Where did that come from???

We’re half way through March, it is the wrong time of year for snow!

No doubt the snowplough will be out later, followed by trainloads of tourists, but for now let’s just make the most of the peace and quiet.

Posted in Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat

Getting there with Charley

The paperback copy of Travels With Charley arrived in the post today, it has a completely different front cover illustration from the one shown on Fleabay, the camper is not in the image, but at least it is still a desert scene. The model camper for the diorama will be in the post some time next week so a suitable American gas-guzzler is deputising for it in the photo below.

Scenic work is progressing nicely. I’ve made some crossbucks this afternoon, suitably weathered to a silvery grey colour after years of constant sandblasting. Taking the weathering to extreme, one of them has collapsed and is being gradually buried in the wind-blown sand.

Meanwhile, on the FCPyF, I’m still unable to run trains because the cold weather is delaying the drying of the glue on the ballast at both Bodjio and Lago Cumbre, this has not been an issue with the Travels With Charley diorama because most of the work has been done indoors where it’s (slightly) warmer.

Posted in Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat

Travels With Charley

When I was in my early teens I read Steinbeck’s book about travelling across America, with his dog, in a camper van. Around the same time I also owned a Husky model of a camper, the model differs from the one illustrated in the book in that it has a sleeper section over the cab but it’s a classic American design and was one of my favourite (non-railway) toys.

Anyhow, on Sunday I was browsing a well known auction site looking for a suitable boat to use on Lago Cumbre, but I got distracted and came across several of the Husky campers at varying prices. I put a bid in for the earliest finishing lot and ‘won’ it for £2 plus postage. At the same time I also bought a copy of the book so that I can re-read it after all these years.

The idea of buying the camper was to build a small diorama to display it on, not thinking of any railway connection at the time, but it then occurred to me that a disused railway partially buried in the drifting sands would add some visual interest… As well as tying the project into my hobby. OK, so there are no trains involved, but it’s still a model railway!

It’ll be some time next week when the camper is delivered so an ambiguously scaled truck is standing in for it in the accompanying photos. In the meantime I’ve started work on the diorama using an old base that I made many years ago for a 1:35 scale tank. The dry stream bed passes beneath both the railway and the road in culverts. These were made from a plastic syringe which once measured Calpol but has been collecting dust in a kitchen drawer for the last few years. Note that nothing is parallel to the baseboard edges, stream bed, road and railway are all at differing angles but none of them align with the outer limits of the scene. This is a key part of scenic modelling, however big or small. If anything parallels the baseboard edge for too far it tends to spoil the look of the model.

Discussion on the NGRM forum has questioned the scale of the camper and on-line research gives it as either 1:55, 1:64 or 1:72 depending which site you look at. If it turns out to be the larger scale I’ll use 16.5mm gauge track to represent the typical US narrow gauge of 3 feet but if it is 1:64 or less I’ll use the 12mm gauge track, shown in the photos, instead.

And the whole point of this..? There isn’t one..! It just gives me something to do without costing a lot of money. On top of which I get to read the book again, maybe it’ll rekindle my interest in Steinbeck’s novels too.

Posted in Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat

Define micro

While my main modelling interest now lies with the FCPyF, a large layout by individual modellers’ standards, indeed a large layout by club standards too, it has not always been so. In the past I used to build micro-layouts, in fact I was a serial builder of micro-layouts and would often take two or three at once to an exhibition. This fascination with small layouts culminated in the Ferrocarril Internacional modular On30 layout. The FI was run and owned by a number of individual modellers who got together at shows to join a collection of micro-layouts into one big one.

Lago Cumbre is nearly completed, it is just lacking a station name board.

Why am I prattling on about this? Well, I’ve been doing some scenic work on the new Lago Cumbre section of the FCPyF and stood back to see how it looked from normal viewing distance. What it looked like was an individual section of the FI. The modular layout was never intended to be one continuous scene but to act as a series of vignettes along the line and I regard the FCPyF to be something similar. Cuarto de Pulgada is separated from Lago Cumbre by the tubular bridge across the doorway to the house and Lago Cumbre is separated from Cumbre by a rocky outcrop.

There’s a scenic break between Cumbre and Rio Paleta then another rocky outcrop to separate Rio from Jones River and Bodjio. On the lower level there are scenic breaks between Frog Rock and Resurreccion and between Resurreccion and Bodjio, then another break between there and Grande. In effect the FCPyF is eight separate scenes, though these are not designed to be assembled in any order like the FI was.

Resurreccion, micro or not?

Resurreccion measures 2’6″ by 1′ so is well within the bounds of a micro, even when allowing for external fiddleyards. It was not designed but rather, like most model railways do, has evolved over time. Compare the image below with that at the head of the page (if you’re not reading this as an individual blog entry the header image may vary, click here to view featured image).

Two and a half square feet of scenery.

OK, so the line runs through Frog Rock on its way to one fiddleyard and in the other direction it terminates, via Jones River and Bodjio, at Grande.

Hemmed in by Frog Rock to the left, Jones River to the right and Rio Paleta above.

Yet it is still a self contained scene and would take less than ten minutes to remove from the layout… A bit longer to put back though because joining the track back together in the tunnels is not quite as easy as taking it apart!

Exits to left and right disguised by the scenery.

Once removed from the FCPyF Resurreccion could be operated solo between a pair of fiddlesticks so it is, by definition of its size, a micro-layout.

Railcar 21, ready to depart.

I will admit that it’s a lot more fun to operate Resurreccion as part of the FCPyF as a whole but it’s still an option to use it as a portable micro.

If you’re unfamiliar with the FCPyF’s modular predecessor it can be seen, at its last public outing, on this YouTube link.

Posted in FCPyF 2016 rebuild, My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat

HO scale FCPyF?

Not going to happen, but if I did want to rebuild the FCPyF as a standard gauge line in HO scale I do have a collection of suitable diesels in Conrail livery that would be very easy to re-brand.

That’s almost what the FCCA (Central Andean Railway) has done.

While we’re on the subject of big blue diesels…

#60 was filling in for a failed railcar on this morning’s Grande to Cuarto train.

Progress on the scenery around Lago Cumbre.

Posted in Bodging and Kitbashing, My trains, Standard gauge, Toy train chit chat

New station (and other changes)

The FCPyF is to have a new station. It will replace Cumbre at the summit of the line and is located on the new lake section.

The station will provide an interchange between the trains and a lake ferry.

Facilities will be very basic, little more than a waiting shelter and a quayside. The old station at Cumbre has been removed and the area it occupied grassed over. The water tank, visible in the previous photo, has been temporarily relocated to Grande.

The tank is too big to fit next to the coaling stage so it is on the station platform instead. I’m not happy with its appearance though so a replacement will be built and placed, where it belongs, next to the coaling stage.

The tank that was at Grande has been returned to Rio Paleta. This tank was originally at Rio but I moved it to Grande when Cumbre was built. The main reason for moving it was that, in daylight, it cast a shadow on the backscene but the tank is now on the near side of the line and its shadow will fall on the station instead.

The tank’s new location gives a pleasing look to the station at Rio. Sometimes these things are planned, others they just happen. In this case I wanted to prevent the unwanted shadow on the backscene and the improved overall appearance is a bonus.

As well known magazine used to say, “railway modelling is fun”.

Posted in FCPyF 2016 rebuild, My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat

Lago Cumbre

Summit Lake will extend the scenery from Cumbre station towards Cuarto, across the door to the garden, through what is currently an off-stage section of the layout. This area of the layout is difficult to photograph because it’s backlit during daylight hours, so I apologise for the poor image quality.

I’ve removed the parapets from the bridge section and relocated the painted mountains behind the line to open up this section of track.

At the moment the lake itself is just a couple of pieces of scrap hardboard but the photos should give an impression of what I’m hoping this area of the layout is going to look like.

Edit, after sunset, for a better view.

A few off-cuts of grass matting help to improve the overall look of the scene.

Posted in FCPyF 2016 rebuild, My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat