Monday 29 August 2011

Growing a tree

Well, making a tree anyway, horticulturists may be disappointed!

I figured the background of Landswood Park would benefit from the enhancement given by a tree, and it would add to the rural theme. Given the model consists mainly of brick buildings and cobbles, it needs all possible help on that front!

Construction is by the traditional method of twisted wire, a job I find is much easier than it sounds, and quite therapeutic, although if you were making a forest a faster method may be required! The wire was sold as a bundle for tree making for about 50p, and should make about three trees of this size.

The long trunk is for mounting into a pocket on the back of the boxfile, as shown below. Once twisted to a suitable shape the whole lot is soldered, to stiffen it and to smooth the trunk a little. A blow torch would probably be useful for this, but my 25W iron did the job!

At the moment the tree is fixed behind the building and will slot in once the layout is set up. I'm now not sure if that looks too much like it is growing out of the building, so may move it along to the gap between the buildings, with the trunk behind a fence.

This photo shows preparation for the ground cover, which will be cobbles scribed into clay. However putting clay around the moving parts of the pointwork is asking for trouble, so instead I thought I'd cover them up with chequer plate. It is in fact Slaters plasticard, 4mm scale but looks fine to me, cut to fit and mounted just below rail height. Once the clay is in place it will be flush with the ground, but of course could easily be prised up should a point need attention, which the clay could not! The insides of the buildings have received a card floor - I was going to use plasticard, but thought the texture of card looked more like concrete.

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Friday 26 August 2011

More from the wagon works

Modelling activity has been a little confusing of late, switching between 009 and 014. There is a batch of items being painted, 009 stock being checked over, and various small tasks on the boxfile. In between I have built a few more of the delightful KB Scale wagons.

The fuel bowser wagon and barrel carrying wagon set are superbly detailed, and while a little fiddly to assemble they will make an interesting change from skips and flat wagons. I actually have another pair of these to make up, but they will probably be bashed into something different again.

Talking of flat wagons, I've made up three more, except that a couple of them have gained ends made from plasticard and scored for planking to match the deck. This gives them a nice agricultural feel, and again ads variety. Another feature is the brake stand fitted to one of the wagons. One reason for choosing a farmyard setting was the variation in wagons and loads that can be justified, whereas industrial lines would usually exist for one traffic. Being a small layout Landswood Park will be more interesting - visually and operationally - with a selection of different wagons, than it would with identical skips.

I've also added some lead under the framing and in the skips of the skip wagons, the flat wagons will have lead under the floor after painting. Which reminds me, I have a lot of wagons to paint now! They also all need couplings, although they are all ready to have them fitted, and I think I have enough couplings made up already too.

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Monday 15 August 2011

And back to Awngate ...

It is not just Landswood Park that I have to prepare for EXPO-NG in October, I also have an invitation for Awngate, my 009 layout! This layout hasn't had much attention in the last couple of years, so I have turned my attention to ensuring that it is presented at its best.

First up the layout has has seen the attention of the Dyson and a soft brush, it is amazing how the coulours change when a layer of dust is removed. Its operation has been checked too, the polarity switching for a couple of points had been intermittant and while I cannot find a problem, I have cleaned up the contacts of the accessory switches on the SEEP point motors. As they were reclaimed from a previous layout they could be well over 15 years old, so a little tarnishing of the contacts is excusable!

I have also been working through my stock boxes. The three Parkside Glyn Valley Tramway coaches that I started last year at EXPO-NG have finally been finished, with couplings, lead weight, passengers, and a coat of paint. The lamp tops and footboards have been made up to match the Vale of Rheidol brake van which has the same dimensions, so making a nice rake that seems suitable for the Awn Valley Tramway. With hindsight I should have added door-handles in place of the moulded ones, and at some point some transfers and weathering might add to their appearance.

The loco in that picture, "Lucy Ann", has also had some attention, finally getting the lead added over 2 years after she arrived from Paul Windle. Roofing lead was stuffed into her boiler and tanks. This has made a big difference to her ability to pull anything without spinning wheels! The plastic body on a Lifelike chassis was far too light and rear-heavy. She could do with a crew when I get around to finding suitable figures.

Another Windle loco, "Toby" has also had extra lead added, although the Bachmann Plymouth diesel chassis has a reasonable weight in this scale more is always better! In this shot are a couple of Eggerbahn coaches that have just had a repaint. Although a little small and continental in style, they do fit the character of the line, and suit Toby rather well!

This loco is one I built many years ago, from plastic and some whitemetal castings, on a Bachmann chassis. It was, and still is, a good running chassis at a cheap price, hence the tramway skirts. The inspiration was the Tralee & Dingle Hunslets, although mine is very much shortened and not to scale! I have just changed the couplings, which meant removing the cowcatchers I had fitted previously, a shame as they added character but I couldn't find a way to make the Microtrains couplers work over them. I've also removed some rather over-sized nameplates, at some point I shall get some new ones but I am not sure how to get rid of the marks from the old ones, short of a full repaint ...?

Other jobs on the list for Awngate include:

- Add trees and bushes

- Improve scenics generally, particularly foreground grass. A fence would be nice too.

- Weather track? It doesn't look too bad so not urgent

- Add detailing items to yards etc.

- I still need to build a loco shed, but this is unlikely to happen before EXPO!

- Check and test more rolling stock

- Check set up of layout on trestles, they've not been out the garage for 2 1/2 years!

- I could do with adding shelves to the fiddle yard, and possibly more cassettes ...

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Sunday 7 August 2011

Making a stand

With the separate cassette slotting into the end without support the boxfile has to be operated on a flat surface, and a table-top is ideal. Except that:
(1) tables at exhibition venues always seem to bow towards the middle, and as the table will probably be shared with another boxfile that could mean a serious slope to one end! and...
(2) a table is a little low for most people to view.
So it seemed to me that it would be worth making a stand to place the layout on.

And here is the result of the raid on the stocks of offcuts and recycled pieces of wood in the garage! It is simply 6mm MDF on some softwood ends, making a box about 2ft wide, 1ft deep. and 6 inches tall. It provides a flat surface for the layout, by adding packing under one end it can also be levelled, and has an open rear providing somewhere to hide the exhibition paraphernalia. The lamp used to illuminate the layout can be clamped in place too. (You can see here why I thought the gates on the cassette shown in the last post were necessary! At the time of this photo they had not been added).

This view shows the the lamp over the layout, it works well and gives a very good light. The extra 6 inches of height help with the display, without making it harder to operate or more difficult for children (and the disbled) to view. I might even stick some information about the layout on the front.

You may have noticed the backscene. My first attempt was to spray white over a grey background, with paper templates for hills etc being removed with each coat to give a "shadows in the mist" effect. Actually the effect was terrible! Fortunately my parents were visiting so I asked my Mum to bring her paints - she has got quite good at painting backscenes over the years! The cloudy sky works well with the flourescent lamp and the hint of countryside beyond helps set the farm scene.

With the boxfile packed away, and a second boxfile being used to store the buildings, backscene end boards, and stock. the stand can be inverted to provide a carrying box for the lot. There should also be space for the transformer and lamp! From underneath you can see the pencil marks and screw holes from a previous aborted project. OK, so the stand is a bit of an extravagance - being larger than the layout - but using it as a transport box as well as a stand makes it doubly useful, and it isn't extra kit to transport as I'd probably need a box anyway.
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Adding the "Stick"

The rules of the challenge allow a single cassette, described as a "Stick, to be attached to one end of the boxfile as a fiddle yard or headshunt, it can also be attached to multiple opeinings. Clearly my plan for Landswood required such a "stick" to make it runnable. I wanted to make a cassette that could be fitted to either of the tracks that leave the boxfile (although I doubt it will need to be connected to the shed/workshop line very often), and can be reversed - in order to allow wagons to be shunted to the workshop siding.

I made the cassette from plasticard, I could of use the trunking I used for Awngate but I didn't have any handy, and I only need a foot! To attach the cassette to the layout I used brass rod in brass tube. The rod is soldered into the tube on the cassette end, as it couldn't sick out of the boxfile! The cassette can slot into the layout with the brass tubes providing alignment and electrical conductivity in one easy move.

Now I can see you thinking, what stops the train falling out the end of the casstte? (If you weren't, I beat you to it!). So I added the gates in the picture below from L-section plastic, pivoted on a paperclip! They simply push up and down.

On the layout itself I have added uncoupling magnets. These are the Microtrains magnets, however as bought they are about 2" long, much longer than needed. So I break them in half to get twice as many for the money! I've also packed out the area surrounding the tracks with thick card.

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