Saturday, 20 February 2021

Magnetic uncoupling with standard 009 couplings

While I am happy with using Microtrains couplings for most of my 009 stock with its advantages in shunting, I have realised that fitting them to my Heljan Manning Wardle is too difficult but also unnecessary. It will only be likely to run with suitable coaches such as the Peco ones, and so long as it can couple up reliably and uncouple to run round the type of coupling doesn't really matter. So retaining the "standard" 009 coupling is easiest, except that the ones factory-fitted to the loco sit too high, and I've been unable to adjust them until they couple reliably to the Peco coaches. 

A while back I bought a pack of Greenwich couplings to fit the NEM socket, these were bent up following the instructions and simply push into the sockets on the loco in place of the existing Peco type couplings. Being thin metal they are easily adjusted to sit level, which the Peco ones don't. As you can see here by leaving the loops off and the pivot tabs up (or cut off) they clear the cowcatcher easily. 

Being pre-blackened the Greenwich couplings look discrete but are entirely compatible with the Peco coupling - though since I have left the loops off the loco (to keep the cowcatchers) the coaches will need loops at both ends. I do need to provide some auto-uncoupling though, and I don't like pop-up ramps for the Peco loops.

So here is an ordinary staple held centrally in some pliers. Both sides were bent upwards from the flat plane of the staple.

This makes a U shape with the ends bent up - these tails were leaned back slightly, and trimmed about 3mm. 

The bent U shape is fitted over the outside of the Peco loop droppers. They can be tweaked to be a cosy fit, but not too tight as that can stop the loop moving freely. The upright tails are fixed with a little bead of superglue gel. The couplings are easily pulled out their sockets to have the staple fitted. 

The Peco coupling works normally, but when positioned over a magnet the staple pulls down which lifts the loop. If there are two loops a pair of magnets might be needed, but I only want to uncouple the loco (without loops) from the coaches so this should work well with one magnet. Here a tiny 2mm x 2mm neodymium magnet is held between the sleepers with blue-tack, a Greenwich magnet would be ideal but I don't have one, I will try a slightly longer magnet set under the sleepers which should work with less accurate positioning. However, the experiment shows this is a simple mod to add magnetic uncoupling capability to the standard Peco 009 coupling. It might work with other types so long as the loop is not magnetic (the Peco loop is plastic).  The coupling on the Manning Wardle is level here and couples to the Peco coach, but does still look slightly high in this photo, a quick adjustment with pliers should fix that. 

Sunday, 31 January 2021

Water supply and buffer stops for Hexworthy

A while back I got a resin kit for a water tower from Anyscale Models. It's a nice small size just right for 009, and the stone base fits well with Hexworthy. It came with some wire for pipework, but no outlet for locos to use, so I found a corner of plastic sprue and carved out the resin to set it under the tank, the filler bag is a piece of electrical heat-shrink insulation and a wire handle was added for operating a valve. 

While the tank is a nice size for 009, the base is too short - leaving the tank too low to fill a loco. I decided to make a platform for it to stand on, which could provide a coaling area too. The platform was made from pizza base foam and embossed as with the other stonework on Hexworthy, with some steps at the platform end and a wall behind. I will add the coal later. 

As you can see this now puts the tank at a good height for filling the tanks of locos. It is situated beyond the end of the platform alongside the loco release, where locos can be serviced after uncoupling from their train and running round. Similar arrangements are seen in preservation at Porthmadog and Welshpool. 

A close-up shows the pipework detail, a filler pipe and another outlet. The water is a piece of clear plastic painted murky green on the underside, there's a small gap which I should fill with gloss medium at some point. Really there should be some kind of level indicator or float valve on the inlet pipe. 

At the end of the running line a large stone forms a stop-block, hopefully preventing the road wall being demolished. The siding to the left has a Peco buffer stop. 

The problem with the Peco buffer stop is it looks a bit flimsy, not so bad on the end of a long siding but it doesn't look very substantial if used on a platform or running line. For the bay platform I beefed up the Peco moulding with some diagonal pieces of plasticard, suggesting hefty timbers set into the ground to reinforce the stop beam. It's simple but does make the little buffer stop look like it could survive a gentle nudge. 

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.