Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Running snags and a coupling challenge

The modelling mojo seems to have been in short supply in recent months, but from time to time a few minutes shunting Loctern Quay proves a good distraction. However, I've noticed the little Bagnall frequently stalled at a couple of places. I'd checked the wheels weren't dirty and the rail head had a good coat of graphite, and other locos didn't stall in the same place. In the end it just needed some careful attention to see the first issue...

The cross-head guide rails just touch those bolts on the point lever base enough to lift the loco very slightly, so the wheels loose contact with the rails. Once spotted the solution was simple - cut off the bolt heads with a scalpel - and smooth running without stalling was achieved.

The other place was the point inset in the crossing. Again close inspection revealed that part of the inset "timbers" was lifting just to the left of the frog (in the facing direction), this was enough to lift the lightweight Bagnall but didn't bother heavier whitemetal locos. A spot of glue pushed under the lifting end and weighted down returned the timber to just below rail level, and smooth running resumed here too. Mind you, this photo shows the loco could do with dusting!

Another job was to fit a Microtrains coupling to my new Decauville. This was tricky because the couplings have a large draft box which I normally set behind the buffer-beam, but as you can see from the underside shot below, the chassis precludes that. In addition, I couldn't see how to remove the body without damage. I managed to cut a square hole in the rear buffer-beam to recess the box slightly, then built up a supporting bracket around it from black plasticard. It's rather large, but some prototype NG locos had similarly large coupling mounts, and a touch of paint will tone it down. It does at least work, even if the overhang is rather large.

I still need to do the front, I'm more worried about that as a messy job will be more obvious. However, one coupling is enough for Loctern Quay!

Monday, 12 October 2020

Over-size Ruston

 I recently got another toy - the Hornby little Ruston shunter suits my interests in industrial locos, and is ideal for small layouts. I'm also rather partial to some wasp stripes!

It is tiny - but of course, it isn't actually 009, so I don't have a layout to run it on! For now it will join the growing collection of industrial OO locos, the irony of this little OO loco is that it is smaller than several of my 009 locos. 

Despite being small it is a finely detailed model, though no doubt someday it will get a little weathering to bring it to life more. The open cab could use a crew too, but is clear of motor. 

It comes coupled to a truck for additional pickups, though it more than doubles the length of the loco. I'm well used to 4-wheel locos in narrow gauge models so I don't see the need for that, so I will have to figure out how to disconnect it at some point. I'll also need to fit the couplings. However, without a layout, there seems no rush...

Monday, 14 September 2020

The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway

 Another book by prolific NG railway author Peter Johnson has recently been published, this time on the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway. 

The hardback book is similar in style to Peter's other recent books on the Vale of Rheidol Railway and the Corris Railway, all three share a common factor - they all came under the ownership of the Great Western Railway, and these books are expanded from some material that was compiled in Peter's book on the Great Western Narrow Gauge Railways a few years ago. 

A substantial portion of the book deals with the various proposals to build a railway to Llanfair, and how the successful scheme came about, including the local and central government funding. The periods under Cambrian and Great Western control are then covered. The nature of a book based on research of documents of a historical time means much of the content comes from official minutes and records, with some operational details and limited personal perspectives. 

There are plenty of photographs which are reproduced well, including some recent photographs, and some covering the preservation era, but most are period photographs. Sections of photographs covering for example locomotives or rolling stock are interspersed between the chapters. A map and gradient profile is included inside the covers, while some period maps are included giving detail of the main station layouts. There are no stock drawings though, which modellers like to see. 

The later part of the book tells the story of preservation to the present day. This is a nice end to the book, but this is a big story in itself which by necessity is covered only briefly. Key events and developments are noted, but by comparison to the original building and early operation of the railway this is clearly a whistle-stop tour. 

So this isn't a "definitive" work on the railway, but it is a good quality book with good photos and detailed but readable and enjoyable text. It tells a story of a rural railway with basic facilities that served its community for around 50 years, then after a difficult transition to preservation, has flourished as a characterful tourist railway. Whether it is a line you know well or not, if you like narrow gauge or minor railways then I am sure you will enjoy this book. 

Saturday, 29 August 2020

East Somerset Railway and SS Great Britain

Despite the current situation we recently managed a "stay-cation" in Somerset. I realised the East Somerset Railway was not far away, so we booked a visit.

It was nice to enjoy a steam train ride for the first time this year. The railway had various COVID measures in place; the use of compartment coaches kept family groups isolated from each other, and although the train was busy platforms were not crowded, so it felt pretty safe. Getting photos of the loco meant some awkward dodging of people to maintain social distancing though. 

I've never visited this line before and although a small operation with a short line, it was well organised and presented. Of course the loco was shiny but the carriages and station were well kept too. 

The loco shed area was open for viewing a short walk from the station - of course I had to take a look. Outside was this nice little Andrew Barclay saddle tank.

And this Sentinel diesel, a 6-wheeled version but I have a very similar 4-wheel Hornby model tucked away for a future project.

We also visited the SS Great Britain - not a railway but engineered by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the great Railway engineer. It was the longest ship in existence when built, an early iron ship and an early adopter of propeller propulsion, so quite radical in her day. Being a passenger liner made her quite different from many preserved warships, an interesting visit. 

Afterwards we walked along the quay, where some of the railway tracks that once served it are preserved. Sadly no demonstration trains were running and the "M-Shed" museum was closed, but I did find this line-up of nicely preserved wagons.

Sunday, 16 August 2020

Loctern Quay in Railway Modeller!


Loctern Quay is in the September 2020 Railway Modeller. I have to say the 4-page article shows it rather well! 

Friday, 31 July 2020


Another month has gone by and despite the current semi-lock-down I've not managed any modelling to report. Normally this time of year would feature a visit to the Amberley railway gala, but that of course was cancelled along with every other railway gala and exhibition. What's more, although some preserved railways have been able to open with some kind of service it is unlikely I'll be visiting many this year. So I have prescribed myself some (mail order) retail therapy...

It's a Minitrains Decauville "Progress" 0-6-0 tank, which I rather like the look of, but missed the first batch. I chose the red as I think it suited this loco best, and although it may be a little on the small side (I guess it is HO, but Minitrains can be variable in scale) I think it looks quite at home on Loctern Quay. I expect it will be seen hauling passengers to Hexworthy in due course too.

Like all Minitrains locos it runs smoothly, albeit with the motor and flywheel visible in the cab from some angles. I will have to get a (short) loco crew to distract from it. However, my biggest challenge will be fitting Microtrains couplings with their large draft box, and no space behind the buffer beams. 

The above photos were taken on my phone, and look somewhat bright - the red loco looks quite orange. By contrast the photo below was taken on a "proper" camera and I think is closer to true colour, here you can also see the working headlight. 

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

More stonework, slates, and slabs at Hexworthy

Since my last post I have revisited the stonework of the bridge and walls, touching in some stones with lighter shades of brown to lighten and increase the variation in tone. I think I overdid the washes to unify the colours which were too dark. The effect is subtle, probably the tone could be a little lighter still, but I am much happier.

Looking at photos of the real bridge I decided to add some lichen using dry-brushing of mint green paint, yes that really is the colour seen on the real thing (see the last post), and a hint of darker moss green at the base. 

The little culvert also looks lighter now.

The station stonework looked a little "fresh" by comparison, so I went over the mortar with more weathering powder/talc mixture but this time slightly more brown in colour. It is surprising the effect this has had in changing the tone of the building. I also painted the roof 

You may notice a few other changes to the station. 

I painted the roof - after finding building Loctern Quay that the York Modelmaking slates although grey paper, benefited from painting, I used the same approach here. Individual tiles were picked out in a few shades of grey-blue, then the whole roof given a wash of mid grey - this colours any remaining tiles and tones it all together. Perhaps the variation is too much here, but to me it looks much better than the plain uniform grey before, and hand cut slates can vary in colour much more than modern manufactured slates. 

The platforms last seen being laid from individually cut slabs has been painted. I started with a waft of Halfords grey primer, painted a similar grey with a slight hint of beige, then picked out a few slabs in slightly different shades - much less variation here though. A wash of thin beige and more weathering powders to fill any gaps finished the job. 

The other change is the addition of the canopy, made from some valance I had in stock (possibly Slaters) and plasticard, it has wire (paperclip) rods set into it that poke into holes in the foam building walls through into the foam-core of the intermediate floor. Although just a push-fit for now as it needs painting 

A little way to go with the ground coverings but the station area is starting to take shape.