Wednesday, 13 October 2021

October 2021 Forth and Clyde Area Group Meeting

And so they flocked to that wooded shrine to small railways and general model engineering excellence, in the badlands between Livingston and Broxburn, ESME. Yes, yet again, it was the far famed and lauded 2mm Association's Forth and Clyde Area Group Meeting, when these staunch and devout devotees of The One True Scale (all hail to the 9.42mm track gauge!) gathered to join together in communal praise of mechanical mice.

This month congregation of nine, consisted of the trio of Als, with the others consisting of Andy, Graham, only one Jim, Simon, Stephen and lastly, but certainly not leastly, from the far west, crossing land and sea to attend, our man from the fabled, misty lands of the West, Richard.

After the usual blether about general modelling matters, this time with a very historical slant, the Glasgow Model Rail exhibitions in the Maclellan Galleries featuring high on the list of topics amongst the brethern (blethern?), each member grabbed a socially distanced table, setting up their modelling projects. Then, of course, borrowing the tools and materials they had forgotten.

Al#3, having given up turnout construction with individual chairs soldered onto copper clad sleepers for the putative Area Group layout, was making a turnout for his own planned layout of South Queensferry in the late 19th century. Given the place and time, turnouts had interlaced sleeper construction allowing Al to use Easitrack sleepers for the bulk of the turnout. He was pretty pleased with the progress he had made by the end of the day, with the crossing in place. Next step will be working out where to put the necessary copper clad sleepers to support check rails and the point blades.

Richard was producing another NCB hopper wagon, from his own etch design and had brought along some of the ones he had already produced. A fine model; he's going to need a great many to support his layout depicting Fenwick Pit.

Simon was building an Association BR standard goods brake van. Sorry, no photos, but he had brought along some of his recent output (not including his multitude of fish vans). The beaver tail observation car is from a 3D print from Shapeways. He is still puzzled as to the best way to glaze the subtle curves of the tail. He also brought along his completed tandem turnout for the aforesaid Group layout. Looking good - all it needs now is a layout to put it on. (The tie bars are temporary until we decide the particular universe from which we will select our chosen means of point operation.)

Whilst on the subject of turnouts, Graham had brought the turnout he had been building for the layout. After struggling with the use of the etched chairs, he had been making amendments to the turnout, but finding that upon resolderingof the plates to the sleepers, adhesion went aglae resulting in many bad words and a stern resolution to abandon the use of etched chairs. So that's 50% of those in the Group who have tried that system have decided it is not for them.

Stephen was planning a layout to fit his man cave, using a classic layout as inspiration. Originally he had been planning for a roundy-roundy, but recognising limits in size while maintaining a decent minimum radius, he is now going for an end to end. Whilst the plan is ambitious, he is canny enough to plan for construction in stages to keep the impetus going, with some colour coding representing his current thoughts as to the stages.

Al#1 was cutting out the walls for the farm outbuilding he has been planning. He is slightly baffled by the relationship of the various sections of the building. The drawing he is using shows only elevations, with no plan and it does appear that some imagination will be needed to make something which works.

Al#2 built a set of access steps from the yard to the goods platform of his layout. He had also started on a removable sheep ramp for loading the top deck of double decked sheep vans. Down such rabbit holes does the sport of railway modelling lead us...

Jim was building a wagon, again from one of his own etches, a CR mineral wagon (I think). He needs rather a lot of these beasties for his layout, Kirkallanmuir.

 It fell unto the lot of the aforesaid Jim to give that day's talk, this one being a short demonstration on bending wire.  Jim's calling as a mouth mechanic had given him plenty of practice in bending highly recalcitrant stainless steel wire, which has stood him in good stead for modelling. He showed us a couple of his orthodontic pliers: one type which have a great advantage of coming parallel at 1mm open jaw, meaning the tips are fully touching when the pliers are closed ensuring an excellent grip of the wire,(a situation not usually met with in ordinary pliers):

And another type with one tapered circular jaw against a flat jaw, for creating curves. Nae picture, but.

Jim demonstrated different means of straightening wire depending on the hardness of the wire. Guitar string should spring into a reasonable verisimilitude of an infinite radius curve when out the packet, but semi-hard wire like phosphor bronze will need running between thumb and opposing finger applying the appropriate force in opposition to the pre-existing curve. A bit of an art, easily learnt, but not easily verbally described so I'm not going to bother. As for soft wire, this can be straightened quite easily, either by stretching or by rolling between two hard surfaces. 

 As examples of bending of each grade of wire, Jim showed us by example, creating a UJ coupling wire from guitar wire and a downpipe from half hard brass with brackets in soft wire. Given the size, neither photographs well using my box Brownie, but you can gasp with wonder at these blurry images:

An excellent demonstration, enjoyed by all, including the hecklers at the back.

Next month will be Show and Tell time, with a Zoom session for the Ootlanders. Date to be decided.

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

September 2021 Forth and Clyde Area Group Meeting

On 4th September, the ESME Pleasure Palace was, once again, graced by the august presence of some gentlemen of the Forth and Clyde Area Group of that splendid organisation, the 2mm Scale Association. (Of course, all that goes to show is that they were behind the times as usual, as it wasn't august any more.)

As last month, the Group mustered to the strength of two-thirds of a dozen. Those stern individualists; Stephen, Graham and Nigel, were joined by a happy pair of Jameses (including the one commonly known as Jim) and the Al triplets, absolutely identical apart from their looks, voices and names. Later in the day, during the bi-monthly Zoom session, they were joined by the magic of the ether by the loon, Tony from Furryboots City.

After the usual chinwagging and setting the world to rights (calling to mind that phrase - Wha's like us? : d**n few and they're a' deid!) there was a move to populate the socially distanced tables with modelling tools and bits of the scalpel artists' latest creations. J#1 showed us his latest creations; a Caledonian Railway goods shed pretty well finished along with a stable block and minor offices at an advanced stage of construction.

Meanwhile, J#2 was busying himself with preparing some etched chairs for incorporation into a turnout. Here is his portable work tray showing some already prepared in the plastic box along with their originating etched. He is using the 3D printed doofer available from the Association shop for that very purpose. The aforesaid turnout was also making an appearance.

Nigel was busying himself with creating another low relief building for his layout. An action shot shows him marking up the plastic before cutting out. 

Graham and Al#3 were continuing to work on the turnouts that they had brought along to the August meeting, teaching all the rest of us some new epithets which we had never heard applied to pieces of trackwork before. Al#2 was pretending he was making a facing lock and detector bar cover by randomly cutting up wee bits of black plastic whilst Al#1 was starting to mark out his planned barn. He was using very heavy duty water colour paper which the assembled troops agreed would make a nice finish for a harled wall without further texturing. All the while, Stephen had his head buried in books seeking inspiration for recovery from a recent downturn in modelling mojo.

Following our individual delicious repasts, the Zoom session started, when we were joined by the Aberdonian loon, Tony . The chosen topic for the session was “The Undergubbins of Wee Locomotive Engines”. Translating from the wording emanating from the strange imaginary world inhabited by the Area Organiser ("Sir" to his friends, which is why he doesn't have any) this meant locomotive chassis. 

J#1 started it off with a well prepared presentation showing his developing techniques over the years constructing models of Caledonian Railway locos. His approach has been to incorporate compensated wheelsets, not for track holding, but to maximise the points of contact for electrical conductivity and to keep gears and gear shaft out of cabs where at all possible. The first photo shows the layout of a 2-4-0 loco with the photo of the hand-knitted components for the loco chassis beside it. Since then, he has moved on to drawing his own etches and the third photo shows the chassis for an 0-6-0T made up from such an etch.
The 0-6-0T chassis shows the slots required in the outer frame to allow the wheels held in the inner compensation beams to move vertically.
Jim has recently been installing stay-alive units in his locos and says that in future he will probably eschew the use of compensation, given the great improvement in running brought about by the use of the stay-alives. However, he will continue to use split coupling rods in his 6-wheel chassis as he is of the opinion that we can only get reasonable running by introducing (controlled) "slop" into chassis. There was much nodding of heads in agreement with this sentiment.
After the professional presentation by J#1, Al#2 showed some random photos demonstrating some of his techniques. The picture on the left shows his use of extended frames with Association spacers to maintain frame position on the chassis of a 4-4-0T. The extended frames are removed once the frames are fixed satisfactorily. This was learnt from the building the Association Black Five kit which uses the same techniques, albeit on 0.25mm etched frames rather than the 0.6mm brass used on the 4-4-0T. The second photo shows the use of small lengths of PCB glued to the motor to act as solder pads. This meant the wires feeding the motor can be kept in place without the danger of movement eventually breaking the wire. Further pads were added later to allow the fitting of a stay-alive whose components (just) fit in the frames between the axles.

Nigel had brought along a couple of very small diesel shunters which he had constructed back at the beginning of the century. 

The black DY1 on the right had had a chassis constructed without the use of machine tools with the exception of a mini-drill on a couple of occasions, just to prove it could be done. He had fully written the technique up in the Association magazine of October 2003, but he gave a brief resume at the meeting. He had used fully geared wheels, avoiding the use of coupling rods (just like the real thing, I presume). The outside frames were of pcb with appropriate breaks in the copper to provide the requisite insulation, and frame spacers of solid brass carved with files and all screwed together. The photos below (taken from the article) clearly demonstrate the technique. The heavy brass lumps give the loco good hauling power and pick-up for such a diminutive
little beastie

Last up was tidings from our North-east correspondent, Tony who has been working his way through a Mike Raithby 8F. (Apparently, he had been told that this would be easier than a Raithby 4F; there's obviously someone with a warped sense of humour out there.) He is using this as a practice before building the bodies of his 9 (that's right - nine) Association Black 5 kits. He has made a good start with the body, with the fancy curves of the Belpaire firebox and the tapered boiler and has started on the chassis.

Tony also has the nasty habit of chasing visiting kettles around the countryside and photographing them. He showed a really nice snap of Tornado on the Ferryden viaduct at Montrose. Inspiration indeed.

The Zoom session closed down and people started to drift off home.
And that was that. Or was it? Those with staying power were rewarded by Al#3 organising a wee trip on a 7.25" gauge train. Here's the merry band boarding the 1637 from Here to Back Where They Started under the watchful eye of aforesaid Al#3.


Heeding solemn warnings not to lean out, the stalwarts duly wheeched twice round a roundy-roundy on the ESME pleasure grounds. Tunnel, gradients and stations. And the scenery was really realistic. Great stuff! Unfortunately the name of the part owner and driver was not recorded but he was very welcoming of questions, from which we found that the use of 3D printing for detailing is used on big trains too.

Next meeting on Saturday 9th October. No Zoom session this time.

Saturday, 14 August 2021

August 2021 Forth and Clyde Area Group Meeting

After the miserable attendance figures for the Group meeting in July, numbers were considerably increased for the August meeting. Eight stalwarts met at the ESME Pleasure Palace, albeit after having been reminded of where their loyalties lay, by some burly visitors to their houses carrying baseball bats. As a result a trio of Als, along with a couple of Jims and assorted riff raff without a name-sharing treaty, came together to chat for a few hours and occasionally pretend they were doing some modelling. (The chap, who shall be nameless, who turned up in a posing pouch was gently, but very swiftly, reminded that it wasn't that type of modelling which was required.)

Alastair, Alisdair, Alisdair, Graham, James, Jim, Nigel and Simon met to ostensibly talk about Track, based around the various turnouts being constructed for the putative new Group layout. First of all, we chose our socially distanced jousting positions. A few turnouts were shown, in different stages of construction:


By chance and without malice aforethought, all the turnouts in attendance were those constructed in copper-clad sleepers and Laurie's etched chairs. (There are a couple of Easitrac versions under construction by some unable to attend.) Such little etched delights are available from a 2mmSA Shop near you but only if you are amongst the anointed who pay their subs to the glorious 2mmSA. (Words to the Association song "All hail to the small but mighty 2mm Finescale", will be available in the forthcoming 2mmSA Songbook, which will be available from selected refined and upmarket retail outlets across the world.)

There was a good deal of discussion about the best way to use the chairs; whether to slide onto the rail before fixing or sliding the rail into already fixed chairs being the question. It was agreed that do what suits you best would be the best approach. (Now there's a surprise!) Simon showed his version of the tandem turnout - well advanced and looking good. He had created a simple wee doofer to open out the chairs on the sleepers. The wee bit of rail has a nice taper at the end to make it easier to use.

James took the approach of threading the rails on the sleepers for his partially completed turnout. He had produced another doofer for threading the chairs on along a long length of rail. The wee clamp allows the rail to be slid along so that not too much pokes out to reduce the movement at the end of the rail on longer lengths.

Graham had had a lot of learning opportunities during construction of his turnout, the principal one (apart from the chance to rehearse his full vocabulary of bad words) was that this method of construction was not for him. Having said that, he had managed to construct a perfectly serviceable turnout (still to have check rails and stretcher added)

Alastair was at a very early stage of construction, having just prepared and laid out the sleepers. He was advised to gap the sleepers before laying rails, which he duly did during the meeting.

 Jim produced a completed tandem turnout, which looked extremely natty, as should perhaps only be expected - he has produced a good number of such beasties over the years. However, this is his first using the etched chairs and he has produced an extremely neat job. The bits of Easitrac at the ends are a temporary measure to help with the alignment of the short bits of rails at the extremities. He had also brought along a couple of the Jim Patent Track Testing Wagons™; merely blocks of wood on a basic underframe which saves damaging detailed models whilst whizzing them through turnouts at TGV speeds to test the running qualities of the turnouts.


Incidentally, the wee "flags" in the foreground of the JPTTWs photo is James's version of the track alignment pins shown in the Association "Track - How It Works and How to Model It" book. James is a refugee from P4 (we accept all types - nae pride) who wishes he had known about such a simple wee gadget before he Saw The Light. Just goes to show what those benighted souls in bigger scales could learn by buying a copy of the foresdaid book. Available to non-members by post from the Association at 2mm Scale Association Promotional Products for the appropriate quantity of spondulicks.

 Meanwhile those who had no turnouts to show off, skulked in corners sulking and kidding on they were enjoying themselves. However, they consoled themselves by doing some other modelling. 

Nigel was active in producing some buildings for the rear of his layout.A low relief  northlight factory building was shown. Extremely neat with etched windows. He was also churning out another low relief building with 3D printed windows, but the idiot photographer forgot to take a photo to show you the comparison.

Nigel also spent time on his laptop, doing the design for some new Association Mk5 driving wheels to go under some obscure Southern Railway locomotive (Merchant Country or something like that) Entreaties from some not to waste his time on such like, when he could be doing the same for every class of Scottish Pre-Grouping locomotives (even, in a fit of ecumenical fervour, allowing that NBR can only be (just) be an improvement of SR) were, quite rightly, ignored.

Alistair was preparing a design for a wee farm building he intends to construct. A complicated wee beast with the drawings allowing his artistic talents to shine through.

Alisdair was preparing the trackwork for some additional cassettes for his wee layout, as well as showing off his Highland Railway Directors' Saloon and assorted platform paraphernalia; oil lamp baskets on posts, a luggage hurley and a couple of footstools needed by the unfortunate passengers for HR trains who had a steep clamber from the very low platforms the HR provided at stations, in its typically parsimonious manner.

Jim also showed the canopies which he had built, using his own etches, for the Grampian Area Group's Dunallander layout. Lovely stuff, with the equally lovely buildings having been built by Mike of the Grampian loons.


And that was about it (forbye, my fingers are getting worn done with typing this twaddle).

Next meeting will be a bit earlier than usual, on Saturday 4th September, with a Zoom meeting in the afternoon to allow far flung members and the loons from the North-East (of Scotland) to join in for a whiley. Subject to be decided after a few more beers.

Friday, 16 July 2021

July 2021 FCAG Meeting

A different author this month. Our Press Officer, Graham, has done a sterling job over the past five years, setting up and maintaining this blog. It's time to give the willing horse a rest, so from now on, expect different authors each month, although, just to be nasty, the Press Officer will be pressed back into service now and again, if only to show the rest of us up. Thanks, Graham! Your dedication to the cause has been (and will be) much appreciated.


This month's FCAG jamboree was once again held at ESME Almondell. Unfortunately, due to the unexpected weather conditions, (a strange yellow thing in the sky was scaring the bejabers out of many of us who have the good fortune to live in Scotland) only three of us turned up for the jollifications in West Lothian. Alastair, Chris and Alisdair braved the extreme temperatures (which had reached double figures Centigrade - jings!) and talked 2mm matters for a short while then told each other tremendous lies about those not present. Certainly I hope they were lies; I really don't think that can be done without stripping the copper off sleepers, even between consenting adults.

"Enough of this twaddle!" I hear you say. "Never had any of this nonsense when there was a professional in charge!" OK, I'll get on with it.

As our tame representative of ESME, Alastair took Chris for a tour of the works going on at the site to build the various circuits for 7", 5" and 3" gauges. It's extremely impressive with a turntable being built outside the meeting room. It will be hand operated. I suspect they don't fancy the challenge of getting a stepper motor adjusted.

Alastair had brought us some photos of his current locomotive construction; a 5" gauge LMSR 2P 4-4-0 tender locomotive. It looks like it will be a very impressive beast. No problem with counting rivets there.