Sunday 30 June 2024

Forth and Clyde Area Group at the Perth Model Railway Show 2024

This weekend, the Forth and Clyde Area Group unveiled Mearns Shed to the general public at the Perth Model Railway Exhibition.

A lot of work has gone into the layout in the last few months - much of which has been covered in this blog, but the weekend show, held in the Fair City, was the first time many of the components had come together.

This, atmospheric, shot, shamelessly stolen from Graham, shows a mix of locos on the shed.

An ex-North British C15 sits over an Ash pit, an ex-Caledonian Jumbo waits for the instructions to proceed to the coaling road for a top up, whilst an ex-LMS Black 5 takes on water. 

Hinted in the foreground, a Sulzer Type 2, sits, engine off, wondering what all the fuss is about. Whilst in the very foreground a short engineering train of a Shark Brake Van, four Grampus wagons, a Warwell and an ex-LMS 16t unfitted Brake van rest from overnight duties. 

Most of the locomotives and stock are from the collection of Alisdair - if you search back far enough in the blog, you'll find posts of the construction of all three Steam Locos!

The Coaling stage, built by Alisdair, is based on a Highland Railway example found in Aviemore. The coal bins seen on the stage were used to move coal from the wagons in the siding to the locomotive that sat under the shelter if the roof.

The Shed is based on Abroath, with a similar design seen in Forfar, is a 3D print with etched detailing, designed in Fusion 3D and printed by Graham. The etched detailing is from artwork by Jim. The shed was assembled and painted by Martin, who was still working on it at midnight on Friday before the show. A further design iteration of the shed has been produced and will be assembled and painted in due course.

The grounded van is an Association Midland outside framed van, converted, assembled and painted by Richard.

The water tower is a plastikard construct by Jim, it is detailed with brick paper, the tank being an etch of Jim's design.

The water cranes are designed, 3D printed and painted by Alastair.

The bothy is a plastikard construction by Richard. This does have an open door and an LED to provide the illusion of a warm fire where the shed workers can take a well earned break, but sadly this wasn't wired in or functional this weekend.

The backscene was imagined and painted by Alistair - it gives a fine impression of a Scottish Town, with a mix of residential and industrial buildings backing onto this Shed.

There is lots still to do to finish the layout, but overall, a fantastic first outing.

Of course, whilst the main interest was naturally the Shed, and the moving locos, the Further North Road Show was on hand to extol the virtues of 2mm Modelling to the General public. Modelling demonstrations were ongoing throughout the weekend, and lots of people were given the Sermon according to Alisdair.

FCAG were not the only exhibitors of 2mm Finescale Modelling present at Perth this weekend. In fact, directly next to us were the Grampian Area Group, who had brought along the viaduct module from Dunallander.

This lovely shot, stollen from Graham because someone forgot to get their camera out, captures a mid-1960s scene in Central Scotland. An ex-LNER A4 on its final passenger duties on Glasgow-Aberdeen 3-hour expresses, a Black 5 on a loose coupled freight from Perth to Stirling and Oban - Glasgow trains on the branch towards Callander.

This is hopefully a taster of the whole layout, which may be at Perth in 2025. For more information, please see the Grampian Area Groups Blog.

Now with the excitement of the show out of the way, and a countdown to next year's event, the next meeting of FCAG will be on Saturday 13th July, at Almondell. Further information in the Association Newsletter.


Wednesday 12 June 2024

June 2024 Forth and Clyde Area Group Meeting

The Edinburgh Society of Model Engineers premises, the Almondel Model Engineering Centre, were a hive of frantic activity this Saturday last, not just because of the (in)famous Taylor Swift Era's tour happening just ten miles down the road at Murrayfield, and an ESME open day on the Sunday.

With just 14 short days until it's debut at the Perth Model Railway Exhibition, the Forth and Clyde Area Group met to continue work on the layout and other projects in 2mm Scale(s).  Present were Alisdair, Alistair, Graham, Andy, James, Simon, Stuart, Nigel, Steve and Martin.

Martin, who was definately not late to the meeting because he'd left the layout on the dining room table and started driving to the meeting, (no definately not...), had been working on the scenics, and now, the slightly greener layout was re-united with the backscene.

There's still a lot of work to do - James took over, starting to add the LED strips that will form the integral lighting.  Alisdair and Andy worked meanwhile on the main board where the agressive scenic-ing of the layout had foulded one turnout, and another required some gentle persuasion, backed up with threats of violence and other unspeakable acts, to operate reliably...

Graham had brought along the latest print of the eponymous Mearns Shed.  This was dry-fitted and posed to check clearances with Alisdair's Black Five, which had some slight issues with fitting its cylinders through the exactly to scale doors Graham had made.  This time it fitted perfectly, with a whole quarter milimeter to spare on either side, requiring, we think, a "limited clearance" board or two to be fitted as part of the paint job.

Custody of the shed has passed to Martin for assembly and painting ready for the Perth Show.  Something he plans to tackle this weekend with as much airbrushing as possible given the available time...

Elsewhere in the room, and hiding from being handed jobs relating to Mearns Shed, other modelling was occuring.  Stuart had brought along his very impressive Mill Building.  He was working on roofing the extention he had previously been working on.

I'm not sure that the photos give the true scale of this building - the main building is easily a cubic foot, if not greater, and this extention - painstakingly recreated from period photographs, site visits to other mills in Lancashire and various books on the subject - adds at least another foot.  This will be the centrepiece of the layout, being both rail served and having trains running on a long viaduct behind it.  

Simon had brought along some goodies.  Firstly, he was using ESME's American Outline N Gauge layout to run an extrodinarily long train.  Simon has an interest in American outline modelling and occasionally brings along parts of his collection to run.  In the photo below Alistair watches the trains pass - he has volunteered and/or been voluntold to produce a backscene for parts of the ESME layout, and seing the train skim by in the environment seems to be inspirational...

Simon was also working away on some 2FS goodies in the form of six Fuel tankers, formerly of Shop 2 and now sadly out of print.  Simon is modelling Glenfinnan on the West Highland Line Extention which saw some fuel traffic for the various fishing boats and ferries that offer from the port of Mallaig (to this day, though fuel is now transported by road rather than rail).

Simon was finishing up the chassis' at the meeting and had started the next stage of drilling the whitemetal wagon ends to take the stanchions which support the tanks on the chassis.

Heeding the Glorious Leaders call for DCC locos to do some track testing on Mearns Shed, Martin had dutifully (finally) gotten round to fitting DCC chips to his diesel fleet the evening before the meeting.  Then when placed on his test track, all of them had failed to do, well, anything.  Martin had brought along his DCC Controller, a Gaugemaster Prodigy Express, and asked forlornly "help?"

Nigel very kindly answered this plea for help and spent most of the meeting working to fault find with the controller and locos.  Here Nigel is seen fixing the pickups on a set of Class 20 Bogies which were making poor contact thanks to the additional back-to-back space on 2FS wheels rather than N Gauge wheels.  Other issues included, but were not limited to - connecting the DCC handset to the controller by the wrong socket, an upside down DCC chip, and the worm gear not connecting to the top of the tower in a Class 26.

By the end of the meeting, Martin had a working DCC system, and two locos working well under DCC.  Another requiring some further dissassembly to try and understand why there is intermittent issues with the worm and gear train...

The next gathering of the Forth and Clyde Area Group will be the aforementioned Perth Model Railway Show, the weekend of 29th and 30th June at the Dewars Centre, Perth (Scotland).  FCAG will be flying the 2FS flag with both the Further North Roadshow and the public debut of Mearns Shed.  With plenty of other layouts, traders, societies and a dedicated Finescale Zone, it's certainly worth the Trip to visit us, and the Grampian Area Group on Stands 28 and 29, Hall 1.

Our next scheduled meeting is Satruday 13th July at Almondell.  Further details in the Association Newsletter.

Sunday 26 May 2024

May Forth and Clyde Area Group Meeting

Delayed by a week due to the festivities of the Expo2mm down in Derby on our usual meeting date, the Forth and Clyde Area Group met this Saturday last at our usual haunt in the Central Belt.  Despite a near perfect day weather wise, or perhaps because of it, we had a high turnout with 10 members present, namely, Alisdair, Alastair, Alistair, Jim, James, Simon, Graham, Stephen, Martin, and new member Steve who signed up back at Model Rail Scotland.

With time fast ticking down towards its first public showing up in Perth, the weekend of 29th and 30th June, most of this months work focused on Mearns Shed.  James had custody of the "dead penguin" as the boxed up layout is sometimes referred to, and had been finishing work on the electrics - specifically the lighting, which is to be mounted inside the lid of the box.

At the meeting James finished fitting the LED strips, and fitted the supply wires, opening a hole in the baseboard for these to protrude through.  James is photographed here, deep in contemplation over routing of these wires back to the power source.

Alistair had also been working on Mearns shed at home.  He had been tasked to work on the backscene, and is photographed here putting some finishing touches on the canvas.

The backscene itself is  thing of beauty, it almost seems a shame to be covering bits of it with the railway...

The backscene was trial fitted once James had finished.  The layout will sit on top of the blue crate (hidden by curtains) t bring it up to viewers eye level.  Alisdair, wearing the Optivisor of Office, squints from afar at the framing.

The backscene was trimmed to size, and the structures and buildings that were ready for planting were put into place to give the feel of the layout.  An improbable pairing of locomotives was found and placed on the layout to help get the general feel.

And it looks alarmingly like a layout!  With the latest revision of the Engine Shed itself taking pride of place.

Alisdair had brought along his fleet of Locos and was using his Black Five with its outside cylinder blocks to gauge structure clearance.  Graham had brought along his latest revision of the Shed itself, and it was found that the shed doors were just marginally too narrow for the Black Five.  Graham was chastised for staying too close to the prototype and not taking into consideration these sorts of things.  A new shed frontage with approximately 0.5mm wider doors will be produced.

Martin will take custody of the Layout to put down the ground covers and some other scenic work.  Watch this space for further updates!

The light blue engine seen in the previous shots is Jim's complete CR900 Class 4-4-0, known also as a Dunalistair III.  Regular readers of this page, or indeed RMWeb will have seen this come to life from CAD drawing to bare etches to the finished article.

Whilst the main thrust was on Mearns Shed, others were involved in their own projects.  Simon was working on signals

Alastair was working on his 3D printed NBR Mineral Wagons, applying transfers.  Someone forgot to take a photograph and can only apologise for his misdeed.

Martin was working on Turnouts.  Having built a number of Fintrax Turnouts over the last two years, Martin had been having issues laying them, finding the crossing V or knuckle (or both!) were popping out of the 3D printed chairs.  Whether this is because Martin had damaged the chairs in the construction, or his methods of laying track require some more finess is unclear, but he had decided to try his hand at PCB soldered construction.

Starting from a Templot printout at the start of the meeting, by the end, a mostly functioning turnout had been constructed - this was just a practice to get the feel for building these by hand - this representing the second attempt, so fitting of a tiebar was skipped on this occasion.  Martin intends to use the "Standard" Chairplates available from the Association for "the real thing".

Our next meeting shall be the usual second Saturday of the Month, in this case Satruday 8th June, usual time and place - details in the Association Newsletter.  We are a mostly welcoming crowd - we have recorded at four meetings since last reported biting, and the last one was a provocation... - and accept waifs and strays from other Area Groups, or of no fixed modelling abode who may be visiting the area, and/or people interested in 2FS modelling and wish to see the one true way...

Friday 19 April 2024

April Forth and Clyde Area Group Meeting

The April meeting was attended by 10 members, in the form of Alisdair, Alistair, Alastair, James, Nigel, Andy, Simon, Graham, Stuart and Martin.

Work continued on Mearns Shed, with it's first trip out to the Perth Model Railway Show creeping ever closer, progress has continued at pace.  Alisdair had taken custody of the layout since the last meeting and had worked finalising the landform, and had ballasted the track, ready for the commencement of scenicing/further testing.

Alastair had brought along his first draft of the backscene.  The intention is to wait for the LED lighting to be added to the layout before finalising the backscene, but this shows the design intent!

Alisdair had also been working on some buildings for the layout, a newsagents that will sit at the top of the hill to draw the eyes away from the corner (not pictured), and the coaling stage.  This is seen below with a 1970s vintage Minitrix N Gauge Class 27, rewheeled to 2FS, being used as an overscale gauge of structures etc.

Alisdair based his model on a Highland Railway prototype, seen at Aviemore, with comments about representation and diversity on a layout that is mostly Caledonian in design.  He feverently denies any attempts to annoy Jim...

James continued work on the electronics that will control the layout - regular readers of the blog will know James is using a series of MERG kits to create a handset and base station for the layout, allowing DCC control.

Martin had brought along a tub of Vallejo European Mud, and spent a happy hour starting to colour and texture the landform.  This texture paint is something Martin usually uses on his 28mm scale (roughly 1/56th - 1/48th) wargaming projects, but was a relatively quick and easy way to provide a base layer to the landscape.  He has threatened to bring along other ground textures, flocks and static grasses next month to get some greenery on the board.

Graham had brought along his first compete test print of the engine shed.  This is a 3D printed model, which will, once painted, be fitted with etched windows of Jim's design.  The Building is based on the ex-Forfar shed, which is still in place, but sadly no-longer connected to the irons of any railway.

This photo shows the unpainted shed, posed in location next to the 3D printed Caledonian water cranes (thanks Alistair!) and behind a grounded van created by Richard from a plastic body available in Shop2.  The interior of the van is finely detailed with shelving and tools, all handcrafted by Richard.  This photo also shows the first layer of the ground cover.

Martin had taken a few test pieces of the shed away to try painting.  The first draft, sans-oil paint mortar wash or weathering, was well recieved.  Martin had based the painting on Google Earth views of the current state of Forfar shed, which is a bit more modern, and probably a bit more repaired than the shed would have been at the point it is being modelled.

Each of the lighter coloured bricks was picked out with a Kolinsky Sable 000 brush under optivisor maginification and passes muster from a usual viewing distance.  Graham, concerned for the amount of time it took to complete this, has proposed 3D printing a mask that can be placed over each section of the shed and airbrushed, or sponged to provide the lighter colours.  Watch this space.

Alisdair also took the time to show his Shark Brave Van, which may spend some time parked in the siding at the front of the layout.

This is an N Gauge Society kit, on a 2FS chassis.  Alisdair had filed back all the plastic moulded handrails and replaced them with wire, as well as narrowing the body of the van to make it closer to the true 1:152, rather than the 1:148ish of N Gauge.  Alisdair reports he'd also been working on some Stephen Harris Grampus wagons that will go nicely with this.  Painting isn't quite complete, Alisdair intends to rust up the ploughs.

Away from Mearns Shed, many of the other members were working hard at their own models.

Stuart had brought along his mill building and had set to work on adding roofing detail to some of the "secondary" buildings that make up the complex.

These are pre-coloured, pre-cut self-adhesive strips from York Modelmaking, laid from the bottom to the top of the roof to give the impression of slates and certainly look the part.  Stuart had brought along a number of reference books/photos and was asking for impressions on sky-lights and vents.  There was also a discussion about guttering and how to represent this in 2mm scale.

Simon continued working on the Signals and Telegraph infrastructure for Glenfinnan.  He had constructed a number of signals for the layout, including some Caledonian/NBR Stephens type drop-flap ground signals, which, even in 2FS include a dropping flap!

Nigel had brought along the start of a new controller, representing the brake and regulator for a steam locomotive, these components will be used on Cadhay Sidings, the exhibition layout often shown by the East of Scotland 4mm group - there is a driving position at the front of the layout.

Alistair had recieved a quanity of NB transfers for his 3D printed wagons and spent some time during the meeting applying these to his wagons

The transfers really do finish these wagons off wonderfully.

Finally, a cautionary tale of working in 2FS, titled "the carpet monster ate my component!"

The next meeting of the Forth and Clyde Area Group shall be Saturday 18th May - note the later than usual date, due to the Expo 2mm 2024, held in Derby (also open to non-members!).  We are a friendly bunch and welcome all comers, whether you're a visiting 2FS veteran from another area, someone who has just started their Finescale journey, and even, by invitation, someone considering getting into the Finest of Scales and want to see what we're all about.  Details are in the Association Newsletter which accompanies the magazine.

Monday 11 March 2024

March Forth and Clyde Area Group Meeting

 The second Saturday of the month harkened the assembly of those stalwarts of the 2mm Scale Association who reside in the Central Belt of Scotland.  This month's meeting, despite clashing with Scotland vs. Italy in the Six Nations attracted some nine modellers, Alisdair, Alastair, Alistair, Jim, Graham, Andy, Stuart, Simon and Martin.

This correspondent unfortunately had a slight issue with his alarm clock and arrived late, missing some of the action, so what follows is a somewhat incomplete recollection of events.

The main hive of activities surrounded Mearns Shed, the Group layout.  With only four short months until it is booked to attend the Perth Model Railway show, (29th/30th June 10:00 - 17:00, Dewars Centre, Perth (Scotland)) work on the scenics is in full swing.  Alisdair and Jim are seen here carving polystyrene sheet to make up the basic landform.

The Glorious Leader has taken the layout home to glue down the groundform and give it a coat of lightweight plaster to make it look marginally less like sheets of polystyrene.  An offer of ground textures and static grass was made for the next meeting by a helpful spectator holding a camera.

The Glorious Leaders, seen here wearing the Official Optivisor of Office is working on a former for the embankment slopes.  Proof he does occasionally do some modelling at an Area Group Meeting...

Jim had brought along his latest creation, a Caledonian Railways 900 Class, known as a Dunalistair III.  It has graced this page since it was but flat etched sheet, and now it is presented in glorious technicolour.

Jim is still working on the lining, but the blue basecoat is in place.  This blue is a different shade to other Locos in Jim's collection, this being closer to the blue in which the SPRS' CR419 was in prior to her most recent makeover, as opposed to the darker shade in which CR828 which normally lives in Aviemore is painted.  This prompted a discussion on Caley Blue, and what colour it actually was, or wasn't - including mythbusting relating to Perth and St. Rollox having different paints etc.  This was only stopped later on by a discussion of NBR brown and cowpats...

Talking of the group layout... Alastair had brought along 3D prints of Caledonian style water cranes.  These have been painted and weathered ready for planting as the scenery allows.  Alastair had brought along his Class 03/04 chassis, started for the Loco Chassis day last September, and as yet unfinished.  Seen here with its 3D printed body, the loco nears completion.

Although not present in person, Richard had sent, via Martin, via Model Rail Scotland, his contribution to the layouts scenery.  A workers bothy and tool van,  The bothy is scratch built based on images provided of the sorts of building found around small steam sheds.  The tool van is an association kit, heavily modified - it has a fully detailed interior, which, sadly, is in shadow in the below photos.

Away from the Group Layout, Simon was working on an MSE/Wizard Models signal kit for his own layout Glenfinnan.  Seen here he's finished the post and arm, ready to start the process of painting and/or motorising it all.  Having built a similar one in 4mm, seeing this in 2mm is very impressive

Chris had brought along his 4F and his test track and was spending the meeting checking that the stay alives were functioning.  At one moment, with us all crowded around the loco, our Glorious Leader nearly had a heart attack, thinking he saw sparking inside the tender, only to discover that Chris had fitted an LED to the stay alive circuit to help with fault finding.  The flickering was caused by dirty track/wheels!

Stuart was working on his Magnorail system.  This is a chain driven system used for driving cars, vans, busses and such through a scene.  On display here is the return loops and motors, whilst a length of the "chain" guide can be seen underneath.  Through the meeting, Stuart was fitting kerbs to the road surface which will live above this system.

Finally (and with apologies to those whose work I arrived too late to photograph...), Martin was working on a signal box.  This is a laser cut plywood kit from Pop Up Designs - a company Martin has been watching for some time, however, it was only a chance conversation at Model Rail Scotland with the proprietors that he learnt that their previously only 4mm range was now available in 7mm, and more usefully 2mm.

This is a Caledonian "Standard" Signal box as it was by the end of the meeting, still requiring details and steps.  One advantage to writing the blog is the ability to take another photo 24 hours later showing the complete model...

Martin has managed to mangle the staircase, however, this should be salvagable, but now the kit is complete, with the steps, the window cleaning platform and the various brackets the Caledonian Railway festooned their structures with now attached.  Just visible at the side of the shot are elements of the Ratio "Signal Box Interior" kit which will be used to detail the model - it might even be fitted with an LED or two.  The background shows another set of under-construction kits.  But more about these another time...

The next Forth and Clyde Area Group Meeting shall be Saturday 13th April at our usual haunt, Almondell Model Engineering Centre, near Livingston.  I say it every time, but we are a welcoming bunch, and accept visitors from other Area Groups who happen to be in the area, and may even accept the occasional visitor from other scales, gauges and societies.  Further information and contact details are in the Association Newsletter published alongside the Magazine.

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.