Wednesday, December 20, 2017


Having recently dipped my toe into 32mm gauge railways (in 16mm scale, so representing 2' gauge) I've also been involved in designing some new products for a scale/gauge combination referred to as OO6.5. As you can probably guess that just like OO9 is OO scale modelling (i.e. 4mm scale) on 9mm gauge track, OO6.5 is OO scale modelling on 6.5mm gauge track. While not an exact match this is used to represent railways running on 18" gauge track; sometimes referred to as minimum gauge railways. The reason we use 6.5mm gauge is because there is ready-to-run track available from Busch, although they use it to model 60cm gauge railways in HOf scale, which is 3.5mm to the foot modelling. If you weren't confused by scales and gauges before I'm sure you are now!

The wagon I've designed is 1 plank transfer wagon as used on the Royal Arsenal Railway. Now I only know of one photo of this wagon which appears in the Mark Smithers' book. Fortunately it appears to be simply a cut down version of the Sand Hutton wagon that I've been working on for what feels like years now (hopefully some news on these next year) and so I had some idea of size etc. Obviously with the difference in gauge I've had to produce a new underframe as well. Note that this doesn't entirely mirror the prototype in order to provide mountings for the magnetic couplings.

I don't actually have any OO6.5 track (not sure I'll actually try modelling in the gauge either if I'm honest) so I've not actually seen the models in the flesh yet, but never fear they have been test printed by James Hilton who does model in the scale and has also released some other models. You can see what he made of the test prints over on his blog.

You can find the full range of OO6.5 gauge models produced by various Narrow Planet designers on the website under the 6point5 brand. Hopefully there will be more to come in this new interesting gauge next year as well (hint: I'm working on something else).

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Big Reveal

Having hinted at some modelling in a new scale for the last couple of weeks, the time has finally come for the big reveal. So without further ado we have a 16mm Hudson Skip locomotive that runs on 32mm gauge track.

The loco is built from a kit from I P Engineering that consists mostly of laser cut plywood, although the skip itself is an injection moulded piece. You should also be able to spot the hand brake wheel and clutch pedal from previous posts, plus two gear levers and some extra rivets (possibly more on those in a later post) that I've added to the basic model. All these bits were modelled on a drawing of a similar loco in issue 9 of Narrow Gauge and Industrial Railway Modelling REVIEW.

Unlike any other locomotive model I've built before this one is battery powered rather than being powered through the track. It's also why the skip looks over full as that's the smallest mound I could make and still hide the batteries and on/off and direction switches.

One of the advantages of battery power is that I don't need expensive track to run the loco on. In fact I can use track that is also made from lasercut plywood, specifically the Ezee range of track also from I P Engineering.

As I mentioned in an earlier post the aim of this little bit of modelling was to give me something I could do in the lounge after the little one was in bed but also to see how much I liked 16mm as a scale to work in without spending a lot of money. I think I've achieved that as (barring paints, glue, etc.) the loco, driving figure and track has cost me just £80 and I've had a lot of fun, and enjoyed scratch building details in this larger scale. Which just leaves the question.... will I be doing more 16mm scale modelling? At the moment I'm not sure. I don't have the space inside the house for much more than that temporary oval of track and I've not thought about modelling in the garden..... yet.

Friday, December 8, 2017


My work to turn Skarloey back into a representation of Tallylyn still isn't finished, and now I've got a model of Rheneas which will need to become Dolgoch at some future point. As if I didn't have enough projects on the go already given the amount of modelling time I currently have.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A Sense of Scale

As the last few posts have hinted at I'm having some fun experimenting with 16mm scale modelling. I've started with something cheap to see if I like the scale or not; 16mm scale modelling can get expensive very very quickly if you are not careful. Playing with the parts of the locomotive I'm building still often doesn't really tell you much about the size of things relative to what I'm used to, other than it's bigger. Looking at models of people certainly gives you some sense of the difference in scale though, and really brings home just how much bigger 16mm scale really is.

In this photo we have seated figures in, from left to right, 4mm, 7mm, and 16mm to the foot scales; and yes I know the poor 7mm chap is missing his arms! 4mm is my usual modelling scale having grown up modelling in OO and more recently in OO9, although I've been slowly moving up to 7mm scale with the Clayton battery electric loco etc.

So what do I think about 16mm to the foot? Well it's most definitely a lot bigger than I'm used to, but just as with the jump from 4mm to 7mm I like the possibilities it opens up for adding more details. Although looking at that painted figure I might have to adapt some of my techniques as I'm not sure they all translate well from 4mm and 7mm up to the much bigger scale.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Changing Gear

I'm still not ready for the big reveal of what I've been working on in the evenings, but to go with the brake wheel we now have..... a clutch peddle.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Progress Update

It's been almost a month since my last post and while there hasn't been a huge amount of modelling achieved I thought it worth doing a quick update.

First up, there has been some work on the latest Clayton build. That photo may not look too impressive but the box the body parts are resting on holds a few more bits of work. I've now collected all the parts together to complete the build, and I've assembled the wheelsets and the main layshaft. Most of the work though has gone into preparing the 3D body prints. Normally I spray my models from an aerosol can which puts the paint on reasonably thickly and hides some of the print issues. I'm hoping though to move to using an airbrush for painting so that I don't end up hiding small details etc. and can have access to a wider range of colours. This means though that I need to spend more time preparing the model surfaces. So far both parts have had two rounds of rubbing down with 2000 grit sandpaper after being sprayed with Mr Finishing Surfacer 1500. It's the first time I've tried using this stuff and so far I'm impressed, although the proof will come when I apply a layer of primer.

And now for something completely different. I usually model in my study, unfortunately the desk is pushed up against a thin internal wall and on the other side is my son's cot, so doing much when he's asleep is tricky, and I've avoided doing too much modelling in the lounge after he's gone to bed due to the inevitable mess I'd make. I've especially avoided doing anything with metals and plastics that might leave nasty stray bits if I don't clean up properly. So wanting a project I could work on in the lounge after he was in bed, I've picked up a kit made mostly from wood. I'm not going to reveal what that is just yet but as a clue, I decided to scratch build a brake wheel for it.

Friday, September 29, 2017

An Extra 8.5g

As some of you figured out the new parts I showed in the previous post are a revised version of the keeper plate in the O14 Clayton battery electric locomotive I've been modelling on and off for the last two and a bit years, having started on it back in May of 2015. I did finish a complete model at the end of 2015 but that is now earning it's keep in Rhyd. Initial running trials at Rhyd showed that while the model worked okay it wasn't really heavy enough, especially if the driver was on the heavy side, and had a tendency to bounce. For the past year I've been slowly thinking about ways to add more weight and this is the result.

On the left we have the original keeper plate as fitted to the model now running on Rhyd. In the middle we have the revised keeper plate which is quite a bit thicker and has much taller ends. On the right we then have a new part which is purely to add weight; it doesn't have any specific function, unlike the keeper plate. This fits between the motor and the layshaft directly over the wheels.

The original keeper plate weighed 6.3g whereas the two new parts together weight 14.8g so an extra 8.5g, or viewed another way, an increase of 135%. Hopefully this should drastically improve the running quality of the model by helping to keep it securely on the rails. Hopefully I'll find out reasonably soon how much of an improvement as I need to get on and build the new model because, yet again, I've been commissioned to build it for someone else, so I still won't have finished one for myself!

As a bit of an aside, and because I think it's interesting, I thought it worth a few comments on weighting models and I why I've taken the route I have. Often when trying to add weight to models people use Liquid Gravity which is essentially a lot of tiny little heavy beads; would probably have been lead shot at some point in the past but health and safety rules means it's no longer lead based.

Liquid Gravity is nice and easy to use as you simply pour the beads into the available space within the model and keep it in place with a little superglue. I used this approach when building the Hudson-Hunslet model as it meant I could fill the tiniest of spaces to add extra weight. While the manufacturers don't provide any details on the weight of Liquid Gravity for a given volume I did find a review that had tried to estimate how heavy it really is. They found that it weighed roughly 4.15 g/cm3 which is actually quite light when compared to lead which weighs 11.3 g/cm3.

The stainless steel that I've had the parts 3D printed in is referred to by Shapeways as being 420 steel. Having had a hunt around I've found that 420 steel should have a weight of 7.74 g/cm3; so an 86% increase in weight for the same volume. Shapeways also give the material volume of each part and checking I found that the original part (with a volume of 0.8141cm3) should have a weight of 6.3g and the new parts (with a combined volume of 1.8215cm3) should weight 14.1g which matches nicely with the final weights of the printed parts.

When building such small models it seems silly not to take advantage of the extra weight of the stainless steel especially given that it can be printed to exactly fit within other printed parts and, in the case of the keeper plate, to serve a function at the same time. I'll certainly by continuing with this approach on future models, although Liquid Gravity still has it's uses.