Sunday, 11 December 2016

December 2016 meeting

Once again we had an Edinburgh session, with six of us round the table. A fair bit of nattering to start with, since Stephen had brought pictures from a recent trip South (Wigan and Manchester shows). Meanwhile Jim installed a second group of his ground signals on Sauchenford with the help of a craft knife and a 1/8" chisel, and after reclaiming his Kindle, Stephen started filing the point rails for a turnout.

Jim had also brought along his FCAG Challenge diorama for inspection. It now has track laid and the weighbridge table in place. Just as well for the rest of us that it's not a competition!

Alisdair continued work on the styrene sheet platelayer's kit he started last month, adding brick paper and a whitemetal "granny" on the chimney. A pile of sleepers and a pair of ballast bins were also conjured up from black styrene. Quite a satisfying group.

Alistair did a bit of painting, Andy caught up on his reading (his excuse was the need to recover after his recent '"flitting" from Mid to East Lothian), and I struggled on with my Catfish kit - successfully executing the bit marked "fiddly" in Stephen Harris's instructions, much to my satisfaction. 

As the light faded, mince pies caused a general downing of soldering irons: Jim's satisfaction at installing his second set of working ground signals was only slightly dented when Alisdair found the first set by treading on them. Alisdair's mass is about 16,000 times that of the ground signals, even without the mince pie, so the contest was uneven. All was not lost however: "I didn't put my full weight on them", he explained helpfully. Stupid boy! said the bubble above Jim's head.  The poor wee ground signals will spend Christmas in hospital as a result. But we parted friends.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

November 2016 meeting

This month's meeting was in Edinburgh. Alisdair, Jim, Stephen, Alistair and Graham followed the usual formula of discussion, lunch, then a modelling session. We positioned ourselves at the window to make the most of the good light from the winter sunshine.

Jim has been hard at work on his 2016 challenge (a 20cm x 16 cm diorama), which is to be a goods yard scene to try out techniques for buildings on his Kirkallanmuir layout. His eye had been caught by SMART Models' range of downloadable texture sheets at the Glasgow show earlier this year, and several buildings have been put together as trial runs before settling on a design for the final build. The texture sheets look best when printed as Brian Taylor recommends, on matt photo paper, but even on the plain 80gsm copier paper which Jim used for his trial builds they looked very effective, particularly when combined with further computer artwork for signage.

He started with 3mm foamboard faced with card from MRJ mailing envelopes, cut precisely to accept window frames from etches of his own design. 

The etches fold up to provide glazing bars on both sides with a pocket for glazing material, so they can be painted (different colours on each side if necessary) before the glazing is put in place. They look very neat.

Cutting the window apertures in the card neatly is something of a chore and Jim is considering laser-cut card or 1mm plywood as an alternative. We look forward to seeing the completed diorama; the mock-up already looks nice.

Jim also had examples of the various designs of pre-grouping point levers he has already described on RMWeb, and he soldered up a few more during the afternoon. 

Alisdair spent his time building a PW hut out of styrene sheet for the group layout, Sauchenford. By the end of the day he was pleased with his progress.

Apart from over-grilling the bacon rolls for lunch, I gradually progressed the Catfish etched kit which has been on the back burner for some months now. At the end of the session I realised I'd soldered the body a massive 5mm too high in the chassis, much to the amusement of the rest of the group. However Stephen came to the rescue by providing a second pair of hands and a second soldering iron for some rapid surgery to free the body without totally wrecking the chassis.

I was later able to reposition it correctly after some filing to fit. The solebars are going to need a bit of work to straighten them up though! I am now approaching the bit which Stephen Harris describes in the instructions as "fiddly". Ulp ...

I also dragged out for inspection the plywood baseboards and the 50% scale cardboard mockup made a decade ago for a planned depiction of Macduff, a GNSR terminus on the Moray Firth. Maybe I'll finish it (or start it, more like) one day.

Alistair was also working on a model-of-a-model for his planned urban layout, shaping balsa blocks into tenement housing. Stephen meanwhile was soldering up track panels the traditional way, in a 2mmSA jig with little slices of solder to keep the chair blobs a consistent size. The intended purpose of these panels was not revealed. Stephen also had a 7mm Dapol 08 with him. At last, something you can see without an Optivisor!

The afternoon wore on, and by the time we wound up night had fallen. The street is only a few feet from the window and my neighbours became intrigued by the sight of a group of old codgers wearing curious magnifying headgear and bright lights hunched over  ... something ...  on a long table. Were we doing a jigsaw, one neighbour asked my wife.  Well, that's what passes for excitement in douce Morningside. At least they didn't think we were dissecting a corpse.

All in all quite a productive day.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

October 2016 meeting

A number of the regular Forth & Clyde crew were unavailable for our October get-together, leaving Alisdair, Jim, Gordon and Graham a bit more space to work than usual.

Jim had brought along his recently-completed lever frames for signal operation, which he proceeded to install with Gordon assisting.

The link to the operating mechanism is by wire-in-tube. Jim's practice is to secure the PTFE tubes using ordinary office staples, bent to accommodate the tube so that it is held firmly without pinching, then carefully driven into the underside of the ply baseboard by gripping firmly with pliers and pressing home. As long as the staple goes in cleanly and the force is perpendicular to the ply, it does not buckle, otherwise it's best to start again with a new staple.

Fortified by bacon rolls, slabs of cake and mugs of tea, the job was finally completed with all signals operating smoothly from the lever frame, yet easily removed from the layout to avoid damage in transit.

Here they are in motion.

The enlargements are cruel: the signals are only 5mm high. (On Stevens ground signals, the flap drops forward to show a "proceed" aspect).

Alisdair was showing off the servo point motor wiring he's been busy installing on his shunting plank. Or maybe it's a telephone exchange. Anyway there is plenty of wire involved.

Apart from helping to eat the cake, I was able to do a bit more on my Harris Catfish kit, and we all discussed our ideas for the Forth and Clyde 2016 Challenge diorama. Roy from the Grampian group dropped in late on to pick up the 2mm SA Scottish Roadshow ready for the Aberdeen MRC show at the end of this month. And that was it: another meeting over and Sauchenford is a wee bit more complete.

Monday, 19 September 2016

September 2016 meeting

Our September meeting in Glasgow was well attended: Alisdair, Alistair, Graham, Andy, Stephen and new face Simon started the session at 11am with tea and cake. Simon had brought some intriguing and beautifully-made examples of handbuilt point and crossing work for his chosen North American prototype. I was too busy looking to get my camera out, and then he distracted us by unrolling a large coloured plan of Mallaig station, just to show he has more local projects in mind as well. Sorry Simon ... I'll try to post some photos in future.

Alisdair has been progressing his small folding layout developed from a test track. A cassette fiddle yard has been produced and the track is down. The small plywood-framed sections are aligned by brass dowels and clip together with over-centre flight-case catches. There is some suspicion it will be transportable by bicycle.

Alisdair is making an effort to reproduce HR prototype track at the turn of the 19th century 
– so much for a quick test track! – therefore decided on traditional PCB sleeper strip and solder construction to get a wider sleeper spacing than Easitrac offers. Fishplates are placed at prototypical 30 foot spacing. The sharp-eyed will spot a recycled, reduced P4 point template pressed into service, betraying his original 18.83 leanings.


Of course, the disadvantage of modelling HR 19th century track with true fidelity is that it never works on Sundays. Easitrac on the other hand works 24/7.

The test-track-cum-folding-layout will be operable from either side, so wire-in-tube point operation was rejected. An idea stolen from the NEAG after attending their last meeting is to make cheap point motors using inexpensive servos with the control electronics inside the little case removed: the motors are simply run into stops and stalled. A soft-action lever microswitch provides changeover for the crossing polarity. The servo is mounted in one of Martin Stewart's laser-cut mounts, and a piece of 0.1" SIL header makes an inexpensive connector so the unit can be easily removed. The whole thing costs about a fiver which is pretty attractive; the Highland would have approved.

After all this show-and-tell, it was time for some intensive bacon roll consumption, then more cake, tea, coffee, magazines ... late on, we did turn our attention to Sauchenford and upgraded the uncoupler power supply connection to address problems we'd found at the Alnwick show a couple of weeks ago, but it has to be said it was one of our less visibly productive meetings. But the seed was sown for this to change: Alisdair issued a challenge to each of us to produce a wee diorama by the February meeting. Though not a competition, it has some simple rules:
  • Plan area of the diorama is to be 20cm by 16cm. It can be as high as you like.
  • Modelling is to 2mm scale.
  • Must feature 2mm scale track. No need to include any rolling stock.
Nothing was said about whether the diorama has to be a Highland Railway prototype, but Alisdair probably thought that was so obvious he didn't need to mention it.  So with that to chew on, we left Scotstoun around 5.30pm, fearful after our day of indiscipline, already repenting the second, third and fourth slices of cake, nursing our guilt, and preparing our plans.

Friday, 19 August 2016

August 2016 meeting

Alisdair's report with Andy's pictures: The August Forth and Clyde meeting took place on the 13th, with five of the Group attending a secret location in Glasgow, the Doyen of the West. This included Martin, the new boy, who after the usual humiliating initiation rites (used up all our permanent markers, treacle and feathers, so it did, yet he never apologised), joined the workers at the kitchen table while Jim used some unusual words when trying to get his patent ground signal operating mechanisms to work on the layout. Jim has since made further progress (see his RMWeb description). Here's how they look in situ on Sauchenford: first Jim putting the "big signal" (a Stevens lower-quadrant with co-acting arms, representing Sauchenford's Down home) into its socket on the layout:

The driver's-eye view through the bridge.

 And the view from the other side:

We look forward to seeing the end result at the Aln Valley Railway Model Railway Exhibition on 3rd and 4th September which the Group will be attending with the 2mm Scale Association Roadshow.

As well as the tea, coffee and strange brew imbibing, the Kitchen Table Workers were busy with Martin creating some pointwork using his own ingenious system for constructing flatbottom rail turnouts, Alistair creating buildings for a model of a model in planning. Andy was beavering away at the end of the Kitchen Table detailing his LNER brake van when not assisting in the signal installation.

Some point servos were being constructed by Alisdair ... 

... using Martin’s design of laser cut servo holders – an excellent and useful invention.

Jim had brought along some completed Caledonian Railway wagons created from his own etches which looked extremely good.

The tea bag tarpaulin looked particularly effective:

as did the horse-drawn lorry.

See his catalogue here! (usual fiver Jim, thanks ...)

A good meeting with progress for everybody. Next event will be an invasion of the NEAG meeting on 27th August, with the next FnC regular meeting being on the 17th September, again in the Glasgow area.

Postscript: Graham was absent in the frozen north on a family holiday, but he still found time to visit a few ex-Highland Railway station he hadn't seen for many years. Dornoch station building still survives in remarkably good order, some 60 years after closure: it's now a chiropractic clinic.

The small museum in Dunrobin station building was open:

Thurso and Wick station buildings looked very spick and span, although very much now "basic railway", but the track is run down in places. The weedkilling train has obviously not been to Georgemas Junction for a while - this is the Down (well, nowadays the only) platform, looking to Inverness with the Thurso branch curving off to the right). The line to Wick was even more of a jungle.

And at Wick itself, the run-round loop has a sleeper which is more air than timber. (To be fair, all regular services are units, so no need to use the loop).

Try modelling that in 2mm scale!

Sunday, 3 July 2016

July 2016 meeting

For a change, our July meeting consisted of a day at the Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway and the adjacent Museum of Scottish Railways. Here we are (except Jim, who couldn't make it) in full anorak mode - well it's the height of the Scottish summer after all - at Manuel in front of Austerity tank 68007, which has just slogged up the grade from Bo'ness with four Mark 1 coaches.

My first visit to the SRPS was at their Falkirk depot in 1967. Seems astonishing it was almost 50 years ago! Anyway we had an excellent day out, including a fruitful visit to the SLOG second-hand bookshop and to the café. An unexpected bonus for me was finding D49 class 62712 "Morayshire" in the museum, fairly recently arrived.

We heard a rumour she's off for a full overhaul shortly. As it happens I have just acquired a long-sought-after example of the D49 etched kit which Edward Sissling brought out around 10 years ago. Now all I need are the skills to build it. I have the nasty feeling Morayshire's full overhaul will be completed long before my kit leaves its box!

All in all, highly recommended.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

June 2016 meeting

Our June get-together was down in numbers slightly due to holidays; on the other hand, it meant we had more space to get on with individual projects. We usually start around 11 a.m.

Our host, Andy, started fitting adjustable feet on the table-top baseboard of our "Sauchenford" group layout.

Meanwhile, Stephen was making up 2mmSA etched underframes for plastic wagon bodies.

Alistair was busy with a craft knife, working on his "model of a model" to help visualise his planned next project.

I started a Stephen Harris etched kit for a Catfish ballast hopper wagon: the first Catfish I've tried, after warming up on 16-ton minerals for the last few meetings. So far, it is going together very nicely.

The traditional bacon rolls for lunch, and plenty of tea and coffee, kept us going until knocking-off time around 4.30 p.m.