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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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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Cwm Prysor developments….

Since the last update, with the layout now wired, things have continued to move in a positive direction. 🙂

The track has been painted, initially with a coat of Grey Primer and then secondly with a coat of Halfords ‘Camouflage Brown’, as recommended by Jim Smith-Wright. The results of which are very pleasing and have just the right look for a basic coat. Plus it blends the SMP and  timber sleepers together quite nicely. I’ve now painted the entire landscape to the rear of the track, just to give a good earth texture before scenic work begins.

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I have also been doing some ‘Ballasting Experiments’ which have proven interesting. I initially tried the method of adding PVA first, then lots of ballast before hoovering the excess up. The results were not great, with the ballast sticking and bulging out between the sleepers. I therefore went back to the conventional method of diluted PVA sprayed before hand with water with a drop of washing up liquid. The results were far better as can be seen below. I have been trialling two ballast types, Woodland Scenics ‘blended gray’ Medium and Fine. I already have one I prefer, but I’d be interested in your thoughts.

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I was originally going to begin ballasting the layout next, but I have decided it’s going to be best to start landscaping the front of the layout….that way the modrock stage is done, without effecting the ballast work.

Next weekend I head up to North Wales again, this time to stay for a few days as a sort of mini break, which will involve be taking in the delights of the Welsh Highland and Ffestiniog Railways. What I am looking forward to though, is meeting up with some friends, one of which being the ex signalman from Bala I have mentioned before. We are going to have a bit of a sight seeing tour with a look around Capel Celyn, Arenig…..oh and possibly this place for some reason! 😉

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In other news, I have just finished writing another article for Railway Modeller on ‘Goods Traffic for Cwm Prysor’ It has been an enjoyable experience once again to be writing for the Modeller and hopefully will be published the beginning of next year. Tony Wright has kindly taken some lovely studio photographs of my stock which should look very nice in print.

That’s all for now! 🙂

Tom

 

The Finishing Touches

With a great deal of time off during the Summer, I’ve thrown myself in to more goods stock for Cwm Prysor. The LMS vans I built several months ago, are now in Bauxite and two of them are now finished. I focussed on D1978 first, which was built from a Ratio body, Parkside under frame, with Lanarkshire Buffers, Vents and Vac Pipes. Screwlinks were made up from the Masokits etch.

As well as this van, another 16T has been through the works this week. I wanted to take it a little further than the last one, working from a photo from Trawsfynydd in 1959.

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The more I have been looking through prototype photographs, the more I have felt my Van stock has been lacking that final little detail…. chalk markings. Just looking through the superb prototype section of Geoff Kent’s 4mm Wagon Volume 2, you can see a variety of scribbles all over the vans.

I’ve seen various methods for producing chalk markings, some more successful than others. It was on a google search I came across some convincing scribblings, and to my (not so much) surprise, it was the work of Ian Fleming. Ian had used a mapping pen with white ink which gave a rather nice result. A mapping pen and white ink were duly ordered via Amazon and arrived this morning. I practiced on some spare Van sides, before trying it out on D1978. I tried to pick locations local….and not so local seen as Vans are common user.

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This older LMS van (D1676) you may remember from a previous blog post. I had worked from a photo in Geoff’s Book (Vol 2 again) and have based one side on the chalk markings (page 38). The other side I went for something a bit more local to the branch… 😉

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Finally, and the latest van off the workbench is this, a BR Dia 1/204. The design of this is very much the last of LMS family, but was produced by BRITISH RAILWAYS. The model was produced from the old airfix body (now available by Dapol), a Parkside under frame, and again Lanarkshire Models for the detailing bits.

I wanted it to look different than D1976, so went for a far lighter approach. In my mind as a new build in 1950, it had been overhauled around 1956…so my model is probably 6 months-12 months after overhaul. Again I tried to give the chalk markings a local flavour as well as touch more distant.

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So what is next? Well I would like to add the odd poster to some of these… not on everyone of them, but just enough to give a touch of variety and individualism. Overall this as been an enjoyable process once again, and hopefully will just add that little bit extra realism to the layout when it’s done. 🙂

 

Enjoying the Hobby

Apologies for the rather ‘basic’ title of this blog, but it sums up how I’m feeling at the point.

I have now finished the landscaping on the other board that runs behind the railway. I’m rather pleased with the results from this, which was probably the hardest task landscape wise.

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The landscaping in front of the layout will be catered for once the electrics are done, the priority with the rear being finished was because of the painting of the backscene.

Today I was demonstrating wagon building and weathering at ‘Thirsk Model Railway Exhibition’. It was an enjoyable day meeting new people and seeing friends. Good banter was had all around with Ian Fleming, Ken Gibbons and Jonathan Wealleans, who was showing his beautiful LNER coaches and wagons.

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Jonathan also had a couple of items for me, two corridor Collett Coaches he had built and painted for me as a part of some ‘horse trading’. One is an E152 Brake Composite which will be permanently coupled to a Hornby all 3rd. I’ve a photo of these two seen at Trawsfynydd and Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1951, with the all 3rd still in Chocolate and Cream, a nice contrast!

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The E128 will be run on it’s own, as a mixed train or possibly joined to another Hornby all 3rd (in crimson and cream).

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In the meantime, I really better look into making a start on wiring the layout, just so I can run something up and down. Once happy with this, I will complete the points and get those wired too. I also have the fiddle yard boards on the way, so hopefully in the not to distant future (by late October I hope) I will be able to run the layout properly.

 

Mineral Wagons – Part 3 ‘Planked ex POs’

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So from the 16T, I have moved onto the planked ex Private Owner. The RCH design is most familiar to ex railwaymen and modellers a like. When we tend to think of POs, it’s easy for our mind to only think of the brightly coloured wagons supplied by model railway manufacturers.  I think we have all been to several shows where their bright liveries have been seen festooned on many a  BR period layout. The truth of the matter is that, yes at one time the POs were relatively well maintained by their owning companies, however the degradation had set in during the Second World War and come the Nationalisation of the Railways in 1948, they were all inherited by the newly formed BRITISH RAILWAYS. Like they had in the war, BR were relatively happy to continue to patch them up where possible and simply add new P prefix numbers.

I picked up this Tir Pentwys Pontypool PO a few weeks ago for a good price (I’ll go onto cost comparisons later) and it felt somewhat appropriate. The first stage was the use of a fibre glass brush, to just distress the lettering slightly, but to also give the paint something to key too. The next stage was the adding of replacement planks and further washes followed. The interior was also painted and given several dirty washes. Transfers added were from Model Master, and further washes to finish. The chassis as to represent wood, was painted with a mix of Matt Black and Humbrol 98 ‘Chocolate’ (another method picked up from Ian Fleming). Final touches was the addition of a little bit of powder work on areas of the chassis.

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Another cliche that you see on layouts is to the other extreme, exPOs all in unfitted grey. From what I have read, when BR decided upon it’s wagon liveries, it wasn’t automatically transferred over to the older POs, rather being concentrated on new wagons being built. It wasn’t until around 1958 that someone high up at BR instigated the painting of the ex POs, and at that stage it was only ever going to be a smaller number that received the livery, as scrapping of older pre war wagons was somewhat imminent.

Photographs too can be deceptive. It’s quite easy for what can appear to be an unfitted painted wagon, to actually be bare timber. However I have seen a couple of photos on the Blaenau Branch of grey exPOs, and I do like the livery. Now some may say I am being hypocritical in my time period of operation (1953-1959), so periods are somewhat mixed regarding stock. However along as I get the balance right, I don’t believe this to be too much of an issue.

My exPO was a Bachmann Grey model I bought a year or so ago, however my views on this are well known to my blog readers, and it’s been repainted with Revell 76. With this one, I wanted this to be in relatively good condition, with just a small amount of weathering (slight rust on the iron work) to take the edge off it.

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As can be seen in the first photograph, both wagons have been fitted with my removable coal (based on the Geoff Kent method, but with a twist) more information of which can be found on my thread on Modellers United here. Both wagons have been fitted with Ambis hooks and links.

I touched on cost earlier. Now the Tir Pentwys PO, I purchased last week brand new for £7.45. I have picked up a pack of three limited edition Bachmann POs (theres a nice Cambrian branded one in there) and individually they worked out at under a tenner each. I had considered purchasing the new Oxford Rail PO, but once I saw the work required to bring it up to the same standard as the Bachmann model and as I could obtain Bachmann models for the same/lower price, I couldn’t see the point and would prefer to focus my modelling skills elsewhere, but each to their own. 🙂

To bring this to a close, it’s been a rewarding project. The Tir Pentwys although wasn’t timed, must have taken in the range of 3-4 hours, but it’s been very enjoyable. Once again, like I mentioned in my 16T article, the most important aspect as been preparation and research. Instrumental again has been the works of Geoff Kent and John Hayes.

Finally, I’d like to wish my followers a very Happy Easter, and for those going to York Show, see you on Sunday. 🙂

Tom

Mineral Wagons – Part 2 ‘BR 16T’

Over the past week, my hobby time has been spent working on the Bachmann BR 16T I repainted in my last update. This was a project I had initially been dreading, as steel bodied 16Ts have a particular look, and many models I’ve seen just do not look right.

When it came to adding the ‘rust effect’ I did keep going back to  Ian (windcutter) Fleming to see what he thought, who offered suggestions and advice which I appreciate. On something like this, I think it’s always good to have another set of eyes on the project.

Several days later, and here are the results.

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The chassis was treated with a mix of Revell 84 and Matt Black (another tip picked up from Ian’s blog). Further treatment with powders made the finishing touches to the chassis. The interior was painted with the same paint mix as the chassis, before being finished with powders which has given a rather pleasing effect. I didn’t feel the need for the airbrush and I feel it’s always good to broaden ones techniques.

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I am aware that the Brake push rods have been fitted the wrong way around, something Bachmann seem to have a habit of doing. It’s not the only Bachmann model I’ve seen in my fleet that has also been fitted the wrong way around. I had looked to swopping them around, but sadly they are only detailed on one side. For the moment they will stay and will be possibly be replaced at a later date.

As a conclusion, I think the most important aspect of this weathering project was preparation. I’d spent some time thinking how I was going to approach this wagon, consulted modelling friends, prototype photographs and Geoff Kent’s excellent volumes on 4mm wagons.

I also took the opportunity of good sun light (yes I know…don’t fall off your chair at that prospect) to photograph 7428 outdoors, still very pleased with the finish on her.

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I’m near to finishing work for Easter, so I’m looking forward to starting work on a 1950’s ex PO. York Show next weekend where I will be stewarding and a trip down to the Llangollen for their Spring Gala. Plenty to look forward to!

Cheers for now!