Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Hello again

I've had a bit of a quiet time over the summer when it comes to modelling but with the return of the exhibition season and the longer, darker nights I've started on some new projects and resurrected some older ones.

First a bit of a catch up. Since my last post Underhill has had an outing as has Arnold Lane Wharf. Arnold lane came along for the ride to Wigan as part of a very successful F&WHR trade stand. It is such an easy layout to set up and despite being small, provides hours of shunting fun.

As an extra bit of the F&WHR stand

Wigan is a nice show so I was very happy to be invited back

I bought a couple of Colin Ashby coach kits at the show

Here are the finished items with a couple of others
The next new thing is a Tomix Percy bash called Fred. I've had one of these chassis before but sold it on, but when I saw one for sale on Plaza Japan I couldn't resist. At first I wasn't sure what to do with it but eventually I just got the big box of bits out and had a rummage to see what might fit.

This is how he ended up
The metal chassis block is quite a big lump and so whatever you do with this chassis it ends up rather tall. I'm pleased with how he came out in the end and I've decided that it was made by Hunslet as the cab windows have that sort of look, however it could just as easily be a Manning Wardle...
Complete with lining. (The chimney looks bent but it's an optical illusion)
The first big outing of the year for Underhill was all the way down South at Swanley and ExPong, what a long way down the country but again a cracking show which I was flattered to be a part of.
A couple of nights before the show I decided that Underhill Town needed a cattle unloading ramp so I knocked one up out of bits of plasticard etc.

It looks the part and should there be any sheep or cattle to unload it will make things easier.
The show went very well and the layout attracted some very nice comments and seemed to attract quite a crowd. As ever the fountain in the town square seemed to be one of the most popular features.

The trainee operator, Chris Parry
One thing that transporting and setting up this layout has taught me, is that it is too big and too heavy so after its next booking at Manchester (2nd and 3rd December) I will be retiring Underhill. I have a few ideas about what to do with it but in a lot of ways a fresh start might be the best idea. watch this space.
Black is the new black

Fred awaits the right of way

The silly small carriage set, they made a few runs
Narrow Planet launched a new kit at ExPong for a very pretty little Bagnall based on the locos at the Rye and Camber tramway. It fits on the Minitrains Porter chassis which is an 0-6-0 so the kit isn't an exact model. It comes with parts to modify the valve gear but the less buggering around with chassis the better. It follows their usual paradigm of a 3D printed carcass with etched overlays.


It went together very easily and I spent a couple of happy evenings adding some details, a waft of primer revealed a few little things which needed some filler and then he was ready for the paint shop. It has been noticed that I've put the tank etches on upside down... doh. Too late now.
Jim, just waiting for his name plates

While looking for something else I happened across a bright yellow Bachmann 04 that I bought a year or so ago. It didn't run properly so I put it away for later attention. As with many of these 03s, 04s and 08s if the pick ups aren't adjusted properly they don't run well, this was all that was needed to get this one to run as nicely as the others I have. The next question was what to do with it? The very first one of these chassis I bought I just took the cab off, added a few bits and turned it into a freelance cabless shunter. I now have two, a dirty green one and an alarmingly bright yellow one.
The new one under construction

The old and the new
It will definitely get some weathering to tone it down a bit and it probably is rather too modern for the IoSR's 1960s setting but my layout, my rules. It will live in the Town Quarry sidings for now.
The last thing I needed was another loco right now, especially in the lead up to Christmas but those nice German folk at Minitrains have finally launched their two French locos; The Decauville Progres and the Schneider Locotracteur. Both are superb little models and both items of desire, however I have opted for just a black Decauville... for now.
My one

Some visitors having their photos taken. The red Progres is very pretty too.
Anyway, that just about catches up with that and now it's off to Warley with the F&WHR stand this weekend and then Manchester with Underhill the weekend after. My first visit to Manchester so fingers crossed.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Braking point

Since my last post I've exhibited Underhill at the Bala Lake Railway model railway show and I had a very entertaining weekend despite the lack of attendance. On the Saturday I was joined By Charlie Insley who not only operated the layout for a good long while but who also brought along a pile of his lovely locos too.
Packed in the van, ready for the off

Charlie's prototype, the straight from the box and my fiddled with Bagnalls

An Insley made CWR Fletcher Jennings

Another of Charlie's locos on a goods train
Also making a guest appearance on the layout were three locos built in the 1960s by Huw Jones. Lovely things they were too. The Baldwin was made from one of 10 kits produced by the London area Group of the FR society in 1966, although on a slightly more recent chassis it happily pottered up and down.
Two years younger than me and in better condition
With some of it's own wagons
Huw Jones

Static exhibit but actually my favourite of the three

A familiar looking loco
On the Sunday I was joined by Martin Hallet for a while and he took over the reins for a while while I wandered about the rest of the show trying not to spend any money... largely successfully.
Martin in action

That rarity - the public

Still enjoying the fiddle yard

After the show in Bala I realised that I needed another brake van so I had a look in the unmade kits box and found a Parkside Dundas VoR van. This is a great kit and very versatile, over the years I have used it to make all sorts of things... even brake vans. This time I thought a fairly straight build would be suitable but I also noticed that I had a slightly broken PECO GVT van to hand and that the duckets are a very nice thing. Offering them up to the kit I found that with a little trimming of the back they would fit nicely.

Finished but unpainted
This left me with the remains of the PECO van and the duckets from the VoR van... hmm. I'd always thought that having the duckets in the middle of the van looked odd so I decided to rearrange the PECO van.
Without ducket

With new ducket and added microstrip panel

Ready for some top coat
Arnold Lane Wharf had an outing at the rather good but tiny, Borth y Gest show. It behaved itself very well and fitted in the 'Up!'. It wouldn't have done with the attached proscenium arch which houses the lights so I took a saw to the uprights and made it a bolt on fitting. The whole process of setting it up still only takes about 20 minutes and it will be easier to store too.
I wanted to get the PECO van ready in time for this event and it was finished in the paint shop just in time. I have some transfers to add but they didn't make it.

It was a very good show with some excellent layouts, organised as ever by Paul Towers. The weather outside was awful, indeed some of it started to seep through the walls of the building but considering this and the rather obscure location there was a pretty constant stream of people. It was nice to meet up with some old friends and also to put faces to names from t'internet.

Paul with his famous smile

The whole show

A blast from the past with an excellent display of Lone Star 000 gauge



Friday, 5 May 2017

Out with the old...

I've been really busy at work and I've been very involved in my other hobby (music) recently so the layout has languished where it got dumped after its last show at the 009 Society AGM. The show went well but the niggling old point at the Town Quarry junction caused a few derailments and some rolling stock just refused to traverse it at all.
The troublesome point
It was a legacy of when the terminus was right here but had always been a bit odd... so I took a deep breath and decided that it needed to be replaced.
Plan A
Initially the plan was to replace the point but with a longer 'mainline' one, this would have allowed me to keep the short siding but on closer inspection it wasn't going to be possible to get the geometry right so I reluctantly waved goodbye to the siding and used a left hand point to allow the straight through track to have the straight track of the point. 

The first cut
Using a slitting disk in the trusty Dremmel I made a cut right through the track at appropriate points of all three legs of the junction then it was just a case of rip the track up and hack away all the surrounding ballast.

Savagery in action
Once the area was cleared of debris a trial fit of the new turnout was tried and it was apparent that I needed to cut back a couple more cm of the mainline to get a good angle all round. This done it was also apparent that the old point motor which was (and still is, although unused) would be in the wrong place. Without smashing up the scenery it would be impossible to hide the motor above board level so I fitted it directly to the point with the frog polarity switch also fitted and cut a hole in the baseboard.
The piece of green card covers the big hole in the ground.

Track in place and testing about to begin
I had done all this work in one long evening and when I came to test it I was delighted to find that the test train ran straight through on the mainline but when the point was switched to the quarry the whole thing ground to a halt. It was 2am so I went to bed.

More testing, this time with the two car tram which would not pass the old point
After a night of sleep and a day at work it was obvious that I had left out an insulated fishplate and once that was replaced all was well. The new alignment looked much better and worked properly so a job well worth the mess and stress. Next came the bit I like doing, the scenery.

Ready mixed filler is my ballast and scenery of choice
Instead of a building which now didn't fit I went for a lump of countryside to replace it. Following my usual theory of using a cast urethane rock bedded into ready mix filler to represent the soil I bodged it all together and refitted some of the Skaledale dry stone wall.
The new alignment

Even the cat has returned, he was on the fence before but roughly in the same place.
All done
The next chance to see Underhill Town is at the Bala Lake Railway gala exhibition which is on the last weekend of May. It is a 2 day show which runs in the school in the town of Bala but there is a bus connection from the railway gala so you have no excuse to miss the show. Promises to be good fun; hoping to have Heljan Manning Wardles to play with and to sell too... you never know.
The layout also features on the front cover and in the third instalment of my article in the latest edition of Narrow Gauge World magazine which I rather chuffed about.