Wednesday, August 26, 2020

August 2020 Update

I said back in June with the Resurrection Post that I'd have stuff to write about over the next few weeks...  Well here we are, two months later and only one thing written about, and that was using an article I'd already written!

Ho hum.

Part of the trouble is being willing to use my modelling time on writing about what I've done rather than doing more.  I find that while the mojo gets me keen on actual modelling, I am loath to do anything but either work on the latest kit or project which I am interested in or do something from my UFO pile.  As it happens, it has been the latter which has been cramping my enthusiasm for writing recently.

The 2mm Scale Association is this year doing a virtual modelling competition - submit your photos by midnight BST this Saturday (29.8.20).  So I've been looking to see what I could enter and I've been doing a lot of work putting transfers/decals on models which I in some cases finished some time ago!

Those finished and now just waiting to be weathered (and then in some cases having DG couplings fitted) include:

3x Vanwides from the NGS; 2x LNWR D15 Beer Van etches in 2mm scale; a LNWR D21 Cattle wagon home printed and placed on a 9' etch from Shop 2 of the 2mmS; a Peco 9' 8 plank open kit; a restored Peco NR-5 Plate wagon; a Medfit; and a pair of GWR DD4 Cordons which I printed from Thingiverse and parked on a couple of spare Peco 10' brake van chassis.  

In the to do pile, while the mood takes me, there is another Medfit, a pair of Peco NR-7s, another Peco NR-5 (this time as a twin bolster rather than a plate wagon); a bashed Minitrix 8 plank wagon on a Peco chassis, a Dapol and a Farish PoW currently in grey primer; a Peco 5 planker also in grey primer; a scratch built 5 planker on a Peco chassis, a Parkside Dundas 21t hopper, a Parkside Dundas 12' wooden body which I can't remember what it is supposed to be so will have to look it up; a pair of GWR Mink A's; the NGS Midland Railway van kit; a BR Meat Van kit (I think Parkwood but now owned by the NGS although I haven't seen it reappear); a Chivers D5 LNER Horsebox and all four wagons from NGS Kits 47 and 48!  So 19 I think.  I suspect there are some more out in the shed but that'll keep me busy for a while.

Whilst some of what I have done and what I have yet to do includes models which no longer meet the standards I am trying to achieve, they all still have a place to fill.  The N Gauge layouts which I have - Celyn Glanfa and Hollie Wharf are both to fairly course standards due to circumstances.  Whilst it would be nice to operate CG using all new 21st Century stock, the reality is I don't have enough yet.  As a result, there are a couple of trains which have to be made up of pre-Bachmann tooling models.  Whilst CG only needs 6 complete trains and around 10-12 other wagons for the yard, I can only comfortably have 3 trains if operating in the Steam Era (if operating in the BR Blue era, which is also a possibility, then I am fine - I've enough trains).  If looking at the GWR era rather than the BR, I have even less in the way of "fine N" stock.

Similarly with HW, because it is designed as shunting puzzle using the Peco Elsie Coupling system, there isn't a lot I can do about appropriate stock.  As this is not a "model" as such but something to operate, the focus is on things which work, rather than accuracy per se. 

When I get around to rebuilding St Alban's Priory, I will also need quite a bit of stock and so the older versions will still keep on keeping on.  The trick I think shall be to keep like with like - so the new Bachmann stuff will run with itself and the older Peco based stuff will run with itself.  Most people at shows don't know the difference!

Unfortunately no photos - too late in the day and my wife and I had a deal to do blogs on Wednesday.  I've at least managed it this week!  Photos for next week?  We shall see.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Narrow Gauge Adventures - Part I

Now some readers may find the following a bit repetitious depending on their choice of reading.  I have recently (i.e. in the last few months) had two different on-line magazines publish articles regarding my first forays into N6.5/Nn3 Narrow Gauge Modelling so if you're a subscriber to N Scale Magazine or you read the free download from N Scale Modellers of Australia, you'll already know a bit about some of the models which appeared in the last post.  I think some of my stuff has also appeared in a newsletter in the UK.

For those who haven't heard about it, the story is as follows:

As someone who lives within 500 meters of the North Coast Railway in Queensland, Australia (the line runs from the capital city Brisbane in the south east corner of the state some 1000 miles to Cairns in the north) and who grew up with a station at the end of my street within the inner suburban network of the same Cape Narrow Gauge system, narrow gauge trains have always had a fascination to me.  Admittedly the rail network in Queensland, at over 6600kms of Class I railroading (to borrow the US term), is hardly what you imagine when you think of narrow gauge and indeed, when Queensland adopted 1067mm gauge for its mainline in 1865, it was the first place in the world to eschew the Stevenson Standard for a mainline and adopt something smaller.

Now, regular readers know I am a member of the NGS and 2mmFSA and within those organisations are special interest groups devoted to modelling narrow gauge and I was fortunate to be able to sit down with one of the driving forces of 2mm Scale narrow gauge in Mark Feilder whilst visiting the UK in 2016 and have a lengthy chat about options for modelling in the smaller scales.

Having visited both the Ffestiniog and Talyllyn (along with Australia’s very own Puffing Billy) I was interested in seeing how I could incorporate some narrow gauge modelling within my own interests.  Now both of these are not 3’3” gauge railways (which is what you get if you use Z gauge track in the N Scale family) – they are quite narrow with the Ffestiniog being 1’11.5” and the Talyllyn 2’3”.  To model these to scale – and 2mm Scale is easier on the maths than the other members of the Scale Family – the Talyllyn would call for a track gauge of 4.5mm and the Ffestiniog a touch under 4mm.  Whilst I don’t doubt this is possible – the Talyllyn has been done for example on 4.5mm track – I don’t yet have the skill.  And so on the backburner the ideas went until a couple of catalysts brought them back to the fore.

The initial catalyst to have a go was actually as a result of one of the members of the Local Area Group of the 2mm Scale Association who, having also been intrigued by Mark’s efforts, sort to have a go himself.  David had acquired examples of the only British narrow gauge models available – the Peco N6.5 white metal locos and wagons.  Both the locos are designed to run on a Marklin 8800 (now 88051) chassis and whilst one is a generic 0-6-0ST the other is a reasonably accurate representation of one of the original Glyn Valley Tramway locos which ran in Wales until the 1930s.   David was looking to have a few more models to run and I was looking for a reason to learn 3D drawing and printing skills and so a plan was formed…

Now having a plan is all well and good – and as far as plans went this was a pretty simple one.  I was going to design some suitable rolling stock to run on David’s narrow gauge line.  What exactly I was going to make was entirely up to me, and how they were going to actually run was not exactly clear.  The initial idea was to include axle boxes in the drawings and see about using bits and pieces from the 2mmSA shops to get them to work.  Initial designs worked on this principle but whilst it was a good idea in theory, it didn’t quite work in practice.

Then I was browsing a 2nd Hand Stall at a local model railway show and came across a Micro Trains Line Nn3 boxcar.  I offered the bloke running the stand AU$5 for it on the basis that it wasn’t N scale, whatever he thought and he agreed.  Pocketing the model I went home, determined to dismantle it and see if it was going to solve our problems – at least as far as passenger operations were concerned.

Donor vehicle - Microtrains Nn3 30' Boxcar.  The body is discarded completely.

Chassis awaiting the 3D printed body. 
The dismantling of the model proved to be very easy – the body came off leaving a cast metal chassis with the trucks intact.  Measuring the chassis showed that creating a new body to fit was going to be very easy – and the body was going to be compatible with the locos we already had available.  The biggest problem was we only had the one chassis.  Fortunately, recourse to a well-known on-line auction site resulted in quite a number of examples being obtained.

And so to the model.  I looked at the coaching stock on both the Talyllyn and Ffestiniog railways along with what runs on the Puffing Billy here in Australia and came up with a basic design.  The maths worked out quite neatly on 4 compartments for seating and, following UK practice, this was decided to be for Third Class stock.  To get First Class (I won’t go into why second class wasn’t around for decades here – if you are keen, you can easily find out the history) I made the compartments a bit bigger – however I wasn’t able to get 3 in neatly but this wasn’t a problem as I needed to put a guard in somewhere and so the Firsts ended up having two compartments and a guard’s area with provision for luggage and mail.  The idea being a normal service train would be three Third Class coaches and a Brake First – the logic being each First compartment held 8 passengers in a 2 a side configuration and the Third compartment would have 6 passengers in a 3+3.  Each First Brake would then have 8 passengers and each Third would have 24 – a train would then have 80 passengers assuming a full load which in the world of Narrow Gauge would be extremely unlikely, even on a market day during high summer! 

To produce the coaches I drew up the models in Autodesk Inventor.  The method I use is to draw a corner or whole side and then mirror it, depending on how the final model is supposed to look.

Once I had the coach body drawn – and I took the opportunity to include seating, and a couple of open windows so that each side had some variation – I turned attention to designing a drop in roof.  I included pilot holes in the roof for locating ventilators which were obtained from Etched Pixels in the UK.  Similar ones are available from other suppliers.

Both drawings, once I was generally satisfied, were converted to STL files within the program and then uploaded to Shapeways.  I got a test print sent out, and having found it didn’t quite fit the chassis I made some modifications to the drawing and uploaded it again.  The second set of prints worked much better (the first were usable but required filing almost 2mm of metal from the chassis – I’d forgotten to allow for the overhang on the original drawing!)

All Third and Roof as supplied from Shapeways

Because I had included seating when I painted the bodies, I also painted the inside.  The First Class seats will be red and the Thirds are green.  I also painted the rest of the interior and put the odd figure in to represent passengers.

Painted, footboard added and transfers on.  Just needing to be glazed - and weathered. 
I still haven't touched the white roofs!.
The outside colour on these is Humbrol 63 (Desert Sand) as this is a good base colour for Teak livery – the final colour is achieved using washes of various shades of brown acrylic artist paint.  I made up the foot boards on the almost finished coach using some scrap etch and some staples soldered together and then fitted.  This was painted using ModelMaster Grimy Black.  As you can see from the pictures, I have also painted the window frames.

The numbers on the doors denoting the class of compartment come from Fox Transfers, and once they were on I sealed them in with a coat of Dulcoat from Testors.  I have yet to finish the rest of the set in terms of weathering and glazing at this time.

Number 1 "Amity" and three of the four coaches pulling into the restored station on Celyn Glanfa
So having sorted coaches, my attention turned to having locomotives.  Whilst I had access to the aforementioned chassis, I also had a chassis which didn’t fit under the whitemetal kits – in fact, between David and I, we had two.  Both 2-6-0 steam locos of the 8803 family.  David was interested in having a 2-6-2T and I a 0-6-0 so it was quick work to see if the pony truck from one of the chassis would become a trailing truck on the other – fortunately it fitted fine and the swap became permanent.
Again the inspiration of the Talyllyn and Ffestiniog came to the rescue – in this case TR No 4 “Edward Thomas”, a Kerr Stuart 0-4-2 saddle tank and the Ffestiniog No 2 “Prince”, a George England 0-4-0.  The result was a basic design for cab, smokebox and running plate with variations between the two surrounding the water tank design.  The 2-6-2 was drawn with side tanks – inspired in part by the Standard Gauge Adams Radial 4-4-2T built by the London South Western Railway (one being preserved at the Bluebell Railway in the south of England) – and the 0-6-0 ended up with a saddle tank in line with the two original inspirations.

Again the locos were drawn up in Autodesk Inventor and the resulting STL files sent to Shapeways.  The initial prints showed up a number of issues when attempting to mate to the chassis – the 2-6-2 was broadly ok on the chassis but was overly long at the bunker end and the 0-6-0 was a bit long at the front end, as well as sitting a little high.  Again the drawings were tweaked and sent back.

The numbers are from when I sent the pictures to someone to explain the issues. 
1 is the Mk 1 - to long and not sitting square.

The Mk 2 print - much better in length but still not sitting properly. 
With a bit of filing it probably could be made to fit.  The issue is above the cylinders.

The final print - this is the print which appears in all its glory in the photo above.

The second print showed the length issue had been corrected but there were still a problem with the body not sitting well on the chassis.  So a further tweak to the drawing and another print order, this time with fingers crossed that all would be well as by this stage we had a layout booked for a show (more about the layout anon).  Fortunately the MkIII 0-6-0 was excellent in all respects and, despite the lightness of the FUD print, still managed to haul the four coaches we had available – although we ended up deciding that three had a better balance when it came to presentation. 
The MkIII print was finished in LNER Apple Green – the same shade of paint that 4472 “Flying Scotsman” is most famous for running in (albeit not currently – it is presently in its 1960 BR Dark Green paint scheme).  A search through my decal collection gave rise to builder’s plates, number plates (No 1) and a name plate – Amity, in honour of my long suffering wife.
No 1 "Amity" - I really should work out a way to disguise the motor!
As I had a spare 88051 chassis, and didn’t really like the white metal kit of the Glyn Valley Tram, I decided to draw my own and get this printed too.  This ended up fitting on the first try although I needed to modify the chassis a bit more than I had planned.  Didn’t stop it from working so quite happy, although I have modified the drawing for future prints with a larger diameter chimney and dome as I felt the originals were a bit small.  I also enlarged the cab area a bit to make the fitting of the chassis smoother.  This loco David has kindly fitted a small DCC chip to – no room for sound however!  In keeping with the LNER theme of the coaches and No 1, this was painted in LNER Garter Blue – the same shade the 4468 “Mallard” is painted in.  As David had asked for his steam loco to be No 3, and I have plans for a second 0-6-0ST to be No 2, this loco ended up being No 4 and will, in the fullness of time, be named “Nigel” after Sir Nigel Gresley.

An early photo of what became No 4 "Nigel" on the unfinished Celyn Glanfa
Since the adventures related above, I have made some progress on furthering the Narrow Gauge fleet.  The updated version of No 4 has been printed and fitted with a chassis, a second set of coaches is mostly done (in green) and some 4 wheel coaches have appeared.  I now have an Anycubic Photon printer so no longer relying on Shapeways has improved the turn around time between Marks.  Stay tuned for Part II and the adventures with the Photon.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020


One of the more interesting perils of being a high school teacher is the students periodically decide to do a Google search on you.  And if you are really "lucky" they find you.  This happened to me recently and so my blog was dusted off from the internet and I had to show some of my stuff to kids who were slightly more than politely interested.  They think others may be interested in what I've been up to modelling wise over the last two years and so have challenged me to up date the blog over the next couple of weeks with some news.

With this in mind, I felt the easiest way to "position the reader" (one of the English department's catch phrases) was to put up some photos by way of a teaser and then put some posts in to explain what's been going on since.  So in no particular order - and the order is not necessarily going to match the associated write ups - I give you the following:

Ale Dock - my 2mm Scale Association Diamond Jubilee Layout Challenge entry which had Covid-19 shut the world down have travelled to the UK this month.

My first attempt at a 3D printed N6.5 Narrow Gauge loco.  This is actually the Mk3 body as Mk's 1 and 2 didn't work.  

A second N6.5 loco body - this is the Mk 1 and worked but the Mk 2 works better.

Some N6.5 coaches.

What to do at work when you are there but the students are on Covid-19 lockdown - you remodel your desk and include a working diorama!

The 2018-2019 Supermeet Wagon - chassis built 2018, body done 2019.

So four things to write about in the next week or so.  These aren't the only things - I built an exhibition layout in the meantime too - but I'll start here.