Thursday, 30 October 2014

Weather, or not...

I have just been lent a book on industrial locomotives by an old friend, who also showed me his latest build of a J94 in 7mm scale.
Now, obviously the J94 is "ex rattle can" at present, but Ozzie doesn't like to weather his models anyway and I can't say I blame him.

Weathering seems to have gone from the sublime to the ridiculous these days.  To the extent that you can even buy something off the shelf that some little Chinaman has already squirted dirty thinners at for you.
Now my friend and I tried to think of when we'd ever seen a loco in such a state of decrepitude as most of the filthy, dust covered and over rusted victims of a dozen books and a thousand products now represent on the average model railway.
He lived in the North East coal mining regions as a kid and I lived on the edge of East London grime, but when Brittanias and A4s went thundering through my local station, they were shiny, in either direction.  So was the DMU on the branch line and so were the Standard 4MTs on the parallel line. And the full NCB livery was always on show proudly up Ozzie's neck of the woods too. You didn't get covered in muck when you were jostled for the electric commuter trains or the underground once you got to that filthy hole, London.  OK, a little of the shine may have worn off the paint, but they didn't look like they lived their entire lives in the Cornish china clay district without ever being washed!  And that's the look that most people are giving their train sets these days, often at great expense by paying someone else to do it, too!
Everything looks terminally dusty now.  Irresponsibly rusty.  Everything looks like it has already spent years in Barry Island waiting for the ernests to save the money to buy it and take it back to some upstart "heritage" line.

Now, we all know the track level bits will be a bit oily/greasy/dusty, especially on a diesel or electric commuter train, but you shouldn't see panels so racked with rust that they look ready to drop off through perforation any time.  Not that I look at diesels much anyway.
But the thing that interested me and Ozzie was how clean most of the locos in the book of industrials were.  Never worse than semi shiny (oily rag cleaning tricks, see?) with, at worse, a few limescaley leaks from water/steam fittings and a bit of grime below decks. And all in working situations, not ex Works for the company photographer, either, but working.

So, come on, you powders, pigments and expensive double action, work if you're bloody lucky airbrush fans.  Have a good look at some photos of the real things.  Don't pick out the exceptional, one way or the other, just have a gander at the everyday ordinary loco and ask yourself if all it needs isn't just just a coat of semi-matt varnish and a few streaks.

Unless, of course, you are on a bragging fight as to who can spend the most with someone who takes a small fortune for messing up your loco and stock "professionally".

Sunday, 19 October 2014

It's the Works.....or is it?

Interesting post about Works drawings on another blog.

Works drawings are sometimes an initial design in some detail, sometimes a finished drawing which is what's actually made.  What we have to do as modelmakers is decide by comparing drawing with period pictures if the "Works" drawings are any good for us.

I once had A.V.Roe drawings for the lovely Anson aircraft, but although overall they were helpful, in detail they were hopeless!  Same deal with Bristol Cars and as for architects...I've corrected impossible shapes for them more often than not, including the great Richard Seiffert (who gave us the wrong colour references for the model of the NatWest tower.
According to the architect's drawings for Brentwood Library, the roof simply would not have fitted if I'd gone on to make the model from the drawings.
I've even done  a measured perspective drawing of a famous gearbox where the main two shafts wouldn't have allowed any meshing of the gears!  So both modelmakers and technical illustrators act as checking stages in the production of most items.
I got fed up with waiting for a Chief Engineer of a car design house to come up with drawings (CAD this time) of a rolling monitor in the VW CM2's dashboard, so I sketched out a scheme on a bit of scrap paper, knocked it up in clay, GRP and made the mechanism, installed and tested it and even had the flat screen fitted (Rocking horse poo in those days) before the huge roll of drawings wormed off the printer.  When they arrived, it was obvious it would never have worked anyway.  When he saw mine in the car, he stamped on his Marlborough Light, drew himself up to his full 5 feet and stormed out in his new Audi TT for 4 days!  Never spoke to me again.  In that 4 days I'd also invented a drive system for a Palm computer for which I am a nominated inventor on a VW patent scheme.  The Danish boss, who I didn't realise was even in the room, described the mechanism as F---ing brilliant and immediately drew up the patent application.

I have never had a moment of engineering instruction, but working as both a modelmaker and a technical illustrator, without the "help" of computers has given me a natural feeling for these engineering problems, I suppose.

But convincing engineers of this facility has always been an uphill struggle.  With the noble exception of Nobby Clark, who was a real engineer, a Chartered Engineer.  A quiet jovial master, who could design the most complex injection mould tools with a slide rule and a set of Log Tables.
He, with all his qualifications and obvious skill, was always ready to discuss with someone who was "just" his illustrator.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Jigs...'n' reels...

My very good bloggin' chum, Iain Robinson, has mentioned the use of jigs for making roof vent louvre packs for one of his buildings and he showed a reluctance.  I can understand that as we professionals seem to think we should be able to make anything by eye.  On the whole, we can, but repeats of anything, do tend to make some sort of jig a necessity.

For me, I had to give best to the notions of jiggery when I made the 1/12th scale Maserati "Birdcage" chassis as the front suspension and engine mounts were abstractly in mid air somewhere, so something had to be built to hold the right parts in the right three-dimensional place relevant to all else.

The 4 prong thingy on the left is for holding the engine mounts in place and the prong-fitted brass plate is to allow the steering rack fixings to be in exactly the right place as the rack actually works.

Then there was the front end of the McLaren M8F monocoque.  Now that was as abstract a lump as they get.
Looking at this lot now, I cannot believe I invested so much rare and expensive wood in one jig! seems to have worked.

It actually saves a vast amount of time and IS the professional thing to do after all.  At the time I had a bigger response to the pesky jigs, than the models!
I really would love the time to finish that McLaren. It's all in a box in a cupboard, the book full of sketches is still there, but unintelligible and somewhere I even have a real McLaren rear upright somewhere!  Alas the real car is long gone to Holland and I have very few photos left from those days...  But it would be a good pension pot addition, I suppose.  The man from Bonham's once told me around £13,000 when finished, but I doubt models are fetching that these days.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Flint dashing...

Mornin' all.  Just wondering, as I do.
On the way to and from the wee break last week, we saw some superb examples of typically Norfolk flint dashed churches and farm buildings.  Many years ago, I made a small smithy, using Maw seeds, but they make great full flints.  Churches are knapped flints, so generally greyish with the stark blackness of the faces of half flints.
I confess, I am all out of good ideas, any ideas at all actually.

What have any of you clever devils done, considered, thought of, heard of?  Care to share?
I can't ask on forums as I've been kicked off 'em :-)
For instance:-----

Friday, 3 October 2014

Swallow...and Amazon...

Swallow at Rockland St. Mary Staithe

The Mrs. and I have just returned from a well-earned short break on the Norfolk Broads aboard a delightful WOODEN cruiser called Swallow.  She shares the small craft group at Maffett Cruisers with the other wooden boat, Merlin.  So nice to have a wooden boat, rather than the oversized, endlessly ugly plastic pigs that now infest the waters of this area.  You can see some of the latter in background of the photo above.
We picked Swallow up from Loddon on the River Chet.  We felt immediately at home.  She was quiet, with her forward mounted Perkins 108 diesel and steered like a dream, unlike so many wheel steered forward helmed cruisers.  With the clever top slid back it was airy and very pleasant.  A few spots of rain didn't really matter and we fetched up at Reedham in warm sunshine late afternoon.
I went off for a wander to photograph Sanderson's wonderful shed.
There's a sign inside the open front door that says "Judge us by our service, not our shed".  Well I love their shed!

Reedham is noted for its railway swing bridge, a leftover from the days of the wherry, with its 40 foot mast and the fact that quite large coastal craft still come up the Yare.

Along the way from Reedham we saw the usual Broadland sights.

After a pleasant day with friends we made for Rockland Broad, approached by a narrow cut and necessary to keep to a channel marked with red and yellow buoys across the main broad and then down a very narrow cut to an idyllic little mooring, by a nice pub, the New Inn, where a welcome jar of Woodforde's Wherry was consumed. In my view the best beer in Britain.
This should have prepared us for the walk to the shop, but mapmakers can be a funny bunch.  This particular one by about 250%.  All uphill, (in Norfolk of all places) and more than a mile away and back, of course. It was a very warm day, so thank heavens the Post Office/shop was also a tea rooms.
We needed this
In the evening we repaired to the New Inn, simply because they claimed to make the Best Burger on the Broads.  In fact it proved to be possibly the best burger anywhere. Hand made and served with a choice of no less than 6 cheeses, it was superbly presented, with home made skinny chips in a miniature frying basket and home made salsa dressing.  A passion fruit sorbet finished that off perfectly.
Pubs are suffering everywhere these days and such excellent establishments as this deserve support.
Well recommended.

These short breaks go so quickly.  Back to the River Chet yesterday to be ready to have the boat back this morning early.  I did some sketching and general lazing about and Chris read her books.
This is the little yard where the boat came from.

And Amazon?
Well getting out of Rockland was close...