Friday, August 21, 2020

Yet More Details

As at least one person spotted the sandboxes in the previous post are designed to fit on a Simplex locomotive. My original test print was designed mostly to check the shape and to see if the hinge would work. The next step was to finish the lids with the details seen on the real thing.


There appears to be two common types of lid, one showing the Simplex logo and one giving the company name, although I've yet to work out if there was any pattern to which was fitted or if it was pot luck. Looking at photos some have one of each (you can usually only see the front ones as the rear ones are often in shadow inside the cab) and some have two of the Motor Rail Ltd version. I think, now I've done the design work for both, that I'll go with one of each.

I received a few other comments about sandboxes, mostly people saying that they often contain anything but sand. Apparently they are a good place to store spare coupling pins or the starting handle. Also it's not unheard of to open one only to find a mouse nest.


Okay, so I'm insane, but the idea of a mouse inside one of them was too much to resist. Fortunately I didn't have to do much to achieve this as I found a nice model of a mouse on Thingiverse which I scaled down and printed. Because it was so small I printed it sat on a fake floor that would just slot into one of the printed sandboxes.

And with that I think the sandboxes are now complete.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Too Many Details?

I've heard people suggest that the larger modelling scales are easier as the pieces are larger and easier to see. I really don't think this is true. In my experience, and I've talked about this before, what tends to happen is that as the scale goes up you end up modelling smaller details that wouldn't be visible or possible in the smaller scales. I'm fairly certain that there should be a limit to this though, for my sanity if nothing else, but I'm still not sure where the line should be drawn.

Whilst I may not know where the line between sensible and ridiculous should be drawn, I think I've got quite close with the latest bit of detail work. I'm slowly gathering parts together to complement a 16mm scale kit I'm going to build and one of the kit parts I wanted to replace was the sandboxes. They aren't a particularly complex shape and I have prototype drawings so it was easy enough to produce some using my 3D printer.


So far so sane.... except....


Yes, I designed them so that the hinge would work, the lids would open, and they could actually hold sand. Now my problem is that I need to find some finer sand, but have I finally gone insane or is this a perfectly acceptable level of detail?

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

10HP Baguley: Back a Few Steps

I finished the previous post on the 10HP Baguley by saying

In theory the next step should be adding a little filler and cleaning up all the joints before painting. Oh if life were only that simple!
which was because I already knew what happened next...


It turns out that when I originally soldered the cab back on, I'd not done it very well. Having trial fitted the chassis into the model I noticed that the back wall was no longer vertical. While trying to correct this it fell off and for some reason the floor came loose too. I took the photo after cleaning up all the parts ready ro reassemble everything.

Rather than trying, and probably failing, to solder the rear wall on again I instead opted to use some two part expoxy. I started by using the epoxy to fix the floor into the right place as this gave a much bigger contact patch to then make sure the rear wall was fully attached. I also decided to change the approach to couplings and so cut off the Greenwich couplings while the model was in pieces.


Once everything was back together it was time to start applying some filler and that brings us up to date. It's been about a month since I added the filler and I've still not got around to sanding it back as I've been distracted by other things. Hopefully I'll get back to it soon and then I can move on to painting it.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Spot The Difference

Alongside building the tiny OO9 model of the 10hp Baguley I've been looking through the parts for a much larger 16mm scale kit I'm going to build shortly. I'm not intending to give any hints as to what the kit builds into as yet, but instead I want to talk about bolt detail.

The kit is mostly laser cur MDF parts and the bolt detail (which is quite prominent) on the prototype is represented by circles etched into the surface of the part. Clearly this doesn't give any relief meaning that the details will mostly disappear under a layer of paint. Now there are obviously many ways you could add more detail. Some people use dots of glue, others use brass rivets, and you can of course buy plastic nuts and bolts that can be glued in place. All of those are probably easier than what I choose to do, but then I own a 3D printer.

Whilst many of the parts are too complex to replicate in their entirety and will need individual bolts adding as details, there are four pieces that fit at the corners of the chassis. These are just 18mm by 10mm and have five bolts on each. These seemed like a sensible starting point to check things like the size of the bolt head etc.


It didn't take long to draw these up and print out some test pieces. The first print I made is on the left. I printed this at the normal settings I use, which means each layer of the print is 0.05mm thick. Unfortunately as you can see (especially if you click on the image for a full size version) the layering is very pronounced on each of the bolts and it is very clear that they are made from multiple layers. To the naked eye the layering is less obvious but I fear it would be highlighted by painting and weathering.

So the next print I did is the one on the right, which was printed using layers just 0.02mm thick. The layering is still just about visible in the photos but I can't see it with just my eyes. The problem of course is that printing at 0.02mm instead of 0.05mm takes a lot longer. On a piece this small, just 2.175mm thick, the print time is increaed from roughly 12 minutes to around 27 minutes. While that's not a huge problem, if I was printing a much bigger model the difference would get quite significant.

I was especially annoyed with the longer print time in this case as the 0.05mm layers are perfectly acceptable for the main rectangular piece which takes up most of the depth. When printed at 0.05mm there are 43 layers in total with 32 of them being for the slab and 11 for the bolt heads. When we print the same piece with 0.02mm layers then there are 109 layers with 80 for the slab and 29 for the bolts.

Some of you may remember that back in April of last year, I discovered that the layer height specified in the files the printer uses is actually ignored and each layer is instead given it's absolute position above the bottom of the resin vat. On that occassion I used this to essentially double expose a single layer of the print in order to improve the result. Having moved on to using a different resin (specifically the Elegoo water washable black resin) I've not needed to continue using this trick, but I decided that the use of absolute positioning rather than layer thickness meant I might be able to speed up printing parts like these.

So I took the two files I'd produced and merged them. This resulted in a file with 61 layers where the first 32 layers had a thickness of 0.05mm and the final 29 layers had a thickness of 0.02mm. It took roughly 16 minutes for this file to print and the result is in the middle. Even under a magnifying glass this print is indestinguishable from the one on the right where all the layers were printed at 0.02mm but took ten minutes less time to print. I'm calling this a success.

The same trick should make it quicker to print some other pieces in the future where I only care about the layer thickness in certain areas of the model. For instance, any model printed with supports doesn't need the supports printing at thinner layer thickness, so the print time could be reduced by using 0.05mm for the supports and 0.02mm for the first layer of model upwards.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

10HP Baguley: Step 7 (and Inadvertently Step 8)

So in theory we are now getting very close to the end of the instructions. As you can tell though given the gap since the last post in this sequence, not only have I been very busy with work, but things didn't entirely go to plan. Anyway here is the text of step 7 from the instruction sheet.

Fix the bonnet into place – in order for the front of the bonnet to sit flush with the front buffer beam, some material may have to be removed from the back of the tank where it fixes against the cab and the locating ‘pips’ into the running plate at the front of the bonnet may also need adjustment. Once the adhesive has cured/solder cooled, file back the locating pegs flush. Fix the sandboxes into place.
The bonnet is a whitemetal casting and usually I find these really annoying as by the time I've bought a kit the moulds are old and the parts need a lot of cleaning up. Of course with this being a new kit this isn't the case and the quality of the castings is superb. Just look at the detail and how square and clean the edges are... and yes this is before I did anything to the casting.


I didn't have to do much to the casting at all. The only thing I found was that the locating pins were a little big for the holes in the etched parts, but this was easily solved by opening up the holes ever so slightly and then the bonnet just dropped in and fitted perfectly.


As with the whitemetal casting used as part of the cab floor I choose to superglue it into place rahter than risk damaging it by trying to solder it. As you can see I couldn't resist fitting the chassis to check how the whole model was looking.

The next step was to fir the sandboxes which are also nice whitemetal castings. As with the bonnet I just had to open up the holes in the etch ever so slightly for them to just drop right into place.


Unfortunately after gluing them to the footplate I spotted one small problem. They overhang the hole in the footplate which means that the chassis no longer fits. I can't see that I did anything wrong fitting these so I'm not quite sure how this happened.


Either way a little bit of careful filing and I'd reduced their depth enough for the chassis to fit back inside the body.


By making sure the chassis fits it turns out that I'd also inadvertently completed step 8 as well as that reads

Gently offer up the chassis into the body, there is limited clearance and this will be a touch fiddly making sure the motor leads do not get trapped by the running plate. It must be noted that the 'live' side frames will be in close proximity to the body which could potentially cause a short. However, painting the body to form a good insulation should eliminate the issue.
Given how tight a fit everything is I'm absolutely certain that the body will be shorting out the chassis at this point so I have not tried running it yet, and won't until it's painted to avoid doing any damage.

In theory the next step should be adding a little filler and cleaning up all the joints before painting. Oh if life were only that simple!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Mix and Match

As you may remember from a previous post, my son quite likes his Duplo and even uses it to build locomotives and carriages. What I don't think I've mentioned before is the large collection of wooden railway stuff he's also built up.

It all started when he was given this starter set as a present on his first birthday. There are quite a few different brands of wooden railway, most of which all use the same standards and so can be used together. That means the collection has expended rapidly with sets and pieces from Bigjigs, BRIO, John Lewis (although their range seems to have been discontinued), and a few of the wooden Thomas locomotives; after all we definitely needed a Toby the Tram engine!

As you can see with all these bits the layouts he can build (or he gets us to build) can get quite large and complex. One problem, that occurs more frequently that you might expect, is that you end up with an almost perfect layout but where you end up trying to join either two male or two female ends together. We do have some short pieces that do this, but because of the standard lengths of the track pieces often they won't fit. When you have two male ends to fit together there is no alternative to a piece of track with two female ends, but when you want to join two female ends there is another solution. You could just have a very short pin with two male ends without the need for it to actually have any track, and hence it will have no length when fitted but will hold the two track pieces together.

Given that it must be a fairly common problem for everyone rather than designing something myself I had a quick look on Thingiverse to see if anyone else had already done the hard work for me. It turned out they had so I just downloaded the model and printed a bunch out on my resin printer.


As you can see the connector pieces weren't the only thing I printed. While hunting for the connector I came across an even more interesting piece that allows you to use Duplo to lift up the track meaning we could build longer raised sections than before, which Toby thought was a brilliant idea.

Whilst I love being able to experiment with new models quickly on the resin printer it is exceptionally great for parts like this. I'm sure if they were available commercially they would cost a lot more than the cost of the resin I used. Plus rather than waiting for them to be delivered I'd printed all of those within about three hours of starting (I did two print runs as not all of that would fit in the printer in one go). They were all printed flat on the build plate as well so the only clean up was washing off the excess resin.

Monday, July 6, 2020

10HP Baguley: Step 6

Moving on to step 6 and we continue building up the cab area

Fix the cab floor to the white metal plinth making sure the planking detail is uppermost, carefully making sure the two parts are aligned properly as you may have issues getting into the cab a little later! Drill out the holes for the brake column and gearbox controls, the brake column is formed with a piece of 0.3mm wire and wheel, gearbox controls are formed from 2 lengths of 0.3mm. Now fix this sub assembly into place in the cab.
Gluing the two parts together was easy enough; there is no way I'm going to risk soldering white metal parts given the tools and skills I have. I then drilled out the holes (using a 0.4mm drill as I couldn't find my 0.3mm drill bits).

I did, however, solder the brake wheel to the 0.3mm diameter wire as I tend to find that soldering wheels to wire gives a much longer lasting join than using glue.


I trimmed the wire to length having test fitted the floor into the cab. I've deviated from the instructions (again) as I'm not permanently fitting the brake column or gearbox levers at this point as they'll by a nightmare to paint in situ.

Once I was happy that the floor fitted level inside the cab and that I could fit the brake column into the hole, I then glued the floor in place.


And with that done there are just two steps of the instructions left, excluding painting of course.

Friday, July 3, 2020

10HP Baguley: Step 5

Step 5 of the instructions is so short I almost didn't give it its own post but here it is...

Add the grab rails to the cab using 0.3mm wire, cutting them flush with the top. Trim back any protruding beading on the rear cab sheet.
As I said short and simple and it results in this...


And yes, before anyone mentions it, I do know I need to clean up the inside of the rear cab sheet. Not quite sure how it got covered in so much unused solder cream.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

10HP Baguley: Step 4

Right, let's have a look at step 4 of the instructions which read:

Take the front cab and bend the sides to 90°, attach to the footplate. Add the front making sure it lines up perfectly with the hole, followed by the sides.
Having read the instructions I decided to pretty much ignore them and go my own way. I decided that I'd probably find it easier to build up the front cab wall before attaching it to the footplate. I started by laminating the front overlay on to the cab before bending the part to shape.


No clever tools this time, just a cocktail stick and a scrap of wood to hold the two parts in alignment while I soldered them together. A little bit of cleanup where solder had leaked from the edges and the part looked perfect.

With the front overlay in place I carefully bent one side to 90° and then soldered on the overlay, before repeating the process for the second side overlay.


As you can probably guess the main issue with adding the side overlays was how to hold the parts while soldering. Folding just one side and the part is easy enough to tape to a piece of wood. With both sides folded this is more complex, but using an old wooden clothes peg worked really well. A little more cleanup and it slotted easily in to the footplate and could then be soldered into place to finish this step of the build


It may need a little filler on the corners but in real life it's less of an issue than in the cruel close up photo. Either way I'm happy with that and it didn't involve accidentally unsoldering anything from steps 1 to 3.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

10HP Baguley: Steps 2 and 3

Okay, so I know I said I'd do a post per step in the instructions, but firstly step 3 is very short, and secondly it appears I didn't take any photos of the finished step 2 so they are a bit muddled together. So without further ado here are the instructions for step 2:

Attach inner cab back to footplate with the half etch detail facing inwards, followed by outer cab back with the upper beading facing outwards, followed by the other buffer beam. Add 2 lengths of 0.5 brass angle @ 14mm to the half etch recesses, bend the upper cab beading to form part of the grab rails to 90°
Quite a bit more to do in this step than step 1, with quite a bit of laminating parts together to form the rear cab wall. The rear of the chassis has three small tabs which go into slots on the inner cab wall and while the parts fitted together perfectly I wasn't sure how best to hold them so they were at right angles (so the wall ends up vertical) while I soldered them together. In the end I settled on using a present I received last Christmas.


Yes, I was given a set of 1-2-3 blocks for Christmas and this was the first time I'd used them. Their weight meant they didn't move and nicely held the wall part in place, while I could also use them to ensure the two parts were at right angles to one another. Okay, so being metal they acted as a heat sink meaning I needed longer with the iron to make joint, but it worked perfectly, and no burnt fingers!

With the inner wall in place I then laminated on the outer wall and buffer beam, again using a coupling hook to help with the alignment. With the rear wall built up I thought it wise to check that the chassis still fitted before going any further.


It was more difficult to fit than before, so I've eased the half round holes I filed a little further, but other than that there were no issues at all. Now while I'm yet to finish step 2 of the instructions here is what step 3 says.

Form the buffer beam irons to shape, using the profile jig in the etch. Trim the excess material to length, in line with the half etch notches, fit these formed irons to both front and rear buffer beams, using the alignment marks.
After the hassle of trying to solder the brass angle to the chassis to form the valences I opted to superglue them in place this time. I also superglued the buffer beam irons as I didn't want to risk disturbing the buffer beam overlays.


The buffer beam irons were quite awkward to fit as I'd only just left enough room behind the Greenwich couplings. In retrospect if I was building the kit again I'd do things a little differently. I'd probably fill in the slot in the buffer beam, and then either solder a small upright section to the middle of the buffer beam iron, or maybe make a single piece version from brass sheet. In fact if I had any of my experimental etched couplings they might be a good starting point. I should point out this isn't a criticism of the kit, as the current version allows you to easily produce a prototypicalyl accurate model while having a slot for the couplings. It's just that the nice buffer beam irons get lost behind the coupling which seems a shame. I'm now in two minds as to whether or not to alter the model to remove the Greenwich couplings, any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

10HP Baguley: Step 1

For want of any other way of dividing up the build of this kit into separate posts I thought I'd go with a post per step of the instructions; so hopefully you can look forward to a further seven posts after this one and that's before I paint it.

Okay technically what I had to do first comes before even step 1 as the instructions for swapping the motor point out that you'll need to slightly file away part of the footplate etch to allow it to clear the longer motor and it's wires.


You can just about see that in the photo as I've filed two small half round notches in the footplate to help the wires pass through. You might also notice that I've added a small 3D printed piece to the front of the chassis (it's a light grey colour) so it becomes the right length.

Having done that I could move on to step 1 of the instructions for building the body.

Take the front footplate and fold the buffer beam to 90°. From the 0.5mm angle supplied cut 2 lengths @ 31.5mm and fix into the half etch recesses to form the valances of the running plate, file back any protruding material. Drill (gently) through the 4 holes for the grab irons in the brass angle with a 0.3mm bit. Attach buffer beam aligning with the coupling slot.
It all sounds simple enough and mostly it was. I choose to solder the kit together rather than using glue, and I did find attaching the valances to be really quite fiddly, as they kept twisting as I tried to solder them in place. I deviated from the instructions slightly as I choose to fit couplings at the same time as attaching the buffer beam overlay as that helped with the alignment. I'm not sure if the slot didn't etch fully (happens frequently with small holes) but I found I had to thin down the shank of a Greenwich coupling quite a bit before it would fit, but fit it eventually did.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Flaws in Both Design and Manufacturing

With Canopus finally finished and a little modelling time opening up now that my son is back at nursery I had a look at what I could work on next. Now I do have a number of projects already on the go, but they all require some thought or scratch building. What I wanted was something a little simpler where I could just "follow the instructions". Looking through my stash of un-built kits and I've picked the Narrow Planet kit for the Baguley McEwan Pratt ‘677’ 10HP 0-4-0PM. This is actually the most recent kit I've bought, but as it uses a ready-to-run chassis should be a little easier than most of the other kits I have to hand. Famous last words!

The kit is designed to use one of the tiny Japanese N gauge chassis, specifically the TU-DB158 from TGW (Tsugawa). As you can see from this official diagram the chassis really is tiny.


While using a ready to run chassis like this does make things easier, I did know that I needed to do some work to it first, but it turned out to be a little more than I expected.

Firstly, as with many of these tiny chassis, the motor is not designed to be used with the standard 12V track supply. In fact the motor in this one is rated for only 4.5V. One option would be to fit a resistor to make it safe to use with 12V, but to be honest the tiny motor isn't brilliant and the kit instructions suggest changing the motor and recommends using a 0615 from Tramfabriek. This is actually really easy to do as you just need to unsolder the existing motor wires, slide the motor out, swap the worm gear from the old motor to the new, slide the new motor back in, and finally solder the wires on to the pickups. If it all goes smoothly then it would take probably all of about five minutes.


As you can see the new motor is a little longer, but given it will still fit inside the body then it's worth it to have a really good 12V motor in use. Now as I said that modification was nice and straightforward. Unfortunately there is still one design flaw and one manufacturing flaw that I had to deal with before I could move on to the body.

Let's start with the design flaw. The design work for the kit was almost completed when it was discovered that while the chassis would run fine on plain track it had a nasty habit of derailing when passing through point work. Both axles of the chassis are powered and so there is a series of gears linking them together. These gears are module 0.4 with 11 teeth and have a maximum diameter of 5.2mm. Unfortunately the wheels on the chassis are 5mm (excluding the flange) meaning that the teeth of the gears protrude 0.1mm below the top of the rail. On plain track that's not a problem but the gears catch on the rails when passing through points. I've no idea how this wasn't spotted during design, testing, or manufacture of the chassis, but clearly it's something that needs fixing.


It's difficult to see the problem, especially in photos, but with the chassis on the wrong tracks of my dual gauge (14mm and 9mm) test track you can just about see that the gear rests on the third rail and actually raises the chassis up slightly. The solution is fairly easy but you do have to be careful and take it slowly. Once I'd got the decent motor in, I secured the chassis upside down using some blutak and then with the wheels turning gently rested a small file against the gears to grind away the ends of each tooth. I think I've taken off enough to fix the problem, but the only OO9 points I have are currently a bit difficult to access in the garage. Rather than taking off too much I'll just revisit this later if it's still a problem.

While fixing the gears I spotted the manufacturing flaw, in that one of the wheels wasn't perpendicular to the axle. If it had just been slightly off I might have left it, but there was a serious wobble. Fortunately the chassis uses split axles, with each wheel only having a small axle stub which is fitted into the plastic axle. This means that I could remove just the single problematic wheel. Using a modelling knife behind the wheel it was easy to prise it off. I then removed the pin holding the coupling rod so that the wheel was completely separate to the chassis. It took me a while to find a way to hold the wheel that would also let me straighten the axle stub. In the end, I used one of the collets from my lathe, which highlighted just how bent the stub axle was.


I'm not sure what the wheel and stub axle are made from, but it's quite strong whatever it is, and took a fair amount of force to bend it. It's still not perfectly straight but it's the best I could do, as I didn't want to risk snapping the axle from the wheel. Once straightened putting the wheel back into the chassis was easy, but it took a long time to get the coupling rod pin back in. It's a tiny pin and it's a tight fit into the hole in the wheel. I tried lots of different ways of holding it and pushing it in and all failed. I had to be careful as the last thing I wanted was for the pin to ping off into oblivion. In the end I lightly superglued the pin to the end of a piece of acrylic rod and then pushed it home. As it seated itself properly in the hole the glue gave way leaving almost nothing to clean up.


After all that I was quite happy to see it trundling up and down my test track without any problems. It would benefit from a little weight (which the body will provide) but it runs a lot better than it did before I started to fix it, so I'm now happy enough with it to start work on the body.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Alan Keef K12 Diesel: A Duplo Epilogue

As I mentioned in a previous post, my son loves playing with his Duplo. While his nursery was closed and I was looking after him we did quite a few of the challenges Lego posted on Twitter. Unsurprisingly trains came up a few times and it wasn't difficult to get him to build something.

On one occasions though, when I told him the challenge was a locomotive his answer was that he wanted to "build one like you did in the magazine". He was of course referring to the K12 diesel locomotive. He'd probably been reminded of it, because a day or so earlier the latest copy of the REVIEW had turned up and we had looked at it together, and the inside of the front cover was a full page Narrow Planet advert which included a photo of my completed model.

So we got the Duplo out and looked at the picture. Now I was a little concerned because I wasn't sure how he was going to do the wasp stripes. I shouldn't have worried though as he was adamant he wasn't going to add them. Which is fine of course because, as you may remember, only AK6 was fitted with the extra protection back and front onto which the wasp stripes are painted.

He started quite logically by finding all the orange Duplo pieces he has and then started to put them together. To say I had a very proud parent moment when he finished would be a serious understatement. Posed next to one of my prototype models that doesn't have the wasp stripes and I was very very impressed.


Okay, so I'm sure if he'd wanted to he could have built a better locomotive from his Duplo, but given the relative lack of orange pieces he had and the size of the pieces I think he did an excellent job. I think we're going to have a lot of fun doing modelling projects together when he's a little older.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Alan Keef K12 Diesel: Finished

Whilst there is still only a little modelling happening I thought I'd try and keep the blog alive (or more than it was anyway) by making sure all the loose ends from previous posts were tidied up, even if that meant going back even further than finishing Canopus in February.

We last looked at the Alan Keef Ltd K12 diesel locomotive I was building all the way back in March of 2019 when I explained the origami required to turn the flat etched parts into the bonnet and cab. Having successfully (on the third attempt) designed the etched parts I was able to finally build and paint a complete model; and I'm still really quite impressed with the stencil idea for the wasp stripes!


And here it is posed on my tiny photo plank with the etched peat wagon I started working on at roughly the same time as the locomotive.


If anyone is interested in more details then I wrote a nice long article, complete with drawings, which appeared in issue 119 of Narrow Gauge & Industrial Railway Modelling REVIEW in July last year. That issue actually contained two articles from me (and two separate reviews as well) because in co-operation with Alan Keef (yes the founder of Alan Keef Ltd. and the man behind the design and build of the K12 locomotives) I wrote an article discussing the six original K12 locomotives (there were actually seven in total but the last one was a bit different and we managed to miss including it).

Oh, and of course if you want your own 4mm scale K12 locomotive, then it's available as a kit in both OO9 and OO6.5 from Narrow Planet.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Lockdown: Time to Try a New Scale

When lockdown started my son's nursery closed. As my wife is a doctor the only option we had was for me to stop working and look after him. This didn't go down particularly well with my boss, but the University I work for has been exceptionally good about ensuring that none of their staff suffered financially if they couldn't work because they had caring responsibilities. The upshot of this is that I've felt exceptionally guilty about not being able to work and hence the extra work my colleagues have had to take on. Add to this that all three of us were sick, we weren't tested but given that my wife was exposed to patients who were confirmed to have COVID-19 it's fairly safe to assume that's what we had (and both my wife and I still don't have our sense of smell back fully), and that we now know I'm not cut out to be a stay at home dad it's fair to say it's been a rather stressful and confusing time.

Fortunately while our son's nursery was closed (it's now open again) the weather was remarkably good and so I decided we needed something we would both find fun and interesting to play with out in the garden. A chance browse through Amazon and I found the ideal solution given that we both like trains and he loves his Duplo ... a Märklin LGB set containing a circle of 45mm gauge track, a G Scale locomotive, and two wagons the tops of which are essentially Lego base plates. First I was made to mow the lawn and then we read the instructions and assembled the track.


With the track setup we then just sat and played. As you can tell we've had it out a few times and in different places in the garden trying to find the flattest bit of lawn (harder than it sounds given our garden). While I wouldn't leave him alone with it, he is only three and a half after all, I'm more than happy to let him play and be in control so he finds it great fun... at least until it's time to pack it away and then that's my job!


To give you an idea of what it looks like in motion we even have a short video. It would have been longer but he decided to stop the train while I was videoing. I told you I trusted him to be in control!


Now I'm not going to claim that this was a cheap purchase but when you start looking at the details the set seems remarkable good value. Working just from the RRP listed on Märklin's website the set I bought costs €249.99 which at current exchange rate would be £224.42. As I said I bought the set via Amazon and while it's currently listed at £242.25 it's worth watching the page for a day or so as the price seems to fluctuate wildly (possibly due to the exchange rate) and I grabbed mine when it dropped all the way to £206.58 including P&P. It's worth noting that the power pack has a European plug so you'll need to add the cost of a travel adaptor if you don't already have one. Either way I thought that was a bit of a bargain, being around £17 less than the RRP and including the postage.

If you start looking at the cost of what is in the starter set though, you'll probably be even more surprised at just how cheap the starter sets (even at full RRP) actually are. The set I bought is made up from their track and power only starter set, two of the block wagons, and a locomotive. The track set RRP is €179.99 and the wagons are €39.99 each which already brings the total to €259.97. Weirdly this is €9.98 more than the cost of the whole set and we haven't included the locomotive yet! The locomotive in my set is no longer available so I don't know what its RRP was, but looking through their catalogue their cheapest locomotive, which appears to use almost identical tooling, sells for €229.99 so I would imagine a similar price. All told that would bring the RRP for the items in the set to €489.96 which would be £439.85 which is £233.27 more than I paid! In fact the full cost is more than twice what I paid for it.

Now of course, these sets are priced to entice you in to the hobby (with little if any profit margin) in the hope that you'll buy more track, wagons, and locomotives but they certainly seem a very cost effective way into the hobby, and if you decide it's not for you you might even be able to make a profit selling the items separately. I won't be selling mine, but I'm not yet sure what the long term plan for playing around in the larger scales is going to be. Once I figure that out I'm sure there will be a post or two.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

That Took Longer Than Expected

I knew I'd been slowly building Canopus for quite a while but I had no idea that it was almost six years since I wrote the first post when I'd just bought the kit. To be fair for a lot of that time the part built model has just sat around while I've focused on other things. In fact it's almost two years since I started painting the body.

I actually finished the model back in February so in total it took about five and a half years from start to finish. I had every intention of blogging about the finished model, I even shot the photos and video for this post, but then I got side tracked by one thing or another, and that was before the world went crazy. Anyway, roughly five years and eleven months from starting and I give you a completed Canopus...


I'll be the first to admit that these close up shots are rather cruel (I'd not noticed the odd shape to the chimney in real life, or the gap under the cab roof) but in normal viewing I'm really quite happy with how it's turned out. Given it was, and still is, the first etched chassis I've ever built and all the problems that made it difficult to build the fact I've finished it at all seems like a triumph. Just to prove it still works here's a short video of it on the test track (it won't go around my tight circular track as the wheelbase is too long now the rear pony truck is fitted)


It's never going to be the best runner (it's locked up a couple of times but I think this is the gearbox shifting and not the quartering) but I'm really rather proud of how it turned out.

Apologies it's been so long since the last post on this blog. I have been doing quite a bit of modelling and railway related research I've just not had the time or enthusiasm to write proper blog posts. Sorry. Hopefully this will mark the re-start of more frequent posts but no promises.