Thursday, 28 November 2013

HITTING THE BUFFERS 3

Mini diorama shows off bufferstop kits


In order to show off the three bufferstop kits that I've recently assembled, I decided to build a small diorama, using an off-cut of plywood and some odds and ends of track (a mix of Peco Code 75 and SMP flexi-track). With ballast and ground cover added (mostly from Geoscenics), the bufferstops really come to life, especially after painting the rails and everything has been weathered. Above, is the plate steel 'stops' from PH Design, while below is the Lanarkshire Models MR/LMS rail-built unit. 

Additionally, PH Design's more up to date take on the rail-built pattern can be seen in the foreground of the lower image. Thus, three different eras are portrayed, although it wouldn't be too far fetched to have all three bufferstops on the same layout, as many of these things have lasted in use for donkeys' years.











Look out for the article on building bufferstop kits in Model Rail issue 191 (out on Dec 26).

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

HITTING THE BUFFERS 2

 Another great kit adds the finishing touch to a siding



Now that I've recovered from the Warley exhibition, I've been putting the finishing touches to a few kit building projects. Most notably - as mentioned in my last post, I've just completed another bufferstop for a Workbench Test article, to appear in Model Rail issue 191 (out just after Christmas). This 4mm scale whitemetal kit is from Lanarkshire Model Supplies and is easy to assemble, replicating a typical Midland/LMS style of rail-built 'stop block'. The metal castings are finely crafted, with only a few parts to fix together. I employed low temperature solder for a very strong construction, which should withstand any accidental collisions from locomotives or rolling stock.

Once painted and set into the layout, it really does look the part. In the image below, you may notice a small gap in the rail nearest the camera. This is essential to prevent the all-metal bufferstop from causing a short circuit to the track power supply.

Going back to Warley, I enjoyed both days, with plenty of new and familiar faces to meet and chat to. Thanks to everyone who came over to the Model Rail stand to say hello. I even got to play Chris Nevard's new ukelele!  However, as with last year, I only got to see 2 or 3 layouts - very briefly - and had to rush around in the last hour to get some shopping done. There was so much more I needed to do, see and buy, but there's always the Glasgow show in a couple of months, I suppose...



Monday, 18 November 2013

HITTING THE STOPS

Bufferstop kit built for a Workbench Test


I've just finished  building a handful of 4mm scale metal bufferstop kits for an evaluation feature in an upcoming issue of Model Rail magazine. Illustrated here is a very natty rendition of a modern-style plate steel 'stop block', assembled from an etched kit by PH Designs. Featuring an impressive level of detail, the sides include clamping brackets that grip the rail heads, cross-braces and strengthening ribs. Although it looks a bit delicate, once soldered together (and to the rails), the unit is sturdy and will resist even the most severe rough shunt!


As well as the plate steel bufferstop, I've also built PH Designs' kit for the traditional rail-built 'stops'. I've built one of these before and they really look the part, especially when painted and weathered - far more realistic than plastic kits. You need to provide your own rail, but the kit provides the various brackets and a handy cutting jig to get the various rail sections cut and shaped to the correct sizes. Look out for the building demo for both of these kits in Model Rail issue 191, out on Dec 27th.


Friday, 15 November 2013

A SPOT OF SCRATCH-BUILDING

Freelance bolster wagon uses up bits from the spares box


Now that the darker, colder evenings have set in, I've been indulging in a little scratch-building. With boxes and boxes of spare parts from previous kit and RTR detailing projects, I thought it would be nice to use some of them up in producing some service wagons for my Maudetown Colliery layout.

Can this be called scratch-building in the purest sense, or kit-bashing? It's probably a bit of both: the chassis frames and brake shoes are leftovers from a Parkside kit, the bolsters are from a Bachmann BDA and the brake handles are from a Mainly Trains set of etched parts. The timber planked floor is embossed Plastikard, which has been roughened up with sandpaper prior to an attempt to recreate dirty, bare wood with acrylic paints.

There's a few more bits required before it's ready for priming and painting, but I want to maintain a fairly basic look to the finished model. Mind you, with projects like this, it can be tempting to keep adding small bits here and there, so I may need to rein myself in!

So, what will this wagon carry? The answer is all manner of colliery equipment, such as ironwork for tunnelling, rails for the narrow gauge waggonway, pipes or girders. In fact, the more I think about it, I could probably do with more than one such vehicle. I wonder how many I can erect from what lies in the spares box...?
 



Monday, 11 November 2013

STONED!

Granite block proves the perfect base for chassis building


Getting your etched chassis frames square is an essential facet of locomotive kit building. Get this bit wrong and you may as well give up, as the loco will never run properly. Having always made do with an off-cut of glass for my loco frame assembly, I recently came across this handy - and heavy - aid in the Axminster Tools catalogue.

I've long been a happy customer of Axminster, mostly as a result of my other hobbies of wood carving, turning, furniture making and guitar building. However, there is much more to be found in Axminster's catalogue, not least with a host of modelling tools on offer, as a few recent reviews in Model Rail magazine attest.

This block is made of solid granite, with the upper face ground to a flatness of +-0.0052mm, which is flat enough for me! Indeed, the block comes with a printed sheet pointing out where the fractional high and low points are, should this info interest you. In my case, it pointed to the central area as being the 'flatest', so I've been concentrating my chassis building there, just to be on the safe side!

Naturally heat resistant, the block is perfect for aligning parts prior to soldering and, after a couple of successful assemblies, I'm tempted to knock up some form of clamping jig to allow me to keep both hands free while the solder joints are made. Mind you, I won't have to worry about the block moving around on the workbench as it's fairly hefty and the stone will always remain flat regardless of changes in temperature or humidity. I can also use it to flatten my waterstones (for sharpening my chisels)!

This 'small' granite block measures a respectable 305x230x50mm, which is great for loco frames in any scale up to 'O' gauge. Priced at a reasonable £34.66, it's available from Axminster Tools.

This granite block is already proving to be an unsung hero of the Dent Workshop. How did I ever manage without it?!

Thursday, 7 November 2013

JUST LANDED: REVELL PAINTS

New aerosol paints arrive for testing


A large and interesting parcel has just arrived from Germany, bearing a selection of Revell's new acrylic spray paints. Over 30 of Revell's most popular paint shades have made it into this new aerosol format, including gloss and matt clear coats. The shades to be tested include a number of earthy tones that look ideal for weathering, a few different blacks, plus an attractive Carmine Red (No.36) redolent of BR's 1950s coaching stock livery.

The 100ml cans boast of being fast drying, affording a deep lustre and hardwearing finish, so I'll be interested to see how they live up to their billing. Look out for a full review in Model Rail magazine in the coming months.

These Revell paints should now be available from your local model shop, but for more details see www.revell.de/en, or look up @RevellGermany or facebook.com/Revell on the big social media networks.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

POSTCARDS FROM WORTHING

Just back from 5 days of teaching on the Sussex coast
The sun sets over Worthing Pier - I love the seaside in autumn.
Another set of airbrushing and weathering courses in Lancing, near Worthing, passed off successfully. Once again, they proved enjoyable, if a little tiring and it was good to meet some new faces and catch up with a number of previous attendees. It was also good to catch up with the friendly staff at The Airbrush Company, who organise my courses and generally look after me while I'm so far from home.

Talking of which, I travelled down by train along a different route this time, after finding last year's trek with Cross Country Trains (via Southampton) a real ordeal in terms of comfort and cost. This time, I travelled via Sheffield and the old Midland route to St Pancras, which proved not only more comfortable and less crammed, but also far cheaper. Indeed, I managed to go 1st Class for a song, even though I was arriving in London for 10am on a weekday. That would have been well into three-figures on the West Coast line, yet it was £30 each way with East Midlands Trains. I'll be doing it again, even if it does add a few hours and about 100 miles onto my journey.

Coming back on Sunday was even more fun, with 5 trains and nearly 10 hours of train travel. We took a diverted route back to St Pancras from Brighton, shuffling through the South London suburbs to cross the Thames at Blackfriars, which added nearly an hour to the journey. The HST back to Sheffield was also diverted, involving an exciting reversal in Toton yard of all places, to take the line up to Derby. I managed to spot quite a few Class 60s at Toton depot, along with a forlorn looking 58. There were plenty of Class 37s at Derby, plus a trio of Class 73s.

I was certainly tired by the time I'd alighted from the fifth leg of my journey, but all in all it had been a pleasurable trip. None of the trains had been particularly fast, with even the HST having so many station calls to make that I doubt if we got up to full speed for very long. But, that's fine by me. You can keep your HS2 - just give me a comfy seat, a big window, no noisy engine under my feet, draughts of fresh air coming in from the vestibules (where you can open a window if you like), no overcrowding, cheery staff and cheap fares, and I'm as happy as Larry.

Fishing boats litter the beach on the way to Lancing.

The journey home starts here: Worthing, 8:56am. It would be 7pm before I got home!

EMU 319008 Cheriton conveyed me from Brighton to London. 

Change at Brighton, for an FCC service to St Pancras - off the train on the right and onto the train on the left!

With over an hour to kill at St Pancras, I made the most of the sunshine to admire the splendid architecture from the outside. 


The inside of St Pancras leaves me a bit cold - literally: all grey steel, concrete and capitalism (there's nowhere warm to sit unless you're paying to dine in a posh cafe or restaurant. I counted a grand total of 20 seats for travellers heading north, exposed on the upper concourse. I suppose a traditional waiting room doesn't generate enough money.
Kings Cross is looking better from the outside these days. How many retail units have they crammed in here, I wonder?

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