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When your 21 year old daughter says ‘that looks nice, what is it?’ it’s an indication that the box, at the very least is ‘on message’. Not only that but SWMBO, or ‘the wife’ as I know her, mentions it looks elegant, you do wonder if the contents will live up to the packaging.
Today I received two boxes of Accurascale’s HUO 24.5T hopper wagons. It’s not often you go ‘ooh that’s nice’ before even opening the box. Packed in threes, neither set showed any damage or loose components and the packaging is neat tidy and functional. Also included is a one page fact sheet and parts breakdown list.
Immediately the models just leap out as being ‘quality’, OMG, there’s no rulers on this quick look over! Paint finish is excellent, and these are just crying out for weathering, the patches around the stencils are prototypically uneven, so look odd on a clean wagon. These’ll be in the man cave for filth within the week!
The handrails are very delicate as are other details like handles and steps, definitely not a wagon for those of you that like to handle your trains wearing boxing gloves. Sprung buffers are fitted and are compressed with very little force, and the wagons run very freely. The tension locks are fitted into NEM sockets which align with other similar fitted stock I have.
Sold in packs of three these wagons are essentially £20 each. For this quality of engineering and overall finish, compared to what else is on the market, I think Accurascale have produced possibly the best ready to run wagon for the UK market ever.
It’s quite a claim to make I realise, but unless they’ve made a Liverpool goalkeeper of an error somewhere, that’s not blindingly obvious at the moment, the claim might just stand up to scrutiny.
Transformation Tuesday?, oh yes. These models show how the UK market can be broken into by determined players, and instead of claiming to set higher standards, actually just crack on and do it. In itself these perhaps set a benchmark both in the model itself, and the company ethos. Rapido arguably did the same thing when they entered the UK market, people looked down at them, but their quality and value for money for the quality, shone through. I think Accurascale may take a similar journey. I’ll have no hesitation getting other products from them, their sprung buffers?, first in the trolley.
And I’ve no doubt whatsoever that the other players out there, will sit up and notice! And as I sit here and look at them, the more I look, the more I see.
A few years back my brother got hold of a couple of Kadee 40ft boxcars, and I weathered one. It was ok but not really one that I could get enthused about, so I tried doing a patched out livery. That made it worse, so onto the shelf of doom it went. In 2012 a trip to the Near North allowed me to visit a couple of Canadian hobby stores, and thinking of this car, and getting a souvenir that could pack easily I bought a set of water slide decals, and they joined the car on the shelf of doom!
So, six years (yesterday) later, I’m rummaging through the mancave and this gets in the way. I realised it’s one of those ‘one day’ jobs, and thought why not today? Well the car side had been cleaned of the patching paint, the original livery, the details such as ladders and walkways, and I sat down in the sun, with cotton buds and T-Cut to polish the sides for the decals. You can see above the high gloss finish the T-Cut achieved so with Microscale decal setting solutions it all looked a reasonably quick job.
I’m pleased to say that the high gloss finish and the decals and solutions all worked well you can see above how the solutions help the decals adhere to the surface, with no silvering. A couple of weeks back I tried out an aerosol can of Humbrol acrylic matt varnish and was really pleased with the quality of it. It seemed a good option to try it out on this HO car as I’d used quite a bit of it on six 7mm/O Gauge wagons and the can feels quite a bit emptier, I’d received a couple of comments regarding the spray getting blotchy as the can pressure reduced and it seemed a good idea to see if I got the same experience. I’m pleased to say, so far, I haven’t and the final top coat of varnish is seen below.
The result being a nice addition to the small HO fleet of stock I’m building up, a fast job that I’d put off for far too long which has literally transformed this cars appearance, and means it goes straight into the operating fleet. It’s also excellent motivation to get a fast result, and the shelf of doom has one less occupant!
It’s been a while since I posted a Fifteen Minute Hero, a couple of years at least! One of the things I want to do with Shelfie2 is to have it hands free operation, so with that in mind I’ve been assembling Dingham couplings. Shelfie2 will mainly be operated as a small north eastern drift Colliery disposal point, so lots of 21 ton style coal hoppers, and minerals.
I’ve got a few of Hornby’s excellent 21 ton hoppers, and to ring the changes a small batch of Accurascale 24.5 ton hoppers. So where’s the fifteen minutes? Well, as well as buying RTR wagons I’ve a few of the Parkside BR PC77 21 ton hoppers (dia1/146) to complete, these will be run as individual wagons rather than fixed rakes. The thing is, these kits are very light, the other hoppers aren’t exactly pie eaters either, but I do want to add weight to the kit versions.
I could put weight inside the hopper itself, meaning that they’d run partially loaded all the time, but preferred to find space underneath.
I’ve standardised on Trax self adhesive wheel balance weights, so I looked at how they might fit these wagons. The obvious location is in this valley between the two chutes, the weights are narrow enough that they fit with little lateral movement, however they do project underneath the hopper without any modifications, so I wanted to reduce that as far as possible.
So this is the fifteen minute bit! The nearest weight above is unmodified, the one at the back is adapted to fit as discretely as possible. Being a mild steel the weights file relatively easily so the first job is to remove the adhesive backing, this reduces their thickness as I’m using superglue to keep them in place instead.
Using a file I remove a section from each end of the weight, to about a 45 degree angle. This saves space at the joint between two weights and makes them less visible.
So, here they are test fitted, once filed back they are almost invisible from the side. The 45 degree chamfer makes better use of space at the depth of the hopper valley, and reduces the visible section protruding when the wagon is the right way up.
Basically that’s it! Arrange into a V shape and superglue in place.
A good use of fifteen minutes or so, it gives an unobtrusive weight gain (see above), and the wagons are now a little bit lighter than the Hornby models, but significantly heavier than they started, improving the running quality immensely. The Hornby hoppers are a bit crap with their running qualities, and I’ve found a fifteen minute improvement for those too, of which more later!
The Trax weights are very useful for kit builders too, I use them on almost every wagon I build, from conflats through to closed vans, they give a standard weight to a wagon, so none are either too light or too heavy! Improved running, Simples!
Today I’ve been putting together, and trial fitting Dingham electromagnetic couplers.
These are them fitted to a Bachmann 08. They’re a bit fiddly to assemble, but the instructions are clear and give good hints and tips on their use. I’ve seen a few 4mm layouts with them, and I’ve used a few previously on Bawdsey for coaching stock. Shelfie2 will be an eye level style presentation similar to Shelfie1, and as it’s a bit bigger I’d like to do the stand back at a distance thing. The operation will be quite straightforward, so I want to try and make the scenic section hands free and a good autocoupler will help with this.
So I’m giving the Dingham system a try, I like it as it’s quite discreet and looks a bit like a prototype coupling, certainly closer than most others. It is compatible with three link couplings so if it fails at a show, it’s not the end of the world, and it’s relatively inexpensive. To get the best from them the vehicles are handed, on this layout that won’t be a problem, and I’m looking forward to being able to sit either end of the layout at a show, and not be in the way of the viewers. Later today I’ll be trying the Hornby hoppers for the fitting as well as a couple of brake vans. If these first few work well enough I’ll do another two locos and a few more types of wagons.
Right, off to burn some more fingers!
This evening I’ve had Shelfie2 out on scaffolding trestles in the main room of the mancave. Normally this is occupied by a car, I know, weirdo eh? Still, having the space clear for a while has allowed me to put the layout up with a bit of breathing room around it. This works really well for me as you get that artist stand back and look opportunity, which sometimes shows an area for change or improvements.
The easiest change today was to block colour the baseboard leading edge, this shade of green may change, I’ll let it dry out fully first. It will also need re-sanding, the edge to scenery join is made with a flexible wall filler, which needs a few more fill/sand sessions to get it right. The green will show clearly the areas that need work, once cut back again. The painting also helps with motivation, it gives a more complete appearance, meaning pushing towards completion.
The rear tree line is also taking shape, having room to move around the layout, let’s me see angles that aren’t available in the workshop, and it’ll allow me to have an initial mess around with the back drop. For me one of the break points of this layout will be managing the join between the tree line, backscene and foreground. These trestles are height adjustable too so while I think it’s right at the moment, I can experiment a bit with them to change the viewing perspective. Then I can get the car back inside, and look for an engine builder.
Petrol that is, not steam…