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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).

Sunday, 12 September 2010

One for Narrow Gauge Fans (OO9)

emmet narrow gauge engineHere is Emmet on the Hayling Island miniature railway, a 2ft gauge, 1 mile tourist line with 3 stations on the beach front of Hayling Island.

Plenty of scope and interest here for a micro layout, or something larger. The main terminus boasts 5 tracks. The station complex includes a covered platform and track with run round loop and 3 road engine shed cum workshop.

The complex is butted up against a permanent fairground attraction, which could be modelled in part or shown in a backscene. The close proximity to the beach is another feature that could be incorporated. Run the trains to and from a fiddle yard.

Another idea is to make it end to end. The other terminus has a single platform with run round loop. The short distance between the two on a small layout could be broken by modelling the coast guard station and army cadet building. Both are significant tall buildings straddling the middle of the line. The train is hidden by these as it passess between. There are several access roads cross the line. If one of these with all its signage was included it would provide added interest - and then there are the ubiquitous, multi-coloured beach huts that are a must have.

I'm tempted!

Monday, 23 August 2010

ACE Plymouth Coach

Most of my recent railway stock is bought on Ebay, being funded from sales of items that I no longer need. And so it came to pass that having followed a Bulleid Brake coach for a week on Ebay I placed my bid last night and - lost. I usually bid below the shop price less postage and often win but these Bulleid coaches, especially the Brakes, are extremely popular. The Brake+postage went for just a couple of quid less than the recommended retail price. (I have seen them go for £10 more!) So, having to go to town today I popped in the model shop and picked one up. I paid the full price but at least I had the item instantly and did not have to worry about when and if I would receive an Ebay win.plymouth coach rear

There is a detailing kit supplied with the coach containing the solebar steps and an end door to close the gangway for a rear most carriage. I decided to make this the end coach, which is the Plymouth carriage on my Atlantic Coast Express. Worth noting that at busy summer periods the ACE comprised two (or more) separate trains, one with coaches for the 'Withered Arm' and one for the 'West Country' resorts. So, mine is destined for the 'Withered Arm' of Cornwall and west Devon. However, I can change the roof boards to run the other train that followed on behind.

A bit of customisation to the Bulleid coach is shown in the photos. The rear tail light is a Springside Models product with a jewelled red lens, which I nearly lost because it was not fixed and fell out of its pocket.

plymouth coach sideRoof boards are applied (Fabrication of these is described in a previous posting.) and this Bachmann Brake Second is turned into a Brake Composite with the addition of the '1' to the centre doors. With no yellow bar spanning the roof line of the 1st Class compartments we can say that this version of the train predates 1963.

Two more coaches needed to finish my ACE, hopefully I'll buy before the VAT rise in January.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Southern Region Head Code Discs in 4mm Scale

Head code discs identfy the route of the train. One disc above the other signifies a Waterloo-Exeter mainline train. Sometimes a 3 digit number that identified a specific train service was stuck on.

I create the disc from 0.5mm, glossy white, plastic food packaging. Gloss to represent the enamel paint of the prototype. Hitherto the shape was formed using a single hole paper punch that was a christmas cracker novelty. I was always aware that my model was too big, in fact about 2mm (6 inches) too big (The prototype disc is 15 inches diameter) and the carry handle was never depicted.

coach gangwayAll that is now put to rights. A two hole paper punch that I use in the office produces correct 5mm discs. Two 0.6mm holes about 2mm apart are drilled near the edge. The handle is formed from 0.25mm electrical tinned copper wire. The free ends are fed through the holes, looped over the top of the disc and fed back through the holes to form the hinge. It is held firm without the need for glueing.

I use double sided sticky tape to fix the disc so that it can be removed without damage to the engine. You might consider a permanent bond as it is easily knocked off.

I have seen photos showing the disc as per my model, with the handle stuck up in the air and a reverse arrangement where the handle lays against the rear of the disc. Some have the handle missing and a grab hole placed between the two handle holes instead.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

4mm Scale Coach Gangways

The more astute will notice from my previous posting about my ACE train that the photographs were taken from an angle that disguises the fact there were no gangways between the coaches. (A common situation on most model passenger trains.) I remembered that a guy on Ebay sells gangways he manufactures so I popped over to take a closer look. They look really neat but are advertised for use with Bachmann Mk1 coaches. Mine are Bulleid coaches so, with trepidation, I decided to have a go at making some myself.

Once I worked out the concertina design I discovered how easy and quick they were to make. I did not want to remove the dummy, short gangways from the Bachmann model and as it happens they serve to hold my gangway extensions in place without the need for adhesive.

The gangway extension was made in five parts from copier paper painted matt black. A piece of 3mm cork tile was cut to push-fit into the doorway aperture. The gangway extension is stuck to the cork. The assembly can be easily removed to preserve the original model.

The gap may be wider than prototypical but I wanted to retain the standard Bachmann hook and bar coupling for easy detachment.

coach gangway on curveTwo gangways are needed, one for each coach. They slide across each other as the coaches move through track curves and crossovers. This second picture shows the concertina effect working on a 800mm curve. There is no degradation of coach perfomance because of the sliding and concertina action.

They really do enhance the appearance of the train. Don't know why I had not made them before.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Model Atlantic Coast Express Train

The loco is by Hornby, Carriages by Bachmann, except the Restaurant and Buffet set are Comet Models kits built by myself. There has been a misadventure with the carriage colours. Bachmann produced batches advertised as 'BR (SR) Green' and yet they are different shades! (not to be confused with malachite, an earlier light green livery). My painting of the Restaurant set used Phoenix Precision Paints BR (S) Coach Green, which matches the darker Bachmann shade seen on the Torrington carriage below. Did BR use two different shades of Green after they abandoned malachite?

By the way, The Plymouth carriage I converted from BSK to BCK simply by adding the first class '1' to a carriage door. (BSK is all second class corridor whereas BCK is 1st & 2nd corridor.) I expect the BCK had more to it than that but the external style looks close enough for me. Actually, I think the Bachmann Brakes are the BSO Arrangement (second open), but that's all that is available 'off the shelf'. Are you confused yet?

Read about the model train here.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Another Go at ACE Coach Roof Boards

The objective is to create ACE coach roof destination boards that are portable, thus enabling the boards to be removed so that the coaches can be re-deployed for other train formations.

coach roof board saddlesMy previous method looked good but with a small sticky area had the tendency to peel with changes in ambient temperature. I also think the stickiness would wear away with use.

My latest method uses roof saddles to hold the boards in place without the need for adhesive. The boards are made as previously described except the label covers the entire backing plastic.

We need transparent saddles to disguise their presence. Take a 1 litre 'High Juice' drink plastic bottle - mine came from Lydl. The curvature is almost the same as the Backmann 00 Bulleid coach roof. Slice through the bottle to extract a ring. Cut from the ring two strips 34mm long and a few mm wide. Using pliers bend the ends to an angle of about 60 degrees and about 3mm long. These are tabs to which the roof board is glued. This plastic takes bends very well.

coach roof board saddlesPlace masking tape across the roof width alongside the boards end brackets. (This is to protect the roof from the glueing process). Place the saddles and hold down with more masking tape.

Offer up and hold a roof board against the bent tabs and carefully wipe some liquid plastic glue with a brush into the joins. Repeat for the other side. When set, gently remove the masking tape from the saddles and lift off the assembly. Remove the tape from the coach roof.

The assembly fits snuggly on the roof with the angle of the board looking correct. The whole assembly is quick to apply and remove indefinately. The plastic saddles are glossy which tends to reflect light giving their presence away. Might be an idea to paint them the same colour as the roof.coach roof board saddles

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Peter Denny Video

Fans of the famous railway modeller Peter Denny will know that he passed away in December 2009 aged 92. He was a great inspiration for my own modelling activity. I followed his articles in 'Railway Modeller' magazine and bought his 1972 book 'Buckingham Great Central'. On a recent visit to Expo EM I had the unexpected privilege to see a small diorama he built that was displayed on the Pendon stand. The realistic detail of the scratch built model surpassed my expectation because old black and white photos of his work does not really give the models justice. If his model railway is as good as this then whoever takes it over will be blessed with a wonderful scene.

Today, I came across a news item from BBC Cornwall that included a video in which Peter Denny himself relaid his thoughts on the subject and described some aspects of his model.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Invalid Car 4mm Scale Model - Part 4

model invalid carPaul Bartlett's photo (ref. part 3) posed a dilemma for me. It shows a pre-1963 car with side mounted indicator lights. Cars from at least 1964 onwards had the indicators integrated into a cluster with the brake lights on the rear. Which should I model since I don't know the year they changed the design? The location of Paul's photo is unknown, may not even be the Southern. I opted for the later period since I have photos of the cars ready for dispatch at Broad Clyst in 1964. Unfortunately, the 1962 photo of the train conveying the car is too distant to show its details. (ref.part 1).

So, here is the finished item, all trussed up ready for transportation.


Headlights: Bodged fence post from an old Airfix kit.
Front indicators: 0.6mm wire
Door handles: 0.6mm wire
Rear light cluster: material as headlights.
Petrol cap: mushroom vent from a coach kit
Number plates: black paper - too small to add registration details
Wing mirrors: dressmaking pins with a bulbous end that is filed flat(ish)
Exhaust Silencer: cocktail stick

The window glass was particularly tricky to cut and fit. I declined to fabricate the single windscreen wiper, which would have to be a hair at this scale!

Now to add the truck to the freight train. Photo should appear on my website soon. (link top right)

To first posting in this series

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Invalid Car 4mm Scale Model - Part 3

model invalid carWhen I started this project I could not find a photo of the real car rear end. Thinking laterally, knowing that I would be placing this model on a lowfit wagon, I popped over to Paul Bartlett's wagon page on the (very) off chance he might have a lowfit with an invalid car load.

Imagine my amazement when I saw his first photo in the series was this exact AC invalid car on a lowfit and showing the rear end! Further more the retaining method of car to wagon is clearly visible. So I'll be modelling that as well. Isn't the Internet a wonderful research tool.

Unfortunately, I cut the rear window aperture before seeing the photo - it is a little too high. The wheels were reclaimed from an old Triang Minix car and super glued into slots carved into the base.

Not finished yet. More details to add.

Part 4

To first posting in this series

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Invalid Car 4mm Scale Model - Part 2

model invalid carBodywork is made from four pieces of balsa wood; lower body, canopy and two windscreen side struts. Carving was achieved with glasspaper, files and knife. The cockpit and rear window apertures were first drilled and then finished off with file and chisel. White wood primer is applied overall.

The model is 39mm long (117 inches at 12 inches to the foot) and scaled by reducing a photo of the real car.

The chair was left over from a coach kit. It was installed in the car after painting the cockpit in the characteristic sky blue paint and before fitting of the windscreen struts.

Bodywork looks quite rough in this oversize photo. Looks acceptable at normal viewing. A lot more detailing to be applied.

Part 3

To first posting in this series

Monday, 12 July 2010

Invalid Car 4mm Scale Model - Part 1

In 1964 Broad Clyst station in Devon on the Waterloo-Exeter mainline was a loading/dispatch point for invalid cars. They were carried on open Lowfit wagons and would have been a common site on the main line. I have a photo of a mixed freight train (1962) with one lonely invalid car, probably on its way back to the factory for repair as the train is travelling towards Broad Clyst on the down line in Somerset . This train I can re-create in 00 gauge but I need an invalid car.

There were many manufacturers and styles of invalid car over the years. I tried tracing the car manufacturer from the Broad Clyst area with a view to identifying the actual 1960s car model, but to no avail.

After close examination of railway photographs, showing the car in the distance, I have chosen the AC model from 1965 as this car had a distinctive curved underbody at the front, which is visible in railway photographs of the period.

Trawling across the Internet revealed a number of good images. Here are two:
invalid carriage register and flickr.

The bodywork of my model will be carved from balsa wood.

Part 2

Saturday, 3 July 2010

A Green and Pleasant Land

The morning excursion to photograph N15 King Arthur class Sir Lamiel fronting the 'Swanage Belle' resulted in a less than ideal photograph for reasons I'll not go into. No matter, as there was a second chance to photograph it on its return to Waterloo in the evening.

About 20 minutes before the evening train was due to pass I reached my isolated vantage point next to the Exeter-Waterloo main line. It was a wonderful warm summers evening in the English countryside. Not a soul in sight. Just the sound of nature interrupted now and then by distant motor cars and aeroplanes. Further up the field a couple of rabbits stood erect watching my every move.

Camera was set up on tripod and test shots made of the railway line where the train would pass. There was even an opportunity to snap one of those modern sausage shaped, graffiti painted diesel thingies - just so I could be sure the real railway engine (steam) would be framed nicely when it arrived.

With time to spare (Sir Lamiel was running late) the sights of the countryside were absorbed. The setting sun casts its rays across the landscape behind me highlighting the trees and distant buildings. I spun the camera around and snapped the scene. A green and pleasant land indeed.

Eventually the distinctive beat of a steam train could be heard and in no time Sir Lamiel was upon me, travelling at considerable speed to make up for lost time. With my heart beginning to race I pressed the button. The LCD viewing screen went black, the lens retracted into the body and the lens cover closed. Why oh why is the power button placed right next to the shutter button! With tail between my legs I headed for home. Thankfully, Sir Lamiel returns in a weeks time. Third time lucky?

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Cheating or Inspiring?

Invariably a model railway photograph includes the real-world muselling into the background where the model does not reach. It might be a door to the room, window, clutter, or just plain walls. But, with modern digital photography and pc software all that can replaced by stitching a photo of the real landscape into the model photo.

Now this gives a completely different look to the model railway that is not there in reality. It can make the model layout look far more photogenic and extensive than it really is. Is this cheating?

I think not because the finescale modeller's goal is to achieve a scene that looks realistic. However, space is the limitation. Editing a model photo to add the distant landscape results in a picture that does fulfill the dream and can be quite uplifting.

Have a look at Ashprington Road to see what I mean.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Through The Looking Glass

Misterton was an end to end layout with an operating area on the 'back side' and viewing area on the 'front side'. After its conversion to an oval layout the operating side also became the viewing side. Whilst it is possible to crawl underneath to the original viewing side the gap there is really too narrow for comfortable viewing. That's a shame because there are interesting views there that are rarely seen.

mirror wallA trip to Ikea today to buy a couple of cheap mirrors (£5.99 each) to place on the wall and now we can appreciate the views from the other side of the railway line. OK, so the frames are unsightly and the join more so but they can be blended into the wall with a coat of blue paint.

You know the funny thing about this is that when you are standing in the railway room looking at the layout or operating the trains your mind does not notice things like that, nor the clutter elsewhere in the room.

distant viewIf we get down at eye level the scene really takes on a new dimension. This photo was taken looking into the mirror. Apart from seeing a side of the station building that is normally hidden we also see across the void of the operating area to the scenic section on the other side of the oval! The landscape and backscene there now become the backscene for this view!

It's magical and bizarre like "Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There".

Monday, 31 May 2010

Bulleid Restaurant/Buffet Build - Part 6 (It's Not a Perfect World)

finished restaurant carThe same method of hand painting as described in Part 3 was used for the green sides but the paint is 'Phoenix Precision' instead of 'Humbrol' that was used on the roof. The former seems to dry more quickly making it less easy to work so, I have ended up with a slightly more uneven finish than the roof.

Lettering is 'Pressfix'. The numbers in particular are minuscule and each is applied individually with the aid of a scalpel and magnifying glass. A coat of matt varnish protects lettering from being rubbed away with handling.

finished kitchen/buffet car
Comparison with the prototype reveals some inaccuracies. For example, the grab handles should be shaped ']' and the body sides should hide more of the solebars. There is also a raft of other very small details such as brackets and panel joins on the prototype that have not been modelled.

How far do you go with these fine details? I'm pragmatic about this. My aim is to create an impression of the period I'm modelling rather than to count every rivet.

These have been the most complex and time consuming kits that I have built. Turning flat metal into a 3-dimensional model by hand is nothing short of remarkable, even if I say so myself. The objective for me however, was not to build a kit but to create a representative 'Atlantic Coast Express' train. So far I have the Bulleid Merchant Navy locomotive, the first three coaches comprising the Ilfracombe set and now the restaurant buffet set. I need another 4 (Backmann) coaches to complete the ACE in its shortest form as it travelled west through Crewkerne in the early 1960s.

Bulleid Restaurant/ Buffet Build - Part 1

Friday, 28 May 2010

Bulleid Restaurant/Buffet Build - Part 5 (Fishing Tales)

dining table
18 tables, 18 table lamps and 54 chairs. That's what needed to be formed, assembled and painted to populate the restaurant coach.

Whilst tables and chairs were in the 'Comet Models' kit, the lamps were not . The only examples I found from the trade were not representative so, I had to find some way of making them from scratch, especially the lamp shade.

After much head scratching I stumbled upon a box of fishing line lead weights amongst my stock of modelling oddments. These are a few millimeters diameter with a slit into which the fishing line is placed. The lead is then pinched to hold fast to the line.

The unkind close up photo. is of a table and lamp that is only about 15mm tall overall. You can see the lamp stand is brass wire. The lead weight (painted white) is attached as described above with a drop of superglue to stop it slipping off. The good thing about this approach is the lead can be pressed into various lamp shade shapes by pinching with a pair of pliers.

Bulleid Restaurant/Buffet Build - Part 6

Bulleid Restaurant/Buffet Build - Part 1

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Bulleid Restaurant/Buffet Build - Part 4 (Doll's house modelling)

buffet coach interiorDo not know for sure whether this colour scheme is valid- brown wood panelling, white laminate counter and tables with red chairs. The MRC magazine for November 1980 has very detailed plans of the interior, down to location of the refridgerator for example, but no interior colour scheme is defined.

Building the interior felt like fitting out a doll's house! But, there is no point going overboard with detail as little can be seen from outside the coach, especially as windows at the kitchen end are 'frosted'.

Bulleid Restaurant/Buffet Build - Part 5

Bulleid Restaurant/Buffet Build - Part 1

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Bulleid Restaurant/Buffet Build - Part 3 (Read the Instructions!)

I broke one of my golden rules - read all the instructions before proceeding. Having assembled all the parts I turned to the guidance notes on livery paint details and read that the grab handles are fitted after painting! Completely logical with hindsight as they are naturally coloured brass. I'll need to either scratch off the paint or overpaint with a brass colour.

In preparation for painting, flux, finger prints and filings were removed with 'cif' kitchen cleaner applied with a tooth brush. The instructions said 'and then wash in a weak vinegar solution', which of course I did not read until too late.

part painted coach setBodywork, roof and underframe were sprayed with grey car primer and then the underframe sprayed black. Bogies, end panels and roof were painted by hand. Which leaves the sides. It is recommended to spray but past experience on other kits resulted in more of a hammer finish than smooth grain so, I'm favouring hand painting. I have no idea the best way to achieve this so I practiced on the roof. The enamel paint was slightly diluted with white spirit, the brush fully loaded and paint applied in the same direction across the length of the roof. This left a reasonable smooth finish but with some streaking. With the paint just touch dry the paint was burnished with a dry finger and cotton cloth. This blended the streaks into the paint leaving a consistent and pleasing finish.

Before painting the sides I have decided to assemble the interior so that handling during this stage can proceed without potential damage to the sides top coat paint. The photo shows the body sides in grey primer.

Bullied restaurant/Buffet Build - Part 4

Bulleid Restaurant/Buffet Build - Part 1

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Bulleid Restaurant/Buffet Build - Part 2 (Why do I do this?)

restaurant - unpainted And here's the kitchen/buffet coach! Buffet area is behind the four windows at the far end. The restaurant coach couples to this end. Neither coach, by design, have buffers on the mating ends.

Lessons learned from the restaurant coach assembly made this one a little more straight forward, albeit taking just as long to build with its own set of problems along the way. Most notable was fitting of the large gas cylinder to the underframe - it was missing from the kit. I have a feeling this was intended. I fabricated one quite easily from a piece of hollow plastic tube with the ends moulded from car body filler.

I need to source some hook and bar couplings, preferably Backmann as the passenger coaches used in the train are by that supplier. Whilst I have been following auction lots on Ebay to tell you the truth they are about the same price as those from my local model shop so, I'll probably get them there and at the same time peruse all the other stuff in the shop - Nothing beats seeing things in reality!

I have been evaluating my attitude to kit building. Do I gain pleasure from the craft itself, or is it just a means to an end? I have no doubt that had these coaches been available off the shelf from Bachmann etc. then I would have purchased since i'm impatient to see and run my complete ACE. Never the less I am proud of my achievements thus far with the kits and the work has given me greater insight into the design and details of Bulleid's coaches that I would not otherwise have gained. This all helps to complete a mental picture of what railway travel was like as we watch our trains chase their tails around an oval of track.

Next stage is painting. I'll do that before building the interior details.

Bulleid Restaurant/Buffet Build - Part 3

Bulleid Restaurant/Buffet - Part 1

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Bulleid Restaurant/Buffet Build - Part 1 (Here we go!)

restaurant - unpaintedThis is the Comet Models kit I'm assembling. It is an expensive but well designed and engineered kit. Assembly is not for the feint hearted. You need excellent eyesight (or in my case a magnifying glass) and manual dexterity in addition to appropriate tools.

For the period modeller it is imperative that photographs and articles are available to check against. In particular, I found the very detailed scale drawings of the prototype in MRC Nov 1980 very helpful to correct at least one inaccuracy in the manufacturers instructions, i.e. battery box position. Or, did MRC get it wrong? None of the prototypes survived into preservation so there is not one to see in reality.

The supplied instructions are quite good except the solebar assembly drawing is confusing causing me to fit them the wrong way around! Fortunately it is a soldered section so just sweating the joints enabled disassembly without damage. With the solebars fitted correctly the bogies then interfered with them, which was easily remedied by standing them off with extra small plates soldered to the chassis where they pivot.

It is a heavy beast, being all metal construction, as heavy as a locomotive. It would be lighter for the pulling locomotive if the whitemetal components were manufactured as plastic mouldings.

The roof, body, chassis and bogies will be disassembled for painting individually. But first I'll build the kitchen/buffet coach for this two coach set used on the 'Atlantic Coast Express'.

Oh, by the way, about 3 days solid work to get this far in the assembly.

Bulleid Restaurant/Buffet Build - Part 2

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Expo EM 2010 - Bracknell

I arrived early to bag a car parking space but need not have worried. This was a relatively small, specialist exhibition organised by the EM gauge society to display and promote EM gauge railway modelling, i.e. 4mm scale, 18.2mm track gauge. The number of visitors on the first morning could best be described as 'comfortable' allowing everyone space to get close to the exhibits. The quality of layouts were on par with those you would see at any club exhibition that are open to all modelling scales.

What sets this one apart from others is the plethora of small traders selling all manner of locomotive and rolling stock components and scenic items for the scale modelling enthusiast. It was quiet overwhelming, boxes and boxes stuffed with small pastic bags containing obscure components you never thought you needed. I felt that if I did not buy something then I may never find such things again - so I picked up some tail lamps to place on the last coach/wagon of my trains.

comet models bulleid restaurantMy main reason for visiting was to purchase from one of these traders the Comet Models Bulleid rebuilt restaurant and buffet coach kits for my 'Atlantic Coast Express' that I am putting together. The picture here is of the contents from the restaurant coach kit. Assembly is going to be quite a challenge for me. You'll be able to follow my progress through this Blog.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Backscenes at Hewish Gates

I'm a late-comer to the current practice of many who now create backscenes from photographs. In the old days I had a go at painting backscenes or using Peco art backscenes - was not too impressed, so I reverted to just sky blue paint. Nothing could have prepared me for the amazing effect of using photographs of the real location. They add atmosphere and depth to the model on a scale I did not expect.

I created a panorama of stitched photos in Photoshop. Not all the scene is from one contiguous location. The landscape is varied enough that different areas can be stitched together to blend with the foreground model landscape.

a pastoral scene at Hewish GatesThe sky was cut out of the panorama and replaced with a sky blue layer, only because I felt the cloud formations would be a distraction from the model. Brightness and Saturation levels were adjusted negatively to produce toned down colours representative of the distant landscape. The scene was then cut into A4 chunks and printed. Each A4 is stuck to the next with double sided tape and this is stuck to the backboard.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

New Windows for R226

The Triang R226 SR bogie utility van is fitted as standard with ill fitting window glass that is screen printed with white security bars. I converted my model using 'South Eastern Finecast' flush-glaze windows (SE63). The flush-glaze are embossed and fit snugly into the window recess from the rear. However, they do not carry the security bars so typical of the prototype.

My research into the design of the bars lead me to a preserved van on the Bluebell Railway. The bars are fitted inside and comprise three horizontal and four vertical bars. I created the security bars in Photoshop and printed using an inkjet printer on transparent film, thus creating a printed window glass. The bars are 1 pixel wide. I could not determine the bar colour from available photos so opted for the same colour as the body - green.

Three attempts to assemble bars and windows to the van before finding the best technique that does not result in liquid glue residue 'frosting' the glass. Fortunately, there are sufficient flush-glaze spares supplied in the pack to cover for failures. The solution was to use tape instead of glue, as follows.

Cut out each flush-glaze window from the strip leaving flanges on all four sides. The bars-glass is stuck to the rear flanges of the flush-glaze using strips of double sided tape This now looks like double glazing with the bars sitting back from the front glass. More tape is stuck to the otherside of the flanges and the assembled window offered up to the recess and pressed in place.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

ACE Coach Roof Destination Boards - Update

My railway room is not the most comfortable of places at the best of times and this very cold weather does not inspire me to go there often. (Even though its continuous summer time on the model railway!) Spending an hour or so once a week or so running the trains against the timetable allows me to switch off from the pressure of modern life but modelling activities there in cold winter months is virtually a no-no, which is why blog postings have been sparse recently.

ACE roof boardAnyway, that's not what this posting is about. My continued search for the 'truth' about the style, lettering and use of Bulleid carriage roof destination boards for the ACE has uncovered some photographs. The first shows the words "THE ATLANTIC COAST EXPRESS" on a board positioned in the second 'slot' thus confirming use of the word 'The'. (The first 'slot' contained no board at all). The coach was part of the Ilfracombe section of the UP ACE on its way to Exeter Central. (page 38 in Stephen Austin's book Portrait of the Atlantic Coast Express). The second photo shows a "WATERLOO WEYMOUTH" board - not for the ACE, but no reason to assume an ACE destination board would be styled different. Note that the character spacing is spread so the entire board is filled with text and the only separator between the words is a space.
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