Puffing Billy in 0n30

Puffing Billy, or more accurately the Victoria State Railways 2’6″ gauge railway in Australia of which The Puffing Billy Railway is the preserved section.

The iconic loco’s that are the mainstay of this line are the Na Class 2-6-2s. The original engines were built by Baldwin in America but all the operable ones are made in Australia virtual copies with the usual developments over time.

I think there are 6 of the original 17 built still in existence. Five are or have been in service in the preserved era [6A, 7A, 8A, 12A & 14A] with 3A unrestored and apparently the closest to the original spec. The Baldwins [1&2] don’t survive.

You’d think these iconic locos would be a dead cert for being modelled but it took until 2014 for that to happen [apart from some very expensive brass examples] in 0n30.  Separately, in the UK modelling scene and in the American 0n30 ranges there has been a gap in the range of a largish tank loco. You’d think that what is basically a Baldwin the American modellers would lap it up but sales to the USA were disappointing.

So in 2014 Haskell Co introduced their model of the Na Class 2-6-2 in 0n30. Produced in China for a Taiwan company and sold mainly in Australia it was a bit convoluted to say the least.

Here at EDM Models we imported them directly from Taiwan and initially they sold well.

 

They have a decent spec with pick up on all the drivers, a flywheel fitted motor, DCC socket (with provision for sound) and working directional headlights.

The included provision is for a speaker in the bunker but I don’t like engines where its the wrong end that goes chuff so I do it differently with a large keep alive in the bunker and speakers in the front end, Proper Na sounds are available for an ESU DCC chip from me via Australia.

Five livery versions were produced.

  • Apple Green
  • Canadian Red
  • Black with Red Trim
  • Plain Black with the original Chimney
  • Plain Black with the modern Chimney

A year or so later Haskell produced a model of the NQR bogie open wagon. This was sold in packs of three with ten different packs covering different numbers and livery variants.

This might have seemed like an illogical choice of something to go with the Na class loco’s but there was method in their madness.  From a prototype angle the NQR was a general purpose wagon but so general purpose they got rebuilt into all sorts of special purpose vehicles and even rebuilt as carriages.

From a model manufacturing point of view they were a shrewd move. Haskell, aiming to set up production in Taiwan, picked an easy first model for the  new production facility whilst at the same time making many parts that are common to the more complicated examples of rolling stock.

This may bear fruit next year with plans afoot and CAD work started for an NBH passenger car.

 

So, are these still available and why haven’t I got them in stock?

Like many things its complicated. On the one hand you might expect a limited run from 2014 to be long sold out. On another the shipping and currency transfer arrangements to/from Taiwan were fraught with complication and that was before the current Covid induced complications. On the stock holding front the minimum order was twelve locos which ties up a lot of money which you then have to shoot off into the ether wondering if its going to get there as you listen to any number of disclaimers from the banks and intermediaries explaining that if it vanishes its not their fault.

Once you could get over the twitchiness of launching money into the unknown it was fine whilst a batch of twelve sold quickly so earning the outlay back in a relatively timely manner. Once the initial demand was satisfied though the batches of twelve started to sit on the shelf tying up money and only selling slowly.

Once this had happened a couple of times we let our stock run out and didn’t even move their existence to our new website and sort of assumed that they would have sold out. Our last arrived in 2017.

Fast forward to 2021. Haskell are talking about the NBH coach on Facebook. Three enquiries come in asking if the Na is still available. A conversation with Kieran Haskell about something else all together reveals that all the Na’s are still in stock with him as are some of the NQR wagons.

A cunning plan was needed.

As it has been awhile since new Na’s locos and NQR wagons have been available the cunning plan is to do a one off import of these.

The minimums for shipping and the scary currency transfer issues remain and are, if anything, made worse by Covid19 as the reduction in passenger flights out of Taiwan is reducing the cargo space for parcels.

Now I can’t afford to do this as a speculative deal as it comes on top of other committed financial developments for the business but I can do it with your help.

Simply it goes like this: –

  • You pre-order and pay for your Na class loco on my website here 
  • You pre-order and pay for your NQR Wagons on my website here 
  • I will put the money in a segregated account and keep it separate until
  • a) we get enough orders to go ahead or,
  • b) we call it off and you get all your money back

If we get above the minimums for to be viable by enough then we’ll upgrade the shipping to ensure they get here promptly. I may also add a very small number for direct sale but they will be at a higher price than the pre-order price. My target is to have them here for mid October.

The Iffy Ones

When you look at the website you will see that the NABE, Black with original chimney and NABM, black with the modern chimney are offered at a lower price because there is a minor moulding defect. I was sent with and without photos and I still had to ask Kieren to point out what I was looking for.

You see that ledge, or angle bracket, that the arrow is pointing at?  On the right hand tank of the plain black engines the mould hasn’t filled totally.

 

 

 

Looking at the prototype it seems to serve little purpose other than to be a ledge to rest the number plate on whilst you bolt it in place but its actually part of a precarious stepping route to the water fillers which goes side rods, running plate, works plate.

Would you have noticed if I hadn’t told you?

 

 

Anyway that’s the deal and the cunning plan lets see if it gets anywhere.

Links to Ordering Here

 

 

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Playing Trains – Again

You may think I spend too much time playing trains in Wales but I don’t care! For reasons I will reveal in a future post there is an imperative to do as much as possible this season.

The truth is that with this last winters lockdown and my bad leg playing up and taking an age to get itself sorted again I got a massive dose of CBA (can’t be @rsed) which others might call depression. I was questioning if I wanted to carry on driving or if I could even be bothered. There were other forces at play too.

In the end in a moment of positivity I said yes to a call for a driver to cover three days back in June before I had time to talk myself out of it. I am pleased to say the second of those three days reminded my why I enjoy it.   On that day I had the loco manager with me for my routine, once every three years, practical assessment which I passed with flying colours.

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Fill Me Up With Contrasting Colours

Ever wonder why model filler comes in different colours?

Its the same stuff just in different colours.

 

The theory is this. You should use a filler of a contrasting colour to the job you are filling.

As you can see on the back  of this loco it has been primed with white acrylic primer and then green filler and left to dry.

The next example is a side on view of some filler that has been rubbed down with some 1000 grade wet and dry paper used wet.

 

 

The contrasting colour lets you see when you have feathered the edge of the filler into the body.

In this case its left filler just in the groove in the tank side. The groove shouldn’t have been there in the first place but the 3D printer had a little wobble and I am using up development prints to experiment with.

The next stage is to add either undercoat or the final body colour. Having sprayed both bodies with white primer to better show any blemishes the cabs were masked off as the upper parts of the interior will be cream so the white is the ideal first layer.

The green engine has body colour added straight on to the white. The green I had is a bit darker than I wanted and adding it to the white lightens it a bit.

Alternatively the red engine has had a coat of brown primer on top of the white. This is a bit of opposite logic to above. Adding the red body colour straight on to the white would have made the red look more pink so the brown layer better preps for the red.

The red hasn’t been applied yet as just as I was getting to it the weather went scorchio and the paints were going off before they could be sprayed.

That’s it for this little interlude. More of these locos as they develop.

 

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Scorchio!

Well, I certainly chose a corker of a week to drive trains. I can recall a few hot ones in the past and to some extent forewarned is forearmed with regards to dehydration and heat stroke having had a bad experience in the past.

I was very fortunate that my roster on each of the four days was just one lap. It was enough. Day 1 was on Blanche on the 12:25 Mountain Prince service. Blanche is quite enclosed but you can stand away from the hot bits. With the number of bottles of water on the footplate, some for drinking and some for wearing a trip to Wilco for a wine rack would have been handy.

It was pretty hot on the engine but that was a taster for what was to come.

Day 2 was one lap on the 10:00 driving Merddin Emrys. In most ways Merddin is the worst for a hot day with its more enclosed cab but in a surprise way DLG is worse, but more of that later.

The train service this week was the Mountain Prince which is a version of the railways Covid secure service. The up steam service runs to Tan-y-Bwlch where a diesel is attached to the rear. The up train also crosses a down train here. We then run up to Barn Cutting, just above Dduallt, where we pause for a scenic interlude. The diesel then guides the train back down to TyB where the passengers get around an hour to use the cafe, toilets and explore the woodland walks. The diesel is uncoupled ready to go on the end of the next up train and the steam loco moves up to close to the water tower. Ingenious train crew have set up a staff seating area in the shade. Trouble is the engine sits in the sun getting hotter for this 45 min. I ended up tipping bottled water over the steam brake handle to be able to use it! Once the next up train has gone with the diesel on the back the steam loco runs round and takes its train back to Porthmadog.

What does a steam loco driver do on his day off?

Goes and looks at steam engines of course!

Actually, it was a bit of a tour taking in Barmouth and then visiting friends at Fairbourne. They made us have a ride – honest! The tour did continue with a scenic interlude and some light refreshment.

Day 3 was another day with Blanche.

The heat was getting very silly now. The track had been suffering in the heat and we had a blanket 15mph speed limit on but there were a number of places with emergency lower speeds on them because of it.

This was an interesting trip as Blanche was loaded with a trial of an imported coal as our current source is due to close next year. The only slight worry was that this was the engines second day on it and there wasn’t much left on the engine.

The temperature resulted in further engine crew ingenuity.

As well as our shady picnic spot we now had a drinks cooler. The water tower always has a bit of a dribble and is ice cold so be delaying its trip to the drain with a bucket the bottles of water get chilled.

Drinking two or three 2 Litre bottles of water in a round trip is not out of the ordinary. Also much to the pain of the railways medical staff they recommend salty crisps and rehydration salts.

In olden days it would have been a pint of mild!

Day 4 and its the other double engine, David Lloyd George, for a lap.

This is perhaps where you’d think the more open cab would make it a bit cooler but in this heat it was a losing battle.

The surprising difference was that on the more enclosed Merddin the Vacuum brake handle is in line with the window and therefore gets a cooling airflow. DLG’s is set lower down and doesn’t line up with the window. It gets very hot when stood and isn’t cooled by a draught. As the down trip is all about vacuum braking I ended up driving with a glove just on my left hand.

Well, that was a scorcher but I am off to do it again in a weeks time and this time we get to go to Blaenau for the first time since October and one of my protégés should qualify as a driver.

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Your Printer has Poor Resolution….

…..NO IT HASN’T

I have been told this a few times when sent STL files to print but I know from printing I do for my own kits and for others `in the know”.  I now have an example to hand with the advantage of also having the original drawing to work with so this would be an opportune time to explain.

First up, what’s an STL file. Over to Wikipedia for this bit…………

Granted its a bit tricky to read but if you click on it it’ll take you to the Wiki page. The gist of  it is that it a format for 3D printers and it takes the outer skin of you model and describes it as a series of triangles.  So in your CAD program you save your model with the file extension .stl and you get a faceted version ready to load into your printer.

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First Steam of the Year – Beamish 10/06/21

What with all this Covid19 stuff and not being very well I’ve not played with any steam larger than my garden railway stuff since October last  year.  That got fixed on Friday 10th June 2021 with two engines in steam on the narrow gauge and a standard gauge contraption nearby.

The time the museum has been closed has turned our industrial narrow gauge line a even more of a scene of post industrial decay

 

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Brymston RR – #15 – A surprise

Well, that was a nice surprise ………

My Surprise Goose

In my model room I have a plan chest. Some of the drawers have drawings in, some have models in and, clearly, some have hidden treasure in them.

Having decided that my flirtation with 0n30 wasn’t going any further as I concentrate on the 0n3 layout I have been selling off some of the 0n30 stuff lurking in that drawer. This Rio Grande Southern Galloping Goose was lurking in the 0n30 drawer.

The Goose was produced by an outfit called Precision Craft Models in the USA and I was the UK importer for them. They were actually the same company as Broadway Limited in all but name(the original one, not the current incarnation). Originally, BLI were set up by the company that introduced QSI sound decoders to bring their decoders to the market by hiding them in models. For narrow gauge modellers their first loco was a C16 2-8-0 with a QSI decoder in them. Even for the time the models were a little crude with moulded on pipework like an Airfix loco kit but the sound was excellent. This version of BLI was located in the north of the USA.  The ploy worked, fantastic for its time, everyone now wanted QSI decoders in their models.

Having done what they set out to with BLI they no longer needed a model business and QSI sold the company. They were canny though, they managed to sell it to an outfit based in Florida and sold it with a tie to using QSI decoders but with no priority in the supply chain. Most of the original BLI staff left not wanting to move.

The new BLI found itself with models in production, a tie to use QSI decoders and no decoders. The answer was Precision Craft Models. It was basically a parallel company, all the details and staff exactly the same but no tie. Several HO locos were produced under this banner but the only 0n30/0n3 item was the galloping goose. The PCM models all had Loksound decoders in them.

BLI/PCM went through some weird times. In the following years they continued to have decoder troubles trying to bring their own out which were rubbish. They also lost most of their dealer network. They were so hand to mouth that they had to sell all their stock to finance the next project so having sold to dealers at a standard dealer discount and having only just done so they’d dump all the remaining stock on the market at a retail below dealer cost.  Initially they did this to a couple of large US hobby shops but then to a company called Factory Direct Trains which by some amazing coincidence had the same address and the same directors (just in a different order). On those terms most dealers would have nothing to do with them.  They have changed now but have stuck to HO & N models.

Sample Passenger Goose

Sample Passenger Goose

The Goose was produced in 0n30 & 0n3, in a passenger and freight version and in several prototypical liveries and some fanciful fictional ones.

Its not been produced since 2005 and is now a quite sought after model.

The Surprise? Well, the model that was in the 0n30 drawer didn’t fit on the 0n30 test track. Turns out its 0n3 and would therefore fit on my layout.

The Dilemma.  When it was thought to be 0n30 I was selling it. Now I am undecided.

It doesn’t really fit with my layout but it would sit in my larger 0n3 collection but I could really do with the money its sale would make for a current project.

I thought writing about it would help me make my mind up. It hasn’t!

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Brymston RR – #14 – Realisations

There hasn’t been much work done at all on the Brymston RR in recent weeks. Once New Year was out of the way work imposed itself once more followed by the great vinyl floor disaster that banished me from the model room. Sorting the vinyl floor disaster took a lot longer to sort than it should have with my bad leg restricting the time I could tolerate crawling around on the floor.

Whilst banished though there have been a couple of “realisation” moments.

First was about the next bit of the layout, more on that in a moment.

The second thing came from watching ancient TV and several episodes of Bob Ross painting lessons.

Watching this made me think

  1. Some of those mountains would look good as the backdrop
  2. Bugger, I’m going to have paint them and I’m no artist
  3. Doing it after the layout is built is going to be a pain
  4. I’d better at least prep for it.

The layout board, as it was until about an hour ago, was a mish mash of surfaces of the bare wood. I had thought that I would put some coating on it as a seal as the scenery is going to involve slopping quite a bit of water about.

Watching Bob made me realise that a primer would be needed as a basis for painting anything arty.

All the wood finish has now had one coat of wood primer on it and it will get a second coat when it has dried.

A Dilemma Moment:  Anyone want to volunteer to paint the backdrop? I have so much to do with the business that I get little time for the layout as it is so do I really have the time to learn to paint backdrops? I know from past experience I am wired up for engineering and technical stuff and have had an “arty” bypass.

 

If it does come to pass that I fail to find an acceptable fudge and I try painting I do have two layout length pieces of ply that the Perspex front came in as a practice `canvas’

 

OOH, a cheat: I’m always up for a cheat. This one might be worth a punt. A quick Google reveals ID backscenes with a view of the Rockies!  

 

Says its for OO but using it in 7mm just means “far away”  doesn’t it (cue – Father Ted clip)

 

 

Second Realisation – One Board is Not Enough

Extension Space

When I set out to do the layout as modules I started with module one knowing that it would need at least one more board to provide a fiddle yard but reasoned that could wait. Now the first board has a home a couple of things became apparent: –

  • The fiddle yard was going to be very short or it would have to turn a corner first and,
  • Planning the track on board one I was going to need some idea of what goes on board 2
  • With what I was thinking for board 2 no commercial standard baseboard was going to do.
  • A tidy up was needed!

Where Module 1 sits in the model room its end points at a wall with about 800mm between it and the wall. Option 1 was for a traverser or cassette based fiddle yard which would have worked as, at most it’ll be a loco and a couple of wagons, but the location would cause storage problems. It’s be pretty much in the doorway with no where to put modules down. Option 2 was to use the module to turn the line through 90 degrees which opens up all sorts of other opportunities beyond (and defers a fiddle yard decision)

Some doodling with CAD came up with this

It follows the idea of the Tim Horn baseboard that forms module one and continues the presentation format. It has a dropped front section and a more open deck as I envisage the line being on an embankment and crossing a small bridge before entering a cutting that deepens to a tunnel to exit the scene.

The high level section at the rear allows the high level track to cross from board one. This may yet get cut back to increase the openness of the lower track.

This has all been designed in 3D CAD.

It’s very nearly as I want it. When its finally done I have a macro that spits out a 2D version of each part recognising the material thickness as the 3rd D and discarding it. These flat 2D files will then go to the laser cutter to be zapped.

The laser firm I use are OK on price once you get above their minimum order level so I may progress board 3 and some stuff I need for the garden railway before I place the order. Cash flow just now has been too much ebb and not enough flow so far this month so it may have to wait a bit.

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Sad News and Grim times all round.

Well, it has been a weird old start to the year.

Sad News

First comes the sad news that the model railway fraternity have lost a stalwart with Covid19 claiming Graham Jones. That name probably won’t mean a lot to most, but his business might. Northampton Model Railway supplies, or NMRS for short, supplied a lot of detail parts and kits in a variety of scales but mostly in 0.  Lots of other kits out there by other manufacturers included NMRS parts or had parts cast for them because Graham was a master of the whitemetal casting art.

I last spoke to Graham in November when he was his usual buoyant self just getting back to producing stuff after a cataract operation. Apparently, he got Covid19 and ended up in hospital and passed away on 16th January.  He leaves a partner Eve.

He was another one man band but there are some friends sorting out his business affairs. It will affect some of my kits as Graham cast the whitemetal parts for my Agenoria range of loco kits.

Brexit – The gift that keeps giving.

There seems to be no end to the delights this is bringing. For a small business like mine its having affects that neither our Government nor the EU will give a damn about but it’s a big thing for me.

  • First delight is a supplier of parts that get used in my kits based in Germany has declined to supply my parts with “we no longer ship to the UK because of the new VAT rules”.
  • Second is 29 days into this debacle I’ve not had a single order from an EU customer instead of the usual, approx. 15% of my business.
  • A customer trying to return something with the couriers trying to charge VAT in both directions, plus their ransom (fee) when he used to pay nothing.

Hopefully someone will come up with a plan but how many of will still have a business when they do may not be many

Well, that was all a bit glum so I’ll leave this post there and do another more cheerful one soon.

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Happy New Year

Happy New Year. Yes, you’ve guessed it, I couldn’t come up with a more imaginative title for the first post of 2021. Here we are 17 days in and 19 days since the last post so from the blog it looks like nothing has been happening. This isn’t true, the only thing that hasn’t been happening is me writing this blog.

Quite a few things have been progressing whilst a few others have been stymied by a bit of maintenance that is taking way too long.

Item one has been the production of some silver soldered vee’s for a friend & customer. They were produced using the jigs and resistance soldering techniques as described in this blog post

When I did some for my own layout in that blog post I was just keen to sort out something I could use and too see if the resistance soldering method worked with silver solder.

This time round I have put a bit of effort in to sorting the repeatability of cutting, filing and soldering to get consistency with the end product.

Next up was a long awaited package from Iain at San Pareil Investment Casting that Christmas & New Year delayed .

These are cast nickel silver rods and fly cranks to upgrade the Bachmann 0n30 Gas Mechanical. These along with some final drive gears made in brass eliminate all the Bachmann plastic parts that are prone to splitting. I also plan a re-motor and sound install.

This is a little project that has been simmering because I have three of these locos all with issues. I am not sure this will become a commercial option as, whilst it will make a super running loco that’s a bit different to the bog standard product I doubt the final price will be a commercially acceptable one.

The last product and the other shiny thing out of the back were these castings in Nickel Silver & Brass.

The rods are in Nickel Silver whilst the cranks are in brass.

The NS has a more unpredictable shrinkage than the brass on a component where accuracy is required for the rod centres. These will be jig drilled on a fixture for my milling machine that I have got part built.

These parts are for my project to fit new cranks and rods to the Bachmann Whitcomb Bo-Bo diesel described here

Now, the thorn in my side. (or pain in the knee). Twenty odd years ago when we extended the house and I won the large would be bedroom as my model room it was floored with a big roll of vinyl flooring which, to be fair, has lasted well. In the same room where I now have three work areas (each for different tasks) I also have an office chair of the sort on castors. What has been obvious for awhile is that the people putting the floor down only taped it to the chipboard in a few places and along the join down the centre of the room.  The chair has rolled ridges into the floor and then it pulled the join down the centre up and turned it into a trip hazard.

I am currently gluing the floor down with a vinyl adhesive, rolling out the ridges and, in places heating it with a heat gun to make it pliable.  There are two problems with this. The first is that, were this a bedroom, you’d shift all the furniture and do it in one. Its not. My layout and works stuff is built in on top of the vinyl. The result is musical junk for the bits that can move whilst working up to the fixed items.  The second problem is that my wonky leg really limits the time I can spend on my knees so it has been a very slow process.

It is now nearly done and for the duration its made it virtually impossible to get any modelling done. In the best tradition of these things its nearly done but with the last thing I have to move it will get significantly worse before it gets better!

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