Model Rail Scotland exhibition and Nairnshire Modelling Supplies

February 9, 2015
Wheal Annan overview OMWB

Model Rail Scotland is only a couple of weeks away and much preparatory work remains to be done on Wheal Annah!

Sarah and I have decided to take Nairnshire Modelling Supplies off the exhibition circuit for the foreseeable future – we need a break from trading on the exhibition circuit. Consequently, NMS will not be at Model Rail Scotland (Glasgow SECC) in a couple of weeks’ time, I am afraid. NMS continues to offer a wide range of useful modelling materials online where we are introducing some changes to the range over the next year to meet the ever-changing model railway scene. The NMS web site with its secure online ordering can be found here.

Some of you may have come to this conclusion based on my blog references to preparing Wheal Annah for its exhibition debut on the Hornby Magazine stand where I will be found blethering about modelling techniques and layout building. The positive side of taking a break from trading at shows is being freed up to enjoy the exhibition circuit with one of my two N gauge exhibition layouts. Dudley Heath will be attending Perth in June and possibly Bonnybridge in the Autumn; whilst Model Rail Scotland is the only booking for Wheal Annah currently. Should be fun!



‘Wheal Annah’ update

January 7, 2015

Wheal Annah Western 100

Christmas was taken up with detailing my compact N gauge “Wheal Annah’ layout – 1970s BR in Cornish china clay country in the 1970s. In addition, some effort was put into tidying up rough edges and adjusting scenery features where the perspective did not work in photographs.

Wheal Anna baseboards
It’s a far cry from the ‘plywood parkway’ and card building mock-ups of six months’ ago!

Wheal Annah Class 25
One of my favourite scenes is the short branch to the older clay works or ‘dries’ It has been finished with an application of 2mm static grass to make the track appear largely neglected. The scene is separated from the rest of the layout by a ridge of land and shrubs.

Wheal Annah 990

Detailing work has included fencing, more grass effects, lamp posts and various other details. Photography of the layout at this stage demonstrates that I need to do more work on the inside face of the wall if I am to continue taking photos from this angle.

Wheal Annah Western 101

A view from the usual viewing side of the layout showing the working level crossing gates and modern works buildings in the back ground. The Dapol Class 52 remains to be weathered together with changes made to the train reporting code boxes to display the loco number. Much care was taken leave the field of view clear at the front of the layout to allow photography from various angles.

Wheal Annah overview

Wheal Annah Class 25-200

Wheal Annah is scheduled to appear at ModelRail, Glasgow this February as part of the Hornby Magazine stand. In preparation for that event, the layout has been equipped with a light box and a pair of trestles left over from my ‘Platform 4a & 4b’ layout which have been extended to present the layout at a good viewing height. In the mean time, more details need to be added and tidying up of corners completed!


Wheal Annah update – locos arrive…

August 27, 2014

Wheal Annah August 2014-22

The locos for Wheal Annah’s early 1970s period have finally arrived thanks to help from Andy Forty of Dapol in locating suitable examples. First up is a beast which is fairly alien to me – a ‘Western’ or Class 52, No. D1072 “Western Glory”. The headcode panels will have to be changed and in keeping with the later life of these locos, some weathering will be applied. Westerns did operate on china clay branches from time to time as well as being regulars on the Staffordshire ‘Clayliner’ service.

Wheal Annah August 2014-44

Class 22 No D6318 is the second Dapol loco to arrive for duty and is typical of china clay country. I have reviewed this model in the past and the example acquired for Wheal Annah is an excellent runner. Class 22s became horribly dirty in their later days of service, a feature which will be applied to No. D6318.

Wheal Annah August 2014

One of the objectives of building Wheal Annah is to use the layout as a performance test bed for modern standard N gauge locomotives and stock. Both a 6-axle and 4-axle loco from the Dapol range were required to work alongside an example of each from Bachmann Graham Farish models, hence the Class 52. It has turned out to be a smooth runner and it looks the part too. The 1970s era was determined by the needs of Hornby magazine where this layout is being featured as a short series. My personal preference would have been to model stock from the BR Sector period.

Wheal Annah August 2014-33

Initial testing of the layout has gone well using the equipment in standard condition without any changes to couplings or the stock itself. I will look at a variety of coupling types and will see how the lax N gauge tolerances will affect the ability to use automated uncoupling methods.

Wheal Annah August 2014-66

I was taken aback at how large china clay works buildings work out to be in model form. Even after careful measurement and extrapolation using good references of the full size buildings, they look pretty big. I found myself checking the size of rolling stock against buildings in reference photographs on numerous occasions to see if the scale was working out correctly and I was not making some fundamental error. Older china clay driers were often built into the side of hills to facilitate the drying and processing of clay, hence the apparent large size of the buildings. This small coal fired dries is only a part building and is missing about 2/3rds of its depth and length together with the hillside it would be built into.

With the locos in hand together with a Bachmann Graham Farish Class 37 (the new Class 25 is not due for a few months yet) a suitable comparison of similar loco types can be done. The layout has now been thoroughly tested and is ready for smaller detail structures – pipeline, industrial fittings and so on. Scenery is also in hand including the blending of the structures into the landscape (what there is of it) to remove the gap at the base of the works buildings. My thanks goes to Andy Forty of Dapol for his kind assistance with this project.


Wheal Annah takes shape – and introducing Hamish

April 22, 2014

Wheal Annah -5
Ground works and basic structures are beginning to make an appearance on my diminutive N gauge layout ‘Wheal Annah’. As many visitors to my blog will know, I like constructing bridges. The one at the right hand side of the layout is based on one on the Newquay line and has taken about six hours to complete to its current state – there’s more I can add to it! Card mock-ups of the china clay works are now being replaced by styrene card building shells or cores. The card buildings were used to check composition of the layout structures.

Wheal Annah-7
The back drop boards are clamped in pace so they can be removed for convenient painting at the work bench when I am ready to flex my considerably weak artistic skills. I suspect several attempts will be made at back drop painting before I am happy with it. I am toying with the idea of making the attachment temporary so they can be slid out to reveal access holes in the frame work through which a camera lens can be poked for taking pictures from the back of the layout.

Hamish copy
In the mean time, the garden has been further livened up by the recent arrival of Hamish, our Pekin Batam cockerel. He’s only 15 inches tall, a nice guy and very noisy. The hens thinks he’s great and follow him around everywhere. Not easy to photograph, though – he won’t stay still for more than a second.

Quietly getting on with some modelling…

April 8, 2014

Wheal Annah-1
‘Wheal Annah’ is a quickie N gauge layout project constructed as relief to working on my large layout projects. The layout theme is based on Cornish china clay operations on a down-at-heel branch line, inspired by the Carbis branch. Built as a shunting layout, it is compact with the senic part only 40 inches in length. Costs are kept to a minimum by utilising one base board frame, wire and other materials recovered from old layouts. The track is Peco Code 55 and and the turnouts were bought second hand. For good shunting operations, Electrofrog turnouts are used with a simple modification to improve their reliability with DCC power.

Wheal Annah-4
Here’s the frame – recovered from my abandoned EM gauge Dudley Heath Yard project and repaired, strengthened and ready for its new role. Given the rising cost of even poor quality timber and plywood, saving solid and stable baseboard frames is a good idea! Avoid using glue when fitting a new top to the frames. Use only screws which should help with removing tops without damaging the frames when a layout finally meets its end.

Wheal Annah-5
A small shelf to one end provides a safe place for the control equipment. The other end used the fiddle stick borrowed from my more successful N gauge Dudley Heath layout.

Wheal Annah-3
To date, the track is in, hard standing and ballast in place and initial testing complete. The building mock-ups are taped together from old shoe boxes. Point control is ‘wire in tube and the operation will be ‘one engine in steam’. The old platform is likely to be modelled in abandoned condition with the occasional staff or inspection train consisting of the Class 122 making a run up the branch.

Wheal Annah-2
Looking towards the end of the branch and more cardboard building mock-ups. The clay works buildings are angled in relation to the back drop for greater visual interest. The branch line also angles across the baseboard to provide a little more room for the passing loop. The layout will have two operating eras: BR Sectorisation and Pre-1980s. It seems the the Kernow Model Rail Centre special edition clay hoods have come along at just the right time!


Déjà vu?

May 12, 2010

Seen this before? Before emailing me with a complaint about a BBC-type repeat of old material, take another look: this one is slightly different. The give-away is the Rapido style couplings.

The similarity to its larger OO gauge brother is uncanny and N gauge modellers all over the place will be dying to get their hands on this model; arguably the best N gauge ready to run wagon to be released so far this year in terms of detail and complexity. And, I include the very lovely Graham Farish MBA and MOA in that category too.

So, here’s the Dapol N gauge ‘Silver Bullet’, previewed thanks to David Jones. There is the same high level of detail, individual detailing parts, shiny silvered tank barrel and coupling cams for close coupling. In other words, the level of detail is comparable to the OO gauge model, simply in a smaller package and I can see these being popular. I pre-ordered more for an N gauge project yesterday based on this review sample. If you want a rake, I suggest you do the same!

Dapol’s new OO gauge ‘Silver Bullets’ (and a scratchbuild project of old)

March 1, 2010

Here it is: The Dapol OO gauge ‘Silver Bullet’ slurry tank wagon, famous of China Clay flows from Burngullow to Irvine in Scotland and calcium carbonate from Quidhampton near Salisbury. A fine looking specimen it is too, something for pairs of St. Blazey Class 37s to haul, or maybe a Class 60…or a Class 92 on the WCML.

Creating a vee tank barrel is not easy, as I can testify from my own scratch building attempts at slurry tank wagons. Nonetheless, nothing seems to deter Dapol in either OO or N gauge. The company has  done a pretty decent job of this complex wagon – dare I say considerably better than its EWS MBA model. The N gauge version is eagerly awaited.
In common with contemporary models, there are a large number of standalone parts, neatly fitted to the model including wire pipe runs and grab rails. Note the legible the data panel printing and accurate details. Whilst the silver chrome finish is a good representation of an ex-works wagon, it can be simply toned down with light weathering, retaining the character of the wagon in its first years of traffic before they were allowed to become completely coated in brake dust and slurry staining.

Printing of livery details is really neat and that tank filer hatch platform fits the tank barrel beautifully and without the usual unsightly slots in the barrel where the legs of the platform meet it. NEM coupler pockets for close coupling are included, together with RP25/110 wheels for operation on OO gauge track. The model is very free rolling and a rake of 12 or so will present nothing in the way of a challenge to a Class 37 or Class 60.

I am pretty relieved to say that the slurry tanks I scratch built about 12 years’ ago are based on a different type of ‘silver bullet’ tank wagon to that now offered by Dapol. It has a shallower tank angle and is slightly longer together with a wealth of differing details. I calculated the tank angle from side on photographs and painted it dull silver knowing that I would weather the model. They remain an important part of my fleet to this day, seeing use on my Dudley Heath Yard layout.
Such a model can take over 25 hours of modelling time to complete with the most basic of detail, consequently the version offered by Dapol is something of a relief on two fronts: it will save time in putting together a decent rake and (thankfully) Dapol chose the ‘other one’!So here it is: impressively finished and look at all those underframe parts too. By the time I had photographed this version of the model, the limited edition ‘weathered’ version for Kernow Models had all but sold out.

It bodes well for the KQA ‘pocket wagon’, samples of which were displayed on the Dapol stand at this weekend’s Model Rail exhibition (Glasgow SECC) together with the N gauge version of the ‘silver bullet’ which cannot be very far away now. It seems that Dapol is prepared to get on with producing some much needed wagons in both N and OO gauge and I suspect the ‘silver bullet’ is far from the end of the story.

As for that shiny tank barrel – it’s a great pristine finish and accurate for the cladding plates in as-built condition. However, it tested my studio lighting skills to the limit!