Friday, 17 February 2017

The postman calleth...

...and delivered a free carrier bag. With some content which will make very pleasurable reading.
I may be quiet for some time...


Thursday, 6 October 2016


And back to the Buckjumper locomotive body build at Missenden... 

One of the characteristics of the prototype I'm building is the handrail at the front of the locomotive is in three sections, not the more usual single continuous rail.  The handrail on the front of the smokebox is separate and circular.  It's also quite close to both the edge of the smokebox itself, and the front face of it.

I judged the location of the three handrail knobs by eye, and carefully drilled the holes with a 0.4mm drill in a pin-vice.  The holes needed a touch with a reamer and then I could fit the Short version of Alan Gibson handrail knobs.  However before fitting these, I had to make the handrail itself.

If you're forming a circular handrail between your fingers, it can often end up looking kinked or uneven.  As this was a separate section, and I didn't have to worry about a straight leg on either side, I could employ something for better effect.  So I borrowed a set of GW Models rolling bars from Tony Gee - the great thing about Missenden is someone will *always* have the tool you left at home.  I fed in some 0.45 nickel silver wire, and rolled...


The end result was a nice smooth curve.

I cut it to slightly over length, for later trimming back, slid the three handrail knobs on, and secured them in their holes with the faintest touch of 100 degree solder.  I'm quite pleased with the result, shown here balanced on a Missenden Mug (no, not Tim Shackleton...).


So that was how things finished after the very productive weekend.  But inspired, I made more progress at home in the next couple of days...

Missenden Autumn 2016 - down to work...

So after setting the scene, what did I manage to achieve over the weekend on my Buckjumper?

I'd last done a major piece of work on the locomotive at the Missenden weekend in spring 2015. Since then I've done a little bit of tidying up on the workbench at home but nothing major. The stage the locomotive had reached was that I constructed the shorted out wheels for the split frame chassis, put the chassis together, quartered the wheels, and made sure it rolled freely as an unpowered chassis. I had put together a High Level gearbox, reduced in width thanks to the inspiration of Steve Duckworth in encouraging me to take a piercing saw to such a lovely piece of engineering. It now sat cleanly in the insulated centre section of the driving axle.

So the first thing to do this Missenden was to see if all of my efforts had been in vain in my first attempt at a split chassis. I cut a couple of lengths of electrical wire and threaded one end through the terminals on the motor, then soldered the other end to either side of one of the PCB spacers in the chassis.

Connecting an ordinary 12 volt controller borrowed from John Gowers to my short 6 inch length of P4 test track I gently turned the power knob up and to my amazement the motor ran. It's not conclusive proof that split chassis work for me, as I still see a number of problems with them that need to be solved, but it certainly surprised me that it worked first time. Apparently I was very happy for the rest of Friday evening and wouldn't stop talking about it, according to the other members of the group.

This shows the chassis sitting on the length of track at the top of my workbench. As I said, the wiring is just a lash up and the more permanent arrangement will be longer wires to slip the motor inside the boiler and also the inclusion of a DCC chip.

The next stage on the chassis was to fit the brake rigging.

As the steel tyred wheels were already in place along with the motor and gearbox, and although I could have dropped them out I needed them in place to judge where the brake blocks were going to go, I decided to forego my usual technique of soldering and resort to superglue. I had opened out the holes in the brake shoes and in the brake rigging to 0.45 mm to be able to use matching nickel silver wire to form the brake rigging from one side of the chassis to the other.

This whole process took quite some time for two reasons. Firstly the pre-etched shape of the brake shoes didn't match the profile of the tyres of the wheels, so there was quite a lot of filing required to make sure that when the brake shoes were fitted to the upper mounting wires they were located in the correct place. The second element was that because the brake rigging came in separate sections I wanted to make sure that each section was correct correctly located and soundly fixed in place before moving onto the next. So it was a case of glue one section, do something else/go and visit another group/have a cup of coffee whilst the glue dried and then return to the next.

This picture is of the chassis with almost all the brake rigging in place, apart from the final length. This turned out to be the most problematic because the holes at the end of the rigging were over etched and in actual fact were not holes but merely cup-shaped stubs. This meant there was a little bit of swearing and much bodging with lace pins (thanks to James Dickie for the loan thereof) to get it into place whilst the glue dried. It wasn't entirely successful as when I started working on the locomotive on Sunday evening after returning home this section fell off due to the brittleness of the superglue, so I resorted to a slightly chunkier quantity of 24-hour epoxy resin to put this particular piece back in place.

With the chassis done as far as I could, it was onto the body but that is for next time…


Wednesday, 5 October 2016

The end of summer...

Although feeling the heat from the sun today, I'm not sure of the accuracy of saying such things... It's been a great summer the doing things with the family, from messing about with motorbikes, and generally all those other things which mean there is a temporary lull in the pace of modelling. I still done one or two things over the period since I last posted, and more of that in future days.

However two things in the last two weekends have inspired me to dust off the modelling bench and make a serious start on one or two unfinished models.

The first was Scaleforum where I was on a demonstration desk talking about how to model wagons in the pre-grouping period. I had some great conversations with visitors over the weekend, not only about period modelling but also about things as diverse as what types of couplings to use, what is the best type of suspension, and how best to do weathering (including a swift hands on demonstration of the use of washes on the sides of wagons to simulate that lovely Edwardian grime).

Of course, one of the best ways to learn weathering techniques is to attend Tim Shackleton's weathering course at Missenden Abbey. It was the Missenden autumn weekend last weekend, and as usual I participated in the 4 mm loco modelling group. It was a great bunch of people to spend the weekend with and was led in great humour by Tony Gee.

If you've never been to Missenden before, here's a few snapshots of what I was working on and how it was done.

This was the set up in the loco building room. The light available, both artificial and natural, in the room was superb and I very much hope we'll be returning there on future courses.

As usual, I had my portable workbench with me. It's been a great addition to my toolkit, enabling me to take it to demonstrate at Scaleforum and then on to Missenden. I also had a few comments over both weekends from people offering to beg, buy, borrow or steal my beloved toolchest from me. Alas, I'm not letting go of it, and you can go and find your own for twenty quid in a junk shop.

I'd taken along to separate loco kits, both of which I'd started at previous Missendens. Both of them are also in the final stages of completion with the chassis fundamentally builds and the bodies to different stages of finishing. On the left is a London Road Models LNWR Samson kit, which really only needs motor rising before it is finished. On the right is the kit I chose to take further this weekend, which is a Connoisseur Models GER Buckjumper.

I'd taken it to the point where I had a rolling chassis with a motor installed, and apart completed body that needed detailing. It was this I chose to work on for the weekend.

I'll come back to what I did over the weekend in my next post.


Monday, 21 March 2016

101 Not Out - an S4/EM collaboration...

A little late in posting my acknowledgement of thanks to the organising team and all the demonstrators from the Scalefour Society and the EMGS.  What a fantastic day! Everyone that I spoke to was enjoying the atmosphere, the demonstrations and the layouts.

More appreciation and some photos of the event here 101 Not Out on the Scalefour Forum

And I was pleased that I was finally able to pick this up :-)



Thursday, 10 December 2015

A place to work...

Last month there were a few of us that turned up at the Cambs, Herts and Essex Area Group (CHEAG) in Newport for a natter about what modelling we are currently doing.

My good friend Carlos Vasco was explaining that his modelling time is rather constrained by the need to get everything out to use the kitchen table and then put everything away afterwards, as he doesn't have the advantage of a dedicated space that he can leave projects on. I thought that I'd post about a couple of solutions to this, before I hope to see him next at January's CHEAG meeting.

As I've mentioned before, I'm fortunate to have the space to have a converted bureau/writing desk to do my modelling on. If I want to be tidy, I push everything to the back and close up the front.

Bureau 08.JPG

Bureau 04.JPG

However it's still quite difficult to fit the "modelling bureau" in the back of the car for my semi-annual trips to

Something that I'd spotted was that the fantasy wargaming chain of Games Workshop had produced a portable workbench that they intended for gamers to paint figures on. Now these have been discontinued, but they do come up from time to time on Ebay. Here is an example of one in an auction:

They can be found on both assembled or unassembled form. I was fortunate to find an unbuilt example, so it was possible for me to decide if and how I wanted to modify it.


I've equipped it with a tufnol soldering area on the right and a cutting mat at the left hand side. With that is the mount for a vice. This is for one of the little (but good quality) modeller's vices sold by Eileen's Emporium. These have the advantage that you can buy spare bases for the vice unit, so I can swap it from my proper bench to this portable one.

The paint station comes with a variety of holes drilled for paintbrushes, although I use them for all sorts of tools. To stop things rolling around and to keep some type of order, I used a hot glue gun to fasten a cheap stationery tray to the board, which is useful for popping small parts in whilst working. On the other side is a glued down soldering iron stand, to stop that wandering around.


Two things that I should also mention are recommendations from the Missenden course notes. One of them is a wooden strip across the front of the underneath, to hold it square on a table and stop it sliding around. The other is to cover the underneath with some green baize to protect any surfaces that it is put on top of.

Now the thing that I mentioned earlier was that these paint stations are no longer produced, so they can be hard to find. So I was very pleased to find a new development at this year's Warley show. Whilst speaking to Grainge & Hodder, who do some of my 5522 etchings for me, I noticed that they had a laser cut worktray. They had produced it just in time for Warley, and had already sold several of them.

It's now a stock item, and can be found on their website:

Having examined it, it looks better designed than mine, and is also lighter. Obviously, it's also possible for you to customise it as you wish. If I manage to break/lose my original one, I'm sure that I'll buy one of these as a replacement.

I hope that this has given you some thoughts on what to do when space is tight...

Friday, 4 December 2015

Exactoscale 1, Swann Morton nil...

Mystery of the day: how come I have just broken two different scalpel blades, on two different knives, just trimming a couple of Exactoscale check rail chairs to fit?

I haven't suddenly gained super-human strength or anything, and this is literally the last rail to fit in the entire turnout.