Archive for the ‘Haverfordwest’ Category

Revolution Trains TEA Oil Tanker Wagon

20 October 2016
The new wagon straight out of the box

The new wagon straight out of the box

Two weeks ago I had a nice surprise in the post, a parcel with a box of three TEA oil tanker wagons from Revolution Trains.  This is a crowd funding venture from Ben Ando and Mike Hale working with Rapido Trains who are producing a number of out of the ordinary N gauge railway wagons and locos to fill some of the gaps left by the major manufacturers.  This is the first time that I have bought something from a crowd funding source.  It has taken 18 months from placing the order to getting the models, which is a lot longer than buying something on E-Bay, but I’m told that this is a reasonable time for this sort of thing.  The main thing though is that it is a really good way to get something that other manufacturers consider not worth bothering with.

I ordered a pack of three to go on my Haverfordwest layout to add to my Murco train.  Until now the only suitable oil tanker wagons available have been the old Graham Farish ones.  They were slightly re-worked by Bachmann, with lower profile wheel flanges than the old ones from Graham Farish’s Poole factory, but are still basically the same.

The catwalks on the top of the wagon

The catwalks on the top of the wagon

It’s difficult to compare these new wagons with the old ones as it’s like comparing chalk with cheese.  One good example of this is with the catwalks at the top of the wagon.  The Farish ones are just a solid lump with surface detail, which probably was state of the art when they were first produced.  The Revolution ones though are made up from open metal mesh and so mimic the real thing and look immensely better. They also have the fuel discharge pipes that are completely missing from the Farish ones, plus a host of other details below the tank that are non-existent on the Farish ones.

A close-up of one end

A close-up of one end

The ladders at one end are nicely done.  There seems to be a good compromise between having scale thicknesses, and making them sturdy enough to be handled without the risk of falling apart.  The wagons also seem to have a complete set of markings on them.  I am a military modeller rather than a railway one, so I can’t comment on how accurate the markings are, but comparing them with the photos that I have of the real thing, Revolution Trains seem to have included all of them, and with good clear definition as well.

Time to get dirty

Time to get dirty

The only thing that I needed to do was to add a bit of grime to the wagons.  I walked past Cardiff Central station the other day and saw a train of Murco wagons going through.  I know this is now several years since these wagons came into use, but now they are absolutely covered in grime.  I spent about 20 years of my career testing petrol and diesel pumps (to check the quantity dispensed), so I do have some experience of handling petroleum products.  The main problem isn’t anything to do with stains from the fuel itself, which is either clear for petrol or golden/yellow-ish for diesel and between the two for Kerosene or Aviation Fuel, but a thin layer of fuel will run over the tops of the wagons when they are filled up at the refinery, and this thin layer of fuel acts as a magnet for any dust in the air, or anything kicked up from the railway track or brakes, or from the loco’s exhaust.

My favourite weathering material for locos and wagons are the Tamiya weathering sets, as you can see here.  They are a slightly waxy material that adheres well to the satin finish of these wagons.

Gently rubbing on the grime

Gently rubbing on the grime

The main colour that I used was “Mud.”  The Tamiya packs come with an applicator with a foam rubber pad at one end and a brush at the other.  In this pack the foam rubber pad had worn away, and so I used a cotton bud instead, which worked equally as well.  I applied the material in downward strokes, to get the streaking effect of the real thing.  You will also need to make sure that you get some around the base of the catwalks, but you need to be careful doing this.  I accidentally broke off one of the catwalk side extensions over the filler cap with some slightly too vigorous weathering.  This was easily corrected by using some Deluxe Materials Aliphatic glue applied to the pins that were put back into the holes that it came out of.  This particular adhesive sets a lot slower than any of the cyanoacrylate super glues, but you can easily wipe off any excess glue, and it dries completely clear like PVA White Wood Glue, but with a lot stronger bond.

Two filler points weathered

Two filler points weathered

In this photo you can compare the filler cap to the left that is un-weathered with the other two that have been.  For the timescale of my layout these would have been brand new wagons, and so just some light weathering was all that was needed.

And a little muck over the bogies

And a little muck over the bogies

The only other thing to do was to add some “Sand” colour to the bogies, this time using the applicator as supplied by Tamiya.  Again, just a light covering to tone down the paintwork as much as anything to represent some of the grime picked up from the brakes and track.

Weathering completed

Weathering completed

And here it is with a light coat of weathering.  All three wagons in the pack were weathered the same way, and at the same time to ensure some consistency in the finish.  The only thing left to do was to run the wagons on my Murco train on my Haverfordwest layout.

Two of the wagons on my oil train

Two of the wagons on my oil train

The delivery of these wagons was perfect timing as last weekend I exhibited my layout at the Cardiff Model Railway Exhibition as part of the South Wales MAFVA display.  I have attended this show for a number of years as a member of the public, and since starting my Haverfordwest layout I have been there for the last few years either with my layout or giving a model-making demonstration.  I always find this a really good show to attend.  Well organised and very friendly with a good selection of layouts and traders to see.  Anyway, back to my layout.

I tried several different combinations on my oil train.  Initially I had two of the new wagons together as in this photo, and later split them up in between the Graham Farish wagons.  I am pleased to say that these new wagons ran really well.  I have had to add some strips of lead to each of the Graham Farish tanker wagons as they just bounced around going over the points/turn-outs. but these Revolution Trains wagons already felt heavy enough.  By mixing the two types of wagon together on the train I didn’t have any major derailments all weekend.  Any un-couplings that I did get seemed to be between the Farish wagons.

My overall view of these Revolution Trains TEA wagons is that they are well worth the price and they certainly enhance both the appearance and running qualities of my Murco train.

The complete oil train

The complete oil train

Here you can see the complete oil train hauled by a Class 60 loco, and with the three Revolution Trains TEA wagons.  In this photo they are passing a train of Armoured Ambulance vehicles, with a train of Warriors in the sidings waiting to go into the Goods Yard.  If you want to see this layout in operation, I am displaying it at a one day show in Didcot on 29th October, and then hopefully next year at the Bristol Model Railway Exhibition in Thornbury at the end of April/beginning of May.

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Two contrasting weekends

12 May 2014
My stand at the Bristol Model Railway Exhibition

My stand at the Bristol Model Railway Exhibition

I’ve just had two very different weekends.  The weekend of Friday 2nd May through to Sunday 4th May I had a P G Models trade stand at the Bristol Model Railway Exhibition in Thornbury Leisure Centre, South Gloucestershire.  You can see my stand in the photo above.  This year I was put in a completely different spot from previous years.  This time I was in a far more prominent position, although it was a bit dark.  Next year I’ll request/pay for electrical power to lighten things up a bit.  Nevertheless, I’m very grateful to the organisers as it was a lot better position than the previous year.

Showing the completed Mexeflote for the first time

Showing the completed Mexeflote for the first time

I took along a completed Mexeflote, and much to my surprise, and despite saying that there would be a delay in supplying it, I sold one of them at the show.  You can see one of the castings with everything still attached to the sprues just above the model.  The other dioramas were the same as many other shows.  The scene based loosely on Ashchurch is quite a few years old now, but it still receives quite a bit of interest.

The other side of the stand

The other side of the stand

The other thing that was new was a new illuminated display stand.  When I was at the IPMS Scale Modelworld show in Telford last November I was a couple of stands away from Sphere Products who make a range of laser cut MDF stands for paints and modelling tools.  On their stand they had an illuminated display stand that looked interesting.  I asked about it and they agreed to make one for me.  It runs off batteries with three LEDs at the base of the transparent tube that light the thing up.  With my models so small this is a good way to raise them up to nearer eye level and is another way of showing off individual models.  In this display they were all ones where I had added transfers to them.  It made the display table look very full, but that’s not a bad thing.  Sales on the Friday and Saturday were both fairly low, but I must accept that having a model of a Mexeflote as my latest release it’s not really something that model railway enthusiasts would want, although it did raise quite a bit of interest.  What was pleasing was the Sunday where I sold more that the other two days.  The good thing about this show is that it is relatively local for me, so no hotel accommodation, nor hotel meals, and with a reasonable cost for the stand.  In the end I managed to cover my costs, so it made it worthwhile attending.  The other factor of course is that I was able to be seen by potential customers and a number of price lists were taken, with the potential for more mail order sales.

My Haverfordwest layout at the Pontypridd Model Railway Show

My Haverfordwest layout at the Pontypridd Model Railway Show

The weekend just gone was a complete contrast.  I was invited to display my Haverfordwest layout at the Pontypridd Model Railway Show.  This was held at the Crown Hill Community Hall, which is just over 1 mile from my home, and it was just a one day show on the Saturday 10th May, with setting up on the Friday afternoon/evening.

The train of Warriors entering the scene

The train of Warriors entering the scene

I like N gauge as it is a good way to display a large area in a relatively small space.  There is some compression in length by about 1 ft and in width by about 6 inches, but I’ve tried to keep things as close to reality as I can.  The downside is that being such a small scale makes it very fiddly to operate.  I set up my layout in my garage a couple of days before the show and managed to clear the ballast around some of the points that had caused problems at previous shows.  Despite that, there were numerous problems with derailments on the back of the layout.  I was helped by my friends Mike Gill, and later on Tom Watkins.  We ended up with the train of Warwells with Warriors running on the outer track going clockwise, and the oil train alternating with the Sprinter on the inner track , which should really have been the other way around, but this way things seemed to work.

Looking along the entrance roadway to the left of the layout

Looking along the entrance roadway to the left of the layout

After checking in my garage that the locos would run,  I managed to add a couple of bits.  To the extreme right of the photo you can see a wire mesh fence by the car park, which was a bit of a glaring omission.  Just in front of the two blue containers you can just about make out two gas bottle cages with 3D printed gas bottles from County Rolling Stock and fences/cages from M G Sharp.

Looking down on the Goods Yard

Looking down on the Goods Yard

I was pleased with the layout in that there were very few problems with the way the trains worked on the public side of it, which was a lot better than previous shows, but there were quite a few problems around the back of it.  I’m doing this post on the blog as a breather from putting the layout away again.  One thing I shall most definitely need to do is to re-work the rear of the layout and have another re-think about the fiddle yards (storage sidings around the back of the layout).  When I started work on this layout I didn’t know anything about fiddle yards, nor their necessity for a working layout at exhibitions.  I’ve come a long way since then, and this is still my very first model railway layout.  I’ll leave this for the next few months while I sort out the ever-growing list of orders, which I’m very pleased to have, and then I’ll see about a re-vamp of the back of the layout.

Finishing off the Station

30 May 2013

Before showing any new masters under construction I thought it would be worthwhile showing the final stages of the Haverfordwest station.  My Haverfordwest N gauge railway layout seems to be getting quite a bit of interest now that it is nearly finished.  I exhibited the layout at the Pontypridd Model Railway Club’s Exhibition a few weeks ago and following on from that show, I have now been invited to three other shows.   I shall be exhibiting it at the Newport NEON Model Railway Show this coming weekend, 1st & 2nd June, at the Lord & Butler Model Railway Exhibition in Cardiff in two weeks time over Father’s Day weekend 15th & 16th June (although nothing on their website about it yet), and also at the Penarth & Barry Model Railway Clubs Exhibition in Penarth on Sunday 21st July.

Adding a wash

Adding a wash

The station was painted with Humbrol Brick Red, and I also used a darker colour for the rows of bricks on both front and back, although this made the station look a bit stark.  In reality these are different bricks that have been laid perpendicularly, on the same level as the window sills.  In this scale though, just showing them in a different colour shows them off.  In the photo above I am adding a wash to represent the mortar between the bricks.  This is also having the desired effect of toning everything down to far more natural colours.

The wash on the front of the station

The wash on the front of the station

Here’s the front of the station after the wash.  This was done before painting the windows and doors in case of any splashes.

Now with doors and windows painted

Now with doors and windows painted

Here’s both the main station building and the platform island building with all doors and windows painted.  The buildings are starting to get a bit of character.

Adding some signs

Adding some signs

It took me quite a while to source all of the signs that I needed for the station.  The “Haverfordwest/Hwlfordd” signs were made on my computer and all of the others came from a variety of different sources.  In the photo above I am adding some signs from the “Pre-Cut” range.  Their signs show such things as “Entrance” and “Ladies” and “Gents” in English, with a pictogram next to the name.  This could not be done in Wales because of the delights of the Welsh Language Act which make it a legal requirement for all public bodies to display signage in both English and Welsh.  At this station they have very cleverly resolved this issue, by having just the pictograms and no wording at all, which is quite explanatory.  However, they seem to be bigger, so I used the pictograms with the words cut off from their OO gauge signs.

The station front with signs in place

The station front with signs in place

There are a variety of signs in this photo.  The timetables are a nice touch from “Pre-Cut.”  Nobody made a suitable sign for the Taxi office inside the station, so I made it on my computer, together with the  “Mynedfa Gorsaf/Station Entrance” and railway logo above the front doors and the tiny sign “Haverfordwest” on the extreme right.  These signs have changed since Arriva Trains Wales took over from Regional Railways.  The station entrance now has “Hwlfordd/Haverfordwest” above the doors, and all the doors are now painted in a dark turquoise.

The completed platform side of the station

The completed platform side of the station

Here’s the completed platform side of the station with all of the signs and adverts in place.  This side of the station will not be seen by any visitors at shows, but it’s what I will be looking at all of the time at the show, and it was an interesting challenge to see if I could get it to look something like the real thing.

Fixed on to the layout

Fixed on to the layout

The station main building, footbridge, and island building were glued on to the Ratio plastic platforms using MEK solvent which is a stronger bond than the solvent that I normally use.  The buildings were put in place and then the solvent was applied around them using the small brush in the photo above.  The left hand end of the station canopy lines up with a join between two of the bases and so helps disguise the join, although this also creates other problems as during transport the canopy is on an outer edge.

Putting in some finishing touches

Putting in some finishing touches

Again I’m using”Gator Grip” that I find gives a lot stronger bond than PVA white glue.  It is being used to fix more platform lamps and station names on them as well as fixing down some cars to the right of the station, and a couple of people by the phone box next to the cars.  I also added about eight more people on the platform waiting for the train, which when I visited the station, seems to be about the right number.

Looking along the tracks

Looking along the tracks

Not quite an engine driver’s view, but not far off.  It’s only when I looked at this photo close up that I noticed that the gentleman beneath the footbridge seems to be standing at quite an angle.  Maybe a few too many the night before – or perhaps what the modeller had done!

A view across the tracks

A view across the tracks

Here’s another view of the completed station showing more of the passengers.  It’s taken a huge amount of time and effort to make this station, but I’m pleased with the end result as this is one of the main features of the layout.  Importantly from my point of view, it was this layout that made me start making models of military vehicles in N gauge to go on it, which gave rise to P G Models, so this is very much the proverbial chicken that made the egg.

The Footbridge

28 April 2013
The real thing back in 2001

The real thing back in 2001

One very distinctive feature of Haverfordwest railway station is its footbridge.  The photo above shows it in 2001, which is the date that I’ve set for my layout, when it was painted in Regional Railways colours.

Starting the detail

Starting the detail

I know I’ve done loads of scratchbuilding on this layout, but out of preference I’d rather use a suitable kit if there’s one available.  Kestrel Designs have a steel footbridge that with a bit of work would be something like what is at Haverfordwest.  They probably based their design on GWR footbridges as they are (or rather “were” as the range is now produced by Gaugemaster) based in Narberth which isn’t far from Haverfordwest.  This isn’t exactly right, but I’ve got a shape something like the real thing by using two of the Kestrel kits.  The tricky bit was altering the steps with right angle bends half way up them.  In the photo above I am adding pieces of plastic strip to add extra ribbing to make the bridge more like what I saw in the photo at the top.

Altering the legs

Altering the legs

With all kits (and mine are no exception) there is always the need to make things sturdy enough to withstand the expected use of the kit.  In the case of this footbridge, Kestrel have made the supporting legs really chunky as you can see at the top right in the photo above.  I wanted something a bit closer to scale proportions.  To have some sort of rigidity I needed some ready made “L ” section plastic strip for the legs.  I couldn’t find any, so used some “C” section strip from Evergreen and cut away half of it to make an “L.”

Fitting the legs in place

Fitting the legs in place

The “L” section strip was put in each corner of the square. with 10 thou x 30 thou cross braces.  This was incredibly fiddly, but just as in the real thing, the cross braces increasingly strengthened each leg as more were added.

Comparing the legs

Comparing the legs

In this photo you can compare my scratchbuilt leg with the one made by Kestrel.  It took quite a bit of work, but I feel that the end justified the means in this case as it makes the footbridge look considerably more prototypical (again, compare this with the photo at the top).

Starting the painting

Starting the painting

Painting the footbridge needed some thought as there are what look like the skeletal remains of a canopy on either side that are used to support strip lights on the footbridge, which would get in the way of any painting.  I started painting before adding the framework with a coat overall in light blue.  This was followed by some very fiddly painting with a size OOO brush over all of the outer ribbing and the ribbing on the inside of the footbridge as you can see above.

Adding the handrails and the framework

Adding the handrails and the framework

For the handrails either side of the steps I first painted some plastic rod a suitable red colour and then cut it to length, glued it in place and then touched up the cut ends with some more red paint.  On the horizontal part of the footbridge over the railway tracks there are some strip lights set into the sides of the footbridge.  These were made from some half-round plastic strip glued to a piece of 20 thou x 60 thou.  They were painted off the bridge and then glued in place.  With those done I then added the framework on either side of the bridge using 20 thou square plastic strip.

A closer view of one side

A closer view of one side

Here’s a closer view of one side.  I used an ABS plastic weld type solvent for a strong bond on these parts as the bridge will be on the outer edge of one of the bases once in situ.  With hindsight, it might have been better to have scratchbuilt the footbridge in brass and soldered it together, but I’ll see how this one stands up to any shows.

The completed footbridge

The completed footbridge

And here’s the finished article, waiting to go on to the layout.  I am running well behind “real time” with this blog at present.  The week before last I fixed the station and the footbridge to the layout as I exhibited the whole layout at the Pontypridd Model Railway Club’s Exhibition a week last Saturday, which went extremely well.  Since then I’ve been solidly casting, cleaning and packaging as I have a trade stand at the Bristol Model Railway Exhibition this coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  And yes, I will have something new on the stand, although not the AEC Aircraft Refueller.  You’ll have to come along to see me there if you want to know what, or wait until my next post when I hope to have some photos of what’s new.

More work on the Station

5 April 2013

The Haverfordwest layout was put away after the Cardiff Model Railway Exhibition in October as I was well and truly into my busiest time of the year for P G Models sales.  I was casting models to make up orders whilst casting, cleaning and packaging to build up stock for the IPMS Scale Modelworld show in Telford in early November, followed by the Warley National Model Railway Exhibition in the NEC in Birmingham just two weeks later.  With these two shows so close together I need to build up a good stock level to go to Telford as there’s very little time to re-stock before the Warley show.  Sales at both shows were a lot lower than previous years but one thing that came across very clearly this time was that people seemed to be looking at my models at my stand, going home and thinking about them, and then ordering either by mail order or via e-mail, which I must admit is something that I’ve done several times myself.  These orders kept me busy right through in to the New Year, and it’s only really been in the last month or so that I’ve had the chance to get back to finishing off the station building.

The roof in place

The roof in place

The next thing to do was to check the squareness of the building.  I had put it together quickly to have something in place for the Cardiff show, but a closer inspection revealed a little bit of bending.  This was sorted by carefully running a curved No.10 scalpel blade along some of the joints to open them up again, adding some rectangles of 60 thou plastic card (checked for squareness with my little set square) to the inner corners, with some rectangles across the whole width of the building, and then re-joining the walls together again, which has now not only made the building squarer, but has also made it a lot stronger, which is not a bad thing with it being right on the front of the layout.

With everything square, I could add the rest of the roof using the Muswell Models roof tiles sheets.  One slightly tricky bit was over the station entrance where the roof has a sideways projection up to the ornate entrance.  This was done by chamfering the plastic card and checking and re-checking until it butted up to the main roof sheets.  In this photo you can also see the 20 thou square strip used to form the outer edge of the window frames.  A really tedious job for so many windows, but you get the hang of it after the first dozen!

Making the Chimneys

Making the Chimneys

There’s a plaque on the station entrance with the numbers 1989, which I presume is the date that the station was re-built, in which case, I would have thought that it would have had some form of central heating.  However, there are four chimneys on the roof, each with two chimney pots, which are more like what you associate with a Victorian building with coal fires in each room.  The chimney breasts were made using more of the same brick card with the outer edges of each piece at 45 degree angles, which was quite a fiddly job.

Cutting out and fitting the capping stones

Cutting out and fitting the capping stones

Another equally tedious thing was to cut out tiny little squares of 20 thou x 80 thou plastic strip to make the capping stones to go right along the top of the  brickwork along the outer side and both ends of the building.  On the platform side there’s the station canopy and so there are no capping stones along that wall as it is protected from the elements by the canopy.  There was no easy way to do this other than just start at one end and keep going.  I checked my photos of the station as there are some curved capping stones around the walls above the station entrance, but otherwise they are all the same.  One important thing is to try to cut out all of these blocks to the same size.  In the photo above you can see the tip of the scalpel blade up against one block.  This is used as a master pattern and I put the length of plastic strip up against this one piece to cut out each piece to try to get them as equal in size as I can.

Cutting out the glazing

Cutting out the glazing

All of the windows were “glazed” with some 10 thou plastic sheet, which I think is clear styrene.  Either that or acetate.  I used to fix it in place using liquid solvent, but this often frosts the material unless you are very careful.  Some time ago one of my friends recommended  “Gator Grip” which is a product from the USA which is an aliphatic glue.  It looks like PVA, but it sets a lot stronger.  My friend uses it to fix photo-etched parts to 1/76 th scale vehicles.  This is applied using a OO size brush and has the advantage in that any excess glue can easily be removed using another fine brush dipped in water.  One perhaps obvious, but important thing to do is to do a dry run for each window pane.  Whilst I tried to cut out each of the windows to the same size, inevitably there is some slight variation in size, so a little bit of trimming was needed in a few places.

Photo-etched window sills

Photo-etched window sills

When I got the brick and tile sheets from Muswell Models, I also got a sheet of photo-etched window sill bricks.  These are perpendicular bricks in a variety of different lengths to go underneath the widow (the etching has numbers for the numbers of bricks on each piece) .  I used some on the window sills of some of the office buildings by the side of the Goods Shed and was very pleased with the end result, and so used them again here on the station building.  Again, these were fixed in place using the Gator Grip glue.  If you look at the Muswell Models website you’ll see that Andrew has now added a lot more etched brass sets to his range, with a variety of different styles of bricklaying.

One thing that I didn’t photograph was adding all of the horizontal bars on each window.  These were made from 10 thou square polystyrene strip which is available in white plastic from Plastruct, and again using the same glue to fix them in place.  Most of the Plastruct range is a dark grey ABS plastic, which needs a different solvent to fix it, but they also have a number of packs of polystyrene that is unique to them such as 10 thou strip and 10 thou rod that I find very handy for engine decks.

Starting the canopy roof

Starting the canopy roof

One thing that took me ages to work out was how to make the station canopy.  I looked at all of the commercially available options, and none of them came close to what was at Haverfordwest, so it was back to scratchbuilding.  I always look to see if I can find a kit or ready-made model for what I want, and if not I’ll see if I can convert something similar, or if there’s nothing quite like what I want I’ll sit back and scratchbuild it.  Despite the fact that most of the buildings on this layout have ended up being scratchbuilt, scratchbuilding is really a last resort for me.

For the canopy I used yet more Gator Grip to glue strips of 10 thou plastic card over a long strip of clear plastic card to represent the glazing panels in the roof.  In the photo above you can see a batch of pieces on the cutting mat, with smaller pieces of plastic strip to go above and below each piece of glazing.  The scalpel blade is a No.10A which I use to very lightly touch the plastic part to pick it up, put it over the glue, and the bond from the glue is stronger than the attachment to the blade, so releasing the part.  The secret is not to press too hard with the blade, press just hard enough to pick it up, and just with the very tip of the blade.

Making the roof trusses

Making the roof trusses

The detail underneath the canopy roof is more of a representation that anything else, but it’s something like what’s there.  I started by cutting out the two ends of the canopy with the same roof profile.  I then used that profile with one truss as a master pattern for all of the others, to make them as near identical as I could make.  Having made the solid shape, I then hollowed out each one to look more like steelwork.

Adding the wood boards to the ends

Adding the wood boards to the ends

Both  ends of the canopy in reality are made up of perpendicular wooden slats.  To do this I used some 10 thou x 60 thou plastic strip and marked some perpendicular lines in pencil on the piece of 40 thou plastic card that they were to go on.  This time, pick up a piece of strip on the tip of the scalpel blade, hold that between two fingers whilst picking up a brush dipped lightly in solvent, wipe the base piece of card with the solvent and quickly put the piece of strip onto the wetted base piece.  Keep going along the length, using the back of the blade to square the pieces up against the pencil marks to keep everything square.

Joining the canopy pieces together

Joining the canopy pieces together

I suppose the way that I scratchbuild is to make up all of the parts so that what I’m doing is virtually making my own kit, and then assembling the parts together just as I would with an Airfix kit.  Here you can see the front and rear parts of the roof joined together and the roof trusses being added.  Making sure that all of these trusses have been made to the same profile will save any warping or distortion.

Adding ribbing to the outer roof parts

Adding ribbing to the outer roof parts

There is some quite prominent ribbing on the outer part of the roof.  This was made from 10 thou x 20 thou plastic strip.  As before, what I do is to cut out pieces that are slightly too long (better that than too short).  Leave the solvent to evaporate off for an hour or so, then slice off the exposed ends with a scalpel blade.  Again, I’m using my trusty set square to make sure that all of this ribbing is square.

Adding a support stri for the canopy to the station

Adding a support strip for the canopy to the station

Before adding the canopy to the side of the station, I fixed a strip of 40 thou square plastic to the side of the station so that the canopy would rest on top of it.  In this photo you can see all of the 10 thou square strip bars added to the windows, and now with chimney pots (made from plastic rod) added to the chimney breasts.

Done!

Done!

Don’t ask how many hours it took to get this far.  If I had sat back and worked out how many hours it would take me to make the buildings on this layout I would probably never have started it.  But on the other hand, yes, I probably still would have made it as, as far as I know, what I have here is something unique to me, well, at least in this scale as I know that Haverfordwest model railway club have also made a layout of the station in OO, although I’ve never seen it.  The challenge has been to see if I could make it.  I’ll let you the reader/viewer judge for yourself whether I have or not.

The other end, next to the footbridge

The other end, next to the footbridge

I previously mentioned my surprise to see all of the chimney pots.  At this end of the station is a small extension (in reality in a slightly lighter brick colour) with a chimney coming out of it that I presume is something like a gas (or maybe oil) central heating boiler.  And no, I hadn’t fitted the chimney when I took this photo.

The whole thing from the platform side

The whole thing from the platform side

And finally, here’s a view from the platform side.  There are still a few bits to be added, such as a cabin or something similar in front of the left hand extension and canopy lights, but it’s nearly there.

Haverfordwest Station – the start

28 March 2013
Haverfordwest Station back in 2001

Haverfordwest Station back in 2001

For several months I’ve been working slowly on making Haverfordwest Station.  I had the basic shape made and temporarily put on the layout when I attended Cardiff Model Railway Exhibition last October.  Since then, I’ve been picking it up, doing a little bit, and then putting it down, mainly to make up models for orders.  A few weeks ago I decided that this had to be finished off as after all it is the main building on the layout, and right at the front.

In the photo above, taken in 2001 by my friend Mike Gill,  you can see the front of the station, which is what any viewers of my layout will be able to see.   One thing that this photo shows is the importance of making the layout for a particular timescale, and sticking to it.

The station in 2011

The station in 2011

Here’s a photo of the station that I took about 18 months ago in 2011.  One big difference is that back in 2001 the station and trains were run by Regional Railways, but now they are run by Arriva Trains Wales.  One obvious difference is that the corporate colour of dark blue for Regional Railways has been replaced by the turquoise of Arriva Trains Wales.  Another perhaps less obvious difference is in the name board above the station entrance.  It’s not clear in the older photo, but above the station entrance the sign reads “Mynedfa Gorsaf Station Entrance” (same wording in Welsh, then English).  This has now been changed to “Hwylffordd Haverfordwest.”  It really is important to try to be factually accurate with everything made to represent one particular date, in this case, around the turn of the century, around 2000.  Other notable differences are that the station car park has been completely changed and what was a parking bay for taxis is now a bus stop with bus shelter to the right of the station building.

So, with date set, it’s time to start the build.

Cutting out the sides against my own plan

Cutting out the sides against my own plan

As with all of the other buildings on this layout, the first thing to do was to draw up my own plan of the station using the Ordnance Survey 1:500 scale map of the station as a start with the length and depth of the building which was used to estimate the height of the building and of the fittings such as the size of the windows and doors.

Being such a long thin building, one problem was what make of embossed brick card to use.  The N gauge brick sheets by Ratio look good, but are quite small and would have left some unsightly join lines between the sheets of card.  Many years ago not long after the start of P G Models I attended the Warley National Model Railway Exhibition in the NEC in Birmingham and was next to Muswell Models who make some lovely buildings as both complete buildings and low relief in both N gauge and OO gauge.  Over the course of the weekend I had a good chat with Andrew Gardener who runs the business and he told me that he made his own sheets of brick embossed card that were about half as long again as the Ratio ones.  I bought a number of these, and of the roof tiles too.  They come in dark brown plastic, but that doesn’t matter as they will be painted later on.

In the photo above you can see that I’ve cut out the windows in one sheet.  This plastic sheet is fairly thick, which is good for the aspect of rigidity, but you can not just cut through it with a scalpel blade.  To cut out the windows I first drew the position of each window and door on the sheet with a pencil and then made a series of holes with a drill bit in a pin vice, which was turned by hand (if you use an electric mini drill the plastic might melt and clog up the bit).  I then cut between the holes to join them up to make one bigger hole, and then cut to the shape of the window or door.

Both sides cut out

Both sides cut out

Here you can see both sides cut to shape, with the joins positioned behind drain pipes to try to hide them, and with all of the doors and windows cut out.  All of the windows and doors were scratchbuilt from 10 and 20 thou plastic strip, mainly because no one made any windows of the right shape.  The station entrance doors were very similar to ones made by Peco that are included in their N gauge station building, (the green ones at the bottom of the photo) but unfortunately not much else of this kit was of use.

One interesting point that this photograph raises is the question of what to do with any hidden details.  From the point of view of anyone looking at the layout at a model railway exhibition, the only side of the station that they can see is the station front.  So is there any point in making the track-side of the building as the only people who can see this are those operating the layout from the back.  But that really answers the question as I wouldn’t be at all happy in operating the layout with just a blank wall by the platform.  I wanted the station to be as near to a complete scale replica of the real thing as I could make it.

Cutting out the arch over the station entrance

Cutting out the arch over the station entrance

If you look at the photos of the real thing above, you’ll see that there is an arch in the brickwork above the station entrance that has the railway logo inside it.  To make this I marked out the shape in pencil and then drilled a series of holes around the arch.  You can also see the Peco door now added to the building, and all three sheets joined together.   You can see solvent marks either side of these joins, but that will easily get covered when it’s painted.

Making the arch of "bricks"

Making the arch of “bricks”

As with the windows and doors, the arch was cut away and smoothed to shape using curved files.  The arch of bricks was made by first cutting out two semi-circles, one larger than the other to make an arch in 10 thou plastic sheet.  This was placed on a steel rule, and then tiny 10 thou x 30 thou pieces of plastic strip were glued on to the arch shape to represent the bricks.  This was done with liquid solvent which temporarily stuck the 10 thou plastic arch to the steel ruler.  Once the arch was completed it was left for several hours for all of the solvent to evaporate away and was then gently prized of the steel rule.

On the layout at Cardiff Model Railway Exhibition

On the layout at Cardiff Model Railway Exhibition

This is a bit of a ropy picture, but it’s the only one I’ve got of the station temporarily fixed to the layout at the Cardiff Model Railway Exhibition last October.  You can see that I’ve added window frames made of 20 thou square plastic strip, and have added one half of the station roof, to give people a bit of an idea what is to come.  You can see here that it is right at the front of the layout in a very prominent position, so for me it was essential to make as good a job of it as I could.

Barrow Crossing and Ballasting

13 October 2012
Starting the Barrow Crossing

Starting the Barrow Crossing

Since my last post I’ve been working solidly on the layout to get as much of it finished as I can before the Cardiff Model Railway Exhibition next weekend.  One big thing to get done is the ballasting of the track, and adding the various bits of equipment along either side of it.  One noticeable feature at the south-western end of the station is the Barrow Crossing.  This is simply a metal plate laid over wooden blocks so that wheelbarrows can be taken from one platform across the rails to the other one.

The BLMA etched brass Tread Plate

The BLMA etched brass Tread Plate

The best etched tread plate that I could find was this from the American company BLMA that I got from Model Junction in Slough, although they now seem to have stopped selling N gauge stuff.  The pack is really designed to add tread plate to railway wagons, but the widest tread plate in the pack looks to be about the right width for what I want.  I painted it rust colour and then cut it into sections to go between the tracks.

Pressing down the wooden blocks

Pressing down the wooden blocks

The metal plates are laid over wooden blocks, and the best thing to represent wood is wood.  Or rather a fine-grained wood such as balsa wood that was cut into small blocks and painted with a thinned wash of dark brown that soaked into the wood.  The individual pieces were glued down using PVA white glue and built up across the tracks.  The photo above shows me pressing down the blocks to make sure that they were level.  They were left for a few hours for the glue to dry and then I went over them with a scalpel blade to gently cut the blocks down to form a flat base for the metal plates to go on top.

The damaged fences

The damaged fences

One thing that you might have noticed in the previous photo is that some of the fences have broken off.  This photo shows the damage a bit more clearly.  These are Kestrel fences that are supplied in white plastic and have been sprayed matt black to represent the ones at Haverfordwest.  They seem to be quite fragile and break off very easily.  However, they can be easily fixed using a plastic solvent that is suitable for ABS plastics as this seems to give a stronger bond than the Mek-Pak that I usually use.

The finished Barrow Crossing

The finished Barrow Crossing

And here’s the completed crossing.  I have also added some signs with yellow lights that are on the ends of the platform on either side of the crossing that are presumably some sort of warning for any users of the crossing to look out for any passing trains (maybe the lights flash?).  You can also see two dummy sets of signals.  These are made up from etched nickel-silver kits from N Brass Locomotives.  There are some really fine and very fiddly parts to assemble in these kits, but the end result does look good.

Some plastic strip to go between the bases

Some plastic strip to go between the bases

One question to solve when ballasting is what to do where two bases butt up against each other.  I’m not sure what the experts do, but here’s my version of how to deal with it.  I start with some strips of 10 thou plastic card.

The strip set between the two bases

The strip set between the two bases

I loosened off the coach bolts holding the two bases together and slipped the plastic strip in the gap between the two bases and lowered it down to the top of the rails, held it in place with one hand and tightened up the coach bolts underneath the base at the same time, which is a bit of a contortionists trick.

Using a flat brush to tamp down the ballast

Using a flat brush to tamp down the ballast

The ballast was spread out across the tracks using an old teaspoon and then the ballast was gently tamped down using a flat brush.  The brush was held vertically over the plastic strip and tamped down with the strip in the middle of the brush to ensure that the ballast levels were the same on both baseboards.

Cleaning the inside of the track

Cleaning the inside of the track

The ballast was fixed in place as I ‘ve shown previously by damping it down with a fine spray of water followed by watered down PVA glue with a drop of washing-up liquid applied with a dropper bottle.  With the glue still wet I went over the tracks with this metal tool to make sure that no bits of ballast were left on the insides of the track as that is where the flanges of the loco and wagons wheels go, which would make them bounce around.

Peeling off the plastic strip

Peeling off the plastic strip

The ballast was left overnight for the glue to set and the next day I took off the coach bolts underneath the bases and gently pulled the bases apart, leaving the plastic strip attached to one of the bases.  This was then gently removed from the base.

The strip removed

The strip removed

You can see that there are a few grains of ballast stuck to the plastic strip, but not much.  This leaves a gap of just 10 thousandths of an inch between the two bases.

The end result

The end result

I didn’t take a photo of the end result from the previous photos, but here it is with the join between the left hand base and the centre base.  The join is visible, but it’s about as small a gap as I can make.

An assortment of lineside fittings

An assortment of line side fittings

Meanwhile, here’s an assortment of fittings on the left hand base.  There are signals for the sidings/shunting; concrete trunking for cables; a yellow box that I am told might be something to do with an emergency hand cranking system to move the points in case of a power failure; there’s orange tubing to carry cables or rods between the tracks; and there’s a dummy electric point motor by the points.  And the splashes of purple are my attempt at reproducing some of the budlea bushes that grow all around the station and goods yard.

A Change of Plans

3 October 2012

Before getting on to the title of this post, I thought I’d start where I left off with the last one.  And the answer is NO!  The changes I made to the electrics on the fiddle yard at the back of my layout did succeed in resolving some serious short circuits, but it still did not solve the problem of a section of track being live with trains running around the two oval tracks, but becoming dead when I switched the points/turnouts to take trains on to the fiddle yard.

The culprit!

The culprit!

I eventually narrowed the problem down to this set of points just behind the control box for the layout.  I’ve got a power feed at the toe end of the points, which is correct, but when I switch the points to take trains into the fiddle yard this powers the section of track going to the fiddle yard, but isolates the section of the oval.  So it’s not a problem with short circuits, but one of not having enough power feeds.  The answer is to put in insulated rail joiners at the end of the points and adding a new power feed to the right of the points.  And that should finally cure the problems with the power feeds.

I expect that this is something very simple for any experienced railway modeller, but it’s taken me ages to sort it out.  Although on the plus side, it’s certainly been a mentally stimulating exercise!

A current view of the layout

A current view of the layout

Anyway, on to the title of this post.  For those who have read the “About” pages of this blog you’ll know that originally I wanted to make my Haverfordwest layout and needed the armoured vehicles for it, which is what led to me starting P G Models.  I’ve been very pleased in the way that my little business has been going, but on the down side, it’s taking me a lot longer to complete the Haverfordwest layout as I am fitting in work on it in odd moments when things are quiet with the business, which has been just the occasional day now and again.  However, I have always felt that the layout could be a really good showcase for my little models.

The whole layout from the other end

The whole layout from the other end

One of the many things that I do apart from P G Models is that I am the South Wales Branch Secretary of the Miniature AFV Association and am also the editor of our Branch newsletter, The Dragon.  On Monday last week I put the latest issue onto a disc and took it to our printers in Barry and on the way back called into my local model railway shop, Lord & Butler in Penarth Road in Cardiff.  Whilst there Peter Lord said that he believed that Cardiff Model Railway club were looking for an N gauge layout for their Cardiff Model Railway Exhibition and suggested that it could be a good way for me to show my layout to other people, which he has always encouraged me to do.

Looking down from the Narberth Road Bridge

Looking down from the Narberth Road Bridge

It took me a bit of effort to get two trains running correctly (partially because of the power feed problems), but to cut a long story short, the end result was that on Monday this week, two members of Cardiff Model Railway club visited me and had a look at my layout.  They were pleased with what they saw and have invited me to attend their show with my layout.  I was already lined up to attend the Cardiff Model Railway Exhibition with a demonstration of military modelling, but now I’ll be there with my layout on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st October.

Two locos about to pass each other on the main lines

Two locos about to pass each other on the main lines

This is a really amazing set of coincidences as I already had the layout set up in my garage to try to solve the power issues.  I have held back in doing any more ballasting of the track until I solved the power issues, just in case I needed to add any extra power feeds.  Well, now I know that I do, but at the back of the layout.  So now I am ready to get the track ballasted, which is perfect timing as that will make the layout look a lot more complete.

Turning now to the title of this post, eventually, my original intention was to start making the AEC Mammoth Major Refueller after The N Gauge Show, but now I shall hold back with that for a couple of weeks until this model railway show is over, to give me the chance to get more of the track ballasted.

Before that, this Sunday 7th October I shall be exhibiting some of my N gauge models at our South Wales Branch of the Miniature AFV Association Open Afternoon, open from 2.30pm until 5pm.  If you’d like to come along to see our models we will be at St.John’s Church Hall, Rachel Close, Danescourt, Cardiff, CF5 2SH.  I look forward to seeing you there.

A Problem Solved – I hope

28 September 2012
Testing the lines

Testing the lines

After The N Gauge Show I was going to have a week catching up on any outstanding orders from the show, and then a few days working on my Haverfordwest layout before launching in to the next master pattern.  I’m pleased to say that I sold a lot more at the show than I expected, and had two large trade orders as well, all of which took a bit longer to sort out than I’d hoped.  They’re all done now and so I thought a quick look at the layout would be ideal.

Testing a bit further along the line

Testing a bit further along the line

The last time that I’d had the whole layout set up and running was at The Lord & Butler model show in June last year.  At the show I’d had various problems on the Saturday in getting the fiddle yards (sidings) at the back of the layout to work, but to no avail.  I ended up on the Sunday with a Class 66 loco hauling a train of Warriors going one way around the layout, and a Class 60 with a short train of 8 Murco dirty oil wagons going the other direction.  The main thing was that the layout had things moving on it the whole time, and it generated quite a lot of interest.  What I really wanted though was to have the fiddle yards working at the back of the layout so that I could have something different at the front of the layout now and again.

Checking next to the Narberth Road Bridge

Checking next to the Narberth Road Bridge

I bought a multi-meter to check the electrical circuits, but didn’t really know what to do with it.  I’m reasonably skilled in making master patterns of military vehicles in various scales, and in painting and weathering them, and making scenery, but getting things to move with live electric rails is something where I’m a complete novice.

Checking the other side of the layout

Checking the other side of the layout

On-line retailers On Tracks, at Pontrilais Industrial Estate, a few miles to the north of me on the way to Hereford advertised a Track Circuit Voltage Tester made by Proses.  This seemed to be just the sort of thing that I needed.  Something simple and easy to use.  I got it in a few days, and put it to one side until now when I got the layout set up again.  The tester has three LEDs.  A red, yellow and green one, with red for up to 5v, yellow up to 9v and green for up to 12v.  All you had to do was turn on the power to the layout and put the brass strips on the tester across the two rails of the track, and see how many LEDs were lit up.  Anything less than all three would suggest a loss of power which would need fixing.

The sidings were working okay as well

The sidings were working okay as well

I set up the layout in my garage, so that it would be out of the way of my cats who had previously loved to chew any cables they could get into their mouths, although nothing broken.  I set it up with the three bases and checked all around the layout on all of the tracks, as you can see in the photos above.  And everything worked okay.  Every time I put the tester on a piece of track I got all three lights glowing brightly.  But then I added the fiddle yards at the rear and connected them up to the main baseboards, and that’s when the problems started.  With those bases live, I was getting a barely glowing single red light on the outer track at the back of the layout, and all sorts of problems with power one minute and then not the next on the fiddle yards at the back.  So I phoned my brother who now lives in Pembrokeshire.  He used to be a manager at BBC Research and has spent over 30 years working solidly with electronics, so if anyone could help me, it would be him.

The whole layout with power feeds and insulators highlighted

The whole layout with power feeds and insulators highlighted

I stood on some step ladders and held my camera up to the ceiling to photograph down on the layout and then used Photoshop Elements to merge the two photos together to produce the composite picture you can see here.  I then used Photoshop Elements to draw on the power feeds and insulators onto the photo and e-mailed it to my brother so that he could see what I was doing.  I had about two nights on the phone with him trying to explain to me how to use my multi-meter to check the circuits to find the fault, but I was getting nowhere.

Checking some of the points wit the multi-meter

Checking some of the points with the multi-meter

I even took some of the points off the fiddle yard to test them just in case they were faulty, but still couldn’t see what was causing the problem.  In the end, my brother offered to travel the 100 miles to get to me to have a look at my layout to try to work out what I was doing wrong.

The cause of the problem!

The cause of the problem!

Within FIVE minutes of looking at my layout yesterday he had the problem solved.  I had power feeds at either end of the fiddle yard, and so had power going into the points/turnouts from either end, rather than from just the toe end.  It was that that was causing the short circuits.  That blindingly obvious fault just hadn’t occurred to me.  A bit like a Homer Simpson moment of “Doh.”

Where to fix it

Where to fix it

The fiddle yard is made up of two bases each 4 ft long, with joiners between the two bases and electrical connections between the two.  All I need to do is to remove these connections and put nylon insulated rail joiners on the ends of all of the rails on one side.  That way, each fiddle yard base board will have its own power supply that will be separated from the other one, with power going into the points at either end of the fiddle yard just from the toe ends of the points.

Buildings around the Good Shed

4 August 2012
The small office and base for the corrugaed iron shed

The small office and base for the corrugated iron shed

Having sorted out the basic shape of the Goods Shed, the next thing was to start the small office and the corrugated iron shed on the south / west side of the building.  The small office was made up using more of the Ratio brick embossed card, with Kestrel windows and doors.  The windows aren’t quite the right style, but I didn’t really want to start scratch building them as they will be hidden from view, facing towards the Goods Yard, away from anyone looking at the layout.  The base of the corrugated iron shed seems to be concrete block or stone that look similar to the narrow platform on the Goods Shed, so I used more of the Ratio platform sides and platform top.

The Goods Shed side facing hte Goods Yard

The Goods Shed side facing the Goods Yard

Here’s the small office and shed base attached to the Goods Shed that now has the main roof fitted.  I have not yet added any of the windows and have left off the large canopy that goes on this side as I needed to see how the Goods Shed would look on the layout before going any further.

Trying out the Goods Shed on the layout

Trying out the Goods Shed on the layout

The reason for test fitting the Goods Shed on the layout is that I have had to reduce the width  of the Goods Yard to fit everything onto 2 ft wide base boards.  However, I wanted to keep the Goods Shed itself as close as I could to its actual size scaled down as it is such a prominent building at this site.  You can see in the photo above that the side office is a bit close to one of the buffers on one of the sidings.

Checking the size of the large office

Checking the size of the large office

What I decided to do was to reduce the size of the larger office to the north  / east of the Goods Shed by 1″ (2.5mm) which would pull the Goods Shed slightly away from the siding and buffer closest to it, and also to reduce the length of that siding by 2″.  That way there is still enough room for any vehicles to travel between the Goods Shed and side office to the sidings in the Goods Yard with just a minimal difference from what’s actually there.  I shall also reduce the depth of the canopy on the side of the Goods Yard to save it from overhanging any of the sidings.  You can see that as always, I am checking my model layout with photos of the real thing to make sure that I am keeping everything as closely in proportion to each other as is actually there, with just minimal adjustments.

The corrugated iron shed taking shape

The corrugated iron shed taking shape

Happy with the proportions of the Goods Shed, I added the canopy on the main line side of the Goods Shed.  All of my photos show it damaged on its right hand side, so I have tried to reproduce that in model form.  The corrugated iron shed was made up using Evergreen 0.030″ Metal Siding.

The shed under construction

The shed under construction

Here’s the other side of the shed during construction.  You can compare this with the picture of the real thing in the previous post.

The main office part built

The main office part built

This office took me quite some time to work out.  The Ordnance Survey map shows it with a straight wall along all of its length facing the main line, with narrower parts at either end of the wider central part on the Goods Yard side.  But this didn’t tie in with what I could see in my photos.  After much studying and head scratching I realised that the narrower ends either side were centred on the main part, so were narrower on both sides.  Again, the windows aren’t 100% correct, but they’re something like what’s there.

Trying out the Office Block next to the Goods Shed

Trying out the Office Block next to the Goods Shed

As with the other end, I test fitted the Office Block next to the Goods Shed to make sure that the width of the end piece fitted onto the end wall of the Goods Shed and did not foul the large door on the end of the Goods Shed, and to make sure that the wider part of the Office Block would not foul the railway line into the Goods Shed, even though this line was removed some time ago.

Fitting the roof in place

Fitting the roof in place

Fitting the roof was quite tricky.  I started with the main roof with all edges chamfered to get a good fit together, followed by the narrower roofs either side that butted up against the central roof.  Again, I checked and double checked this against my photos of the real thing.

The completed Office Block

The completed Office Block

And here’s the completed Office Block up against the Goods Shed.  It is about 1″ shorter than it should be, but I have kept all of the windows and doors in proportion.  As with the other end, they have come from Kestrel building kits.  Kestrel no longer make their range of models, but I am pleased to see that Gaugmaster have taken over the range and now seem to have most, if not all, of them back in stock.

The Weighbridge Office next to the Office Block

The Weighbridge Office next to the Office Block

Next to the main Office Block is what used to be an important building for me, the Weighbridge Office.  This would have been a mechanical weighbridge, probably with either a steelyard weight indicator, or possibly a dial indicator.  A few feet from it would be the weighbridge plate.  Kestrel do a particularly good one in N gauge.  In reality, these are a cast iron plate with a pattern of ribs and strips on it, and usually with the manufacturer’s name in the centre of the casting.  All of this ribbing is very nicely done by Kestrel who make the weighbridge plate in photo-etched brass, with their name in the centre of it (rather than either Pooley or W & T Avery as would be there in reality, but this way they overcome any issues with use of a trade mark).  The weighbridge office that comes with the kit isn’t of any use here, but the kit is well worth the cost for just the weighbridge plate.