Sunday, 29 June 2008

Pacific Progress

Life hasn't made working on my own modelling easy at all this last week or so; working nights at the start of the week, London mid week and meetings at GrantRail's head office on the Friday! There's been a little bit of progress with Botanic Garden's A7. The plan is to have both A7's at a similar level of completion so they can be detailed together.

Today I took another step closer to actually working to this plan! Though I'm waiting to obtain the correct axles - for some reason I got 00 length axles for my P4 wheels... Once I get the correct ones the chassis can progress further. Anyway, amoung a few other jobs I managed to construct the smokebox saddle in Plastikard and fit the boiler. Somehow it seems much more like a 'proper' locomotive now!

This is the first locomotive where I've used High Level Kit's new Hornblocks which are, I must say, incredibly easy and user-friendly hornblocks I have used! I have more in stock and intend to use them to produce a fully sprung loco in the near future.

The A7 will be a signature piece of rolling stock for Botanic Gardens and I'm hoping that the end result will be something special.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Plasser UK 'Open House'

Yesterday I was lucky to attend an 'Open House' at Plasser UK's West Ealing works. We were treated to presentations from Plasser employees from all over Europe and from people in senior positions within the Rail Industry in the UK. Round the works were various machines and pieces of Plant on display for us to see.

One of the first items we saw as we went on our works was Network Rail's Plasser Track Recording DMU. We had a tour inside and the kit contained within was quite impressive. The shear size of the data it collects is impressive in itself!

As well as large plant on display, we were also treated to a selection of smaller items including a demonstration of a new laser guidance system for use with tampers.

One of Amey's Plasser tampers was in operation throughout the day to help demonstrate this equipment too. This kind of effort was one thing which made the event much more involving than many seminars are - seeing the equipment which had been discussed in the morning's sessions made it much more interesting!

There were, as one might expect, various examples of Plasser tampers around the works receiving attention.

In the main works were various bits from the Plasser ballast cleaners which are not the best looking of machines, but do have a certain charm about them - very functional looking machines.

A further view inside the works where the machines were undergoing maintenance.

An added bonus for me was to see the pair of Colas Class 47s, can't same I'm keen on the livery but they are smartly turned out.

One final view before we leave...

I must add a big thank you to Plasser UK and its staff for a very interesting and enjoyable day!

Sunday, 15 June 2008

The Main Line That Never Was

Yesterday Suzi and I took my mum and dad out for lunch as it was my dad's birthday. We went to Pickering, not realising it was the 'Sixties Weekend', which didn't seem up to much at the southern end of the NYMR.

On the way back we came off the main road and passed through the village of Settrington - this is a route we've often taken as it avoids Malton, which can be very busy in summer with so much holiday traffic passing though, and the back roads take you past some remains of the Malton & Driffield Railway, which is a line which had an interesting history even if if it never achieved what it set out to do.

It had been intended as part of a mainline to connect Hull with the north east of England - traffic was predicted to take fish north from Hull and even export coal from the north east via Hull! The line was constructed to double track standards throughout with all this in mind - it wasn't to be though and line was single track throughout both its length and history. It's major source of traffic was chalk from quarries, notably at Wharrem and Burdale, which was used in the steel industry in the north east - almost fulfilling the original intentions of the promoters.

The line is re markedly complete in places, with earthworks still very much in evidence, especially at the Malton end of the line. Settrington station is probably the best preserved of all the remaining stations, as the photo shows. It is still very much a railway station in appearance. Even the yard office is still cared for and in excellent condition.

The line has fascinated me for years - especially after reading Warwick Burton's book, The Malton & Driffield Junction Railway, when it first came out. (If you don't have access to this book, Wikipedia has a decent page on the line here.) I have wanted to model the line in some shape or form ever since - I have visited much of the remaining infrastructure along the route and the potential for modellers is huge - Steve Flint recently featured a plan for Settrington in Railway Modeller and Barry Norman has suggested possible schemes in Model Railway Journal. I think if it had had been a Great Western line, it would have been legendary, but this wasn't the case and its sleepy existence continues to this day.

When I was about fifteen I attempted to build Settrington, with visions of building North Grimston also, in 2mm Finescale, but a lack of money and experience meant it never really got off the ground, however I did manage to get a few bits started, including based boards, most trackwork and this -

I produced my own drawings using drawings of Wharram station in Warwick Burton's book and amending using my own photos of the station and photos from when the line was operational. Not bad for an inexperienced fifteen year old I suppose... scarily that's nearly ten years ago!

The next scheme which got nowhere thanks to university commitments was to model the line in P4; Settrington in just 7' x 2'! It was submitted for the Scalefour Society's 1883 challenge but never got anywhere. Shame really as it would have made a nice little layout - it's still on the 'to do' list.

So if you're ever between or near Malton or Driffield, see if you can take in some of the line - you'll find a real hidden gem if you do.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

More Class 37s

This was completed very recently...

As usual now, it is based on the newest Bachmann bodyshell with their six axle chassis, rewheeled with Branchline's 'Black Beetle' wheels. I used Brian 'Extreme Etcher' Hanson's windscreens,which really make the 'face' of the model. Sadly I didn't have one of his fan grilles at the time I did the roof, so I used the Shawplan surround and some Scalelink mesh, the result is quite pleasing and, thanks to its soldered construction, is surprisingly durable. The brake chains complement the model rather well I think.

I have a 37/4 of my own to do soon, but I am waiting for Brian's new parts to appear before I tackle it. It's a strange limbo stage for D&E modellers at the moment, if you want the best locomotives, there's little point doing anything at the moment! Brian's parts are revolutionising D&E modelling!

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Weathering 37 677

I thought this may be of interest; it was how I weathered my model of 37 677. Weathering still seems to be something which many people are apprehensive about and it really isn't that bad or frightening! So this should be an insight into how I do things.

This is how is was supposed to end up;

Quite dirty! It's a sandite fitted machine and they can end up filthy! Just how I like it! Anyway, the first stage of weathering was at the painting stage. The paint was faded by tinting the paints with whites and greys - in fact the roof colour wasn't the correct shade tinted but Rail grey tinted to get a real look of how faded it had become. Compare this picture -

with the 2000 view. The greys have faded as has the yellow.

As an aside, this is how dirty Sandite machines can get! Pretty bad, I'm sure you'll agree! It does, however, show us the kind of colour we'll need to some of the washes/passes later on.

Anyway, with the main colours on futher fading was achieved using tinted washes of matt/satin varnishes, applied in stages. I always advise that it's easier to add more than than remove for this type of operation. So we end up with this -

All the colours look 'right' but aren't the shades as people would prescribe normally - they have been aged more than weathered in this case. I added thin washes to the grilles to bring them out, and very carefully painted the roof grille, building up very thin layers of paint so as not to clog it. I left the model like this to fully dry and cure so I didn't disturb this work when it came to the 'real' weathering!

The windows were masked with Humbrol Maskol masking fluid, and the yellow nose ends masked off, because the 2000 view shows quite clean, though faded, ends. A first, light coat of general road dirt/grime has been applied along the lower third, or so, of the bodyside.

This is wiped and cleaned off, not completely, but so as to leave traces around the grilles, raised detail and panel lines - much as described by Martyn Welch in his work The Art of Weathering, from where many of my ideas have been stolen!

I use a mixture of brushes, cotton buds and kitchen towel (Bounty kitchen roll in my case; it's very absorbent and holds together very well whilst wet) and thinners to remove the weathering, which ever does the job best at the time to be honest.

All this should leave us with this result - starting to show the dirt, though at this stage it still looks a little rough and ready!

For this loco I airbrushed (very haphazardly!) around steps, sand filler lids and nose grilles with a darker, dirty brown mix. Looks awful, but precision isn't really needed here.

It all looks horrible, but as the paint is removed, you can ee it's beginning to settle and stay around details -

It's still looking rough and very untidy, but the key thing is building up the layers, tones and variations of the weathering - refering to the photo at all times though.

So, we do the same again! But changing the colour ever so slightly -

We repeat the process of removing the weathering again...

This view shopws how we're beginning to see the variations of colours appearing and helping to add to the overall effect - I hope so anyway!

This process contiues and we need to add more dirt, but also I've started to add the add streak of dirt, washed down the body side by the rain. Much as in this view of 37 677, but not quite as drastic!

These are added by spraying through a thin slit cut in a piece of good quality card - I use the backing card from Parkside wagon kits! The slit is only about 0,7 mm or so wide, for the most part, but different streaking effects can be had by experimenting and varying the width of the slit and the distance of the card from the bodyside and the distance between the card and the airbrush.

37 677 also has hints of grim running down from the radiator grille at the number one end too -

All of these help add character to the loco I think - and I enjoy adding things like this to weathering jobs. Again, not my idea, stolen from Tim Shackleton this time! From his article of producing a rather nice Class 60 in MRJ some time ago.

The masking tape's off now! And I've applied another coat of road dirt along the body. This time some is allowed to catch the ends to help unit all the vertical surfaces together.

Hopefully this shows how the paint can appear as engrained dirt around items like the nose grilles - they nicely moulded (but too far apart sadly!), and this hoepfully shows what can be done with the mouldings of modern RTR diesel bodies.

Another pass of dirt, but a lighter colour to try and somehow match the colour of sandite has been applied. Not too much, but enough to make a difference in the flesh, but less so in a photograph.

Now we're back on the chassis, and the patches of exposed primer have been applied. I did consider adding these early on, but felt that this would be a better stage at which to apply them.

I've only added a hint of exhaust staining to the roof; 37 677 doesn't have so much on its roof in the initial photo, so I didn't want to add too much. I also blew across the noses with a very thin mist of exhaust mix to tone them down ever so slightly...

A quick note on the chassis, this was weathered away from the body, but using the same colours, so once reunited, they would work 'as one'. I think it's worked... Anyway, the key thing is checking against prototype photos as always. This means we have things like the cable from the speedo picked in grey, as it has been replaced recently in the 2000 photo by the looks of it.

Final touches to the body are the various little bit of rust being added as per the photographs, such as on the cab side in this picture. (The light was starting to go by this point, especially for hand held shots, sorry about that.)

And how it's turned out in decent light...

Still a few things to refine - the oil spill on the lower bodyside needs a further layer so the 'tide marks' aren't quite so distinct. And, of course, the bufferbeam pipework has been turned down since.

I must be doing something right, it won 'Best Non-Steam' at the Hull MRS's annual modelling competition...