Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Up-cycle - Uncoupling Magnets

I have been experimenting with uncoupling magnets for Up-cycle in those few spare moments over Christmas. The Micro-Trains coupling system (as with is's larger Kadee cousins) has the useful facility to serve many sidings from one magnet in the headshunt, using delayed action to uncouple a wagon before pushing it into the siding.  However, this  is useless if you wish to uncouple within the siding itself, you would need another magnet in each siding anyway....

Having decided to install uncouplers in typical uncoupling locations rather than rely wholly on delayed uncoupling, my installation has gone through some development. I initially installed MicroTrains' own magnets, however I discovered that they are not ideally suited for shunting individual O9 wagons as the wagons are the exact same length as the magnets, making for all sorts of accidental uncoupling incidents whilst trying to couple beyond the magnets. I am advised that it is possible to carefully score and snap the magnets to make two shorter ones, but that wasn't really something to try at 3pm on Christmas Eve!

I have therefore created my own magnets from pairs of 18 x 3 x 3mm ferrite magnets from Squires, set approx 0.75mm apart with a styrene strip between, and with some 0.5mm styrene underneath (L-R: individual magnet; magnets in position; the packet as bought):

Some experimentation soon finds the correct orientation of the magnets to attract the droppers on the MicroTrains couplings. The two magnets should attract each other along the sides, the two top poles are the same. I marked each magnet to show which way around it should sit before installing them with the magnet tops level with the rail head:

The sequence shows the magnets in use, starting with pulling up over the magnet and the couplings starting to feel the force of the magnet below:

Pulling apart the couplings are fully attracted to the side:

Pushing back together the couplings adopt the delayed position, should that be required to push a wagon further down the siding:

Obviously these magnets are still quite experimental, but that all adds to the fun!


Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Up-cycle - Some thoughts on setting

Lets face it, there isn't really that much that can be done scenically in a space 29" x 6" and without much depth.  Whilst planning 'Up-cycle' my thoughts were alternating between a scene that could definitely be linked thematically to 'Shifting Sands', i.e. another part of the Somerthorpe Miniature Railway; or a generic scene that could be anywhere on a 15" railway.

My first thoughts were for a shed scene, the "other shed" that must exist somewhere on the SMR as the sheds at 'Shifting Sands' are not that large.  My original idea was to have a dummy traverser on the rear line to create a three-road shed (inspired by the traverser that used to exist at Steamtown, Carnforth - as pictured here), however by the time I came to sketch the idea out, a dummy point was planned due to space restraints.  The shed would have been a removable facade only, the tank on it's stand adding some much needed depth:

At the other end of the board, a workshop building based on the old Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway workshop (now hidden amongst other buildings) could have stood in front of the fiddle siding.  This sketch also shows (lower left) an alternative idea for this siding based on the 'Shifting Sands' WW2 pill box and some Peco railings. Upper right is an idea for the right hand end using a removable container as part of a permanent way store:

These last two sketches could come to fruition, as the scenic work is more likely to follow the more generic path. As an example of the sort of thing that can be achieved using walls, fences and scenic details.  This is a diorama I produced several years ago which may provide some inspiration for the scenic treatment on Up-cycle:

May I take this chance to wish all readers of O9 Modeller a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


Saturday, 20 December 2014

Introducing 'Up-cycle' - A MicrO-9 Project

As some of you will know, I'm very short on space about the house these days and my workbench lives in a walk-in bedroom cupboard, aka the 'Railway Cupboard', aka the 'Tardis'.  Over the years various schemes have been sketched up to get a working bit of railway in there but most were just too daft to actually build, or would compromise space somewhat.  Last month I pictured the workbench in a rare, tidy moment...

This month it's a bit different:

I've always come back to idea that the best way of getting a working "layout" in there is simply a desk-sitter shunting plank.  So the size is rather pre-determined.  Finding space to store it whilst not in use is the other main design criteria. 

During a week off work in early December I managed to create a workable baseboard based on the principles of a box file layout (which was an alternative at one point) - i.e. three low sides and a base, but dispensing with any folding bits and incorporating some timber under the base for strength and to give the wiring somewhere to run. What you see above is all 29 1/2" x 6" of it, underneath it looks like this, you can see that with some foresight I drilled two 16mm holes in the ply roughly where the slide switches for the points would be:

Almost everything is recycled from somewhere or second-hand, hence the project name 'Up-cycled' (and we know what happened to my last project name..).  The ply was part of some boxing-in we removed from the living room during redecoration and the timber (allegedly pine but I'm not convinced) from a shelving unit I built as a shoe rack during that week off. The strip along the front is some 'J' section timber, marked up as costing me 20p at some point in the past. Everything was glued and screwed/pinned together and the result is a lightweight, strong board. All ply and timber parts are varnished to help avoid warping.

On top of the ply is a layer of 5mm foamcore and then cork tiles, this composite accepts and holds track pins with nothing poking out underneath.  Trackwork is all Peco, the points were secondhand some time ago and the track is mostly some short lengths I picked up for 50p at a recent exhibition, although some short rail lengths were swapped for longer lengths from the spares box to avoid too many joins.  Points are operated and frog polarity changed using slide switches recovered from an earlier project:

The overall height of the sides of the board is 70mm.  This is very low to be a backscene but can be disguised with walls and fences. This is where the second part of my design criteria came into play - any micro layout had to store in a very shallow space above a set of drawers:

All wiring is now complete and test running has commenced using my MG Models tram loco and A1 Models diesel. I hope that eventually I will be able to do a little shunting of sorts and certainly for testing MicroTrains coupling set-ups. This low level shot shows that there is enough depth to also allow use as a photographic backdrop:

More as and when the project develops.


Sunday, 16 November 2014

Infamy and Inactivity

Examination of the latest (December 2014) issue of the 'Railway Modeller' has me, and 'Shifting Sands' implicated as an influence on Peter Leadley's O9 'Clee Valley Railway'....

Do have a read about Peter's exploits in a version of O9 that is very much in my own, miniature railway, way of thinking rather than industrial.  It is no secret that his Paul Windle-built locos were a driving factor behind the creation of my own 'King George VI' locomotive.

This isn't the first time I've been implicated in the 'Modeller this year, I seen to recall getting a mention in the articles on 'Roundtree Sidings' earlier in the year, and a picture of one of my 4mm scale wagons recently appeared in 'Traction', sans credit <<grrr>>

You may have noticed that it is three months since the last update of this blog - I've been rather tied up with domestic activities of late, however the workbench is now clear of other-roomly content, a few bits of storage moved about and is ready for take off, although with precisely what remains to be seen - watch this space.

I can't let a title such as Infamy and Inactivity go without this....


Monday, 18 August 2014

Building the A1 Models O9 Hunslet - 3

The paint shop doors opened, a bright glow came from within, the Hunslet was ready....

The main colour is Halfords Rover 'Blaze', over-coated with Testor's Dullcoat. Other colours have been picked out in various acrylics, although the cab roof is actually just left in the primer...  The driver has also been painted/varnished but must have nipped to the pub when the photos were being taken!

Jobs left to do at the time of taking the photos were to fit MicroTrains couplers and also add some weight into the chassis frame and bonnet (now completed).

I have had contact from John Flower at A1 Models to say that a second cab etch is in development more suited to 15" miniature railway use 


Sunday, 20 July 2014

Building the A1 Models O9 Hunslet - 2

An update on the A1 Models test etch build.  Most time spent on it has been spent on the chassis block, adding in details such as the transmission cover in the cab (covering the chassis block), smaller cab details from various Airfix/Dapol Drewery/Railbus spares, a Black Dog brake lever and details on the chassis frame including Grandt Line boltheads and scratchbuilt coupler pockets (to fit MicroTrains couplers)

A driver's seat was then added to the scratchbuilt chassis block.  This uses parts of the handrail moulding from a Knightwing shunter kit to form the tubular supports, with planks from 60 thou styrene offcuts:

Every driver's seat needs a driver, he is a bashed-about, forced to sit-down, Prieser clone, posed with his hand on the throttle lever:

Meanwhile, on the bonnet I have added filler caps for fuel and water, and on the far side the exhaust finds it's way up the front corner of the cab:

Apart from cleaning-up and blackening the corners etc, the model is now about ready for the paint shop.


Sunday, 6 July 2014

Building the A1 Models O9 Hunslet

I've finally had time to wield the soldering iron and put together the A1 Models O9 loco body kit that I was handed at the 7mm NGA AGM in Burton. I've also started to create a scratch-built chassis frame for it to ride on a Bandai 4w chassis as I've no spare Kato ones at the moment.

Before building the cab I had some reservations about it's height, however as the photo above shows, for an industrial loco representing a 18" gauge prototype (or even as a small 2ft loco built on a 'Spud') the height of the cab isn't really a problem. Alongside a Black Dog Mining open wagon and it looks in proportion. However, for use as a 15" gauge loco running with passenger stock such as the Avalon Line bogie coaches it is a little bit tall at 54mm (a scale 7'6" ish). Feedback has been offered to the manufacturer on this point.

My scractchbuilt chassis frame is very much in the vein of Black Dog Mining products - in fact the axleboxes and springs are from that source. I'll add some more details to the chassis frame and in the cab before finishing it off as an industrial loco for that non-miniature railway project I keep promising myself to start!

Overall the etches were very easy to put together and didn't really take that long at all.  I've had to add my own roof as this set of pre-production etches didn't include one.  Hopefully A1 Models will be encouraged to produce some further O9 models as these products are always very adaptable and customisable.


Monday, 30 June 2014

East Midlands 009 Society Open Day (and beyond)

We had an enjoyable day yesterday at Portland College near Mansfield, venue for the 009 Society's East Midlands open day.  Flying the flag for 7mm scale at an 009 event is quite an interesting experience (although I did have to explain once that Shifting Sands isn't an 009 layout!), although we weren't the only non-009 exhibit, as a OO gauge 'Thomas' layout was in attendance an examples of O-16.5, On30 and other scales on some of the displays.

On the right you can see my small 'sales corner' where I managed to shift some surplus items in aid of my daughter Chloe's Girlguiding international expedition to Iceland in 2015.  Speaking of which.... She is required to fundraise to pay for the trip and with a little lot of help from her family is currently producing various craft items for sale - you can see many of them on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/chloeiceland

Dad's duties include cutting and drilling MDF blanks to form various novelty signs etc, and I realised that I could use one of these to create something rather special for us to sell. It is a 20 cm x 15 cm (8 x 6 ins) 1/43rd scale garage diorama, ideal for displaying your favourite model car!

The price to blog readers for this item is £20.00,plus £4.50 postage (1st Class Recorded Delivery). All proceeds apart from postage cost will go to Chloe's fundraising pot. The Bedford van in the picture isn't included, but it is available for £2.50 if anyone is interested in buying it with the diorama. (Sold!)

And finally.... seeing A1 Models at Mansfield reminded me of what I had been handed at Burton and briefly hinted at in a blog entry at the time.  This is a pre-production etch for an O9 loco based on a Jenbacher-Hunslet in the vein of 'Gwril' (the third) at Fairbourne.  Feedback has been invited by the manufacturer and hopefully this will be the first of several items for O9 from this source.


Sunday, 15 June 2014

Twixt Burton and Mansfield

The 7mm NGA's AGM and Convention at Burton was rather O9-free this year, which can only be expected really as last year we were rather spoilt by O9 layouts for the expected launch of the revised 'Going Minimum Gauge' handbook.  Although this publication has been delayed, I was able to view a proof copy and let me tell you, it will be worth that wait... I was also shown (and handed) something else of O9 interest, but more on that another time.

Returning home I was fired-up enough to add the finishing touches to my sign and detail changes on 'Shifting Sands', most of which can be seen in this shot:

If you can't spot all the changes, compare it to this:

I've also been rest running locos and stock ready for the layout's appearance at the 009 Society members day in Mansfield on 29th June, including the new tram locomotive (which incidentally was admired by it's designer at Burton!):

As I suspected, this loco is a little taller than the other stock, although I do recall that the Cleethorpes example was also quite tall, and what's a 15" gauge railway without some size difference?  I couldn't resist this recreation of a typical Cleethorpes scene of years past....

I've found a few little jobs to keep me busy over the coming fortnight, mostly related to couplings and coach roofs, plus further test running!


Sunday, 8 June 2014

A Quick Paint Job for Toby

My MG Models "Toby" tram has now received a quick (by my standards) paint job into an appropriate colour scheme.  In fact, from primer to varnish only took a week, but that is more down to luck than anything else.

Prior to priming most of the bodywork was prepared with Birchwood Casey gun blue in order to promote adhesion and hide any future accidental chipping.  The parts were then scrubbed clean for a final time and dried off with a hairdryer.  At the point of priming (using Halfords grey primer) the body, underframe, roof and interior were separate units.  The day after priming the body was sprayed with Halfords Ford 'Tuscan Beige' to get the wooden colour.  Whilst this was drying the roof and underframe units were brush painted with acrylics.  Prior to varnishing the body and underframe were Araldited together.  Varnishing used Testors 'Dulcote' - my first experience of this product and a satisfactory flat finish.

Whilst the exterior was being painted, the interior had a different approach to painting.  The grey undercoat was used as a base, over which I ran a wash of black acrylic paint to sit in the recesses and detail. Once this was dry I dry brushed the engine block with a metalic acrylic shade, ans picked out various details such as air tanks with solid colour.  Once everything was varnished the interior was stuck into the body using Evo-stick.  The roof was then located into position (I had added bent lengths of wire in each corner to locate it), then held in place with elastic bands and Araldite carefully applied to the inside corners and points along the sides/ends.

All that remains to do is to add a little weathering.  Actually, a little more weathering, as can be seen in the pictures, a weathering wash was used over the beige part of the model before varnishing in order to pick out the planking and the recesses of the framework.


Monday, 2 June 2014

Beachball II

As a follow-up to the last entry, I have now added a couple of rubber rings to the mixed basket and the all-important 'Sale' sign.  The rings are rubber O-rings given a coat of Halfords primer and painted with acrylic paints.

I have also worked on the sign advertising the deckchair and windbreak hire services, adding a frame and giving it a coat of matt varnish.


Friday, 30 May 2014


"Tonight's alive/The beachball's set to fly" (REM)

In addition to the establishment of a deckchair and windbreak hire service, the Shifting Sands kiosk is pleased to announce that they have started selling assorted beach goods...

These details have been created using A1 Models 4mm scale depot equipment pallets as baskets, with a mixture of items within them.  The hats are Preiser, the bucket and spade assorted castings from the spares box, and the beachballs...?

Some map tacks from my childhood pin-board!  Several of these had coloured stripes added by hand and were then matt varnished and the pins cut off to fit into the basket.

I have also been working on the new signage for the kiosk, and have decided on three new signs that won't overdo the effect.  More on these another time.


Sunday, 25 May 2014

Hiding Toby's Secrets

When we last saw my MG Models 'Toby' tram build it was a basic shell with the option chosen for two grille openings in one side, and I made comment about fitting styrene panels across the doorways to hide the Kato drive.  Just forget you read that bit...

After a period in the doldrums the project has now moved forward.  Having considered converting the body into a rather neat brake van/coach (a suggestion actually made to me by Andy Greenslade when I bought the kit), I went back to basics on the interior and decided that rather than hide what was in there, I would model what could be in there.

Using a combination of parts from the scrap box I have created the impression of a 15" gauge tram-outline internal combustion locomotive which is almost plausible as the sort of thing an enthusiastic engineer could produce!

The basis of the interior is in fact a Parkside Dundas wagon floor, cut out to fit around the Kato mechanism. Onto this I balanced the centrepiece, the engine moulding from an HO scale generator set made by LifeLike.  This is another of Andy Greenslade's ideas, he produced a model based on one of MG Models modern diesel kits which had one of these under the bonnet.  The driver's seat is from a dismantled Cararama Land Rover, sat on supports made from Dapol Drewery shunter footsteps.  The Drewery spares box also provided the parts for the control panel, whilst Dapol Railbus spares provided air tanks, a box (of who-knows-what) and some electrical looking boxes under the driver's seat.

There are a few more tweaks to make but hopefully the project is now heading in the right direction.


Saturday, 17 May 2014

Relax... Hire a deckchair!

It's been a warm sunny day, the sort of day for sitting on a beach and relaxing in a deckchair.  In fact, this chap has been doing so on Shifting Sands for many years:

A few weeks ago fellow O9 modeller Andrew Blackwell asked me where to get deckchairs suitable for 7mm scale, and apart from the Prieser example above from their Luftwaffe ground crew set, I drew a blank, but a week or so later Andrew emailed me:

"Incidentally I received these 1:48 deckchair kits yesterday from Jane Harrop Miniatures half way down the page here:  http://www.janeharrop.co.uk/48th-beach-hut.html

They are a very fine fabric, & looks like laser cut wood. I've built 1 up in folded position to try & they are very sharp looking. A few might look OK on shifting sands. The beachhuts look nice too"

And so the kiosk on Shifting Sands will be going into the deckchair (and windbreak) hire business:

I bought two pairs of deckchairs and one windbreak, but by cunning use of the spare deckchair frames and an offcut of fabric from the windbreak (there's a reason it's rolled up!) the impression of more chairs is possible.  A little dry brushing is required on the wooden frames of the deckchairs to tone them down a little before they are added to the area in front of the kiosk.

I'll also be taking the opportunity to have a play with the signage on the kiosk, especially as I now need to add deckchair hire to the services on offer.  I have developed a habit of photographing suitable seaside signage, usually of the older variety, with modelling use in mind, and I hope to use this example from Skegness in the revised scene:

Finally, advance notice that Shifting Sands is due to attend the 009 Society, East Midlands Area Group open day in Mansfield on Sunday 29th June, where the above changes can be viewed.  Details here: http://www.009society.com/diary.php


Finally - really - in case you are wondering where 'Toby' is, he is currently undergoing (several) rethinks, he's not a happy tram engine at the moment....

Sunday, 27 April 2014

In Toby we Trust

After a period of minimum gauge inactivity I had some spare time yesterday and put together the basic structure of the MG Models 'Tram' kit, an interesting exercise in soldering.  I can think of five different interpretations of this loco design on 15" gauge (many on Lister undeframes) and whilst the kit is not really representative of an individual loco, it is certainly characteristic of the breed.

I have chosen the option of fitting grilles to one side of the body, various different panels are provided and the kit can also be built as a brake van if desired!

Since taking these photos I have filled in the doorways with styrene planking, in the style of the Lister tram loco that used to run at the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway.  These will hide the workings of the Kato chassis.

Hopefully this will be a fairly quick build as there really isn't much to it (he says...).

Just in case you wondered what I have been up to in the meantime, I have been dabbling with a little bit of O-16.5 in the form of a couple of scratchbuilt wagons, simply to prove to myself that you can build wagons on 00 gauge chassis without the end result looking exactly like a 7mm scale body on a 4mm scale underframe.  The one-plank wagon is freelance, with the body built in styrene; whilst the open wagon is a fairly close model of a Vale of Rheidol ex-Plynlimon & Hafon Tramway wagon with the body built in basswood.

Whilst a O-16.5 project is some way in the future, the direction for wagon building is now established and the chassis donor stockpile is growing at minimal cost.


Sunday, 26 January 2014

Fitting MicroTrains Couplers to the Chivers Finelines O9 Coach

I made my choice to use MicroTrains couplers (and trucks) at a very early stage in my O9 modelling and it isn't something that I have regretted. Admittedly, it has been fiddly at times, has caused some obstacles, but there has always been a solution (even if that was just to fit MicroTrains bogies in place of those supplied in Avalon kits).  The arrival of the Chivers Finelines O9 coach kit has provided the latest challenge - I was determined not to change the bogies over completely!

First things first, the bogies were built as per the instructions, ensuring they were squared up correctly and the wheels sat flat on a glass surface.  At this stage I did not add the coupler mounting strip provided.

Before constructing the body I made openings 3mm x 11mm in the headstocks on either end - this will allow the coupler to swing as the bogie turns, as seen here on the completed adaptation:

The modifications to the mounting strip were all made before it was fitted to the bogie and can be seen in the diagrams below....

Fig 1 - Cut the end of the mounting strip 11mm from the centreline of the hole that fits over the bogie (approx 14mm from the end of the part).

Fig 2 - Shape with a rat-tail file a semi-circular indent into the end of the part - this is to allow the MicroTrains 1015 coupler to work correctly (under pressure it pushed back out of the draft box).

Fig 3 - a) Add a 20 thou styrene shim 8.5 x 5mm under the mounting strip and level with the cut end - when set shape this with the rat-tail file to match.  b) Cut a 40 thou styrene piece 6.5 x 5mm, adding a taper at one end over about 1.5 mm.  Fix this in place and once set trial-fit both the mounting strip and wheelset, if need be use the rat-tail file to create extra clearance.

Once this has all set, drill a 0.9mm hole on the centre line in the exposed 40 thou platform, 2mm from the front edge (check using the draft box to locate exactly). Effectively 'tap' this using the MicroTrains coupler screw and clean up any excess styrene burr.  Optional at this stage is to shape the end of the 40 thou piece to make it less visible underneath the coupler when fitted.  The mounting strip can now be stuck to the bogie:

This view shows how the bogies look once fitted with the wheelsets, the clearances are rather tight but the bogies remain free rolling.  You will need to shorten the MicroTrains screws for the final fitting - I used a razor saw with the screw held in my desk vice:

An overall view of the completed (unpainted) coach with the bogies and MicroTrains couplers fitted: