Friday, February 9, 2018

Vessels for “Hollie Wharf” – Part I

Long term readers will possibly remember back in 2016 I was given a shunting puzzle layout by one of our on again, off again LAG members (currently heading back on again which is a bonus!) and my daughter, keen as a bean to return to the Toowoomba show after her debut as an operator in 2015 was given nominal ownership and as a result it was christened Hollie Wharf.

It has been to two Toowoomba shows – 2016 and 2017 – and may go again this year depending on whether or not the planned replacement “Celyn Glanfa” is ready in time (you can look up the Welsh if your keen – and if you are Welsh and don’t like Google Translator's answer, please get in touch with a better one!) although there is the complication that the magic smoke seems to have escaped somewhere late on the last day of the show last year (which is one of the many reasons I am glad Ken is back into British N for a bit as he has offered to trouble shoot his home made circuitry).

Now, being a wharf Hollie and I both felt it was important to have a vessel or two to have at the dockside.  Again, long term readers may remember (and you can certainly hunt back to 2016) that there was some detailing bits done with my Aldi 3D printer.  One of these bits was to make a start on converting an Ertl push along Bulstrode the Barge from the Thomas the Tank Engine collection into something more like a costal steamer.

I have fortunately obtained a second one from the Bay of E for not a lot and, this time, have managed to remember to take more pictures of the process.  The modification is by no means complete but I thought a Part I would be useful – if for no other reason than to make me get a move on so Part II gets done!

Below is what I started with.  It comes apart easily by removing a few screws from underneath



The component bits.  I chucked the wheelhouse as it is over scale.  I also chucked the bit with the wheels in it as being no use to any plans I have nor could I see how it would be useful in the future.  Hope I don’t regret that.


Having dismantled everything the hull section looks like this.  Not particularly useful if you want a waterline model but I have a bench sander and, having fitted it with a worn fine grade belt, I took it down to the waterline pretty quickly and easily.


The deck insert was next – before on the left, after on the right.


I removed the bollards (dunno what else you’d call them) from the bow and stern, cut a hole where the cargo hold is and trimmed down the lugs which had secured it all together.


So I now have a hull ready for building onto.  At this stage, this vessel, tentatively named Ruby, is going to be a sister vessel to the one we already have, the Amity.  Both carrying coal around the coast from wherever Hollie Wharf is.

Now to sort out the 3D printer and find the print files for the new bollards!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Mermaids repainted

Last week I wrote about the two DJM mermaids I received from Hatton’s and indicated they’d be joining the UFO pile to be back liveried into black from Civil Engineer’s Dutch.  Well as it happens, I got onto it much sooner than I thought particularly when I found that removing the bodies for painting wasn’t that much of a hassle – a few minutes careful prising with a steel ruler and voila.

IMG_2038 (2)

The now removed bodies were spray rattle can black and left to dry for a day or so before transfers from the Model Master range which used to be available from the N Gauge Society (sheet 2633 which has options for Dogfish, Catfish and the Mermaids.  I used to to redo some Railhaul (I think) liveried Dogfish back to black years ago – I hope I can get some more as I have 11 Catfish etches to build). 

IMG_2047 (2)

So after about 5 minutes of dismantling, 5 of shaking the spray can then pointing and shooting, a day of waiting and an hour putting 10 transfers per wagon on, I have what I wanted – two black Mermaids to join the Grampus, Dogfish and Shark on the engineers possession train.

Friday, January 26, 2018

DJM Mermaids

So I thought I’d do a review of the most recent purchase to arrive from my “local” hobby store – Hatton’s of Liverpool.  I’d actually been going online to buy some short shank NEM couplers and was tempted by a pair of the DJM Mermaids.  They were in “Dutch” grey and yellow livery whereas I’d prefer black (which is much earlier in their life) but I figured it isn’t hard to paint something black and in any case I have some Modelmaster Transfers which will suit so another UFO joins the pile….

Anyway, as these are the first examples of some models from DJM that I’ve obtained I was curious to see what was different from the Dapol offerings which Dave Jones had overseen at his time there – and what hadn’t really changed much at all.

So first impression – the boxes were nice but not as sturdy as I am used to from Dapol.  No plastic boxes here.  More like Farish although I felt the window was a little small to allow a reasonable view of the model.  A bit like Ixion before him, Dave has gone for a slogan – theirs was “Own the Finest”  his is “ Setting Higher Standards”.   

As far as the model goes, it looks pretty good.  The necessity of the plastic moulding process and the nature of these wagons (being side tippers) does mean the representation of the support structure and the tipping bits are a bit over – if they were scale I am pretty sure there reject rate would be uneconomically high.   Turning the wagon over I was very impressed with the brake gear and what not – stuff which unless you have really bad track laying skills you won’t see but adds to the authenticity (and having spoken to a professional model maker it actually doesn’t add to the cost of the tooling – and adds only a little to the design CAD stage).

The ballast load is well modelled too – and easily removed for those wanting to run it empty or to replace with something more realistic (like actual crushed up ballast).  Having a pair they do look a little to alike (but again the cost of having more than one mould for this is not economic – and then you are still relying on luck to get two different loads although with the different running numbers it shouldn’t be that hard).

For me the biggest let down was the coupling spacing.  As is now the industry standard, NEM pockets are fitted but the choice of coupling length is, frankly, ridiculous.  I don’t know if DJM only do one size of coupler and I get the cost of a mould has to be covered but when the gap between the buffers measures at 9mm this is way too big.  Not setting higher standards at all.    Now I understand the Rapido coupler isn’t that great – but I think we can all acknowledge that for RTR British N we are stuck with it.  Farish provide a short shank NEM coupler (the item I was actually buying from Hatton’s when the siren song of the mermaid called to me) and fitting a pair of these brought the gap down to 4mm.  It is still too big – and I would expect at 4mm it will go around “trainset” curves (which I define as anything under 12 inches radius – my layout runs 15” on the hidden sections and much, much larger on the visible) so why DJM thinks a 9mm gap is setting higher standards boggles the imagination.    I would like to get mine down lower than 4mm but at this stage that’s where they are until after the repaint.

Overall 8/10 with the buffer gap accounting for all the lost of marks.  Once they are painted to match the Dogfish, Grampus and Shark they’ll make an interesting addition to my ballast train.

Pictures of the two gaps:


Saturday, January 20, 2018

DIY Transfers

One of the LAG members dabbles a bit in USA outline.  My original trainset, given to me at birth, is also American and I have, from time to time, dabbled a bit myself.  The collection isn’t particularly big and, owing to not knowing very much about the US at the time, the Roads which I had locos and stock for were more purchased on the basis of either it was cheap or I liked the look of it.  When I finally sat down a couple of years ago to consider what to do with it all, I found I had bits and pieces from 5 roads, three of which were orphans – or very tenuously connected to the others.

It was about this time that David mentioned he was going to do is own shortline and was essentially running his railroad as a hook and pull operation from the nearest Class 1 down a branch.  I had a bit of a read around the internet and found this was a pretty common method of playing trains in the US and figured it would enable me to justify most of what I had – all I had to do was assume the Class 3 Road I was operating had purchased the random locos from the Class 1 which had purchased them from the manufacturer.  This would enable a PRR K4 Pacific for instance to be running over next to a GN F7. 

A bit more thinking and I decided to upgrade to a Class 2 Road as this enabled me to have more miles and more money, justifying repainting the eclectic collection and so the Empire Railroad was born. 

All this back story is necessary I suppose to explain how I came to getting some decal paper and making my own transfers.  I needed to do something to make my own railroad livery!

I got my paper from eBay and an Australian supplier.  Heaps out there and much of a muchness for price.  I got a single clear A4 sheet to practice with.  As I can’t print white, any white lettering needs to go on a white paint swatch.  Similarly, I have found that unless I print in black, and at photo quality, I have to put colours onto a white background as they appear washed out.  It is still a trial and error process.

I have however had a couple of successes.  The Empire Railroad has three 2-8-0 steamers (Bachmann ex-Missouri Pacific) and these have had Empire put on the tender and 1977, 1980 and 1983 applied to the cab sides for the road numbers.  Because I did these myself, I wasn’t limited to what Fox or anyone else did for fonts and so they were done in BANK GOTHIC Lt with a bit of manipulation on spacing and so forth.  These were printed by firstly printing the desired shape and size on plain paper then cutting enough transfer paper from the sheet to cover, sticking it over with scotch tape and reprinting.  I painted a white square on the tender and slide the transfer on.  Once dry I painted around the transfer with matte black.  The same approach went on the cab side but this was a bit more lumpy with detail – US locos aren’t as neat and tidy as UK – and so I had to use microsol to get the transfer to lie flat.  One of the six number squares mucked up – must get around to sorting that.

image2 - Copy

I also did three Microtrains cabooses – two started life as BN Green (so post 1970 which was much later than I decided on – I’ve decided 1950s for steam to still be hanging on in parts but broadly diesels hold sway) and one in PRR brown.  They were painted rattle can red from Bunnings – and then suitably adorned with the Empire logo and number 501, 502 and 503.  As these were black it was very simple.

image1 - Copy

Finally, I mentioned last week I’d have a photo of the Simple Green for those who want to find it and give it a go – as I mentioned I got mine from Bunnings in Australia so I don’t know if it is available overseas but if I had a dollar for every time I’d been told to use Johnson’s Klear….  Turns out Simple Green is made in NZ so chances are they export it further than the West Island eh bro?


Friday, January 12, 2018

Atso-Cad LNER D120 Pigeon Van - a reprise of sorts

Just on four years ago I posted about building one of the resin kits which had been done as a limited run of these vans.  My comment then was that I hoped I would eventually get my own if it were added to Steve’s Shapeways shop.  Fortunately it has been (There is a link to the shop in the original post) and while the exchange rates and general costs haven’t been especially friendly, I took an opportunity late last year when Shapeways had a free shipping plus 10% discount sale on for designers to add one to my order.

Essentially it was much the same as the cast version – chassis and body but the buffers were printed on as was the brake gear to the chassis.  You also need with this one to supply wheels and couplings. 

I managed to break a buffer off by dropping it before I had done much and having spent a few minutes looking decided a brass replacement was going to be quicker so that’s what it got.  The print is pretty good and considering it is of a wooden paneled vehicle I didn’t find the lining an issue but if you wanted to rubbing the roof down between coats of paint would help.  Doing in the individual panels…. that would be tedious and fraught with danger I think.

The two parts were cleaned with Simply Green – I’ll put a pic of the bottle up next week – which I got from Bunnings.  I don’t know if it is available in the UK or elsewhere (although Bunnings and its snags are in the UK) but it worked a treat – best cleaner for FUD I’ve found.  Painting then followed with some rattle can primer and Humbrol crimson (also the rattle can – quicker than getting the airbrush out).  The roof is Grimy Black from Modelmaster.  The chassis was painted separately with a rattle of black.  Following the transfers Testors dulcote was applied and then glazing.  The glazing was done with Krysal Klear.  Transfers from the collection – the number was lucky as a set of coach numbers had the 5 digits in almost the right order – took the two from the front and put them at the back. 


Similarly to Ben’s, Tatlow’s book was consulted for a number (70209 to go with Ben’s 70199) and the whole lot finished within about 2 weeks of getting it.   A lightening fast time for me!  The couplers are NEM boxes as part of the print – as I run minimum 15” curves I opted for a pair of the short Farish ones and, unlike Ben’s, didn’t put the steam heat pipes on – guess it is summer for mine.  Glazing done with Krysal Klear.  Transfers from the collection – the number was lucky as a set of coach numbers had the 5 digits in almost the right order – took the two from the front and put them at the back.  Wheels from the spares box – they fitted and rolled smoothly which was the criteria.  Not Peco but I don’t know whose they are.


So a pretty quick and easy model of a prototype which would appear to have travelled fairly widely in the days when homing pigeon races were a frequent weekend event.

Lastly, thanks for the comments on last weeks post – I am pleased that some find my ramblings and bits and pieces of interest.  Hopefully you’ll also be inspired to give something a go.

Friday, January 5, 2018

The Return

Like Lazarus rising, I have come back to this blog as a means to keep track of what I am doing modelling wise and, having also returned to the setup for modelling and photographing which I started with back in Longreach in 2010, I think it is going to be a lot easier to maintain the posting – always a key part of having a blog!

So what has been happening?  Well bits and pieces – 2017 was supposed to be the year of making a significant dent in the UFO pile and moving as many models as possible into the FO pile.  Alas what actually happened was I generally did bits and pieces but didn’t get anything finished.  Some of this was due to work commitments, other family (tidy up the modelling area and when modelling resumed start on a different one to the one previously being worked on).  Other reasons were the lack of bits to actually finish things.  The considerable changes of the N Gauge Society Shop has, at least for this overseas member, meant that much of what appealed in being a member has been lost – and frustratingly, the news dropped in the renewal Journal having coughed up for three years.  Ho hum. 

The other, and probably most significant issue, was my eyesight.  I was trying to solder some axle boxes on back in September 17 and realised I just could no longer focus where I used to be able to.  A trip to the optician resulted in the previous one set of glasses (for distance vision) becoming three – sunglasses for distance (they live in the car), tri-focal for distance, computer screens and a bit of modelling and dedicated modelling glasses.  The latter enable me to see my finger prints clearly on a glass at 9 inches and don’t let me see my hand at the end of my arm!  I took a model with me to the optician to show him what I was doing and he was very helpful.  The prescription enables me to read the calibration message for his equipment so money well spent.

So the modelling – most recently I have renumbered the pair of Farish Std 4 2-6-4Ts I received for Christmas.  80027 with early crest became 80037 – which for a few years early in is career was allocated to Watford Junction and may have been (although no definitive evidence has appeared) being used on the branch to St Alban’s Abbey.  The other went from being 80119 to 80103 – which had the unfortunate distinction of being the first of the 999 Standards to be condemned having suffered cracked frames in 1962 – a mere 2 years after 92220 came out of Swindon.

To renumber them I tried something new.  I got some Simply Green cleaner from my local Bunnings Hardware (incidentally Bunnings is in St Alban’s and would, if I were modelling the station today, manage to make it onto the corner of the layout!) as I had seen some posts on various forums as to its worth as a gentle paint and decal stripper.  A bit painted on the transfers and left for about a minute then a cocktail stick and the numbers removed quickly and easily with no damage to the paint underneath.  New numbers from Fox transfers and sides done.  I was able to do the smoke box door number plate on 80037 but 80103 needs the “wrong” right hand crest applied as the pictures I have of it after its only Heavy General overhaul show it having the wrong facing lion.  Order sent to Fox and hopefully it will be sorted fairly shortly. 

Std 4 and Ivatt renumber

While I was on the transfer roll, my inadvertent eBay purchase of a 46521 – inadvertent as I thought I had a black one, not a green so ended up with two the same – became 46512 which was also a Swindon built example finished in lined Brunswick Green.

So that’s it for this week.  I’ve a few more things to show so will be making the effort to post weekly for the next few to clear the backlog. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

2mm Scale Hudswell Clarke

Australasian members who came to this years’ Supermeet in Brisbane got a look at the first locomotive kit (which maybe available RTR in 2017 – in the sense that a bunch of us might get organised enough to build the kits for resale) which has been developed Down Here.

Original and mini

As the picture shows it is a shoot down of the Ixion Models 7mm version and has been designed by Phil Badger.  The kit is very easy to put together although if you are wanting the really rough version, you’ll need a lathe to put the wheels together as they are cast centres with the 2mm Scale Association 6mm rims added.  Our plan is the kit will come with the wheels sorted.


By the end of Day 1 (bear in mind there were 8 blokes so just a little bit of talking!!!) my first of two looked like this (I borrowed the wheels – chassis done).  Hopefully by the end of the LAG meeting tomorrow, I’ll have it operational.  Hollie has made a start on one – its looking pretty good too with the body largely done and just the chassis to go. 

Just in case anyone is interested – yes, it is actual 2mm scale, not 1:148.  And yes, we will be offering the kit in the new year to those who weren’t able to make it to Brisbane.   Plans are afoot for a second loco, not an industrial but Big 4, for next year’s meeting.

Monday, July 25, 2016

And yet it moves - Swallow's End gets power

I've been trying to get organised to get blogging again following my recent trip overseas however work (sorry!) has been getting in the way a bit.  I've been getting some modelling done however and with the help of fellow LAGer, David H, Swallow's End, my 2mm practice plank (see way back to 2010/11) has got power!  

Friday, May 27, 2016

Friday Night Update – 27 May 2016

Next weekend is one of the highlights of my modelling year – the annual trip up the Mountain (well hill if you are Swiss or live anywhere near a European mountain range but for around here, it’s a mountain) to Toowoomba and the Toowoomba Model Railroad Club’s annual Exhibition.

In past years, I’ve been either demonstrating modelling techniques on the British Railway Modellers of Australia stand or I’ve been with my layout, St Alban’s Priory with the other members of our little gang operating one of the larger British N set ups around down here (at least that’s our claim based on what we’ve been told!).

This year a different approach has been made owing to changing circumstances.  To start with, two of the three musketeers won’t be going – one is spending time out in western Queensland doing the Three Corners (look at a map of Queensland and you’ll see where they are and how they get their name) and the other leaves a couple of days before for 2 months of fun and frivolity in the South Australian Outback with his employer.  Lucky Ben!  The other complication was I had promised Hollie we would go back this year after her debut last year shunting Sturminister Newton for a day and a half.

So with limited numbers and a keen sidekick, I’m going up as the assistant on Hollie Wharf. 

Now regular readers of this blog will have seen the post I made about Inspiring Modelling.  Ken, as I think I’ve mentioned, had a clean out under Management instructions and offered me the shunting puzzle.  Hollie has shown a lot of interest in operating it and we have done some minor detailing bits and pieces on it – not as many as we’d planned but that’s models for you!

2016-03-06 Hollie Wharf 002

First up to set the scene, Hollie testing out the operation of a 4F.  We would prefer to run 0-6-0Ts but they tend to be a bit temperamental over a pair of the points so the tender loco is a better option.  For safety’s sake, we are taking a J39, an Ivatt 2-6-0 and a class 24 to Toowoomba.  A Farish 04 with side plates and cow catchers fitted (from Etched Pixels) is going too but may be limited in its operation.

All the stock is Peco chassis.  I think there may be a Farish body on one but essentially you use the cards you see in front of Hollie to form up trains (or break them up) similar to the Inglenook concept.

A previous post has pictures of the bollards I drew up with Autodesk Inventor and then printed with my Aldi printer.  These have since been painted but no photos I’m afraid.

To fill in the large area of roadway to the right of Hollie we decided some kind of memorial would be a good idea.  Back to Autodesk and about 15 mins later I’d drawn up and sent to print the design below:

2016-05-14 Hollie Wharf 0012016-05-14 Hollie Wharf 002

It didn’t really work out there on its own so I designed a traffic island for it to sit on, allowing for cars to park and pass around it.  Obviously it needs painting – currently not really sure of the best colour but that is tomorrows problem.

2016-05-15 Hollie Wharf 001

We also hope to have a small vessel dockside next weekend. 

If you are coming to Toowoomba, please stop by B7 and introduce yourself.  You can even have a go at shunting the Wharf.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Beer Vans - Part 1

British Railways – as many readers will know – was obliged to carry anything which someone brought in for transportation.  Well, maybe not “everything” but pretty well anything you can think of, the goods department had to come up with a solution for.  Similarly, the preceding railways – the Big 4 and prior to that, the pre-grouping Companies – had to carry everything too.  This service was especially vital before the development of road transportation with lorries and such.
One of the more interesting (at least for me) traffics was the movement of beer from the big brewing houses to various locations around the country.  The interest was first fostered by seeing a picture on the back of one of Essery’s volumes on LMS Wagons showing a picture of an LMS Beer Van.  Further research showed that the LNWR had built specific vans for Beer traffic from as early as 1866 and had, according to the notes in LNWR Wagons Volume 2, 270 examples by the start of World War 1.
Now being interested in such a vehicle is one thing but having reason to operate one is another.  However, when in doubt, apply Rule 1 and go for it.  So when we were planning the First Australasian Gathering of 2mm Scale Association Members in 2014 and the idea of a souvenir wagon was put forward the LMS D1817 was suggested. Consultation with people in the UK suggested that Vans weren’t especially interesting and it was suggested that we do something else – so we did the tar wagon which was written up in the February-March 2016 Magazine (don’t blame the Editors for the delay...). The second Gathering in 2015 approached fast and with no other inspiration we returned to the Beer Van and it was produced.
2016-05-06 Beer Vans 003
With my developing CAD skills and armed with LNWR Wagons Volume 2, I drew up the LNWR D15 version so I could have both.
2016-05-06 Beer Vans 001
This print was adequate although there were some significant issues around how I fitted the roof, and the thickness of the bottom two planks.  I was ready to do some work on the redesign when it was announced in the December-January Magazine that the opportunity to get some etched D15s was available. So I held off and purchased two (as mentioned in an Update a couple of weeks ago).  I have since had another look at the drawings and photos in LNWR Wagons Vol 2 and decided that the roof on both my original (based on the Gladiator Models 7mm one) and possibly David E's etch are wrong.  The prototype vans, it turns on out on actually reading the accompanying notes to the drawings and photos in the book, had a wooden roof covered in canvas.  This is born out by the pictures, especially one of p127 of the aforementioned book for those who have a copy.  So I think I need to remove the ribs from my drawing, and possibly from the etches too.
2016-05-06 Beer Vans 002
I have also learnt that British Railways converted some Meat Vans into Beer Vans.
Finally – Rule 1 doesn’t actually have to apply it turns out. Beer was supplied by rail to St Alban’s Abbey for delivery to the local Pubs – and I would imagine, as does my source, that it came in... Beer Vans! So having a few in various liveries to match time periods is kosher after all.