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Thursday 14 October 2010

DIY 4mm/00 people - Part 3

Making 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:

Head 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

The 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.

FIMO 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.

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 whack. 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. You can track my progression in the two ACE archives (links right).

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. 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! (2010)) 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.

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. Roof 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.

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. All 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 gluing. 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

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.

Two gangways are needed, one for each coach. They slide across each other as the coaches move through track curves and crossovers. This 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.

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. My 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.

Place 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 indefinitely. 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.

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'. 

Thursday 15 July 2010

Invalid Car 4mm Scale Model - Part 4

Paul 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! 

Wednesday 14 July 2010

Invalid Car 4mm Scale Model - Part 3

When 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.

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Invalid Car 4mm Scale Model - Part 2

Bodywork 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.

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.

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. 

A trip to Ikea today to buy a couple of cheap mirrors (£5.99 each in 2010) 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.

If 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)

The 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.

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.

Friday 28 May 2010

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

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 millimetres 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.

Wednesday 26 May 2010

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

Do 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 refrigerator 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'.

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.

Bodywork, 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?)

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 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 kit builds and the work has given me greater insight into the design and detail 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.

Wednesday 19 May 2010

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

This 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.

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.

My 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.

The 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.
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