Saturday, 26 May 2018

Hedge laying

This week I have been testing out some methods of constructing more realistic hedges.  I am certainly very limited when it comes to scenery detailing, so I spent a couple of evenings googling some videos on you tube and then having a go myself.  I must admit to feeling pretty pleased so far!

The hedge starting to progress.

A class 47 about to run light to Exeter.

I started off by teasing out some clumps of rubberised horse hair.  These were then sprayed with brownish shades, such as burnt umber and sleeper grime.  I then shaped some clumps into vaguely plant like shapes and super glued the stalks together.  I dipped these clumps in ballast bond and covered with Noch leaves.  I left these too dry, before giving them a good blast of cheap hairspray.  Quick and satisfying!  I have then started to drill some holes and place these into the based board.  It needs a little more colour and variation, but a hedge is starting to creep along the first of the baseboards.  Plans for this weekend are to extend this further and add a fence as well, to start to form the scene at the front of the layout. A few more pictures below.  

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Charlton non-micro layout update!

This week has finally witnessed a little bit of progress on the layout.  Previously I had become very unsatisfied with the original 3 ft fiddle yard and only 3 lines.  It was not big enough to accommodate a 2 coach train and locomotive.  So I purchased another baseboard (Tim Horn) and the original fiddle yard had a scenic break added to it, about one third of the way down.  This now gives me 5 ft fiddle yard, with four sidings (although these are not yet all laid down and wired up). 

New view of the layout with the extension added (right)

This redesign is much more satisfying.  Firstly, the head shunt at the end of the station is much bigger.  This is great, as originally the locomotive would disappear part away into the fiddle yard to run around its train.  Secondly, I can now run longer trains and more of them, significantly increasing the operational potential of the layout.  The downside is the layout is now 12ft long, so I can hardly call this a micro-layout any more!  It was meant to be a quick project, but has taken on a life of its own.  It is all good though, I am quite pleased with the way it is shaping up.

The new fiddle yard in progress!

View back towards the station from the new extension.

There is an awful lot of detailing working still be done on the baseboards and there has not be any progress on this!  I still need to build a few structures and add the scenery around this.  However, momentum and enthusiasm have both picked up a little recently, so I am hoping to achieve some more progress over the coming weeks.  The class 22 and 3 mk1 coaches plonked on the layout at the moment represent some projects for the coming weeks.  My normal enthusiasm for painting and detailing stock has disappeared over the last couple of months.  I have the Howes sound chip ready to go for this locomotive, so I hope to get this in the paintshop soon enough, although I have still to add the detailing pack to this locomotive.

The extended headshunt, with plenty of room to run around.

Class 22 ready to head back to Exeter via Barnstaple junction.

Hopefully some more progress to report this week!

Sunday, 6 May 2018

A Grampus wagon ready for service

My apologies for the lack of updates recently - sometimes life just gets too busy for modelling.  Anyhow, a very hectic month has passed, where I managed to find precious little time to sit down and get on with some modelling tasks.  I find that momentum is key with projects and when it is lost, it can be difficult to get started again.

Recently finished Grampus wagon posed on the Charlton layout.

However, I finished off a couple of wagons about a month ago, but did not manage to get around to writing about them on this blog.  The first of these is a Grampus wagon, built from the Parkside kit.  It is built per the instructions, but is fitted with white metal buffers (Lanarkshire Modelling Supplies) and 3 link couplings.  As per usual I painted this with an airbrush and transfers are from the Modelmaster range.  This kit is one of a number I built in 2016 and has languished around until a few months ago for painting.  I am slowly working my way through painting this stack of built kits and it is very satisfying to see some of them finally finished and working on the layout.....speaking of which....

Another shot of the finished Grampus.

The Charlton microlayout has seen precious little development in the last month.  This is a shame because I am at the point when things really start to take off.  A few bits of scenery have been added here and there, but generally there has been little progress.  However, I have ripped up the original fiddle yard, as I was not satisfied with its capacity to hold trains to run into the station.  I have ordered another 3ft by 1ft baseboard, so the whole layout with fiddleyard now comes to 12ft!  I am not sure this really counts as a microlayout anymore!!  I plan to wire up a new fiddle yard this week, so hopefully a layout update to follow soon.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Charlton Micro Layout - a bit of scenery

A little bit of progress has been made on the Charlton micro layout.  The first board has had some basic scenery work done.  The car park has been added next to the station, although this needs some painting to blend it in.  I also need to build a stone wall to run along the edge of the back scene here - a job for this evening.  The houses at the end of the layout have been glued in place and their lawns have been added, alongside a little vegetation.  The front of the layout has had some flock added, before it will be covered with some static grass.  So some basic progress and it is starting to come to life.  I have next week off work - so I hope to really be able to crack on a bit more next week and get the bulk of this scenic work finished.

The tree will not be remaining on the platform!

Monday, 26 March 2018

Parkside 12t Pipe wagon

Finished 12t pipe wagon being shunted around the Charlton micro layout by a Class 31.

The stock for the Charlton layout continues to grow and I recently managed to finish off a 12t Pipe wagon, built from a Parkside kit.  The wagon is finished in bauxite and has had some obligatory replacement planks painted on.  Everything had progressed fairly smoothly with this one, until the transfers stage.  I used the CCT transfers for this wagon, and these transfers are excellent.  However, I would suggest that they are also slightly more delicate that modelmaster ones, which I am more used too.  When I tried to hand brush a sealing coat of varnish on top of the decals I partly disturbed them, which is a little bit annoying.  Anyhow, I can live with it (it is a lesson learnt) and another piece of rolling stock for the layout.  This is another one of those projects that has hung around for years partly finished and it is great to have finally completed it.  On the layout front, I have a week off work coming up and I intend to largely finish off the scenery side of layout.  More updates to follow on this later!

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Hornby Class 31 with TTS sound - weathered and in service (somehow!)

Over the last week I finished off a slow burner of a project - weathering and sound fitting a class 31.  The model is the newer Hornby model, finished in BR blue with a factory applied weathering.  I thought it would be a relatively quick job to weather this locomotive and test out the new Hornby TTS sound decoder range - well how wrong can you be!!!  When I first ran the model fresh from its packaging it was awful, and I discovered one of the pick up wires had a broken soldered joint.  It was at this point I became familiar with the Hornby design for the bogies, with split side frames - this is a bonkers arrangement and it extremely fiddly to take apart.  The solebars seem very flexible to me and I am sure they have warped a little bit.  Talk about reinventing the wheel for this arrangement, I do not think this is a very clever design at all and would prefer a more sturdy bogie.
The finished project standing at Charton station, with a short train of intercity liveried mk1 coaches.

I weathered the solebars first, using various shades of weathered black, rust, brake dust, frame dirt and sleeper grime, before resoldering the droppers and reassembling each bogie.   The next issue was the sound decoded was not going to fit with the fan in place, so this had to be removed from the locomotive and binned.  Once removed the TTS sound decoder was fitted for a test run.   It was just rubbish! Running was jerky and all over the place.  So I switched the decoder over for a standard Bachmann 8 pin decoder and it ran like a dream.  It was obvious the TTS decoder was faulty and a bit of reading on the rmweb revealed this to be a common fault - so I sent it back and duly got a replacment.
Side on view of the finished weathering - the variation on the solebars shows up well in this image.

Whilst waiting for the replacement decoder I masked off the two bogies and added the detailing pack to both ends.  This is where I encountered my next problem.  I attempted to fit 3 link couplings and found a solid lump of metal sat straight behind the buffer beam!  The coupling supplied in the detailing pack is a fairly sturdy metal one, so I super glued this into place to use with 3 link couplings.  I then set about dismantling the body of the locomotive, removing the glazing, etc, and weathered the body and the chassis separately.

Here the faded yellow and buffer beam detailing can be seen, included the original coupling.

To the chassis I applied various shades of weathered black, sleeper grime and frame dirt from an airbrush.  I wanted to achieve a subtle weathered finish on this one, with a bit of faded blue, but not with chipped paint.  For the body I applied some streaks of faded rail blue on the sides and some faded yellow on the cab ends, supplemented by some weathered black, again streaking the body and also around the grills.  For this streaking I used a finer 0.3mm air brush that I have recently acquired, from the Iwata Neon range.  After this I applied a thinned wash of frame dirt and weathered black over the whole body, allowing it to enter into all the nooks and crannies before wiping most of it away.  Following this the body had a few more light passes of sleeper grime, weathered black and frame dirt added.

Some of the first streaks of faded blue on the side of the body.

A bit of faded yellow on the front.

Some of the finer streaks of weathered black, before more weathering using sleeper grime and frame dirt.

The all over wash, showing it applied one the right, with some of it washed away on the left.

Once the masking was all removed I fitted the TTS sound decoder and speaker, which is an extremely tight squeeze even with the fan removed.  However, I managed to get it all to fit and reattached the body to the chassis.  Feeling rather pleased with myself I fired it up for the first time.  Again the running from the TTS decoder was poor, although not as bad as the first time with a faulty decoder. Some googling found out some possible fixes to get rid of the erratic running.  It turns out there are two motor settings on the decoder, one is for very slow speed shunting, with the fine motor control being outstanding on this mode.  However, the problem is even at full speed it is only going a scale 7mph!  The other motor setting is for normal running and the factory settings here still provide a poor performance.  Even with some tweaking of the original CV settings for the motor parameters, it still provides a coarse overall performance compared to other decoders.

Running into the station and this is at full speed!

So over the to the sound settings.  For £40 it is under half of the price of good quality sound chip - and quite frankly it shows!  There is no automatic braking squeal when it is slowing to a halt, and the start up and horn sounds are quite basic.  However, the motor idle and acceleration are pretty pleasing. I was quite keen to experiment with TTS sound when it came out.  However, the outcome of this model has produced something that will only run well at a crawl, and sounds ok.  Next time I would rather save up for a Howes decoder and I suspect I will probably replace this TTS decoder in due course.  On another note, I am really chuffed with how the weathering turned out on this one.  To my eyes it certainly looks the part, but probably does not quite sound the part (yet!).  I must say that for Hornby products I am left less than impressed, both in the design of the locomotive (solebars on the bogies) and the TTS decoder.  As for the sounds - see below and judge for yourself!

Start up out of the station - which is definitely the best sequence from the TTS decoder.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

GWR tunny wagon at Charlton

This weekend saw the finishing off of a GWR tunny wagon, ready for service in the ever growing engineering department.  This is a Chivers fineline wagon, which I built several years ago, but has languished around requiring painting.  It was painted in my normal way, using an airbrush and railmatch enamels.  The transfers are from the excellent CCT range and it has been fitted with 3 link couplings.  It is great to see another wagon finished.

Finshed GWR tunny wagon on the Charlton layout.

At the station.

Being shunted by a large logo class 47.

Other than this there has been little progress on the layout, with the coming week looking very busy too.  However, with Easter fast approaching I hope to get a bit of time to finish the detailing on the layout.