Saturday, March 30, 2013

So, how do we get it to move then?

 Right, Peter has supplied us with a lid, so how do we get it to run. I'm not a fan of the Farish 0-6-0 method (for a variety of reasons). So, whats my plan?

Based on an extensive collection of worthless information that resides in my fat head (I'm quite popular at morning tea for the daily newspaper quiz), I have discovered that the Atlas GP XX bogies have the correct wheelbase (17mm). On top of this all the gear meshing is done for us. The photo does not convey this very well due to parallax issues. You will just have to trust me its right.

 The wheels at 6mm are a wee bit on the small size. However, a simple swap with SD-70 wheels (I think they are from Kato) and it looks a bit better. I've also removed part of the bogie side frames while keeping enough to hold everything together

OK its not quite that simple. You have to swap the 1/2 wheel sets on the gear muffs as the gears are offset on the Atlas drive. I also purchased some worm drives. I'll knock the shaft outs and mount it directly on the motor. The invoice tells me that the princely sum for this so far is $7.20 US (not counting the optional SD-70 wheels)
So, how does it fit onto the top?

 OK, so at the moment the wheels are a bit wide and outside the inner side of the cylinders. For some odd reason I'm not overly bothered about this at the moment. Maybe my inner finescaler has decided to cut his losses on this project already. The frames will be plasticard. I'll find a spoked wheel from somewhere (I wonder if Trackgang sells them?) for the trailing axle. And what about a motor?
In the boxes from Long ago, I found what I recall to be an open frame lashima 916. There are a few motors that seem to all be the same size made by other people as well.
 Comparing the motor to the plan, it was obvious that it would not fit in the side tanks, however if I cut some unnecessary plastic I could angle it slightly and it would fit nicely

The worm gear was hammered of the axle it came on (very delicately you understand) and then pushed back on. I also cut the back drive shaft off so that it would not intrude into the cab.
If I was planning ahead I would go for a Nigel Lawson 8mm can motor instead, as this would fit.

On to the top and some alterations were then made based on discussions with the peanut gallery. I added larger air tanks. The ones on the model just felt a bit small. Increasing to 2.5mm gave a better 'heft'. I've also removed the roof hatch and replaced it with part of an etched ladder, to which I'll add a lid. I have had a go at cutting the hole in the roof under the hatch, but this has been less than successful so far. I need to find a tube with a diameter of 3.5mm for the tank filler hatches.

And during a fact finding trip last weekend to get more detail photos....

Friday, March 29, 2013

DI 1843 Lives!

DB gives perennial fave Strictly Ballroom two thumbs up.

You may recall a long time ago that I finished off my DI. Not a bad wee model to look at if I might say so myself. Perhaps the best one I've ever made.

But that was some time ago but this loco had never really moved under its own electrons until 2 weeks ago when I took it to the Long Island branch of TrainPlayers Anonymous' layout with a bunch of other locos. Most of which didn't work either.  However after some prodding the DI lurched and wobbled down the track - if you see how the chassis was built, you'd be surprised that it could even lurch under its own power.

After some wheel cleaning and blowing the cobwebs off it, it turned out to be a really impressive performer. It's relatively slow but super reliable. The speed issue is probably due to a mismatch of gearing between the GP30 motor/worms and the Kato SD truck gearing so I'll probably have a fiddle with the decoder CVs to crank up the speed at lower settings in an attempt to speed match it with my DGs

I didn't have my phone with me then, but luckily I did this week, because, you know, "nowadays its all video, video, video" :

Golly its fun running trains around and around.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Earning your Stripes - ZM postscript

DB belatedly reports on an experiment that went well (for once) :

The last thing to do to my ZM was to add the diagonal 'hey dummy, you didn't shut the six side doors right' stripes, lacking the raw materials at the time.

I seem to remember that painting these on straight was a pain 20 years ago.... You can pencil in a line and paint yellow blobs over it, or...

Since the Shapeways ZM has a subtly gritty finish, perhaps a yellow coloured pencil would be faster and neater. After about 10 seconds work, voila!

And that pic shall be a sneak preview of my next post...

p.s. to this p.s. - are these lines too thin?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The "Last Layout" game....

Am_Fet's mind wanders again....

I had the grave misfortune the other week to be in the same room as a TV. And rather than playing an enthralling test match between us and the mother country, it was assaulting us with one of those inane cooking shows that relies more on camera angles and incidental music to build tension. I mean, honestly, its cooking....and to quote Hamish Rutherford, "Its not like we're saving babies".

But I digress....the reason this came to mind was the contestants on said show were told to play the "Last Supper" game. Its your last meal, and you can have anything you want, served wherever you want, and with whoever you want to be with.

So lets play the train geeks version; The "Last Layout", as it were.

You've got an army of skilled artisans, as big a space as you need and an unlimited budget. So what do you do? NZ, or somewhere else? Nz120 or 9mm? The whole of the NIMT or a bucolic branch? Modern or Historic? And even more importantly, unlike the poor contestants we wont expect you to actually build it for the judges to say foul things about.

Herr Druff is knee deep in Paekok in Nz120, but would he be seduced by 1:24th scale GWR Broad Gauge? Will KiwiBonds go back to his love of American N and model the entire area around Mojave and Bakersfield in scale? And would my brain explode with the pressure of choosing between all the different ideas in my head, leaving me a mere husk of a man weeping gently in a corner (of a very large, empty space)?

The comments section is open below....go to it!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Starting and Finishing the Shapeways ZM

DB concludes:

One of the wonderful things about the items from Shapeways is that they obviously let you spit out a model much neater and faster than making something completely from scratch. Throw some bogies, couplers and paint on this thing and you could be done.

I started by pondering the bogies and couplers situation, firstly finding some Kato bogies as reviewed way back here. The WSF material is easy to drill out using the pre-marked bolster holes as guides. I chamfered the reinforcing strut linking the bolster to the coupler pocket so that there was plenty of clearance for swiveling wheels and also widened the coupler pocket to take a pair of MicroTrains couplers. The Kato bogies have a pretty big bolster hole so I added a set of bearers 'just in case' before attaching them with screws and the couplers with carefully applied contact glue.

With the hard lifting done, it was time to turn ones delicate thoughts towards the pretty bits. After staring at a few ZM pics on the web, things that stood out as candidates for some additional detailing were the big steps under where the centre doors join, the lifting door handles themselves and a small horizontal strip near the top of each door. The latter items are tiny slivers of plasticard attached with white glue - the door handles look ok, but the plasticard is a bit big for the horizontal strips, but no dramas when viewed from the federally mandated distance. The steps were cut off an N scale wagon top which also furnished corner steps which were added as an afterthought. All those steps were  attached with my ancient contact glue. A few rectangles of paper for number and chalk boards completed the effort (although those hadn't been added when the pic below was taken).

At this stage, as tradition dictates, rather than letting all this dry, I slathered on some paint to see how things looked. Those more experienced with Shapeways models over on spray some primer on as a first step before doing anything else, and that's probably a good idea, as I found this WSF material sucks up paint like a sponge. I brushed on Humbrol Matt 160 (German Red Brown) if you're keeping score. The next morning the paint had dried except for a few tacky bits where I glued with the wood glue, so I wonder if something strange is going on there although it all seems set now. I'm sure one of our resident chemists can offer an opinion on that. Interestingly, the paint seeped through on the inside through what are probably minute joins between the doors and a few other places. I hope these won't be weak points in future.

You can see some of that seepage in the above pic which also shows my tacky attempts to weight the lighter-than-air model using steel nuts and washers contact-glued in at strategic locations above the bolsters and bracing.

A little weathering with some acrylic washes (rust, brown, black and gray) together with some yellow to pick out steps and door handles and things are starting to look close to finished.

Although the appearance of these wagons has changed over the years -and especially so since spraypaint vandalism has became so popular - the one remaining step for me will be to put the yellow stripes on the doors, but that can wait till the rest of the paint has dried! Actual working time getting the wagon to this condition was less than two hours. Prototype pic from Ken Lankshear's NZ Wagons Flickr set.

Overall I'd not hesitate to recommend this model of a hard-to-build prototype. I must take a pic of it beside my 20 year old resin cast ZAs...

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Rimutaka layout ideas

Posted earlier on in the week in the peanut gallery comments section.

'There's not that much scenery on the Rimutaka Incline, just a steep piece of track cut into a gorse covered hillside for 5 km or so. Unless one wants only to play shunt the yard at Summit (almost no scenery there either) or Cross Creek (a little bit of scenery) and never run a train on an incline.'

Now, this is an interesting interpretation of the word scenery. To say that there is not much is a bit steep. Its like saying there's no scenery on the Cass bank (just tussock) or on the central plateau (only a volcano there). Lets not forget the west coast. There is plenty of scenery there, but its mostly hidden by trees (as pointed out by a national party cabinet minister several years ago). Oh and its not easy modeling gorse covered hillsides either.

OK, with that little rant out of the way (I keep resisting writing letters to the editor for the regional newspaper, but its getting hard some days) what sort of options are there for building a layout based on the railway line between Upper Hutt and Featherston. I must sketch some of these out. The track plans will have to be condensed of course, but carefully to preserve the operational aspects of the prototype.

1) The easiest (!) is simply to model a section of incline, and have trains run up and dawn. Sounds a bit boring, but with DCC and 4 locos you could have a groups of guys driving. Add in sound (and some random wheel slip noises) and it would be a stunner. Space required (ideally) 8' by 8' in the corner of a room with an L shaped layout. It would need a helix at the back to get the trains to change levels and a fiddle yard as the composition of the trains was different depending on if it was going up or down the hill.

2) Cross creek. This was the main loco depot for the southern Wairarapa as well, so didn't just have 5-6 Fell locos.There would also be a couple of A's or Ab's and possibly a Wf for the Greytown branch. Operation limited to playing in the yard, but rearranging the trains has operational interest. As the railway was the only way of getting supplies there were also other railway movements to support this. The associated railway village should also be modeled (indeed the whole area is incredibly small in real life). It would be up to the modeler how much of the incline to model. Space required would be 8' minimum (I've done the sketches but not worked it out full size) and could expand to as much as the modeler wants. Being on a convex mountain side its a bit harder to extend it.

3) Summit. Playing trains the main aim. The summit tunnel provides an effective scenic block at one end. the layout can be extended as far back towards Upper Hutt as the modeler desires, taking in the Pakuratahi gorge and also a model of Kaitoke. Space required would be at least 8' for summit, and as much more as you wanted/had space for. at least it could be a concave L shaped layout which is easier to fit in a room.

The final option is to somehow combine the lot. I can sort of see how this could work in my head (where all sorts of funny things are possible), but its a large area required to carry it off. The arrangement of the railway on the hillsides also restricts just how things fit in a room, which may or may not be ideal.

(I must start creating some more layout ideas. There's plenty of locos now available so we can move from hand building rolling stock to actually getting this running. Dare I even mention operations?)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Shapeways ZM and CE first look

DB writes:

A quick look at recently reveals that the scale - probably for the first time ever - has moved off the endangered species list and is entering its third and greatest age ...and going mainstream to boot.

Firstly, Russell at Trackside continues to churn out his range of kits, and as soon as he produces those lovely RTR items they seem to get snapped up. The availability of RTR (or close to RTR (btw, anyone remember Ready to Roll? Cringe.) items is a must for, and an indicator of, the scale's long term success, as not everyone who wants to run trains in NZ120 has the confidence, patience or time to make kits up from nothing or to scratchbuild things.

Secondly, there seem to be a lot of 'new' names on the forum, and not just armchair lurkers either, as the photos and videos of some really nice models and layouts show.

And lastly, over the past year a plethora of 3D printed NZ120 items have appeared as Shapeways models thanks to the efforts of some talented CAD designers. I've always wanted some CEs and more bogie box wagons, so being inherently lazy I recently ordered Peterlanc's ZM bogie box wagon and a few CE coalies from listers_nz to give the Shapeways channel a try...

Piggyback Train (2013, Darryl K Bond, resin, brass, wire and paper) as installed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art 
Initial impressions are that these shells are impressive. As the Dandruff Head intimated earlier, it's a little off-putting looking at models that are so straight and square next to my handcrafted items or even my assembled kits which tend to be less of both. In particular, the precision of the door and roof detail on this is really eye-catching compared to my earlier efforts in dealing with with the complex designs of the ZA/ZM/ZP/KS/etc box wagons.

After some discussion amongst the peanut gallery here behind the scenes at Motorised Dandruff Inc, I ordered these in white/strong/flexible material - primarily because its the cheapest. While it maintains a great level of detail it has a rough to-the-touch finish like sanded tile grouting, and while a coat or two of paint might cover that up, i'll probably run some sandpaper over the large surfaces to smooth things out.

Positively, with one exception there are effectively no signs of strata on the surfaces, so these are a lot better than some Z scale containers I received a year or two back. Yet the Shapeways printers are in a far lower league than Mark Gasson's Magic Machine, both with the rough finish, but also with fairly noticeable stair-stepping on the angled CE ends. Again, nothing a little sanding or filing can't deal to but I'll put them aside for now and look at the ZM. Not sure if you can see this clearly in the terrible phone-photo pics:
No ribbing please.
Note that the angled ends of the CEs are the only place I see this strata- it's not visible anywhere else.

Having spent a lifetime looking at ZAs and not being terribly familiar with ZMs, I was initially worried that the roof pitch seemed a little shallow and that it was supposed to have four underframe braces and that I'd been swindled out of two. After finding a few ZM pics, the model of the more modern wagon is correct and I can stop worrying about this and concentrate on global warming, the future of endangered species and my receding hairline instead.

So, as predicted on this blog a few years ago, it's good to see CAD and 3D printing coming of age and revolutionising NZ120, and indeed all modeling. While building up a train of these models is still a fairly pricey and time-consuming exercise, the costs will fall in the next few years as more 3D printing services spring up locally. And of course the quality is improving all the time.

Nice work dudes!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Meanwhile, manually.

With all this Caddy goodness its time to remind ourselves that it is possible to build models using not much more than a knife, ruler and glue. I finally managed to get my hands on a plan for a compressed air coaling crane.

After an hour of sweat and not a lot of swearing, we are at this point.

It is square but doesn't seem to be sitting right....

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What can it be?

I arrived home tonight to a package.

 I wonder whats inside?

We had been discussing some modifications with Peter in the last couple of weeks and these have paid off.The funnel really looks the part now.
( Its still quite oily and smells of almonds. Is the oil normal? Has anyone else suffered from this?)

Monday, March 18, 2013

What in the H... is that?

From an email from 0-4-4-0T:

Hello All
Attached is a file showing some motorised dandruff, and an exploded still showing the position of the mechanism within the body.

Refinements will need to include: painting the thing, removing the rear half of the side rods, adding MMW side rod detail, maybe changing some couplers (although all my stuff at present has these ones). Oh, and rip off the Westinghouse to have a proper pre-1900 engine.
I suppose I will need to get another top and another mechanism - two was probably the smallest number of engines used at once.
The wheelbase of the Graham Farish Jinty mechanism is a little too short overall, and the wheels too big, but once buried under the wobbly bits they may not be too visible. I found it fitted the top better placed backwards, which has the added benefit of leaving the cab empty.

A key matter for these model engines is the ability of the mechanism to run smoothly, slowly.  This engine is close to its slow limit (although it can go slower than the speed seen in the video).  For prototypically slow running up a 1:16 grade with a train, we may need to ditch this mechanism and put in MD's proposed horizontal drive wheels (each with separate micro motor) together with a better low speed main motor.
Many thanks to MD for coordinating everything, Peter for the top, and Cabbage for measuring stuff up for the wobbly bits and earning early access to the prototype top.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Looking at yesterdays photo I noticed that the running boards were a bit high. The inner finescaler demanded satisfaction, and it was too early to drink.

I then added the running boards back in using plasticard.

That looks a bit better.
Then, while looking for something else, I came across some brass angle that was perfect for the tender underframe.

Camera close ups indicate that there will be a bit of work required to get everything back to square. Then again, I've seen plenty of prototype photos that would get a 'please' try again' if replicated in model form.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


A little bit more work this afternoon.

The tender had the front headstock removed to shorten it a bit, and 1mm (or near offer) removed from the bogie pivots to lower it. Its now looking a bit better to my eye.

Unfortunetly the ladder on one side perished (I'm just so rough) and so both were removed. I have some old etched ladders from somewhere so these will replace the RP ones.

Next onto the loco I'll add in a cab and some details, and also the tender footplate will get some attention.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Giving in

Well, I have finally buckled under mounting pressure (from my subconscious) and purchased an NZ120 scale H loco in FUD. Total cost including postage was $75NZ, which I don't think is too bad for this model. Its all quite/dangerously simple with Paypal. The order is then sent into the printing que. Last night I received this 'informative' e-mail.

>Exciting update! We're in the midst of creating your order in our factory of the future.

 Hmm, OK guys, a bit too much of the corporate kol aid this morning I think.

>Once our robots have finished creating your order and we make sure it's perfect....

I think this is a relative term.

The most amusing thing at the end is the warning.

>Warning: Please note that the 3D printed products are intended for decorative purposes. They are >not suited to be used as toys or to be given to underage children. The products should not come in >contact with electricity and be kept away from heat. Our materials, except for 3D printed glazed >ceramics, are not food safe.

OK, so at least I'm not planning to eat it.

(BTW acrylic is an excellent insulator with a melting point of about 90C so unless the chip or motor bursts into flame it should be fine).

I must now pay the Atlas website a visit to get the motorising bits.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


I managed to spend a little bit of time in the Man-sion today despite being roped in to chopping down several trees outside. will this cursed fine weather never end? Maybe I should start building an outdoor railway?
Anyway, its was a chance to do some more on the Ab. Primarily to get the wheels fitted. A hunt through a collection of boxes (and under at least one wagon) turned up 4 spoked peco wheelsets for the tender and a couple of Parkside Dundas wheelsets for the loco bogie. The tender bogie had immediate problems.
'Oh, and I broke the printed bogie pin too'
Printing a model designed for 1:120 up to 1:105 and still want it to sit on N gauge track is a bit short sighted. I drilled some holes in some plastic sheet and cut them out to use as spacers. Fortunately the loco isn't required to move. This makes things much easier.

'Oh, and I broke the other printed bogie pin too'
The wheels for the loco bogie were a bit easier. I removed the wheels and then filed the pinpoints back to flat to suit the inside frames. the photo shows that I will probably have to fabricate a new front bogie with a wheelbase that's a tad longer. Oh and larger cylinders as well.

Then I put it all together to see how it looks.

One end is the correct height, and the other isn't. I'll have to do some plan checking to determine which one is the odd man out. My gut is telling me that the tender looks too high all round, especially the trailing headstock. Other than that, Its a good place to start. I like that its square, something normally beyond me.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Saturday musings

I've been having a bit of a ponder this morning about the various models from Shapeways, and how things could be improved. Looking at this picture this morning gave me some pause for reflection on how far things have progressed.

If any of this had been attempted in another medium, there would have been some major work involved. Different sides, ends and details would have to have been made. These would then have to be purchased, bundled up correctly by the manufacturer and sold. If the variation you wanted was out of stock, 'sorry thats your tough luck you should have brought one sooner'. The bonuses using this tech are great for a manufacturer. you don't have to carry any stock as the model is never out of supply. You don't have to spend your spare time doing that actual physical stuff that selling things entails (packing, posting etc).

One thing that I would change (if I was doing it) would be to possibly move away from the 1 piece model theory. The current level of technology generates models with some ridging (due to the process printing in layers). This can be easily removed but gets to be more challenging when details are in the way. taking the above example are the roof ventilators and collection of handrails (which In my experience tend to be brittle as well). My preference would be for these to be separate pieces, with locating holes on the main body. Handrails may well be better served by being etched from brass (if they could not be printed).The British have a 'large/sizable' cottage industry supplying extra detail parts for RTR models (and kitsets) so maybe theres a chance for a similar sort of thing to happen here. Possibly one answer would be to do 2 models, the first a 1 piece model with all the bits attached, and the second a 'clean' model for superdetailers to start from (its really nice to have a basic square form thats beyond my skills as a start point). Maybe the detail parts could be printed on a separate sprue, or even supplied by a different company, as MMW has done for the trackgang DF/DFT and Dx kits. 

As always, comments from the peanut galley welcome.

Friday, March 08, 2013


Just occasionally its handy to work in the sciences Like when large insulated boxes turn up.
(I had to share with a workmate , and he might use his as insulation).

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Ab's away

Tonight I got a chance to have a go at the first layer of paint on the Ab. Sandpaper and a knife were the order of the evening. From the photo you can see how it went. I think I need to get some more grades of sandpaper.

I'm not sure how to attack the boiler, but that can wait as I'm planning to work on the tender first. This will be split into work below the footplate and the footplate itself.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Getting Stoned: Ballasting 101

DB returns briefly:

Apologies for my absence, I've been away playing in American N. But after sending an Aussie some NZ120 pics yesterday, this particular dimension of my modeling mind - which seems inhabited by more and more personas these days - was awakened.

So why not get around to ballasting that nasty Broken River section of track and take a few pictures while I'm at it. We used to do these 'how to's quite a bit on the blog, not only for those starting out, but also as a way of sharing tips and tricks via comments left by far better modelers..

A lot of people hate the job of ballasting, but not I. It's one of those things that once done, suddenly makes your layout seem more real, so it's worth doing; but it's also one of those things the can really bugger up smooth running track and expensive points so it's worth doing well.

I like to ballast late in the cycle. If you ballast before doing a lot of your other scenery, no matter how well you protect the tracks, you usually end up with plaster, paint and bits of greenery on your ballast which is almost impossible to get out. The only thing you have to worry about if ballasting last, is that you have to be careful not to flick ballast all over your scenery into to places it shouldn't be.

So for the ingredients:

  • Ballast - as fine a grade as you can get. I prefer grey to this brown for mainlines, but I seem to be out of it and I never really expected anyone to see this abomination anyway.
  • Glue - dilute some PVA with water and a few drops of liquid soap/dishwashing liquid to break the water's surface tension. Woodland Scenics also make this nice pre-diluted scenic cement, but it's not cheap. I went through a stage of using latex carpet glue rather than PVAmany years ago, as it leads to quieter running, but it can remain sticky enough to attract dust over time. Be interested to hear what others use...
  • Wet Water - (as opposed to Ice or Steam I guess) - water with some of that soapy stuff in it as above. You can also use isopropyl alcohol which sneaks into ballast really well.
  • Tools - a brush to corral your ballast and something to apply liquids with. 

OK, on with the show...

1. The first step is to prepare your track. Finish your soldering, paint the rails, replace any sleepers that are missing where you joined sections of track together. I've done a sloppy job here on this recycled flextrack on all of the above because I hoped nobody would ever see it. Damn and blast this blog.

2. Dump some ballast on your track with a spoon or a small section of card with a V folded in it, or however you prefer. I suppose the 9-mill guys actually dispense ballast from scale YC wagons. Use a brush to tame the wild ballast. I like to apply ballast between the rails and use a brush to move it along the track - some will spill out to cover the sides. I like to go back and forth with the brush to get the ballast level below the tops of the sleepers as I find this to be prototypical on all but the dingiest of old sidings. This also ensures your flangeways are clear. Running a small screwdriver or pointy item fairly quickly along the 'spikes' of the inside of the rails tends to vibrate the ballast away from the flangeways too. You are now left with:

3. 'Wet' everything. If you put glue onto dry ballast, it will often blob up and do all sorts of unfortunate things to the stones you have neatly arranged. Dampening the ballast first lets the glue to meld and flow into this wetness without upsetting your fine work. I use a sprayer for big swathes of scenery, but for ballasting, I've become fond of these little pipettes as a sprayer can blast your nice tidy ballast all over the place. It might seem slow and painful but it isn't, even if you have some ground to cover. I applied ballast, wetness and glue to this 8 foot section in about 10 minutes.

4.  Apply glue. Either by dribbling it from your diluted PVA bottle or with your pipette - which I find easier to be more precise with. If you squirt the glue too hard or apply it from a high altitude, you'll create troughs and craters in your nice ballast. If you apply too much glue at once, you can end up with glue lakes and rivers which will relocate your ballast all over the tops of the sleepers, into flangeways, and down any slopes. Better to apply liquids moderately and come back to apply more rather than dumping a glue monsoon all at once. At this stage you might apply additional ballast if required to touch up tiny areas - sometimes if you have a sloped ballast shoulder, ridges of scenery might show through. Hmmm... I could have done this pic in Photoshop by making the above pipette white now couldn't I:

5. A final task is to clear flangeways of any errant ballast - much easier to do it now than after it sets. I like to use a fingernail run along the inside edges of the rails for this so you can 'feel' if there is ballast in the wrong places (clean your fingers when you've picked up some mini stones). Some people use an old wagon for this (don't: you'll end up with ballast and glue all over the wheels and they will just traipse this all over your rails) or a screwdriver.

A note on points - I tend to not ballast underneath moving point rails and keep some distance from moving tiebars. I'd rather paint the baseboards underneath these black before laying track. I do ballast up to the frogs at the other ends though and along the sides. Be extra careful of flangeways and to keep water and glue away from seeping into anywhere that moves or conducts electricity (point rail joints and where they touch the outside rails. I'm sure Pointmaster Druff has the correct technical terms for these - I slept through all those Hutt Valley Club pointwork discussions)

6. A final-final thing I like to do for aesthetics is to remove any ballast that has relocated itself onto the top of sleepers during the gluing process. If you find a misplaced rock, dab it with a finger and you'll lift it right up. You can then wipe your fingers on your best jeans to ruin them, or use some other place for your ballast deposits. This pic also looks suspiciously like the one above, although an expert examination should note me probing between the rails rather than clearing flangeways:

7. And there you have it. Once things have set you can:

  • Pull out any track staples (I often use a staple gun rather than gluing or spiking track down. 
  • Weather the ballast with some thinned acrylics if you desire  - either using an airbrush or a soft paintbrush. Sometimes this can be quite effective - you can run oily dribbles down the middle of the track (DJs) or the outside of the track (DEs) or all over the place (DGs, loco depots). You could use a grey colour to represent areas of heavy sanding (the lift out of Otira) or brown for brake dust or black beside curve greasers.
  • Do a final flangeway check with fingernail and/or something metal like a small screwdriver, a dental pick or the pointy bit of a screw works well too.
  • Gently vacuum up any errant stones that flicked onto scenery.
  • Clean the tops of the rails and play trains. 
Anyone else got any tips to share?

Sunday, March 03, 2013

The future

I've been pondering on advances made in the scale in the last year, so this is probably the new year state of the nation 2 months late. One thing that has boomed in the scale is the sudden availability (an explosion) of rapid prototype models. a quick count today gives 7 diesel locos , 2 electric locos, and more surprisingly 8 steam locos. Add to this the locos already available in brass etch or white metal and suddenly the availability of loco power is solved (or at least ameliorated). I would be interested to know just how many of these models have so far been purchased, and how they are coming along on peoples work benches.
One thing that I do wonder about is the brittleness of the acrylic polymer, but thats easily fixed by replacing hand rails with wire. Maybe with some of the more delicate parts replaced with etched items or lost wax brass

And it looks like this new fangled technology may have driven the first nails in the coffin of an old personal friend of mine, resin casting. From memory the last time I used any resin was in Nelson. While I've thought about starting up again, theres always been other jobs further up the list.
It still seems to have its place in the British model railway scene, but I'm not sure if its of much use here.