Sunday, September 30, 2018

Assembling the bits

So, as with all good bush tram loco builds, we peruse the pages of Japanese N scale spare parts. The key is to identify possible candidates and then eliminate them. Whatever is left winds up in the shopping cart.

So looking at the target.....

We have a 0-4-0 but with the geared drive is actually an 0-6-0. Theres no real space for a motor in the loco so it will have to be in the tender. Now I'm not a fan (that's a bit of an understatement) of tender drive, so that's out. I prefer a motor in the tender driving a shaft through the cab to a worm drive. Pick up on all wheels is a must for any small loco. Oh and we need inside bearings as well (and outside power pickup is surprisingly common).
The big plus is that I don't have a scale plan so theres a bit of flex in my choices and I don't think anyone can tell me I'm wrong.
Well, you could but you would then be told where to go (and its not close by...)
So, after a bit of a hunt we get the following collection.

The "loco" end is from some weird ass Japanese Co-Bo shunter. However its got inside frames which passes the main qualification. A closer look reveals some very small holes which look like being ideal guides for drilling out holes for the crank pins. It also has a traction tire which is fitted for the express purpose of reducing the number of wheel available for electricity pick up, and to make one wheel a different size.
The bogie for the tender could be any one of the multitude offered as spares, so I just picked one that looked like it had inside bearings. The worm drive was picked at random based on the assumption that they are all the same (the gubbins seem to be common regardless of the manufacturer from what I've seen). In this case I was right.
And the wheels are finer scale replacements for Kato steam loco's and limited to 1 per household. I have no idea why, but possibly so that some modeler doesn't corner the market on replacement spoked wheels. I purchased 2 of everything assuming that I would screw something up somewhere along the line.
Motors are mini motors from Nigel Lawton. I've had 2 of these for a long time and it seems to be the ideal project to use them on. Oh and DCC is a given....

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Another journal hunt

Recently I've been doing some more thinking about bush tramways and the locos that ran on them. This time round I'm interested in the December 1986 Journal. From the October 86 journal a list of things to come includes

- A bush tramway track plan, no idea of what but possibly Bob Stotts layout.
- More bush tram modeling
- More bush tram history.

What Im interest in if there are any more loco plans. I have a very basic plan for a Johnston 0-4-0, but I'm wondering if theres anything better out there.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Book Review Time

Among other things I've been reading, I picked up a copy of "A West Coast Engineman" by Ian Tibbles..

Ian was a fireman on the west coast from 1962 to the end of steam in mid 1969. In this time he worked on every line on the coast. There's a good collection of photo's in the 250 odd pages. There's also the standard collection of character stories which quite honestly don't do much for me (now, a good chemical accident story, that's riveting reading). What is really usful is the descriptions of the various workings, as well as the shunting methods used at Westport and Greymouth. So an excellent resource for those with an interest.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Treasure or a lemon?

From a comment by Darryl P from the previous post;

"I brought a small box of buildings, which contained what I now believe, may have been a building from one of John Symthe's layout incarnations. A pretty basic card structure, but none the less, with some pedigree (in modelling circles)" 

We've all been there, looking through a box of dross hoping to find the nugget hidden to others eyes. And indeed, one mans trash is another mans treasure. But for the younger modelers out there its hard to know what the treasure is, and how to identify it. How does one tell the difference between a Boul, a Bernsten or a Cabbage? Most modelers have a certain "tell" to their modeling and finishing which makes life a bit easier. So, in my opinion what are the "tells" for some of the well known NZ120 modelers (no offence guys)
John Rappard: John built a lot of his models using a wooden inner (not a big tell as I'll discuss anon) with plastic overlays. The 4 open topped wagons had  wheeled wagons were all on Peco underframe's and the bogie wagons on Atlas bogies. Some resin casting in the harder polyurethanes. Locos are plasticard with some resin casting. The buildings are also solid wood with overlays. weathering was drybrushed
KiwiBonds; Locos mad from a variety of materials including mums old draws (well, he's used everything else). The style is one of those things that I can't quite put my finger on, but more a case of "I know it when I see it".
Trackgang (Russel Smith). The models are assembled with airbrushed weathering to a professional standard. What we should all really aspire to.
Mike Gee (yes Mike you get a mention). Architectural (sorry I can't come up with a better explanation).
And finally, so how do you know that you have a lemon Motorised Dandruff original? Resin castings, a black wash and dry brush weathering.Squareness an added bonus.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Nostalgia ain't what it used to be

Again from the trademe files, more History of the scale. This time its The original Dunedin to Port Chalmers layout which back in 1988 kicked the scale off to a wider audience. It was subsequently rebuilt from its end to end form to the more exhibition friendly roundy roundy format.

"Thin operators only please"
 I did a couple of exhibitions running it and my F and J with their period 6 wheel coaches were at home on the layout. So fast forward 25 years and here it is on Trademe.
One thing I have pondered is what do you do when you have brought a piece of history? Should it be left as is and left to slowly deteriorate, preserving the original builders strokes. Or should it be spruced up to last another 20 years. Or should it suffer the ultimate indignity of being "rebuilt" by the new owner

Then there's the size. For this layout, 6" by 12" with a 5' extension is quite sizable. That's a fair bit of wall space to find for a layout home. Its also an odd shape for an exhibition layout. If it had not sold then I would have just offered to buy the Port Chalmers scene.

Just looking at it, I would think about adding another siding on the right hand quay to provide a bit more interest. But there is the philisopical problem where I'm altering a historic artifact.

Fortunately I didn't have to worry about these dilemmas as someone else won the auction. I hope that they are strong enough to carry it round. John was a very skilled modeler but did build things to last without much thought put into weight.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Boat progress

After a couple of nights work, the deck windlass's (all 8 of them, each with 17 pieces) and anchor windlass are done. Once I sorted out how to do them it was just a question of cutting the bits out and threading them all together. They were then painted, lightly weathered and glued in place.

With these added to the front deck the only job left is the ladders from the bridge to the deck.

At the other end the rear superstructure needs the railings done and ladders down to the deck.
I also need to do the lifeboats and the ventilators, which I really have no clue about.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

A request

Does anyone out there have the August 87 journal?
I'm after one (or a scan) of the Ds article and plan.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

The bridge

From the "here's one I prepared earlier" files.

I had previously prepared the bridge roof frame. As its quite a complex beast (which is a vast understatement) I first created a jig to place the square brass before I burnt my fingers during the soldering process.

So with the frame all together and without the smell of burnt flesh in my nostrils, the hard work wasn't done yet. You see with the slight angle and several levels it was a challenge to cut the pillars to the right length. Somehow I managed to fluke it with only 2 flying off to the far reaches of the modeling room. I then managed to get most of them vertical.

Thursday, July 12, 2018


I'm always amazed how many time I'll buy something to do a job faster than my current tools, then find its not doing what i want and go back to plan A. I had a mile or 2 of railings to paint and rather than doing them by hand I thought "I can buy a tin of spray paint for that" (Tamiya of course, not the spraycoat). After taking everything off the model, carefully labeled so that I knew where it would go back, I got stuck in. In no time I had a looming disaster on my hands with the paint forming a string of pearls along the wire. After a quick wipe down I left everything for a day, and then painted them all by hand, as I was going to do in the first place.

Glued back on its really made the model pop (and yes, the center railings still have to be trimmed to length).

Despite all this, I'm still trying to avoid 'going down the rabbit hole' detail wise.

Monday, July 09, 2018

On with the show II

So, with 1/2 a day up my sleeve I moved on to another project. a while back I received a scratch aid/kit of a Ds by Glenorchy models (I think). This came with some very nice 3D RP detail parts. After a quick look I decide to knock up the top and see how it went. Its been a long time since I have done an etched kit (at least 8 years) and I had forgotten about the burned fingers. As a tip, wear cotton and not polyester (soldering irons melt/burn one and not the other. Don't ask how I know).
The kit is 'shot down' from a Wolsey works British Rail class 04 (I'll get to how I know that in a bit) 
And I must take photos while I'm working ...

 For those of you that do own this kit (I think that there were 10?) I'll now comment on things that I found a bit difficult.
-When folding up the cab, the front corners are very small and do not bend square without a bit of work.
-The footplate sides are quite hard to fold even with the correct tools (in this case provided by Cabbage industries)

Apart from the burnt fingers things went OK (the hood bends are not quite right, but just remember that the real thing was not made that well).

Measuring the provided etch chassis gives away the parentage of the etch, as its for an inside frame loco (BR class 04). I'm guessing that a new Farish 08 will probably fit (but I'm not going to guarantee it). as the rods, counterweights and side frames are provided I'm going a different route. Oh and if anyone has pictures of a Ds cab.....

Sunday, July 08, 2018

On with the show

Hmm, theres a model show at the end of the month, the 17th or 18th ring a bell.
Hmm, the 17th and 18th are not on a weekend...
Oh, its this weekend....

And thats how I spent my weekend. On the Demo table with the usual group of reprobates.
For a bit of variation I decided to do some work on my card ship. I had all the railings to do so knuckles down and just stuck with it. After a day and a half I had all the railings done. the locating was very easy as all I had to do was poke holes with a sharp needle into the card deck at the right spot. The photo doesn't really show this and I should have taken it before I packed the rolling stock up.

I had a selection of other unassembled card boats on display. This was a point of interest with other modelers and many were surprised that the tramp steamer was card. At least one modeler asked for the details and reveled that he had been looking at buying a $350 kit for an ho scale boat but would look at this instead.
Despite this I'm trying not to be a boat modeler (I can't stand rum much).

Other big news from the weekend ( at least for me, but I don't do social media) is that North yard has acquired/rescued the Southdock range. This is great news for the NZ hobby as the unavailability of kits has hamstrung the hobby for the last 5 years. I was told that the oportunity had been taken to update the resins used in the casting.

I'll post some more photos in the next couple of days, plus other things I worked on.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Down the rabbit hole

I've been doing some bits and pieces on my tramp steamer. The masts are painted and I've made a start on the deck detail.

So its all coming along nicely and apart from the railings everything else seems to be straight froward, just adding some cast details and doing the rest of the bits in wood etc rather than folded paper. So today I'm ding a web search just to see if I can find anything else on the ship, and I come across a Flickr folder with a collection of deck photos

And suddenly a simple job comfortably ensconced in ignorance get the searchlight of enlightenment focused on it. Theres plenty more railings  and a lot more detail full stop.pluses are bridge detail and also the capstans which will be easier to make. minuses are the whinches which are far more detailed.
So how far does one go with this information?I could go nuts but at the end of the day its only really a backdrop, and those were once simple paint jobs.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

More History

Amateur Fetler has sent me some photos from a lockup in darkest Timaru.

Port Chalmers
The current iteration of John Rappards Dunedin and Port Chalmers layout which debuted at the 1986 convention. Originally end to end, it was rebuilt in the late 80's /early 90's to a roundy roundy with Port Chalmers on an extension, which is when I first encountered it. The original rolling stock is still in existence with a modeler in Dunedin.
Its nice to see that its survived over 30 years as its an iconic layout for both the scale and NZR modeling in general.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Blog is 10

Just to show you all I'm not dead yet (thanks modern medicinal chemistry).

So the Blog is 10. I even managed to miss this. I see I've managed to make 2 posts in the last 12 months, with this being the that time ive don very little NZ120 modeling, or even model railway modeling. I have slotted in a fair bit of wargaming trrain making (and gaming) along with the obligatory gardening and indoor renovations. I'm now getting to the end of these....I think.

One thing I do have to report is somewhat of a surprise.
Ocasionally I'll have a look on Trademe to see what is for sale. A few months back I came across a bit of a surprise listsing, and was surpised to purchase the model reasonably cheaply without a bidding war, though I suspect that no one else knew what they were looking at, or wanted it (probably number 2).

The first NZ120 loco I ever built. A Farish J94/08 chassis provided the basis. The plastic top wasn't heavy enough so it was also my first (and so far only) ecursion into brass scratchbuilding. The funnel and air pump were turned with a file (the only one I owned) on a hand drill. The brass was all soldered together which was an exercise in juggling new hot bits of metal into position while keeping the older bits in the right positions. It did work in the end. The way I've built it means that the top will not some off, and I think/know it's impossible to adapt to DCC.
So, its a remined of how far (or short) that my modeling skills have come since 1990, and nice to have it back in the collection