Monday, 28 October 2019

ExpoNG 2019

Where on earth do I begin? A fantastic day was had by all who attended ExpoNG, and the hospitality and quality of layouts on show was second to none. In this blog post, I'll take you around a tour of all the layouts!

Friday, 25 October 2019

Sandy Shores - Preparing for ExpoNG - 2nd Part

Whew. A bumper two days of progress on the layout. The text is going to have to be relatively brief as I have to be up very early tomorrow to pack everything in the car and make the 2+ hour trip to Swanley.

So, first things first was to re-attach the crane on the harbour that I kept knocking off (and damaging its plinth). I decided the best way to go forward was to drill a hole in the base of the crane and in the plinth, and simply use a cocktail stick to make for a removable yet sturdy support.

I've always intended to add seaweed on the high tide mark. Having researched real-world examples around the coast near Calshot, I came up with what I hope is a fair representation of how it might form on walls, rocks, and the beach itself. The seaweed itself was simply green fine turf mixed with watered-down PVA and darkish green paint. I found the best way to attach it was to use additional neat PVA, and a dentists tool; using brushes inevitably resulted in the mixture firmly attaching itself to the brush and not the intended areas!

Next up, the area under the trestle needed some treatment to fill in the holes underneath. A plaster mix and a coating of paint and play sand soon sorted that out. I could then add the seaweed (being careful to follow photos found online; it seems most strandlines occur in arches across the beach), and then dry brush it several times in multiple yellows, blacks, and greys to tone it down and blend it all together.

The next area to receive attention was the quayside track. At some point over the last year, the clay around the roadway has lifted up and cracked. Rather than tear it all up and start again, I decided to sand it back and repaint it to represent a nasty tarmac "repair" job! Note how the edges have been painted with a thin line of darker grey, and the whole lot weathered to tone it all down a bit.

Today's job was mainly to sort out wagon loads; it's something (as you may have noticed from the magazine article) that was sorely needed. I actually spent about 5 hours today working on turning this:

Into a lengthy assortment of wagon loads:

It actually forms enough loads to fill all of my 13 flat wagons, although only 9 have both sets of couplings! Most of the wagon loads are removable, with the exception of the bench and the firefighting trailer.

I also took the time to finish painting various wagons, and I'm also in the middle of making some ballast loads for these 5 tippers from plaster. Note how I've lined the tippers with clingfilm so that I can make the loads removable.

Oh, and one final job was to "finish" off the lighthouse. The railing stanchions were re-spaced, and the handrails soldered in place. The whole lot could then be painted with 2 coats of off-white paint. As you can imagine, this was a bloody fiddle job; especially as the stanchions were wobbly plastic! OH, and I also finally got around to adding the windows that I had made ages ago. I've actually fully bedded them in with plaster so they all have proper frames and fit snugly.

So there we have it, whilst I didn't get around to adding any vegetation/trees to disguise the scenic exit, the overally appearance of the layout has been dramatically improved.

Those of you coming to ExpoNG tomorrow; I look forward to seeing you there. Please do introduce yourselves!

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Sandy Shores - Preparing for ExpoNG

What's this? A blog entry?! Yes, I know; surprising, but there is reason for my absence and my subsequent return...

Long story short, I've actually been rather busy with various things; two of them model-making related. Firstly, I was invited to write an article about Sandy Shores for the August 2019 edition of BRM. Needless to say this is a very proud achievement of mine! Secondly, I've actually been involved in a commission for the first time. You'll see the fruits of my labour in December...

Anyway, back to today, and the reason for the sudden blog entry is that ExpoNG is only a week away, and I need to fix a few things on Sandy Shores before I take it all the way to Kent! First things first, back at our little exhibition in Woodgreen, one of the point motors developed a fault that prevented it from throwing in one direction. Unfortunately, this is the most crucial point (and furthest from the control panel) so it was absolutely crucial that it was fixed before Swanley/ExpoNG.

As you'll also see in the photo below, the CDU had become somewhat detatched (it's actually dangling behind the panel here), pulling some of the wires out. The power socket also came out at Woodgreen, and some wires also a little bit too loose for my liking. The CDU has constantly fallen off, but rather than glue it, I just tried to hold it in place with sticky pads and the wires! Needless to say, it's about time that it was glued down for good...

Back to the point motor, and confirming that it was still only throwing in one direction, and that the wiring was not to blame, I took it off. I was about to throw it away and replace it with a new one when I realised that one half of one of the coils had actually broken free from the circuit board. Bingo! That explains why it would only throw in one direction.

After a quick soldering job, and half an hour of swearing trying to glue and screw the point motor into place, I'm pleased to say it is now working perfectly again. I suspect that the motor had moved due to the sticky foam pads that it was partially mounted on. Despite also being screwed down, it seems that it had perhaps moved enough that it broke the copper contact. Perhaps after ExpoNG I'll make some new wooden mounting plates so that I can be sure there is a reduced chance of movement.

During the week, I expect to make a few additions to the layout; nothing crazy; perhaps just a bit more vegetation to hide the scenic exit, and maybe some more detailing and wagon loads.

So, those of you near Swanley next weekend, I look forward to seeing you there! I will be operating alone as always, and I will of course be more than willing to answer any questions, or let you loose at the controls. I'll also appreciate any visiting locos and/or rolling stock; which reminds me, there are a few clearance issues for skirted/low slung locomotives which I need to address before the show.

Oh, and if you can't make Swanley, I'll also be exhibiting at Narrow Gauge South in Eastleigh next year!