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David Holman

David's Workbench

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Fun with Nochenstoffen

 One of my favourite modelling tools, has to be the static fibre machine for doing grass. A few years ago, a square metre of grass involved all sorts of convoluted stuff, anything from glueing down lint and ripping it away when dry, to planting individual tufts of teddy bear fur and could take several days to achieve a less than convincing finish. Now, with a static grass machine, this sort of space can be done in a few hours and looks much more convincing too.

 Before I started with the greenery, a bit of time was spent toning down some of the ground colours. After, diluted PVA [about 60/40 with water] was painted on to the areas in question and given a good covering of static fibres. I used a mix of 4mm and 6mm lengths in two or three different greens, leaning to the yellow end of the spectrum. While this makes a dramatic improvement to bare ground cover, despite the range of colours used, it still looked too uniform, so the next day, I set about clearing some areas, like the edge of the ash siding and round the turntable rim, before going over them again with some short and medium dry grass fibres, to represent where it would be trodden down by footfall. Once this was dry, I then went over some areas again to make the grass longer in places and blend everything together.

 However, this still can look a bit flat, so what can really lift a scene is to add an impression of weeds and other leafy plants. Doing this is simplicity itself. A light brush over the tops of some of the fibres with that dilute PVA again, then a sprinkling of fine crumb [Woodlands Scenics darker green], with a few different textures mixed in and half an hour later, the whole area is looking a lot more interesting. I'll probably add a bit more later - perhaps some nettles and flowers, but it really does make a difference, I think.

 

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That’s looking good David, and some useful technique advice. Funnily enough, I tried my static grass machine for the first time tonight, so this was a timely post to show how it should be done!

 

 

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Edited by Galteemore
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Slowly adding details and refining some of the scenics. I spend as much time staring at the layout from various angles as I do actually modelling, it seems!

 The long grass and weeds between the shed and the turntable have been given some brambles. Dead easy to do - a tuft of postiche, sprayed with fixative and then sprinkled with fine crumb is all that is needed. A few brambles have also grown up around the buffer stop by the shed. Have since given the ground around the signal box the static grass treatment too.

 There is a robust fence around the cabin now, it is recycled from Arigna's cattle dock, but seems to look the part. Meanwhile, the distillery building has been set into the ground and some more work done on the harbour branch track, including two gate posts - again ex Arigna, this time the level crossing. I see the harbour branch as a private siding, lightly laid, that is awaiting a working horse [!]. Lark and/or the G2 will cover the duties for now...

 You might also be able to spot the start of a scots pine. Straight out of the Gravett book on conifers, it is based on a piece of 12mm dowel and thin wire. More on this later, as it develops.

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Wonderful - you should write the Wild Swan book on Irish 7mm modelling! Can just imagine ‘Lark’ fussing with some canvas roofed wagons on the harbour line....

Edited by Galteemore

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Baseboard 3, with the loco shed, is pretty much blocked in now, though a fair bit of fine detailing remains however. Work over the last couple of days includes:

  • Liberal use of chinchilla dust to create the cess alongside the tracks
  • More chinchilla dust mixed with with Polyfilla to do the ground in front of the distillery
  • Polyfilla, then fine scenic crumb and static grass to do the rest of the ground cover around the signal box and along the front edge of the baseboard. This afternoon, spent an enjoyable hour or so adding more fine crumb and postiche to create weeds and brambles on this new area.
  • A five bar gate to separate the harbour branch from the station. This was  mostly made from a mix of 100 x 60 and 80 x 60 micro strip.

  The main focus though has been turning to the trees. The scots pine - intended to help mask the exit to the fiddle yard - has been given two coats of bark mix [still needs at least one more], while four pieces of dowel have been tapered in the drill to make some conifer trunks. Two of these are underway, using Gordon's book on the subject, while my fingers are currently smarting from separating an industrial floor scouring pad into layers for the foliage.

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Double slip to single

 Apart from being viewed from the opposite side, the main change in turning Arigna Town to Belmullet is the addition of an on scene branch, going to the harbour. This was intended to be reached via a single slip & though I  commissioned said piece from Marcway, when it arrived, I found they'd actually built me a double. This was duly installed, but I must confess that I wasn't entirely happy with the scenario, for several reasons:

  • A double slip isn't really necessary, as all the required moves can be covered by a single
  • A double slip would require additional signals & though these would be ground signals, or even just point indicators, there isn't really the room to site them
  • The tie bars on the double slip need a fair old shove to move them, something I was not convinced the servos I'm using would be up to on a long term basis.

 So, have been brooding on this for a while, until redemption appeared in the latest edition of Railway Modeller, where a full page advert for the new Peco Code 75 diamond crossing, double and single slips nicely showed the differences between a double and single. Looking at the Marcway track, it soon became apparent that its construction would make conversion fairly simple, not least because the point blades pivoted on ordinary rail joiners, so removing two pairs was a simple matter of unsoldering the blades from the tie bars and lifting them away.

 The other work involved cutting away the curved stock rail and then using it to make a new, angled stock rail instead. This was also helped by the short angled section itself being joined to adjacent parts by rail joiners. Finally, a long check rail was made and all the pieces soldered in place. The whole lot only took me about half an hour - which only goes to show that a bit of forward planning can actually pay dividends once in a while!

 I then spent another half hour tidying up the sleepers and also some of the wiring, where I can only think I was more interested in making sure there was power to the track, rather than the wiring looking neat as well. The ballasting took much longer and still requires more work. Never my favourite pastime, but one of those jobs that, for me, has to be done properly for the track to look right.

 Now that Christmas is coming up fast, I then decided I needed a project that could be worked on in the lounge, rather than the workshop, as the former might seem a bit anti-social over the festive period, while I will definitely need something to keep me amused while others in the house are watching the usual rubbish on offer on the TV... Hence the last picture shows the mock up I made this afternoon of a water tower & coal stage, based on the one shown on p130 of 'Rails to Achill', by JHB of this parish. It is made of foam board, the thick walls of the prototype meaning I've had to use double thickness.  The plan is to cover it in water colour paper, to represent the rendered finish, with scribed DAS clay for the brick corners - hopefully a minimum of tools and a tray on my knees will be all I need.

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Edited by David Holman
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The new building is coming on well, David. It’s a brave step, taking on a Marcway point and hacking it about! You’ve made a great job of it - much cleaner than my efforts on my Marcway product.....My crossover came self-isolating but I decided to future proof against my incompetence by making it switched frog. I learned the hard way that rail cutters do not necessarily make good frog gappers - I somehow managed to remove a 5mm chunk of rail! A carefully shaped araldite plug means the gap is now fixed and invisible. Next time I’ll use the Dremel....

Looking forward to seeing what progress emerges from your living room! 

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Edited by Galteemore
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Christmas Projects

 As mentioned previously, I like to have some modelling to do over Christmas, because [unless you lie Soaps or Reality TV] there ain't a lot going on the gogglebox.

 The first couple of pictures show some experiments with conifers. My thinking is Belmullet needs  a few to act as wind breaks, not least around the turntable. The area looks pretty treeless on Google Earth, so a few planted trees won't come amiss. The ideas are straight out of Gordon's second book on trees and the models are built around some tapered dowel, with the structures made from either industrial floor cleaning pad or kitchen scouring pads. The latter, being thinner, are easier to work with, but unless you are a part time flamenco guitarist, your fingers will be sore afterwards! Basically you cut a series of circles, tease the material out, make a hole in the centre and then mount them on the dowel, fixing with PVA. The final touch is to use a puffer bottle to squirt on dark green, short, static fibres. Not entirely convinced and want to have a go with rubberised horse hair, which should give a less dense appearance, enabling the earlier versions to go at the back.

 The other two pictures show work so far on a Midland Great Western combined water tower and coal stage - the fortress type. It is based on a photo in Jonathan Beaumont's excellent book 'Rails to Achill Island' [p130]. There is also a nice engineer's drawing of a water tank earlier in the book. At first, I didn't realise how big it was going to be, but so far, it seems to fit the space I've allocated alright.

 The shell is foam board, covered with watercolour paper to eventually represent a rendered finish, as per Achill. However, it also needed a lot of brick reinforcing on the corners and around the door and window. This has been made using scribed DAS clay. The trick is to first put on a thin layer of PVA and then 'thumb' the DAS onto that to about 1mm thick. Leave to dry, then sand smooth before starting the scribing. Fiddly? you bet, but very satisfying and it means the mortar lines are easily carried around any corners. The tank is 80thou/2mm plastic sheet, though there is still a fair bit to add here, plus the sliding doors of course. Likewise the louvres on the round window are a pain to make in my experience, but it has come together nicely so far.

 

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Great work David. That coal stage already shouts ‘Midland’ before it’s painted! The corner work looks especially effective, like time-ravaged brick 

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The water tower and fortress coal stage is now largely complete. As the photos hopefully show, the additional work since last time comprises the doors and louvred window - the latter, as predicted being a real pain to make. What you see is the mark 3 version. I used a piece of UPVC pipe and then cut 7mm wide strips for each louvre, separating them with micro strip. The coal doors are simple enough & I used some leftovers from the SE Finecast turntable kit for the top rollers.

 Most of the time though was spent on painting. It took quite a while to match the render to colour photos I have of the real thing, while the green of the water tank pretty much defies analysis - it all seems to depend on how long it has been since the last repaint. Colour albums range from almost carriage green to totally washed out turquoise: at one stage I was seriously tempted to paint it black, as per Sligo in the 1950s. Part of the problem is that Belmullet will be depicted in two periods, early 1900s and the 1950s. My impression is that building colours didn't change much over the years, but if they did in this case, I may have to make a second model. Hopefully JHB will provide the answer!

 Brickwork is painted individually, not as hard as you might think in 7mm scale, with a limited amount of weathering thus far - back to the twin period problem again... Coal is the real thing, proper Welsh stuff that I found lying around years ago at a traction engine rally and much better quality than the stuff I found at the Arigna concentration depot back in 2013.

 Fintonagh, meanwhile is at Stevenage this weekend, so as ever, come and say hello if you are attending.

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That is spectacular!!! Really captures the look. Reminds me of my own trips along the old MGWR in the 80s - when such architecture characterised stations like Athlone.,Beautiful, understated work 

Edited by Galteemore
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Now THAT, Mr Holman, exceeds excellence! That brickwork is amazing, the whole thing looks SO realistic!

The paintwork is just the right colour for 1950s CIE.

In MGWR days it was red paint. The GSR used a darker green, but not on tanks, which I think were a dark grey. With CIE, some tanks were dark grey, others green just as above.

Often it got faded to a wish-washy greenish colour with much rust showing.

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The dogs dangly bits as usual from him goodself  modelling to the  highest standard.I think that sums it up.red eye flight to stevenage  this morning

Regards

Warb

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Thanks for the comments folks, though seems I may need a bit of artistic licence to portray pre grouping days. That, or citing red/green colour blindness!

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4 hours ago, David Holman said:

Thanks for the comments folks, though seems I may need a bit of artistic licence to portray pre grouping days. That, or citing red/green colour blindness!

Didn’t know you were doing MGWR times! Irrespective of anything, though, an extremely excellently done model.

Actually, your model is of a fairly common type of MGWR water / coal facility. I wonder, though, does anyone have pics of GSWR or GNR equivalents?

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5 hours ago, David Holman said:

Thanks for the comments folks, though seems I may need a bit of artistic licence to portray pre grouping days. That, or citing red/green colour blindness!

There is one possible way round it, with a degree of plausible historicity inspired by events a bit further east: one of the side notes in Cavan and Leitrim history is the application of Irish tricolour lining to one of the 4-4-0 tanks circa 1920 during the War of Independence. The loco was then known as ‘the Sinn Fein engine’. The political attitudes of Irish railwaymen played a role in the wider conflict, such as  refusals to convey military traffic. 

Given the long history of Irish nationalism amongst the  ‘men of the West’ it is no big stretch to imagine some enthusiastic Redmondites in a remote outpost like Belmullet painting its ironwork and woodwork green in the Home Rule crisis of 1911-14....

Edited by Galteemore
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Sorting Fintonagh

 As some of you will have read, Fintonagh was misbehaving at the weekend, with four main culprits:

  • The turnout to the turntable
  • The turnout at the entrance to the yard
  • The turntable
  • Uncoupling magnets

 The first two were covered in the Layouts thread, but the turntable has needed a complete rebuild, while the magnets remain work in progress.

 The turntable is a Peco N gauge one, with a wider deck to take 21mm track. Its 15cm diameter is just right for the Clogher Valley locos, while to many visitors' surprise, the railcar fits on too. Just. However, its operation is far from prototypical in that all the weight of the loco is born by the centre 'boss'. As this is where the sprung, plunger pick ups are located as well, what happens is that my heavy CVR tanks make the deck drop down about 2mm as they drive on to it and also tend to skew it sideways as they drive off too. Not good then...

 I've lived with this for a few shows, but wear and tear has started to cause problems, mainly a very stuttering rotation, especially when it is cold for some reason. The weight of the loco should be born by the single 'rail' in the well. This is simply a raised, moulded line on the model, with four, moulded, none rotating 'wheels' under the deck which rub on the rail and therefore simply hinder progress. A solution came to me from building the new South East Finecast table for Belmullet. Here, four ball bearings act as carrying wheels for the deck, so the weight of the loco is taken on the outside of the well and everything is thus better supported.

 You can see what I've done from the two photos, which show the underside of the deck. First, I cut two pieces of 8mm brass strip, to act as carrying arms for the four new outer wheels. At the outer ends of these, I drilled four holes and reamed them out to take Slater's loco axles. Working in 36.75mm gauge, I have plenty of spares of these. What I did, was grind off the squared ends, still leaving enough of the tapped hole for the wheel nut. A section of each axle was then soldered into the holes in the brass strip, leaving about 4mm sticking out, to make stub axles. On to these have been put a Slater's brass wheel bearing, to act as rollers on the deck bearing, with these being held in place with wheel nuts. All that was then needed was to use a junior hacksaw to cut a slot in the underside of each end of the deck, just inside the former dummy wheels. Finally, I bent the brass strips to match the curve of the rail in the well.

 Hence the deck is now supported where it should be, at its outer edge and there is no drop when a loco drives on or off. Happily, the plunger pick ups in the centre boss still transmit current to the deck rails! The real test will be at the weekend, when Fintonagh is operating at the Canterbury show, so cross everything, as they say. However, thus far, I'm rather pleased with the result, which owes a little to good engineering practices than my usual bodging techniques, with special thanks to SE Finecast forgiving me the idea in the first place.

 The magnets are a different story though. I use [mainly] 5mm diameter, 10mm long rare earth rods, in holes drilled either side of the track centre line. These attract [most of the time] the dropped wires on the Kaydee No 5 couplings I use. However uncoupling can be erratic at times, with in the worst scenario wagons failing to uncouple when place over the magnet, but actually coming undone when pulled across one. Very annoying, and more difficult to solve on Fintonagh, where wagons get turned around after each sequence because I have a turntable fiddle yard. Hence, no matter how much you practice/test, there are a great many combinations of wagons pairings, some of which, for whatever reason, do not work reliably.

 Talking to one of the Burnisland crew at Stevenage, it seems there are a few issues I hadn't considered:

  • Apparently, it can help to have the rare earth magnets slightly staggered, rather than opposite each other, as this helps stop the dropper wires being pulled in the same direction
  • It is important to make sure that all the magnets are pointing the same way. Not sure which is best [all north or all south], but one way gives a wider magnetic field for some reason. Perhaps somebody out there can enlighten?
  • It helps if the magnets are as far apart as possible, though even if your track gauge is 21mm, using 5mm diameter magnets doesn't allow that much space.

 Interestingly, I put 3mm dia magnets in the train shed and these work fine, as do the 5mm ones in two places further along the platform. The 5mm ones in the end loading dock have thus far foiled all attempts to get them working properly, so am going to replace them with two of the 3mm ones, to see what happens. Otherwise, it has been a case of sticking rigidly to the same wagons on each train and with each train shunting a single siding [exchanging just a single wagon each time], hopefully I can eventually rule out the 'rogues' and put them aside for future fettling. If it sounds like Fintonagh is not running well, fear not - generally derailments only occur through operator error and the couplings are around 80-90% efficient. However, when stuff is working well, it is a real pain when it doesn't as the whole illusion is spoiled. On these occasions, all I can say is that it is a good job any children present don't know what I'm thinking!

 

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Edited by David Holman
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Thanks David - sounds like a good and ingenious fix! Any recommendations on a source for the magnets, please? 

Edited by Galteemore

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Try Magnets4U, or an internet search for rare earth magnets will give you lots of options.

 For electro magnets, Dingham couplings ones are good.

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