Tuesday, June 30, 2009
And today? I've been re-reading some old journals that I've got hold of recently, but most of the inspiration I get is from 2 sources. the first is older books; Spirit of steam, Steam finale, New Zealand steam spectacular and others of the same ilk. The work of these old guys in the 1950's and 60's is made even more impressive by the limitations of the media in that period. No shooting of a gazillion pictures and swapping of memory sticks. One chance to get it right and no second chances. The second source is the Railfan, which is a magazine that rates well among any in the world (a real credit to the hard work of the editors). Their ongoing series about branch lines is always of interest, and even modern developments a good for an idea or 2. The cover of the March 2009 is a good example. The new track layout at Newmarket looks like it would make a very good looking layout and the selection of new trains has not been modeled yet.
Comments from the peanut gallery?
Monday, June 29, 2009
Yet an ad from Attic Products (Massey, Auckland) in the Dec 2003 Journal offers a set of detail parts for the NZ120 DC: sills, detail piping, fuel tanks, speedo, tablet exchangers, aerial, exhaust stacks, tail lamps, horns, dynamic brakes and handbrake. All for $20.
Intriguing. Has anyone got or seen a set of these parts? I’d be interested in any pictures or comments if you've seen these or know if Attic Products are still around.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
I do like the look of spoked wheels. I now just have to cast the W11 master and do another 1/2 dozen.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
First up, some Kp and Xc bodies. These are very yummy, and I was surprised to find that they are cast as solid blocks. The green bits on the Xc are just filler taking care of the air bubbles. Doing a bit of research on other wagon types tonight and I was surprised to see just how many Xc's were around in the early 60's.
Next up an old lifelike SD-7 with some attempts made to improve the power pick up. There are plans for this that don't involve Dc's. It turns out that if you remove the center axle the outer axles are the right distance apart for a standard railcar bogie. The plastic frame will have to be cut up, but that's not a huge problem is it. I might replace one of the bogies with an Atlas one (spares available online) to improve the power pickup. This would also mean I would have enough drive bits for 2 railcars.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Tonight, Something that I came across on a CD of scans I've acquired.
Waimate has a unique trackplan which sets the station as the stub end off a turning triangle. The engine depot was located in the middle of the triangle, with the other 2 lines leading to Studholme and Waihao downs. It also received a Gordon Troop designed station (one of 7 I believe).In this photo we can see the tracklayout is quite interesting for shunting with several sidings off the main yard. Also note the G horse box and the Ua gas wagon, as well as the three legged crane.
It would be relatively easy to incorporate this station into a layout as an island peninsular, and it could be very useful in an exhibition layout as an 'unhidden' yard.
From a history point of view, nothing survives today, and the site of the station is now the town swimming pool. Part of the line out to Waihao downs has been converted into a walking track, and out towards the downs there are plenty of reminders that a railway once ran through.
(See the September 2007 Railfan for more info and an excellent article)
Thursday, June 25, 2009
This week that red DC got a makeover into Tranz Scenic DCP 4559 with a quick repainting of the long hood and the addition of a yellow side stripe. Well that was easy. I’ve been enjoying a little Testors flat Sky Blue enamel with a very thin wash of Model Master Gull Gray acrylic over the top of late, and after some experimentation, have settled on Model Master Insignia Yellow for the bright bits.
The Tranz Scenic decals were a pain, taking me more than 30 goes and pages of decal paper to get a useable pair out (not their fault), and the top is sitting on an Atlas SD35 chassis. Strangely enough, the N scale donor top's side sills are glued inside the brass DC sills for a nice snug fit..
Borrowing a tip from Evan's 'On The Roof' post, I used a light gray stick of artists chalk on the long hood and cab roof edges as a finishing touch which doesn't look too bad. In the final picture you can also see reflective strips on the sill which were intended to be decals, but the blue patches came out green and the white as clear due to a malfunction in the thinking department. They were attached anyway and the white and blue overpainted by hand under a scanning electron microscope using the decals as a guide. I was expecting this last effort to look stinky, but the stripes came up surprisingly well.
Go the Blues! And I don't mean the rugby team from that unkempt and sprawly Auckland place.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Couplers in Nz120 have historically been of 2 types; the Rapido style massively out of scale type, and the microtrains very nice but not quite prototypical type. The Rapido coupler has several pluses. It is ubiquitous (standard) and reliable. Its downsides are its the size of a bus. It is difficult to get it to remote uncouple. Its just plain ugly.
The Microtrains coupler is a very nice bit of kit. its made in a stack of different versions to suit the application, and it has a remote/delayed mode of action that is relatively easy to set up. Its only real minus is that its not prototypically correct (apart from passenger and unit trains).
So, what chance a scale working coupler in Nz120. after all its possible in S scale...
Unfortunately its not that simple. Lets have a look at the real thing.
In scale this would be about 2mm wide with a <1mm notch in the middle. To couple your wagons the hook has to hit this 1mm gap EVERY time. This is completely unlike the other 2 couplers who's important dimension is the vertical, which is far easier to sort out. The other main problem is Physic's. Those who haven't just fallen asleep can now follow the rest of the reasoning. for the hook to work, it needs to raise up into the buffer, then drop down again. in the real thing this is powered by gravity (and the hooks are a heavy sucker to boot). However by the time we get down to Nz120 we are talking about a tiny piece of brass with very little mass that has to do exactly the same job. not only do we not have gravity on our side, but we are also at the mercy of friction. This force does not scale, so the tiny light piece of brass has to move very freely as well. Now I'm not saying that this is impossible, but its not going to be a walk in the park either.
Pat Eade got around these problems by creating a permanently coupled bar between wagons. I can't see why a fixed non working coupler would not work equally as well. If you still want to shunt your wagons, you will need a working coupler, like a microtrains type.
Next time round I'll have a look at options available to the Brits, who have been quite inventive in this field
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
I would ask you all to take a look at the history document I wrote, and please help with the period from 1997 to now. Again I'd also like to hear from people with projects on the go. there must be some of you out there.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
So... I had a couple of small plastic squeeze bottles from the dollar store sitting on my workbench, which naturally had me thinking about those CWs again. I know it’s a leap, but stay with me on this one. Das Fettler provided some great detail pictures and a barely-visible plan of something that looked fairly similar to a CW: lo and behold, the curved hopper tub sides are a perfect match to the curvature of the bottles. As I had planned. Mwuahahaha.
After a few days of umming and ahh-ing about scratchbuilding three of four of these things I decided to cast them. And in hindsight, I’m glad that I did. In the previous casting posts, you may recall I made everything in one piece for simplicity, but because of the fine underframe detail and the deep tub-end angles of the CW, I decided to make these up out of separate 'side' and (somewhat simplistic) 'end' castings. Masters were completed thus (note the clear plastic section from the squeeze bottle cut and scribed):
And assembled into a mold box thus:
I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the castings. Firstly, there are zero visible air bubbles – one of the beauties of doing these ‘flat’ simple castings is that any air bubbles rise and sit on the backside of the castings (inside the model) where they can’t be seen. Secondly, that raised triangular end piece is quite deep, yet all those castings came out perfectly. I dripped the resin into that deep triangular section carefully, one drop on top of one drop at a time, letting the resin swim its way into the deepest recesses and expel air naturally. Pardon me. The only flaw in my master plan, if you'll pardon the pun, was that I used .010 x .020 plastic for the underframe rib detail, and this is really too fine - serious mold scrunching is required to get the resin in there and care is required when extracting castings to keep the detail from breaking off.
Not pretty, yet effective
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Its looking good so far. Next step is to add the journals and bearings on the outside (the real thing has an asymmetric wheelbase but I'm going to do mine with the bearings at the same wheelbase as the wheels otherwise its going to look funny), and add the sandboxes. Theres not much else to them.
(Darryl, don't worry, I've almost finished them)
UPDATE; I now have an offer for some figures, so I don't need any more.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
[MD comments: someone was obviously away from school that day, it should be Fettler D'Amateur. just to show that 3 years of french was not wasted. I can also buy tickets for a train in a non smoking compartment, and its not often you see the Swiss laughing at tourists either!]
Back to the beginning of the recent beginning: Since charging headlong back into NZ120 nine months ago, I’ve made around 50 items of rolling stock. FIFTY! Way more than doubling the number of wagons I have. From an MC wagon to my most recent project, 7 hungry-boarded CBs.
I suppose it’s natural to model what you’ve loved in the real world. I look back with fondness on South Canterbury and Otago in the early 1980s – the time when the Railways Department became a corporation; the end of the country stations and a bunch of branch lines; the higgelty piggelty trains; guards vans; the stone train; the last signalboxes;the mix of old diesels on their last legs being replaced by shiny new ones. (Can you believe the first DFs were purchased 30 years ago this year and the DXs are almost 40 years old? Don’t even think about the guts of the TranzAlpine cars…)
Then I moved to Wellington where I chased long, fruit-salad triple-headed express goods trains through the countryside; packed with all manner of interesting bogie stock – containers, big yellow and blue curtainsiders, the new fiberglass-sided box wagons and swapbodies, the roadrailers. The early 1990s were interesting times just before the start of what looked like the end for rail.
And for Darryl since then, it’s been the odd few days here and there on the Midland Line. Long black coal trains rumbling through lands of swamp and bush, over spindly bridges, over stony riverbeds set against a picture perfect backdrop of snowy mountain peaks. The scenery! The majesty! This place that I’m drawn to...
I’ve never had a problem running trains from different eras on sectional layouts representing different parts of the country; but I can’t model everything and I can’t model everywhere.
So in the past month or two I’ve been thinking more and more about modeling the Midland Line in the current millennium. Does that mean I’ll not be finishing that second DA or making interesting wagons from the 80s? Heck no. But I’m going to try to focus the bulk of my energies a little further west.
Bny more info that anyone thinks should be added/altered/incorrect please E-mail me, rather than using the comments section. I'll then re-draft the article.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
This is DC4104 back before it became the second KR DC. This highlights what I was saying about it not all being exhaust smudges; the main weathering is actually an accumulation of what could be heat discolouration (around the DB fans) and dings from the fitters. Note most of it is where they would stand: at the top of the ladder, and the panel between the exhausts and the radiators. By contrast, the fold up side panels are comparitively clean. To recreate this would require some nice silver dry brushing, but I would also make a point of defining the edges of the roof; note they show up almost as a light grey line.
DC4398 at Welly, and the weathering on the roof here is much more muted....but again, I would call your attention to the edges of the roof. Maybe just a lighter drybrushing with silver in this case, although the cab roof looks like its had some snails on it as well. That black roof must be working a treat, no cleaning required....
DC4110 with a bad case of cab rash. The rest of the roof is similar to 4104, but I would call your attention to the slight "rust" effect on the slope of the cab roof. I can only think of doing the top of the cab with a toothpick dipped in silver to "draw" on the lines, followed by a dry brush, first in rust on the sides followed by silver over the whole thing. Finally, I'd hit it with a light misting of "smoke" gunge from an airbrush to pull it all together. Sounds great in theory.
Cripes, what happened here? DXR8007 before they ruined her....This would take a lot of subtle "blobbing" of various colours with a final spray to bring it together. The rust on the side of the cab roof would be a very heavy "dry brush" followed by a lighter white once it had dryed.
Wouldnt have thought of painting the Rads red and white! This is DX5143 at Westfield before she became a KR DXB. Again, the paint looks more like heat discolouration....and it looks like it could be recreated with strategically placed blobs of almost a sand colour with a smaller blob of gunge black in the centre.
As with all weathering jobs, try and refer to photos where possible. And that, as they say in the trade, sounds like a subject of another future post...
Again, thanks to Skippy and MRK for the pics. And if people have any requests, let me know. I'm sure we can pull something useful out of a hat.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
For those that want to display their favorite piece of rolling stock is this simple one ( or maybe two ) night project. Perfect if you don't have a layout, or if you just want to display it on the mantelpiece or wifey's china cabinet. Also good for trying new scenery techniques on, or using as a photography aid for sale items for Trademe.
Items needed :
1 Real Estate sign or foam board
1 piece of track
1 photo of your fav location
a hot glue gun
Start by cutting out a piece of foam board etc about A4 in size ( but double the length of A4 would be better). Apply road bed or 3mm cork with hot glue gun. Fix your piece of track also with hot glue. Apply your scenic materials eg. ballast, ground cover, trees etc and let dry. Leave a bare strip of board about 20 - 40mm wide along the length of your photo module base at the rear, (this will be where the backdrop will go).
Print out your fav scenic location pic onto an A4 sheet of paper (I did mine on plain paper, but photo paper would have been a better idea). Apply spray glue to reverse side then apply to your piece of foam board and trim to size. Glue your photo backdrop onto the back of your module. Cut out two triangular wedges of foam board about 20mm x 100mm and glue at each end at rear to brace the backdrop and keep it vertical. Done !
Brace the base (applying hot glue and scenic materials has the tendency to warp it a little), lengthen if needed, wire two power feeds to track, and you've got a running module ready to be connected to another one. "
Monday, June 15, 2009
A thin strip of plasticard was added under the CB bodysides to make the things look like they sit lower. The three way-too-short bomb-bay doors were extracted (I should have been a dentist) and replaced with ones longer in the fore-aft direction. Ahhhh, now that’s more like it. Because the Trackside bolsters are so far inboard to clear the couplers, there was only room left for shorty discharge doors in the kit. When I moved my homemade bolsters out to where they should be, a large gap was left, now plugged by proper length doors. I wasn’t going to make 21 of these painful wee doors, so I made a mold to do a wagon in one pop. If anyone else out there has CBs that you want to re-bolster and would like some door castings, let me know. Interestingly, the 21 metal door castings off the seven wagons weighs more than a complete wagon...
Hungry boards were made up from styrene strips to represent current practice and the CBs were starting to look pretty good. I made three variations of CB ends, four as the kits were intended('phase 1' CBs?), two as ‘phase 3’ CBs with the CF style raised bridge walkways, and one CB that is missing its angled shelter completely at one end and has a skeletonal one at the other – both variations that exist in the real world. Take the red pill, Neo. CB modifications - compare the CF nethers (top left) with the CBs below. Decals to come.
I discovered a nifty trick for painting these quite by accident. If you take enamel flat medium gray Testors paint and mix it with Model Master acrylic flat black (thinking it was enamel), the enamel and acrylic doesn’t blend perfectly, but as long as you keep stirring the concoction with your brush, you end up with a really cool dark-gray 'metallic-look' finish. Quite the shiznit, as Snoop Dog would say if he was an NZ120 modeler.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
The bench itself was grabbed from an able Squadron Leader and is hinged so the front drops down for easy storage. As I dont have a permannent place to "spread out", I need to be able to setup and take down at the end of every session, hence the reason why the bench is looking so tidy! In the pic above, the bench is setup for soldering operations with the hand-built lowmelt setup featuring upstage left.
First up I glued the plan down onto a piece of MDF. The PCB sleepers were then glued down with a glue stick so that I could remove them at the end. The outer rails had areas filed into them where the point blades would sit in them. then soldered down the outer rails, using an old track gauge given to me by John Rappard 20 odd years ago. I assume its about right. I then filed up the crossing point bit (sorry, can't remember its name) and using the track guages installed it about the right spot. the wing rails were next to go in. I bent these up and then positioned them, discovering in the process that 2 pieces of code 55 rail soldered side by side give a surprisingly good gap that even the Peco 'cookie cutter' wheelsets will pass through. Yah number one here.
Next up was the point blades themselves. These have to be filed quite thin so that they will bend and fit into the rail notches at the head end of the point. I didn't have anything to make a tie bar out of so I've left this.
For a first up effort I've found that there's some things that worked, and some bits I need to do better. I do need an NMRA track guage, and some jigs to solder up several bits. Apart from that I think it's the way I will go on the new layout.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
The 'lets build a loco kit' discussion rolls around every 6 months or so. It quickly splits into 2 camps and then fades into the distance again (I've written about this before here).
I'm not sure if going with the Bullant is the right way though. $240 for the mech before you do anything else is a lot of cash. Add in $150 for the top etc and thats basically $400, which is more than you would pay for an S scale kit. At that price demnad for the model could/would be very close to a round number (how many people WOULD pay $400 for a De or an Ab KIT). I could be corrected but I think most of the modelers in the scale operate on far lower budgets than that. Rumour has it that North Yard doesn't make wheels in 120 becoause 'theres no big market for it' and he is most probably right.
I think any loco kit thats going to come about will be due to some kind soul who wants to sink his money into a project and lose some of it to get a model he really wants. Anything else may just lead to getting burnt.
(well, thats my opinion, but you are all welcome to toss in your own.)
Friday, June 12, 2009
I adjusted the RFL picture's perspective in Photoshop, cleaned it up and eventually managed to get a complete copy out of the printer. Yes, the entire side of my wagon - door, hinges, rain gutter, rubbing strip and all, is a white backed decal. Lazy bugger.
If you'd like to make your own, I've included a file at the bottom of this post, so don't say you don't never get nothing from the Dandruff Brothers. Print it out on a laser or photo printer, stick it on a plasticard box and you'll be laughing. (at it).
RFLs ran in both Islands from 1980 through 2008, albeit now rebuilt with treble doors and alas they lost their signwriting in the late 1990s, by which time the former-UK wagon and the container were jointly considered a "VRA" wagon. Presumably they ran around with TranzLink branding until recently. Our contacts at KiwiRail seem to think these haven't run in a few months, so it may be all over red rover. There are plans in the August 99 Journal that (as usual) surfaced right after I built it - just in time to point out my mistakes!
I found the Speights logo in a dark corner of the interweb and printed it out on the same sheet. By the time you read this, the horrible blue GSX box container will hopefully have been made more presentable.
So now I have a beer container to go with my wine ones. Shame they never made cider containers, or Blenheimer Cask box containers with little plastic taps on the ends. Time for a beer methinks.
RFL jpeg file provided for your pleasure.
Hope the blog didn't down-res this too much...
Thursday, June 11, 2009
The main problem with building a model of a De is that there is no powered bogie I'm aware of that is remotely close. If anyone knows of anything usable ( The Minitrix H12-44 and the Farish class 20 are wrong sorry) the following criteria need to be met; bogie wheelbase of 20mm, and a bogie pivot spacing of 41mm (this one is negotiable).
Finally (again) we have the normal question; So whats everyone else doing. send us some pictures and we'll publish them, if only to give Darryl a break from slaving away at the modeling bench so he can enjoy the Long Island summer.
UPDATE; doing a bit of searching last night, and it seems to my Mk1 eyeball that the Dapol Hymek might have the right bogie wheelbase for donation. I'd like some confirmation though about either the models bogie wheelbase or the real things bogie wheelbase.
The immediate possibility that springs to mind with that beautifully made valve gear is a Wf. Looking at the NZMRG plan the immediate observations are that the wheels are a bit big and the wheel spacing is 1mm too large, the cylinders are a bit on the small side and too high, and the trailing truck needs to be replaced with a 2 axle bogie. The driving wheels I can't do that much about, but the rest...
First up remove the top. The screws are under the trailing truck and in the chimney of all places. The plastic top is then removed for future sale to some simple minded English outline modeler on trademe. Carefully break the glue bonds that hold the cylinders on and then remove them by moving them forward and up. Take care of the waggly bits as they are made either from some really soft reject Chinese steel or toothpaste tubes; easy to bend, but just as easy to bend back. To lower the cylinders you will need to remove about 1.5mm of plastic from the marked area. Carefully remove the plastic by filing until the center line of the cylinder lines up approximately with the center of the driving wheels. At this point I also cut all the detail off the front of the cylinders.
The cylinders are then carefully repositioned and all the waggly bits lined up again. its times like this you wonder why god didn't give us more arms and hands to do jobs like this as you always need a spare pair of tweezers to move something else into position. I just did it sober...
A very minor detail is that the upper link on the valve gear should be flat. I did this by removing a plastic pip at the front of the valve hanger and gluing the link in a level position.
The next job is to remove some of the metal from the motor holder in order to fit the boiler underneath. I'm not sure if its needed yet but best to do it now while the beast is in bits. You can see from the picture its possible to remove quite a bit of metal without breaking anything.
Final picture is everything back together. Next step will be the construction of the rear bogie and fitting it into position, accompanied by the removal of a fair bit of metal.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Tranz Rail's flashy decals were from the superb Etchcetera (Andrew Wells) DC set - the cab numbers aren't the right font for the blue livery, but they will do for now. I gave the loco that ugly 'patch job' look with one more wash of the gray paint in an approximate rectangle. For some reason, many of the DFTs got a much lighter patch than their underlying blue paint. I might cover some of these 'finishing' steps in more detail in future models/blog posts because I forgot to take pictures and I'm sure you're getting sick of DFT tops by now.
Finally, a Kato SD40-2 chassis for it to sit on: I pruned the shock absorbers and some of the 'underbrake' bits off the bogies and made battery box sides from strene. The -2 fuel tank was simply shortened to save time as the end profiles are similar.
And that’s that!
And -before I forget - something I forgot to do on this DFT, was to make the whole top about a mm shorter than it should be as I did with my DFs. This would have tightened up the gap between the rear bogies and the back end a smidge, although looking at the pics above it doesn't look too bad.
I started this project with the comment “Before you ask, it’s not going to be cast, RP’d or etched. Instead, it will be quick to make, cost next to nothing and require almost no skill.”
That wasn’t intended to be a swipe at the technologies that will turn NZ120 upside down in a few years. But... isn’t that what everyone said ten years ago? I'll reiterate from a few months back: manufacturers rarely produce products for love, the market is tiny and bringing products to that market is an incredibly time consuming and expensive proposition. You do the maths.
My point is this: you can wait for things to drop into your lap, but you can also make something out of nothing today, and get a great feeling of accomplishment from doing it. Surprise yourself and then surprise someone else with it and perhaps get them interested in the scale. Given the usual 2-3 foot viewing distance, there’s no better scale than NZ120 for scratchbuilding stuff; which is a good job given the incredible number of fancy kitsets and RTR items available.
So get of that armchair, bring that beer with you and have a go. After all, this DFT top isn’t too bad for a ten dollar, paper-and-plastic, two and a half day effort eh? As Bruce Forsyth used to say : “Hope you’re all doing this at ‘ome!”