Saturday, June 12, 2021

Saturday Film Club: The last Pacer

I've never ridden on a Pacer in service, and now I won't get the chance. I know people hated them, but it was Pacer or no trains for many branch lines. The idea of a bus body on a railway chassis always seemed ingenious to me too. I suspect that's no compensation for a draughty door on a winter morning however!

Friday, June 11, 2021

Working waterwheel

Looking to replace a water feature in the garden, my parents came back with a working waterwheel. 

Powered by a couple of solar cells, it's not little thing. The base is 46cm square and it's 54cm tall. 

I wondered how close it is to 16mm scale, and the answer, is: a bit small. 

Unpainted Tag is just over 10cm tall, a big bigger than the real thing if we are being picky about scale, but you can see he towers over the "door". Although it looks like a window, but that's the least of the problems. 

That said, the thing works well, and for £130, isn't stupidly expensive compared to other resin buildings. Used towards the back of a layout, it could be said to impart useful forced perspective. If you like cartoony buildings in the garden, it fits in well to the scene. 

Water is pumped from the reservoir at the base, and needs a fair bit of sun to make things works. When they do, the direction the wheel revolves (it's driven by the water) seems to be pot luck.

Pleasingly, for tinkerers, there is a hatch in the back so you can get at the pump. If it fails, look out for a blog on replacing it. 

Thursday, June 10, 2021

PVA water experiments


With a project involving water on the horizon, I fancied trying a different method to a commercial product or my usual yacht varnish - and I'd heard about employing PVA for the job. 

A few YouTube videos later, I decided to give it a go. Rather than pile in on a project for the page, I made a small test piece with a blob of wall filler on some cardboard. Once dry, and painted with emulsion, I applied a thin coat of 502 Wood Adhesive - my go-to glue of choice at the moment. 

It dried clear, as expected, so I put a thicker coat on. This started to clear and so, in a rush, another thick coat was slapped on. 

Two weeks later, it's not gone clear. A lesson has been learned. 

According to YouTube, PVA's differ and it looks like the one I have to hand needs to be put on in very thin coats if it's to remain clear. That's not very looming deadline-friendly, so I went with the varnish. It's smelly, but I know it works for me.

However, I've not acquired some clear PVA. Time for another test piece...

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

LMS Dock Tank

LMS Dock Tank front

The LMS Dock tank was a challenging kit. An etched brass product from Mercian Models, it was probably a bit beyond my skill level when I took it on. Despite this, it eventually became one of my favourite models.

The first challenge was to roll the boiler from a flat sheet. I messed that up and so looked for a  bit of tube the correct size. The nearest I could find was too small, so I wrapped it in several layers of Plastikard using superglue. With the smokebox wrapper fixed the same way and then chimney and dome glued on, you can't tell on the finished model. 

An interesting design feature is the cab roof. Designed to allow the centre section to unclip, I could never make it work, so more Plastikard. 

The chassis was expected to be trouble, but as I recall (it was many years ago), once I had it square, the waggly bits were no worse to build than expected. The short wheelbase means less frame supports than I might like, but that's the prototype for you.

LMS Dock Tank rear

I really must straighten out the coal rails! 

Anyway, sorting our the pickups too several shows until I was happy, but eventually, I got a fine-running model that really looks fantastic. The lesson is that with perseverance, it's possible to overcome problems and find alternative solutions. 

Eventually, you pick up more skill and since building this model, I've built two others, including one in HO. Being able to roll a boiler helps, but I never made that cab roof work as intended. ]

I'm always surprised this loco hasn't appeared as a modern RTR. It's a handsome beast, but perhaps the valve gear puts manufacturers off. That's fine with me.

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

The Melbridge Dock display case

 Last week, Woz commented: "You mentioned "it looks terrific in the display case" do you have an overall picture of the display case showing the goodies inside ?"

Here's a view of the business end from the layout's last appearance at a show - Doncaster in 2016. 

The display case came about early in the models' life for a couple of reasons. 

First: People kept looking over the top of the fiddle yard to see what else was in there. I'd already built more locos than we needed and visitors wanted to see what else there was. With only one loco in use on the layout at any one time, you could wait a long while to see a selection. 

Second: The layout is 9ft long, and 3ft of that is fiddleyard. Basically, a third of the frontage was "wasted" as far as the public was concerned. 

Adding the display case solved two problems. People could see those locos not in use, and it added more display. Better still, the fiddleyard was clearer, leaving more space for tea and cake. 

The downside was that the layout no longer fitted in a Mk1 Ford Fiesta and we had to hire a small van instead, pushing the expenses up. On the plus side, moving from a 957cc engine to something over 1 litre, made driving more pleasant. 

We pretty quickly settled down to a way of working that saw the really good running locos (02, 07, Y7) on regular shunting duties and everything else in the box. This suited the visitors as the workaday models aren't that exciting so the box had weird stuff in it. 

Looking at the view above, I think we have the Crane tank, LMS Dock tank, Class 01 diesel, 03 diesel (which always works the very first train of the day), Class 17, Garratt, Not sure, Scratchbuilt Z5, Y8 and Fowler Petrol loco. 

Contents varied a bit. Now I wouldn't be so worried about the Clayton, but in those pre-Heljan RTR model days, it used to cause a stir. 

We'd happily do requests for specific locos if someone wanted to see then operating. Even the Clayton would make appearances to haul out the odd train. 

Having the models to hand meant we could swap things around a bit too. I like to rotate the reliable models so they all get a bit of wear over a weekend. And of course, if anything breaks, then a replacement is readily to hand. 

Mind you, by the time that photo was taken, I had too many locos for the display case..