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Saturday 25 March 2023

Sludge Crane

Over the years I have designed and built three different 4mm scale manual cranes using only photographs as the reference. This one is a Tangye 8 cwt Sludge Crane. It was a challenging and enjoyable project, more so because of design difficulties that demanded much thought to find solutions. 

The model was designed in FreeCAD as a kit of parts for 3D printing using the filament layering method (FDM - Fused Deposition Modelling). Various axles and the chain are made from wire. In all there are 34 individual parts to the build. I guess it took about 40 hours to design and build.

I was not sure at the outset if it would be feasible to produce because the reference photographs found in a magazine were not shot from the best angle for scaling and showing details. Fortunately dimension of the upright beams was given and this was the basis for calculating dimensions of most parts. No additional information was uncovered in Internet searches for this crane. Whilst Tangye was/is a notable brand the manufacturer seems better known for hydraulic jacks.

Some of the parts are extremely small and do not lend themselves well to FDM 3D printing as they can be malformed. At about the third attempt at printing these I found that tweaking parameters in the 3D print settings overcame the problem. A couple of other compromises were necessary. These being the beams, which are solid in the model instead of 'U' channel girders in the prototype and the gears where teeth were omitted, being far too small to print with my 0.4mm extruder head. Frankly, it is not noticeable when viewing from normal distance.

The finish was painted using enamel paints. Rust effect was sponge dabbed and a dusting of white, scraped pastels applied whilst the paint was slightly tacky for toning down the finish and highlighting details.

The winding mechanism is static but, the crane can be rotated on its plinth.

Saturday 11 March 2023

Basingstoke Model Rail 2023

There were five adults and five children in our party who made the annual pilgrimage to this show. Whilst there was a wide variety of layouts on show, and the usual traders, there were few layouts that excelled IMHO. I have been spoilt in the past by seeing exhibition layouts that exude atmosphere or were expertly crafted. That's the types that appeal to me.

So here we go with my top three. Before doing so I should comment that animated cameos were scarce, having seen only two operating level crossings and a flock of chickens that must be said was very realistic as they pecked vigorously at the grain. They were quite difficult to spot on the Dutch themed HO layout ZEEDIJK, due to their miniscule size. Overall, sound effects were scarce too and my 'best in show' layout  was old fashioned DC control rather than modern DCC.

Looking for a layout with some atmosphere brought me to BIGBURY-ON-SEA, a 00 gauge branch line station complex where trains leaving the station passed by a holiday beach scene before entering a stretch of countryside. It was nice to see a variety of landscape scenes on one layout, which whilst being fictitious could pass as an authentic place.

Next up is MELIN DOLRHYD A OO9 layout based on the mill at Melin Dolrhyd on the Welshpool & Llanfair Railway. Now this is a diorama in the true sense of the word. Simply a single track in a Welsh landscape, the scenic section being only about 1m long. Scenically very well done, yet unusually sparse for an exhibition layout.

My personal 'Best in Show' was WIMBORNE. A faithful reproduction of the actual station. Plenty to see on a very large layout (needs to be when accurately modelling the prototype!) with up to four trains operating at the same time across main lines and two goods yards. Strangely, and without knowing beforehand it was being exhibited at the show, I saw it featured by Chadwick Model Railway on YouTube earlier in the day. 

I had no shopping list this time but did come away with a Bachmann shock wagon impulse buy to add to my fleet of covered wagons. Prices of new locomotives were eye watering whilst second hand locomotive prices were acceptable. Towards the end of the day some traders were discounting their new items to make a quick sale.

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