Sunday, March 18, 2018

As Seen In...

Some of you may remember that back in December I completed the I P Engineering kit of a 16mm scale Hudson Skip locomotive. At the time I didn't go into too many details about how I'd built and detailed the kit, this wasn't for any good reason, other than I'd not written anything down. Well now I have and the results are a four page article in the April issue of Garden Rail magazine.

One of the people who read the original post was Phil Parker (if you don't already read his blog then you should) who suggested the editor of Garden Rail would like an article on building such a kit, and he should know given he's the editor of Garden Rail! So over the Christmas holiday I put together a quite detailed article on the build and all the extra detailing, including how I built a rivet press. So if you want the gory details go buy a copy.

Buying a copy of this article is much easier than all the previous articles I've ever written (either railway related or work related) as Garden Rail is sold on the high street so, for example, you can walk into your local WHSmith and pick up a copy. I got sent a copy, but I might even go buy an extra copy just for the thrill of it.

Friday, February 23, 2018


After dipping my toes into modelling in OO6.5 gauge I decided to see if there was anything a bit more interesting I could model, that might also be usable in OO9 gauge. I didn't have to look far as the Royal Arsenal Railway had an interesting little gunpowder van, which sat on a very similar chassis to the transfer wagon. Mark Smither's book on the railway contains a couple of small photos and a drawing (although I discoverd that the drawing is wrong in a couple of important ways) and I managed to find a few photos of a surviving example which is now at the Conway Valley Railway Museum. Putting these together with the existing chassis model I managed to produce what I think is a really nice little model. First in OO6.5 gauge...

...and also in OO9 gauge.

Design wise the model is a bit of a departure from previous wagons I've designed as in the end I opted for a mixture of 3D printing and etched metal parts. The reason for this is that with the external framing there is no orientation you could print the model in that wouldn't result in support wax covering all the planks, which would likely result in a horrible surface and the plank gaps being obliterated.

The combination of 3D printing and etched parts works really well together on models like this and I'll certainly take this approach again on any similar models in the future.

There are a few issues to finalise but hopefully it shouldn't be long before complete kits for both the OO6.5 and the OO9 gauge versions are available via Narrow Planet, price yet to be confirmed but I'm sure I'll do another post when they do appear.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Stop Blocks

Having previously produced models of the chimneys and finials used on some of the stations on the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway I've now been asked by the same people to look at another set of detailing items; the concrete and wooden stop blocks. While it turns out that they changed quite a lot over the years and no two appear to be exactly alike, research (mostly carried out by Chris Harvey) suggests that there were a few basic versions. Each block consists of a concrete post, some of which have a sloping back, and a wood block which could be either wide or narrow. From those details I've worked up a set of test prints that when painted look like this.

I had to take four separate photos as each stop block is actually made up of two parts that fit together and I only test printed one of each part. Essentially the wooden block has a peg on the back that slides into a slot on the front of the concrete block.

As you can see I've also made it so that an hex nut can be slotted into the concrete part, which not only allows you to use a bolt to secure the two pieces together (not needed really as the parts are a nice tight push fit) but to also bolt the buffer to the baseboard so that it might actual withstand the force of a train colliding with it; the bolt is made from nylon to make it easy to cut to length.

The height of the blocks was carefully chosen to allow them to be used in two different ways. For those who model the L&B and want the block to be the correct prototypical height then they can be mounted on top of the sleepers. If, however, you mount them direct to the baseboard (so the bottom of the block is inline vertically with the bottom of Peco 009 track) then the loop on a standard 009 coupling should just slide over the top of the block with the face of the coupling aligning with the wooden block.

Whilst these were designed at the request of a number of L&B modellers, hopefully they will be of interest to other 009 modellers. A a kit will consist of both a wide and narrow wooden block, a nut and bolt, and either a square or sloped back concrete part (you'll be able to choose which style you want when ordering). I need to order stock before they go on sale but a single kit will be £7 or we can offer a pack of 3 kits for £18.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Finally, Some Movement

Having spent some time over the weekend when the little one was asleep doing some work, I managed in return to get a little noisy modelling done yesterday while he was at nursery; I do love having a job that allows me flexibility in when I work as long as the work gets done. The result is that I've managed to move the Clayton O14 loco build along a little to the point where it's now moving under track power.

The downside of more weight is that there is even less space inside than before so I had quite a few problems with electrical shorts, but after some careful tidying and some electrical tape in key areas it moves. Clearly the wiring is just temporary; there isn't room in the loco for all that spare wire but I've left everything nice and long until I sort out the lights and will wire everything up properly in one go at the end. The pickups possibly also need a tweak here and there to improve running, but I'll probably do this once the model is painted as they'll only get knocked when the wheels are dropped out etc. The good news is that with the extra weight introduced in this version it seems to run nicely, although I'll only know for certain how it performs once I try adding the rather heavy driver figure as that was what caused the most problems last time. For now I'm happy with how it's coming along though.

Whilst assembling the model I did briefly ponder another change from the previous version. I managed to accidentally assemble the model without fitting axle bearings. The result, as you can see in the video, was that the wheels were free to rotate slightly around the centre line of the locomotive.

Many models are actually designed to incorporate features similar to this, usually refereed to as a compensated chassis, to help the wheels maintain contact with the track at all times, and hence to ensure proper power collection over points etc. While I did briefly ponder leaving the model like this I decided not to, simply as I was worried that the plastic gear would suffer terrible wear against the stainless steel keeper plate, but has anyone done anything like this before? Any thoughts on how successful or terrible an idea it is?

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


Having recently dipped my toe into 32mm gauge railways (in 16mm scale, so representing 2' gauge) I've also been involved in designing some new products for a scale/gauge combination referred to as OO6.5. As you can probably guess that just like OO9 is OO scale modelling (i.e. 4mm scale) on 9mm gauge track, OO6.5 is OO scale modelling on 6.5mm gauge track. While not an exact match this is used to represent railways running on 18" gauge track; sometimes referred to as minimum gauge railways. The reason we use 6.5mm gauge is because there is ready-to-run track available from Busch, although they use it to model 60cm gauge railways in HOf scale, which is 3.5mm to the foot modelling. If you weren't confused by scales and gauges before I'm sure you are now!

The wagon I've designed is 1 plank transfer wagon as used on the Royal Arsenal Railway. Now I only know of one photo of this wagon which appears in the Mark Smithers' book. Fortunately it appears to be simply a cut down version of the Sand Hutton wagon that I've been working on for what feels like years now (hopefully some news on these next year) and so I had some idea of size etc. Obviously with the difference in gauge I've had to produce a new underframe as well. Note that this doesn't entirely mirror the prototype in order to provide mountings for the magnetic couplings.

I don't actually have any OO6.5 track (not sure I'll actually try modelling in the gauge either if I'm honest) so I've not actually seen the models in the flesh yet, but never fear they have been test printed by James Hilton who does model in the scale and has also released some other models. You can see what he made of the test prints over on his blog.

You can find the full range of OO6.5 gauge models produced by various Narrow Planet designers on the website under the 6point5 brand. Hopefully there will be more to come in this new interesting gauge next year as well (hint: I'm working on something else).

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Big Reveal

Having hinted at some modelling in a new scale for the last couple of weeks, the time has finally come for the big reveal. So without further ado we have a 16mm Hudson Skip locomotive that runs on 32mm gauge track.

The loco is built from a kit from I P Engineering that consists mostly of laser cut plywood, although the skip itself is an injection moulded piece. You should also be able to spot the hand brake wheel and clutch pedal from previous posts, plus two gear levers and some extra rivets (possibly more on those in a later post) that I've added to the basic model. All these bits were modelled on a drawing of a similar loco in issue 9 of Narrow Gauge and Industrial Railway Modelling REVIEW.

Unlike any other locomotive model I've built before this one is battery powered rather than being powered through the track. It's also why the skip looks over full as that's the smallest mound I could make and still hide the batteries and on/off and direction switches.

One of the advantages of battery power is that I don't need expensive track to run the loco on. In fact I can use track that is also made from lasercut plywood, specifically the Ezee range of track also from I P Engineering.

As I mentioned in an earlier post the aim of this little bit of modelling was to give me something I could do in the lounge after the little one was in bed but also to see how much I liked 16mm as a scale to work in without spending a lot of money. I think I've achieved that as (barring paints, glue, etc.) the loco, driving figure and track has cost me just £80 and I've had a lot of fun, and enjoyed scratch building details in this larger scale. Which just leaves the question.... will I be doing more 16mm scale modelling? At the moment I'm not sure. I don't have the space inside the house for much more than that temporary oval of track and I've not thought about modelling in the garden..... yet.

Friday, December 8, 2017


My work to turn Skarloey back into a representation of Tallylyn still isn't finished, and now I've got a model of Rheneas which will need to become Dolgoch at some future point. As if I didn't have enough projects on the go already given the amount of modelling time I currently have.