Monday, 30 December 2013

Yearly reviews??....Ha!

It seems to be a fashion these days to supply a yearly review of one's activities over the previous 12month.
Now that presupposes that one has any detailed recollection of activities that long ago.
Sorry to disappoint, dear followers, but I have always had a shite memory and couldn't begin to tell you what I did 6 months ago, much less 12.  I was going to mention my little job at CUP Classics and then just about remembered that it was over 12 months ago.

And who would even care what I did for a year?  I guess if I don't, sufficient to remember it, I can hardly expect anyone else to!

Suffice to say that I got the Bum's Rush from yet more forums, left Facebook pages I'd been on for ages due to an influx of foreign speaking posts and rubbish dressed as quality, hence the big increase in bloggery from late in the year, which I hope to continue.

Ththththat's all, folks.  Bored already?
Yuck, yuck, yuck.................See you next year, friends.  A Happy New Year to you all.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Diversity in interests

Reading Iain's old blog entries, I notice one about his father-in-law's many model interests.
It seems some of us stick to just one thing all our lives, but some can't stay with just one for long. I am of the latter persuasion and my work for customers reflects that, fortunately.

Currently on the bench for customers:-
2mm scale Kitson Industrial 0-6-0 tank loco master in nickel silver
O9 Cordite van master
Ferrari 312 slot kit build
Cooper T81 slot kit build
Lancia D24 slot kit modifications (x3)
1/32nd scale De Havilland Dragon Rapide master
1/72nd scale Pilatus PC12 master
1/48th scale Leopard 6 Bizjet master
Chevrolet Corvette Super Sports Sebring slot body master.

And for me:-
7mm scale M&GN brake van in pearwood
Lantern Yard set-piece in 7mm scale with a model of our old boat Heather Bell and buildings
KeilKraft Super 60 R/C model aircraft rebuild
1/16th scale model of the Victorian sailing Cutter, "Vanity" (on which I once lived)
1/12th scale model of a McLaren M8F Can-Am car
Cleveland race Spitfire Mk XVIe in 1/32nd scale
1/48th scale First Flight Spitfire set piece with photographer and camera
7mm scale set-piece of Ferry station down platform and shelter
Masters for Group 44 racing cars in 1/43rd scale and 1/32nd scale

And more besides, I'm sure, somewhere!

Then there's the Austin 7 Special I'm building with my son, with Coventry Climax FWM 750 engine, but that's for when the weather improves.

Have a Happy Christmas and a great New Year.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

One for Iain....

Just reading Iain Robinson's other blog, Losing Track and saw his Puffer.
I saw a photo of one in a book that made me want to paint this in watercolours, mainly Indian ink, when I was living aboard Heather Bell.
I love to paint smoke!

3D fashions...

Over on a forum I shan't bother with any more is this:-
Now clearly the person who did this on CAD knows his stuff, but he seems to think that people should be prepared to shell out £50 or more for it!!
Of course if you have a view of a Teak coach as something very close to a rough cast platelayer's hut, then I'm sure you'll snap one up if you have more money than sense, but how about stopping for a time to assess what you are being offered.  If you wanted a GNR saloon, with all its fine square cornered mouldings and beadings, you will be, MUST be, surely, woefully disappointed.  OR, will you be a fashion victim and accept this lousy finish in the name of being down with da kids and  up with modern techniques?
I don't care what they say about painting it with hi-build filler and sanding back, blah, blah...why the Hell SHOULD you?  I'll tell you why.  Because if you ever want a 3D printed item with anything like a surface finish that is acceptable, you'd better re-mortgage the house, for the only way 3D will ever give you the kind of surface finish that you would rightly expect on, say, a resin kit or even a white metal one, is if you shell out a massive wad of cash for the high resolution option.
To prove that I know exactly what CAN be done at a huge price, here is a picture of the Ryan PT-22 from Fisher Models and Patterns. I know Paul Fisher. He is a superb modelmaker, but he tried out a 3D print to get the incredibly fine detail on the cylinders of the Kinner 5 cylinder radial. He reckoned that he couldn't do that level of detail by hand, neither could I!
BUT...he described the cost of having JUST ONE of those cylinders 3D printed as "almost ruinously expensive".  For a £150 kit it was worth the financial punt.  He had just one 3D printed and then copied them as a stick of 5 which were cast in resin.  Yes, you can have all the bolt heads that hold the cylinder head on, every tiny fin and even the word "KINNER" on one of those tiny rocker covers, but don't forget..."almost ruinously expensive".

Let's get real and stop believing all the crap shoved at us by the techie press.  If you like your Gresley teaks looking like they were painted and then dipped in caster sugar from 15 paces, you go ahead and swallow all the garbage trotted out about 3D printing.  If you want quality surface finishes, be prepared to put yer money where yer mouth is for at least the next 5 years and stop flogging rough cast crap until then...

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Blog-only days begin...

That's it, I've had enough.  I've just removed the last forum from my lists and will soon forget the passwords, knowing me.
I have had enough of the whingers, and apologists for crap models, crap methods and crap attitudes.  The lazy devils who won't even try, yet trumpet rubbish like 3 D printed items that all appear to be so much rough cast concrete in scale at massive prices.
I've had enough of those who criticise the last little detail of an off the shelf piece of overpriced Chinky plastic, yet if you so much as dare to suggest they have a shot at making it themselves they all cry about it being a hobby, so lighten up.  Well, it ain't a hobby for me, it's a living and I always try to do the very best I can for my customers, partly because they deserve it, but partly because my craft has always been important enough to me to do a bloody good job out of self-respect, satisfaction and fulfilment.
If the world is going away from those perfectly achievable and worthy aims then it can go and shove itself up it's own antarctic orifice.

Come the glorious powercut brothers and sisters..............

Friday, 20 December 2013

Dragon Rapide...some more done...

Amazing isn't it?  A bit of sunshine coming through the window and Bingo!  The camera behaves.  I couldn't do it outside as it would have blown clean away, but this is as good as I can expect and after an "auto-correct" seems just fine.
The lower wings are now done with the engine nacelles which attach so intimately to it.  Some parts are handed, some aren't so what you see is what will appear in the kit.  The fine masking tape on the starb'd tailplane is to make a depth of detail under the final surface where a stress bar is built in to the structure, over the ribs.  These have already been masked and painted.  The port tailplane needs final section shaping.  And by the way, they are tailplanes, NOT horizontal stabilisers and it's a fin, NOT a vertical stabilizer.  Why the Hell anyone should use two words where one correct one is understood as standard, I don't know.
Despite today's wonderful sunshine, it's just too windy to put the final self-etch paint on the parts.  The ailerons are separate, naturally as people like to pose them up and down, although most aircraft are left with the stick central, but the fact is, there are huge gaps between aileron edges and wings, so it was always best to make them separate.  In fact so many and large are the gaps in this airframe that it's a wonder it ever flew!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

True greats of modelmaking

I was just musing upon the really great modelmakers that were all around in my lifetime.  Mainly when I was a lad and into my teens.
I was thinking of that true gentleman, Geoff Pember.  He was an authority on the Great Eastern Railway and a most complete modelmaker.  So prodigious was he that every rivet on his superb 7mm scale model locomotives was a separate entomological pin, soldered into a Number 70 hole all made with not a minidrill, but a pin chuck, by hand.  He made his own wheels too, spoke by spoke.  Not only that, but he was equally good at scenic work, coaches and wagons.
He spent a long time once at a London exhibition describing to me, a 14 year old, his intricate methods and impressed me so much I bought a box of butterfly pins which I still have, 48 years later.

Ross Pochin, who made models of Furness Railway locos, all by hand, of course.  He also made his own wheels on, if I remember correctly, a Taylor Hobson Model H pantograh engraver, two examples of which I have owned in the past.  Most remarkable with Mr. Pochin was that he made his own motors with integral flywheels, long before most used that essential aid to smooth running.

Contemporary with these gents was, of course, George Iliffe Stokes, the finest scenic modeller to this day.
Nobody has come close to his trees or his sense of atmosphere, even though his track wasn't the finest.
He had once been a member of Cody's Flying Circus and it was the multi stranded flying and control cables from his aircraft from which he made his trees.

Jack Nelson, builder of the finest dioramas of the London, North Western Railway, the Premier Line.  These were true dioramas, where they possessed false or forced perspective and could only be viewed from one position.  He was also a protagonist of 3.5mm scale for British outline models, a rare bird indeed.
Jack had a small flat in Ilford, Sth. Park Drive to be exact and ran the Ilford Junior Model Railway Club, a kind of training ground for youngsters with promise who inevitably then went on to join the Ilford and West Essex Model Railway Club, one of the World's oldest, as indeed did I.  Jack gave me my first sheet of nickel silver to make a model of the LNER V1 2-6-2 tank that I was rather fond of at the time.

John H. Ahern, with his trilogy of "bibles" for railway modelling, Miniature Landscape, Building and Locomotive Construction.  I have them all and still use them.  He built the Madder Valley Railway, which is now at Pendon Museum.  It is generally reckoned to be the first truly scenic layout.  The atmosphere he created with brick papers and hand lettering, was an eye opener to me.

Peter Denny, with his magnum opus, Buckingham Central, a layout which I believe still exists.  He showed that if everything was done to a similar high standard it became unnecessary to work to the very highest standards in order to get a large layout built.

And although the layout was largely made from proprietary models, track, etc., Mac Pyrke's Berrow was one of the few Great Western branch lines I could ever look at more than once.  Atmosphere again.

And so, who have we today?
I can only think of Gordon and Maggie Gravett, who come close.  Many would say Martin Welch, but I'm afraid, I'm not impressed.  I once queued for hours to get into the one and only Model Railway Journal exhibition in London and then again, once inside to get onto the stage to see his Hursley layout.  I was so utterly underwhelmed when I got there, I said so and went to look at better work which had been handmade, not weathered and kit bashed proprietary stuff.  The layout had been so completely overhyped previously, but clearly Welch was an MRJ favourite, indeed he had his books published by them and ended up editor.  But Hursley was small, simple, barely scenic and all out of the box.  I could have knocked it up in 3 months without breaking a sweat.
You see, I am damned fussy.  And no, I don't think there are any true greats left.  And with the proliferation of kits and even accurate looking R-T-R, I think there never will be again.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Dragon Rapide

I am currently making a master for a high end multi media 1/32nd scale kit of a De Havilland DH89..
Since I have removed myself from all forums of late due to the propensity for kit bashing and the dearth of any real modelmaking, I have told my customer that I will keep him appraised via the blog.
So, awaiting hi-build  primer between the masking tape to represent slight surface variances and rib tapes, here is the wing prepared.
The other is now ready for marking up and masking as the engine nacelles have been made for both sides.

All aboard the Heather Bell...

Recently I started doing a 7mm scale model of our old boat, Heather Bell.  I'm doing it in steamed pearwood (naturally) and exactly as the real boat is built.
I am so sick of rubbish boats on model railway layouts!  They have no shape, no detail.  You wouldn't tolerate a loco or coach like that, so why a narrow boat?
Anyway, here it is so far.  A bit busy with aircraft for clients now, so nothing more for a while.
Here you can see the transverse bottom boards which were wedge shaped in plan, so they could be knocked in tight, before fixing.
The engine beds are massive baulks of oak 16"x5"x about 18' long.  At the starn end is the counter block, propped up into position, but not yet fixed.  And the stern post.
The stem post can be seen above the kelson, the long plank that runs inside the boat to strengthen it and to which the bottom boards are fixed.

Much more to come.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Is it Christmas or something?...

Anyone would think it's Christmas all of a sudden.

Today, I got a fat Jiffy bag from a chap I don't know, off a facebook O gauge page I've only just joined, full of wagon underframe components in different plastics and even a set of W irons/axleboxes in white metal. Enough for about 8 wagons I would say.  All for the price of postage.  Who needs ridiculously expensive photo-etch?  The axle boxes even have the writing on them!

In the same post came a lovely late model Romford Bulldog 5 pole motor, never used, in its original box as supplied by the wonderful cavern which was W&H, New Cavendish Street, London.  Remember them? They produced a catalogue which was big enough to keep in your pocket and read at every idle moment.
I do like to use as much British stuff as I can.  This motor, which cost very little, will go with 2 Romford Terriers, a Zenith and a couple of K's Mk 2s.  I like my flywheels in a loco. It smoothes out every movement and makes stopping more realistic.  My point being that these were the go-to motors for years for O gauge modellers especially and they worked perfectly then, so why not now?  It's just a case of gearing and a flywheel.
Of course in those days we worked perfectly well with unsprung, uncompensated chassis too. We did, however, make some seriously good track!  I think the most I ever did with "springing" was to elongate the axle holes a little and bung in a bit of phosphur bronze strip to give it a bit of controlled slop, a la John Ahern, in Model Locomotive Construction, my brass basher's Bible back then.
All I need to complete the set of Romfords now is the big ol' Phantom.

Finally, a chap off another forum has sent me 20 veneers from the tubes of his Cuban cigars!  Very useful on coach models.

People can be so kind.

Must be the season, seeping into some souls.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Final stages of the windows..

Here's the final stages.  The screens have been shaped with files and leave about 20 thou. all round for the clear PVC that will be vacuum formed over them.  There's the mess on the bench to prove it.
Then some more Milliput is pressed underneath them and they are pressed well down onto some greased styrene sheet to make it perfectly flat.

The blobs on the body front are to make patterns for the mud flaps some versions carried.

Here they are, turned over, removed from the car (also buttered) and will be final shaped and packed with Milliput underneath to make a formable shape.
Just a clean up and a scrape across a flat piece of wet'n'dry to finish off.
And that, in a nutshell, is how Milliput window patterns are made.

Window patterns, the main screens...

Ooh, look what a tripod can do!
OK, still got focus issues, but this was without really setting up carefully and I expected little from it, but my dear wife bought me a flexible legged tripod in Aldi's, the excellent value German supermarket chain.
A mere 7 quid, it has knuckle jointed legs in a soft plastic which "stick" to irregular surfaces and they are all I have in my workshop!  It even has a quick release system to save you screwing it in the camera every time.  Now, is there a remote trigger for the Fuji S5500, I wonder?

Oh the window patterns, sorry.  Popped out of the butter-slarred apertures once set and these are about to be filed up to shape.  Then it's just the mud flap patterns and they'll be off to my son for vac-forming.  More anon.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Window patterns, part 3

More crap photos!  But this is digital and is therefore completely without consistency or logic.

The side window patterns have been filed to fit the aperture, then been reduced by 20 thou. all round to clear the window moulding material.  There is a bar of 0.3mm wire set in to a groove so that the very fine glazing bar has a slight witness line in the vac-forming.

Here are the two patterns side by side.
The V grooves are there to help the vacuum reach the detailed parts.  It also helps stop "webbing" on forming.
Next the front and rear screens and then the finishing.

At last, a crisp photo, but...

At last!  But which set of variables did I use for it?  Gawd knows.
One light off, one on, hand held, ISO100 or 64?  Pff!  Maybe it's the white background. All I know is on holding the button half down, none of the shots had the green light telling me it was ready!!  I just took 'em anyway.
Anyway, this is what comes out of the window aperture after trimming with end cutters.
The front and rear screens are cooking and next time it'll be these all filed up and fitting sweetly.

Window patterns, Pt 2..

Just gently prized the window patterns out of the Celica body.
There's always a load of excess, so it's scored with a junior hacksaw and clipped away with the end cutters you see, right, in the pictures
And, with the contrast fiddled with to make up for the crap pictures, but getting a little crisper:-
These are now ready for filing to shape, once the front and rear screens are cooking on the digi box.

These are with room light and 2 spotlights, no flash, macro setting from about 12" away, rested on a solid object.  Still fuzzy, yet the background of the top one is crisp, as ever, even though the square on the screen is telling me mid picture.
More anon.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Windows of the soul...

I promised a chum a blog on how to do vacuum formed window patterns for model cars.  He's making some resin re-pops of diecasts in 1/43rd scale, a very promising new scale for slot racing.  As a pioneer, he is leading from the front and needs to know how to do windows for himself.

Having made countless window patterns for slot cars and static models of all scales, here's how I do it.

Firstly I apologise for the shite photos, but I just can't be bothered with these bloody digital cameras any more. They're all crap and clarity isn't important on this job. The method is clear and that's all that matters until someone proves to me that anything digital is worth a toss.  By crap, I mean it doesn't work straight off, like my trusty old Praktika and Olympus proper cameras always did, without fail.

Anyway, you'll need a pack of Milliput, grey/green.  Do NOT bother with any other grade.  If you think you need finer than grey/green, you're in the wrong hobby.
Some butter/marge from the fridge.

Make sure the body for which you need the windows is cleaned up in the apertures where the glass is going. Slar some butter round the window aperture and for a little distance around, especially on the inside.
Mix up the Milliput equally and very thoroughly, then squidge it into a rough plate shape and with a wet thumb and fingers push it in the aperture from both sides so that it just sits in there with the outside surface just a little proud of where the glass should end up.  Keep the digits wet (spit'll do) and you won't stick to the Milli.

Don't worry about any great regularity as you'll be filing it all smooth later. This is the stage where you establish your material supply in its place.

Repeat on tother side, being careful to leave the first undisturbed.
The excess all round the Milliput will be clipped off with end cutters when it's set.
At this point, you can't do any more because they'd all stick to each other inside, if you tried to make all four windows, so now park it under a desk lamp or leave it on the digi box to warm gently overnight, as I will do, because the bloody useless camera has left me in a foul key-hammering mood and I'm not doing anything else tonight.  Lloyd, if I hadn't have promised you this blog entry, I'd have taken a sledge hammer to the camera and saved myself any future hassle.  It is very rare that I contain my foul temper.

Friday, 6 December 2013

By contrast....

Just a quick experiment.  I always prefer scenery photos in black and white.  They have all that '50s atmosphere that made me a modelmaker in my childhood.
Here are the cafe pics in b&w.

Too cold last night in the workshop so I made the doors for Tony Moss's workshop and cut out the main walls for the Ferry Station down platform waiting room.  Pics later.