Saturday, 4 September 2021

Neptune at Ninety

A week away in North Yorkshire gave the opportunity to visit Scarborough's North Bay Railway in it's 90th year. Journeying from our holiday park by a combination of buses and cliff lift, we found 1931 'Neptune' operating services as it had for all that time, with only a break during hostilities. The second train was operated by 1932 'Triton' as it had done for 89 years, apparently I had missed seeing relative youngster 1933 'Poseidon' in operation by a day!

As well as celebrating it's 90th anniversary, 2021 sees the North Bay Railway with a new operator, the operating company changing hands to common ownership with the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway. One interesting development is commitment to the line's pioneering diesel-hydraulic motive power and the sale of the new-build steam loco 'Georgina'. Director John Kerr kindly let me take a quick peek in the shed area to view 'Robin Hood' and 'Poseidon', which now looks a closer match to the original locomotives after much hard work by the Scarborough team.

Services are running daily until the end of October and are "turn up and go", no need to book and trains can be joined and left at ether end of the line.

One interesting thing that came to light after my visit was that there is a model of the North Bay Railway being documented on YouTube. I am not sure of the scale but it uses 9mm gauge track and Dapol A3 Pacifics and is quite convincing, this is just one of several videos on the channel of Harold Thompson - one to watch...

The photos from my visit to Scarborough on 19th August can be found on Flickr - Scarborough NBR.


Thursday, 2 September 2021

Imposters - Spot the Difference

The two 'imposter' wagons seen in the last post are now completed and painted in grey primer. Since the last pictures I have added some simple hinge details, securing pins for the drop-doors and dummy link-and-pin coupler pockets.

Despite being to practically the same design, there are many differences in dimensions and details, in fact I'm not sure anything is actually the same!

When time permits and the mood takes me they will be painted up and finished off, but that really needs to wait until work on their potential home is underway...



Monday, 16 August 2021

Imposters on the Bench

Unfortunately I haven't done much modelling of late, lots of reasons, but the result was that I did find myself analysing my current project (the O9 micro roundy-roundy) and whether I had the time to continue with it, do something different or... who knows...?!

The last few weeks have seen a glimmer of hope and a couple of weekends ago I found I had time to sit at the workbench and actually build something. I opted to build another 3-plank wagon based on the one I had completed in January, a nominal 5ft (scale) long wagon with Grandt Line hinges on 3-plank sides. Of course I then decided one wasn't enough so started a second, and to give some variety this is a little bit longer. Detailing is still in progress with the end stanchions yet to be cut back and shaped.

One of the things that test running the new project had revealed was that trains formed of multiple Black Dog Mining based wagons tended to wobble a bit, especially if propelled. Some might say this is ultra realistic but to me it is a bit distracting (remembering that I abandoned using KB scale Hudson chassis for a similar reason). With that in mind for the first wagon I cut up a Peco N gauge 10ft chassis to a 14mm wheelbase and disguised it with Black Dog-style axleboxes, modifying the set I had made last year to try and add to a damaged Hudson frame. Hence this is the first imposter! The second wagon retains the 20mm wheelbase and has steel channel solebars, where there was space to add genuine Black Dog axlebox castings recovered from a broken chassis. An imposter in the sense they are not functioning... Both have weight added in the void between Peco chassis and floor.

The eagle-eyed might spot that there are no cut-outs for MicroTrains couplings on these builds. This is again in reaction to test running, as in order to avoid any accidental uncoupling events, I have opted to use MT couplers at the outer ends of rakes only, within rakes simple loop and pin couplers will suffice. Both new wagons will therefore be loop and pin only.

This leaves a few modifications to do to existing vehicles. I might have over-thought this, but in order to maintain consistency between vehicle ends I wanted couplers that bore a passing resemblance to the MicroTrains box at the other end, which luckily, if you squint, do look a bit like link and pin coupler blocks on real 15" gauge wagons. So out came the styrene and I had a play, having no 5mm x 3mm section wasn't as big an issue as I thought as I fudged up my own from 5mm x 5mm that had already been cut in half lengthwise... More imposters were born!

From left to right:
  • Initial experiments based on MicroTrains 1015 (L) and 1023 (R) coupler boxes. These were actually OK, but the 1015 style one then went on for a bit of further development.
  • Refined 1015 and 1023 boxes. The 1015 (L) now has some 3.2mm channel as the coupler face and whilst maybe not as close as the initial version, I concluded that this could be replicated on the new-build wagons easily. The 1023 (R) has some additional section down either side to reflect the additions I had already made to disguise the actual coupler boxes on some stock.
  • A stand-alone coupler for new-build stock fashioned from 3.2mm channel, one of 5 made for the new wagons. Externally this and the 1015 substitute will look consistent. 
After that burst of activity there will probably be a bit of a lull until I get any more work done, but we shall see... 


Sunday, 8 August 2021

Getting on the Right Track

I've spent some time over the last few weeks making little tweaks to the Julian Andrews inspired micro layout as and when I've had time. Inspired by a discussion on the NGRM Online forum about how track looked (as a reaction to a piece by Iain Rice in Model Railway Journal), I revisited the sleeper spacing on the 'main line' around the curve. In order to lose the regularity (if you can call it that) of the Peco track I removed about 5-6 sleepers and respaced the remainder. The sidings had already been through a similar process when laid but I chose to lose a couple more sleepers there, and also to realign the inner siding to make a bit more room for the trees behind.

On one of my lunchtime walks, where I'll freely admit I ruminate about model railway projects, I realised that although I wouldn't have time to do much to this project over the summer, there would be a distinct advantage to getting the track painted during "better" weather. So last weekend I made preparations and sprayed away...

My method was to use Halfords matt dark brown sprayed at the rail sides, then to stand the board on end and a (lighter) Humbrol matt bown sprayed over the sleepers, with a smattering of grey primer too, after the Humbrol can splattered, failed and made a bit of a mess.

It did all look a bit of an unhappy mess for a while, but it was only ever intended as a base. A couple of evenings tinkering with acrylics added some slightly rustier tones to rail sides and dry-brushing the sleepers with some woody tones. A recent article in the NGIRM Review on track is also worth reading with regard to how nature interacts with the permanent way so there will no doubt be further adjustments once ballasting and scenic treatments begin, whenever that might be... 


Saturday, 17 July 2021

A New 15" Gauge Seaside Locomotive

An interesting new prototype for an O9 model was revealed at the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway today, on the 73rd anniversary of opening of the first miniature railway at the site.

This brand new 15" gauge diesel locomotive has been specially built by RVM Engineering of Hastings and has seemingly evaded the camera of visitors to the Hastings Miniature Railway for some time (yes, I've been searching...). I'm sure Hastings will be glad to get the shed space back! 

Photo: CCLR

At first glance it screams out to be modelled in O9 using a Farish '08' chassis, I aim to get confirmation of dimensions to see how feasible this would be. Even a version on a Kato chassis wouldn't be too much of a stretch of the imagination...

I have been aware of this build for a while, largely through a CCLR Director making a comment that my MG Models 'Classic' diesel looked rather like something else they knew of. You can see the resemblance in the lines of this new design around the bonnet and cab front windows.

Clearly like model locomotives the choice of coupling is to be determined by the purchaser and they have no doubt got an order in with a lifesize Narrow Planet for nameplates!


Sunday, 11 July 2021

Reet Petite

I've been playing again with mock-ups for the Julian Andrews-inspired O9 scheme. The building represents Petite Properties 'Harpers Yard' with a little extra depth added. I've liked the look of this range of structures for some time and in particular I was impressed with the effects that Michael Campbell had achieved with them in 4mm scale on Loctern Quay.

The manufacturers website says this structure is 17.5cm wide and 20.8cm tall but I could not help feel those dimensions were transposed as it scales out the other way from the photos, and the dimensions of the 4mm version are shown wider than it is tall. Through a request on the 7mm NGA Facebook group Ian Leese kindly confirmed the dimensions as 18.5 cm wide and 15 cm tall, so I could dimension the image of the front accordingly. I must also thank Simon Andrews as he confirmed the doorway height at 49mm so there may need to be an adjustment to get some items on O9 stock through.

I think the next adjustment might be to the inner siding, bringing it closer to the inside of the curve to give more space for the tree... we shall see!


Sunday, 27 June 2021

Moving on from Paper and Pencil?

It's four months (yes really) since I last posted my thoughts on the scenic treatment for my O9 interpretation of the Julian Andrews brickworks plan. Since then there has been little creative thought about the project until this week. In fact there has been more thought on alternative schemes but they have all drawn a blank...

There are a few items that I wish to use on the project and in some ways these are either driving or stopping my thoughts on how the scene should look. One of these is a photograpic backscene, and I was having a few thoughts that this could be overpowering to the scene, especially compared to my usual "restrained" style. To test how it would look I downloaded the images of it from the internet and resized them to full size and then printed in draft, temporarily mounting them on a spare piece of ply. With the addition of new dummy foreground trees, better representing the two Skale Scenics examples I wish to use on the project, this doesn't look too bad. 

My attention then turned to the grouping of buildings on the right hiding the return curve. As mocked up this is the building shown last time (based on one I built a few years ago) with a modified Airfix/Dapol water tank behind. This didn't look quite right, to me it looks too obvious that the line can curve through the structure. But what if the building moved back and the track entered a lean-to at the side? There would be enough of the main building wall visible to trick the eye, as in the first sketch.

Wishing to incorporate the water tank and break the roof line up a little I created the second sketch, turning the main building roof through 90 degrees. The lean-to would have a more varied roofline where it leant on the water tank supports (brick piers would replace the kit pillars). This would have to be one carefully planned, removable structure but I think it is a much better trick on the eye to hide the return curve.

I even have a potential prototype for part of the structure, this field shelter at Hall Farm Park in Lincolnshire. I would envisage it repurposed as a small workshop, perhaps with a Land Rover parked half in/out. 

There is something to be said for keeping the structures simple, I am yet again reminded of Neil Rushby's 'Isle of Avalon Tramway' (seen here with a later owner) - the simplicity of the structures hiding the sector plate on the left is very deceiving, there is little actual detail but interest is created by shape and colour. 

Thinking cap firmly on...