Thursday, January 26, 2017

21 Pages

Some of you may remember that way back in July of 2015 I started work on a small diorama depicting a disused railway bridge. I built the model as an entry into that years Dave Brewer Memorial Challenge held at ExponNG at the end of October.


Over the roughly three months I spent working on the model I learnt an awful lot of useful and interesting techniques, and while I'd documented them on the blog I thought that, even though I'd not won the challenge, an article on the building of the model might be interesting to a wider audience than this blog enjoys.

Having written for Narrow Gauge & Industrial Railway Modelling REVIEW before I ran the idea past the editor, Roy C. Link, who agreed it was an interesting topic for an article. My original plan was to put an article together fairly quickly by pulling text and images from some of the blog posts I'd already written. Clearly things didn't quite go to plan as it took a year before the article was finished, but it finally appeared in the most recent issue (109) of the REVIEW.

It wasn't that I was particularly slow in writing the article, in fact as I hoped it would it started to come together quite quickly from the posts I'd already made. What happened was that I decided to include a little more of the history of the bridge and the railway it was part of in the article and once I started to do some research things kind of snowballed.

What I discovered was that the line over Duchal Moor was one of only two railways in Scotland, the other being at Dalmunzie, that had been built to aid access to grouse shooting moors. So my research expanded from a derelict bride to two entire railways and as such took a lot longer than planned. It also resulted in more details emerging than would sensibly fit in an article that was predominately about a small diorama so it became two articles; one on the modelling of the bridge and one entirely devoted to the history of the two lines.

Given that both lines were closed or abandoned over thirty years ago and neither were ever open to the general public tracking down enough information to produce an interesting article took some time. I was very fortunate that requests for information in a couple of places turned up people who had either visited one or other of the lines, or had useful photos and documents which they were willing to share. The result was a 12 page article including a detailed history of the lines and rolling stock, maps, and a number of previously unpublished photos. Of course these 12 pages are in addition to the 9 page article on the bridge model, hence the title of this post as issue 109 of the REVIEW contains 21 pages of my work. Viewed another way, assuming my maths is right, about 45% of the magazine is stuff I put together, so hopefully people will enjoy both articles; it's worth buying for the other 55% alone!

If you are interested in reading the articles then you'll have to pick up a copy of the REVIEW as I can't simply repost all the material here (you should be able to get issue 109 as a back issue shortly) but I do have one thing to share with you all.

When researching the line at Dalmunzie I came across an old cine film which had already been digitized and uploaded to YouTube. The entire film is made up of a number of reels shot over a number of years and shows life on the Dalmunzie estate. While the whole film is interesting if you are only interested in the railway then there are three clips at 8:30, 29:50, and 30:40.


Monday, January 23, 2017

Ivor the Engine

As I predicated in the previous post I've not really had much time for modelling over the last thirteen weeks. I've no idea when this will change, but when it does I'll have another project to start on...

Obviously Toby isn't old enough to be choosing Christmas presents for people yet, but Bryony and I thought it would be nice if we each had a present from him at his 1st Christmas that wasn't at all baby related and that would give us something fun to do when we eventually have some free time for hobbies again. Bryony got a very nice hand turned yarn bowl and I got a kit to build Ivor the Engine.

I've fancied building Ivor for a few years ever since Paul pointed out that PH Designs did a kit for a 7mm scale model. Since then they have also released the kit in 4mm scale; actually two kits one for OO gauge, which I've got, and one for EM/P4 for those who like a more accurate track gauge.

What you get in the "kit" is the etches and a sheet of transfers leaving you to source wheels, motor, gearbox, and boiler fittings; not really what I'd call a kit. To make matters worse the recommended motor is the Mashima 1015 and Mashima motors aren't made any more, plus the instructions don't list a specific gearbox as far as I can see. Finally there aren't any wheels that are a perfect match so those suggested in the kit require cutting up to produce the correct number of spokes, and therein lies another problem.


As you can see I've been collecting together some prototype reference material ready to help with the build. This includes the storybook I've had since I was a child and some stills taken from the DVD of the complete series (all the colour episodes anyway). It turns out that the book and TV series are a little inconsistent, especially when it comes to the wheels. In the TV series Ivor appears to have wheels with six spokes, whereas the wheels clearly have eight spokes in the book. It gets even more confusing as some shots, in both the TV episodes and the book, show balance weights on the wheels while some don't.

So while I'm sure it's going to be a fun build, when I eventually have the time, it's clear there are a few issues to sort first, namely which motor, gearbox, and wheels to use. If anyone has any thoughts or suggestions I'd be grateful if you left a comment.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Modeller's Apprentice

It's now been a month since I last posted and over a month since I last did any modelling. This isn't for lack of interest but rather a serious lack of time. This is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future either, so you can expect posts to be slightly more sporadic than usual.

Some of you already know why I've been busy, but many of you won't so here is a clue....


That photo was taken on Sunday when I introduced my three week old son, Toby Arthur, to his first steam train -- I didn't even have to go far as this was another running of the Tin Bath railtour along the line at the bottom of our garden (see here and here for more details)

At the moment any "free" time I might have is probably going to be spent catching up on sleep so it's unlikely I'll get much modelling done for at least a few months. I'm also probably going to be more careful about the use of paints and chemicals in the house so some things may need to wait for me to tidy the garage and for some warmer weather (there is a light covering of snow outside as I type this). That being said I've got a couple of new models I'd like to have a go at designing and some articles to write, both of which I can do on my laptop in short bursts of a few minutes here and there between nappy changes and cuddles.

Of course there is also a flip side to all this, in that as he grows up I'm hoping I'll be able to interest him in trains which would mean days out to preserved railways, train sets (as opposed to model railways), as well as models I could build him. Clearly having called him Toby I'm going to need to build an LNER J70 at some point, and while only a minor character maybe I'll need to find an Ivatt 2MT 2-6-2T as well. Before we get to Thomas the Tank Engine though I'm going to start by reading him Ivor the Engine from a book that was read to me when I was small, plus I've always fancied building a model of Ivor.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Figure Painting

So in the previous post I mentioned I'd used a new painting method. Technically it's not new, but it's not something I'd tried before and that is stain painting to colour the figures.

All the figure painting I've done in the past (either recently or when painting Games Workshop figures in my misspent youth) has followed the same approach of block painting colours and then either picking out the highlights with dry brushing or emphasizing creases using thin washes. The problem is that this can be quite time consuming and more importantly finding complimentary colours for highlights and washes can be tricky. This new, for me, approach inverts this process. If you want lots of details then I followed the suggestions on this web page, but essentially you can see the whole process in these four photos.


The first step is simply to paint the entire figure black. This is followed by dry brushing with white to pick out the highlights. Colours are then added using paint diluted with water (to a consistency like milk). Rather than completely covering the underlying areas this essentially stains the lower layers allowing the creases and highlights to show through. A quick waft of matt varnish to helps tie everything together to give...


This is of course a rather cruel close up being many times life size, but you get the general idea. As I said at the start it's not a new idea, but was something I've never tried before, but from this brief test will be something I'll be doing a lot more in the future.

Friday, October 7, 2016

A Display Model

While I've painted numerous models for myself, one of which even did well in a competition, and built a model as a commission, until recently one thing I hadn't done was produce a display model. As I won't be going to ExpoNG this year and I didn't fancy risking any of my completed Hudson-Hunslet models in the post, I decided it would be good to have a display model that people could see on the Narrow Planet stand to entice them into buying a kit.


As a display model it doesn't need to work so it doesn't contain a motor or layshaft etc. This is partly as I built it around a misprinted brass chassis that won't hold the layshaft, as well as some gears on the axles that I damaged during building of the first prototype model. Of course none of that matters when it's simply being viewed on the display stand. So if you haven't had the chance to see one of these Hudson-Hunslet models in the flesh yet, have a day out at ExpoNG and hunt out the Narrow Planet stand for a good look.

As well as being fun to build I also experimented with a new painting technique but that can wait for another post.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Lamp Brackets

With all the pipework now sorted I think I'm down to the last two details I need to finish before I can think about painting; lamp brackets and the smokebox door. The smokebox door will be covered in another post but today I've fabricated the lamp brackets and fitted the rear one.


The original cab moulding had empty lamp brackets at both the botom corners of the rear sheet, and a lamp in the middle just below the windows. I wasn't happy with any of these and so they were all removed quite early on. Having looked at old photos I've settled on a single lamp bracket on the rear of the cab, and as you can see have used a whitemetal casting for the lamp itself (this is actually a 3mm scale casting from 3mm Scale Model Railways). Of course the loco would usualy only carry a single lamp positioned at the front or rear depending on which way it was travelling, so I've made the lamp removable so in theory it can move between the rear and front lamp brackets.


Here you can see the fitted bracket, along with the lamp (modified with a locating loop), and the tool I made to form the brackets. The tool is simply a piece of brass with a slot in it, but it allows you to easily bend a strip of brass for the brackets. Not much to show I know but I think it's a nice feature. I might find I glue the lamp on because it's more hassle than it's worth but for now having the ability to remove it should be a nice touch.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Pipework

After a lot of hunting through old photos (thanks to everyone who helped me find them all) I finally managed to get enough of an idea about the pipework alongside the dome to produce a passable representation.


It's not perfect but from normal viewing distances I think it will do the job nicely.