Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Great Northern Engine Sheds

I know this is why off beam to Cornwall but I am still very interested in railway history of my local area. Browsing though a discount book shop the other week I turned up this little treasure.

It covers sheds such as Lincoln, Louth, Mablethorpe, Horncastle, Gainsborough, Spilsby, Wainfleet and Boston in Lincolnshire as well as those further a field at Colwick, Derby, Newark, Nottingham and Retford.

Of the Lincolnshire sheds Boston would make a good layout. It has a backdrop of terrace houses, shed buildings either end and a Coaling plant that would mask the exit point nicely. It's worth a look.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Ballasting (2)

At last, I think I'm getting somewhere.

I've been struggling and getting very frustrated with ballasting this small length of track. Basically the ballast has not been sticking. When trying to add more ballast to repair / fill in the gaps, it's become too bulking. I have not been getting it right at all. My aim was to ballast the track so that the sleepers were not buried, but the thickness of sleepers only gives me approximately one layer of ballast grains to achieve this. The problem I was having is that with a thin layer of ballast I could see the white of the track bead coming though making the ballast look too thin (which is is). Question; how do I add depth to this thin layer?

What a mess

Cannot see very well in this photo but, along with the big gaps, there are small white gaps that are causing me the problems.

I don't know why I should be having these problems and I haven't seen any railway article with my solution but I doubt it is original. It has been born out of my wargaming experience. To add depth to painted miniatures, buildings and vehicles I use a black undercoat. This helps to create shadows and brings out the relief of the castings. Could I use this idea to add depth to a thin layer of ballast?

First trial - Much better

I think it has worked. When view from above there is no white showing though. Any small gaps between the grains is black which is creating depth / shadows. Next step is to see if I can repeat this over a longer length.

Not only a much neater result, as I not putting so much glue down, but no small white gaps.


To me the last photo looks near perfect. A permanent way gang might be pleased with that. The ballast seems flat and no unsightly lumps, and the sleepers are slightly proud of the ballast.

I now need to decide whether I paint/spray the chairs and rail before I glue them to the sleepers of after glueing. Decisions, decisions.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Baseboards (1)

While ballasting my first metre of track, thoughts have wandered to baseboard construction. How do I tackle building them using the modern methods? As previously mentioned, my last layout was built using the very trusty 2" x 1" framed chipboard topped baseboards. This layout (Boscarne Wharf) and Grogley Junction will have to be built with open open style boards to create different levels above and below tracks. Out came pencil and paper and the rough sketch below is the result of my first ideas.

After reading a number of articles and books during the past few years about the plywood sandwich and L girder principles, I am thinking of bringing the two ideas together. Plywood sandwich for the end sections for stability and strength, L girder for sides which should reduce twisting and allow me to construct curved baseboards (hopefully). The centre beam is at the moment only a single piece of plywood. Not sure that this would need to be a full sandwich like the end pieces?

Locating and fixing the boards together is still open to discussion but I would like to make use of pattern makers dowels at each end of the end sections for accuracy. Possibly an old method of Coach Bolts for drawing the boards together tightly and securely in the centre of the end sections. Coach Bolts will be internal to the baseboards, I would like to keep the sides free of as many fixtures and fittings as possible.

I am also thinking about constructing the end pieces with the outer face deeper than the internal face. This should allow two boards to be fixed together and the profiles cut as one. Just thought, the L Girder sides could be constructed differently as well. Another sketch is needed.

Wharfingers' responsibilities

Can anyone clarify what a Wharfingers tasks/responsibilities were?

All the public sidings on the Wadebridge to Wenfordbridge line were called Wharfs. It would seem that each Wharf was looked after by a person called a Wharfinger who either lived in a cottage next to the siding or very local to it.

My interpretation is they would have been responsible for taking delivery/booking in of wagons and making sure they were unloaded in a specified time by the person or company that the load was for. I am doubting that they were physically responsible for loading and unloading as there were women Wharfingers at some sidings.

Any information would be gratefully received.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Boscarne Junction + Wenford Junction

Just toying with an idea to extend the Bodmin North line to include the junction for Wenford Bridge. This would possibly change the viewing side to the top, looking down into the valley at Boscarne, rather than up out of the valley if I leave the plan as it is in my "Boscarne Junction + Wharf (3)" posting.

I'm not convinced at the moment. Think I have enough on my plate with the original plan of just Boscarne. May make an allowance for this to be added in the future. Ideally it would be two extra boards so that the road over bridge across the Bodmin North line and the ungated crossing across the Wenford line could be included. Ah, now then, that would also bring the Dunmere Wharf into play. This is starting to get out of hand and becoming a small layout in its own right. It is dragging me further away from Grogley as well. This layout is only a test build to try out my skills, or lack of them, before building Grogley Junction.


Ballasting (1)

This is what I used to like about this hobby, there's always some challenge at each stage. I would never have thought ballasting track would have been one of them though. Many of you out there will no doubt be asking "what am I playing at". Even though I've been a railway modeller in the past it was so long ago that I am realising I've got to consider myself a complete beginner. Learning again from scratch all over again.

I've been hanging on to a length of kitchen cupboard beading for years thinking it would make an ideal mount for a display. A rummage thought the garage and out it came. Glue some track to it ballast it and way I go. Sounds simple and I suppose it would have been if I'd purchase some nice P4 flexi track. Why do I do things the hard way?

I've also met with my local ScaleFour Group recently and they suggested using balsa wood as a track base. Cork would have been my first choice but apparently balsa is better than cork for acoustic qualities and deadening sound transmission through to baseboard. Not really necessary for this first metre but start as I mean to go on. So a quick purchase of balsa which was glued to the beading board, a metre length of straight track printed from Templot glued to the balsa and away I go.

I took Ian Rice's advice and decided to ballast the track before gluing chairs and rail in place. Quickly realised that without the punch holes or rivets in the sleepers I would loose the position of rail centres. Plan is to lay sleepers in batches and lightly pencil in rail centres onto sleepers as I go along.

First attempt and not happy..... ballast was lightly tamped down and left over night. When excess was tipped off (not brushed nor scraped) I was left with the above mess. Was this too much to do in one go? Was the glue going off? Was the glue not wet enough? Was the glue not thick enough (in depth)? Should I have added a drop of washing-up liquid?

Second attempt and getter better, reduced the quantity of sleepers laid in one go to four so glue will not go off so quickly but it is still not as good as I expected. But the glue should not be going off in such a short time, must be quantity of glue.

That's better... at least I have covered all the paper in this last attempt. This was just by putting a little more glue down, looked to be too much as it was starting to obscure the sleeper positions.

Onwards and upwards ..... just the thick end of a metre to go and I can start glueing chairs and rail.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Making a start

At last I feel like I have made a start. Purchased some plywood sleepers and chairs along with P4 gauges from the EMGS. These arrived a few days ago. My intention is to trial gluing the plastic chairs to wooden sleepers.... I can hear the comments already....

First trials indicate that MEK does not give a strong enough bond, but Butonone and Super Glue seem to. Using the finger and nail test I cannot shift the chairs once the bond has taken. So I'm going to build a yard of track and see how I fair.

Next task, cutting the plywood into 34mm sleeper lengths. It was here when I asked myself, "why didn't I purchase the ready cut lengths?" My thought was that if using glue as the main bond I didn't want he pre-punched hole reducing the surface area for the bond. I can see that this task is one for a evening when I'm brain dead.

Next task staining. I'd moved downstairs and and tackle this first thing in the morning in daylight hence the change in lighting in the above photo. I've followed one of Iain Rice's techniques, using a mix of water, isopropyl alcohol, and india ink. After a few trials I've ended up with a mix of 100ml of water, 50ml of isopropyl alcohol, 4ml of black india ink and 5ml of sepia india ink. I was trying to match the colour of sleepers in colour photograph of Bodmin North. At the moment they look close to the colour I'm after. No doubt once I've laid and ballasted the track the colour will look different , for better or worse I will have to wait and see.

Next stage, my first yard of track. Lets hope the chairs will stick to the stained sleepers. More postings will follow.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Making contact across the pond

I've recently made contact with an old friend from the early days of Mablethorpe and District Model Railway Club. He was one of the founding members and was always interested in small scale, small layouts, narrow gauge and American outline. I thought it was a strange mix but that was me being too traditional in my modelling outlook.

He emigrated to America and I lost contact with him until recently. Thinking about the old club one evening I Googled his name and was amazed to find him here . I really like what he has been doing in Gn15 gauge. This is a gauge that I'm not familiar with but he has built some very interesting small layouts with character. Especially the Purespring Watercress and Wold Farm Mushrooms layouts. The tunnel on Wold Farm Layout is very similar to Withcall to Donnington on Bain tunnel on the Louth to Bardney line, nicely modelled in its new roll. When viewing his Journal of layout imaginings I realise that Ian is still investigating imaginative small/micro layout ideas. Though not my style, yet, these layout musings are very inventive and thought provoking.

New contacts also brings new links. Though I'm not a fan of American outline I have to post this link to Lance Mindhiems site here . Ian quite rightly states in his links page "Quite probably the most amazing HO scale shelf layout ever. Realism and atmosphere of the very highest order." Fantastic, pure magic.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

End of the Withered Arm

At last I've tracked down a copy of this months Steam Days magazine. I was given the nob (thanks Nick) that it contained an article on the North Cornwall line and was starting to be worried that I'd missed it on the newsagents shelves. Eventually after a visit to a larger WH Smiths I found a copy. That is one of the problems living out in the sticks some magazines take long to reach us if at all.

The article mainly covers the later years of the line from Wadebridge to Oakhampton and mentions Bude, Bodmin and Padstow. It charts the decline of freight and passenger services, closure dates and demolition of structures and trackbed. One interesting fact I found for myself is that the Wadebridge to Boscarne section stayed open until 4th September 1978 for goods traffic. One commodity was slate dust that was transported from Delabole quarry to Wadebridge by lorry. Loaded into Presflo wagons for transportation toTonbridge in Kent via Bodmin Road. This has given me the fleeting thought about my Boscarne Wharf Junction layout as a freight only line in the late 60's early 70's.

Not sure if some would agree (recent excellent Deltic article in MRJ 188/189 in mind) but P4 conversion packs for diesels would seem to be an easier way to get things running. This would be while I build up confidence in steam conversion/kit building techniques. In the era that I was thinking (early 60's) the Wharf siding would have shown signs of being overgrown anyway.

Food for thought while I tackle track building techniques.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Like a duck

Like a duck, there's not much movement above water but there is a lot going on underneath, and so it is with this project. The start of a new month and most would say there's not a lot happened. While there has been no physical progress, there has been a lot of thinking put in last month. Mostly done while painting little men for my wargaming projects but good thinking time. I've never been one to jump straight into a project without trying to think it though. But part of the thinking process is possibly confidence building as much as trying to get it right.

February also saw me dig out an old Airbrush (Aerograph Super 63). No idea where hose and adaptors have ended up. After a little research I gave www.EverythingAirbrush.com a call and found them to be very helpful in identifying all I needed to get up and running. Last month also saw me place an order with Ultrascale for their Bachmann Pannier and Hornby Class 29 wheel conversion packs. (The Class 29 chassis is to be used for a Class 22). With a 10 week delivery I am hoping that by the time these arrive I will have build some track. Might only be a yard on a diorama but there will be track. Talking of track, an order has also been placed with the EMGS for Gauges and track components.

So what will March bring? I intend to start building a wagon or two which will give the airbrush something to go at. Also to put some wood to the saw, if not making a start on baseboards for Boscarne Wharf Junction at least to put together a diorama board.

Slowly but onwards and upwards.