Sunday 21 December 2014

Reply to Phil :-)

It seems that I can't post an image in a reply on Blogspot, so I'll have to do it as a separate post...

Phil said "If the wagon floors are plastic, bend the wires in to a U shape and push them through with a soldering iron. When you take the heat away, they are perfectly fixed in place."

Well, that was what I used to do :-)

Then I became a little tired of waving a hot soldering iron around in the close vicinity of a detailed and finished plastic or whitemetal wagon, or the up-down-up of trying to fix the two staples at the correct height to make it all work consistently. 

So I sat down and had a bit of a think, and fired up CorelDraw.  The result is this little set of etches that fold up into a bracket that takes the appropriate sized wires at a standardised height and spacing:

The whole sub-assembly is built up off the wagon, soldered together well away from anything that can be damaged, and with ease of working.  Then it can be glued/melted/screwed onto the wagon floor:

Epoxy resin is my preferred method of fitting, as it fills the grooves that I drew into the bottom for grip, and goes through the holes to form little "mushrooms" that lock it in place.

Jigs for the loop and mount spacing are etched into the side of the fret (you can see them in the top picture) so that the  bending of them from straight wire is consistent.

I forgot to write myself a reminder to mix proper epoxy though!



I can be so stupid at times.  Particularly first thing in the morning before having sufficient coffee...

Important lesson #237.

When doing a batch build of Sprat & Winkle couplings to fasten to a set of five LNWR wagons, pay very careful attention to the tubes in your box of Araldite.

Because if you are careful, you won't accidentally mix the five-minute resin with the 24 hour *resin*.  If I'd managed to mix the wrong resin with the wrong hardener, it wouldn't be as bad as this.  I'm sure that something would have stuck.  As it was, having left them like this upside down all day to set...

...then it wouldn't be the case that when I picked the first one up and turned it the right way up, the coupling fell off in a sticky mess!

Oh well, back to the mixing spoon and the workbench.

Happy Christmas!

Sunday 7 December 2014

Dileberate vandalism

That's what I felt like after adding an etched brass brake lever to this Ratio kit.

Not because it was difficult to make - in fact, nothing could have been simpler.  But the act of replacing the plastic version that had been provided in the kit, and had at some point lost the handle at the end showed me just how easy it was to do, and what an improvement in looks it gave.

That's why I'm musing whether a little "accident" shouldn't befall the currently intact one that is still on the other side of the wagon...

Probably not this time, but I do know that in all new builds of LNWR wagons, I'll be using these etched brass replacements.  It's a component from 51L, by the way, and well worth the pennies to keep a few in stock.  

Later tonight I may have chance to give it a little self-etch primer and later in the week a waft of colour and weathering...


Tuesday 2 December 2014

Rivet or weld?

In real life I can just about manage to wield a (pop) riveter with dexterity, but the last time that I tried my hand at welding, the results looked just like something that had recently passed through one of the local pigeons.  It didn't do much for the door of my Mini either, which fell off shortly afterwards...

Back with modelling, I've been a little more successful in completing the test builds of the 5522 LMS coach bogies.

I initially made up the riveted version, using it as the test bed to write the instructions for the kit.

Satisfied with that, I have just finished building the welded variant, which can be made from the same kit.  The basic differences are to not add a few rivets here, and to put in some welded ribs there...

I'm very pleased with both of the bogies.  I now need to cast a much larger stock of the axleboxes and bolsters, and think about how best to pack them.

Many thanks to Keith Norgrove for also doing a test build based on my first draft of the instructions, and making many useful suggestions on how to improve them.  Any errors or ambiguities that remain are entirely down to me.

Now to think about a test build of an underframe for them to sit beneath...


Thursday 27 November 2014

A useful new gadget...

And a few words on a silence...

Over the last few months, it's not that I haven't been doing any modelling.  It's simply that it's not been very interesting to write about.  It's been things like repairing brakegear on wagons, finishing off some weathering, or fixing some couplings.  There's been very little that actually constitutes a "project" for me.

That said, looking back at it I've probably achieved more than I realise.  Talking with people whilst manning the Scalefour Society stand at Warley last weekend made me realise how much can be shown to help and encourage them.  Not least to the nine new Society members that we welcomed, all of whom were enthusiastic about finescale modelling and what they could do.

So I've resolved to find the time to talk a little more about the modelling that I am doing.  Of course, the other challenge is finding the time for the modelling itself!  However doing ten minutes of soldering at six in the morning before leaving for work is actually quite rewarding, as long as I've had half a mug of coffee first.

Whilst I was at Warley last weekend, I was able to wander around and see a little bit of the show itself.  There were some lovely layouts, and I'm sure that those are being described at length in other places.  However to me it is even more interesting to see what are the new products on the market.

One that I came across was a soft, heat-proof soldering mat.  The idea is that it is soft enough to take a pin, and therefore you can fix down whatever you are trying to solder to avoid having to chase it around whilst waving a small component and a hot soldering iron.  This came in very useful this morning when I tried soldering some strengthening ribs onto a 5522 coach bogie.  I had been doing the usual cursing of needing a third hand to hold everything together when I remembered the mat.  A few brass lace pins later and it looked like this:

Job done swiftly and easily.  An absolute revelation.

Sometimes you wonder whether a gadget is worth the money.  The best thing about this was that it cost me less than the price of a pint of beer.  It was £3.75 to be precise.

I don't know how long it will last before wear and tear takes its toll, but at that price I can see me stocking up with a couple more when I have the chance.  If you'd like to do the same, this is where it came from:

Back for more modelling soon...


Monday 21 July 2014

What to choose?

Having seen that the Missenden Modelling Weekends have had a very nice write-up in a recent (current?) issue of the Railway Modeller, then realisation struck me over the weekend that I had better sort out a booking.

For me, a great deal of the attraction is being able to stay "on campus" and therefore to wield a soldering iron late at night or early in the morning.  The ability to retire to the bar, fetch a pint of real ale, and then carrying on modelling in convivial company [1] is a lovely part of the atmosphere.

So this morning, I found my Round Tuit and my credit card, and I made a booking for the Autumn Weekend which runs over the last weekend in October.  So that's me sorted for accommodation.  The challenge now is what to do...

Usually, as you may have seen from past postings, I join the 4mm locomotives group and spend the weekend happily soldering.  I've done a weekend in the past waving a brushful of turps around with Dirty Tim, and that was good fun.  But I fancy something different.

There is a course on CAD design for 3D printing, which is very tempting.  However as I am nicely getting to grips with 2D design for my own etches and 5522 instruction sheets, I'm not sure that I want to do this.  More to the point, spending all my working week in front of a computer means that I don't really want to spend a modelling weekend doing that as well!

I don't *do* electronics - that's not my idea of fun.  Again, I think that it's that IT/thinking type thing that doesn't seem to be relaxation.  Another alternative is going back for yet more 4mm loco building.  Perhaps making progress on my Buckjumper?  It has been sadly neglected since the Missenden Spring Course.

However I'm starting to be very tempted by Barry Norman's scenic sessions.  Now who do I know that can produce some baseboards for me???


[1] Usually with a man that has cooows on his layout ;-)

Monday 7 July 2014

Going medieval...

...although not in a good way.

Before we went away for the weekend, I decided to glaze the windows of the Coffeepot.  Normally, when I am faced with windows in a locomotive cab, I leave them unglazed.  Yes, they can look empty, but from normal viewing distance that isn't really noticable, and I'd rather have that than do something cack-handed that looks obviously wrong.

However for this model I decided to try something different, so I remembered that a while ago I had invested in one of those pots of "glazing solutions".  You know, the ones that you spread around the windows using a cocktail stick and them leave to dry.

Well, I did that, popped the model safely under a dust cover, and left it to dry.  The finish had been quite lumpy immediately on application, and I had hoped that it would smooth down and settle into a glass-like finish.  Well, it had, but not quite as I expected:

The glazing had smoothed, and set, but it was left with many small bubbles in it.  In fact, it looked like the sort of handmade glass that is often found in historic buildings, with the slight imperfections from the blowing technique before industrial production began.

However I don't think that Stratford at the end of the 19th century would have been using glass such as this.  

Fortunately, with a gentle prod with the tweezers, I was able to extract all four solidly set discs from the apertures.  They came out with no damage to the paintwork, which was nice as well.

The dilemma for me now is whether I have another try, knowing what to look out for and possibly pricking the bubbles out with a scalpel blade.  The alternative (which I'm currently favouring) is to just leave it and not risk an accident with the paintwork.

I'm tending to favour the second option at the moment...


Friday 4 July 2014

Get out more!

Visit your local Area Group!

Or, as I did yesterday, visit your second nearest Area Group, in this case of the Scalefour Society.  It's one that is a little far away for me to visit every month, which makes it even more enjoyable when I can.

In a little over twelve months, the North East Essex Area Group have grown into a lively and well attended monthly meeting of like-minded finescale modellers.  They have their own section of the Scalefour Society Forum, but most importantly also have coffee and biscuits at there meetings!

Last night I was present at their monthly meeting.  This is hosted in the spacious surroundings of the clubrooms of the Colchester Model Engineers, surprisingly enough, in Colchester.

We had a turnout of eleven that were present at yesterday's meeting, seen here gathered around the former Derek Genzel test track that was donated to the group and has been renovated.  It's quite a test track as it actually has three separate signal "boxes"!

In the foreground was a discussion of Jol Wilkinson's latest construction.  A London Road Models kit of (if I remember the box correctly) an LNER D12. This was in part finished state, and it was literally the first time that the locomotive had run under its own power.

In the background, there was admiration of  Richard Hall's class 47.  Rather than being an RTR conversion, this had been built some time ago from an MOK (Modern Outline Kits) etched brass kit.  Richard said that this was the first time that it had run in around twelve years!  It was initially a little reluctant to move, but it was soon running up and down the length of the track.

So very definitely a meeting of "something old, something new"...

And the promise of something new continues next month, when it is intended to have a lecture on using 3D printing for modelling.  I hope that I can make it!


Wednesday 2 July 2014

Another sunny morning...

The lovely thing at this time of year is that it's bright and sunny in the morning.  That means that with a bit of enthusiasm, I can sit down at 6am in the morning for a quick 15 minutes on modelling before having to make myself ready for work and leave the house.

This morning it was weathering.  The dirty grimy stuff, rather than the bright sunny stuff outside.

In the foreground is my Coffeepot, which has started to lose its "fresh from the shops" sheen courtesy of some black washes to knock back the brightness.

In the background is a whitemetal kit of a Highland Railway open wagon, which has had parts of the floor repainted.  Last night I replaced parts of it, as preparation for re-mounting Sprat & Winkle couplings on it.  

The former mountings were horrible and inaccurate, with twisted wire melted into lumps of plasticard.  All of that was removed, and the floor suffered as a result.  So I "let in" some new planks, and I have a natty little etch for a coupling mount that I designed last year to be part of the 5522 Models range.  This is another opportunity to test the design out to make sure that it works as I intended.

Given the long days, I hope to have some more painting done tonight...

Monday 30 June 2014

A Scandanavian viewpoint

I normally dislike people that spend time doing little more than posting links to spurious "news" articles online and YouTube clips of kittens in cardboard tubes.  But in this case I chanced across something railway orientated that I felt merited sharing, particularly if you have an interest in continental prototypes.

Reading the Financial Times each day, there is actually a surprising variety of articles on different subjects.  One that caught my eye was a story of how an airline is showing a video of a train journey to lull passengers to sleep.

Link to FT article

As it's shot from the driver's cab, it makes really good viewing to see the railway infrastructure and some spectacular scenery.  The video appears to be available in full, but split down into manageable chunks for download, on YouTube. 

Link to YouTube

Finally, once I re-read the article title, it did click with me that this was the perfect headline for a journey to a Biscuit Factory ;-)


Thursday 26 June 2014

Only shunting planks

That's a comment, or perhaps an implied criticism, that is often thrown at P4 modelling.  Usually by someone that actually isn't a finescale modeller, because it suits their prejudices that larger layouts in 18.83mm gauge can't be made to work properly.

Well, at the Scalefour Society's AGM last Saturday, there was another layout that I hadn't seen before but is yet more proof that these statements are nothing more than myth.  A model of Wadhurst station and its surroundings was on display.  Not in a final form for exhibition, but close to it, and an excellent demonstration of high quality modelling.  It's in roundy-roundy form, and enables locomotives to really stretch their legs.

This video clip is of Society Treasurer Chris Mitton's ex-Great Eastern E4 2-4-0 locomotive running along the front scenic section, through the station.

This is also a prime example that not all locomotives in P4 are little shunting tanks - even if that is the type that appeals to me!  I have two of these locomotives to build, from kits by Alan Gibson, and if they turn out to run anything as smoothly as Chris's, I'll be very pleased indeed.

More pictures of the AGM, and Wadhurst, can be found on the Society's Facebook page at AGM on Facebook


Wednesday 25 June 2014

Must Do Better!

Where has the time gone?

I've been up to lots of bits and pieces over the last few months, but very few of them have made it onto this blog...  As I mentioned earlier in the year, I'm making a determined effort to finish off a number of projects that I started in parallel.

The Coffee Pot is one, and the last post, back in May, covered the finishing of the "out of Shops" modelling of this.  The next step is to complete the weathering of it, and put it to one side as Finally Finished.

It was an absolute pleasure to see Paul Tasker of Prickley Pear (discussion on the Scalefour Forum here) who apart from his lovely range of esoteric kits, also had with him his own Coffee Pot and we could compare the models side by side.  His is truly lovely, and makes me realise that I need to make mine look much more careworn.  So that is a challenge.

Also I've been quietly beavering away in the background on the 5522 Models range.  

I acquired the artwork, masters and instructions over a year ago now.  At that point in time, I was cash-rich, time-poor.  Since then, a period of unemployment and a new (and very enjoyable) job means that I've changed relatively to being cash-poor(er) and time-rich(er).  So I've been doing bits and pieces.

This morning I was cutting sprues at 5.45am on a new mould that I've made for castings.

More on castings at a future date...

Anyway, I'll be trying harder to keep up to date!

Wednesday 7 May 2014


Is balancing an etched brass numberplate on a lump of blutack, poised on the end of a cocktail stick. And even more so when as the very last touch, you're putting them in place on a completed Coffee Pot!

See what you think. *I* reckon that they're on straight, and in the middle :-)

I hope to be taking this along to CHEAG tomorrow night to show how it runs...

All that it needs now is some final weathering and a couple of crew.


Tuesday 6 May 2014

It's been a while...

Gosh, where did a quarter of the year go to?

Well, the start of a new job in January put paid to a substantial amount of free time, as have lots of other commitments.  All of that doesn't mean that modelling stopped entirely.  Just the writing up of it and sharing it with friends...

There has been progress on several fronts (even if not others.  Who mentioned Standard Gauge Workbench?) and there have been occasional photos along the way.  I intend to go back and reprise the key points of these in the next few days, but in the meantime here's a first try at a spot of video.

Over the May Bank Holiday weekend, I had every intent of producing a running Coffee Pot.  It's all very fiddly, as subsequent posts will show, but with coupling rods in place, and rolling road set up, on Saturday the locomotive moved under its own power:

I hope that gives you a small sense of the immense satisfaction that I felt.

Since then, it's progressed to having cylinders and connecting rods fitted and (touches large wooden object!) it still runs :-)

Until next time!

Saturday 18 January 2014

It's just like Christmas...

When Harry the Postman knocks on the front door and hands you a package with this return label on it:

It contained a lovely shiny sheet of brass, the very first one that I've designed myself.

Now to do some modelling and see if it works :-)


Thursday 2 January 2014

The Stort Valley Railway

Well, it's the start of a new year and all that, and it's time for New Year Resolutions.

Topmost amongst my modelling resolutions must be to finish more projects that are currently littering up my desk as Work In Progress. I've made a good start on that, and hope to have more out of the way in the next couple of weeks.

So with all that done, I'll move on to my entrant for the Scalefour Society's Standard Gauge Workbench...

Link to Standard Gauge Workbench

In our current house, I don't have the space indoors for a reasonably sized layout. Ulpha Light is erected in the garage, pending restoration, so that space is taken as well. So an SGW layout that I can take out, work on, and then pack away seems the perfect idea. Ultimately though, what I'd like to produce is a series of "episodes" that describe the countryside through a series of scenes. And being in my local area, and of GER interest, I'll be producing some lesser known elements of the London to Cambridge mainline, the branches and sidings off it.

The concept will be a series of linked scenes. If you've been fortunate enough to view the "Nettlebridge Valley Railway" at an exhibition, you may have an idea of what I mean. Regrettably there are very few photos of this on the web.

So the scenes that are hazy plans in my mind include:

- the terminus of the Sawbridgeworth Town branch, after it ran just over a mile after leaving the Cambridge mainline.

- the little-documented siding and canal wharf that existed until the 1960s at Parndon Mill, south of Harlow.

And finally, and the entry to the SGW, is Crouch's Brewery, which was established in the small hamlet of Churchgate Street, where it successfully produced a range of ales until a mysterious fire caused it to close shortly after the end of the First World War.

A track plan has been chosen (read "cribbed from somewhere else"...) and the Templot has been beaten into submission.

I've promised the show organiser that I will be showing something related to the SGW at Scalefour North in April, so I'd better stop typing and crack on with those unfinished projects if I'm ever going to meet that deadline!