Saturday, 11 May 2019

May 2019 meeting

Alisdair, Alistair, Alastair, Stephen H, Andy, and Nigel met at Graham's house in Edinburgh: the sun was shining after heavy showers on the previous evening.

This was a "show and tell" meeting. Alisdair kicked off by giving us a quick look at what he's been working on recently: a small station building based on Highland Railway prototypes (at Grandtully on the Aberfeldy branch, and Guay not far away on the Perth-Inverness line) which he started at last month's meeting:

The slate roof was made by scribing styrene sheet to give the vertical edges, then cutting single-slate-height strips in the horizontal direction and staggering them when laying them. The  sides are Evergreen weatherboarding. The lamp is scratchbuilt and took a couple of evenings to get right.

He has also been working on some Highland rolling stock from Anthony Yeates' etches: a Diagram 47 open carriage truck:

and a Type A passenger brakevan in early 20th condition after rebuilding from the 1870s rib-sided original:

A restored example survives in the Museum of Scottish Railways at Bo'ness.

We had no time to hear much more about these lovely models however, since a distress call related to a burst pipe and ceiling damage meant he had to leave the scene to dash back home to Glasgow. Maybe he will tell us more next time.

Andy gave us a photo-sequence reprise of Sauchenford's baseboard construction with discussion of the lessons learned - basically, don't use soft-grade balsa as a trackbase, since it compresses when leaned on, causing gentle dips in track level which have calamitous effects on electrical pick-up and thus running quality; and don't use plain plastic point bases (the 2mmSA design has been improved since the version we used). We also discussed the disadvantages of exhibiting a shunting layout where the headshunts are "off-scene": the average exhibition visitor does not understand that  a train is being shunted and will re-appear, but instead assumes it has disappeared and walks off to a more interesting exhibit. Sauchenford's successor is already being discussed but plans remain nebulous.

Alistair showed us the latest tweaks to the track plan of his forthcoming small terminus layout. We discussed whether 4' or 3' board length is more practical, and whether a 12" depth is adequate to create a realistic background. The consensus was that 18" is better, but 12" or less can work if the viewing angles are controlled. Pete Matcham's Kyle of Lochalsh layout was mentioned, where the total depth is 6" or less. Tony Simms' recent work on Hull Bridge with low-relief building silhouettes came up as well.

Alastair discussed his South Queensferry-based layout. He has drawn up the trackplan in Templot and used this as a basis for a 2D outline sketch  from which he developed a 3D model using SolidWorks. This was turned into a plastic point base on his recently-acquired, reasonably-priced 3D extrusion printer, which has a 200x200x250mm work envelope. The advice from the group was to use 2mmSA peg chairs every third chair or so, by providing accurately-positioned holes in the 3D print. The advantage over 2mmSA standard bases is that the exact geometry of any desired formation can be printed. Interesting work. Alastair also discussed his plans for a first loco - he wanted to try his hand at an ex-Edinburgh & Glasgow Railway double-framed 2-4-0, an 1860s W.S. Brown design rebuilt by Holmes in the 1880s and withdrawn shortly before the 1914-18 war. The group's advice was that a 2-4-0 can be hard to balance and the framing would complicate the build, and that it might be better to build a simpler design first, such as an 0-6-0 tender loco. Sound advice no doubt but Alastair did not look like a man convinced. We'll follow his progress with interest.

Nigel had brought along the recently-released N Gauge Society industrial shunter so we could all have a look, and very nice it was too.

He also tried out another member's China-made binocular magnifiers of the type available on Amazon which Tim Watson recommended a few months ago on RMWeb: although the in-focus area is smaller than with normal magnifying spectacles, they allow a much more comfortable, less hunched work position, and are very effective as long as adequate light is available. The difference is plain to see:

Nigel found he could wear the binocular magnifiers over his normal prescription glasses by simply removing the safety lenses from the frame. It's important to use a head-cord (supplied with the unit) to stop them slipping forward when worn due to their weight. Admittedly, they cost three or four times as much as cheaper clip-on magnifiers, but the benefits from the more comfortable working position make this a worthwhile investment.

Nigel also gave a detailed and very interesting discussion and demonstration of progress with another recent project, and showed us some very encouraging samples. I'll not steal his thunder by discussing it further here but we were all fascinated.

And that was pretty much it, apart from a lot of further discussion and consumption of the usual bacon rolls, cake, tea and coffee. Our next meeting is likely to be in Glasgow, exceptionally on the third Saturday of the month, to avoid clashing with the forthcoming 2mmSA Tutbury supermeet which several of us hope to attend.

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