Monday, 13 March 2017

(no) O9

January rolled on in to February, February rolled on into March... the workbench refused to stir.

Yes, it has been a quiet couple of months where various other things have gotten in the way of railway modelling. However this has given chance for reflection and absorption of various ideas through visits to exhibitions in February, contrasting the overwhelming but often mediocre show at Doncaster and the excellent event arranged at Newark by the Lincoln club.

March brought Narrow Gauge North, where 7mm scale was in the minority but the trade support gave access to the 7mm Narrow Gauge Association sales stand and it was good to catch up with Minimum Gauge Models. Allen had a few new products on show, the one that caught my eye (and snared my wallet) was this etch of grilles, louvres, hinges etc:

I've spent some time in the last week or two on the concept and practicalities of a new project, which will be a new direction but one I've given some consideration to recently for various reasons. I will go into a little more detail in due course but here is some 'concept' artwork:

Of course, what isn't apparent from the sketch is what scale or gauge this will be in... there might be a clue on the heading of this post...


Sunday, 15 January 2017

A Salted Tub

An oddity on my fleet of stored O9 wagons was a Black Dog Mining WA25 mine tub, a recent purchase from ExpoNG in 2015. It came with the Gnine version of the chassis which looked odd in O9, so an old 5' Black Dog chassis was re-purposed from another wagon and placed underneath.

As it was not really suited to my usual interests I proposed to experiment and use the method of using salt to mask to create a rust effect on this wagon, as described most recently in 'Narrow Lines' (7mm NGA) but previously published elsewhere. This base layer of rust effect is stippled on acrylics over Halfords red oxide primer - Humbrol Red/Brown, Vallejo Hull Red and artists Red oxide, followed by a slightly more orange mix of the latter:

Having left the rust stippled paint to dry overnight I wet the surface of the wagon body and added the salt - a mix of rock and table salt - with hindsight a lot of the rock salt was far too big in size (despite my efforts to crush it). This was then left to dry out (aided by the airing cupboard):

Once dried out I did remove some of the larger particles of salt before spraying over the wagon with Halfords grey primer and again left to dry:

Once the grey paint was dry I rubbed off most of the salt and then washed off the residue. The effect is very pleasing and I think I would struggle to achieve this any other way:

The next stage was be to paint the underframe to enhance the wood effect and also to add some further weathering to the body by adding some texture to selected rust areas using weathering powders. This was applied over dabs of Vallejo Matt Medium to provide some adherence. It does look rather bright but once varnished it toned down:

Before varnishing I did add a little more rust coloured weathering powder to the worst patches, then the next day I sprayed with Humbol aerosol matt varnish which dried satisfyingly matt. Once the varnish was dry I added some light dry brushing around the body edges and wooden chassis frame, and some metallic dry brushing on the coupler blocks and axle boxes.

This has certainly proved to be an interesting diversion during the Christmas and January period where a lot of real life happenings have restricted the modelling time somewhat....


Monday, 2 January 2017

Adding a Touch of Rheidol?

It appears to be the time of year for raiding the 'grey' projects box - those almost complete models in primer awaiting the inspiration to complete the paintwork. Following on from the recent wagon exploits and due to join them in the queue for another blast of primer is my semi-enclosed conversion of the Chivers O9 coach kit. That I hadn't got around to painting it is in some ways is a bonus as I have now decided that it would benefit from a different roof.

Although I was making best use of the Dapol Railbus roof parts in the original build, I wasn't happy with the way I had treated the ends of the roof, it looked more like a GRP moulded roof plonked on an older coach, which whilst perfectly feasible in 15" gauge wasn't the look I wanted. It didn't help that the roof was under-reinforced and starting to banana upwards, further not helped by gentle pressure to relieve this... Snap!

I decided to cast about for alternatives and offered up a Parkside Vale of Rheidol roof (available as a spare ref. DP08) - the width is just right...

With the roof trimmed to length, rainstrips added and the ends reconstructed, I think that this is an improvement. As a bonus it now sits a little higher and matches my other enclosed stock a little better. What isn't apparent from the picture is that this roof was once split down the middle and widened in a failed attempt to re-roof one of my 'Exmoor' coaches, then reconstructed and filled at the original width! I won't tell anyone if you don't....

I managed to get the shed workshop warmed up sufficiently over the New Year weekend to put a coat of primer over the rebuilt coach and new roof. All seems well, when the time comes to add a top coat it will just need a light rub down with 1500 grit wet and dry. I am getting the urge for a two-tone scheme but I'm not sure what yet, that may depend on which project it is intended for.


Saturday, 31 December 2016

(to) Absent Friends

A big deal is made in certain circles about the so called 'curse' of 2016, and it is true that it does seem that more well-known individuals have been lost in the last 12 months than other years. But there are other loses closer to home that should not be forgotten, sadly I have attended more funerals in 2016 than ever before.

The miniature railway community felt the loss of one individual in particular in 2016, Dave Holroyde, who passed away on 2nd July. That this news came only days after the arrival of our baby daughter made it difficult to balance the contrast.

I had first made contact with Dave nearly 20 years ago whilst researching the 15" gauge railway at Britannia Park and always found him to to be knowledgeable and helpful, even with my more oddball enquiries! After years of correspondence we eventually met and then worked together on various projects with the Miniature Railway Museum Trust. His records almost always had the answer, his photographic archive the right picture. When I needed to illustrate Trevor Guests' Pacifics for my article in the 'Review' he was the first, and only, person I turned to.

Yesterday, whilst attempting research on a photo of a 10¼" gauge railway that had appeared on a forum I remembered that I had some notes from Dave on a relevant topic that provided an extra nugget of information.

Dave admires Peter Leadley's O9 model of 'Bonnie Dundee', built by Paul Windle

So tonight I'll raise a glass to an absent friend. Thanks Dave 🍺

Wishing all O9 Modeller readers a prosperous 2017.


Thursday, 22 December 2016

Wagons - an Estate of Mind

I often say that when I find myself tinkering with wagons that there is some indecision in the air... and it is probably true...

My O9 wagon fleet has been through a few sessions of splitting bodies and chassis, new bodies on old chassis etc, often to revert back to the starting point once I've got whatever frustration it was out of my system.

Although I generally scratchbuild my own wagon bodies, over the past few years I have collected together a number of Black Dog Mining wagon bodies for some long-term 'industrial' project. For some time this has included two WA05 open wagons:

Back in the summer I posted a picture of this wagon alongside Roger Chiver's Theakston wagon kit, and Roger commented on the combination: "They almost don't look like they are the same scale. It's the planks I think." The more I thought about it, the more it rang true... an attempt to cut one down to a single plank height did nothing to improve matters and they still looked huge alongside my own scratchbuilt, miniature railway proportioned stock.

These thoughts were occurring as I thought about the potential for a scenario where a 15" gauge railway was conveying loads, e.g. a farm or estate. I was reminded of two wagons that I built back in 2004 by cutting down (in width) two Black Dog WA04 bodies, adding handles on the ends to represent 'Tops' wagons:

These wagons were subsequently sold on, but I had a reference for the dimensions so could scratchbuild a "replica" on one of the existing chassis...

Having marked out the parts for a second it wasn't long before both wagons were in the process of being re-bodied. 

My usual method of creating bolt heads on wagons is to dice a suitable styrene section into thin slices then apply them individually (much the way Steve Bennett has on the masters for casting). On the first body I used Evergreen 30 thou square section, whilst on the second I used 25 thou round section. In the past I have also used Plastruct Hex section. Once applied I leave them to dry overnight and use a wide flat file to reduce them all to the same depth (I'm hopeless at cutting them the same). The second wagon is now awaiting this treatment.


Thursday, 8 December 2016

Carriage and Wagon

Winter maintenance occupies a lot of miniature railway's time at this time of the year, and it is no different in O9. The carriage and wagon department for 'Shifting Sands' has been busy (despite the railway not operating this 'season'!) with a few bits of catch-up work.

Coach 15, one of the scratchbuilt Exmoor-style fleet, has received a new roof. It is in fact the second new roof on just over a year, as the thicker one that it had last year looked out of place compared to it's stablemates. The new roof is formed from 20 thou styrene, heated in boiling water and reinforced underneath with various sections of Evergreen strip.

Meanwhile, one of the open wagon fleet has had something of a transformation. This is based on an example from the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway and originally built upon a Black Dog 5' chassis that dated back to my early O9 days. The chassis was robbed for another project and the body initially put to one side, until I decided to add a new chassis based on a Peco chassis, styrene section and axle boxes from Wizard Models/51L.

This has lowered the wagon a little and got rid of the slightly 'tip toe' look it had before, here is it when first built by way of comparison.

I have to say that both of these projects have created a fair bit of frustration in the paint shop, must be the time of year....


Sunday, 20 November 2016

Two Steps Forward....

I completed the paintwork on the second of the two cut-down Avalon Line coaches that I acquired recently. In contrast with the one that was completed in a run down state and incorporated into a diorama scene, this one is ex-works in maroon with yellow lining. I have far too many carriages so this one will be moving on shortly.

I have been doing a little work on my O9 wagon fleet, making a few changes (such as the tool wagon seen in the last entry with 'St Edwin') and subtly rebuilding others. Wagon tinkering is usually a sign that I'm in an indecisive mood, and on this occasion that is equally true....

Having progressed a little with the idea of a desk-sitter this has now been put on hold as the intended board was not as suitable for reconstruction as I had thought, leading to it's untimely demise. Other ideas are in the melting pot, so watch this space.