Monday 30 December 2019

Letting the passengers sit down

I've had a WLLR coach partially built for a while. It's one of Worsley Works scratch aids. It's certainly caused me to do some scratching of my head as I worked out what I needed to do. I've had the basic shell built for a while but have kept putting it off going to th enext stage. There were definietly a mixture of reasons in there from being unclear on the next stage, unclear how the roof was going to be done and also the soldering wasn't going that well.

I decided I needed to fix my soldering first and invested in a new temperature controlled iron. I suspect that all I needed was a new bit in my 25 year old Weller iron but new bits are a similar price to a new iron these days! I also decided to stop using multi-core solder and started using some Carr's solder I had in stock. I've always used Carr's green flux. It made a huge difference or else I was just more confident.

The first job was to take off the false flooring on the verandas as it was making the railings too high. then I was able to fix the railings relatively easily, if you ignore the burnt finger. At least it was only one finger. I still have memories of 40 years ago catching a falling soldering iron by the hot end. That hurt and necessiated a trip to the school nurse - do they still have those?

I also soldered in some brass nuts to hold the fixing screws for the bogies. Now I need to work out what height the coaches should be and whether there is enough space for the steps on the end.

Saturday 28 December 2019

Burgundy instead?

That's better. Matt came up trumps, again, with a can of Ford Burgundy Red. The engine did require stripping back to bare metal but the effect was worth it. Thankfully Christmas, for me, is one of those times when I can settle down to some modelling so I have cracked on and got Joan repainted. the photo is cruel and shows where the brass banding on the domes has not come out as well as I would like but in normal use it gives the necessary level of colour.

I had ordered soem nameplates from Narrow Planet but they are too large. I was surprised when I ordered them that plates for this loco weren't available as a set. Guess what I found today when reviewing their site. Ordered and will hopefully be delivered before the first outing of the layout this year.

If you are interested in what shows I will be attending then head over to my website or Facebook page.

Monday 18 November 2019

Now that's what I call Red

Yesterday was a chance to get stuck in and put Joan through the paintshop. Spraying is so much easier, and ultimately quicker, than brush painting. The order of events was:

  • mask off all the black areas and spray the red
  • 30 minutes later another coat of red
  • 30 minutes later remove the masking
  • 4 hours later mask the red and spray the black
  • 30 minutes later remove the masking
All kept in the airing cupboard to keep it nice and warm. Is there any other use for the airing cupboard, I ask myself? And the result is...

too red. It was the only spray red in the humbrol range and it looked okay in a small amount but on the model it makes it look too toy like. Now I need to find another source of red and decide whether I am going to over spray or strip it back - again!

Sunday 3 November 2019

Paint shop open for business

I usually spray paint in the garden in the dry but the weather has not been particularly kind recently. Even when dry there has been a lot of moisure in the air. I've had to resort to getting the spray booth out. I've found that sitting it on the windowledge of the railway room sucking the air out the open window works pretty well. The window is north facing so with the usual south westerly winds we get it pulls any excess out the window. It's not ideal but it works for me.

Below are the 12 wagons I've had waiting for painting. These have had a couple of coats of primer, a coat of topcoat and have spent most of the day in the airing cupboard.

I also primed the engine Joan with some etch primer but I can't have cleaned it thoroughly as I should have as there is a blot on the side tank where the paint hasn't taken. It remains to be seen whether remedial action needs to be taken.

Sunday 27 October 2019

Weathering Wagons

I've known for a long time that I needed to remove the pristine finish of the wagons but when you know you've done a good job of painting and lettering wagons it seems quite a risk to start taking washes of paint to them!

On a recent holiday (one of many reasons why there has been a lack of posts) I was reading about the recently introduced AK Interactive Weathering Pencils. They struck me as a potential solution since the way they work is that you rub on the pencil as you would with any crayon but you can then spread it out and work it into crevices using a damp paint brush.

If you really don't like the result then you can use more water and wash it all off completely. Here are some examples of what I have achieved so far.

It's a mixture of smoke, rubber, dirt, earth and sepia. Due to shortages of the packs of six I splashed out on the complete set, probably excessive but it did give me the chance to experiment. Interestingly I didn't like the effect I created on the roofs so I dampened a piece of kitchen paper and wiped it off, creating a better effect than expected!

They can probably take some more layers and there is definitely a technique to getting the dirt in the corners but I think I will persevere.

Sunday 25 August 2019

Second Hand Wagons

I picked up some wagons at Pewsey and, along with some others in the stash, I decided a quick cleanup and repaint and we'd be good to go. The emphasis was on quick but it wasn't to be.

A week later some of them are clean enough but most still need work. Soaking in Stripit removes a layer of paint but doesn't touch the next layer or the several after that. All the wagons have been painted multiple times with thick paint to the point where I knew the detail was there but couldn't see it clearly. Of course I broke a couple of brake handles in the process but I have spares of those.

It did get me thinking about the practicality of second hand over new. I paid £6 for a wagon compared to £10 for the new kit price. So I exchanged £4 for the tedium of stripping paint, prodding it out of crevices and having to repair broken bits.

If the wheels need replacing, at £6 a pair, then it is definitely a lost cause. Hey ho, I might look more carefully next time at how much work it will take to refurbish!

Monday 19 August 2019

Pewsey 2019

That went well! Pewsey was its usual great exhibition and I was pleased that Melin Dolrhyd behaved itself. Most of the stock ran well and my good friend, Matt Kean, brought spare stock to use which was really useful. We had the occasional derailment but all the obvious issues that were exposed at Swallowfield had been fixed and we were able to enjoy ourselves.

Here's the obligatory photo of The Earl on a good train showing how the tree sort of camouflages the entrance/exit line.

I was asked if I could do a video so as an experiment I produced this. I'm quite happy with it for a first attempt. Next time take the tripod!

Sven van der Hart came across with his new loco, Bob Telford's Ashover Railcar.

Sven does some exquisite modelling and I was honoured to have him use my layout to showcase his latest model. More photos of this can be found here. Sven's website is here.

Lastly, I spent money. 5 second hand wagons off the society stand plus a job lot of replacement wheelsets to fix the worst offending wheelsets that are on my stock. A quick tally showed that I have 12 wagons and 3 coaches partially built. Time to finish them!

Friday 9 August 2019

Quick, do some work, there's an exhibition coming!

The bi-annual Pewsey 009 Meeting will be happening on Aug 17th. You can find show details here  where you will discover that your truly has been invited, or was that coerced. Never mind! I'm taking Melin Dolrhyd so I thought I should do some of the jobs I had planned since its first outing.

The first job was to hide the layout exit a little. My stash of trees is looking a little empty but this one did well enough though I think I need to do some work round the base to make it look less out of place.

The second piece of work was to add a little more detail round the Mill garden in the form of someone working and a gate and fence. There's much more to do here but I currently expect this to be the only person on the layout!

Lastly, I've started to add vegetation along the embankment wall. I don't want to overdo it but I suspect in real life, even for the era I am modelling, there was probably significant vegetation against the wall.

Do come to the show if you want to see a good number of narrow gauge layouts.

Sunday 23 June 2019

New Toy

It was an itch that wasn't going away and whilst you are told never to scratch itches, I couldn't resist. My birthday present to myself was a 3D printer. Most people are aware now that there are two types of printer, Filament or Resin. Filament printers are those that melt plastic and Resin printers are those that deposit resin under ultraviolet light. Both have their pros and cons but as I was going for detail I opted for a resin printer, the Anycubic Photon S. It's the latest version of a very popular printer but there are limited supplies at UK Amazon - I saw they were back in stock a couple of weeks ago and bought one. Now they are out of stock again.

2 weeks after the day of arrival I finally produced the first print from the test file.

It's a lattice cube that stands about 2 inches tall and prints exactly as you see it in the picture without any support. In the end it took just over 6 hours to print this.

Why did it take so long to do the first print, mainly because of the paraphernalia that is required with resin printers. First off I had to reorganise my den to have a solid area for the printer to sit on, then you need the IPA to clean the print plus containers to put the IPA in, then you need to build/buy a UV curing box, then you need to work out how to use the software. Combined with working for a living it all took time to get up.

Right at the last minute, Kathy Millatt produced a great video on resin printing which helped build confidence and fill in a particular blank I had.

Next up is a railway test print, to learn to use the software better and to get back to building stock for Melin Dolrhyd.

Tuesday 28 May 2019

Fiddle Yard Wiring

One task that had been left for later is wiring the points in the fiddle yard. For it's first outing the points were operated manually and there was no frog wiring. This wasn't an issue and it was fine to operate like this. Long term I have half an idea to automate the fiddle yard which means it does need wiring fully.

At a recent 009 Wilts group meeting, Adrian turned up with a new point motor, the MP1 from MTB Models. They are available from  DCC Train Automation. They are a motorised switch with adjustable range, automatic cut-off and a single pole switch. They are also very compact with a 45mm x 45mm footprint and less than 20mm deep. They run off AC or DC.

An order was placed and they were waiting for me on my return from a business trip and a bank holiday Monday seemed an ideal time to complete, what is, a very dull job.

The picture shows the primary end of the fiddle yard with the three motors in place along with the power connections and high frequency cleaner. As an aside, the cleaner was also a post show addition and showed that one particular engine has a dead spot in its pickups somewhere. It flashes with each rotation of the wheel!

The layout has now gone back onto the units where it is stored and I can carry on with detailing the layout and building stock.


Monday 20 May 2019

First Outing

Last week the layout had its first outing at the Loddon Vale MRC 50th Anniversary Exhibition in Swallowfield, close to Reading. I had attended this show before as an operator for Matt Kean and he came and helped me this time. With it being just 10 minutes from home it made it an ideal location to try the layout - close enough to dash home if anything was needed (it wasn't).

We were put in a corner which was fine and had plenty of space to work with. It was less than 30 minutes to put the layout up and with experience we could probably get it down to a lot less. The inbuilt lighting proved it's worth as the day started fair but got dark and wet at one point and the lighting in this corner was not that strong.

The layout attracted some lovely comments which was very gratifying. The water was commented on as the light catches it as you move your head which does create a good effect. In the picture above Joan, painted plain black, is hauling some WLLR Goods stock.

I took a few photos but would have been better either with a flash or tripod as many came out more blurred than I find acceptable. Above is one of Matt's rakes - North Wales Narrow Gauge Railway 0-6-4T ‘Gowrie’ single Fairlie hauling a mixed train of Festiniog and NWNG carriages.

The embankment provides a good viewing point for stock. This is the same train but from a more realistic low level view.

WLLR 'The Earl' with the goods. Matt had fixed the nameplates that morning so it is steadily looking more and more like it did in Cambrian days.

A close up of 'The Earl' is not too shabby and really shows off the lining that Matt did.

Overall the layout performed well. The obvious niggles were:

  • The legs didn't all touch the floor. At home it sits on a shelf and sometimes on the carpet which hid the fact. Coffee stirrers were used at the show but adjustable end pieces would definitely be of benefit.
  • The rail joins had not been soldered down and whilst they could be aligned it was clear they needed a more permanent fixing and this has already been done, soldering the ends of the rails to copper pins.
  • One of the fiddle yard tracks was out of alignment and a rail had come out of the plastic fishplate. I had soldered the frog wire to close to the end which had caused a poor fit. This has already been rectified.
There's still plenty of detailing to do but for a first outing it was a very successful event.

Sunday 7 April 2019

The Earl

The Welshpool and Llanfair only had two engines, The Earl and The Countess. There has only been the one kit by Golden Arrow and that has been out of production for years. Fortunately I was able to purchase a ready built one from Rod Allcock, a longstanding member of the 009 Society. Rod had built the loco as it ran in the GWR era and I was happy with that as I wasn't going to start messing with a loco built by Rod despite modelling the Cambrian era.

However, there was one thing bugging me about it, the couplings. They were the bulky whitemetal sort and the kit has them set relatively high. Mine isn't a shunting layout so that wasn't an issue but it was itch that would not go away.

I was looking at it a month or two back and had a soldering iron in my hand and took the plunge, literally - straight through those whitemetal blobs. One thing led to another and before long the paint had been stripped and a quick email to Chris Meach ascertained that original castings were still available. The dome, whistle cover, top feed and chimney were all replaced.

I've painted it in Cambrian Black and it has been lined for me by my good friend Matt Kean and just looks stunning as a result. Mind you he was able to point out that to be correct I should have shortened the cab (I had missed the fact that the GWR lengthened the cab) and the smokebox should not have had rivets in the Cambrian era. There's a definition for that sort of observation! There are some other bits that should have been reverted but I'm happy with how it looks. It sufficiently captures what they looked like in original form.

It's just waiting for plates which are on order and a little bit of tidying up. Most importantly it has Greenwich couplings and they are at the right height.

Tuesday 2 April 2019

Well that never ran on the Welshpool & Llanfair!

In the stash of half finished items I discovered a Backwoods Miniature Diesel. It seemed a quick win to paint it and have it available to run on the layout. There was some work to be done as the base had warped from being too tight on the chassis. This necessitated filing off part of the Kato chassis, then ripping off the side frames and then applying some gentle heat to the body whilst some weights were forcing the body back into shape. Repainted it is an interesting item that can trundle round the layout as something different.

Saturday 30 March 2019

Wasp 2

I've continued with building stock for the layout and Wasp is making progress. After the quick initial build I was faced with installing 8 grab rails round the doors. I'm not sure I have ever done this before. I knew I had a Handrail Bending Jig from Bill Bedford Models so I dug it out and tried it but due to a lack of technique on my part the wire ended up more curved than right angles. I resorted to the old fashioned method of bending the wire in pliers and got the angle I needed. The jig is clearly good for consistency but I need to improve my technique.

I tried soldering the handrails but made more mess than wanted to resorted to superglue. First I made a spacer from plasticard, then inserted the handrail and then spotted some superglue on the front using a cocktail stick. Once set I added more superglue to the rear and scraped the superglue off the front.

Writing this article I realise I glued the handrails such that their outer faces are level when they should be the same distance off the panel, the ones on the doors stick out further because the doors are further out. They are not coming off now! Rivet counters can cringe when they see it go by.

Once that was done it was time for painting. I had a couple of goes with primer and settled on a standard Halfords' grey primer for the body and a WarHammer black primer for the base. First rookie mistake. Painting yellow over those colours is just hard. I should have used a white primer. Colours are subjective, combined with sunlight and ones own eyesight you never really know what you are looking at. Consequently I am a little free with my choice. The yellow was a WarHammer colour which was too thick. Eventually I remembered I had some thinners and the last couple of coats have gone on much better.

I had a Tamiya green which I started to brush paint but the finish wasn't smooth so I sanded that down, masked the loco and used a Humbrol Dark Green spray can which is not as dark green as I would like but it was handy. The side window frames were painted using a WarHammer silver, seriously thinned down and applied with a 00000 brush, yes there are 5 noughts in there. Whether the window frames are painted or aluminium in real life seems to depend on maintenance. For consistency I have painted all the side frames in silver and the front and rear frames are painted green though I am pretty sure that one of the side frames was green.

I'm left with underframe detail, glazing, windscreen wipers, roof fittings, coupling blocks and striping the yellow panel. Wish me luck!

Tuesday 26 February 2019

More stock - Wasp

Although the layout is set in the early days of the WLLR I have been looking at the kit stash with a view to increasing the available stock. I have the 3 coaches to do but they invoke a level of trepidation. I've never built a Worsley Works scratch aid kit and don't really want the coaches to be first. Then I spotted the etch of Wasp. It's far too modern for the layout but, so far, there is nothing on the layout that screams a particular era. It fits on a Kato tram chassis and I just happened to have one of those as well.

It took a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon to solder up the pieces. The hardest part was deciding where two particular pieces went. In the end I realised they were bottom bracing for the cab unit. After that it was relatively quick to glue two pieces of plasticard together and then stick them to the roof with contact adhesive. I'm slightly concerned the fumes might attack the plastic but I used the glue sparingly. A file and several grades of sandpaper have been used to shape the roof. It doesn't have to be perfect.

There are several photos to be found on the internet but there is an excellent photo on flickr which is taken from above the railcar which shows the roof detail - the only photo I found of this.

Monday 18 February 2019

Detailing commences

A relatively productive few days. First up was the boards that allow people to cross the race. These were simply done with coffee shop stirrers, scored, stained and painted. I did take care to add some cross rods to represent the supports that would have existed for the timbers. Presumably these might well have had a bracing effect for the girders in real life. A touch of the same paint used on the girders and track and you wouldn't know they were only glued to the underside of the coffee stirrer.

The second piece of work was the telegraph poles. These had been made by Andy from the 009 Wilts Group and were surplus from his layout so he kindly gave them to me. It took a while to go over the pictures and determine where they might have been in real life but I believe they are close. While wondering what to use as wire my wide reminded me we had bought some invisible thread for hanging bats in a church (don't ask...). Needless to say we couldn't find it - well it's invisible isn't it... Once it was found I strung it up, just wrapped round the insulators for now and taped through the opening at each side. I also ran a paintbrush down the thread, much like dry brushing and that has helped it stand out a bit. Currently it is taught because off the reel the thread is slightly twisted. I am wondering if over time it will lose the twistedness and I can reduce the taughtness and have it sag like in the real world.

With my wife's help the front drape was hemmed and tested. No photo of that as the light had started to go off. I also turned the black material I had bought into a dust cover so it wasn't wasted. This all took place in the lounge so it dawned on me that as the layout was downstairs I should probably check if it fitted in the car. Thankfully it does and I have a good idea how I will pack the car on future outings.

Monday 11 February 2019

Ready to go?

This last week I have been finishing off the fascia. I had been putting it off for a couple of months whilst work and Christmas got in the way. What I also could not work out was exactly how the fascia should fit together. I had the idea that the front lighting beam should be removable for maintenance but it had already started to come loose from having manoeuvred the layout holding onto it.

Then the question was how to handle the 'wings' of the layout. The main board was designed to fit into the back of the car and to ensure there was no join in the visible part. Would these line up with the front or just be flat behind? Eventually I started cutting wood and it came together. The sides of the main fascia were glued on and braced with balsa. The bracing does not carry any load but is there to limit flexing.

The wings were cut and I selected a trapezium shape to try and limit the amount of flat surface the public would see and to help it stand out from the traditional square blob. I realised that I could effectively fix the wings to the sides of the main fascia by gluing strips of wood to the back of both boards and have then stick out. Imagine alternate pegs that push together by a lattice.

I then tried some velcro on the edge but it came away so a block of timber on the face of the wing provides the main weight support.

The next task was the front curtain. I went and bought some black material but it clashes with the muted green of the fascia so I will have to go out and buy another colour, probably grey.

The other task done is I have filled in the roof of the layout with mounting board. A layout like this is best viewed from just under eye level. My personal preference, however, is to set the layout height so people in wheelchairs and mobility scooters can see it. It means the majority of people have to stoop for the best view but many lean on barriers anyway. There isn't a good solution to this situation.

What I realised when standing up was that you could see down through the roof and that distracted from looking through the front s I filled it in.

Is it ready to go out now? Yes, I believe it is. I'll sort the curtain this week then there will be no bare boards visible and it runs. There is plenty to do on detailing and I need to build up enough stock but it can now go to exhibitions. I've contacted a couple of local shows and offered it as a fill-in should someone drop out at the last minute. A couple of shows should iron out anything I've missed!

A look back through this blog showed that I started this in Jan 2017 so a little over 2 years for a layout that has one track on it! I confess thought I had taken longer and wonder if I didn't start blogging until much later - who knows!

If you are interested then pop across to the Melin Dolryhd page on my website where there are details and an exhibition flyer you can download.


Ever since attending last year's Welshpool Gala and spending an inordinate amount staring at it in the loop, I have been wondering how t...