Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Progress Report 31

Here comes Summer!
My leave started on Friday, giving me most of the Summer to catch up with unfinished jobs and to make a start on a lengthening to-do list.

Out with the Old and in with the New
Firstly, I've had a clear-out of a few items of rolling stock which are now no longer appropriate for the line's assumed origins. Out went two 2-plank wagons and a flat truck (the wheelbases were too long); the Shortie loco which I'd bought with a view to using the 2-4-0 chassis (the driving wheels were too large); a 32mm gauge closed van which I'd hoped to re-gauge (I've now sufficient closed vans converted from LGB Toy Train wagons); a US baggage car which I'd intended to anglicise; three scratchbuilt open wagons which I'd intended to tidy-up; and four redundant point motors. This netted me about £100 more than I was expecting and so I've been able to buy the decoders needed for the remaining unchipped locos and, with some cash which my colleagues raised for my retirement (which starts in September), I have been able to buy the latest version of the 0-4-0 Hunslet kit from GRS (Garden Railway Specialists ).

 At present, all I have done is remove it from the box and read the instructions. It has joined the list of unfinished projects but, as with all developments on the railway, I will keep you posted once construction starts.

A trip to the Narrow Gauge Railway Show in Telford this weekend also provided me with a small herd of cows from Schleich:

which will spend their remaining days travelling up and down the line in cattle wagons (see How I made two cattle wagons). I also bought a few more metal wheels. I am gradually (as funds allow) replacing all the plastic wheels on rolling stock with metal wheels. Not only does this provide more low-slung weight, it is supposed to keep the track cleaner for longer. At present I am buying solid disk wheels from Bachmann which are reasonably priced at £12.00 for four axles,

I am soon going to have to start buying spoked wheels and will have to find another source as Bachmann do not seem to make them. I have considered using LGB spoked metal wheels but at £15.50 for a pair of axles, these seem over-priced. The options seem therefore to be Tenmille wheels (AG193A) @ £10.00 for two axles or GRS wheels (SLG630) @ £8.35 a pair of axles (or £10.45 for stainless steel).

At Telford, I was also taken by some books on Narrow Gauge Railways on one of the book stalls. A couple of general books on the narrow gauge railways of Britain 
 plus one on the Leek and Manifold 
 found their way into my carrier bag. I was tempted by at least another half a dozen titles but funds did not permit further extravagance.

I cannot resist railway books, particularly those with plenty of pictures of the original prototypes. I find these inspirational when it comes to detailing the railway. For example, how many coaches should a narrow gauge railway have? The Welshpool and Llanfair had only three for its entire lifespan, while the Southwold Railway had six. It seems the Corris boasted eight passenger carriages while the Lynton and Barnstaple had 17 and the Leek and Manifold had four. I've decided that eventually, as with the Southwold, the Peckforton Railway will eventually accumulate six coaches - which will enable me to run two three-coach passenger trains for the extra traffic anticipated on market day (see below).

Creating atmosphere
Ultimately, when the bigger jobs are completed I will create a few tableaux scenes around the railway with figures and general railway-related clutter. My plan is to model some figures myself in Sculpey oven-hardening clay. My first efforts suggest this is a lot more difficult than it looks but once I get the hang of it I'll share my ham-fisted efforts with the world at large (see How I sculpted some figures from oven hardening clay - pending).
 I'd like the figures to be wearing clothes appropriate for the period (early 1930s) but am really struggling to find a source of images which show what ordinary country people would have worn. Eventually, the timetable will represent a day's operating on a summer's market day - to provide an excuse for running extra trains and also a reason for a few more passengers being in evidence than would normally be expected on a rural light railway at a time when all were feeling the financial bite of the depression.

Operating sessions
I've run a few tail-chasing trains around the system to entertain various visitors but the weather and time has not really provided an opportunity for a proper timetabled running session. Also, I'd like to finish constructing the coach kits - which is taking a little longer than I expected (see How I constructed three Maddison coach kits).

Stainz - minor modification
I had been finding the slow-running of the Stainz loco (from the original starter set) to be disappointing - often stalling when passing over the plastic frogs of pointwork. I realised that the traction tyre on one of the driving wheels was adversely affecting the current pick-up from the rails. After trying in vain to find non traction-tyred replacements I read on the G Scale Mad discussion-board (now replaced by G Scale Central) that others had solved the problem simply by removing the traction tyre. I was concerned that the groove in the formerly tyred driving wheel would actually exacerbate the problem but the removal of the rubber tyre seems to have actually improved it considerably. Although the Stainz does stall occasionally, it is by no means as regularly as previously.

Lining the Peckett kit
I have also had a go at adding some lining to the Peckett loco which I constructed from a GRS kit (see How I made the Peckett loco). Following advice from others on the G Scale Central forum, I opted for Trimline self adhesive tape.

 At only £2.99 for more than sufficient tape for a G scale loco and the ability to re-fix the tape it's just right for someone lacking skill and patience. I was sceptical at first that it would be able to follow the curves of the cab doorway, but with trial and a considerable amount of error I have managed something which is passable. The photo has revealed more errors that I had noticed so I don't yet feel sufficiently confident to share my experiences in more detail - but once I feel more satisfied with my efforts I will post a blog entry providing more detail on what I've learned.

I've since finished the lining, added a little more detail and painted the chassis - see Progress Report 32

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