Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Pull up a chair...

When I became acquainted first with the Festiniog Railway (old spelling) I just accepted what I saw.  It wasn't until later that I realised one of the reasons the FR looked so grown up and proper was that the track used Bullhead rail in proper chairs.  All the others (except the Penrhyn, which had already gone) used flat bottom rail spiked, with or without flat plates for the rail to sit on.
So, now that I find myself with some old GEM kits from the period when I first saw the railway, in the distinctive 5.5mm -1 ft. scale, I need to display them on a bit of correct track in a scenic set-piece.
So....I had to make brass masters of the two kinds of chairs the FR used, so my local chum can cast some up for me.  Very little is made in 5.5 mm scale.

The two types were S shaped and slightly smaller, rectangular, both 2 bolt.
They slide on some of the excellent Peco Code 75 rail and hold it well.
Someone suggested the railway had got rid of most by the 1880s, but a quick look on the 'net scotches that assertion!  I will NOT model the FR with modern flat bottomed rail with either spikes or Pandrol clips. It's hideous.  Bad enough that I have to use FB rail on the Southwold set-piece, but there I have no option, but on the FR?  Not a chance.  It's why, despite my liking for Tom Rolt, I would never model the Talyllyn. All spiked track...Yuch!!

See what I mean?...Proper track on the FR.  This the bit I'll probably model.  Known as Pen Cob . It's the end of the cob...a mile of embankment from the Harbour Station at Porthmadog. In front there is Boston Lodge, the company Works.  I used to wander round there at will in the 60s. Now, you can't get near it due to H&S Nazis.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

I don't care who lives there, it's mine, I tell you!...

A recent dialogue on a model railway Facebook page has uncovered somebody else who used to stay at my favourite B&B in all the world.
This is Bryn Mawr, a "Gentleman's Residence" to the much grander Plas Tan y Bwlch, down the road. Built in 1843 by the Oakley family, massive mine and land owners in the area of Maentwrog, North Wales.
We stayed for two holidays with the redoubtable Mrs. Roberts in the village of Maentwrog, a charming old lady we found by chance, the first time we just took off for a holiday to Wales.  My Dad never booked a holiday because he never knew when his work would thin out enough for us to go away.  So he'd come in one lunchtime and tell my Mum to pack....we'd be leaving that evening and driving overnight to Wales.  He fancied Wales. We went up via Lake Vyrnwy and Bala and ended up going past the then new Trawsfynnydd Nuclear Power Station to Maentwrog.
Mrs. Roberts fed us like royalty, put us in feather beds and assumed we would be going to church (chapel!) on Sunday.  Only time we ever went to a normal service in our lives.  Mum had to borrow a hat, which she never usually wore.  The thundering bloke up front (what do they call Welsh chapel vicars?) gabbled on for what seemed like hours in Welsh and no doubt had a good dig at the English while we were there.  The following year we were told with near apoplectic apologies that she was full for the week and all she could suggest was a "nice Liverpudlian family who planned on opening Bryn Mawr as a B&B having just bought it in a bit of a state."  We left Mrs. Roberts to her guests and chapel and found an imposing Victorian pile up a steep entrance drive. Dad pulled the Westminster round in a lazy arc and almost immediately a shiny sleek Red Setter bounded round us and peed on every wheel. This, we would come to discover would be a ritual he never forgot, every time we stayed.  Some years we went up three times a year. Sometimes just once.  In those days you just went away with a cursory call to the school or maybe a note if you had time. We never did and, of course, I never missed a thing, such was the snail pace at which anything happened at Romford tech.  And anyway, if they wanted professional PA equipment for their damned sports days, they'd button it and wish me a nice holiday.
On fussing Rex the Red Setter sufficient to allow access, we were welcomed by George Brake and his wife, who explained that we could stay in the one room available if we didn't mind the smell of paint.  So captivated were we by the house, the dogs (don't forget Pepe the untrimmed poodle who never moved from the threshold when people appeared) and the Brakes, that we agreed to anything he asked.
In fact, over the length of that holiday we helped paint three rooms, which Dad then plumbed safely, as he did the kitchen.  He then found that the Lister Autostart generator needed a good going over, so he fixed that, mechanically and electrically.  All this and we still got a holiday.  When we left, George refused to take a penny.  Subsequently, we stayed another 12 times, always working on the house in some way and always never being charged. Only on the final occasion did we actually pay as the Brakes had decided it was all a bit much and they'd had their daughter's wedding to pay for and were regretfully moving on.
As soon as we realised we would be unlikely to stay again, we missed it. Because of the weather that last year, my Dad refused ever to go again to Wales!  We went once as a family when I now had kids the same age I was then.  I couldn't even get up the drive as they'd fitted gates and they were locked. I couldn't do more than show my family old cine we'd took of our holidays there. Of Dad's constant efforts to take a picture of the place, but he could never get a view from a distance, unlike now.  Apparently the grounds lost 450 mature oaks in a storm of 2013.
Long before that, "MY" house had been bought by that effete, fat, stargazing mincer, Russell Grant.  I was told that by the manager of the Oakley Arms in the village when I decided to ring him off the cuff one day.  I emailed Grant, but of course, someone like him would never answer.  Now he's trying to flog it, or maybe he has.  Had to drop the price too.  Apparently the daft sod spent half a mil on a bloody kitchen!  Chances are he don't even cook!  The Lister Autostart must have gone too.  
We always started the day by running round switching lights on until the familiar wheezing noises resulted in a pulsing light and dim effect until it all smoothed out to a rythmic chugging. At night, the last light switch would have it slowing down to a final wheeze and all would be calm.

Who owns it now I neither know nor care.  They will NEVER appreciate Bryn Mawr like we did.  They simply wouldn't have the ability or reasons to love it as much.  They will have shelled out 1.25 million for it, with everything sorted, done and dusted.  George paid about 4000 for it back then and had all the fun of simply making it work, with our help.  Alison's Welsh fiance told us where to find the best beaches (Borth y Gest) and how to get into Portmeirion for nothing down the side of Bertrand Russell's house or round the headland from Boston Lodge.  We took the Festiniog Railway from Bryn Mawr's own halt, took Rex up the hill for walks or over on the river for a swim.
It will always be MY HOUSE.  And bollocks to Russell Grant and his kind.

Monday, 13 November 2017

More than a shed...more than a hut, even...

I have been unhappy with the modified Nissen hut I made as the blacksmith's son's workshop lately, so decided a new one was required, especially since finding a picture of and modelling the office, so here it is. The basic shell of the car and mainly 'bike repair workshop.  Based on this one:-
Thanks to whoever put it up.

I didn't quite have the width for this one, so reduced it a little, but it'll take a very good model of a Mk. 2 Cortina with the doors slid shut, so will be just fine for the kind of vehicle he's used to.
Once again, made in Foamex, but this time I have played with impressing a stucco finish with coarse sandpaper, rolled over the surface.  The roof is styrene and will be done as sheet Asbestolux.  No gutters as there's overhang enough to drain off into a ground gulley.

I also have a petrol pump which I made years ago from my own etches, so that can go on there and be used for the trains and the boats.  Being red diesel it'll not be used for lorries. 
Believe that, you'll believe anything!
Doors are made to hang from a girder so they can be shown slid open or kept shut, so a little interiority may be necessary.
Here seen with the new Yard Office.  The beginnings of a point can be seen being set up with PCB sleepers.  I hate making track.  I have no idea how to wire it or operate it!

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Frank Lloyd Wright built canal yard huts?...

I'm sure all you intelligent, well read souls know that the American architect of mainly big posh houses, Frank Lloyd Wright was known for a couple which had the mountain as the back wall.
Imagine my amazement, when I saw this on the 'net:-
Whoever put it up, thanks.

Lantern Yard has a rock formation at its back edge and I wondered if there might be a chance of building into the rock for a Yard Office to go with a new workshop.  I never thought for a moment there really was one!
I put this up on a forum and was told all about copyright crap...AGAIN!  So, because I can't be arsed with these turds anymore I deleted it. No bugger was interested anyway, but then, no bugger's interested with what's on here either!  I don't care. I don't give a toss about locos, kits, playing trains, all that stuff. It's just showing off by people with fat pensions.
Anyway, I liked it so much I made it.  OK, I had to trim the roof back a bit, which is a shame, but the larger wagons would be rather close to it. I might be able to extend what I've done a bit. As you can see, the roof's a mess anyway.  My version has to be a bit degraded to be real-looking.  I'm assuming the extra corrugated where it's a bit saggy is over an afterthought of a small privy for the Yard Manager.  Just the gutter to make and fit now.
The enamel paints are mainly in the office of a primer, as the gouache or acrylics I detail with don't stick well to the neat Foamex.  The roof is hand pressed aluminium foil from Chinese takeaway tubs, which can be bought in piles, cheap from supermarkets.  I press them with a modified coffee stirrer in a "mould" I made of styrene rod. It makes a single, scale sized sheet of corrugated tin.  Here, they have been assembled and trimmed to fit the rock behind as have the Foamex end walls.
The Foamex has been impressed with the back of  scalpel blade and a thick steel rule.  Corners are mitred so the blocks can appear to be going round the bend, as am I.  The blocks are scale 440x 225x 100Napoleons.
Window frame is to represent an old Crittal steel framed job with opening lights in the middle and is made of Plastikard Microstrip.  Do they still call it that?  To go with the steel window, I've used more ally foil bent into an L shape for the cill.
I think the difficult part will be getting a grubby white finish, bearing in mind there was no brilliant white before PEP came on the market.  So I have to make this off white whitewash, gone grubby.  Wish me luck.  
I really am becoming Mr. Hut.  My neighbour when I was growing up really was called Mr. Hutt!

Pedal power...

I had a few days of making pedals for the Vincent.  Every one different as they all do a different job, but not even a stylistic similarity.  Phil Vincent didn't care about such things.

Kick start, now gear pedal and the little indicator thing that, if the rider took his eye off the road and craned round for a gander, would tell him what gear he was in.  All cottered or pinch bolted to their relevant shafts.

On t'other side we now have the brake pedal and the initial brake cable fittings all triangulated to the foot rest so it'll cast easily.
Complete with tiny nuts and bolts.


I did try another forum recently. Slow it was, but then a response. One from a Health & Safety fan about knife use and then today another from someone fretting about 2 pictures I found on the net.
Now I don't care what the info sites say.  If you put a picture on the 'net without a "watermark" or whatever clever bit of cyber kit stops me downloading it, then it's published and that, by my logic means it's public. End of story.

Now if you want to sue me for finding your photo and thinking it good enough to share with a tiny readership because it tallies with a point I'm making, then you go ahead and send the old cease and desist shite, matey. I ain't got a pot to piss in, so good luck with that. 

I've had more work stolen by foreigners than I care to recall. Bugger all I can do about it, so just bite the lip and know my original was better because it was the first.

If people want to get snotty about about their little snapshots, they should at least say who they are and would users be kind enough to credit them, in which case I'd happily concur.  Otherwise tell your proxy champions to shuck the fuck up!

And that, as far as I can see, is the last model railway forum available to me, so now it really is here or nowhere.  And really...who actually cares?

Friday, 10 November 2017

Just for kicks...

I decided to make the various foot parts for the Vincent model. First were the foot rests, both different to some degree.  The left side hangs from a longer bar than the right and it is less cranked, but has more going on as the rear brake, also foot operated pivots from it. All this results in a very complex shape.
While I was at it I finished off the castings of the seat dampers, made from one brass master. I made both adjusters in brass and slitted the damper body, drilling for the rod that goes through them.

Next day I made the right hand foot rest and whilst waiting for an answer about the bottom section, also made the kick start, which is very big.  Filed a 1/8th" rod so it was a flat, but round edged section, annealed it for the cranks in shape and bent it up to shape.

Today, the left foot brake pedal for the rear brake and the gear shift lever.  That should see the full set of foot levers complete.

Monday, 6 November 2017

I do like a bush!...

Having a few moments in between jobs on the Vincent while bits dried, I came across my stock of rubberised horse hair and other scenic essentials.  So I cut a small piece of it and shaped it up to fit the inside corner of the chimney on the Lengthan's hut.  I'd painted the chimney (made of Foamex) last night and turned a brass chimney pot for it.  Today I painted some green staining where the bush will be and put in some cracks with a knife point.
I then painted the horsehair with gouache paint green so there was a slight tinge of green with the brown of the horse hair.
Glued on the model with Evo-Stik which is perfect for this kind of irregular material.

I'd decanted some used tea bag innards a few weeks ago and left to dry on the top of the gas boiler in little plastic pill pots. Today I had a look and they've all dried beautifully, so I tipped them out and found some as fine, some as less so and some clumped together like flower heads, so I masked the body of the hut with cut paper, sprayed with Harmony hair spray and sprinkled with the tea.  Driven on by my success I did much the same with the short length of shrubbery along a natural line on the lockside.  I find that the essence is to carefully shape the stuff with sharp scissors and use plenty of separate pieces, not one long line.  Also, allow some tealeaves to fall onto a darker painted sward beneath and just outboard of the hedge where muck and bullets lie.  Here's the result.
More weathering needed on the stucco of the chimney stack yet, but generally I'm happy with this. I may now add more colour if the hair spray is set, especially to the hedgerow.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Do what yer like then...

I never do anything particular at the weekend, just go with the proverbial flow.  So, I had a go at the wooden model of Heather Bell which is lined up for the Lantern Yard set-piece.  Another plank in the chine layer on the near side (canals don't do port and starboard, just near and off-sides).
That dried quickly so I cut another two and glued them into the stern post rabbet. I'll leave them now over night to really harden off.  Pear being such a hard, close grained wood, takes a while for PVA glue to reach a decent bond.
The big bits of wood are the engine beds, which were made of solid oak in the real boat, 16" x 6" and the full length of the cabin and engine 'ole.  There was an old, original, chamfer on the insides of these up where the original Petter 15HP semi diesel flywheel was.  You can just see the scarph joint on the end of the plank.  These were 2'-6" long and placed so as not to weaken the hull anywhere.  This pattern of plank ends was known as the shift of butts, except that was on Nelson's ships. I doubt if the canal boat builders at Nurser Bros. gave it a second thought, but when I restored Heather Bell I certainly did.  I still have the scale drawing labelled "Shift of Butts plan".  Pompous sod that I am.
So....that sits on Lantern Yard, glue drying, what next?  

Ah, yes, I do think that the caff is not that obvious a chamber of epicurean delights without some mention of the fact on the structure, so painted "CAFE" on the wall and to make it interesting I put a crooked arrow under the word to indicate that the end door was the one to use, the side door having been permanently blocked to stop people risking life and limb under the wheels of a narrow gauge industrial loco heading for its night's resting place under the shelter next to the caff.
I also set the model more positively into the filler base and added a paved gulley and drain hole at the front as well as behind. The one behind actually drains the sloping area twixt cafe and caravan.  There is no guttering on the cafe, hence the gulley.

Finally, meant to be tomorrow's first job, but I just couldn't wait to see it, I removed the foil wrapped 12mm diameter copper tubes from the Milliput lining of the cylinders in the taped together Vincent crankcase halves to see what had resulted.  Well, not too bad, but some filling will be needed to smooth it all out.
Anyway, here are the two "cylinder barrels" in position. Nice positive location.
Pictured in the bright sun in our lounge this cold day.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Chim, Chim, cheree...

Sang the lovable Dick Van Dyck when he affected that excruciating Cockney accent in Mary Poppins.
My cafe and cafe caravan needed chimneys, so out with the brass tube and the brass shim.  The caravan one had a slope filed off the end so it would accommodate the slope of the caravan roof and was soldered to the shim, which, once the slope was aligned, was trimmed to a square.

On the cafe, because the fiction is that this one is still in use, so would need a witch's hat cowling to keep the rain out. I turned a collar that would fit the flue pipe, then cut 3 gaps with fine files in the top until I had three spikes to which I could solder a turned cone with a recess into which the legs would fit. I glued the cowl to the legs as soldering would have melted the first joint. 
The whole thing was then pushed through another piece of shim and all fitted to the roof.
Painted and then weathered with powders as whilst soot may be black, wood burner tar is actually a rather nasty brownish colour, so that was brushed on flue, roof plate and roof, as it is pernicious muck that runs everywhere. Ask me how I know!

The caravan flue, but now out of use.

Both loosely in their places on Lantern Yard.

I finished the cafe with 240 grit wet and dry sandpaper cut to a scale yard width strip Evo-Stikked on.
The caravan now has fake plywood sheeting around it's base to stop draughts and a set of steps has been made to get up to the floor level.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Chains, chains, everywhere man is in chains!...

Well, if not IN, then involved IN.
I was sent a pack of bits made by Tamiya, the well know over-pricing experts, for a 1/6th scale chain meant for their Honda kit. I needed this for the Vincent model because I have to make the sprockets to the correct pitch and that will be entirely governed by the chain available.
The pack was woefully badly packaged and so one of the 4 identical sprues was totally useless. They renewed that, which told me that the chain was £34 including p&p, which is frankly, taking the piss I reckon. Anyway, we now have a good, unsmashed pack which I am putting together at the rate of an inch a day and that's more than enough for something so complex and tiny.
Here it is so far, in it's little jig which is on each of the 4 identical sprues.

I have also been making brackets and plates for the Vincent master.  They all look different dependent upon which pictures you choose in the books, so I've done a kind of compiled average.  They look serious enough to be correct!

Last evening I spent some time adding gutters to buildings that needed them.  I started using my special press, but the aluminium I have is too thin and deformed and the brass shim a little stiff, so the punch broke!  I got enough shape from the punch to finish them anyway and then a bit of brass rod bent to represent a downpipe.  Still need the gutter support brackets, but  got the downpipe brackets done.  It's amazing what a difference something like a simple gutter makes to a model. My punch does scale 6 foot lengths with the ribbed, joggled joint section (the discernible "bump").

Thursday, 2 November 2017

You can't beat Speedos...

Having made the sub cover on the right hand side's engine casing main cover, I then realised there was a big speedo drive on that.  So, seven turned brass bits later and some fiddly soldering, here's the item on the newly sprayed cover.
Some nuts, bolts and plugs turned, 6 sided and added where I can. Some will have to be added when the models are assembled as they'd hook in the mould and break it.
So nice when everything ends up the same colour.

MRJ's latest...

Regular readers will know I'm a huge fan of the work of Gordon and Maggie Gravett.  Apart from his books, of which I have a couple, Gordon is a delightful guy to have a chat with, which I did when he was displaying Ditchling Green at the Spalding show a few years ago.  He has Austin 7s made from kits for which I did the masters on the layout, so that was a good ice breaker.
Their latest layout (the French Pempoul was in between and I didn't care for it much, being French) is known as Arun Quay and is a beautifully observed depiction of an East Sussex estuary quayside and it's little locos and stock.  In 31.2mm gauge (I don't begin to understand why) it still looks very finely made.  The buildings, as ever, are superb. Sussex flint perfectly depicted.  Small stores and workshops only. Nothing flash or big.
But for me, the really clever bit is suggesting the river by painting it at the back of the narrow board and merely suggesting it with a railing and a very quayside type of building. Not for Gordon the obvious and usually ill portrayed wharfside splash of fake water with an even less well modelled boat.
Just check that brickwork.  Gordon uses the very longwinded method of covering a core with Das clay and then engraving the bricks in to the surface.

Alas, I don't have a scanner, so can find no more pictures than these on the net that will open.
Everything done to one high standard.  Anyone can do this with sufficient care. But very few bother.

Now, thanks to the blog's very good friend, Frank who is a magician with these machines has found a way of sending me the Flikr pics.  These are from Phil Parker, btw, another model railway blogger.
Here is the one I really wanted to show.
That small office and the railing next to it just scream "riverside" at us and the old boy fishing, leaning on the railing is perfect.  Apparently his old overcoat is modelled in Milliput with a belt from the foil of a wine bottle cap.  Proper modelmaking.
Perfect observation of the little black shed.  And a really delicate railing.
Railways might be the excuse for this kind of scenery, but it's barely necessary to have such a wonderful set-piece.

These picks from Phil's Flickr album.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Sweet Gene Vincent...

I'm sure I've mentioned that I am making a 1/6th scale Vincent Black Shadow in brass (mainly).  This is a BIG model!
I've had to buy several sizes of brass rod for frame members and turn down from half inch bar.  I also ran out of 1/16th" sheet and got the last offcuts from a local engraver, but soon used that up and have had to buy more.  Bloody hell!  have you seen the price of materials these days?  Ebay had to be trawled for what I considered a decent price.  Every price hike is dent in the coffers.

Here's the latest work on the Vincent model. Engine crankcase halves, covers and sub covers.

I used car body metal bashing techniques to make the crowned shape in the teardrop shaped cover and the round clutch cover.
The metal is heated to red and allowed to cool down, then with a pear shaped box wood dressing mallet (but a ball pein would do) the metal is hammered into a dip in the end of a log or a dip in a lead ingot which I happened to have. Neither will mark the outside of the piece.  Then the cover is silver soldered to a rim made of a strip of 1/16th" brass and all rounded off with files.
Where the shapes are too complex to make without extreme difficulty and waste of now expensive brass I've done them in Ureol and Milliput epoxy putty.  These parts will be moulded in silicon moulds requiring no heat to make them.