Monday, August 31, 2015

Dry Land

So a little bit of paint later and I now have rocks and a stream bed. I'll extend the peat colouring onto the banks to give a base for the plants but for now this makes it clear where the stream runs.

From this angle the lack of depth to the diorama is more obvious as the land doesn't rise up behind the bridge as it does in real life but I think it looks pretty close all the same. Next up will be pouring the water which will take a few days to do the layers so it's unlikely there will be a progress report until I have something sensible to show.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Now With Sleepers

I've spent the last couple of days slowly adding the sleepers to the rails so I can see how the section over the bridge will look. The sleepers in the undergrowth can wait until later.

It's not a perfect replica, when compared to Bobby Mhor's photo, but I'm pretty happy with how that looks.

Thursday, August 27, 2015


Progress is moving along nicely now with my entry to the Dave Brewer challenge and today I can report that the girders have been detailed and both them and the rails nicely rusted. For a change I thought I'd show a different view of the diorama looking downstream from above the bridge.

From this angle you can't see the concrete support block although I promise it is there, and I think the scene is really coming together nicely now. The next two jobs will be to add the sleepers to the rail and to paint the rocks. I'm guessing I'll do these in parallel so I don't go crazy hand spiking the rail.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Rocks and Rails

Just a quick update on the diorama, as I've now scribbed the stonework on the right-hand bridge support and cut the rails to length.

The rocks were scribbed into the plaster using a dental pick, which worked nicely. The pattern isn't fully accurate to the actual bridge but I think it should work reasonably well once painted up and part hidden under plants.

The ends of the rails are likely to be hidden where the track is over grown so I've soldered them to copperclad PCB strip for strength rather than relying on the hand spiked sleepers to hold everything in place. This should also make fitting the sleepers easier as the gauge is already set.

While neither of these tasks are huge in themselves, I do feel that the scene is starting to come together nicely now. I see I still have a bit of work to do where the girders join the left bank (that gap needs filling) before I start painting the rocks, but I can now also crack on with building the track and detailing the girders and those jobs should move the diorama forward quite quickly.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

More Civil Engineering

It was a long day for the civil engineering team yesterday up on the wilds of Duchal Moor. By the end of the day though they had managed to build up the embankment and cut two bridge girders to size. They expect to have to make a few minor adjustments as building work continues but so far it's all looking quite promising.

The next step will be to scrib the stonework into the supports for the right hand side of the bridge. On the real thing these appear to be made from large local stones bound together with concrete. I did think about producing individual stones from DAS (like I did with the dry stone wall) but I wanted to ensure that I could colour them the same as the in-situ rock. I made the supports by casting a large flat sheet of plaster which I then cut into the relevant shapes. These were glued in place then more plaster used to bind them all together and into the scenery. This means there is plenty of depth of plaster to scrib and they should take colour nicely.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Civil Engineering

The civil engineering team were out early up on Duchal Moor this morning. They've already made initial measurements and started construction on the core of the embankment that will carry the railway over Blacketty Water.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Terraforming at 75%

Now that I'm fairly confident about how I'm going to model the water for my Dave Brewer challenge entry, I've started work on the basic terrain of the final model. So far I'm at about 75% completed.

As you can see, so far I've modelled the river bed, with a drop for a small fall, and the left hand bank where the railway enters on top of a rock. The right hand bank, although taking up a smaller portion of the diorama, is more complex as it contains a man made embankment for the railway to run on. I have some ideas of how I'm going to build that up, but it still requires a little more thought before I make a start on it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Clayton: Completed Build #1

Other than adding the makers plates I've finished the first build of the Clayton loco I've been working on. As I mentioned before there are more things wrong with the current version than right but it's still assembled into a passable model.

I've rally enjoyed modelling on O14 as the larger scale has really let me go to town on the details. Not only do we have the brake lever from a previous post, but individual wires and a bell among other details that would have been difficult or impossible in OO9. Now a static model is one thing but you all probably want to see it move.

You'll probably notice two things from that video. Firstly the working lights are missing as I discovered that there was no way of routing the wires through the current print (another thing to add to the list of bits needing a redesign). Secondly the movement isn't very smooth. For some reason it looks as if they wheels are sticking during part of their revolution. It must be the wheels and not the layshaft as it's at the same point every time. You can see it more clearly in this video.

I've not figured out exactly what the problem is yet but I'm guessing that maybe one of the axles is slightly out of line leading to a tight spot. I'll try and investigate further but it may just be an issue with printing that will go away after some of the bits are redesigned anyway.

So not perfect, but I'm more than happy with my start in O14.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Little Details

I'd intended to be able to show you a moving Clayton locomotive by now, but one of the test etches that arrived in the post a few days ago was all the details for the loco so I'm going to build these up and add them before completing the mechanical side of things. This may sound like a daft order but once I add the lights the two parts of the loco will be joined together making it more awkward to paint and detail.

I've discovered that moving to a larger scale (7mm to the foot in this case) has both advantages and disadvantages. The advantages include being able to more accurately model some of the details, the disadvantage is that the extra detail actually often means smaller parts. For example....

This reversing lever (at least I assume that's what it is) is made of eight separate etched pieces all soldered together. Fortunately seven of the layers all contain a hole for the pivot wire so are "fairly" easy to align and hold in position while they are soldered together; the eighth piece was a little more fiddly.

It may have been a little fiddly to put together but I'm really happy with the way it's turned out. I didn't know how well some of the finer parts would hold up to the etching process or how it would look once assembled but I'd call this a success.

I can certainly understand why some people enjoy the larger scales for the level of detail it allows, but I'm not sure how true the idea of the larger scales being easier on the eyesight really is.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Press Release

Narrow Planet is pleased to announce the release of our first complete locomotive kit, to model a Hudson-Hunslet 24hp Light Diesel Locomotive. Introduced in the late 1950's the 24hp light diesel locomotive was an upgraded version of the company's original 21hp model and was the smallest locomotive in the range. This model, designed by Mark A. Greenwood using Hunslet's General Arrangement Drawing 48937 of April 1961, represents the basic cabless version. Many of the locomotives were, however, fitted with varying designs of cabs, and other equipment, depending upon their intended use. Preserved examples include LCWW18 which is part of the Moseley Railway Trust collection and "Creepy" of the Leighton Buzzard Railway.

Like our previous releases the body is comprised of a 3D printed shell and etched nickel silver detailing parts. Rather than needing to source a chassis, however, this kit includes all the parts necessary to build the complete model. This includes a 3D printed brass chassis block, gears, wheels, and a motor. While the etched detailing parts can all be glued into place a small amount of soldering will be necessary in order to complete the electrical connections. Comprehensive instructions are provided with the kit.

When fully released in November this kit will be produced on demand or in small batches and cost £80. We are intending to produce an initial batch of kits to meet expected demand. To aid in the production of this batch we are asking for a down payment of £30 with delivery expected by the end of October. In return for making a down payment the final cost for each kit in this first batch will be reduced to £75.

Visit the Narrow Planet shop page now to make sure you don't miss out on one from the first batch!

The Minimalist Look

When I first started to design a model of the Hudson-Hunslet diesel my intention was to build a cabless version with the motor and chassis completely hidden within the body. While I've managed this some people have asked me if I intend to also produce a version with a cab. Unfortunately it would appear that every loco that was fitted with a cab has a different cab design. For a first attempt I've gone with a minimalist look, similar to the cab on Macnamara (which is actually a slightly different Hudson-Hunslet design).

Amazingly I seem to have managed to get the cutout in the front panel correct so it fits perfectly over the etched body panel (there were five or six paper based attempts before I committed to the etch but still). Even better it was nice and easy to put together; the roof was shaped by gentely rolling the handle of a small file across it against my leg, pliers were used to fold the roof sides down, and then the front and back panels simply glued into the positioning lines on the roof.

While it all fits nicely, I'm not convinced it's the best cab design. I think of it as the sunhat of cabs; it will keep the sun off but if there is any rain you're still going to get very wet and miserable. Now I know the cutout works though I can have a look at a more enclosed cab.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

A Part Assembled Clayton Locomotive

Having built some O14 track ready for the Clayton battery loco I thought I should make a start on assembling it. Due to the rather large wheels it sports I decided it would be easier to paint it before assembly, we'll see how successful an idea this was at some point but for now this is the current state of play.

While all of the photos I've seen of the loco in use (just two if you remember) show it painted orange I understand that when it was originally delivered it was finished in Clayton's standard yellow colour. As this is the first prototype I've built and I had a can of yellow paint, this one will be painted yellow.

As well as painting I've assembled the layshaft, which slides into place pre-assembled, I've cut the OO gauge axles down to the right length, and I've sorted out most of the electrical side. The motor is actually rated at 12V so in theory could be wired directly to the pickups, but I'm going to try and fit working lights, so the little PCB holds a resistor and capacitor ready for wiring in the lights.

I'll probably leave the paint a day or so to fully harden, given past experience of spraying this Humbrol acrylic (while it feels dry it's possible to leave fingerprints in the surface for a day or so after painting), and then will assemble and test the mechanical parts before adding the working lights.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Dual Gauge Track

While most of my modelling recently has been focused on my entry for the Dave Brewer challenge in October I've not forgotten about the Clayton battery locomotive.

Mostly I've been writing a long list of all the small issues I've found with the current design now I've got the first prototype print in my hands. It's turning into quite a long list, but fortunately most of them can be solved on the current print with a little bit of thought, which allows me to test the changes before ordering another print. Before I can assemble and test the locomotive though I need some track to run it on.

If you remember I'm building this model in O14, 7mm to the foot scale running on 14mm track to represent 2 foot gauge track, as the loco is too small to model in my usual scale of OO9. The problem is I've never modelled in O14 so I didn't have any 14mm track. Fortunately I'd planned in advance for this and ordered some roller gauges from KBscale. Given that I'm short on desk space I decided to produce a test track that would let me test both O14 and OO9 (O9 and Gnine as well if I wanted to branch out) models, so I now have a 60cm dual gauge test track.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Peaty Water: Take 2

Whilst initial experiments with adding peat brown ink to Woodland Scenics Realistic Water looked promising, the more I looked at the mockup I made the less convinced by the colour I was. Where the water was thin it was very purple, and even the deeper batches showed shades of purple in certain lights. Now the colour of peaty water can vary a lot, but it's never purple, so a rethink was needed.

So I've now put together a second mockup using the rock painting technique I settled on along with a new approach to the water.

Personally I think this looks an awful lot better. It's not perfect, but it's better. It's a bit more complex to produce but I think it's worth it.

Firstly the bottom of the stream is painted brown. I actually used a thick wash of burnt umber along with some black to paint over the rock so that there was variation in the colouring. Once this had dried I sealed the surface with scenic cement before pouring a thin layer of Realistic Water. Once the water had cured I then used the burnt umber and black washes again to paint the surface, focusing on adding more in the middle of the stream to make it look deeper. I then added a second layer of water and washes and then a final layer of water. The Realistic Water is actually quite runny and getting it to stay on the different levels was tricky. As there were no nice straight surfaces I could add masking tape to to hold the water I used water effects to add a small lip to hold the water in place. As these are designed to go together you can't see any joins once everything has cured.

At this point I have very still water so the next stage is to use the Water Effects to add turbulence to the surface, especially over the drops. I need practice to get this looking more natural but in general I'm happy with what I added. The problem though is that turbulent water tends to be white(ish) but the Water Effects dries clear. So the next step was to dry brush some ivory onto the surface features to make them stand out. I decided the ivory was a little bright though so toned it down with yet another a wash of burnt umber. The colours now looked fairly good but had dried fairly matt and looked wrong against the very shiny water. Fortunately this is easy to solve by painting a very thin layer of Realistic Water over the painted areas to give the final result.

Personally I think this looks a lot better, but do tell me if you think otherwise.