Monday, November 30, 2009

Silk ears and sows purses

A few things today. I did a bit of thinking yesterday and have (sort of) decided to make a start on some buildings. However i did put some pencil thought into the Ka/Ja project as well, which looks like it will be the big project for next year. Track laying doesn't count as a big job to me yet, though that may change once I work out whats actually involved doing it.

The other thing today is regarding commercial mechanisms. This comes about every time that people start building a kit, or looking at doing a new one and the big question is how to power it. Its not so much of a problem for the modern diesels which are all from the US, but the EE and Mitsubishi stuff is extremely problematic. As a case in point I have the current Ew problem, and while I've come up with what I think is the answer, I'm still not convinced that it will work. The Dsc discussion is also leading down some interesting paths. One modeler is even looking at using a Lima mech that's 30 years old. While I do applaud (to some extent) the 'outside the box' thinking, I d have some doubts of the realities of using a poorly running mechanism (Go to the N scale loco reviews link just down on the left and see what the reviewer has to say about anything Lima). Now I realise that not everyone is made of money. Indeed I was once the prototype for the cashless society as I was never given any. However, I do feel that what money one does have for the hobby should be invested in the best quality one can afford. This means avoiding the lure of the bring and buy tables where you can buy something cheap, and then are forced to try to work out just what you can do with it. I've been burnt like this in the past, spending my meagre money on Bachmann steam locos that only broke my heart. Now days I'll only buy something if its exactly what I want for a price I'm willing to pay.

Actually, what I would like to see would be a selection of mechs that can be made up using Kato/Atlas wheels and drive trains along the lines of the S scale north yard stuff. These would not be overly expensive I think as the bits themselves are reasonably cheap and readily available online. It doesn't have to be high tech to work.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Its almost over

All of you out there in reader land will be most relieved to know that the ed project is nearing its end. About the only job left was to do the painting (well, almost).

I had started off with a red oxide colour for the undercoat. I chose this to skew the top coat colour towards the darker more burgundy shade of red (at some point I'll do a more involved post on this).

After the base coat we move into the layered weathering system I've described before. a couple of coats of thinned out Tamiya 'Smoke' later, and we get to this sort of effect.
One thing that wasn't quite working at this point was the grill side of the loco's, as the paint was not settling in some areas to the degree that I wanted, Most noticeably the side vents and the small grills along the bottom. To fix this I put both locos on their sides and applied the wash just to these spots. problem solved.
The underframe didn't look quite dark enough and so this area got several coats of undiluted Tamiya smoke which seemed to do the job. After all this I laid on a coat of matt varnish to get rid of the gloss colour

Drybrushing was rather muted for these locos as they were relatively 'clean' due to the lack of steam locos in Wellington in this time period. In this case they just got a very light drybrush of chocolate brown on the lower sides, and a light drybrush of leather brown on the roofs. This seems to give about the right effect.

I also managed to hand paint the numbers on the headstocks. The missing bits are the cowcatchers (buggered if I know how to do these, soldering wire and brass failed completely)and couplers (which is a re-occurring theme and something I really need to fix soon).

To get away from Ed's and guards vans, are there any other modeling topics that people would like me to cover? All reasonable suggestions investigated, otherwise it will be onto some meat vans or even more guards vans.
Its your choice.

Friday, November 27, 2009

'Naki time'

Just for a change today from my Ed project and other out of scale witterings we bring you shots of todays railway.
These are from Drew.

'This was going to be captioned 2 pair, buts its quite obviously 3 of a kind.'

And from Amateur Fetler, a gold train at saltwater creek south of Timaru.

Fear not, tomorrow its back to the 60's

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Handrail time

As well as spending a few days banging my head on a variety of well built baseboard bits under my friends layout, I've also spend some time at my bench, and as usual, its back to the Ed's again, as I would really like to get them 'finished' in the not too distant future.

I had been avoiding a few detail jobs on the ends. the first up was the front door surrounds. I cut a piece of paper to size and then carefully cut out the inside with a sharp knife to give a retangle with lines about 0.5mm wide. This was then glued into position with PVA.

Next up was the handrails. faced with having to bend multiple numbers of these to size i came up with a small jig. I used an iron spanner that came from one of those flat packed warehouse furniture kits. using a hacksaw I cut in to both sides until the center bit remaining was the right length to fold up the hand rails.

It was a relatively simple task to bend one end of the wire with pliers, then fit it into the jig and bend to the correct length. To cut to the correct length I used a triangular file to cut is off on the other side. pliers bend the second end to the correct angle, and there you have it. as you can see from the jig there are 2 different length handrails. These were the vertical ones. For the horizontal ones I just cut some wire to length and then glued it in place. It looks OK from 2'.

First pics

Fresh up on the Nz120 site this morning. A photo of the Br class 04 etch here.

The export model of this loco was our Ds class shunter, and with a new Farish 08 shunter mech (the one with outside frames) it looks very close on first inspection. there are a few details that are not quite right, but mostly its all there. Maybe we should start organising a list of those who want to buy one?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A step back in time

Another day, more layout wiring for a friend on his S scale layout (I must take some pictures).

Today was entertaining on several fronts.
1) Even wiring for DCC isn't as easy as it seems. After hooking up everything I had laid in yesterday (1/2 a dozen point motors and a similar number of track feeds) I fired up the system to be told I had a dead short somewhere. Oh goodie. Fortunately the owner had connected everything up using screw tag terminal strips and it was reasonably easy to locate the short...not. After nearly an hour of seemingly chasing my tail, I finally narrowed it down to a double crossover where someone(else) had failed to gap the PCB sleeper in one place. problem solved and at least it wasn't my wiring.

2)After getting the track all sorted I had a crack at cleaning the loco wheels. Things were a bit grubby, but not as bad as after a day or 2 running at an exhibition, which really is something to behold. What i was surprised to see was that Models assembled buy the manufacturer were on the centuries old 'pick-up one side of loco, other side of tender' type). I think The Pilgrims left England because they didn't want to convert to pick up on all wheels (or maybe it was something to do with 3 rail, who knows). What I was completely astounded to see is that it worked quite well (or worked at all). Maybe I'm just too use to the lovely 'pick upon all wheels' that we in the chosen scale are more acquainted with.

Its actually quite nice to work on someone else's layout, assuming you don't break anything, which i have yet to do...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

hard at work

Sorry, no real post today as I've been out helping another local modeler with his S scale layout. Its OK, I've just been wiring switch machines and track feeders, so please not comments about changing scales (as if!).

Tomorrow hopefully I'll get to handlay some track to see how its done in the big scales, and if i can port it to nz120.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Wild South

A wandering Am_Fet writes: After a hectic few months, I have finally thrown off the yoke and find myself once again in the Land of my Birth (which is, oddly enough, the first line of our school song...). A sedate and relaxing Ferry trip was followed by a nice meander down the lovely Kaikoura Coast to Christchurch for a nights stopover, followed the next day by carousing with friends and the wander further down to the land of on-call child minders, well stocked fridges...and other foibles I seem to have inherited...

A JA would fit nicely along that fence...

As always when returning to where I grew up, I am amazed at the changes that have occured since my last visit; Trees grown or gone, new buildings, old faces....luckily the old Nor-Wester is pumping so I'm constantly reminded where I am!

One of the biggest changes I have noticed so far this trip are the trains; There are so many more about! And without looking too deeply, I think its easy to see why...its all about the dairying boom. While wandering south from Christchurch on Saturday, we met DFT7132 sprinting north with J22, A Timaru - Christchurch Freight which pickups milk tankers (LSM containers on IC wagons) from Temuka.

923 Leaving Timaru, Heaton St alarms activated in the background.

Today I followed 923 CHCH-DNDN Freight to Studholme from Timaru....which was the 4th station it had shunted at on the way south after AshVegas, Temuka and Timaru. I was hoping to catch 920 coming north for a crossing, but it had snuck through in between me calling Train Controller Paul Strickland and loading the troops into the LAV (Swine...he said the crossing was St Andrews). Later on today I could catch another 2 freights passing through, as well as the local shunt to Pareora and Winchester if I so chose.

923 enters the loop at Studholme, ready to shunt the traffic on the left

So what has all this to do with Model Trains, I hear you cry....well, I honestly believe that the number of people who choose this as a hobby is in direct correlation to the number of trains around to be seen...the more trains, the more people will be "sold" on the idea of somehow trying to create what they are seeing in miniature. Honestly, this is the most trains I have seen away from home for ages....and if a confirmed train nut like me is noticing more trains, one can only assume that Joe Public are as well. And that has got to be good for everyone.

Postscript: Highlight so far was during a rest stop along the Kaikoura Coast just north of Oaro....having 2 DX's pop out of a tunnel just a stones throw from our vantage spot, disappear into another short tunnel, then reappear over 300 meters away and disappear into a 3rd tunnel....while wagons were still rolling past us (including an SA/SD set on its way north)...just magic.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Further to yesterdays post, heres some of the ideas I've been kicking around some ideas for powering the Ew, operating within the constraints I have using the Kato bogies. The main one is not being able to use a low chassis so I'm restricted to using an overhead frame similar to the one I used for the railcar.

The first plan involves having 2 separately powered bogies. This is reasonably fool proof and simple, but not overly elegant. I'm also wondering if i can hang enough weight in the right places to get the tractive effort up.

The second plan is a bit more mechanically involved but does drive on all axles. Again I would use 2 motors preferably, or one with a large flywheel in the second gap.

The third scheme was suggested by Lalover yesterday. the central motor drives the 2 outside bogies. I'm not overly keen about this one, possibly because of the long drive shafts which just scream vibration at me when I look at them. the universal joints will have to be very well made as well.
(sorry about the picture. I tried to draw it on a computer. I'm just far better with a pencil and some paper when it comes to sketching these things).

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saturday again

Looks like its going to be a quiet weekend modeling wise here at Chateau dandruff. the warmer weather seems to mean there is more stuff for me to do away from the bench.

So, thinking time this weekend will involve how to best motorise the Ew. I'm considering either all wheel drive (could be a tricky driveshaft set up beyond my my engineering skills) or just powering the 2 outer bogies and have 2 motors (which could limit the minimum radius it will run on, but will be far easier).

UPDATE: Having been round the shops in town, I spotted in the local book store a book comprising pictures taken by Whites Aviation in the 50's and 60's. these aerial shots are very handy modeling tools to see station building layouts, and how the railway relates to the rest of the landscape. From my fast flick through there seems to be some thought provoking shots for model design. Its $60 and I'm awfully tempted to buy a copy, even possibly more than getting a copy of Derek Cross' book from last year.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Topping it off

With almost all of the body work done I had a crack at the roof bits of an Ed. Pictures from Amateur fettler and Cabbage shows there is not that much up there (sounds like the top of my head) apart from the pantographs, so it was quite straightforward. There are 4 metal sheets under the pantographs at each end which I assume is to strengthen the roof so that the fitter won't fall through while trying to fix something. There was a bit of bendy pipework at one end, and this was folded up out of copper wire.

The other end has a straight bit of copper wire and another flat steel sheet. This area was once the roof for the steam heat boiler before it was removed, and so I placed a small patch in the center where the funnel would have poked out.
The only really complex bit is in the middle

There's a set of 5 isolators and a bus bar of some sort. this is obviously where the electricity gets in. I cut up bits of plastic round rod and glued them into place. I did actually have a crack at turning the shapes up, but my knees gave out.

So, after all that we have a roof that looks close enough to the real thing.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

New project; Ew

Yes, its time to start a new project as the pile of 1/2 finished stuff is declining. (who am I trying to kid; its just getting bigger).
Today the bogies for my Ew turned up. these are the Kato RSC-2 bogies, which have 3 axles. However the wheelbase of the 2 outer wheelsets is 20mm, or 8', which is almost spot on for the EE bogies, and close enough for me

I made the modifications as shown here subbing in larger wheels and modifying the bogies to suit.

The only problem with removing the central axle is its part of the drivetrain. To solve this I used the pinpoint axle bearing cup that was still there. The split axles were gently hammered out of the wheelsets, and then replaced in the gear muff. A tiny bit of plasticard was inserted just to make sure that the metal didn't touch in the middle. I then reassembled the bogies which now look like this.

I will be filing the detail off the bogie sideframes and then adding something a bit more prototypical. I will then have to put some thought into how the chassis is actually going to work, how many motors I'm going to use and if all the bogies will be driven.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The masked loco

More work on the Ed's today. It was finally time to tackle the hardest parts of the model; the ends.

The Ed has a rather complex shape at each end, that was once described as having all the aesthetic qualities of an upturned bathtub. The sloping fronts make it extremely difficult to get the windows square as they have to be a trapezoid in order to look square from the front. I would love to say that I sat down and let my inner finescaler calculate out all the measurements to several fractions of a millimeter. the rest of me said sod it, tied him the a chair out the back and started cutting. I started with a piece of paper that was the right height. The center window was measured out as well as the starting points for the inner corners of the larger windows. I then carefully shaped the bottom of the paper to the front of the Ed and carefully cut the paper back till it was a square fit. I then measured out where the outside of the windows would be and joined them up and cut it out with a very sharp knife. I used this as a template for the other 3. Yes, it was indeed a prick of a job. These were then glued into position with superglue. This operation is not for the faint hearted, slow witted, fumble fingered, or anyone with an allergy to superglue fumes (I qualify in several of these categories, though I'm not yet allergic). The edges were smoothed back with a file. I also added the cab sides without the doors.

The next fun job to tackle was the headlights. The Hutt built machines were fitted with a cowled headlight that looks beautiful. Its another one of those 'How can I make this harder for a modeler' bits. So, how does one turn up a cowled headlight without access to a lathe when the only thing one has that is the right diameter is a thick heavy bit of brass rod?

'I'm also playing the harmonica and banging a drum as well'

A piece of brass rod is cut off and chucked up in the power drill. This is then clamped between the legs with one leg operating the trigger. The hands are then free to use a variety of files and hacksaw blades to do the shaping. I then used various grades of sandpaper to clean up the tool marks. The brass surprisingly doesn't generate much heat as its all being disipated by the drill chuck.

You will notice that I have not done anything to add a working light. This is just due to the fact that I find lighting beyond me. It always looks wrong and I can't seem to get it to work right. Its also one less thing to go wrong on the layout.

The base of the cowl then had to be shaped to fit the curved end of the cab. This was achieved using a large round file I have owned for 15 years especially for this task.
When I had removed enough brass I then glued it into position with superglue.

The second one was then finished using the same methods.

The Addington built machines just had a plain headlight. this was just cut out in the drill using a hacksaw. At least someone on the mainland was thinking straight.

As you can see from these pictures I have also added the roof walks. I was not sure how wide to make them, and in the end made them 2.5mm (1' in scale) as that was the narrowest board I would have walked on at any height, let alone that height. I have also painted the outer roof and the windows. I have yet to actually glue the pantographs in as I'm just waiting on some pictures of the electric bits on the roof of 101 so that I can add that detail.

They do still look butt ugly

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Another milestone

Today we have hit 500 posts. So, I've decided to have a look at some statistics for the blog.

-Posts; according to my tally up tonight on the back of a scrap piece of paper, Darryl has written 62 posts, Amateur Fettler 40, and another 20 as guest submissions. That means I've written more than a years worth. If I had been writing my Novel I would have been finished by now and sipping margaritas on a beach in the south pacific. That would also be a sizable number of Journals filled
Seriously, their input has been invaluable, and Its great that they have taken the time to write posts. It actually takes a bit of time to commit ones modeling to page, taking pictures during construction, and then coming up with a witty one liner as a heading. its not all beer (or cider ) and skittles folks.

-The most popular topic has been Philosophising (68 posts), followed by Workbench (59), wagons (54) and Layout ideas (42). Least popular have been painting and figures with on each. At least we have had a broad spectrum of drivel.

-Statcounter tells me that we have had a total of 47,450 page loads and 21000 individual visits. Man that is a large number of people that stumbled across this page by accident. It also implies that those who have stayed have managed to read just over 2 pages before being overcome.

So, thank you all for wandering past and reading the only regularly updated model railway blog in New Zealand. Quite honestly I'm still amazed that no-one else has thought of trying it.

Its also been nice to see a swell of enthusiasm for the scale as well in the last 3 months. is getting some good discussions going, and it would be really nice to see a small freemo layout at the convention next year.

(I've managed to write for 18 months without once thinking about making a model of a De. I have however been working on other secret projects....)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Out of sight

Some pictures from Drew tonight of some locos that tend to get neglected by modelers simply because they run across the center of the NIMT, which the S scale guys don't seem to model (as they don't have very large basements). The Ef class just seem to run and don't spend time at Hutt shops being rebuilt. I assume they are reliable locos ( If anyone can prove me wrong), and it appears that the painting specialists are at work all over the country. This is an interesting look at what the Dl class will probably look like (with a narrow hood of course).

Also, A shot of the last surviving 'Bumblebee' Dx 5166, reputed to be next in line for the Hutt shops treatment.

Finally, if you park your ride outside at night in a rough area, don't be surprised if you find it the next morning up on blocks with the wheels pinched

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Ruminating

There's been a bit of discussion over at in the last couple of weeks about getting some scratch aids to build loco's.
This has come about due to a bit of detective work by a couple of members about the Worsley Works scratch aid for a British Rail 04 class shunter built by Drewry. as it turns out this was also used as an export model and wound up here (with some minor detail changes) as our Ds (and possibly DSA) shunters. The outside frame chassis appears to be reasonably similar to the Farish/Bachmann 08 diesel shunter as the new version has outside frames. It therefor appears that there is a possibility of a 'scratch aid' kit. As CAD can readily be rescaled fro larger projects

This has me in a thinking mood this morning. Discussions with other local modelers have revealed that the biggest problem that they seem to face is getting any of the 'state of the art' steam loco kits available to S scale modelers to actually run really well. They have even been reduced to sending them off to expert builders in the hopes of getting them to run acceptably.

This leaves me in a bit of a quandary. I want a loco stud with 4 Ka and 2 Ja locos. If I want to get these looking right then I have to do/organise quite a few things. I'll just ignore the wheels for the moment. The frames will have to be etched and be able to be assembled in a foolproof sort of way. Suspension of some sort will probably be required, which really adds complexity on something this small (plus there would probably have to be a second set of almost everything on the etch, as something is bound to ping off into the ether).

The Cylinders, coupling and connecting rods have to be moved out slightly as our wheels will not be a scale thickness and there are clearance issues. as for assembling valve gear, there's going to be a really fun watchmaking job. Compared to all this the top and tender will be a walk in the park!

Hmm, might be time for another cuppa. And possibly another guards van to build.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The one you have all been waiting for..

Well, for those of you who want to know how to paint figures that is.

In this post I'm going to go through my 'simple' method for painting figures. I've been painting figures like this for 20 years or so (ever since I was painting figures for Railmaster for export to keep myself feed while doing my masters). This method may not work for you, but it works for me and will give you acceptable results in the minimum time. Those who really want to go to town can search out many of the excellent fantasy and military miniatures painting sites out there on the web. However I've used this system to paint batches of 60-100 figures at a time, and for most people it will be more than good enough.

At this point I should point out that you should have a rough knowledge of clothes colours in the period that you are modeling. Otherwise people are going to point out that hot pink shirts are a bit out of place in your 1950's country station.

(I'll apologise for the pictures now. they sort of relate to the writing but I've done somethings out of order as my brain tends to wander a bit during the job. sorry)

To start with I suppose there will be the chat on brushes and paints.


I tend to buy Tamiya. These are widely available, are quite cheap and hold a point really well after a lot of hard use. I've tried artists brushes but they always seem to wind up looking like a bush. whatever you choose it will need to have a good point, and not much smaller than OO size. anything smaller will not hold enough paint to work with (however I have been known to paint with brushes with 5-6 bristles for some really fine jobs).


I use a wide mix of Humbrol, Tamiya and Vallejo. Humbrol enamals are the old bog standard. they cover well, and if they were not sold in those silly tinlets would be great (the paint always forms a skin inside no matter how hard I try to keep the lids on tightly). Tamiya acrylics are good to use, but can go a bit odd as they can dry a bit fast. Vallejo are really nice to use, and cover well. they do have a tendency to scrape off quite easily, so a coat of matt varnish is a must. I've not had any experence with any of the other modeling paints available out there (games workshop etc). I would choose acrylics over enamals as they are much easier to clean up and less toxic. Whatever you do, do NOT use house paint. This will just result in 'blob men', which considering how much time you spend on everything else for your layout, is like drinking casked wine every night for the rest of your life ( or Tui beer)

Right, todays victims are some of the Priesler TT scale figures, kindly 'lent' to me for this purpose by ECMT and Wes.


I've tried two methods of painting here. 1/2 the figures have been left on the sprue so that they are easier to handle (but mostly so I could tell who's were who's). First up remove any plastic flash left over from the moulding process. This was not so easy on the figures attached to the sprue. Some people also advocate washing the figures with water and detergent. I've never really bothered with this for plastic figures. An undercoat of some paint is next. this can be either brushed on or sprayed. Choose a light colour (the best probably being light grey). For some odd reason I've chosen Humbrol flesh. Make sure everything is covered, but don't make the coat too thick.


I paint from the inside out mostly. this means starting at the skin and slowly working outwards to the outer layers of clothing.
First up is to paint the flesh. get a good covering and don't worry about going over onto clothes etc as we will be painting over any splash later. Next up is shirts. These tend to be lighter colours ie whites, creams etc. I select 2-3 colours for this. laying the figures out paint every 2nd or 3rd one a particular colour (depending on whether you have 2-3 colours). We are going to continue this sort of process with the rest of the areas, and eventually will wind up with no identical figures. take the 2nd colour and starting at the second figure again paint every 2nd or 3rd one. repeat with the 3rd colour. Again, splash these on EXCEPT where they come up to the flesh areas. here you will carefully paint up to the line. try to get the edge as clean/straight as possible. Its not the end of the world if you can't, but it will look better later. Womans shirts and T shirts tend to be brighter colours.

Next after this is ties. I select dark colours (greys and blues). paint a straight line from the top of the shirt to the bottom running over to the jacket where necessary.

We then move down to the opposite end of things. Pants and skirts. Again select several colours (3-4, but one more than the shirt colours) I normally would pick a mid grey, black, blue and possibly a khaki for the men, and some lighter colours for the women (possibly some greens and browns or even red if you are feeling adventurous). Paint these on using the same method for the shirts and ties (ie every x'ed figure where x is the number of paints you have choosen) and if the figures shirt touches the pants/skirt paint carefully up to this line and try not to go over it. Also try not to go over any flesh colours as well. If you do, just leave it till the clean up at the end.

Are we having fun yet? Jackets are next. These tend again to be darker colours (greys, and browns, maybe greens). Paint these on as previously, but now with a bit more care as there are multiple areas where you will be approaching previously painted colours. Again just paint up to the line between the colours, and try not to go over it.

Now we are into the easy stuff. Bags and other accessorys can be painted. Bags tend to be leather and only really colourful in more modern periods. you can have a go at painting the starps, but its not easy, and will be dealt with in a later step mostly.

Hair is quite simple. I only use 4 colours, Black, brown, a light brown/yellow ( Tamiyas desert yellow is very good), and grey. Choose a mid to light grey. You will probably not be able to see the hair moulding, so just use a bit of common sense to apply this where you think looks right. Don't be afraid to experiment with facial hair (for men) but make sure that it doesn't look out of period.
Finally finish up by doing any hats etc. These can be any colour really.
Opps, almost forgot the shoes. I paint mine mostly black or brown, but for modern periods almost anything goes.

We now have a couple of finishing steps. First up, take each colour in turn that you have used and go over all the figures that you have painted and touchup any flaws, or bits that you have missed previously.

The next two step really tidy things up. Brush on a 1:1 mix of Tamiya smoke (X19) and water which will run into all the crevices and joins between colours. It adds shadows as well.

Left to right; Mr and Mrs Goring return with the shopping; 'No, my wife is at home'; 'Should not have brought that cheap watch in Singapore'; 'See spot run....'; 'Wish I'd brought a book'; A full head of hair; A model of me 20 years ago; 'Go the Naki'; Nondescript child.

Secondly, give each figure a VERY light drybrush with a light colour ( I use Vallejo 'iraqi sand'). Dip the tip of a widish soft brush in the paint, and then wipe it mostly dry on a tissue. This should leave a very light dusting on paint on the bristles. Brush this very lightly over the figures and it should highlight the raised areas. Be very careful as its easy to overdo.

I find these steps improve the look quite significantly, making you appear to be a far better painter than you really are.

One final step once you are happy with everything is to seal it all with a coat of matt varnish. Make sure that this is properly mixed, as it can do funny things.

Having painted both batches now, I would be inclined to paint as much of the figure as possible on the sprue. its much easier to handle figures this size, and you don't have to keep touching them untill later in the process.

I have added a thread on so that we can further discuss this topic and answer any questions etc that anyone might have on any of this.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Moana 10: Do the Loco-motion

DB says: The sum of all fears. I hate soldering. I hate it with a passion. Moana has been stuck for months now waiting for some solder. Today I soldered.

Firstly, the Tortoise is pretty neat all wired up with a centre-off reversing switch to (temporarily) a 9v battery. I've used hidden rods to operate points before, but this is oodles better. It even sounds like a real point motor as it winds over. The downside is that I don't seem to be getting much life out of either of the sets of internal SPDT switches that can supposedly be used to direct power to the point frog. "Hmmm" and "bugger" in equal doses.

For the more mundane, I have a main bus wire with plain old stereo plugs at each end running the length of the module. I have feeds to the track at both ends (single track at the far end, and three tracks just beyond the view blocker in the staging yard) and many of the rail joints are soldered as well. My soldering isn't pretty, but it seems to have worked, as I dusted off my magic DCC box and managed to get a few things working in super smooth slo-mo.


Now that's a reminder of how long I'd really been out of NZ120 - most of my stuff doesn't have decoders. Sure I had the two DFs working on the Sawyers Bay layout, but they're boxed away at the moment, so I reached for some more other items. DC 4939 works (barely) as does DBR 1213 but it still thinks it's 1267. So later I changed the decoder address but then found #13 is consisted. I need to clear out all the consists from my N scale American days...

My new KiwiRail DX doesn't have a decoder and I don't know if I have any that fit the new Atlas Dash 8 [have just checked on the interweb and supposedly the ones that fit the dash 8-40B's fit the C's as well (yay!)]. The new DFT didn't have a decoder either, but I was able to steal one from a passing Santa Fe SD40-2. It works beautifully. I love those Kato units - they run so smoothly and slowly.

So I guess one of my next tasks is to get a few more locos working.

On the plus side, with some new trees hiding the Tortoise (it's partially buried in the foam hard up against the backdrop and surrounded by the trees behind Rhys's shed), Moana is almost ready to be elevated to its rightful position and plugged into the staging yard. I really should buy some people for the platform, and I still haven't built what I assume was the old stationmaster's house between the station and that hut, but we're almost there.

I don't know whether I've disclosed the Moana module dimensions before: The visible area (seen in it's entirety in the wide angle shot taken at 24mm focal length above) is 210 cm long from the far edge to the view block that the camera is perched on. It's 53cm wide at the view block end under the camera and tapers down to just 33cm at the far end (just one foot one inch wide). Size isn't everything.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ziggy Ziggy Ziggy: Mark's Model Works ZG

DB says: So this lasering business isn't all beer and skittles.

The early-prototype ZG CAD from Marks Model Works is designed to be cut in 1mm (.040 inch) styrene. This is thick stuff and it doesn't laser easily, requiring a fair few bleams of power. I got mine back with one and a half attempts on the one plastic sheet... neither perfect with lots of scorching and melted sections and some parts printed over the top of other ones.I thought the whole thing was unusable due to the overlay, the general meltyness of some of the thin sections, kerfs and ridges on each side of the cuts. Yet for some reason I was compelled to poke out some of the parts yesterday for a look and ended up making up the whole model in a couple of hours.

Rating: Very, very impressive and well thought out. But not a walk in the park. Well, not the way I went about it...

I found it hard going at first, but fairly quickly was able to figure out that this has been designed as a very precise piece. Thus if I filed down the ridges left from the laser cutting and I scrawked out the slots with a modeling knife, it all went together very easily. As I said, its very, very well thought out, with internal bracing and ends built up in multiple layers as you can see from the pic above.

I've made a couple of suggestions to Mark re the underframe, bogie and coupler mountings, and these may make it to any future editions.

On top of the general messyness of the lasering work, the laser guys had also forgotten to do the 'partial cut' raster layer, and this has the fold lines for the doors. Bummer, as the doors are quite important on ZG models. I used bits of the supplied stuff and some plasticard strips to build the doors up and think they turned out ok, albeit not as straight and flat as they would have had I used the parts as included...

The ZG and little brother ZH are challenging prototypes. The doors are large fibreglass items, so in an attempt to get that look, I skrawked, puttied, sanded and then airbrushed on some white paint. This is the first time I'd airbrushed anything in NZ120 and struggled to find any white paint in my stash that wasn't effectively 'clear with a tint of white'. Old pals Mr and Mrs Humbrol came to the rescue with Gloss 22 White - finally, a white paint that has some coverabililty mixed into it. That skinny wee centre bulkhead between the doors is a pain to paint green, but the ends and bottom door roller channel weren't too bad. I used some Testors in a Brunswicky-Green shade and my old fave Acrylic Gull Gray on the roof beam.

Because of the amount of plastic that goes into the model, the thing is actually weighted quite well for NZ120. I added a couple of shotgun pellets between the main beams for a little additional weight just in case. Bogies are MT (they could be anything as they are almost completely hidden) and I whipped up some decals following the recipe supplied in a great Oct 99 Model Railway Journal article (incl NZ120 plans!). Although I'm guessing Tranz Rail, or whoever they were then, put a bit more slope on the 'R' than the standard Garamond Italic provides.

There is a nice side-on colour pic on page 61 of the March 98 Railfan. ZGs suit most layouts from 1993 onwards although I've never seen one on the West Coast - but that doesn't mean they haven't been there - maybe one of or more well informed readers can answer that one. They seem to use plenty of ZHs on the coast (the smaller ones built on ZA underframes and with blue ends rather than these which were built on UKs and have green ends).

OK, so my rendering of the MMW ZG isn't perfectly straight in some places (although to be fair I hadn't noticed until I saw these cruel close-up pictures on my laptop), but its not completely awful either.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What lies beneath

Now that my Ed project is back on track, I have started looking at the jobs that need doing to get it finished. Todays session focuses on the undergubbins. I started off by making the sandboxes. These were cut out from a 3mm strip of 2mm thick plasticard to the right length (8 of one and 4 of another, plus a spare for each). I made the cuts to shape the bottom of the boxes, and then glued some 1mm wide strip on top for the filler caps ( I think they are supposed to be round, but its hard to see under there in any of the photos I have anyway). Finally I glued some round bits on the bottom cos they were there too. Not sure If I'll do the sanding lines yet, they are just asking to break.

Full of the enthusiasm I then made 18 axleboxes to glue on. just a rectangle of 0.5mm plasticard with a 2mm diameter bit of round plastic. I have glued these where they should be rather than in line with the (slightly) incorrect wheel spacing. It's hard to tell that they are not lined up correctly from most viewing angles. I probably should have made a mould and cast all these things, or even had them RP'ed and cast in brass or something, but it was nice to sit at the workbench and churn them out (while watching 'Top Gear' on TV).

After all this I filed the axleboxes so that they were all square, and then added the axlebox retainers at the bottom. These were cut to length from 0.5 by 1mm strip and glued into position

The final step tonight was to add the (well I think it is ) emergency signal trip doodad. I have only seen this well documented on Paul Berntsens model of 101 in the journal, but theres enough photographic to suggest that there is some sort of device in that position, and the rest of the underframe is remarkably uncluttered, so its probably correct.

And this concludes the underframes. Theres only a step to add at one end on each side. I'm not doing the underframe cutouts as they are in the too hard and not seen easily box. My inner finescaler is slumbering quitely in the corner as I type.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ribbed for her pleasure: PSK Modelbouw 40ft TT containers

DB says: I'd had these PSK Modelbouw 1:120 scale containers on back order from a New Jersey outfit for about 9 months and thus completely forgotten about them, so what a nice surprise to find a box full of boxes in the mail today.

Now that summer has come to an end up in the northern hemisphere, the ice floes must have melted enough a month or so back to allow a rowboat, sitting low in the water and stuffed with TT merchandise, to sneak past the border guards.

I thought these things were made in Poland or the former Czechland or Euroslavia or thereabouts, but the packages are actually marked 'Holland', so I'm surprised they aren't easier to get a hold of - given that Nether-Nether Land is a fully paid up member of the euronomic zone. If PSK stuff is not available in NZ, perhaps some enterprising retailer could be convinced to bring some in.

They are reasonably well detailed - the sides are basic, but look fine. The roof is a bit blah and the end without the door could probably use more ribs, but none of that is worth losing any sleep over after some weathering is applied. They seem to scale out nicely on the NZ120 UK plan I have. One of the reaaaally nice things about these containers is that while they make a few crazy colourful ones, they also make a few varietals in nice plain shades of reddy-brown, so straight from the box you could stick them on your trains.

Note that while these specimens are barely OK for my Hokitika milk powder traffic and similar older containers - they are the same height as the old NZR logo'd TBC containers - they are certainly not the 40 foot 'high cubes' you probably desire if you model the 'rest of the country' in modern times. I suppose if one was careful, it might be possible to very carefully cut two containers in 'almost-half' along the long side, sand the cut edges perfectly flat, and carefully join two more-than-halves together to make a taller high cube that you could then cast. Then again, someone - as yet unknown to me - might already make high cubes in TT, you never know.

A little weathering, a half-arsed decal and an at least partially-arsed DB-Instant-Resin-UK later, we see one posing at Moana.

The sheep don't ever seem worried by the posed trains and towering camera...

As an aside, this is one of my resin one-piece UKs on MT trucks (with couplers removed). I used to stick the couplers on the ends of the wagon and then use brass washers between the bogies and the wagon to lift the deck up so the couplers matched. With the recent IA experience, I think its important to get that low-rider look our wagons have, so I mounted the bogies directly onto the casting and used Microtrains underslung couplers. Noice. I'll be doing that in future...

Here's a real Cronos 40 footer plus UK at Oamaru (with the optional CPC logo) a few months back:

Rating: two thumbs up.