Butterfly heaven.

September 29, 2017

Aster × frikartii ‘Mönch’ and butterflies on a beautiful early Autumn day in my garden on the Moray Firth coast.


Handy diorama boards…

September 24, 2017

…and minutes to assemble!

From time to time, I get the chance to look at some very useful quality products  such as the track cleaning car by Ten Commandment Models/KPF Zeller. Recently, another excellent product has appeared in the studio for evaluation. I have recently had the opportunity to give the new laser-cut diorama baseboard units manufactured by Scale Model Scenery a try. Two outer (end) and one centre unit board has been built for review and I am most impressed by their potential. The outer units build up with back and side boards and may be either a left-hand or right-hand end unit. The centre one has additional fixings and a back board. Three together makes a baseboard with 121cm length measured on the inside faces of both the left- and right-hand side boards – ideal for a compact or micro-layout in N or OO/HO gauge. Add another centre unit and an O gauge diorama or micro-layout is possible. Fixings to secure the boards together are supplied in each kit.

Assembly is quick and easy – can be done on a table top with minimal tools and a spot of fast-setting wood glue. Within an hour, you could be laying track (and track bed) and planning wiring, structures and scenic detailing!

The ‘dove-tail’ construction method is strong and although I would suggest glue is used to permanently secure the boards and plinths together, the parts having a good interference fit. A slight tap with my hand was needed to seat some of the sections together. The plinths are deep enough for solenoid point motors such as Seep motors or servos. The thickness of the high grade MDF from which the boards are made is sufficiently strong to support a small layout theme because the unsupported length of the boards is small.

There is no reason why a small layout built on these boards could not be exhibited from time to time. The real benefit is being able to dismantle the layout into sections for storage or having the option to secure the boards together as a single length of layout as seen in the accompanying pictures. For those not keen on joinery, or without the space to work with timber and all the mess that goes with cutting and shaping it, these boards offer a lot of potential. I can see military diorama modellers taking an interest is these units too. They will save a great deal of time!

Features are two BB001 large diorama baseboards, one built as a left-hand and one and a right-hand unit using the alternative front plinths supplied in the kits. A BB002 middle unit was used for the middle board. Produced by Scale Model Scenery: http://www.scalemodelscenery.co.uk.

Bachmann’s SE&CR ‘Birdcage’ stock in pictures.

September 5, 2017

Long awaited, the 60-foot SE&CR ‘Birdcage’ stock is due for release in September 2017. Three coaches in BR Crimson livery as permanently coupled three-coach set No. 595 will be the first to arrive. Here’s a preview of the models in BR condition with second dynamo and battery box set fitted to the Brake Third together with torpedo ventilators and plain roof profiles – lighting conduit being located under the roof.

39-602 Brake Third Lavatory coach No. S3500S

39-612 Composite Lavatory coach S5468S (centre coach):

39-622 Brake Third coach No. S3428S:

Further releases are expected as Autumn progresses including three-coach sets for the Southern Railway and SE&CR with appropriate detail differences reflecting the time era in which the coaches operated. N gauge models are in development and will be released under the Graham farish label.

Model details:

  • Metal wheels.
  • Insulated wheel set axles.
  • Current collection through stub axles.
  • Facility for the fitting of interior lighting.
  • NEM coupling pockets.
  • Close coupling cams.
  • Era and vehicle specific details.
  • Separate wire hand rails and commode handles.
  • Separate wire water tank filler pipes.
  • Flush glazed.
  • Interior detailing – compartments and seating.
  • Coaches offered with numbers to make up correct three-coach sets.

A teaser for Monday…

September 4, 2017

Running-in a Rolling Road.

September 1, 2017

A brand new Graham Farish Class 37/4 undergoing running-in following purchase.

One of the most important things you should do with a brand new model loco or multiple unit is to run it in under controlled conditions, either on a dedicated test track or, if room is an issue, use a rolling road! Running in procedures are usually well described in the manuals that come with a new model such as the Graham Farish Class 37/4 (above).

Bachmann OO gauge Class 20 takes a ride on the KPF Zeller rolling road.

My current rolling road of choice is the KPF Zeller 600mm long ‘Professional’ which has roller units for HO/OO gauge and N gauge mounted on the side bars. So why use a rolling road? Well, a great deal of fine tuning can be achieved by watching how a model runs on a rolling road and fine adjustments can be made accordingly. The manner in which the motion of steam locomotives is working can be observed for tight spots or binding which is easier to detect including the point at which it happens. Less than concentric wheels may be identified together with a whole host of other small defects that would be harder to see when testing on a layout.

A very useful feature of the KPF Zeller rolling roads, no matter which length or gauge that is used, is that the roller units can be moved along the side bars to suit the wheelbase of the loco.

The design of all the rolling roads is based on two strong side bars secured parallel to each other with special insulating brackets. The bars are very neatly finished, allowing the various tight-fitting spacer brackets to slide along them and beveled at the ends to prevent snagging. The various pick-up roller units sit on the bars and are secured in place with a thinner centre bar. The pick-up rollers slide along the bars so the correct position for the driving and bogie wheels of a locomotive can be selected.

A driving wheel cleaning attachment is also available separately which is fitted with small cleaning pads cut from domestic cleaning cloth.

An elegant and simple accessory for the KPF Zeller rolling road range is the driving wheel cleaning attachment which easily and quickly cleans locomotive driving wheels. The one designed for OO/HO gauge is demonstrated in this article and is a modified pick-up roller unit which can be fitted with the same cleaning cloth pads as used on the KPF Zeller track cleaning cars. The wheel cleaner is fitted to the rolling road by removing the end spacer and one or two of the pick-up roller units. Slide the cleaning attachment into place and return the pick-roller units too. Refit the end spacer and plug the power back in.

The centre axle of an 0-6-2 tank loco is cleaned on the rolling road. The model is gently held during this process.

The pads are soaked with a drop of track cleaning fluid dispensed from a dropper (10ml is supplied with the attachment and a drop on each pad is all that is needed) and the model mounted on the required roller units to support it. The attachment is positioned under the wheels requiring cleaning and everything carefully seated before operations commence. Each pair of wheels on one axle are cleaned one at a time. The model is run gently on the rollers, being held by the fingers to ensure the wheels being cleaned are making contact with the cleaning pads. Remove the loco, replace the cleaning pads if necessary and mount the model again with the wheel cleaning attachment under another pair of wheels. Rinse and repeat, in effect.

The result of a quick clean using a spot of track cleaning fluid on the cleaning pads.

N gauge roller units suitable for 9mm gauge models including British, European, Japanese and North American N gauge/N scale.

HO/OO gauge roller units. The rollers are ‘coned’ to match coning on model wheels.

Idler unit to support the front bogie of a steam locomotive (HO/OO).

The side bars not only support the roller units but work as power bus rods too, supplying power to the roller units so the models will run. There is a middle bar too which stabilises the rolling road and provides power for three-rail models which are quite common in Europe. Power is introduced from one end with simple plugs and the rolling road is suitable for both traditional analogue power and DCC.

Ten Commandment Models offers the full range of KPF Zeller rolling roads in the UK, ranging from mini ones to test short engines such as tank engines for modellers with branch line type layouts to the large professional standard road which will suit people with mixed collections and who do professional modelling work such as kit building and decoder installation. More information regarding the range of KPF Zeller HO/OO, N and O gauge rolling roads available in the UK, including the wheel cleaning attachment can be found here.