Thursday, June 3, 2021

Oh, dear! wherever is the train?

I first wrote about the Bullhouse Railway accident back in 2013 and have writen short updates a number of times since. I've now pulled all that research into a single article but rather than publish it here I wrote it as a guest post for the Railway Work, Life & Death project.


Even if you've read all my previous posts about this accident you should find something new in this longer version as I spent quite a bit of time finding more contemperaneous newspaper reports to try and give a more detailed first hand account of the accident and it's immediate aftermath; lots of graphic descriptions of death and mutilation!

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Half a Sleeper

One of the comments on the previous post pointed out that the tool for adding the rail chair marks could also be useful to modellers of narrow gauge lines in 7mm scale as often these lines used standard gauge sleepers cut in half. Strangely I'd actually modelled this already when testing the tool but forgot to include the photo in the original post so for completeness... here is a newly creosoted, half sleeper, ready for use in laying some new narrow gauge track.

The Ghost In The Sleeper

Wooden railway sleepers don't last forever and often need replacing. The wood is of course still useable for other things. For example, it's not hard to find old sleepers used as fence posts. Such uses of old sleepers are easy to spot as, apart from their fairly standard size, you can usually see the impression left by the rail chair including holes where they were bolted down. Whilst you may see similar fences on model railways, how many modellers go to the trouble of modelling the ghost of the rail chair?

Whilst most people might not bother with such small details some people like to go the extra mile to make their models as lifelike as they can. One such person contacted me last year to ask if it would be possible to design a tool that would make it nice and easy to add these marks to 7mm to the foot scale sleepers.

The design work was relatively easy as I managed to track down a drawing for a rail chair (specifically a four bolt version used by the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway) which I used to produce a 3D printed prototype on my resin printer. This was then tested using some of my son's Playdoh.


Of course the resin version is unlikely to hold up to repeated use being hammered into wooden sleepers, but having proved that the pattern it left seemed right, a little more work got me to a an easy to use tool that I could have 3D printed in brass.
Of course once the brass version arrived I couldn't resist giving it a go before posting it on to it's new home.
I think that looks pretty good, and as it takes just seconds to add the marks it's easy enough to quickly detail a large pile of sleepers ready to build a fence or maybe for an old siding where the rails have been removed. Given how many different ways old sleepers get used the possibilites are endless.

If you want to add rail chair details to your own 7mm scale model landscape then I've made the tool available to buy on Shapeways (see here).

While four bolt chairs were fairly common, I do have drawings for rail chairs from other companies which (given time) I'm intending to use to produce a set of tools, but in the meantime if you want a tool to produce the ghost of a specific comapnies rail chair let me know and I'll do my best to help.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

An Orange Simplex

I've not had much time for modelling lately so the work on completing the 16mm scale Simplex locomotive seems to have taken forever, but as you can see I finally got there.

Now I know most Simplex locos are painted a shade of green, but my four year old son was insistent that it had to be orange. I wasn't convinced by the idea at first but I'm actually really happy with how it looks and it certainly won't ever get lost in the garden! Strangely there is a prototype for painting Simplex locomotives this colour (in fact this exact shade of orange) as Alan Keef Ltd. paint their locos, inlcuding their hire locos, orange and over the years that has included a few Simplex locomotives.

So given the lack of dirt (I've not yet had the heart to weather the model) my back story is that it's just been over hauled and repainted by Alan Keef Ltd. and is now ready for it's first hire contract.

And to finish with here is a short video to show that it does actually work. Sorry about the shaky camera work, but I was controlling the locomotive via an app on my phone while also holding the camera and trying to ensure it didn't run off the end of the track!

Friday, November 13, 2020

Somewhere to Sit

One bit of detailing that you couldn't see in the previous post was the inside of the cab.
Now I know it's not the best of photos but hopefully you get the picture. As you can see I've retained the original brake stand and wheel from the kit, but the rest is all new. The kit originally had a flor cut to look like wooden planks which didn't seem to match any of the real locomotives so I switched this to some chequer plate. I was intending to use the seat that came in the kit as once the driver figure is in place you can't see it. I began to have second thoughts on this when I found it was a little tall and the roof wouldn't fit because the drivers head was too high. I was just going to trim the bottom of the parts to lower it down, but then discovered that I'd manage to loose one part of the seat. At this point I thought it was easier just to make a new one that more closely matched the real thing even if it will be completely hidden.

Oh and before anyone comments that the brake wheel is wonky, I know. I took the photo with the parts just resting together. When I glue it in place I'll make sure it's right.

Monday, November 9, 2020

A Simplex for the Garden

Having shown little bits and pieces related to the 16mm scale Simplex locomotive I'm currently building I thought I should really show some photos of the locomotive itself.


The model is based around a kit, designed by Phil Sharples, that I bought from eBay. I say "based around" as the kit consisted mostly of laser cut MDF parts and as you can see there are quite a few parts on mine which aren't MDF. I'd already shown sandboxes (not fitted in the photos) in a previous post, but you can see I've also printed a replacement radiator as well as coupling blocks, bolt heads and chassis side frames. There are also a few other detailing parts that I've replaced or added which you either can't see in the photo or which haven't been fitted yet. I've also replaced the plastic wheels that came with the kit with some nice steel ones. Still quite a lot of work to do but it's beginning to come together nicely and the 3D printer is proving very useful in helping me quickly producing detailing parts as I go along.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

A Hi-Vis Makeover

Apologies for not posting recently. To be honest I've not had the time to do much physical modelling and so haven't had anything to post about. One thing I have done though is to sort out a driver figure for the 16mm Simplex model I've been slowly working on.

I'd decided to use Christopher Clueless from I P Engineering as he fits nicely in the cab, but after talking to Toby (who is quite adamant about what the model should look like for when he gets to drive it in the garden) we decided we wanted him to look a little more modern. Specifically Toby has a hi-vis jacket (a Christmas present a couple of years ago) which he wears to and from nursery over winter when it's dark and he thought the driver should wear one as well.

Fortunately the original casting has Christopher wearing a shirt and waistcoat and so it was reasonably easy to change the wasitcoat into a hi-vis jacket; griding off the pockets and adding some detailing for the silver sections. The main problem was figuring out the painting.

I've got into the habbit of painting figures starting from a black undercoat and then thin layers of paint which give a nice depth to the colours. Unfortunately this didn't work well with the yellow. The yellow is a nice fluroesent colour from Vallejo's Game Color range, but it wouldn't cover the black at all. After a couple of tests I settled on painting two layers of white over the black undercoat, and then a couple of layers of the yellow. This gave nice coverage while still giving a little of the depth.

Even though this is much bigger than the things I usually paint, the close up photo is still really quite cruel. In reality I think it looks quite good, and hidden a little inside the cab of a loco I think it will work quite well. If nothing else I'm unlikely to loose it in the garden!