Sunday, 13 March 2016

A Lenten Diversion

Little Helpers

I seem to make a habit of diversions, but the 'good cause' behind this one is improving my skills before I finally tackle my Alan Gibson Manning Wardle kit.

If I'm honest, though, this tendency probably owes more to prevarication than preparation - I have a tendency to lose confidence in my abilities and decide to start afresh instead of cracking on and learning as I go. In the process of getting thus far, however, I noticed how poor my soldering had become and reminded myself that I had improved previously when I used a gas torch. I also proved to myself en passant that my soldering isn't always bad, by soldering the two stevedore figures instead of gluing them together.

The loco here is a Connoisseur Models 0-4-0T Starter Kit. Many modellers will recognize it variously as 'Nellie' or 'Polly', but having seen a couple of photos of the L&SWR C14 class on which it is based, I don't think it'll be long before I decide to add motion and other touches such as wheel guards. I've already committed to building it to Scale7 standards, and to add a sound decoder from the EDM offering for the Minerva Peckett.

One day I'll 'Keep It Simple Stupid'. Meanwhile, I have set myself the target of having this running by this Easter, just under 2 weeks away.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

OCD Corner

As Phil Parker has commented on his blog, there's a prototype for everything. Catching a few moments on the South Devon Railway, I spotted this from the carriage as we stood at Buckfastleigh.

Common Crossing at Buckfastleigh, SDR
When I make track, I'm careful to ensure that the fishplate bolts are placed with the bolts on the running face, and the nuts on the outer face of the rail joins. The theory goes that the nuts will interfere with wheel flanges. Well I'm not going to be the one to square up to a member of SDR's PW gang and tell them they've got it wrong. From now on, I'll be happy to point to this photograph as proof that my track isn't badly built but based on actual practice.

On closer inspection, the photo in Phil's post shows a similar arrangement!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Paint Your wagon

First coat - rust: bubbles inside show just how wet this coat is applied.

Second coat - grey.
Just before ExpoNG 2014 (which is to say, the morning before), I got round to painting this Parkside Dundas Diagram 1/100 16T ex MOWT mineral wagon for John Clutterbuck's Pentewan Light Railway. The wagon had to sit on his (Dorset Kits?) transporter and therefore were re-wheeled to Scale 7 standards using Slaters wheels.

Knowing that PLR would get a lot of attention, I wanted to try and match John's very high production standards. I therefore dug out James Coldicott's article Paint & Texture from NG&IR issue 66 in order to weather the wagon properly.

I used Coldicott's article as the basis of painting my Weidknecht Decauville, but clearly only read part of it. For the loco, I went straight from a Dark Earth undercoat to a dry-brushed final colour, which isn't quite correct.

Coldicott suggests a splash of loosely rust colours covering the whole model over the Dark Earth undercoat. Only then is a very thin coat of top colour, much lightened to show fading, dry-brushed over the rust.

I chose to use acrylic rather than emulsion paints, and probably ought to have thinned and dried the top coat a bit more. However I'm not too unhappy with the paint finish.

With ExpoNG out of the way, the wagon and its yet-to-be-built diagram 1/106 companion will be consigned to a display case. Not before I have tackled a further attempt at the transfers, however, which were a tad too new looking and probably not very prototypically placed. Where I to build a similar wagon again, I'd also want to try and replicate the pressed-steel door insides, as the flat surface on the unloaded model is not right.

John's suggestion of a removable load made from broken-up lumpwood charcoal worked very well. Perhaps the unloaded wagon should show a bit more coal residue though: I'm not convinced that anyone ever bothered to hose these wagons down after emptying them, certainly not on John's imagined cash-strapped PLR.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

The Exhibition Looms

Nearly-complete Panel
The wiring has been a treat, exercising my grey cells somewhat. I am glad to have tried using a wiring list, however. This has made me think things through, such as colour coding. Mind you, if I'd paid more attention to the last column - length - I might not have run out of red quite so soon! Just visible is the start of the lacing that keeps 10 (soon to be 12) point and signal motor cables from tying themselves into complex knots while I'm working on them.

The original control panel was a Gaugemaster PCU2, switch 6 of which had been replaced by a DPDT switch. This latter seems only to have flipped the feed and return from one end of the passing loop to the other in the original wiring. This made it possible to pass trains without isolating sections, but it meant that the up facing point at the Lynton end could only be operated in tandem with the down facing point at the Barnstaple end. In reality, these points were operated separately and not even interlocked. I'm probably going to avoid wiring isolation switches back at the panel by linking the isolation sections to the operation of the starting signals.

Anyhow, in the absence of a ready-to-hand replacement for the PCU2, I've gone all Peco. This is the first time I've installed passing contact switches (though that's what the PCU2 consists of unless hacked about), and it took visits to two local model shops to get them together. The yellow one is not some nod to prototype practice, but merely what happens when shops can only keep limited stock. I'm very lucky that within 40 minutes' drive I have five such shops, although with more planning (back to that wiring list again), I would have got everything a lot cheaper over the Internet and not had such an adverse effect on carbon emissions.

The other levers are, as per the original, red for signals and black for points. They are however arranged in the same order as the items they operate, because the prototype layout might lead to confusion during an exhibition.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Switching Over

Tie bar extended and point motor tried for size.

I decided to start relaying track from the control (Lynton) end of the station board, as I would be able to try out the electrics without wasting too much wire. That meant beginning with the one right-hand turnout (operated by lever 3 in the real Chelfham ground frame). Soldered under the PCB tie bar is a brass extension drilled for the point motor (Seep): I fashioned it from a truss rod etching from a brass carriage kit that has obviously been blown up from 4mm to 7mm!

Dry-run fitting of turnout.

I had intended to mount the turnout as close to the board edge as possible. Having discovered that the prototype's EFPL locking bar extended over 6 sleepers at the toe, starting just up from the tie bar, I chose to solder an extra bit of rail each side so as to bridge the break while laying the track to the fiddle yard.

The original wiring for the Seep point motor was to its coils only, and the turnout was simply fed at the toe. I'm going to use the Seep's built-in electric switching, so I soldered feeds to each end of the straight and curved stock rails and to the crossing vee. The feeds at the crossing end will link via the switch to the crossing vee. The dry-run showed I'd drilled two holes too far 'up' the track; re-drilling eased the tension on the wires and allowed me to line up the tie-bar more accurately.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Another Post

I'm doing a bit of research about Chelfham while I wait for the turnouts. I've wondered for a while about the taller telegraph pole in the above photo - the one with a buzzard sat on it. In various photographs from the opening of the line until it closed, it is evident that the pole took the telephone wires over the running lines to another pole just this side of the station building. It was a little less tall - a tad higher than the flu.

Ah, yes - the flu that was on the gable end, but which is absent from the model. As are the pole and any termination insulators.

Anyhow, I am reminded that from day 1 of owning the layout I've found the telegraph poles to be rather delicate. One has sheared off completely, and several have lost their cross-pieces and insulators (the tall one pictured was modelled with 2 but should have 3). One pole between the water tower and the down starter signal is not modelled at all (it should connect to the one with the buzzard), and I'm left with the distinct impression that by SR days the poles on the viaduct were very short indeed. So short that using the refuges might have posed a health hazard. The pole that broke off was timber, though the prototype seems to have been concrete by the period modelled - dates are sketchy.

The buzzard, by the way, I perched on the pole for a children's competition at Warley. The question was: "What is the station cat looking at?" It was early Sunday before I'd managed to find the buzzard, paint it, and install it.

My other research subject for the day has been wiring lists ... more anon, because tomorrow I take possession of the first turnouts.

Monday, 12 May 2014


It had to come ... I've been promising for so long that Chelfham would be re-gauged, and now is the time.

Actually, several months ago was the time.

With John Clutterbuck I've attended the 7mm Narrow Gauge Association's Convention and AGM at Burton on Trent for the last 3 years demonstrating the attractions of finescale. This year I'm taking Chelfham, which on its mere 2 outings in my possession has been in its original 0-16.5 form, and it seems only right that it should be in O14. As my efforts at turnouts have been well below par, John has kindly stepped in to rescue me. I've had the chance to watch and learn, but of course actually stripping the Peco 'Crazy Track' has fallen to me.

And what a satisfying job it is too (though I must admit that my heart was in my mouth).

The first replacement turnouts get fitted this weekend, at which point I'll decide whether to make do with wire-in-tube control for the moment, re-instate the Seep motors, or fit some Cobalt motors I bought for the purpose. There are, after all, fewer than 5 weeks to the show!