Well it’s a Monday and the sketch pad, pencil and track layout books are out, and that can only mean one thing. It’s a Monday I’ve got a book, a sketch pad and pencil.
Over the past week or so I’ve had the opportunity to sit back and consider where I want to concentrate my efforts on. Doing the regular tidy the mancave task, you know, the rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic thing, a couple of shelf queens worked their way to the lifeboats.
The first one in the header image, the Heljan Class 26, had me reverting back to thoughts of Ian Futers’ Scottish layouts, always a source of inspiration. The opportunity to run short, prototypical diesel hauled trains always appeals and had me digging out my version of 26041. This is a conversion done by myself into a windowless door cab variant. Heljan now offers this within the standard range, but initially they didn’t. When I look at it now the work isn’t the tidiest, but that doesn’t actually matter for me, what motivates me is that I did the conversion. The 26 at the top of the page has a pile of Shawplan goodies to be fitted, windows and grills to give it that difference from straight out of the box.
3721 is yet another Bachmann pannier. I’ve done quite a few now and it’s weird how it feels so natural just working on them, almost a muscle memory type of thing, and each one takes a shorter time. I’ve not really changed what I do to them, but each one gets its own character which seems to develop a little more with each conversion completed. This one just needs final paint, couplings and front lamp irons, and the next one, a low cab 57xx is already waiting it’s turn across the bench.
Behind the panniers and moving up the project queue is this small prairie, another Bachmann product. A spare body kindly passed by a friend, this will give me a little more fleet flexibility. To match its cousins it’s got a replacement chimney from Alan Gibson , and the bunker and cab shutters will be altered to give it a bit more life.
And that’s really it, ‘a bit more life’. Doing these simple but effective makeovers gives me a unique fleet, which I have had an input to, as well as buying and bartering for them. With these completed and/or well underway, it builds on the inspiration to build further layouts, and that’s where the sugar paper, crayons and reference books comes into effect. Enjoying the moment and planning, looking forward.
I’m mindful of the irony of this weekend too, writing about motivation. Normally it would be the Railex exhibition at Aylesbury, where every year I come away motivated and inspired by the modelling seen at that show. Here’s hoping we’re back in play in 2022!
Working on several projects simultaneously is common for me, and the grain cars here are no exception. With significant changes at the house it made sense to use some of the time available to kick start Shelfie4. Going between Shelfie3 and 4 allows me to try different techniques or equipment back to back, which is partly why S4 has taken a leap forward.
One of the ideas of having a ‘foreign’ layout was to free up some modelling time by not being quite so focused on prototype issues. However I’ve found that not to be the case, and I quickly reverted to type, and whilst not rivet counting, it still has to gel in terms of era and equipment. It’s sometimes referred to as proto freelancing, an imaginary line/location built on prototype practices and equipment. That genre describes my approach perfectly regardless of the modelling I’m doing. The grain cars here are a case in point,
I have too many of these in ‘pretty’ colours for the proposed location, so some thinning out in the stock list is happening. At the same time, the mundane 40ft boxcars are on their way in. Up into the 80’s the boxcar was used as a bulk grain carrier, a relatively inefficient method of transport, but actually adding some operational interest.
So this week a batch of 40ft’ers arrived, and being shorter stock means I get an extra car per train, providing an optical illusion of longer trains. The liveries on these aren’t quite right for my era of around 1970 to 1980, and detail changes on roof walkways and end ladders will give them a more authentic feel in due course.
This Geep is the largest type of motive power to be used, the core of the movements will be SW1200 switchers. Shelfie4’s aim is to show grain car operations against a backdrop of silos in a waterside location as part of a larger off scene railhead. It’ll be my first pure DCC layout, the Genesis and Rapido motive power chosen for its quality, reliability and ease of use, NCE being chosen as the control system. I’m aiming to try Rapido point motors too, on Micro Engineering code 70 track.
The baseboard is shallow in depth using a new support system for a flying fiddleyard so some space will be at a premium, with a quayside type appearance, above board point motors aren’t going to be practical.
Shelfie3 and Shelfie4 are almost tied in their current development, and S4 is likely to be the faster completion. Some of the trial items I anticipate to find their way to S3 too, the point motors for example, if they are successful. The development also works the other way in the lighting from S3 is already included in the specification for S4. The next steps are fixing and wiring track for S4, hopefully, this coming week.
With the influx of small locomotives into the ready to run market, it’s becoming much easier to make industrial style layouts. Many mainline locomotives were sold off into industrial use, and taking this a step further for a magazine piece, we took an Heljan 07 to see how practical it would be to make our own freelance livery version, of an industrial engine.
I chose a simple plain green livery for the new colour, as that would be a common choice, often locomotives were left in their previous liveries and identifying marks changed. For practicality and simplicity the brief was to use spray cans, not everyone has access to airbrushes, and using an aerosol we can reduce paint blemishes such as brush marks. Knowing the general ease of getting the Tamiya range I chose their Olive Drab 2 TS28 colour. The Tamiya range is acrylic and very high quality, so we could be sure this wouldn’t affect the plastic of the model to any detriment. Other items in the shopping basket were a couple of different width Tamiya masking tapes, and some new blades for my scalpel for cutting tape. As far as other tools go, I use a Tamiya paint stand and a straight edge steel rule, and that’s us ready to go!
The first thing to do is decide what will be painted, I chose to leave the wasp markings on the ends and the chassis as supplied. The best way to paint something like this is in sub-assemblies and fortunately the Heljan 07 is easy to take apart. As written in the instructions underneath the body at each corner of the chassis, there are four crosshead screws, undo these and the body assemblies can be gently lifted off the chassis. The footplate handrails can also be removed from the long and short bonnet sections, this will make masking and painting much easier.
Tools required, scalpel or knife with very sharp blade. Masking tapes of varying widths, and paint. Not illustrated is a set of tweezers for tape application. Here we can see the locomotive has been dis assembled into the main components for paint.
The Tamiya masking tape is low tack and can be cut easily. Make several narrow strips of tape as these can be formed around the curves easier. It is critical to have a straight edge and sharp blades, to prevent any feathering at the edge of the tape. Make several different widths, and lengths, some longer than you’ll need, and some very short sections.
Masking commences. Using a narrow piece start on the edge of the wasp stripes. Use a section that will wrap around the whole bonnet you can cut off any over length afterwards. A narrow section will follow the form of the bonnet curves and wrap around any detail. The Tamiya tape is excellent for this and hence the recommendation.
Once you’ve got the edges of the paint line completed fill in the bulk areas. This is where your odd widths and lengths come into play. Don’t worry about it looking untidy, we need to effectively cover all the area not to be painted. Don’t forget to mask inside the body if there are lights on the nose section, any overspray could get on these if not protected.
Window areas are critical to cover well. Use your short section and narrow widths to allow you to infill the glazed areas. A set of tweezers can help here in accurately positioning the tape and making sure its fixed down on the edges.
These are the three sections ready for paint. Double check that all areas are covered that need to be and the sedges are sharp and well pressed onto the model. Note the underneath of the cab has also been masked to prevent paint reaching into the cab. The checking is crucial it will save heartache later if edges aren’t sharp and paint bleeds or feathers underneath.
I sprayed outside on a warm day, with no breeze. Make sure the paint is well mixed, you can do this by shaking the can for at least a minute. I try to get the can to a sensible room temperature, I’d be cautious spraying outside on a winters day! You’ll note I’ve chosen not to undercoat this model, I wanted any of the rail blue to perhaps show through in a few places to indicate its previous owner.
With the numbers and logo, in some harsh lighting shows through the topcoat, giving the impression the new owner just gave the engine a quick blast of paint after purchase, and got it going straight out to work! If you want to remove the BR Branding, T-Cut will remove it adequately. The moment of truth! Wait till the paint has cured, a good few hours is best, overnight for example. Its really satisfying seeing the new livery come to life as the masking tape is removed
The big reveal! Always a bit of a sweaty palm job, this is the proof of your masking skills, the windows! Even more satisfying than the earlier unmasking, is seeing the glazing coming out unblemished. !
Here I’m scraping the top coat from the handrails using the sharp scalpel. You could use a thinner on a cotton bud, but there’s the chance of splashing onto the new paint, so be wary if taking that path! This is the reason why care is of the utmost importance with the original masking task too, and not to be rushed. Once happy, reassemble the model and we’re nearly done.
New Identity. I’ve used a mix of waterslide decals from my unused spares box, I’ve chosen Southern Railway O gauge wagon numbers for the locomotive number, and a couple of 1/72 data panels from an old P51 Mustang sheet. It’s freelance so it doesn’t matter and you can stamp your own identity on the model. I placed numbers on the bufferbeams too, giving a company style type of look. To finish I added overhead warning panels around doors and step areas. I’ve used microsol setting solution to unsure the decals seat correctly with no silvering, this paint gives a satin sheen which also helps with the decal adhesion.
The finished item, a few touches of additional paint on the handrails changing white to yellow and the buffers painted, and we’re ready for service!
The whole project took roughly eight hours from start to finish, and hopefully illustrates that an individual personalised model is within your grasp. Keeping it simple and using the products we have here, many of today’s models can be given a new identity, and the tasks are equally applicable to kit building too.
Have a crack at one!
A bit of a home exhibition here some seven years ago! This pic popping up on a Facebook feed this week. All three, Albion Yard, Bawdsey, and Shelfie, (WIP foreground) have subsequently left the building. The reason for them all being simultaneously up in the man cave, was to film Right Track 19 with Paul Lunn on Layout Planning & Design.
All three of them taught me valuable lessons, Bawdsey taught me about layout conservation, and got me back into EM modelling, gauge converting Diesels and DMU’s, and generally looking after a layout built with old style technology and techniques.
Albion Yard was my first exhibition layout, not only did it have to look good, it had to work reliably, and that it did very well. Having your name above the door focus’s the mind, or it should do! Bizarrely it went to more shows after its retirement than before!
For Albion Yard the wraparound digital print backscene the height, and its associated lighting were virtually unique in terms of presentation at the time, and always generated interest at shows.
The presentation concept being to give operators as well as viewers as realistic a viewpoint as possible. On the whole this worked really well but it was interesting that some didn’t ‘get it’, not understanding why the staging fiddle yard was enclosed for example, and the public or operating crew couldn’t see it in normal operation.
The shelfie layouts build on the Albion Yard experience, and owning Bawdsey. For Right Track 19 Shelfie was developed from its original genesis as a test track to an example of design and planning, having caught it early enough in its build to use it as a working sample for the programme. Shelfie also went to a few exhibitions where it’s compact size and presentation captured many people’s imagination. Using lessons primarily learnt from Albion Yard it too used integral lighting and a digitally printed wraparound backscene.
Shelfie 2 has taken the lighting and presentation theme a bit further. Lit using LED’s and a new material for the wraparound backscene it’s waiting its first exhibition outing in a completed format.
Shelfie 2 has been out once to the Define groups January open house, showing the different effects you can get manipulating the background, but in its final exhibition format, it is now a fixed view.
Shelfie 3 at the moment is work in progress. The core design is worked out and D&E stock suitable for 1967 through to around 1982 is being worked on. As with the other Shelfie layouts it’ll be a useful photo prop in due course. I’ve labelled it as a working prototype above, and that it most definitely is.
Shelfie3’s track has been cut and laid onto a foamboard test bed. That has allowed me to ‘play trains’ and validate that the operations for a DMU based layout would be engaging enough, and I’m pleased to say so far, so good. There’s also a few non standard movements in the proposed sequence, but literally only a few. The idea is to capture the mundane everyday operating, paradoxically that’ll give it atmosphere..
Shelfie 4 is also work in progress. S4 is in fact HO, so by referring to it as S4 it’ll undoubtedly cause a few trigger moments, do I look bothered? Using high quality HO Canadian and American outline models the core concept is established, a lakeshore grain silo facility taking inspiration from Fort William and Buffalo’s Silo City.
This Canadian project is the one that’s centre stage at the moment, capturing the essence of huge grain structures and their rail feeds in a small space is providing hours of enjoyment. Learning about the grain traffic via Eric Gagnon’s fascinating blog, and input from Chris Mears and James Hilton on the design and ethos behind the project has made it all the more enjoyable and interesting, and in some aspects more challenging. That’s a good thing!
So will these projects see the light of day at a real exhibition? I think they will, a real one too, not virtually. Shelfie 2 is lined up for two this year, subject restrictions around the pandemic. S3 and S4 they’re both built to be exhibited, and with good fortune, they will be.
Here we are, more Pannier shenanigans! This time it’s a personality swap! A few of the 94xx’s had tank fillers in different positions, a couple of feet further back than normally associated with the class. There’s not many of them but as fate would have it, the one I’ve chosen to do….
The start point is the excellent Bachmann 94xx and the project will turn out 9401 as trialled at the Eastern Regions Stratford Yard in East London.
By chance again, today saw the arrival into the mancave of the 16xx Model Rail/Rapido collaboration and its interesting to see the difference between the two types.
Fascinating to think they were both built and operated pretty much concurrently.
There are parallels in so much as they were built in numbers whilst their diesel replacements like the 08 above were also being constructed simultaneously, and both 94xx and 16xx had very short operational lives. The 08 in contrast has had an extraordinary success story still in ‘mainline’ use today, 68 years after introduction to service!
The other thing all three models have in common is they’re getting makeovers to varying degrees!
Mazak Rot has unfortunately blighted some models in the hobby, across many manufacturers and for a while. It frequently manifests itself after a period of time often years, and that’s the problem you don’t know if you’re going to end up with it, and in fairness neither do the manufacturers.
I have to say I’ve been lucky with this, and yep, you’re right there’s an ‘until now’ coming! So, whilst looking at a forthcoming project I dug two BR era Hornby Stanier 4-6-0’s out. They’d been in stock for a few years, tested and checked on arrival, and then stored in temperature controlled dry environments. Being a Royal Scot and Patriot they share the same chassis and motor components, and they were pretty much concurrently released.
On checking both they had similar symptoms, very ragged and erratic running and a clicking noise when stationary with the motor under power. I assumed that I was going to be looking at split gears, an occasional problem which affects plastic gear trains. Choosing the Scot first, I very quickly realised that split gears was unlikely to be the issue.
The crazing around the front of the frame is typical of indications of Mazak Rot, this came as a bit of a surprise, as I don’t associate the Hornby Scots or Patriots with this problem.
Removing the bogie shows further fractures, I’m now thinking this isn’t going to end well! The screw above holds the chassis in place with two lugs at the cab which are the three mounting points.
The DCC mounting plate covers the gear train fixing which is a cast cover. But holding the casting tight to the chassis, the chassis runs, so it’s not a split gear I’m dealing with. I removed the mounting plate and the gear train/boiler casting was loose, undoing its screw made no difference. Lifting the wiring loom allowed the casting to fall to one side, showing the fixing location had sheared.
Not just once but twice, leaving a cross section slice!
This single mounting with this screw is the kingpin of this chassis. If it’s damaged (as these are) the chassis is unusable. There is a potential fix with a longer screw, but almost certainly a pillar drill and a thread tapping being required. As these were concurrently released I immediately wondered if the Patriot would be the same issue.
Immediately the Mazak issue was evident. Removing the chassis meant the front section came adrift.
This chassis exhibited an identical fault, the gear casing casting fixing has sheared/fractured where the screw fixes to the chassis.
So two identical faults and Mazak damage. Refitting the Scot body and pressing the front of the chassis into position, it too gave way.
It’s particularly frustrating as neither model has had any real use, just been stored appropriately. Whilst it’s Hornby’s responsibility, it’s not their fault, that failure lies with the contractor that supplied poor quality material chassis. They’re too old to get a refund, so now it’s time to try and get a replacement pair of chassis’, and revisit the project they were for. I’ll update with any news in due course.