Monday 12 February 2024

February 2024 Forth and Clyde Area Group meeting

While the cat's away, the mice will play. The Association Chairman, who moonlights as our group organiser, had let it be known he'd miss our February meeting, being otherwise engaged in a pleasure-dome somewhere in the Highlanns of Skawlan.  He kindly sent us a list of do's and don'ts by e-mail instead. Nothing was said about diet however, so it was not long before some healthy snack options made their appearance, courtesy of Jim Watt. If they'd been brought out when the Chairman was around he'd have pulled rank and scoffed the lot, naturally, so this was a golden opportunity.

Jim had also brought along a treat of the nickel-silver variety to work on: his Caledonian 900 Class "Dunalistair III". The latest addition is the safety-valves.



Alastair W had been busy making designs with Solidworks and had printed a number of North British 16-ton mineral wagons.



The task of the day was to paint the buffers he'd printed. A squirt of black from a paint pen was applied using a sharpened matchstick.

One of the Chairman's edicts was to get a move on with a model of a Caledonian water crane in time for the forthcoming Glasgow show, where we plan to display "Mearns Shed" on our recruitment table as a conversation piece. Alastair had turned a scale drawing into a very nice print - here, the printing supports have been removed with the pips yet to be trimmed off with a sharp scalpel.

Chris had come intending to work on his Raithby 4F, but had inadvertently broken the pins off the mains plug of his soldering iron, thus he had to repair the damage first. 

The 4F itself was in better shape.

Stuart was working on installing the Magnorail roadway system on his layout. We are all intrigued to see how this turns out.



Graham had made small advances with the 3D printed brickwork for Mearns Shed, thanks to Martin Stewart who kindly shared his "recipe" for emphasized mortar courses to provide a better visual impression. The result is seen on the nearer of the two prints here; the other has the original, closer-to-scale courses which are practically invisible.


Simon was working on Foxhunter LNER fish van underframes from the Buchanan Kits etch.


The Chairman's instructions previously referred to were, basically, to extract the digit regarding the buildings and backscene for Mearns Shed. This led to a flurry of activity and discussion.



Alistair M took the chance to measure up the various items of scenery which will impinge on his backscene.

I had to skip the afternoon session so can't tell how most of these activities ended up! But at least they all started well. Normal service resumes next month, with the Chairman back to keep us in line.

The next time the FCAG comes together will be at Model Rail Scotland on 23-25 February at the Scottish Event Campus by the bonnie banks of the Clyde in Glasgow ... if you're visiting, do stop by the 2mm Scale Association at Stand B26 to say hello.

Monday 15 January 2024

January 2024 Forth and Clyde Area Group Meeting

At a Top Secret location, deep in the heartlands of Scotland, it was the first meeting of the year for the Forth and Clyde Area Group..  To mark a new start to the year and perhaps some resolutions to advance the various projects and railways of the Group, we had twelve in attendence, Alisdair, Alistair, Alastair, Graham, Simon, Jim, James, Nigel, Andy, Chris, Stuart and I, your humble scribe, Martin.

There was no theme to this months gathering, however it was announced our wee layout - Mearns Shed - has been promised, dead or alive, for the Finescale Zone at the Perth Model Railway Exhibition, less than six short months away and so the Glorious Leader, a Alisdair has started to insist we call him, spent a bit of time instructing us all to remove various appendages from various orifices so that the layout is fit and ready to be viewed by the General Public.


Various elements of how we'll exhibit the layout were discussed - the plan is to have a box which accompanies the layout to have it at a decent viewing/operating height - The Glorious Leader had brought along a crate that apparently belongs to the Group, it was brought along and set up to test the height and stability - here Andy and Alisdair assess the height.  The crate also contained a DC controller and some black curtains, both of which may prove useful!


Stuart had brought along one of his baseboards.  Stuart has been wrking on the mill building at the front at previous area group meetings and now we can see it in situ.  The viaduct at the back is the next challenge for his building technique.  For those just joining us, the mill buildings are made from 1mm Acrylic sheet, cut to size and glued to shape, the outer faces are made from 1.5mm mountboard, cut to shape, windows excised and coloured with a mix of acrylic paint and weathering powder.

The mill isn't quite complete, but it's an impressive feature - this board measures 4' x 3' and dominates the foreground here.  This is the central board of Stuart's railway, another 4' section will be added at each side, before a loop round to a rear fiddle yard. There will also be rail served sidings in front and to the side of the mill, and a canal in front of the mill with lochs leading off to the left hand side of the image.

Stuart was in the process of sizing up part of the board to include the Magnorail system so he can have busses running behind the mill.  Stuart had brought along two packs of the Magnorail and was showing us how it all goes together.  

Stuart is an N Gauge modeller, but plans to operate with Code 40 rail, and intends to keep things as close to finescale as he can without fully converting.  I include this comment not to disparage Stuart or his layout - I'm blown away by the detail and complexity of the Mill to the extent that I currently have some sheets of mount board running through the Cricut as I write this update to see if I can replicate Stuart's techniques for my own nascent layout.  Rather to show that our Association (because for all the jokes about the benevolent dictatorship of the Glorious Leader, it is *our* association), is a broad church, and that we can both teach and learn to/from our course-scale comrades.



Graham took the admonition of the Glorious Leader to heart and was busy in a 3D drawing program, tinkering with the design for the Shed itself.  Graham intends to 3D Print the shed in a series of sections and combine them to create the whole.  Some test prints have previously been discussed on this blog - Graham had brought these along to discuss the mortar courses, however the project had stalled at this point, as many do, and he was using the Area Group meeting to go back to the project.  I didn't quite catch the conversation here, but I was assured it related to 3D CAD software...


Alastair is one who normally uses the session to work on his various 3D print designs, however today we caught him doing some "Proper modelling", working on a turnout for his intended layout.  By the end of the session Alastair had completed this turnout, now having two complete, hand built turnouts.


Jim was working on his new project, a Caledonian Railways 900 Class, better known as the Dunalastair III Class, these are express passenger locomotives, this one from Jim's own etches.  Readers of RMWeb, might have seen Jim's progress to date, and his recent issues with the brass tube for the boiler and issues with his stay alive circuit.  The boiler issue had been machined by Tim of Copenhagen Fields fame, but Jim had found issues bending the tube to form the firebox sides - Nigel came to the rescue with his Resistance Soldering Unit (more in a moment), and between Nigel and James, progress was made on the stay alive circuitry


The Dunalisdair III in its small scale glory. The level of detail on this wee beastie is something that has to be seen to be truly believed.


James and Jim ponder the intricacies of the stay alive circuitry that Jim will fit into the tender of the locomotive.

As mentioned above, Nigel had brought along his Resistance Soldering Unit, and was assembling buffer stops, and gave a demonstration on how it works.  If you excuse the dodgy photography, Nigel had set up some scrap etch and showed how to make it glow red hot.  Then how to solder with it...




Nigel's unit is from London Road Models, and retails at £245.  Whilst this is significantly more than either of the soldering irons I've bought (which together come to about £50...) Nigel did demonstrate it's ubiquity and usefulness for those doing a lot of soldering.  At about the price of a DCC Sound locomotive, it's food for thought.


Simon was working on some British Railways Mk1 Carriage Battery boxes.  Someone who will remain nameless had sold him a Farish RMB at the Scottish Minimeet last year which had apparently come without a battery box.  Despite searching high and low, the offending part could not be found and so one of the association etches had been procured as an apology.


Simon had also brought along his Christmas present, a Metro-Cammell Lightweight DMU (latterly BR Class 101).  Simon had been busy, adding drivers, passengers and weathering the loco.  He described a photograph from Mallaig of a unit sitting in the bay platform that he had used as reference to weather the loco.  It was certainly looking the part.


Chris was working on his Midland/LMS Fowler 4F, or specifically detailing the tender.  This is the now unavailable Mike Raithby etch and is certainly looking lovely.


Alistair was planning the painted backscene for Mearns Shed.  He'd constructed a 5mm =1" model of the model from foamboard to help him visualise the scenery and the required shapes and textures.  This will allow Alistair to paint the appropriate shades and features onto the backscene.

On the subject of Mearns Shed, although not photographed, the Glorious Leader (Alisdair), was working on ash pits for the layout.  The holes for these were cut around this time last year and have been awaiting filling since then.  By the end of the session, at least one was done, proving that Alisdair can do some work at an Area Group meeting...

An ongoing house move has removed Andy from his projects and tools, and as such he spent some time talking to each of us, discussing our projects and techniques on show.

James, who sat opposite me for most of the meeting, making my absence of knowledge as to what he was doing inexcusable, was working on some circuitry as well as assisting Jim with his stay alive problems.  James have brought along donuts, which kept us fuelled as we modelled and worked.

Now, unless I've miscounted, that just leaves me (Martin), who remarked to several people "I need to remember to photograph my wee project at the meeting because I don't think I've remembered to since I became Junior Assistant Press Intern".  Then promptly forgot to take any photographs...


Back at the last Perth model railway show, I had displayed some 16T mineral wagons behind the Glorious Leader's Black 5 (in Lieu of me having any 2mm locos...), and had been admonished from using a 1/506 Brake Van at the rear of this formation as these wouldn't have run with unfitted wagons.  As such, I'd picked up some of the last, now discontinued LMS Brake Van etches from the Association.  I'd started a 16T variant at a previous meeting, but had found my 25W iron wasn't cutting the mustard with the brass etched kit.  

Now equipped with a 50W iron, I returned to the van, and by the end of the session had completed most of the structure and attached the W Irons.  The eagle eyed reader will notice the above photograph also has handrails fitted - this was done after returning home.  The roof is still to be soldered on, but 3D printed axle boxes are planned, and as such, the running boards will also need glued on.  The plan is to have this finished for Model Rail Scotland so it can be displayed alongside my Mineral Wagons.  Maybe by Perth I'll have a loco to put them behind.  Notice I didn't mention which year...

Our next Area Group Meeting shall be Saturday 10th February at the Edinburgh Society of Model Engineers premises at Almondale.  Further details are within the Association Newsletter.  Whether you're one of the people named in this article, a member of the Association who's in the area, or someone curious to see what we do, please get in touch.  We've mostly stopped biting...

Thursday 14 December 2023

December Forth and Clyde Area Group Meeting

 'Twas a dark and stormy day, rail fell in its gallon, wind blew through, shaking the roof tiles.  An Amber warning was in effect for storms.  Or, as we with a Glasgow postcode call it, Saturday last, was the final 2023 get together of the Forth and Clyde Area Group.

An accident caused significant delay on the M8 for us heading East to Almondell, but it didn't put off the nine stalwarts of the Group, consisting of The Glorious Leader (Alisdair), Alistair, Alastair, James, Nigel, Andy, Graham, Simon, and I, your humble Scribe, Martin.

Despite the late arrivals of several of the Group, modelling was well underway from some of the Group, whilst others were partaking in the usual rounds of conversation and pontification that such a gathering of like minded modellers usually prompts.

This was all in preparation for the main event - at 14:00, a show and tell session was had, our first, and last, of the year.  There were three shows and tells, from Alisdair, James/Nigel and Martin.

Alisdair showed a new bridge that he is constructing for Lawrie Adam's Yeovil layout.  With Yeovil being about as far south as one can go from Glasgow before getting your feet wet, Alisdair had not been able to conduct a site visit for photographs/measurements/observations, but was instead working from a blown up section of scale map (from the National Library of Scotland's excellent archive), made to w2mm/ft scale, and some photographs from the layouts author.

Alisdair was using a new technique (for him), which I am absolutely certain we will see grace the pages of the Association Magazine (won't we...?) using a cheap pre-mixed filler to form both the structure and texture of the outer walls of each pier.  He would apply a thin layer of the paste into a Plastikard former, then draw another formed piece of Plastikard over the top - this one with grooves, almost like a very short comb, which gave the horizontal indents to replicate stonework - with a piece of scrap etch held in a pin vice to make the upright indents.


Some of the piers were available for viewing - His Excellency had forgotten a box of parts, so only part of the bridge was available for display.  Alisdair had constructed a Plastikard template to ensure the brdge fits in its final position down South.


Alisdair also showed some progress on painting.  He noted that acrylic paints seemd to sook into the plaster at an alarming rate, whereas enamel paints seemed better.  Nigel suggested varnishing the surface would help with this - Martin adds many days later, that painting a thin layer of PVA glue over the top has a similar effect.

James discussed progress on the Group layout - Mearns Shed. - with some input from Nigel.  Nigel had been working on the fiddle stick, and had appeared with an offcut of ply which will, by the next meeting, be our proposed fiddle stick.


James has been hard at work on the electrics side of the model.  He has been working on the MERG controller and two DC supplies for lighting inside the lid.  This will be a single box, into which plugs the DCC Controller and a single lead which will connect to the layout and do all the stuff.


There was some discussion around failures and how we'd deal with the controller going down, or the cable breaking etc. without carrying a huge box of spares.  We'll keep this mostly secret for now, as we don't want to reveal the tricks of the various electrickery and wizardry that happens behind the scenes of a Model Railway!

Martin shared some progress on his CR439 build(s).  Martin's prototype is based around the Cathcart Circle in Glasgow, which was almost uniquely ran by the venerable Caledonian Railways 439 Class until the introduction of LMS and BR Standard tank engines later in the lines history (we'll deal with the complexities of valvegear constructionat for these prototypes some point in the future...).  As such, he's looking to build "at least two" to haul the eventual passenger rakes he enviseges.  When he's got track down, anyway...

He's also an idiot and forgot to take pictures of his own work.

There is currently no N Gauge CR439 and the only available kit is a Scratch Aid from Worsley Works.  This is a fantastic fret of etches but is somewhat lacking in some parts, and also wasn't desiged for 2FS components which has caused some headaches for Martin.  However, The Glorioius Leader had made an offhand comment back at the Perth Show about the Dapol LSWR M7 Class - "You could hack one of these up and make a 439 if you tried hard enough".

Martin had done some research and found that this is because they had the same designer, Dugold Drummond who was Chief Mechanical Engineer of both railways in his lifetime.  A forlorn search of Shop 3, looking to see if the J94 Chassis was back in stock (hint), and discovery that the Association makes an M7 Chassis etch prompted Martin to buy one, and well, it's close enough for Government work (sorry Jim!)  Nigel had suggested making the loco an 4-2-2 to help with the wiggle that 0-4-4s sometimes have in miniature, and the M7 does come with a tab to help with this, it is however, about 5mm further forward should be on a 439.  Watch this space...

Around the rest of the room... Simon had brought some of his American outline N-Gauge stock to run around ESME's club layout.  I didn't manage to get any action shots of this, as by the time I arrived, got settled, had some lunch and started taking photos, the loco had decided it didn't fancy running and Simon took it to bits to get to the bottom of the issue - the underframe of what looks like more fish vans for his Glenfinnan layout forgotten on the mat.  With some assistance from Nigel, the loco was back to full working order by the end of the session.



Graham was sat with laptop open ("there's more laptops than soldering irons!" exclaimed Alisdair at one point in the meeting.  Graham had open some photographs from the Caledonian Railway Archive of a junction he suggested would make an excellent scale model, with multiple slips and crossings.  In this photograph the Grande Fromage is enthralled by Grahams's description.


The Captain (or is he an Admiral currently...?) had brought along his Admiralty Vicualling Inshore Craft (I got it first time!), this is it in its finished glory.  Alisdair said it had been a great experience and highlighted how much he doesn't know about modelling, and that skills from building model ships or aircraft would probably find a home on the railways. the scale model ones that is.  He'd decided to scratch build a number of components to compliment the kit, and intends to build a display frame for it to.  

Sadly, he hadn't brought along anything with which to christen the Isabel...


Finally, or at least the final photos I took (apologies if I missed your modelling!), were of my own work.  I (Martin) had been working on my Class 08 started at the Beginner Locomotive Chassis Workshop, back in September.  I have been struggling with getting the motor mounted and meshing - the wheels spin freely by themselves, as soon as the motor had been applied, nothing seems to want to work.  Alisdair had a look under magnification and discovered that the skew gear appeared awfully sharp - which he assures me can cause issues, and suggested application of a steel brush in a minidrill.  Again, watch this space...


With that, I hope I speak for the whole of the Forth and Clyde Area Group in wishing you, dear reader, a most Merry of Christmasses or Festive of Holidays (delete as appropriate) and the Happiest of Hogmanay's.  We hope Santa is good to you all and many frets of etches and other 2FS goodies are found in stockings and wrapped in boxes under trees.

Our next meeting, the first of 2024 will be Saturday 13th January 2024 at Almondell.  We accept waifs and strays of all types, visitors from elsewhere in the Association and the occasional non-2FS modeller.  Contact details are in the Association Newsletter which accompanies the Magazine.

(Edited for typos. It's been a long week...)

Wednesday 15 November 2023

November Forth and Clyde Area Group Meeting

 It was a damp and driech morning at the Edinburgh Society of Model Engineers premises at Almondell near Livingston.  Not that this discouraged attendence at the monthly Forth and Clyde Area Group meeting.  Some eleven members assembled for some or all of the meeting - Alisdair, Alistair, Alastair, Graham, Jim, James, Stephen, Andy, Richard, Stuart and Martin being in attendence.

The main theme of the meeting was a presentation from our comrades of the Grampian Area Group on their project, Dunallander which was recently shown at the Aberdeen Model Railway Show.


Dunallander is the legacy of the late Neil Ballantine which was taken on by the Grampian Area Group after his passing.  The 8.5 x 2.4m layout is based on Dunblane, but strays from the prototype and so bears a name drawn from Dundee and Callander, two places important in Neil's life.  The presentation went into the history of the layout, it's acquisition and development to the present day.  Our thanks to Roy, Tony and John for the presentation.

Less thanks go to Graham who, to much jeering and grumbling, asked "so what can we do to help...?" at the end of the presentation.  The motion of discommunication and associated voting slips shall be in the next Association Newsletter...

Dunallander is due to be displayed at the Perth Model Railway Show held 29th and 30th June 2024.  And for the benefit of those members in the Southern Hemisphere, Perth, Perthshire, Scotland.

For more information on Dunallander and its development, the Grampian Area Group website/blog has tracked the project.

In addition to the presentation there was a great deal of work going on around the room.  In the case of this Junior Press Assistant, so much he forgot to take photos not only of his own work, but of several other people's too - so my apologies if I've missed you out.  The motion of discommunication and associated voting slips will be in the next Association Newsletter...

Jim, The Glorious Leader (as Alisdair now insists we call him, what is it they say about power...), and Graham are seen here working on the Group Layout, Mearns Shed.  The trackwork has now passed the Track Engineer's testing and is released for general use, allowing us to start populating the scene and thinking about making it pretty.


Several of the Area Group had been volunteered into making some sort of structure for the layout, and one-by-one we were called over and given clear and concise instructions by The Glorious Leader as to what we'd "agreed" to do and what it was to look like.  Markings were made on the baseboards to indicate rough positions.

There was additional discussion, with heavy involvement from James, regarding electronics, electrics, supply and storage of all the associated bits in relation to a layout.  There was a suggestion that an additional box would be required, and this should be of a suitable size to allow its use as a pedestal for the layout to sit on should the table at an exhibition be too low to the ground for most viewers.

Elsewhere in the room, Stuart was working on more scenics for his layout.  Having completed the behemoth that is the mill building, he was continuing to work on the various outbuildings and what looks like a card former to help inset it into the layout.

Alistair had brought along some drawings of a rather complex farm building he intends to manufacture in Plastikard to practice building structues in this way.  The top drawing shows the structure broken into seven simpler structures.


Stephen had brought along a new purchase - an N Gauge BR Stanadard Class 5 with a rather potent wee speaker that ran, much like the 4F of a few months ago, on DC, although it did highlight some areas of ESME's track that needed cleaning.  Sadly no photo.

Alastair continued working on his Class 03 chassis from the workshop at the end of September.  Here pictured attaching the crankpin washers to seal the coupling rods in place.



Other, unphotographed work was ongoing, with Graham sweating over his soldering iron, removing and replacing the innards of his Class 08, and Jim with a new wagon etch, both sadly unphotographed, and I had brought along some heavy machinery to assist with tracklaying - motivation having abandoned me about May and now resurfacing as the nights draw in.  Four pieces of track were ready for gluing by the end of the session, with holes drilled in the baseboards for droppers and turnout motors.  Sadly no photographs for this blog as I forgot...

Our next meeting is the final of the Year, to be held at Almondell on Saturday 9th December.  Any interested parties, or waif and strays from the broader assocaition can make contact through the email address in the Association Newsletter if they are in the area and fancy attending.

Tuesday 17 October 2023

October 2023 Forth and Clyde Area Group Meeting

 Jings! Not to mention Crivvens!! And even Help Ma Boab!!!

Anither Forth and Clyde Area Group meeting. Can the world cope? 

Yes, folks, another earth shattering event was held at a secret location in the woods of ESME, Almondell, when six stalwart 'ssociation members gathered to yatter and blether about 2mm finescale modelling (after the appropriate secret handshakes and codewords had been exchanged - one can never be too careful, can one?) It felt like the first day of winter, with a sudden plummet of external temperature which was not much tempered inside the clubrooms. However, the hot air being spouted by the half dozen on Jim, James, Al (just one), Graham, Stuart and Chris soon melted the thinner glaciers in the room. 

The immortal (or does it just feel like that, seeming to have been on the go forever?) Group layout, Mearns Shed, was there. It was having the trackwork further put through its paces by Jim and James, using a number of wildly varying models of kettles: 


That's a Russell Hobbs 5MT in the foreground with a Kenwood Jumbo in the background. Other steamy ephemera included an exNB 4-4-42T and, a Caley 2-2-WT. (When the latter was running, a moratorium on sneezing was declared to avoid an inadvertent long distance trip being taken by the wee beastie...) It was decided the track is as good as prototype locomotive shed i.e. just about acceptable.

Unfortunately, due to the absence of the Assistant Press Officer and some adroit and nifty footwork by the Senior PO, it was left to this shambling wreck of a scribe to try and reach the heights of literary description involved in the essays produced by said gentlemen. Said shambling wreck forgot his duties to such an extent that he omitted to probe the further works of Jim and James, which looked quite technical (so wouldn't have been understood by the scribe, anyway). Apologies to those fine gentlemen.

Coming back to the subject of the everlasting layout, later in the day, some butchery was carried out forming ashpits in what will become the apron in front of the shed entrance, involving the wielding of a very sharp Stanley knife in a rather concerning manner. Nevertheless the job was done without loss of fingers or any other appendages.

In other parts of the room, members were busy beavering away. 

Chris, returning to the fold after a spring and summer of yo-ho-hoing and running up the ratlines on his clipper in the mountainous seas off Tibbie Shiel's Inn, showed us the lovely little vacuum ejector on his 4F. A very neat job indeed, particularly considering it was done in his hammock during time off from yo-ho-hoing etc. (presumably).


Over on the left was Stuart, the master mill builder who was mastering mill buildings to an impressive extent. He had brought along his current progress. Looking absolutely the part, you can't but agree. 


And still he maintains his enthusiasm even after cutting all those windows by hand. He claims he retains his sanity...

Speaking about enthusiasm, Graham still retained his, after the recent Loco Chassis workshop and was beavering away on his Class 08 chassis, meeting and overcoming the inevitable niggles on the way. He did manage to use some surprising words which aren't in my school dictionary, though. I must ask him what they meant at the next meeting.

Alisdair was brave enough to show his face after spending the last couple of months, not railway modelling but straying from the One True Way, by making a wee puffer.
To make matters worse, it's not to 1/152 scale, nor even to the much-mocked 1/148, but to 1/144!  Somebody will have to have a word with him. He did try to recover some of his dignity by showing a couple of  railway ED wagons he had been working on. Still don't know if he can be trusted though...

Now for a bit of Forth and Clyde Area Group history. Way back in the 1970s, when the group was formed, Fergus was a keen member. Although he has long forsaken 2mm modelling (he now makes very fine stuff in 4mm), he had kept the 2mm models he had made. He has donated them to the Group and James brought them along. Here's some of the scratchbuilt stuff. Showing it's age, and a wee bit knocked about, it is a reminder that 2mm was not always as easy as it is now.


Ah, the Good Old Days! And many thanks to Fergus for his kind donation.

Finally, what a nice pleasant surprise! We were treated to a wee trip behind a steam engine on ESME's big layout in the woods outside.
The smell of coal burning was highly evocative and the wee machine fairly hurtled through the forest with some impressive acceleration. Thanks very much to Peter of ESME who owns the loco and was the driver. Great fun!

Next month, we will be convening on Saturday 11th November, when we will be being treated to a talk by the Dunallander team on their progress to date.