Monday, July 6, 2015

Just Rust

I grabbed a few minutes today (spread out a bit) to have a crack at another experiment which I'll need for the bridge I'm planning for ExpoNG. I'm reasonably happy with adding rust as a detail to a model but I've never tried to paint an entire item completely rusty. There are plenty of rust coloured paints and washes available but the problem is you need texture as well as colour variation as a well rusted surface tends to be pitted. On the bridge I'm modelling there is quite a lot of rusty girders and flat-bottomed rail so I needed to experiment a little.

What you are looking at here is a piece of girder at the back (which is just 3.2mm tall) and a piece of code 60 rail at the front. Both have been treated in the same way. To get the pitted effect I first sprayed on a layer of red oxide primer before gently sprinkling on some light weight hydrocal casting powder (it was the finest stuff I had to hand that didn't want to clump) to the wet paint. I then knocked off most of the powder, allowed the paint to dry for a second or so and then sprayed a second layer of primer. This seems to give a really nice texture although I might have added a bit too much powder to the rail sides. Once this was all dry I liberally dabbed on some MIG Productions Standard Rust Effects which provided some nice variation in colouring and shading. I then dry-brushed on a small amount of RailMatch Light Rust (#2404), before some final dabs of a rust wash from Flory Models.

The photo is very unforgiving and from a normal viewing distance the texture is less pronounced and I'm fairly happy with how they look.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Having really enjoyed my trip to the 009 Society AGM back in April I've made the decision to attend the other big narrow gauge modelling show of the year, ExpoNG, at the end of October. As well as going to enjoy the modelling on show and to socialise I'm also hoping to have the kit for the Hudson-Hunslet ready by then as well which if it's a success will help with the expense of getting to Kent for the show.

ExpoNG presents a number of awards each year for layouts but they also have an open modelling competition, the Dave Brewer Memorial Challenge. Unlike the 009 Society competition this isn't just about locomotives or rolling stock and in fact the rules change every year. This year the competition is all about building a bridge. Specifically the rules are:
  1. The model bridge may use any scale and gauge combination, as long as it represents a narrow (ie less than 4 ft 8.5 ins) gauge, with a maximum gauge of 45 mm.
  2. The model can be any type of over or under-bridge and should be complete with abutments and track.
  3. The model may be wholly scratch-built, or use parts from kits or commercial models, but no unaltered kits or commercial models can be entered.
  4. To ensure we can fit entries into the available space please use these maximum sizes:
    1. 50 cm by 25 cm by 35 cm high for gauges 32 mm and above, to a maximum of 45 mm.
    2. 40 cm by 20 cm by 25 cm high for gauges 14 mm and above, but less than 32 mm.
    3. 30 cm by 15 cm by 20 cm high for gauges 9 mm and above, but less than 14 mm.
    4. 20 cm by 10 cm by 15 cm high for all gauges below 9 mm.
  5. The model should not have been entered in any previous competition.
  6. To be eligible, completed entry forms must be received by 31st August 2015.
  7. To be eligible, models must be presented for judging at Expo Narrow Gauge 2015.
  8. A prize, including one year’s subscription to Narrow Gauge World, will be awarded to the winner.
  9. The judges’ decision is final.
Given that I still find producing effective scenery a lot more challenging that building wagons etc. I thought building a small diorama (with a bridge) to a deadline would be a good idea. I had originally thought about building something in O14 so I would have somewhere to display the Clayton battery locomotive, but as I'll be travelling down on the train I'm thinking a small diorama would be better especially as it's going to need a sturdy box to transport it.

I have decided what I'm modelling but for now I'm planning on keeping it as a surprise for the day. I will, however, blog about the build as I go along as there will be a number of experiments that I'll need to make before committing to the final version. Without describing the bridge in detail I can say it's fairly decrepit looking and crosses peat coloured water. This means that I need to be able to model (among other things) peaty water and sleepers that have been weathered almost to a silver colour.

Having never tried to model water before I decided that this was likely to be the main problem I'd have to overcome. There are a number of products available for modelling water but they all seem to produce crystal clear water which isn't what I wanted. Asking around on the forums and most people suggested that I'd be best using a number of layers of yacht varnish to create the effect I wanted but I've never had much luck varnishing furniture so I didn't really fancy this route. The other option was to add colour between layers or into the water products, but again I couldn't find many people who had done this to model what I was after; the one exception being the stream on Tom Dauben's Dunbracken layout (a good photo of the stream can be found here). Tom told me that he'd used the Woodland Scenics Realistic Water and Water Effects products to create the stream with colouring applied to the stream bed and between a few layers. Armed with this information I set out to do an experiment or two.

My original intention had been to paint the stream bed (in this experiment a bit of white card) and then pour the water to see how it worked, but while browsing in WH Smiths I discovered that Winsor & Newton do a peat brown ink. So armed with the ink, some paints, and the Realistic Water I did an experiment. I first painted patches of the ink and burnt umber acrylic paint on the cardboard. I then coloured the water using a few drops of ink before pouring it onto the cardboard (the weird chunk at the top I'll come back to). The colour looks better in real life and what I've found is that the ink works well not just for colouring the water but helping simulate depth where I used it to paint the cardboard. the burnt umber patch seems too dark and different from the water to be believable, although that could just be because you can see the edges so clearly. The weird chunk is because I had a little bit of the mixture left so added a bit more ink to make it darker and then left it to dry in the pot. Once dried I removed it from the pot and decided it was way too dark. Unfortunately I then put it down on top of the experimental pour and left it there overnight. The following morning it was stuck. Anyway I'm really happy with this first experiment. Obviously I'll need to repeat it using some proper scenic materials (i.e. plaster) for the stream bed, and probably multiple layers of water to get more depth but it certainly appears to have promise.

As some of you may remember it took me quite a few attempts to get a well worn wood effect sorted when painting wagons and they are a very different colour than exposed sleepers would turn (or at least I think so looking at photos etc.), so I wasn't looking forward to coming up with a new approach, but I think I've found something that works reasonably well.

The sleepers aren't the right size as I just chopped up and distressed some coffee stirrers but hopefully the painting will work regardless of the size. I started by soaking them for a minute or so in a 10:1 mixture of isopropanol and Indian ink. This doesn't turn them jet black but allows the ink to settle into distressed bits of wood quite well. I then painted the sleeper using the peat brown ink used for the water. The black sections show through giving a nice variation and depth to the cracks etc. I then followed this by dry brushing with dark sand, ivory, and finally gun metal. This approach seems to work nicely as close to you can see lots of the grain and colour variation, yet when viewed from a distance, especially with the light falling on them, they look very light in colour which matches what I was hoping for.

So I might not have actually modelled anything but hopefully I now have a good idea of most of the techniques (although not all) that I'll need to complete the bridge for the challenge.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

3D Printed Wagons Printed in 2D

Some of you might remember that back in October last year I blogged about a model of the 3 sided breaker wagon from Trevor Quarry. Given that the drawings I used came from the sample issue of NG&IRM Review I thought it was worth writing the process up as an article for the magazine. I submitted the article late last year to favourable comments from the editor, Bob Barlow, and the article has now appeared in print in issue 102.

The issue was actually issued back at the end of April, but unfortunately due to a mistake at the printers, and Bob's untimely death, it has taken a while before I finally got my subscription copy. It's strange seeing the article in print as a few editorial changes have been made to it; not all of which I would necessarily agree with.

I publish articles fairly frequently in academic journals but in those cases whilst the editor may often request or suggest changes they never actually edit an article; the authors have the final say on the content. The audience of a modelling magazine and an scientific journal are very different and the different approaches are perfectly understandable and it clearly hasn't put me off as I already have an idea for another article.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Clayton Battery Electric Locomotive No. 5843

While work is still ongoing to turn the Hudson-Hunslet into a kit I've already started work on designing another model. As with the Hudson-Hunslet I've picked something with local interest; this time to where I live now rather than where I grew up.

As I've mentioned a number of times before the Penistone line from Hudersfield to Sheffield runs along the bottom of our garden. Until 1981 the line also formed part of the Woodhead route between Sheffield and Manchester. The line to Manchester branched from the current line at Penistone and climbed into the Peak District where it entered a tunnel at Dunford Bridge before reappearing at Woodhead and continuing to Glossop and on to Manchester. Since the line originally opened in 1845 there have been three parallel tunnels built. The original tunnel was joined by a second one in 1853 and a new tunnel replaced both of these in 1953 when the line was electrified. When the new tunnel opened in 1954 the two Victorian tunnels were closed and the track lifted and they remained unused until 1966.

In 1963 the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB), now known as the National Grid, announced that they wanted to construct an overhead power line linking Thorpe Marsh power station in Yorkshire with Staylbridge in Cheshire. There was significant public objections, however, to allowing pylons to be built within the Peak District and eventually the CEGB decided to route the cables through the old Victorian railway tunnels. As part of this work a 2 foot gauge railway was installed within the northern of the two tunnels to ease access. A number of locomotives have worked this line but my interest has been caught by Clayton battery electric locomotive works number 5843 which was a one off variant of a standard Clayton design using larger wheels to give a higher top speed.

The locomotive was delivered new in 1971 and withdrawn, I believe, sometime during the 1990's. It's now owned by the Moseley Railway Trust who purchased it in 2000. Amazingly these two photos are the only colour images I've been able to find of it in use prior to preservation (there is a black and white photo in issue 77 of the Industrial Railway Society journal). It's not just photos of the locomotive that are hard to find though. Given how much interest there is in the standard gauge Woodhead route I can find almost no published accounts of the 2 foot gauge railway that replaced it. I'm guessing this is mostly due to only short sections at either end of the tunnel being visible to the public and both of these are in fairly out of the way places. If you happen to know of any more details on the line, the locos or the rolling stock I'd appreciate it if you could leave a comment.

Fortunately, while details of it in active use might be scarce I already had a set of drawings done by Jeremy Tilston in 2005 and these have allowed me to make a start on a model. Currently progress is only virtual as I'm again intending to 3D print the majority of the model.

There are still a few details to add before I order a print but the render on the left seems to be a good representation. My plan is to print it in two halves; a chassis (in orange) to which all the mechanical parts will be fitted and then an upper body (in yellow) which will slide over the motor and be secured by two screws. What you can't tell from the images is that this model is in a new scale for me.

I really wanted to produce a model of this locomotive in OO9, the same scale as the Hudson-Hunslet, unfortunately it just wasn't possible. On the Hudson-Hunslet the motor just fitted within the bodywork, unfortunately on this locomotive there isn't enough space in OO9 to fit even a 6mm x 10mm motor horizontally within the body and if fitted vertically the driveshaft would be almost touching the rail and two low to drive the layshaft. This means I've had to move up a scale and this model is designed for O14. For those not familiar with this scale it models narrow gauge in O scale (7mm to the foot) using 14mm gauge track. This has the advantage of being an accurate representation of 2 foot gauge railways. Even in this larger scale the model is very small and in fact won't be much bigger than the OO9 Hudson-Hunslet!

Of course having never modelled in O14, or any scale larger than 4mm to the foot, I'm going to have to see what modelling skills work in a larger scale and which need some more thought. I'm also going to need to build some 14mm gauge track to test it on. I can see months of fun ahead!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

Since the weekend I visited Rainford when I messed up the pickups on the Hudson-Hunslet there hasn't been much time for doing any modelling. Today though I set myself the challenge of fixing the pickups once and for all.

My hunch was that the 0.112mm phosphor bronze wire I had was perfect as it was springy enough while having a tiny surface area so as not to introduce lots of extra friction. What I realised this morning was that as the wire came as a coil it naturally curves in one direction and so is springier when fitted one way as compared with the other. Last time I think I had it curving away from the wheels as that was the most natural direction given where the pickups are mounted. This time I've fitted it so that it is always wanting to curl towards the wheel instead. Fingers crossed this seems to work really well as even though it moves about a bit as the wheels turn it naturally springs back and continues to press on the treads. With such a light but continuous contact I've found that the slow running has also improved considerably.

So having finally solved that problem I think I'm now happy with all the current prototype parts; the chassis is easy to put together, the etches fit the body print and nicely reproduce the makers name on the front, and it moves as it can collect power! So the next step will be packaging things up as a kit and working out how much interest their is so I can figure out the size of the first batch.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Setting the Bar

As I mentioned in the previous post the newest prototype of my Hudson-Hunslet diesel locomotive wasn't behaving very well and so spent most of it's time at Rainford last weekend in the Narrow Planet display case. This meant though that I didn't need to leave the first prototype on display in the same place. Instead I put it on display in the 009 Society display case which meant it was entered into the modelling competition. Unfortunately I had to leave before the results were announced, although after the judging had taken place. It turns out that people really do like it!

I actually found out earlier in the week that it was awarded runner up in its class (Internal Combustion Locomotives) but it was nice to have the confirmation arrive in the post today. Given that this is only the third locomotive I've finished, in any scale, and the first one I've designed myself I'm really impressed that people seem to like it so much. It does mean that I've set the bar rather high though for any future models I build or design. I'm hoping it wasn't just beginners luck and that I'll be able to hone my skills and maybe one day produce an even better model for the competition.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Snug as a Bug

So having received the updated etches I started to build up the second Hudson-Hunslet body. This time I had a deadline as I wanted to take them to the 009 Society AGM held at Rainford last weekend. Unfortunately with pressures of both work and family that didn't actually leave me very much time for modelling. By Friday night though I had a second assembled and painted prototype. Unfortunately when fitting the body to the chassis I managed to mess up the pickups (I actually drew blood by stabbing myself with the end of the pickup wire). I did my best to quickly sort them out and packed both locos nicely in a box for the Saturday.

Unfortunately the damage to the pickups was worse than I had thought and while it did run briefly on James' Creech Bottom layout (thanks James) it didn't behave well enough to earn itself a place on the layout for long and it spent the rest of the day in and out of the Narrow Planet display case as a steady stream of people came and admired it. Many of them also gave lots of useful advice regarding the pickups so I've a few more ideas to try. If you were one of the people I chatted with thanks for taking the time to talk to me. It was a really great day and by far the friendliest model railway show I've ever been to.

I did get the chance to wonder and take a few photos (although somehow I managed not to buy anything) so hopefully there will be another blog post at some point.