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Pentewan Light Railway

The Pentewan Railway in Cornwall was possibly unique in having three* gauges in its lifetime. Christopher Hawkins built the original rai...

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Bridges and Sheds

Progress has been slow but I have installed parapets on the remaining two bridges and some walking boards so the PLR track gang should hopefully be a bit safer (although this was the 1950s).

This shot also shots the quarry engine shed. This has been made with scale corrugated iron sheets from (IIRC) Metalsmith with 1/16" square brass for the main frame and wooden strips for the rest. The corrugated iron fairly quickly started rusting after soldering, but as there were still shiny bits I painted it with gun blue and then washed it off. The next day the whole outside was totally rusted. Whilst the rust looks good I'm not sure if all of every sheet would be like that in the prototype, so I am deliberating if I should try and paint on some grey in places to represent non-rusty areas.

I have some more corrugated iron buildings to make so may try and paint bits of the sheets first, or at least before wielding the gun blue.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Progress on the quarry and leat

The last two weeks have seen the ballasting completed on the quarry board and numerous small scenic enhancements.

The quarry entrance gate - it will be a Cornish hedge to the left.

One of the next major tasks is to complete the river and leat. This is one of the sluice gates (well a pair in fact).

Friday, 18 October 2013

A Major Milestone Achieved

With just over 53 weeks before it's outing (you can probably guess where now) I have finished the quarry trackwork which completes all the trackwork for the section that will be displayed.
As per my usual practice I then separated the board and strung it up on some large hooks installed for this purpose - this makes it much easier to do the wiring. I then realised I didn't have enough point motors!
Of course there are still new boards and trackwork for the hidden sections and fiddle yard to be made, lots of scenic work, more rolling stock to be built, etc. - it will be a busy winter!

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Going Industrial

The PLR is of course a 'main line' narrow gauge railway even if it was built on a shoestring. However, there is one corner where typical O14 industrial narrow gauge can rule which is the granite quarry. Some of the track was laid a while ago using code 82 Peco Il-115 which I know is the recommended rail for the Roy C Link/KBscale track, but I felt a lighter rail would be more appropriate and give a visual contrast to the adjacent main line, so I am relaying it in Micro Engineering Code 55 rail. You will note I have used wooden sleepers as most of the quarry trackwork I have seen did too.

I have now completed the two sets of pointwork of which the latter is the most complex (I'm not sure what you call this arrangement). Just a bit more plain track to add and I will have completed all the trackwork for the scenic section ready for it's outing next year (but not all the hidden track that will be required).

I hope to show some final pictures once it is completed and ballasted.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Telegraph Poles

Over the last month or two I have been attempting to install telephone poles on the PLR. The idea is that there is a circuit going down the line with a telephone on a pole at the quarry loop (to discuss their traffic requirements). In practice this means a two wire circuit down the line to the viaduct at which point the main circuit crosses to the lower line and through the tunnel, and the original wires continuing to an end pole on the quarry loop.

In my hunt for prototype inspiration I came across the following wonderful sites: Teleramics, Double Groove and Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society (I defy anyone to call railway modellers sad after seeing this: here)

I was particular taken with the swan neck type of insulator fitting from Double Groove below as I thought it would be appropriate (cheap) for the forever strapped for cash PLR.
Image linked from Double Groove

After queries on the O14 group etc. for suitable sources drew a blank I started out making my own as outlined below (I was beyond the point of no return when I found out Wenz Modellbau did some kits) .

I ended up getting a casting starter kit from Nigel Lawton 009 and making a master with 4 insulators on it from which I made a silicon mould. Trying to cast with resin (with various colouring agents) proved almost impossible due to air bubbles and the very fast cure time. Coloured (artists pigment) 12minute epoxy was better, but the best results were with white/superfine Milliput. Piano wire was used for the swan necks poked into the Milliput.

Poles were made from dowels, slightly tapered with sandpaper, aged with my cider vinegar/steel wool solution (see previous post), felt tip for knots, and washes with ink and watercolours. The bases have a square rod which fits into a square tube in the basement so they all line up correctly (every pole has it's place), and all were given a yellow/green algae spray on the North East face. Caps were made from cartridge paper painted with grey acrylic mix. The guy ropes were made from fine electric wire innards blasted with a blowtorch to blacken it.

The master, silicone mould(s) and swan neck wires.

Casting a batch of insulators.

Clockwise from top left: Resin (least successful - many bubbles/failures), Epoxy (better) and Milliput (most successful - shown as moulded)

And the final results:



Adding the poles has certainly transformed the look of the layout. I think it adds a visual dimension that highlights the narrow gauge. I am still deliberating whether I add any wires.

Now for some fencing and vegetation....

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Ageing Wood with Cider Vinegar

I'm slowly making a set of telegraph poles for the PLR and particularly want to try and reproduce that rather elusive aged and weathered look. As start I thought I would try and age the wood itself with a suitable potion. A bit of googling turned up a recipe for a home made potion made from vinegar and iron filings. I ended up using organic cider vinegar (nothing but the best for PLR - actually it turns out to be stronger than red wine vinegar which was the only other thing in the kitchen cupboard) and steel wool left to stew for a couple of days. I tried using several dilutions of this on a piece of dowel as shown below:

From left to right dilutions of: 1:4, 1:3, 1:2 and 1:1. I felt the 1:2 looked best so then tried this on a full sized pole and also several other pieces of wood as shown below:

From left to right: treated and untreated dowel poles, thin and thick coffee stirrers and finally Scale 7 group walnut sleepers.

In many respects the dowel poles was the least successful as they still have a decidedly yellow tinge but I think further painting and weathering will tone this down. The coffee stirrers have a really pleasing grey hue which I am sure I will take advantage of sometime - it actually makes me wish I had done all my sleepers like this rather than my usual potion of Jacobean dark oak stain. The most surprising effect was on the walnut sleepers which have become almost as black as ebony.

They all smell slightly of vinegar and must be still acidic, so I'm wondering whether I should try and neutralise this using Bicarbonate of Soda (another kitchen find) or whether this may ruin the effect. Perhaps another test is due.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Hudson Bogie Wagon

Recently I decided to have a go at a David Provan kit for a Hudson Bogie Wagon that I acquired second hand a couple of years ago. I had not looked properly at the kit at the time, apart from sourcing a copy of the missing instructions thanks to friends on the O14 yahoo group.

Starting on it properly and using the article by Adrian Gray in NG&IRM Review issue 42 as a valuable reference, it was clear this was going to test my soldering skills somewhat. It contains a myriad of tiny little pieces which often need to be attached adjacent to each other. My little used Graskop RSU came to the fore - in fact I defy anyone to build this kit without an RSU.

The kit was advertised as complete/unbuilt but unfortunately someone had rather crudely pressed out the rivets on all the etches but not really done anything else. I filed the rivets off the solebars and replaced them with tiny brass rivets pressed out of some brass shim and soldered on with the RSU, but it was clear this was not going to be practical for the rest of the kit. In the end I just ran over the rivets with my GW Models riveter and vowed to make it a very rusty finish. Construction followed the instructions and tips from Adrian's article. The hardest part was fitting the wheelsets, couplings and trying to represent the door pins and chains.

The bogies are scale width and supplied wheels are to 14mm gauge - it could not be built to anything wider. Even with drilling the bearings I could not get enough room to fit the axles so I ended up shortening the axles (by grinding one end). The wheels/axles need fitting at the same time as the whitemetal axleboxes which need to be soldered in - which is not easy. I ended up using pop rivets to fix the bogies to the body as this enable most of the brake gear to be represented. Fitting the brakes was quite a challenge too.

The bogie platforms are far lower than my standard coupling height. Internet searching showed this to be a problem on the prototype too and provided a potential solution of an additional platform as shown in wagon 74 on the Festiniog railway here: http://www.festipedia.org.uk/wiki/File:74.JPG.

I adapted a pair of my round couplers to pivot in a rectangular brass tube with a phosphor bronze centering spring and fitted a new brass platform above. Milliput was used to fill the gap each side.

Although it provides reasonable sideways flexibility it doesn't flex up and down so it will not run reliably over the whole of the PLR without occasionally uncoupling. I fear it may be banished to a siding and allowed to rust - it will need a bit more weathering if it is to match wagon 74!

Door pins and chains were attempted in very fine brass wire and fuse wire but probably don't bear close scrutiny. Perhaps the banishment siding needs to be at the back of the layout.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Another Antipodean Aquisition

On my recent trip down under, I finally met up with fellow O14 Modeller Mark K, who started the O14 yahoo group over 8 years ago (I was member no 2).

A few beers were enjoyed in the 3 Monkeys pub in Sydney and lots of advice gratefully received by me and my good lady about where to go during our trip.

Mark very kindly gave me a Burrinjuck wagon which having now received some couplings will be a regular fixture on the PLR. I understand these wagons were almost identical to the ones K1 used to haul in Tasmania so it will be in good company.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

French Visitor

David H popped round for a natter and to see the latest progress (and a beer of course). We gave his 021T (or 0-4-2T as we would call it) Weidknecht Decauville from RPI a spin on the PLR which it successfully negotiated without incident proving that we have nicely compatible standards. Even unpainted it looked really good on the newly ballasted sections - which themselves still need weathering and vegetation.

More details on the loco can be found on David's own blog at: http://barnstapletown.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/un-petit-loco.html