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The BR Dia 1/337 demountable tank wagon project has thankfully almost reached completion - the type carried a 9' wheelbase with vacuum fitted Morton brake gear which allied with the exposed nature of the chassis made fitting the necessary components rather interesting!


Suitable brake gear was sourced from the spares box but unfortunately the brittle nature of the plastic led to one of the push rods breaking which entailed a repair, seen here on the non cylinder side. Also visible are the two solebar brackets used to secure the tank retaining shackles, these being constructed by laminating together three pieces of 0.5 x 1.0mm Evergreen strip.


Only one end carried discharge / loading gear and it has been necessary to guess what the originals looked like with the best image found to date being one of B749417 in Don Rowland's 'British Railway Wagons'. From this there appears to be three separate pieces of pipe work which have been constructed from various brass tubes / rod. The brass step rails were first glued into place using araldite (top) and Loctite (lower) before 10 thou evergreen strip steps were butted against them and then affixed to the tank barrel.


Presently the top walkways, securing shackles and the tank barrel are loose to allow for easier painting - the tank itself would seem to have carried a blue-green finish whilst the chassis is bauxite. Originally it was intended to use the buffers from an Airfix meat van but as the wagons were fitted with instanter couplings then 18" long buffers are required. The shock absorbers are now fitted and trimmed but one wonders why they were necessary on this diagram as there were none fitted on the similar Diagram 1/329 vehicles. Possibly due to a lack of internal tank baffles allowing the liquid contents to surge during transit, with the springs effectively used to damp out such oscillations?


Thoughts have turned to as to what commercial vehicles can find a home on Sheppycroft. Base Toys do a number of non-specific user vehicles in plain liveries which allows a little bit of mix and matching to take place as their cabs and chassis are screwed together; seen here are:
A. Guy Warrior Articulated Flatbed (Cab from GW-X17, Chassis / Trailer from SC-X12)
B. Commer QX Mk3 2 Axle Flatbed (Cab LX-X21, Chassis LC-01 and Flatbed from EFE 31-401)
C. Leyland LAD 2 Axle Dropside (Cab / Chassis from LT-01, Dropside Body from MS-01R)
D. Leyland 'Mouth Organ' Beaver 2 Axle Flatbed (Cab / Chassis from MS-01R, Flatbed from LC-01)


One problem with the Base Toy chassis are that they are not easy to make changes to as being made from a Mazak type material they are prone to disintegrating (the cabs are plastic so no such problem with these). An unlikely solution to one such instance sees a Thornycroft Trident cab (ex TT-02) married to a spare underframe from an Airfix BR Brake Van kit!


A trawl through the Internet provided inspiration for a scratch built box van body design with my spares box once again coming to the rescue in the form of the roof which is made by a cut and shut of two halves of a BR2 tender from the Airfix 2-6-0 Standard Mogul kit.


The rear of the van body is fitted with a roller shutter type door depicted by using a corrugated plastic sheet of unknown heritage. The 'lining' on the sides is Slaters 0610 lengths of 10 thou rod fixed into scribed grooves and then filed flatter to hopefully portray the faint weld lines between panels whilst the rear mud guards are off cuts from a Kibri farm slurry tank (Part No. 10908).


Foden's S21 cab was launched in 1958 and became known amongst enthusiasts as 'Sputnik' or 'Mickey Mouse' cabs. Early vehicles seem to have had a single lower silver beading trim rather than the two fitted to later models and so the tractor unit from a Lledo DG15005 Eddie Stobart articulated flatbed has been suitably modified along with a rear cab window cut out.


The tractor unit seen in company with a scratch built flatbed to give a 4 axle vehicle. The wheel sets are presently Base Toy axles, as those fitted to the Lledo model are permanently coupled together.


The underside shows how the tractor unit slides into position beneath the flatbed. The axles are held in place using Evergreen 1/8th" tube (Part No. 224) through which the Base Toys axles can pass. The rear two axle mounts are made by combining this tube with Evergreen 4.8mm Square Tube (Part No. 253) which ensures level wheel sets are obtained!




Good progress with the signals this month. However, following on from what I said last time about the 3D printed lamp / arm pivot assemblies – yes, one of the pivots broke off while I was in the process of getting an arm fitted. I managed to re-attach the pivot with superglue, but then on another of the signals the same happened again! Not wanting to take any further chances, the pivots on this signal were all cut off and replaced with brass tube, soldered carefully into position. I’m now hoping that those on the remaining signals (5 arms in total) will hold. I will stick to brass tube bearings in future! Many coats of paint were needed on the 3D printed lamps to prevent the entire body from glowing (though I will admit they were intended for illumination by fibre optic, not LED).


More arms fitted – these being the 3-doll Kendal Inner Home signal and the other being the starter for platforms 2 & 2. With the signals as a whole I’ve tried to encompass as much variety as to structures as possible. Hence here we have a welded stem bracket, with the other being a broad flanged beam type. The wires emerging from the base pf the posts, are the positive 12V DC feed for the LEDs – the negative polarity being formed by the signal structure itself. For 12V DC these LEDs need at least a 1,000 Ohm resistor – the next image shows how this was done…..


Beneath the platforms a piece of very thin copperclad, suitably gapped, was made to form a ‘circuit board’ for connecting the LEDs – the positive feed to each being via a 3.3K Ohm surface mount resistor. The negative leads from the LEDs are then soldered directly to the underside of the platform, thus making the signal structure itself, the return current path. The copperclad strip can just me made out in the photo – having been overpainted with the ‘wood’ colour of the platform, together with the grey decoder wire which in this case was in this case passed down within the channel of the main signal post on the face that will be away from the viewing side.


The Heversham Down home signal is a tubular post bracket. Like the other bracket signals it has the LMS pattern torsion bar arrangement to work the arms – in practice probably easier than cranks in model form, even though the parts need scratchbuilding. This is the signal where I replaced the 3D printed arm pivot bearings with brass tube. All the signals just need the post caps to be added. Next month, hopefully some progress on the lever frames…..


A very pleasant surprise at the latest running day was to have one of the late David Jenkinson’s ex-Marthwaite locos turn up for a visit to the layout. Being analogue it could only do couple of trips round the main circuit, but it was fantastic to have it making a guest appearance on The Kentside Branch.




Over the last few months I’ve been enjoying running trains on Morfa Bank, with little to report, however work has continued on the new 1970s South American layout and the latest project may interest readers. The new layout rises steeply from a small yard up into mountains and includes a village on the mid level, as well as a gorge and a lot of bridges. This update shows the construction of mock-up buildings for the village ahead of the longer-term modelling in detail. This is the site of the first block. The Magnorail track has been laid and tested but awaits a road surface. The steps rise from the end of a small alley with the upper path marking the position of the ground floors of the next level up.


The mock-ups were built of various off-cuts of card, including cereal packets and foam board. This was the first section with the plan being to replicate the kind of ramshackle planning often visible in older settlements, especially in industrial areas pre-1970s. Nowadays most groupings like this would have been swept away by redevelopment. The cutting was done by trial and error with any complex pieces having the measurements marked on so they could be easily replicated when the permanent structures are built.


This is the first section in place. The various overhangs will disguise the Magnorail cyclist as it heads around the turning loop beneath the next level. The road to the right runs steeply up to that level so the buildings need to rise up with it. An angled mirror has been included at the top of the rise to give the impression of the road continuing out of site around the bend as it continues to climb upwards.


This is the second section and illustrates the very crude and basic construction but has proved ideal to gain a feel for the scene ahead of final construction. This method allows for easy changes if the view doesn’t work or a building feels too overpowering. I know a lot of people use small scale models for this stage of proceedings but I feel I can better visualise something at full 1/76th size.


Here we see that second section complete and slotted in alongside the first. Also illustrated is the steep gradient on the road and the view through the angled mirror following the curve of that road up and around the bend.


This view shows how the two sections fit exactly together, like a 3D jigsaw, and illustrates the very irregular roof line, which will add some interest and mystery to the settlement. Just like on Morfa Bank I wanted to create a number of paths and passageways that wound up through the scene, inviting exploration. The next level up will be higher than the tallest roof seen here and will continue the theme of the lower level.


Looking directly down on this part of the village illustrates how the different buildings interact with each other. And how they are designed to hide the return loop of the Magnorail system. This also shows how the scenery has been continued beyond the mirror to the backscene location, the near side of which will be disguised by another building, the base of which can be seen at the bottom of the image. The top surface of the mirror will be hidden beneath a run of electrical cables from a post in the embankment verge.


Finally, a view from lower down the mountainside showing how the cluster of buildings will rise up towards the back of the layout, as well as rising left to right as the road climbs higher. The rock surfaces obviously still need colouring! The split line visible running through these is the join between the bottom and top halves of the layout, allowing track cleaning and also maintenance of the Magnorail system when needed. This will be disguised with vegetation and stone rubble as the scenery develops.




The latest project is this Gypsum hopper wagon diagram 1/168 (PG001A). There were only 39 of these wagons built in 1970 to take gypsum to the Northfleet Cement works in Kent, which were designed to work on the Merry Go Round loading and unloading technique, and look like a smaller version of the widespread Coal MGR wagons.


I am not aware of any existing models of this curious wagon being available in any scale, so there are no transfers available so far. This model has been made using the resin printing technique.


For durability and strength, these controller holsters have been produced on the filament printer, and will accomodate a wide variety of controller styles. All my 3D designs are available as a free download at Thingiverse for you to print yourself, or visit the links page for printing service options.




Hot off Jonny's machine are these Taperlight suspension units for the Bachmann VAA as used in the Research Centre's Tribology train.


Another nice and easy fitment shown after painting. Consistency of the suspension units and the potential scratchbuilding time makes these an ideal 3D printing project.


Other recent projects include the fitment of wing mirrors to my fleet of commercial vehicles, using the Scale Link fret SLF137.


New to the Shenston Road locomotive fleet is this Accurascale Class 37 - still awaiting weathering. Considering the model is marketed with replacement 'drop in' wheelsets for EM & P4, it would be nice to be able to drop the wheels in... Instead, the process involves the use of a large swear jar, the difficult removal of a 6-clip keeper plate and dismantling the brake gear and bogie sideframes. Tri-ang had a better idea back in the 1960s using just a couple of screws to make wheel removal and lubrication / maintenance a breeze! It's a shame it's so overcomplicated - one can only hope the forthcoming Class 31 will be more 'drop in' friendly.


Warship 870 is now finished and into service, seen here at Hornsey Broadway.


It wasn't the easiest of the class to model, as the cab top air horn pods had to be made and fitted, a Spanner boiler exhaust fashioned on the roof, and the model's moulded boiler grill filled in.




6323 is captured on the Newton Abbot Works traverser. Just the addition of windscreen wipers and this will be another model ticked off my list.




Another cleaning and maintenance session was carried out this month in the South Sidings, with one of the isolated roads commissioned (Road 6) with the addition of a curved point which I had laying around for a while. It fits just perfectly and allows stabling of a 6 coach rake or a couple of DMU sets. Road 7 will remain isolated and is used as the works siding for locomotives awaiting attention at the bench.


The layout continues to entertain generations young and old, so from Polly Pocket, Peppa Pig, Antelope and the Mighty Max crew, here's wishing everyone 'seasons greetings' and all the best for 2024.