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.