Sunday, 15 April 2018

April 2018 meeting

This month saw us back on the north bank of the Clyde in Scotstoun. Almost a full house for FCAG: Alisdair hosted and Andy, Alistair, Graham, Jim, Stephen, Simon and Gordon attended.

Jim had brought his signalbox for Kirkallanmuir to let us see the LED lighting, powered by a button cell, and very nice it looked too. (See his RMWeb blog). The search for colour perfection continues however. Kirkallanmuir's public première is at the Scottish Supermeet next weekend in Perth - see the most recent 2mmSA newsletter for details of where and when, or if you're a member based in Scotland, the recent e-mail from Alisdair.

Andy has progressed a little further with his plans for Aberdour: a full-size plan has been developed from the Ordnance Survey 1:2500 map.

Graham surprised everyone by showing the results of odd evenings since Christmas with a soldering iron and a pile of Stephen Harris 16T mineral etches ... all still awaiting their axleboxes, brake gear, wheels, buffers, and couplings, that is to say all the fiddly bits ... but steady progress towards filling Sauchenford's colliery sidings nonetheless.

The Group's Gartcraig layout emerged from years in storage to be handed over to its new owner Gordon:

 This month's talk, from Andy, was some thoughts about the woodwork for baseboards, supported by a series of "blast from the past" photographs. He started out with a brief description of his own first essay in small scale modelling - Lomond Bridge, which although not finescale, and reflecting traditional techniques of the time, taught him many lessons.

Typical braced  2 x 1 (20 x 45mm) softwood butt joints and 6mm MDF surface all screwed and glued (PVA Glue). This is 300mm wide x 1.5m long. Still light enough to carry around and in two sections giving 3m X 300mm (10’ x 1’) when erected. Half the size of Sauchenford.
The top was 6mm MDF glued and screwed to the frame, with trackwork glued on a cork base.
Gluing using several different clamps and weights produced a very sound structure.
Scenery can reinforce or even replace baseboard structure - for example this viaduct.

Showing bolted connections between boards. The piece between the boards would be a template to ensure all holes are in the correct alignment. These can also be used to attach support legs.  Control unit to user choice hangs from the boards with space for spare stock below the scenery and access for wiring etc.

When Andy joined the FCAG group he saw how the late Colin Brady had built baseboards for his Ballachulish layout, using the techniques described by Barry Norman for his 4mm Petherick layout in his "Landscape Modelling" book (would you believe, first published 32 years ago): the 2"x1" softwood frame is replaced by lightweight beams made from pine block spacers sandwiched between 4mm plywood strips, with diagonal strength members and a top from 4mm ply.
Ballachulish baseboard construction. Sadly Colin did not have time to finish his layout, which was possibly a bit large for one person to set up. The partly laminated / braced plywood base board is similar with adjustment to the Sauchenford baseboards.
At the time the Group was planning its current layout Sauchenford, and as a new boy Andy was immediately assigned the job of producing the baseboards. Birch ply was used with an emphasis on careful planning - a cutting list of parts was made and a plan of how it would be produced economically from the standard sheet size. This allowed the larger cuts to be made at the timber merchant, easing transport as well as reducing the space required to make the remaining cuts at home. Don't just make the cutting plan one morning, and rush down to the timber merchant the same afternoon - live with the plan for several weeks before cutting anything, revisit your design decisions, and if there was a reason behind them, write it down on the plan, you are sure to forget it otherwise ...

The cutting list and plan

Marking out for cutting - Anthony Yeates here seen wielding the pencil, before he escaped to the warmer south.

4 mm plywood can be cut using a Stanley knife, here demonstrated by the late Colin Brady (foreground) and Alistair. Cut away from your fingers and, er, use a steel safety ruler! Andy's fine cut band saw, seen in the background, is a dream to use, cutting rapidly and leaving a very fine finish.

The parts cut ready for gluing. Spacers are from 16mm dressed softwood.
Parts glued and clamped together for alignment and to prevent warping.

Left overnight the parts are ready for assembly; they were pinned and glued to ensure accurate alignment.

The assembled fiddle yard baseboards with inserts and end parts as required. Connected using modified hinges with removable pins. Front boards strengthen the structure.

Fully assembled base board awaiting construction of the model; this image was at the 2mm Supermeet in Keighley a few years ago.
At this point Andy paused for breath, and the talk was immediately hijacked by all and sundry to talk about their own baseboards. Jim described how he'd used 4mm ply for bracing on Kirkallanmuir but found it too flimsy and had remedied it by adding 9mm strips later. However, 4mm sandwich beams had worked well for board sides, allowing the top to be recessed by dropping the level of the inner skin. Kirkallanmuir's legs have triangular flap strengtheners which fold away for transport. Alisdair fetched down his mini-layout for comparison, described in a previous blog entry. Graham waxed lyrical about his boards for Macduff, cut from ply sheet using a router, a technique described by Peter Kirmond for his Blea Moor baseboards in MRJ 148. The disadvantages during manufacture are fine sawdust, noise (ear defenders necessary), and the outcome was very stable boards.  Stephen talked about the laser-cut ply baseboard kits available from White Rose Modelworks, which we'd seen at a NEAG meeting some time back. Very precise, square boards as a result, and great time-savers.

Lunch was then served. Grilled bacon, a time-hallowed FCAG tradition, had unexpectedly been banished due to 'Elf an' Safety - the Clean Kitchen (Scotstoun) 2018 regulations - so our rolls were filled with sliced ham, grated cheese, crinkly salad leaves, and cherry tomatoes. These were munched with polite but mostly silent concentration by the group members, each lost in their own nostalgic reverie for the bacon rolls of meetings past. However, a more animated discussion broke out as the cakes appeared. Simnel fruit cake, matured for months apparently; no explanation was offered of what simnels are, but they taste good. Then there was a complicated pistachio and spinach (aye, ye'll no' find thon in the Lidl) sponge, with what looked like green O Gauge ballast topping the icing. It also more than passed the taste test, and little was left of this by end of day. And there were rock buns. And tea and coffee. So all was well. In an unguarded moment, Jim was even seen to drink his tea from a Highland Railway Society mug. The Caley Railway Association hierarchy will be informed.

Sauchenford, however, decided to act up and required a bout of determined track-cleaning before smooth running was restored. After that there was more head-scratching over how to simplify our cassette fiddle yards: basically, throw away the sector plates and slew the approaches to fit the cassettes in, and use plugged connections for reliability.

And that was that. See you in Perth next Saturday, we hope.

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