Thursday, February 27, 2014


So having unpacked the Baguley-Drewry kit I couldn't leave it alone -- it just looked too enticing.

The kit consists of a 3D printed body shell and a fret of etched nickel silver detailing parts. The first thing I did was to try and smooth out some of the printing lines from the 3D printed body shell. I did this by gently rubbing T-cut into the surface using cotton-wool buds. This worked well, although it did take quite a bit of time. There is probably an easier way but at least this way there was little chance of my doing any damage to the 3D print.

Assembly of the model then simply involves gluing the detail parts onto the body shell. Most of the parts are easy are easy to clean up and glue in place. I found that the exhaust bracket was the hardest part to fold and add (it was so tiny that folding it was very difficult), although getting the curve into the roof wasn't entirely straightforward. Strangely the fret includes two radiator grills "in case of mishaps", but I found it was very easy to fold and fit, so I now have a spare radiator grill to add to the bit box.

In the photo the body is just posed on the experimental layout plank from the previous post, as while fitting the powered chassis is easy getting it out again is a pain, although given how well the body shell hides the chassis this gives a pretty good idea of how it will look when completed.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Now I know that curling is traditionally played with large chunks of granite but I've been having fun with my DAS clay cobbles curling all on their own. The problem occurred when I started work on another layout experiment to see how the approach I had settled on for making and painting cobbles worked over a larger area. I used a piece of foam board as the base and made the mistake of assuming it was rigid enough not to curl as the modelling clay dried. It wasn't. Fortunately it wasn't the end of the world; I used a sharp knife to remove a small sliver from the bottom cardboard layer of the foam board allowing me to bend the board enough to remove the curl and so the board would sit flat.

With this experiment I went a little further than just modelling cobblestones though, as you can see from this photo of the Meridian Models kit I recently completed.

I thought I'd take the opportunity to make a start on figuring out how I'm going to construct at least some of the buildings on the layout, and to turn the cobblestones into more of a photographic plank where I can pose the rolling stock as it is built.

I'm not going to go into any details on how I put the building together as it really isn't worth the telling (it's an embarrassing mix of double sided tape and PVA glue, with some badly thought out card formers) other than to point out that everything you can see was printed from one or more sheets. All the structures on Jerusalem were built from kits and I was impressed by how (relatively) easy they were to build and how realistic they looked. This scene is actually made up from a few parts from their small goods store kit (it used to be a free download but seems to have disappeared from their site) while the wall is from the ashlar texture sheet and the roof from grey roof tiles. The structure itself is inspired by a similar structure at the Leeds Industrial Museum (see this excellent photo).

I'm quite happy with how this has all turned out. The cobbles look good over a larger area, the papers have produced a reasonable building, which would be improved with extra detailing on a real model (gutters, drain pipes etc.) so now all I really need to get cracking on the layout itself is a track plan. I really should give it some more thought, but I'll probably get distracted by some more locomotive and rolling stock construction first!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Probably The Best Model Packaging In The World

Now I'm sure you'll all agree that just as you should never judge a book by its cover you shouldn't judge a kit by the package it comes in. Having said that I can't help but be impressed by the level of detail and care that was put into designing the packaging for the Narrow Planet kit which I recently ordered.

Having read the instructions and looked at the parts I think the same level of care has gone into the kit as the packaging so hopefully it will build into an excellent model.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Voiding The Warranty

While in the UK many of the ready to run locomotives are produced by Hornby, Bachmann, or Dapol there are many other companies which produce locomotives and roling stock. In Japan, for instance, KATO are one of the main manufactures of HO and N gauge models. One of the ranges they produce in N gauge is the Pocket Line Passengers. I'm guessing the name comes from the fact that the range is quite cheap, and so could be bought with pocket money, and in fact a full set consisting of track, controller, a steam locomotive and two carriages costs just £45. Mind you its cost is reflected in the quality of the models, as you can see from this publicity shot.

Now you may be wondering why am I telling you about a cheap Japanese N gauge train set? The answer lies in the carriages.

To anyone who has ever handled an N gauge steam locomotive it will probably be obvious that the locomotive in the photo doesn't actually contain a motor, there is simply no where to put one; even a micro-motor with a belt drive through the smoke box would struggle to power that model. The solution KATO have gone for is to fit the motor into one of the carriages. Basically the entire bottom section of the carriage, everything that is black, including the hand-rails on each end, is part of a small powered chassis. Now not only do KATO sell the full train sets but they will happily sell the chassis as spare parts, and it turns out that they are perfect for providing power for OO9 gauge locomotives, such as the Baguley-Drewry diesel locomotive from Narrow Planet that I'm intending to build. So a few weeks ago I ordered the chassis (it's KATO part number 11-104) from a supplier in Japan, via Amazon, for a total price, including P&P of just £13.01. It arrived last weekend, but I've only just got around to doing anything with it, and the first thing I did definitely voids any warranty it might come with!

Although the chassis is very small it is too long and slightly too wide to fit in the body shell of the Narrow Planet kit. Fortunately making it fit is fairly easy. Narrowing the chassis is simply a case of filing off the axle boxes and leaf springs, making it shorter, however, requires more drastic action.

On the way to work yesterday (after being slightly delayed after a truck hit the railway bridge in Penistone), I briefly called in at antics model shop and picked up a razor saw (specifically this one from Expo Tools). With the razor saw hacking the ends off took just a couple of seconds, leaving me with a 46mm long chassis (or around 11 foot 6 inches at 4mm to the foot scale), perfect for powering the Baguley-Drewry. One precaution I took, and which I'd recommend, was to use masking tape to cover the top of the central section while making the alterations to stop small bits of plastic getting into the motor and drive assembly.

As I haven't done anything about a track plan yet, I tested the chassis by running it around Jerusalem for an hour or so in each direction to make sure it was well run in, and it runs perfectly at both high and low speed, even over the points. So now I have the chassis sorted I can start thinking about assembling and painting the body.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Almost There

As you can see I've now finished the workman's open coach (other than fitting couplings, but I'm going to wait until I have something to couple it to). It took me a little longer than planned as I managed to misplace one of the sprues which forced me to tidy and clean my study before I could finish it. Given that I'm intending to use this wagon when the layout is dressed as a modern day industrial museum I've kept the weathering quite light and mostly focused on adding some dirt to the wooden floor. This treatment of the wood doesn't show up too well in the photo but I'm fairly happy with it.

The one thing that concerns me is that the model is very light which might affect it's running quality. On larger OO models there is nearly always somewhere to add some weight but on this model there really isn't any spare space. One option would be to box in one or more of the under seat areas and fill this with liquid gravity, but I think I have a better solution; I'm going to hide the weight in plain sight. My solution is to add reasonably heavy white metal tourists to the wagon. They will not only help bring the layout to life but will easily add extra weight. The only problem is, I'm struggling to find any appropriate figures. Dart Castings do a set of seated figures, but a) they are cast in pewter specifically to keep the weight down and b) I'm not sure from the picture that they will really work as modern day tourists. Does anyone know where I might find some more appropriate white metal seated figures?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Meanwhile... in Sweden

As I mentioned before, I didn't get much modelling done during last week as I had a project meeting to attend. Not only did this mean long days but I wasn't even in the country, in fact I was in LuleƄ in northern Sweden. I didn't use any trains during the journey there or back but I was staying in a hotel less than a minutes walk from the train station so I thought I'd show you a couple of snowy Swedish railway shots.

Normal service will resume shortly!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Nowhere To Sit (Yet)

So having work on the workmen's open coach yesterday, the main body has come together very quickly. It's not that I spent a lot of time on it, but rather that what you see here is just six, fairly large, parts (plus the wheels) none of which required much cleaning up before assembly. It only took me as long as it did because the sides aren't symmetrical and I fitted the first one to the wrong side, and then there was a little filler needed at the joins between the four sides.

Normally I fully assemble a model before starting to paint it so that a) I don't mess up bits I've already painted, and b) so that I get a better feel for how I want the model to look. In this case though I've followed the suggestion in the instructions to paint the body and floor before fitting the seats.

The floor is meant to look as if it is made from wooden planks and currently is way too light. I'm intending to tone this down with some dry brushing and weathering powders to give an uneven wear look to the floor, but I think that will be done after I've fitted the seats so I know which bits will have had more wear. As well as the seats there is the rest of the brake assembly to fit to the underframe before I then try and make up some couplings, which actually looks like it might be more complex than building the rest of the coach.

One problem I did encounter (and that others building the same kit might) is that the wheels were extremely difficult to fit. Usually on a kit like this either the axle boxes and supports are slightly flexible allowing the wheels to be pushed in with a little bit of force to bend the supports, or the two sides of the underframe are glued together trapping the wheels in place. This kit takes the first approach, but unfortunately the plastic isn't at all flexible. This made it very difficult to get the wheels in place. In fact when trying to apply enough pressure I managed to slide one of the wheels out of position on the axle. I've pushed it back roughly into position (using my digital callipers to try and check the back to back measurement), but I need to get hold of a proper back to back gauge to be sure. I was going to ask if anyone knew where I could get one from as a quick web search hadn't been helpful, but then Paul left a comment on yesterdays post mentioning that Markits do a nice back to back gauge, so that's that problem solved!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Waggons Roll!

Having finally returned from my work meeting (which incidentally has furnished me with photos for a future post) I thought I'd make a start on some rolling stock from the selection the postman delivered last week. As the powered chassis I need for the diesel locomotive hasn't arrived yet (it's apparently left Tokyo and is on it's way) I thought I'd start with the workman's open coach kit from Meridian Models.

This kit represents an open coach which ran as part of the workman's train from 1880 to 1957 at Penrhyn Quarry in Wales. While rolling stock such as this wouldn't have been common in a Yorkshire mill complex, I'm intending to use it when the layout runs as a modern industrial museum and it will be populated by smiling tourists. There aren't that many parts so hopefully it will go together fairly easily, especially as the mouldings look nice and crisp so there shouldn't be too much cleaning up required.

Friday, February 7, 2014


So while I'm now pretty happy with the shape and pattern of the cobbles I've been trying to create I wasn't entirely happy with my first attempt at painting them. While the effect looked quite good it was very dark, and I think would have looked very wrong if used on a larger area, so I've had two more goes at getting the colour right.

I initially wondered if using black as the base coat was the main problem, so I masked off half of the area and re-sprayed using a can of Humbrol's grey primer as you can see on the right of the experiment. Obviously the grey would be too light now for the gaps between the cobbles so I ran a black wash over it to darken the gaps. On the way home yesterday I also picked up a few more useful paint colours and so dry brushed the whole thing (both the newly painted right hand side and the original left hand side). This time I started with RailMatch flint grey (which is quite a bit lighter than the Model Color London grey), and then used three Model Color paints, ivory, tan earth and cork brown. Finally I ran a black wash across the cobbles between the rails to simulate a dirtier area (dropped oil etc.).

I think the left hand side (black base coat) now looks much better. The use of the lighter flint grey and cork brown have improved the contrast between the cobbles and the gaps between them and I'm really happy with how it looks. The right hand side, however, definitely isn't right; the gaps between the cobbles just aren't dark enough and there isn't enough contrast.

So I think I can call this experiment a success. It may have taken me two attempts to shape the clay and two to paint the cobbles, but I'd much prefer to do that now with small amounts of track, clay and paint then on the full layout where having to start over would have been very wasteful in terms of time and money.

Today's Post

The post has just arrived which included a very interesting box of bits for the new layout:

I'll go into more detail as I put each thing together but there is the wonderful little diesel loco from Narrow Planet, a workman's coach from Meridian Models, and a set of Greenwich Couplings and associated uncoupling magnets etc. all ordered from Parkside Dundas. It's a real shame that due to work meetings I'm not going to get any modelling done for about a week.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


So my second attempt at creating cobbles with a biro and some clay seems to have produced a fairly convincing pattern. Of course a cobbled surface would never be white, so the next step is to paint them. Now the painting is also an experiment, and I'm not entirely sure I've figured it out yet. Here you can see my first attempt.

The process here was to spray everything with matt black from a aerosol can. Once that had dried I dry brushed the cobbles with three Model Color paints; London Grey, Ivory, and Tan Earth. I then added a small amount of black wash to the cobbles between the rails to simulate oil etc. dropped from the locomotives. Now while I quite like the effect I have a feeling the whole thing is a bit dark, and probably too dark to be believable. I don't want to go for a really light coloured surface but I think it still needs some work. Any thoughts or suggestions?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

More Cobbles

So not long after writing yesterdays post I came to the conclusion that the cobbles definitely were not right. I'd gone for a very random cobblestone look, but this really doesn't work when the cobbles are all the same size as you can't place them randomly without them either overlapping or with large gaps between them. So I've started experiment number two.

Here you can see the current progress on this second attempt. Essentially I've stuck with the same technique, borrowed from Chris Nevard, but this time I've placed the stones in a regular pattern and I think this looks an awful lot better. One thing I like is that it isn't perfect. I could probably do this with some embossed plastic sheet but I think it would always look too regular. Hopefully this version, once painted, will work and be regular enough to be convincing but not so perfect as to look modelled.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


While I still haven't settled on a track plan for my new OO9 layout, I do know that I'm intending to model the rails set into a cobbled surface. While the inspiration behind the layout shows the rails in concrete I think cobbles will look a lot better, certainly if I want to portray an early mill scene as well as a modern day museum. To that end I'm doing a little experimenting, like I did with ballasting for Jerusalem, to figure out exactly how I'm going to produce the cobbled surface. The photo shows the current state of my first attempt at laying cobbles.

I'm taking the approach suggested by Chris Nevard, which is to use DAS clay for the surface and to imprint the cobbles using a biro with the nib removed. I'm actually using the inner ink holding tube from a bic biro to give me round cobbles which are 2mm across, i.e. 6 inch cobbles at 4mm to the foot. This seems to have worked well, although I need to be a little more careful about not overlapping the cobbles -- I want random cobbles not crazy paving!

As well as making the cobbles the clay needs to be left clear of the insides of the rails to allow the wheels to run freely. I'm not quite sure what the scale distance for this gap should be, but I used an off cut of rail (the same as you can see in the photo), turned upside down, which I ran along the inside of each rail. This nicely clears out a gap the same with as the rails, which seems a decent starting point. Given that, as yet, I don't have any OO9 rolling stock, I've had to test the clearance using an N gauge wagon (while N gauge is 2mm to the foot it also runs on 9mm track) to test the clearance, and this hasn't highlighted any problems. If anyone has any suggestions on a better way of making the gap, or knows what it should be, please do leave me a comment.

The next step will be to paint the cobbles. My intention is to continue to copy Chris Nevard, and to spray the surface black (Humbrol Matt Black, as that's what I've got to hand) and then to dry brush with a mix of grey and cream and I'll let you know how that goes.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

And We're Off

Work, albeit minor, has now started on the new layout, although as yet there isn't exactly much to see. Now as well as a box to store the layout in (the trays have now arrived as well), I have the baseboard on which everything else will be built. As with Jerusalem I've gone for a simple piece of MDF as the baseboard; this time 9mm MDF rather than 12mm based solely on what the local DIY store had in stock. To ensure that I can get the layout out of the box, the final baseboard size measures 110cm by 22cm giving a maximum model, at 4mm to the foot, of 275 foot by 55 foot. Also, given the depth of the box, minus the MDF and storage trays I have 22cm I can build above the baseboard (so 55 foot of model space), which should be enough, although it certainly means that any point control etc. will have to be on top of the baseboard as I won't be mounting anything under it.

I've also had my order for the Dorothea kit from Brian Madge confirmed so that is at least one piece of rolling stock confirmed for the layout (assuming I manage to put it together correctly). Given that there isn't much to show I thought I'd illustrate this post with one of the slides my Dad took while I was growing up, which shows a Quarry Hunslet locomotive which isn't that different from Dorothea. The photo shows Elidir, built in 1899 for the Dinorwic Quarry and original named Enid, at the Llanberis Lake Railway on the 6th of August 1985.