The Christmas period has traditionally been a productive time for me. Generally, there is little on TV [though Mrs Brown 's new year episode was eye wateringly funny, to me at least], the days are short, the weather miserable, so best to stay in and make things.
Initially, got on with casting van sides - three sets of GNRI 9 tonners, plus two sets of what appear to be either SLNCR 'semis' or early Guinness vans. These were then made up into the relevant vehicles, using ABS castings for W irons, axles boxes, buffers etc. The GNRI vans have been sprayed with Halfords red/brown primer, to represent the fitted variety, while the two semis are in the usual Halford's grey. The weathering process will tone it all down eventually, while the lettering [on the GNRI vans at least] is hand done with a white gel pen. Thank goodness for a simple set up.
One prezzy was a Classic Commercials kit of a 1939 Austin van. A more simple, boxy vehicle is hard to imagine, but the castings [whitemetal and resin] are superb. Takes a long time to build though, because you stick a couple bits together, then have to do a bit of painting, then add some more, paint some more and so on. At the moment, it is intended to be the delivery van of Keogh's Model Bakery, whose shop is just behind the station, but as yet am unsure what to do re lettering. Might try Letraset, or alternatively will create a full panel on the laptop and print it off on ordinary paper to stick to the sides.
The rest of the time has been spent planning/fretting over the Railcar, though, as usual, once started things to flow, albeit not always smoothly.
This week, received a formal invitation to exhibit Arigna Town at the Chatham Show in June. In some ways, the layout could go out now, but as mentioned before, there is still a lot to do to make it more presentable and interesting for the public. Nevertheless, all being well 14/15th June 2014 will see the layout's debut at the Medway Sports centre in Gillingham.
The scenic work has proceeded well & must admit to being pleased with the outcome thus far. Indeed, the layout is now fully covered - though that does not mean finished, as there is a lot of detail work to do. However, will have to wait till after Christmas to add wild flowers, rushes etc [the latter along the ditch] as supplies of coloured scatter are out. So, what next?
At the Reading Trade Show last week, got various castings, including street lamps [s&D models], plus a range of W irons from ABS. Also ordered some new moulding silicon, so have made a new mould from my GNRI van masters. A while ago, mastered the side and end of a semi-covered van, so did a mould for these too and have been casting enough parts for 3 GN vans and a couple of semis. With the Christmas season upon us, it is my habit to move the modelling to the living room. A workboard on my knee and a few basic tools mean I can be creative while keeping half and eye on the TV, just in case anything interesting comes on.
Also planned are a Sligo parcels van, plus another brake, though will have to retreat to the workshop when painting and weathering is done. Acrylic and enamel paints, to say nothing of weathering powders are dangerous things to have on the sofa...
In the new year, the two main modelling projects will be to built Railcar B & before then that wonderful 3 arm signal on the Sligo that protected 3 different level crossings. Wizard Models do all the bits and though fiddly are fairly straightforward to put together. My 3 way will be as a starter, plus two arms for entering one or the other side of the loop. Wizard do a nice operating mechanism, though fitting 3 could well be tricky. Expect rude words.
The other work needed is to make the layout ready for exhibition. I already have a set of trestles and longitudinal beams [as per Iain Rice's idea], plus 10 spot lights, so the plan is to make some more gallows brackets for the Clip Spots. The outer ends of these will be used to hang a full length pelmet, with the layout name, while a folding fascia at the front will have photos of the prototype, as am sure there will be more than a few who are unaware of this delightful line, while even those in the know will question that it had a branch terminus.
A fair bit to do then and that is without the all important running tests. No point in having a model railway if things don't run properly, especially when people are paying to see it at shows. However, a simple branch terminus must, of necessity have periods when nothing runs, so the trick is to keep people interesting with the scenery, buildings and little cameos. A 3D painting in fact.
Hopefully, will be able to post new pictures of these [and the new stock], from time to time.
A couple of pictures of my progress, I think I am reasonably happy with my progress but how far to take it! when does one say enough! The chimney does not really please me and the camera has shown a few flaws, the gap above the cylinders is the main offender.
First time I have used my Iwatta airbrush,far to expensive but what a lovely tool to use.
Credit has to go to Weshty for the buffer beam decals they really are very good.And Narrow Planet for the etched No; plates which are also very good. He has the information on file so if anyone else wishes Great Southern No;plates I am sure he will help and the price is very reasonable. I have no connection with Narrow Planet other than a customer.[attachment=:name]
Deep joy today as have at last got a copy of Neil Sprinks History of the SLNCR. And very interesting it is too.
Many thanks to the web and especially Buffers Books, where I at last tracked down a copy in very good condition for just a tenner. Not bad considering it was published in 1980.
However, in my internet searches on the Sligo and now getting some odd results, in that they increasingly bring up pictures and stuff that I have produced myself on this site! Most strange was finding the maps I drew of my Arigna Town branch, as a basis for the layout. Totally fictitious, but now masquerading as reality. Art imitating life or what?
Anyway, quite Possible that the maps will be re-drawn anyway as the Rinks book is making me consider the proposal for a line south from Dromahair and through Drumkeeran. The orientation of the station will then be reversed, which will better suit my back scenes. At exhibitions, it is nice when folk think you are modelling at actual place, but when the Web starts to suggest fact to your fiction, who am I to argue...
Scenic work on hold at the moment, for the simple reason that I have run out of materials! Woodlands ground foam is readily available, but less so static grass fibres so am hoping there will be some at the Reading 0 gauge trade show on Saturday week. For those of you not aware of this event, it is truly an Aladdin's cave of everything the modeller could need , a positive bottomless pit of 'wants'. Spending 50 grand or more [assuming you had the funds] would easily be possible. Go for RTR and professionally built stuff and 7 figures is perfectly possible.
More important though is the wonderful range of smaller traders plying their wares & it is the one place where you can generally find everything under one roof. Just hope somebody has some fibres!
Anyway, to get back to the variety theme, found myself staring at a collection of figures [whitemetal] that I had been putting off painting, so decided to make a start. Soon realised why I procrastinated, as really don't get excited by figure painting. Perfectly capable of making a reasonable effort, but just doesn't float my boat. So, have been trying to do the little and often in the hope of getting the job done. Mixed in a South Eastern Finecast Austin 7 as well. Lovely little kit, but again, the amount of faffing about to produce a tiny model is along the lines of the number of tools needed to wire a 3 pin plug [about 47 in my case]. Yet I will happily punch rivets and find tiling roofs curiously satisfying. So easy to see why RTR is popular and why ready painted figures are expensive...
Though sort of retired, I still do a lot of consultancy work in schools and after a decent spell of quality modelling, spare time is suddenly at a premium again. Typical, when things were going rather well...
However, as mentioned before, one can have too much of a good thing and driving around from one place to another can give a bit of thinking time. Also, while I can't speak for everyone else, one of the great attractions of this hobby is the variety it affords & must admit I'm starting to get a bit weary of scenic work, having done little else for the last few weeks. I'm also running out of materials! It is surprising how much fibre, crumb, glue, lacquer etc one gets through, so with no time to buy more, there is another reason why scenics will slow down over the next few weeks.
However, in hoping to get the majority of the green stuff done soon, thoughts turn to what next? Certainly need another loco before the layout makes its debut, but am tempted by doing Railcar B first. At the very least will develop some plans and building notes - another technique I use for 'exorcising' ideas sometimes. Drawing layout plans is another, though not in the Iain Rice class [few are], must have drawn many times more than I could ever build & find this a good antidote to starting a new project, before the current one is finished.
Why am I wittering on with this, when I could be modelling? Good question!
This is my first post on the Forum and I am new to the group. I am looking for some input. I have a 00 gauge layout in a 20x10 converted container. I am thinking of changing the layout plan as I am now going to model Irish railways. Initally when I put the baseboards down originally I put in a rectangle so the trains could run around in a loop. It isn't prototypical. On one side I have a through Terminus and on the other I have a country station. The other two sides have a mountain and a country scene. The four tracks run around and have slips to join them to each other.
The problem I have is that I think I was too quick in getting track down and running trains for the sake of it. I left no area for a desk or bench to work on models. Although I have a lot of work done on it I wonder am I mad to change even though I know I need to.I didn't care about function or operation. Now that I understand a bit more about the hobby I know I need to change.
I am asking for help in layout design. What works best. End to end or continuous. Are duck unders a good thing? What are the key features for an Irish based layout? I would like to have rises and falls in track and I would like to have the terminus and the country station. I want to have a farm scene and a nice town or village scene as well.
Am I trying to get too much in? What should I be trying to fit in
Any help or advise would be appreciated
Thanks in advance
The eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed a change in the backscene on the middle board. I'm not quite sure what was wrong with it, but the view was certainly too flat, with not enough perspective to give the scene depth. The latter is a real issue with 7mm scale layouts, for if you stick to around 60-75cm baseboard depth, it leaves very little room for anything outside the railway fence. Hence a backscene of some sort is essential in my view.
Backboards on Arigna Town are integral with the baseboards, so as I became more disgruntled with the middle view of the layout, realised something had to be done. In one of my occasional fits of enthusiasm out came the white emulsion and the whole lot was blocked out to start again. Not exactly easy with some scenery now in place, but a few days of neck and arm ache later, the new scene is in place. As before, most of the painting is with acrylics [cheap tubes sold in The Works], plus felt pens for some of the details.
Hopefully the view looks more typical of the area being modelled & I made regular reference to my 1:50 000 map to do so. It will however necessitate a further change in that to have the Arigna mountain area behind the station, its orientation has had to be turned 180 degrees. Hence will have to re-draw the maps and indeed re-engineer the line to come from Dromahair, south through Drumkeeran and down the west side of Lough Allen.
Before and after picture below:
In SE England, it has been half term week, which for a consultant primary school advisor [ex headteacher to boot] like me means some welcome down time. That said, I'm semi-retired these days, so try my best not to work too hard/often anyway. So, an opportunity to get some serious modelling time in...
However, things did not go entirely to plan - probably because I tried to do too much, in too many areas & ended up being less satisfied with my efforts than my usual 'little and often' approach. The moral of this little story is that you can have too much of a good thing and that building a model railway should definitely not be a race - even if you are working to an approximate deadline. Work quality suffers and satisfaction levels fall.
It also reminds me of one of my modelling rules - namely 'stop while you are winning'. so many times, I have found myself trying to do one more job at the end of a session, only for it to fail, with much language unbecoming of a headteacher, though actually, as a profession, I have found we are pretty good at profanities, though never in front of the children of course. Hence I now regularly remind myself that if a particular task is not complete, then it is better to leave it for another day. Nevertheless, procrastination is the thief of time, it is said, and what certainly does work for me is to try and get in an hour or so of modelling at least 4 or 5 days a week. If not, it is very easy for a week or more to go by with nothing getting done & it then becomes ever harder to start again. The antidote should this happen, is for me, to either dig out a kit, or do a bit of research. Happily, the extensive resources of this website are a fine source of inspiration.
Enough of this wittering! There are books to be read, websites to visit and a glass of Bordeaux awaits.
The last few weeks have seen the completion of a couple of brake vans [sLNCR types] and a change of focus to the scenic side of things. A total of nine tree 'skeletons' have been made from a mixture of florists and other wire, then coated with layers of filler and PVA, before being painted, ready for 'dressing'. The process seemed to take forever, but when it came to dressing the first tree [an oak to hide the entrance to the fiddle yard], it seemed only a few minutes work with Woodlands Scenics 'matting' and a reasonable representation was in front of me. Planting took a bit longer, as it is important to fit the whole thing into the ground, but while I'm sure I'll want to go back to it, there was much encouragement in getting this first little cameo in place.
Next to the tree is the Station Garage. Based on the Alphagraphix kit, this is in fact made almost entirely from plastic sheet. Essentially a fairly simple building, it will be all the bits and pieces that go with a garage forecourt and exterior which made of break this scene.
The petrol pumps are made of plastic and clear sheet, with filler nozzles coming from suitable looking bits of whitemetal from the scrapbox, while the hose is just wire, still in its sheathing.
The level crossing gates are also scratchbuilt and are hinged, pending some future date when I build up the courage to mechanise them. Over the crossing is a detached Georgian house. Done in half relief, the oak tree tries hard to hide this, while in front are lawns, gardens full of perennials, hedging and a rose arch over the front gate. A mixture of woodlands scenic scatter materials, lichen and fibres - work out for yourselves which is which!
The next step will be the end terrace on the other side of the road, plus the area around the signal box. this will test my ability to follow the ideas outlined in Gordon Gravett's new book, which deals in some detail with the rough ground we find in yards, lanes & the like. Another tree will go behind the signalbox to hide the part relief of the Welfare Club. My workshop is a total mess at the moment, with tubs of scatter material, glue, sprays, filler and goodness knows what else. Scenic work certainly requires a wide range of materials.
Recently been working on some GNRI vans, from drawings found via the website. These are 9 ton versions & were made from my own resin castings. A picture of the master is also shown.
As I've mentioned before, there is nothing difficult about making your own castings and there has been a regular advert in Railway Modeller for the all important materials. however, have found that the silicon mould material has a definite shelf life & the stuff I used was a bit too viscous, resulting in some bubbles. Think I will make another mould & add some detail differences to the master to make what I assume were later versions of the vans, with different door fastenings. either way, it seems from photos that one can never have enough vans on an Irish layout!
The eagle eyed amongst you may just notice that the trackwork has been weathered somewhat, prior to getting busy on the ground cover over the next few weeks. No less than 9 tree skeletons are in the process of being coated with PVA/filler & I am looking forward to getting some colour on the layout. In the meantime, have also been building brake vans, so will hopefully be adding pics of these in the next couple of weeks.[attachment=:name]
Here are a few notes on the two turntables in last weeks 'photos' section.
The loco turntable is a much adapted Dapol [ex Airfix] kit. Very cheap [about a fiver] and reasonably cheerful too. Turned the whole thing inside out & upside down, so it is now an underhung table. The plastic bearing surface is fairly robust, so the outer wheels are really only cosmetic. The design is influenced by the SLNCR's one at Enniskillen, though the well has turned out somewhat deeper at a scale 4'.
The plastic kit was installed in a timber subframe, which is screwed to the underside of the baseboard. The walls of the well are 40 thou plasticard, covered in watercolour paper to simulate a rendered finish, while concrete slabs around the edge [more plasticard pieces] hide the small gap between them & the well wall.
Running rails are the usual code 100 flatbottomed, soldered to longitudinal sleepers and the glued to the deck with 5 min epoxy. The outer wheels are 7mm scale 'lowmac' ones I had in the spares box and are about 2' 8" diameter. They used shortened stub axles, fitted to some U shaped brass section, this in turn is fitted to the ends of the deck by brass rod, which enables these wheel sets to 'rock' and therefore induce a bit of compensation.
Power to the track comes from 0.5mm phosphor bronze wires at each end on the well & these are lightly sprung to wipe on small brass plates that are glued to the end girders of the deck . These are in turned wired to the rails. Though simple/crude, the system works well thus far. The deck is turned by a Frizinghall Models hand crank, which consists of a large gear wheel, plastic worm and some steel rodding. The turning handle can be switched from front to back of layout according to need.
Late on, the design was changed slightly, by adding extension rails, so the track actually projects over the coping stones and extends the overall diameter to a scale 40'. This was because the new Railbus was found to be a very tight fit. however, perchance it will enable me to run small tender engines [sLNCR did have a few 0-6-0s].
Am also pondering the need to have walkways either side. The SLNCR's table at Enniskillen did without them, though the well was a fair bit shallower. for now one of the crew will have to dismount the engine before it runs on to the table [needs someone to crank the handle anyway]. If not, the a step ladder will need to be kept in the cabs!
The other turntable is the fiddle yard. In the past I have used cassettes to good effect, but with each baseboard being just 46" long, I felt it would be interesting to have a full train turntable. Originally hoped to have 5 tracks, but the curves required on the outer roads become increasingly severe & in the end had to reduce to 4 roads. Even so the locos grunt a bit on the outer ones and I have increased the gauge to around 37.5mm to compensate.
Alignment is by home made bolts. These use brass tube/rod, soldered to brass plates, which are wired to the rails. Two bolts are needed at the layout end, plus two receiving tubes for each track & at each end. didn't take long to make or fit & again, seem to work well thus far.
This week, have started on a rake of GNRI 9 ton vans. Made a master for side & end on Monday, created a silicon rubber mould on Tuesday, then cast three sets of sides and ends on Wednesday. Assembled these Thursday and added wheels, buffers, brake gear on Friday and Robert is your father's brother' as the saying goes & I now have three more wagons. Course they still need painting, lettering & weathering & that will take as least as long again. Hopefully some photos soon.
Spent a couple of weeks in France, so not much time for modelling. However, did take some maps and ref books with me to finally try and nail down a precise location and name for the project. Details below:
Arigna Town [sLNCR]
Opened in 1882, the Sligo, Leitrim & Northern Counties Railway remained independent until its closure in 1957. Built & run on a shoestring, it never expanded beyond its 42 mile ‘mail line’ from Sligo to Enniskillen. However, at the end of the 19th century, there were proposals to build a railway to access the coal mining area on the mountains above Arigna, west of Lough Allen & to the south of the SLNCR.
Coal being in short supply in Ireland, eventually the 3’ gauge Cavan & Leitrim Railway was extended up the Arigna River valley in 1920, but before that, there were several schemes that included narrow, broad and even mixed gauge railways. Indeed, Arigna station on the C&L [at the end of the mainly roadside tramway from Ballinamore, opened in 1888], was a good two miles from Arigna village and further still from the mines in question, so until 1920, coal had to be carted to the station along roads one assumes were less than perfect.
Among proposals to get a railway to the mines, the SLNCR did consider a line from Dromahair, via Drumkeeran & the west side of Lough Allen, to Arigna in 1904. Before that, in 1895, an independent, broad gauge line, was proposed from Collooney Junction [where the SLNCR & M&GW met], via Ballyfarnon & Keadue, to Arigna. This was followed in 1907-8 with another Arigna – Sligo proposal, which would have seen the C&L converted to 5’ 3” gauge. Then, in 1913, the Arigna Valley Railway Bill propsed a further extension to the above scheme, with a 3 mile line from Arigna station [mixed gauge] and a 9 chain, 3’ gauge connection to the C&L.
None of this happened of course, apart from the C&L tramway of 1920, but my model supposes that a project did get built in 1895, as a joint line between the SLNCR and the Midland & Great Western, from Collooney to nearby the C&L’s Arigna station. The latter was sited in a woodland glade, pretty much in the middle of nowhere. However, supposing a community had already begun to grow up there? Iron working had already started near Arigna village in the 18th century and even though that proved unsuccessful, my ‘imagineering’ supposes a community had emerged, away from the mines and works, that became known as Arigna Town.
To build the joint line, it is supposed that the M&GW laid the track, while the SLNCR added the buildings, with signalling from Saxby & Farmer. The M&GW worked the coal traffic, while the SLNCR took responsibility for local passenger & freight. Arigna Town station was sited on the opposite side of the road from the C&L station [see map], while there was also a short mineral branch trailing in, just before the station, to the mine sidings.
Apart from the GSR and eventually CIE taking over the coal trains, in practice little changed on the branch throughout its history. An ex MGW E class 0-6-0T & a few wagons made one or two trips daily, bringing coal down from the mines. These were linked to the sidings by aerial ropeway, as they were high in the slopes of Kilronan Mountain. The sidings had no run round loop, so empties were propelled there and the loco hauled them back, running round in Arigna Town station before returning to Sligo for onward movement, probably to the cement works at either Limerick or Drogheda.
SLNCR operations would have closely followed those of the main line, with passenger traffic soon turning to railbus and railcar, with a daily steam hauled mixed train. Steam power would also have worked general freight and cattle traffic – probably the 0-6-4 ‘small tanks’.
When the GNRI line through Enniskillen was closed and the SLNCR with it in 1957, it may well have been that the Arigna branch would have continued a little longer. However, in 1959, a new coal fired power station opened on the shores of Lough Allen & this would have effectively ended the coal trains, so the branch may not have lasted much beyond 1960. That said, given the [sensible] Irish attitude of mothballing, rather than dismantling, branchlines maybe cattle and other specials could have continued a little longer & C and G class diesels might have become the motive power?
The reasoning behind all the above is that it provides a setting for my model and helps to map out not only what the line might have looked like, but also provides sources of traffic & thereby the types of locos and rolling stock to build. All of this should help sustain interest in what is otherwise a simple branchline terminus, with a model making programme that should keep me busy for at least another 2-3 years. The E class, one small tank and railbus 2a are finished, but will need another small tank, railcar B and a fair few more wagons to enable me to operate an interesting sequence. Add in C & G diesels, plus a MGW 2-4-0 for excursion traffic [with a short rake of Tyrconnel 6 wheelers and there is plenty to look forward to. After that, adding the adjacent C&L station could be very tempting!
If anyone has any thoughts/comments on my history of Arigna Town, please let me know. My sources are not exhaustive and as none of it happened anyway, I’d be happy to adapt the story if more useful info appeared.
As you can see from the Models section, my SLNCR railbus is almost complete. It still needs a bit of paint touching up & plus some weathering, but is now looking the part I hope.
Its initial trial run was a bit dodgy, to say the least, but then I realised the wheels hadn't been cleaned, nor the chassis oiled. No surprise that it couldn't pull its trailer and the [undriven] front wheels weren't turning round... However, a bit of fettling and it proved capable of trundling round the layout, albeit a little noisily. Hopefully it will quieten down as it gets run in.
As said before, the chassis is a simple nickel silver 'ladder' type affair, with drive from a small Mashima motor to the rear wheels. The motor intrudes slightly into the body, but seats and a few Slaters passengers help to hide it. The body is nearly all plastic sheet and microstrip, though the nearside mudguard is nickel silver and the rear steps are brass strip, for strength. The roof is balsa, sanded to shape, though the rear entrance section is all plastic.
Main body colour is Halford's 'Ford Laurel Green' spray can acrylic, with the top half brush painted with Model Colour 'ivory' acrylic. Transfers came from my stores box & must be over 20 years old! the luggage van lettering is Woodhead transfers 'pressfix' letter, while the SLNCR is water slide from an SMS 'LMS' sheets, plus the '&' from a Fox sheet. Just goes to show you should never throw anything away.
The other photo is of my fiddle yard. Given the Irish railways predilection for turntables at ever terminus, it seemed to me that a turntable fiddle yard was also merited. Cut from 12mm MDF, with a pivot using an M6 bolt, all seemed very simple until I discovered that my idea of 5 tracks was not possible because the board is only 46" long and the outer curves were far too tight. Indeed, even reducing to 4 tracks has meant I needed to widen the track gauge to around 37.5mm [instead of the nominal 36.75].
Alignment is by home-made bolts, using brass rod & tube, bought on the cheap due to the sad demise of the Modelzone shops. We had two in my area, including the wonderful Signalbox in Rochester & now both are no more. Shame.
The loco turntable on the layout itself is by Dapol, in other words, the old Airfix model. At 250mm diameter, it is ideal for the Sligo tanks, but a bit short for the railcar & trailer, so have fitted extension rails to make life easier & maybe one day enable a small 4-4-0 or 2-4-0 to visit on excursions. It is handcranked using the Frizinghall models kit [very Meccanno-ish & effective]. Will be working on track feed this week, so I can start doing some serious test running before the layout enters its 'scenic ground cover' phase. hopefully more pics of the turntable next week.
The heat of summer is never a good time for modelling - certainly not in my workshop anyway! However did manage to make some wire 'tree skeletons' in the garden shade [a good way of spending a quiet hour or two] & since things have cooled down a bit, have been working on my Railbus 2A.
Photos show progress thus far. The model is scratchbuilt, but using the Alphagraphix card kit as a starting point. The chassis is nickel silver, with a small Mashima motor & gearbox from Branchlines. Found one or two castings from the scrapbox to use for front springs, while the wheels [slaters] will be embellished with a slice taken from the tyres of a Corgi Classis road bus to represent the patent ones on the prototype.
The body is all plastic, apart from the roof, which is sanded balsa. Buses and diesels are much more complex things than steam locos when it comes to modelling, because of all the subtle curves and a lack of fittings too. However, did find a suitable headlight in the scrapbox. Techniques used were those from David Jenkinson's book 'Coach Building Made Easy', plus a lot of head scratching on how to make the seats, fit the glazing, roof and rear passenger doorway.
The little trailer is a bit of a compromise, as W irons and axles boxes of a suitable size are not readily available for some reason [!]. Thinking about it, S scale ones would probably be a best fit, but again used some spare castings - LSWR type, but very cut down. Have fitted pickups to help spread the electrical contact, not least because neither vehicle has any compensation.
Paintwork is currently Halfords grey primer, which looks surprisingly effective in black and white, but am hoping that Ford 'Laurel Green' will be a reasonable match. Indeed, the paintshop beckons tomorrow, after which final fitting out [handrails, door handles, starting handle, drawbar & wiring] will take place, so may have further pics by next week.[attachment=:name]
No modelling for a while [new kitchen taking up much time] but have just returned from a few days in the West of Ireland, so this is a brief account of my wife & I's travels.
Flew into Shannon, courtesy of Mr O'Leary, and then hired a car and motored first to Galway and then west to Clifden. Was delighted to find the station buildings intact and still serving the community over 70 years since closure. Are the tracks in the car park original? If only the line was still open, am sure would make a fabulous tourist route. Foyles Hotel in town a very decent overnight stop. Next day took in the next branch, from Westport to Achill, where again was pleased to see the station buildings still in use. A long drive took us all the way to Bundoran for a couple of nights. Called in at Sligo's enormous fortress of a station to see the arrival of a Dublin train & discovered the truncated remains of the harbour branch.
Found Bundoran an odd little town in that few businesses seem to face the fine beach & instead stare at each other across a rather austere Main Street. Fitzgeralds Hotel an exception, with a rather decent restaurant. Didn't see anything of the station, but did have a fine day touring.
First went north, via Donegal town [fine base for touring methinks and a lovely centre]. railway museum was shut, but Finntown Railway was open. We'd rushed a bit to get there for the 1100 train, but needn't have worried. Despite being the only passengers, a crew of 4 [two in the diesel, two in the railcar] ran us up the lake and back.
Here are a few pics of the backscene to my SLNCR layout. The low resolution photos make them appear a bit flat to me, but like any sort of proof reading, it is useful to get a different perspective!
Either way, the backscene still needs some work, but will probably not do that until after I've got the scenic and ground cover done. That way it should be easier to blend the 2D and 3D aspects together more easily.
For me, especially in 7mm scale, it is essential to have some sort of backscene to extend the layout beyond what is always a rather minimal depth. In my case, the latter is just 2 feet [600mm in new money], so not much space for anything beyond the railway fence. Additional limitations are that the height is just 8"/20cm. I've done higher in previous layouts, but deliberately kept it low this time to make the baseboards, when paired for transport as small a volume as possible. There are four boards, so two pairs, which will make a box around 4' x 2' x 18" and therefore fit easily inside my Yeti, once the seats are removed. The backscenes are made from the same 6mm birchply as the rest of the baseboards and an integral part of them.
I did consider have a separate, single sheet of roller blind material to avoid the joins & likewise ducked out of making curved instead of square corners at the ends. The former will be hopefully fairly well hidden by the scenic features I have painted on, while the latter are hidden by two full height, low relief buildings.
You'll see that dodges for the baseboard joins include a church spire and trees of different sorts. The current 'earthquake' crack in the baseboard surface will be hidden by removable items like small buildings, foliage, vehicles, barrow crossings etc.
Creation of the scenes uses a range of media. I started with a basecoat of white emulsion, then added poster paints [in small quantities] to paint in the sky. A fair few clouds seemed appropriate, but it would be interesting to see if anyone can create a proper 'soft' day. Remember a layout years ago where everything had been gloss varnished to suggest rain. Best bit was the name - 'Piddlin Down'...
Details were then drawn on and then part painted [using acrylics and enamels], part coloured with felt pens, crayons and white markers. Pens are so much easier to use than a brush if you want straight lines. Inspiration for the subjects themselves came from the various colour photo albums available, particularly of the C&L tramway section, which is not a million miles away from where the layout is supposed to be set.
The final picture is my latest project, to build Railbus 2A. Have used the Alphagraphix card kit to produce drawings, including of a simple chassis, which is what you see in the photo. 18 thou nickel silver was used for the sides and spacers, while the scrapbox has produced a couple of suitable looking front springs. The motor and gearbox will drive the rear wheels, while the body will be made from plasticard and the roof [probably] sanded to shape from wood. Still thinking about those patent wheels [steel rims outside pneumatic tyre & road wheel], but at least I only need to make two as the rear ones are hidden. Some sort of overlay methinks.
During the past few weeks I have mainly been catching up on a backlog of other projects mainly loco work in various scales before starting work on the layout as such.
Keeping to a Midland or GSWR secondary line theme a dozen yards of Code 70 fb rail, wooden sleepers and spikes arrived, followed by a session of pretend cresoting using Carr's sleeper stain before reaslising an acrylic wood stain would be more effective and economic.
The sleepers are 1.8mm stripwood rather than ply which should give an interesting full depth sleeper effect, I am planning to follow American practice and spike down the fb rails rather than solder and printed circuit board, bullhead will be on Carrs chairs of course.
I also framed the baseboard on the opposite side of the workshop which gives me a u shaped area approximately 17'X11' for the railway.
The shed is a converted garage with a roller shutter door at one end which I hope to replace with a wall and doorway when fund allow hopefully at some stage next year.
I have actually managed to do some work on the layout building a traverser for a fiddle yard at one end using plywood and drawer sliders from the local DIY shop.
I am starting to re-use track from a 21mm gauge layout I started a couple of years ago for the traverser and hidden trackage with the fancy stuff on the visible sections.
I am looking at two single lines one in bullhead the other in fb running from the traverser into a station to give the impression of a junction between two separate companies as an excuse to mix GNR and CIE locos and stock.
Tyrconnel kits are marketed in the Alphagraphix catalogue and as well as the E class include Cork, Bandon & South Coast Railway 4-6-0Ts and several highly individual small Irish locomotives including a Fairburn 2-2-2T and two Timoleague and Courtmacsherry Tramway locos.
The E Class 0-6-0Ts were introduced between 1891 & 1894 by Martin Atcock & built in Britain by Kitson & Sharp Stewart. Originally numbered 106-117 by the MGW, they became 551-562 under the Great Southern, ranging far & wide across the system. There is a photo of 558 at Sligo in the 1950s, while other allocations included the T&C in the far south west and the isolated Waterford & Tramore line in the south-east.
The Tyrconnel kit [£90] is mainly etched brass, with whitemetal castings for things like chimney, dome, buffers & other fittings. Additionally required are wheels, motor, gearbox, wheel bearings, handrail knobs & various gauges of wire. Suggestions of various sources for these are provided in the fairly extensive instructions, which also include several labelled photos of a part assembled model as well as the prototype itself. A scale line drawing is also provided. However, as a ‘flatpack’, there is no box to contain the finished model.
The loco was built pretty much as per instructions, which proved to be a pleasant, largely stress free experience, taking about 40 hours work in all, including painting & weathering.
The builder is advised to split the work into three parts – superstructure, boiler and chassis. For the superstructure, the only difficult part was at the start – soldering the splasher backs and tops to the footplate. Heat from the soldering iron tended to warp the footplate & with hindsight it might have been better to add the valences first to make the unit stiffer. However, once done, things went together easily, aided by slots and tabs, plus a few half etched lines on the bunker rear to help curving. Alternative etches to make the Waterford & Tramore line versions are also provided.
Boiler, fire & smokebox units come as flat etches & need rolling to shape, but as the brass is quite thin, this was easily achieved using ¾” plastic pipe, as suggested in the instructions. A neat touch is the provision of 6BA holes in the boiler & smokebox front/rear, enabling the two to be bolted together prior to soldering. The combined unit then slotted neatly between the tanks/cab front & sat nice & level first time. Boiler fittings are whitemetal castings. Alternative chimney & smokebox doors are provided for early/later models but, along with the dome & safety valve units required a fair bit of fettling before they would ‘sit’ properly on the boiler. However, in fairly quick time, the loco body was complete.
The chassis is interesting in that it is designed to simply fold up from a single etch. Unfortunately [for me at least], it is designed for 32mm gauge as opposed to the correct 36.75mm for Irish [5’ 3”] broad gauge. The latter is catered for by reversing the fitting of the wheel bearings, so they project outwards, which gives the right back to back measurement. This was the route I followed and though very suspicious of the fold up chassis, it actually worked out very well. My ‘portfolio’ runs to over 50 locos over the years, including several scratchbuilds & having always used separate spacers, I wondered whether the single etch would fold up accurately. However, my fears were unfounded & apart from having to open up the etched axles holes a fair bit to take the bearings, when I did a trial fit of the wheels, the chassis sat level & true.
Coupling rods seem very lightweight & are just a double laminate. As per prototype, they are not jointed, so again are quick and easy to assemble. Fitting them to the wheels gave a smooth, free running chassis first time – always rather satisfying!
My only major departure from the instructions was to fit a commercial motor/gear box, floating on the centre axle, rather than soldering the motor to the etched mount provided & suggested in the instructions. For a while, I also contemplated making a set of dummy frames [by tracing round the etched ones] to go outside the narrow ones. However as the loco is only really seen ‘side on’, I decided in the end this wasn’t necessary.
Tyrconnel kits were a new name to me, but if the little E class is typical of the range, then I can thoroughly recommend them. They should be well within the scope of a careful beginner. Building mine to 36.75mm gauge was not a problem. Slaters provide the longer axles for a small fee, while I have found their wagon axles are more than longer enough to ease the wheels out to broad gauge without the need for any replacements. My new layout is using custom made points
from Marcway, with plain track soldered up on copperclad sleepers. The light rail & broad gauge really help set the scene & it is a shame that most 4mm scale models seem to use 16.mm track – especially when that is already narrow gauge!
The Alphagraphix catalogue includes several etched coaches and a large number of card kits for wagons, coaches and buildings, all of which provide useful starting points for anyone contemplating modelling the Irish scene. Given the many delights of railways across the water, it is a relatively neglected area for modelling which deserves much more attention & hopefully Alphagraphix are doing just that.
The last few weeks have been all about the buildings at the ‘country’ end of the layout. The general scenario is that trains appear/disappear through a hole in the sky that is masked by a combination of a garage, tree and large, Georgian house. Immediately after is a level crossing, with signal box and cottage. Behind the signal box is an end terraced house and then come a couple of low relief buildings before the goods yard is reached. At the planning stage, it was envisaged that all these buildings would somehow blend into a backscene, showing elements of the rest of the town.
The signal box is both the smallest yet most complex building on the layout. It is based on a standard Saxby and Farmer design, which I adapted from the Alphagraphix kit, using the latter as a drawing. Unlike most of my other buildings it is almost completely made from plasticard. The base uses Wills random stone sheet, which is thick enough to not require any bracing. Though nominally intended for 4mm scale, the stone pattern seems to also work well in 7mm scale, for which the same can also be said of their corrugated asbestos sheets, which are very good for the generic corrugated iron you see as roof covering on many Irish buildings.
Inside the random stone is an inner layer of 40 thou glazing, though this only goes to roof height for the fixed middle windows. The outer windows are made from separate sheets of glazing and sit in U shaped slots so can be slid open like the prototype. Glazing bars are made from 20 thou square microstrip, with 40 x 20 layers for the outer frames. The glazing material is something called ‘Cobex’ [or similar] which is a harder plastic that does not go cloudy when touched by solvent. The lever frame is a whitemetal kit from Skytrex. 16 levers in all, while you also get a level crossing wheel and block instruments as well. Pay a bit more and the similar Springside kit gives you a desk, clock, signalman etc, though my furniture was easily made from bits of plastic and wood.
The roof has a considerable overhang, with guttering hanging from this. I used half round Evergreen strip for the gutters, fixed to small brackets made from other microstrip and welded to a false plasticard roof. This has an inner layer which sits snugly inside the walls of the cabin. The rest of the roof is ordinary card, fixed to the false roof with UHU. Slates are strips of cartridge paper a scale 18” deep, cut at 12” intervals and fixed with PVA. The finial is a piece of plastic rod turned in my drill.
Steps are always difficult to get right, but making a jig helps, as did deciding the ‘slope’ would be 45 degrees, regardless of what the prototype suggested. Paintwork is mainly green, using Humbrol xx. The stone walls were done by stippling various greys onto the surface & not worrying about mortar lines. The indigenous limestone of the area seems to have many shades [probably not 50 though] of grey, often within the same piece, so there seemed little point in painting them individually. Inside, the levers are painted in what I hope are the right colours and in order of where they are sited. First up is the outer distant, then the home, then the lever to lock the crossing gates, after which comes the starter signal then points [and locking bars] in the yard. Spare levers are white, points black, locking bars blue, home/starter sigs are red, distants yellow and crossing gates brown.
While I’m here, a word about the wider concept of the trackplan is appropriate. As I do not have enough room to model the coal mining aspect, this is deemed to be ‘off-stage’. The sidings are set as being a trailing connection for trains approaching the terminus, about half a mile distant. Points are unlocked by a key and empty wagons are then reversed into the mine sidings. Loaded wagons have to be pulled into the terminus for the engine to ‘run round’ as there is no loops at the mine itself. This means I only need a train of loaded wagons and avoids the problems of how to load/unload in view of the public.
The other buildings [apart from the garage, which is just an empty shell] are coming along well, though all are yet to be bedded into the ground cover. The Georgian house and end terrace are built on a core of 5mm foamboard, while the signalman’s cottage uses more Wills sheet, this time the ‘whitewashed stone’ effect. The latter features a reasonable amount of interior detail, again made from scrap bits of wood and plastic. Ideas came from the BBC ‘Heirhunters’ TV programme which featured a typical Irish cottage left untouched since the early 1960s and yes, the furniture was indeed painted in those bright colours.
Next time will have a look at how I painted the backscenes.
It is a long time since I started this and not being a regular contributor, it occurred to me that to do a blog properly is to provide an on-going commentary on the project. Beat me round the head and I get there -eventually...
Anyway, with luck I will endeavour to do something here once a fortnight or so, which should mean I can usually report on something new. So, maybe I should backtrack a little.
My SLNCR project began towards the end of 2011. I'd long been tempted to do an Irish line, having completed an EM gauge light railway - must be something to do with having the same surname as Col Stephen's Christian one. 'Oare', was exhibited in the late 80s -early 90s and this was followed by High Weald a 7mm NG railway running through Kent. This appeared several times in RM, as did its successor, Loose End, my first 7mm scale standard gauge project, which was exhibited around southern England in the late 90s. There then followed a sojourn with 'mainline' and the Eatonswell layout. This is still being exhibited, but I've always favoured independent lines with a bit of character, so spurred on by Neil Sprinks excellent photo album and the availability of Alphagraphix kits, I decided to have a go at the SLNCR. Inspiration also came from good friends Gordon & Maggie Gravett, who have shown with their Pempoul model what can be done even if you end up scratchbuilding almost everything. If mine is half as good as their masterpiece, I'll be well satisfied.
The first thing I built was the Tyrconnel E class 0-6-0T. This was my 50th loco build in all scales & proved that 36.75mm gauge was not going to be a problem. Thoughts then turned to what sort of layout I might build. The SLNCR never had a branch, but there was the proposed line into the Arigna area, which gave me my 'might have been' scenario. The trackplan was kept deliberately simple & from the start I wanted to keep everything else that way too. So, analogue control [use DCC on Eatonswell, but could not justify it here], with wire in tube point operation and manual signal/turntable control to minimise wiring too.
Baseboards were started early in 2012 & are made from good quality 6mm birch ply. The 20cm high backscene is integral to each board, of which there are four in all. Three of the form the scenic section, with the fourth a train turntable. All are just under 120cm x 60cm so the layout fits along one wall of my workshop, which used to be the integral garage of our house.
Track came from Marcway - custom made points [copperclad] with plain track soldered up by me. In what seemed a very short space of time, I had the E class trundling round the layout, with one or two wagons I'd also built by then. That was about a year ago and since then I've managed to produce a fair bit of stock and most of the buildings are finished or nearly so. It helps only working part time these days! Reviewing the list still surprises me:
- Beyer Peacock Small Tank - Northstar kit
- Coach No 9 - scratchbuilt using the Alphagraphix kit as a drawing; plastic body with cut down Slaters bogies
- 5 cattle vans, 3 seven ton vans plus a brakevan, built as above
- 4 SLNCR open wagons & a carriage truck, scratchbuilt from photos
- a rake of coal wagons [4 & 6 plank] from resin castings I've made from my own masters, using drawing on this website
- station building: Florencecourt - ish
- good shed & signal box [again using Alphagraphix kits as starting points for scratchbuilding]
- bakers, pub, end terrace house, half relief Georgian house, stone barn, stone water tower, stone cottage and corrugated iron village hall
Recently, have been painting a backscene to frame the layout and once the buildings are painted will take some photos to show how things are progressing. The aim is to have the layout exhibitable in time for the Chatham Show in June next year. That means completing scenic ground cover and ensuring I have a bit more stock. At the very least I want to build Railbus 2A and some GNRI wagons to complement the SLNCR ones. After that, the Walker railcar and a large tank will hopefully follow, especially as I now have drawings of both. Unlikely before June 13 though! Normally when one scratchbuilds something, an RTR model comes out shortly after. Can't see this happening here somehow, but then it is part of the challenge & fun.
What the project is starting to need now though is a name. After significant amounts of pondering, playing with words and scouring maps of the area, I am not intending to model an existing location. Instead, a fictitious town is deemed to have sprung up near the mines, though this is no Yorkshire pit village - I really want to capture the essential flavour of the area. So it can be neither Arigna nor Drumkeeran, while Killyconcarnay or Ballyshawbheagan [think about it!] seem just a bit too twee. Currently am leaning towards something like 'Sprinxtown' - to honour both Neil Sprinks and Alphagraphixs, without whom the project could never have started. Comments welcome, including any ideas on a Gaelic translation.
Next time, hope to have photos showing the backscene and also buildings at the 'country' end of the layout.
Nothing much to physically show at this stage I looked at the pros & cons of most Burma Road stations on Waiheke Island ferry shortly after Easter http://www.waiheke.co.nz/ I basically had a 10 minute job on the Island but it took most of the day to get there and back.
I have had a play with Templot tried some of the tutorials before having a go at Ballymoe on the Mayo Line before starting serious track planning.
All I can say is that the programme takes a bit of getting used too! I once started a layout based on Ballymoe the main advantage was the simple tracklayout and its on a straight. The programme is intended for producing templates rather than layout planning as such. I will draw out a basic layout plan on Cad then import it into Templot then prepare the templates which will be used for building the actual track.
Rail is in stock, a shipment of C&L chairs have arrived from the UK, and plywood sleepers are on order, so I better get cracking.
I have finally started work on the new layout, maybe it was because of Patricks Day :cheers:maybe it was the end of the drought, anyway apart from listening to U Tube clips of Sharon Shannon most of Sunday was spent framing and setting up baseboards, I had already set up the board for the backscene at after Christmas.
Having got so far I threw down some ply on top of the framing to get a feel for the first stage of the layout. I looked initially at Kiltimagh compact and family connections, but Tubbercurry with the line curving away towards Sligo looks tempting.
The trackbed will be supported on risers above the main basebord framing with the line curving away on a low embankment posssibly across bogland towards a bridge with low hills in the background.
The Railcar is basically standing at the platform the goods on the main line with the goods yard in the middle distance behind the loco.
I had a play with Templot next stage is to do a rough sketch of the layout and transfer it to Templot. Things are looking up I have been promised a 3 Point track gauge & I have ordered some chairs from C&L