Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Getting stoned

In the last post on the station building I'd decided to cut out recesses behind all the windows to take the frames to a suitable depth. It took a while, but once complete I assembled the walls around the core of walls and floor.

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The next step - following the small practice pieces - was to start scribing the stonework. For this I simply used a 0.5mm propelling pencil, which gives a suitably fine mortar course. I used some photos of Dartmoor buildings to give an idea of size, shape, and irregularity. Even so I had to concentrate on making the stones look realistic, not like graph paper or the strange "squashed cushions" it is all too easy to end up with. I was given some good advice by Daniel Caso on the NGRM forum - "draw the stones, not the mortar lines" - and by ensuring I drew around every stone I found they looked much better.

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Did I say this took ages? Short bursts in evenings worked best, but it was over 2 weeks until I finished all the walls.

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Next up was the roof - and it turned out to be a tricky shape! I used black plasticard, and made it in one piece with lots of bracing. It will be glued down eventually, but it will need to be removable for a while yet. The dormers were, er, challenging...

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Finally, I've made a start on the painting. I've made a start with a coat of grey acrylic mixed with PVA glue, the aim being to seal the surface and strengthen it, and also ensure no white shows. The plan now is to dry-brush colours over the stones, and possibly lighten the mortar with a light wash, but to be honest I'm making it up as I go along, and hoping it works!

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Saturday, 3 February 2018

Panel games

Here's another of my control panels. Not one of my layouts though, but the latest project by the Sussex Downs 009 group - and at about the size of an A4 sheet of paper, the largest I've made.

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The principles are the same as most of my layouts though, DC "cab control" (two controllers) through colour-coded sections, which are mounted along with point switches on a mimic panel. The panel is a sheet of 2mm aluminium onto which is mounted a printout of the diagram, and covered with a sheet of clear plastic - 20 thou sheet in this case due to the size, but thinner packaging plastic does smaller panels. So, now we just need to wire it up.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Foam walls

It's been a while since there's been any actual modelling from me on here, but things are picking up after a slow period. I actually made a start on the station building before Christmas, and cut all the main walls out of the foam. Marking out was done by laying the drawing over the foam and sticking the point of the scalpel through at the corners of the windows etc. Much easier than trying to mark out on the foam, there's no rubbing out possible here!

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The foam is from a pack by, I think, Busch - I bought it years ago from goodness knows where, and found it in one of the many boxes of things that will come in useful one day (see?). It's about 3mm thick and has a stiffened back, a later of paper I think, though it still seems pretty flimsy for making buildings. I considered making a foamcore board inner but the walls would be waaay to thick, so I've gone for a core of walls and a floor to give strength. There can't be a ground floor as I'll need to put windows in later.

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(The card around the edge is because as first cut, despite my measuring and calculating, it didn't fit in the walls right!)

Talking of windows, I got some rather fine ones from Smart Models - I think they're laser cut. They come in 3 layers to make a sash, though in the next couple of photos I hadn't stuck them together so they may look a bit wonky.

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However the thickness of the foam sets them too far back, it didn't look right to me. The wall thickness may be prototypical (probably less), but usually windows are closer to the outer face of the wall. So on this test piece I cut out a recess from the rear about half way through the foam, putting the window nearer the outer edge - it's fiddly, trying not to cut right through the foam and get an even recess, but the result looks so much better.

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You can see my practice stonework too, though I'm thinking that is too regular and square for Dartmoor stone.

So here goes, cutting recesses for every window and door. I used a piece of plasticard as a guide to cutting straight and consistent slots.

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More soon...

Monday, 22 January 2018

Thakeham Hudson Hunslet article

In print again!

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The latest issue of Narrow Gauge & Industrial Railway Modelling Review has my article on building the Hudson Hunslet Diesel - a model of the prototype used at Thakeham. It's always an honour when my work is worthy of making it into print, and especially a magazine featuring such high quality modelling as this one. The editor, Roy C Link, has done a great job of presenting the article, and the rest of the magazine has some top class articles too.

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Friday, 29 December 2017

Christmas projects!

I hope you all had a good Christmas!

I must have been on Santa's nice list, as he's left me a nice pile of projects...

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There's one of the lovely new Bagnall side tank kits by Narrow Planet, complete with Minitrains chassis. Then there's two coaches, a fine example by Peco and a flat-packed pack of potential by Meridian. Oh, and a caravan...

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Not just projects but some winter reading in these very nice books.

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Not railway related, but more making fun!

Happy new year, and happy modelling!

Monday, 20 November 2017

Progress with the NS2

I've been making irregular but steady progress with the Narrow Planet NS2 kit I got last Christmas. It's not a difficult kit at all, but I've been tackling it alongside (i.e. in gaps in) other projects. My first step was to blacken the etches, which helps paint to adhere later. I'm using some gun blue applied with a cotton bud.
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The etches were sprayed with an etch primer, while the 3D print was given a normal primer (both Halfords). The print was given a little attention with emery paper and home-made sanding sticks (emery paper glued around a coffee stirrer) between each of two or three coats of primer to ensure a good quality finish on the areas that would be visible (bonnet top and sides, and under-frame). Even though it's a top quality print a few minutes work between coats of paint is a worthwhile investment.

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The etches were then assembled - here you can see their lighter shade shows the etch primer, compared to the slightly darker shade of the standard primer. They fit well but once again, to get a good finish I filled any gaps (you can see the green filler) and spent a little more time with the emery paper.

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As usual the Microtrains couplers took some thought to mount, though the solution proved relatively easy. I drilled four holes in the coupler block at the corners of the slots, put a fine coping saw blade through a hole and cut out the square opening. A similar square opening was needed in the buffer beam behind, making space for the coupling draft box. After painting a wire pin will be passed through the buffer block and coupling to secure it in place.

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Handrails came next, and those bonnet panels needed a lot of handles! As the etches are laid over the print they needed drilling out too, with a fine bit in a pin vice. The 0.5mm wire was bent around the flat nose pliers, you may be able to see the mark I made where the width was correct to form the handle to a "U" shape. The strip of 20 thou plastic was used to space them equally from the sides while superglue was applied from inside.

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So it just needs the cab roof adding, then I expect another coat of primer before the top coat. I've not yet decided on a colour, though I'm quite tempted by red for a change, as on this NS2f, though the wasp-stripes may be a challenge!

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Monday, 13 November 2017

WD Hunslet finally complete

This has been a long project, started over a year ago, using the Langley kit for a War Dept Hunslet 4-6-0. However it proved a tricky kit to build because of the extensive modifications needed to the chassis, and in particular the valve gear. Thanks to the help of a friend with spare parts and much advice on the NGRM forum I've made it through, but not without long periods where the project got put aside through frustration. This is how it looked in February:

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The body went together with little problem, and proved to be well detailed. I replaced the cab roof with one bent up from thin brass, and added handrails, pipes, and actuating rods from wire. At this stage the body had been blackened in preparation for an etch primer - the blackening doesn't do much to the white-metal, but I think it helps the paint stick. The problem was at this stage it still didn't run smoothly.

Apart from the broken part, the challenges with the chassis were:
- The motor on my chassis lay horizontal, the body needed it to be vertical. It wasn't difficult to change but clearly not all Minitrix chassis are the same
- Once apart, the wheels and gears are a devil to get back together, with the pick-ups too
- The driving wheels are not all the same size!
- Then the crank pins will be out of sync, so the rods will bind. I think I took 4 or 5 attempts to get the chassis back together and the rods to go round
- Much adjustment and fettling was needed to make sure the bits of valve gear don't foul
- The cylinders are a long way forward, probably a mm or so too far, so the valve linkage binds from being over-stretched. Again much fine adjustment, and bending the piston supports back ever so slightly

Finally I've got it complete, and running smoothly without jolts and binds. OK, the Minitrix mechanism is very noisy, but that is normal! But I cannot recommend the kit to the inexperienced.

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This view shows the wheels nicely, the trick of carving back alternate spokes and using filler for the balance weights is really convincing - removing one of the big problems with N-gauge chassis of too many too fine spokes. The pony "disk" wheels should probably have more of a profile but it's better than spokes.

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After priming, filling, rubbing down, and more priming, a can of Halfords black enamel did the body, with the smoke-box and roof brushed with a slightly more matt black with a hint of grey. Buffer-beams are two coats of red over a coat of white to make them bright, plus brass on the brass bits and gunmetal on the grab handles. A dirty wash was applied to the chassis, footplate, bottom of the boiler, tank tops, with some dry-brushed soot on top and rust in a few discreet places. After a spray of Testor's Dullcote a dusting with weathering powders for soot, ash, and track dirt in the appropriate places finished the job, just leaving glazing (Micro Krystal-Klear), plates and coal to be fixed

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The result is a fine looking, hard worked but reasonably well kept loco, and should look at home shunting goods at Awngate or hauling passengers to Hexworthy. It's been a challenge but I'm glad I persevered, and thanks to all those who helped along the way.