Wednesday, December 20, 2017


Having recently dipped my toe into 32mm gauge railways (in 16mm scale, so representing 2' gauge) I've also been involved in designing some new products for a scale/gauge combination referred to as OO6.5. As you can probably guess that just like OO9 is OO scale modelling (i.e. 4mm scale) on 9mm gauge track, OO6.5 is OO scale modelling on 6.5mm gauge track. While not an exact match this is used to represent railways running on 18" gauge track; sometimes referred to as minimum gauge railways. The reason we use 6.5mm gauge is because there is ready-to-run track available from Busch, although they use it to model 60cm gauge railways in HOf scale, which is 3.5mm to the foot modelling. If you weren't confused by scales and gauges before I'm sure you are now!

The wagon I've designed is 1 plank transfer wagon as used on the Royal Arsenal Railway. Now I only know of one photo of this wagon which appears in the Mark Smithers' book. Fortunately it appears to be simply a cut down version of the Sand Hutton wagon that I've been working on for what feels like years now (hopefully some news on these next year) and so I had some idea of size etc. Obviously with the difference in gauge I've had to produce a new underframe as well. Note that this doesn't entirely mirror the prototype in order to provide mountings for the magnetic couplings.

I don't actually have any OO6.5 track (not sure I'll actually try modelling in the gauge either if I'm honest) so I've not actually seen the models in the flesh yet, but never fear they have been test printed by James Hilton who does model in the scale and has also released some other models. You can see what he made of the test prints over on his blog.

You can find the full range of OO6.5 gauge models produced by various Narrow Planet designers on the website under the 6point5 brand. Hopefully there will be more to come in this new interesting gauge next year as well (hint: I'm working on something else).

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Big Reveal

Having hinted at some modelling in a new scale for the last couple of weeks, the time has finally come for the big reveal. So without further ado we have a 16mm Hudson Skip locomotive that runs on 32mm gauge track.

The loco is built from a kit from I P Engineering that consists mostly of laser cut plywood, although the skip itself is an injection moulded piece. You should also be able to spot the hand brake wheel and clutch pedal from previous posts, plus two gear levers and some extra rivets (possibly more on those in a later post) that I've added to the basic model. All these bits were modelled on a drawing of a similar loco in issue 9 of Narrow Gauge and Industrial Railway Modelling REVIEW.

Unlike any other locomotive model I've built before this one is battery powered rather than being powered through the track. It's also why the skip looks over full as that's the smallest mound I could make and still hide the batteries and on/off and direction switches.

One of the advantages of battery power is that I don't need expensive track to run the loco on. In fact I can use track that is also made from lasercut plywood, specifically the Ezee range of track also from I P Engineering.

As I mentioned in an earlier post the aim of this little bit of modelling was to give me something I could do in the lounge after the little one was in bed but also to see how much I liked 16mm as a scale to work in without spending a lot of money. I think I've achieved that as (barring paints, glue, etc.) the loco, driving figure and track has cost me just £80 and I've had a lot of fun, and enjoyed scratch building details in this larger scale. Which just leaves the question.... will I be doing more 16mm scale modelling? At the moment I'm not sure. I don't have the space inside the house for much more than that temporary oval of track and I've not thought about modelling in the garden..... yet.

Friday, December 8, 2017


My work to turn Skarloey back into a representation of Tallylyn still isn't finished, and now I've got a model of Rheneas which will need to become Dolgoch at some future point. As if I didn't have enough projects on the go already given the amount of modelling time I currently have.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A Sense of Scale

As the last few posts have hinted at I'm having some fun experimenting with 16mm scale modelling. I've started with something cheap to see if I like the scale or not; 16mm scale modelling can get expensive very very quickly if you are not careful. Playing with the parts of the locomotive I'm building still often doesn't really tell you much about the size of things relative to what I'm used to, other than it's bigger. Looking at models of people certainly gives you some sense of the difference in scale though, and really brings home just how much bigger 16mm scale really is.

In this photo we have seated figures in, from left to right, 4mm, 7mm, and 16mm to the foot scales; and yes I know the poor 7mm chap is missing his arms! 4mm is my usual modelling scale having grown up modelling in OO and more recently in OO9, although I've been slowly moving up to 7mm scale with the Clayton battery electric loco etc.

So what do I think about 16mm to the foot? Well it's most definitely a lot bigger than I'm used to, but just as with the jump from 4mm to 7mm I like the possibilities it opens up for adding more details. Although looking at that painted figure I might have to adapt some of my techniques as I'm not sure they all translate well from 4mm and 7mm up to the much bigger scale.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Changing Gear

I'm still not ready for the big reveal of what I've been working on in the evenings, but to go with the brake wheel we now have..... a clutch peddle.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Progress Update

It's been almost a month since my last post and while there hasn't been a huge amount of modelling achieved I thought it worth doing a quick update.

First up, there has been some work on the latest Clayton build. That photo may not look too impressive but the box the body parts are resting on holds a few more bits of work. I've now collected all the parts together to complete the build, and I've assembled the wheelsets and the main layshaft. Most of the work though has gone into preparing the 3D body prints. Normally I spray my models from an aerosol can which puts the paint on reasonably thickly and hides some of the print issues. I'm hoping though to move to using an airbrush for painting so that I don't end up hiding small details etc. and can have access to a wider range of colours. This means though that I need to spend more time preparing the model surfaces. So far both parts have had two rounds of rubbing down with 2000 grit sandpaper after being sprayed with Mr Finishing Surfacer 1500. It's the first time I've tried using this stuff and so far I'm impressed, although the proof will come when I apply a layer of primer.

And now for something completely different. I usually model in my study, unfortunately the desk is pushed up against a thin internal wall and on the other side is my son's cot, so doing much when he's asleep is tricky, and I've avoided doing too much modelling in the lounge after he's gone to bed due to the inevitable mess I'd make. I've especially avoided doing anything with metals and plastics that might leave nasty stray bits if I don't clean up properly. So wanting a project I could work on in the lounge after he was in bed, I've picked up a kit made mostly from wood. I'm not going to reveal what that is just yet but as a clue, I decided to scratch build a brake wheel for it.

Friday, September 29, 2017

An Extra 8.5g

As some of you figured out the new parts I showed in the previous post are a revised version of the keeper plate in the O14 Clayton battery electric locomotive I've been modelling on and off for the last two and a bit years, having started on it back in May of 2015. I did finish a complete model at the end of 2015 but that is now earning it's keep in Rhyd. Initial running trials at Rhyd showed that while the model worked okay it wasn't really heavy enough, especially if the driver was on the heavy side, and had a tendency to bounce. For the past year I've been slowly thinking about ways to add more weight and this is the result.

On the left we have the original keeper plate as fitted to the model now running on Rhyd. In the middle we have the revised keeper plate which is quite a bit thicker and has much taller ends. On the right we then have a new part which is purely to add weight; it doesn't have any specific function, unlike the keeper plate. This fits between the motor and the layshaft directly over the wheels.

The original keeper plate weighed 6.3g whereas the two new parts together weight 14.8g so an extra 8.5g, or viewed another way, an increase of 135%. Hopefully this should drastically improve the running quality of the model by helping to keep it securely on the rails. Hopefully I'll find out reasonably soon how much of an improvement as I need to get on and build the new model because, yet again, I've been commissioned to build it for someone else, so I still won't have finished one for myself!

As a bit of an aside, and because I think it's interesting, I thought it worth a few comments on weighting models and I why I've taken the route I have. Often when trying to add weight to models people use Liquid Gravity which is essentially a lot of tiny little heavy beads; would probably have been lead shot at some point in the past but health and safety rules means it's no longer lead based.

Liquid Gravity is nice and easy to use as you simply pour the beads into the available space within the model and keep it in place with a little superglue. I used this approach when building the Hudson-Hunslet model as it meant I could fill the tiniest of spaces to add extra weight. While the manufacturers don't provide any details on the weight of Liquid Gravity for a given volume I did find a review that had tried to estimate how heavy it really is. They found that it weighed roughly 4.15 g/cm3 which is actually quite light when compared to lead which weighs 11.3 g/cm3.

The stainless steel that I've had the parts 3D printed in is referred to by Shapeways as being 420 steel. Having had a hunt around I've found that 420 steel should have a weight of 7.74 g/cm3; so an 86% increase in weight for the same volume. Shapeways also give the material volume of each part and checking I found that the original part (with a volume of 0.8141cm3) should have a weight of 6.3g and the new parts (with a combined volume of 1.8215cm3) should weight 14.1g which matches nicely with the final weights of the printed parts.

When building such small models it seems silly not to take advantage of the extra weight of the stainless steel especially given that it can be printed to exactly fit within other printed parts and, in the case of the keeper plate, to serve a function at the same time. I'll certainly by continuing with this approach on future models, although Liquid Gravity still has it's uses.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Signs of Life

So 11 months on and family life is starting to settle down into some kind of routine, and I'm beginning to find the time to do the odd little bit of modelling here and there. Just to prove that things are indeed happening how about some newly designed parts for one of my ongoing projects....

Friday, August 18, 2017

Standing Still

While writing the previous post I realised that I did have some model, albeit a tiny amount, to show you. If you remember from the last modelling post back in April I'd made a few small steps forward with my model of Tallylyn, including fitting the smokebox door. When I posted I'd just about convinced myself that I could live with the moulded smokebox door handles. Usually these are one of the first things I'd look to replace on a model, but I thought I could live with these, but a few comments on that post made me realise I'd regret not altering them.

So as you can see I've now gently removed the moulded dart, fitted a turned replacement, and resprayed the primer. The new dart looks quite different to the handles currently on Tallylyn but I've based these on old photos from the period I'm modelling the loco. I think this looks a lot better than it did before and I'm glad I didn't do any more work on the model before replacing the dart because it was easy to do without doing any damage; if I'd left it any later through the build process I'd probably have had to respray a top coat of paint which would have been much worse.

Unfortunately that was still the last modelling I've managed and I did this back in the second half of April so I've still no real progress to report.


It's been quite a while since I last published a local history post (I got distracted by Scottish grouse shooting railways) but a new photo has come to light that shows a different view of one of the local railway accidents I've talked about before; specifically the Bullhouse Railway Accident which occurred on the 16th of July 1884..

All the previous photos I've seen of the accident site have been taken from below the railway line showing the carnage in the road and fields. This photo though is taken from the Penistone side of the bridge looking down into the road. It would appear that rather then showing the direct aftermath of the accident this photo shows the cleanup and possible salvage of useful parts from the destroyed wagons and carriages; note that the upturned carriage is missing it's wheels.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Two Steps Forward...

As predicted back in November I've had very little time for modelling over the last six months. I have, however, managed to grab a few minutes to take two small steps forward on the Tallylyn model. The last time you saw the model on the blog I'd just fitted a lamp bracket to the rear cab sheet. Well I've now also added one to the smokebox, along with the smokebox door.

The smokebox door is a 3D printed replacement from the Narrow Planet detailing kit. The door isn't a perfect match for the time period I'm modelling (the door would have been smaller looking at photos) but it's close enough.

As you can see I've also made a start on painting the model. Only a very basic start though; primer from a rattle can on the separate body pieces. On the plus side this hasn't shown up too many areas that need any work before more painting can take place. So the next decsion is what colour am I painting it. I had wondered about going with a heavily weathered black, but I think I'll go with a heavily weathered dark green (so weathered as to be almost black) instead.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

21 Pages

Some of you may remember that way back in July of 2015 I started work on a small diorama depicting a disused railway bridge. I built the model as an entry into that years Dave Brewer Memorial Challenge held at ExponNG at the end of October.

Over the roughly three months I spent working on the model I learnt an awful lot of useful and interesting techniques, and while I'd documented them on the blog I thought that, even though I'd not won the challenge, an article on the building of the model might be interesting to a wider audience than this blog enjoys.

Having written for Narrow Gauge & Industrial Railway Modelling REVIEW before I ran the idea past the editor, Roy C. Link, who agreed it was an interesting topic for an article. My original plan was to put an article together fairly quickly by pulling text and images from some of the blog posts I'd already written. Clearly things didn't quite go to plan as it took a year before the article was finished, but it finally appeared in the most recent issue (109) of the REVIEW.

It wasn't that I was particularly slow in writing the article, in fact as I hoped it would it started to come together quite quickly from the posts I'd already made. What happened was that I decided to include a little more of the history of the bridge and the railway it was part of in the article and once I started to do some research things kind of snowballed.

What I discovered was that the line over Duchal Moor was one of only two railways in Scotland, the other being at Dalmunzie, that had been built to aid access to grouse shooting moors. So my research expanded from a derelict bride to two entire railways and as such took a lot longer than planned. It also resulted in more details emerging than would sensibly fit in an article that was predominately about a small diorama so it became two articles; one on the modelling of the bridge and one entirely devoted to the history of the two lines.

Given that both lines were closed or abandoned over thirty years ago and neither were ever open to the general public tracking down enough information to produce an interesting article took some time. I was very fortunate that requests for information in a couple of places turned up people who had either visited one or other of the lines, or had useful photos and documents which they were willing to share. The result was a 12 page article including a detailed history of the lines and rolling stock, maps, and a number of previously unpublished photos. Of course these 12 pages are in addition to the 9 page article on the bridge model, hence the title of this post as issue 109 of the REVIEW contains 21 pages of my work. Viewed another way, assuming my maths is right, about 45% of the magazine is stuff I put together, so hopefully people will enjoy both articles; it's worth buying for the other 55% alone!

If you are interested in reading the articles then you'll have to pick up a copy of the REVIEW as I can't simply repost all the material here (you should be able to get issue 109 as a back issue shortly) but I do have one thing to share with you all.

When researching the line at Dalmunzie I came across an old cine film which had already been digitized and uploaded to YouTube. The entire film is made up of a number of reels shot over a number of years and shows life on the Dalmunzie estate. While the whole film is interesting if you are only interested in the railway then there are three clips at 8:30, 29:50, and 30:40.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Ivor the Engine

As I predicated in the previous post I've not really had much time for modelling over the last thirteen weeks. I've no idea when this will change, but when it does I'll have another project to start on...

Obviously Toby isn't old enough to be choosing Christmas presents for people yet, but Bryony and I thought it would be nice if we each had a present from him at his 1st Christmas that wasn't at all baby related and that would give us something fun to do when we eventually have some free time for hobbies again. Bryony got a very nice hand turned yarn bowl and I got a kit to build Ivor the Engine.

I've fancied building Ivor for a few years ever since Paul pointed out that PH Designs did a kit for a 7mm scale model. Since then they have also released the kit in 4mm scale; actually two kits one for OO gauge, which I've got, and one for EM/P4 for those who like a more accurate track gauge.

What you get in the "kit" is the etches and a sheet of transfers leaving you to source wheels, motor, gearbox, and boiler fittings; not really what I'd call a kit. To make matters worse the recommended motor is the Mashima 1015 and Mashima motors aren't made any more, plus the instructions don't list a specific gearbox as far as I can see. Finally there aren't any wheels that are a perfect match so those suggested in the kit require cutting up to produce the correct number of spokes, and therein lies another problem.

As you can see I've been collecting together some prototype reference material ready to help with the build. This includes the storybook I've had since I was a child and some stills taken from the DVD of the complete series (all the colour episodes anyway). It turns out that the book and TV series are a little inconsistent, especially when it comes to the wheels. In the TV series Ivor appears to have wheels with six spokes, whereas the wheels clearly have eight spokes in the book. It gets even more confusing as some shots, in both the TV episodes and the book, show balance weights on the wheels while some don't.

So while I'm sure it's going to be a fun build, when I eventually have the time, it's clear there are a few issues to sort first, namely which motor, gearbox, and wheels to use. If anyone has any thoughts or suggestions I'd be grateful if you left a comment.