Sunday, 13 December 2015

The "Chivers Diet" - the Results are In!

After a lot of slicing, dicing and generally making it up as I have gone along, I can reveal the finished products of both of my Chivers Finelines O-16.5 to O9 conversions. These wagons were both rebuilt from assembled kits in a batch of five that I had acquired at a very reasonable price via the NGRM Forum.

The 2-plank wagon is seen complete, weathered and fitted with couplings. I have had the brown MicroTrains couplers in stock for a while, they suit this use better than a grey wagon or locomotive bufferbeam, in reality they do not look so obviously plastic.

The steel-bodied wagon is also now painted, when I said that it would have a splash of colour I meant it...

I've always liked this shade of grey-blue, I had an early O9 bogie wagon painted like this, plus a Gn15 loco at one stage - I also know that it is a popular choice with Steve Bennett of Black Dog Mining fame! Some subtle weathering in the form of colour washes and dry brushing have brought out the details in the Chivers mouldings very well. Using a 1/43rd scale drone I can show the interior weathering and plank effect on the floor.

Those who have followed my wagon ramblings over the years will realise that both of these wagons are in rather different colours to my usual choices, is there perhaps some scheme in the back of my mind that needs the wagons to all be different colours...?

Who knows ;-)


Monday, 7 December 2015

More Chivers go Slimmer

Whilst I haven't had a lot of time at the workbench of late, I have had a tinker with the parts from a Chivers steel-side open. This is another from the same batch of secondhand wagons as the two-plank and once stripped of old paint it was obvious that it was a little lop-sided. It was certainly well glued together (perhaps too well) and I had to be brutal to get it apart, I nearly regretted starting....

With the ends cut down and a new floor, this is the result:

I had envisaged this as a bogie wagon and opened out the headstock for a bogie mounted coupler. However as it reminded me of the drop-side wagons at the Kirklees Light Railway, the decision was made for it to be a 4-wheeler. Having completed basic assembly I filled the headstock back in to create a space suited to a MicroTrains coupler and then added some corner strapping to finish off the ends.

Underneath a previously split-in-two Peco chassis forms the basis of the running gear with Plastruct 3mm channel as the solebars. All of the N gauge spring and axlebox detail was removed from the chassis mouldings and as an experiment I used 51L Highland Railway axleboxes in their place.  A few strokes of a file removed the top section of each box to allow them to sit neatly in position. Visually this trick works very well. 

A coat of primer covers up many sins and allows all the filling and sanding to be hidden. The home-brewed sections of strapping are nowhere near as neat as the fine Chivers mouldings but hopefully once painted they won't look too bad.

This wagon is now in the paintshop getting a splash of colour.


Sunday, 29 November 2015

Just Sayin'...

At an exhibition the other day there was a box full of TT gauge wagons, some Triang, some kit built. Knowing that some 009 modellers have used the bodies of these in the past I wondered if any could be used for O9.

As it happens, the Triang TT tank wagon body looks like it will be a perfect fit on a Avalon Line AL82 54mm chassis....

One for the future no doubt.


Saturday, 21 November 2015

Playing with Post-its (wagon painting)

A quick progress report on the Chivers 2-plank wagon conversion/slimming to O9.  Having painted the bodywork with Humbrol red/brown I realised it would look better if I could pick out the ironwork in black. I realised that picking it out would be rather time consuming and fiddly, so I came up with* an alternative....

I cut two strips 8mm wide from the sticky end of a post-it note to use as masking, it is sticky enough to hold itself in place but not affect the paint below.  The strips were cut to fit between the hinge straps and end end uprights.

Using a mix of black and beige acrylic paint, I dry-brushed the hinges and uprights to get good colour coverage - it does not have to be perfect, as weathering will add to the effect in due course.

With the masking off, the result is quite effective...


*I say came up with, but I suspect it has been tried before!

Friday, 30 October 2015

A plan so cunning...

As previously alluded to, I have acquired several Chivers Finelines O-16.5 wagons requiring repair as a job lot, and the 2-plank wagon was next for a bath in 'Superstrip', revealing a few interesting quirks such as what appear to be holes drilled in the headstocks for buffers, and that the ends were not vertical. 

As the 2-plank did not feature in my future O-16.5 plans and fact that it would have to come apart anyway, I wondered what could be made from it. Some time ago I pondered if converting any of this series of kits to O9 was possible, so I compared the sides and ends with an Avalon Line O9 chassis adaptor and discovered that there was not really a lot of difference in length, but I would need to loose 10mm off the width!

After a bit of cutting, including a new floor and replacement of the centre section of the headstock, this was the result, although there is still a lot of fettling still to do:

After a little fettling and filling, I gave it a coat of primer and this is the result as it stands, temporarily on two halves of a Peco 10' chassis:

I'm pretty impressed with the result and I have been contemplating a similar conversion to the Chivers steel-bodied open wagon, but as a bogie wagon... watch this space...


Sunday, 25 October 2015

Confessions of a rubber gauger

Following on from the last 'Up-cycle' post I realised that I hadn't uploaded a photo of the completed test track board with track in place...

The varnish on the cork did not work out so one Sunday morning I took the power sander to it and removed the varnish and evened out the surface finish. Its still a little messy around the edges but that just adds to the charm, so I tell myself... 

Trackwork is Peco code 100 for the 16.5mm gauge section and Roco HOe for the 9mm. Both lengths are made up from oddments.  The selection switch to power one line at a time sits in one of the original point switch locations, it was a lot easier that way as there was already a hole in the plywood underneath. The 9mm gauge line features a Micro Trains magnet for coupler testing.

The 16.5mm gauge track may be needed at some point if I ever get around to building a O-16.5 loco to pull the latest occupant of the workbench. This is the first of the five secondhand Chivers open wagons purchased via the NGRM Online forum classifieds to be refurbished.  I felt that this 4-plank wagon was the most in need of attention as it had a solid mass of ballast in it and no wheels or brake gear.  Having soaked out the load and stripped the paint in Phoenix Paints 'Superstrip' I gave it some careful attention, including careful removal of one end and both sides, adding brake gear from a new Chivers kit in my stash and reconstructing the mounts for Kadee couplers. The plan was that this would be a prototype for my own future builds from new, plus refurbishment of others in this batch.

I have made two enhancements to the basic kit. The first, unseen here, was to texture the floor planking with wood grain, the second was to alter the shape of the brake lever where it goes past the guide, angling it inwards.  This can be seen in the underside view below, along with the strip connecting the guide to the W-iron:

The wheels have been pinched from a 2-plank wagon in the batch.  This isn't a design that really features in my plans and having now stripped the paint off a cunning plan is being developed that may be 'on topic' for this blog...


Sunday, 11 October 2015


Reflecting on 'Shifting Sands' appearance at the Sheffield Model Railway Society’s annual exhibition yesterday I realised that it is ten years since the layout made it's d├ębut at the Retford show in November 2005. Whilst not the most prolific of exhibition layouts previous appearances have been notched up twice each at Retford, Burton-on-Trent (for the 7mm Narrow Gauge Association) and the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway; once each at 7mm NGA and 009 Society members’ days; plus an 18-month residence at the ‘Rails to the Sands’ display, also in Cleethorpes.

Going back to over ten years ago, modelling in O9 was only ever supposed to be a brief distraction from (what were then) my 4mm scale activities, so a small layout requiring some coaches and 3/4 locos was envisaged. From there of course, it snowballed into 'Shifting Sands' and then to modelling actual 15" gauge equipment (the original designs were all freelance). Inevitably 4mm scale went to the sidelines and although there have been some distractions along the way, most of my modelling in the last decade or so years has been in O9.

Part of me wonders if it is perhaps time for a change? But a change to what? What will time, space and resources allow… 

Thoughts in this direction were further prompted by the 'Talking Point' article in the October Railway Modeller, an interesting account of that most mundane but essential modelling standard, the workbench.

Every modeller has a different view of what environment they prefer to work in, from the kitchen table to the fully-equipped workshop. As readers of this blog will know, personally I’m closer in reality to the former in my walk-in cupboard 'Tardis' (because there is more in there than could possibly fit!). However, there have been some nagging doubts for a while now that the railway cupboard workbench isn't always getting me the best results or at times the most comfortable environment to work in. I have wondered about alternatives, but so far I've taken no action.

Perhaps the answer is a change of ethos, to do things differently to suit the environment? 

Allons-y, as the Tenth Doctor might say....


Friday, 9 October 2015

Up-cycle - The saga continues?

Regular readers of this blog will have seen the trials and tribulations of the 'Up-cycle' saga, from desktop micro-layout, via combined test track/diorama to 'The Headshunt' diorama and consequent left-over baseboard.

Recently I realised during preparation for the Sheffield exhibition (on 10th October) that the test track I had subsequently set up at the side of, and at right angles to the workbench was not only a little precariously high, but also didn't give much 'run' if you needed something beyond rolling road testing. This has led me to drag the original Up-cycle board from the corner of the shed for revitalisation. Having removed what was (still) left of the original trackwork, I shortened the board at the left-hand end by approx. 8 inches back to the next timber support underneath. A new plywood end was added and the timberwork tidied up and given a fresh coat of paint. 

On the baseboard surface the holes in the cork from point switches and operating rods were filled with offcuts of cork sheet.  Some flexible filler was wiped into any cracks creating the white patches in the picture above and a coat of varnish applied. The cork surface is quite rustic in comparison with the neat paintwork! The next task will be to add some track and wiring.

Some brief consideration was given to using the offcut 8 inches to make another diorama in the same style as 'The Headshunt', however despite a little work towards this aim, and the creation of the mock-up below using various items to depict a footpath crossing the line, this recipe for left-over soup was abandoned and the offcut dismantled. However, it has set thoughts of another diorama in mind, so watch this space...


Sunday, 27 September 2015

Of Lamp Posts and Phone Boxes

Just a quick update of progress in preparing 'Shifting Sands' for the Sheffield Model Railway Society's Annual Show on October 10th. As previous posts have shown, my long-awaited aim to have lamp posts on the layout has been achieved, and they were 'planted' yesterday.

The posts have been located using some lengths of the same 3/32nd tubing that forms the centre section of the pole.  Lengths of this tubing were cut to match the distance from scenic surface to the underside of the baseboard and Araldited into a pre-drilled hole. Underneath the board, once the posts were in position, enough of the 1/16th tube that runs the full height of the light was showing to add the inner working of a chocolate block electrical connector to clamp the post in position, allowing removal if required.

Another scenic addition that has been made has only been planned for a short time, from the day after Peco announced their 7mm scale plastic kit for a classic red telephone box. This has been built as per instructions (and when they say paint before assembly, you really do need to paint the inside back wall first!), sprayed with red oxide primer and finished in Vallejo red acrylic, varnished with Testors Dullcote and lightly weathered.

The phone box has taken the place of the bench that previously stood here, with a little adjustment required to slabs and some extra grass added to hide the surgery. The previous inhabitant of the bench, assumed to be the long-suffering partner of the photographer lining up his shot, has taken up residence outside the rock emporium where she continues to read her magazine!

With the layout outside for photography I couldn't resist having a play and created this image, although all attempts to digitally add the sea in the background have so far failed!


Sunday, 20 September 2015

Illuminating Progress

Just a quick update on the new lamp posts for 'Shifting Sands'.  They have now been primed with etch primer, with the lamp base and top touched in with off-black.  A finishing touch are the asset numbers created from 4mm scale vehicle registration plate numbers.

On the top of each shade I have added the little sensors that appear on top of each light, these are from a Ratio 4mm scale swan-necked lamp set.

With a little weathering they will be ready to put in place on the layout ahead of a forthcoming appearance... details here!


Monday, 14 September 2015

See the Light

I've always planned to add some street lights to 'Shifting Sands' but finding the right design and look has taken some time. Ideally I'd like some concrete tapered columns but couldn't see an easy way to produce these (although 3D printing may of some possibilities if anyone wants to try...). Last year I spotted a light in Ulrome, on the East Riding coast, that offered some possibilities:

Now I suspect this is on private land rather than part of the council set-up, but it ticked the boxes for the '
look' I was after. What follows is not an exact copy but an 'inspired by' lamp.

Here are the raw materials, K&S 1/16" brass tubing, some larger (I believe 3/32") brass tube that telescopes over, Evergreen 1/8" styrene tubing, brass drawing pins and a Modelscene 4mm scale lamp.

The first step is to upscale the lamps from the 4mm product. Each shade was drilled in the centre to accept the drawing pin and the lamp holder was carefully cut from the post, cleaned up and drilled to accept the 1/16" tubing.

The 1/16" tubing runs through the whole height of the lamps. I cut the length of tubing in half to 6" lengths, giving a good length of tube to go through the baseboard and a lamp height of approx 125mm. I cut a 50mm length of the 3/32" tubing and soldered this in place 45mm from the top of the pole.

The final step was to add a 28mm length of the 1/8" styrene tube to form the base of the lamp post, this was drilled out with a 2.5mm drill bit at the top to overlap the brass tube and given a slight angle around the top. Both the bases and lamps were fixed in place with Araldite, although the lamp shades and drawing pins are still separate parts at this stage to aid painting.  On each base I added a 12 x 4mm inspection cover from 5 thou styrene sheet.

The lamp post are now ready to paint and plant on the layout, but that is for another day!


Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Back at the bench

You may have noticed from the three month hiatus this blog appears to have had that I've not had a lot of modelling time of late, but in those odd moments I caught I considered, or rather reconsidered, the chassis I had used under the second A1 Models loco build.  The kit is promoted for the Kato mechanism and both my kits had an appropriate baseplate in plastic for this.  Putting myself into the frame of mind of "what would I do coming to this anew with a Kato in hand?" the result was this chassis frame, caught here after overall application of grey primer and then red primer on the "buffer" beams:

This frame uses the A1 Models plastic baseplate (which I was surprised stuck OK with Humbrol liquid poly), and 40 thou styrene frames and buffer beams.  The axleboxes and springs are from Cambrian Models 4mm scale mouldings with hangers fabricated from evergreen section.  Coupler pockets from MicroTrains couplers are scratchbuilt as before and the cab interior pretty much replicates the version I built on the Bachmann frame. Cab detailing would later be appropriated from the old version.

The new frame was sneaked into the paint booth for varnish just before we went on holiday, so the Dullcote had a week to dry before weathering.  The overall result was this:

I am much happier with the way this now looks, the old frame looked a bit too 'stumpy' and I don't think that was helped by the grey paintwork.  Of course I could have just painted the old one black and saved some work....

The frame has been weathered lightly to match the loco body and highlight the spring detail, those Cambrian mouldings are quite detailed! Inside the cab the controls, cushion and driver have been transferred over from the old frame, with only minimal touching in required:

Of course, although I planned for it to be as simple as possible to describe and build, I did perhaps over-detail in places, and didn't take any progress shots of the build. So I then went on a quest to develop an even simpler version, but more about that another day!


Sunday, 31 May 2015

A few bits and bobs left over... (in honour of Dave Lister)

"There's a few bits and bobs left over, but its always the same when you do a bit of do-it-yourself, isn't it?" Wise words from the guy who mended the Chicken Soup machine on the 'Red Dwarf'...

But it is indeed true.  Having completed three Dapol Railbus/Drewery Shunter loco bashes over the years I have rather a lot of left over parts, including spare window-wide panels and the sliding doors by the plenty. Some time ago I hatched a plan to use these, plus a complete new kit, to make an O9 railbus, as previewed here in 2012. Last November I did actually start to put together the parts for this project, however, despite making up sides (one side with doors, the other without), and front ends, something didn't quite gel.

Having put all the parts to one side, on re-examination I decided not to go ahead with the railbus and I took apart many of the parts and sought out how to recycle them. The door-less sides and ends, plus roof, were re-purposed as parts for a diesel loco with Evergreen 'siding' used to make grilles, and subsequently sold on as I couldn't see me completing it any time soon...

So what to do with all those window-wide panels...  well, would you believe that the width of a window frame from a Dapol railbus kit matches almost exactly the width of the Chivers seat moulding?  You may ask how I found that out, but kicking about for ideas I somehow offered the Dapol parts up to the Chivers kit... What you see here is actually the window panel with the bottom half of the side cut off and then turned upside down so that the top panel replaces the armrest of the Chivers kit side. The roof is made from further Dapol left-overs.

Inside I have created a footwell for the middle doorways to give a bit more legroom for passengers, this modification could be applied to other Chivers conversions.

After a lot of fettling and filling, sanding etc the coach was primed and I think the overall result justified the work involved, it is almost impossible to tell it is a kit-bash. The roof is currently loose-fitted to allow access to the interior for finishing off, hence the gap!

With a few panels and all the doors still left over, I looked for a further project to use up some parts. This coach started life as eight (much modified) doors and two side panels, plus a roof offcut.  The underframe is scratchbuilt in styrene, incorporating a much cut-up wagon bogie to hold the axles. 

It is based loosely on coaches built by the Parkinson's for the Southend Miniature Railway in the 1920s (to a similar style to the Great Yarmouth/Sutton bogie stock) - but my model is somewhat larger than scale, despite which you can't actually sit a figure in it... not to worry, my plans possibly see it as a static item, awaiting restoration. A comparison with the Chivers conversion shows they are about the same height but different window lines.

Both coaches now await painting but colours and finishes depend on future use...


Monday, 18 May 2015

Come in number Eight...

I'm pleased to report that the second A1 Models locomotive is now complete, seen here posed on 'The Headshunt' diorama....

As can be seen above, I've added the windscreen wipers and number plates, and I have subsequently applied some light weathering, in the form of washes on the underframe and buffer beams and dry brushing over the grilles, bolt heads, edges etc. 

Having a play about with photo angles on the recently completed diorama.  I hadn't expected this angle to work so well!

I couldn't resist the opportunity to compare the two versions of the kit before the bigger one departs to pastures new, the smaller one is definitely closer to how I imagined this kit would look when I first suggested it to John Flower.

"I'm an industrial locomotive, I look down on him.."
"I'm a pleasure railway locomotive, I look up to him..."


Saturday, 9 May 2015

Watching 'The Headshunt' / A1 Models Hunslet Update

I don't plan to add much more to the diorama 'The Headshunt', but a couple of additions that I've made this week can be found in this update. The figure is a Phoenix example from S&D, I've had him from very early in my 7mm modelling days and was one of a couple on which I used the black undercoat painting technique. He isn't permanently attached so in theory there could be an array of alternative figures to stand here! The other addition is rubbish... a black bag full, up against the wall, this was sculpted (badly) from left over Milliput from a filling job.

But just what is that chap looking at? This maybe....

As a taster of how the diorama can be used for photography, my almost complete, second version, A1 Models 'Hunslet' poses for the camera. I was in the process of getting her prepared for a trip to Peter Leadley's Clee Valley Railway at the Cleethorpes exhibition, although there are still a few details to add and weathering to tone down the livery.  

The boffins in the Shifting Sands workshop had rigged up a suitable coupling for use on the CVR allowing the loco to run solo, its performance impressing the CVR operators.