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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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.

 

 


Project update: 150002 and 90 033.

October 3, 2016

90033-1Having completed the OHLE gantries on Dudley Heath, the push to prepare more electric stock has started with a Class 310 (AM10) No. 310106 and a Class 90. The Class 90, based on the venerable Graham Farish model has reached the paint shop already and may be completed in time for the Aberdeen Model Railway Club exhibition at the end of the month. It is to be finished as 90 033 in June 2004 condition wearing Railfreight Distribution international livery as seen below.

90033-carlisle-omwb

Note the lack of a fairing at the pantograph end of the loco (nearest the camera). The model will have full detailing of the buffer beam at the end equipped with the fairing and a coupling at the non-fairing end.

Next up: Class 150/0 No. 150002…

150002-2150002-1I very much doubt that the second of the prototype Class 150/0s will be finished in time for the Aberdeen show. Vehicles No.s 55201 and 55301 are now equipped with the former Class 154 roof mounted air-con vents, a feature which was not applied to the centre car. The driving cab doors have been changed from inward slam doors to a representation of power doors. The hand rail recess es are now filled and finished with wet and dry paper. Note that the original roof vents have been removed.

15002-3Remedial work on the centre car No. 55401 has been completed. After the cut and shut stage of the project, the body was undercoated in rail grey to reveal any faults in the area where the two body sections had been joined. As always, some further work was required (see above) to make the join as seamless as humanly possible – not easy with all those roof ribs! It has since returned to the paint booth for a second undercoat of rail grey and the additional finishing appears to be much better. Once that undercoat has fully dried in the next couple of days, the first livery colour will be applied.

90033-3

In the meantime, No. 90 033 has passed through the paint booth for warning panel yellow. RfD international blue and slate grey are next! More on the Class 310 soon.


Loch Dhu Distillery progress pictures

September 14, 2016

image-layout1-omwb

Landscaping, scenery and detailing of the Loch Dhu Siding side of my double-sided OO gauge micro-layout (the distillery is on the opposite side of the backdrop) has been completed (more or less) in recent weeks. A few things remain to be added at this time including the addition of a handful of small details, a road vehicle and a tidying up of the back drop area. Some grass tufts remain to be planted in one or two areas.

image-r57557-omwb

Whilst working on this scene, I have managed to get my hands on another ARC Models kit, this time for the smaller version of the Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST locomotive and in pre-war condition. No need to do any back-dating as was done to the larger version I built previously as a freelance distillery pug, named Loch Dhu No.1. This second distillery ‘Pug’ loco will be modelled as Dailuaine No.1 in 1968 condition.

image-layout-omwb-2
The layout is operational, but only has the two locos so far: the Bachmann Class 20 and the Pug as seen above. The layout awaits the Bachmann Class 24/1 model which is some time away as yet. A Class 27 is a possibility as is one of the Heljan rail buses – maybe – perhaps. Also, I plan to build a Ruston 48DS for the distillery branch – just for the hell of it! It will be a challenge to fit it out for DCC. – the Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST was interesting enough. Hard to believe that there is a TCS decoder together with a TCS ‘Keep Alive’ device in the saddle tank of that loco!


Modelling Class 150/0 No. 150002

August 26, 2016

150002_3 copy

Dudley Heath, the N gauge portable layout I built a couple of years’ ago (and still working on) needs a number of ‘signature’ trains to help reinforce the look and feel of a West Midlands location. Class 150s (Graham Farish) are part of a programme of stock construction/conversion which will include further Class 150s of various kinds in Centro livery, at least one Class 323 and a Class 310, a project which has was started last month.

The layout has two exhibitions to attend later this year: Aberdeen on October 29/30 and Falkirk on November 26/27. For that, I hope to complete the aforementioned Class 310 and two more Class 150s: 150002 (to go along side my current model of prototype Class 150/0 No. 150001) together with 150012, a Class 150/1 and 150/2 hybrid unit.

A Class 150/0 unit was introduced to the layout in mid 2014. The centre car was built from two spare bodies and one unpowered underframe using cut and shut modelling technique.

A model of one of the two prototype Class 150/0 units, No. 150001, was introduced to the layout in mid 2014. The centre car was built from two spare bodies and one unpowered underframe using cut and shut modelling techniques.

One of the challenges of modelling the second of the two prototype Class 150s is determining the size and position of the air-con units fitted to the roof of this unit when it was temporarily converted to a Class 154 – the test bed for the Class 158 programme.

 

150002_1 copy

The centre car of No. 150002 which was not externally modified, unlike the two driving cars. The spare body shell I acquired for this project had already been stripped by its previous owner.

Work starts on the cut and shut conversion of the centre car which can be completed using a second Graham Farish Class 150/1 – the un-needed toilet compartment must be converted to a normal passenger bay if using two Class 150 models as a basis for the conversion and remember, one of them has to be a Class 150/1! I was fortunate enough to find a spare body shell from a Class 150/1 without the toilet compartment making the centre car conversion easier than last time.

The join between the two body sections is made along the door line of one of the passenger entry door ways. There are several ways of cutting out the cab section of the donor vehicles to make the centre car. However, I prefer a straight cut across the body, just outside the cut line and file back to make the join. It is not as scary as it first appears!

150002_10 copy

150002_2 copy

The portion of the body to the left is discarded.

 

150002 copy

The join between the two inner end sections has to be filed back and carefully joined with the minimum of filler.

Filing the cut line so the body sections make a clean join takes time and care. When undertaking cut and shut conversions, the join must be totally square and true all round to avoid a new body shell. It is a three-dimensional object with the potential for a problem along three planes: a kink along its length which will show when viewed along the roof ribs; a twist at the join where the two sections are twisted relative to each other or a bow when viewed from the side. Any of these faults will prevent the underframe from fitting the model neatly.

150002_8 copy

Careful filing is needed for a clean join. Unlike my last Class 150/0 project, I had sufficient spare bodies to use two non-toilet compartment cars for the conversion, saving a great deal of time in not having to cut a new large window and removal of the toilet compartment roof hatch detail.

150002_9 copy

Tidying up…

150002-20

Test formation of 150002 with the converted centre car. The outer vehicles are as yet unmodified Graham Farish Class 150/1 model.

150002_6 copy

Cab doors are changed from inward slam doors as fitted to Class 150/1s to a representation of the sliding power doors as fitted to Class 150/2s and the two prototypes.

With the roof vents fitted to the two outer driving cars, the body shells were cleaned up ready for a trip to the paint shop. Centro livery is one that I have painted before on two Class 150s already operational on the layout:

Centro Class 150 paint

In-progress picture of 150123, completed in 2014.

Class 150 complete 1

150001 during a test run on ‘Wheal Annah’ after being assembled following painting and finishing.

I know some modellers will say that I could use a centre car from a new Graham Farish Class 319 (shares same multiple unit body shell profile) for the Class 150/0 centre car when the 4-car dual voltage EMU is released at some point in the future. However, the likely cost of that model together with the difficulty of using the remaining trailers makes Class 150 cut and shut conversion with two Class 150 sets more economical. Also, one of the centre cars of the Class 319 will be a pantograph vehicle with an unusable roof as far as Class 150s are concerned. In the meantime, it’s a trip to the paint shop for No. 150002!

Notes:

Class 150/0 prototype units (1984): 150001 and 150002.

Class 150/1 2-car production units (1985-6): 150101 – 150150.

Class 150/2 cab-gangwayed production units (1986-7): 150201 – 150285.

Class 150/0 hybrid 3-car sets made up of a Class 150/1 and a single Class 150/2 vehicle as a centre car: 150010-017.

Class 154: The temporary conversion of 150002 as a test bed for Class 158 development in 1986.


New project: N gauge Class 310.

August 8, 2016

Class 310_1 copy

I have a new project! With OHLE complete on my N gauge Dudley Heath layout, there’s every excuse to build some 25kV ac EMUs for the layout and one that fits the bill is the three-car Regional Railways Class 310. A handful survived for quite some time in the privatisation era, operated by Central Trains in Regional Railways colours as seen above. They rarely saw use except in peak periods and to cover for failed Class 323s. Class 310s were originally operated as four car sets and date back to the mid 1960s. They were an iconic EMU of the southern end of the West Coast main line until displaced by Class 321s (themselves latterly displaced by Class 350s). They were also commonly used on West Midlands suburban services alongside Class 304s.

Class 310 copy

It has to be the three-car Regional Railways version for Dudley Heath, representing the earliest end of the time era chosen for the layout. The vinyl overlays are by Electra Railway Graphics and some old Graham Farish Mark 2 coaches will provide the base models for what is an interesting conversion.

Class 310_2 copy

Old Poole-made Graham Farish Mark 2 air-con coaches have clear printed sides which makes this conversion very effective. The printing is removed to allow the sides to be added, eliminating a great deal of complex livery painting. Prior to that, the mechanism from a Class 150 is to be installed, the roof of three coaches modified with ventilators and a pantograph well. Cabs by N-Train are also to be used to build up the driving trailers, whilst the inner ends of the coaches will be modified with different gangway and end panel detail. Based on the success of the Trans-Pennine Express Class 350/4, this should be an interesting conversion to complete.

In the meantime, a Class 323 is also on the cards for Dudley Heath using Electra Railway Graphics overlays applied to a Graham Farish Class 158. Whilst the conversion is sound in principle, the lack of a cast or 3D-printed cab for Class 323s holds the project back at this time. Oh yes, in case you are wondering what will happen to the spare Class 150 bodies and parts…a Class 150/0 as 150002 together with one of the Class 150/1 and 150/2 hybrids will be the result.

 


Order emerges from work bench chaos in the form of distillery buildings

June 17, 2016

Loch Dhu June 2016_1

Distillery buildings for Loch Dhu Distillery are slowly taking shape, constructed from 80- and 100-thou styrene card and faced with embossed card  by South Eastern Finescale. Cutting, filing and shaping of the flat styrene sheets caused quite a mess on my work bench, which has now been cleared up for the time being to allow modelling of finer details such as windows, external equipment such as hoists, rain water goods and some sort of finial for the kiln house pagoda.

Four large structures so far, with three to go. One is an engine shed for the distillery ‘pug’. The other two will be building ‘flats’ to represent the still/spirit house and another building associated with the maltings. The buildings will provide shunting spots for various wagons to be positioned for unloading or loading including malt, grain and coal. Outbound wagons will carry away the byproducts of the process and spirits.

Loch Dhu June 2016

Loch Dhu Distillery is a OO gauge (4mm scale) micro-layout, with a scenic area just under four-feet in length and two in width; double-sided with an interchange and a small staging yard at the end. As you can imagine, squeezing a large industry such as a Speyside whisky distillery into such a small area tested my layout planning skills to the limit: fitting in enough track for interesting operations whilst having enough of the key buildings to make sense of the location. In the end, I have settled for the kiln house, part of the malt store, the mash house and an office building for the dreaded revenue. The still house will be fitted in along the back-scene as a building flat with a link from the mash house. The maltings will go at the end, with a hint of the boiler house. There might be room for a water tank too but none of the bonded warehouses, unfortunately. That’s all that can be squeezed into such a compact area and leave room for some trains! For such a small layout, it is taking up an extraordinary amount of workbench time and consequently, this will be the last portable layout I will be constructing for some time – I have to get back to working on the longer term Folkestone East and the Montana Rail Link projects.