Saturday, 28 March 2020

...and to buy one would be greedy...

I seem to have bought a new Minitrains steam tram loco by sort of mistake. I emailed Andrew Hastie to ask if he had any in stock yet and the next thing I know, one was on his way. I could easily have stopped it but I'd always wanted an Egger tram and this is a much nice thing; apart from anything else it runs beautifully.

Fresh out of the box

I'm not one to leave anything alone, so I straight away set about a few little modifications, nothing major as I didn't want to bugger it up. First thing I did was to order some Henschel works plates and name plates from Narrow Planet. It will be named 'Brigitte', Anyone's guess when the plates will get made as NPs etcher is in hiding - fair do's.

In a lot of ways the most obvious part of this loco is the roof so I decided that I'd change the plastic whistle for a nice brass one. In the process I scratched the roof and had to polish it out; I had wondered about a spot of paint on the roof but this confirmed it. Gunmetal from Tamiya is my chosen loco roof colour and I think it just gives it a bit of something. 

With the Jelly Models O&K coach

Looking in my loco bits box I saw a bell from a Minitrains F&C and it looked just right for a tram, on the roof would have been too tall so in the front window seemed a good idea. I've also given the loco some crew which along with the bell help to conceal the inevitable Minitrains flywheel. Using a couple of metallic sharpies I picked out the chimney cap in copper and the lamps in brass. There are some pipes running down the sides of the boiler so a similar idea with Tamiya tinbitz just brings them out of the dark slightly.

Nice loco

I've decided that with the enforced home isolation, I should get done as many of the little jobs that are on the never ending list as I can make myself do. So I started by re attaching the couplings to a TeeBee flat wagon that I dropped onto a hard floor. I also wanted to use the 009 society FR open coach with the tram but it had always had couplings at slightly the wrong height and no passengers. Both things now sorted it makes a good holiday train with another of Tom's prints, a slat seated open coach, this always looked nice but was slightly too tall so I cut a section out of the roof support and reattached it. Much  better. While I was looking for people I noticed that I had a large collection of Preiser luggage so I loaded up the flat wagon to go with the holiday makers.

Also stuck a cat on the roof... we have an old black cat who used to like to sneak into any car she could and get a sneaky ride so I figure that she might also like to ride on trains.

Loads of other half finished and unstarted projects to attend to so who knows what I'll do next... apart from wash my hands. Stay safe.

Thursday, 19 March 2020

To build an engine would be an awfully big adventure

The world seems to have gone bonkers, mostly it seems to be shut. However on the Isle of Stoner in 1964 everything is just fine. It seems that the Ffestiniog Railway has sold off some of its small Birminghams or bug boxes as they are fondly (?) known. Lord Stoner being a bit of a hoarder of second hand rolling stock, three have turned up and entered service.

Obviously they are actually the new PECO FR coaches and they are lovely. Theses ones are in the first preservation livery of green and white. They look at home with the IoSR's double Fairlie and a small raje of PECO FR slate wagons.

The van is a Dundas kit but will eventually be replicated in the PECO RTR range.

Here they are. Delightful

Last year, at the Warley show I bought a Narrow Planet Beyer Peacock kit which I'd had my eye on for some time. Predictably I didn't want to build it exactly as intended as I didn't want a GWR looking loco. I decided to ditch the supplied boiler fittings which although very nicely cast in whitemetal, just screamed Great Western.

The kit is designed to fit onto the Minitrains F&C chassis which I just happened to have a spare one of. I hadn't had the loco building mojo since Christmas but a week of annual leave at home and the impending end of the know world spurred me on to have a crack at the kit.

It follows the usual NP paradigm of a 3D printed carcass with etched overlays. This works really well and makes for a very simple build which ends up looking very good.

Replacement boiler furniture added and a pair of RT Models PQR couplings substituted for the supplied ones and I was pretty happy with the new look. I also added vacuum brake pipes.

Then I had a crisis of conscience about the dome I'd chosen. It was a nice N Brass brass casting but being for an n gauge loco it was slightly too small. A selection of replacements were tried.


A Varikit one?

A bit of a long shot.

Down to a short list of four.

What about adding a sand dome? No.

Anyway with a suitable casting chosen and glued on it was time to start the spoiling with paint phase. A coat of Halfords grey primer on the body and the red/brown on the frames. the plan being to give the loco a sort of L&B livery vibe, leaving the frames red/brown.

This is the state of play so far. I managed to break the clack valve for the other side so one is on order and nameplates are on their way from those lovely chaps at Narrow Planet. It will be called Wendy, named after an old friend who is having a very bad time at the moment.

I've also been working on a 3D print that I bought off evilbay. It isn't a bad print but is slightly too large to fit with my rolling stock. I thought the best thing to do was to finish it off and put it up for sale on said auction site. I've added a few fittings and nameplates etc and given it rather a nice paint job.
Designed to suit a KATO 103 chassis I found a very cut down version that I tried to fit into an Eggerbahn tram some years ago. Despite having a large amount of the body work missing it still works well and with the added weight in the body of the loco, it runs really rather well.

Here it is pulling quite a long train up the hill by Town Quarry.

The next thing to do to the NP kit is to let the paint harden off and then to add glazing to the window, some crew and lining. I might be a tiny bit distracted as I'm also in the process of building a small n gauge standard gauge layout...

Smallerfield, a preserved branch terminus in the SW of England.

Sunday, 8 March 2020

All quiet in the garage

I haven't done much actual modelling recently, but I have had a rummage in the stock boxes and tried out a few older things. This is the lighthouse resupply train with Sphinx the Kerr Stuart in the lighthouse siding.

The diesel bowser and ash v tip now have a length of jubilee track to sit on, made out of styrene strip.

The name plates arrived for Eva the Baldwin but still no one has bothered to give the loco a clean.

Arnold Lane Wharf and I spent three chilly days in the Slate Quarry Museum. Lots of families but really three days is two too many with this layout. All went ok though.

During the trying out phase I've had the NP 0-6-0 Bagnall out. It has never run properly and I think the problem is a quartering issue, I've improved it but it still isn't quite right.

People always wave at trains.

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Shed on the move

It's been a busy week down in Underhill with the track relaying and the engine shed on the move.

As I've just done a larger area of cobbles I knew what to do paint wise to the new bit in the goods yard and I'm pleased with how it has blended into the area as it was before.

The rest of the area needed to look like a grubby loco preparation area so black was the main colour but I've noticed that where you get oil and water mixed together it produces a whiteish scum so I've tried to emulate that a little.

To cover the point motor I built the free little hut that was stuck on the Railway Modeller the other month. It was too long so I chopped it back to size. It does the job perfectly and looks the part.

Meanwhile, I decided that it was time to solve a little logic problem that had been pointed out at several exhibitions. Namely that the flower pots perched on the side of the florists flat roof must have levitated up there and never get watered. I constructed a wooden (styrene) balcony round the back and added a door to the rear of the upper floor. I liked it so much I even added a couple more flower pots.

With the paint dry it all looked a bit stark so I decided to add some more greenery between the tracks.
Some more planting of bushes and scrub and a top up of coal

Still a little more detail work to do but all in all a much better look than previously and the points now work as they should. I now only have one slightly dodgy point to sort out but after the mess that this 'half hour job' made I'm reluctant to start messing about. Hmm.

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Pointless activity

I'm pleased with the new cobbles in Rock Beach square, they were a bit of shock after the previous bluey/grey effort. I've fiddled with the colours somewhat and added a couple of drain covers. The main change is to the water fountain which now has a paving stone area around it which I have given a kerb stone of styrene strip painted in black and white stripes. I suspect it might need a little toning down but for now it's fine.

For a while now the point motor on the turnout at the end of the platform at Underhill Town has only worked in one direction. I don't know why it died but it did, I've tried wiggling and poking it but came to the conclusion that the motor needed replacing. Quite tricky to get under the layout now so I put it off. However, in the spirit of making the layout work properly I decide that I'd bite the bullet.

I unclipped the point motor from the point so that it would just slip downwards... Nope. I gave it a wiggle and a pull and voila it came away. Unfortunately I hadn't figured on the motor's pin which protrudes into the turnout tiebar being stuck; this caused the whole mechanism to explode into its constituent parts thereby rendering the pair of points knackered. Bugger.

There was nothing for it but to go indoors and sulk. After I got over that idea and went back out to the garage I knew I had to replace the points. Fortunately I had a spare pair that would fit however previously there was a right hand pair meaning that the headshunt turned towards the wall. Originally I had a vague idea about making an extension to make the exhibition layout into an oval. 

So, with no need to turn left anymore a left handed turnout makes more sense and gives a longer straight on headshunt.

I decided that the replacement point motor would need to be mounted above the baseboard as I couldn't face buggering about making the hole in the baseboard bigger so it was in the right place. I had some 2 part epoxy wood filler left over from mending a window frame on the house so I filled the hole with that. It sets like stone but you can file and sand it.

Having left it to set for a day it was a relatively simple job to install the points and the longer headshunt. I've taken the chance to add another isolating section so I can park a loco at the end of the line, maybe the station pilot?

All done, wired in and working. Phew.

The first loco to test the new layout with buildings in place in a slightly reorganised arrangement. Some scenic repair to do now and a new switch to add to the control panel.

One thing about not being able to run trains into the terminus was that to play trains I could use the quarry sidings and the lighthouse siding. Nearly the whole layout works now.