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.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Gopher Models Victorian Railways B Class

Sorry to those of you who have been looking for a post over the last couple of weeks – it has been that time of the school term when marking and the resulting reporting take over for a a little while and not much railway work happens owing to paying work being the priority.

All hasn’t been lost however with this lovely addition to the Australian locomotive fleet arriving direct from the manufacturer (after purchase I hasten to add – it isn’t a freebie for review – it’s mine!) via the Neb Noswal Express a couple of weeks ago. 


It is one of “those” locos – interesting, been around for years – in this case, the prototype for mine was the first mainline diesel electric for the Victorian Railways and delivered to same way back in 1952.  Having been selected for a rebuild and new engine back in the 1980s the frames and bogies are still going strong, now as A60 rather than B60.

For those who are unfamiliar with the prototype may I suggest a visit here or a bit of a trawl around the internet.

Because mine is direct from Phil, I got a few hand me down bits and pieces – the collection of transfers for example didn’t include all the ones I need as there had been some with misprints – as we have been mates for over ten years and I don’t mind.  I’ll get the missing 3 in due course (all for number boards – somewhere along the lines the printer only put in one of each number on the first print, despite there needing  to be 4), so mine isn’t exactly a representative example of the production run.  Having said that, the model itself is and rather than worrying about reviewing the bits I added (nameplates, side number plates etc.) I’ll deal with just the model.


Running wise, it was very smooth straight out of the box.  It is supposed to be a match for the other Gopher Models (at this stage I’ve a pair of 48s, a pair of 44s, a pair of S and a GM12 to compare it with) and while it doesn’t quite match yet, I am sure with running in it will be much closer – at this stage B60 is about 1 inch slower around my layout, St Alban’s Abbey and this is a 5m x 1.1m oval so quite lengthy than the S class and 44s which will be running together.  As B60 won’t be needing to run with anything I am not too worried but my 44s work very nicely together (post on them to come) and once I have chipped them for DCC operation, I expect the consisting on the Brisbane Limited model I hope to build up will be spot on.

The model itself is finished in the later version of the Victorian Railways Blue and Gold scheme first made famous on the Spirit of Progress streamliner and is associated S Class 4-6-2 Pacifics prior to World War II.  In this case, the difference to its original livery is the yellow at the top of the doors – a practice which disappeared sometime in the 1960s I believe.  I haven’t been able to find out exactly when B60 got its doors so treated.  Those who want an earlier B will have to be delicate with a paint brush.  I believe the Blue matches the Steam Era paint VR Diesel Blue but how close the factory in China got it, I can’t say. 


As far as printing goes most of the pad printing is very crisp.  I found some bleed points on the side of the body near the grills, but since I don’t ever remember seeing one clean here, weathering to suit the normal late 70s early 80s grime from my childhood will solve this problem.  To be honest it isn’t noticeable at normal distances and it was only with the benefit of my modelling glasses and deliberately looking for “faults” that I could find it.  Everything else is what we are coming to expect from Phil and his Gopher stable – just a shame Ixion didn’t take off for the British Modeller but that is another story!

At this stage the B is only available in VR Blue/Gold and a special livery done for a Streamliners weekend in Goulburn.  Phil has a number of unpainted models, one of which has been done for Ben in the VicRail Tangerine T-Cup livery from the early 1980s.  It looks as vile as I remember but Phil has done a nice job in the painting of it.  I understand if demand is sufficient to warrant a second run, the V/Line scheme which replaced the Blue & Gold and Tangerine liveries.  Even later liveries, such as SSR and WCR will probably remain special paints jobs by Phil but since the SSR 44 was done as RTR the B may manage to be done for those looking for the set.

If you’d like one – or one of the other Australian RTR diesels Phil has done – go to and follow the links.  I’ve not been paid for this review.  Phil doesn’t even know I’ve done it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

South East Queensland Area Group Meeting – 10 March 2018

We had our third get together for 2018 last Saturday with 7 members in attendance.  I didn’t get around to taking photos which is a shame as David G had brought along quite a lot of his stud of locos for a running session, many of which he has had weathered professionally.  A quite impressive collection.

We welcomed back Anthony from his three year posting to Sydney with the Army – he swapped in for Ben who the Army saw fit to post to Puckapunyal at the end of last year.  Anthony showed us some of the building progress he has made for his North Wales line.  Hopefully we will get organised enough for a visit once he is fully back operational.

David H had brought his DCC programing set up and sorted my NCE controller which was playing up – turned out it was the cable rather than the controller.  A bit of playing around with DCC locos resulted.

Discussions on Hollie’s and my new layout were fruitful – I’d put some Kato track one to see if the geometry was workable and it seems it will be ok.  I’m hopeful that we shall have significant progress by next month – fortunately I’ve two weeks holidays coming up straight after Easter so the signs are good, management permitting.

As always, if you are around South East Queensland on the Second Saturday you are more than welcome to come along and join us.  Just drop me a line.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Class 128 Parcels Railcar revisited

Once upon a time – or perhaps “A long time ago…” is a better start! – I regaled readers with the tale of my sorting one of these here.  As it turned out, I never did get around to sorting the transfers and what not for the 2015 modelling competition and with the 2017 running late and being held in a couple of weeks, I thought I had better do something about it – if for no other reason than to provide a second or third place.


So what’s changed?  Well I got some transfers for the Parcels service to put on it, put the handrails in (Spirit Design out here has a nifty tool for handrails – unfortunately the owner of said nifty tool has now moved 1000kms south so I might have to get my own), glazed it with Krystal Klear and weathered it all over. 

Depending on the lighting and the angle you can still see the print lines but all in all I am quite pleased with it – just have to sort a DCC chip for it and get around to building the 1975-1982 themed layout for it to run on.  But another UFO FO’d so that’s a result.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Vessels for “Hollie Wharf” – Part I

Long term readers will possibly remember back in 2016 I was given a shunting puzzle layout by one of our on again, off again LAG members (currently heading back on again which is a bonus!) and my daughter, keen as a bean to return to the Toowoomba show after her debut as an operator in 2015 was given nominal ownership and as a result it was christened Hollie Wharf.

It has been to two Toowoomba shows – 2016 and 2017 – and may go again this year depending on whether or not the planned replacement “Celyn Glanfa” is ready in time (you can look up the Welsh if your keen – and if you are Welsh and don’t like Google Translator's answer, please get in touch with a better one!) although there is the complication that the magic smoke seems to have escaped somewhere late on the last day of the show last year (which is one of the many reasons I am glad Ken is back into British N for a bit as he has offered to trouble shoot his home made circuitry).

Now, being a wharf Hollie and I both felt it was important to have a vessel or two to have at the dockside.  Again, long term readers may remember (and you can certainly hunt back to 2016) that there was some detailing bits done with my Aldi 3D printer.  One of these bits was to make a start on converting an Ertl push along Bulstrode the Barge from the Thomas the Tank Engine collection into something more like a costal steamer.

I have fortunately obtained a second one from the Bay of E for not a lot and, this time, have managed to remember to take more pictures of the process.  The modification is by no means complete but I thought a Part I would be useful – if for no other reason than to make me get a move on so Part II gets done!

Below is what I started with.  It comes apart easily by removing a few screws from underneath



The component bits.  I chucked the wheelhouse as it is over scale.  I also chucked the bit with the wheels in it as being no use to any plans I have nor could I see how it would be useful in the future.  Hope I don’t regret that.


Having dismantled everything the hull section looks like this.  Not particularly useful if you want a waterline model but I have a bench sander and, having fitted it with a worn fine grade belt, I took it down to the waterline pretty quickly and easily.


The deck insert was next – before on the left, after on the right.


I removed the bollards (dunno what else you’d call them) from the bow and stern, cut a hole where the cargo hold is and trimmed down the lugs which had secured it all together.


So I now have a hull ready for building onto.  At this stage, this vessel, tentatively named Ruby, is going to be a sister vessel to the one we already have, the Amity.  Both carrying coal around the coast from wherever Hollie Wharf is.

Now to sort out the 3D printer and find the print files for the new bollards!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Mermaids repainted

Last week I wrote about the two DJM mermaids I received from Hatton’s and indicated they’d be joining the UFO pile to be back liveried into black from Civil Engineer’s Dutch.  Well as it happens, I got onto it much sooner than I thought particularly when I found that removing the bodies for painting wasn’t that much of a hassle – a few minutes careful prising with a steel ruler and voila.

IMG_2038 (2)

The now removed bodies were spray rattle can black and left to dry for a day or so before transfers from the Model Master range which used to be available from the N Gauge Society (sheet 2633 which has options for Dogfish, Catfish and the Mermaids.  I used to to redo some Railhaul (I think) liveried Dogfish back to black years ago – I hope I can get some more as I have 11 Catfish etches to build). 

IMG_2047 (2)

So after about 5 minutes of dismantling, 5 of shaking the spray can then pointing and shooting, a day of waiting and an hour putting 10 transfers per wagon on, I have what I wanted – two black Mermaids to join the Grampus, Dogfish and Shark on the engineers possession train.

Friday, January 26, 2018

DJM Mermaids

So I thought I’d do a review of the most recent purchase to arrive from my “local” hobby store – Hatton’s of Liverpool.  I’d actually been going online to buy some short shank NEM couplers and was tempted by a pair of the DJM Mermaids.  They were in “Dutch” grey and yellow livery whereas I’d prefer black (which is much earlier in their life) but I figured it isn’t hard to paint something black and in any case I have some Modelmaster Transfers which will suit so another UFO joins the pile….

Anyway, as these are the first examples of some models from DJM that I’ve obtained I was curious to see what was different from the Dapol offerings which Dave Jones had overseen at his time there – and what hadn’t really changed much at all.

So first impression – the boxes were nice but not as sturdy as I am used to from Dapol.  No plastic boxes here.  More like Farish although I felt the window was a little small to allow a reasonable view of the model.  A bit like Ixion before him, Dave has gone for a slogan – theirs was “Own the Finest”  his is “ Setting Higher Standards”.   

As far as the model goes, it looks pretty good.  The necessity of the plastic moulding process and the nature of these wagons (being side tippers) does mean the representation of the support structure and the tipping bits are a bit over – if they were scale I am pretty sure there reject rate would be uneconomically high.   Turning the wagon over I was very impressed with the brake gear and what not – stuff which unless you have really bad track laying skills you won’t see but adds to the authenticity (and having spoken to a professional model maker it actually doesn’t add to the cost of the tooling – and adds only a little to the design CAD stage).

The ballast load is well modelled too – and easily removed for those wanting to run it empty or to replace with something more realistic (like actual crushed up ballast).  Having a pair they do look a little to alike (but again the cost of having more than one mould for this is not economic – and then you are still relying on luck to get two different loads although with the different running numbers it shouldn’t be that hard).

For me the biggest let down was the coupling spacing.  As is now the industry standard, NEM pockets are fitted but the choice of coupling length is, frankly, ridiculous.  I don’t know if DJM only do one size of coupler and I get the cost of a mould has to be covered but when the gap between the buffers measures at 9mm this is way too big.  Not setting higher standards at all.    Now I understand the Rapido coupler isn’t that great – but I think we can all acknowledge that for RTR British N we are stuck with it.  Farish provide a short shank NEM coupler (the item I was actually buying from Hatton’s when the siren song of the mermaid called to me) and fitting a pair of these brought the gap down to 4mm.  It is still too big – and I would expect at 4mm it will go around “trainset” curves (which I define as anything under 12 inches radius – my layout runs 15” on the hidden sections and much, much larger on the visible) so why DJM thinks a 9mm gap is setting higher standards boggles the imagination.    I would like to get mine down lower than 4mm but at this stage that’s where they are until after the repaint.

Overall 8/10 with the buffer gap accounting for all the lost of marks.  Once they are painted to match the Dogfish, Grampus and Shark they’ll make an interesting addition to my ballast train.

Pictures of the two gaps:


Saturday, January 20, 2018

DIY Transfers

One of the LAG members dabbles a bit in USA outline.  My original trainset, given to me at birth, is also American and I have, from time to time, dabbled a bit myself.  The collection isn’t particularly big and, owing to not knowing very much about the US at the time, the Roads which I had locos and stock for were more purchased on the basis of either it was cheap or I liked the look of it.  When I finally sat down a couple of years ago to consider what to do with it all, I found I had bits and pieces from 5 roads, three of which were orphans – or very tenuously connected to the others.

It was about this time that David mentioned he was going to do is own shortline and was essentially running his railroad as a hook and pull operation from the nearest Class 1 down a branch.  I had a bit of a read around the internet and found this was a pretty common method of playing trains in the US and figured it would enable me to justify most of what I had – all I had to do was assume the Class 3 Road I was operating had purchased the random locos from the Class 1 which had purchased them from the manufacturer.  This would enable a PRR K4 Pacific for instance to be running over next to a GN F7. 

A bit more thinking and I decided to upgrade to a Class 2 Road as this enabled me to have more miles and more money, justifying repainting the eclectic collection and so the Empire Railroad was born. 

All this back story is necessary I suppose to explain how I came to getting some decal paper and making my own transfers.  I needed to do something to make my own railroad livery!

I got my paper from eBay and an Australian supplier.  Heaps out there and much of a muchness for price.  I got a single clear A4 sheet to practice with.  As I can’t print white, any white lettering needs to go on a white paint swatch.  Similarly, I have found that unless I print in black, and at photo quality, I have to put colours onto a white background as they appear washed out.  It is still a trial and error process.

I have however had a couple of successes.  The Empire Railroad has three 2-8-0 steamers (Bachmann ex-Missouri Pacific) and these have had Empire put on the tender and 1977, 1980 and 1983 applied to the cab sides for the road numbers.  Because I did these myself, I wasn’t limited to what Fox or anyone else did for fonts and so they were done in BANK GOTHIC Lt with a bit of manipulation on spacing and so forth.  These were printed by firstly printing the desired shape and size on plain paper then cutting enough transfer paper from the sheet to cover, sticking it over with scotch tape and reprinting.  I painted a white square on the tender and slide the transfer on.  Once dry I painted around the transfer with matte black.  The same approach went on the cab side but this was a bit more lumpy with detail – US locos aren’t as neat and tidy as UK – and so I had to use microsol to get the transfer to lie flat.  One of the six number squares mucked up – must get around to sorting that.

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I also did three Microtrains cabooses – two started life as BN Green (so post 1970 which was much later than I decided on – I’ve decided 1950s for steam to still be hanging on in parts but broadly diesels hold sway) and one in PRR brown.  They were painted rattle can red from Bunnings – and then suitably adorned with the Empire logo and number 501, 502 and 503.  As these were black it was very simple.

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Finally, I mentioned last week I’d have a photo of the Simple Green for those who want to find it and give it a go – as I mentioned I got mine from Bunnings in Australia so I don’t know if it is available overseas but if I had a dollar for every time I’d been told to use Johnson’s Klear….  Turns out Simple Green is made in NZ so chances are they export it further than the West Island eh bro?