Thursday, 31 March 2011

Dirty Bird

So who doesn't like a dirty bird?!

A version of Heljan's Falcon in its second green livery, but weathered to give it a more suitable appearance. Aside from the soon to be added headcodes, it's completely as our Danish friends intended and, although not perfect (Peter Johnson has worked wonders with the model!) it certainly works very well as a 'layout loco' I think.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Steel Carriers

Quietly developing in the background is a small rake of SPA wagons, based around Cambrian kits with a few added extras.

It does seem an odd omission from Bachmann's range, especially since they have added an SPA to their N gauge range, so for now kit building is the only option. Though Filling The Gap Models could well be helping in this respect - hopefully with a 4 friendly product too!

However, their new model is some way off and I have a small pile of Cambrian kits waiting to built. However, the kits are showing their age somewhat - underframe detail is well below what we expect now. Not that I'm complaining, as it's something I'm quite prepared to do to bring it up to the standard and level fo detail I want.

So what's needed to effect this? Well the Bill Bedford axle guards replace the pivoting plastic version as they're not really suitable for P4 - perhaps it is best to replace them whichever gauge you use as they're not, in my experience, the best arrangement for smooth running unless you have very tight curves. Also new brass buffers with Plastikard details. Still to be added will be a number of castings from S Kits and brake levers will be fabricated using Colin Craig parts as well as any other things I notice!

So there you go, the start of some good old fashioned kit building! Despite the much wider range of ready to run wagons which may be 'near enough' for one's requirements, a project like this can still be a lot of fun! And once built, nothing beats seeing models you've made trundling past.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Clanking Towards Completion

One long term project is slowing making its way to completion - just a couple of small items of plumbing to add but it's mostly there now!

You'll notice the new handrails on the tender - these use Markits WD handrail knobs to release the Bachmann knobs for the Doncaster Firebox conversion which requires extra knobs due to the new handrail arrangement. The Markits ones are much finer and you could replace all of them but Bachmann's aren't too bad. You'll also notice the Plasticine coal heap which covers a bit of extra lead to help the tender ride smoothly when running tender first.

The figure leaning out of the cab started life as a Monty's signalman. The pose I felt would suit a typical driver or fireman in the classic 'knackered/slightly p*ssed off' looking pose which many seem to have displayed when they managed a breather during a hard shift! I had to fettle his arms and shoulders to fit the WD cab window but the result is a figure who appears to fit the position perfectly. Well hopefully that's the effect!

The next stage will be numbering and then the fun of creating a truly filthy, working Dub-Dee!

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Spring Sheds

Recently the Hull - Leeds line there are some major renewals work at the moment, currently focused around Melton. This has brought a number engineering trains in for the Saturday night possesions. Finding out times can be difficult for enthusiast, but gen sites on the internet can provide the information. Even then trains like these can leave quite early. But if you get lucky the results can be rather pleasing.

One example of one of these workings was 66 099 on a long spoil train looking particularly filthy - though the dirt and dust does do an excellent job of highlighting all the details and fittings along the solebar which is very useful for modellers! The train had originated from Carlisle the previous night and was waiting to head to Doncaster.

Soon afterwards 66 154 joined 66 099 and it makes an interesting contrast for modellers looking to weather their Class 66s. Both locos were filthy but had weathered in quite different ways.

Both departed soon afterwards, both at walking pace until the reached the limits of the possession - displaying a part of rail operation that I've never seen modelled.Perhpas to be different someone could set their layout in a T3 (full blockage) possesion!?

Monday, 7 March 2011

Low Tech Class 47

Sometimes low tech does have its advantages. It's less scary, less expensive and more forgiving. I'm sure this applies in many parts of life. And learning and developing skills on something which is perceived as simpler can be very useful experience.

This latter idea, I think, applies very validly to the current crop of RTR models - these aren't low tech by any means anymore, but learning skills on models like these seems to frighten many people. It almost seems a little bit pathetic now that people are scared to touch a model because they've paid maybe twenty quid more than the older version, but that fear is definitely there.

It seems now that with better RTR more people are actually less likely to do anything further to them. A shame as many newer models take very kindly to a little bit of work here and there to really lift them and exploit their full potential. But how do you get this experience? The answer, is low tech...

The humble Lima class 47 - basic, ‘plasticy’, eff all in terms of separately applied details (the buffers don't count!) and as common as a people carrier on the school run. But I think it still, in its own way captures the look of a Class 47 – it’s not perfect, far from it! The moulding is delightfully fine – the roof details are very good indeed. Lima’s tool makers produced wonderfully subtle results. I think it makes a wonderful project that is neither costly nor scary. Working from a base such as this, you can take it as far you want or feel comfortable. I think that it can provide the perfect learning project – something which many diesel and electric modellers have done in ‘years gone by’ when we didn’t have a choice!

In my case cost was an enormous factor – last year I was out of work and money was rather tight. The purchase of a Lima class 47 at a Toyfair in Beverley provided the impetus. An unboxed loco bought for a little over £15 was going to be the basis. It was in the correct livery too which was a bonus. The triple grey is pretty good, nice and thin too - with replacement sector markings it'll be spot on! I had spare Ultrascale wheels at home so even with a set of Extreme Etchings roof grilles the budget was still less than thirty pounds! I’m back in work now though, but the thought of a cheap but value for money, project still appeals with all the other costs which life brings.

The plan had been to replace the mechanism with either that from a Proto1000/2000 PA-1 or spare Heljan bogies (all of which are in a drawer in the workshop), but when I tested it, it ran surprisingly well! With a couple of hours' running in it was rather nice. Not as smooth as a central-motored model but very good and more than good enough for the duties I had in mind for it – once chipped, which is the only other large cost, it should be a nice reliable performer.

So, aside from a ‘Duff on a budget’ what is the intended outcome of the project? The answer fits in with a theme I am currently developing, so the model will become one of Immingham's class 47's, no 47 294. I've found various photos of it but the one which made me decide which of the Immingham ones I wanted to do was this. With it being on an ex-Scunthorpe steel working was even better! But the model will be in a condition more typical of the breed, something more like this.

So there we have the outline of the project – it’s progressed fairly well in short bursts since the summer and should soon be ready for patch painting, numbering and finishing!