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Saturday, 31 March 2012

N Gauge Society - Berkshire Club Expo 2012

Simply because I'm taking an excursion into 'n' gauge modelling did I visit this exclusive 'n' gauge exhibition. It is always interesting and sometimes helpful to see what other modellers are doing.

This club has developed a modular approach to layout construction. Each member builds a section to a common standard to operate at home and connect with others for exhibition. a very large model railway is possible this way and it was exhibited together with 9 other n gauge layouts, demonstrations and a few trade stands.

It was expected this would be a small exhibition by current standards but the variety of layouts on display made it a worthwhile visit. If you like lots of track, or umpteen cameo scenes crammed onto the layout, or trains speeding by then your wish would be fulfilled.

Two layouts that I enjoyed were Kidmore Vale, which arguably was more authentic than the others, being based on reality to some degree with lots of fine, believable details. The other was perhaps easily overlooked as it was just a double track and station halt but, it was accurately constructed from historical photographs of Winnersh Halt in Berkshire.

I have always had a leaning towards authentic, historical railway modelling and whilst a model based on reality may be considered a boring exhibit to look at, if an understanding can be gained of the the time and place on which it is based then it brings it to life.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

ACE Coach Roof Destination Board - New Fixing

meachamWhen I first thought about fixing the roof boards I wanted a magnetic solution but could not find anything suitable so I developed a plastic saddle arrangement. (I should mention that the objective is for the boards to be easily removable so that the coach can be deployed on other services).

Then 'First4Magnets' knocked on my blog door showing their vast range of neodymium magnets, many targeted at model making. Neodymium is a very powerful magnet material so we need to be careful that in delicate situations it is not overly 'sticky'.

I selected First4Magnets F321 for this application. At only 2mm diameter by 1mm thick it is strong but at this small size is manageable and also not too conspicuous (once it is painted to blend in).

Of course, it needs either another magnet or metal to create the adhesion so, what to do about the coach plastic roof? One solution is to fix the magnet to the board and remove the roof to fix a magnet or metal strip underneath it. But I could not see how to remove the roof and did not want to mess about finding out in case I caused damage. What I needed was some metallised paint. Out to the garage with a file and sheet of steel to create some metal filings. These were mixed into a blob of Humbrol enamel paint same colour as the roof and a small area, about the size of a magnet, covered between the dummy board brackets. It is hardly noticeable.

Once dry a magnet was offered up and it stuck with just the right amount of adhesion.

But this revealed a problem. The angle of the roof differs to that of the board brackets and since magnets tend to lie flat to a surface the board followed the angle of the roof and not the bracket! (Bear this in mind if you choose to fix a magnet under the roof and make the board in metal to totally hide the fixing method). What is needed is either a magnet shaped to the same angle as the roof bracket or some packing between it and the board. The packing was achieved with a blob of epoxy resin glue placed between the roof board and magnet whilst in situ taking great care that it did not run onto the coach roof.

Finally, a test drive on the layout proved the method works and it looks great too. Off to paint the magnets now.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

BNHMS 2012 expo

meachamArmed with a shopping list for our 'n' gauge project Cliddesden, our visit this year was focused on the trade stands, which happily met most of our immediate needs. We have sufficient stuff to move the project forward over the next few weeks.

I hardly paused at the 4mm layouts (my main interest) as I sought out the 'n' gauge layouts to see how Cliddesden may look when completed.

Recently I built from scratch a row of four terraced cottages in 'n' gauge, which was demanding enough. Imagine how I was taken aback by this scene on Meacham (photo) of an entire urban estate of 'n' gauge terraces. A mammoth building project for someone I guess!

Before the show I checked out the exhibitor list and found a name that rang a bell - Flockburgh. This is the layout of Phil Parker, who's blog I regularly follow. Just had to seek him out and say hello. He gave a boost to my ego as he knew of me and followed my/this Blog. All I need now is to bag Chris Nevard and I would have met the two most prolific and influencial UK commentators in the Blogasphere. (In my opinion).

Unfortunately, had to cut our visit short as my grandson (age 2 and a half) decided enough was enough (He does like trains, honest - one of his first words was choo choo).

Monday, 5 March 2012

DIY Static Grass Applicator - Health Warning

hot wire cutterWant to make your own static grass applicator?

There are two published methods. One uses a negative ion generator and the other an electric fly swat conversion. I choose the latter as the parts were readily available from my local hardware store.

Search in YouTube for a video on how to make your own. The conversion of the electric fly swat is straight forward. Apart from the fly swat you need a metal tea strainer, croc clip, wire, two batteries and some initiative to connect the tea strainer to the electronics.

The parts for mine cost about £8 all in. You can buy a ready made versions for between £15 and £25. Here is one.

On the fly swat handle was the warning shown in the photo above. This is no joke. I inadvertently put my skin between the croc. clip and metal tea strainer with the thing turned on and gave myself a belt of electricity that felt as strong as a shock off the mains!

Static Grass is a plastic flock type material that accepts a static charge. The electric field of the device makes the grass stand on end when it is sieved through the tea strainer.
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