Sunday 30 October 2016

EXPO NG 2016 - The Layouts


Another EXPO NG, and as usual, a great day. Thakeham ran without problems, which is always a relief, and received many nice comments. I'd been concerned my son wouldn't be up to helping out, as he'd been suffering a rotten cold, but fortunately he was sufficiently recovered to come, and again was a great help with operating the layout - which meant I got time to look around in breaks between operating. At least at EXPO operating never got too monotonous as there was often someone to talk to, so thanks to those readers who introduced themselves (which just proves there are readers too!).

The show had many great layouts - of which a few are shown below - but also some of the best trade support of any show, for narrow gauge interests. I did find time to pick up a few bits and bobs that will make their way into future posts I'm sure!


My son's favourite layout - and probably mine too - was L'Aubraie (7/8" scale, 45mm gauge) by Bernard Junk. It featured a working excavator to fill wagons, which were then tipped into a waiting lorry...


However it was the incredible detail that made the layout stand out, and that was done with a level of humour...



The Corn Mill (009) by Henk Wust, Derk Huisman, and John & Jane Jacobs, had impressive scenery.


Up The Line (O-16.5) by Kevin Hughes was a detailed and atmospheric depiction of the War Dept Light Railways of the Western Front in WW1.


P'tit Train se la Haute Somme (009) by the Association des Modelistes d'Amiens Longueau is a model of the line of that name in North-East France. Impressively presented, it was like a series of paintings, but the trains moved.


Grindley Brook Wharf (009) by Tim Ellis is already a favourite of mine, and deserving winner of the Reinier Hendriksen trophy for best freelance layout.

I could go on, but I'll overload this post. So do browse the 70 photos I've put in an album for more quality narrow-gauge inspiration! As for the Dave Brewer Challenge, well that was almost an exhibition in itself, so I'll come back to the entries in another post!

Friday 28 October 2016

Thakeham Hunslet and preparing Thakeham for the return to EXPO

So last night, after some burning of midnight oil over the last 3 weeks, I completed the Hudson Hunslet.


The last week has been painting and weathering - which I'll come back to in another post. The blue came out a little darker than I expected, but looks good, and I'm happy the loco is recognisable as the unique Thakeham example!


The layout was of course completed years ago, but I have still made some minor changes. For example the old man walking his dog didn't really seem to look at home, and in dark clothes was easy to miss. I've since found this plastic figure, which I've painted up in brighter colours and equipped with a dog lead (brown paper!), I think she looks much more natural.


I also wasn't really happy with the the tree at the front of the layout - a home-made effort, the shape of the trunk wasn't right. For speed, and frankly because it looked better than any I've made, I bought one at the Uckfield show to take centre-stage. My tree was moved in front of the engine shed, where it seemed more at home, and the weedy trunk and branches less obvious. While at it I've improved a few bushes and added some grass tufts.


While building the loco I carried out some clearance tests - fortunately the cab missed the bridge handrails (not by much), and fitted the buildings. Some plastic was removed from the tipping mechanism, but the main issue was the long overhang of the cab meant the wagons stopped short of the tipping dock. So the track needed extending about an inch. The rails were unsoldered to slew them parallel to the "wing" of the layout, the last sleeper removed, and a piece of copper-clad inserted extending all the way to the end of the new additional length. I've soldered rails on too, though I'm not sure they are needed - it's the overhang that's the issue. A new and more substantial buffer stop was soldered up and a foam block protects the loco. The copper-clad track is self-supporting but I added a block of wood to protect it.


I've even made a few extra sand "loads" for the wagons, and adjusted the collecting bin for them. So other than a few last-minute checks and packing up, I'm ready for EXPO-NG tomorrow. If you're there do say hello, you'll find me opposite Narrow Planet, just round to the left as you enter the hall.

Friday 21 October 2016

Thakeham Hunslet - Adding The Details

After a few long evenings I've finished the Thakeham Hunslet ready for painting.


One problem I had was fixing the chassis. At first it was a tight fit where the motor fits through the footplate, but that was working loose and the bolts that held the chassis together were holding the footplate up, so it wasn't really held securely. I made up plastic ends to the chassis that are held on by the bolts as well as epoxy, these not only provide a platform for the body but have "wings" that allow holes for securing screws. Under the footplate more plastic was added to rest on them, and allowed a couple of self-tapping screws to take hold. Result, it may be crude but the chassis is secure!


Up top, I've got rather carried away with the detailing. Having such good reference photos it was hard not to, and with such an open bonnet area the detail can be seen, so bits of plastic, microstrip, wire, etc. were used to represent the visible parts. The castings for the radiator, engine, clutch, fuel filter, and coupling block have been used from the kit, but the bonnet had to be made to fit.


I even reproduced the levers and rods that form the modified cab controls. The kit does include the controls for the "standard" loco as built, but the modified Thakeham loco controls were easier to make from plastic and wire. So the driver has hand throttle, clutch foot pedal, two levers to select gears and a ratchet lever for the hand brake.


Engine bay details added include the starter, alternator, and batteries, though the latter are separate for ease of painting. I've added some rivets from glue, though they may be a bit over-size. They aren't too obvious though, like those on the prototype.

Last week I was discussing the model with Chris Ford, and whether I could find a suitable driver. The next day he passed me some figures. As he'd predicted, the plastic figure was somewhat of a midget, but this whitemetal chap looks just right - though being so far from the wheelbase I was worried about weight distribution. In fact the engine, radiator, coupling and other castings make the front so heavy (OK the bonnet is stuffed with lead too) that the addition of the driver, even so far back, nicely puts the centre of gravity between the wheels. He's got a pin up is posterior though, to make sure he doesn't slip off the seat!

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!