Yeah, that kind of went quick! 6 months since an update and that last half of the years seems to have flown by. Progress in general on a number of different projects at first glance doesn't seem to have advanced very much, but I have been engaged in some smaller focused tasks that are keeping me quite busy in my evenings.
I have been trying to keep my attention on the Cwm Machno slate O14 layout we are working on, especially since there is a tentative deadline to when I'd hope to have it at a presentable standard. I managed to get some time to do some more work on the large slate rock faces of this two level layout, with an initial thin coat of plaster being applied over the carved extruded foam rock walls. The foam still has a porous look, so I wanted the thin plaster to represent the sheets of slate that normally layer up these rock faces. I made a mix of premix plaster, Bondcrete glue and a splash of black ink, which was then applied with a small palette knife. The first coat seems to begun to build up this layered effect ok, so will perhaps need another 1-2 coats to start getting the finish I want.
The other small part of this layout that has been keeping me occupied was assembling the small KB Scale Deutz OMZ kit. Its a brass and white metal kit, that has some fiddly elements, but has come up ok in looks, but the mechanism side of it has been a bit of a headache. The assembly of the drive unit required you to press one wheel onto an axle, feed through the chassis side, then press this through the final gear of the gearbox, and then press the other side wheel on and quarter it at the same time...not the easiest process and the results where less than wonderful. It did turn the wheels and run along some test track, but it had some binds, made a horrible lot of noise, and the motor was pretty gutless (a tiny Mashima 1015). So, the original drive train has been stripped out of it and a custom BullAnt belt drive mechanism has been ordered from Geoff at Hollywood Foundry. With some careful movement of the drive shaft, a bigger Mashima 1020 motor will now fit under the bonnet, and the belt drive should quieten the unit down considerably.
As far as the finish goes, I was more than happy with the paint and weathering result. It was the first time I've essentially done a paint finish using the one brand of paint and weathering products (all AK Interactive products in this case), where I think sticking with the one painting system has been quite rewarding. Their acrylic paints airbrush very nicely with good colour consistency. The various weathering products do the job they are meant to do. I think what makes the finish so good is actually following the instructions for what each effect is meant to achieve, and sealing between layers. The steps for this paint finish was a Nato Black layer, followed by a layer of "Worn Effects" (basically the "hairspray technique" but the chipping fluid gives a predictable result rather than variations from different brands of hairspray that may otherwise be used). Shortly after the Worn Effects fluid had dried, the green and red panels were airbrushed on. They were allowed to dry for about 20 minutes, before gently scrubbing over his coloured layer with a soft wet brush. If anything, I think I put the green and red on thicker than I should have, so some of the chips were larger than expected. The model was given some drying encouragement with a heat gun, and then sealed with a matt varnish. One the sealer had dried, it was time for some age to be layered on, with various wash layers of grime and rust spots in the chipped sections. These layers are enamel based with thinners used to move the washes around on the panels. A further sealer layer was applied (and dried) before doing round two of more thin washes of grime and rust details. A final matt varnish sealer was applied to finish it off.
I am just now awaiting delivery of a TCS KAM4 decoder to be installed under the hood of this loco (should fit above the BullAnt mech unit once it also arrives). Not really room for sound and keep alive capacitors in this loco, but the preference was for reliable constant running, rather than something than makes some sound but stalls often.
Of course, the other thing that has been keeping me busy is the planning for the 13th Australian Narrow Gauge Convention, to be held in 2017 here in my home town of Geelong. Plenty of ideas and discussions happening with the organising team here, and already getting some great interest from a good number of overseas enthusiasts who are keen to travel down under for some narrow gauge activities. The new website is finally nearing completion, and would hope to go live now early in the new year. In the mean time though, a Facebook page has been started for the event, where you can already find some information about the special category in the modelling contest, "The 90mm Challenge" (see below), as well as some details on other things to do around Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula for those that are travelling and wish to enjoy some tourist opportunities while in the region.
And, since it is finally Christmas Eve, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and stay safe over the holiday period. Hope everyone gets time to spend time with their friends and families, and hopefully also some time at your modelling benches!
Oh, and shameless plug time, you may notice a new page tab at the top of this blog, which has details of the gum tree modelling CD that I put together some time ago. I finally made them available to purchase direct from this blog (rather than occasionally via eBay, or from my display at the few exhibitions I get to attend). You will also see the "Buy Now" button in the right hand menu column which goes to a PayPal purchase page. I thank everyone for their support with these CD's with over 150 copies going out to interested modellers, where it has been rewarding to see others results after following my techniques. It's been great to see some of those who now own the CD out and about with their efforts at local model railway exhibitions.