Thursday, April 30, 2009

Stick this in urea: HEC Bulk Urea Containers

DB writes:

Things have been a little slow at the International Dandruff Embassy lately due to an accidental mis-painting of my KiwiRail DX, but we’ll save that for a later edition.

You may recall I cast a few HCC coal containers a while back; and indeed I made quite a few more than the one-wagonsworth that I really needed until the mold reached a state where the castings required as much work to clean them up as they would have to build from scratch. Drat and blast all those undercuts and sharp riblets. But what to do with the spares after my Trademe excursion proved quite unworthwhile…? In the words of Douglas from that superb Instant Kiwi commercial: Think I might try sumthung duffrunt.

Fettler, A, Mr. came to the rescue with something I’d completely forgotten about: those nifty HEC Bulk Urea containers that were basically HCCs with tops on. Sounds like a plan. Pic above courtesty Andrew Hamblyn.

Starting with a set of stuffed and mounted HCCs that I prepared earlier, a raised section was added in the middle to represent the roof hatches and from there I began to haphazardly cut and paste random pieces of plastic to make the pyramoidial top in situ (a word that I leaned from Little Trains of Thought). This was easier than expected given all the angles - simply measure twice and cut once as the old saying goes. Then eyeball, cut a slightly different angle, no not that much, a little shorter, a smidge off again, and again, and …now it’s too short… Throw away. Rinse and Repeat.

After the roof was on, wee triangles were cut and attached to it so they could hold up some N scale brass treadplate walkway. I expect on the real thing these were probably see-through, in which case mesh might have been better, but this will do for now.

Lastly, using the festering pus that is Superglue, styrene corner posts were attached to the corners of the HCC castings in a direction approximating the vertical and supporting braces added. I just can’t wait ‘til the first time this thing derails and plummets to the floor.

To finish up, a smear of paint and decal gives life to a rarely modeled prototype. The weathering is pretty subtle under normal lighting despite appearances in this flashed pic. I'd better stick to flash shots of real trains. P.S. I dunno why most of the pics I'm posting aren't clickable, but I managed to make the last one here work:

P.P.S. After seeing the prototype pic, it looks like I need to add the top walkways on the end as well. No worries.

P.P.P.S. Weekend final update for the HEC of it complete with the top/end platforms :


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Quick update

Just a quick shot of the railcar tonight. I'm changing operating systems to try to wring another year or 2 out of my 8 year old computer tonight, and hopefully its all going to go well. Otherwise I'll be offline for a wee while.

hanges since last time are that the windows are in (I've solved my araldite problem), and I've also painted the back with my transparent black colour to make them a bit darker. This has worked after about 4 coats of paint, and might need one or 2 more.
I do need to do something about those wires hanging lose inside. However its not even obvious at normal viewing angles.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The other side of the ditch

I've been having a look over the other side of the ditch to see what the state of play is in Oz with regards to the availability of kits etc in N scale, as well as materials and prices.
(This isn't exhaustive before anyone else says anything)

Looking here there is a sizable number of manufacturers, as you would expect for a market that's 4-5 times the size of ours. as for the models.

The Diesel loco market is well catered for with mostly urethane kits, but some etched models available as well. The resin kits have a bit more detail than we are used to in similar products. Price-wise the loco kits seem to start at about $50 Aus, but more likely $100. There are also some RTR models available starting at $250. The kits use Us mechs, so in tis field they are no more advanced than us.

There are a limited number of steam locos available, including a 4-8-4 + 4-8-4 Garret as RTR models. I couldn't find any information on prices for these, and can only imagine what they might be. The steam loco kits I could find were ~$300 Aus, with no real information on whats actually in the kits.

Passenger cars from what I could find were laser cut microplywood. The kits cost about $40 without bogies. The bogies used are either US or Japanese depending on the prototype.
bogie wagons are ~$35 and 4 wheeled wagons are ~$15-$25 without chassis. the 4 wheeled wagons run on the good old peco underframe, though in this case they are actually correct.

There have been some recent developments with some 4 wheeled wagons being made RTR in China, and the first of some locomotive projects.

So my summary would be; larger ranges of models with more detailed parts. however they are still using US and British under frames for coaches and wagons.

Comments, gentlemen?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Modern Image shots.

Up to the month pic's from Drew.

Here is the latest Kiwirail loco 5108, with yet another variation on the new scheme. I wonder if there's a challenge going on to see how many they can do without repeating?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Just add water...

Being none to happy with the Rp chassis at one stage (writes Nathaniel Erg), I took to it with the kettle in readiness for another bash....another advantage of lowmelt! And highly entertaining at the same time. (Since this video was shot, the chassis has undergone the indignity of a hot bath at lest once more....) WARNING: File size is 3Mb for those on dialup...



Bit of an accident last night here at Chateau Dandruff. I decided to paint a layer of gloss varnish over the decals before subjecting everything to the final weathering wash. I come back 30 minutes later to find....

The varnish had attacked the ink used to make the decals in the first place. It was worse on the corners, but there were also some patches in the middle of the stripes as well. As an added bonus the black diving lines had leached out in places. After a bit of a think, and a few beers last night, I accepted the fact that I could only fix the most obvious ones, and that my chances of sweeping the trophy's at the convention next year had gone from being marginally more than nil (by a few decimal points), to less than my being elected the next pope. Fortunately The colour I was using for the roof (Humbrol metalic 56 Aluminium) was a very close match to the silver on the stripes. To get the black interior lines back in, I first painted the worst areas flat black.

I then painted the stripes back in to get back to this, which is good enough from 2 feet I think.

I'll just comment here that I do all my painting (lines etc) freehand, but thats only because I've had 30 odd years of practice and I can paint reasonably straight lines. I'd love to know what other options were available for things like this as eventually my eyesite is going to give out and I'll have to start modeling in G scale or something with all the other oldies.

Guest workbench.

They just keep coming. This from Russell.

"In the workshop I've been working on this Dx body kit. It had been partially built, so it was a case of finishing the build including headstocks, sandboxes, all pipework and handrails. Last finishing touch is to fit the grill over the radiator, which has been pre-painted. Thanks to a loan chassis, it temporarily has wheels. Now, to decide on which paint scheme to paint it! Probably 'fruit salad' unless I change the front window."

When the Railways went to two man crews, they basically cut the center pillar out with a griding wheel (well, thats what it looks like close up) and none to neatly either.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Whats that you say?

I've been ponderng over the fascination modelers have with DCC sound chips. The head druff has mixed opinions about this advance. Now I have nothing against sound per say; there's nothing that sounds better than a long train running over a rail joint that has been filed just a wee bit deeper, and in fact this can be a useful location tool on a larger layout. What I do have e\problems with is sound in steam and diesel models. Don;'t get me wrong, they do sound amazing, but I get irritated after about 10 minutes. They aways seem to hiccup when the DCC chip skips a beat (which is not an uncommon occurrence). The smaller locomotives with their tiny speakers just seem to be missing the bass notes, due to the small size of the speakers. maybe I'm just jealous as its all 'Mr ten-thumbs' here can do to actually get a model that sits squarish on the track and more under its own power without having to work about building a sound box and wiring hat up as well.

Then we come to the other problem I have. These moving marvels we have created then scuttle back and forwards through a stationary scene with no sounds, where the people are forever frozen. Not even the cars move along roads. Photographers stand for hours waiting for a train with the stamina that Kiwibonds could only dream about. Passengers wait patently for trains that never stop to take them anywhere without complaint (a trait Kiwirail would love to encourage).

Now what I think would be an incredibly useful innovation would be to have a DCC tool that allows remote uncoupling where ever the loco is on the layout (I've even seen it muttered on the British forums for the possibility for every wagon to have a small chip with can control remote uncoupling). This has even actually been done in N scale of all things by Kato. Look here if you don't believe me. Now that I would part with money for.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Stripes are slimming

They are also a pain in the butt to put on. I've often thought while toiling at the workbench that whoever designed and built the prototype really had no consideration for people 50 years later who were actually going to make a model of it.

Tonight I have put the stripes on the railcar while stone cold sober (what does one have of an evening if not a refreshing beer after a hard day sitting on ones butt in the office?). This may have been a mistake. After consulting the instruction sheet, which BTW has no mention of decals anywhere (so at least was quick), I consulted a stack of pictures, and tried to sort out in my head how to do this.

The decals come on a sheet that has a layer of carrier film the whole way across. This means that the decals must be cut out carefully and as close to the edge as you can manage. I also discovered that the nose stripes are about 1/2mm thinner than the side stripes. I found this the hard way after cutting the first set to length. The solution is to have them meet at a corner of a door frame (on the outside edge as shown). You can cut the excess back later when its dry.

The main problem is getting everything on and parallel to the edges. I made some small pencil marks 6mm from the bottom edge which I judged from photo's to be about right. I also made sure that the stripes at least lined up between the cars.

The kit comes with 3 numbers. Rm109 (Christchurch based), 125 (Auckland based) and 131 (Auckland based). I have gone with 125 as its at least possible that it would have passed through the Kapiti region

Another thing I've just noticed is that the red in the photo's is actually a hell of a lot lighter than it is in real life, which is probably why the rest of you think I've taken leave of my senses in picking this colour.It will get a bit darker after the next weathering step. I also have to paint over some edges of the decal film to tidy it up a bit.

Low Melt Soldering on a Budget

From the pen of Nathaniel Erg:

After finally calling a halt to the multi-day festivities that were sparked by the blogs first birthday, I thought I had better finish the Greek Tragedy that was my initial attempts to use Low Melt Solder on a WM kit.

As previously mentioned, Cabbage Stokes (From up the Valley) stepped in to lend me his "HomeBrew" model, and at the same time pillaged an old PC I had sitting in the workshops of its power supply.....and within a week, this had arrived back:

Through electrical trickery (of which I have no knowledge), Mr Stokes was able to use the power supplies ability to switch between different voltages to power the 12v iron previously purchased, thus controlling the irons temperature. For this to happen, the iron leads are plugged into a combination of the 4 plugs presented on the top of the supply, labelled so:

This is the clever bit. By placing the black lead in the black "-ive" plug, I can then get the voltages of 2.2, 5.0 and 12v by simply moving the red "+ive" lead around. However, as shown on the pen marks, I can also get 7.0 and 8.7v by leaving the red lead in "12" and moving the black lead. How it all works is a mystery, but work it does, and exceedingly well. Experimentation has shown that for my own use (3/16ths, etc), 7.0v (as shown above) is the best setting.

I'm sure if enough interest is shown, I can convince Mr Stokes to come away from his Steam Powered Drawing Board where his latest Brass creation is undergoing gestation for long enough to draw a circuit diagram.

Postscript: That wasnt quite the end of the story; something wasnt quite right when it was first delivered, meaning I was making low melt bonds with it set to 12v. A quick visit to the builder fixed those shenanigans.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Almost but not quite

I received in the mail today some initial test turnings for a 4'6" driver, namely the tires for the wheel.
the picture demonstrates why when dealing with an engineer (however skilled they might be, and Alan is very good), unless theres an entirely accurate drawing then the following may happen. To explain i sent the wheel set to him to show him the tire profile I wanted. Thats fine, but the message about the insert got lost somewhere along the way. Maybe I can soup up Darryls Df with these and we can go cruising in Taranaki on the milk trains.

Also shown for scale is the kato Mikado mech, to show the vast difference in wheel sizes. the Bachmann 4-8-2 drives are only 1/2 a mm bigger than this, while the one on the right is 0.25mm undersize.

Now I just have to work out where my drawing board went to...

Lighting effects

Following on this months main theme on colours etc, heres something I discovered by accident tonight. As part of a binge to save the planet by burning less hydro power we here at Chateau Dandruff have started replacing the old filament bulbs with the new mercury filled Eco friendly replacements. Having brought 2 packets of 5 I assumed that they were the same. The answer is of course not, there seem to be at least 2 sorts, warm glow and white daylight (or near offers as I can't be arsed looking for the packets out in the garage at the moment). so as an experiment here is the same model photographed under the same conditions under the 2 different lights.

"white daylight"

"warm glow"

The camera doesn't quite show the difference as well (though I think you can if you try really hard), but in real life I prefer the warm glow as it gives a nice near sunset effect and the colours 'feel' like the ones we see in the old colour photo's. Now while I know this is incorrect, having not actually been there for the steam era (apart from right at the end) this is how I visualize it, and I think it would work on a layout far better than the harsh bleached whiteness of the other bulb.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Happy birthday to us

Today Motorised Dandruff turns 1 (Hitler would be 120 if he hadn't got carried away and annoyed people). Its also the 250th post, and so its time to have a bit of a ramble on where we have got to over the last 365 days of the year.

We have gone from 1 unpaid feature writer to 3 unpaid feature writers, and yet have managed to deliver a higher standard of drivel with less spelling mistakes on average mainly because the other 2 can operate a spell checker. Seriously though, I would like to thank Evan and Darryl for their willingness to join in and write articles on a wide variety of topics, which has certainly taken the pressure off me at some points. As Elwood said in the Blues Brothers, 'we're getting the band back together' and it has been a lot of fun again.

I suppose I should make some comment on my experience with this over the last year. I'm not quite sure where I was going when I started this,which in a way has been a blessing as there have been no expectations or targets to hit. I set out to get more people modeling in the scale, and also to get more people interested in the scale in a way which reaches a wider audience than the journal or local shows. One thing I have found useful is a statcounter to show how many people have actually been reading the blog. Without it I think I would have given up a long time ago (just for interests sake we are averaging 43 visitors a day). Its also been an interesting experience in terms of getting to grips with a new form of media, and what its good at and not good at. I don't think it will ever replace the journal, but there are some things that it does a much better job of.

In real terms where has the scale gone in the last year. The biggest development is that the rumors of the demise of the Trackside range were greatly exaggerated. Kudos to those involved in the rescue, and all the best for the future with it. I also think we have seen more people modeling or at least thinking about it.

So, where to from here? If I could predict the future I wouldn't be working for a living. What I would love to see in the next 12 months are;
-A modular layout displayed at the 2010 convention with a variety of modules from all over the country (I'll point out now that I'm going to a wedding that weekend so can't make it, but thats no reason not to try)
-Some new kitsets released, and the return of the full Trackside range.

As for myself, in 12 months I'd like to actually have a home layout of some description (at very least a test track) with hand laid track. I'd like to have made a ka, as without one its pointless to even do the rest of the work towards my Paikakariki layout.
I also hope still to be writing this blog with help from an expanded team, and have so much modeling to report that we are struggling to list it all. I'd also like to get better acquainted with the spell checker.

My final thoughts; Go out and do some modeling. And thank you all for reading, from the team.

'When we had hair...'

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Painting pt 2, the undergubbins

While I amass the dutch courage required to put the decals on the bodies, attention turns to the bits which are not going to be red. The underframe of any piece of NZR rolling stock is dark, dirty and dusty, and the 88 seaters were no exception.

To get the right sort of colour build up we are going to work in layers moving from the darkest colour to the lightest. This means starting with black, and moving through the shades of brown. For todays first tip, PAINT ALL THE SUB ASSEMBLIES BLACK BEFORE GLUING THEM TO THE UNDERFRAME. Sorry about the yelling, but this is not in the instructions, and I've discovered that theres some areas that are extremely hard to get to with a paintbrush. Make sure that the black gets into all the nooks and crannys and that you have complete coverage of all the bits.

Now we get into one of the most useful painting tricks that a modeler can have. Its called dry brushing, and most of you will have at least heard of it. For those of you who haven't, Here is a (very) short description. You will need a sizable brush that has lost its point and is quite soft, something that you would normally use to paint large areas I I seem to have a stack of brushes that have lost their points)

Dip it into the paint of a lighter shade to that of your base coat. and then wipe on a paper towel until almost all of the paint is removed. Then move to the area that you want to highlight. Move the brush from side top side with it just brushing across the surface. you should see a slow buildup of lighter paint on the high points of the area you are painting. Try not to overdo this as it can wind up looking a bit cartoonish. I also use this technique to give rolling stock a dusty weather beaten appearance, but I'll cover that at some point in the not too distant future.
For a first pass we will make it a bit easier, as we want a reasonably heavy coat of dark brown on the more exposed areas. I have used vallejo 147 leather brown, but humbrol 98 chocolate is also a good choice. Dip the brush nto the paint and then give it a quick wipe on the paper towel so that most of the panit is removed. Then brush on fairly heavily as we want a good coverage. In the photo we can see the difference between the treated left side and the plain right side.

Then I have used a light drybrush with Vallejo 124 Iraqi sand. The brush needs to have nearly all the colour taken out of it. Again the drybrushed side is on the left.

As you can see the drybrushing brings out the raised detail tricking the eye into seeing what it expects to see.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

So how tall is your armpit?

One thing that sprung up out of the Head Druffs last post was the comment "Remember that we are only trying to give the impression of what is there, not a detailed representation." And I've always believed that therein lies the real appeal of modeling in Nz120.
Tied into this is the old chestnut of "Normal Viewing Distance" which, for better or for worse, seems to be the oft quoted "2 feet". I am of the opinion however, that we should be tailoring the detail level on our rolling stock and indeed, our layouts, to layout height, not "Normal Viewing Distance".

Think about it; If I'm going to be mounting a layout at Waist Height (which I think Otaki and Cass was, from memory), then I am more likely to be able to get away with less of a representation of whats under a wagon irrespective of the viewing distance than I would if I was mounting my track at eye level. Even if the viewing distance was at distances greater than 600mm (for our younger readers), the underframe comes into prominence on a higher mounted layout.
So (off on a tangent again, because I have the attention span of a gnat), is there an optimal layout height? Again, conventional wisdom dictates "as close to eye level as possible" because, lets face it, its how we see trains in the real world (unless you hire helicopters for your photoshoots!). The answer? Like all things in this world, its horses for course. An island style layout (think an oval of track on a board) could be mounted high, but due to stability problems with the leg length involved, its more likely to be at waist height. Shelf layouts are more likely to be higher, as the wall mounting allows this to be a viable option.

Above is a diagram I drew in Paint (and lets face it, if you cant draw it in Paint, it ain't worth drawing....) that shows some thoughts from Iain Rice. As he goes for fully staged layouts complete with integral backdrops and lighting rigs, he always mounts the bottom line of the front pelmet with his eye level. I know this sounds weird (it did to me first time I heard it), but if you mock it up it actually works a treat. Secondly, the Rail Level is mounted at the height of his arm pit......note he doesn't say "55" off the floor" or some other exact amount, as he has realized that a layout should be tailored to the user.....and in his experimenting he has found that eye level to armpit height is the perfect sized "window" into his model world.

I've tried these theories out on some test pieces, and it doesn't look to bad....and the viewing angle will allow a basic underframe detailing, without getting hung up on "Normal Viewing Distance". I'm 5' 10", and the viewing window works out at about 300mm (In an imperial/metric mish-mash I seem to rely on). And thanks to the Head Druff, this is how it looks in Nz120. And to my eyes, the viewing angle is pretty much spot on.


Dressing a monkey up AND taking it to dinner

Darryls comments last on polishing excreta got me thinking about dressing up other things to make them look more correct. The first case is the good old peco 15' underframe. We as a scale have been using these for 38 years now, and I'm still surprised that nothing better has come along. Fresh out of the box they don't look too bad.

(as an aside, does anyone know who made these? The more I looking at them, The more I'm starting to think that they are John Rappards work, especially the writing on the wagons which does look like his style)
Unfortunately they look nothing like the standard 13' underframe. Folks, it's polishing time. The subject of the modifications is a Kp made and painted (very nicely I might add) by Darryl which I acquired during his last visit. he had helpfully removes all the brake levers etc, just leaving the brake shoes by the wheels. This is not a trivial job and you should be very careful about removing the castings as they are quite thick, and its not hard to cut an axlebox off as well. you have been warned...

Many moons ago I made up a master for the headstocks, brake cylinder, brake lever and brake hanger for my Lc's. These are a bugger to cast in resin as they are just so fine ( and I'm sorry that I can't sell them as they are just to delicate). However you should be able to make up your own from plastic or brass strip. Remember that we are only trying to give the impression of what is there, not a detailed representation. Its sort of like the difference between a painting in watercolours or oils vs a photograph. However I think it makes a vast improvement for what we are trying to model, and its worth the extra effort.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Painted Lady (DX part 3)

DB says:

I can't paint for shite, but as I can't drive to Nelson to ask the Ɯberdruff to paint it for me, nor Brendon Lean (hopefully he'll post on his techniques at some stage), I got out some masking tape, a few brushes, drew a halfway line with a thin marker and had a go. For once I got more paint on the target than on me and my clothes. Told you I can't paint for shite. I used Model Master colours: Insignia yellow, insignia red and gunship grey lightened with some white. Still looks like shite though. Still, after some touching up, its starting to look half-decent from about three and a quarter feet away. And they say you can't polish a turd.Enough of this painting nonsense... its way too hard. A little more touching up and it will be time to put some signage up on the sides.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

At gunpoint...

Well, I'm at home sick today, and since we have a flat inspection coming up next week, that means 'der room' must be tidied. Bugger.

so here we have what we should all aspire to. A spotless well organized bench from where our ideas can become real and take flight. Yeah right.

Also today, I've got the second layer of paint on the railcar. In retrospect it doesn't seem to have changed the shade as much as I thought it would, and looks just a wee bit bright. Never fear my friends, that will change with step 3, or maybe step 4.

Important Notice

I'm in the process (ie about to start, Honest!) of writing an article on the history of the scale as an update on Reubans article in the 2001 journal. So, all you readers out there, here's your chance to suggest which of your favorite photo's of the scale you would like to see as illustrations in the Journal. Just reply with which one that appear anywhere that you would like to see, and then I'll try to compile them into a list to see what everyone thinks.

For some other information I'd like to know when the first of the trackside range was released, and also if anyone knows when the Da and Dc etched kits were released?

Hot off the press

As an update to the previous waffle I've just been informed that Woodsworks now has stocks of Carrs solders ( 70, 145, 179, 188 and 221C) as well as various fluxes and blackening products. While the website is yet to reveal this, for an indication of prices go to this page for an indication of prices ( as a very rough guide multiply the prices shown by 3).

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Of Ceiling Wax and Cheap Soldering Irons...

A guest post from Nathaniel Erg:

"I've been invited to write about a little something I am working on at the moment, and the trials and tribulations that I am currently experiencing. All of my own making, might I add! The story begins with the purchase of an Rp wagon kit in 3/16ths (second hand, of course! Those who know me well will fail to be surprised).

The trials and tribulations spoken of earlier are only a recent occurrence. The issue was caused by being introduced to the simplicity of soldering Pewter and White Metal kits using solder of a lower melting point and a temperature controlled iron. Luckily, the kit had only proceeded to the stage of a rolling chassis (as above), held together by the devils mucus, superglue. I am sure that Superglue in its many varieties has a part to play in kit construction, but after seeing the ease with which a wagon top flies together with solder (an La2, By the way), I can only now advocate superglue for tacking on details before they are securely held with epoxy when tackling these sorts of kits.

The first job was to effect the breaking down of the assembled chassis. Now, common wisdom advocates the use of acetone to act as a solvent against the glue; a popular choice in nail polish remover. However, Mrs Erg refuses to have major multinational cosmetics in the house, and the only time I can remember seeing her with painted toenails was when, barefooted, she got a little over-exuberant with the fence stain. So obviously that wasn’t an option. As with all problems of this nature, the solution was...The Interweb! It seems that superglue becomes very brittle when subjected to cold temperatures, so it was only a matter of nestling the chassis into the ice box between next Sundays frozen roast and a packet of McCains peas. After a few hours, the chassis very easily fell apart. Some cleanup is still needed, as the superglue is tenacious stuff and is want to resist all devices known to man short of a diamond tipped scraper, gelignite, or a Noel Coward record. Suffice it to say the remnants are still causing me grief!

The next obvious step was to prepare the brass floor to allow it to have the pewter parts so recently torn from it reattached. Needless to say, you have to tin the brass first, and luckily my good friend Mr "Cabbage" Stokes (From up the valley) had armed me with just the stuff; a solder paste. Magical stuff this. I merely wiped it on sparingly with a rag, then left the wagon floor on the long suffering Mrs Ergs stovetop (luckily she had gone to bed moments previously). Within seconds, the whole brass floor went like molten quicksilver, and the job was done.

Next step was to begin reattaching the aforementioned pewter parts, and this is where the trials and tribulations really began. Mr Stokes had made me aware of being able to run a temperature controlled iron off a simple model railway controller. What luck!, I thought, None of these expensive European high priced soldering stations need be entertained at all...I could achieve it all for a tenner! A 12v iron was duly purchased from Dick the Trickster and plugged into the power pack.....and then it happened. Or rather, it didn’t. What I had failed to realise was that most small packs of this nature have a cut-out that stops the pack from coming under too much strain, such as that provided by some philistine plugging a soldering iron into it. I had just enough time to realise the iron was hot, align the parts, slop on some flux, go to pickup some solder on the iron tip.....and then realise the iron was cool again. Resetting the power pack was but the work of a moment while prayers were offered to several non western deities that maybe things could last longer this time around, which they invariably didn’t. After an hours work, I had one poorly attached headstock. At this rate it could be a starter for the 2012 convention.

Mr Stokes came to the rescue yet again, and kindly offered to lend me his own home-made temperature controller and iron (above) while he was down in the South Island Highlands rewiring a hydro electric Dam. Once he returned, he built me a better power pack.....and with any luck, that should make an interesting topic for a future posting, "Grow your own Temperature Controlled Soldering station from common household items".

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

How to do colour pt 1

Well, we have certainly had a lot about correct colours in the last week. theres also been a huge discussion on the nz_railchat yahoo group. And so tonight you all get to suffer my opinion, and then a bit of practical application.

I think I approach painting colours on models differently to possibly everyone else, mainly because I spent a good 10 years painting a variety of wargaming figures, both historical and fantasy. This requires a completely different set of techniques and an appreciation of light and shadow. Shades are built up with several coats (as it was in real life). We also have to take into account that there is a scale effect that at its simplest states that to appear correct on a scale model a colour should be a bit lighter than the correct shade to appear correct to the mk 1 eyeball. This is a good time to be discussing this as I have just undercoated the Railcar top tonight with a spray on etching primer. Now its going to be whatever red was the right one (midland, carnation etc), which means looking at old photo's to see just what is the correct looking shade. The good news is that there does not appear to be an exact correct shade. I've been looking at colour photo's of 1960's expresses and due to aging and the fact the steam engines are dirty beasts, no two are exactly the same, and the cleanest red appears to be (to my eye) very close to Humbrol gloss 19 signal red ( Its ok, I've just put on the tin helmet and am hunkering down behind a large rock to await the incoming fire from the finescale police). Then we get to the cunning bit.

If we have a look at 1431 and 1410, they are both painted in signal red as the base colour. I have then used a wash to bring out the recessed detail. This consists on a Tamiya acrylic colour X19 smoke, which is a transparent colour. as its a bit strong I dilute it 1:1 with water, and a small drop of detergent. when painted on this flows into the cracks and low spots and creates shadows where the eye expects them to be. To get a more workworn look just use 3-4 coats, and concentrate around the vents and exhausts. This is a very basic description of how it works, and I'll hopefully be able to describe it more fully as I paint the railcar. As a final shot tonight, heres the 2 ends in their primer waiting for the first coat of red.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Rainbow Years

(From the Keyboard of Amateur Fettler....)

Despite most of us here being dyed-in-the-wool modellers of the New Zealand railway scene, scratch the surface and you'll find other interests that dare not speak their names; And no, I'm not speaking of being a member of the Oscar Wilde appreciation club, more the liking of offshore prototypes. Kiwibonds is a good example; That man has more N scale BNSF loconmotives than I think even BNSF have. The head druff at one stage had an OO scale Dean Goods with a selection of 4 mm celestorey coaches for it to pull. Drew is currently heading out of cell phone range with HOn30.

And me? A particular hankering after The Consolidated Rail Corporation of America (otherwise known as ConRail), circa 1976. Formed by an act of Congress to take over the assets of several bankrupt Class 1 railroads, it began running to a profit in the early 80's before being privatised in 1987 and sold off to its two major competitors, Norfolk Southern (NS) and CSX in 1997. So why 1976? Standing trackside was to watch a parade of old weary first and second generation diesels still wearing the paint schemes of their original owners with a "CR" stencil mounted somewhere, at times almost so tiny it looked like an afterthought.

So what does this have to do with today, here and now? Well, have you actually looked at whats hauling our trains? We are witnessing our very own version of the ConRail "Rainbow Years" right now. Riding home on the train last night past the depot, I counted 5 different paint schemes, and thats not counting the variations within each scheme. In the last 15 years or so we've seen "International Orange" (or Fruit Salad as it is known to the geeks), 3 different blue schemes (possibly 4), "Bumble Bee" (Black and Yellow), TOLL "Corn Cob" (or Vomit Bonnets, as Kiwibonds refers to them) and the latest KiwiRail scheme (or schemes...seems to depend entirely what crayons hadnt been grabbed by the other engineers at the drawing table that day). Riding on 547 a month ago we had 4 locos, and 4 different schemes.

Following on from Kiwibonds post on colour, I can only say this; If you like variety but think modern image modelling wont allow you to have any fun, I dont think youve looked hard enough at what is on the other side of your viewfinder.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Rollin' on Dubz - rewheeling a DF

DB says:

I got a cryptic email from Mo’druff this morning that started me wondering about wheel sizes on my diesels. I remember the first time I saw a real DF and the wheels looked huge compared to DJs and DGs. Not so on my wee models.

Now we all know that size isn’t everything, thank goodness, but I did buy a pair of Kato SD90MAC bogies a few years back, and for those unfamiliar with the with weird foreign diesels, SD90s have bigger wheels than your average chassis used in NZ120… So as we struggle with tiny-looking bogies in NZ120, could these ones with their larger diameter wheels help us?

My first thought was: could a SD90 bogie fit under a DF with the old SD40-2 sideframes? Unfortunately the bogie bits aren’t swappable in the frame because of gear tower, gearing and sideframe design differences. So I tried putting the SD90 wheelsets into the SD40-2 bogies, and while they seemed to fit, the differences in gear sizes made the wheels difficult to turn. OK, so that won’t work, but the real discovery came in finding that the wheels are mounted on plastic axles that are quite interchangeable.

Thus I could use the entire old SD40-2 mech (including its matching axles and gears) except for some larger diameter chrome-plated spinner rimz. So I swapped the big wheels onto the DF axles, popped them into its bogies (trimming some plastic to give clearance for larger flanges) and made a subtle change for the bigger. If only it was only that easy in real life.

FYI: Wheels seem swappable between Kato and Atlas locos too - with my new DX dash-8 anyway.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Easter notes

There will be a bit of a lull this week, kiwibonds is off to Bruge to try to find some Irish hitmen (or women) , and I'll be off to Christchurch (also known as the Bruge of the south, where I can at least probably find a stack of drunk Irishmen).

this will mean that unless Amateur fetler has anything useful to contribute, normal service will be resumed Tuesday.

Have a good easter

Monthly meeting

At the support group last night I had a chance to look at some handlaid track formations in place on a layout under construction. This coupled with my recent attempt to make a piece of track myself (plus the fact that the points cost $4 to make) has moved me further into the handmade track camp. They did keep muttering about decent tools though.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

In Living Colour: Painting what where.

DB says, somewhat verbosely after a bottle of cheap champagne:

I’ve been fortunate to spend some time in the digital darkroom with DLA Turner over the past year and this exposure (haha) has heightened my awareness (not expertise, alas!) of colour, and this can be useful for a modeler. Sometimes colours can be obvious: ...Toll Rail Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi locos use a very pale vomit-coloured yellow, which contrasts sharply with the richer yellows used in our other schemes. Now I know that the Toll yellow is green tinted whereas the Bumblebee yellow is red tinted and more heavily saturated. Why is that useful? Because if I want to mix some paint, I know what colour to add.
My new DX will be a Kiwirail one – so that’s red, yellow and gray. Pretty straightforward you’d think: run out to the shop and buy some Humbrol Trainer Yellow, some Friday Night Lipstick Red and Bland Tax Auditor Gray… But before you buy, take a look at pages 36-37 of the latest (March 09) Railfan mag if you have one to hand.

Look closely at the reds of the KiwiRail locos in this spread. On the left page, compare the two shots from Mike Graham to that of Dave Gallie. The top two are similar, but the bottom red is far richer, darker, deeper, ‘redder’ perhaps. Compare the two bottom pics (5293 at Normanby vs 5454 at Kaiwarra). 5454 almost looks orange in comparison. But which one is the real KiwiRail Persimmon?
Now look at Ken Devlin’s pic of the DFT top right. That entire pic has a greeny/yellow cast to it – look at the gray compared to the other shots. Note how the gray in the bottom right pic is much lighter than the picture bottom left. The two pics from Graham McClare on the right also have a little green tinge in the yellow loco fronts.

Six pictures in one issue of a pretty high quality magazine, and I have maybe three reds, three grays and two yellows to pick from. Now I could paint up my DX in any of those shades and it would look fine, because even if the colours are ‘wrong’ they’ll grow on me and will be my perception of reality. Until that loco gets parked next to someone else’s model and their perception of the KiwiRail scheme.

I was watching those colours carefully a few weeks ago in 1:1 scale so I’m aiming for a red and a yellow like 5293 bottom-left. I reckon the gray in the two Graham McClare pics is right. Yes, that is my final answer. But I could be wrong. Is this really important in NZ120? I dunno, but I do know, (now) that most of the NZ120 models I’ve made before this year have quite incorrect shades of red and blue. They look completely wrong. And I’ve only just noticed.

Long after locos and stations vanish – and even 'now', for those of us without daily access to our modeling subjects – pictures are what we base our models on, so it would be nice if they represented reality not only in sizes and shapes but also in their colour faithfulness. When you’re painting models, see if you can get hold of multiple pictures from multiple sources. If you look carefully, you’ll start to see which photographers, publishers and magazines take time over colour correction and those that don’t.

The key, is to be aware.

Would you prefer blue or bleu?
As an aside... why so many shades of reality?
1. Paint fades over time in the sun – look at DG2111 in it's later stages . Most of our remaining fruit salads have held up well, but reds often darken in time, losing some of their yellow to appear bluer. Then again, sometimes they go pink. DG 772 at Ferrymead was painted last year based on an original shade found on the loco under many layers of paint (I will personally attest). BUT that wasn’t fresh paint. It was exposed to the elements for years, then subjected to a further 50 years of decomposition and sunlight that would filter through subsequent repaints.

2. Different shades can be used. I’m sure this was more prevalent when a thousand country stations were painted with locally mixed paints, but even today, I wonder if DX 5172 has a lighter skippy yellow than the others. DGs carried several shades of red before fruit salad came along, hence the current debate over 772’s new clothes. Early TranzRail blue repaints like DC 4922/4162 had a darker blue than the shade that was eventually settled on. DFT 7160 had a really light blue/gray for some reason.

3. Things weather and get dirty over time – exhaust makes things darker, brake and ballast dust makes the undersides lighter and yellower and redder. Little nicks and chips in the nose fill with dirt. It all loses sheen.

4. Even in 2009, different films record colours differently, and slides, negatives and prints change over time. This makes getting colours ‘right’ in the steam era especially challenging – exacerbated by the fact that colour films were still developing, if you’ll pardon the pun, and their cost limited their widespread use.

5. Lighting affects colour. A colour will look different in the sun vs shade vs cloud, vs haze, vs yard lighting, vs camera flash lighting. Even in full sun, our perception of colour changes dramatically between sunrise to midday to sunset. This has been solved (in theory) in the digital age by white balance correction… if your camera gets it right. Scale matters too. That tiny paint chip of Speed Racer Aqua always looks quite different when you splash it on the big wall in the toilet. And it will look quite different again if you have scarlet carpet in there. I don’t. I’m just making this up.

6. When things change format, someone (or something) makes a judgement call on how to translate formats and how that image should look. For example prints from negatives or prints from a digital camera at the chemist or the Fuji shop; scanning a slide; someone in photoshop or even a digital camera turning photons or data into a compressed, lower quality jpeg file; even printing a magazine - the RGB colours of a computer monitor are surprisingly different from the colour gamut that even a commercial publisher can produce on a CYMK printer.

6a. The web houses the least accurate and consistent colours. Just look at my website. Is your monitor calibrated?

7. Things get ingrained and perceptions get set. You saw a station painted that way at Glenbrook, so that’s naturally how you’ll paint yours. He painted his with Humbrol Trainer Yellow, so I will too. But did they get it right or was that a shade they happened to have lying around or fancied (Ian Welch’s green car on the Parliamentary special)? Most of the ‘modernish’ 4w wagons preserved in NZ are painted up in shades that look nothing like the way I remember them – and that’s just a 20 year old memory. Something tells me that W192 never looked that way 120 years ago either, but that’s what we see, so that’s what we believe.
Food for thought.

More models

Todays models come from the anonymous 'Russ'

"This weeks effort has seen the (near) completion of two Lb's with tarp covers. Using castings for Lc's, I added the underframe from the Ks to creat the Lb wagons. Used some fine wire to create handgrabs and airhoses. Ran out of time to do the couplers, but will do that next week. I mainly built 2 wagons to try different ways of assembling these kits, to improve my own ability for soldering these small parts without the meltdown. Have to have a look at what I'll move onto next, maybe something with bogies? "

Send in some photo's and your modeling too can be imortalised in electrons

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Quick update

Just a couple of pictures of the railcar tonight to show you how brutal a camera close up is (the black lines are gap filler and not huge gaps)

While I'm not sure if the pictures show it particularly well, I'm not convinced that there's enough curve in the top or sides, and there not much metal left in the roof after the filing I've already done. While I do like the result, I'm just aware that with a bit more planning by the designer, it could have been much better.

Going back in time

Tonight courtesy of Kiwibonds, we have a couple of pictures of the layout that really did start it all.
John Rappards Dunedin to Port Chalmers layout was first exhibited in 1988 at the Christchurch convention (this might be wrong and it might have been to Auckland in 1986). John built the 2 double fairlies Josephine and Rose on the Ibetren 0-4-0 'cuckoo' chassis, and the wagons and carriages on Peco chassis. It was first exhibited as an end to end layout, but was later modified as a round and round layout. I was once lucky enough to operate this layout for a weekend at a show at the Dunedin railway station.

The port scene still survives in Timaru.
Second tonight, these arrived in my mailbox today along with some Cb molds that I had lent to a young chap in Christchurch (and who's soul I now own until he sends me an article and some pictures). these were out of Lc and Kp/Lw molds that I did in the mid 1990's, but the resin is nothing I ever used.

I'd be interested to find out where they came from and also the origin of the R1 wagon and Mc's that arrived at the same time.