This week…. Ballasting!

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Yep, it’s that mundane task that we all have to go through at some point. Maybe it’s because I’ve only got a smallish single track layout, but I’ve actually enjoyed it. I tried out a couple of methods on a test piece but in the end went with the old and tested method of applying the ballast dry, wetting with water and fairy liquid before fixing with 50/50 water/pva. The first results were seen a month or so ago when I ballasted the area in front of the platform. I suppose although ballasting was the main focus, it is also the start of the scenic modelling on the layout, something I’m genuinely excited about.

I suppose my approach, was similar to how I would approach weathering a wagon or locomotive. For several days before hand I studied photos of the area around Cwm Prysor and although these were black and white, it gave me a good idea of how things should look, in particular the trackbed of the loop.

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The overall finish I’m really pleased with, but it took several hours to get the desired effect. The basis of the loop trackbed was Treemendus Earth Powder. Geoff Taylor had recommended this to me, and it’s a great substance to work with. I’m not sure what it’s made up of, but ‘Earth Powder’ really sums up the results. This was sprinkled on top of diluted PVA, before then adding the odd sprinkle of fine ballast. I then turned to Busch fine black ballast, a black sand substance which works well to represent ash ballast. This was also used as the basis for the the siding. Once applied though it didn’t look quite right, so after some further thought I decided to add some powder. This had the desired effect I was after, giving a textured feel. To create slight discolouration to the ballast, I added a dirty wash through a pipette which I found soaks evenly into the ballast giving a natural look as it seeps outward.

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The buffer stop has come out rather well I think. It’s the standard GWR design produced by Lanarkshire Models and has been on the layout for several months. It had been sprayed brown when the track  work was done. However yesterday it was brush painted (along with the rail edges) with Revell 84. Once dry this was given a wash with AK interactive rust streaks. This same method was applied to the rail edges and  I think has created the desired effect.

A rather productive weekend I think and it’s one less thing to do. Next week I’m going to Das the bridge buttresses in preparation for carving the stone work, the results have been quite successful on the culvert portal, and with some advice on painting the stone work from Geoff Taylor. Once that is in place I can mod rock the surrounding area and begin making the lake.

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So we are getting there I think and the target for summer is still looking favourable. I’m still learning, but the important thing is I’m still enjoying this strange, crazy yet wonderful hobby we share in.

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2017 – Cwm Prysor’s Time!

Firstly, a belated Happy New Year to everyone.

You may have noted things have been rather quiet around these parts. I have decided to cut down my online presence as I felt I was saturating my work by posting on the FB page, modelling forums and here. It seems best to focus on one place, and those that are interested will find me here, on the blog. I also needed the Christmas period to rid myself of some demons, so it’s fair to say 2017 feels like a real fresh start.

So, to kick things off…. those of you that read the model railway magazines may have seen I had an article in this months Railway Modeller on the goods stock for Cwm Prysor. It was an interesting article to write and I can’t thank Steve Flint and Railway Modeller enough for giving me the opportunity to share my ramblings. What is nice is that this article, and the subsequent two I’ve written, are all gearing up for the big one…’Cwm Prysor’ which will be appearing in the Modeller (probably next year).

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As for Cwm Prysor, I took a break from the layout over Christmas, but since the New Year progress has been coming on well. The platform is now in place, the landscape is fully formed around it and we even have the shelter in place (courtesy of Geoff Taylor). The station area has had plasticard added so there is a nice flat base for the station building, plus a seamless join into the level crossing.

Recent work though has seen the dilapidated snow defences put into place. I’ve seen a photo from around 1910 where these sleeper defences are all standing in place, neat and proper. By the 1950s though, they were really uncared for and that is how they are represented on the layout. Special thank to Tim Horn for supplying the laser cut sleepers.

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Finally, I’ve begun work on the over bridge at the Blaenau end of the layout. Tim kindly laser cut the MDF pieces for the buttresses to my specifications. The bridge itself I have no photos of it, so I’ve based it on the one further down the line at Capel Celyn. The girders are by plaststruct with 20 thou plasticard on top. The railings are from Geoff Taylor’s etched range of building accessories. These need shortening which will be done tomorrow, before I primer the girder/railings and spray satin black. The buttresses will be coated in Das modelling clay, and then a few weeks later the stone work will be scribed.

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Everything is coming together nicely, I’ve ordered the scenic bits to do the lake and stream and all the grass work is here for when it’s needed. So there is lots going on at the moment!

2017 is Cwm Prysor’s year!

‘Dad and Lass’ courtesy of Modelu – forever on my layouts….

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Have a Brake? Have a Ki…. Pipe Wagon

While the hordes flock to Warley this weekend to froth and dribble over the latest releases, I decided to focus on the workbench.

I picked up a Bachmann Pipe and Tube wagon earlier in the year, before I knew whether I could actually use them. Thankfully, after discussing this matter with an ex railwayman who worked the Blaenau Branch, the answer was most definitely yes. Pipe/Tube and bolsters of all sorts were in use while the construction of Trawsfynydd Power Station was under way in the late 50s.

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I’m still deciding as to what load to add to the pipe. I’ve a Duha large pipe, but I’m wondering if it’s a bit big….. I can muse over that later.

It’s somewhat ironic that my attention turned to Brake Vans this weekend. Primarily I had decided to remove Springside lamps that I’d fitted to my Bachmann BR 20T Van and replace with Modelu lamps. It was worth the effort as the lamps really look the part.

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It was with ‘Brake Vans’ in mind that I realised I had a part finished van on my shelf. One of the newer Hornby examples I picked up at York Show 2015. I had added Masokit lamp irons, instanter couplings and the correct earlier type buffers (an error on Hornby’s part). However for some reason I had stopped and moved onto something else.

Last night I began by adding the underslung Vac type variant, before giving the model several washes. This morning I did some final work with the airbrush, before some final weathering detail on the roof and under frame.

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As a model, I think the Hornby one has the edge over the Bachmann model. It should also be noted that when I bought the Hornby Model, the RRP was around £13.50-£14.00, where as the Bachmann model is double the price!

This gives me another Brake Van for Cwm Prysor, while I also have a Frogmore AA3 kit that I’m horse trading construction to Tony Wright. There was one allocated to Bala for specific use on the Blaenau Branch.  I also have an LMS one in the RTR box, which can certainly be used (I’ve a photo of one on a train at Corwen).

Now I purposefully said ‘ironically’ regarding working on Brake Vans this weekend. The irony being that Hornby have announced this weekend they are to produce an all new AA15 Toad #punchtheair (apologies, I do sound like exactly the clientele I referenced at the beginning of this article). What this does mean is my Bachmann Toad, (and all on the workbench) will be retired from service. The current expected date is Autumn 2017, so this means although I wont have one for my first show (Hartlepool), I should have one for the first show of 2018.

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Welsh Odyssey Part 1

As I type, I am now settled into my rather cosy B&B for the night at Trawsfynydd. Today has been rather enjoyable, meeting up with my friends John Roberts (former signalman on the Bala-Blaenau branch and Ruabon – Barmouth lines), Martin Williams (author of the super Ruabon to Barmouth Line Book) and Derek Lowe (another author of several books including the Cambrian Main Line and ‘Return to Pwllheli’).

After a good natter about all things regarding this lonely branch line over the mountains, Derek and I headed up to Capel Celyn and Arenig. The former Quarry Station has been completely levelled with little sign of the former Granite Quarry (other than a couple of buttresses).

Capel Celyn was my primary interest, as there is a surviving farm bridge that crosses the trackbed. This is very much what I want to base the Cwm Prysor bridge on, that forms the Blaenau scenic break. After some exploring, we found the said bridge which is really in superb condition for it’s age.

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After saying farewell to John, Derek and Martin I bought some Fish and Chips at Bala, and ate them at Cwm Prysor. To say it was a beautiful evening would be an understatement.

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Finally, as the sun set….I had time to take some quick snaps of Trawsfynydd Lake and the Rhinogs…..roll on tomorrows furthering Welsh Odyssey!

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Goodnight! 🙂

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Cwm Prysor – Fully Wired!

Good Morning all!
Very brief update. The layout is now fully operational!

I’m extremely pleased I’ve managed to do it (wiring was something I didn’t think I’d be able to do) and with some advice from Ken Gibbons and Andy Jones, the process wasn’t as difficult as I thought. Below is a quick video I made last night, just to show locos and stock moving over the new area. The point is operated with a DPDT switch, which switches the polarity, and manually switches the point.

 

Just the fiddle yards to go, and we can start thinking about scenic work! 🙂

Cwm Prysor – Track Laying

Today I finished the laying of the track on the Main Line. It generally went well, although a touch of fettling was required on the track that crosses the baseboard join.

As some of you may know, the loop at Cwm Prysor was taken out in 1951, leaving a dead end siding. It had niggled me I was modelling the 1950s and retaining the loop.
From a practical route I’ve decided to model it as a siding. This makes no need for a control panel, a cobalt lever will suffice, and trying to find a time for a friend to come up to finish the points was looking difficult. The point that needs to stay only needs switch blades and check rails to finish, the other had hardly been done so easy enough to remove the timber sleepers. So it’s a big enough job I feel comfortable with taking on.
This is my first proper layout, I’ve never wired before so on this one, I wanted it be as simple as possible. I can still shunt on down trains and still run all the existing stock as planned, and it’s more accurate for 1950s Cwm Prysor.

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I’m rather pleased with how the timber sleepers now match up to the SMP track work. In the next day or so I’m going to make the Lanarkshire Models GWR Buffer stop up, and then begin laying the siding, making the trap points and finally finishing the point.

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A friend I hadn’t seen for some time came over today to drop back my Noch Grassmaster. I brought him to see the layout and the first thing he said was ‘is it P4 or EM’, it just shows the effect making your own points and fine scale track can have, even in OO.

Modelu 3D printed Lamps-Review

As I mentioned the other week, I was sent Modelu’s prototype lamps to give feedback on the design. When received, Alan already told me he was working on a V2 which would have subtle improvements. The Production samples arrived on Friday, so this weekend was spent preparing them, one for review and two….for my Panniers! 😉

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The lamps come in their natural red resin. This substance is a little waxy, but most importantly it’s rather flexible, which I shall come back to later. I initially gave it some wafts with the Halford’s Acrylic White Primer. These are literally very light coats, you are not intending to give it as a full coat, just something that the enamel paint can key to. It should be noted that while it’s in it’s primer stage, be careful when touching the lamps as the primer is likely to rub off. Once dry, I carefully brush paint the lamp with Humbrol ‘matt white’.

What makes these lamps a step up from the prototypes, is the lens included with them. These are stuck to a self adhesive tape, and require gently peeling off. Do make sure that the silver/reflective lens shaped paper is attached to the lens. I use the self adhesive residue on the lens to my advantage when attaching to the lamp. I used the edge of the scalpel blade I’d peeled the lens off with, to transport it to the lamp. It slots in relatively easy, make sure it goes into the lamp with the bulbous side facing out. To be sure the lens wouldn’t come adrift, I gave the lens a coat of Klear, to protect everything.

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Final stage was weathering, with a dark mucky wash, to just linger into the corners. It’s interesting when you look at photos of real loco lamps that they can vary from very clean, to down right mucky…which must have been an offence I presume?

Overall, these have to be the finest lamps produced in 4mm. I mentioned earlier the downside of the waxy resin, this isn’t so much a negative as it’s not a problem once you have added the top coat. The really positive side of the resin, is the flexibility. Those handles are incredibly fine (and finer prior to painting). The flexible nature of the material, means that even with some intentional rough handling (excuse the pun) that those handles survived being dropped onto my workbench and even the floor. The addition of a lens I think really gives a very nice effect, the reflection differs in lighting in quite a subtle way. The slot for the lamp means no more drilling out holes for the irons to fit and as these are GWR, the slot has been drilled in the correct position. It has also been refined, so that it’s a nice snug fit for etched lamp irons (I use masokits). For those with thicker RTR lamp irons, there will be an option with a hole in the bottom of a second range of lamps.

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Modelu are working on producing loco lamps for the big four (and BR) plus tail lamps. This I’m most interested to see, as I’ve been informed you can buy a red lens.