and I don't offer a full kit with a cast chassis like I do with the wagons.

Because I can't guarantee how thick the body side castings will be, and thus the precise dimensions of the area inside the body, I can't be sure that a cast floor would fit without a degree of fettling.

And it's much easier to trim and shape styrene than a big lump of resin.