Sunday, 29 May 2011

The Deformation of Shifting Sands?

This is the first of at least a few posts where I hope to update readers of the current progress of railway related issues chez Peake, from the practicalities of railway modelling in the family home to dealing with ongoing building and decorating work.  Plus, some of my present random thoughts on layout design may be included.

As many readers may know, we are presently having a lot of work done on the house (or doing it ourselves) and this has caused railway modelling to fall to the wayside for both practical and time reasons.  Practical in that a lot of things have to be moved around and stored in places they wouldn't usually be found, and time wise... well someone has to do the painting and other work!

One thing I had hoped to gain through the various works underway was a proper 'railway room' of my own.  My workbench has sat in the corner of the bedroom for several years and a separate work area and layout building space was planned.  This would have been created by splitting the bedroom in two with a new (very short) corridor serving the new rooms:

Railway room ('Study') to the right.
Alas, several factors have seen that this won't be happening.  Firstly, the railway room got smaller as the plans went on, it would have been 5' 6" x 7' 3" in the final version, as to cut the costs I had decided to retain the chimney breast in the main room, hence needed more space in there.  This would really have left the railway room too small to be practical, despite the attractive 7' 3" wall to build a layout against.  There was a factor here as 'Shifting Sands' is 2' deep and needs operating space around it at home.  It just wouldn't have fit.  But what if it could have been straightened out and incorporated into a home layout?

Shifting Sands extended (to fit 7' 6" x 6' 6" room) - lower sketch is later thinking.
At 18" wide this would have still intruded into the room some way, the lower sketch shows how the board could have been tapered to be less intrusive.  Cutting up the layout in this way would have been tricky to say the least but I pushed on with the thinking, drawing up this illustration to prove to myself it was possible, I saved this as the 'lines of indecision'!:

White lines - existing edges and centre; blue line - existing backscene base; red lines - new baseboard edges.
Finally I had an artistic moment and created a composite image or how the layout could look with the backscene moved and the line straightened off, I think I might have left the old line crossing the road in typical re-aligned miniature railway fashion.  The ice cream parlour is replaced by an Oxford Diecast ice cream van, so no worries about the supply of the cold stuff on those blustery Lincolnshire days...:

What might have been - the deformation of Shifting Sands.
Fans of 'Shifting Sands' will be pleased to hear that this isn't happening, indeed, despite other ideas to rebuild the layout (of which more anon.) I think things will remain as they are on the layout's return home, sometimes a concept works best first time and subsequent tinkering can dilute and ruin a layout's design and impact.

The main reason the railway room won't be happening is slippage in the renovation budget.  A couple of other jobs have come in over and above what I had predicted (hoped) they would and this has led to me to reconsider this project, despite some additional funding being available from the 'modelling fund'.  However, plans are afoot to create a new, custom work area once redecoration is complete, and in the mean time I have made some progress elsewhere which improves life for the little folk.  More next time....

Monday, 23 May 2011

Alan Keef K12 in O9

This isn't the entry I had planned to write this week, that will have to wait for a few days when I can easily access the scanner to help illustrate it....

As an alternative, and hinted at a few weeks ago, I thought a look at the O9 Alan Keef K12 I built last year might fit the bill.  This was intended for my industrial micro layout (pre Misterton Fen Tramway) and was built reasonably to scale, being made just a few mm longer and wider than scale in order to fit the Bachmann Plymouth chassis.

Bodywork was marked out on 30 thou styrene and cut to form a basic 'kit' of parts:


This is thinner than I often use and in many respects this was an experimental model.  The nature of the real loco is that it was difficult to build a separate chassis/underfame unit so this was integral with the bodywork.  Much use was made of re-enforcement behind all joints and to keep the bodywork square:


Just in case you were wondering, the springs were wound by hand from fuse wire around plastic rod... at this stage to loco did stall for a while but I eventually had a work-in and finished off the detail, soldering up an exhaust pipe and adding bolt heads on the plain cab side:


I really was intending on keeping this loco but with the change in emphasis and era for the micro layout it was eventually put into primer and placed for sale.  I had the rather odd experience of posting it to the other side of the world from the rather grand, old style Post Office in Filey, whilst we were on holiday!  Before it went a trip to 'Shifting Sands' was made for the benefit of the photographer:


So there we are, most of the industrial stuff is done, hopefully before the end of the week I can write (and illustrate) the next two blog posts I have planned....

Saturday, 7 May 2011

O9 on show at Burton

Visiting the annual convention and AGM of the 7mm Narrow Gauge Association today I was struck by the number of O9 items on show.  In fact, I'd go as far as saying that I haven't seen that much O9 in one place before...

Layout wise the flag was flown by one minimum gauge "classic" and a relative newcomer.  Rather than his usual 'Big Cat Mine' in Gn15, Steve Bennett of Sidelines/Black Dog Mining fame had brought 'Black Cat no. 2' along with him, it is the same concept but just that little bit smaller. This of course demonstrated items from the Black Dog Mining and Avalon Lines Ranges:



In the smaller of the two halls Christopher Payne was demonstrating his O9 layout 'Brink Valley Tramway', a minimum space layout, just under 3ft x 8 1/2" - in fact the size of three sheets of A4 paper to suit a the rules of a competition it was built for.  The original simple run-off has now been replaced with a much larger set of hidden sidings which Christopher has indicated might be used for a larger project in the future:



Not O9, but next to the Brink Valley was Brian Cameron's 'Bottom Road, Summerhill Estate', built to the same competition guidelines but in O-16.5.  This used many items of rolling stock from the Black Dog and Avalon Lines ranges and it was easy to imagine a version built to the smaller gauge:


In terms of trade, despite Howard Martin's absence with the Avalon Line stand (due to a family commitment), there was again more O9 on show and sale than before, with several new products on display.  Firstly, as caster of the Avalon Lines range, Steve Bennett had the two new open coaches on sale.  These are 12 and 16 seaters in modular form, from masters that I produced myself last year.  These come complete with bogies and wheels:


Steve also had a new version of the Black Dog 'Mite' for sale with the chassis re-designed to fit the Kato 'Tram' chassis.

Allen Law of Minimum Gauge Models was displaying all sorts of new products for the O9 and Gn15 modeller in etched brass.  I had seen his Heywood stock at the Trent Valley members day of the Association back in January, but the range has now increased to include other subjects.  One that took my eye was this Basset-Lowke 4w coach, with some Fairbourne additions such as arm rest rails:


Allen is rather keen on the Fairbourne and has even made a model of the canteen car and generator wagon that used to sit at Barmouth Ferry!


Other new models include a 4w diesel to fit a Kato chassis, which looks very like an enlarged 'Redgauntlet' from Romney, and a representation of the Romney "Scooter", also to fit the Kato chassis.  I have purchased one of these and hopefully later in the year I'll get the chance to build it up, which will be a challenge to my ham-fisted brass soldering skills:


Also on display were these rapid-prototype models of Ravenglass 20 seat coaches designed by Jamie McBride.  I have some reservations about the surface finish from this process at the present time but like all technology it will get better over time and hopefully cheaper too:


One thing that struck both myself and other observers was the size of these coaches - is 'big' O9 the next thing, are we going to see layouts based on Ravenglass and Romney practices with near scale length trains?  I know at least one person who thinks so, he has bought a few of the items mentioned above and has promised  to keep me up to speed....

After today's show I am confident that O9 is about to become a more popular branch of 7mm scale narrow gauge models.  One or two traders have let some details slip on other new items that are on the way in the future and it certainly looks bright!