Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Illuminating Slugworth

In a small interlude from scenery, we fitted the layout with lighting. Back in April I revealed I'd experimented with 4000K "Natural White" LED strips, with a view to fitting them to Hexworthy. That's true, but I also had this little layout in mind, as Joshua was adamant it needed to have a lighting pelmet. So this is the kit we got:
  • Natural White 4000K SMD 5050 LED strip, 5m, 60 LED's per meter (link)
  • A 12V 2A Power Supply Adaptor, which should be good for about 2m of LED's (link)

We cut enough strip to fill the length of the layout, and stuck it to a strip of wood under the lighting pelmet, as close to the front of the layout as possible. We also stuck foil to the inside of the fascia to reflect light back into the layout.


The power adaptor came with a socket with screw terminals, so as you can see above we ran the wires back to that. I drilled a hole in the end of the layout big enough to push the socket through, and then stuck the back end in place with hot glue. Simple but neat, from the outside at least.


The result is plenty of light, while the Natural White doesn't lean too much to the blue or yellow, giving a good daylight impression. We'd allowed for fitting an extra strip or part-strip if needed, but decided that wasn't necessary.


The outside of the layout has also been painted. We used grey primer from Wilkinsons, and decided that the dark grey was a nice enough finish to leave it at that!

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Cobbling the yard

The factory yard needed a cobbled surface, after discussing whether to use DAS clay Joshua decided on the Wills sheets, as I used on Awngate. Well I happened to have three sheets in stock (left over from Awngate no doubt) so they were cut to fit snugly around the buildings and track using paper templates. The thick Wills plastic was hard for an 11 year old to cut accurately, so I had to help a bit here.


The close-up above shows how we painted individual cobbles in a variety of shades - I think we had 5 variations of colour. It takes a little while, but the results are worth it. A thin wash over the lot tones them together and fills the courses between them.


A look underneath shows how the sheets are joined (with off-cuts). A strip of kerb edging has been attached front middle too. The odd shapes fit around the buildings, and pieces of thick card are used to pack the plastic up to just below the rail height. This means thinning the plastic along the edges of the track to clear the sleepers and chairs - another tedious job.


Finally fitted in place the cobbles look the part and start to set the scene. The brick-paper on the backscene fills any gaps between buildings.

Friday, 7 September 2018

Andrew Barclay


A new arrival, a fine Andrew Barclay model from Hattons. I'm not really up to speed with recent RTR releases, but I am really impressed with the detailing of this model - I'm talking brake rods, sand pipes, brake shoes that look like they are touching the wheels, super fine handrails.


And although rather tricky to photograph, the cab interior looks like you could get in and drive it (if you were 76 times smaller). Oh, and the buffers are actually sprung. It runs well too, although I've only tried it on my son's train-set. It could have been geared a little slower being an industrial shunter, but it ran smoothly down to low speeds.


Now, I seem to have accidentally started a collection of industrial locos in OO. Oh dear...

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Building time

I'm a little behind with updates on Joshua's EXPO-NG entry, so here's a quick rundown on the buildings. He wanted a factory scene so I raided my cupboard of bits and found left-overs from the Metcalf card kits I used on Awngate, which produced these two buildings seen here unfinished. The bare card edges were touched up with paint, and interiors painted black.


The kits also include sheets of matching brick-paper, and spare windows and doors, so with a little work we came up with a couple of larger buildings to match, which were built to fit the available space. The one on the left has a flat roof made with emery paper.


You can also see the back-scene has been painted with a sky colour, simple but quite effective.


For the final building Joshua wanted a corrugated iron shed, which we made up from plasticard (black, to save painting inside). This was clad in Wills clear corrugated material, which not only allowed for the window panel (by masking during painting), but is nice and thin at the edges unlike the solid corrugated material. The brick plinth uses Slaters sheet.


The building was primed with red primer, painted with some rust colours, and then wetted and sprinkled with salt. Once dry black paint was sprayed over the salt. The salt was later washed/rubbed off to give a peeling blistering paint effect. A dirty wash and some weathering powders completed the finish, although it is seen here awaiting its doors.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Gaugemaster open day 2018

Yesterday I dropped in at Gaugemaster for their open day/exhibition, where they had a couple of large marquees full of layouts and trade demos. Getting in and out was tricky due to the railway crossing - who would have thought that little rural station would see quite so many trains on a Saturday afternoon?


Anyway, there were some nice layouts, including "Somewhere in France" in 009 showing the WW1 railways. It packed an awful lot in a small space which I'm sure wasn't realistic, but it did tell the story of what the railways did and was very nicely modelled. The trains were a bit fast though.


The originally named "Gas Works" in O has a nice industrial atmosphere and some interesting shunting.


However my favourite layout was "Ferrocarril San Maria Gandia" which used HO, HOe, and Faller automated road vehicles in a Spanish setting. There's loads of nicely modelled detail without the layout feeling crowded, and with a definite Spanish feel. A video running next to the layout showed the prototype scenes that had inspired (and been copied on) the layout. No wonder it seemed to have a crowd around it.


There's a selection of photos here (not that many this time) including a few of the other layouts, though one or two seemed to be little more than commercial demonstrations. Still I did manage to pick up a couple of things I needed, and a few that I didn't but were well priced in the "seconds" sales room. All in all, worth a trip.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Launceston Steam Railway

I'm just back from a trip to Cornwall, where I managed to get to the Launceston Steam Railway for the first time since my childhood. This is a preservation era line built to 2' gauge on a standard gauge trackbed and using (mainly) "Quarry Hunslet" locos rescued from the Welsh slate quarries.


Despite its "modernity" I love the way that this little railway has developed a character of its own, from the "tramway" style carriages to the buildings made with traditional materials, quirky track layout, and the clutter around the workshops.


The ride is not very long, but long enough and very pleasant.


Even the loco shed and the water crane seem to have a particular character - simple and purposeful structures with a little style.



A tantalising view of a more substantial loco shed, reached by a steep and sharply curved kick-back track from another steep and sharply-curved siding.


Old farm buildings have been re-purposed as museum/storage/workshop spaces reached by the steep curved siding and various spurs. Yet these delightfully dilapidated MOD wagons are stored off the tracks...


Well worth a visit, and with a train ticket you get a discount on a cream tea in the cafe...!

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Awngate in BRM


Awngate is featured in this month's (well, September) edition of British Railway Modelling. It's always nice to see my work in print, in this case 6 pages featuring some fine photos taken by Phil Parker.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Wiring the challenge

Time for another update on my son's EXPO challenge layout. With the track laid it was time to make it work, which means some wires. Quite a few it seemed, for such a small layout.


Following my usual approach, a "choc-block" connector was stuck under the layout with hot glue, and all the track feeds and returns run through it. Wires are numbered/coded and colours are used according to type - main feed, point "frog" switched feed, or return. The underside of the point switches can be seen on the right, and the back of the power input socket in the side of the layout.


The DIN socket which takes the controller power in, screwed into the fascia panel.


A couple of isolating switches are also mounted through the fascia. So it is relatively simple, honest!

My son got to learn the art of stripping wire (with one of those wire-stripping tools, which he liked) and also soldering wires to switches and rail. However he enjoyed it most of all when he got to finally run a train around his layout.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Amberley rail gala 2018

Last Saturday I was at Amberley, where they were having the annual railway gala weekend. This year the event celebrated the 100th Birthday of Peter, the Bagnal 0-4-0ST.


The format of the event was similar to previous years, with two passenger trains running, interspersed with demonstration goods trains and light engine movements, so there was always something interesting happening.


It was nice to see a line-up of three ex-Thakeham locos, although they were not running.


Inside the shed was the model railway exhibition - smaller than it has been some years, but still plenty to see. Richard Glover had brought his new micro layout Brockles Ghyll in 009.


John Wilkes was showing his layout Coleford, the subject of several magazine articles and now the feature of a book published by Narrow Planet. John manages a different perspective which makes the layout interesting and different. Just look at that track-work, and the winter trees.


The cameo scenes on the layout certainly avoid the usual cliches. Like this fly-tipping scene!


I was there helping to man the 009 Society stand with the Sussex Downs 009 group. Our usual approach is to run a demonstration stand alongside the display case and our small demo layout, which often gets people interested in what we're doing and the scale in general. Here's my work-space.


I'll soon post an update about the projects you can see... in the meantime, more pictures of the event can be seen here.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

A board becomes a layout

The next step with the baseboard was to add fascia panels to protect the foam-core board, which although surprisingly strong is not very robust. Joshua also wanted a back-scene and a lighting pelmet, for such a small layout it made sense to make them integral. The whole lot was cut from a sheet of 3mm MDF; the end pieces forming a support for the backscene and lighting, with a "lid" on top to cover the lighting. The front, rear, and end pieces were glued to the foarm-core board and also screwed to the blocks that had been set in the corners. Small strips of wood were used to help join the backscene to the ends, and blocks behind the lighting pelmet joined the top pieces together.


As you can see at this point track-laying had already started, as we'd realised it would be easier to lay the curve through the backscene and the point control wires before the backscene was in place. The curve is pretty tight, so the rails were slid out of the sleepers and pre-bent between fingers, before re-threading the sleepers back on. Track is glued down with PVA, held with a few track pins pushed into the foam-core until the glue has dried.


Point operation is by wire-in-tube, which was laid into a groove cut into the top of the foam-core board and held with hot glue. We've used the simple but effective trick of connecting the wire to a slide switch, which deals with frog polarity.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Another distraction

In my last post I referred to a couple of distractions from my usual modelling plans, this is the second one.

Having helped me with exhibiting my layouts for the last few years, my son has been saying for a while that he wanted to build his own 009 layout that could be taken to exhibitions, a small layout like the EXPO challenges. Then he found out about the Dave Brewer challenge for this year's EXPO-NG show, which is to build a layout 50cm by 35cm, and decided that he was going to build a layout to enter.

Of course what that means is that he is going to get me to help him build the layout, including advice and doing anything he deems too tricky, so the result will be a bit of a joint effort. However that does leave us a challenge in simply making the time to work on it - there's not a lot that Joshua could do without supervision, and I'm not doing anything without him.

2018-01-17 20.10.24

We've been working on it for a few months now, but I'll rewind the story to the planning stage. This was mostly done full-size on a piece of lining paper, with paper point templates, and some mock-up buildings made from cereal packets. We tried out a few ideas, and even has some input from Mum, before he settled on the design he wanted.


The baseboard was made from foam-core board, which is easy to cut with a knife, even for an 11 year old. The parts are stuck together with a hot glue gun. The top is double thickness, laminated with PVA glue, and blocks of wood were set into the corners ready to screw side panels to later.


More soon...

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Another Control Panel

If you've noticed that updates on my modelling activities have been limited of late, there are a couple of distractions that could explain things, and not just holidays and the hot weather.

The Sussex Downs 009 group are building a new layout, and I seem to have got the job of wiring it up, possibly because no one else seemed to want to. After some time thinking and planning I have adopted my usual approach of coding the wires, and using lots of terminal blocks, hopefully making it easier to follow - and debug in future. However, it became apparent that progress during fortnightly meetings was rather slow, so I brought home the control panel for some homework.


I can take no credit for the box itself as that is the work of Martin Collins, who has much better woodwork skills than I. The panel is my usual approach of a sheet of aluminium, with a computer printout schematic diagram, and a layer of clear plasticard on top. The coloured switches operate the track sections while the silver ones operate the points. The two grey cables run one to each of the two baseboards.


Inside (the panel is upside-down in front of it's box) may look messy, but the terminal blocks are labelled according to wire codes, and simply link the switches to the track, point motor, or appropriate power supply, so should not be too hard to follow. The incoming power connections have yet to be made, and the big cables need some kind of cable grip.


The multi-way connectors weren't much fun to wire up but I've not found a better alternative for this many pins, that isn't too bulky or costly. Each connects to a hinged panel on the back of the baseboard, one of which is seen here.


The back of the panel has more terminal blocks - which connect from the socket to the various parts of the layout. The seemingly random letters and numbers are the codes for each wire, the wires are colour coded according to purpose too. This panel will hinge down for easy access if required.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Revisiting a French beauty

The end of May half-term saw us on a family holiday in France. I couldn't resist a trip to re-visit the Chemin de Fer de la Baie de Somme, which I first visited four years ago. This metre gauge line runs from St Valery sur Somme to Le Crotoy via Noyelles sur Mer, around the Somme estuary, with a branch to Cayeux sur Mer. We took the main route again as that was running a steam service, once again with a beautifully turned out loco and train, through peaceful countryside with views over the estuary.


Noyelles is a "through terminus", where the train reverses to take the second part of the line. Last time I visited two trains crossed here, which led to a simultaneous departure in the same direction on parallel tracks. Only one train today (although it did meet a standard gauge SNCF service in the station behind), but opportunity to watch the loco being turned and watered. Apparently this loco dates from 1889, and was built for the constructors of the Panama canal, before being used in Puerto Rico. It is now beautifully restored.

2018-05-31 17.07.36

The turntable at the St Valery terminus is on the quayside with inset track, and this delightful inset turntable that is a real crowd-pleaser, in front of the small but ornate station building. One day I must build a model based on this scene!


There's loads of inspiration for modellers, such as the little rail-car or drasine spotted in the yard as we passed. The tiny set of bogies in front of it are interesting too, I suspect for moving rails when renewing track.


Even the track itself is fascinating, unusually complex for a narrow gauge line, such as this three-way point in front of the turntable at Noyelles. Note the boarding for the crossing.


The scissors crossing must be even more unusual; this connects the two running lines from St Valery (right) and Le Crotoy (left) into the platform at Noyelles. The siding on the left is standard gauge, I've noticed the rail has taken on a different colour.


Added to all of that there is dual-gauge track between Noyelles and St Valery, with the metre-gauge set inside the standard (i.e. not sharing a rail) giving rise to some pointwork oddities. I assume this is so SG wagons can be moved by NG locos.

This is a gem of a line that was well worth a second visit. It's only a little over an hour from Calais so look it up if you are passing! http://www.cfbs.eu/en/