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.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Weeds and rocks

Since my last post on here I've been quite busy but not as busy as I'd hoped as I had to pull out of the Llanberis show due to family issues, all now happily resolved I'm pleased to say. However this did leave me with a week off on my hands so I decided to address the niggely things about Underhill Town. There was something not quite right about it and I couldn't put my finger on it, but then I realised that a big part of the problem was the colour of the big stone wall behind the platform. Out with the paints and a general darkening was and picking out some individual stones and it looked much better.

I also decided that the front edge looked wrong so added a wall and a very small sliver of hill, while I was sticking some grass on this I also put some more between the sidings which has tied the whole thing together and I think it looks much more natural as a result.

While I was looking for things wrong I decided that the buildings in Station Road just looked a bit plonked down so using some Metcalf self adhesive paving tiles I've given them a pavement. It makes the actual road stupidly narrow but there isn't much road traffic.

I've also detailed the butchers too, previously it was just an out of the box Scenecraft

While I was involved in scenery matters I also couldn't resist the Barclyfication kit for the Minitrains Boehler. As with all the NP/EuroNG kits I've built it was a delight to build and has resulted in a very nice loco which has been named Sally as I had the nameplates already having ordered them for the Bagnall which they didn't fit.


With a few exhibitions coming up I knew that the Town Quarry module needed some tarting up and a little surgery. It was never designed for bogie coaches as long as the PECO L&B ones and some of the clearances actually weren't. The worst offender was the cutting side by the points where the duckets hit the wall. I had flattened it off as best as I could but it really wasn't enough so some radical surgery took place last night.

Just about clear.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Long time, no see

It has been pointed out that I haven't posted anything since before Christmas, so happy new year everyone. I've been very busy at work and home life has been frantic too so I haven't had much time or inclination for modelling recently but I have done a few things.

I treated myself to a Christmas present of a Narrow Planet O&K and really enjoyed the build, while building it I noticed that I had done some things better on the new one than on my version of Eigiau which is a variation of this loco so I also took the opportunity to make some modifications to bring it into line. I'm very pleased with both of them but can't bring myself to weather the new one just yet.

Playing trains on the dining room table
Engine house at Parys Mountain
Remains of windmill and some atmosphere
Something I've been toying with for a while is building an HOf layout using the Busch working track and a quantity of the left over Auhagen plastic track to extend the apparent workings. I haven't decided what to do yet but I have spent some time walking round the old copper mine at Parys Mountain on Anglesey and the quarry at the Breakwater at Holyhead and they have given me some ideas. Unfortunately they haven't given me either the time or the money to progress the idea but a plan is gradually fermenting in 'the little grey cells'.

I finished off the dodgy printed coach and I rather like it, the surface doesn't really bear close scrutiny but at the usual viewing distance it is fine so I now have a nice rake of green four wheel coaches.

One other coach has joined the fleet too, inspired by a kit bash by Charlie Insley which I had seen at Warley show I had a go myself.

The chopped kit awaiting assembly
The kit in question is the Five79 RC810 Innisfail tramway coach which in itself makes a very nice compact bogie coach. What Charlie had done was to add balconies at each end which I rather liked the look of.

Here is the finished thing accompanied by the Minitrains Bagnall and a PECO slate waggon. Talking of which the latest new RTR product from PECO is two sets of FR 2 ton slate waggons.

They have detachable close couplers in NEM pockets so you can have nice, close coupled rakes which are shuntable and have standard 009 couplings on each end. Very clever. They also come with removable loads which are hollow should you want to add some weight which I think I probably will. I tried a quick bit of weathering on one to make it look rather more careworn and I think it looks great as a result. A dry brush of dark brown, then some very thin orange on top then a little black on the axle boxes and coupling faces to represent oil. I'm aiming to have a few tatty ones and a few cleaner ones in my rake. I'm also going to add a Parkside 3 ton one with PECO NEM pockets on so it can have close couplers and function in the rake.

Next thing is the Model Railway show at the Llanberis Slate Museum where I will be playing with Underhill Town. The show is free and there is lots to see and do aside from the layouts. 22nd to the 24th of Feb. Always badly advertised but always a good do too.