Thursday 30 May 2024

Road tanker

The Meridian kit for the round tanker wagon using a Bagnall chassis is based on an example at Snailbeach which had been built using a tank from a road lorry. I recently saw this early road tanker, at an event at Goodwood, which is probably of a similar era. I figured some detail photos might be useful.

The tank is oval rather than round, probably to reduce the centre of gravity, and of course is branded Shell Mex BP (I guess petrol) rather than Royal Sunlight (paraffin). However, it looks to be a similar size to that used at Snailbeach. 

I can't quite work out if the hand-pump on the rear is connected into the tank, or what it was used for.

This tank also has three openings on the top, but equally spaced. The photo isn't very clear but the openings have a metal plate over them with a couple of pipe fittings, presumably for a filling pipe and I guess a vent to be connected during loading. There are also three levers protruding from little shrouds, but these aren't all on the metal plated openings.

However, the levers are aligned to the three outlet pipes at the bottom of the tank. These protrude from the left side and look like they have a tap on the end, although I think it is a pipe connection and valve assembly. My guess is that each lever at the top opens a valve in the bottom of the tank to discharge via the aligned outlet. The tank will be divided into three sections internally, which both prevents surging of the liquid and enables up to three separate deliveries (or three separate products) - modern tanker trucks have this arrangement too. Therefore, there are three separate filling connections and three separate outlets, plus some hoses to connect the outlets to the receiving tank. I'd expect both filling and emptying are by gravity, but perhaps that pump handle on the end is used to dispense?

A close-up of the discharge outlets. The pipes can be seen connecting them to the underside of the tank. The photo of the wagon at Snailbeach suggests that had three outlet connections at the end (rear) of the tank, rather than the side like this. 

Tuesday 21 May 2024

Tank wagons part 2

On with the tank wagon kits. Microtrains couplings were fitted to plasticard packing underneath, with a slot cut out the end framing. The screws were shortened so as not to protrude through the floor. I omitted the centre buffers from the wagons as they'd obstruct the couplings. 

The hole in the floor of the round tank wagon chassis is for a screw to secure the tank, as I thought the relatively heavy resin tank might be vulnerable with a small glue contact patch onto the cradle. I drilled a hole dead centre underneath (hopefully!) and used a Microtrains coupling screw self-tapped in. The white metal cradle has been worked with a scalpel and round file to match the profile of the tank - as supplied it was a larger radius so the tank could rock side to side. 

The resin tank had tiny imperfections, presumably bubbles from the casting process. I rubbed squadron putty in with a finger, rubbed smooth with fine emery, and gave it a coat of primer. I then repeated the process for all the imperfections I'd missed, and this is the second coat of primer - yet still a few gaps have been found and filled. The red primer confirms it will look good in red I think...

That photo also shows the detailing, although the tank, straps, and brake stand are all still loose for painting. The brass has been blackened.

The small filler looks like it might be a vent in the drawing in the instructions, but all 3 castings are the same. In a photo I found the two bigger filler caps seem to have pipe connections, but the smaller one doesn't. However, without clear pictures it's hard to tell. I put the filler caps in a pin vice using the "pip" underneath and turned by hand against a file to clean up the edges, one was turned down to a slightly smaller size for the smaller (left end) opening. 

With no tap(s) in the pack I've had to improvise. The photo I found isn't clear but it looks like 2 or 3 pipes protrude from one end, presumably separate compartments in the tank (typical for road tankers) corresponding to the filler caps. I settled for two pipes from 0.7mm wire, with end "flanges" cut from plastic rod that had been drilled out (fiddly!), and a fine wire handle/lever stuck in a hole in top. Hopefully this will look convincing when painted. 

I thought the "loco tank" wagon would work well as a weedkiller wagon. It seemed unlikely to be an oil or fuel wagon and few railways had a need for a water tank, but many need weedkiller wagons and like many service vehicles an in-house conversion makes sense. I expect it could look at home on Hexworthy as well as Loctern Quay. Therefore, a tap for each tank piped into a "dispensing" pipe across the wagon seemed a likely arrangement. I used the long tap feed as the pipe down to the dispenser, which left the short stubby end (I presume meant to be the outlet) to fit into the tank, this seemed to work so I bent the long end of the castings to shape and soldered them both to a 1mm wire rod as shown. The "staple" shaped wire on the left is the balance pipe for the other end of the tank.

Here's the weedkiller wagon ready for painting, again the tank and (blackened) straps are not yet fixed in place. The tap and pipework arrangement seems to look plausible, it bends back under the wagon end slightly to avoid the coupling although I also had to move the coupling mount outwards too. The tops of the tanks were drilled for the handrail knobs using the dremel in its drill stand (a handy tool), although one was too close to the end and protruded through the tank end. Hence, this tank has had some filler and primer already. Despite the red primer, I think this wagon will end up black. 

Thursday 2 May 2024

Tank and banana wagons

I've acquired a couple of unusual tank wagon kits which will add some interesting variation to Loctern Quay. Both are from the Meridian range and based on the Bagnall wagon chassis, but sadly are not currently available. 

The first is this distinctive round tank. I am a little confused with this one. There are three protrusions on top, two large and one small, three filler caps (all the same size), and three levers in different positions. The line drawing in the instructions shows the smaller protrusion with a smaller cap, I presume a vent. I'm not sure what the levers are supposed to do, I'd guess they latch the filler caps as I can't think what valve they could control? Also, the instructions list an outlet tap, but my kit doesn't seem to have one. 

The second recreates the side pannier tanks of the WD Baldwin locos which were sometimes carried on a wagon as a tender to improve the stability of the locos on rough tracks. The whitemetal tank castings will make this a heavy wagon! This kit includes two taps, handrail knobs and wire, but no brake stand (i.e. it's an unbraked wagon). I'm thinking of modelling this as a weedkiller wagon, it could then serve on Hexworthy as well as Loctern Quay. 

In assembling the chassis I used a new tool - the "axle reamer" by DCC concepts. This is popped in place of the axle, and rotating while gently applying pressure to the axle boxes opens them to a point. The axle then spins nice and freely, this is a tool that seems to work well!. There are two reamers in the pack with different shaped grips. I also used my back-to-back gauge to set the wheels correctly, these older Dundas wheels are usually too tight back-to-back causing them to bump through pointwork. 

That's the two chassis done, one unbraked and one braked (the brake stand will go on the end platform). The next job is to fit couplings, then on with the bodies.

At Narrow Gauge South last Saturday I was tempted by this Peco banana van on the 009 sales stand. Of course it is a joke for a narrow gauge van, but it will make an interesting visual addition to the shunting puzzle on Loctern Quay. It will need a little work first, hopefully I can fit Microtrains couplings in place of the Peco ones. Joke or not, I don't think I can live with the dayglow orange roof (what were Peco thinking of?) so that will get painted, and a little weathering will make it feel more at home, perhaps as though painted for fun by the railway staff. 

Sunday 28 April 2024

Narrow Gauge South 27 April 2024

Yesterday was Narrow Gauge South, which these days is the biggest narrow-gauge show in the South of England. I was helping John Crane with his superb Darjeeling 009 layout, Kurseong. 

Kurseong uses DCC, which the rest of us Sussex Downs group members have no experience of. John provided instruction and the operating schedule included details of which loco address to call up, but we still found quirks of DCC could catch us out!

The sequence made operation interesting. Kurseong station is on a spur off the through line, so down trains must reverse in, while the locos of up trains go to the shed for coal and water before reversing their trains out. 

I was pleased to see Portpyn by Christopher Payne (1:34 on 9mm track) on what Christopher says will be it's last outing. I was inspired by seeing this layout in Railway Modeller 30 years ago, it's subdued simplicity and atmosphere still feels fresh. 

Sandy Shores (009) by Jamie Warne is as delightful as ever. The signboard advertises the show the layout is at!

Crossways wagon works (O and O9) by John Cavell uses an 15" gauge (O9) line to move standard gauge (O) wagons around the works, including over this multi-gauge traverser.

Nic Arthur has a gift for scenery and I like his latest layout, Bowcombe Bridge (009). 

Gweithdy Dyffryn (O14) by Derek Harris depicts a slate quarry, with working stub points. Its setting surrounded by quarry faces looked impressive, but didn't make for easy photography!

Newton Heath Works (O and O-16.2) by Mike Baker is instantly recognisable as the Dorset clay industry, superbly modelled and great to watch.

Bryn-Y-Felin (009) by Matthew Kean is an evocative model inspired by the Welsh Highland Railway.

That's just a selection of the layouts, there's a bigger selection of photos here. An enjoyable day.

Tuesday 19 March 2024

Alexandra Palace - London Festival of Railway Modelling, 2024

 Last weekend I helped my friend Martin Collins exhibit his layout Llandecwyn at Alexandra Palace. 

The layout depicts a Welsh narrow gauge slate railway terminus and port, Martin displays a history with maps and photos of the "route" that is so convincing it fools a surprising number of people! I didn't get any photos from the front as there was a crowd there most of the two days, so you'll have to make do with an over-the-backscene shot...

Needing at least two and ideally three people to keep the sequence of operation moving at a reasonable pace to entertain, I had only a few short breaks to look around the rest of the large show. There was some other narrow gauge interest, including The Yard in O16.5, This features a working crane and radio control trucks to take away and bring loads for the wagons. 

Purgatory Peak on On30 is an impressive American mountainous layout featuring a switchback operated by geared locomotives, and some impressive trestle bridges.

Phil Parker had his cake-box 009 diorama (can I call it a pizza layout in a cake box?) with one of the new Bachmann models of the RNAD Baguley 60hp diesels - so new, they won't be on sale until May. Of course, it looks great and runs smoothly. 

I also spotted a prototype of the VoR 2-6-2 locos for ModelRail on the Revolution Trains stand. 

A few other layouts appealed, including Wantage, a detailed representation of the original including the town square the other side of the station building, and the trains too of course. 

Llawryglyn Cambrian Railways - a layout I've seen before, but its open uncrowded feel and subtle colouring makes for an attractive and realistic scene. 

East Quay also has subtle colouring but in a more compact, urban scene, with nicely made buildings. 

West End Drift is a compact model of a coal mine, with lots going on and even a little 009 for the mine trams, and a nice selection of industrial locos. 

Welby Lane RTC is an unusual model based on the Railway Technical Centre, which used to have an eclectic selection of research and prototype rail vehicles.

Shame there wasn't more narrow gauge in the selection of layouts but there were some good quality layouts. Operating Martin's layout was fun and it was good to hear so many nice comments about it, and the interest in narrow gauge and 009.

Friday 15 March 2024

More life for Hexworthy

I mentioned that I'd been adding more details to Hexworthy as one of the multiple tasks I was working on ahead of its first show last weekend, but I'd not managed to keep on top of blogging. As well as painting passengers and loco crew, more people, animals, and some details were prepared for the layout. 

On the top row are Bachmann trackworkers, given to me by my son when we dismantled his train set. I've touched up the paint in places and given them a shadow wash. The rest of the figures and animals are from the Finescale Figures batch I got in a sale a while back (it may have been a closing down sale as the website has gone!). They're 3D printed and appear to be scans of real people (probably not the animals though they are well proportioned), maybe not quite as crisp as Model-U figures but very good. You can see I got carried away with the animals, and even got a Dobby (if you know you know). All painted with enamels, with the aid of Google images to help with the animals. 

So, starting at the left hand end we have a group of (presumably volunteer) trackworkers in conversation. The compressor, welding kit and generator are by Westhill Wagon Works. There's also a robin on the wall, a squirrel on top of the container, and a (HO scale Faller) photographer in the distance behind the gate. 

Under the station canopy we have a lady checking her phone, and a cat (Monty's models) curled up by a bin (Layouts 4 U). The birds on the canopy have a special role. Lining the end of a carriage roof up with the blue tit puts the coupling over the magnet for Greenwich or modified Peco couplings, the same against the robin puts the coupling over the magnet for Microtrains couplings. This is a real help when uncoupling locos while operating from the fiddle yard end. 

Over by the café a young man seems to be in conversation with his Dalmatian while his partner checks in her handbag, there's another bin, and a long-haired lady tells her partner to hurry up with his coffee. There's a bottle of coke/beer on the table and crates of bottles left outside the café (Faller). Out of shot, the other table has a tray of bottles and an ash tray.

There's a bottle on the bar of the ice cream stall too, an upturned crate serves as a step. I've added a bin too. 

A solitary figure waits thoughtfully at the end of the platform with his dog. 

Another trackworker waits by the ground-frame. His pose seemed just right, once I'd cut away the "rock" his foot was resting on.

At the edge of the woods a pair of pheasants lurk in the undergrowth. 

The other side of the tracks a badger explores the field.

Dobby lurks near the playground. The discarded pallet used as a step/duckboard for the caravan is an experiment, I've not stuck it in place yet. It may be a bit large but I quite like the effect. Let me know what you think!

It's a lot of fun adding detail though it does take a lot of work, it feels like I've been painting figures and details for months! I reckon there's 35 figures on the layout, and that's without carriage passengers or loco crews. Hopefully viewers will enjoy finding them.

Tuesday 12 March 2024

Hexworthy last-minute show prep

I had promised an update on the last-minute jobs ahead of Sunday's show, these weren't critical but make life easier when exhibiting. I had discovered during testing that the arc of the "gates" at the end of the fiddle yard as they fold down meant that the last 20mm or so of each end of the tracks couldn't be used for risk of catching the stock. The L&B Manning Wardle and its 3 coaches had to be positioned accurately to fit, while the double Fairlie couldn't fit with the same coaches. 

The solution was relatively easy, a new hole was drilled to move the gate pivot by 10mm meaning it swings further out when folded down, just resting on the ends of the rails. The "stop" screw had to be moved too but the tail of the gate arm was still long enough to securely lock the turning deck to the sliding deck. 

Now the gates clear even the double Fairlie with the three longest coaches, just stop with buffer beams within the copper clad. A small extra cut-out was needed in the back panel to clear the longer overall length. 

I also fitted handles to make sliding the traverser easier with one hand, without knocking stock off the near track. These are on the sides of the upper, rotating deck to give finger clearance above the edge of the frame, so there's one each side - they were cheap off Amazon so why not. Of course, although they came with two lengths of bolts, even the shortest were too long - but the Dremel sorted that easily enough. 

The forecast for Sunday suggested rain was likely, which isn't ideal when loading/unloading a layout. So, I decided to make a cover from foam-core board, similar to that on Loctern Quay. It simply spans the gap between the lighting pelmet and the top of the backscene, the triangular fillets at either end have a Velcro strip underneath that attach to the tops of the ends which holds everything in place. 

I've had the dimmer for a while, it was dirt cheap from China, and fitted neatly on the end of the light pelmet with more Velcro. With the layout covered restricting ambient light, turning down the layout lighting gives an effective dusk/dark effect that makes the building and lamp lights stand out. Plus, it means the power lead doesn't have to be threaded in through the small hole! 

A view of the layout set up and ready for the show to open. Note the shelf on the trestle - useful for mugs, tools, and the controller.