April 27, 2013

"April blues"

It's been one of those months unfortunately - being made redundant at the end of March has put pressure on the finances, but happily it's affecting my hobby in a positive manner. I have made it my duty to sell off anything and everything absolutely not required. So many things have already gone up on eBay and sold, so the money is coming in at a steady pace and more or less keeping me afloat.

It's difficult to keep the hobby going when there's so much pressure on getting back into work. That has to come first I'm afraid (yes, even ahead of the book at present - which is still on course for being released very, very soon).

So it's been a sparse April, my apologies. Things can and will get better, but there's a few priorities I need to work on first, mostly regarding my better half and a certain holiday abroad we need to take towards the start of the summer...

Until next time, when hopefully things will have picked up for the better.

April 14, 2013

"News on the book"

It's been a long old road, but we're nearing the finish line with the printing. Delays of all sorts of types have come to try us, but now it's just a case of signing off on the front and back covers, and we're there.

I will be contacting our stockists soon to confirm allocations and delivery dates.

There will be a limited number of books available from our Amazon shop at full RRP with postage and packaging. Pre-orders will soon be invited on the shop, with members of the BRWS Ltd's Facebook group being offered first refusal.

In theory, although our first batch of books has sold out, I have a number of them reserved for magazine and newspaper reviews, and some for friends and family.

A second batch of books may well be printed and delivered before the end of the summer, dependent on funds available.

I'd just like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their patience, and apologise for the lack of communication recently.

Yours faithfully,

Simon A.C. Martin

April 09, 2013

"Thompson B3/3: Cab, balance weights..."

Building model locomotives has been my way of letting off steam for a few years now. I can feel the stress and anxieties melt away as I start chopping, filing, gluing and soldering bits and bobs to make new models.

The current project is my Thompson B3/3 build, which is starting to get into its stride and take over just about all my modelling time. I see it on the workbench and I long to get the next bit done. The "next bit" in question this evening, along with the driving wheel balance weights, was sorting the cab.

If you're a Peppercorn A2 fan, best to look away now.

A cab left over from a Thompson A2/3 conversion (in fact THE Thompson A2/3 conversion: the prototype Graeme King did as a commission for me, and which spawned all of the other Thompson conversions which have come to pass in the last two years) was used as part of a cut and shut. This is because I discovered the Peppercorn A2 cab's side sheets had the windows pitched in exactly the right position, with the right shape, and were (in addition to the width of the side sheets) also the correct length for the B3/3.

I therefore cut them out, and then cut them to size to the existing B1 cab. The side sheets on the B1 cab had to be removed, along with the splashers in the cab.

With the  cab roof was cut along the centre line, and moved back. This gives the correct length cab, and now all of the roof's vents and panels are in the correct locations too. The roof was given a thin plasticard lining to cement it all together, before it was then

I should mention that the original splashers were not deep enough for the larger Royal Scot wheels and consequently a new set will have to be fabricated from plasticard, along with a new cab floor.

Gamesworkshops green putty, along with some Humbrol plastic filler, were used to bring all the pieces together, and also fill in any redundant Peppercorn A2 odds and ends. This will be carefully filed back and sanded down smooth tomorrow after my errands.

The final job for the day was fitting some new plasticard balance weights for the driving wheels. Once these have stuck firmly, I will filed away the Royal Scot balance weights which are just about visible underneath still.

All in all, not a bad day's work on the B3/3, and I even managed to fit in a good hour's running on the rolling road too.

Until next time.

April 08, 2013

"Thompson B3/3: a tonic for insomnia"

It's amazing sometimes how quickly things seem to go together when it's half two in the morning.

I had another batch of insomnia last night, something which affects me particularly when I am stressed. I cannot switch off. The brain will not be told to go to sleep. It continues unabated, incessantly repeating the worries until I nod off through lack of sleep around 4am before having to get up at 8.30am to go through my usual writing routine, along with job applications, orders for the book and more planning and writing of future books and videos.

So in order to take my mind off things (job prospects, the book being published, sister heading off to Madrid to be in a play, paying for car repairs, girlfriend's teaching career troubles) and all the other little things at present, I decided to get my Isinglass drawings out and see what more could be done to my Thompson B3/3 model. This was just after midnight last night, and I didn't stop until it was actually half two in the morning.

I bought a spare Thompson B1 bogie off eBay last week. This bogie has actually come off the latest Hornby Railroad Flying Scotsman model, which for some reason doesn't use the correct type but re-uses that on their B1 model. This suited me as the spare B1 chassis I bought did not originally come with a bogie.

In a similar vein to the changes I made to 60113 Great Northern's bogie recently, I will chop off and file down the obtrusive NEM pocket when I get a chance.

You will notice the difference in buffer heights. This is the next stage of the build which I have to work through. The B3/3 had the B1 boiler pitched higher than the B1, which necessitated deeper "shoulders" over the cylinders. It also had deeper and longer cab sides to compensate, which I will tackle at the same time.

The next step was to cut off the existing moulded dome from the Bachmann B1 body shell, filing the boiler smooth afterwards. This is so I can fit one of Graeme King's excellent Gorton style domes instead, which the B3/3 was fitted with (being rebuilt in real life at Gorton).

You will notice I've cut and moved the rear steps and running plate away to show where the cab needs to be modified along with the rear curve down. The cab side sheets need to be replaced, and luckily I have worked out a way of doing this so that the correct length and depth to the side sheets, along with the correct window placement can be done. The curve in the running plate will need to be cut and then extended to match.

The rear splasher can be taken care off very easily by retaining the cutout in the existing cab. The difficult bit is adding the small splashers further up the running plate. Holes will be drilled to fit, and then splashers made in plasticard and fitted thereafter.

I'm planning, once the front running plate is cut and shut to the correct depth, and the spare Hornby B1 buffers have been added, to fit a set of false frames over the bogie wheels to give the model less daylight in that area, and preserve the bulky look further.

The next stage is to finish the work on rewiring the model, and adding pickups to the tender to help with the running capabilities. I've been astounded at how smooth the model is on the rolling road, particularly as no modifications have been made to the valve gear or the driving wheels to fit each other. It was a simple drop in replacement for the original B1 driving wheels.

So there you have it. A few bits of cutting and shutting, dome replacement and the addition of a front bogie to push the Thompson B3/3 build a bit further on. It is proving to be the tonic to my sleep problems as I nodded off shortly afterwards, still at my workbench. I am glad I had put the scalpels away by then...!

Until next time.

April 07, 2013

"A4 Conversion Parts, Production Batch planned for May 2013"

Some of this blog's regular readers will be aware that I've had a set of etches developed by PH Designs in order to model Gresley A4 Pacifics of the post war period, by removing the valances and adding etched detail to Hornby A4 Pacific models.

These etches are also suitable for modelling Sir Nigel Gresley or Bittern in their post preservation guises. I've had the costings back for the production etches, and the prices I am looking at are as follows.

The cost of a full conversion kit (including all of the etched components and the valance cutting tools) is likely to be around £27.

One kit will fully convert one model from an A4 with valances to one without, with lamp irons, lower firebox sides, reverser, access hatches, smokebox numberplate and cab window spectacles included.

The breakdown of the individual etch prices comes in at RRPs of £20 (cutting tools, lower firebox sides, AWS plate, lubricator arm), £5 (access hatches, lamp irons, smokebox numberplate, cab doors) and £2 (cab spectacle plates).

I intend to have the first production batch made in May 2013 or shortly afterwards.

Postage & Packaging will be separate, and I will investigate prices to set a standard cost for the full kit, and the individual etches accordingly.

Due to the higher cost of the largest etch to set up and produce, only a very limited number of full kits will be available straight away. They will be sold on a first come, first served basis. If demand for the full kits is higher than expected, I will look to increase the number in the first production batch.

If you email me on copleyhill@live.co.uk and let me know of your requirements, I will take orders on the full kits and individual items on a first come, first served basis. I will also create a waiting list for full kits and individual etches dependent on the demand. It may be possible to reduce the prices of the etches for the second batch if I can guarantee the batch will sell out.

Further details can be found on our products page here.

On a related note, I am looking at perhaps having etched some sundries for Gresley/Thompson/Peppercorn Pacifics, with washout plugs, mudhole doors, cabsides and bufferbeam overlays all being mooted at present. If there's anything in particular you think you'd like to see, let me know and I will investigate further.

Until next time.

April 04, 2013

"Thompson B3/3 from a whole host of spare parts..."

I'm not even going to pretend that this particular build is anything other than using as many spare parts and different components as possible to make something which, in reality, did more or less the same thing!

I mused on building Thompson's lone, short lived B3/3 locomotive a while ago, but with the arrival of a set of 6ft 9in driving wheels (actually standard Hornby Royal Scot spares), I decided to push it up the queue a little bit to see if the idea was a goer or not.

The answer is...yes, it's definitely a goer. So much so that it's jumped ahead of quite a few projects whilst I'm developing it further!

I have fitted the new driving wheels, which required re-quartering on two sets to the proper configuration, along with the correctly sized brass bearings from the Hornby B1 chassis' wheels. It is somewhat infuriating that the Hornby Royal Scot and Thompson B1 share axle sizes, but not, apparently, the brass bearings. Try as I might, I could not get the set which came with the Royal Scot drivers to fit the chassis, but the B1 bearings fitted first time with the Royal Scot drivers. The result is a working Hornby B1 chassis, re-wheeled with 6ft 9in wheels.

In order to get the wheels to fit good and proper, all of the brake hangers plus any other details such as the sanding gear, need to be removed from the bottom keeper plate and surrounding area. I have kept all of these moulded details for reuse later on in the build (the brake blocks, in particular, can be simply repositioned to fit properly).

Stunningly, all of these modifications have helped to give me a chassis which is only 1mm out on for the actual wheelbase of the B3/3, and that's on the rear drivers which are 1mm too far backwards.

I think I can live with that though, as the front end is absolutely spot on, both for the level and inclination of the standard B1 cylinders, and the placement of the valve gear. I really did not expect it to be fit quite so well as it did!

The next job on the chassis is to fit new brass pickups. Fitting larger wheels meant that the brass wipers already on the bottom keeper plate, would not be long enough (larger diameter, longer distance to circumference of the wheel where the pickup meets the tyre). I therefore need to make some bespoke ones. In order to test the chassis, I simply attached the red and black wires to the terminals of my Hornby rolling road. It ran smoothly through all of the power ranges, and in reverse too.

The driving wheels will need new balance weights to be fitted (it is likely that thin plastic overlays will be the order of the day) in addition to refitting the brake blocks, hangers and similar along with the sanding gear, and as mentioned previously, rewiring and making new brass pickups before the chassis is complete.

In the body stakes, I've discovered a very interesting fact. The B3/3 had its B1 boiler pitched higher than the Thompson B1, with a shorter chimney and a squarish Gorton dome fitted, but the cab and the boiler fittings at that end remained in proportion to the boiler, as per the B1.

This meant that the high shoulders on the B3/3 are actually deeper than on the B1, and at the rear, the running plate dip under the cab is deeper too. The cab itself is longer and deeper, although the roof remains the same more or less. In theory, cutting and shutting two Bachmann B1 bodyshells should give us the correct length running plate at both ends, and cutting and shutting two cabs will give the deeper, longer B3/3 cab.

Obviously the above is by no means a finished picture, but it's an interesting amalgamation of components to present my progress on the idea. That we've got a working chassis (albeit minus pickups at the minute) is a great starting point. I sincerely did not think it would be this easy to simply replace the driving wheels and refit the valve gear!

I've quite a bit of work to do on my other outstanding projects. The Ivatt N1 needs coal rails, Great Northern needs her running in before a coat of blue and transfers (but the nameplates have arrived!) and I've got to finish that Railroad A3 conversion before the end of the month. The B3/3 will fit in and around those projects as they come to completion.

I've also got a layout related update coming up this month, surprisingly!

Until next time, thanks for reading.

April 01, 2013

"Thompson L1: brief catch up..."

I had completely forgot to finish reporting on my recent Thompson L1 renumbering and weathering exercise. The worksplates arrived, and together with some Johnson's Klear on the valve gear, have finished off the model nicely in my view. I'm much happier with it now as a result, though I feel I still have a ways to go with my weathering in general.

Until next time, sorry for the mini-update!