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David's Workbench

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David Holman

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Looking back, I'm not quite sure myself how I did it in that time, Alan. However, I logged each session on the model and here is how they added up:

Day 1: cutting out tender parts - 1 hour

Day 2 & 3: soldering up tender body & frames - 4.5 hours

Tender therefore completed in 5.5 hours

Day 4: loco chassis - 2 hours

Day 5: add rods & rolling test - 1 hour

Day 6: footplate work - 2 hours

Day 7: pickups added to loco & tender - 2 hours

Day 8: paint chassis, then assemble cab & firebox on footplate - 3 hours

Day 9: rebuild splashers to fit chassis & wire up motor gearbox to test - 4 hours

Day 10: Boiler smokebox unit, plus general clean up - 5 hours

Day 11: adding cast detail items [chimney, dome etc] - 2 hours

The basic loco body structure therefore took 21 hours & the whole loco a total of 26.5 hours


Painting preparation, including detailing the smokebox door took 7 hours

Further fettling, painting the wheels & backhead took a further 4 hours

Final painting, weathering & lettering another 5 hours, bringing the total so far to 42.5 hours


So - must have miscounted earlier & there is still a bit more to do, but even so, the final tally should come in at under 50 hours. Not bad for a tender loco, but then it is a fairly simple loco, with not a lot of extra detailing. In the past, a lot of 7mm locos have run to 100 , hours each or more, though much depends on stuff like outside valvegear, external plumbing, plus things like lining, lettering & fancy paint job.

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Thanks chaps - though a good coat of paint hides a multitude of sins!


Some of you may have noticed that, while the G2 wheelbase fits ok on my turntable, the loco currently fouls the buffer stops. Seems I have two choices - move the buffers back a bit, or remove them entirely. Thus far, have failed to track down any photos of SLNCR buffer stops - maybe they were like the Donegal and largely did without. The latter is the easier option for me as would only need to titivate the foliage a bit. Moving the 'stops back is a lot more work as will have to dig into the scenery a little. No prizes for guessing what I'd prefer, so any info on getting away with the easy route is welcome


It looks like those long MGWR buffers might foul the loading gauge on the running line when you are playing spin the loco. Locos turning on the Athlone MGWR table fouled the loading gauge on the Down Mayo Line and was interlocked with the signalling system.

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Not only did you time it, but how much each task took. Very useful and will provide a good benchmark to others, with the following caveats

-Only cut a part off the etch when you need it, especially if it's small!

-RTFM (Read the f&&%^ing manual), it's there for a reason

-measure twice, cut once

-take your time and enjoy it. The build is the journey, and as much fun as the destination.


I timed my six wheel coach construction at c.8 hours without painting, but an instruction error (since corrected) made up an hour of this...

The Bredin Mailcoach took c.17 hours before painting, not helped by losing and having to redesign a door hinge or two (don't cut til you need it eh)

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Can only agree with your sentiments, especially the measuring and reading, though still need to do that twice as well!

However, do find cutting out parts from the fret helpful if I do a few at a time. Use either a permanent pen or masking tape to label the part numbers. For me it speeds up the process. Not for everyone though.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I don't think I'm particularly tight fisted, but somehow the idea of paying quite a lot of money for some model cows for my cattle dock rankled a bit. Slaters ones are at least two quid each and with a loaded cattle train and eventually a populated cattle dock, I could easily use £60-£80 worth. A lot of beer tokens in any currency.

So, set about hand crafting some. Started with a frame of plasticard, then painted this with dilute PVA and then covered the frame with DAS modelling clay to give a basic body shape. Tried to give slightly different poses too. Once the DAS had gone off, set about fettling each model to try & match it to a Slaters white metal one. Scribed in mouth, eyes & nostrils, then added a tail from 1 amp multi strand wire. Thus far have just painted them black, but will go back to them & try to give a bit more detail/colour. Which probably means some brown around the outlet end of the primary orifice - if you get my drift.

Not a quick job, which explains why ready made models are not cheap, but it has been an interesting little challenge & a change from more conventional modelling.DSCN1393.jpg






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  • 2 weeks later...

Would that I could bring the figures to life HF - thinks I could make a fortune! The nearest I've ever seen was on a load of American S scale stuff the Club inherited a few years ago. When figures were placed on a metal plate, vibration, presumably from an electric razor type motor [though it could have come from something else!] made them move. Hence you can herd cattle on to a wagon, or people along a platform. A real hoot to watch & guaranteed to make people smile.

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At long lat got round to altering the name plates on Fermanagh and Hazlewood, so they just have a black, rather than red background. While giving all the locos a good clean, decide to replace the fall plate on the G2, as the hinged version I'd made kept coming loose. The new version has two pins, which locate in holes in the cab floor. The loco has a new fireman too. The previous figure was very nice, but has an action pose. Looks alright in a photo, but less so in real time. Sorry about the G2 pic - my laptop seems to have hidden the edited photo, so this one is straight off the camera...




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  • 4 weeks later...

By way of a change, I've recently been tinkering with one of the Chatham club's 0 gauge locos. It is an interesting model, being a precursor of the current Ixion type industrial locos - in this case a 16" Hunslet 0-6-0T.

These ready to run engines were produced by 85A models [presumably Worcester] and were mainly plastic injection mouldings. Cost was around £150 if I remember rightly, though it must be 15 years or more since they were last made. A very nice job the made of them though. The Hunslet is a fairly simple engine, but there is plenty of detail, while the chassis, though also plastic, features a Mashima motor, with flywheel and split axle pickups. It runs beautifully, the only downside being the connecting rods were also plastic, as were the crankpins. Hence, the latter eventually broke and the loco has been out of use for some time. When I found it in a box, decided to have a go at repairing it. The solution was to replace the plastic crankpins with a set of heavy duty ones, sold by Derek Mundy, plus make a new set of rods from nickel silver and small brass washers for the 'ends'. The brake gear needed repairing too, as did the regulator linkage, but it proved a pleasant weekend's work, plus a bit of touching up of paintwork. Will also give it a name - Hornet - using one of the spare set of plates from the Tyrconnel J26 kit.

If you ever come across one of these on Ebay, then can certainly recommend them. Beware only the fact that 7mm scale is very infectious!DSCN1412.jpg[ATTACH=CONFIG]



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Couldn't agree more Eoin. Can be just as satisfying as finishing a new kit or scratch build. Not sure why, maybe it just comes from making a older model work again - especially if you can make it better than it was before.

Once managed to drop an 04 diesel shunter. A white metal Vulcan kit, it simply broke back down into its major components. Restoring it no problem but the fun came from adding extra detail and doing a better paint job.

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On my first ever layout, when I was 12, I had a brand new BR Class 31. My school friend did my an older one in BR green, which I preferred, but it had a broken bogie.


I painstakingly put the bits together with glue and after many crude attempts it ran perfectly; I was delighted. What a sense of achievement! Got me hooked...

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There is unlikely to be much re the Irish scene for a while - so my activities are turning towards the Chatham Club's 0 gauge project, for which I am 'gaffer' for my sins. This is BR 1940-60s, so hardly applicable for this forum, however, there are aspects of construction which may be of interest. I won't bore you with the full details, suffice to say that it is called 'North Circular', aiming to depict a North London avoiding line, which hosted pretty much any of the Big Four's stock & therefore ideal as a Club project. The Circular bit comes from the fact that it started as a 4m diameter circle, but is gradually being extended into what will become a 10m x 4 m oval. Small it ain't!

We have got the basics completed, with me actually using some ancient O level geometry and algebra to calculate the dimensions of the 12 baseboards which make the circle. These worked out so well that, even when we added 2.4m straight sections, everything still lined up. The boards are good quality 6mm ply, built from a jig we made to ensure all were pretty much identical.

What will come next [sunday dinner is nearly on the table!] will be some of the innovative techniques we are adopting. So back shortly!

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DSCN1431.jpgSo, suitably replete - farctate even - what's in this new project of interest generally?

Each baseboard is one twelfth of the original circle. This will include two 'bitsa' stations [as coined by Iain Rice], now separated by the storage loops on one side of the full oval. A 'bitsa' station is what it says on the tin - just a section, rather than the full thing. In 0 gauge, even a platform capable of holding a six coach train can be well over 3m long and, when you think about it, not much in the way of action happens at platforms. Trains stop & depart & that is about it. The real action happens in the goods yards [or did in the past], so that is what the main scenic section of the layout concentrates on, together with scenic bits to join them up.

The pictures show one of the stations [no name yet - need to find a suitable London street]. The main building is on an over bridge, flanked by brick built houses & with single storey, timber commercial premises opposite. The station is timber too, to reduce the weight on the bridge girders. The design is fairly free lance, though I confess to some GNRI influences, with access to the platforms being via staircases. Rather than model these in full, going down, externally, to the platforms, they copy the design of Chatham's station in that they reach the platforms under the road bridge - which helps reduce the amount of detail modelling required. Stairs ain't easy things to model.

The building is in skeleton form thus far, being just a frame of 5mm foam board. This has decent thickness, without adding much weight. It will be clad in lapboard and feature a full interior, so I'll try to report on its progress. Likewise the buildings around it. The whole scene sits on a large sheet of foam board, which at the moment is not fixed down, so I can work on it, away from the baseboard.

The double track you can see is C&L flexi, enhanced a little by super-elevation. this was done by packing up the outer edges by 3mm with card, the ballasted on top. Subtle, but very effective, especially when trains pass one another. Ballast is from Greenscenes. It is crushed walnut shell, I believe & though effective in appearance [especially when toned down/weathered], it doesn't always take well to the standard PVA/water mix and we have had to patch up several areas - with some still to do. Platform surfaces are 400 gritty 'wet and dry' paper, with plasticard coping slabs, while the platform walls are all brick paper, of the sort you download from the Web and print yourself.

The next jobs will be to create the stairs down to the platforms & add some supporting pillars. Watch this space...



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For a moment I thought you were starting a layout based on the Phoenix Park Tunnel line with a station near the real North Circular Road serving the Stoneybatter area of Dublin :)


I travelled quite a bit over the North London and other London Cross country lines, even reaching Dalston Junction after it was closed to regular passenger services.


Tons off atmosphere short passenger trains and unusual motive power on Interegional freight trains.


Will the layout have a 3rd or 4th rail?


I preferred the old ex Southern Region slam door to the more modern 303 units, then there was the oddity of BR EMUs mixing with Tube stock between Queens Park and Harrow & Wealdstone on the Euston-Watford DC line.

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Nice to see this has created some interest, though in this Workbench thread, will aim to concentrate purely on building techniques, though may well post a few more photos etc on the 'English' section of the website. However, just to answer a couple of questions, at the moment, we have no plans to add extra rails, because the inspiration for the project is the Tottenham & Hampstead line. This was never electrified [and does still exist], but carried pretty much all BR regional locos, with the exception of the GWR outside cylinder locos, which were just too wide. Hence we have licence for all the early BR diesels, plus LMS suburban and freight type, all the LNER Pacifics ran through at some time or other, plus their were plenty of SR types on transfers too.

Have attached a couple of pictures of the baseboards. Built of 6mm birch ply, they are very stable, very strong, but also very light. The only fixed surface is the track base [also 6mm ply]. The scenery is using the 'jigsaw' concept, with removable sub sections for an area of deep cutting. These use insulating foam board as their base. Being curved, the boards need to be kept fairly thin for economic transport [this is designed as an exhibition layout], so several scenic sections have been made removable & easy to slot in place once the main parts are erected. Hopefully the photos show the idea.

There will be a lot of brick work on the layout, so we are standardising on brick papers for this, which I think can be surprisingly effective. There is a new book on the subject by Peter Smith [of Kirtley Models], which is full of ideas and well worth reading. The other photos show a bit more of the station area, in particular how I've started the road over bridge. The surface is properly cambered and uses 400 grit wet and dry paper to replicate tarmac.







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  • 2 weeks later...



Those of you expecting something risqué, will no doubt already be disappointed by the picture, but these little jobbies are saving me 20 minutes of set up/knock down time at exhibitions. Mentioned them in my blog, but thought a photo might be useful. Available from your local DIY superstore, they replace M6 bolt and wing nut on my light posts, pelmets etc. Not very applicable for home layouts, where everything is nailed down, but a real boon on exhibition layouts. Will use them on the North Circular layout too - including slotting all the back scenes in place. 16 back scenes would need 32 bolts = around 15 minutes to set up. with flush mounts, the whole lot can be done in seconds.


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  • 1 month later...

The Chatham Club's North Circular layout is going to need scores of buildings for its urban setting, so I'm trying to ensure that we can build to a consistent standard. Step one of this is to use building papers, rather than embossed sheet. The ones we are using are from Model Scene. You pay to download various files & can the print off as many copies as you like, for as long as you like.

Their dark brown brick has been the choice for the houses around the main station, but the station building is deemed to be timber, so has cladding made from cereal packet card. Big windows mean that a fair amount of the inside can be seen, so further Model Scene files have been printed and used for walls & flooring, plus things like pictures, book cases, clocks etc. Also tried out CGtextures, a Dutch website which has a wealth of stuff including doors, floors, windows shops & much besides. Well worth a look.

At the moment, am doing my usual scratch built window frames - I can do a sash window in about 15 minutes. However, the cost of microstrip means each one can be anything up to a euro [75p], so have ordered some ready made windows from York Modelmaking. These work out at about £1.75 [2 euro] per window, so it is clearly going to cost the club funds a fair bit. Nevertheless, think it will be worthwhile as these features will bring a good level of consistency to our models, no matter who builds them. DSCN1476.jpg





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Realise most of you work in 4mm scale, but in case anyone is interested, here is how I make my own windows in 7mm scale & there may be aspects that work in both scales.

First up the glazing material. I've long used perspex, rather than clear plasticard. It does not cloud when it comes into contact with solvent. The station sash windows are approx 6' x 3'6, so i first cut a strip of perspex 3'6 wide and make it off into 6'1 lengths, which are then further divided into 3' and 3'1 [using my scale ruler] to allow for the overlap. Cutting the perspex produces a significant 'cusp', so this then needs paring off with a craft knife. The pretty much ends any measuring, for the frames [40x20 thou microstrip] are all cut in situ.

Once an outer frame is on each pane, the one that is to be the lower one is then turned over & two extended vertical sides are added. 40x60 strip is then stuck to this, to create upper frames & the top pane is then added to this, with a slight overlap. Two small pieces of 40x60 are added to create the stop blocks & then 20x20 thou strip is the final touch to make the central glaring bars. Total time - about 10 mins or so, once I get my eye in, though the first of a new batch always takes a little longer.

The completed window is then a push fit in the aperture of the building and [because it is a timber framed] an outer frame of 40x60 microstrip then glued round the end with UHU. Finally, solvent is run into the join between this & the window frame to fix it in place.

As I mentioned before, the cost of each window frame is about 80p/one euro. That is based on a pack of microstrip now running at £4, for 10 pieces and you use two of them. A York models version is show alongside for comparison. These cost £1.75 each, but construction time is nil. However, you don't get the proper split of a sash window & therefore cannot readily show them as open - as seen in the photo of the station building on Arigna Town.

Other photos show the various stages [sorry they are not in the right order - why does that happen?], plus how the windows are then mounted in the model.











Edited by David Holman
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Hi David


Excellent stuff, OO or O gauge the technique is the same. I plan to do the same thing on the Greystones Station Building.....


What glue do you use on the VIVAK plastic? I use this material but have not found a solvent glue for it, the manufacture recommends a solvent but does not name a product, nor answers emails regarding.


Love the building structures to, givenme loads of ideas



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