Sunday, May 21, 2023

Out with the Iron

 A quiet afternoon due to rubbish weather allowed me some time pottering with the Johnston A and it was time to start cutting brass. I'm going to build the tops from as much metal as possible to get weight into the model. 3D printing scores huge points for detail and accuracy, but theres just not enough weight in it to be usefull for very small locos.

First was the boiler which was cut to length and then opened up to give the firebox and also to go over the gear tower. I then cut a couple of pieces of brass 6mm by 2mm for the sides of the footplate. The top of the footplate was cut from brass shim with a sharp knife. I then discovered that the way the mech was set up meant that I was going to have to make the footplate part of it. I was also only going to be able to solder one side to the shim and the other would have to be glued in situ.

And heres where we are up to (with the Cb for a size comparison). The boiler is a bit smaller than the photo makes it look. I've also cut out the cab sides after sweating some brass together.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Saturday morning

 For the first time in a very long time I'm up before 10am on a Saturday. I've even started on the Johnson A boiler and am about to have a fosick through the brass dump to see if I can do a footplate and cab sheeting.

 Another (pleasurable)  task I've been going through is to go through my Railfan Collection compliling a very rough content system. I finally completed the set a month ago (thanks to Ann and Floyd of the Railway Enthusiasts Society) and sat down to go through them. I'm not blessed with my brothers "photograpic" memory and a hunt for a picture I know I've seen degenerates into a desperate search through a variety of books and the inevitable sidetracks which just makes the whole process either longer or grinding to a halt. I refuset to touch a spreadsheet system as I'm a much more analog kind of guy and so I came up with....Post-its.


Stuck on the cover with articles of interest written on and space to add more notes as required. Also colour coded by month of issue. The whole process has been pleasurable in that I've reaquainted myself with the 25 year collection of articles and photos and am reminded just what an amazine resource it actually is.

I have noticed that there are 2 missing so will have to go back into "der room" for a hunt. they rare probably buried under a pile of The Linesider.

Thursday, May 18, 2023


Back in 2017 I reviewed a 3D print of a NZ Railways house. This week I've had a go at finishing it. Starting off with a coat of paint on the walls and a bit of weathering. I wasn't sure what colour to choose so went with something suitably drab and ugly (with a red door). The foundation just got painted as concrete.

Next was a better roof. A long time ago I used Peco N scale plastic roofing as a mold for tinfoil to make enough corrugated iron for the roof of the Dunedin railway station. This time round I had a far smaller area and a few more choices. JTT has a wide selection of plastic sheets (which I think are for architectural models) and as I couldn't decide I purchased the N scale and 1:100 sheets. I should have gone with my gut as I thought the N scale sheet would give the look that I wanted (anyone want larger scale cottugated sheets?). Some carefull measuring gave me a sabot to fit over the top of the printed roof (with a hole for the chimney).

Almost glued it before I remembered to take the picture.
I then painted the roof the same colour as the framing (ie I had no idea what else to do). It also got a weather including rust stains.

I'm just trying to find some adequate clear plastic in "der room" stash to use for windows and I can seal everything up. It needs a few more details and I'm buggered if I can think of a way to do guttering.

I'm now tempted to buy another couple to create a small town street scene.

Saturday, May 06, 2023

How many boxes over is that?

 I've been kicking this around over the last few days with a collection of wise asses men.

Could you model narrow gauge in NZ120 using Z scale mechanisms?
I get notifications from one of the Japanese model shops as their bits can be quite interesting. One was for a Z scale mech which is dirt cheap (and I didn't think Z scale was a Japanese thing). 6.5mm is 2'7" in TT so close enough to 2'6".
Dimensions are ....tiny.
And what to do with it?
Well, a powered small steam loco is out I think. However a powered wagon pushing the train round would work.
And so we come to the Takaka Tramway, one of the very few narrow gauge lines in New Zealand. Built to move wood and farm product down the valley to the wharf at Waitapu.
Plenty of space to hide a motor. A better option would be in the carriage the line had which would look OK attached to the loco all the time.
The loco itself is not much but was aparently described as "colourful". It could sit on a free bogie with side skirts to cover up the lack of wagly bits (and taking me back to my modeling of 40 years ago).
The wagons are not much either.
 The scenes worth modeling include the main street which is quite plain.

A look in the bits tonight gives me 5 x 1m pieces of code 40 rail (more finger cuts I guess) and enough PCB sleepers to manage (though if any readers are members of the 2mm Society I'd be interested in a shopping expedition). There's not alot of pointwork to build (yah!).

Its also been pointed out that N scale (the US version at 1:160, why ) 3'6" scales to 6.7mm which is good enough for for Z guage track. I do wonder if anyone (apart from Mr G) has had a crack at this? Its not something I recollect having seen anywhere.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

And the Blog turns 15

    15 years ago I put fingers to keyboard and tapped out my first attempt at blogging. The rest is history witth bonus poor spelling. Looking back on the number of posts per year, things went down hill after we brought a house (and I have a stack of beams to clean up and varnish this weekend) and have never recovered. The wargaming doesn't help.

    The scale has certainly come on in this time. Gone are the home cast resin models of our youth, replaced with 3d printing. I don't think its a bad thing. Casting your own models required the skills to make a master (assume you are good enough to do that), find and then mix and pour the rubber(after working out just how your masters and models were going to come out of the mold), then finally mixing and casting the resin.



 I don't seem to have a resining picture anywhere

    And don't forget that those mixing steps involve toxic chemicals which even the experts "glove up" for. Oh and for most of the process you are outside the house even if you have an understanding family. Those that talk glowingly of the old days and how much better off we were when craftsmen took pride in their work often forget or neglect to mention just how dificult, laborious and downright miserable some of the work was. However we did what we could with what we had. Etching and laser cutting had some time in the sun, but I feel that they were in the end cul-de sacs which we went down, turned around and came back from. they still have there place, but as support for the main events rather than the be all and end all.

    Contrast this with sitting at a comfortable desk with a cuppa and a stack of reference materials to hand while you potter away with the 3D CAD program bending it to your darkest desires. Surfaces that would defeat the most cunning of master makers are but a trifle. Then press a button (or 4-5 and then swear at yourself for not setting the print bed right again) and wander off to peruse Facebook for a bit while the magic elves do whatever it is they do. Far more civilised and far less labor intensive. There will be some that point out (and rightly so) that some of the chemicals involved are also a bit on the toxic side, but they would not be selling them and advertising the process if it was that dangerous. Remember they do it in the US where personal harm lawyers roam the streets look for lawsuits..

So where will we be in 5 years. I'm not in a position to make any guesses or predicitions. Is the scale locally big enough to support its own wheelsets, or do we carry on as we always have, at the whims of larger markets and their fickel model production cycles (now, if I won lotto it would be a no brainer to solve thsi issue but....). Will we see more layouts in the press or online (theres remakably little out there to see tahts not buried behind the Facebook wall) and could we see a slide towards operation rather than roundy-roundy.

I'll finish up with a photo of the only models I still have from the Dunedin days more than 30 years gone. Cast resin and soldered brass. I doubt we will see their like again.

I wish I still had the mold

Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Correction Time

 I see from the comments on the last post that It's been assumed that the ship was 1:200 (like it says on the cover). I'll point out that while I'm a bit nuts, I'm not completly insane.

Its been scaned at A4 and then printed at A3 (so again 1:140 ish). The bits are then  glued to card of varying thicknesses and assembled. The bits are all numbered and you start at 1 and go from there. All rather sensible. A couple of hours over the last 2 days have got me to the basic frames and decks.

It scales out to ~140' long (the steamer is nearly 400') which I think is a good typical size for a wooden Bark of the late 19th century. I might make 2 or 3 and possibly build another wharf for an earlier period.

Monday, February 06, 2023

Strung Up

 A fun couple of nights (apparently a couple is 3 or more according to google) has seen almost all the rigging done. This has sucked quite a bit as I have large sausage fingers that while being somewhat heat resistant, are not designed for tying knots in thread in confined spaces. 


I used up my remaining stock of Peco track pins to the point of resorting to using bent pins for the last couple of stays.

With puting the rigging on it's become clear that the module won't be able to be operated from behind the ship. Its not that I don't trust the crew not to try to reach through the model to poke a retralcicant loco or fix a derailment but.... Maybe if I replace it all with razor wire as a warning to the uncoordinated. And at least it simplifies the point operating mechanism.

So  having not really enjoyed this part of the build, I'm now contemplating something even worse.

The Bark Theone (which I think is now out of production as it's not in the catalog any more).


At least its not as big as the previous model and I don't have to do the sails if its docked.