Saturday, 18 November 2017

Gaugemaster controllers

I'm always a bit sceptical when it comes to guarantees and this was no different. Gaugemaster now state that their controllers are covered by a 'lifetime guarantee'. Is this really correct, and does this mean my lifetime or the controller?
Anyway.
I bought the above from them when they had not long been trading and this was their first feedback machine - very cutting edge at the time, that being around 1987. This particular item was used as a main drive, then used in conjunction with a handheld for many years and is still kept in the exhibition box as a spare. The trouble was that time had not been good to the internal mains cable clamp and it had worked loose leaving the three coloured wires exposed - not PAT friendly when doing shows in council run venues.
Last Sunday I noodled into Gaugemaster (open Sunday...) with said controller and said the above and was it covered? Much sniggering ensued over the age of it; it being older than most of them, but yes it was. They took it away and waved me off. On Wednesday there was a phone message: all done.
I do take the piss out of them from time to time for being expensive and all corporate, but this is rather fine service if you ask me.

Saturday Ramble - Arundel Quay

 A couple of snaps taken with my phone of Gordon Gravett's Arun Quay at the Uckfield show. This is rather inspirational for a least two reasons: firstly the utterly superb modelling which just does not get any better than this. Second, the fact that, like Ditchling Green, this is very much based on my patch. The Gravetts live in the west country, but oddly the modelling doesn't reflect this, and this being the second layout based in Sussex, the roots are surely hard to shake off.
This also digs straight into my thoughts of late regarding 'connection'. Try as I might I'm finding it very hard to get to grips with designing a possible American layout; it might yet happen, but I think this problem could be that I don't feel connected in any way to it as my only experience of it is though various media and not the real thing. So why is it that I'm usually known for narrow gauge modelling when they're a bit thin on the ground around here? Probably the repeated trips to North Wales and having a very good museum with a NG line. Arun Quay however hits the spot as I don't have to go very far to bump into similar architecture and in fact was in Arundel only yesterday on the river where this layout is supposedly set.
Going up against the Gravetts would be foolhardy in the extreme, but something similar in 4mm, may just have the connection that I need.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Ratio signal operating

Signals are a real fiddle and I can see why most modellers have a complete deliberate blind spot and ignore them. It is possible to jerry-rig a working system (even in 2mm, see Unnycoombe posts). Down at the bottom a Peco pin has been used again - drop of superglue on the other side and trimmed off. Stops for either end of the up/down movement can be made at the other end of whatever operating system you're using, but I start with something to get me into the game with a piece of 20 thou rod glued to the post. A drop of paint renders it invisible from normal distances and it can always be cut off later, but if the arm is going 'stop......stop' where you want it to first off, rather than doing windmills, you're in a good starting point.
All this would be better in brass of course.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Ratio GWR signal chop

With the 48XX conversion stalled through lack of correct paint (you'd think GW green would be easy wouldn't you?) I moved as swiftly as a mixy rabbit toward signals. The inspiration is a middling height starter at Towyn. There's a cracking straight-on shot in one of C C Green's Cambrian books, so after a bit of scaling, the standard post in the Ratio pack was hacked down to 64mm and a new lower hole drilled. The rest as yet is pretty standard fare using a Peco pin rather than the wire for a pivot. The blind at the back was fixed with superglue and worked right the second time.
The choice of the Towyn (Tywyn?) example meant that it's got two lives, one in print and possibly a second as the starter on AotC.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Fitting the Ratio signal box

I hadn't left quite enough space for the signal box with the original scenics. Clearance for stuff to sail past, but it looked too tight, so a chop back of a few mil and a new retaining wall from bits of scrap Wills kit. The Luftwaffe signalman is also now perched on the walkway ready to accept the token. Almost there now.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Peco OO bullhead

 I popped into Gaugemaster today to get a pot of paint that they'd sold out off. Second on the list was to pick up a length of the new bullhead track (which they did have) to see what it was all about. Here's a few findings:
1. It's quite flimsy. The old code 100 was built to last and to be relaid if necessary. This is much more delicate, in fact the next one out of the box got broken by the staff. For lightness of appearance, you get fragile. 2. The sleepers are 33mm long, 9.5mm spacings and 3.25mm wide. So 10" x 8'3" which is a slightly weird compromise size.
 The top photo shows the direct comparison in height to a copperclad point using the same 75 bullhead (though to EM). The overall difference is about 1mm, so a similar point would need a bit of packing. the lower shot gives a direct comparison between the EM and the code 100 streamline. Easy to see the gauge difference here, but without the comparison and more side-on I'm not so sure you'd spot it straight away.
I'm quite impressed with it. Fragile and the slight up in price to code 100 aside, it's quite a visual jump. The new matching points at £32 rrp are another story. An average six point terminus comes out at £192 against around £72 in the old stuff, so whether it will bite amongst most modellers is doubtful. I suspect most will mix the track with the yellow pack 75 points.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

4mm Southern Electric

About a year ago I was punting around for a simple structure to go with the electric section of my latest book. What I found was that Hornby and Bachmann had a lot of it covered, though there is some dispute whether some of it is actually to scale or not. While substations were out then, the more common, but slightly shyer TP huts didn't seem to have been done and were fairly simple. Finding anything out about them was a bit of a nightmare and photographing was worse - by their very nature the Track Paralleling hut is generally sited on open line and in simple terms, irons out the voltage between substations. With the drop in lineside clearance of the last few years most are surrounded by a sea of nettles. Good for the railway as it puts the scrotes off from nicking the cables, bad if you want photos for a book.
The basic walling is 60 thou plastic with the door and window from Wills. The vents are simply shaped from a lump of 80 thou. The roof is a piece of brick sheet from an indeterminable maker that was so brittle that most of it went in the bin. I just managed to get this bit done, covered with tissue and painted grey.
The cheat is that what you see, is all there is - the other two walls are undetailed.
The book - 'Modelling the Southern Region 1948-present' is available here and is ideal for a stunning Christmas present.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Hornby 14xx body

Another one of those old style conversions that doesn't seem to get done anymore. I note that there is less of this sort of thing going on and yet people are happy to pay £100 for a company to spray some muck on your loco and put coal in the bunker. Ho hum.
Anyway... Airfix/Hornby 14XX altered and backdated to be the first of the class i.e. 4800. So cabling scraped off, whistle shied removed, fireman's steps shaved and joy of joys hacking a filing the top feed away. This is an almost running Airfix example that I might swap onto a Hornby mech' as it'll run better and give more room in the cab. It only cost me a tenner, so not too scary to do. I might not be so happy with a brand new £70 exhttps://narrowplanet.myshopify.com/collections/custom-etched-productsample.
Plates have been ordered from Narrow Planet, which is a piece of cake - pick your scale, pick your number, type your card number in and they turn up. Perfect. Just make sure you get the number right... guess who didn't.

https://narrowplanet.myshopify.com/collections/custom-etched-products

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Parkside Dundas van?

A small update on the 'praying' post of a couple of days back. The wagon in question was the above. The provenance of which is that I picked it up at a show unbuilt for £1.50. It looked complete but there was no header card and no instructions hence the price. What we have here is a BR van built around 1952 to diagram 1/208 which is a total minefield as that were built all over the place and changed to ply sides from planks halfway though. That much I knew or could look up.
The kit included an unfitted chassis though photos suggest that it should be a fitted version. The one good photo I found backs this up. While in Cornwall I built up the bits that were included and on return have added rain strips, tie bars vac cylinder/pipes and cross rod from Ratio bits and strip.
The question is this. I assumed that it was an early Parkside kit, but in the back of my mind I had it that they bought some Ian Kirk kit moulds and this used classic Parkside plastic, but it is a bit more rounded than their usual quality. Not that it really matters much - just curious. 

I'd part painted it beforehand using my usual German grey and dried turd mix for the roof and underside, and G**s Workshop morfang for the body, which is a fair match for newish stock brown. I just need to source some transfers and dirty it slightly.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Saturday Ramble

Haven't done one of these for a while.
The Art of the Compromise is basically done, there are just a couple of detail bits to do. But then what next? This is a bit of a weird one: most of the layouts I build are loosely for exhibition - this isn't. Most are built with an end game target - this hasn't been. The only reason that it's been built at all was to see if the fourteen year old me was right and that it was buildable despite the first 1.5 attempts failing. Yes it can be done provided you tweek a couple of things and reduce some building sizes. The 'what now' is probably common to all modellers for once we've built something, what does it do? Despite appearances I'll bet that the percentage of modellers that actually take a layout to a show is relatively tiny, although if you peruse the mags it looks like that number is huge. The reality is that the exhibitors and mags are in a bubble and there is a vast swathe of the great unwashed modellers out there who build home layouts, the odd kit or two and the much derided box-opener/collectors.

The AotC has one show in the spring - local and essentially for a mate. It's low pressure. I still have to build a couple more low trestles for this event. Low because it'll work better and because the overriding ethos for the AotC was to stick to things which were available in, and of a style of the late 70s and early 80s to match the 1978 plan. In other words before the 1995 turn of the Iain Rice driven high layout presentation which I've generally grown to hate - I've just spent a few days gricing a couple of lines in Cornwall and was frustrated by high walls and overgrown linesides with  reduced photo angles. I don't really want to play the same game at exhibitions. No I'm not a helicopter, but yes I do want to see your modelling.

Do I then do the show in the spring and scrap the AotC for parts? Job done. Or do I do something that I've not done before and extend it? Logically the later, I'm very contrary about doing shows anyway, but there is the showman element in me that likes to occasionally wave my bits around in public view. I could spend a long while detailing stock and locos, but I fear my heart won't be in it. I'm in that rut where anything else seems pointless once the basic idea has been achieved. At the moment it sits along the wall as a glorified 16.5mm gauge test track.

Quite neatly, blogger informs me that this is my one thousandth post on here. Well who'd have thought it?