Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Canopus: Cab Sides

It's amazing how quickly sheet brass can start to roughly resemble a steam engine It's also amazing just how frustrating soldering four pieces of brass together can be.

The first job, as with the footplate, was to punch out the rivets which this time caused me no issues at all. Next up was the four handrails at the sides of the cab doors. These are made of wire soldered onto the rear of the sheets. I fitted these while the sides were still on the fret to give me more to hold on to, and they were easy to fit with a dot of solder cream at each point.

Once cleaned up the two sides of the cab slot attach to the footplate via three tabs/slots and can be tack soldered into position. Figuring out how to keep these vertical while soldering from underneath was a bit of a challenge, but once I'd figured out what to use to support the pieces, actually securing them in place as easy. Attaching the front of the cab was also nice and easy, but the rear was a different story altogether.

The back of the cab isn't a single vertical piece but contains a step (two 90 degree folds) that form the inside edge of the coal bunker. The two folds are nicely half-etched and I scored them a couple of times to help make a neat fold and then folded the part. Unfortunately I don't think the half-etch marks are wide enough, given the thickness of the brass, to allow a 90 degree fold. I could get close but when I test fitted the part it was clear that the small difference was enough to make the part too tall, which in turn would mean the cab roof wouldn't fit. If I'd realised the problem in advance I might have been able to widen the etch mark slightly, but the problem is that once folded you can't really unfold the part without risking it splitting. I tried to apply more pressure to force the fold but it wouldn't fold far enough. In the end I must have applied slightly too much pressure as it split in half along the bottom fold line.

While I wouldn't recommend breaking the cab rear into two parts, once I found my self in this situation it was actually easy to fit. I simply soldered the bottom part in place, and then soldered the top part making sure it lined up with the roof properly. This has left a slight lip at the front of the step on the inside of the cab, but nothing you will notice once the model is finished; it may even help keep the drivers tea cup in the right place!

The other thing I've fitted, which you can't see, is a nut inside the coal bunker which will be used later to secure the chassis to the footplate. The next step is to roll the rear of the coal bunker and according to the instructions this requires annealing (with the help of the kitchen cooker) the part to help roll it to the right shape.

Canopus: A Riveted Footplate

So having shown you the kit of parts yesterday I was eager to get cracking on building Canopus. The first step is to punch out the rivets on the footplate before folding it to shape.

The instructions suggest to use the non-pointy end of a drawing compass but my compass doesn't have a removal tip. A quick hunt around and I decided that actually a Woodland Scenic foam nail would probably do the job. Unfortunately the etch doesn't include any rivet etchings to test on so I did a test on some scrap brass I had lying around. To avoid punching right through the brass I filed the point off the nail, and then with a gentle tap from the hammer added a rivet. Success on my first attempt, shame it was on the scrap brass! I tried a few more times just to make sure I'd got the force right before turning to the kit.

Unfortunately the etched holes on the kit were too small to take the ground down point of the nail, and almost nothing happened when I hit the nail while over the hole. So with some trepidation I picked up a new nail, where the point would fit in the hole, give it a gentle tap and.... a perfect rivet! Unfortunately I slipped doing the second rivet so there is a rivet on the rear buffer beam that is a tad too large, and possibly has a hole in the middle, but I'll disguise that with some rust weathering when the kit is finished. Anyway, I moved on and added the rest of the rivets to the footplate.

Once riveted the next stage is to fold down the running plate valances and then the buffer beams. The valances are long and thin and the only way to successfully fold them is with some form of tool. Fortunately my hold-and-fold was easily up to the task; I know people think these are expensive but personally I think they are worth every penny. The buffer beams then folded down with just a small amount of gentle pressure using nothing more technical than my thumb.

While the valances had folded nicely there was a small gap (it looks worse in the picture than in real life) where the valance should join the buffer beam so I filed this with a small amount of solder. It will probably need some filler as well when I get to the painting stage, but the solder will also help to strengthen the folds so was worth adding.

The next step, according to the instructions, is the cab.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Canopus: The Kit

So having showed you a couple of photos of the real Canopus in the previous post, I though I should show the kit I'm going to be building

As with the kit for the Quarry Hunslet there is a lot of scary looking sheet metal and a bunch of castings as well as the motor and wheels. As I said in the previous post the main difference between the kits is that this time I have to build the entire chassis, which makes up the nickel silver fret, making sure the wheels are nice and parallel. The instructions though suggest starting with the upper body so I'll get to the chassis when I've had a bit more practice of building etched kits which seems like a sensible plan.

According to the instructions the first step is to punch out the rivets on everything but the cab roof so that will be the subject of the next post.

Monday, July 28, 2014


In 1901 Manning Wardle of Leeds built an 0-6-2ST locomotive for the Pentewan Railway in Cornwall. The locomotive, named "Canopus" arrived in December of 1901 and was immediately put to work hauling china clay along the railway. The railway didn't usually carry passengers although during the summer it was noted for the annual Sunday School Tea Treat Trains when the churches and chapels around the area hired the railway for the afternoon and conveyed their scholars, family and teachers to the coast at Pentewan. Canopus continued to work the line until it was abandoned in 1918. Canopus was eventually sold for scrap in 1924, but not before working as RAF loco No.7 at RAF Manston apparently on the construction of two underground hangers.

After a bit of searching I've managed to find just two photos of Canopus; one clearly showing her in use by the RAF and the earlier photo which I'm guessing was taken on a Sunday showing one of the church outings.

By this point you might be wondering why I'm suddenly blogging about a locomotive built for a small Cornish railway which no longer exists. Well, Canopus will be the second OO9 steam locomotive kit I'm going to attempt to build. The kit is from Backwoods Minatures, and from a brief look at the parts it seems as if it is a really well thought out kit that even I should be able to assemble. It will certainly be more difficult than the Brian Madge Quarry Hunslet kit I recently built as I have to build the full chassis rather than building a model around a pre-assembled motor bogie.

In a similar way to the naming of the Quarry Hunslet, I'm not intending to build a replica of Canopus rather, another loco to the same design, with a sensible backstory explaining how it ended up in the bottom left hand corner of Yorkshire. Even though I 'm not building a replica of Canopus, I'd be interested in any other photos, drawings, or livery details that people might have as they can only aid in construction of the kit, which will of course be the topic of quite a few future blog posts.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Still Innocent

Last week I spent a few days working in Edinburgh. You may remember that I've been to Edinburgh with work before when I discovered the Innocent Railway. On that occasion I only walked a short distance along the railway as I used it as a way of getting to the pub where we were having dinner. On this visit I was determined to try and see a little more of the line.

Having spent nearly five hours travelling to Edinburgh by train on a very warm day I decided that getting some fresh air by heading out of the city along the railway was a very good idea, so off I set. Access to the line starts at an old goods shed about five minutes from my hotel (see the previous post for more details). Once you've passed the shed you really wouldn't know you were walking along an old railway line as these photos nicely illustrate.

Originally this area was covered with lots of sidings as it was a large coal depot as well as a station. As you can see, today the area is covered in flats instead. In the second photo, if you look past the garages you can just make out the entrance to the tunnel which was one of the main features of the original line. Given that this time I was carrying my proper camera (not the tiny point and shoot thing), and it was well charged, I thought I'd shoot video as I walked through to the other side.

Okay, so that video is rather long and boring, but it's a tunnel what else did you really expect?!

Anyway once you leave the tunnel you are out of the city and into the countryside. Looking back you can see how the tunnel is cut through solid rock at the base of Arthur’s Seat. This is the point at which I left the railway on my previous visit, but this time I kept going.

It's not long before the walls get taller and the railway must have been a fairly tight fit, although I'm sure a train thundering past in the tight confines of the walls would have been impressive. Continuing on and there are the supports for a bridge that has long since disappeared. Looking at an old map it appears it was a foot bridge that simply linked the two fields at either side of the railway, I assume to give the farmer access.

From my research after my last visit I knew that as well as the tunnel and engine shed there was one more important piece of remaining infrastructure, a cast iron bridge, which I was determined to find. Fortunately if you just keep walking you can't miss it.

According to the sign on the wall the bridge spans 18ft and was erected and painted by the Shotts Iron Co. in March 1831 for the grand total of £133.10s. It goes on to say that the bridge "originally extended over the full width of the railway -- from wall to wall. The beams which are curved in top elevation are of 'L' and inverted 'T' cross-sections. They are of outstanding interest as being amongst the earliest surviving examples of their type anywhere". I assume the comment about extending the full width of the railway means that originally the wooden section spanned the entire bridge, and the tarmac covered sections are modern safety features.

I could have kept going along the railway, but I'm not sure what else there is to see and anyway I had to head back to my hotel to get some work done before meeting a colleague for dinner.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Little or Large?

When I blogged recently about the method I'd settled on for painting Yorkshire stone I pointed out that I'd accidentally bought 7mm scale plastikard as it "looked right". Well I've now picked up a sheet in 4mm scale and as you can see the stone are a lot smaller.

I'm actually worried that the 4mm stones are a little on the small size, but I think they'll do for the small single storey workshop I'm planning. The 7mm sheet still looks promising for the large factory building though, especially as it will be further from the viewer.

I'm slowly running out of excuses not to do some layout building so hopefully it shouldn't be too long before there is some sign of layout progress beyond a plain piece of MDF!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

BS EN 1342

So having had my decision to pick setts over cobbles confirmed in the comments to the previous post I've been doing a little experimentation to figure out how to lay the setts between the rails. If you remember, my first attempt was to run four rows in parallel with the rails but at right angles to the setts laid outside the rails. This works, but I wasn't at all convinced. I've now tried two other approaches as you can see in the photo. Having stared at this for a while now, I think I'm happiest with the setts on the left, i.e. just a continuation of the rows outside the rails, so will go with this when I get around to doing the yard surface.

Having realised that I'd bought 7mm embossed stone sheet because "it looked right" I also decided to check that the setts I was making were of a sensible size. Using a set of callipers I measured the inside of the sett stamp at 2.81mm by 1.24mm which at 4mm to the foot represents a stone of 213.56mm by 94.24mm. This seemed reasonable but I thought I'd see if I could find out what size setts usually are which is when I discovered BS EN 1342.

It turns out that setts are covered by a standard published by the British Standards Institute, specifically BS EN 1342 which was last updated in 2012. Unfortunately I haven't actually been able to read the standard because to buy a copy would cost me £162! This is a 34 page document and according to one site 16 of those pages are made up of the title and standard text, leaving just 18 pages of useful information. Now if that isn't a rip off I don't know what is. Fortunately I found a description that references the standard and includes the pertinent information. This states that "a sett is a dressed block of stone having plan dimensions that are 50-300mm in length, and a thickness of at least 50mm". Now I don't care about the depth but we can see that the setts I was producing with my stamp fall within the description, so they are of a reasonable size.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Cobbles or Setts?

If you can remember back to February then you'll unfortunately be able to recall my first rather poor attempt at modelling cobble stones. In the comments to that post GB also pointed out that a cobbled street is usually paved with irregular stones, whereas setts (which are what I've always called cobble stones) are made from regular, usually rectangular, worked stone. While my approach to modelling cobble stones improved until I was happy enough to produce a small photographic diorama the fact remains that I've been producing regular circular stones which are neither cobbles or setts.

Part of the problem has been that producing regular circular stones using the ink tube from a biro is easy, but I couldn't think of a similar way of producing rectangular stones. Yesterday I realised that I should be able to build a simple stamp from some of the styrene strip I have kicking around. Essentially I built a rectangular tube from some 0.5mm thick styrene (Plastruct #90729) held together with plastic weld from E.M.A. Model Supplies. Once the weld had set I filled down the joins and the styrene to thin it a bit below 0.5mm leaving me with a stamp I could use to make rectangular stones of approximately 3mm by 1mm which represent 9 inch by 3 inch given that I'm working at a scale of 4mm to the foot.

Armed with my stamp I produced another small test piece using DAS clay as before, which was then painted in the same fashion as my previous attempts.

I think these setts look really good, although those between the rails (which is where I started) could be better; not sure if I should put them in the other orientation to those outside the rails, or just not offset each row as two bricks (i.e. 6mm plus the gaps) are a good fit between the rails? So now I have a decision to make, cobbles or setts? I think the setts are more realistic as the cobbles are too uniform, but let me know which you prefer in the comments.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Yorkshire Stone

While I now have a track plan for 77 Box Lane I still haven't done any track laying or building construction, mostly as I keep getting distracted by the Welsh slate industry! I did get as far as doing some cobble experiments and I even used some brick papers to build a small photographic diorama. While the wall looked pretty good on the diorama I came to the decision, when trying to use the same paper for a low wall, that the stones were a bit large and that the lack of relief might be a problem on such a narrow layout, but at the time I didn't have any better ideas, short of using DAS clay and scribing the stones by hand.

About a month or so ago, when browsing in my local model shop, I picked up a piece of Slater's embossed plastikard that looked like it might be a good alternative to the brick paper I'd been using, although at the time I wasn't sure how I was going to be able to paint it to look like Yorkshire stone so it got put to one side.

Fortunately two things then happened which have led me to an approach to painting the embossed sheet to look like Yorkshire stone that I'm fairly happy with. First up Iain went and wrote a blog post about the slate wagons I sent him. This in turn delayed Geoff from writing a blog post about his excellent Llangunllo layout. When he did write the delayed post he happened to mention that he'd used RailMatch concrete to colour the mortar course on the building he was painting. The second thing was that yesterday I painted a weathered example of my narrow gauge flat wagon and I decided that the colour wasn't that far away from dirty, smoke blackened Yorkshire stone.

Combining these two ideas led me to paint the embossed sheet as follows. Firstly I sprayed the sheet with a white primer as I found that the acrylics wouldn't stick to it very well. Once that had dried I painted the entire thing using the RailMatch concrete (#2422) to act as a base coat as well as to colour the mortar. I then dry brushed on khaki (Model Color 70.988) followed by brown sand (Model Color 70.876). This was then all toned down slightly with a thin black wash, before the final details were added by dry brushing with dark sand (Model Color 70.847) and black (Model Color 70.950) to simulate the dirty patches.

It was only when I'd finished painting this small sample that I noticed that, according to the sticker on the back, the sheet is for 7mm scale modelling not 4mm scale, oops. Given that I bought the sheet as the stones looked a similar size to those on the brick paper this would explain why those stones looked too big. The stones on this sheet are actually slightly smaller than on the sheet being about 3mm, so 9 inches, tall. The sheet might work for a large factory, but I'll try and pick up a 4mm sheet of the same stone effect and see if that looks a bit better sized for walls and small workshops, but at least this is progress... of a sort.

Friday, July 4, 2014

A Well Used Wagon

You may remember that my first attempt at designing and 3D printing an OO9 gauge wagon back in May was for a freelance 8ft flat wagon which I painted as if it was fresh from the workshop. While the wagon runs well a number of you suggested that in reality they wouldn't look new for very long. My solution to this was to print multiple wagons so I could have sets representing them at different ages and amounts of abuse. I even got as far as experimenting with how I would paint older looking wood but I never got around to actually painting another set of models.

Well I still haven't painted a set, but I have painted one which you can see here alongside one of the original freshly built versions. My approach followed the second of the two approaches I experimented with for the wooden sections. The metalwork was painted black then dry brushed with a little Model Color London Grey (#70.836) and Rail Match Dark Rust. The final touch was a little bit of Flory Models rust weathering wash before a waft of matt varnish was applied to seal everything in place. I'll add the couplings at some point but even without them I'm really happy with how this all turned out. It definitely looks older and more well used without looking badly abused.

If you fancy painting one of these yourself then head on over to Penistone Railway Works and I'll happily sell you some.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Rubbish Mockup

Yesterday I managed to grab a few minutes to wave a can of red oxide primer at the brass upper I'd made for the Rhosydd slate quarry rubbish wagon. As I mentioned in the first post on this topic, I haven't yet 3D printed an underframe for this wagon as I'm waiting until I have a number of things I want to order. Having said that, the underframe is similar in size to the 3 bar slab wagon I recently designed and had printed, so I thought I'd get a better idea of how the final thing would look by balancing the brass part on the slab wagon.

The light wasn't particularly conducive to photography but I still think it looks pretty good. The brass upper will now go into storage until I get the underframe printed so it will all get weathered at the same time to make sure that both parts match, but so far so good.