Thursday, 23 June 2011

Creative Thinking

Finding myself in the centre of Sheffield last Saturday I had the opportunity visit the Model Transport Exhibition exhibition organised by local members of the Model Bus Federation. A mixture of buses, trains and trams, including a rather nice 7mm scale tramway with scratchbuilt trams.  A long, long time ago I was a member of the MBF and it was interesting to see the diverse range of models now available in both die cast ranges and in resin kit form.  Most of my model buses had been much kit-bashed Dinky Toys Atlanteans, Tower Models plastic kits and scratchbuilds!

Finding nothing to buy other than a Gn15 sized point lever and some old coach bogies, I headed away from the show to find the Sheffield branch of the Antics chain.  I had last visited this store when it was owned by TAG Models of Doncaster (now part of Modelzone) and I was curious to see what had changed.  Looking around the store I was struck by a couple of thoughts.  Firstly, the price of die cast buses has exceeded anything I have seen before, one of the reasons I stopped bus modelling (apart from a slight loss in interest) was that prices of die casts were rising out of my means, I was literally priced out of the market!  I have had a feeling for several years that any interest or involvement I still have in 4mm scale model railways is likely to now head the same way...

My second thought was actually just how lucky in some ways I am to be a 7mm scale narrow gauge modeller.  Almost nothing is handed to you on a plate, which is not only good for my pockets, but generates an air of resourcefulness and creativity in using what you can find at shows, and on occasion in model shops.  And yes, I did find something of use in the Sheffield branch of Antics.  They were selling 1/50th scale Preiser unpainted  figures for 75p each.  "Too small!" you might cry - but the seated figures aren't far off the same manufacturers 1/43rd scale examples, and of course there is also the blatant fact that there are smaller people out there, if nothing else they will pass for teenagers.


Now I don't think this is a general Antics initiative as I bought something similar on my last visit.  The Preiser 1/50th set is rather a mixed bag so getting these figures this way is fairly cost effective.  They will be added to the figures stockpile for a future project, or may even be used within my older stock to increase passenger numbers.

Oh, and I haven't forgotten the next part of "The ones that got away..." I'm just executing a rather cunning plan... ;-)

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The ones that got away... No. 2: 'Pioneer'

Another of those locos that got started but unlike a Mastermind question, never finished.  This loco was born out of a desire to build a small pleasure railway loco for a box file layout that would use some 4 wheeled coaches I had built.  Rather than re-invent the wheel, I opted to model what is possibly one of the oddest ' steam outline' locos to ever grace 15" rails, the 1947 machine built by Ken Rosewell of Bristol, 'Pioneer':


Now in case you think I am making this up, here is a YouTube video of the loco in action at Pixieland near Bude, Cornwall, courtesy of Nick Tozer: Pixieland Miniature Railway - 1993.  The original machine had a somewhat hazy history, but was eventually sold to Pixieland by the Trago Mills shopping chain.  After replacement by an Exmoor Steam Railway 0-4-2T loco 'Dennis', the loco was grounded, eventually being re-united with it's wheels by the Sherwood Forest Railway when it moved there late in 2007.  As can be seen, at some point (pre move) the body was rebuilt to a loose 'diesel outline'.  The loco is very much in need of an overhaul and is seen here on a rare outing on a passenger service in Nottinghamshire:


Coming next in the series... well, I'll have to find it first...!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Welcome to Friends Old and New

Just a quick post, right on top of The ones that got away... but just a word of welcome to those who are finding this blog for the first time and to those who have linked to it.  I was especially happy to find I'd made an entry over on James Wells' Eastmoor blog and also to see a reply to one of my posts from Ian Holmes over in Minnesota.  Ian and I have mulled over many a scheme together both online and in person and I appear to have put an idea in his mind again!

So welcome to O9 Modeller....

Colin

The ones that got away... No. 1: 'Badger'

Looking back through some old pictures the other day (when I say old I mean from the digital camera before the present one), I found a picture of an O9 loco that I started and never finished in the way intended.

This was to be a representation of the Kirklees Light Railway's 0-6-4ST 'Badger', based on the Bachmann 0-6-0 chassis with a suitably 'bodged' rear bogie.  It almost worked, however I became frustrated with the model after I had to raise the cab side sheets (really should have replaced them) and add another layer to the saddle tank, which incidentally started life as half a well known brand of glue-stick:


I was also becoming concerned by the way I would treat the bottom of the firebox and disguise the fact that it was sat outside the frames rather than just between them.  Maybe I should have built 'Fox' instead?!

What did eventually happen is after some dark thoughts of building it as a (hush) 009 loco to sell, the project transmogrified into an almost Frankenstein like creation that incorporated elements of Kirklees, Exmoor and Ravenglass ('Bonnie Dundee') design, mixed with a little Haldane Place magic  to become... 'Pandora':


Coming up next in this series, a contender for 'worst steam outline loco ever'....

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Further Deformation or Diluted Essence?

Last weekend I outlined how several months ago I had considered rebuilding Shifting Sands to fit into the railway room I then had planned, essentially elongating the layout into something that ran along two of the walls.  The drastic cutting of the baseboard was also given some thought in a second version which really would have put a new perspective on things.  Back to those 'lines of indecision':

White lines - existing edges and centre; blue line - existing backscene base; red and orange lines - proposed new baseboard edges.
Yet again the back of the layout and the ice cream parlour would be lost, but the twist would have been that the baseboard would be turned through 180 degrees to make the shaped edge the front of the layout.  A new backscene along the present front would have depicted a holiday park, and the sea would have been visible beyond the dunes, which would be to the left of the revised layout.  Again the running line would have been straightened out into the longer run.  Sadly there isn't a composite sketch to show you this time as I didn't have the right view to make one from and couldn't take one as the layout is on display at 'Rails to the Sands' in Cleethorpes.  I thought I had made a trackplan sketch but can't seem to locate one...

My main concern with this scene was that the layout was built to be viewed from one direction, turning it around would destroy this. Although I was open to the possibilities created there would need to be some work to change things, I was especially concerned about the platform fence blocking the view of trains in the station, however realistic this might be!

Eventually this image did make another idea form in my mind.  My new workbench looks set to be located in an alcove just over 3' wide by 1' deep.  The area over the workbench will be ripe for shelving that could possibly hold a micro layout.  Now 3' isn't that long a run for a miniature railway, even in O9, but what if I added a fiddle yard around the corner when in use?  Could the head shunt be on a similar bolt-on board?

Essence of 'Shifting Sands'?
The kick-back from the fiddle yard (on the right) would be to allow handling free operation and exchange of locos, something I wish I had incorporated on the original 'Shifting Sands'.  Well it worked on paper, admittedly a scale-less sketch, but would it really work.... as with the development of 'Shifting Sands', I turned to my test track to mock-up what might be possible:

White lines - fixed baseboard edges; yellow lines - bolt-on boards.
It is certainly feasible, but there would be issues with uncoupling on a 10" radius curve using MicroTrains couplers and the same issues I have on 'Shifting Sands' coupling back up after running around.  It was also rather too close to the original layout in many ways, and risked moving from diluted essence to poor pastiche. As any over-the-workbench scheme would essentially be a home-use test track, I asked myself could I get away with even less?  Is a loop a real necessity if a loco-swap was an alternative?  I doodled again:

Simplified over-workbench test track.
I have cunningly disguised the lack of a full loop by making it look like there is one, but as it crosses a road or pathway there is a gate across the far end.  It is a busy day and rather than run around, locos are simply swapped over.  Something similar used to exist at Lakeside station on the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway and sometimes was operated in that way:

The Cleethorpes Gate in 1995, with 'Little Giant' and 'King George V'.
The eagle eyed will notice that the ice cream van makes yet another appearance in the triangle of land between the station and fiddle yard kick-back on the plan.  I have no objection on this test track scheme to the kick-back being at least partially visible in the scenic area

This set-up, if built, could easily represent the other end of the Somerthorpe Miniature Railway, the much fabled 'Somerthorpe Promenade'.  Alternatively, I could really shake things up and set it in a town park, farm park, stately home or abandoned standard gauge trackbed.  OK, perhaps not that last one in that space....

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Secrets of the Railway Cupboard

So, as revealed in Sunday's post, the planned railway room was knocked on the head by a combination of cost and common sense.  I'll admit there followed some dark days full of contemplation, soul searching, potential sales lists and listening to to The Smiths... (OK, some of that might not be true, I certainly didn't manage to find the Smiths CD).  Perhaps I really felt that something had to change or give in modelling terms in order to carry on?

Whilst I'm still working on how to provide more space for layout building in the future, I at least have allocated work space (and a grand plan to use it) and I still have my storage facility.  Enter the railway cupboard (though not literally as you are likely to stub your toe!).  Our house is blessed with two walk-in wardrobes/closets and the one in the main bedroom has been the railway cupboard for many years.  Over that time random shelves have been added and I'd got it pretty much to suit my needs.  However, most of the paint and some of the plaster were falling off the wall and the gloss woodwork was going a sour cream shade.  So bad in fact, that I didn't take a 'before' picture to go with this 'after' one:

Refurbished Railway Cupboard.
As a summary of work completed, I removed a false ceiling at door frame height and all but one shelf; the middle rear shelf is original, those above and below are copies in the original architrave support/floorboard plank style; side shelves are pine on recycled brackets; the ceiling was papered (over the cracks!) and painted; the walls have been patch plastered, filled, base-coated and emulsioned; skirting and shelves primed and painted in water based satin (for speed) and the door frame primed and glossed. To finish off the floor has been covered with hardboard followed by self-adhesive vinyl planks.  Despite an injection of capital from the 'modelling fund' to buy some timber and the flooring, I've made as much use of left overs and recycled material and left over paint as I can to keep costs down.  Almost looks to good to put anything in there!

But I did....

Rather full!
To be honest there is more in there than usual, the contents of two stacking crates and everything to the left hand side on the floor is usually on or under the workbench, and will hopefully be out there again soon.  In usual form 'Shifting Sands' would sit on the left in it's storage box, taking up about 28" x 11".  I have made careful provision for storage of larger items in the refurbished cupboard, the lower shelf is over 4' from the floor, allowing me to store timber and perhaps one day a 4' long baseboard end-on.  Unfortunately there's a long way to go before we get to that stage, and there still might not be enough floor space to make it work.

So one thing that did occur to me was whether 'Shifting Samds' could be rebuilt in a format that took up less storage floorspace?  This would actually be a return to the very early days of the design when the idea was that almost everything over fence/figure height would be removable for storage and the board stored in under 6" depth.  I produced another of my composite doodles to see how it might look with a few of the bulkier buildings removed:

A less visually bulky, reduced height 'Shifting Sands'
The ice cream van makes another appearance (I do actually have the model in store), along with a camper van, also from Oxford Diecast.  The removeable backscene would be reduced in height to the line just visible sketched behind the vehicles.  A new, lighter weight, storage box would be made to complete the transformation.  Something does appeal to me about the simplicity of this arrangement, but echoing back to my previous posting, would it again be tinkering and diluting a proven concept?