Saturday, November 22, 2014

Painted Sheds

Having been side tracked by building some OO9 gauge track, I've finally gone back and painted the two N gauge sheds built from the Severn Models kit. Both models involved me trying a new technique in their painting.

I painted the walls and door of the wooden shed using my standard approach for aged wood which has worked well on the OO9 wagons I've recently been building. This seems to work well for N gauge buildings as well. When it came to the roof, however, I wasn't happy with the very flat look of painted brass. To add a little texture I painted it with RailMatch roof dirt and then blew on a small amount of polyfilla while the paint was still wet. Once the paint had dried I then painted it again to cover the white plaster. This seems to have given a nice surface, although I don't think the same would work in 4mm scale as the texture would still be fairly smooth.

I've never tried painting red brick before and the second shed caused quite a few problems. I tried a number of different approaches before I settled on something that mostly worked. In the end I painted the walls with RailMatch dark brick, and then used thinned down RailMatch weathered stone run into the mortar gaps. A final patchy black wash made things look nice and dirty. The corrugated roof was initially painted with roof dirt before a dry brushing of Model Color London grey. This gave a nice approximation of new corrugated tin which was then aged using repeated applications of MIG Productions standard rust effects.

While I did enjoy building and painting these sheds, the slight detour back to N gauge modelling has confirmed that I'm much happier working at 4mm to the foot scale so I don't think I'll be returning to N gauge at any future point.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Track Painting

While I was more than happy with my first attempt at track building clearly it needed painting as sleepers are never copper coloured and the rail is never that shiny.

The first job though was to fill the gaps I'd had to file in the sleepers and I did this using some perfect plastic putty from Deluxe Materials which was filed smooth once it had set. The rails were then given a good clean before I tried something new; metal black.

When I built Jerusalem I painted the rails but it wasn't exactly a success. I found that the paint wouldn't stick well to the rails and tended to flake off over time. This time I decided to try using a chemical to blacken the rails instead, specifically I'm using Carr's metal black for nickel silver which I picked up from C&L Finescale along with the track. The health warnings on the bottle were almost enough to put me off using it, but I gently applied it to the rail using cotton wool buds. I was amazed just how quickly it works, but you do have to make sure the rail is very clean as I found any bits that weren’t were impervious to the chemical and stayed shiny. Once I was happy with the colouring I then applied some Carr's Electrofix to seal everything. Electrofix has a misleading name in that it doesn't actually conduct electricity, so I then buffed the railtops using a coffee stirrer which removed the electrofix and some of the blackening to give a used look to the rails. The final step was to paint the sleepers which I did using RailMatch sleeper grime.

Amazingly after all that the rails still conduct power nicely and the locomotive still moves, and I think the whole thing looks much more convincing than the ready-to-run track I was using before.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Go Your Own (Permanent) Way

As Paul was kind enough to turn me a set of brass track gauges I no longer have any excuse for not trying to hand build some OO9 gauge track. Paul has already used his gauges to build a working point, but I decided to start with something a little simpler; a 30cm straight piece of track.

Of course, deciding to have a go at making my own track was the easy part, working out which parts I was going to use was a bit harder. The easy part was the sleepers. I'm using 3mm wide strips of copper clad PCB cut to a length of approximately 19.25mm (based on a couple of measurements from some PECO stuff I had kicking around). The rail was a lot harder though. The OO9 gauge track I've bought previously uses code 80 rail. The rails are measured in 1/1000's of an inch, so code 80 is 0.080" high. For a light railway this looks a little on the large side and many people use a lighter rail. For example, Paul used code 55 steel rail to build his point, which is 0.055" high. The problem I had was that I wanted to avoid using steel rail as previous experience shows that it does corrode over time, much more so than modern nickel silver rail. In the end I've compromised and used code 60 nickel silver rail from PECO. This rail (PECO IL-1) is a little odd in that it is designed to be used for either Z gauge (which is really tiny) or as conductor rail in 4mm, but it seems perfect for OO9. C&L Finescale stock both the sleepers and the rail and so an order was placed.

Once the parts turned up the first job was to cut the sleepers. The copper clad PCB turns up in strips the right width (3mm) but 17" in length. Fortunately a razor saw cuts through the PCB easily, the problem is how to cut consistent lengths. I could have just measured the strip and marked it up, but I decided I'd make up a little jig to aid the process. This jig sits nicely in my small mitre box and when pushed up against the blade of the razor saw ensures a consistent sleeper length. Once I'd cut a couple of strips into separate sleepers, I then turned to building the track.

I started by drawing up a template on the computer to aid in positioning the sleepers and rails. This was easy for a straight section, but if want to build more complex track in the future will need a little more thought. The sleepers were then stuck to the template using double sided tape, and then the first rail was soldered in place, using coffee stirrers to hold it down while I applied the soldering iron. Once the first rail was soldered to every sleeper I could move on to the tricky bit of adding the second rail.

It turned out that with the track gauges Paul had made me, and some more coffee stirrers, fitting the second rail was nice and straightforward and before long I had something that actually looked like a piece of track. Even better a quick test with a wagon and it looked like it might actually work too. What I'd forgotten to do though was to file a gap into each sleeper to ensure that the rails weren't electrically joined. Fortunately on the straight track it was fairly easy to get a file in between the rails to remove some of the copper; in the future I'll definitely be doing this before I solder the rails down. Finally I removed the track from the template, soldered a wire to each rail and then had a go with letting an actual locomotive run along the track.

I opted to try it out with the small diesel I built from the Narrow Planet kit, as the motor would be a lot easier to replace if everything went wrong than it would on the Quary Hunslet, but fortunately, as you can see, it all worked perfectly. In it's current form the track isn't going to win any beauty contests but it should clean up nicely and now I know that I can at least build plain track which is useable so I'll call that success.

Monday, November 17, 2014


Given how much "fun" people had guessing the use for a pile of plastic tagliatelle I thought I'd show you the small jig I've just put together to help with another modelling task. So does anyone know what I'm using this for?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Canopus: Three Out of Four Ain't Bad

Just a short update on Canopus today. If you remember the last time we saw Canopus I'd fixed the retaining nuts for the coupling rods on using threadlocker and everything still seemed to work. Well today I've gone one step further and trimmed the crank pins and filed down the retaining nuts. Amazingly it all still works.

I did have one small problem in that one of the four retaining nuts came loose once I'd filed it down. I'm guessing I'd not got the threadlocker all the way along the thread. Worse when trying to reattach it, the now very thin nut, went pinging off across my study, destination unknown. With some difficulty I managed to get a new nut on to the tiny remaining crank pin along with lots of threadlocker. I then filed this nut down. Unfortunately once filed down it was also loose, so this one has been soldered in place.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Tiny Brick Shed

Okay, so I'm easily seduced by shiny brass models.

This one went together just as easily as the wooden shed. I haven't started painting either of them yet as I haven't been at home when it hasn't been raining so I've been unable to spray them with primer. Hopefully the weather will improve and I can finish these off soon. I did, however, pick up a pot of RailMath Dark Brick (#2424) on the way home so I think I now have the paints I need to paint both models.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Tiny Wooden Shed

So here we have the first of the two sheds from the Severn Models kit I showed you yesterday. As expected it went together nice and easily. I soldered everything but the barge boards (just too fiddly) even though the instructions say to just use glue. In retrospect I think this was a good idea as I had problems with the barge boards as the superglue took an awful long time to grab properly. As you can see it really is tiny, given that it's sat on a 50p piece.

So that's half the kit built (there is the brick shed to go) and I think we can agree it builds up into a nice model. I'll paint this one next before building the other shed, as I know how to paint old looking wood, but I've no idea how to go about painting brick work.