Sunday, 13 September 2020

September 2020 FCAG meeting

We had a bumper attendance of 12 at this month's virtual meeting: Martin, Nigel, Alastair, Alisdair, Tony, Simon, Stephen, Graham, Jim, Richard, Andy and James. 

This month's theme was the project you'd love to build but (probably) never will. It prompted some interesting discussion. Andy took us through his past project of Leslie and future plans for Aberdour. Jim gave us a look at Airdrie's railways in maps, pictures and scale drawings: at one point he made serious plans to model the Caledonian terminus there but eventually concluded he'd be better doing something simpler ... so built Connerburn and now Kirkallanmuir instead.

Richard talked about the monumental coal staithes at Albert Edward Dock on the Tyne, and backed it up with some excellent photographs. Tony showed us his part-completed Hest Bank project, which he stores in sections until the day when he has a 13-metre-long shed, or converted farm steading maybe, available to house it. There were beguiling photos of 12-coach trains dwarfed by the baseboards in the sections completed so far. (Remember, this is the man with nine Black Five tenders!)  His comment was "Even if I spend my time not getting there, at least I'm content on the way", which perhaps summed up everyone's feelings about their pet projects. We spent quite a while discussing ways of lightening baseboards, and the timeless dilemma of whether to scrap and rebuild once lessons have been learned, or to soldier on and persevere with what's been achieved so far.

Alisdair gave a a civil engineer's perspective of the Findhorn viaduct on the Highland Railway's cutoff line from Aviemore to Inverness, backed up by a series of archive photographs, and discussed the possiblities of a roundy-roundy based on the viaduct and a simple passing-loop station on the lines of Moy or Tomatin. Graham gave a quick glimpse of three locations with potential: Clydebank Dock West Junction near Glasgow; Stannergate near Dundee: and St Ives in Cornwall.

Alastair showed us his current research into lightweight baseboards: foamboard skin separated by 3D-printed spacers along the trackbed, each with prongs to engage the foamboard and held by double-sided tape.Here's one of the blocks:

All very innovative. The difficulties of cutting foamboard neatly was raised by the audience. Alastair recommended the Logan Foamwerks series of tools, which do indeed look interesting.

We then turned to the familiar subject of our next group project ... some time was spent going over old ground but eventually we made some further progress. The tandem point, rejected in the most recent iteration of the track plan for being too hard to model due to a very short central crossing (the formation was two right-hand diverging, 1 in 5 turnouts), was resurrected in simpler form; we realised a raised coaling bench is unprototypically large for a  two- or three-road shed, which in turn meant we can simplify that part of the layout; and we discussed how we might push the project ahead even if a tighter lockdown lies ahead through the winter, as now seems inevitable, by dint of less-experienced members having a bash at making individual items (turnouts, buildings, etc) for the layout, and the more experienced members acting as mentors and applying strict quality control so that reliability is not compromised, a lesson learned from Sauchenford.

So, a briefer update than usual, but the meeting itself lasted for over three hours and was full of interest. The virtual format allows us to involve members who live too far from the central belt to attend physical meetings, and we hope we'll retain this even when (if!) we return to physical meetings in the future. Our next meeting will be virtual again, on October 10th, and will hopefully be a tutorial session. As a reminder, any 2mmSA member living in Scotland (or simply with an interest in what we're doing) is very welcome to attend - simply contact Alisdair Campbell to receive the regular invitation mails - his e-mail address and telephone number are in the newsletter in the "Area Group Contacts" section.

Sunday, 9 August 2020

July and August 2020 FCAG meetings

Two months for the price of one in this update!

Our July video meeting had the theme of wagons: Alisdair Campbell gave us a rundown on his collection, from BR prototypes to his Highland Railway fleet, from plastic kits, commercial etches, and his own etch designs, and some pure scratchbuilds. Some discussion of couplings ensued. I was not able to take any screenshots, but if Alisdair sends me his pictures I will add them here.

I had to leave the meeting at that point, but I am told there was some further discussion regarding the proposed group layout. Forfar shed is emerging as a theme. The prototype shed is still standing, in use as the headquarters of a firm of steel-framed agricultural building suppliers.

The shed building is a typical Caley design of the late 1890s but, at four roads by seven bays plus a separate fitters' shop, it is bigger than we want for our layout, which is intended as a display unit for use at exhibitions (remember them?) to convince the punters of the merits of 2FS over "N". As such, it needs to be legless (to sit on top of the exhibition table usually supplied for the 2mmSA Further North Road Show), lightweight, compact enough to go in the back of a car while still allowing four weedy FCAG members in the front (we think 3 feet long, 18 inches deep, 8 inches high when packed).
However, Arbroath shed, completed the year before Forfar, is very similar and had three roads by six bays. Thanks to the generosity of a friend we have its dimensions from an official drawing, so we can hopefully produce something visually convincing. In any case, it is only an inspiration for our scene, and we only aim to model one end of it. The whole thing is meant as a learning exercise, a short-life project to be disposed without ceremony once it has outlived its usefulness. The plan will be something like this Templot rendition:
The August meeting was again a Zoom affair, and consisted of a show-and-tell session. First up was a new recruit, Richard, who told us about his buildings based on Fenwick Pit in north-east England. They are made the old-fashioned way by drawing the shape onto brick-pattern-embossed styrene sheet and building up layers. The window glazing bars and much of the more delicate detail are from Evergreen microstrip. A full write-up is on RMWeb, but we were able to see the results all brought together, in front of a prototype picture on his computer screen:
Some discussion ensued on the best source of 2mm scale hopper wagon kits, with Fence Houses Model Foundry the most likely contender.

Next to go was Jim, who showed us his progress with the remarkable model he has made of the awnings for the Grampian group's Dunallander station. Again the full story is on RMWeb but it was good to hear the detailed tale directly. 
Jim has also been working on further buildings for his own Kirkallanmuir layout. He showed us one or two pictures with an explanation of how he'd created the roof textures. This is a rear view of a small stable, taken part-way through construction and before weathering. Not the most elegant photo but it was what I happened to grab during the description. I hope Jim will post full details on his RMWeb layout thread in due course.
 Andy talked us through his progress with a Fence Houses Jinty chassis, seen here during its live demonstration in motion.
Simon's subject was layout legs. Walking the rain-swept streets of the south side of Glasgow, he was struck by the number of home-assembly bed frames which turn up waiting for collection by the authorities, presumably as kids grow up and need a bigger bed or leave home. Many of these beds were of the type with wooden slats to support a mattress. It occurred to Simon that these slats were likely to be well seasoned after being indoors in a warm place for several years, unlike the wood typically available fresh from a builder's merchant or DIY warehouse. A few such slats therefore accompanied him home and were allowed to recover from the rain in his garage for a month or two.

Although the slats were preshaped to a gentle curve, he realised they could be used in pairs sliding past each other to create adjustable legs by using a wood router to cut accurate slots, and pairs of M8 bolts top and bottom to lock them at the desired height. The curved shape means there is plenty tension to ensure the legs don't slip once the bolts are tightened.
Once in place under the layout, a triangular plywood flap is opened out for lateral stability. The flap is hinged so the legs can pack down flat.
The design uses T-nuts attached to the woodwork as far as possible so that there are no wing nuts to lose. Everything is held together with M8 bolts.
Tony was next. Everyone's jaws dropped when he revealed how he'd spent a wet staycation in a caravan in glorious Scotland ... batch-building 2mmSA Black 5 kit tenders.

Not one tender. Or two or three or four or five ....

NINE tender bodies! All subtly different. Apparently the worst part is the fire-iron tunnel. Next he will tackle the functional powered chassis which runs behind the cosmetic frames.

As if this was not enough, he has also been working on Farish Jinty and 4F conversion chassis. No photos of these though.

Alisdair has been working to complete the model sewage works he promised for Tony's Hest Bank layout.
The Silhouette cutter has been used to good effect to create the roof slates on the store. The capping strips are from Plasticard.
The primary settlement tanks are of conic section. Alisdair cut them using the Silhouette from a mathematically-calculated projection which, to his slight surprise and greater satisfaction, came out right first time.
The concrete-paved roadway are achieved by painting concrete colour onto black card, then scoring through the surface to create the impression of large panels.
Railings are from copper bell wire made up using an aluminium jig. His ladder-soldering technique was covered in a previous blog entry.
We were also shown stock which has benefitted from the recently-introduced nine-spoke, 7mm wheels in the 2mmSA range. The difference is most noticeable when the vehicles in motion.
The rest of the session was spent on a quick discussion of the planned group layout. Nigel had circulated a sketch of a possible design for the basic support structure - a plywood-faced foamboard, or hollow-cell board "suitcase" with welded 1/16" aluminium framing. It turned out not everyone had received the mail in time however, and Nigel himself was busy out cycling in the sunshine (second sunny day in Scotland this year!), so we deferred full consideration for another time. The folding-hoop supports for lighting, a fascia, and a cloth sky sheet are a nice touch. The idea is that it will fit transversely into the boot of a small car and offer full protection to the model. The base will be solid with wiring feeds to the track brought out to the rear for linking. Point control may well be mechanical for simplicity, since everything is on a single board, but if necessary Arduino-driven servos may be used. Design of the turntable mechanism, whether mechanical or power-driven, is still under consideration.
It remains to be seen whether a physical meeting will be attempted in September, but the balance of opinion was that it is still too early. Time will tell.


Saturday, 13 June 2020

June 2020 FCAG meeting

Our virtual meeting this month saw Nigel, Alisdair, Jim, Chris G, Tony, Mick S, Graham, Simon and Stephen zoom in for a session with the theme "Buildings".

First up was Chris, who took us through the technique he has developed for Bosaleck, written up in more detail on RMWeb, and indeed reported on from our March meeting. But you can never have too many photos so here's a sequence of what he showed us:

Starting with a "kit of parts" on 1mm card. The laser can cut holes with separation down to 0.3mm.

Spray with ultramarine/umber mix below and white acrylic above, and dust with Attwood Aggregates Scenic Dust:

Doors added, masked and sprayed green
 Glue in the glazing:
 The window sashes sit in the reveals:

 Magnetic clamps from Smart Models: a great time-saver:

 The laseer cuter makes it feasible to design buildings with full rafter and truss detail which locate accurately into slots in the walls, without spending months or going mad with boredom cutting it out with a craft knife:

Roof tiles printed on brown 80gsm Kraft selfadhesive paper

 Two coats of Bog Oak acrylic paint:
(Very) dry-brushed with a minimal amount of white. The slight raised texture of the brown Kraft paper helps here.
Gutters also cut by laser in 0.5mm grey board: the tangs attach to the underside of the roof board. No attempt made to round off the gutter, but after painiting the correct colour, a black marker pen is drawn along the top to give an impression of depth:

Sills are similarly cut from 0.5mm material
 Bridges are made from laser-cut card with computer-printed downloadable brick paper:

Next on stage was Jim, who summarised his building technique used on Kirkallanmuir. CAD elevations are designed then a cutting file is sent off for laser cutting from 1mm MDF.
 The cutting is precise enough that the delivered parts fit perfectly in a "dry run":

Smart Models downloadable building papers are purchased then manipulated to change the colour balance in Microsoft Office Picture Manager. Signwriting details are edited in as required:

Windows from Jim's own etches: they are painted before glazing material is slipped into the slots between the layers:
 Gutters and downpipes are added from styrene and wire. A dental burr is used to scrawk a half-round groove into the guttering.
Alisdair showed us his recent experiments in producing roof tiles with the help of a Silhouette cutter. He used 80gsm white self adhesive labels. Plain water colour (on the right) was not very effective. Much better was enamel (on the left, one patch thick, one thin) with thin watercolour on top.
Alisdair's building material of choice is styrene sheet. A recent model of a Highland Railway store was made from Evergreen siding.
His technique for guttering is to use an all-round horizontal frame of styrene, with the gutter simply scribed into the surface. The frame is then cut down to the edge of the gutter and the inner part is cut out before being fixed to the top of the walls.
Alisdair took us through his multi-layer technique to build up windows. The various views in the sketch should help: the numbers identify the same part in each view.

An example of the finished result:
An earlier technique he used to represent window sashes was simply to glue microstrip behind the window apertures:

Mick's building technique starts with hand-cut card parts and brickpaper covering (Builderplus or Howard Scenics), as instanced by these shots of a pigsty for his Callaton layout. The paper is left with overlaps: when joining two pieces at a corner, one is trimmed off first, the part is joined, the overlap form the second one brought round the corner and carefully trimmed, with the white edge removed using a touch of watercolour. A razor blade and a scalpel are indispensable.

A corrugated-iron roof is added from wine-bottle metal foil imprinted with corrugations using two coffee-jar lids:

The sleeper fence is made by cutting individual sleepers from card and gluing them to horizontals of 1/32" or 1/64" plywood.

Finally the bottom of the fence is trimmed flush using a razor blade and a hammer while holding the camera in your teeth. What could possibly go wrong?
Once the blood is cleaned off the fence, it can be planted in the ground and looks very effective. The standpipe added near the corner has flooded the ground - the water is represented using the Gordon Gravett technique of microscope slide cover glass.

That ended the "Buildings" theme, but it was interesting to see how four modellers use very different techniques to achieve such high quality results.

Simon showed us the baseboard legs he has made for Glenfinnan, using IKEA bed slats as raw material. These are nicely seasoned and can quite often be acquired for nothing from discarded furniture. A base plank of 3"x1" is rebated to take the IKEA bed slats. Two slats are used for each leg, with a slot routed in one to take a sliding peg and tightening bolt on the other, so height adjustment is possible. A triangular flap, hinged so it can fold flat for storage, provides stability

We spent some time discussing (yet again!) the possibilities for a new group layout once lockdown has eased. A shed scene may offer possibilities. Our homework is to come up with some concrete ideas.

The next meeting, still likely to be virtual since Scotland will still be in phase 2 of the lockdown relaxation, will be on 11 July.