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David Holman

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Trees and scenics

 It seemed to take a long time to complete the buildings and back scene, so it is pleasant to report that the basic scenics on board two have been much quicker. 

 I want to produce a 'signature' tree, to hide the liberties I've taken with the back scene's perspective, so out came Gordon Gravett's book on the subject. His take on the twisted wire method for trees is interesting, because instead of unravelling a large hank of cable or wire, he starts with single strands & therefore builds up the model in reverse. It works well too. Using florists wire, you twist two or three strands together for an inch or two below the end of the branch, leaving the rest of the strands straight. You make enough of these to complete the thickness of trunk you want and bind them together with more wire from the base upwards, [creating the branches as you go] leaving a projecting section to go in the ground. On mine, I glued this in a length of brass tube, which then sits in a slightly larger piece of tube set in the baseboard. That is as far as I've got, because, while this only took an evening, the next stage - coating the wire with a PVA/artex mix takes ages, not least because a couple of coats or more are required. I don't have enough foliage material at the moment either!

 A second, half relief, tree has been made to help hide the front exit to the fiddle yard, past the warehouse. This has a more basic framework, again as described by Gordon in his book. A large advertising hoarding, shown by a sheet of foam board in the photo, will also hide the exit and hopefully suggest there is a road running in front of the layout [but off scene]. Am actually contemplating a front extension that might show this and create more depth - but not yet!

  So, could then turn my attention to the scenics. My preferred method is to first 'block in' the main areas [a bit like doing a painting], to get a feel for the work, then gradually work up the details. A static grass machine and puffer bottles make short work of tasks that would take many hours not that many years ago. 

 Going a la Gravett again, the first stage is to  prepare the ground surface. For me, this included improving the baseboard joint [bit of an earthquake crack up to now], then soften the track and ballast colours with weathering powders. Chinchilla dust was used for the yard surfaces [sprinkled on to gloss paint] and once all was dry, I could start the greenery.

 Hard to believe that this has only taken about three hours. I put down a layer of ground foam first [so the grassed areas don't look like a lawn], then after wetting with dilute PVA, got to work with the static grass machine. There are 3-4 different shades and two different lengths of fibres to give variety. I hoover up the excess fairly quickly, as it encourages the fibres to stand up better. Then, after this layer has dried, there is further fun to be had adding weeds and flowers. I dip a finger in PVA and wipe it lightly across the tops of the grass. Fine ground foam is then sprinkled on top. I've used Greenscene 'crumb' [light green and slightly larger], Woodlands fine medium green, plus their dark green with some white flower crumb mixed in. This is what really brings the scene to life and provides the all important variety of colour and texture you find in the real thing.

 So, coming on well, I think, though I want to do a lot more detailing, including a few larger shrubs and [lots of] nettles.













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3 hours ago, PaulC said:

All looking really good. What’s chinchilla dust?


Alternatively, take one Chinchilla, put in a freezer for two days and then put through the coffee grinder - preferably twice.

 Needless to say, Broithe is correct. Comes in one kilo bags. Fine sand works just as well.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Back to the wagon works

 The next stage for Fintonagh will be to make sure everything runs as it should, so before that, there is a need to complete sufficient wagon stock. I've probably got enough vans for now, but the Clogher had a fair few open wagons, so these have become the focus of my attention. If I'm honest, it has not been much fun either - a trial of endurance, rather than a labour of love...

 At first thought, there's not much to making an open wagon - two ends, two sides and a floor - plus an etched chassis kit from Branchlines. Quick and easy, right? 


 Norman Johnston's revised version of E M Patterson's history of the CVR has some lovely photos of rolling stock, including a three quarter view of an open wagon which shows all manner of fine detail. Not just things like the strapping, but all sorts of rivet and bolt head detail, plus cleats for tarpaulin ropes, strapping  along the tops of the sides and brackets to hold these in place.

 I considered doing a master for one side and end, to cast copies as per the vans. However, as I want several empty or lightly loaded opens, this meant interior detailing was required and I've yet to master that technique. I guess I could have cast sides and ends, then added an inner layer from plastic sheet, but that would have required an absolutely flat rear, plus the planks and bolt detail would have needed embossing on too. So, instead, I decided to apply the rivets and bolts individually and there are over 200 of the damned things on each wagon!

 No doubt anyone reading this is starting to question my sanity and I'm not sure I will disagree. I could have floated on squares of plastic strip, I could have riveted inner and our sides, then laminated them together, but in the end, I drilled a hole for each rivet and pushed a piece of 30 thou plastic rod into the hole, before trimming to size. I think it took about two hours to drill nearly 1000 0.75mm holes, then each wagon took an hour and a half to fit and trim the rivets. All in all, each wagon is made up of over 300 individual parts.

 Was it worth it? I'll tell you when they are finished. At the moment, the bodies have been sprayed with grey primer & the interiors painted as per Martyn Welch's book with a mixture of Humbrol 110 [natural wood], 64 [grey] and matt black. Ironwork looks to have been black on the prototype, with white lettering.

 The chassis is fairly regulation etched brass, though I've used Slater's 7mm scale wagon bearings instead of the 4mm versions suggested. I drill a 1mm hole in the bottom of each top hat bearing & the 'pinpoint' end of the axles goes in here. Because I'm using Kadee couplings and permanent magnet uncouplers, I've replaced the steel axles with ones made from 2mm brass rod. I cut it to approximate length, then put a pinpoint on each end by simply twirling it between my finger and thumb whilst pressing against a slitting disk in a Dremel. Crude, but effective.

 So, next time you pick up a simple wooden bodied open wagon, examine the fine detail that has been moulded in place and marvel at how cheap all that work is to buy.






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I absolutely love this ongoing work of art.

An aside, in the photo; this is where modellers have in the past assumed black painted ironwork; rust on same, despite being originally painted body colour! This will appear darker in black and white photos. (You can see one end member in better unrusted order). I always presume that this common misunderstanding is behind the "zebra stripes" on Whitehead's "Ivan" (though it doesn't excuse the cream inside balcony ends on it, also responsible for misleading modellers! Dunno where they got that one.....!)

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6 hours ago, jhb171achill said:

I absolutely love this ongoing work of art.

An aside, in the photo; this is where modellers have in the past assumed black painted ironwork; rust on same, despite being originally painted body colour! This will appear darker in black and white photos. (You can see one end member in better unrusted order). I always presume that this common misunderstanding is behind the "zebra stripes" on Whitehead's "Ivan" (though it doesn't excuse the cream inside balcony ends on it, also responsible for misleading modellers! Dunno where they got that one.....!)

The CVR even in its final years seems to have been something of a "spit & polish" outfit with smartly turned out locos and stock. The lighter colour of the underframe and bottom half of the angle iron on the end of 67 is likely to be a coat of dirt thrown up from running than the absence of rust, most Irish narrow gauge stock was vacuum rather than hand braked so the underframe was likely to be coated wit a combination or road dirt and brake dust.

Several photos in E M Patterson's book indicate that van and wagon ironwork were picked out in black in contrast to  the monotone in similar photos of GSR & GNR(I) stock.  Although in its last years the railway was operated by a Committee of Management of Tyrone & Fermanagh County Councils, the interests of the Brooke and other landed/military families who promoted the railway were still strong and no doubt instilled a sense of pride/loyalty in the Aughnacloy shop staff.

Funnily enough Ballinamore on the Cavan & Leitrim turned out at least one passenger brake van in green with snail & blackened ironwork as the rest of the passenger stock became increasingly decrepit in CIE days. 

Edited by Mayner
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Interesting! The monochrome pictures certainly appear to show that the corner plates, side and top ironworks are something much darker, with the anglework on each end the same colour as the body.

 One would assume the ironwork would rust fairly consistently, so is it indeed dark rust, or black paint? The covered vans show darker colouring on the door hinges, but not so the convertible cattle vans. Vic Welch's painting on the cover of the original Patterson history shows dark grey underframes on the coaches, but the paintings on the later version suggest coaches were the same all over, as per much of the rest of Ireland.

 Artistic licence? As there appears to be no colour photos anywhere of the CVR, it seems we are reduced to conjecture.

 Maybe it is the dark rust that Martyn Welch describes? Gunmetal 53, Bauxite 133 and oily black (2000 series)? Either way, that nearest corner plate in the photo shows clear signs of texture, but is it peeling paint or rust?

 If it was a 16mm scale wagon, I might be more concerned, but as the model is only 10cm long and normal viewing distance is at least 60cm, perhaps I shouldn't worry.

 It would be nice to know though!

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2 hours ago, Mayner said:

The CVR even in its final years seems to have been something of a "spit & polish" outfit with smartly turned out locos and stock. The lighter colour of the underframe and bottom half of the angle iron on the end of 67 is likely to be a coat of dirt thrown up from running than the absence of rust, most Irish narrow gauge stock was vacuum rather than hand braked so the underframe was likely to be coated wit a combination or road dirt and brake dust.

Several photos in E M Patterson's book indicate that van and wagon ironwork were picked out in black in contrast to  the monotone in similar photos of GSR & GNR(I) stock.  Although in its last years the railway was operated by a Committee of Management of Tyrone & Fermanagh County Councils, the interests of the Brooke and other landed/military families who promoted the railway were still strong and no doubt instilled a sense of pride/loyalty in the Aughnacloy shop staff.

Funnily enough Ballinamore on the Cavan & Leitrim turned out at least one passenger brake van in green with snail & blackened ironwork as the rest of the passenger stock became increasingly decrepit in CIE days. 

The CVR stuff certainly appears to be a mix. CIE narrow gauge wagons ended up in a deplorable state - thus, rust.

A few CDRJC wagons appear to have had some black ironwork, but others all grey.

When jhb171Senior visited the CVR in 1937, nothing black was to be seen on any wagon ironwork - at least, not by him. However, I have certainly seen photos showing black on some stock at least, so it is likely that the policy changed at some stage.

As Mayner says, however, on the NCC, UTA, GNR, GSR and CIE, ironwork was never picked out in black. Nor on the BCDR. Exception: the BCDR had eight private owner wagons belonging to C Ritchie. Initially at least, these had black ironwork. The East Downshire wagons also look as if they may have had black ironwork, but photographs are inconclusive given weathering and rust. 

In reality, black and white photos are highly unreliable for colour shades - very obviously!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Shannon - modelling archeology!

 Got Shannon on the workbench this morning, to give her a bit of a once over. Fascinating - to paraphrase Star Trek, 'It's modelling Jim, but not as we know it' and any slight doubts I might have had that this was not the original [but a later rebuild], we instantly dispelled. The wheels for a start. Slaters they ain't & I suspect they might be Wallsall cast iron jobbies. The fixing nuts are like large versions on the Romford 4mm ones, while the centre drivers are flangeless. Just as well in the case of the latter, as one side has a horrible wobble on it [2-3mm at the rim] because the wheel centre no longer fits snugly on the axle. Happily, this does not seem to affect the running, as the loco goes through all Arigna's pointwork without any problems.

 Hopefully, the photos give some idea of how dusty Shannon had become - probably in no small amount to being unused since June last year. There are a fair few chips and scuffs on the paintwork, so will eventually have to decide whether or not to treat that, though I suspect it might be Floquill paint - much favoured in the 70s, it brushed on superbly, but not easily available now. All I've done thus far is give it a good dust with paint brushes and a gentle clean with moistened cotton buds.

 I wanted to have a closer look at the mechanism, but separating body from chassis was a surprise. Normally it is one or two bolts screwed into captive nuts, but Richard seems to have made the footplate, chassis and smokebox as one unit, with the boiler and cab as another. The front of the boiler plugs into the back of the smokebox, along with various handrails and piping, while a tiny 12BA screw is all that holds the cab end to the footplate. Different, but it works! The mechanism itself seems to be a Portescap RG4, doctored to fit on a 3/16" axle, by using an additional set of gears. The final drive is a very thin gear wheel, probably only 20thou thick and there is a fair degree of lateral slack, but again, it works. Coupling rods look to be a single piece of machined steel [nicely profiled] and at around 3mm thick, were clearly designed for hard work. Indeed, when you think Castle Rackrent grew to over 200' long and was operated pretty intensively, then Richard's locos were obviously built to cope with that and Shannon has survived the hard work very well. The gears do make her a bit noisy though and it is a good job I have a Gaugemaster W hand held controller, as my usual HH has feedback, which the motor clearly doesn't like.

 Speaking of noises, the tender holds a Pacific Fast Mail sound system, but there is no easy way to get to it as the tender seems to have been made as a complete unit. There seems no way to get the wheels out either, but [as you might expect], these are all wired for current collection. The tender body is a nice piece of modelling, complete with the coal chute, lifting rings and so on, so it was a bit surprising to find a very crude load of coal, stuck on a bit of plastic sheet and simply lying on top of the tender.

 The loco bodywork is also very nicely done, with lots of detail, though the boiler bands are perhaps a bit crude by today's standards. The smoke box and smokebox door is especially nicely made and really captures the look of the Kitson original, while there is some lovely detail in the cab too.

 So, very much something to treasure - but whether or not I leave it as it is, or try to restore some of it, I'm not sure. It won't get intensive use on Arigna, but it will be good to run Shannon at shows, so whether I need to do anything about the wheels remains to be seen. What do others think? Any comments welcome, especially re those wheels.














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Hello David,


I would concur with Eoin; leave as is?  

The general consensus on antique and vintage is to keep it as original as possible.  Where repairs are required there are two schools of thought - blend in the repair, or highlight it to show what is original vs new.  I'm in the "blend in" camp, as I believe items were made to the highest standard and the maker would want them to look as good as possible.

You have a good-un there, and those that know will appreciate for what it is, those that don't, wont care either way.



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Thanks everyone for your thoughts. Mr Gravett concurs too and that is where I am leaning.

 Tried a but of T-cut on the cab roof this afternoon and the paint cleaned up nicely, so that may be the way to go.

 As Gordon said on the phone earlier this week, it could be an idea to build a replacement chassis, but with Shannon's also including the footplate and smokebox, that is a non-starter!

 The Gravett are staying with us for the Chatham exhibition in four weeks time, so we'll combine forces to see if anything can be done about the wobbly wheel. I could also invest in a complete new/alternative set of wheels/motor/gears, just for exhibition use, preserving the existing set for posterity at the same time, but that is probably another £120 and if it ain't broke, why fix it?

 As Eoin says, a gentle clean and a better coal load for the tender is really all she needs.

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Shannon revitalised

 As the initial photos showed, Shannon was one very dirty engine when I took possession, but it was soon apparent that there was a very nice model underneath. A good dusting using a paintbrush was the first step, then I tried damp cotton buds to shift some of the grime. However, this only succeeded in moving the muck around, so out came the T-Cut. An automotive product for restoring paint, it works as a very gentle abrasive. Wipe on with a cotton bud, leave a short while and then polish off with a cloth or another cotton bud. 

 I started with an area on the tender that would be covered with colour if the worst happened, but whatever paint Shannon was originally covered with was not affected - just the dirt came away. And it didn't actually take very long: within a couple of hours Shannon was looking a whole lot better. Left overnight, I then had a second look next morning to redo a couple areas and also polish off bits I'd missed earlier. However, polishing the T-Cut showed that the boiler bands were loose in places, so these were re-fixed using satin varnish.

 The other most noticeable thing wrong was all the chipped paint, with two areas on the cab roof and another on the boiler needing serious attention. It is one thing to touch up a bit of bare metal, but the covering needs to come level with the rest of the paint, or it still looks wrong. Then there is the problem of 'black'. Whatever shade Shannon was originally painted, it is neither matt, nor really satin black, more a very dark grey, with a tiny touch of blue. First I gave the bare metal a wipe with 'Birchwood Casey Gun Blue' - which is as per its name. Comes in a plastic bottle from Eileen's Emporium if [like me] you don't have a local gunsmith handy. Essentially selenium dioxide, thirty seconds is enough to blacken most metals, then you neutralise it with tap water: cotton buds again. After went over all the bare areas with a black spirit pen/marker, then it was time to get out the acrylics. An exact colour match wasn't important initially, more a case of building up layers to bring the bare areas level with the rest of the paintwork, while using acrylics meant there was only a few minutes drying time needed between coats.

 Eventually got the levels about right, then smoothed everything off with some 1200 grit wet and dry before finally trying to blend the paint in with the old top coat. The latter was slightly satin though, but rather than use varnish, I got the T-Cut out again and used this blend & polish the two areas together and [fingers crossed] it seems to have worked quite well.

 There were still a few other areas to attend to. The old coal load in the tender was scrapped in favour of a larger piece of plastic sheet [black this time], covered with real crushed coal glued in place the same way as ballasting track. Exposed brasswork, including name and number plates got a gentle polish with the 1200 wet & dry, while the crew got a fresh coat of acrylic [same colours as before] & were then glued back on the footplate.

The last job for now was making a better join between the boiler and smokebox. The frames, footplate and smokebox are all one unit, with the boiler and cab the other. The only fixing is a 12BA screw in the cab floor, with the boiler being a push fit in the smokebox. However, there is only 1mm overlap here, so I introduced a brass peg - 1.2mm wire, soldered into the end of the boiler, which engages in an existing hole in the back of the smoke box. This stops the boiler moving when you pick the engine up and [hopefully] reduces the strain on that tiny screw. Shannon is quite heavy - the boiler has a copper bar inside for weight, while the tender has the PFM sound system. All this is moved along by a very small Escap motor, but, it seems to work fine.

 What I haven't done yet is have a go at the wobbly centre driver. Being flangeless, it doesn't seem to affect running, but when the Gravetts visit in a few week's time, I'll see what Gordon thinks might be done.

 So, there you are, a fine model, now looking smart again. It has been a pleasure to work with, not least because it has helped me appreciate how Shannon was built and discover some [though by no means all] of the fine details that have gone into her. Compare these new photos with the first ones from last week and hopefully, you will see quite a difference.




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  • 1 month later...

You're  never alone with a clone...

 Hay fever season in these parts, so despite the nice weather, it is easier for me to lurk in the workshop. Back at Expo Narrow Gauge at the end of October, I bought a second Clogher Valley Sharp Stewart 0-4-2T kit from Ragstone Models. Unusually for me, it has been malingering on a shelf for the last eight months, so it seemed time to get it built, especially as I'd bought the additional bits and pieces from the Branchlines stand at the Chatham exhibition three weeks ago.

 There is not much point in re-iterating how I built it, for the kit is pretty painless and goes together really well. The etches are very accurate [little filler needed], with good quality castings and sensible instructions. It has got this far in just a week. Hence a clone of Blackwater, the first model. This one will be 'Erne' and as per the colour plate on Dr Patterson's book, is going to be green. As can be seen, it has already been given a witness coat of primer. The chassis rolled beautifully first time the rods were added and, unlike last time, I am not going to faff around with trying to make Joy valve gear as the motion is all hidden under the skirts. The only differences to Blackwater lie under the surface, as I somehow ended up with a 30:1 gearbox, instead of 40:1. Hence Blackwater will not be challenging it to a race.



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  • 1 month later...

Railcar No 1, again

Earlier in the year, you may remember I shared photos of a model of CVR Railcar No1 and also that I was less than happy with the result. I'd made a right Horlicks of the glazing, while in fitting the roof I'd somehow squeezed the sides of the passenger trailer resulting in a horrible concave bow. At least the tractor unit was ok!

 Anyway, the poor thing has been languishing on a shelf the past few months, while I drummed up the courage to  rebuild it. The 'muse' eventually overtook me last week, when I simply ripped trailer mark one apart. Drastic, but it got what it deserved... Happily, I managed to salvage the roof and the false floor of the passenger compartment, complete with seats and figures.

 The rebuild took much less time than I'd imagined, with only the section around the front doors causing problems. As might be expected, I took a lot more care with the glazing, also bracing the sides to prevent them warping inwards. The original roof sits inside the tops of the sides, so once glued in place, the passenger compartment became a strong box. Much as I would have liked to spray paint the body, I didn't want to mess up the glazing again, so it was brush painted with Tamiya acrylics. Lettering is done by hand, using white acrylic ink and a dipping pen. Once dry, I went over it with a dark yellow fine tipped marker.

 There are still a couple of jobs to do, not least adding the headlight and exhaust pipe. It also needs a Kadee coupler so it can tow brake Van No5, which I believe was the usual choice. Fingers crossed, the model should run well: the tractor unit is compensated and the trailer's bogie will have pickups fitted. Next job will be to build one of the butter vans for it to tow. Perfect, it ain't, but I can certainly live with the discrepancies much, much better than the previous version. 




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  • 3 weeks later...

A pair of new wagons

 Well, sort of, as I've only built one, but given it a different number each side.

 A review of my potential operating sequence showed I had a couple of problems in that the railcar, when turned, fouls the platform line, hence it will not be able to shunt a butter van to/from the loading dock as planned. Meanwhile, van traffic obscures the view of the turntable from both ends, so mixed trains will have to have open wagons, with vans being confined to the goods train. The latter is as much for variety as anything, because Clogher Valley timetables suggest that all trains were mixed, with little if any, separate freight. However, as this is my branchline, then one shorts goods per day is going to be included - probably hauled by the Unit. The vans [plus loaded coal opens] will be shunted off scene, via the kickback siding  front left, so won't present the same problem of blocking the turntable as on the mixed train. That's the plan anyway!

 The new model is a ballast wagon. The CVR had half a dozen of these, characterised by being 6" narrower than the other opens, with curved ends and what look like canvas shields over the axle boxes. Construction is the same as the other opens - tedious, in a word, for there are loads of rivets and bolt heads to attach. Used some Grandt line ones this time, but with over 100 needed, it was still a pain. The chassis is the usual Branchlines etched kit, with home made brass axles for 21mm gauge. Maybe I should have made a couple of masters for my open wagons and then cast sides and ends in resin. With hindsight, I could have saved quite a bit of time, though I have never tried casting double sided items, which of course any open wagon side or end requires.




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Thanks folks!

Nothing special about the weathering, all it took was a 5 minutes dusting with weathering powders. The effect is really pleasing for the effort required. I use a set available from Freestone Models 

 Larger scale is indeed addictive, but applying 100x 1mm and 0.5mm bolts and rivets certainly tests the eyesight. More than a few disappeared into the ether, along with a similar number of rude words.

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  • 1 month later...
On 8/25/2018 at 8:20 AM, David Holman said:

More than a few disappeared into the ether,  along with a similar number of rude words.

I always ensure that my range of expletives is fully stocked prior to commencing any model work. 

This way I save time having to look for the right word for events such as this!!

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  • 4 weeks later...

An attempt at sound and other stuff

Went to ExpoNG [the national narrow gauge convention] at Swanley on Saturday. Always a good show and especially so for me as it is rare to have a national event close to home, as most seem to be around Birmingham. The range of layouts was impressive, with a preponderance of small, 009 stuff, beautifully created, which really sets you thinking - there were working layouts in a footprint of less than 100cm x 50cm. There is a host of trade and RTR stuff available too, so nobody can say they haven't room for a model railway!

 However, as usual, it was traders I was looking forward to see most, with a shopping list that ranged from figures for Fintonagh and materials to start my next project, a model of the Clogher Valley's Atkinson-Walker steam tractor. Yes, I know the prototype was an abject failure, but on my Fintonagh branch, it might just have had enough power to bring a couple of wagons from the off scene goods yard, plus also to shunt a van or two from the back of the railcar. Much as the latter is more than capable of doing this itself, it can't because trailing wagons block the turntable. Good planning that...

 Initial disappointment at finding Branchlines were not present [prime source of wheels, motors and gears], were eventually tempered by the fact that I found a 16.5mm gauge motor-bogie with a wheelbase of 46mm and 2mm axles, for the princely sum of 29 euros too [it was a Belgian stall holder]. Boasts a flywheel as well. The AW tractor has a 6'6 wheelbase, so this is pretty much prefect for 7mm scale]. I was going to scratch build the model, but then perusing Alan Docherty's Worsley Works stand, I found he had some 7mm scale etchings for the Donegal's 'Phoenix' - which of course is what the tractor was turned into. So, I suddenly had the means for what I hope will be a fairly quick project, so watch this space.

 I also had at the back of my mind that there might just be something I could buy to add a bit of sound to both Fintonagh and Arigna Town. As I've posted elsewhere, I don't want to do full DCC [even though I have a Bachmann Prodigy setup], because to me there is little point on a one engine in steam branchline. However, I have long wanted to sound a pop whistle to alert the signalman that a loco is ready to run round, depart etc. Therefore was very interested to see that the EDF stand included a new [to me, anyway] Soundtraxx Tsunami 'Sound Car'. For those who can never have enough chips, the idea is to add these to various vehicles along a train, thereby expanding the amount of brake/flange squeal and so on. The chip also has a range of horn, whistle and bell sounds, which would be used on a driving trailer in various forms of push-pull train. At £48.00, the chip is less than half the price of a loco one, but includes a speaker and some other gimmicks like lights. After a bit of thought, I decided to risk it, on the basis that what I want is a fixed speaker, under the baseboard and this chip would enable me to do it.

 So, this morning, I set about seeing what I had spent my hard earned on. First of all, this entailed soldering the chip to the speaker [two purple wires], then the red and black [track] leads were connected to the Prodigy master unit by crocodile clips to try it out. All seemed fine, though the sounds are [very] American, so next I had to learn again how to change the CVs to get something more suitable. Eventually satisfied with this [simple enough once you get your head round the instructions], I then made a 'sound box' that can be Velcroed to the underside of either layout. It contains the 28mm speaker and the chip, with  two prongs to connect the wires from the command unit. Yes, I will have to take an extra box with me for all the Prodigy stuff and the operators will have to learn how to operate the sound features, but overall [at the moment anyway], it seems worth it:

  • I've left the chip address at the default number 3
  • F1 operates a bell, configured to a slow, hand rung, cast bronze version would you believe
  • F2 and F3 do the horn/whistle. Here, there is a degree of faffing about, as there are three options, none of which are perfect. Two are caboose whistles - one that sounds reasonably steam like for this side of the pond, the other higher pitched, but passes for both steam and an air whistle used on some railcars. The third is a diesel horn that should pass muster over here - in short form at least. A bit of programming on the hoof is required to switch between them, but nothing too onerous.
  • F9 is a generator, which gives a decent impression of an idling diesel engine. Turning the speed up a fraction gives flange sequel too.
  • F4 is a bit of a hoot - or should I say moo and baa. Called 'Beastbanter', it simulates a boxcar of sheep or cattle. Turning the speed up on DCC gets them excited [their word, not mine], so the amount of noise increases proportionately. This is not really my scene, but I do have a cattle train on Arigna Town [as well as a few cows in the dock], so it is tempting to use this from time to time, if only to amuse the kids.

 Arigna goes to High Wycombe next Saturday, so I'm keen to give the new system a whirl. The aim is to keep volumes at a sensible level, though anyone with multiple sound fitted locos on neighbouring layouts should now beware. My layouts can also make interesting noises as well! Just be grateful I haven't gone for smoke effects - though as far as I'm aware, there isn't steaming cowsh*t  available as yet - is there???

 Will post some pictures when I get started on the AW tractor.


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CVR Atkinson - Walker Tractor

 Spent Saturday exhibiting Arigna Town at High Wycombe [photos on RM Web]. The new sound system proved ok, with background lowing of cattle, but the whistle/horn needs the volume turning up a bit.  Now have a three week window before Warley, so decided to make a start on the new loco for Fintonagh. Ok, loco is exaggerating things a bit, as the AW tractor never actually turned a wheel in traffic for the CVR, eventually being turned into the Donegal's diesel tractor, 'Phoenix'. As noted in my previous post, ExpoNG yielded a working chassis, plus a set of Worsley etches, though I've decided to model the original steam tractor, so changes are required. Why, you ask? Well, originally I thought I might be the first one to have a go at the said engine, but turns out its already been done in 15mm scale and live steam, no less. Whether there are any 21mm gauge, 7mm scale versions remains to be seen. Anyway, I happen to think the original was much better looking than Phoenix [though this isn't saying much], plus the tractor is probably ideal for duties on Fintonagh.

 So, what have I got? Photos of the etches show that what you get is far from complete. There are no frames, though there is are etches which might work for the axle boxes and springs. Likewise, no interior detail, though the motor bogie will get in the way a bit anyway, while choosing not to do Phoenix means I need to make a new end and tank top. A roof is provided, but will need shortening to match the original version, then there are various things like beading, handrails, water tank filler, chimney and so on to add - plus much deeper buffer beams and fenders. However, Worsley Works stuff is very much at the scratch building end of the spectrum, so these etches take some of the cutting out, filing etc from the project, especially as they include difficult things like window frames.

 The AW tractor [no name or number ever applied] had 2'6" diameter wheels, which have proved a bit of a challenge. Eventually found some 4mm scale tender wheels of approximately the right size in both the Alan Gibson and Ultrascale catalogues. The latter are the correct disc pattern, but as the site quotes a 10 month delivery time, it will be AG wheels, even though they are spoked - I should be able to make some covers from plastic sheet. Have already made some new axles, from 2mm brass rod and fixed these to the gears with Loctite 638 jointing compound.

 As can be seen from the photos, the working chassis is quite a neat little thing, with flywheel and driving both axles. The cast block it sits in should mean it will haul exponentially more wagons than the prototype, though I will have to grind bits off it to ensure clearance for the wheels. Next job will be to adapt the chassis so it can be bolted to the footplate.








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Good luck with your interesting project - The Locomotive that Never Was - it could be a film?

Henry Forbes, in true style, made quite a success of the little tractor after ten months of surgery at Dundalk. I always assumed that it was simply the Strabane shunter, but when scanning Lance King's photos, I realised that successive photos of Phoenix were at Strabane and Stranorlar!

I was tempted to get a model made of another loco which never made it off the drawing board - Ron Pocklington's single ended Turf Burner! I could replace my G Class with one?

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