Saturday, March 31, 2007
So I arrive at Stoneleigh and find the hall. They are using one of the new ones (new for the NAC which means not smelling of cattle or falling down but still at least ten years old) with loads of space. Around one side the advanced tickets queue stretches off into the distance. On the other those of us who will have to hand over money form a similar length line.
One fiver later and I’m inside. The hall is big. And full.
Traders filled the outside edge, and mingle with the layouts in the middle. Of course these are a bit bigger than I’m used to since the models are larger. I suspect the atmosphere was rather fuller of steam than usual but since the ceiling was high no-one noticed. Besides, meths fired locomotives weren’t allowed – spoilsports.
It’s amazing who you meet at something like this. I hadn’t expected to find the ex-publicity officer (and current webmaster) from the 3mm Society for example. I also discovered that Worsley Wagon Works and Cambrian do 16mm stuff – both traders I associate with smaller scales.
Cambrian even sold me some useful air horns for Idris along with some moulded bolt heads ideal for use on boats. Proper cross-fertilisation of hobbies !
Whatever, the Armstrong chimney looked like it had been filled in with lumpy earth so excavation would be needed.
I carefully measured to find the centre and then tried to drill out with a single reasonably sized drill bit. This isn’t the first time I’ve done this and I know the pitfalls. Start in the wrong place and you’re going to be trying to carve away the leftover infil on one side. Use too large a bit and you go through the sides as the chimney tapers. Too small and there is a fit lip left at the top.
Even the drilling is fraught. In a perfect world a pin vice would be employed for ease of control, but who owns one big enough for the required bit ? Even if you did, working through the lump of metal would be really hard work.
My solution is to use an electric screwdriver with a chuck. The bit rotates slowly so you keep control – or at least stop if you start coming out the side.
I didn’t quite get this right but the repairs with a wipe of low melt solder are easy and the resulting chimney is pretty nice. Most importantly it looks hollow.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
The Armstrong cab interior is another matter. The splashers came first. From the instructions it looked like they lined up with some raised lines inside the cab sides. Put there though and there was little space in the middle for the crew. You’d struggle to get a driver in never mind the fireman !
So I decided they had to fit on top of the lines. Then they showed above the edge of the sides slightly. I thinned the metal down a lot and removed most of the cab lines to drop then down a bit. This left a gap at the bottom though which I filled with scrap etch and a lot of fettling. Thanks goodness for the gap filling properties of low melt solder.
The floor was also hopelessly wrong so some sheet nickel silver was cut to fit. I suppose I should have made the whole interior this way as it would probably have been quicker than making the supplied parts fit. If I’d stepped back and thought about it that is the way I would have gone, but at the time I had got stuck into the job and just carried on.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
All paint was Humbrol enamel applied with a brush. I don’t think anyone air-brushes figures do they ? If they do then the masking must take forever.
At this size you can even paint the eyes properly. All my boat crew have pupils ! Now that is taking detail too far as you won’t see this from the other side of the lake, but at least I know they are there
Monday, March 26, 2007
So it is with building kits. When I left the Armstrong the next job was to sort out the outside frames. Looking at the plan these are a bit deeper then those on the kit. Not a huge amount but enough for even me to notice. I thought that the solution would be to mark out the extra frame required on a bit of brass, cut it out with a fretsaw and solder the result to the model. This sounded like a whole load of no fun and since I had to move over to other things I left it.
After a deep breath I started on a sunny day with some relaxing music playing. More measurement shoed that the difference between the actual depth of the frames and what they should be was about 1mm. Now there is no way I’m going to cut anything that thin with a saw so another solution was needed.
In my wire pot I have, for some reason that escapes me, 0.9mm wire. I reasoned that if I soldered this on the depth of joint would take this up to 1mm at least. It was also pretty close to the thickness of the whitemetal casting.
The wire was tinned with normal solder and then chopped to length and soldered in with low-melt. A fair bit of cleaning up later along with a bit of squaring off using a small file and the job was done.
I know it’s not much but to my eyes the extra depth makes a bit of difference. Proper modellers would bin the frames and work from scratch but they are a nice shape and I’m not sure what I create would be any better than what is there.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Others have written about tyre shops and the leftover weights when they balance wheels. I’ve bought tyres and think that the old weights are just thrown on the ground and swept up at the end of the day. Maybe other shops are tidier but I doubt it. Anyway, I don’t want to be fishing through the sweepings of their workshop for small lumps of lead that are funny shapes and therefore difficult to stick down.
So, if anyone else is wondering where nice sensible sheet lead weight comes from, here is the answer.
This roll of roofing lead was purchased from Builders & Plumbers for the princely sum of 20 quid. For this you end up with 9kg (just under 20lbs) of flat sheet on a roll. Enough for several boats or literally yards full of model railway wagons. All you do is walk in, pick up the roll, hand it over the counter and then pay. Smaller and larger rolls are available.
Simple huh ?
Saturday, March 24, 2007
I bought the model in a charity shop for £40.
Obviously what happened was the builder died and the model was donated to the charity shop. They saw it as nothing better than the Chinese solid hull boats that appear in every gift shop in the country and priced it appropriately. It’s so much more than that. The quality of the modelling is superb. The rigging alone is a masterpiece. Even little details such as spare wooden chocks scattered on the deck are present.
I would be proud to build the kit to this quality.
Yet people who can’t recognise it for the masterpiece it is effectively dump it in a charity shop. The builder must have invested 200 hours or more in construction, a real labour of love. If I hadn’t bought it, the model could have ended up on a shelf getting dusty and damaged, or worse given to a kid top play with in the bath ! At least I will fit it out with radio control, make a proper box and treat it with the respect it deserves. Apart from the mechanical bits my only changes will be to add a crew and change the name from the one supplied in the kit – I fancy “Sunny Jim” for this one.
The boat went to the Knightcote Model Boat clubs last social evening where we discussed what people’s plans were for their models in the future. The question was, “How do you make sure that your nearest & dearest appreciate your work ?”
Some people will be lucky enough to have family who will think as much of the models that you have created as you do. Most though, will think that the models are little more than toys that they were slightly embarrassed that Dad/Mum etc. spent so much time and money making. Worse, there will be people out there who resented the time and/or money invested and will be delighted to chuck the whole lot out as an act of revenge.
Imagine yourself looking down from your cloud and seeing all the models you put your heart into going down the tip or sitting on the table at a car boot sale while punters haggle over pennies. Your relatives might also miss out on the value of the models if they don’t want to hang on to them. This model would easily have sold for much more than the price of the kit yet the owner received nothing for it. Good for the charity but if they could use the money to supplement a pension…
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
The model sailors contained inside were made of polyester resin. A little flash was present but nothing gentle scraping wouldn’t remove easily. They also seemed to be more slippery than resin usually is – I took this to be a residue of release agent and gave then all a scrub with washing up liquid but it didn’t really make a difference.
Resin in the raw isn’t the easiest material to see detail in. Normally I wouldn’t bother to prime it but this time I did to reveal the detail properly. Cheapo car primer worked fine. Since most modern cars are made of plastic I suppose it is what it’s designed for nowadays.
Anyway, here is the crew in their glory. With a bit more painting they will adorn a suitable model boat in a few days.
Monday, March 19, 2007
For more details of the beer, visit the website. I need to go and have a snooze now…
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Well why not hand it to your nearest model maker who drives/sails/flies with radio control. They can then put it on top of the aerial of their transmitter where it will protect the eyes of all around them from being poked.
Simple init ?
Saturday, March 17, 2007
So, because I model railways in 3mm scale, I am a member of the 3mm Society.
Now I would normally buy my bits via mail order, or at least I used to until the guy who ran the shop became a member of our local railway club so I can just get him to bring stuff along. That only covers Society parts though, so I still need the post.
There’s nothing to beat actually handling the goods of course. Fortunately the Society organises occasional days where the main traders can be found. One such was held today in Kingsbury, Birmingham.
The event takes place in a hall at a school. Not the most salubrious of setting but not bad – there are far worse areas of Brum. We travelled by train, walking from Gravelly Hill station. This took about 15 minutes, far quicker and cheaper than the equivalent bus ride out of the city centre. There are more trains too so it’s convenient.
Once inside there were 6 traders including the Society shop and second hand sales. The later still has unbuilt Kitmaster coaches at a fiver a go. We must all have had our fill for these as they were still there in the early afternoon.
I planned to buy a loco kit for Flockburgh. My usual reaction to getting a layout write up in a magazine is to treat the model to a nice new loco as a reward for it behaving itself. Daft I know but the cheque has to be spent on something and I do get a new shiny kit out of it…
Anyway, the kit chosen was a Jinty. Not the best choice in prototype terms perhaps, but it is an 0-6-0 chassis (I’ve built those before so I should be OK) and most importantly a Triang Jinty was the model that started all this 3mm stuff years ago. I suspect that the finescale and RTR versions will be compared many times when I have to explain the difference to a punter at a show.
There were a few impulse buys too. The sides and ends for a GWR railcar and some wheels and some Dogfish wagons were bought at the same time. A Worsley Loco works Class 24 along with 3SMR supplied RTR power bogies nearly came home as well but sense prevailed. Well if sense is not buying kits you will take years to get around to building then it prevailed.
Now I have a box is the kit, wheels, motor & gearbox. All I need now is the time to build it.
Friday, March 16, 2007
Size was worked out by punching circles in .5mm (I think, didn’t bother to measure) sheet with an office hole punch and then picking plastic tube of about the right thickness. The base is leftover sheet from another kit.
I like this odd’n’ends fiddling around. Making bits out of scrap is fun and when it goes well, very satisfying. Add to this the satisfaction of making something quickly and it’s all good news.
A quick coat of matt aluminium paint to the bollards and some parts from a boat show and the model is nearly finished. With the weather improving she should get a proper maiden voyage this weekend.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
The reason I bought the magazine was because of the main cover story “The Jet Age” promising to tell me how to model BR’s gas turbines. This is a subject that interests me a lot. I’ve read the books and even have a rather lumpy model based on a fibreglass or resin body that dates from some time in the 1980’s that I picked up on a second hand stall years ago. It’s in the projects drawer waiting for me to get around to it – like so many other jobs !
So I read the article and remembered why I normally don’t buy the magazine. It wasn’t that it was a bad piece, just that it had enough information to get interesting but not enough detail. And it’s always like this. Promising reading that fizzles out.
The problem is of course that Model Rail is a fine magazine, just not for me. I’m a long way from the target market it’s aimed at. This is fine as there are a lot more beginners and intermediate modellers (a bit of a lumpy term but I can’t think of anything better) than finescalers like me who want to make stuff and will read long articles on fiddling with brass or worrying about obscure details. I suppose that’s why they are still in business !
Still, I got to look at some nice pictures and will keep the article, complete with the rather nice plan of GT3, in the collection. Perhaps I’ll build my own turbine one day, but not this week…
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
The other thing that has chewed up my time has been working on disposing of the modelling equipment that belonged to a late friend. Over a lifetimes building he amassed a huge selection of tools and models. The railway kits are fairly easy to deal with, the tools less so.
Many of the tools are worn. Not in a bad way but in a way that indicates much careful use. You look at a handle where the varnish has rubbed away and think of the many hours of (hopefully) pleasurable use the tool has seen. It’s a bit like smooth bark on a tree that has seen the backsides of many childish tree climbers – a nice smoothness that should never be restored.
Of course I have been proud to add to my toolkit from this. I quite like second hand tools because of the history attached to them. I have some that belonged to my Granddad as well. He was an engineer and I like to think that he would approve of my work even though it is in an amateur capacity. Using inherited tools makes me think that the original owner is helping out. Sometimes I need all the help I can get !
Sunday, March 11, 2007
There was a good turn out with several bits of the event showing why the premises were not really ideal for an exhibition venue no matter how good they were as a factory ! No-one seemed to mind much and we all enjoyed ourselves.
As well as MMM, Deans Marine, Model Power & SMG Models attended and all seemed to be doing good business. Model boats shows are thinner on the ground than model railway ones. This is a bit of a surprise to me as the models themselves are easier to move and the number of traders lower. I suppose that for a really good show you need some water, something this one lacked, so boats can be shown off to their best advantage. That’s not easy to arrange what with 50 ft square paddling pools being a bit expensive.
There were models on show as well with several clubs having stands. The model shown wins my “Best of Show Award” simply because it was the one I wanted to build most ahead of strong competition. A small but detailed Customs boat, it’s perhaps not the obvious choice as there are more glamorous models or ones with more to look at but I like it.
This sort of boat has many advantages. It should be fairly quick to build. A Robbie Dollie kit would give a pretty quick approximation if this model isn’t a kit itself (I didn’t ask) and take only a few hours to assemble. The result ought to handle well on the water being pretty manoeuvrable. Most importantly if it’s running on ni-cads a 20 minute charge will have to on the water should the opportunity arise at short notice. For example if the weather is unexpectedly nice one morning or even after work.
Friday, March 09, 2007
Although the kit is described as suitable for radio control it’s difficult to work out where this is supposed to go. The boat is pretty open so hiding the “gubbins” isn’t easy. The instructions and plans don’t help either.
As you can see from the picture, we’ve managed to keep everything below the decking. Just. The batteries will go in the log bunker under a false load which keeps them easily accessible. Four AA’s look like they’ll be enough to run the boat for at least an hour. Replacing them at the waterside won’t be a problem either. We can even buy a pack of Duracells if we want to sail at the drop of a hat.
The centre of the boat houses the steam engine, in this case a plastic fake but it will look the part. It’ll hide the receiver and speed control.
A quick test in the bath revealed a lot of lead is needed. So much that the batteries sitting at the side don’t affect the trim. This is added in the form of giant lead shot from divers weight belts (we were given a couple of worn out ones) packed into sandwich bags and wedged into the spaces at the side of the hull.
Next stop is the lake for a proper sail. If all is well the rest of the woodwork goes in and a 1/12 Bogart & Hepburn need to be found, or should that be "cast" ?
Thursday, March 08, 2007
My model making is partly a reaction to my job. During the day I look after a website. In my spare time I like to work with my hands. I mention this to show it's not the technology that puts me off. On the contrary, I love a bit of technology - but only in the right place and that is the problem. People tell me DCC is the answer, but I'm not even interested in asking the question !
All technology matures eventually and stops existing for its own sake. As an example, we no longer stare at a computer as a thing of wonder, it's just a tool to do a job as it should be. Now though, I think I've seen the future and finally get the point of DCC.
My photo shows a 7mm scale layout called "Vine Street". A model of a small station set in BR days with steam and green diesels it isn't that unusual. What entranced me was the sound.
Sound effects have been available to railway modellers since the 1960's - Triang made a loco with steam sound generated by a tender axle mounted metal flap rubbing on sandpaper. Mostly these have been a bit rubbish though.
This was different. Modern sound units employ digitised noise sampled from real locomotives. We've come a long way from the days of generic 'white noise' for steam engines. Oil burners even make different sounds as the engine speed increases.
This is where DCC scores. The model can be made to make tickover sounds or gently hiss when not in use. The temptation must be to record a background soundtrack to complete the effect. Perhaps even some suitably muffled
station announcements could be made ? I seem to remember that Hornby made a suitable device a few years ago...
Nothing is perfect of course. Vine Street's class 47 roars like you have your head in the engine room while the 0-4-2 chuffs gently as though you are hearing it from a distance. The later is spot on but a little volume control will fix things.
So maybe I'll go digital one day. Not yet though. My tiny little locos are too full of motors, gears and lead to fit a chip in at present. Anyway it's nice being a ludite !
I wonder if I could use clockwork motors ?
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
The April edition of British Railway Modelling features an article on Flockburgh.
The pictures look
very nice but I suspect the text might not keep everyone happy as I’ve tried to tell the story "warts and all". No doubt there will be a few people who will be horrified at this because it might put people off trying 3mm modelling. In my opinion, you do the scale no favours by having newcomers entering thinking everything will be as easy as working in OO.
I also think that telling people about the problems encountered makes for a more interesting article. To be honest, layout articles bore me to death as they all follow the same format – introduction, baseboard, wiring, scenics, rolling stock, conclusion & thanks. Because you have a bit subject to cover in a few short pages the detail is missed. To me the detail is what matters.
The trick when writing interesting articles is focusing on a single subject area. Nothing too small – very few people in a general magazine want to read six pages on how you built a single buffer – but individual buildings, items of rolling stock or a particular technique work OK.
I also try to make an effort to proof read the text a few times. This article has one spot where I think the text is clumsy and could be improved, pretty good for me as I’ve read past pieces once they have appeared in print and been appalled at the result. Proofing can’t (for me) be done on screen. I suspect this is why the blog postings can fumble but I’m not printing them all out – that is reserved for magazine work. This blog is much more immediate, reportage rather than reflection so it operates by different rules.
No doubt the grammar experts can pull my text apart. Tough. I’ll do my best but at the end of the day I won’t be faffing around over apostrophes if it gets in the way of the message. All I can hope to do is string some words together that people enjoy reading. The punter has paid his or her money for more than pretty pictures and the editor won’t be happy if the pictures they have commissioned are surrounded by little more than sub literate captions !
Of course if you do just want pretty pictures, in the same issue there are some nice shots of dock shunters. I’ve done a couple of the locos shown and the rest do look very modelable…
At the end of the day, it’s my train set in my words. I don’t know if anyone else like it and would be interested in comments. What do you want from a magazine ?
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
At the boat club we have a frequency board. It’s a simple device, before you switch anything on you clip a peg to the frequency you plan to use. This stops any clash of frequencies and hopefully means an absence of out of control models on the water. Those that exist are supposed to be under control by someone.
You have to provide a peg, with your name written on it, something that has taken me 14 months to sort out.
Of course, it’s because I wanted to do things properly. The peg has been varnished to protect the wood since these pegs live outside all year round. Then I carefully painted my name and a picture of me on. Finally a coat of gloss varnish seals the job. This is a beautifully crafted peg that will be the envy of other sailors. I am truly the Chipendale of peg painting.
Monday, March 05, 2007
Anyway, it’s out of the cupboard now and before I kick off I’m taking the chance to look at it with a critical eye. Like proof reading your own text, examining a model locomotive you have built with the eye of another is pretty difficult but it has to be done.
Most of the models I build are done in stages. Every so often the kit goes back in its box while I do something else. Then it comes out again and I start with renewed enthusiasm. Let’s face it, this is a hobby so slogging through something you don’t enjoy is pointless. I get enough of this at work !
Saturday, March 03, 2007
The driver lost his arms and lower legs. These were re-attached in new positions so he’d fit the seat and reach the wheel. The arms were a pain to stick so I shoved Peco track pins in with a soldering iron to hold them in place. The legs went on OK with superglue. His hard hat was sufficiently unconvincing to look OK as a casual cap once painted beige. To be honest the kit wheel should be replaced as it’s too large and crude. If I did this agin something made of wire would be substituted.
The soldier took a bit of carving to remove holsters and other military paraphernalia. I cut a slot in his forehead with a razor saw and inserted some plastic to turn his hat into a baseball cap. This is pretty convincing and really easy to do.
Both figures were completely repainted to make their clothes look casual. Originally they both wore shorts but this didn’t look right so blues jeans were the order of the day. Considering the soldier is wearing long boots, it’s amazing how difficult it is to spot this.
If, unlike me, you don’t have drawers full of tiny screwdrivers and tweezers – how would you do this ?
Friday, March 02, 2007
Best of all, for me it was free.
Yes, it was my annual chance to gloat at new car owners as I received my free tax disk for a historic vehicle. I didn’t even have to troop down to the post office as the renewal was carried out by phone using the new electronic system.
Isn’t technology great.
Now if the mechanic would actually pick up the van as promised and take it away for welding, I might be even happier.
Thursday, March 01, 2007
I thought long and hard about the colour scheme. Early plans revolved around another fade paint job, similar to my Tomkat. Then perhaps a bold two colour job with sharp (read: easy to mask) edges. In the end though, I decided to keep things simple The black top covers much of the hull so a complex paint job would be a bit of a waste of time.
The final choice, bright orange, was the result of a number of factors:
- Orange will stand out well from a distance
- The frequency I race on is colour coded orange
- I have an orange car so I like the colour
- I have an orange car so I have spare cans of orange spray paint
So I masked the bits not to be orange off and started work. Newspaper is great for masking but can tear easily. Office paper is a better and as luck would have it a credit card company had decided to send me a whole envelope of the stuff that morning in the post !
Now here is a handy hint. Aerosol cans that are after 8 years old and have spent two years stored in a greenhouse aren’t always in the best condition. This was like painting with a hosepipe. Even after a lot of shaking the pressure was terrible but coverage was good so I persevered. The end result was more than a bit bumpy but before I can do anything about this I’ll have to leave it to dry and harden properly.
It’s very orange though. Success !