Saturday, 9 January 2021

Finishing Hexworthy station

 Back in June I showed a canopy fitted to the Hexworthy station building. I realised I'd taken a couple of photos of it under construction so thought I should share them! It's made from plasticard edged with some plastic valancing I've had for "one day" for years. The felt roof is just masking tape, applied in slightly overlapping strips. Also in this photo can be seen one of the chimneys with flashing fitted just before final installation.

The underside of the canopy is braced with plastic section and strip (the black diagonals are difficult to see but help prevent warping), and a centre rib made from the sprue from the valance. Paper-clip wires are fixed in place to provide a mounting to the building - holes were punched in the wall for them to push into. 

It was several months later until I got around to painting it. It was made harder when I realised the colour wasn't straight from a tin, I must have mixed it! Eventually I got a reasonable match to the doors, though this is a lesson to use an available colour when it might need to be matched in the future...

Anyway, with the canopy fitted and the chimneys now fixed, I think the station is finished. I have wondered about fitting lighting before it is too difficult, but there are more pressing matters so we will see.

Round the back there is less detail, with no gutters or downpipes, though since it will be a couple of inches from the backscene it could probably have managed even without doors and windows!

Hmm, the café in the old goods shed could do with some interior detail though. The roof is not fixed on yet...

Monday, 28 December 2020

Scenic base layer

Work on Hexworthy continues slowly, but I have made a little progress. Following the carving of the polystyrene landscape, it was given an outer "shell" layer from kitchen towel soaked in PVA. This is a bit like "decoupage"  I suppose, the kitchen towel allows the glue to soak right through. A couple of layers is surprisingly tough once solid. 

This looked a bit like a hospital gown, so I moved quickly onto a base scenic layer. Normally I use plaster, coloured with powder paint, but I've heard good things about using tile grout so decided to give it a try, it even comes pre-coloured so bought a bag in a suitable shade of brown. I mixed some up and slopped it on with a big brush. 

It dries paler of course, not a bad shade for soil though it looks like rather dry soil - a desert right now! Anyway, a good base for further scenic work and quick and easy to do. 

I've also stuck the walling and bridge in place now, there are a few gaps to fill in. 

Sunday, 27 December 2020

A blue Terrier

I got this delightful blue Terrier tank engine for Christmas. The mobile phone photos do make it look a little lurid, but it is quite a bright blue. 

The livery and lettering is for the Kent & East Sussex Railway, a light railway that is now preserved. The model is by Hornby.

The detailing is nicely done, including the cab interior and back-head, and the lining is very fine. I'm sure it could do with a little light weathering though. 

You may have noticed that, once again, I have a standard gauge loco posed on a narrow gauge layout... and don't in fact have a layout to run it on!

Saturday, 5 December 2020

An Encyclopaedia of British Bridges.

OK, I like bridges. I guess as an Engineer I like many things structural and mechanical, and I'm always interested in how things work and why they are the way they are. I even did a little Civil Engineering as part of my degree, so have a basic understanding of them, and bridges are such a visual illustration of forces at work. So perhaps not surprising that this book by David McFretrich caught my eye

It's a massive book - large hardback format, almost 450 pages, and rather heavy - and is exactly what it says on the front. It doesn't list every bridge in Britain of course, but aims to list all those of interest; historically, structurally, aesthetically, socially. Many of them (near half) are illustrated with a photo, though of course these are by necessity rather small. Some photos are rather poor, being dark or grainy, which is understandable where it is a historic image but I'm sure better quality pictures could have been sourced in some places. The short text entry gives the background, history, key structural and aesthetic details very succinctly, with references and even listing any walks that pass it.

As well as the encyclopaedia and references, and a geographical index, the book starts with a brief outline of the types of bridge and how they work - very clearly and simply. There is a "miscellany" with further information, categories, and background, referring to listed bridges. It is a good quality book that seems very well put together. The author not only knows his bridges but is enthusiastic about them, yet he is able to explain the subject well - this is not an engineers textbook, it is accessible to any reader. It's probably not a guide for modellers either, though I think it is good inspiration for the many types of bridges in Britain. 

Of course probably this isn't the sort of book you read from cover to cover, but it is a fascinating resource to dip into and flick through. If like me you find bridges interesting, or if you like structures, architecture, or history, you will find this interesting. 

Saturday, 21 November 2020

Hexworthy gets verticality

Progress with Hexworthy has been so very slow there has been nothing to post for a while, but I have now added some 3-dimensional landscape forms. You will see that the printed backscene has been protected with cling-film, which will stay in place until the messy part of scenery development (i.e. most of it) is done.

Road and yard areas around the station were cut from thick card, using paper templates as the shapes were remarkably complex in places. Further card was used underneath in places to raise the roadway a little, and at the end near the gateways foamboard packing was used to raise the level further. The platforms are still not fixed yet.

The bridge and public road walls have been stuck in place, with the heights of the yard roadways built up to match. The river bank was already in place, but all the ground above track level has been added, carved from expanded polystyrene foam. Some of the pieces were quite complex to cut as they fitted into gaps between the roads, backscene, and tracks. 

The ground rises slightly behind the station and at the right-hand end, with a valley for the stream. The prototype location is in a steep valley but the baseboard doesn't allow space to show that, I'm hoping the rising ground combined with the backscene will give that sense of location. The flat area is a piece of MDF - I have an idea for a detail scene here and it would be easier to build it off-layout, so this is removable with screws for now. 

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

British Steam Locomotives - A Pictorial Survey

This new book by David Mather serves the seemingly growing interest in industrial railways. The title tells you what it is - pictures of industrial steam locomotives. Although a portrait style as befits the typical photograph, it is a medium size and relatively hefty 200 pages - most of which contain a photo, and many of those are full-page - in a quality hardback format with dust-jacket.

The biggest and best known industrial steam locomotives builders as well as a number of less well known companies - 39 loco builders in all - are covered in alphabetical order. Each is introduced with a concise history and profile of the company, and where preserved examples can be found, though there are no lists (except numerical output by builder as an appendix) - this is a pictorial survey of course. There were a few examples of poorly-phrased text but the content was enough to be interesting and provide background, while allowing the majority of space to be filled with pictures. 

The pictures range from period black and white, early colour, through early preservation to the present day. I particularly liked the period colour photos, which are handy weathering examples of in-service industrial locos for modellers. Generally they are interesting shots with informative captions about the loco and the location of use, though the date of the photo was not always given. 

I did find some of the photo choices odd, sometimes not showing the loco well. There were 12 pages of Austerity locos - I know they were a numerous class, but it didn't feel very balanced, and there were few narrow gauge - not a single "quarry Hunslet" which is another numerous industrial class. All are of locos in use in the UK except three photos of North British locos in use overseas; since many of the loco builders listed were also prolific exporters this seemed inconsistent, as was the photo of a traction engine! Also while it might be expected that early period photos are of variable quality, I noticed a few of the more recent photos of preserved locos were pixelated, grainy, slightly out of focus or badly framed - surely better photos could have been found? 

If that sounds picky, it is really - overall the book "does what it says on the tin". Those with an interest in industrial steam locos, or even steam locos in general, will enjoy browsing the pictures, and perhaps learning about loco types and builders that are less well known. Modellers will find it a useful resource for details, liveries, and weathering, and perhaps some unusual loco inspiration. I can see it being a good book to while away some lockdown hours, or as a Christmas present, and why not? 

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!