Monday, March 24, 2008

Progress Report 11 - Spring has sprung!

Very little was done in the garden over the winter, though three more open wagons (see How I made the second batch of wagons) and a locomotive kit (see How I made the Peckett Locomotive) were constructed during the Christmas break. They were finished off during the Easter holidays. This brings the complement of goods stock to 4 open wagons, 2 vans (1 LGB, 1 Accucraft), 1 flat wagon (LGB) and a guard's van.

I also purchased another Bachmann bogie coach so I now have a matching pair, together with a Bachman baggage car. The intention is to convert these (one day) into coaches which more closely resemble British counterparts - such the the Pickering coaches of the Welshpool and Llanfair or maybe the balconied stock from the Cavan & Leitrim. But for now, imagination will suffice!
[Update February 2015 - these coaches (plus one more) were eventually bashed into a rake of coaches resembling those which ran on the Leek & Manifold Railway - see How I bashed some Bachmann Jackson Sharp coaches into Leek & Manifold coaches]

During the Easter vacation, a couple of days were spent re-taming the garden, cutting back the more vigorous plants and trimming back some of the undergrowth. I also took the opportunity to shape a couple of the lonicera bushes into more realistic tree-like shapes.

The tracks were cleaned and an operating session was held, to check the new stock and to see if anything had become damaged or dislodged over the winter. A couple more heathers, a dwarf conifer and a dwarf peris were planted.

The stream sump was cleaned out and refilled with fresh water. I disturbed a young frog who has taken up residence. No idea where they come from as, to my knowledge, there are no gardens nearby with ponds - but each year I find frogs and toads in the garden.

I've begun to realise that I need more storage. I already have more stock than space so at some point I will have to construct some shelving above the sidings to hold the spare stock.

 << Go to Progress Report 10

How I made the Peckett locomotive

The locomotive was made from a kit purchased from Garden Railway Specialists (GRS). The kit contains all the parts needed apart from the chassis which is needs to be pillaged from an 0-4-0 LGB starter set loco such as 'Rusty'. My 'Rusty' was purchased for £30.00 from eBay.

A fine cross-head screwdriver is needed to dismantle 'Rusty' until the chassis is revealed.
The instructions for the model are sketchy, particularly when it comes to the fine detailing of the cab controls. The whitemetal parts are beautifully finished, however, and needed only a minimum of filing to remove the flash.

The whitemetal parts were fixed in place with Rapid Araldite - which sets in ten minutes. There was a certain logic to the positioning of the controls, though I did try searching the internet for photos - none of which were particularly helpful in the end. My apologies to experts who may spot I have misplaced a dial or handle.

Once the cab was completed, I tackled the footplate and buffer beams. This fitted snugly over the chassis with very little adjustment needed. The styrene sheet was bonded with MekPak solvent adhesive.
Next, I tackled the saddle tank assembly. This is pre-formed and required very little adjustment to fit into place.

The saddle tank assembly was then attached to the footplate, making sure there was sufficient space for the cab to be added. Before the cab was constructed, I added lead to the saddle tank/boiler assembly. A piece of lead flashing was cut into suitably sized pieces to fit into the tank. On reflection, I would also have added lead to the firebox in the cab as the loco is now slightly front-heavy - the benefit of hindsight!

Finally the cab interior and cab were added, together with the whitemetal fittings such as the handrail knobs, spectacle surrounds, springs, sandboxes, chimney, etc.. Again, Araldite Rapid was used, though I had a few problems fixing the springs in place so Super Glue was used for this. The guard from the LGB starter-set was butchered slightly (I cut off his paddle) and glued in place as the driver. I may have to buy a fireman to keep him company, though.
A few gaps and blunders were filled with Milliput and then the whole model was smoothed over with fine wet and dry to remove any unwanted blobs of Araldite and disguise a few imperfections (mine, not the kit's).

Before paining, rivet detail was added to the buffer beams using Cambrian rivet heads carefully glued in place with solvent adhesive.

Firstly, the cab orifices were masking-taped over from the inside. I realised that I needed to remove the cab roof to achieve this so prised it off (I'd suggest making it removeable from the start). A couple of coats of Plasticote grey primer from a spray-can was followed by a a couple of thin coats of Brunswick Green acrylic spray from Humbrol. It may be me, but I found it very difficult to get an even finish with the Humbrol spray. The roof was spray painted black (much easier being removeable). The buffer beams were picked out in red Plasticote enamel. I tried Humbrol enamel initially but this took ages to dry. Plasticote brass paint was used for the fittings such as the spectacle surrounds and the top of the chimney.

I'm not entirely happy with the finish and so may have another go at it when the weather warms up a little (I'm banished to the conservatory and leave the doors open when spraying. The family (cat included) does not like the smell!). I will then do a little light weathering and seal it all with a couple of coats of satin varnish.

Just noticed that the cab steps need to be glued back in place. These were knocked off by the abutments of the viaduct - which needs to be tidied up anyway - another job for next Spring!


How did I make the second batch of open wagons?

The basis for the wagon is the Hartland Locomotive Works flat wagon. These are bought in kit form and can be picked up for as little as £8.00 from garden railway fairs. The solebars (ie the chassis sides) and axle boxes simply click into place. The wheels and axles are a push-fit and the LGB style couplings are attached with self-tapping screws. A five minute job.
Sometimes, I have found that the solebars (ie the sides of the chassis) are slightly over-long and warp the wagon floor. This can be remedied by removing and filing a little off each end of each solebar before refitting them.
Now I have made a few wagons, I have found it easier to construct the chassis after the wagon body has been completed. This makes painting a lot less fiddly.

To turn the kit into an open wagon which has a passing resemblance to those found on the Southwold or Welshpool and Llanfair, two sides and two ends are cut from plasticard styrene sheet. I tend to use 40 thou (1mm), but for greater realism 60 thou (1.5 mm) would be better. The sides are 140mm x 30mm and the ends are 85mm x 30mm. Planks are scribed at 10mm intervals and I then scratch the surface with the blade of the craft knife to give a distressed wood grain effect. The example in the photos has curved ends (as found on the Southwold Railway). This was achieved by positioning the lid of a coffee jar strategically and drawing round it.

For detailing the wagon, a pack of open wagon strapping is needed (Part SG1123 - £3.85 from Garden Railway Specialists - ).

Firstly, I attached the ends, using liquid styrene solvent such as MekPak. The sides are put into position and a paintbrush dipped in the solvent is run along the joint. Within a few seconds the joint is bonded.

Next, the sides are fixed in place. As in the prototype, these overlap the ends.

The strapping is then cut and filed. The packs contain only four hinges and so another two need to be made from other bits of strapping. The hinges are cut to 30mm, the side strapping (4 pieces) are 25mm and the end angle irons are 40mm. Two small pieces of strapping (7mm) are needed for the door catches.

In addition, two 140mm x 5mm pieces of 40 thou (1mm) styrene cut to be added to the sides of the chassis below the wagon sides for the base of the hinges.

The strapping is attached to the sides using solvent, as shown below.

Similarly, the angle irons are added to the end of the wagon.

As indicated above, I have since found it easier to paint the wagons before the solebars and couplings are attached. A spray of grey primer is sufficient for the base-coat. The strapping is then picked out in black acrylic and then comes the detailing and weathering.
Coal wagons
Real coal was crushed to a suitable size and glued with PVA on to a sheet of balsa mounted on blocks to give the appearance of a loaded wagon.

Timber load
Strips of balsa were cut and stuck together with PVA, then tied down into the wagon with thread.
Tarpaulin cover
A piece of old bedsheet was cut to size and painted with a thin wash of acrylic paint, then hemmed and folded into position, with threads attached.