Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Thakeham Hunslet Progress

Earlier in the year I mentioned starting on a model of one of the Thakeham Hudson Hunslets, using the Nonnesminstre kit as a basis. I'd prepared a motor bogie, and assembled the frames and footplate. In July I managed to take measurements of the prototype thanks to the helpful folks at Amberley.

Then, out of the blue, I was asked if I could take Thakeham Tiles to EXPO-NG as another layout had pulled out. Since Thakeham was built for the EXPO Dave Brewer challenge three years ago I'm delighted that the organisers think it worthy of showing again, in it's own right, as it were. However it struck me that if I was going to build a Thakeham loco to run on the layout, now is the time!


So the dimensions were translated to a scale drawing, albeit at 1:40 scale to match the kit (slightly over scale for 1:43) and a couple of tweeks to match the kit frames. Then it was time to start cutting plasicard to see if I could get the cab looking right. I find calipers invaluable for marking up plastic; as well as setting and transferring measurements, they can score a faint mark which with pencil rubbed in, becomes the cutting guide.


The cab sides are 20 thou plastic with the roof, floor, front, and rear from 40 thou. The windows were a challenge, the beading is formed from micostrip, which is then shaped with a fine blade and emery paper to give a rounded appearance. It's a little over-scale but they are a distinctive feature so needed to be present. Glazing has been cut to fit, and put away for later. Getting the tapered front to the cab to fit together was tricky too.


The next challenge is the bonnet. The prototype has an extended bonnet from the original loco, so the kit component wouldn't work. An inverted tray was made from 40 thou plastic, with a triple layer top for shaping, and internal bracing. Once the curve looked right, a sheet of 10 thou plastic was fitted over, warm water helping the shaping. As with the prototype this finishes short of the cab, sitting on the fuel tank.


So the outline shape comes together, so far it looks OK but there are a lot of details to add. Nothing is assembled yet.

As a reminder, here's the prototype. You can see how open the internals are, with just some linkages and cables filling the space behind the engine, which adds to the challenge of a convincing model!


Monday, 26 September 2016

WD Hunslet - Valve Gear

After a summer of very little modelling, for various reasons, it's been nice to get the modelling tray out and pick up a project I started a while back. This is the Langley kit for a War Department Hunslet 4-6-0, which fits a much-modified Minitrix 2-6-2 chassis - those modifications being the most complex part of the kit!

So far I have successfully dismantled the chassis and cut the block to shape, moved the connecting rod from the middle to front wheelset, attached the bogie and front frame, and started re-assembly. The cylinders move forward, and this leaves the con-rod and valve gear at a bit of a stretch, while the tab on top of the slide rods glues under an outrigger.


Except here's the problem. The mechanism binds, and I'm certain it's because where the crank pins are furthest from the cylinders the valve gear is pulled tight, and just won't go any further. I suppose I could shift the cylinders back a mm or so, but I don't think that's right. Also the plated metal valve gear means the tab on top of the slide bars doesn't want to stick to the whitemetal outrigger, even superglue gives way. Plus the bottom of the valve gear is frighteningly close to the track.


So on the other side I've modified the outrigger, trimming the back of it so that the shiny tab sits on top of the rear "shelf". It will still need gluing but it is held more securely. This will be hidden by the side tanks too, so big blobs of epoxy might be in order. The result is the slide rods are lifted at least 1mm relaxing tension on the valve gear at full travel, and giving more ground clearance too. I've also rotated the cylinder slightly closer to the horizontal to line up with the slide bars - I think they look closer to the prototype pictures, plus that moves the face of the cylinder back a fraction.

So far so good, I'll do the same to the right side and see if it rolls freely. But I've already spotted another question...


The cab front and back-head has a slot for the motor, except the motor is too wide to fit. Unless, as shown, the motor is rotated 90 degrees to the vertical - where with a little filing it should fit. However the instructions don't mention this, and as the rear plastic support would need removing, and new connections making to the pick-ups as well as a means of stopping the motor spinning, I'm sure it would be if that were intended. Given the motor will be inside the cab either way I see little advantage, so I'll probably be grinding away a lot of whitemetal!

I will finish by mentioning the wheels, as N-gauge wheels don't look good on a 009 model. As well as filling the front wheels to make prototypical disc wheels, I've added balance weights to the drivers from filler.  But there were still way to many spokes, and cutting some away would be very difficult without damage. I decided to cut back alternate spokes - they are still there, but recessed so they are less visible, The remaining spokes will be highlighted when painting hopefully giving the impression of a 6-spoke wheel (the prototype had 7, but close enough) rather than 12...

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Worthing Exhibition 2016

I enjoyed a visit to the Worthing model railway exhibition with my son today. I'll start by being a little controversial: at first I found a lot of the layouts a little uninspiring... perhaps it's because my tastes are a little off-beat, perhaps because there was no narrow gauge (I made it 10 OO, 1 EM, 3 N, and 1 O, which could be considered a poor balance), and arguably a rather narrow range of themes (BR steam dominated). Maybe a lot of club layouts, which can tend to be unadventurous - and a number of them are widely seen. However I should say it wasn't a lack of quality, the layouts were a high standard, and the selection probably appealed to most visitors. There were a couple of layouts with over-loud DCC sound which quickly became tiresome, which I moved on from pretty quickly (when it can be heard across the room it is definitely overdone!) , a shame as the modelling was good on both. Anyway, here's a few of my favourite shots, click on the pictures to see them larger.


I did like the simplicity of Foldham (OO, Mike Denwood), which showed that a compact and easy to build layout could be attractive. Details like the burnt out shed gave it life.


Kayreuth (N, Ian Hogben) is a German crowd-pleaser layout full of cliches and trains (and trams) whizzing by. But it is well built and detailed, giving it character beyond the commercial parts that make it up, such as this well-modelled motorway (autobahn) contraflow.


New Bridge Street (OO, River MRC) is compact and well detailed, with a strong setting (London), this street scene caught my eye.


Pevensey Beach (OO, Pevensey Bay MRC) is a nice layout, but it is the station concourse that really caught my eye. The detail of the building and canopy is well executed, while the cut-away building showing the parcels office interior is an unusual (and brave!) move.


Summer Springs on the Cut (OO, Andrew Knights) is already a favourite of mine. It's an idyllic and well-modelled scene, which will hit a chord if you ever read Arthur Ransome.

So that shows I did find quality and inspiration. The trade support was good too - some good second-hand stalls (good for my son to spend his pocket money), and my usual favourite (Squires - I always find something I need!), plus some specialist traders as well as the bigger shops.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

A Sentinel... or two?

Every now and then a model comes along that you can't resist, even though it doesn't suit your layout - or even fit the track! Well, look what I've got:


It's a Hornby Sentinel. I do like a small industrial loco, especially with outside frames and whirly rods, even a diesel! This type dates from the early 1960's and some are still in use I believe, so could be suitable for a wide span of periods, although the livery may be a bit modern for earlier times. It's actually an incredibly well detailed model, down to the sand pipes and windscreen wipers - and for that it's very good value. I've not yet had chance to run it, I'll have to persuade my Son to get his train-set out this weekend...


I have to confess it's not the first Sentinel I've got - I have one of the steam vertical boiler locos too. Two generations of industrial shunter, now where are those plans for a shunting layout?


Sunday, 4 September 2016

Another Month...

..Another of my locos on the front of the 009 News!


The article though is by Martin Collins about the Sussex Downs group layout, the Upsand Downs and Everleight Light Railway. The photo was taken at EXPONG by Mich Thornton, where I'd placed my then recently completed Hunslet in front of the engine sheds (most of the club locos were in use with the entire layout in action). It couldn't haul any trains due to different couplings, but added a bit of interest. The loco on the right is one of Martin's Varikits, and like the Hunslet sits on the Minitrains F&C outside-framed chassis.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Pevensey Bay Heatwave

At the end of last month I took Awngate to the Pevensey Bay exhibition, and how remiss of me not to have reported back! Generally the layout performed well, but I did have an unusual number of unplanned uncoupling incidents - something the Microtrains couplings don't normally suffer from. It was a fine summer's day, which meant it got rather warm inside the village hall, and I wonder if that was a factor - weakening the springs or reducing the friction perhaps. At one point I also had an isolation switch which was on in both positions... but was working normally a few minutes later.


No problems with the locos though, and here's the new Hudswell Clarke making ready to depart with a passenger train.


Although not a large hall it was packed with layouts. Next to us, and the winner of the public vote, was Salzgrabe, an HOe salt mine scene, by Andrew and Simon Chant. It had 4 separate circuits with trains running on each, plus loads of details and working features. My son commented that it wouldn't be interesting to operate (I've trained him well!), that's true but it's an exhibition crowd pleaser and nicely done.


Eastbourne Remembered was a very small, simple, but interesting tram layout of the long-gone Eastbourne trams, by Derek Smith. I didn't even know they had trams! Although listed as OO it's clearly 009, and I notice from the photo that the controller is built to look like a tram controller!


This fine P4 layout is a model of Seaton by Simon Harris. The scenery is well done but really could do with some kind of backscene, the locos and stock is excellent.

That's just a few highlights, there were lots more excellent layouts and I was happy to see Narrow Gauge well represented, so feel free to browse more photos of this event.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

In The News

A good few months back I'd responded to an appeal for articles for the 009 society magazine, 009 News, by writing a short piece about Awngate. I'd forgotten about that until I opened a brown envelope today to find my layout featured - including the cover photo!

Also featured in this issue is Edge, by my friend Chris Ford, so it's a good month for small layouts. The 009 news is a top quality magazine, so if you're interested in narrow gauge modelling in the smaller scales do join the 009 society!