Firstly, I have to apologise for the absence of any blog entries. Life as they say overtakes you sometimes and I've had a number of issues to sort out, most notably an aging mother and, more recently, mother-in-law having to go into care homes. We now have yet another house to empty at a time when I should be at my modelling desk. Still had two good walks this year, another part of the SW Coast Path and almost all the Cotswold Way (weather interrupted).
I did notice in my prolonged absence a number of interesting blogs, I would love to have contributed my two pennyworth but it's a bit late now.
Now to my main confession, readers of my blog may have noticed a photo of a GWR U4 compo in lake livery painted by Geoff Haynes. This though was actually only one coach of the three coach set that worked the Blagdon branch. I have sets in both the elaborate and simplified chocolate and cream liveries but as my preferred modelling period is the early 1920's it was essential that I had a set in the lake colour in use at that time. I wanted this set to be more realistic than the others so used the highly detailed Mainly Trains chassis and for the brakes the Shire Scenes sides. The Ratio sides are fine for a T47 brake third but it was the T36 example that was used on the Blagdon branch (and many others). This has three rather than two compartments. If you think about it a train with four third class, two first and two second compartments is hardly representative.
Geoff understandably painted the sides prior to fitting the glazing and the grab and door handles. All I had to do was fit these when they came back in their immaculate lake livery. I did have misgivings on this score, justified as it turned out.
The composite was fairly straightforward which is why it appears in a past blog. The plastic sides, flush on the inside, meant I only had to cut one length of glazing for each side and this could be secured with liquid poly. The holes for the door and grab rails had already been drilled and these were easily fitted. I used etched handles, the grab rails are not really that realistic as the etching process results in a flat section rather than circular but the prospect of bending brass wire into the correct shape and uniform for every handle was to my mind impossible.
On to the brake thirds which of course had Shire Scenes etched brass sides. As I think I mentioned earlier, the droplights are a separate etching fixed to the inside of the coach so the glazing has to be sectioned, one piece for each pair of adjoining windows, another for each droplight. Stupidly, I thought I'd use cyano to fix the glazing and guess what, I got it on the paintwork. Even more stupidly, if that's possible, I used cyano to fix the door handles and grab rails. Yet more adhesive on the paintwork. If someone was cruel they might think it funny looking at me running around like a headless chicken trying to wash the cyano off. Of course it damaged the expensive paintwork so feeling rather chastened I quietly packed the two bodies and the separate chassis in an ice cream tub thinking maybe one day I'd have another look at them. I did seriously think why am I pursuing this hobby.
They languished in that ice cream tub for some time until recently when I decided to have another look at them. At Expo EM I bought a tin of Precision Paints GWR lake which, as luck would have it, was the paint that Geoff used as it was an exact match. I had another look at the glazing, some of which had come adrift whilst some others were cloudy where the cyano had got on them. I replaced the missing and the worst of the cloudy glazing with new but this time using Araldite which doesn't go everywhere. Turning attention to the handles, I used the Comet etch which is a little wider than some of the other handles on the coach (I was reluctant to take them all off and start again) but has the advantage that it keeps the correct shape. I'm not sure where some of the etched grab handles came from so they are a bit of mix and match but you'd have to look very closely to notice this. Maybe one day I'll replace the ones that don't match.
Mating the bodies to the chassis for the first time I was encouraged that the sides didn't look as bad as I first thought. The grab rails effectively hid the cyano on the paintwork and applying thinnned down paint to the damaged areas did quite an effective job. At last I'm now able to show the three coach set for the first time, the photo shows it standing at Blagdon's platform
The two brake thirds are numbered 951 and 952, the ones used at Blagdon from 1902 to cessation of the passenger service in 1931. Whilst close examination will reveal the flaws, at normal viewing distance these aren't visible (neither is the detailed chassis!).
This wasn't the only disappointment I had. I've been experimenting with track construction using ply sleepers and rivets to represent flat bottom rail spiked directly to the sleepers. This has not worked as for some reason the spacing of the rivet holes in the ply is not that for EM gauge. Also it's difficult to get the holes in the correct position on pointwork, the exact position of the rails using the various gauges does not conform with the position of the holes drilled using the template. If I was using chaired track I'd certainly use the EMGS points and trackwork (incidentally the reason EMGS membership has increased dramatically) but for flat bottom spiked track it's back to copper clad again. This is much easier to use and by scraping an old piece of hacksaw blade over the copper sleepers I've been able tomake a representation of the grain. So far this has gone reasonably well but until the EMGS stock again the wider point sleepers work has come to a halt. One encouraging point (no pun intended) is that by taking great care over the crossing V's stock runs very smoothly through the pointwork. I replaced the wooden sleepers one by one, unsoldering and then offering up the copper one so I didn't have to dismantle the point. The intention is that the track will be the basis of a new Blagdon over two boards to accomodate any downsizing.
Like the Siphon C, it's been good to finish the unfinished. The last unfinished kit I have is the GWR 2021 0-6-0ST, now reintroduced by SE Finecast. At Expo EM I brought the chassis so that might be the next thing on the agenda.