Thursday, 14 December 2017

Carriage Progress

No visit to Himself's place is complete without popping into the study to inspect progress on the workbench.

Last time I observed further coats of red and ivory have been applied to the latest superbarn 118.

There's not much more painting required now but Himself has still to face his least favourite job which is fabricating and fitting the large handrails either side of the doors.

The pleasure at getting this carriage almost ready to join the fleet is tempered by the knowledge the carriage builders in Wales are already putting the next one - 120 - together.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Bells And Whistles

The latest FR magazine arrived through the letter box the other day which is always a good thing.

I was pleased to see it came with a new leaflet making an appeal for the funding to finish the restoration of Welsh Pony, which is something I called for on this blog a couple of months ago.

(Not that I'm taking any credit, I'm sure the wheels were in motion anyway.)

It was also making the case for cash to pay for all the bits to build the new James  Spooner, complete with ornate bells, without robbing the mortal remains of Earl of Merioneth as it goes into its enforced hibernation.

There was a statement in the leaflet that struck me as a little odd, though.

It explains, in not so many words, that the Earl is knackered and needs a new boiler, new tanks and new carrier frame.

Therefore, it says, it makes sense to use these new parts as the basis for a brand new locomotive.

How so?

I get that these parts are the basic ingredients of a Fairlie superstructure, but why does it 'make sense' to designate it as a new locomotive?

Why not consider it a rebuilding of the Earl, (in its existing shape, of course) in the best FR tradition?

It is the precise opposite of the logic of the Welsh Pony project.

With that engine requiring a new boiler and new frames critics have asked why not have left the original alone and called the new one Little Giant?

I can't help thinking that the James Spooner project only 'makes sense' if you start from the assumption that all Fairlies should be curvy and not angular like the dear old 'Square'.

That said, what does make sense about the appeal, and is the reason I endorse it, is that it will ensure that my favourite Fairlie will be kept intact and not suffer the indignity of Livingston Thompson, which was unceremoniously dumped, denuded of all its ancillaries, resting on a pair of slate wagons for a decade and a half before it was done up for display.

I know there are many of us who are determined 'the mighty square' will return to action one day, and your support of this appeal will make that more likely.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Sticky Business

Painting of Lilla continues, slowly.

In fact there's been an element of un-painting with sections of slightly dodgy paintwork rubbed down again.

Himself has come to the conclusion that perhaps the printed body hadn't been cleaned enough before it was primed.

It certainly wasn't dunked in white spirit as some readers have suggested.

Oh well, no shame in admitting to a beginner's error because it's our first time with this 3D technology.

I'm the meantime various bits have been painted red such as the buffer beams, springs and reverser.

First Two Sides

I can't remember the last time I had a midweek day off to myself, but my employer insists on a use-it-or-lose-it policy on annual leave so who am I to argue if I've got a few days to use up before the end of the year?

A whole day to yourself - or at least the bit in the middle when the kids are at school - is the ideal time to tackle a job like making the first layer of a carriage side out of styrene because it's not the sort of task you can stop half way through.

It took me longer than I would have liked to make the first side because I reckon it's at least a year and a half since I last did this, when I was making the masters for the observation car 150.

The second one was a lot easier once I'd rediscovered the knack and probably took less than an hour.

In case you're wondering why the cant rail is extended at each side, or where the doors are, it is because the larger WHR carriage design has entrance vestibules which are inset much more so than on the FR's superbarns and they will be made up as separate parts to be joined to it further on down the line.

The next stage is to add the second layer of beading detail, but for the moment they are being stored nice and flat in traditional photo album until I have a few hours free again.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Spoiler Alert!

So it turns out our Lilla is indeed going to be finished in black.

I popped over to Himself's place at the weekend to discover that he'd grown impatient waiting for a response from me (it appears he was expecting this almost instantly) and has given it a first coat of gloss and matt black.

He's grumbling a little about the time it is taking to dry and wondering whether this is something to do with the 3D material, but this seems a little odd to me given than it was primed first.

He's also decided that we're going to do it in fully lined Penrhyn livery, which is just as well seeing how he's the one who's going to have to do it.

In my role as arbiter-in-chief of colours I helped him sort through his vast collection of part-used packs of Fox Transfers sheets to find out what he needed to order and left him to it.

This could well be a three pairs of glasses job!

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

In Reverse Order

The first bit of work on our next WHR carriage - the latest 3rd class saloon 2047 - are the parts which I would usually leave until towards the end of the build.

I've cast the seat and table units for the interior using a mould I developed for the previous carriage, 2046, which is something I hit upon when I was making a job lot of FR Superbarns.

The reason I've begun with the inside rather than the body sides is that I was waiting for Himself to bring over the model of 2046 so that I could remind myself how I built these WHR carriages.

All that needs to happen with these castings is for the table tops to be glued onto the uprights and then they'll be put to one side until I've got the body shell ready to receive them.

You can also see at the top of the image that I've also cast the detailing covers for the bogies.

These slip over a pair of the SAR diamond frame bogie etches I use in my wagon kits but these castings are adapted to represent the extra suspension and the roller bearings which are now standard on the WHR carriage fleet.

I can't make the bogies up just yet because I'm waiting on a new delivery of bearing cups and wheels.

Monday, 4 December 2017

I See A Red Engine And I Want To Paint It Black?

With apologies to Sir Mick and Keith, but it appears I have a decision to make with regards to our Lilla.

Himself has been adding a few brass embellishments to the 3D printed Robex body, such as the handrails and whatever it is on top of the dome.

(UPDATE: since this was posted a reader has got in touch to tell me it is a regulator lubrication valve. Every day's a school day.)

I get the impression he finds working with this inherently brittle material rather stressful compared to brass or white metal.

(His last email to me began with the words 'before I wreck it completely....')

Those of you who are familiar with the Minitrains chassis which is used on this kit will notice what a good job he's done reshaping the fly cranks so they no longer have the big counter weight on them.

He has also made use of a handy etched fret from RT Models to replace the slidebars and the original, and rather chunky, couplings have been changed as well for brass ones.

So now he's asking me about my preferences for painting it?

It seems to me we have three choices,

For a while on the FR it ran it plain black livery.

(I'm sure he'd be delighted if we plumped for that.)

Then for a long while it was in lined out Penrhyn Quarry Railway livery, and last winter it emerged from Boston Lodge in the rather natty Cilgwyn green.

What do you all reckon?

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Square Go

I had a trip down memory lane a couple of weeks ago when a friend revealed he is planning to make a model of Earl of Merioneth aka  'The Mighty Square' using one of the Langley white metal kits as the starting point.

I told him that this was how Himself built the first of our models of it around 25 years ago, so I thought it might be nice to dig it out for another look.

The key to our model was that we used as much of the Langley kit as we could as a solid base to build up the magnificently modernist (and under-appreciated) superstructure of the Earl.

So beneath those iconic side tanks, which were cut out of styrene, is the outline of a curvy Spooner Fairlie.

One of the things that made this a 'no brainer' is that the Earl's tanks are flush with the bottom of the superstructure whereas the traditional design has a lip which makes provides a very secure footing for the overlays.

We also filed down and reshaped the one-piece casting for the cab roof and cut a hole for the luxury sunroof.

For the very plain D shape smokeboxes and the chimneys we obtained examples of the white metal castings from the Dundas kit for Linda and Blanche.

All these pearls of wisdom were duly passed onto my friend who is blogging about the progress on his own model.

My reward for all this assistance was the publishing of a scurrilous slur which suggested that this faithful old model was withdrawn from service and replaced another built using a Backwoods kit because it was unreliable!

I feel compelled to set the record straight and state very clearly that this model, powered by an adapted Bachmann chassis, was epitome of reliability.

Let there be no doubt that the primary motivation for the construction of a second Earl was the absurdly small wheels on the old diesel chassis.

To even suggest that Himself would accept an unreliable locomotive is tantamount to a defamation or the worst kind.

So there!

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Drawing A Blank

I posted a couple of days ago about how I was going off to search through my file of drawings to look for something to use to make a model of 2047.

I didn't find anything.

All of which left me scratching my head and wondering how on earth it was I managed to make the previous one, 2046?

This was the first WHR saloon with the big windows and the sliding toplights.

Then, from the very depths of my mind I remembered that perhaps I never did have a drawing?

I vaguely recall that I'd approached my usual inside source to enquire about a plan, but they replied that they hadn't got round to drawing it yet!

(There is indeed nowhere quite like Boston Lodge.)

I also remembered that my man in the know told me that the new design was a very simple adaptation from the original and that the window pillars were in the same position as on the previous carriages - all I needed to do was take out the ones which were left over.

Thinking about it now I think that I may simply have used one of the original drawings when I made the last model, but this time it seemed like a good idea to create a proper one.

What would we do without good old Microsoft Paint, eh?

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Painting The First Bridge

Himself has been lured away again for a spell of 12 inches to the foot modelling, which partly explains why in recent days this blog has been filled with waffle rather than posts about actual progress.

The cause this time has been the repair and repainting of Tan y Bwlch footbridge.

(Some might say the real footbridge but we'd never stray into controversies like that on here, oh no, not us....)

It's one of the few remaining monuments from a frantic period of development on the FR when function mattered far more than form.

Form is rather expensive, though, and there weren't so many people with deep pockets or agencies with funds to distribute in the late '60s and early '70s.

That said, it is interesting to note that the construction of this bridge - which was felt to be necessary when a more formal island platform was created after the reopening to Dduallt - did receive some corporate sponsorship from, of all people, the owners of the John Player tobacco brand.

That may seem hard to imagine to some people these days.

Pedants may take issue with me calling it the first bridge in the title, because properly speaking it was the second footbridge on the site, but it is the first, and the only one, to allow access to the platform.

(Steady now....)

As a child of the '70s It is also the only way I have ever known Tan y Bwlch station.

Incidentally, the person in the foreground holding the drill - in what could be construed as a mildly threatening manner - is none other than my mother.

No wonder Himself always does as he's told!

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Same Again, Please

I have to confess that I haven't started work on 2047 yet, so you'll have to make do with a picture of what it's hopefully going to look something like.

This is 2046 posed at the very back of the layout where the line plunges into Beddgelert Forest.

These WHR saloons have always been scratch built out of styrene, rather than cast in resin, mainly because their construction has been rather sporadic and I've never been sure that it's worth the time and expense of making a master and moulds.

I also am going to have to dig back through my file of drawings to find the one I used to make the last one, otherwise it will be a literal case of back to the drawing board!

Friday, 24 November 2017

Black And Grey

It's not been all about casting this week, I've been doing a few more bits on the wagon kits I've been building for a customer.

While I'm waiting on the wheels arriving I put a coat of paint on the roofs of the two brake vans.

They're still not fixed in place because I've still got to make and secure the glazing to go inside, but you get a good impression of what they're going to look like when they're finished.

The foot boards have also been painted black now as well.

Once these are off the workbench, and the current batch of kits I've been casting sent off to Narrow Planet, I can get cracking on another project of my own which I think will have to be the Welsh Highland saloon 2047 - I'm in danger of falling behind the Boston Lodge carriage works again....

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Sticky Stuff

The story of my modelling week so far is the boring reality of commerce.

Enough of my wagon kits were sold at ExpoNG a couple of weeks ago that I need to replenish the stocks at Narrow Planet.

It's a nice problem to have, I suppose.

I find the best way to tackle it is to try and blitz it over a couple of days.

If you get into a good rhythm, and the atmospheric conditions in the house are conducive, I find I can complete a casting cycle every every half hour or so.

Most of the designs need two sets of each casting per wagon so if I'm going really well I can knock out one an hour if everything's going smoothly.

Factor a full time job and family life into the equation, however, and I regard it as good progress if I can get a set of bits for two wagons made each day.

How you 3D printing people must shake your heads and laugh at the labour-intensiveness of it all!

Monday, 20 November 2017

Slide Bars

Himself has been working on fitting the new cylinders, slidebars and crossheads to the Minitrains chassis on our Robex Lilla.

He told me there were a few adaptations required, but then we never had time for him to actually explain to me what they were, so you'll just have to look at the pretty pictures instead.

I've yet to see it run but from what Himself tells me it is sensationally back-heavy which is obvious from the position of the motor which is positioned vertically in the cab area,

Fortunately for us there is a lot of space inside the saddle tank, and even the smokebox which can be stuffed with weight, which as well as stopping it doing wheelies every time it moves should also do wonders for its tractive effort.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Yellow Lines

It's only a few brush strokes but the bits of the SAR wagons which are picked out in yellow make all the difference to how they look.

The most challenging bit is the stripes on the end of the brake van.

It takes quite a while to mask it off, and then inevitably there is some touching up to be done afterwards.

(The photographs are still cruel, though.)

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Primed But Not Ready To Go

The weather conditions have, at last, materialised to allow me to spray the SAR wagons I'm building for a client; dry, mild, calm and low humidity.

Being calm and dry is most important because the models have to survive the journey to and from the nice warm house to the garage, to be sprayed, and back into the house again to dry.

If it is windy at all then there is a serious risk of them being blown off the tray that I'm carrying them on.

The problem with the rain is obvious.

There are some details to be picked out in yellow, such as the brake wheels and the handrails as well as the stripes on each end of the guards van, but that's about all I can do at the moment until the new supplies of wheels turn up.

In the meantime I need to get casting again because I've received a request to replenish the stocks of kits at Narrow Planet.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Sofa So Good

I wrote in a previous post that I was concerned that the conservatory on the back of the bungalow was going to look conspicuously empty unless we made some attempt to put some furniture in there.

Unknown to me Himself has had a go at knocking up a table and a couple of armchairs and I think he's done a jolly good job of it.

He tells me that he has also stuck an old Tiny Signs poster on the wall of the house to look like a picture has been hung up.

As you can see he has also built up the rather complex patio and steps around the back of the property.

There are other details which we might get around to adding to the scene.

When I have the time and inclination I might see if I can make something up to represent the owners' hot tub which sits in front of the French windows.

The question is whether we should model anyone actually using it?

So here's the state of play with the houses sitting in position.

In case you were curious I got an answer about how the decking was done and it turns out that Himself did indeed glue on each plank individually.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Waiting For Wheels

Nearly all the construction is done now on the batch of SAR wagons I've been making for a customer.

Since I last posted I have made up the roofs for the two brake vans, added the handrails, all the brake gear below and the footsteps.

At this stage the roofs are just resting in positon because they will need to be painted inside and have the glazing fitted before they can be fixed on.

There's nothing to stop me spraying them their red oxide colour, but I have not done so yet because I was waiting for slightly milder weather as I usually do it out in the garage, and this week has been rather cold up here.

I am also waiting on the delivery of the Romford wheels to fit to the bogies which the reconstituted Dundas Models (our preferred supplier) are expecting to get back into stock imminently.

Friday, 10 November 2017

White And Cream

Himself has been busy painting the final two houses for the Oberon Woods scene.

On our rolling stock we usually use enamel paints but the Artistic Director taught him how to use acrylics to the best effect on the buildings.

One of the major advantages is the much faster drying time which explains why he's got them to this stage already.

I think he's done a terrific job with the stone cladding on the front of the bungalow, especially since he has challenges seeing his colours.

This house is the only one in the scene which is not painted white, although in our research I spotted there was one small area, above the conservatory, where there is still a wee patch poking through.

He has also been working on the neighbouring property which has had some of its landscaping features fixed to it, such as the sunken pathway to the front door and the driveway in front of the garage.

At the rear is an extensive area of decking.

I'm not sure (because he hasn't told me) whether he made this by laying individual strips of styrene or used an embossed styrene sheet.

It will be good to see them sitting in position on the layout and with all the rest of the gardens around them.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Blooming Marvellous

Some exciting news! We're going back on the road in 2018.

We've accepted an invitation to show Bron Hebog at the inaugural Narrow Gauge East show at Bressingham in Norfolk in June.

It's been over two years since we last had the layout on show.

Much of the hiatus can be put down to the inevitable disruption caused by Himself's migration north of the border.

We've also been working hard to get Bron Hebog looking much more 'finished' rather than merely complete from an operational point of view as it was last time we had it out at the WHR Superpower event at Dinas.

Admittedly Norfolk is one heck of a long drive from the west coast of Scotland for a one day show but we said yes to it for a couple of reasons.

I can't deny that we enjoyed having our ego tickled by the museum telling us that they would like to have us as their 'headliner' for their first NG event.

I was also intrigued by the prospect of visiting Bressingham for the first time.

In my mind I had the museum, started by Alan Bloom, down as one of the classic locations of the early days of steam preservation when it was home to famous locomotives like Royal Scot and Oliver Cromwell.

The locomotives were steamed but I always had the feeling that it might be rather like going to see a magnificent beast kept in a cage in a zoo, as opposed to roaming on a reserve (like a preserved railway) or being stuffed by a taxidermist. (The NRM anyone?)

Those two giants have since been released onto the mainline again, of course, but Bressingham still has a large collection of steam engines including a couple of Quarry Hunslets from Penrhyn, so it must be a good place!

Anyway, we shall find out next summer, won't we.

We've also had another invitation from rather closer to home.

Himself has been having a look around our local model railway club in Greenock who put on an annual show in the town in October where in recent years there has been some very good modelling on display.

As well as talking him into taking out a membership the club also asked if we'd be willing to bring Dduallt of retirement at take it along to the show next year.

This layout has had so many comebacks it's fast becoming 009's answer to Frank Sinatra.

Full details of both shows are on the Exhibition Diary page.

Monday, 6 November 2017


I am plodding on with the order I have for a rake of SAR wagons which includes a pair of the V-16 brake vans.

Before I joined the sides together on the chassis block I had fitted the handrails while I was still able to handle the pieces on their own which makes it a lot simpler to file down the backs to make them completely flush so you don't have any problems fitting glazing.

It's not in view in the picture but when I designed this kit I came up with an idea for making it easier to form the roof and stop it sagging.

There is a solid block of resin which is the size as the interior of the van and has its top surface curved to match the roof line.

All you have to do is cut a very thin piece of styrene sheet the right size and stick it onto the top of the resin block.

Then you simply glue it in place with the block sitting inside the top edges of the body.

Not only does it mean that the roof cannot sag it also ensures that the top of the body won't bend inwards either.

Yes, there is a small weight penalty and you might be concerned about the effect it has on the van's centre of gravity but I've had no one reporting any problems to me so far.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

On Level Ground

Having taken a month's sabbatical from modelling to scratch build a luxury guinea pig apartment complex (or a hutch, if you prefer) I'm pleased to report that Himself is back to work on Bron Hebog.

He has begun by preparing the ground for the siting of the final two houses of the Oberon Woods scene.

You may remember that previously this bit of baseboard had a temporary sloping cover.

Now that has been taken off and replaced with a flat base for the buildings to sit on.

The houses still have to be painted and once that's done they will be fixed in position and the land built up around them so that they sit in the landscape not on it.

Oh, and in case you were curious, here's a snap of the aforementioned hutch.

And, no, he's not taking orders!

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Brake Bits

You have to look hard at most narrow gauge wagons to see whether or not they have continuous brakes.

In most cases the main giveaway will be the vacuum or air pipes at each end.

The monster wagons of the SAR two feet system are very different, however sitting high on their bogies with all the gubbins on show underneath for all the world to see.

That's why when I was designing the kits - with more than a little help from the clever chaps at Narrow Planet - we came up with an etched brass fret which includes the bogies and all the hangers and other bits and pieces which can be cut out, glued into place on the body and the chassis to look something like the brake gear.

It's not an exact mechanical representation, but it looks good enough when the wagons are running on a layout I reckon.

The best bits, in my opinion, are the handbrake wheels, with their distinctive dented rims.

Two of those get soldered onto a bit of wire and fixed onto each end of the wagon.

You can just see them if you look carefully at the left hand side of the picture.

They'll stand out a treat when they're painted yellow against the red oxide colour of the wagon body.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Getting A Handle On It

The wagon bodies glue together very quickly but there are lots of other details you can add which take a while longer, if you choose to put them on, like the grab handles which run along the frame of the B wagons.

There are small pilot holes in the master which show up on the casting and it's simply a matter of drilling through and then folding some pieces of 0.5mm brass wire to insert into them.

In reality it takes quite a while because there is a universal modelling law which states than when handling such small pieces at least one in every five will ping out of the jaws of the tweezers and land in the most unlikely place in the room.

You can follow the sound of it landing, or bouncing off something, and spend the time crawling around on all fours looking for it or you can just sigh, pick up the tools and make another one.

I usually opt for the latter strategy.

Needless to say, when I'd finished inserting the last one I looked around the desk and at least three of the errant ones appeared as if by magic.

I suppose it's all part of the fun of making models, eh?

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Lumps And Bumps

The basic wagon bodies have been glued together now.

One of the distinctive features of the SAR wagons is the pressed panels in the doors which have the big dent on the outside and the bulge on the inside face.

When designing the kits I represented this by casting the inner bumps as small detail pieces to be glued onto the flat back of the wagon sides.

I've found it's best to do this before fixing the sides together so you can make sure they line up with the indentations on the outside and, in the case of the DZ wagon, that they're aligned properly.

Then it's a very quick and simple job to glue the parts in place on the floor / chassis and the shape of the wagon emerges.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Component Parts

I'm having a little pause between personal modelling projects.

I had a customer approach me a couple of months ago explaining how he'd seen some of the wagon kits I made up and painted for a friend on his South African-themed layout and asked if I could do the same for him.

I said I'd do it after I'd got the last of the houses for the layout built, which is why this week I've got the resin out and cast and cleaned up the parts for a couple of B wagons and a DZ.

Wagon-spotters will notice that this DZ is being done with the high sided ends which make them look a little like mini B wagons.

I think they look rather nice like that but in Wales the FR has been going through a process of fitting its own design of ends which are hinged and fold flat to form a bridge between wagons running together in a rake.

I also have a couple of brake vans to make as well.

Once these are done I'll be turning my attention back to the carriage fleet and making the latest WHR saloon 2047.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Red Bull

We have some wheels for our Lilla at last.

The Robex 3D body is resting on top of the Minitrains F&C outside frame chassis, but there is still a section of print to be removed from inside the body before it sits in position properly, which explains why it's sitting so high at the back.

When I saw it my first impression was that it looked like a Red Bull F1 car which are set up with a very aggressive rake.

I've set Himself the challenge of doing something to trim the fly cranks.

The Minitrains chassis comes with the large balance weights which you can see in the picture above, but Lilla is fitted with basic cranks.

Hopefully some judicious use of a cutting disc on the end of the mini drill should sort that out.

Of course, that's easy for me to say....

Monday, 23 October 2017

Plotting Out

Now the final house is finished - at least in construction terms - I've been able to place the pair of them in their rough positions on the layout.

So for the first time we can see how the completed Oberon Woods estate is going to look.

Those who know the estate intimately will realise that there are a couple of houses on the empty land nearest the camera, but there wouldn't be enough space for the entire buildings.

Therefore our choices were to model houses chopped in half or just pretend they were never there, so we've done the latter.

There's still a little more work required to locate the houses properly.

The piece of board they're sitting on here is just a temporary cover and sits on a slope.

It will have to be taken up and levelled-off so the houses sit at their correct elevation and the landscape can be built up around them.

It's quite a nice aerial view, don't you think?

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Sizing Up

My recent visit to Wales (in fact my only visit of the year) was a chance to catch up on the research for all the models on my 'to do' list.

Among those are the new class of BZ wagons which have been built at Boston Lodge.

I'd seen quite a few photographs of the two which have been completed so far and have written posts on here about the differences I have noticed on them.

(If anyone's looking for a business idea to take on Dragons' Den I reckon you could make a fortune out of a series of 'spot the difference' quiz magazines each one featuring a nominal class of FR rolling stock. It would keep the people who buy these sort of things engrossed for hours!)

What I hadn't accounted for is that these two wagons would be different sizes, but looking at them in the sidings at the front of the yard, loaded up with locomotive ash, it looked as if one was taller than the other.

I couldn't be sure that this wasn't an illusion created by a difference in the track elevation, but stupidly I hadn't brought a tape measure with me.

Himself was very quick thinking and headed for the erecting shop to see if he could blag one (thanks Bob!) and together we ran the rule over them.

I'm sure it won't surprise you to know that one of them is 2 inches taller than the other, naturally.

I suspect this is probably because the one on the left appears to have been made by cutting down an existing B wagon whereas the one on the right had new side pieces fabricated at the works.

I was resigned to having to make two completely separate sets of masters for the resin castings of the sides but now it turns out I will have to make different sets of end pieces as well.

Lucky, lucky me!

Thursday, 19 October 2017

The Final Furlong

The FR's recent Victorian Weekend was a fabulous occasion. (But then again, it always is.)

If there was one disappointing note, however, it was the absence of Welsh Pony from any role in the proceedings, hidden out of view in the old engine shed.

At one time supporters of its restoration to working order - which I have backed not just with words but with money from sales of my 009 kits - might have hoped that the engine would have been seen in steam in this year, its 150th birthday.

It is hard to avoid the impression that in recent times the Welsh Pony project has slipped down the railway's priority list - and of course there are many other competing priorities which are more important to day-to-day running of the business - but it does feel like it has lost momentum.

What puzzles me most is that while we are told the restoration fund is around £60k short of what is needed to complete the remaining work on the locomotive this is not being shouted about.

I have seen little evidence of a 'final push' to complete the job.

Yes, the collecting envelopes can still be found on the tables in the carriages of the trains on the FR, but we all know that fundraising involves a lot more than that these days.

Why is this?

The General Manager was asked about the state of play at the Heritage Group AGM over the weekend and very reasonably pointed out that a great deal has been achieved - such as the new frames, the new cylinders, the new boiler, the new tender with every new rivet painstakingly placed in the same position as the originals - and that the scale of the work was greater than was anticipated at the outset of the project.

He stressed that the company was committed to completing the restoration (although I note that he didn't say when) and also explained, once again very sensibly, that it is far better to take the time to do the job properly and not rush it, and who could disagree with that?

Forgive me for labouring the point, but this still doesn't explain why at this of all events, the weekend where the FR invites the world to come and celebrate its heritage and admire the many wonderful restorations and recreations, the railway was not shouting from the rooftops that they need us all to dig deep one last time to get Welsh Pony back in action.

So let me do that on the pages of this blog.

If you, like I, have dreamed for years of seeing the only Large England run again, to complete what Allan Garraway called the FR's 'unfinished business' please consider making a donation to the appeal.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Get It Right Next Time

It was very heartening to receive so many hints and tips on how to make the hipped conservatory roof after my post about being baffled by working out the shape of the end triangles without an exhausting process of trial and error.

All the solutions were obvious as soon as you thought about them for a moment, but I can be rather dense about these things.

In the end, though, I retreated to my comfort zone and made a template in plain styrene which I used to make sure the triangles were fabricated to precisely the right shape.

The first attempt ended up being far too tall, and as is often the way, making the second one was much faster because you've worked out the best way of doing it, and I got this assembled in a single evening session.

There's just some gutting to add, along with the window ledges and I think the house will be ready to hand over to Himself for painting.

And that, for me anyway, will be the Oberon Woods estate done.


Sunday, 15 October 2017

Vintage Distractions

Himself and I had a fabulous time at the FR's Victorian Weekend but seeing all the toys out of their boxes does become a dangerous distraction.

There was modelling inspiration wherever you looked.

I have enough trouble trying to keep up with the output of the carriage works without getting waylaid by all the new treasures in the Waggon Tracks shed like this bolster set.

I can see myself having to scratch build something like that very soon.

Also irresistible is this recently restored tank wagon which was acquired from Llechwedd.

The elliptical tank could be a real challenge to get right, as could replicating the pitted surface.

The weekend was also bitter sweet in that we saw the unique Hearse Van in service for the first time this century to carry the ashes of FR volunteer John Powell, in whose company we had both spent many hours, to his final resting place at Tan y Bwlch.

We do already have a model of the hearse which I scratch built at least 20 years ago, but in my naivety back then I made it with external axle boxes like 99% of other waggons.

Silly boy!

I think I will need to dig it out and see whether it would be possible to convert or whether I should just build a replacement.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Too Tall

There's good and bad news to report.

The good news is that I've proved that I can fabricate a four-sided, sloping conservatory roof.

(And damned tricky it was at times, too)

The bad news is that it has turned out to be far too tall, or steeply pitched if you prefer.

My calculations had failed to account for the overhang and the fact that the main side pieces ended up being a little bigger than I had presumed when I drew it out.

The net result is that like the Indian continent crashing into Asia and forcing the Himalayas ever upwards the ridge line of this conservatory was forced higher than it should be.

The sides should have a much less steep profile.

It's not really realistic to try to reverse engineer what I've got here so the most logical thing to do is to start again and make the pieces smaller this time.

It was only two evenings work wasted anyway.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

So What Now?

I may have hit my trigonometrical limit.

I've fabricated the two main pieces of the conservatory roof but now I'm left puzzling the size and shape that I will need to make the end triangles.

The problem is that in my initial calculations I didn't account for the overlap at the front and sides - where the gutter is - and so I don't feel confident that I know precisely what the height of the roof will be, and even the smallest margin of error will may leave some ugly gaps if I try to make the end pieces based only on my calculations.

Therefore I think I shall resort to doing what I usually do, which is take the time consuming, labour intensive option.

I shall attempt the glue these two pieces into a V shape and then form a template for the end pieces before fabricating the real ones and gluing them into place.

I only hope none of my former maths teachers are reading this - oh the shame!

(By the way, if you think the two pieces in the photo look wonky and not symmetrical it's just the angle the snap was take from.)