Monday, 15 August 2016

Baby Deltic

Scratch/kit bashing a class 23 Baby Deltic in 3mm scale.

Whilst idly browsing and glancing at this image I was struck by the similarity between the class 23 and class 37 outline and I wondered if English Electric had used the same cab structure design for the class 23 as they did for the 37s and 40s.

Comparison of the drawings in “British Rail Main Line Diesel Locomotives” by Colin Marsden indicated that yes, they probably did.

At this point I remembered that I'd bought the L&J Models 3mm scale class 40 body kit years ago but had never built it because it has issues, and that it was now lying abandoned  in a drawer somewhere. 

I went to find it, wondering if a class 40 body can be cut and shut to make a Baby Deltic?

So, that old L&J Models body, why chop it up? Well, it was a brave effort in 3mm scale, but it has just a few too many serious issues with it, the coarseness of the detail on the cast-whitemetal bogie sideframes for example.
Happily I have no compunctions about savaging it with junior hacksaw, razor saw and engineering file. 

Referring to the drawings the body needs to be brought into the right dimensions, firstly being shortened by being cut into three sections, the two outer pieces then being rejoined and the centre section discarded.

The noses are a little more complicated; the entire nose ends are both cut off from just in front of the cab window pillars. This section is then also reduced in length, split down the middle and the two outer pieces moved outwards and re-attached. 

The large gaps resulting from all this surgery are then filled with putty, filed and sanded. The original detail is filed off and gaps are filled to give a flat, smooth surface for adding detail to.

And now, as always when modelling any Modern Image project in 3mm/TT, there’s the issue of motorisation. 

The first consideration is that the space inside the body is a little bit limited; I’d been looking at motorising the original 40 body kit using converted Tri-Ang motor bogies, but the inside roof section is a solid flat rectangular slab of resin and internal height is lost, fouling the tops of the motor bogies.

For this incarnation however I need standard 8’6” wheelbase Bo-Bo bogies, so the PIKO Taurus loco chassis fits the bill nicely.

Piko is a former East-German company that’s made good post-reuinification. Previously Piko only produced H0 and N scale, but since privatisation they have started to enter into the Continental-outline TT market at scale 1:120 with RTR products light-years ahead of the old BTTB models.

Yes, it is a shame to have to slaughter such a magnificent creature, but it's not her body that I'm interested in...

The two things that need to be addressed are that the bogie centre-to-centre dimension is wrong as the bogies need to be sitting further apart within the frame, and they will also need new sideframes.

The chassis frame itself is a one-piece casting of some kind of heavy lead-like alloy, so cutting and shaping requires a junior hacksaw and an engineering file. The loco comes with very clear diagrams on how everything fits together and how to take it apart, so the chassis is stripped bare, then cut in half with the hacksaw. 

A section of plastikard is glued in to extend the chassis length using araldite. The end sections are cut off and profiled so that they sit snugly inside the bodyshell.

Whilst everything was in still in bits the bogies were stripped by very carefully unclipping the cradle with the side frame detail from the bogies, and the side frames being removed from it with a razorsaw. One of the bogies is also going to need it's driveshaft extending as it now sits further out in the frame from the motor. (The hollow plastic tube stems left over from Chupa Chups lollipops serve this purpose very well, one of the uses of having kids...)

The cradle holds the wheels and gears in place so it’s important not to break it or cut it too much. The new sideframes will be fitted later.

The body now has the correct class 23 dimensions, and the chassis has the bogies correctly poisitioned.

The next stage is to find all those little details like shutters, louvres, fans, grilles, beading, buffers etc...

Like most modellers I rarely throw something away that might "come in useful one day", filling various old cigar and tobacco tins with endless clutter along the way.

So trawling through my various "bits" boxes turns up quite a few goodies, whitemetal bogie sideframe castings (I think from a class 20), roof panels, fan, louvres etc...  The window beading is from a class 50 kit and unfortunately a little bit over-sized, but I'm willing to live with it and don't think it will be too noticeable once they are painted black and the windows are glazed.
The chassis has had the sideframes and Bachmann couplings mounted on the bogies using araldite, and is now fully re-assembled, painted, wired and tested; runs smoothly. 

With all of the brass, whitemetal and plastikard body detailling parts fixed in place, as always with araldite, it's time to think about which locomotive in what livery I want to represent before a trip to the paintshop.

Without hesitation it has to be 9509. This was the only member of the class to receive the BR Corporate Blue livery, the 9 other members of the class staying in green right up to the end. 

It was also the last class 23 in service, being withdrawn on the 7th of March 1971. (So she also outlived pounds, shillings and pence by a fortnight, decimalisation day having been in mid February of 1971.)

As the lightest colour, yellow goes first, then it's masked off with tape and two coats of Railmatch BR blue aerosol applied. Decals are from the 3mm Society Modern Image transfers sheet and a coat of matt varnish seals everything. Glazing, hand rails and a little weathering are the final tasks.

Glazing is a mixture of liquid PVA-based in the side windows, and individually shaped "flush glaze" in the cab screen windows. These require a lot of patience and good magnification as 6 little individual rounded shapes have to be formed with a needle file out of tiddly little transparent squares cut from strips of clear pastic salvaged from Ferrero Rocher boxes;

Oops, did I just see you file too much off 'cos your concentration wandered for just a moment? Scratch the surface with the file by mistake? One just went "ping" to infinity from the tweezers when after hours of concentration you were just about to trial-fit it? Start again! :-)

Overall it's not a bad depiction of a Baby Deltic I feel. (Possibly unique in 3mm scale?) Yes I have had to make a few compromises in some of the detail, but there's far less wrong than if I had built the 40 as was.

Her first operational running was on Jim Barry's "Norton Foldate & Aldgate Hill" and even though the PIKO chassis has been considerably chopped about, it still runs just as smoothly as when first out of the box. Very good slow running, sure-footed over pointwork and steady output from a motor with two flywheels.

And just to prove that certain modelling techniques are equally applicable in scale 12" to 1ft even when using heavier materials and tools, take a look at this project:

Monday, 28 December 2015

Biog: Howard Love

Howard is another stalwart of the 3mm Society, a member since 1969 and a regular competitor and winner of the AGM "Ralph Murfitt trophy" buildings and structures competition, having won it 8 times. 

How did you get started in 3mm scale?

I have always had a preference for smaller scale models. I was born in London during the War and had a typical modellers’ childhood; clockwork Hornby, Rovex/Tri-Ang, with excursions into card Micro models, Airfix, and model Aircraft.

When Tri-Ang introduced TT3 in the 1950's it was a size that suited my parent’s house and I soon purchased a Jinty and some lengths of Wrenn and Welkut track. To me it still is the “Goldilocks” scale; not too big, not too small, but just right. I continued modelling during my student years, mainly layouts of small branch lines, as was the custom of the 1960's.

I originally joined the 3mm Society in 1969 purely for the “Mixed Traffic” magazine after having seen publicity in the model railway press for the new Local Area group being set up in Manchester. So I was very surprised one day by Derek Samson knocking at my front door and inviting me to the group meeting, which I continued to attend for many happy years. 
Howard (l) and Iain Rice (r)
Okehampton c.1981

What gauge do you model?

12mm gauge because of my stock built over the years being compatible with the Tri-Ang that I started out with. But if I was starting out in 3mm over again I would opt for 14.2mm finescale from the outset - the gauge/rail ratio is so much more convincing. I think that future developments in our scale will probably be in that direction. 

What period do you model? 

Generally I model the GWR circa 1920, but not dogmatically. I'm quite flexible on the period, having a range of locos and stock dating from about 1890 to the 1930's. I'm also building up a collection of LMS, and SR locos with their trains. 
The architecture on my layout is based on the late Victorian/Edwardian period, as are the figures, with a fairly neutral pre 1920 style of clothing.
The figures are individually sculpted in Milliput and Bruce Hoyle (of the 3mm Society) cast them for me. There must be several hundred on the layout by now, with more yet to be added. 

You bring a unique artistic and architectural eye to your modelling, how did your method develop?

I started out studying Art and Design at Art College. Throughout my career I have always worked in associated areas, initially advertising and book illustration, followed by twenty years in teaching of both children and adults and latterly as a free-lance artist in England, and now in France. A lot of my commissions were for large highly-detailed house portraits, and a range of architecturally-correct ceramic models. 
Modelling buildings has developed over my years working in 3mm. As I wanted to build larger layouts including villages and towns I had to develop methods to enable me to do this as there were no commercially available products. (With the exception of BIlteezi 3mm scale card kits, which appeared on just about every 3mm layout!) Home-made designs failed to convince me and I progressively turned towards using photographs of actual buildings and making my own drawings.
I found printed brick paper too flat and plastic sheet brick work too rounded and the mortar lines exaggerated. So I started scoring 1mm lines in shellac-prepared 1mm card (left-over mounting board.) After the horizontals I added some vertical score lines. An overall brick colour was then applied, not as a flat surface but with subtle colour changes. Individual bricks were then picked out in a range of related colours and tones. Windows and door frames are cut from 0.5mm card, pre-painted and cut out with a sharp craft scalpel.
Most buildings are box structures, but if I find them too flimsy I reinforce them with internal partitions. Lintels and sills are added as separate layers. The fun part for me comes with cutting out and applying all the "tiddlybits", such as decorative mouldings, plinths, window details, signboards and assorted lettering. Glazing material comes from the plastic boxes that delicious French pastries come in.
This is finally followed by weathering. I remember post-war London as being almost in black and white or dull sepia. Together with the horrific air pollution of the late Victorian period this has lead me to use a toned down and subdued palette of colours - less Downton Abbey, more Ripper St, crossed with Peaky Blinders!
I then photograph the model in daylight. When viewed on the computer I can examine the differences between the original and the model, to see what modifications could be made. 

Are there any individual buildings that you are particularly proud of?

Without a doubt the model of my wife's family home in South Chorlton, a large Victorian building which was the local undertakers. I examined various old family photos and a series of drawings done by my wife as a young art student.
Conversations with family members gave me further details about the garden, rabbit hutches and the coffin-making work shop and I made very detailed scale plans before starting construction.
The model was a “thank you” for her patience and support towards my hobby (sometimes more like an obsession!). Over the years we have always managed to find a house with a spare room or space for a layout. She is also my sternest critic, coolly pointing out any errors or weaknesses I have tried to overlook.
Another favourite is a model of a dilapidated barn, based on one that we renovated many years ago. In fact I've modelled most of the houses we've ever lived in!

How did you come to be in France?

Various factors came together in the early 1990's leading to a general disenchantment with life in the UK and the 18% mortgage rates of the time. At the time we already had an old farmhouse in the isolated backwoods of southern Brittany which we used as a base for holiday "indoor camping", so with early retirement and a small pension we decided to opt for a simpler lifestyle and use the farmhouse to continue doing freelance work and base ourselves in France. 
The house was very primitive by modern standards, and generally still is! But the past 25 years have been a very interesting and rewarding experience. Unfortunately this means I normally work in isolation with few contacts with other modellers, apart from the annual excursion back to the UK to attend the 3mm Society AGM. One particular feature of the house is the old cowshed, which now houses my layout.

The Cowshed layout.

The Cowshed Layout, AKA Long Acre Road, is the latest and perhaps the last of a long line of layouts down the years in modelling 3mm. After dissatisfaction with end-to-end branch lines, I headed towards continuous-run type layouts.

When we first moved here the farmhouse had a large back shed, 40ft x 15ft, where I rapidly started on an ambitious layout; four track long runs in the style of Sonning Cutting, with a large junction station, and in the central length a long branch line, a terminus, and a clay wharf with jetties and ships.

It was great fun watching long double headed passenger or goods trains vanishing off into the distance. Unfortunately this layout was destroyed overnight during a violent storm when the roof of the shed was ripped off and timbers, masonry and slates rained down on the layout. Some of the buildings survived purely by chance, but I was finding wagons and coaches in the garden for days later.
After a pause of a few months Ann suggested that we could convert the cowshed, (part of the main building, and conveniently next to the Kitchen) which would give me 21ft x 21ft. Preparatory work included knocking a doorway through a three foot crumbling stone wall to gain access and it was six months before I was able to start work on the baseboards in the year 2000.

The layout is standard 12mm gauge, using Society track and hand built points (based on C&L 16.5 plans, reduced down by 25%). The 40 odd points are controlled by the 'push pull' system with built-in polarity switches, or at a distance using the old but reliable H&M motors. (Many thanks must go to Bruce Smetham for his expertise in wiring up the layout using Cab control.)
To the right of the lifting bridge as you go in there is a double track, brick-built viaduct, running some 16 to 17 feet  almost along the length of the room.
In front of the viaduct is my version of a Victorian/Edwardian high street in a small market town, with a Town Hall, Hotel and Pubs and numerous houses and shops.
To the right-hand side of the front past the canal the buildings become more industrial with factories and warehouses. At the rear, behind the viaduct is another raised area, almost 8ft long, representing more industrial developments with a track and a couple of sidings. Like many areas of the layout, this is still being developed.
Continuing left leads to the board containing the principal station. At the end, and behind the viaduct, there is a small park, almost hidden. 
On the other side of the road is a row of Edwardian semi-detached houses next to a church, constructed from a modified 4mm scale Bilteeze kit.
The Station building is an enlarged version of Much Wenlock, with the usual associated buildings, goods shed, stables, engine shed coaling stage etc. 
A spur  in front of the engine shed leads to the site of a future gas works. Large tin cans currently crudely represent the positions of future gasometers.
Further to the left, against the corner are rows of terraced house backs, based on Bilteeze card kits, with added weathering and detailing. Multiple tracks lead from the station to the third side of the room, containing eight storage loops for complete rakes of passenger and freight stock.
After completion of the storage line baseboard I decided to add an extra narrow board in front. This board was dropped about 6 inches to allow me to build a six foot long Brunel wooden viaduct. This gave me the chance to extend the independant branch line.
To complicate matters further I have added a replacement brick viaduct under construction, showing the building of brick arches with their wooden formers, using reference from early Victorian photographs.
The fourth board is a rural landscape. On leaving the tunnel the mainline double track and the branchline cross a pair of bridges over a river, the branch line crosses over a latticework bridge and the mainline over a girder bridge. The station is based on Abbotsbury.
Over the past 15 years the layout has reached a fairly advanced state, but is still nowhere near finished. The range of locos include commissioned pieces by Iain Rice and by a friend. Other locos are built from kits in white metal, resin and etched brass and a few scratch built. 
Coaching stock has been built over many years and the current range of stock is mainly based on Etched brass kits from various sources including Worsley Works and 3mm society kits. There are a couple that were home etched items made as experiments many years ago. The freight stock is unremarkable, again plastic and etched kits and some modified Tri-Ang. I have also built a rake of outside frame parcel vans from card.

What aspect of modelling do you find particularly satisfactory or rewarding?

Every model, be it loco, wagon, coach, building or whatever gives me satisfaction (after the trials and tribulations of the build!). The excitement of starting a project, and the relief of finishing it gives me the motivation to go on to the next one.
Each model has it's own little part in the overall “master plan”. If I become stuck or frustrated during a project I move on to something else for a while, and then come back to it later.  Although I live physically out of contact with other modellers, it is nice to have the virtual community of the on-line 3mm Society e-group as a source of advice and discussion which has often pointed me in the right direction. 

Do you model in any other scale apart from 3mm, or outside model railways?

A little, and then mainly only for friends; I built an O gauge diesel shunter in card, which actually looked quite tidy when it was finished, Abbotsbury Station in 4mm, and a rather complicated LNER Suburban Station in 2mm.

I also dabbled a bit with a small EM gauge shunting layout to explore 4mm scale, but this didn't develop further, and a long time ago I briefly tried a garden railway but this was cut short by moving house.
I find there is enough variety of subject matter in building a layout, apart from the railway aspect, such as the vernacular architecture, road transport, which includes buses and lorries, and horse drawn vehicles, to form a separate hobby.
I can imagine myself being completely sidetracked into building hansom cabs, steam driven lorries, open deck buses and trams! But I try to discipline myself to concentrate on the needs of the current layout.
The destroyed layout had clay loading wharves, so I had built a small steam cargo vessel, a small paddle steamer, and a sailing barge. This was a new area of modelling for me and I found it a delightful change from what I had been doing previously.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in 3mm scale?

I would suggest starting with a basic plastic kit to get the feel of the scale, followed by making up small modules using standard or finescale track to see what suited your level of skill. I've always started by reading about a new area of interest in books or magazines, and by talking to as many people as possible to get the benefit of their experience in things such as chasis construction, or different types of gear boxes. All of my models are based on plans, and photographic reference material.
Apart from some school metalwork classes which I had in the last century, some engineering training would have been welcome. Chassis building requires much higher levels of accuracy than I am accustomed to when just chopping card.

Theory is all very well, but only by doing it, and accepting that your first efforts will probably end up in the bin, do you progress. I have had to learn by practical experience, and trial and error. As an old teacher once said to me about motivating pupils, "Success breeds success" Seeing a new scratch-built loco or a rake of coaches running around the layout is deeply satisfying.

If I lent you a magic wand, what product for 3mm scale would you magic into existence?

My magic wand would lead back towards the time of white metal kits, this was a technique that I feel was under-exploited. The early loco kits were simple models to construct, but capable of being detailed to a reasonable level. Alan Searle’s model of the 45xx loco indicated what could be achieved in white metal and requiring only moderate modelling skills. I feel that there is a gap in the market between the basic cast models and the more demanding and complex etched-brass. I imagine that in the near future hi-definition 3D printing will play a major role in kit production, probably as hybrid kits combining etched or resin components as it may not be the entire solution.

More patience for myself would also come in handy!

God is in his Kingdom, and all's right with the world.