Monday, December 20, 2010

carriage mods


I’ve bought a new diesel (Liliput zillertalbahn 4 wheeler + jackshaft) for testing purposes.  It’s not the most powerful in the world and struggles with 4 WHR carriages up a gradient but it runs really well with lesser loads, was quite cheap (new at £50) and has a 6 pin DCC plug on board making switching from DC to DCC easy.

I’m using this little red diesel to test the mods I’ve made to couplings and bogie pivots on a test track featuring 12 inch radius curves. 

The good news is that the mods have cured the problems on curves, but I am a little concerned that this has been achieved at the expense of a slightly too high ride height on the WHR carrs (FR are ok).  Thus longer term I may look at alternatives to the 3mm scale plastic wheels that I have used up to now.  For now they will be kept as is until there is time to switch them over (not a priority).

I’ve also added weight to the WHHR ex Vale of Rheidol van which runs far better now too.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

finished chassis changes

Here are the two finished chassis for harlech and criccieth castles.

The rt models kit went together pretty well but here are some notes for anyone attempting this conversion themselves:-

- drill the jackshaft pin holes out 1.6mm not the suggested 1.4mm.

- suggest soldering the balance weights to the axles rather than using 603. It is stronger that way.

- when laminating the balance weights use some wire to keep the holes in line. Might also be worth using 188 solder to avoid it coming apart when soldering to the axle.

- be very careful when adding the slots into the new base plate - I suggest strengthening the area as it is pretty easy to snap the resin.

- ensure you shorten the new axle to 19mm.

- only add the new coupling rods once as otherwise you will loosen the Plastic holes and the tiny yellow crankpins will fall out. If this happens and you lose the yellow bit use one of the spare nickel washers and some brass wire to create a new pin and drill through the crankpin securing the new pin with superglue at the rear.

I'm not totally convinced with the way the new axle sits in its slot but hopefully this will be ok, time will tell.

Monday, December 06, 2010

jack the lad

Tonight I started the conversion of two farish class 08 chassis to 0-6-0+jackshaft. These are for Harlech and criccieth castles.

The conversion kit is from rt models.

So far I have replaced the coupling rods after a bit of the usual reaming to get the holes just right. I've also replaced the keeper plates and soldered up the balance weights (triple laminations).

The only tricky bit was soldering these balance weights to the 1.5mm diameter brass axle. I had to get them on square and quartered but also had to stop the balance weights from delaminating. Also the axle provided is too long by about 2mm so the excess will have to be cut away.

After a few tries though these are on and are nearly perfect. Good enough I think.

So the next stage is to install that axle after drilling a suitable hole through the chassis and then attaching the ends of the coupling rod to the balance weight with the help of some very small washers.

When complete this will really improve the look of the Locos.

New blog

Check out 'ohfourteen', my new blog about my micro O-14 layout plans.

A beast takes shape


As some of you I’m sure will have worked out by now, Boston Largs Works are again involved with a project for Rhyd Ddu.  This time it’s the other ballast wagon – the beast that is the Romanian new-build. 

The wagon is able to spread ballast between the rails as well as to the sides.  I know how much effort when into initial alignment as track was laid as I did it myself a few times - avoiding the track moving before tamping was important and so being able to dump ballast all over the track prior to tamping helped considerably. 

At superpower I spent a long time taking shots of this wagon and it’s a complicated model.  It’s coming along very nicely indeed as I’m sure you’ll agree.

More shots of this project and how it has been built up (Rob’s also making one for Bron Hebog) are here:

Friday, December 03, 2010

Coupling up

I have started the process of reviewing the coupling characteristics of all carriages.

The first set of culprits were the FR saloons where the couplings did not protrude far enough past the end of the body (they were installed like this to get close prototypical coupling, but suffer from problems on the layouts tight curves).

I also now have a functioning test track to test the new mark 2 longer couplings within rakes and avoid the problems seen at times at expong.

The second challenge is to sort out the whr saloon bogie swing - the 3mm plastic axle mount is a great idea but needs some modification as on some carriages there is too much friction causing a lack of rotation for the bogies and consequent derailment problems i have some ideas to solve this and these will also be properly tested before being passed for service.

Other projects aside, the plan is to sort the running issues on carriages and to add extra weight where required by the spring (2011) when work will recommence on extending the baseboards to cure the track alignment at the north end of the platform. I also hope to install a better backscene (with clouds) and new Anita decor trees.

Then the winter (2011) will be spent on Locos. I might even make a start on Lyd (kit in store ready).

Monday, November 22, 2010

Warley 2010

A cut-down trip to Warley this year due to family commitments (had to leave at 2pm), but still enjoyable.  Highlights:

Pete Waterman’s NGG16 No. 109 was there (well one power bogie):

P1100452 P1100451

Some exquisite modelling:


Some cracking 7mm narrow gauge layouts – the well known Stoney Middleton, Bridport Town and Picture This…

 P1100466     P1100461 P1100463

and some standard gauge layouts were impressive, notably Copenhagen Fields and Barmouth bridge:


Unfortunately 009 was represented with just one layout ‘Bryngoch’ and a publicity stand - note this lovely Darj train though.


I did spend a few £s as you'd expect.  I finally bowed to the envitable and bought the fantsatic Eade book on Ratgoed quarry, and ordered two sets of RT models forthcoming farish 08 conversion, adding a jackshaft.  This will be for my models of Harlech and Criccieth castles.  A sample on display looked superb.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Some progress actually

Now I did say I'd be doing nothing on Rhyd Ddu until the new year....well...
  • I have demolished the old hidden sidings boards, put the traversers up for sale on ebay and saved the wooden frame for future use.  The reason for this?  The far side of these boards feature a 1 foot by 2 foot section, which was to be used to store stock.  This is just the perfect size for the proposed extension to the station board (required to sort out the alignment at the south end of the platform).  It's also great because there are 2 of these pieces, as I will need to add the same amount of extra to the far side of the layout too.  9mm ply plus pine just like the boards they will attach to.
  • Sat in a meeting where parts of it were in Dutch (!) I have completed my proposed design for the addition of this new woodwork to the layout.  I will attach the pieces using L shaped strengtheners and will attach two new breakfast bar style legs over this new join to reduce any stress on it. 
  • I have also purchased a new minidrill and tidied my study/modelling room significantly
and ...
I cleaned up the old 2 foot square board ready to plan out my new O-14 shunting layout project and started using the fibre glass brush on the resin castings of my 16mm De Winton ready for painting in red oxide primer and then matt black.  I'm using red oxide so that if any black misses when sprayed, the missed bits will look like rust!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

sound as a pound

For those of you who couldn’t hear it at expoNG, or who didn’t make it, here is a quick video of the sounds installed in Castell Caernarfon. 

It’s a Loksound micro programmed with the closest sound I could get (some standard gauge continental loco called a SNCB/NMBS HLD 59 - Cockerill Baldwin-Westinghouse 12 cyl – images here 

The Loksound code is 53411 if you want to copy this idea and can be downloaded here : 

It plugs into the 6 pin DCC socket on the chosen chassis – the new farish N gauge warship.   

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

a diversion

The workbench has been cleared and some different projects are to be tackled next - a 16mm de winton for the garden and the starts of an O-14 micro shunting layout that can live inside. I have a 2 foot square board ready! The plan is to develop it as a kind of shunting challenge. I also want to add the decoder to merddin and replace the dead motor in 143.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A dream comes true, with 4 minutes to go...

As regular readers of this blog will know, over 5 years of work culminated in the layout's first public show on Saturday.  Indeed this was the show known as 'Europe's premier narrow gauge exhibition'.  It was a dream come true and I am very proud of what I achieved, with help from many people, including significant work on the loco side from my Dad.  However, it probably wasn't a great idea to have made expoNG the first exhibition, as we had some fun and games!
In the rush to complete the layout, testing got squeezed and squeezed.  When I was finally ready to finally test all boards together it was Thursday.  Problems were found with short circuits (a big problem in DCC) on two boards.  These were brought inside and the problem solved (wires slightly touching where they are fed close to each other on the tortoise motor connectors).  However there was no time left after that to test the layout electrically, let alone test running, before it was to be transported south.
On the Friday everything went well and the van drove fine despite the M25 traffic and we got the layout erected that evening, but again there was no time to test it.

On the Saturday we arrived as early as possible and began to test.  Nightmare!  The dreaded short circuit problem was back.  It took us over 2 hours to find the problem having isolated the issue to the platform board - 4 bits of straight track, how could that be the problem?  After much re-gapping of copper clad sleepers and other investigative work I took the decision to start unsoldering feeds to try and find the problem.  The first two wires I unsoldered fixed the problem!  We still don't know the cause of the problem but suspect that it was to do with copper clad sleepers touching at board joins, the unsoldered feed meaning it must have been the long siding. 

All this meant that the first time a loco made it around the layout was a grand 4 minutes before the exhibition opened to the public!

All this also meant that the time we had put aside to add decoders and test a couple of other locos was lost - no Merddin, 138 or 87 - sorry!

We gradually built up the running, starting with just light engine movements.  Issues with scenery fouling the stock were easily solved but frustrating for the crowd watching.  I also had to snip off the ends of the tortoise motor arms as they fouled on loco cow catchers.  Worse was to come though as a number of carriages locked on the curves and caused problems and it was a tad embarrassing at times.  However we soon took the carriages that were causing the problems out of service and everything settled down.  That is until the only NGG16 we actually had running failed.  The rear unit stopped completely and all attempts to solve the problem including outside thoughts were ultimately fruitless. 

Having now got the beast home, I have found that the motor is dead - how unlucky is it for that to happen during the exhibition!

So, in the end we ran with a few really good diesels and a smaller than expected stock and by the afternoon things were looking up.  The WHR/FR stand was also attracting much interest/questions too, so we did a good job of advertising the railways!  We were also able to show 138 and K1, although not as runners.

There are a number of areas where learnings from the grand test will be enacted though:

- The alignment at the north end of the platform is too complex, mainly caused by swapping from crazy to mainline peco points.  This needs much more thought and at the moment I expect that I will extend the board by a foot or so and straighten out the end of the platform so that the curves out of the station are more manageable and the board joins are much closer to parallel to the board edge.

- The N gauge points in the hidden sidings struggled, especially the farish ones and fettling/replacement will be necessary plus proper testing(!)

- Certain carriages need greater gaps between adjacent carrs and changes to their pivots which on some do not allow the bogies to swivel easily enough.  Washers, filing and a bit of oiling can solve this.

- Some vehicles need extra weight, but we also need to be careful about the total weight of trains, as Vale of Ffestiniog couldn't pull 5 WHR saloons up the gradients on the layout.

I would like to thank many readers of this blog and others who commented on the scenery and stock despite the running issues.  Indeed it appears that railway modeller are interested in featuring the layout in a future issue too, so it must have looked alright.  I was delighted by how it has turned out and was also pleased that the structure of the layout worked well, the overall lighting was good, the station lamps and point indicator lights worked well and generally the tortoises did their job.  We also managed to take the layout down and pack it away in about an hour, which I thought was good for a layout of this size.

Indeed we had some good fun - Gelert and the WHHR train was branded 'controversial' by a few and Castell Caernarfon ran superbly with it's DCC sound going well too, although the general noise in the hall made hearing it hard for most.
It's hard work an exhibition, and I have much respect for those who do it often, I suppose this one was especially hard for us given the problems, but a team of 4 worked well and we all got to see a bit of the exhibition too. 

So I shall now be taking a break from 009 as I start a new job tomorrow.  Any spare time until Christmas will be used to further 16mm projects, notably the De Winton before I return to 009 in the new year. 

I had a number of enquiries about other exhibitions, but really want to put right a lot of the issues found and that will take time.  I expect therefore to next show Rhyd Ddu in Spring 2012.

Here are some other shots:

oooh 7mm FR stuff!........

and some shots of locos that didn't quite make's 87's body:
 and Merddin:


Friday, October 29, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Things are proper crazy getting ready for expong so please don't expect much in the way of updates! Much is coming together but a number of elements won't be ready:

- Russell will appear in brass only although this should be interesting like that?!?

-Most carriages will not be glazed, have numbers/crests on or vac pipes. Time beat us.

- the backscene will be a simple blue sky

- the water towers will not feature strapping as I have decided to rebuild the supports in brass and solder it all together for extra strength. The plastic ones will be ok for now.

There is much to be excited about though - blue, red and black ngg16s, k1 in satin black (but no lining), digital sound castell Caernarfon (tested and working well today), vale in two tone green, Upnor in the new livery in green/black although maybe not with the red lining and loads of carriages and wagons meaning some interesting consists!

Do come along and say hi!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

hidden sidings progress

Nailed down, connected and wired up. Really good progress this weekend!

Also ALL board joins are now sorted, so with just a few minor electrical jobs to sort, testing can begin.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Points and plain line track arrived here is draft 1 of the marshalling yard setup.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Sorry for the lack of updates but it's frantic here and in glos. But below are some images showing amongst other things: the lighting supports installed, the new board incline added and modroc added on top and the mirror vinyl added at the end of the yard board. Getting there!

Thursday, October 14, 2010


The layout has been erected today in a major garage reorganisation job. That is all boards except the fridd board as I have decided to add two more of the breakfast bar legs to that board to make putting the layout up easier.

I am now starting the job of clamping together the new boards and drilling 10mm holes for the m10 bolts that act as alignment dowels.

I've also sourced the incline risers for the new board (there is a 24mm height drop) and some more 6mm ply to create backscene pieces for the new boards.

K1 painting – more good progress

K1 painting progress 001   K1 painting progress 004  K1 painting progress 006

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

new boards....done

The Two new boards were constructed today and all the locating pieces for static legs repositioned (5 of the 9).

Upstairs I booked the van for expoNG and also found time to drill holes for the Greenwich couplings to be used on the bugs everso often checking how many miners were safe - an incredible story just made for live tv news!

And if you're wondering what the second picture shows, I've bought an oil filled electric radiator to keep the garage at a suitable temperature!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

K1 paint progress

K1 partly painted 005 K1 partly painted 001 K1 partly painted 002

etch primer on chassis, satin black on body! nice!