Saturday, 6 August 2022

More Makeovers (Red is the new Grey)

Not so long ago I realised that my 009 stock was a little bit, well, grey in colour. The main reason for this on the kit built stock is pure laziness on my part, working the colours up from primer grey. In the case of my modified Dundas WHR brake van, it is also a symptom of hurried completion to meet an exhibition deadline. With it's seasonal use on 'Christmas Tree Halt' in mind I decided to give it a bit of a makeover... 

As the dedicated Christmas wagon is green, the obvious other Christmas-compatible colour is red, but not too bright a red. The ideal colour came in the form of the Citadel 'mephiston red' as used on my recent O9 loco. The intention was to just repaint the grey areas but in the end the only original paint remaining is the roof and veranda floor. These areas were masked off, the grey areas sprayed with red primer and then a couple of coats of the citadel colour applied.

I had also masked off the axleboxes and underframe but the black-grey that looked fine against the light grey body colour now looked too light, so I repainted these areas in a darker shade, using the same shade on the bumpers at either end and the steps. A wash of Citadel 'nuln oil' over the red sat nicely in the plank lines and door recesses, although some dry brushing of the body colour over the planks was needed to get the desired effect. Feeling the red needed breaking up I added numbers either side from an old dry-print sheet of GWR locomotive lettering.

The Meridian Models TR brake handle had been removed prior to repainting and was reinstated prior to varnishing with Humbrol matt acrylic. For the first time in ages I experienced 'blooming' of the varnish coat and had to again dry brush the body colour over in places. The lamp and guard figure were glued in place and the roof (and integral partition) glued back in place, and finally the wheels added and couplings refitted. 

In other makeover news, I have been able to complete the area under the new tree on 'The Old Quarry Line'. 

Filler was used to create an impression of the roots and once dry the new roots, trunk and lower branches were painted, attempting to match the Hornby colour. You cannot actually see the roots now as I have cleared the grass away and added a small area of treated coir hanging basket liner before adding more recycled foliage material.

On the side of the layout I have added a felled tree trunk, actually the remains of an early home-made tree I started during the construction of the layout. This wire framed tree was chopped at the roots and branches using a cutting disc in a hobby tool. Some touching up of the cuts with filler and paint was required to complete the cut timber "look".

There may be a few more additions or changes to make in due course, watch this space...


Sunday, 17 July 2022

Summer Scenic Makeover

I had been planning to give my O9 diorama 'The Headshunt' a scenic refresh and to create a storage box for it, but rather unexpectedly I have ended up giving 009 layout 'The Old Quarry Line' similar scenic  treatment. Whilst this had been on the cards it has well and truly queue jumped! 

This started one idle weekend moment I was looking at ways that I could add an abandoned siding to hold a couple of wagons, potentially around the curve at the left-hand end of the layout. Common sense eventually prevailed and I opted for the more reasonable location in the yard alongside the workshop building. Two channels were cut into the existing scenery and blackened/painted rails placed within, held in with PVA and bedded back in using DAS stone modelling clay. Once dry this was blended in with various paints, fine turf scatter and Silfor grass tufts. The Meridian Penrhyn Fullersite wagon has taken up residence, in the past it lived at the end of the main siding . This will be fixed on place using a wire wound around the axle, through a hole in the board and secured below. It would have been glued by now if the subsequent days weather hadn't been so warm.

Suitably in the swing of things I decided to look at refreshing and enhancing the scenic treatment of the layout using materials that I didn't have available at the time of the build, including coir matt hanging basket liner, Peco 10mm tufts/strips and Martin Welberg tufts. One area that received new additions was the area around the drain outlet. The new areas of vegetation were created using the coir hanging basket liner, prepared off-layout by being teased out, sprayed with hairspray to fix and when dry sprayed with two shades of matt brown paint. This was glued in place on the layout and once the glue was drying, sprayed with hairspray again and foliage material added. This was actually the original material recovered from the two trees that I re-worked earlier in the year. Further hairspray and other layers of scatter were added to add variation and a small patch of Woodland Scenics purple foliage - another recent purchase!

Looking around the curve I have added the Peco long tufts around the bottom of the fence and on the opposite side of the line. In places I cut the strips lengthways, sometimes a tough job as the glue layer can be quite thick. The skip body that used to be by the workshop has now moved here, with the vegetation encroaching over it. Additional vegetation is provided by the dark green Martin Welberg tufts.

On the far side of the layout there is a new tree located on the embankment. In line with three of the other trees on the layout this is a metal-framed Hornby Skale Scenics tree - R8907 Oak. This was purchased last year with the intention of maybe using it on a 7mm scale project, where it would represent a small tree! This has been glued in place but not yet blended in, I think there may be more vegetation to go in around the base. I did add some additional foliage using hairspray and Woodland Scenics loose material in a close-enough shade. Some areas around the middle of the layout have been enhanced with more areas of the coir hanging basket liner and recovered foliage. The Snailbeach hopper seems quite at home, the other kit may yet see the light of day in one form or another!

It is always good to revisit scenic projects from time to time to update the materials and techniques used and to refresh tired areas. There are still a few jobs to do here once the weather cools a little - the workshop is rather hot at times lately making sitting in the shade daydreaming/planning a nicer option!


Sunday, 10 July 2022

Slidin' down to the Workbench

Picking up from where the last post left off, the shelf riser is now varnished and in place above the workbench. A slide-in box has also been created that sits within. It lifts out to sit on the desk whenever modelling is envisaged. This is constructed with a 5mm ply base and 3mm sides, which use the same recycled material as the top and bottom of the riser.

The slide-n box performs two useful functions, firstly holding the 'Really Useful Box' that holds my smaller "essential" tools, and on the other side of the divide provides a space for "work in progress" projects to be stored between sessions. In the past I had simply left both the tool box and anything in build on the work board whilst it was put away, so the new box is essentially part one of its replacement. Part two is a 3mm MDF board to act as a desk protector, this was coated both sides with  a couple of coats of emulsion and has a trim strip along the front edge to prevent it being pushed backwards.

All far to clean so I have now actually done some modelling on it before giving in to the heat. However, before I go into any detail there is the matter of investigating this recently unearthed archive photo which appears to show the presence of hitherto unknown abandoned rails buried in the yard by the 'Old Quarry Line' workshop...


Saturday, 18 June 2022

Boxing Clever

There's still very little action at the O9 Modeller workbench, however I have made a major change in the way the bench itself is set up, dropping it 6 inches in height from worktop height to a more conventional desk height. This does undo some of the original premise but needs must for ongoing comfort.

As part of these changes storage is being revised, and I have built this seemingly unassuming box.

The sides and back are some 9mm ply a friend kindly supplied in lockdown, whilst the top and bottom are some 3mm ply recovered from furniture that was otherwise headed for the skip last year. Lots of clamping and waiting for glue to dry has resulted in a reasonably square box... The strengthening strip of material across the top of the opening is left over from strengthening 'Shifting Sands' back in 2019. The box is now being varnished ready for use.

Its purpose directly relates to moving the desk downwards, those 6 inches gave access to vital storage space under and behind the desk. I've had to rejig several things to make up for this, such as moving a few things out to the workshop. My year-old work tray has been abandoned for now as it has nowhere to store as it too sat in the 6 inch gap on top of some stacked crates. I had balanced out these consequences with my desire to change things.

The photo above neatly shows how with the desk lower the top of the "work from home" monitor is clear of one of the shelves, where before it had obscured it. In the middle of the shelf there is a distinct air gap above my box of adhesives and I don't need all that space to get things out of the box, so the new construction will act as a 'riser' to push the box upwards and use the space underneath to slide things in and out. 

Looking at other things as a result of these moves, there may be a few disposals to ease space a little and having moved a few things around I've decided that 'The Headshunt' diorama should get a scenic makeover and a protective box along the lines of that I made for the Christmas Pizza - there is plenty more ply and hardboard available!


Sunday, 5 June 2022

Railcar Doodles II - A Potential Chivers 'Bash'

Whilst I rather liked the Avalon Line conversion drawing in the last post, I had rather come to the conclusion that it would be better as an item of coaching stock, 4w or bogie, rather than a railcar.

Prior to looking at the Minirail railcar I had looked at the Chivers O9 coach kit as the basis for a railcar. I had rejected this idea as I thought it would require similar modifications to those I carried out to create a semi-open coach using some Dapol railbus window parts (indeed I did consider rebuilding the coach a bay shorter to convert it...). After some thought I decided to take another look and realised that by rearranging the parts and using a spare 'high' end, something quite railcar like could be created.

The Kato chassis will fit nicely between the outer ends of the seat sections, the dotted line in the centre doorway is the top of the casing and it may be that half-height doors are required on this opening. The trick I have employed in this design is to use the high ends as the seat backs, therefore giving a sturdier support to the roof than any use of plastic section could achieve and a better bond with the sides than using brass. Rather than use the end based on the floor level of the part as supplied, I envisage it with the top of the vertical planking at the height of the kit seat backs, adding another crucial 2mm into the height. It will require more modification of the part but as a cut-out needs to be made the clear the motor casing it isn't too much in the grand scheme of things.

Internally seats would have to be raised over the motor casing and at the outer ends the space under the seats will be filled in, potentially using the original seat back pieces. It will be tight and any potential passengers in the centre section need to be aware that they are at risk of leg (and maybe hip) amputation to clear the motor casing!

The roof is envisaged to be a Dundas VoR moulding, which is again a sturdy moulding that will hold it's place. Looking at the drawing again there maybe needs to be some support at the upper ends of the uprights, maybe not complex scrollwork but there are some right-angled mouldings in the Dapol railbus bits that might suit, and keep another tradition going...


Tuesday, 31 May 2022

Railcar Doodles

It's been a bit of a quiet spell at the workbench of late, but this week I have at least been thinking about doing something, which is a start. I was given a Kato 11-105 bogie chassis for my birthday back in February and have been trying to find a use for it, maybe something a bit novel (for me anyway)... so I started to think about railcars.

Now there aren't many small 15" gauge railcars about, I did consider a 'caricature' version of the Ratty's 'Silver Jubilee' in the style of David Malton's 3D printed 009 models but even that would be pushing it. Then I saw photos on Facebook* that reminded me of a very obscure 15" gauge machine, the Minirail railcar that appeared at the Axe & Lyme railway and went on to Dudley Zoo. These online photos, and one rediscovered in a copy of 'Narrow Gauge Times' that I bought during lockdown, gave enough clues to dimensions, plus I relied on the prior knowledge that most Minirail items are 3ft wide.

As one of my friends said, it does rather look like two 1950s caravans back-to-back! I did put together a drawing but it isn't quite right around the cab side windows and maybe needs a little more overall in length.

There is a minor drawback to this scheme that will only make sense if you see a photo of the real thing (and I cannot share one here for copyright reasons). The Minirail railcar was actually a 4w vehicle, and the Kato chassis has bogies. The wheelbase on the real thing must have been 6-7ft which is a bit longer to scale than the Kato 4w chassis, so the bogie chassis does make a little sense.

But my main issue was that having got over my curiosity about it I wasn't really that bothered about building it. So I started to look for other ideas. I remembered that I had a pair of damaged Avalon line bogie coach sides that Peter Leadley kindly passed on a while ago, so I started to look at what might be feasible with them. One side is complete but the other is quite damaged, however a neat little railcar could result, maybe a battery unit to excuse the lack of engine bay. As a further alternative I part-drew a slightly longer version based on an A1 models chassis frame I have, with a short snout of a bonnet. I am actually less enamoured by that version if I am honest.

Even if the railcar version never gets built I can see a mini coach being built based on that drawing...


*the photos are in the Narrow Gauge & Miniature Railways of the British Isles group - you may need to be a member to see them.

Friday, 6 May 2022

Skale Tree Surgery - Revisited

I've been tinkering with trees again, not the 'tree two' I referred to in a previous post but certainly a second tree. This was last seen back in April 2021 in Skale Tree Surgery, being a new generation Hornby Skale Scenics tree reworked with new foliage. At the time I was pleased with the outcome but after the success of the half-relief tree I decided to revisit it again as with hindsight it wasn't the result I wanted, now finding that it looked a bit too "straggly".

April 2021 - the first attempt at new foliage

So, I again stripped back the foliage (luckily stuck with water soluble PVA), and started again. I was going to use Woodland Scenics medium green foliage again, but feared my supply was low (I had to restock to complete this tree first time around). Whilst drifting to sleep one evening I remembered that I had an unopened pack of Skale Scenics foliage from the original range, on checking the following day I discovered it was R8833 light green, medium foliage fibre clusters. Having had reservations about using similar material on the half relief tree as it had looked bit too flat, on opening the pack these drifted away and I set to work. 

There are no progress photos, I just dug straight in and got on with it over a series of sessions, this is the result.

Having deployed many of the tricks used on the half-relief tree, such as layering material and stretching it further, I am much happier with the result over last years effort, the foliage is much fuller and has much better shape, even if the other side is definitely the back!

From the top I used a trick in Gordon Gravett's book, spreading a single, teased piece of foliage across all of the top level branches, and trimming it back prior to adding further layers.

I think it is likely that this tree will be retained for a future 4mm scale project rather than 7mm scale, but we shall see...