Monday, November 30, 2015

A Better Fit

Late last week I had a delivery from Shapeways which contained the next iteration of the parts for the O14 Clayton battery electric loco I'm working on. This is now version three of the design and it looks like I've solved all the outstanding problems with the previous version.

The main differences are to the way the parts fit together. Firstly I've narrows the steel weight slightly (which involved changing the shape of the cutouts for the screws) so that it will fit inside the body without distorting the sides. In the previous design the two main parts of the model were mostly held together as a friction fit, but only along two small surfaces (the back and front of the top piece fit against the front buffer beam and the front of the driver area). In theory this was enough, but often the parts would warp ever so slightly during the printing process and although they would hold initially would spring apart just by sitting there. Also if viewed from low down there was a slight visible gap between the two parts above the wheels.

I've solved the problem by adding more material to both parts to increase the surface area of the interlocking sections. This means there is now a block on the bottom of the upper part that slots between two of the supports in the bottom half to keep the flat rear area flat. To make sure the front part stays together, and to get rid of the slight gap, I've extended the body sides upwards so that they fit inside the top half by a couple of mm. This seems to work so well that once the parts are together they require a fair amount of force to separate. Combined with the retaining screws it looks as if it will be a nice solid model once I've built it up.

Talking of building it, this model is going to be a little different to every other one I've built as once it's running it will be packed up and shipped off to it's new owner. When I was visiting ExpoNG I spent a very enjoyable evening drinking beer and talking railways with David John the builder of the wonderful O14 layout Rhyd. He was really taken with the first prototype of the Clayton and has asked me to build one to run on the quarry tramway. Normally I'd have waited and built up another print rather than what is in essence a prototype model, but as it is destined to be one of David's Christmas present I don't have time to order more parts. It will also be heading to David unpainted as I feel that my loco painting skills (wave an aerosol can at it) fall well below that of the other locos on the layout. Anyway David has kindly agreed that I can document the build and hopefully at some point there will be photos of it earning it's keep on Rhyd.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Armless Eunuch

One of the things missing from my prototype Clayton build was a driver. Trying to find an appropriate figure proved more difficult than expected for two reasons. Firstly there isn't much space for a driver in the Clayton and secondly all the controls are on the right hand side of the driver which seems to differ from many other locos and so most driver figures have the left arm posed for controlling things not the right. The third problem was that all the photos I've seen of the loco in use show the driver in high-viz clothing so a an early 20th century tractor driver, for example, wasn't really going to fit the bill.

Fortunately while browsing around I came across the figures made by Andrew C Stadden which included a driver figure with his right arm out and in high-viz clothing so I ordered one.

When the figure arrived I was happily surprised to find that it actually comes with a choice of arms so that you can easily pose the drive with either arm bent or outstretched. Unfortunately his wide leg pose meant he wouldn't fit in the rather restricted driver area of the Clayton. Even bending the legs closer together didn't narrow him down far enough, so in the end I had to use a razor saw to castrate the poor bloke! The cut allowed me to force the legs closer together (the pewter the figure is cast in really doesn't bend well, so it takes some considerable force) and close enough for him to sit in position. I'll tidy up the wound with a bit of miliput when I add the arms, but I think he will work quite nicely. Even though he is quite heavy, he doesn't cause any problems in the original prototype model without the steel keeper plate so should be fine in the next build.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Makings of a Point

I've really enjoyed working in O14 building the Clayton loco, but if I want somewhere to run the loco that isn't a simple straight bit of track I'm going to need to build some points. When I was at ExpoNG I picked up both the Type 1 and Type 2 crossing jigs from KBscale in preparation for this but it took until this weekend to find time to have a go. Even with a jig to help hold all the parts it's still quite tricky (or maybe I just haven't had enough practice). The first problem is finding a reliable way of cutting/filing the ends of the rails at 15 degrees. In the end I built a small jig from styrene which seems to do the job but it feels like there should be an easier way. Once all the rails have been cut and fitted to the jig the problems don't end. Because the jog is metal it's impossible to get enough heat into the join with my soldering iron as it just soaks into the jig instead. The trick is to use the kitchen blow torch (usually used for creme brulee) to pump in lots of heat.

Once it's cooled and cleaned up it looks as if it will do the job nicely. Unfortunately I then cut the rails back but measured badly so they are too short for the type 1 turnout I was trying to build. Not to worry though as the practice was well worthwhile. Unfortunately I seem to be almost out of the PECO IL-115 rail so will have to order some more before I can have another go. Also looking at the instructions I'm not sure I like the suggestions for hinging the switch rails (a wire down through the sleeper). I'm wondering if I can just do without a hinge and rely on the slight flex of the rail, but that experiment will have to wait until I get some more rail.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Fall of Jerusalem

It's been two years since I last blogged about Jerusalem, and almost two years since I started looking at modelling in OO9. In all that time Jerusalem has hardly been used, and in fact for over half of that time the layout has been stored in the loft to give me more space to model other things. While I enjoyed building Jerusalem and learnt a lot I'm happy to admit that there were many things that were wrong with it. The curves were two tight for a mainline, as seen by the problems with the carriage and the tunnel, the track was badly laid which led to some derailments and the points didn't work well as I relied on the blades to switch the power. In fact the whole layout concept was a serious compromise.

If you remember back to the very beginning of Jerusalem the choice of building in N gauge was purely motivated by me wanting a continuous run layout and not having the room to build such a layout in OO gauge. In retrospect this was a mistake as I'm much happier working in 4mm to the foot scale or above than the 2mm to the foot of N gauge. So when tidying the loft last weekend I made the decision that given all the problems with Jerusalem I was never going to go back to it, and will probably never return to such a small scale either, so the layout was simply taking up valuable storage space.

So as you can see the layout has come down from the loft and anything useful has been stripped from the layout, and the board has now been dumped in the garage ready to go out with the rubbish (or to the tip if I can't be bothered breaking it down further). Some of the parts, like the trees, might be reusable in 4mm scale but I'll hold on to the rest as well as there is no resale value in a few painted animals and some dry stone walling. The loco and rolling stock though are likely to be sold to provide funds for more modelling as it seems silly having them sat collecting dust when I have no sentimental attachment to them.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Canopus: Altering the Kit Parts

It's been almost a year since I discovered that a number of the parts in the Backwoods Miniatures kit of Canopus that I was building were the wrong size. Annoyingly this seems to be a fairly well known problem so anyone who builds the kit finds themselves having to alter or replace a few parts. Specifically the slide bars sit too close to the frames and the connecting rods aren't long enough. I solved the problem of the connecting rods by having a new set etched back in February, but the slide bars needed surgery.

Having now released the kit for the Hudson-Hunslet and finished my entry to the Dave Brewer challenge I really had no excuse to use to put off having another go at finishing Canopus so today I set about altering the slide bars and building up the crossheads and piston rods.

It turned out that altering the slide bars wasn't as bad as I expected. Basically I cut them in half soldered in a piece of scrap etch and then filed back some of the central mount to allow the wider version to sit in the frames properly. From a trial fitting this looks to have worked nicely.

Strangely the crossheads and piston rods were much more trouble to assemble than altering the slide bars. Each crosshead is made from two layers soldered together with the piston rod wire trapped between them. While folding the etch in two and soldering things together works well cleaning up the grooves to allow them to run smoothly on the slide bars is a bit more of a pain. After a bit of swearing and filing they do now seem to fit and slide nicely. A quick test fit of one of my replacement connecting rods also shows that these fit within the crosshead nicely. This means the next step is to use a rivet to join the crosshead and connecting rod. Hopefully you won't have to wait almost a year to see how that turns out.

Monday, November 2, 2015

And The Winner Is...

Having worked on my bridge model for about four months the good news is that my careful packing meant that it arrived safely at ExpoNG on Saturday along with eight other entries in a variety of scales.

The winner was "The Cutting" by Derek Harris. As you can see in the photo above the presentation was very clever as it forced you to look down on the model, just as you would if peering over a wall to look down into a cutting. I'm not going to comment on any of the models more than that as after one conversation on Saturday I found that even positive comments could be easily misunderstood given I had a model in the competition.

Given that I held off on showing the completed diorama before Saturday here it is in all its glory along with a label and more importantly my first exhibition badge (these are handed out at most exhibitions to each layout on show).

Usually people stick the exhibition badges to the layout display board but as I don't have one for the bridge, and it's unlikely to be displayed at any other exhibition in the future I'll just carefully store the badge away with the model.

I had a lot of fun building the bridge and I've improved my modelling skills no end, so regardless of the competition result, I'm calling this a win. Now I just have to wait and see what next years challenge will be and if it similarly captures my imagination.

Down at the Bottom of the Garden

So less than an hour after getting home from ExpoNG yesterday (there will be a post on that later) I was stood at the bottom of the garden camera in hand waiting to watch a train go by. Of course I wasn't interested in the local service train but the second running this year of the Tin Bath. Since February we've done enough work in the garden that I could actually get to the bottom fence and one of the fence posts made an excellent tripod.