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.

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Japanese style pull saw.

August 6, 2017

One of the most interesting discoveries I have made in recent times has been Japanese designed pull saws which I find easier to use than traditional western woodworking saws.

For sawing really straight and clean cut lines, particularly in plywood, they are very hard to beat. The blades are thin and very springy which makes it easier to cut through hard wood ply such as that shown above. The cut is made on the pull rather than on the push which results in a much cleaner cut and with virtually no splintering – a straight line is also easy to achieve after a little practice. The saw above cost around £10. I bought it to try before investing in more expensive Japanese-made saws. It has made many elements of layout baseboard making so much easier and with less mess than power tools.


KPF Zeller track cleaners for routine track cleaning in OO/HO and N gauge.

July 26, 2017

My experiments with the KPF Zeller OO/HO and N gauge track cleaning cars sold by Ten Commandment Models showed that they are particularly effective at cleaning the rails of any model railway.

I have been taking an interest in track cleaning technologies for years and have played around with several different types of track cleaning device – from Relcos (don’t use such high frequency track cleaners with DCC systems) to the amazing but expensive US-outline based CMX Clean Machine (not suitable for layouts with equipment and platforms close to the running lines because of the cleaning pad clips). Another elegant and simple track cleaning system has come to light in the form of the KPF Zeller track cleaning cars which are available in the UK for both OO/HO gauge and N gauge. They are imported and sold by Ten Commandment Models – the cars being German made.

Simple friction-based track cleaning which works through the action of weighted arms and pads of cleaning material. The OO/HO car (shown) has NEM coupling pockets which will accept Kadees, traditional UK outline couplings or anything you like!

The underside of the OO/HO cleaning car. The wheels can be exchanged for finer ones if desired for finescale OO and EM gauge. No cleaning fluids are needed for effective track cleaning.

The design of the cars allows the modeller to build a wagon body onto them if desired. Also, the cars are built within the loading gauge of HO and N gauge making them suitable for all types of UK-outline and European layouts which will have platforms and other structures close to the running line. They will be invaluable to those modellers with large layouts too, including US-outline modellers with miles of track such as my Montana Rail Link 4th Sub project. The cars are not powered – so they will work on any layout with any power system: traditional DC or DCC – it matters not!

The weighted and pivoted arms fitted to the OO/HO model with cleaning pads visible. Any suitable cleaning pad material can be used and is attached with double-sided sticky tape. Simply run the car around the layout, collect the dirt and then throw the dirty pads away!

The N gauge version. Both cleaning cars are specially weighted for effective cleaning and good track holding properties.

The N gauge car is shown once again. Two separate pivoted arms and pads are used to avoid catching any detail in the centre of the track, or indeed any third rail or stud contact system. The simple hook coupling will engage with standard N gauge couplings.

So that’s it! Personally, I prefer to clean the track before an operating session using a track cleaning car. Clean pads are fitted and the car run first around the main line track several times before being removed from the layout and the pads inspected for dirt collection. The spent pads are removed, which is easy to do, and new ones fitted before repeating the exercise. The cars are easily propelled into platform bays, dead end sidings and over complex point work. Once the layout has been covered, the track cleaning car can be stored in the staging area of the layout until it is next needed.

Some modellers may use the cleaning car throughout the operating session. It can be included in the formation of an engineers train and run almost continuously – there are couplings fitted to both ends of the cars which will allow it to be run as part of a train. If you decide that this is your preferred method, remember that the cleaning pad material is designed to collect dirt and should be discarded after a while or they will become ineffective.

For more information visit Ten Commandment Models here, here and here and also take a look at the rolling roads too. KPF Zeller’s web site can be viewed here. My thanks to Matt of KPF Zeller together with Dave of Ten Commandment Models for their assistance and an elegantly simple but well-engineered solution to routine track cleaning.

 


What?

July 26, 2017

A teaser – what am I up to now?

If a former member of the Stirling and Clackmannan District MRC can dive into Portuguese railway modelling complete with ‘Pedro the Pacer’… I can do the same – more or less. Except, the teaser above is not from the Portuguese railways…I am saying no more.


Modern Class 20…

July 22, 2017

Due for imminent release in N gauge by Graham Farish is a modern version of the Class 20 as No. 20 205. The full size locomotive has seen use on the main line in recent times, sometimes paired with No. 20 189 (rail blue) or No. 20 227 in LU livery which will also be offered in N gauge (371-036).  Graham Farish uses its head code version of the Class 20 which is finished in heritage rail blue livery with West Highland Terrier motif (also observed with an Eastfield depot plaque) to represent No. 20 205. The safety markings and other livery features which have been well researched and applied to the model all point to a locomotive in regular use on today’s main line as well as the heritage scene.

One detail that the discerning modeller may wish to add is a square framed headlight to both ends of the locomotive.The model will make a pleasing change to a diet of Class 66s usually found on most up-to-date layouts. There is a trend towards releasing models in ‘heritage’ condition and this brings a much welcomed dimension to British outline modelling in both N and OO gauge.

Graham Farish Class 20 in pristine heritage BR rail blue livery.
Catalogue number: 371-037.
NEM coupling pockets and 6-pin DCC interface socket.
Working running lights.
Accessory pack included with detailing parts.
Associated model is 371-036 No. 20 227 in LU livery.

 

 


Modelling again: whisky casks this time.

May 30, 2017

Some high-speed painting…got about 100 casks to paint and weather for my tiny Loch Dhu Distillery layout scheme…

Phew! Nearly done!
All the colours are by ‘Lifecolour’. There’s no doubt, the Italians have done a great job with modelling paints over the years.


Remodelling and upgrading of the Folkestone East layout continues.

April 10, 2017

Thumpers take a spin over the layout. It is run as the real location would be run in both the BR Sectorisation and post-privatisation eras. It is also home to my EMU and DEMU fleet, whether they are suitable for the location being modelled or not!

Remodelling of my EM gauge Folkestone East is making progress, having reached that ‘nothing looks finished’ chaotic stage. To recap, the work commenced with rebuilding the key cross-over from the down line to the yard and branch turn-back sidings. This required the removal of the Up staff halt platform and signalling to allow room to work on the new track and to allow for the slight remodelling of the track at that location. No.6 curved turnouts were replaced with longer No. 8 turnouts making the track run in a smoother arc in the curves and through the turnouts. The new track can be seen in the image below.


The flats which can be seen at the Ashford end of the real location have been built and in the process of detailing – fitting windows etc. The buildings are loose fitted to the layout and will be removable once the scenery is complete to suit particular date and time stamps, so to speak. Furthermore, they will be partially screened by weed trees growing on the embankment. The actual structures are slightly smaller than scale  – the real ones being set a little further back from the lineside.


Two of the most challenging structures to build include Folkestone East signal box (above) and the electricity sub station (which will be located more or less opposite this scene). The box might appear to be of a simple design. However, there are elements of it that are quite challenging to work out, including the sun shields. The interior has been left clear to allow me to model the panel.

The box is situated on the old demolished Down platform of Folkestone East station. A short length of platform survives as a staff halt as it does on the Up side as mentioned above. Note how the box is set into the demolished platform with a low retaining wall.

 

The back drop has been pushed back about three inches to make room for some more low relief buildings including the end of the terrace houses on the street leading to the signal box. The end of an small industrial building is to be added too. Yes, the layout is seeing quite some remodelling, but I hope the extra effort will be worth it. The new cross-over track has already brought much benefit in improved running over what is already a pretty reliable layout. The signal box is reaching the painting and detailing stage. Already, I am eyeing up the construction of baseboards for the harbour branch.