Saturday, April 27, 2013

It's 1955

It's 1955 and little Johnny has borrowed his Dad's camera for a day of trainspotting. He isn't expecting to see much as the sleepy branch-line near where he lives isn't exactly a hive of activity. Having settled himself on a sunny bank it isn't long before the distinctive sound of a hard working steam engine echos down the valley and within a few minutes the train emerges from under the nearby road bridge and into view. A quick press of the shutter and Johnny captures for posterity the first visit of the newly built 82026 to his sleepy corner of England.

Of course that is a whole lot of make believe nonsense, but most well built model railways have a back story around which they are constructed and deciding on the year I am going to set my layout in seemed a good place to start. Fortunately the locomotive I'd bought made this really easy.

The locomotive is a Graham Farish model of British Railways Standard Class 3 2-6-2T number 82026. Forty-five examples of this class were built between April 1952 and August of 1955, but number 82026 was apparently completed on the 12th of November 1954. As I want to be able to use green trees and shrubs as part of the scenery on my railway this would mean that the earliest the engine could have appeared on my railway would have been the spring of 1955.

The model I've bought is finished with the early BR logo which it would have worn when initially built. This logo was phased out from 1956 which helps to limit the time window for my model railway to just the spring and summer of 1955; in reality 82026 wouldn't have been repainted with the new logo until it underwent an overhaul meaning that it could have been seen in this livery for a few years after 1955.

I'm still in the planning stages, but to help get a sense of scale I built the road bridge seen in the photo from a kit. This was actually easier to build than the OO gauge coal office I previously purchased from, mostly because the thickest cardboard I had to cut was just 1mm. I think I'll probably need to rebuild the bridge at some point as I'm not happy with the position of the retaining walls, but at least it's a start.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Are You a Roundy or a Squary?

When it comes to model railways I'm definitely a roundy: I like being able to watch the trains go past without having to be constantly playing with the controller as you would in an end-to-end layout. Unfortunately continuous run layouts, by their very nature, require more space. In OO gauge you really need at least 6 foot by 4 foot to house a reasonable sized oval (see this previous post about using the top of the dinning table), and I don't currently have the space to build a permanent layout of that size (we will want to use the dinning table again at some point). Try as I might (and believe me I've tried) I haven't been able to come up with an end-to-end layout that I'd enjoy playing with once it was completed, and if I'm not going to enjoy the end product I doubt I'll have the enthusiasm to build the layout properly.

So given that I really want a continuous run layout that I can build in a reasonably small space there is really only one course of action open to me: down sizing. So having thought long and hard about this I've made the decision to switch from OO gauge down to N scale. As the models are approximately half the size of their OO gauge equivalents (1/148 scale instead of 1/76) I need only a quarter of the surface area to build an oval layout than I would in OO gauge; in other words I can build an equivalent layout in 3 foot by 2 foot. As you can see I've already taken the plunge and bought a starter pack of track, one wagon and one locomotive (more on these in a later post), and am happily running things temporarily on my desk. The phone should give you a fair sense of scale.

Now I've made the decision I've already got quite a few ideas for the layout and intend to mock up some buildings and scenery to help me come to a final track plan at which point I'll be able to build the base board and will finally be able to start on some real layout building.

This decision doesn't mean I'm turning my back on OO gauge for good -- I have too many models that I enjoy playing with. At some point I might build a small shunting puzzle in OO gauge with the knowledge that I still have a continuous run layout to play with, and if I really want I can always take over the dining table for a few days to build a temporary oval for some OO gauged fun.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Penn'orth of Coal

Railway companies didn't really like moving empty wagons around, as an empty wagon didn't make them any money; the locomotive would be burning coal, the driver and fireman would need to be paid, but no one was paying the company to transport their goods. As such it would be rare to see an entire train of empty wagons, yet most models wagons are sold empty, including those I sell through Penistone Railway Works. Fortunately filling up a wagon is easy.

Firstly, I'm assuming that you will want to be able to easily remove the load, and that for weight and cost reasons you won’t actually want to completely fill the wagon. The solution is to use cardboard to build a base to which we stick just the top of the mound that would fill the wagon.

Building wagon loads in this way is a messy process that involves cling film and watered down PVA glue, but the result is quite convincing. For this example I used coal lumps from Woodland Scenics. It's fairly straightforward to measure a wagon and cut the cardboard to size, but if you are wanting to add a load to a Penistone Railway Works wagon then I've provided free downloadable templates and instructions; for example here is how to build a load for an 8 plank wagon.

The reason I referred to a penn'orth of coal in the title of this post, is that I buried a penny in the middle of the mound. Recently minted pennies have a steel core and hence stick to magnets. This means that I can use a suitably strong magnet to help lift the load out of the wagon and the penny also adds a little bit of bulk to the centre of the mound to ensure that it isn't all at the same level.

Friday, April 19, 2013

It's A Dirty Old World

So far all the models I've painted have been left in pristine condition but in reality railways aren't really clean places. It won't take more than a few miles for mud and dirt to be deposited onto a newly painted surface. I haven't yet been able to bring myself to try and weather one of the wagons I've finished with transfers, but I thought I'd have a go at muddying up the LNWR 1 plank wagon given that it won't be a particularly useful model as I messed up one of the axle holes.
I didn't really have the right shade of grey to hand to paint the model, so I just used the wolf grey primer I did have to do the initial painting. As you can see from the photo on the left it is rather blue in colour and way too bright and clean to represent an "in use" model. Fortunately I'd also recently picked up a can of spray on mud!

There are a number of weathering products available including paints and weathering powders, but I decided to start my weather experiments using a spray can of Modelmates Mud Brown. I applied three thin coats before I was happy that the blue colour had been adequately toned down. While it isn't perfect I'm quite happy with this really simple approach to weathering, and I feel that the final model is much better for it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I Can Count To Seven, Honest!

You may remember that back in February we learnt that I can't count, in that I printed two 8 plank wagons when I had transfers for 7 plank wagons. Well in the last 3D print run, along with the N scale experiment, I included two 7 plank wagons which I have now painted and finished.
As before these are finished with transfers from Modelmaster, and again I've chosen to stay fairly local; Silkstone is very close to Penistone and Pontefract is less than an hours drive away. With the addition of these two wagons to my fleet I can now build up quite a locally themed train of open wagons.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Little And Large

A couple of months ago I blogged about the possibility of scaling some of my 3D printed models down so that they were N scale in size (1:148 instead of the 1:76 scale I've been working in). The problem, as I mentioned at the time, relates to the difference between scale and gauge, which would require moving some parts around to fit the different gauge to scale ratio; put simply, making sure the wheels would fit! It turns out that it isn't that hard to tweak the 3D model and so here I present both an OO gauge and an N scale print of the same wagon.

Rather than scale down one of my existing models I thought I'd start work on another model; LNWR Diagram 103, 1 plank open goods wagon. As it only has one side plank it's fairly cheap to print so even if the scaling down went drastically wrong it wouldn't be the end of the world. This was a good plan as unfortunately neither the OO or N scale model is usable, although this isn't entirely due to the scaling.

Lets start with the OO gauge model. Firstly I managed to accidentally fill in one of the axle holes which meant I've had to try and drill it out, which hasn't worked very well and certainly won't lead to a smooth running model. Secondly I tried to simplify the building of the model by using the bevel modifier in Blender to model the gap between the floor planks. Unfortunately this hasn't resulted in a deep enough mark and so has disappeared from the print due to the resolution of the method used to print the model. On the plus side the more detailed suspension has come out much better than on the wagons I've printed in the past.

Having built the OO guage 3D model I simply scaled it by 76/148 to get the base N scale model. I then moved the axle boxes outwards to accommodate the different gauge ratio. While the resulting model is printable, using the more expensive frosted ultra detail material, it is very fragile. In fact it's so fragile that I broke it trying to fit the wheels. Essentially I'd made the wheel supports so thin that they snapped rather than flexed. I glued them back on for the photo and that seems to have worked reasonably well as an interim solution. The other problem is that I seem to have fitted the N scale NEM pockets for the couplings in the wrong place -- they are two far back and so can't pivot properly. I thought I'd followed the specification for their placement but I guess not (the spec is unfortunately only available in French and German so I could have missed something). Also the fitting is very loose so the couplings don't really stay attached very well. Fortunately all these problems are fairly easy to fix by slightly tweaking the model, but as a first attempt at modelling in N scale I'm more than happy with the result.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Remarkable Occurrences

Having recently been caught out by the title of a book I wasn't holding out too much hope for another local history book I picked up via eBay; Remarkable Occurrences and Interesting Dates by John Wood published by Penistone Post Office. My luck appears to have turned, however, as not only is the book definitely about Penistone (and the surrounding area) it has a whole section dedicated to railway accidents.

From the preface I can tell you that this book is actually a collection of five previously published pamphlets written by John Wood who died on the 4th of July 1888. The book itself was posthumously published in 1890 to meet demand for a compact collected version of the pamphlets. Given these dates it's fair to say that information about the early railway accidents that occurred in and around Penistone is likely to be from first hand accounts, and hence more reliable than the relevant Wikipedia articles.

The first railway incident described in the book is the Bullhouse Bridge Accident which I've already discussed in some detail. Interestingly the author comes to the same conclusion about the newsworthiness of the accident as I did in that only four previous accidents had seen such a high death toll. While some extra details of the coroners inquest are given there isn't anything new in the description to add to my existing article on this accident, and I'll save the rest of the book for future posts when I've researched the other accidents it covers more thoroughly.