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A Year in Retrospect



Whereas 2014 was a time of heady excitement for me, as I started to realise the possibilities of my new Silhouette cutter, 2015 has been more a period of consolidation.


The potential to build my own timber-framed carriages meant that my aim of re-creating a small glimpse of the Victorian railway scene became a reality through 2014 and, inspired by these possibilities, I also embarked on a spree of kit building and locomotive construction.



Locomotives at North Leigh Station – the square outline of the Belpaire firebox on 'Stella'

contrasting with the flowing curves of Armstrong's 'Queen' class.


By the beginning of 2015, I had produced a range of vehicles dating back to the middle of the 19th century, although most of my construction techniques were experimental and needed more development. As a result, progress during 2015 has been relatively slow but I feel that the quality of my constructions has improved considerably.


Early in 2015, I completed the construction of a model of one of the first standard-gauge locomotives to run on the GWR – No.184, originally built for the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway, before its take-over by the GWR. A tender for this locomotive is still outstanding but I have made a little progress since my previous entry, by soldering the upper body to the chassis.


As I described in my earlier entry, I left 'tabs' along the lower edges of the body sides. I folded these tabs inwards so that they would sit on the flat top of the chassis after folding the upper body into a 'U'-shape. I cleaned these tabs and the mating surfaces on the chassis, before applying some phosphoric acid flux and tinning these areas with 60/40 solder. I then placed the 'U'-shaped upper body panels on the chassis, making sure that the sides and back were all in their correct positions, and used solder to 'tack' down the open ends of the 'U' (at the front of the tender). Once everything was in alignment, I used the soldering iron to 'sweat' the pre-tinned parts together, along the whole length of the mating surfaces.



Preparing the Tender components. I dilute my own flux from Hydroponics pH-control phosphoric acid.


I also tinned the flare that I had formed around the top of the tender body and used the solder to smooth over the gaps between the brass fingers that I had cut to form the curve between the sides and the back of the body.



A skim of solder stiffens the tender flare and fills in the curved corners.


Throughout 2015, I turned my attention to the types of carriage that preceded the familiar Dean designs, which were constructed from the early 1870s, after completion of the 'new' carriage works at Swindon. From a modelling point of view, these earlier carriages are fairly simple, being of slab-sided design, with flat ends. On the other hand, prototype information is sparse, so key dimensions had to be inferred by comparing several old photographs.


I eventually developed a method of construction based on a strong inner shell, onto which I applied 'decorated' sides and Silhouette-cut outside framing. I am particularly pleased with the passenger brake van that is based on vehicles that appear in an 1873 photograph of New Milford, shortly after gauge conversion.



Early GWR Passenger Brake Van still lacking finishing touches, including the all-important brakes!


Mention of gauge conversion acts as a reminder that the Great Western Railway was conceived as a broad gauge railway and that standard gauge stock infiltrated slowly, as a result of acquisition of what became the 'Northern Division'. I now feel that to take my historical interests further, I need to start exploring the types of rolling stick associated with the broad gauge.



GWR Broad Gauge 'Single' from K's 'Milestones' kit


I built a static model of a 'Rover-class' Gooch single many years ago from a K's 'Milestones' kit, so my initial thought is to start to build a diorama to house this locomotive and then to add some appropriate rolling stock. There's a lot to learn so, to help the process, I have recently joined the Broad Gauge Society. These plans are for the future and will hopefully be carried forward during 2016.


In the meantime, I have been exploring a little more of the legacy of Amy Wilcote's paintings and found one depicting the lime kilns, which were built into the hillside above North Leigh station. A narrow-gauge horse-drawn 'tramway' was used to bring lime from the kiln down to an exchange platform, where it could be transferred to standard gauge wagons in the goods sidings adjacent to the station.



Another 'painting' from my 'Amy Wilcote' collection



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Thanks, Northroader - only 3 hours to go to 2016!  I'm going to have to learn how to build my own track for BG :)



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Mike have you seen Ian's work on his 2mm Modbury layout it is 'Narrow' gauge' but Bulk road.


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Yes, I do know 'Modbury'  A lot of GWR track was converted to 'narrow' gauge while retaining the original construction.  In most cases, a third rail had been added, long before the final conversion, to create 'mixed gauge' track but, otherwise, the gauge was altered by cutting the transoms and moving one rail, on its baulks, inwards to the new gauge.



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Hi Mike, and a belated happy new year! I read your blog the other day but didn't have time to comment. It's been a real pleasure watching your experiments, as you know I'm a great fan of your modelling approach.


I understand why you emphasize no. 352, it's such an excellent model. Whether we like it or not, it does also make a bit difference whether everything is straight and square about a model, I think. One small thing I was wondering about, is whether the very pronounced black on the frames should perhaps be toned down a bit on future models? Or maybe that's just me trying to excuse that my coaches have no black on the frames :-)


Amy's painting is very good. The chains in particular are very convincing, also in 4mm scale!

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Thank you Mikkel and I agree with your comments.  It can be very difficult to get everything straight and square.  I don't understand why, after spending ages checking and re-checking, things can still go awry!  I notice that the roof on that PBV is beginning to curl upwards a little at the left hand end (on the photo).  I don't find plasticard to be very stable, which is why I prefer brass for many things - but it seems wrong to model old coaches out of metal (except, of course, those early GWR iron ones).


I agree that the black frames are a little too prominent - I did better with those old Tri-ang coaches, many years ago!  Old photos suggest that GWR coach frames were not 'picked-out' from the panel colour at first, and then they started to be painted brown, where they crossed the cream panels.  I believe that black was used from around 1870 when the rounded corners to panels appeared.  Perhaps I should paint the edges of the frames cream, before attaching them to the body, so that they look less 'heavy'.


I think 'Amy' did a nice job on the background foliage but don't think her horse is very well done.  I must see if I can find a better one (painting, not horse!).  The chain is from Scale Link Ref: SLCH01, with 32 round links per inch [13 links per cm].  It's the best I've found for this type of application. 


Happy New Year,


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  • RMweb Gold

Hi again Mike, interesting what you write about the coach frames not being picked out first. I've never really studied the early coaches much and so never noticed it.


Painting the edges cream sounds like a good idea.


I have some of that scale link chain, it's very good indeed. The horse looks OK to me, but otherwise the Dart castings ones are very good, I find.

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Hi Mike


Coincidently, I've been rereading the first dozen pages of the Silhouette thread again. I don't want this to sound pretentious, but rereading it we wounded like a bunch of explorers heading out into the unknown. The thread has become more of a backwater, as is right, as people get on with things.


I think that the work you have put in this year has been amazing, and your techniques very interesting. You certainly pushed everything forward.


I will look forward to continue reading about your forays into Victorian railways.


I hope you have a happy, healthy and productive New Year.





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Thank you Jason and Happy New Year to you also.  The thread you started certainly did a lot for me and the cutter has provided plenty of inspiration.  I think others have taken the possibilities further, using multiple colours to control scribing depths as well as cutting. 


I'm now looking forward to low-cost, high-resolution 3D machines.  I know a lot of people use printing services but I like to have things directly under my control :)



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I'm exactly the same, and have been since Boots used to regularly mess up my photo prints. :)

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