Monday, 27 February 2017

Old Barn Ready

My first project of 2017 is complete - or as least as much as I'm going to be doing on it.

The old barn, which sits in the middle of the upper part of the S bend is now ready for Himself to paint.

He's been nagging me for years about this.

(Okay, maybe nagging is a bit of an exaggeration - try regular reminders)

It was, however, one of the very obviously unfinished parts of the layout along with the rock face of Cutting Mawr and the filling the Oberon Wood estate up with houses.

The houses are what I plan to turn my attention to next.

I looks as if I shall have to design them myself this time as pleas for plans have gone unanswered.

It really is back to the drawing board.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Fence Spotting

You know things have gone too far when you start taking a close interest in the finer details of fencing - but that's the stage of advanced obsession that Himself has reached.

He is also rather pleased with his latest effort to represent the boundary along the uphill platform at Beddgelert.

He's done this using etches from Wizard models which I think look really effective.

There's also been a policy decision to take more photographs with trains posed at the work site.

I'm sure that's something we all approve of, yes?

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Still Slating

It's not a fast process, but I am nearing the end of fixing the strips of card slates onto the roof of the old barn.

This side (which is south facing) is in a worse state than the first and has a whole section of slates slipping off en-masse on the right hand side.

Once these are finished I can fix them into position on the building and hand it over to Himself to paint at his leisure.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Site Visit

I probably should have done it before I'd got 90% of the way through the build, but at the weekend I took the old barn over to Himself's place to see what it looked like in place on Bron Hebog.

The reason for testing it out is because I reduced the dimensions of the building by around 15% compared to the mock up which had been made by the Artistic Director.

It's always hard to judge when a model is still in naked styrene because it will inevitably stick out like a sore thumb, but I reckon that should be OK.

In fact it will have to be because I'm not about to do all that scribing again!

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Slipped Slates

This last week I've been working on the roof of the old barn - the end that still has one, that is.

The challenge with this has been to make it look suitably distressed.

On all the houses I've been building for the layout I've been able to use embossed plastic sheets but here the only realistic solution is bespoke slating.

I use strips of very thin card - or perhaps, more accurately described as very thick paper - onto which I have run through a photocopier with repeated design of rows of slates.

I cut out a row and then slice with the blade on the markings between each slate, leaving them connected by a sliver along the top edge, and then I glue them, row upon row, onto a styrene sheet using PVA.

Doing it this way I can break the row at any point to create the look of a missing slate, or one that has slipped.

In case you were wondering why there is the triangular marking at the top it's because I first created the pattern when I was asked to make a model of Minffordd weigh house as a retirement gift for FR permanent way legend Fred Howes.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Fine Lines

Britomart is edging closer to completion with Himself working hard on the fine white lining.

It's not a job that can be rushed so it's taken most of the week to get to this stage.

The nameplates and rather small  Hunslet works plates are on order from Narrow Planet.

Incidentally, if you ever wondered about the brass band which adorns its distinctively tall chimney, it's not just baby Hunslet bling.

The story goes that after the engine's arrival at the FR, following it's purchase from Pen y Orsedd quarry by a group of volunteers, it was discovered that at some point there had been a very rough repair to the chimney and the band was added as a colourful way of covering it up.

I've always thought it rather suits it and completes it's rather cheeky character.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Droning On

This is a post purely to share a photograph rather than to update you on any particular progress.

While taking some snaps of how far he's reached with the fencing Himself took a shot from directly overhead the area of the farm which looks like the kind of image you'd get from a camera on a drone.

Or possibly one of those satellite pictures on Google Earth of maximum magnification - without the pixellation, of course.

What it does show up, more clearly than a normal viewing angle I think, is the way we have used different shades and textures of scenic material to represent the vegetation - from the mowed lawn of the farm garden, to the grazed fields around the barn to the long, tufty grass elsewhere.

I reckon it looks very effective - what do you think?

Monday, 13 February 2017

Stick With It

This is a model railway blog, so readers don't generally come here expecting investment tip offs - but if they did I would advise them to buy shares in firms which manufacture cocktail sticks.

Yes, Himself is still hard at work on fencing, and as you can see there's still a lot of layout to go - we've only just reached the top points.

If you will indulge me in a little immodesty, I can't help remarking that this almost eye level view looks damned good!

All it needs is a Garratt descending into view with a train to complete the scene.

You can also see how there is a notable change in the gradient as the trains depart the station heading north.

We quite often find that when an item of rolling stock is brand new - when there is the least resistance in the axle cups and when the couplings have not been adjusted quite right - that we can have breakaways further up the layout and the vehicles which have broken free roll quite happily all the way down into the station.

The model HMRI would have a kittens!

Saturday, 11 February 2017


There's been a two week break in the barn build on account of me having to run off another batch of wagon kit castings for sale on the Narrow Planet webshop.

With those done I was able to put in an hour's work the other night and I had a go at fitting some rafters and battens on the front section of the building.

The rear is to have a dilapidated covering of slates which I think I shall represent by using strips very thin card, sliced to mark the individual slates - a number of which will be slipped or missing entirely.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Black And Blue

In modelling - as in much of life, I suspect - the secret is to cheat where you can get away with it.

Which in this case is the black lines which divide up the blue panels on Britomart.

Why free paint them when you can use some nice, thick black waterslide lining?

This devious plan means that we get perfect straight edges to put the white lines up against to complete the little beastie's Great North of Ireland Railway livery.

Of course, at exhibitions, it is almost invariably identified as 'Thomas' by some of the younger visitors....

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

VIDEO: A Gentle Canter

I got to see for myself at the weekend the dramatic improvement in the performance of our Welsh Pony since the new wheels were fitted.

Currently there is around half the layout erected in the garage (there isn't room to put the whole thing up, alas) a section running from the top fiddle yard (just beyond Bron Hebog crossing) down to the points at the Caernarfon end of the platform loop and the old arched bridge across the Afon Cwm Cloch.

So here for you to enjoy are a trio of short videos of our little pony trotting along with our latest incarnations of carriages 11 and 12.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Border Secuirty

Perhaps taking inspiration from the so-called leader of the free world, Himself has spent most of the last week tightening security around the layout - but in this case building beautiful fences rather than beautiful walls.

Yet more have been inserted around the first big bend in front of the farm.

He's also begun threading the 'wire' on the fences which run across the large open area in front of Cutting Mawr,

As you can see, completing the rock face in the cutting is one of the major scenic jobs left on the layout as well as lots and lots of trees.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Garden Gates

There are so many details still to add all around Bron Hebog, which is why I suppose you can never say that any layout is truly ever finished.

The most recent things which have been done are these two gates leading into the garden of the farmhouse.

They were made by Himself who used a fret of etched brass round-topped fencing from Wizard Models.

Soldered together in such a way that the hoops overlapped created the gate effect we were looking for.

On a huge layout like ours they are a very small details that you would most likely not notice unless they are highlighted like this, but when added together they contribute to the look of the whole piece.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Back In Harness

Our Welsh Pony is back in business after a successful wheel transplant.

Himself reports that the loco now runs more smoothly and without the notable lurch it had before.

Closer inspection of the old wheel sets suggests that the problem was not a driving wheel which had the axle hole off-centre, as we suspected, but a tyre which was not a perfect circle.

The shot above reminds us what a lovely looking model the Mercian Kit made before it was withdrawn from sale - it's a shame the chassis / gearbox design was such a horror show.

As I recall, it was impossible to fit the components provided with the kit into the space available and Himself bodged it up with a replacement gearbox.

I suppose our Pony will have to be put to one side until we see what the real one looks like when it's finished - fingers crossed it will happen in its 150th anniversary year.