Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Barging On

Work has been keeping me rather busy during Lockdown. I didn't even realise Monday was a Bank Holiday until late on Friday. I've also mostly been working weekends and to Indian Standard Time which has further messed up my perception of reality.

Anyway, I did find sometime on Monday to do a little more refining of the Scalescenes barge.

Set against the well known Anyscale version it sits quite nicely. I'll add a little more weathering and then call it a day for this one, and move on to building the next one.

I've dug out some spare OO and OO9 track that might just do for a version of the boxfile layout, but I want to ensure the track doesn't overwhelm the scene.

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Card Barge

I'm a big fan of the Scalescenes range, both the individual textures and the kits. The range is now extending to including almost complete boxfile layouts, and I'm really excited about the latest canalside one. Not least because it fits in with my plans for a larger version of a similar scene.

There are two things, in particular, I want to mention.

The first is the backscene. I love that John has chosen a misty autumnal view, and one that blends so well with the low relief elements.  Unfortunately, for me, it is very obviously a modern shot, so I'm either going to have to spend ages backdating it in Photoshop or I'll have to find something similar in my personal photo library.

The second is the barge kit included as a free extra. For me this sums up Scalescenes. It involves some very clever design work, especially around forming the hull shape.  The price for that is you really do have to build it accurately, but then part of the joy of Scalescenes is the low cost, in both time and money, of throwing a piece away and starting again if it isn't right first time.

I have to be honest that I made a couple of early mistakes that meant my first build of it was always going to be flawed, though I have corrected most of the obvious problems this photo shows.

I decided to carry on with the build to understand how the design worked so I could be clear on what I needed to do differently on future builds.

The construction technique will be very familiar to anyone familiar with the simple balsawood model boat designs of Glynn  Guest,  which I've always enjoyed building.. So next time I think I'll build it as I've built those in the past. That means adopting a slightly different order of doing things, which I hope will be easily repeatable, because I intend to build a number of these.

I'm not a purist when it comes to using just card for card models, so I'm going to sort out what detailing parts I can get from the likes of  Langley. I also want to make sure I'm building a model of a barge, not just copying the original model. There a few areas where I feel the use of card has possibly compromised the design, especially the deck, hold and coaming. I'm also less than convinced by the light grey colour choice for those parts. So the fate of this version will include some experiments with paint.

As for the overall design of the barge, I'm not quite sure if it has a prototype. Although it is a dumb barge there is something about the sheer and the stern that is suggestive of a powered craft, and I suspect a few people will add a wheelhouse and engine room, possibly shortening the hold a little to suit.

Incidentally, there is a very active Scalescenes Modellers Group on FB.

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Now is the Wintereley of our...

In the last post I mentioned I was going to dig out my stash of Winterely couplings.

Well I did.

Because the design is quite complicated, and as the instructions point out, none of the parts are instantly recognisable on first acquaintance, I wasn't expecting my first attempt at building one to go to plan.

And it didn't.

But, and it is big but, I've learned a lot and I'm going to have another go, and perhaps try a couple of improvements.

The basic idea seems increasingly workable, my problems were partly down to my own clumsiness working with small parts when you don't know exactly how they are meant to fit.

Part of that is also down to the instructions, They are OK, but a little vague at a couple of key points.

There are a couple of places where I don't think the use of an etched component is the best way forward, or where I would do things in a slightly different order and perhaps use a jig.

Strangest of all to me, unless I'm missing something obvious, is the need to mount them so low down that for most wagons, as the instructions point out, you need to provide 2mm of packing under the floor. This seems to be a legacy of the original 4mm version being designed to quickly replace an old style Bachmann coupling fitting.

So I'm definitely going to give them another go, using the other ends of my poor test bed wagons


In my day job I'm officially a "SAFe Agilist". For those who don't work in IT, it essentially means delivering small but constant improvements in products.

And the great thing about finally having a workbench is that it can make me an agile modeller. I don't have the constant overhead of unpacking and packing whatever project I'm working on. I can even keep on hand things that I use all the time. So for the first time in years my soldering iron, or one of them at least, has a permanent place to sit so I can use it whenever it is needed.

So what am I actually working on? Well, to be honest initially I'm working on producing a few more jigs and useful storage boxes rather than models. The big focus is on tools to make couplings. I've tried in the past and learned I can only do it successfully if I use jigs for every stage

It has taken on some urgency because I've decided that my lockdown OO gauge Inglenook isn't going to use tension lock couplings. Well, actually it is, but as we know, real modellers like to think they aren't by making them themselves and giving them fancy names.

So my initial plan for the Inglenook is, or rather, was, to use a delayed action version of the Iain Rice "Imprecise" coupling. This uses the Palatine Models  AJ jigs to produce the basic hook, but misses out the stage of angling the "tail" outwards and inverts the hook 180 degrees so it becomes a much less obviously visual version of the Sprat & Winkle.

Incidentally, if ever you find Stephen King novels too dull and want a real fright I can highly recommend the instructions that come with the various AJ jigs and their various warnings that if you mess something up halfway through the process you will be condemned to coupling Hell AND NEVER PRODUCE A WORKING COUPLING.

These are NOT idle threats.

Fortunately, as the name implies, the Rice version is more forgiving, and he avoids the use of guitar wire which is good because frankly, I can never get a decent bend in it, even if I do use jigs.

One thing Iain's design lacks is a delay hook., although he suggests a solution. Now for an Inglenook layout, which is always going to stretch the observer's credibility, I think delayed uncoupling is a must.t reduce unrealistic shunting moves. Now that suggests one other credible solution. Well, two if my eyesight was good enough to use three-link couplings. The alternative is the Winterley which, in theory, operates without any need for fixed uncouplers. My initial unease was two-fold. First they are single-ended, and secondly, they are relatively obtrusive.

It struck me at some unearthly hour of the morning that, for now at least, the single-endedness isn't an issue. The only stock I'm thinking about fitting them to will be dedicated to the Inglenook and variations on it. I've no intention of converting any of the stock to EM. Then later on and fully awake I realized that the visual issues were possibly solvable.. So another experiment might be called for.

The good news is that the Imprecise couplings will do the job for my EM projects. If, at a later date, I convert over to AJs then good, but I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.

No photo to go with this post? Nope, I've failed  miserably at taking close up shots of various bent bits of wire

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

A Workbench to call my Own

This blog can sometimes read like a long litany of excuses for why I haven't done any modelling. In my defence it is worth remembering, because even I forget, that in the whole time I've been writing it I've never had a dedicated modelling workbench.  Everything has been produced on the odd two square foot or so of space that I've found on top of cupboards or on the edge of a desk shared with a computer and printer.

In fact, I was shocked to realise that it is eighteen years since I last had a dedicated modelling workbench.

In the longer term, post lockdown, I'm going to get custom benchwork in the studio. In the meantime, I'm making do with an assortment of cupboards, some dating back to my first flat, but I still don't have a workbench.

Or at least I didn't until I decided to reward myself for finally sorting out the boxes. Well, most of the boxes.

It isn't the world's greatest, but it was cheap. In fact it is dreadfully cheap and cheerful and proof that you get what you pay for. I bought a cheap stool to keep it company

But it is a workbench to call my own for the first time in eighteen years.

Eventually it will end up in the Big Metal Shed as part of the ELR's workshop, though not for anything involving precision.

The box sort out revealed a few surprises, most notably three OO gauge shunters that I'd completely forgotten about. This is rather good news because one of them was a Sentinel and another a J70, both are ideal for the Casket Yard inspired layout. The other one was an old Hornby Pug which I'd earmarked for conversion to EM. I'm still not sure what to do with that.

I'm in a quandary about OO9. I had decided to put it on the back burner but I really have a lot of nearly completed locos and it seems silly to leave them unfinished. On the other hand it is all taking up space I wanted for other things. Time for a ponder. I'm thinking a halfway house between the current layout and the planned larger version. In effect a diorama of the station and sidings at Cadeby to display the locos that could later be extended to become a proper layout. Such a diorama would quite suit an Apa box.

Something else I need to ponder about is couplings. I seem to have accumulated trial packs of various sorts over the years without ever settling on anything. If/when I return to EM I feel inclined to finally give Alex Jacksons a go. I've noticed DGs in use on an increasing number of exhibition layouts, if you remember such things. Actually I had to look quite hard to notice them in the flesh, though they seem more obvious in photos. To date, I've had the most success with Sprat & Winkles, but I don't really like the big hooks. Iain Rice has a design for something similar but with a wire AJ style hook and I'm tempted to use the approach if I don't succeed with the AJs.

Finally, for those interested in musical trivia, here is a link to some photos of my old workbench in Herefordshire when it was being used by a  real craftsman, the late Bernard Ellis who made the mandolin used on Tubular Bells.