Sunday, 11 September 2016

All quiet on the western front - detailing the Heljan Western

Lots of modelling has been going on the last week.  I have made progress on a lot of projects, although the approach has been slightly scattershot, working on many different things.  One project that has been made some significant progress is the Heljan Western project.  The model is a second hand locomotive and for some reason it feels a lot less risky to take a tin of paints to second hand loco.  I was stumped for a long time on what on earth to do with the brake gear supplied with the model.  To be frank it is rubbish and requires some substantial work to get it looking ok and also usable on a workable model.

What a headache! - the brake gear attached to the Heljan chassis.

The first thing to do was reduce the length of the stretchers on the end of the brake rigging to fit into the bogie, so the brake shoes line up with the wheels (well almost line up anyhow!).  I drilled some new holes in the brake shoes and cut off the connecting plastic pipework supplied with the brake shoes.  Some brass rod was used to connect the brake gear together, using a straight length of 1.9cm between two right angle turns to fit into holes I had drilled into the brake shoes.  The brake gear was then aradited into place.

The pipe work has also been added to the front of the locomotive and a three link coupling was added, which has also been araldited to the buffer beam.  The standard method of using a spring to attach the coupling hook could not be used, due to it fouling the metal bar for the sprung buffers.  A lesson for next time will be to remove the original sprung buffers and replace with sprung buffers with an internal spring.  The wheels also had a good clean and it has had a test run around Potttington Quay, traversing all the point work without issue.

The body weathered and ready for reattachment to the chassis before final weathering.

The body work for the locomotive is shaping up, although some more weathering will be done when the body is reattached to the chassis, to try to blend it all together.  The next step is to paint the chassis details, such as pipework and brake gear and then attach the Howes ESU sound decoder, before reassembly and final weathering.  A long way to go, but I think this one is starting to come together.

Many different shade of white, faded blue and grime have been added to the bodyshell so far.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Pottington Quay - the quay wall

Today is the end of a lovely two weeks of holiday, which have literally flown by.  I had grand plans for the amount of modelling I would get done, and although I have made some progress it is not quite as much as I had hoped for.  However, the first parts of the quay wall for Pottington are starting to come together.  The quay wall is made from two components, an original stone quay wall and a more recent iron piled structure.  At the moment, both are not complete but sufficient progress has been made to take a couple of photographs with trains running, to get a feel for how the scene would look.

View from the mudflats as a short freight arrives on the 'goods line'.

It is definitely heading in the right direction and the estuary level view with the train above is looking about right, showing the trains above eye level.  There is an awful lot of painting to do on these structures to get them ready.  The two older sections of stone quay wall are built from DAS clay on a polystyrene backing. One of these has now been completed, although it warped slightly when it was drying.  This does not matter too much, as the baseboard level will be raised slightly with inter-tidal mudflats modelled on top.  I am going to cut a piece of foam board to model the mudflats on and put this against the quay wall.

A class 47 shunts spoil wagons while a class 37 picks up some goods van that have just been unloaded.

The pile driven iron quay front is very similar to the one now at Bideford and is the Faller kit.  This needs to be repainted before it is installed.  As shown in the photographs it is only placed on the baseboard and will be glued in place when it has been painted and the mudflats are finished.

Same shot slight higher showing the iron piled section of the quay wall.

Another feature of the layout is a disused goods shed that will have a web cam installed in it linked directly to a lap-top.  This will provide another way to view the layout and also from a different angle.  The goods shed is a slightly modified Wills kit and more progress has been made on this too.  However, it does need a bit of distressing with the airbrush just to blend it together and this is a project to finish this week.

Watch out for those planks from the roof - they look like they are about to fall off!!!  This good shed will have the web cam located in it, looking out of the window.  It was closed in the 1960s, but was not demolished.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Buildings for Pottington Quay

Again work life has interrupted my modelling for a couple of weeks, having been working away in Europe.  I have now returned home for a break of two weeks and the priority is to get some of the buildings for Pottington Quay Started.  The picture below shows the mass of kits and bits and bobs ready to go for the layout.  So for the next week there is going to be a lot of kit building.  I have nearly finished the goods shed (Wills kit) and the signal box has been started.  I have also got some measurements for the platform and one of the platform buildings is finished.  I have also cut some polystyrene for the quay wall to cover with DAS clay, so I aim to finish this structure by the end of the week.....

Some of the projects for this week.

In other projects I have been baffled by the brake gear rigging on the Heljan Western.  The DCC sound chip has been ordered from Howes, so I hope to finish this project this week too.   Further updates to follow.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Pottington Quay Micro Layout - further progress (of sorts)....

Well a bit more progress has been made on Pottington Quay.  Track testing has been a very enjoyable process and all is working well.  The SEEP point motors are wired directly to the DCC powerbus and everything has been tested with the Bachmann EZ controller.  Everything is working like a dream and I have spent a good deal of time getting out some old stock and trundling it around the layout. However, I did connect up my NCE powercab, as I was running more stock and the EZ controller can only control up to 9 locomotives.  When using the NCE powercab the point motors won't throw, even though they are using a CDU.  Arghh the mysteries of DCC!  There is no doubt that in terms of operation and enjoyment DCC is a massive progression, but I am still trying to get my head around some of the finer workings!

Class 08 shunting ballast wagons ready to form a train back to Exeter.

Class 37 picks up an airbraked freight.

When playing with the trains it became pretty obvious that using 2 separate rakes of coaches was quite laborious in terms of using 3 link couplings.  The fiddle yard has two lines running into the station area.  So a priority has to be a getting a DMU working on one of the passenger services, leaving another locomotive hauled passenger service.  The fiddle yard will easily accommodate a class 108, class 121 and 2 coach locomotive hauled rake.  The goods line coming to the quay area provides plenty of scope for moving wagons around and then using the incoming locomotive to head out on a passenger service.  I also got out my class 121 recently and running is as poor as I remember.  I have a 121 already stripped and I might paint this in BR blue and remove the motor to run in with a class 108 set, leaving it unpowered.  The Hornby motor is a shocker!  And as the Bachmann or Dapol offering will be here reasonably soon I do not see much point in putting a lot of effort into remotoring one of these older 121 units.

So I have got to the point where I have a list of projects to really make the layout operational.  Priority buildings are the signal box and platform.  The platfrom will be a mix of MJT components, scrathbuilding and Peco parts.  The signal box is a ratio GWR kit.  A second priority is to construct a quay wall from foamboard and DAS clay.  These are all critical pats of the layout that will start to transform the bare boards.The other key tasks are to complete the trackwork with buffer stops and LED stop lamps and add a couple of yard lamps.  In terms of rolling stock the class 37 sound chip is going off to be reblown and the western sound chip is about to be ordered.  Some superstrip is winging its way to me to strip down a class 25 for a fulll repaint and the 108 DMU and second MK1 need detailing for a basic set of rolling stock to run in the 1970s/1980s era.  Add to this I have just removed (broken!) the bogie frames for the class 47 to repaint these and I have plenty of modelling projects to keep me occupied.  The following are a few shots from playing trains on the layout - very enjoyable!

Class 33 ready to head back to Exeter with a passenger service.

Class 08 shunting.

Class 47 moving to the front of the passenger service.  This locomotive is now back in the painshop.

Class 25 ready to depart with a short freight to Barnstaple.  This locomotive is about to have a full strip and repaint, being one of my first repainting attempts.

View into the layout from the goods line in the fiddle yard.

Birds eye view of the layout showing a locomotive hauled passenger service about to depart.

Class 33 ready to return to Exeter riverside with a small mixed freight.

One of the next projects, swapping over the class 37 body shells and getting the sound reblown on the class 37.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Pottington Quay Micro layout - shunting practice

Since wiring up the layout I have spent the last week or so laying the track in the fiddle yard and the running trains on the layout.  In particular I have been keen to play with the shunting options of the layout; needless to say it is a lot of fun, although at times my patience has been tested with 3 link couplings. I have really enjoyed shunting trains around and using an 08 to move wagons to where they are needed after they have been been brought onto the layout.

A filthy class 25 arrives with a short ballast train.  This locomotive is heading back to the paintshop soon!

There are two lessons learnt so far.  The first is the layout is much more enjoyable to operate from the front.  I was going to use a Bachmann E-Z controller - but will revert back to the NCE powercab - to give the flexibility to move about.  However, the control panel is built into the back of the layout - so by standing at the front there s a lot of leaning over the fiddle yard - ah well.... you live and learn.

After uncoupling from its ballast train the 25 is used to take the passenger service back towards Exeter.

The second issue is the front siding was originally going to be an engine shed that had been converted into a wagon repair works.  The engine shed itself would have been a scenic break for the second fiddle yard exit/entrance.  However, this does not work as I often need to use the siding to store a loco/wagon during shunting.  So with this I am going to have to work out another way to disguise the entrance/exit to the fiddle yard and leave this as an operational siding.

Classes 33 and 08 shunting wagons and getting the ballast train ready, with a class 25 waiting in the siding.

Another key part of the layout is there is no run around facilities for locomotive hauled services, due to it being a truncated branchline and the difficulty BR would have had to change the track plan here. So when a class 25 with a couple of mk1s appears it needs a locomotive to take the carriages away back up the line.  This is great, as it always means you can justify a class 25/31/33 hanging around the sidings awaiting the next passenger service.  I plan to run one set of locomotive hauled stock and one DMU into the station area.

View towards the fiddle yard, with a mock up building where a goods shed will be placed.

I have also been running a couple of DCC sound fitted Bachmann locomotives around, especially the class 25 they released a few years back.  I have to say, the sounds are pretty rubbish on the factory fitted locomotives and not at all in sync with the engines movements.  So I am about to purchase a Howes sound chip for the Western project and reblow the class 25 and 37 Bachmann sounds using Howes again.  Getting the modelling/paint-works set up for detailing these locomotives and starting the buildings on Pottington Quay is now the priority, but as ever I am off away with work for a couple of weeks now, so this will all have to wait until August to get started in earnest in detailing the stock/layout.

Time-lapse sequence

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Micro Layout - Pottington Quay....

Well more time has passed since my last update - lots of work travel have taken its toll on modelling activities. However, in between trips Pottington Quay was retrieved from storage, point motors and wire were purchased and quite a few evenings have been spent burning my fingers and cursing! However, I finally have a working trackplan, ready for DCC operation. All the points are wired up for DCC operation and use the SEEP PM1 to change the frog polarity on electrofrog points - something that has improved running no end (I previously used insulfrogs). I also used the Express Models powerbus kit and found this to be excellent and pretty simple to use. 

Birds eye view of the completed micro layout track plan.

Running a few trains during track testing.

I have wired a very simple control panel together using toggle switches and everything works! The seep motors were slightly awkward to position - not in terms of the throw - but if the throw is not sufficient in one direction then half of the point will be dead. This is just one of those things you have to learn the hard way!

The layout design has four working points. It was originally designed to be a through running station, but now it has been downgraded to a single line terminus on a truncated branchline (the Ilfracombe branchline of course). The layout has two lines running into it from a fiddle yard - which will hopefully give some flexibility. The layout imagines the line had been retained west of Barnstaple to Pottington but closed further west to Ilfracombe. Hence a very simple station terminus will be built and will mainly be served by DMUs, with a small goods yard and engine shed converted into a small wagon repair workshop - all extremely conjectural!

Looking towards Barnstaple - showing the two tracks to the fiddle yard.

I have collected far too much stock over the years, so this layout is designed to be simple.  I am going to run a handful of locos (nine to be precise) that would have run in the area in the 1970s.  This includes a representative from classes 22, 25, 33, 42, 45, 50 and 52, and of course a couple of DMUs for good measure.  I am going to run it off a Bachmann E-Z command unit, which I really like for its simplicity and speed dial.  I hope to sound chip and detail all of the locomotives in due course.  The next steps are to  spend some time in the evenings working out where to place various buildings. I am going to attempt some scratchbuilding for specific structures - nothing too fancy (or complicated), but just some buildings to hopefully give the layout some individuality.  The quay wall and the station are the two structures I will be starting with and if I feel brave maybe a warehouse.....    

Class 25 pulling a passenger service into where the terminus station will be placed.  The exit to the fiddle yard on this side will be blocked off.

Although the trackplan is live and usable I am now going to take sometime to play trains and check that I am happy with the configuration and everything is reliable.  There is a fair amount of work to do tidying up the wiring and there are lots of lights to be added.  I also I plan to place a camera into one of the buildings to link to a lap-top, to give a live perspective to the layout from the non-viewing side.  Other immediate tasks are to finish the fiddle yard (3 road) and then start some real modelling - (including building some wagons!)  The video is not the most exciting in the world - but too me it is pretty good to see the layout finally working.


Friday, 10 June 2016

A little bit of wagon progress - a VEA and 22t open wagon

Apologies for the lack of updates recently - as ever work and life getting the way.  However, all is well and there has been some progress with various models.  I have built some more wagons for the parcels train and some of these are ready for a coat of primer, a couple of LMS CCTs and a Southern BY wagon.

I have also put some paint on a couple of wagons and these are getting ready for transfers.  The first of these is a VEA wagon that has been painted in bauxite and will have some railfreight transfers added.  This is very much a work in progress, but I must admit I do like painting in bauxite; it produces a lovely deep shade that takes well to weathering.  There is small gap at the ends and this should of have been filled during building, but I think this is a project that was started and then put down for months, before finishing and this went unnoticed.  I am contemplating filling this before transfers.  This is the first of three VEA wagons to be running on Pottington Quay.

The other project that has seen some paint progress is a 22t open wagon from the Parkside kit.  The was another project started sometime ago before Bachmann delivered a RTR version.  I have attempted to paint in some replacement planks in a different colour to the bauxite, before some weathering was applied over the top.  This one is going for some varnish before transfers.  Anyhow, this is the first update of many over summer, as I hope to have Pottington Quuay all up and running in the next six weeks.

I also had a parcel arrive in the post with some DCC concepts point levels and motors ready to finally wire up Pottington and the parcel also contained a new Heljan class 33 in BR blue.  This is an utter belter of a locomotive and I going to see if I can fit DCC sound into this one.  I can't wait to get this one into the workshop.