Monday, December 24, 2012

Progress Report 44

At this time of year I tend to find that railway maintenance and development goes into tick-over. Rather than becoming immersed in a grand project, I am more inclined to tinker with several ongoing tasks. The major project on hand at the moment is the construction of buildings for the copper mine which are taking up quite a bit of space in the conservatory which I also use as a workshop. The sheer size of these structures means that each job takes some considerable time. There is also a fair degree of waiting between jobs as glue, paint or filler dries and/or hardens. During these interludes, I usually turn to other jobs - some of which I regret to say have to be non railway-related. Since the last progress report I have, however, engaged in a few other activities - constructing a wooden loading hopper from a kit, sculpting some figures in oven-hardening polymer clay and purchasing a kit for a battery-powered diesel outline loco.

Mine buildings - update

Since the last progress report I have grouted and started painting the stonework to more closely resemble the local sandstone. I experimented with various sorts of grouting and eventually opted for a mix of cream and brown tinted waterproof grout which was left over from a couple of household tiling jobs. The grouting not only fills the gaps between the blocks, it also gives them a bit more texture.

The corrugated iron sheets have been given a couple of coats of red 'oxide' primer and a start has been made on weathering them using acrylic paints and Scenic Rust which I used successfully to weather the tippler wagons (see How I weathered some LGB tippler wagons).

Originally, I cut down some 32mm gauge SM32 track to 16.5mm gauge for the minimum gauge feeder line, but this looked over scale. I have since bought some Peco 0-16.5 'crazy' track and although this is under scale, it more closely resembles the sort of lightweight rail which would have been used for a minimum gauge mine railway.

One day I aim to build and indoor Gn15 railway to maybe represent the imagined estate railway which my hypothetical history suggests would have been constructed at Peckforton Castle by Lord Tollemache, after having been inspired by his near neighbour's line at Eaton Hall (see A short history of the railway). As you can see, I have accumulated a few items of rolling stock over the past few years. My visits to various minimum gauge railways across the UK has made me become a lot more aware their history and the influence of Sir Arthur Heywood and Henry Greenly (eg see The Perrygrove Railway).

Loading hopper

A chance find on eBay led to the purchase of a prefabricated German wooden kit for a loading hopper. I had always intended to construct a set of wood and steel loading hoppers for the copper mine and this kit has somewhat short-cut the process.

The hopper will eventually be located over the track leading from the copper mine to the exchange siding at Beeston Market (see The Copper Mine - pending) but as this will require some widening of the timber trackbase the hopper was temporarily sited on the timber yard siding at Peckforton for the photo shoot.

There is still some detailing and light weathering to be completed on the model but for now I am pleased with the outcome (see How I constructed a loading hopper)

Bespoke figures

I have been trying for some time to find appropriate figures in various poses to make a few small tableaux on my railway without success. I have found with commerical figures that either the poses are not what I want or the clothing is not appropriate for an English narrow gauge railway set in the early 1930s. After an abortive attempt to construct my own figures from polymer clay (see Creating atmosphere - Progress Report 31), I consulted various sources on the internet and have been improving my skills. I certainly can't claim to be a Rodin, a Henry Moore or an Antony Gormley but my figures are slowly beginning to resemble something vaguely human.

[Awaiting photo]

The knack seems to be getting the proportions right in the early stages and then having considerable patience and time to sculpt features and details. I have found this is the sort of job I can do while 'watching' TV in the warmth of the living room on these cold and dark winter evenings.
Once I have perfected my techniques to what I consider to be a reasonable standard, I will share my results via another posting (see How I sculpted some figures from polymer clay - pending). However, this might be some time in the future, given my slow rate of progress so far.

Diesel loco kit

Another chance purchase through the G Scale Central forum resulted in the arrival of a 'Jessie' diesel locomotive kit made by IP Engineering.
As this kit is no longer listed on the IP Engineering website I assume it is discontinued. However, the kit I purchased seems to be complete and also includes various additional detailing parts. Once completed this loco will be added to the slowly growing roster of battery-powered locos which I am accumulating (eg see How I constructed a railmotor). My ultimate plan is to have a complete set of locos for both DCC and battery power to hopefully extend the opportunities for operating sessions through the year as the track cleaning process required for track power can become tedious prior to a brief operating session (see How I clean the track).

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