Thursday, 30 April 2015

Slow progress resumes

For many reasons I've made little or no progress over the last few weeks (including various family events and having to re-install windows on our computer). One distraction was my daughter's birthday, which did necessitate a couple of "modelling" projects with my wife:

The last few evenings have seen the modelling bench dusted off and slow progress has resumed on the Hunslet. After a suggestion on the NGRM forum I have taken the files to the safety valves, which hopefully look a little finer now, though I suspect they are slightly over-scale I doubt it will be apparent if I paint them black as the prototype. I've also made a cab roof from plastic to reduce weight behind the wheels, the loco is heavy enough already especially at the back. It's two sheets of 20" plastic curved with boiling water while taped to a mug, only the top layer overlaps the sides giving a thin edge, and some microstrip adds the rain strips.

The other major step was filing down the cylinders of the US-outline Minitrains chassis to remove the end flanges. I'd wondered about adding a thin wrapper to beef them up but they are already wider than the footplate, and if I file the outside they won't be round as the prototype ones are (well I've done it a little, so they are slightly oval already!). However I did manage to raise them by cutting off the top of the valve chest and packing under the saddle that holds them to the front of the chassis. They might still be a bit thin - not sure on that yet - and are slightly behind where they should be relative to the smokebox, but even in a side-on view they don't look too bad, and raising them up has really helped.

Just a reminder of the prototype. I have some pipework and handrails to add, shame I don't have any white-metal sandboxes like that as they would help weight distribution!

The cab roof and re-profiled cylinders are clearer in this shot, as is my attempt at a lower slide-bar from a piece of etch fret. It would really look good if I could get it to fit, but I fear this attempt may have failed!

As you might be able to see in this shot it is simply a piece of U-shaped etch that forms a (cosmetic) lower slide bar and the motion bracket, then folds back to the frames for support. Sadly this piece of etch didn't have enough space in the "U" for the con-rod to waggle.

It's good to be back at the workbench and I'd like to see good progress with this loco, but I won't promise it will be fast...!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Crawley Model Railway Exhibition

Yesterday I went to the Crawley Model Railway Exhibition, confusingly held in Horsham... anyway, it was a big show, with no less than three halls, about 25 layouts, good trade support and even a ride-on steam railway outside.

Potchullin (P4) is a layout I've seen before, but it was great to see it again. I rather like blue diesels, and these ones have (subtle) sound too, but it is the scenery that really makes this layout.

Harlyn Pier (O) is an attractive layout that struck me as having great atmosphere, I could almost smell the seaweed.

Clarendon is, unusually, set in the pre WW1 era, and as well as superbly made trains the scenery is spot on for the period, just look at the station forecourt.

Bron Hebog, a model of Beddgelert in 009, will need no introduction to readers of Rob Waller's Blog. It's an impressive layout, and as a fan of the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland railways and 009, one I was looking forward to seeing. So I may bore you all with more pictures soon...

Port Wen is a 7mm scale NG layout I'd not come across before, but looks and goes well so I'm sure it will be popular on the exhibition circuit.

A layout that has been around a few years, but still seems original and interesting, is That Dam Railway in 009. Based on the many constructional railways used to build dams in remote parts of Britain around the turn of the 20th century it includes the workers village, moving cranes, and many details.

So an enjoyable show, and if you'd like to flick through some more photos click here.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Lancing Member's Day

Yesterday the Sussex Downs 009 Group (of which I'm a member) held our biennial member's day exhibition. We aim for a friendly and informal gathering, as much a social event as a show, and I think that was achieved, but we certainly had an excellent selection of layouts on show as well as specialist trade support and the 009 Society sales stand.

We were pleased to welcome well-known 009 modeller Ted Polet (creator of the Craigcorrie and Dunalistair Railway) from the Netherlands with his superb mini-layout Nixnie, and some characterful stock running on it. After an extremely close ballot Ted took the Alan Fall award for best layout.

John Thorne brought his latest 009 layout Bottle Kiln Lane, which like all of John's layouts was well received for it's scenic work, cameo scenes, and eclectic stock.

Member Mark Holland brought his long-term project Spirit of Welshpool, now near completion with the compressed town-scene looking great. He really has captured the spirit of the well known railway through the town, and is interested in exhibiting - I'm sure it will be popular at shows.

Phil Savage (another member) was showing another long-term project featuring Ghum on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. It's a proper railway in the scenery layout, including much roadside running, tight corners and severe gradients, and a spiral. There's a lot yet to do but he's already captured the distinctive terrain.

Prolific layout builders Chris Ford and Nigel Fox brought a brand new layout in O16.5 called Morton Stanley, which sounds like an argument over which type of craft knife they prefer. Its a superbly atmospheric, typically simple, and deceptively small. I gather the layout already has a new (lucky) owner, so I don't know if it will be shown again, it certainly deserves to be.

I'll leave you at that for this post, but there are many more photos here if you'd like to see more. Great to see you if you were there, if not - hopefully in 2 years time?

Monday, 23 March 2015

Hunslet Body Building

Time for an update on the Hunslet, though progress has been slow things are starting to take shape.

When we last left the story I was making up a bracket to mount the chassis to. Here it is firmly glued into the front of the footplate, with the buffer beam fitted. Of course I've had to make a square hole for the Microtrains coupling, the plasic just visible is the mounting point, though it is tight for space. You can also see the footplate has been filled inwards slightly with a strip of plastic, and new holes made to fit the springs in line with the wheels, and further inboard.

The front part of the body has been packed with lead sheet - the smokebox and front part of the saddle tank, forward of the rear wheels. The rear part hasn't as I'm trying to balance the loco rather than just make it heavy! However I have continued the boiler shape in plastic (this would be where the motor fitted with the originally designed for Ibertren chassis).

Up top the main components have been assembled, and the springs, safety valves and chimney fitted. The tank filler, sawn off early in the build, has been refitted to the front of the tank on a layer of epoxy to fit it to the curve. The buffer beams and footplate were fitted with a 45 degree chamfer, this not only looks better than sitting below the footplate as intended, but allow a more appropriate ride height. They still sit rather close to the track!

So some detailing to go: filling holes. handrails, pipework, cylinder covers, cab steps, and of course a cab roof. I'm inclined to ditch the cast one and make one from brass or plastic to save weight at the rear. The loco already weighs about 95g (most similar size 009 locos are around 60g), and of that over 60g is on the rear wheels. It does run very well and shows no sign of wheelies (unlike the undressed chassis!), but nonetheless it really doesn't need any weight at the rear.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Steyning small layouts show

Yesterday I took the kids to the Wealden Railway Group show in a new venue in Steyning, rather than the scout hut in Arundel. Like that venue the new one was small - somewhat cramped in fact - but as previous shows the quality of the exhibits was good. And entry included a free hot drink! Anyway here are a few favourite views from the show.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Manchester Museum of Science and Industry

Over the Christmas break while visiting my family "oop north" we visited the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry. I remember visiting as a child and found it really exciting, and in that respect it hasn't changed; there's a floor full of hands-on "experiments" for kids to play with that demonstrate scientific principles, a hall full of aircraft, a (replica) sewer, and a "Power hall" full of stationary and rail steam engines.

In this hall is a 3' gauge Beyer Peacock "Pender" from the Isle of Mann that has been sectioned to show how a steam engine works, it's a great educational visual aid and even to someone who knows the principle, the detail of the fittings is interesting. It does seem a sad waste of a lovely engine, though fortunately the other side looks unmolested.

Pender is the smallest but there are a few other Manchester-built locos including one from India, and an electric that ran in Holland, but the biggest loco is also Narrow Gauge - this 3'6" gauge Garrat that ran in South Africa.

Outside, this unassuming brick building is the original Manchester station, dating from the opening of the first public railway in 1830.

While short passenger rides through the site were provided by this well-kept industrial loco.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Outside Framed Hunslet

A while ago I posted that I'd got hold of a Minitrains outside-framed chassis (from their Fiddletown & Copperopolis tender locomotive) and wondered whether it would be suitable for a Dinorwic large Hunslet. Unfortunately the distance from the motor to the cylinders is too short and would put the cylinders too far back from the smokebox.

However undeterred I got a new kit for the "Cackler / Jerry M" Hunslet (by Five79) and set about adapting it to fit the chassis! The dummy run trial below shows the smokebox set further back to line up with the cylinders (well nearly), and the saddle-tank scored with a line 4mm from the rear where it will be shortened. I'd already carefully removed the filler cap from the casting, which can hopefully be re-used, and the other round plate on top of the tank (purpose unknown!) was filed smooth. The footplate has the hole for the motor opened out towards the rear a little.

The chassis has some modifications. The plastic "footplate" around the motor is cut away along with a section of the rear frames, allowing the kit's footplate to sit on it, and some plastic "pegs" glued just below the motor that protrude just above the kit's footplate to hold it down. At the front of the chassis the extended keeper plate is cut short and a 2mm hole drilled for a fixing screw. On top the plastic plate/clip has it's vertical "wings" removed to clear the boiler.

The whitemetal footplate has been shortened by about 3mm, including the dummy frames below, and both the front of the footplate and the bufferbeam filed to a 45 degree chamfer to fit the buffer beam better (that's been done at the rear too). A mounting plate for the chassis has been bent up from brass, with a 2mm hole drilled and a brass nut soldered on. This will be glued into the front of the footplate/frames casting.

The boiler, smokebox, and cab front are glued together so time for a trial run on the footplate and chassis. The cylinders are still a little too far to the rear but I hope to disguise this further, otherwise all looks promising so far.