Tuesday 28 December 2021

War Department (WD) Bogies

 Tryng to make this a quickie I have taken a leaf out of Matt's book and have been trying to build in bulk. To that end I have spent some time each day working on the bogies for the coaches and for the two wagons that fell into my shopping cart at the same time.

The bogies are very straightforward. First there is the matter of cleaning off the flash, of which there is a reasonable amount. Once done it was a case of adding the brake blocks, slightly tedious to have to glue 24 of the same thing but you get into a rhythm.

The next phase is to organise couplings. I use Greenwich couplings and these can be easily fitted by cutting and filing a groove in the top of the bogie (one has a very fetching matching groove in the underside. Don't ask!). Once done, I file off the paint from the underside tail of the coupling and then superglue them in. I usually do build Greenwich coupling in bulk and discovered that I did not have a sufficient supply for this project so there was a temporary diversion when I spent spare time on Christmas Day folding and building the couplings. Now that is definitely an item best built in bulk! 

Lastly, the brake assembly needs putting together. Here I fought the tempation to 'improve' it and lost. The pillar is fine and was glued on as is but the shaft on the brake wheel is just too long and the plastic shaft too fragile. I replaced the shaft with some brass wire. I also drilled out the handwheel to take the wire. They were superglued together and, once dry, I cut away some of the brake wheel shaft. This assembly was then glued to the pillar. It's definitely better to have less of a blob under the wheel but some of them are not as level as they should be.

After that it was a case of painting. I elected to hand paint so I didn't get paint in the axle boxes nor the rubbing plate but that meant tediously painting them first with primer (Humbrol Number 1). This struggled in a couple of palces to stick and I realised I had not washed the parts to remove any moulding remover but it wasn't too bad so I persevered. The topcoat was with a Games Workshop "Base Corvus Black". This is a good contenter for a colour that isn't too black but neither is it obviously grey. Again, this was tedious to put on.  

Here they are, a collection of bogies sat on the diorama, just!

Sunday 5 December 2021

Ashover Temptation

 I recently helped out at the Great British Model Railway Show, operating The Clydach Railway by Richard Holder. Next to the layout was another exquisite layout by David Wright based around the Ashover Railway. I did a bit of research and decided that this could really form the basis of a quickie layout for the simple reason that the stock is all available as plastic kits and the engines are mostly available as ready to run from Bachmann.

More research and more spending has resulted in the necessary books, engine and kits arriving over a period of a few weeks - "another parcel for you" was a repeated refrain in our house!

I've made a start on the Meridian coaches. The kits have been around for a few years and are very popular. Studying them closely I realised I didn't like how the chassis was formed and so, despite the desire for it to be a quickie, I took the opportunity to extend my 3D printing learning by producing my own chassis.

In the picture you can see two Meridian Ashover coaches. The left one is from many years ago and sits on N gauge bogies. The right coach is the Meridian kit with my own chassis sat on the WD bogies that are provided. The locomotive is "Bridget", the excellent Baldwin from Bachmann.

Hopefully, that will get me back on track to it being a quickie!

Saturday 20 November 2021

Butterley Pulp Wagons

There are a couple of ideas running at the moment for the next layout. I'm pretty sure what will get done next so more on that when I finally make a decision. For now, it is back to the plan to produce a layout based on the Bowaters Paper Mill system.

In real life, they had hundreds of what were known as pulp wagons. These were large flat wagons with vertical ends. Two forms existed, the earlier wooden version and the later steel variant. If you want to see examples then some are preserved on the Sittingbourne and Kemsley Light Railway. There is a good Flickr group here to see their photos.

There are two kits on the market for the steel wagon ut availability is mixed and I do want quite a few. It made sense to try my hand at printing them. I've struggled with flat surfaces not being flat with the printer and it took me many attempts to make this work but eventually, I found an orientation that worked. The base and the ends are printed separately. In the picture below you can see the parts glued together and sprayed in primer. The stays between the vertical panels are 0.3mm dia brass wire.

This is definitely good enough for now so bogies need to be designed and then the whole design will probably need tweaking to make it robust and repeatable.

Friday 12 November 2021

In the news

Quite a while ago I was asked to write an article for Railway Modeller. I'll cut a long story short and say that there was recently a request to get it finished as there was only one week till the deadline. Needless to say, it got sorted and I am pleased to see that my layout, Melin Dolrhyd, is in this month's Railway Modeller, available at all shops that sell it and, let's face it, only real shops sell railway items!

Chris Ford has done a great job with the text and Andrew Burnham produced some excellent photos so thanks to them and the rest of the team at Peco. There are some other excellent articles in the issue but forgive me for being biased and just giving a taster of mine...

Saturday 6 November 2021

Another Long Absence

I was rightly chastised recently that I had not posted anything on this blog for far too long so time to catch up. The primary reason for the absence has been that I decided I wasn't busy enough and needed a fresh challenge so I have taken on being editor of 009 News, the magazine of the 009 Society.

Chris Ford had done a great job and done it for over 4 years which is a marathon stint. The one thing you realise about the role is that it is relentless. The magazine has to go out every month so as soon as you've finished one, it's time to start the next, so all credit to Chris for the 50+ issues that he produced. 

Being edtor has eaten into my modelling time. It took a few issues to master the desk top publishing program and to develop a process for the articles but now it is reasonably organised and I don't have to take so long each month.

Here's the covers from the 7 issues I have done so far. If anything takes your fancy to read then the 009 Society has all the back issues available on the website so join the Society and read as much as you want about narrow gauge modelling.

Sunday 28 March 2021

Welshpool Coaches Finished

2 years later and the Welshpool coaches are finally finished. It's been a journey of discovering new skills since I had never built a brass coach before, never made my own 3D printed parts, never commissioned decals and so the list goes on.

I'm really pleased with the results. There are aspects I will do differently next time but for now I am happy to consider them done and to move onto another model, again with plenty of aspects of "I've never done that before".

To all those who have offered encouragement, thank you. To Matt and Simon who continue to provide support and ideas, thank you and we'll be down down the pub soon - my round!

I made up a quick video today because I could. This is done with the basic Windows 10 Video Editor and works well except for the lack of transitions but, again, not bad for a first attempt.

Saturday 20 March 2021

Almost there

When I started the Welshpool coaches I had a reasonable idea of what I wanted to do and knew I would have help in those areas where I had next to no experience. Transfers were always going to be a challenge. My good friend, Matt Kean, has already built some of these coaches and knows exactly how to letter them but it does involve taking individual letters from different transfer sheets and then getting them all lined up. I admire his tenacity on this approach but getting to know Andrew from Custom Model Decals gave me hope that there would be an easier way. Andrew is a fellow member of the 009 Society and is also their webmaster. As I am taking over the position of editor for the 009 News magazine we have plenty to discuss. The process of getting transfers done was surprisingly easy. I had to say what I want and Andrew drew them up. I had to learn how to clearly specify what I wanted but after only 3 iterations Andrew was able to produce some excellent transfers and the standard A6 sheet contains more than enough for 12 coaches.

The pictures below hopefully capture the crispness of the transfers and they were extremely easy to apply. 

Glazing has since been applied to the coaches using acetate sheets stuck in with Kristal Klear. I like using this product to glue in glazing as it can be cleaned up very easily with a cocktail stick and acetates are very resilient to scratching which allows a relatively easy clear up process for any excess glue.

The last stage is seating and people and then I will declare the coaches finished!

Saturday 13 March 2021

Roofs Part 2

The last post showed the roofs with the right shape, soldered up and with the holes for the fixings all drilled. The next stage is to fit the rain strip. I used 0.4mm dia brass wire but I wish I had used 0.3mm. I'd done a test run before so I knew better than to try and solder along the whole length. This time I tacked it in the middle and then curved it down with the occasional tacks - no more than 5 to 7 along the length. Once all the tacks were there I could pick a tack and heat it up more to get a better fit since I knew there would be two tacks either side to hold it roughly in place. Repeat on the other side and then repeat for another two roofs and the job was done.

The fittings consisted of 5 oil lamps on each roof, 6 or 8 torpedo vents (posher people got more ventilation) and two stove chimneys on the composites. One of the stove chimneys is over the guard's compartment. The other is in the middle of the seating area so it's not clear what it was used for.

All the fittings I designed for myself based on rough drawings and picture and printed on my Anycubic Photon S printer. 

Painting opened up a new area of debate. From the few photos published, it is clear they were painted white originally but I'm modelling several years in so they would have been sooty grey. Nearly all the photos of the coaches are low down so you can't get a sense of the colour of the fittings. Eventually one high up shot showed the torpedo vents much darker than the roof. There are no photographs with the oil lamps in place so I have assumed they were painted the same colour as the roof and would have weathered equally badly.

Having decided that white was definitely not sensible I eventually sprayed them with primer and then put on a Humbrol Dark Grey wash which was dabbed with a kitchen towel to give a more mottled appearance. The vents were the painted with a mix of Humbrol Gunmetal and Coal Black. The mix means it is neither black nor grey but since one is a metallic and the other a satin, it gives a sheen that contrasts with the roof itself. A quick spray with Halfords Matt Lacquer this morning and the end results are below and are ready to be attached to the bodies.

Finally a taster of what is to come - the roofs resting on the bodies of the coaches. The coaches have received their transfers but still need glazing and seating. I'll save that for next week.


Saturday 6 March 2021

Roofs Part 1

I did promise a post on roofs. I'm out of sync but here it is. The roofs for the Welshpool coaches are interesting for their end shape where they curve down to an almost horizontal line. Andy Cundick, a talented, and prolific, modeller from the Wilts 009 Group, has built several of these coaches and his approach is to use some sheet metal, around 5 thou thick, snip diagonal cut outs from the end, fold it into shape and solder it up, filling the gaps with solder. It works well for Andy but I was not happy about being able to get a decent shape to the roof end.

My technique evolved over a couple of attempts. Initially I cut a piece of 5 thou brass and had it rolled by Simon since I didn't own any rolling bars. This was then taped to a piece of clean waste pipe with wide masking tape. The radius of the roof is around 26mm and the pipe is 40mm diameter which is close enough. Once it is held down securely I marked out all the holes for fittings as well as some triangular cut outs at each end. the distance in from the end is determined by the length of the balcony on the coach.

Once it is all marked out the ends are cut out with a razor saw and holes for the fittings are drilled with the bench drill. After this a similar trick approach was taken to create the inserts to go into the ends. These are a different shape to the ones cut out but again a piece of brass was taped to the pipe and marked out with a longer centre line to better fit the curve.

The inserts had to be fettled to shape and ended up needing some brass scrap to support the joint but proved the technique. What became obvious quickly was that 5 thou is too thin. It flexes just too much to hold its shape. Also with time and activity the roof uncurled and would have benefitted from being rerolled. 

In order to do a better job I decided to redo them using 10 thou brass. I also bought my own rollers so I could roll and adjust the curvature to suit whenever I needed to. The same technique was used and roofs were rolled, taped to the pipe, marked out and cut.

With 3 roofs to do and 3 more kits in the stash I wanted the soldering of the ends to be more predictable. The answer was to make a jig. Recycling a piece of Severn Models hardboard and some coffee stirrers from Caffe Nero I glued down the stirrers to hold the shape of the roof and also provided some supports for the end pieces.

It's simple and effective because it allowed me to produce these.

In the follow up post I'll cover the fittings and painting.

Saturday 27 February 2021


It's always dangerous to think. One morning this week I got to thinking about Bowaters and the buildings that were made with corrugated materials. The various sheds were probably corrugated iron and that led me to thinking about how to model it. I quickly knocked up a corrugated sheet in Fusion 360 and set it printing.

The outcome was much better than I expected for a first print. The dimensions are all wrong but it told me that I could print these vertically with a nominal thickness of 0.25mm.

I then had to work out what were realistic dimensions. Matt reminded me of a corrugated iron thread on ngrm and that led me to a picture of a platform store which appeared to be made of sheets of iron that were 7 feet long and 2 feet wide with 9 corrugations across the width. The person who took the picture had so helpfully placed a 6 ft rod against the structure. The rod was painted alternately red and white every foot. I really must make one of those - so helpful.

I suspect that manufactures will have had set widths but different lengths so I drew up an 8x2 sheet. I also made it slightly thinner at 0.2mm and also created a run of 10 sheets with a 1 corrugation overlap. The problem I foresaw was that the thickness of the resin would probably make the overlap too obvious. Putting the overlap in at the print stage allowed me to manage the depth at that point.

Again, not too bad. The corrugations are still visible as are the overlap lines. The thickness is an issue though. They are too flimsy. I also decided the overlap was insufficiently pronounced. It was also short. The length should have been nearer 80mm to represent 10 8x2 sheets

This is where parametric modelling comes into its own. The first attempt was a pair of parallel arcs followed by a rectangle which was then repeated in the opposite direction. When I did the second attempt I made sure that all dimensions were dependent on previous dimensions. This meant I simply changed the thickness of the material once and I changed the dimension of the rectangle once and it all changed shape automatically.

Much better, though I overcooked it in the UV chamber and it started turning brown. I can see the more pronounced overlap. 

When the time comes I should be able to print off various sections, should I want to. In the meantime I've improved my skills which is often what this hobby is all about.

Friday 19 February 2021

The longest project ever

 Looking back through my blog stream I see that I first posted about the Welshpool coaches in December 2019 and even then they had been on the bench for a while. At last I can report that there has been significant progress. It's still glacial progress but it is definitely progress.

All three have the main bodywork done. Readers with very long memories may recall these are Worsley Works scratch aid kits. They were built with the sides soldered to the floor and a variety of detailing parts added

  • wire and brass strip form the truss rods and queen posts
  • V hanger and my own 3D printed vacuum cylinder
  • finer rods and a frame around the top of the balconies
  • vacuum hoses from Alan Gibson
  • long Greenwich couplings from Tramfabriek
  • door handles and hinges from Roxey Mouldings
  • bogies from Liliput

Allen, at Worsley Works, has also produced internal partitions which are a great addition. The coaches have been sprayed with a bronze green and then a mixture of Humbrol paints have been used for the detailing.

The next stage is transfers and it was looking like having to cut out individual letters from different transfers in different scales but a chance encounter with Andrew Jeffcock of Custom Model Decals convinced me to get him to design a complete set for me and those are now on order and expected soon.

I'm now working on the roofs. More on those in the next post.

Leek & Manifold Transport Wagons

Personal modelling has taken a big hit recently with launching a new shop for STModels along with taking the trade stand to Narrow Gauge Sou...