Monday, December 31, 2007

Painting the nose

The nose is yellow at the front and sides, and black on top.

I'm soon thinking that I might have been wiser to paint this area before the blue sides, as these areas are flat and could have been masked off while I painted the sides afterwards.

Another thing I might have done earlier, is to make sure the flat areas really are flat with no excess resin.

resin flash on nose

clear tape used as mask

I want the area behind the grille to be more of a dirty brown than this, but I'll experiment with watercolour or weathering powder after I've varnished this.

After the time I've spent trying to get clean lines here it's disappointing to see the "close-ups". Having an unsteady hand, I suppose painting was never going to be my area of expertise. Now I need to be careful not to make things worse with the tricky-looking wasp-stripes.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Painting the cab

This has taken far longer than I would have hoped, as past mistakes come haunting back.

I'd folded the cab inside-out then had to correct it. I'd strengthened the corners with epoxy for simplicity but part-way through painting one of the corners came apart. I decided to solder the joint this time, giving much greater strength but meaning I had to strip the paint and start again.

Part-way through painting and the same thing happened to the other epoxied joint, so this is now my third attempt. At least the cab feels stronger now, and I've learned a lesson about trying to cut (epoxy?) corners.

I'm using Railmatch 202 yellow, described as matching the yellow used from 1984 onwards, and it looks pretty much like photos of my prototype from the 1980's.

I'd got some "low tack" masking tape from Phoenix.

Using the tape to protect the finished side.

In the end I found I got a cleaner effect at the edges from clear sticky tape.

Hmm... suppose I should paint the inside too.

... and tidy up the window edges.

But these are minor details. I was concerned about getting clean lines where yellow meets blue, and (enlarged images aside) I feel I've achieved that.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Connecting the motor

The motor will need to collect current from the rails via the wheels.

This aspect isn't illustrated in the instructions, presumably being considered standard procedure, but I now find myself wishing that I'd thought more about it earlier.

Because of the split-frame design, both sides of the chassis are live, so wires can in principle be led from any part of the chassis to the motor terminals.

In practice things like axles, gears and the motor itself get in the way and of course the wires should be unseen on the finished model. So I find myself with a tricky job soldering around wheels to access a small area on the top of the chassis, at the same time shielding the nearest wheel from flux and solder.

The left-hand wire is only a few mills from the wheel and the gear.

Now to connect the wires to the motor. Had to do this twice as first time the polarity was opposite to that on my converted Farish 08.

My "mid-air" soldering never looks tidy.

But it runs. The chassis trundles along comfortably at about 8-10 scale mph. Any slower and it's stop-start, but perhaps a bit of weight in the body will improve things.


Thank you to those who showed interest in this blog at the recent 2mm Scale Association AGM. I was inspired as always by the general standard of modelling on show there, but staying on-topic I took the opportunity to see Mick’s prototype model 08 running. It ran smoother and more slowly than mine, so I came home determined to match it.

I’ve cleaned off the dirty oil and gunk from the gear train and axles, polished the wheels with fine wet-and-dry paper and now on my new, flatter test-track with KPC controller the chassis plus coupling rods runs pretty well down to about 1.7 scale mph.

I still feel there’s an issue with my gears, but it looks as though it’s not going to prevent the loco running reasonably well for a first attempt. Mick has made sure that his wheels can be removed if he needs to check the gears for example - definitely something I’ll try to do if I tackle another loco.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Painting the bonnet

I start with a bit of practise on the spare bonnet sides, and soon realise that metal needs a different approach from resin - the paint moves across the surface easily, leaving obvious brushmarks in its wake.

But when I make the paint a bit thinner it flows off the brush and covers the metal almost by itself. The first coat looks uneven but I found that it’s better to leave it like that than to interfere as the paint starts to thicken quickly and soon shows any brushmarks. With three coats applied like this I got a reasonable finish on my test sides.

I also tried using marker pen as an undercoat (I’d seen it recommended as a primer for brass in an old 2mm Association magazine). I found that the first coat of paint didn’t flow and had to be worked on, but both methods produced a similar result in the end.

Eventually I feel ready to have a go for real.

After first coat

Well, some interesting effects. But for a uniform dark blue I expect to give it 3 or 4 thin coats. And doing each side and the top separately, and waiting for each to dry, this could take a while.

After the second coat had dried I found a couple of specks of something on the right-hand panels. Had to remove the paint from the panels and apply a fresh coat.

second coat

I’m not bothered about the colour as those panels will be a dusty brown eventually, but I do need to keep the surface smooth. I find a transparent plastic box (ex-food container) that I can lay over the model to protect it while the paint dries.

That's about 4 or 5 thin coats, and I'm happy enough. It's not dead smooth or totally uniform, but it looks good from 40cms, and certainly much better than I was expecting when I started.

Meanwhile my transfers have arrived and a quick test confirms that they don't look good applied to this matt paint. Think I'll need a gloss varnish.

From this point it would be good to know how I'm going to combine varnish, transfers and any weathering effects, so looks like a lot of research and experimenting before I take the next steps.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The roof ribs

Just been reviewing what I still need to do - more than I thought, it turns out. But at least my worst fear - having to paint the ‘wasp stripes’ - evaporated when I was told that transfers are available for this. Thanks Mick :-)

Next task is to paint the body, but first something I overlooked earlier.

roof ribs

These slide into slots on the body once the tops are filed smooth.

Think I've got this right.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Painting the cab roof

I’ve mentioned my fear of painting before (well, a general fear of screwing up, really) but I remember that the reason I bought this kit was to learn a few things, so... a deep breath and here goes.

I’m using Phoenix Precision dull blue with a small flat brush. I find that diluting 1 part thinners : 3 parts paint seems workable, in fact it takes to the resin quite nicely.

But it’s awkward to hold the cab roof between my fingers, and very soon specks of dust and fluff start accumulating on the wet paint.

Have to clean the paint off and start again, this time with the roof glued atop a “handle” of 10cm of styrene strip.

So much better this time.

Second coat

Three coats and the rivets are still visible, but I’m beginning to get a build-up of paint on one edge (see left side above). The resin texture is still visible in this photograph, but from viewing distance this looks smooth and a good representation of diesel blue, so I think I should quit while I’m ahead.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


I have had a request for some details of how I take my photographs.

I said before that I’m not a photography enthusiast. I’m happy if I can do what I need to do. So when I realized a couple of years ago that it was becoming difficult to get film for my 25-year-old Pentax 110 camera I started to think about digital photography. I noticed a camera on offer at a good price, with 3.1 Megapixels (not bad at the time), and with a “macro” setting for close-ups as I’d seen recommended on the 2mm Yahoo group.

It has reassuringly clunky moving parts and I’ve never had a problem with it to date. I’ve starting using 2500mAh batteries and with a spare set on charge find these quite adequate for my needs. My only gripe is that the optical zoom doesn’t work well with the macro setting so I can’t get good images of very small parts.

Other equipment is a tungsten lamp, a fluorescent lamp, plain white paper for background and a ball-and-socket mount that clips to the edge of my table.

I like to keep things simple so I always use the same settings - “macro” and “no flash”. I set the model on white paper to avoid any background distraction. I make sure it’s well-lit with the lamps (this involved some trial and error when I started). I use the clamp to keep the camera steady.

Focusing is the main concern. I use the auto-focus facility and sometimes find it focuses on the wrong area. I can usually force it by focusing on a solid object at the required distance, then removing it before taking the photo.

I take perhaps 5 or 6 shots in slightly different positions. I’ll choose the image that looks best on the computer screen, then with simple software (I use Goldberg for Mac) trim the image and if necessary resize it to less than 1000 pixels width as I like to have the whole image on the screen at once.

It does take time. But this blog would be pointless without illustrations. And for me a well-focused close-up image is a valuable tool - I often notice things on screen that I missed under the magnifying glass. OK that’s a double-edged sword, but you know what I mean.

Afterthought: I have been subscribing to Colin Marsden's Railway Photography magazine as I like looking at photographs of real railways. There are often comments about individual photographs. Although not directly relevant to the modeller, this seems to me a painless way of learning how to take better photographs.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Pipework under back buffers

There is a thin pipe that runs underneath and parallel to the back bufferbeam. It's secured under the left buffer by some pipework like this

This casting lies between the inside and outside frames. The kit designer has suggested that it can be fitted in conjunction with the cylinders under the back bufferbeam, but my prototype doesn't have those cylinders.

I can't fit this as it stands, partly because of a blob of epoxy securing the left buffer and partly because I'd like it to be further left than it would naturally sit.

I've filed a lot off the left side and a little off the top so hopefully I can fit it to correspond with my photographs. I've also drilled a 0.3mm hole through the lowest part for the thin pipe.

The pipe bends upwards at both ends, so I'm making it in 2 parts. I've estimated the shape of the bend from photographs (approx one-third of the bufferbeam height).

I've fixed the casting onto the front of the chassis and glued wires into both ends of the hole.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The buffers

The buffers supplied have shanks that extend through the bufferbeam next to the sideframes, and once again care is required to avoid contact.

turned brass buffers

They have an intermediate cylinder which doesn't seem to match the prototypes I've looked at. They also have a square endplate, although there is already a nice plate on the bufferbeams with the four corner bolts represented.

I can adapt them to an extent.

I've rounded the shanks to keep them clear of the inside of the frames. And by filing the square plate to a circular profile I can use the bufferbeam plate as intended. Still got that extra cylinder though - I could try a bit of butchery, but suspect I'd probably do more harm than good.

buffers fixed against etched plates

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The front steps

As with the rear steps, electrical isolation is an issue here - in fact more so as the bufferbeam also has to be joined this time. I've heard that better modellers than me have had difficulty here so I'll take a conservative approach.

But I also have a second problem. Test-fitting the steps against the footplate I find that the sandboxes are in the way. Ages ago I filed the sideframes short to get them to fit into the jig. Looking back at the photos it seems like a negligible amount, but perhaps this is payback time - the sandbox is going to look squashed between the steps and front axle. Ah well, nothing I can do now.

I'd already built these steps

I can have the steps in contact with the sideframe, or the footplate, or the bufferbeam. Isolation from all would be ideal but may be difficult. I decide to ensure isolation from the footplate and bufferbeam, so I start with a thin smear of epoxy on the back of the steps, along the sides that may otherwise touch those areas.

The steps have to be fitted below the top of the footplate to ensure that the bottom of the steps extends below the bufferbeam frame.

Yes, unfortunately the footplate does bend up at the end :-(

But the steps are isolated from everything :-)

Top of the steps filled with epoxy and made square with fine wet-and-dry.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The rear steps

The steps seem to vary on the prototype. Some have a very defined "L" shape, others look much flatter. So far as I can tell my prototype had a pronounced L-shaped rung at the bottom and two flat steps.

rear steps etch

Note that the rungs are thicker on the left side. Folding this etch results in a set of very slightly L-shaped steps.

So I can't really use these. Think I may have to make some steps from scratch in styrene sheet, but decide to try a bit of butchery first. Separating the parts, I cut out the larger central steps and file the inside smooth.

With a little filed off the thick end, these will now go together the other way around.

Much closer to my prototype. Now I've only got a thin strip at the top to attach to the footplate, but this could work out well.

There is a potential problem fitting these steps, in that they could connect the metal overlay on top of the footplate with some part of the underside. This thin strip now won't make electrical contact with the footplate.

I've filed a gap in the footplate deep enough that the steps should lie flush with it (next time I'll do this before fitting the tanks).

top of the steps not touching the metal overlay.

Now I can use epoxy to carefully fill the gap.

Cruel in close-up, but reasonably pleasing I think from usual viewing distance.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Painting the wheels and sideframes

Well, I haven't been looking forward to this (as I said), but I really need to paint the sides before I fix the steps.

My blackened chassis has got quite a lot of shiny metal showing through now. I think it'll be OK to leave it like that, but perhaps this means blackening isn't the way to go for the more visible areas.

I still like the Humbrol black I used earlier so I start with that on the wheels.

I've heard that these soft metal wheels are susceptible to rust so I polish the tyres and rims with wet-and-dry paper, grades 500 then 1000 and 1200.

Same colour on the sideframes, well thinned at first.

With a second coat and dry brushed with grey weathering powder it's looking better.

Already I can see some shiny metal showing through on the left axle-box. It's one of those things that always distracts me on a model, but that's going to happen where there are moving parts, I suppose. Wonder if you can get ready-coloured metals...?

The bright unpainted rims look very obvious here, but reluctantly I'm leaving them. If I find that the wheels don't need much cleaning once in use, I can revisit this.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The guard irons

The extension at each end of the sideframes is the guard iron ("life guard").

front guard iron

From photographs they appear to bend inwards then back to approximately vertical.

rear iron

The tip should finish directly above the rail.

The tanks

Like the sandboxes the front and rear tanks are cast in whitemetal.

front tanks

These are glued under the front of the chassis.

There is the risk of a "short" here because the tanks are very close to the metal rail under the bufferbeam. Fortunately they don't quite touch, and in any case only one of the tanks is in electrical contact with the chassis (by chance the other has been isolated by the epoxy).

I suppose the small hole on the front of the tank can be used to secure the pipework from the front bufferbeam, but connecting this would make it difficult to remove the chassis. One to think about.

rear tanks (smaller one goes on right side)

The pegs fit in holes on the outside frame. I had to open the holes to get these to fit.

left tank

right tank

rear cylinder etch and castings

The etch folds around the casting.

On some locos these appear quite prominently situated directly under the back bufferbeam, but in several photos of my prototype I can't identify them. So for now I'll leave them off.