Useful additions to the collection.

September 22, 2008

As an investment goes, this is a fairly meaty one at over £70 but a track cleaning car offers dramatic returns in the way of saved time and this is perhaps the best one you can buy. The decision to buy this CMX Clean Machine was based on a small matter of 205ft of mainline to clean in the future and if anyone thinks it’s better to do that with an alcohol soaked cloth on the end of a finger – wow – madness! This is a better solution and it works too.

This is the N scale version which made its début at this weekend’s Inverness exhibition, cleaning the track on the large helix on the club’s N scale layout. One clean was all that was required for smooth operation.

This helix is part of the Inverness and District MRC N scale layout and is very different to my helix. I must confess that the building and operation of this layout has given me much experience of how N scale models perform and what they will tolerate in terms of curvature, minimum radii and inclines. This helix is relatively steep but the performance of Atlas 6-axle diesels on it was amazing; an SD35 and SD60 managing 26 Bethgon coal cars of varying origins up and down without bucking, slipping or needing assistance.

The SD35 was a late substitution for a second SD60M, two of which are the usual power for coal drags on this layout. It had a fast and late decoder swap using one I happened to have to hand. That turned out to be a poor match in terms of speed curves and would not run well with the first SD60. It ended up working with the LMX Dash8-39B (seen above) on a 22 car mixed train which also tackled the helix without a problem. This bodes well for power to train length ratios on my own layout and it appears that two large 6-axle locos should handle the coal drags without too much trouble. Three units on 30 cars would be a better ratio from a power and appearance standpoint; I shall have to think about that.

Close-ups:
After several requests, here’s a couple of close ups of the new Bachmann Farish Class 57 and 66 seen earlier testing my helix. They run superbly and the up to date chassis design lends them to a different approach to DCC including decoder fitting solder points. There is now a direct contact between the lighting board and motor terminals (no direct contact between motor and split frame chassis) which means direct lighting board replacement decoders with 4-functions and independent control of the lighting could easily be developed. Any takers?


Canary yellow GLV

September 16, 2008

With the layout project temporarily suspended whist awaiting on orders for Atlas code 55 track to arrive, more time has been spent at the work bench. The rebuild of my original GLV model of late 1980s vintage (the model that is) is nearing an end and a session of finishing is next. That will include windows, handrails, lighting, a decoder, interior detail (scant), couplings and other bits and bobs.

This single vehicle project is getting me back into Mk.1 EMU building and several projects sitting OMWB shelves look interesting once again!

Layout planning:
Looking through my notes, I realised that the layout, which will have 205 linear feet of N scale mainline using LDEs from Montana Rail Link’s 4th Sub, has been over a year in planning. Good planning is critical to success and included getting the maximum amount of mainline into the scheme without a train passing through a scene more than once and working out how to squeeze in a part of the MRL 10th Sub from the junction at DeSmet into the plan when it looked as if the line would head straight into an aisle.

Also important was the width of the aisle between two baseboards. A good way to judge this is to set up a mock up and see if two people can navigate the proposed aisle width comfortably, allowing for the effects that the consumption of real ale can have on men in general.

Yup, that’s me, checking to see if a 40 inch aisle width will work. On the right is Platform 4a & 4b on temporary trestles whilst Dudley Heath Yard is on the left. This mock up exercise using my portable layouts proved to be very useful, providing a visual idea of how the new layout will occupy the space.

Calculating the height of the new layout was also important, the minimum level of the lowest level had to be sufficiently high to accommodate the portable layouts when stored in their transportation racks as seen in the picture above. All of these things together with a host of other issues, measurements and costs had to be decided upon before the first L-girder was assembled and the first leg cut. The floor of the cabin was covered with pieces of tape, with scribbled dimensions marking the position of bench work on them, for ages!


Proofing – not my favourite way of killing time.

September 14, 2008

Proof reading – necessary but an evil consumer of valuable modelling time. Or so it seems to me. There’s always something that escapes notice but as careful as one can be , a typo slips through the net. Especially when it’s a 186-page modelling book. All those captions, words, images…

As the yellow tags in the colour proof above show, work bench time is being swallowed by proofing. A digital colour print of my next modelling book, which is due to go to press in the next few weeks, sits on my desk, staring at me accusingly if I shun it in favour of the GLV project or that helix job. Intended for newcomers to the hobby or those looking to indulge in some detailing and weathering for the first time, this book looks at making the best of ready to run wagons. There’s no doubt that things are looking up on the OO gauge wagon front with the imminent arrival of the Bachmann BDA air braked bogie bolster wagon.

Bogie detail together with the bolsters looks particularly good. The wagon has some nice proportions too. It’s going to be a popular one. One thought on the bogie mouldings – Bachmann could do many of us a favour and make them available as a separate item in a blister pack. I think they would sell like hell!

Hornby Rudd:
Another arrival OMWB is the Hornby ‘Rudd’. I acquired the 3-pack of weathered wagons and the excellent quality of the paint job is spoiled a bit by the general coat of that strangely yellowish tan colour Hornby uses for weathering. Still, it is a useful wagon, nicely tooled and very desirable for post 1990s modellers. especially me – I need lots of them, to run behind a pair of Heljan Class 33s.

There will be comparisons made with the original model – inevitably. Many of us have built the lovely Parkside Dundas plastic kit, which is a rather good effort in it’s own right, even though much of the air brake equipment was not included in the kit on its initial release. This is all I have to say in the way of comparing the two:

In the meantime, I shall leave you to draw your own conclusions.


Work bench time: Gatwick GLV

September 13, 2008

Work bench time:
An old model from my collection (which was sold a long time ago) has returned: a Gatwick Express GLV. It suffered a little in storage and was returned OMWB for a rebuild. I do not have room for a GATX set and nor will the former owner. Following a spell in stripper where the remaining glue bonds finally gave up the ghost, it was cleaned up and rebuilt ready for painting in Network Rail yellow. Yuk!

The only problem is: I will need a yellow Class 73 to go with it. Ah well…


The return of my railway modelling blog – OMWB!

September 12, 2008

After playing around with various software packages, .php and databases, I have realised that this may be the easiest way to get my blog back under way. Thoughts of clever programming with a special web package I used to create the Nairnshire Modelling Supplies web site were overtaken by developments in the log cabin (dubbed ‘Wendy House’ by a certain Mr Steve Jones) where construction of a large layout has commenced. Including a helix. I must be off my trolley!

L Girder baseboards.

L Girder baseboards.

36 linear feet of table top has been constructed so far, with another 20 feet to go!

Corner turn back baseboard.

Work has commenced on the helix itself, an adventure in carpentry in which accuracy is critical to its reliable operation. In the meantime, there have been some additions to the UK-outline fleet, notable another Hornby Class 60.

Hornby Class 60.

Hornby Class 60.

The rest of Hornby’s release programme for 2008 looks pretty impressive with several Class 31s, the Hew HST and Class 153 to emerge. Also just hitting the model shops are the Rudds, Clams and Topes.  More soon!