Monday, 24 August 2020

Further proof of Concept

It turns out I was Oh so right! about the impact of Issy's she-shed/caravan on my time. I hate being right in that way. I suspect it means I will run out of time to get anything meaningful done on the ELR this year beyond building a few track panels and coming up with yet another plan to exploit the space created by the goats and their wake of destruction.

On the 7/8ths front I'm at that odd point where the wagons just need a few finishing touches that I keep putting off. All I really need is a single day off when I don't feel shattered and my muscles aren't shaking from the use of garden machinery. 

I have just found enough time to more firmly fix the layout for the first attempt.

Once the ground becomes workable again I'll give it proper foundations and then landscape it, but for now I'm just marking my territory. As before, what you see is pretty much the entire line but that is all i need for now. 

One thing it it makes very clear is just how small the Model Earth wagons are compared even to the Sand Hutton/WD wagon. Their future lies on a photoplank for inside the studio.

I was going to donate an offcut of the marine ply to the caravan, but the more I look at it the more I think it deserves to become a corner shelf layout. 

What I'm not sure of is what form it will take. I could use that curve either to reflect the flow of the track, or as a theatrical framing device.

Saturday, 1 August 2020

Proof of Concept

I guess my colleagues will tell me the title of this post should really be Minimal Viable Product.  That is the idea of building something that just about holds up to scrutiny but isn't yet fit to sell. It lets you see if the concept works, but if it doesn't you "fail fast" and learn lessons without falling foul of the sunk cost fallacy.

I've got a fair amount of LGB track in stock. It was bought with the short-term intention of using it to run-in Peter Jones and to visualise some possible locations. The longer-term intention involves grandchildren and a well known blue engine. After all, I started off with the old Meccano clockwork Percy.

I had been shifting towards hand-building the track from day one. Issy's latest enthusiasm (Poop Poop said Mrs Toad) means I'm going to be time poor for the rest of the Summer which has put paid to that plan. I've also got a nascent idea for a better location for the line in the long term and I don't see the point of building track until then. So I'm back to using LGB as my proof of concept and to get some sort of 7/8ths line in place to help my thinking.

I'm also warming to that idea of a little 16mm line in one of the raised vegetable beds. Teddy seems quite supportive of the concept.

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Taking Stock

Progress is well underway with building the 7/8ths wagons, which means it is time to start thinking about building a railway to run them on.

This is an evolving process and I don't have a definite plan in mind yet. The mist has cleared a little though.

The first iteration is going to be kept simple so I can try out some ideas, especially around track building. A short continuous run to allow Peter Jones to run, and a long siding leading to a basic yard or quay. It is going to be a mineral line, so no station. Whilst it is going to be a ground-level line the construction will have to take into account how much the ground moves in these parts.

What I'm most worried about at the moment is not copying recognisable aspects of other 7/8ths lines. For instance, there will be no preservation society sharing the line. There is some stock already built that I might dispose of because they seem cliched now.. 

A bit of an accident meant that I had to recover a lot of my olf 16mm stock from a watery grave. As is often the way a coincidental event meant I came across some old photos of it in use.

As well as summing up my less is more thinking they might even make me consider a very simple battery operated line gfor one of the raised vbegetable beds.

Friday, 17 July 2020

A little More Progress

For some reason I've found building the Bole Lasercraft Sand Hutton wagons (spelling changed from waggons for Phil) much more fun than the Trefor wagon. They just feel that little bit more thought out, with some nice touches like the emulation of through timber bolts.. Having said which I made a major mistake by misreading a picture in the instructions. I also built the second body in a completely different order to that suggested by the instructions. I glued the underfloor bearers in first before the L shaped end supports. That made life a lot easier. I had been worrying that as 18" gauge prototypes they would look odd on 2ft gauge, but they don't, in my eyes.

I'm still struggling perceptually knowing that these are small prototypes but feel like big models. On the other hand they look just right in a large garden in a way that I found 16mm didn't after
we moved here.

Time to build a railway, I suppose

Monday, 13 July 2020

Almost There

I started writing this post at the start of June. It was going to be about how I batch built a rake of 7/8ths scale wagons ina  week. So, here we are, weeks later, and it is about how I have nearly finished the first one.

It is the Bole Laser Craft Trefor waggon.  A week ago it looked like this and I was ready to throw it in a bin

It isn't that it is a bad kit, James Hilton had already shown that it could be turned into a very attractive model. So what was the problem?


First of all, after success trialling it out with a 16mm kit from Matt Nunn I decided to use Littelefair wood stains. What I hadn't taken into account is that the frame of this kit is built from laminations of ply, and after staiinng that is just how it looked. I have some Sand Hutton kits from the same manufacturer  under construction as well, and they have black frames that disguise this. So I tried staining them black, but it didn't work on this model. Eventually, I added some heavy-handed woodgrain using a razor saw blade to disguise the construction. It works from normal viewing distances.

I made a major mistake assembling the body as a result of not picking up that the ends are handed. by the time I'd rectified that and clamped everything together, I missed that I'd not checked the fit of an end and a side. As a result, the body doesn't quite fit right on the floor. I'll never be able to unsee it.

I'll be honest I was also struggling with looking at a 7/8ths model with a mind accustomed to 16mm. I couldn't get it into my head that this was a big model of a small prototype.

More than anything else it reminded me of my early attempts at scratchbuilding in 16mm  35 years ago. It was something out about the proportions but also...well I think I've worked out that  it is the gap between the planks.

They are too wide for a newly built waggon but too regular for a well-used one. That has been exaggerated by the use of ply that makes it hard to reduce their impact using colouring because the cut reaches the dark layer. On the Sand Hutton wagons, the cuts seem much shallower, which avoids the problem.

When I build the next few I'll either partially fill the gaps, or distress from with a scrawker. And I will be building a few more, though as I look at photos of the prototype I keep seeing other things I will do differently as well.

Saturday, 4 July 2020

Figure it out

For someone who does not believe ghosts exist I've lived in a lot of haunted houses. Visitors to the cottage have often got very little sleep, and we give them the "quieter" of the bedrooms. Things certainly have a habit of disappearing and then reappearing in ridiculous places. it seems the new studio is not immune from this activity. Hence this post is not about batch building wagon kits for there 7/8ths line, because several bits of the kits have gone missing since construction started.

Even without supernatural intervention things were not going smoothly. All the kits involved are very good, in their way. But next time  I would build them in a very different ways than suggested by the instructions. If there is a next time, because once this batch is finished there really isn't much more stock I think I need apart from a workmen's conveyance.

What I have finally managed to make progress on is a Hardy's Hobbies figure. I was originally intending to put him in the cab of a loco, but he is rather tall.

Meanwhile, in The Repair Shop, a quick job for my beloved. Oddly painted in the same basic colours as the 7/8ths figure.

Monday, 1 June 2020

Going up through the Scales

The Scalescenes boxfile layout is on hold whilst I wait for orders of card and the Scaleglaze windows to arrive. in the meantime I've been experimenting with water effects. Draw your own conclusions from the absence of photos of brilliantly modelled water.

I've had more success with revising an old idea, which was a 16mm diorama in a seed tray.

 It has used most of my stock of rigid foam, but then I've forgotten why I'd bought that in the first place.

Issy wanted me to dispose of some exhausted pot soil, and this seemed the ideal method. The original idea goes back to a plan I had to build a very small working industrial scene. Instead it has become an isolated halt on an abandoned line. Perhaps nature is just taking over, or a preservation society is just bringing it back to life ahead of time.

It is a bit of an experiment ahead of building the 7/8ths line, for which I'm thinking of using a tray style construction to facilitate planting and scenic features. I think the next couple of weeks are going to be dedicated to the garden scales. I'm really keen to run Peter Jones but I'm wary of doing so until a) Issy is away again and b) I have some rolling stock to keep him in check.

There is even a rumour that I might be in the mood to build the next 20m of 7 1/4" track panels as well.

In another world I was supposed to be in New Zealand this week...