Monday, June 14, 2021

Cockup corner, Selly Oak


Back at Selly Oak, I'm reminded of one of the more valuable bits of advice I've gleaned from model railway magazines. 

In an article on building an N gauge display layout with some Z gauge forced perspective was the statement that when building something, if what you make isn't right - discard it. If you don't, the less than perfect item will always niggle you no matter how good the rest of the model. 

I had a bit of a bad day when attempting to finish the pavements. 

Attempt 1 - I marked out the flagstones incorrectly and ended up with them twice as long as they should be. The marks should be every 6mm, not 12. Then when you scribe every other length so the slabs are correctly staggered they line up. 

Attempt 2 - Then I realised that I was also marking them out at 90 degrees to the direction they should run to match the rest of the model.

Fortunately, this is only a small piece of pavement, so it wasn't too painful to make this bit three times. A bit annoying though....

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Kintsugi repairs


I don't understand antiques. When I watch experts on TV, they stand there biting into china things and announcing that the item has been restored and is therefore worthless. 

My thought is - if someone has taken time, or spent money, on restoration, surely this means the item in question was considered so valuable that it was worth the time or money used to make it perfect again. You only have to watch a few episodes of The Repair Shop to realise the efforts put in to make something look like it's fresh from the box. 

I quite like the Japanese concept of Kintsugi. Instead of making the repair invisible, they conside it part of the life of the object - a piece of its history - and celebrate this by making the rectification obvious with gold mixed into the glue. 

Old objects have a tale to tell. The antique expert will bang on about patina, which basically means dirt, wear and tear, but look horrified at a crack acquired during the same time. Now, I know we prefer things perfect, but if that crack has been repaired really well, how is this different? 

All this is a way of explaining why much battered pedometer now had a piece of plastic where the battery compartment door used to be, because the door fell off and I lost it. I can't make a replacement that slips in, but I can cover the gap to keep the battery from falling out. When this runs low, I'll just undo the screws and take the back off to replace it. And in the style of the great Japanese repair masters, I'll not be hiding the fix, even if this does reduce the resale value on the 2nd hand pedometer market.

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...