Monday, June 03, 2024

DSJ Part 6. Handrails.

 DB teters onwards:

A few minutes were available for trainroom duty today, so some handrails sprung from the holes that were drilled last time. I had grand visions of soldering these up on the workbench nice and straight, and then inserting them into the holes. This was never going to work as I'm shite at soldering, and all my superglued ones from the ancient past are still intact. More or less, anyway.

So an overall hoop of brass was folded to fit and glued in the outer holes. Then the central vertical piece inserted into a hole, cut to size iteratively, and glued to attach to the hoop. Then the two remaining vertical pieces done similarly. 

To finish things off, the horizontal bar was glued in place (which I assumed went all the way across, but after looking at a few prototype photos, doesn't). The first horizontal bar, on the unpowered/short hood end went in nicely first pop, and the other end had to be wrangled about and a small kink added in the middle with tweezers and fingers covered in superglue. These end rail pieces were all made with leftover (0.6 or 0.4mm??) brass rod that came with the Trackgang Zs. Overall, this didn't take as long as would be imagined. 

Ironically, the 'short hood' set of rails is pretty straight and square (whereas the short hood end itself isn't!) but the verticals at the powered end aren't quite as vertical as they should be, which shows up against that perfect 3D printed end!  

The two vertical handrails indented into the corners of the short hood were added with finer brass (pic above), although the 3D printed ones on the powered end look better (pic below)! Those vertical corner ones and the horizontal grabs along the tops of the hoods were made from .008 inch brass (a bit fine in comparison, but what was at hand) .

And lastly, the vertical standalone inverted U shaped bits in the corners and by the cab doors were cut from the Tomix top. A little short, being 1:160th (or maybe 1:150th), but they were too nice to not use. Yes, the leaning one in the background of the above pic is being stabilised by a tin of paint as it sets!

Sunday, June 02, 2024

DSJ Part 5. Couplers and glazing.

DB relates a few more tiny steps.

Glazing has been added inside the cab. I used some clear plastic painted with that semi-transparent Tamiya 'Smoke' on the 'inside' side of the glass. This was leftover from my 56 foot cars from a decade ago. I figure I still have enough to make another two or three or four cars so should do that (adds to project pile).

Leftover bits of glazing are on the paper under the loco. Those paper instructions were fished out of the rubbish bin in the hope of finding some clues as to how one might easily DCC the chassis. After a few minutes on google, it would seem most of the Tomix stuff isn't that easy to deal with, but I can see some possibilities.

Couplers had also been added, with a Microtrains at one end, and in what must be a rarity in custom made NZ120 and even in N scale locomotive builds these days - a Rapido at the other. This is so I can shunt (or at least 'tow around'), Peco wagons. The coupler is sprung and has that little tag under it so I suppose it could be used with some sort of mechanical automatic uncoupling mechanism operated from under the track, but that seems extremely unlikely to eventuate. I've never had much luck with Microtrains and magnets either, so shuffling wagons about with a little five finger shunting will be the the order of the day, if the DSJ sees much action at all! 

Dig that funky coupler:

The glazing looks better though. The DSG/DSJ have always had tinted windows, so my efforts here look decent from a distance. Cutting and sticking in pre-painted glazing is one of those jobs that looked like it would be quick and easy, yet it easily took an hour out of my limited mild-cursing budget. By the way, 'In the Loop' is back on Netflix.

You can still see through them but only just.

Thursday, May 30, 2024

DSJ Part 4. Decals.

DB returns after a few days of busyness:

A start was made with the decalling by using some spare old ALPS KiwiRail 'ferns' from my DX project of about a dozen years ago. Artistic license applies, as some KiwiRail DSJs have the fern this size, some have a smaller one placed high, and as the DSJ's paint design is asymmetrical, this also requires a 'reverse fern' on one end. 

I don't have a reverse fern, but on a visit to the local bike shop for the Tamiya paints recently, he had some Tamiya Decal Adhesive, so I bought that and used it to stick the 'top/printed side' down to the paint (glue side out) and this seems to have worked fine.

The KiwiRail logo patches were printed out in various random sizes on white glossy paper at The Warehouse. The large ones were a last minute addition... and even they are a bit small! When doing this, always make sure you (and they) are printing at 100% (no scaling). 

The glossy paper was a bit thick, but I managed to somehow 'thin it in half' with a sharp blade (top right logo above being split). These were attached with Selleys wood glue/PVA.

Numbers were from a MicroScale BNSF patching set, which were about the right size and a similar (but not quite right) font. Its really hard to install these so the numbers all line up. I scored C+ on one side and a D grade on the other.
All decals and logos have been covered with semi-gloss clear gently applied with a clean brush to protect them. The grey was repainted a slightly lighter colour in amongst this action after two hatches were added on the top of the cab. I'm not sure what these are for, as the DSGs don't seem to have them. Emergency escape hatches in case there is a need to ditch in water?
Plastruct blocks have been installed inside the tops of the hoods to fix the height of the model so that the headstocks clear the rails. The thing is sitting even higher than expected, so I might move the springs up on the bogies to fill the increased void.

A few dozen more tiny paint touch ups have also been done, and a start made on drilling some holes for handrails.

Saturday, May 25, 2024

DSJ Part 3 and a half. Coupler pondering.

DB Says:

Not much to report other than a few brief visits to the painting chair in recent days.

A structural challenge discovered a few days ago was that the coupler slot in this model is the perfect size for the underslung MicroTrains couplers that I have in the spare parts box, but it is at the wrong height, leaving the coupler face way too high. I have always used the 'MicroTrains standard height', because many of my wagons use their bogies as-is. Even the non-underslung versions won't work in this hole location.

Assuming fixing this was going to make a potentially fatal (to the model, hopefully not the modeller) mess, I pondered a few solutions before trying two tonight.

  1. Cut the coupler slot right down to the bottom (including taking out the shunter's step in the centre) by making two cuts with a Dremel disc. I worried this might crack the ends off or break something badly, plus it creates a dusty mess everywhere.
  2. Drill a bunch of small holes below the current opening with my Black and Decker drill and use a file or something to square up the enlarged hole. I did this, but didn't have to...
  3. ...because I used my tiny jeweller's saw to expand the whole thing downwards about 5mm in an approximately square shape. This was surprisingly easy, really quick, and not wildly messy in terms of dust.

A few pictures as the model stands.... Tamiya Panel Line Accent stuff was used on the end/top grilles at the motor end. There must be some variation in how this model is printed, as the top-port grill was well contained, but the Accent colour seeped out of the top-starboard one. Easily covered with some grey once it had set.

A triangular blob of yellow has been applied at this end, marking where a KiwiRail Fern will split the red and yellow. The DSJs seem to have their grey half at the short hood end, and the red on the motor end on both sides, with a 'reverse Fern' on this port side. 
The copper bogie 'springs' have been capped with a sliver of plastruct rod (about .020x.020 inches size). My big clunky fuel tanks have been removed from the shell. I'll cut them down and mount them on the chassis sides instead.
I've also painted the thick window edge cutouts black to make the cab wall thickness less obvious.
The white below on the end is a reflection! I have been contemplating another coat of the orange, as the grey Tamiya Surface Primer certainly takes some covering. I might try the white version once this grey can runs out.
As you might be able to see in this view, I finally had the yellow cab sides looking OK after four or five coats and touchups, yet the last thick coat obviously wasn't thoroughly dry underneath, and of course I stuck my mitts in it. Gordammit. 

Upcoming items on the agenda include finalising the chassis height inside the shell, adding couplers, and then finishing the shell off with handrails and decals.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

DSJ Part 3. Paint.

A thin coat of Tamiya Surface Primer was sprayed onto the DSJ shell from the can (great stuff this) and left to set overnight.

The Tamiya acrylics don't really come in the right colours for us, but they are readily available throughout the country and pretty easy to work with.  So if you want more realistic colours, you have to mix paint shades. I've learnt from experience that doing this on a one-off/day to day basis is a mistake, as your next coat or touchup coat never matches your previous mix.

So I decided to make a whole tin of the right colours once and for all. I went out and bought a fresh (easily mixed, non gunky) X6 Orange, X7 red AND X8 Lemon Yellow.  After giving them a good shake, I tipped maybe 5% or so of the orange into the yellow to 'red' it up slightly (make it slightly less lemony), and did the same of red into the orange (to make the orange less yellowy). It doesn't take a lot to change the colour. I've put a dab on the lids below so you can see the before and after. Shake it all up well.

After two coats the result is seen below. One more coat is needed for the yellow. I'm not sure why I started painting the cab grey, a hangover from the fruit salad days I guess. You can see the DXC behind with its too-red shade on the long hood. I've cursed this since I did it.

I have almost 50 shades of grey, and randomly decided on XF91 for this. Lifecolour UA 722 (a sort of reddy, grungy grey was used on the walkways.

As always with the Tamiyas, a little paint retarder stops everything congealing too quickly and a little thinner may help too. Best to put a few thin coats on rather than one thick blobby one. Unless that is your intention of course, as was mine here on the side sills to fill any remaining gaps!

A few other things I need: Some half-decent brushes - a fiddly fine-pointed one for details, a big flat one for large surfaces like the roof and the sides (to avoid blobs and streaks), and usually one in between.

The magnifier is essential, and not only for those of us with eyes that don't work as well as they used to. Its amazing what a difference this makes to your painting (and modelling). Mine is from Lincraft and has LED lights in it (which I must find the adaptor for). I also have that black desk lamp. If you can't see what you are doing, modelling is really hard.

As my hands become wobblier (I shouldn't have had that second coffee today) I usually sit the model (or lean the hand holding it) on something (that raised clear box). The fewer moving parts to the puzzle the better when stabbing away with the brush. 

Sunday, May 19, 2024

DSJ part 2. Springs and things.

A few more hours were spent in the dungeon today. Panel details were added to the short hood sides. There should be three doors on one side and four on the other but I've ended up with three on each. They all had to be trimmed on top after installation because I seem incapable of making 90 degree cuts. 

The uneven sill undersides on the 3D print I should have dealt with using a big sanding block before cutting the shell to pieces. DSGs have smooth sides to these, but the DSJ has a channel section. I started making these by converting some 'I'-section plastruct into a 'C' shape by smoothing off one side, and was about to glue them in place but this would make the loco look too wide, so I've just glued a piece of plastruct along the wavy underside and have started filling the gaps (primarily under the cab) with that evil Squadron putty. This may take a few goes. 

I'll end up with a reasonably deep side sill, and you can see some pretty thick (.080x.080 inch) rod hidden underneath as well, because with the little bogies from the Japanese ND552 chassis, I need to fill the gap between rails and the shell with something or it will look like it is wearing short shorts with tiny shoes.

The real DSJ has the square indents on the cab for tablet exchangers, but in a different spot to the DSG. I foolishly filled in the DSG-located ones here. Silly, because I'm not going to be able to cut new ones in the right spot. I also started to remove the subtle strata on the cab roof with fine sandpaper.

The bogies obviously need to have coil springs added, but before this, the air tanks on the sides would need to be cut off. This daunting task was made easier when I began to make my first incision with a scalpel and found they just popped off (above). I'll add the tanks to the parts bin for some future project.

I've made coil springs from several things over the years. Little bolts with the heads cut off still look pretty decent on my FM van from the early 90s. I used little springs from couplers on the DI. This time I decided to wrap strands of copper from a wire offcut around a steel rod used to actuate points.
Mounted on some backing:
Not too terrible. They need a piece of plastruct rod on top (like the real DSJ/G bogies) to cap the springs, and it is hoped they will quietly fade into the underneath when some paint has been added. 
Oversized fuel tanks and undersize side ladders have been added, and everything is looking appropriately skewiff, even after the headstock was broken off and reglued in the hope of getting it a little more vertical. Some of this is due to wide angle phone lens distortion, but not all of it alas. There is also a little lever handbrake on the short hood corner below: 

It's almost due for a painting. 

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Happy accidents, a DSG, errr, DSJ

 DB Says:

On top of the pile of my partially, or barely, or not started projects lay a 3d printed DSG top, which I inherited from Evan a few months ago, but I believe was printed by Ben C using a design by lkernan on Thingiverse. I reckoned a DSC or DSG would be good to have at Studholme, so this would fit the bill.

It's a reasonable print, not much strata, a little bit of sagginess along the side sills, but nothing that couldn't be fixed. I had intended to backdate it to be a tatty fruit salad one without shunters refuges. All it really needed was a chassis. But I didn't have one, so there it sat. 

While I don't have a Swiss Bank Account, I do have a vault full of N scale pseudo-metre gauge Swiss RhB stuff made by Kato, and along with a recent batch of RhB railcars from the orient came a Tomix ND552 Japanese bo-bo shunter purchased on a whim because it looked about right for the DSG.

This turned out to be a terrible mistake, because upon unboxing it last night, it's way too short in length. After a little banter in the cheap seats, I had the idea of kitbashing the shell into a DSJ (the single-motored offset cab version of a DSG). And good heavens, after flagging down a passing NZR Locomotives and Railcars, and dividing it by 120, the Tomix chassis looked about spot on.

After lunch today I had another look and started playing. Because the cab is offset on the DSJ, some metal had to be removed from the middle of the Tomix chassis (the chassis halves have protruding bits that would sit inside its cab, but now need to squeeze partially inside one of the DSG hoods). I'd normally dismantle the chassis, but just taped it up (clear sellotape for the tight motor bits in the middle, and packing tape for the ends) and got stuck in with a Dremmely disc.

Be gentle with the tape going on, and especially coming off - I carefully cut it off with a sharp knife to prevent any damage to the bogies.

Onto the body. The end with the handbrake was cut off, with the nose/steps removed...

...and then the hood itself....leaving....

This surgery was all done outside in a mild breeze because the fine dust probably contains chemicals known to be carcinogenic in the State of California. Best that all blows over to the neighbours.

The intention was to use the severed end face (with the radiator plated over) to retain the nicely printed lights (no header tank would be retained as there is no motor at this end) and this would be a thinned end profile to build the short hood onto. This all became too hard, so I separated the radiator from the steps and was trying to get the lights off the top when they shattered.  This printed resin is so hard it's almost impossible to use a knife on it (other than shaving bits down) - you need to use a razor saw for fine cuts.

Soon enough, some plastic had grown in a freestyle manner on the short hood end. Now I think I'll let it set a while. 

I decided to leave the refuges in place and will make this a KiwiRail livery one. I like the original-style window details on the 3d print, so will not be cutting them out and replacing them with the fancy black powder coated ones that DSJ 4004 had before it went for a swim or 4032 has. DSJs don't have the little box in front of the cab on the port side (visible in the second to last picture), but I didn't think I could remove this easily, so have left it in place.