Monday, 21 January 2008

More Droppers!

Tonight the final droppers for the wiring were added on what is currently our 'main' board. This has been our main focus for the last few sessions. The other boards at the front shouldn't be too bad. Next week should see the board wired up and everything tested.

The pointwork stills impresses me - the ply sleepers do look right. The interlaced turnouts are a real feature of much NER pointwork. For some people this attention to trackwork won't seem so worthwhile, but it is satisfying being able to look at a layout with high quality and correct trackwork is very satisfying. The more I see of the real railway, the more I appreciate this kind of modelling.

When we do come to test the track and wiring, hopefully this will be 'available for traffic' -

The lining has started to appear; it looks a little heavy in these views, but I think the lighting really emphasised the red - in reality it looks nice and fine. The method, using HMRS transfers, certainly seems to be producing a result which we all have found very pleasing. Only problem is one of the boiler bands is in the wrong place, so I must do something to amend that!

I'm really looking forward to seeing this finished. The NER black is rather elegant livery, but I do fancy something green soon!

Botanic Gardens is now progressing rather well - each week takes us that little bit further, whether it's progress on the layout itself or progress with locomotives and rolling stock. 2008 should be a very good year for the project.

Today's Railway

66 016 at Frodingham, 4th December 2007.
Just a thought; there seems to be a fair bit of interest in modelling today's scene. People have often modelled what they see everyday, but the selection of models available from the likes of
Hornby and Bachmann does make the task somewhat easier than it may otherwise be.

I do wonder how many people have the room to convincingly model scenes like that pictured above. The large EWS hoppers seem popular, but how many people can run prototypical train lengths, especially in 4mm:1ft scale?

There aren't many layouts I've seen which convincing show the bulk workings which are so much a part of everyday life on the railway. Widnes Vine Yard is one of the few I can think of -a friend and I spent a long time watching it at the Hull show and agreed it was one of the few layouts which showed today's railway convincingly and it has the best colour light signals I've ever seen!The layout also features some very convincing trackwork - the most surprising thing is that it based on PECO products!

Widnes Vine Yard
There are plenty of 'modern' (for want of a better word) layouts around but few really convince - few have the area available to convincingly portray many workings which are commonplace.

I think that N gauge offers more promise in many ways, especially when some of the new releases far outshine many of the scale's existing RTR. It makes it much easier to have a feeling of 'space' too, and train lengths are halved compared with four mil'! It would be nice to see more layouts represently mainline workings are shown in the first photo, but as space becomes more and more of a premium, I can see it becoming increasingly rare to see results as impressive as Widnes.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

North Eastern P1

The P1 in black awaiting its red bufferbeams and lining.
Work has progressed on my first loco for Botanic Gardens - a North Eastern P1 (which became a class J25 under LNER ownership) London Road Models kit. It features Alan Gibson wheels and a Mashima motor with Ultrascale gears from Branchlines. The loco has three point compensation and the tender is set up so much of its weight bears down on the rear of the loco. The decoder is a Lenz Silver Mini which came from 53A Models of Hull.

The kit has been constructed very much as intended. The kit isn't perfect, but the instructions are up front about this! Not that any problems are hard to overcome. For the most part is straight forward and with care the results are extremely pleasing.

Once finished the loco will be numbered 2035 which was a Selby engine at the time the Botanic Gardens is set. Numbering isn't the most straight forward thing though - at this time the North Eastern Railway were using large cast brass numberplates. Only a limited range is available and most aren't suitable. We have been very lucky to be able to have 'plates etched to our specification! The results are superb, as can be seen below -

The numbers refer to the first three planned locos for the layout. We're hoping to have all the other loco numberplates produced in the same way.

The final tasks with the loco concern finishing the cab roof for fitting once all the cab details have been added; brake gear for loco and tender; full lining in NER black and then weathering. The last point seems to be something which is rarely tackled on pre-1923 models - a myth of the spotless railway in pre-grouping time seems to never cease. Whilst labour was cheap and the amount of filth present on locos was not like it was by the 'fifites and 'sixties, these were machines putting out smoke, soot and carrying coal so some dirt would be expected. However, the result needs to be subtle in order to convince the viewer. It's a task I'm looking forward! Just got to get the lining out of the way now - that's not something I can say I'm looking forward too!

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Botanic Gardens Progress

Pointwork at the west end of the station.
Work continues with Botanic Gardens concentrating on the track and electrics on the board which features, so far, the most complicated part - however, this will soon change with future works! The main task has been installing droppers suitable for DCC. Previously the track had been laid with noraml DC in mind and the droppers are rather thin. Whilst we may get away with such an arrangement, while we still have the chance we are replacing these.

This work has allowed us to check all of the track bit by bit - the three way point was a good example of this. We found one rail to be slightly low this came out and a new rail went in its place and this allowed us to easily drill a hole for the new dropper under the rail's position in a very tight area.

The new section of rail, and its new chairs, should be easily spotted. What won't be seen will be the dropper we'd fitted. These are located centrally under the rail in certain sleepers. Once all the chairs are in place the effect will be invisible droppers! Quite neat really. All that remains are a couple of further bonds to be made and then the final chairs will be added before weathering. Though the natural appearance of the sides of the rails may be had to match! And impossible to achieve with plastic chairs!

And this is the state of play as we left it last night. With a couple of small things completed, testing can start!

Friday, 4 January 2008

Moving to P4

For anyone who is thinking about making the move to P4 (18.83mm gauge, which exact for 4mm:ft scale, 00 is 16.5mm and not quite the correct gauge) there is an excellent introduction on the
Scalefour Society's website. The whole website is worth a look if you're thinking about P4 in any shape or form - though the Scalefour Society does welcome all 4mm scale modellers, although one of the primary aims is to promote modelling using P4 standards.

If you follow the link to the
Society's homepage and then go to the 'site index' you should find the guide there. Alternatively, right click and 'Save Target As...' on this link Moving to P4.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Happy New Year!

Another year gone... In many ways, it has been an eventful year with some big changes for me personally.

I saw in the New Year in The King's Head in Beverley with Suzi and some of my closest friends; including my best man, whose threats and ideas for his speech never fail to worry me! Having been to bed, Suzi and I spent the afternoon in Robin Hood's Bay, having a good walk round before retiring to the Victoria Hotel at the top of the village for a drink. It seemed a shame to leave the bar, but we both have to be back at work tomorrow...

2008 is to bring some quite major changes. The biggest two will be huge - buying our first house and getting married! This is, of course, intended as a blog to voice, as the sub heading above says, 'random thoughts, ideas and opinions about railways and railway modelling', and some of you may struggle to see how real estate and marriage fits in with this! Well, rather than being about railways, it does put them into context.

Compared with marriage, how I propose (no pun intended!) to tackle my planned model of a North Eastern Class Y 4-6-2T for Botanic Gardens is rather minor, regardless of how important it may seem at those time when I'm thinking about it! Railways are an essential part of my life though - working in the rail industry means that I do rely on railways to a rather significant degree!

It does have an impact of modelling though - my own modelling will have to, at times, take a back seat. I'm incredibly fortunate to have a fiancee who supports me in my hobbies and interests. It would be all to easy to abuse this and continue modelling as if nothing else was happening! Modelling, I think, will become something which will really provide an escape from everyday life and the challenge of setting up our first home!

The prospect of buying a first home and getting married are far more exciting and challenging than any modelling project could ever hope to be. I think 2008 should be a good year - quite challenging, but with a lot of fun along the way!

And the picture for this entry, not really connected to this entry, but it's one of my favourite of my own railway photos - it was taken around November 2004 at Watton, which is a few miles north of Beverley. It also reminds me that I'm likely to be out at some unsociable hour sometime soon!