Monday, 2 April 2018

Missenden has sown a seed

Since Missenden I've not had much time available for visits to the Man Cave. What time there has been has been put to installing Sprat & Winkle couplings on a few more wagons. With the Easter Weekend looming and the thought of having at least two full days of the four free for modelling I'd not been too worried. But how situations can change in a moment. During the week prior to Easter, we had a request from the Fostering team to take on an emergency placement. The little lost sole is with us for at least a week, possibly more...

On evenings away from home I've been putting some thought to tasks I would like to complete on Tredethy Wharf prior to Scaleforum. Thankfully it's not a long list. Apart from adding/improving rolling stock I feel I need to add a couple of trees, along with a couple more fiddle yard cassettes with some minor modifications to the existing cassettes. This would have been it if I'd not popped my head into Paul Bambrick's workshop on Back Screens at Missenden. I was very impressed by the work being created in the workshop and it sowed a small seed of discontent with my own work.

Standing back and taking a second look at the back screen on Tredethy Wharf made me realise it might now not be up to standard. It was created very quickly early in the layout's construction to enable me to present it at an exhibition in a reasonable "state of progress".

No work has been done on the back screen since.


After a little Googling on back screens I discovered that Paul Bambrick has written a book as well as a few magazine articles. Having duly purchased his book I found it to be a well written in a friendly encouraging style. This has made me seriously think about creating a new back screen for Tredethy Wharf and that I might be able to improve on the current one. The objective would be to add some depth to the scene.

So a new back screen for the layout has been added to the list as a possible "to do" before Scaleforum. It will be interesting to see what if I can make an improve on the current back screen. Just a shame I've not progressed the layout much over Easter.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Missenden Abbey

What a brilliant weekend this was from arriving to leaving.

I'd been very apprehensive about attending a Missenden Railway Modellers Weekend. Still regarding myself as a newbie to the hobby with much to learn, then thinking I'd be putting myself in a place with talented and renowned modellers was a little daunting but I need not have worried. On arrival I was given a very warm welcome by David Brandreth and immediately guided to the 4mm kit builders work room. There were offers of help to unload my car along with introductions to the two tutors.

Other attendees were already seated and working so once I'd set up work started straight away. The bar opened at 6pm for a cheeky pint (or two) before we sat down for the evening meal which was certainly adequate. This was following by a short introduction to the weekend. There were 12 newbies attending and we had to give a two line introduction to ourselves. It was surprising to find I was not the only one attending with problems building their first loco chassis.

My intention is to eventually build at least three 57xx Pannier chassis along with a 94xx, as all have the same wheel base. Friday evening was spent building a jig for these locos. I'd previously used my lathe to make three stainless steel axles with spigots. The remaining task was to ream out the previously drilled 3mm holes in a Tufnol block to accept these axles. This turned out to be a very time consuming job and it was soon 10pm which I thought was kicking out time. Much to my surprise we were allowed to work on as long as we liked until the early hours if we had the stamina. I called it a day at 10.30pm with a few brass bearings reamed out to fit the jig.

Friday at 10.30pm
After a hearty breakfast at Chartridge Lodge on Saturday morning (unfortunately I didn't book early enough to get accommodation at Missenden) I arrived at 9.15am to find most attendees already hard at work. My first task was to laminate the articulated coupling rods that came with the Comet Chassis kit. Using the jig this was an easy task.

First attempt at constructing the coupling rods
On examination by Tim Watson (one of the tutors) he pointed out that I'd been far too gentle with my soldering. His positive criticism was followed by advice and a demonstration on how to improve the look of the rods making them look more like solid chunks of steel. It was back to the jig and the coupling rods were reworked. The improvement was excellent! After this it was very slow progress with fitting the bearings into the hornblocks. Followed by soldering the hornblocks to the chassis sides. At the end of the day, though I was pleased with the result, I was a little disappointed with my progress as I'd hoped to have had the chassis sides soldered together by the end of Saturday.

Saturday at 10:45pm
My slow progress during Saturday might have been due to attending a couple of demonstrations. One on Resistance Soldering given by David Brandreth and one on Weathering by Mick Bonwick. When booking I'd  been torn about which workshops to attended so took the opportunity to pop my head into other workshops to see what they were about. Track by Norman Solomon, Back Scenes and Scenery by Paul Bambrick along with Weathering by Mick Bonwick were all ones which I'd seriously considered attending. During Sunday morning I attended a demonstration by Norman Soloman on track droppers during which he parted with other snippets of advice on installing wiring to the track. 

Sunday started with taking another look at the gearbox. Even though the final gear drive was absent it was temporarily constructed so that the position of the frame spaces could be finalised. I then proceeded to construct the chassis twice! The first attempt was a touch out of square... why this should have been the case I don't know. It was put together on the jig so in theory all should have gone together nice and square. With advice from the tutors (Tim & Tony Gee) I then used a jig lent to me by another modeller and this time the chassis was soldered up square. The compensation beam was then quickly put together before I started on installing crankpins in the wheels and quartering the wheels on the axles. At the end of the day (3pm) all my hesitations, mistakes, missing drive gear and spending time absorbing the Missenden experience had accumulated in slowing down my progress in producing a running chassis.

Sunday at 3pm
Even though I did not achieve my planned objective I feel the weekend at Missenden was a total success. I came away with renewed confidence about by chassis building abilities. I've learnt much about techniques and tools not only from the two tutors but also other modellers especially Paul Willis. In the 4mm Kit Building Group there were people building not only locos in 4mm and 3mm in brass or whitemetal but also wagons in brass and plastic. Seeing projects that other modellers were working on in different scales and sharing experiences rounded the weekend off into a most enjoyable experience.

If the opportunity arose would I go again?... Absolutely. 
Would I recommend the weekend to others?... Most definitely.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

A job for the weekend

My aim this weekend was to install all the electromagnets that will be used to uncouple wagons fitted with Sprat and Winkle couplings. It all started well marking the position of each electromagnet by drilling through the boards from above with a 1.5 mm drill. The hope is that the small holes, one of which that can just be seen in the picture below, will be easily filled so they're not too obvious and might be used as a position marker.

The thickness of the baseboard was then calculated and 5.5mm holes drilled from underneath to a depth just short of breaking through above ground. The only worry I had was, when the electromagnet was installed the ends of the poles would be approximately 5mm short from the bottom of the sleepers and might not be close enough to the rail hight to uncouple the wagons. As a test one electromagnet was installed on baseboard one and wiring attached through to the control panel.

Luckily when the circuit was activated I was able to uncouple the two test wagons on which I'd previously installed Sprat and Winkle couplings. Following this successful test four more electromagnets where duly installed in baseboard two.

Unfortunately at this point in the proceedings I ran out of wire... such progress only to be halted by the schoolboy error of lack of supplies. An order has been placed for more wire which will hopefully arrive in the next couple of days.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

The Old and the New

Normally I think the saying goes "out with the old and in with the new", but I thought I'd try my hand at combining the old with the new.

Again I've been thinking about what skills I lack and also what I've purchased to have a go at and not had the courage to start. I think it was at a Letterhead Scaleforum that, with all the bravado of a newbie to the hobby, I purchased a Craig Welsh etch for a 9ft RCH chassis. After a very poor attempt at constructing a Bill Bedford etch for a 16T mineral wagon Mr Welsh's etch was allowed to languish in a box along with a couple of wooden mineral wagon kits. In subsequent years I've been enticed to purchased some Rumney Models etches so I thought it was about time I had a go at constructing a chassis etch od some description.

When digging out the box containing Craig Welsh's etch I found this very old Ian Kirk kit.

God knows how long I've had this kit. Unlike Ian Kirk's later offerings for this type of wagon there is no internal planking detail on this vintage kit. Even so I thought if I make a good attempt at marrying this to Craig's etch it could be permanently loaded with coal to disguise the lake of internal detail.


The body goes together reasonably well, though I think I may have to cut a new bottom for the wagon. I've already assigned the brake gear to the bin and the next task will be to remove the W irons and V hanger from the solebars.

As I'd spent a few moments (well more than a few) mulling over this little project, reading the build instructions for Craig's and also Rumney Models etches, that was as far as I got during last evenings visit to the "Man Cave".

Saturday, 27 January 2018

A white metal interlude

The other day I received an email from Missenden Abbey reminding me of the up and coming Spring Weekend that I've enrolled on. Of all the courses available, I'd chosen to attend the session on 4mm Locomotive Kit Construction. It was a tough decision as there were 4 other courses from which I could learn much: Weathering; Backscenes and scenery;Trackwork; also DCC Sound. In the end I realised that my skills in locomotive construction are currently my main weakness. Though I have had an 03 chassis built for me and have another area group member building a Beattie Well Tank chassis, I cannot rely on the good will of these guys for too long.

The decision I have to make is what to take to Missenden. My current options being:
  • A DJH 1366 kit - with the aim to get a working chassis by Sunday afternoon.
  • Another Beattie Well Tank - with the aim to get a working chassis by Sunday afternoon.
  • A 57xx Chassis as well as taking first attempt at a  57xx chassis for correction.
  • The white metal body kit of the Beattie Well Tank that the chassis is being built for.
In thinking about the last option it made me realise that I've not yet constructed a white metal kit. Would I really need to use my time at Missenden just to build a white metal locomotive body? Hmmm... That might not be getting the most out of the weekend.

So, to test my white metal soldering skills, I blew the dust off a couple of Four Most Models wagon kits. The first to get the heat treatment was a SR 12T 8 plank wagon.


Well, overall it's not turned out too bad. I don't think there is anything that a little filler cannot rectify. I'm not brave enough yet to apply more solder to fill some of the joints for fear I'll de-solder a joint. As a bonus the wheels are all in the same plain and it runs true with, so far, no derailments on Tredethy Wharf. I've not installed coupling hooks yet as I'm not sure if the white metal ones provided with the kit would be up to the task.

On to the next wagon, a  LSWR 10T round ended open.

I thought I'd compensate this wagon. Possibly no need to but had itching figures to use the MJT 2291 compensation units again.

After this brief trial of constructing these white metal kits my trepidation of tackling a white metal loco kits has lessened greatly. So this little interlude from the Brake Van Special has proven to me that my time at Missenden should be used mainly on one of the three chassis building projects not wholly on a white metal kit.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Brake Van Special - Toad B

To add a little variation to the rake of brake vans for the Brake Van Special, I decided to dig out a Parkside's kit of a Toad B. I believe that some lasted into the 1960s in their original state so thought one might have found its way down to Cornwall. This is probably unlikely but as a Toad E was used on the Wenfordbridge Branch it might have happened...

When building plastic wagon kits I normally remove the plastic w irons complete with springs and axle boxes leaving just the wagon solebars. I then reduce the thickness of the solebars so that MJT W iron suppression units can be installed. Appropriate cast springs and axle boxes are then added to complete the running gear. In looking at the Toad B solebars I became aware of some very fragile components that, knowing me, would get damaged in the above procedure. This got me thinking of using MJT 2291 suspension units instead which would enable me to keep the Parkside offerings on the kit.

I believe the standard way to install these compensation units is to only use one rocking unit and insert bearings into the opposite end plastic axle boxes to create a fixed axle. In this instance, to make sure the ride height is parallel, I decided to install two units making one non rocking by slipping an appropriate thickness of plastic card between the mounting plate and the rocking assembly. The only other requirement was to create a groove in one set of the plastic axle boxes to allow one unit to rock.

 Other minor modifications I made to the kit are:
  • Replacing the plastic buffers with white metal ones supplied by Lanakshire Models.
  • Replacing the plastic torpedo vents in the roof with Lanakshire Models castings.
  • Installing three link couplings.

I've left the roof loose so that a few figures can be easily added to each veranda. The model's weight can then be checked and, if required, more weight can be added inside the van.

Next stage is making and fitting all the hand rails... Hmmm, this should be fun!

Saturday, 20 January 2018

BrakeVan Special - Figure painting

Well painting the cattle and Pip got me started on figure painting but these are becoming a real task to paint...eventually I built up a small head of steam and completed the few below.

Well, they still needing a little shading and a coat of matt varnish applying but they look to be a reasonable start. I have a number more to paint as the Brake Van Special will consist of about six vans. Unfortunately this is about the maximum number of brake vans my cassettes will take. I feel the vans should look crowded with people so I estimate I'll require around 40 or more figures. Hope I can keep the enthusiasm going and get a few more painted before Scaleforum...