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Sunday, 31 October 2010

New Movie - Atlantic Coast Express

I have published a short movie of my 00 gauge Atlantic Coast Express. It can be seen on my model railway website.

This movie is the culmination of an 18 month project recreating the ACE to run on my model railway - and what a joy it is for me to watch, nay drive, as it journeys through the west country. Hope you enjoy it too.

My postings about this project appear in the two ACE archives on the right of this page.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Bittern at Overton - Step Back in Time

Bittern at OvertonIt was nice to see A4 Bittern close up at Overton today as it stopped to take on water. Last time I saw it was on The Watercress Line last year.

The 10 minute stop afforded time to snap many photos. This makes a change from my usual lineside photography where the train comes and goes within seconds. A couple more formal photos appear on the 'Live Steam' page of my model railway website. (link top right). But, I liked this shot with a mother and children in front of the engine. (I've no idea what attracted their attention).

On leaving the station I came across this delightful Austin 7 in the car park. What with Bittern as well it was like stepping back in time! That's my pillar box Tardis in the background!
austin 7

Thursday, 14 October 2010

DIY 4mm/00 people - Part 3

clay manMaking the torso from a solid block does not give sufficient control over the shape. Take small, thin slithers of clay and build up layers on the skeleton to form the torso. This is my top tip because it gives you greatest control in shaping the body. I found this part of the build quite relaxing and therapeutic.

The arms are made the same way. (If the arms were outstretched then make as legs). The legs are rods of clay that are pushed along the skeleton legs.

I should say something about the cooking heat and times:

balding manHead Mould: 20 mins @ 150c
Head (cooked 3 times in all) 10mins ea. @ 150c.
Body with head: 10mins @ 150c

Painting was with Humbol matt enamels. It does a good job of covering scratches and blemishes.

To Part 1

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

DIY 4mm/00 people - Part 2

head mouldThe first character from the prototype scene I wish to stage is a balding man.

FIMO is the material used, which is a synthetic clay that is cooked in the oven to harden off the model created.

For his head I use a commercial model of a monk and made a moulding of his balding head. The monk's head is dusted with talc. and pressed halfway into the material, removed, turned over and pressed again to give two impressions, front and back.

After the mould is 'cooked' to harden it, dust the cavity with talc. Take a ball of FIMO, and press the ball into a cavity making sure it overlaps to form a flange.

Ease the moulding out by pulling on the flange. Take a sharp knife and slice the moulding from the flange. Repeat for the other half of the head.

headFIMO in its uncooked state is extremely mailable. Great care is needed to minimise distortion of the head moulding when handling. The plus side is that if there are defects some judicious prodding can correct. Because its easy to distort I cooked the two halves to harden before making the body. When hardened, the two halves are 'glued' together using a slither of FIMO and the assembly cooked again to fix.

The wire skeleton is constructed.

A small hole is drilled into the neck and the wire inserted.

Notice that the monk has puffy cheeks. I smoothed these out a bit on the moulded head and enhanced the eyes, nose and mouth using a piece of wire. Unfortunately, the result has a frightening persona, someone I would not like to meet on a dark night! Fortunately though, the head is only 4mm tall.

To Part 3

To Part 1

Monday, 11 October 2010

DIY 4mm/00 people

I get great pleasure from photographing my model railway by staging a scene in a photograph of the prototype. The next one I have in mind is of a train waiting in the platform with a few passengers on the platform, some seeing off their friends or relations.

I have scoured the web for commercially available little people and found a couple that could do for some of them. But, there are others for which commercial models do not fit well either because of fashion/period or their stance. So, I need to consider creating my own little people.

There seems to be three methods open to me.

1) 3D printing is a very exiting technology and going to be very big for manufacturing at home. There are two systems (MakerBot and RepRap Mendel) that fall into the category of 'Open Source Hardware'. What this means is that the system design is publicly available and the parts can be obtained individually from a variety of suppliers or, as a complete kit for DIY assembly.

Our little people have to be built in 3D design software, like the free Google SketchUp, and the resulting STL file loaded into the 3D printer. The actual model is made in open air on an XYZ platform using ABS plastic that is melted and ejected from a nozel.

The Open Source DIY systems means the cost is well under £1,000. Unlike commercially available printers that run into 5 figures.

But this is not yet for me because the outlay is still too much to risk when I have not seen how good the design output and build quality of 4mm scale people is.

2) Moulding requires making a model in clay or something mailable like soap and creating a mould from it which is then used to produce robust replicas in resin or whitemetal. I think I saw a start up whitemetal moulding kit for about £40. This is ok if we want to create duplicates to sell, for example.

3) Modelling is about making the little people individually from a clay material like FIMO. Here is a link to a How To.. This approach is very low cost, a few pence per person. The tricky bit it seems to me is creating the head with facial features. I have an idea how to achieve that.

I'm going to attempt 3).

To Part 2

Friday, 1 October 2010

A Close Shave?

I was feeling pretty confident that I would be able to complete my ACE train by purchasing the last two Bulleid brakes (34-504A) for it before Christmas. After all, they kept coming up on Ebay and the Bachmann site indicated new stocks were arriving in August/September (having supplied the market with a long awaited batch a little earlier). No need to rush a purchase then.

To my horror, when I checked the Bachmann site again in September they had been flagged as out of stock with no forecast of availability. They never did arrive in August/September.

I had already bought out the local model shop stock and so, turned to Ebay. But, only one (trade) seller was active and his 'buy it now' price was top wack. I was in danger of having to pay a premium price as the stock in the market place evaporated.

Now, I had heard about Hattons of Liverpool being one of the largest model railway shops in the UK. I visited their website and found they had listed more than 10 in stock! And a nice little side comment to boost confidence saying "Are they really in stock. Yes". I have never bought from Hattons before but decided I had to give them a try and fuelled on by the fact their pricing was very attractive/competitive I placed my online order.

Their communication was brilliant, sending me emails about order progress. Firstly an order acknowledgement, then another when my card was charged and finally when it was packed. The coaches arrived safely 8 days from when I placed the order.

Putting together my ACE has taken quite a long time. It started in April 2009 with the purchase of a Merchant Navy loco. Then followed research into the history of the train and my first blog posting appeared in June 2009. You can track my progression in the two ACE archives (links right).
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