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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BRYMSTON RR – Episode13 – Don’t see the point..

…. so we’ll just have to see how things turnout.

Following on from the previous instalment in which I made and silver soldered the Vee’s together. The vee was assembled in with the other rails in the Fast Tracks 0n3 #4 left hand jig.

The PCB ties would only be here temporarily to fold the rails in the correct orientation so no great effort was made to get fantastic solder joints. Also, this being a stub turnout the switch rails don’t extend all the way to the blades.

Once soldered the skeleton turnout was lifted from the aluminium jig. It was turned upside down and had bits of waste etch from kits soldered across the rails in the gaps between the ties so as to hold the rails in place without relying on the ties. Most of these were intended to be temporary but those holding the check rails to the stock rails and a pair binding each switch rail to its stock rail were permanent.

Continue reading

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BRYMSTON RR – EPISODE 12 – VEE have ways..

BRYMSTON RR – EPISODE 12 – VEE have ways..

Back in episode 11 I detailed some mods I have made to jigs for producing the rail for the common crossing (the vee, frog etc) and blades for point work on The Brymston RR. The mods to the soldering jig were done because I mentioned that I intended to silver solder the Vees.

A number of comments here and on other fora were concerned that silver solder requires a higher temperature than the melting point of aluminium that the jigs are made of.

Many other things have got in the way of a practical test until today but whilst I couldn’t put my finger on the right techno babble to allay their concerns I thought they were worrying unnecessarily.

Today I silver soldered some vees without a problem and the reason it isn’t a problem and why my jigs aren’t a dribbly mess is down to mass. The jig is a bloody great big lump of aluminium which is a great heat sink. It holds the part of the rail to be soldered in clear air away from the aluminium. Added to that the heat source whilst intense is tiny.

I have now silver soldered a number of vees together and used two methods of heating. The early attempts clamped up the vee and I then added silver solder paste in to the vee. This left some surface contamination. Whilst they cleaned up nicely I wondered if it could be avoided. In this first video I have the rails clamped in place  but first I applied silver solder paint to the inside faces.

Now for those worrying about the aluminium note that some liquid that is in the recess behind the joint doesn’t even get hot enough to boil away. Straight after soldering it looks a little charred but that all cleans off. From the jig the vee goes in a jar of pickle solution to clean it up, then rinsed in clean water and it cleans up to shiny metal.


Then I had an idea and wondered if resistance really was futile. Ok, so I only used that line so I could post a picture of 7 of 9. [I wonder if it occurred to The Borg that if they had all looked like 7 of 9 they’d have had a lot less bother assimilating half of the population].


What I was really wondering was if my resistance soldering unit would get the vee hot enough. Its a pretty small cross section and for soft soldering I never use it on full power anyway. Only one way to find out. Give it a go.

Well, that worked better than expected. Afterwards I noted that the very sharp end of the vee had opened slightly but I reckon either a clip or less pressure on the probes will sort that. That said there isn’t a lot to choose between fire or resistance methods for doing the vees. On other modelling projects the resistance method may be better because it only heats where your joint is as the flame is a bit wider.

Why silver solder. As you have seen it needs the bits to be red hot to solder. It will need that temperature to come undone so any amount of soft soldering I do to add other details isn’t going to cause this joint to come undone.

Onwards now to the rest of the turnout.


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The named layout

It’s done. It’s named.

After the last post discussing applying a name and how to do it things moved very quickly.

Posting the blog to the NGRM forum came up with a few suggestions as to how to do it and the one I went with was a recommendation to use Vinyl Lettering Online UK.

A quick visit late that same night with the intention of ‘just having a look’ turned into an order and two days later the lettering turned up with postie.

Two of the inmates

A quick burst of painting the surround black prepared for adding the lettering. It is one of those jobs you start with considerable trepidation and then wonder what all the fuss was about.

The lettering comes as a sheet, mine was rolled in a tube. On the layout you lay it out and get it all lined up securing it in place with masking tape in several places. You then remove the tape at one end and peel the backing away. Then you press the remaining tape down firmly on to your surface. You do need to press firmly with a hard tool to make sure that the lettering sticks to your surface. You can see a subtle change in colour as it is pressed firmly. You then peel the front tape away making sure it leaves the lettering behind. If it starts to lift a letter changing the angle you pull at sorts that. With the front tape off you’re left with your lettering properly aligned and spaced. Probably as a hang over from using press down transfers I put a sheet of plain paper over the letters and gave them another firm press.

Job Done


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A very brief update this one and a request for suggestions on how to do something.

Following on from yesterday’s Perspex screen post it got me thinking about the presentation of the module and the need for its name to be displayed.  When it is all assembled the pelmet gives a front facing depth of 65mm, so, what I envisage is white lettering on painted black background. Letters about 50mm high.

I have been playing with fonts and as it was a mandated font for Railroads to use I was thinking it should be in Railroad Roman.

That said there is some leeway as there were umpteen versions of it with some railroads customising their own version.

A silly bit of me thinks it should be in the D&RGW Flying Grande style

That would be silly as  my D&RGW engines won’t be allowed on this bit of the layout as I doubt they’ll get past the first switch.


I suppose another alternative would be to use a Stencil as things were often lettered with them



My question for you all is how to do the lettering in a professional looking way. That rules out me hand painting it or using stick on house letters as I’ll never get them on straight.


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Here is a problem #1. I am a poorly disciplined messy bugger. By that I mean that I put things down intending to put them away later but never get round to that putting away part.

I am fortunate enough to have what Annie tells me would be the master bedroom if we were selling (we’re not) as it’s the biggest as my model room. I always envisaged filling it with a large 0n3 layout but inevitably most of the space has been taken over with workstations for EDM Models business.

The desire to get something done layout wise resulted in the modular approach to the Brymston RR as described in these blog posts. If the layout grows further, it will probably be in the form of connected modules.

Here is a problem #2. The layout is immediately on your left as you enter my model room and currently presents a large flat surface not unlike a shelf.

Consequence: The layout is inevitably covered in stuff I carried up stairs and needed to put down. Clearing it up just makes it available for the next load of stuff I need to put down.

As I get on to track laying this has to change!

Result: The layout now has a removeable Perspex screen on the front and the exposed end.

The Brymston RR doing a shelf impression

For the initial installation the Perspex has had two keyhole type slots cut in it and it hangs on two screws poking out of the pelmet. I think this may well develop in to a magnet based solution as the screws sticking out are bound to attack a passing shoulder.

Future: The Perspex came wrapped in two sheets of thin plywood of the same size so I am currently doodling using them to make an easily removeable peaked roof. Peaked because a flat one would just be a higher shelf

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A New Loco is Born

If getting the frames are the parent/birth of a loco then I guess that means I have started a new project and Jack is born.

The full story isn’t quite as simple as that.

In 2015 Brian Wilson wrote a series of articles about producing a 7/8 scale model of Hunslet locomotive Jack which was built for John Knowles Metal Box Limited of Ashby de la Zouch who made firebricks.

The articles aimed to produce a model based on Roundhouse parts with other bits fabricated as required. The articles caught the imagination because a range of castings to replace the fabrications plus other etched part (Cab) were produced by third parties. I have always liked these loco’s and the very similar locos produced for munitions factories and used on the Sand Hutton Light Railway and I was enthused enough to decide that one day I would build one. That is usually the kiss of death for a project but then an act of chance occurred. Someone like me had decided to build one but they had gone a bit further and acquired many of the parts. They then went a bit further, decided they would never get round to it and offered the parts for sale. I pounced and thus got most of the third party parts for less than cost and then didn’t have to chase around multiple suppliers to get them. They were put away safely awaiting the day. Luckily Jack is still with us and currently lives with the Statfold Collection.

That wasn’t the end of it! An outing to the Roundhouse Factory open day with friends from Beamish three (I think) years ago found a stall selling off parts they had supplied to a builder who had passed away. I hadn’t gone with the intention of buying anything but there was the boiler needed at a very advantageous price, as new, and with all its certificates. A whip round amongst the group was held and a boiler acquired. That was put away for when the day came but it still wasn’t a loco.

Next was a chance comment from a customer that revealed that Model Engineers Laser was closing down. One of the third party suppliers that stepped up was MEL and instead of getting Roundhouse frames and modifying them they did a laser cut set with all the mods done. Better still they did them all welded up thus sorting the assembly.  I had talked to MEL when I got the boiler and intended to get the frames when I started so the news they were closing caused a bit of panic.  (they aren’t now closing, its changing hands).

A quick e-mail elicited that I wasn’t too late, was just in time and that they could do me a set. They arrived yesterday so now Jack is born

The pedants amongst you will note that so far I have built nothing and have just been shopping. There is a bit more shopping to do as cash allows but Jack is born.


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Useless Tools – Avoiding them

Useless Tools – Avoiding them

Actually this is a brief tale of spending wisely, hopefully, just the once.

This is a good tool

This is a good tool

I am fortunate to have two workshops plus an office/design space. Simplistically the garage (ish) is the heavier engineering workshop with mills, lathes drills and the heavier tools, upstairs I have my model room (which the boss tells me would be the master bedroom if we were selling) which was supposed to have my layout in it but ends up as the model works and we have an office/study and my desk ends up covered in bits of models when I am doing CAD design.

What these three locations have in common are crap digital callipers.

Continue reading

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Roy C Link – A Tribute

Roy C Link – A Tribute

I was saddened to hear last week of the passing on an exceptional modeller that I am delighted to have been able to call a friend.  At the time I wrote this on various fora:

This is sad news, and I can say it been a real privilege to have known Roy and consider him a friend. Lots of other people have commented whilst I thought about what to say beyond offering my condolences.

It was whilst distilling this I realise that I have been very fortunate to have undergone a sort of mini apprenticeship under Roy’s tutelage. With Roy living close to Porthmadog and me visiting regularly to drive on the FR, nearly every trip included an evening with Roy. Its only now that I look back I realise that many visits also included some passing on of experience, methods of doing things, new skills and so on. I’ve spent evenings learning how to make parts on a pantograph, how to make injection moulding tools, lathe and mill work, micro silver soldering and ordinary soldering but with a hot plate.

Often this would happen when I turned up with something I had made which he encouraged, rarely criticised but then offered ideas on alternative methods of achieving the same or better result. As I developed my own modelling and the products of EDM Model if I got stuck a chat about it with Roy if not proposing a solution was always entertaining and led to a clarity of thought. Often a funny story or anecdote would illustrate the different way of thinking about or doing something. Who am I going to ask now?

I didn’t really want to leave it at that with nothing on my own blog so here I have added a few more comments.

Trips to visit his man cave were always informative and amusing. The library of information in this man cave is extensive and a conversation about this or that loco would bring forth a torrent of info. Not only did he know much of the info himself he knew which book it was in and where on the many shelves it was and you would quickly find you had a knee full of books.  I am sure the physical library will survive but we have lost the most amazing index.

I will add a just a couple of anecdotes (I could add many):

  • During an evening visit with Roy we were discussing Silver Soldering of small items. In particular how and why I was making a right mess of trying it. In no time at all the current job was moved aside on his workbench and I was given a demo of how to do it. This was immediately followed by him moving aside for me to have a go. I did three of four joints to the same standard (I will write it up as a demo in a future blog). We only silver soldered odd bits of brass rod into some sort of modern art tangle but its sits in a mug on show and now may have to be treated to a plinth.
  • More recently his publication Narrow Gauge and Industrial Revue featured some home made track spikes that were very fine. I was just starting on some trackwork on my 0n3 layout and had an e-mail discussion with Roy about their manufacture. This left me with a better understanding as to how to adapt their manufacture to the kit I had available. As often is the case I just had to find the time. Two days later a jiffy bag dropped through the door with a significant number of “samples” to get me going.

Our chats have involved Roy teaching me bits of machining, injection moulding, pattern making and me showing him developments in the 3D printing I was doing. Even then with his almost sneaky questioning he pushed me to do cleverer things with the printer.

I looked for photos of Roy to go with this blog and only really found the one that everyone else was using for his obituary so I have also included an image of his Sand & Gravel layout and the quite fitting last book from RCL Publications “The Crowsnest Chronicles” the story of his life long fascination with the railways of Snailbeach and his attempts to represent them in model form.


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Its been an age since I reported any progress with The Brymston Railroad mainly because I have been distracted onto other things both for customers and playing with the real things in these strange Covid times.

The last few weeks have been very trying because an old circulation related injury has relegated me to an arm chair, a good book and pain killers. I really haven’t felt like modelling and when I have tried its been a painful experience. The result has been pushing myself to do the minimum business stuff I can get away with and then recuperating in the air chair. On the plus side I’ve been catching up on my reading.

Eventually though the pain subsides and the urge (need?) to do some modelling starts to reassert itself. Not quite up to the next stage in the Murder of a Garratt saga this episode covers a small job for the Brymston RR that prepares for some actual progress on the layout.

Here is another definition that I have just made up

For the Brymston RR module and for the later larger layout I have a lot of track to make. To aid this I have some of the excellent jigs and tools by Fast Tracks and, as they go, they are excellent and perfectly useable. They are made with a consideration to their mass production as one of the design criteria.

Once they’re with their new owner that criteria is no longer an issue and the opportunity is there to adapt them to the users preference. What follows is the tail of some alterations to two of these tools. Continue reading

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