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...