Quick and Simple Trees pt1

Although the layout is set in the heart of the black country, there was probably a little more greenery than you’d first thought.

As can be seen in this shot of Abbiss’s land sale wharf in Baggeridge.

The trees for the layout are built from simply twisting small gauge wire together and securing them with masking tape, not only to bind the wire but to bulk out the trunk and thicker branches, but it also removes the visible wire twists too.

Several strands are secured in a pin vice and twisted until the length of untwisted wire is sufficient for the smaller branches that make up the upper part of the tree.

Once several twisted strands have been completed then they can be bound together by the masking tape, until happy with the thickness of the trunk and branches.

A quick and simple tree, probably took only 10-15mins to get to this stage. Always a good idea to use photos of real trees or go for a walk in your local park to get plenty of ideas.

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Track building, an essay in brass.

Although the current trend in track building is the use of plastic chairs on plastic or plywood timbers, there are still other ways to build your track. As much as I like the plastic chairs from Exactoscale and C+L finescale, they are bordering on the expensive side especially when 100’s+ are required, that’s not to say they aren’t worth it as they are exquisitely moulded. It’s just that for your average Dad, it’s getting harder to justify. Also there is a discussion with regards to the checkrails chairs in P4, that under a certain turnout radius the checkrails may not act accordingly in relation to gauge widening. So with both those issues in mind, I cast my memory back to reading about Masokits brass half etched chairs for running track and turnouts.

Michael Clark’s Masokits range of brass etched chairs require copper clad timbers to solder to. These were acquired from Wizard models and a long with a few packs of the etch brass chairs certainly is a step in the right direction for both cost to myself and allows exact control over the building of tight radius turnouts.

Today was spent cutting up copper turnout timbers and fitting them to a copy of my Templot plan on my workbench board. Simply cut with a pair of side cutters they made light work of the cladding and I had a full set of timbers within an hour. Shown here awaiting fixing to the templates with double sided tape.

Now I’m all set to start folding the etched chairs and get soldering.

Stock building underway

Having made life more difficult by modelling the 1920’s, with the majority of reference photos and details dating to mostly the 50’s & 60’s. Without finding details about which wagon company or companies the Railway used, not to mention the engineering talent and facilities that were available at The Wallows (the engineering works and sheds) there was a chance that some wagons were built on site, like some of the locomotives. Finding suitable stock off the shelf is very limited.

There is a reference to The Midland Railway wagon and carriage works, about a hopper wagon with a similar design built for export to Australia. Which is visible in a photo taken at a land sale wharf, which sadly I can’t post.

So to establish a base of wagons for the layout to get things underway I’ve chosen both the 5 & 7 plank Gloucester 1907 15′ po wagons. Simple but well detailed kits from Cambrian kits.

The buffers have been replaced with Lanarkshire Model white metal buffers for wooden underframed early po wagons. The coupling hooks will also be Lanarkshire models white metal which although originally designed to be cosmetic are more than strong enough for actual coupling use, especially given my rakes would be between 5-7 wagons max.

P4 wheels are from Alan Gibson and although I’ve built the brakes from the kit, they will be retro fitted with Masokits and Bill Bedford brakes and levers a long with all future builds. I always try and build atleast one to the original instructions.

The chassis is the base for the 5 plank and the 7 plank is just awaiting couplings and brakes retro fitting.

These Cambrian kits will be in a reasonable good condition given the 1907 design heritage. For the more older wagons there’s a large variation of types available to model but will mostly require scratchbuilding.

The railway used many plank variations including 1,3,4,5,6 &7 plank wagons. The railway did have many dumb buffered wagons. As seen in this photo, which will require scratchbuilding.

Dated early 20th Century, this is Abbiss coal merchant’s landsale wharf. The third wagon from the right is a 4 plank dumb buffered wagon. There’s a few variations in the rake too, near the back appears to be atleast 1 slope sided hopper.

The following is an extract from the Dudley archive which accompanies the photo:

Mr Joe Abbiss, who owned the coal merchants whose company name is on the lorry, is the gentleman standing in the lorry. The man on the left holding the horses, is believed to be a Major Westwood. The “E D” on the sides of the trucks indicate that the colliery belonged to the Earl of Dudley. The description “Landsale wharf” in the Black Country, usually means a railway siding at which coal is unloaded for sale to merchants or consumers. Coal is usually loaded from the train to lorries by hand. (Courtesy of Mr. J. Abbiss).

Courtesy of Dudley Archives and the Black country History website

MRJ Cameo layout competition

As eluded to in my last post, I’ve entered a design to the MRJ/Wild Swan and Titfield Thunderbolt bookshop Cameo layout competition that was announced last year.

The competition is being held to not only promote the Iain Rice Creating Cameo Layouts book but also to bring finescale in small spaces to a broader audience and tempt modellers to try finescale modelling.

Iain’s book is highly recommended and owning a copy was a requirement for entry. So here’s mine.

So what have I entered?

Dudley’s Coal

It’s a small P4 Cameo and is set in the early 1920’s in Black country, the layout is based on the railways of the Earl of Dudley. The Earl’s railway (also known as the Pensnett railway) was a comprehensive mineral railway system in the South Western corner of the Black country in the West Midlands.
My cameo entry is designed to represent one of the railways many Landsale Wharves, where the local coal was offloaded to businesses and the general public.

The layout design is a simple fan of 3 sidings, with a kick back spur/headshunt. It actually draws inspiration from an Ian Futers design. The idea behind the design is for a minimalist scene with a few structures, for dealing with the sale of the coal, and a little Autumnal landscaping.

As well as this blog the build is being documented on The Western Thunder forum too as a requirement for entry. Dudley’s Coal can be found here.

Merry Christmas

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Have a Merry Christmas holiday and wonderful New Year everyone! Happy modelling.

A Shift in Direction

Far too much time passes by between blog posts. Unfortunately the same can be said for my modelling time. Although I’ve not managed to get much modelling done this year I have managed several projects, some of which  I shall be blogging about this year as I develop the projects further. One major project I’m embarking on is Radio control. More about that in the new year.

I have decided to change my direction a little for the time being and have begun collecting items and ideas and information on GWR railways in Wales. More specifically in Mid Wales, the Lampeter Aberayron and New Quay Light railway and the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth mainline in the late 1940s. There may be a move in to British Railways but to start I shall concentrating on late 40’s pre BR. With the recent Bachmann class 64xx pannier having another run after selling out its possible to start this project, Tom Foster on his Blog has very finely modelled the GWR Pannier of the 74xx class from the Bachmann 64xx, from which I shall be taking great inspiration. As with the typical 14xx and autocoach, the 74xx pannier was the mainstay of the branch from their introduction until the line closed in the early 1960’s.

Aberayron Station, 13 Nov 1963

BR built Ex GWR 74xx pannier class no.7439 at Aberayron in 1963 shunting the yard. The platform no longer receiving passengers now doubles as another freight loading point. Photo Copyright Ian D Nolan.

There are not many photos of line from the post war years and most are taken in mid to late 1950’s which should of meant that I did indeed model the BR days, but passenger services ceased in the years just before nationalisation and as I wanted to model passenger trains late GWR it is.