Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The plan changes (slightly)

I (will) have the following types of stock for the layout:

- Modern WHR carriages/borrowed FR modern carriages to be hauled by 143/87/138/K1/funkeys etc
- Modern WHR construction stock to be hauled by Upnor Castle/Conwy Castle etc
- Modern/heritage Col Stephens FR set to be hauled by Tal/Merddin (photocharters)
and (hopeful) I suppose:
- WHHR heritage carriages and wagons to be hauled by Russell

Then there are:

- Heritage WHR stock and wagons to be hauled by Beddgelert/Moel Tryfan/Gowrie/590 etc (which is a bit of a modellers' licence thing really).

and the following rarely if ever to be used on Rhyd Ddu (but to be used on the proposed future FR layout):

- Modern FR carriages
- Modern FR PW stock
- Modern/heritage FR slate trains and vans/waggons
- Modern/heritage Victorian FR set

But it will take me ages to get all of the above ready, so I must concentrate on the top 4 bullet points above.  Thus I have decided that locos that do not fit into that set may be sacrificed in order to pay for my 16mm garden railway project.  Thus I am looking to sell locos that are outside this plan and also are likely to be unreliable in DCC - i.e. 0-4-0s.  I am as yet unsure of what to do about Beddgelert/Moel Tryfan/Gowrie/590 as I would like to keep them if possible.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Taliesin update

Did some minor work on Taliesin last night, but gave up in exasperation after fiddling around for ages. 
I did manage to glue on the chimney and attach the cylinder back covers.  I also tacked on one of the slidebars and got it running nicely until one of the retaining bushes fell off whilst I was testing it.  Getting that back on (behind the slidebars) proved to be impossible.  I gave up for some thought and now have a new idea.  But first I must ensure that the crankpins stay where they are and so I will be investing in some loctite 601 retainer.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Despite my exertions in 16mm see here I have also been doing some 009...

This has included the purchase of an apparently dead England off ebay, and within 5 minutes having made it work.  Here it is above.  This will become Palmerston and this is aided by the fact that this model doesn't have the central moulded nameplate on the tank side.  The model does need detailing (not least by finding some replacement sandboxes), and also will need some work to stop it being so rear heavy - liquid lead in the smokebox and a plasticard roof are two ideas so far...

I've also been experimenting with the roco clean wagon I bought...

which works quite nicely indeed and I suspect that I could replace the track rubber with a sponge soaked in some cleaner like goo gone and replicate the CMX cleaner (although not with the auto flow thing unless I can find a way of putting a small recepticle inside this wagon!


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Beddgelert and wiring

Firstly I have managed to do some tidying work on the wiring on the most congested board – the yard.


and after a most welcome suggestion from a commenter I have altered Beddgelert to take the outside framed Farish 08.  Luckily it didn’t need much to widen the axleboxes to get this in.  I also drilled two holes at the front for the chassis to be attached to.  Work is still required to find a way of attaching it at the rear and also to mount the trailing bogie.  Then it’s just the con rods and slidebars that need fabricating.  A quick touch up with paint and a conversion to dcc (easy) and it’s all done. Oh and nameplates of course…and a driver…and…




Sunday, December 06, 2009

Much to report

Sorry for the delay in posting, this has been due to a very busy week when I was hardly at home at all.

On the 009 front, I have tested the points decoder and there is good and bad news...

The good news is that it functions as it should and each output I tested work - I didn't test output 1 as it runs across to the other end of the loop. The LED lights up and the controller can make the point motor operate. This has thus tested the continuity of the wiring and that the decoder itself is working.

The bad news is that in general the pulse does not have enough uumph to throw the point blade over. Now this may be due to the points being a bit sticky due to ballasting and painting, but I have also heard that many utilise a CDU to give a bit more uumph and I will try this (I have such a unit in stock in anticipation that this might be the case). John from County Gate has said he uses a CDU for each point(!).

I have also been lucky to have been passed some karma from the estate of the late Dr Ben Fisher, who many of you will know through his excellent WHR site and forum. I have been pleased to offer Joe Fisher, his brother, some advice on the models Ben left behind. Joe hopes to get a 009 layout going with the not inconsiderable stock that Ben constructed. In many cases this was either scratchbuilt or heavily modified from kits. The standard is excellent, and when I heard that much of this modelling was carried out when he was in his secondary school/university years, I was very impressed indeed. The stock that is finished included Ashover, Leek and Manifold, Ffestiniog and Blaenau, WDLR and French stock, all built to a very high standard. Joe then showed me Ben's piece de resistance - a beautiful model of the Pechot-Bourdon double fairlie - just wonderful.

Joe is however not interested in the unmade kits that Ben left behind and after an appeal via the WHR forum has passed them on to me. I will be making a donation to the WHRS appeal for Nantmor halt - the Dr Ben Fisher memorial appeal.

I have therefore been fortunate to 'inherit', amongst other things, a backwoods Russell kit - which I will build in the cut-down state - a NWNGR workmans' carriage and a complete WHR Pickering brake (although this is in a freelance livery).

Also I have been passed two 16mm narrow gauge kits, both Slaters - a quarry Hunslet and a De Winton. The garden railway plans are thus being accelerated. I have set up another blog for all things 16mm at and will be posting there about garden focussed developments. I hope that this will not affect progress on Rhyd Ddu, as that remains by top priority.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bought at warley

I did manage to purchase a few bits at Warley, some of which are likely to return as Christmas or birthday (only a few days away!) presents....

Firstly, I purchased a better model of the tamper shed (container). Here is an image when it arrived and before the COSCO branding was painted over. It is plain grey now.

So, it was good to see that dapol have brought out a very similar container indeed, pictured below. I had to buy the uninspiring red one too, but I'm sure my brother can make use of this as he got himself a DCC sound equipped class 66 at the show too.

I also got myself a bachrus rolling road ( image below) which allows you to operate a locomotive, run it in and test it on the rollers. It is certainly more compact than a circle of track! The rollers take the voltage from a piece of track set underneath. There are also add on sets of more rollers and also stirrups for holding pony trucks, tenders and the like.

MRC/gaugemaster have also launched their new PC interface for the prodigy advance squared. I purchased one of these and you can download the software online here.

This not only allows you to act as an extra cab (with two separate sets of controls), but also to easily program decoders. There is a CV blaster section where you can set a whole load of CVs with a few clicks and upload them to the decoder at once. There are also easier interfaces to set up routes or consists and even manage the stack of 25 addresses that the system can store quickly for easy recall.

Lastly, I picked up a cheap N gauge 08 from the Bachmann stand. At £35 this was a snip over the normal £50+ for these models. This will be used as an outside frame chassis for Beddgelert, the scratchbuilt body that I purchased off ebay recently. I will just need to sort out the slidebars and connecting rods. I have the rear bogie already too. For a lovely side view of this lovely engine, see here.

Somehow I managed to avoid purchasing more tools, how I do not know as I wanted to pick up a diamond cut-off disc and a fat fibreglass brush. Oh well, there's always ebay.

Monday, November 23, 2009


The interesting way in which County Gate uses fixed consists has got me thinking. One of my main worries about using 009 is to do with reliability of running. 009 allows me to model far more of Rhyd Ddu than would ever be possible in 7mm, or even 5.5mm and also allows me to show the trains in their scenic setting. Running is its Achilles heel usually. There are many ways that running can be improved such as:

- Making sure the trackwork is top notch paying particular attention to check rail clearances and board joins.

- Making sure that electrical feeds are introduced more often than strictly necessary to give some redundancy

- Ensuring the track is clean

- Ensuring loco wheels are clean

- Building chassis that are dead square so all wheels are in contact with the railhead at all times

- Running in locos

- Installing flywheels and using the ‘jump start’ feature in many decoders

- Installing extra weight over the driven wheels to keep them from lifting off the track and to help adhesion generally.

- Ensuring locos are balanced and don’t have a tendency to pitch.

- Using modern mechanisms with quality motors and gearboxes.

And for the majority of the time the above will work… but even if I manage to do the above I am still concerned that locos with just two pairs of wheels picking up are prone to unreliability.

So the locos I am concerned about are:

- Prince – using a 0-4-0 ibertren, which I despise anyway due to its deep flanges. A better kit is available from Mercian.

- Upnor Castle on an 4wh bullant with mashima

- Conwy Castle an 4wh bullant with mashima

- Blanche - using a 0-4-0 ibertren (see above), possibly to be swapped for the new Parkside outside framed RTR chassis version.

- (Linda) – I only have a scratchbuilt body, but the same issue with pickups would exist had I a chassis for it.

- Taliesin – 0-4-4 backwoods with mashima. The rear truck can be made to pick up too, so this may not be the problem I fear.

- (Palmerston) – same issue as Prince, but I don’t have a kit for this engine at present.

I am considering whether some special measures should be taken with these engines to ensure better running (and less hand of God [Thierry Henry?] from the sky). This would either involve double heading – Conwy and Upnor could well work that way for example, or utilising the County Gate ‘trick’ of using another vehicle with pickups and passing the juice through micro connectors.

Taliesin was at Rhyd Ddu recently on the Col Stephens’ set and Prince and Palmerston were used in a similar way during last year’s photo charters. So I could use a companion car with these engines and use micro connectors to pass the juice through to the decoder and thence to the motor. The problem with this is that I wouldn’t then be able to run around the train without disconnecting the micro connector, thus limiting my operating options. But at least they would run reliably.

Taking this one step further, I could actually create a small consist of carriages where some of the carriages bogies also picked up from the track and passed that juice through to the loco and also to lighting strips set into the ceiling of the carriages - I have recently bought such a strip from dcc supplies for testing purposes.

Perhaps a small subset of the Col Stephens’ set could be used to improve running AND also as a kind of showpiece lit set?

That train could also draw some serious current – perhaps 200mA per lighting strip and perhaps 300mA for the motor – good job I bought a 3.5A max DCC system!

For an image of the connectors see this link.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Warley report

Warley was a great day out as expected.

We made our way towards the grand sight of K1 on a trailer as the centrepiece loco and spent quite some time (as you would expect) at the various stands. I bought a copy of the new DVD recalling a year in the life of the F&WHR in 2009 and a few other bits. It was also good to see the WHHR crew in the same area alongside the FR stand.

Bron Hebog was there as expected, but not advertised and there has been much progress since I last saw it at Porthmadog.
The Pullman obs looks magnificent in its lined out livery and K1 is now black.

The temporary wooden 'wendy house' has been duly modelled. I've made one of those too.
and I was astonished to see that the KMX tamper is being modelled, powered by a kato tram chassis - great stuff. Now that really is dedication to the prototype! It is I have to say that I'm not sure I'll ever manage to model the tamper and this is despite having modelled its home (the tamper container). Incidentally I bought a better model of said container from DAPOL and will be replacing the other on my layout asap.

The other end of the layout is coming on too, here is the 'bridge to nowhere' amongst the early scenic formers (Beddgelert desert anyone?).

Later in the day, the Englands were out in force as were Tal and Merddin on the photo charters.
I have to say that the modelling is all of a superb standard and I am sure that comparisons between with Rhyd Ddu will be made - this makes me very nervous about exhibiting indeed.
Dduallt was there too - here comes DLG around the spiral.
and, centre of attention, here is K1.

I had a look at the scenic rust from deluxe materials and agree with other posters on the web who prefer rustall. The rust looks better in 7mm, but even at that scale I feel the rust has too much texture. They had some other good products though including some incredible water.

Dinas was there and the wonder that is Little Wonder was resplendent in its livery and wowwing the crowds with its fan-assisted drain cock steam exhaust. Just a wonderful engine. I hope to post some videos of this layout soon, so I'll save more expansion until then.

We spent quite some time looking at backscenes and I have to say that the stock simple blue sky as shown below is far better in my view than a poor painted attempt. I might go with a simple sky for now before graduating to the full photo backscene.

An unusual opportunity arose to see the rear of County Gate...

and the front.
I had not seen CG with the automation working and although a railcar derailed whilst I was there watching, it worked fautlessly other than that. The LCD screen worked very well and kept the crowd interested while there was no train action. I understand that it won best in show and that comes as very little surprise. I wasn't sure about the whistles and horns though as it was very obvious that they were coming from speakers under the layout and not from the engines/railcars themselves. This wouldn't have mattered a few years ago, but people are used to on board sound now so it was more noticeable.
Just along from CG, this layout would not normally have interested me, but the name Briding Noora is a clever anagram of its unusual supporting legs!

This is T gauge (3mm track gauge) - quite a layout in a small space!

Pete Waterman was there signing copies of his new book and alongside the 7mm models and a video about his Leamington Spa project was this cheeky little NGG16 and the Pullman. I shook his hand and thanked him for the scheme to bring 109 to the WHR (and also to train young apprentices too).

Accucraft's 16mm garden rail offerings include an NGG16 too, but new this year was an NG15. But at something like £3500 it's a bit beyond my purse.

Worcester Road diesel depot in gauge 1 was exquisite.

and this snow scene (I forget the name) made quite an impression too.

There were also some impressive structures!

and this list of world records for railway modelling will take some beating!


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Looking forward to Warley

Warley is usually a treat, but this year I have much to be excited about. Enough to even take my mind off a routine visit to the dentist tomorrow. The narrow gauge layouts at this year's show include two of my top 10 - County Gate and Dinas 1869.

The other narrow gauge layouts are not bad either such as Sand Hutton Central by Peter Kazerand Calstock (Cotehele). In 4mm we'll also have the treat of seeing Briding Noora, Nettlecombe and Willesden Junction.

There are also rumours that a certain WHR layout may appear on the FR/WHR stand... and not forgotting the centrepiece...K1! In 12 inches to the foot scale!

The trade stands beat all other shows - check this list:

and of course there are various standard gauge layouts too.

Can't wait.