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Thursday, 13 November 2014

GBL T9

For a long time I fancied a T9 locomotive (Hornby have/had marketed the class for quite some time) but I could not justify purchase because in the 1960s there were no regular workings of it on my stretch of modelled main line in Somerset. By 1960 the last of the T9s were either working 'The Withered Arm' or used on secondary routes in Hampshire and by the end of 1961 all but one (30120)  had been  scrapped.

But I am more than happy to acquire and display the inexpensive yet well modelled, static GBL model that came available for a limited period at some newspaper/magazine outlets today.


You may think that I should have acquired a T9 long ago if I wanted one, regardless of authenticity. Well this just highlights one of the many factions in the hobby. Some just want to run trains, any train, whilst others like me are modellers who aim to replicate in miniature a time and place as far as practicable.

I did some more research to see if I missed any chance of it appearing on the Somerset main line in 1960. I came up with one possibility that, with a stretch of imagination, might have run briefly on the main line.

On the 14th August 1960 an RCTS special hauled by T9 30718 ran from Salisbury to Yeovil and Weymouth. My model layout is based on Crewkerne, which is just down the main line from Yeovil Junction and the T9 at this time was sheded at Exmouth Junction shed near Exeter. The RCTS special would not have reached Crewkerne but to get from Exmouth Junction to Salisbury the engine must have run light through Crewkerne. So, there is my excuse to run a T9 in my period on my stretch of modelled line.

30718 was scrapped in March 1961. It was the narrow cab type with 8 wheeled tender, same as the GBL model.

Now, how do I motorise the GBL model? (no guarantee that I will.)

GBL = Great British Locomotives Collection
LSWR = London & South Western Railway
RCTS = Railway Correspondence & Travel Society


Saturday, 11 October 2014

40th Farnham Model Railway Expo.

I did not need inspiration and I did not need to buy anything. So, why did I go? It was a spur of the moment thing. Wandering around the house on a quiet Saturday unable to put mind to any task in particular.

Now here is an odd thing. Ten of the twenty layouts on show were N gauge and 2mm Finescale. We are lead to believe that the most popular gauge in the UK is 00 and yet only two layouts there was of that ilk. (There were HO, P4 and EM as well but all in the minority). Does this indicate a shift of interest by enthusiasts to the smaller scale?

Nothing stood out as strongly inspiring among the layouts (probably because of my mood this day). However, I did like Tucking Mill (2mm finescale). It was best in show for me because of its character,  detail and quality of build.

Recently I have been creating N gauge model trees from scratch for our Thornycroft layout so it was this aspect of the N & 2mmFS layouts on show that drew my attention and I have to say Tucking Mill had the most realistic models in this respect.

Unusually, I found the trade stands of most interest. Such great variety of stock offered by the 25 small traders attending was quite astonishing.




Monday, 15 September 2014

Have You Seen This - 3?

I find myself being drawn more and more to layouts that have a seamless integration of foreground to back scene.

Vale of Oxbury (N gauge) is a case in point. It reminds me of The Vale scene at Pendon but without the massive surface area used there.

Advance the movie to about 1.07 minutes.


Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The Only Way is Up

Over the past few years I have been heavily involved in building two 'N' gauge layouts, each about 6 feet x 3 feet. The first one was made in a spare bedroom but, could not stay there indefinitely. After completion it was stored rather inconveniently in my '00' gauge Railway Room where it could not be operated easily. The second, which is still a work in progress, has been built over the summer in the garage. I don't want to keep it there all the time as it is a conventional garage that is uninsulated, experiencing extremes of temperature across the seasons.

One of the N gauge layouts is a scale model of Cliddesden Station on the Basingstoke and Alton Light Railway. The real station building is nothing more than a large corrugated 'shed'. Our first idea was to build a smaller version of it in the garden to house the N gauge layouts. It is an interesting idea to build a railway room that looks like a station building of the line. The garden is big enough to hold it but of the available plots the best place for it is in full view from the lounge window, which did not go down to well with the domestic authority and besides, construction of a bespoke shed could be quite a lengthy project in itself.

The existing Railway Room is one side of a double garage that has been boarded up and insulated. The next thought was to extend it into the other side. Yet more heavy work and destroys any hope of using it for the purpose it was built - a car.

Was there any chance of reorganising the Railway Room? The existing 00 gauge layout sits at a height of about 38 inches supported on multiple pairs of legs. What if the height was raised and legs eliminated? This would offer a massive open space beneath for the N gauge layouts. Well, that is what was done.

The 00 gauge layout was raised to a height of about 50 inches. This was chosen as optimum for a 6 foot person to still have a good view standing up or sat on a bar stool and be able to reach the far side of the layout with ease. Shorter adults over 5 feet also get a good view.

To eliminate the support legs an open frame was constructed that screwed to three walls. The middle of the fourth side is supported by timber suspended from a ceiling joist. The layout sits on top of the frame. I have to say this is a great working height as everything is brought closer to eye level and the bridging board that spans the access point does not need to lift as only a small stoop under is needed to enter.

The two N gauge layouts are portable layouts for exhibition. In the Railway Room they simply rest on wheeled trolleys set to a height of 33 inches. This allows them to be moved easily if access to the rear side is required. A sitting position on a standard chair is adopted when operating the layouts. One of the layouts is mostly uncovered, lit from the same ceiling light that illuminates the 00 gauge layout. The other, which is directly beneath the 00 gauge layout, is lit from an LED batten fixed to the 00 gauge support frame.

The view in the photo may appear a little confusing because the background to the 00 gauge station (top left) is a mirrored wall to reflect layout features not normally seen from this side. The single drop down frame support from the ceiling is painted blue to try and disguise it (unsuccessfully).

More information about the N gauge layouts.

More information about the 00 gauge layout.



Friday, 5 September 2014

GBL BoB - Part 8

The choice of name for my BR(S) Bulleid West Country pacific conversion from the GBL BoB posed no problem at all. Those who follow this Blog or visit my model railway website will know my layout is based on Crewkerne in Somerset. Since my track plan is much simpler than early 1960s Crewkerne I named the station after the nearby village of Misterton, which is in fact closer to the station than the town! In homage to the real station it is fitting to name the model locomotive after it - Crewkerne.

The full size locomotive was built at Brighton works, entering service in September 1946 as 21C140 and named Crewkerne in October 1948. It was rebuilt (air smooth casing removed etc.) in October 1960 at which point the tender was changed to the low sided variant. In original configuration it was first allocated to Stewarts Lane shed for south eastern routes and then transferred to Bournemouth shed for Waterloo to central southern England services. It also hauled the Pines Express over the Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway. I am doubtful it was used on BR(S) south west routes although it has been reported hauling the Plymouth to Brighton train in 1949. Whether it ventured into the south west or took over this train at Salisbury I do not know. Nevertheless, it operates on my layout through Crewkerne a.k.a. Misterton in the summer of 1960 shortly before it went for rebuild.

On the model the lining, side panel numbers and BR crest are from HMRS Pressfix transfer sheets. The Crewkerne and West Country Class banners, shield and smoke box door number were designed in a graphic editing Application using a resolution of 600 pixels and printed on sticky label. The final addition to the model was a Hornby speedometer cable, which required a plasticard pocket to be made for holding the cable bracket tab behind the side panel.

I said to myself several times that it is finished and then found something that needed doing. More detailing and GBL design corrections could be carried out but I think this will do nicely. It sits well alongside my super detailed Hornby locomotives and is far superior to my Airfix/Kemilway BoB model that I built over 30 years ago.

Purchased 'super detailing' parts amounted to £14.45 bringing the total cost to £61.43 plus bits from my spares box and some DIY 3D printed components.




To Part 1.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

GBL BoB - Part 7

More detailing described in this post.

Up first is the safety valves, a significant and noticeable part of the roof but sadly missing completely from the GBL model and presumably the Hornby variant that it was copied from.

The safety valves and surrounding housing is a white metal casting from Regent III of Coventry. Bought it from a trader at Andover Modelex. I can't find Regent III on the web but RT Models have the exact same part. All I needed to do was accurately cut a rectangular hole in the roof to accept the implant. I also took the opportunity to beef up the T shaped whistle with plastic card. It was just a whisker on the GBL model. I had a look at the roof of 34007 Wadebridge in a video and noted these parts were black with grime instead of shiny brass so I have coloured likewise.

Moving down the loco the next photo shows fitted loco crew (Langley models) and window glass. The latter cut from transparent plastic packaging.

Next we have the head code disks for the Waterloo -Exeter route.

Finally, below deck, are the cylinder drain pipes. These are made from copper wire and butt glued to the cylinders. I think this is a bit too fragile and when they break off I'll remake them and drill some holes in the cylinders for insertion. That will be stronger. The pipes stick out sideways more than they should to allow the bogie to negotiate model track curves without interference.

To Part 8.

To Part 1.




Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Andover Modelex 2014

A pleasant Sunday morning spent at this exhibition. Pleasant, because fewer people attending on a Sunday meant exhibits could be viewed more comfortably.

At least twenty layouts and many traders spread over two large school halls. A couple of scenic 7mm scale layouts caught my eye, one of them being Swyncombe. The thing about a scenic 7mm or O gauge, apart from its size, is that a lack of modelled detail is more noticeable than in the smaller scales. Thankfully, not the case here.

My 'best layout' award goes to Much Murkle, a 1930s GWR barnchline. On first look I could not make out what gauge this finely detailed layout is and enquired if it was EM.

"No" came the reply, "it's 00 gauge".
"What track components did you use?"
"None, its Peco."

Well that was a surprise as it looked modelled.

"And its code 100".

Now I was speechless. I have never seen Peco code 100 looking as realistic as this.

It took a while for me to realise that what fooled me was the extensive weathering applied to the track work and the removal of the bumps from the electrofrog turnouts' tie bars. The weathering cleverly disguised the code 100 bulky rail profile.

At this mid-size sized exhibition I was not expecting to find many of my purchase requirements from the trade. How wrong could I be. All but one from my list was obtained, most of which were rather specialist.  I must give a plug to 'Rural Railways', a trader who only operates from exhibitions. He has a wide stock of 'bits and pieces for bringing your model railway to life' This time he had a Bulleid unrebuilt West Country safety valves implant I needed for my GBL BoB project. Now that is an obscure item and one that normally may only be found at dedicated finescale exhibitions like Expo Em.

Oh, the one item I did not find was standard Humbol enamel paint, would you believe.


Saturday, 30 August 2014

GBL BoB - Part 6

I fell headlong into the Brunswich Green trap for a BR(S) period livery.

The GBL BoB lining, number, nameplate and shield were removed by rubbing white toothpaste over them with an old tooth brush. This was a tip from RMWEB which recommended toothpaste as it does not have a chemical composition that could damage the underlying plastic. The toothpaste is effective but also removed the paint finish revealing the black plastic beneath, which was unaffected showing no scratch marks from the rubbing.

The body work was sprayed with Halfords grey primer and then Brunswich Green (Humbrol #3) after which I thought the green looked too bright compared to photographs of the prototype. (I know paint matching to photos is a big no, no). I started to research further and found that Brunswich Green is a misnomer for what should be called BR(S) Dark Green. A couple of model paint manufacturers supply the 'correct' green but I was not sure these were definitive for BR(S) locomotives of the late 1950s early 1960s. Furthermore, some commentators recommend a lighter shade than the correct green because of the effect of light diffusion on normal model viewing distances of 25 - 75 yards in 4mm scale. I looked at my loco stock from Hornby, G.R. Wren and Mainline and they all had different shades of green for the same period and even different shades across Hornby locomotive classes! I realised I had entered the minefield of paint matching. I decided to mix my own paint to achieve a shade somewhere between the dark Hornby green and lighter Wren green. The Mainline colour was far too light.

My mix was made from what I had available, Humbrol brunswich green 3 (gloss), green 30 (matt) and gloss black Interestingly, the mixing of gloss and matt gives a silk finish like the finish of proprietary models.

The first spraying looked OK in natural light but appeared too light in artificial light and of course whilst still wet is darker than when dry. Very difficult to get right but further refinement of the mix gave a finish that fared better in natural and artificial light and sat well between the Hornby and Wren paint finishes. However, in full sun it takes on a lighter shade! (I'll live with that). I can't give the paint proportions as it was trial and error.

Some detailing has been added. The pipework below the cab was made from soldered copper wire and replaced the GBL modelled pipework, which was totally incorrect for this side of the cab in the photo. Vacuum pipes, steps and screwlink coupling added to front buffer beam.

More to do - details and lining etc.

To Part 7

To Part 1


Monday, 25 August 2014

GBL BoB - Part 5

I spent ages comparing the buffer beam position and size against a scale drawing of the locomotive trying to decide where the main error was, what to fabricate and where to make the cut.The dimensional errors are the valance height, buffer beam height and the height of the vertical panel above the buffer beam. All need their height increasing to match the scale drawing.

Of particular concern was the valance above the front bogie that curves around the front because cutting into that and fabricating a replacement could be tricky. I noticed from prototype photographs that some locomotives in the class do not have a valance. I then checked out the actual engine that I am modelling (to be revealed later) and found it belonged to be one of these. This makes the modification much easier. It was a simple case of a straight cut with a razor saw to remove the valances and offending buffer beam parts.

The replacement buffer beam was designed and 3D printed in three parts that were then cyanoacrylate glued together and to the body. It is difficult to show the detail because the white plastic tended to bloom in the photo. I have played about with it in a photo editing application to try and reveal the detail. Trust me, it looks better than seen in the photo.

The circular Southern ring on the front of the smoke box door was very carefully dremelled away with the grinder attachment so that just a small remnant remained. This was scrapped away with a scalpel, which leaves a more shiny surface that the dremel does. Finally, this area was polished with the dremel polishing pad attachment.

The white areas are to be painted.

Finally, I was pleasantly surprised to see that a Zero 1 chip can be located within the body without interference or modifications. It is stuck with double sided tape on top of the chassis weight.

To Part 6.

To Part 1.


Thursday, 21 August 2014

GBL BoB - Part 4

Here is the 'Great British Locomotives' Battle of Britain body fitted to a Hornby motorised chassis.

And this is how it was done.

1. Coupling Peg

The coupling peg from the GBL pony truck was cut off and glued to the tender coupling and excess removed so that the tender and locomotive coupled closely ensuring it still went around curved track without hindrance.

Getting the peg to mate with the loco chassis was troublesome because the chassis part has springy electrical pick-ups that tend to push the lightweight tender upwards off the track. I did not want to cut off the pick-ups, even though they are not used in this implementation, because I wanted to keep the chassis intact as possible in case it is redeployed in the future. So, by a combination of spacing off the chassis coupling by about 2 mm and thinning the peg flange an acceptable fit was achieved.

2. Chassis Modification

The width of the body is narrower than the cylinder block on the chassis, which needs to slide/locate inside the body by a few millimetres. I had to grind back the cylinder block and relieve a bit of the central protrusions to achieve the fit. I don't think this upsets the fit of a genuine Hornby body if it was decided to fit one later.

3. Body Hacking


That red slide bar bracket also locates inside the body. It is not practical to cut it back to fit so, the body sides were thinned to 50% of their thickness in the area of the cylinder block and slide bar bracket.

Further relief was created as shown in the photo to accommodate other parts of the chassis and a new chassis screw fixing block fitted. Whilst cutting out the internal ribs the Dremel sliced through the body at the roof line leaving a slot a few millimetre long! This was filled with a slither of plastic card, which can just be seen in the photo top of this posting. Once painted it will be fine.

At the other end of the locomotive GBL had made provision for the Hornby chassis locating lugs. But, either the body overall length is shorter than Hornby or the bulkhead position is incorrect (I suspect the latter) because the motor bracket wants to stick further into the cab. The bulkhead is poorly detailed so I had no qualms lengthening the lug locating slots to allow the motor bracket to fit, which cut into quite a bit of the detailing. It would be possible to modify the motor bracket to avoid or minimise this modification but once again I wanted to keep the chassis as original as possible.

A new floor was fabricated (to be painted) because on the GBL model it is part of the chassis. The chassis resting block in the photo is where the locating lugs rest.

The bulkhead is not easily seen normally and with driver and fireman fitted even less of  this bodgework will be noticeable.

For those wanting a working Southern liveried locomotive then that completes the project. For me it is not the end. Here is a list of further work I'll be undertaking.


  • Correct the front buffer position and size
  • Remove the Southern ring from the smoke box door
  • Re-livery to BR period, early totem
  • Fit nameplates and shield for a west country class
  • Fit window glass
  • Fit Hornby speedometer cable
  • Fit a Zero1 chip
  • Anything else that I think of



Monday, 18 August 2014

GBL BoB - Part 3

This is the disassembled locomotive body.


Only the body is required. Note it is hollow with strengthening ribs inside.

Motorised Chassis decisions

My first thought was to 3D print (I have a printer) the chassis, bogie and pony truck and buy a motor, axles, gears and wheels. A nice, cheap project to print some of the components. I looked into the cost of driving wheels and motor, which came to nearly £30 alone so, had second thoughts. It was going to take quite a bit of time to design and not be cheap!

Why reinvent the wheel when Hornby produced a nice motorised chassis. I looked into buying the individual components that make up its motorised chassis, all can be obtained apart from the metal block it seems. I started to total up the cost of parts and gave up when it went above £50. I also looked at a chassis kit available from a kit manufacturer and this came to £35 without wheels and motor.

I went onto Ebay and found several complete Hornby motorised chassis. Snapped one up for £34 + postage not knowing for sure whether it would be suitable but as the GBL model is a copy of the Hornby (albeit the 1980s model) there is a low risk of a serious mismatch.

Here is the GBL body and Hornby motorised chassis. The body internal ribbing needs to be removed and some other modifications to do before they will fit correctly..

Project cost to date £46.98 + tender wheels and coupling from spares box and DIY 3D printed tender chassis.

Average used Hornby model (high tender) price £81.

To Part 4

To Part 1


Wednesday, 13 August 2014

My Dapol M7 Bogie Wiper Contacts Broke


If you have insulated frog turnouts then failure of the bogie electrical pickup renders the locomotive pretty useless as it will stall on the frog without the bogie pickups conveying that additional source of power at the other end of the locomotive to the driving wheel pickups.

The bogie wipers make contact on the electrical collection strip that is fixed to the chassis. It is not a very reliable connection and if you fiddle with the wipers trying to remake a failed contact then they will eventually break, most likely on the bend. Furthermore, if the bogie is removed and refitted then the wipers can get trapped between bogie and chassis weakening them.

I have never liked the fallibility of this part of the design but cannot think of an alternative to convey power from the bogie to the motor whilst allowing it to be removed for servicing. But I have come up with a method used to repair broken wipers. This only works of course if there is still part of the wiper remaining.

I used 0.2mm wire. One end is soldered to the chassis collection contact and the other end to the bogie wiper. We have to take care not to melt the plastic. Just a touch of the iron and solder on the contact and wire is enough to form a solid joint.

The wire needs to move in unison with the bogie as it rotates on its pivot. This is achieved with an omega loop formed in the wire (although in practice mine is a semi-circle). The loop opens and closes in unison with the bogie as it rotates. There is some spring back of the bogie but no more than the original and it goes around 9 inch curved track without derailing.

This is a far more reliable electrical connection than the original design but removal of the bogie is now compromised. If it needs to be removed for servicing I'll probably have to desolder one end of the wire(s).

Thursday, 24 July 2014

GBL BoB - Part 2

The tender is very simple to convert from static wheels to running wheels. Here is the tender completely disassembled.
Note the integrated metal static wheels, axles and frame that is discarded. The body is a one piece component that once removed will take a repaint for the BR period without over spray worries for the chassis.

A new axle frame needs to be fabricated and a set of wheels obtained. I used old Airfix/Dapol tender wheels from their BoB plastic kit that were left over when I motorised that model and fitted metal wheels to its tender. The wheels should be the Bulleid-Firth-Brown (Boxpok) style but plain disk wheels were supplied with the Airfix kit. Other disk wheels sets could be used of about 14 mm diameter.

Probably the easiest frame manufacture would be tin plate bent into a U shape like the old Wren Bulleid tenders, but with a 3D printer to hand I designed and printed my own.


It is a two part assembly. The main piece has U cut outs for the axles and the other piece is a lid that holds them in place. The whole assembly is held together with two of the long plinth securing screws from the GBL model. These pass through the two piece frame and screw down into the existing chassis fixing bosses. Glue is not required. The bearing surfaces for the axles are 2 mm long each side achieved by a deep bore slot relief in the middle. Reducing the bearing surface this way improves free running. I used grey PLA plastic for the frame that I had to hand and painted the sides black. Black PLA would be better.

A NEM pocket coupling is contained in the end of the frame by means of a dovetail slot - just like the latest Hornby models. It is a tight fit not needing glue.


In the photo below the finished tender assembly is hooked up to a 'Hatchett' Mk1 coach. The new frame is just visible between the wheels. If I had thought about it I could have designed the frame not to show at all and spent more time designing in brake gear but as the GBL model overall does not have the fine details of the latest Hornby model then it is ok as is for me. The tender will be repainted along with the engine when I have motorised it.




Wednesday, 9 July 2014

GBL Bulleid BoB - Part 1

This is the one I have really been waiting for and I have to say I'm quite pleased with it, despite reviews at RMWEB that criticise its accuracy to prototype. I have definite ideas to motorise this one and repaint in BR crest livery so I am only interested in the body of which the most distasteful aspect for me is the smoke deflectors that are solid to the body - no gap between. Another part that I did not initially notice until reading reviews is that the front buffer beam is set too high.

What is especially good is that the chassis is a separate component that can be removed revealing a hollow body shell, which should enable a motorised chassis to be fitted with a bit of fiddling. The tender can also be modified quite easily to fit a working wheel set.

I doubt the total cost of the motorisation project will be any less than a good second hand r-t-r Hornby model but I'll be doing it for the pleasure.

To Part 2.



Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Have You Seen This? - 2

Another layout full of atmosphere and a source of inspiration when interest in your own modelling has waned.

The video below may seem a bit boring to begin with as the shunting operation is prototypically slow but bear with it and the scene opens up to an astonishing modelled landscape, due to the sensitive placement of realistic scenic elements, wonderful colour hues and a seamless integration of foreground to back scene that gives tremendous depth to a layout only 12 inches deep.


There is actually a lot more to this than meets the eye. To start with it is a small part of a model railway that occupies a space 58 feet by 24 feet.

The style of layout falls into the category termed by the Americans as Proto-Freelance, which means that a feasibility study of a real location has been undertaken to see where a railway might have been justified and then the imagined line modelled within typical landscape and operating practice.

This layout is also heavily promoted through the free, online magazine at Model Railroad Hobbyist Magazine, DVDs and books.

If you search for Allagash from the magazine home page (search link is top right on the page) you can read more about it. Warning: It is a bit cumbersome to navigate the magazines to find the specific articles until you get used to it.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

GBL Black 5 - Almost Motorisable

In two minds about obtaining this locomotive display model because it is not of Southern origin. However, the BR standard Class 5MT was developed from the Black 5 and some were allocated to BR(S). In fact the only outward difference I have read about is 'the running board on the BR 5MT is higher, revealing almost all of the wheels, the locomotive’s whistle is directly behind the chimney, and the cab sides are not square, but have one corner cut off’. All this seems achievable by modification of a Black 5 model.

The Class 5 allocations to BR(S) were 73110-19 and 73080-89. They carried the names previously allocated to the King Arthur N15 class.

With favourable reports about the GBL model quality I decided to buy one. This time from Asda, which seems to be consistent in retailing the entire series to date (3 on the shelf when I visited on the day of publication).



It is a really good model and surprisingly heavy, which is due to the chassis and fixed driving wheels being a solid metal casting. The front bogie wheel/axle set are separate mouldings and turn!. The tender wheels do not turn.

Both the locomotive chassis and tender chassis are removable leaving hollow body shells, which means either a motorised tender or locomotive chassis might fit.

Even if I do not convert this model looking at it revives memories of a wonderful excursion behind 44932.

The most frustrating aspects of the GBL series models for the modeller is:

1. Differing assembly techniques - some have separate chassis making motorisation easier and some have moulded in chassis making conversion more difficult. (I know they are not intended for modeller conversion, which is surely a missed marketing opportunity).

2. Inconsistent manufacturing quality across the range.

Nevertheless I look forward to future Southern models, especially the Bulleid West Country, due in July I believe.


Friday, 23 May 2014

My Dapol M7 derails on Peco N gauge setrack points

I struggled with this problem and judging by comments on other websites so have many others. The problem manifests when travelling bunker first through the curved side of the turnout. It either derails at the switch blade, or at the frog, or both.

When the bogie wheel meets the switch blade it rides up onto the top and falls off the other side (derail) and if it did not derail there then when it approaches the frog the wheel misses the guide rail taking the engine towards the other route through the frog (derail).

The cause does not lie with the turnout but with the M7 trailing bogie but, the solution requires modification to the turnout and M7.

There is some discussion elsewhere about the bogie swivel action being impeded by the electrical pick ups (this will not mean much to anyone who is unfamiliar with model) and/or insufficient weight over the bogie. But the truth is the bogie will go where the wheels take it.

The main causes are small wheel flange (does not always catch the guide rail), rocking motion of the axle (pivots on a spring that encourages the wheel to ride up any obstacle) and back to back wheel dimension.

Solutions

1. Reset the back to back dimension of the bogie wheel set to 0.275" (7mm) or thereabouts. This is narrower than the standard for N gauge but the wide tread of the M7 ensures the engine stays on the track and passes through the turnout.

2. Ensure the electrical pick ups for the wheels stick out equally each side of the bogie chassis so that the axles sit central when installed.

3. Reduce the rocking motion of the axle with a slither of plastic the width of the slot and place between the axle and pivot spring. It still needs to rock a little or the axle rotation will cease up.

4. Stick a thin strip of plasticard 1 mm tall to the top of the guide rail on the curved side of the turnout. On the underside of the M7 next to the  inside face of the large driving wheels shave a little off the plastic bits that rise from the chassis there. Run the engine through the turnout by hand and file down the raised guide rail until there is no interference. Leave at least 0.5 mm of the raised portion. Photo shows the modification.

On one of the turnouts I had to add a new guide rail positioned just before the switch blade on the curved rail side.

5. Check the M7 and other rolling stock traverse the turnout without derailing or sticking. Adjust as necessary.

The M7 will now be much more reliable but the occasional derail may still occur as the light weight of the engine comes into play.


Monday, 12 May 2014

My motor won't switch Peco N gauge turnout

I find this is a common problem for 00 and N gauge. If you build a capacitive discharge unit* to drive the point motor the usual remedy is to increase the charging capacitance, but that does not always work. After trying that I then made a serious error of judgement by increasing the input voltage, which blew the drive transistor!

The correct solution was to weaken the spring tension in the Peco turnout. On examining the N gauge turnout I could not see any built in method to achieve this. What needed to be done was to space out the two spring fixing points by sliding the sleepers on one side slightly away.

There is a web that joins the sleepers either side of the tie bar. Simply cut this where shown by the red arrow in the photo (both rails) and slide the sleepers on the right hand side away until the motor can move the switch blades fully home in both directions. The cut and adjustment can be done with the turnout in place.

Now that the sleepers are free they may need fixing with glue or pins to stop movement due to the remaining spring tension pushing them out further when the motor operates.


* search for circuit designs on the web or in electronics magazines.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

GBL Southern Schools 'Stowe'

Reports about the authenticity and quality of the 'Great British Locomotives Collection' part work issue 5,  'Schools' locomotive model are very encouraging so I decided to look out for one in the shops tomorrow.

I was not hopeful that my local village 'One Stop' shop would have it as I had not seen the previous issues there, apart from issue 1. However, I popped in this evening and was amazed to see one copy tucked away on the bottom shelf. It is now in my possession.

I had previously looked into motorising this static model having priced up a full chassis kit, wheels and motor and reckon in the end it may cost about the same as a good second hand  r-t-r model. So, the only reason for doing this is the pleasure derived from building a kit.

I planned to fit the Hornby tender drive unit from their 1980s model but the coal stack is much lower than the Hornby model so the drive unit will probably be too tall.

As soon as it was out of the packaging I set about disassembling it to see if a motorised chassis could be fitted. Despite removing the fixing screws the loco chassis would not come off and seemed glued in. So, to avoid damage I'll wait to see if someone else reports how to take it apart. The tender chassis was loose enough to remove.


For the time being it will be retained as a static model with a view to conversion later, if ever.

It is a very good model with fine detailing that would not look amiss alongside current r-t-r models but, there is one glaring fault. The smoke box door has been fitted 90 degrees out of kilter!

It has been lightly glued to the body. It can be prised off with care. What you need to do is locate the tip of a scalpel in the join and gently twist to break the seal. You may need to try a couple of places around the rim to find an area that is not glued.

Once the scalpel is in you then move it gently around twisting to release the entire door, which should pop off without damage.

The door can then be refitted correctly with the cosmetic hinges in the 3 0' clock position. (See photos in the accompanying magazine) There are two pips top and bottom on the body and two grooves on the door that need to be aligned, as shown with arrows in this photo.

A spot of glue needs to be applied to the join to stop the door falling off.

By the way, in this photo we can see the yellow lining does not line up where the two boiler halves meet. Just one of several very minor faults that cannot be criticised considering it is only £8.99, including an informative magazine about this locomotive class.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Crawley MRS Expo. 2014

Bit of a stretch to visit this exhibition in Horsham but with family living nearby the opportunity was ceased to pop in. A smaller number of traders and layouts to what we see at Basingstoke and Aldershot but still a good mix of gauges, eras and locations.

My favourite layout was Alton (00) because it was BR Southern Region Steam, is based on a real location and nicely modelled.

In reality railways are a thing of length. It is length that is compromised when building a home layout but here on Alton not an issue at all. It is very long with the countryside each side of the station being longer than the already long station complex. This resulted in prototypical long express and goods trains that took some time to traverse the layout. For the visitor It was like looking down on a real landscape from an aircraft. A single photograph cannot do it justice but here is one anyway.

Another favoured was a very small 009 layout mounted on a coffee table. It is called 'The Trench', a supply railway set on the western front during World War 1.

It is closely based on historical fact and whilst small was entertaining because of the approach taken by the owner in interacting with the public. He was keen to present, unprompted, the documented evidence for what he had modelled, drew our attention to cameo scenes on the layout and explained his techniques for scratch building just about everything including the modification of proprietary model people into different poses. Because of his interactive approach his layout attracted an enthralled audience who lingered a little longer than other small layouts may have experienced. A lesson for other exhibition layout operators perhaps?

Traders were a bit thin on the ground for variety of stock and I only obtained one of the items I needed, 12 x N gauge bicycles. I may eventually need 50. Why I need so many will become clear shortly on our other Blog.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

31st BNHMRS Expo

Visited last years show early on the Saturday, which was too crowded for comfort. This year I visited on the Sunday morning. It was much quieter with plenty of space to view the exhibits. Trade stands still had good stock levels too. Forgot to take my camera so no pictures in this posting but, I have given links to other websites showing the layouts that interested me.

The usual good mix of layouts to suit all tastes with several seen by me before on the exhibition circuit. Two that drew my attention most and not seen before were Warren Lane and Witney Euston.

Warren Lane is an expansive freighliner terminal with fully working gantry crane. Now, for operational variety modellers turn to goods and shunting yards taking pleasure from moving trucks around the yard. Here on Warren Lane it's not so much the train movement that fulfils that need but operation of the gantry crane, swinging the containers through 360 degrees with up and down, back and forth travel to move them from wagon to yard to lorries. It was quite enthralling watching the movements. To complete the operation it would have been great to see the lorries moving about too.

The layout that I enjoyed most was Witney Euston. This may come as a surprise as it was not the busiest of scenes, but when you consider the similarities in terms of modelling objectives to our own Basingstoke and Alton Light Railway then you would understand. Witney Euston is 2mm finescale and represents prototypical practice. The scene, set in 1910, shows an uncluttered open landscape with a station that sees little traffic. Unusually it depicts a winter scene at dusk with a sinking sun (or could be dawn with a rising sun!) and snow laying all about.

Trade stands served most of my requirements and the second hand stock I bought was competitively priced compared to that well known auction site. Consequently, I came away with leaflets promoting other exhibitions nearby, which I'm tempted to visit if only for the shopping.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Here We Go Again!

A finely detailed 00 gauge locomotive for £2.99.

Following on from 'Your Model Railway Village' it's another part work magazine with an opening offer of A4 class Mallard and magazine about the A4 class for £2.99. This time from Amermedia not Hatchett.


Don't get too excited. It is a non motorised display model but finely detailed never the less with cab details, vacuum pipes, brake gear, separate hand rails, window glass etc. etc. Regrettably, the wheels and coupling rods are fixed so can't be motorised. I dare say some modellers will strip off the bodies and attempt to add a motorised chassis (and I look forward to reading about these conversions) but I bought this as a display model and will not be customising it.


I was in two minds as to whether or not to open the package but the decision was made for me when I saw one of the bogie wheels rolling past the locomotive! This was easily repaired with a spot of super glue.

Tender details are particularly fine with minute printing showing water levels.

The cab has moulded pipe work etc. but none of it has been given painted highlights, except the regulator handle. I would like to have seen the additions of driver Joe Duddington and fireman Tommy Bray, the crew who achieved the 126 mph record.
Whilst mounted on a plastic rail and base, there is no dust cover. The clear packaging could be used but is not ideal and a poor quality substitute for a solid enclosure. The model will become a dust collector if not displayed in an enclosed case or cabinet.

The next issue for £5.99 includes a LMS Duchess class. Southern locomotives planned for future issues at £8.99 are to include Schools and West Country Class. All good value in my opinion considering Dapol kits are about the same price and these need to be assembled and painted. I do not plan to subscribe but I hope the Southern locomotive issues will appear in the shops as I will buy these.

Now I'm off to read the 15 page magazine.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

3D Factory Windows

Sixteen 'N' gauge factory windows 3D printed.

The glazing bars were designed to be 0.25mm wide but actually vary between 0.5mm and 0.9mm!. This is really pushing the limits of the machine. With more adjustment and trials greater accuracy could be obtained as the printing resolution is specified as 0.1mm *. As it is these are not perfect but are fit for purpose. They will be appearing on Thornycroft building #8, which I'll blog shortly.

Obtaining a 3D printer is only part of the story. To create original models we need to design them using a CAD application that outputs stereo lithography files (.stl). These then need to be converted with a 'Slicer' application into machine readable G code files.

* 0.1mm is the layer height. The ejector nozzel is 0.5mm so, this is the smallest width possible. Smaller nozzels are available I understand.

To Part 5 (Making an 'N' gauge Thornycroft J Class lorry).

To Part 1.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Nearly There - Three Evenings Later

Our first test print has materialised out of thin air.

This phase of work is about training the machine to know its X,Y,Z limits. I reckon it could be done in about an hour by an expert so I'm putting three evenings down to our training needs as well. We had to calibrate several times due to human error.

The test print (the white objects) is a set of tools needed for final calibration tests, but I dare say there will be more tweaks to do in the future. Print time was about 2 hours.

The photo shows a vertical column on one of the pieces being made.

To Part 4.

To Part 1.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Nearly there - Taken two days so far

Do you want to know the good, the bad, or the ugly? or, how about all?

The Good

Our 3D printer kit is assembled. Communication between computer and printer is established. All mechanical and heating functions operational. Two of us spent most of the weekend getting this far and it was very pleasing to see the machine moving under command at the end. Next stage is calibration and then a test print.

The design of the unit and manufacture of mechanical parts is very good. The instructions are pretty good too and trouble shooting tips provided are helpful (and essential). However, assembling this kit is not for the feint hearted. I feel you really need to have skills in both mechanics and electronics to achieve success. The step by step instructions need to be followed precisely and anyone who cannot abide written instructions will not succeed.

The Bad


All the cables require fitting of connectors and some of them have terminals that have to be crimped onto the wire ends and then slid into a connector housing where they lock into position - permanently. Can you see what is coming?

I knew great care is needed to put the wire in the right hole but unbelievably I pocked one into the wrong hole and could not get it out. Only course open to me was to cut the wire and solder the right one onto the end.

I'd prefer the cables to be pre-made by the manufacturer but I know that would increase the price for the kit.

Another set back was a micro SD memory card that I destroyed due to my own clumsiness, helped by the fact that its connector is set back too far on the PCB. A long finger nail or thin tool is required to push it home. I used a scalpel that broke through the card casing into the circuit - kaput. But, we had another and with extra care on insertion it worked OK.

I expect every kit builder encountered some problem and probably different to ours. It depends on how skilled you are, how much patience you have and whether you can keep focused on the task.

The Ugly

Initially, and for some hours, we could not get communication working between computer and printer. Tried reinstalling drivers, swapped cables, even changed the computer. Communication is via a USB interface and all indications were that there was an active connection because Windows detected hardware and a USB active light on the printer was illuminated.

We read a trouble shooting tip to check that the USB socket lugs on the circuit board were all soldered as any loose could cause the connector to move breaking electrical contact, and indeed two of the four lugs were not solderd. I soldered these but still no joy.

At this point we were composing an email for escalation to tech. support when I thought to try reseating the socket. The surface mount USB socket looked well seated but never the less I resweated the four solder joints whilst pressing the connector onto the PCB to remake any broken surface mount connections. I then had trouble refitting the interface cable, which interfered with the PCB surface because the connector clearly had moved closer to the board. It required some force to insert the cable. Next time we powered up we gave a great sigh of relief to see the welcome message on screen from the printer.

I cannot see how the PCB ever passed manufacturing test, or at least testing of the USB interface. It could never have worked as it was. The manufacturer will be notified when we have completed the remaining tasks.

To Part 3

To Part 1

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Exciting Times Ahead

Finally bitten the bullet and bought a 3D printer, which arrived today. It's the RepRapPro Ormerod, available as a kit from Radio Spares. We have plans to make models for our railways and may even go commercial if it is successful.

Welcome to the latest 21st century technology revolution!

To Part 2

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Roye England

Here is a gem for Pendon fans. (Click image to view video at British Pathe website).

HAIR THATCHING

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