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Monday, April 12, 2021

The never ending tale of wood butchery!

Not much to report on model making but here at WMD HQ the last few weeks have certainly seen some woodworking going on. As this is all connected with the Man Cave AKA the Room of Gloom (the garage is the Room of Doom) where my Last Great Project will reside I see it almost a model making activity. There are three major tasks to carry out in the Room of Gloom. In no order, the baseboard for the Last Great Project, a laminate floor  and a set of bookcases to house a 40 or so year collection of modelling magazines and books. 

If I were organised, if I had thought about it, if I had a plan, then the laminate floor would have gone in whilst the room was empty, then the bookcases would have been built and then the baseboard. Instead today I have a half finished baseboard in a room with a half laid laminate floor on which now stand some half finished bookcases! However it sometimes just happens like that and as the magazines and books are already in the room and will have to be moved to allow the second half of the floor to be laid it made sense (to me at least) that I make the bookcases so that I would only need to move the magazines and books once. I'm not yet at the stage of calling DIY SOS and hopefully some real progress will present itself by the end of the week. This is what things look like at the moment.

The bookcases are built from B&Q furniture board and eventually there will be five of these to fit along the back wall of the room where the laminate flooring buts up to in the above picture.

The photo above makes it look as though the whole bookcase leans but I can confirm it is true and straight - strange what my photography can do to even the simplest of objects!

One of things I am very lucky to have is a chop saw in the picture above. Bought it about three years ago and although a fair amount of cash it has been invaluable and paid for itself probably just in the savings in wasted material as a result of poorly cut joints. I can now get straight right angle or other angle cuts with no fuss and it makes cutting wood a pleasure! As with all tools you get some experience as you use them and one of the lessons I have learnt is to let the blade get up to full speed before starting to cut the wood and cut slowly across the timber. If you push the blade fast through the wood you might complete the cut in a second but you will probably end up with a splintered piece of wood instead of a nice sharp cut. Spend a few more seconds on the cut and you get a much better finish. As with all powered tools read the manual and take note and act on the safety advice!

Something a little cheaper but just as invaluable are the pair of right angle jointers I have had for over 30 years. They allow you to hold two pieces of wood together at a true right angle and once set you have your hands free to drill holes, put screws or nails in or whatever else you need to do. One of the jointers is in the picture below.

Much as I do enjoy the better weather we are now having it does bring about that time sapping commitment to gardening! Just before Easter I treat my lawn (probably better described as arid rough grass land) to a 'Feed and Weed' treatment. One of the results is that the grass is growing like crazy - along with the weeds! Well at least the feed part of the treatment worked! However I am going to have to get that cut this week at some time before Mrs Woody makes comment! 

Its all go here at WMD HQ!

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

More wood related matters but of a different kind

Having taken a bit of a break over the Easter period from model making normal service is now resumed! Still things to do on My Last Great Project just to get the baseboards finished but progress on the 009 narrow gauge layout has been made. As highlighted in an earlier post the Woodland Scenic trees were temporarily put in place and having left them a few days and looked on occasions to see if my mind had changed on their positioning I was still happy so the placement was settled. The trees come 'plugged' into a plastic base which compared to the rest of the tree are a poor representation of the base of a tree. However as the baseboard is thin hardboard, using the base was preferable to trying to drill a hole and get the tree to stand up properly. I decided that by thinning the edges of the base and then gluing them to the baseboard and using static grass they would become part of the overall landscaping. The pictures below probably make better sense than my words!

The original base.

The thinned base.

Bases being glued into place with UHU and then PVA on top with static grass applied from a Gaugemaster puffer bottle.

You can see the base on the right has been 'hidden' whilst the other two have had PVA applied awaiting the static grass treatment.

With that job done I turned to a few other details. A few vehicles were needed and these two Oxford Diecasts had been bought some time ago for this project. Time for their emergence from the 'stock' of items that I put away over time and then normally forget that I have them until after I actually wanted them by which time I have bought duplicates! In best Homer Simpson mode - Doah!

I am really impressed by the quality and finish on these models. Even get a registration number on them. They do need a coat of matt varnish to take away that 'Showroom' finish and make them actually look as though they are driven but that will come later.

Also in my 'stock' I found this Corgi RB19 Face Shovel that should be right at home in the quarry. It needs some weathering unless I pretend its just been delivered. In reality probably far too big a piece of plant for this quarry but it makes the area look interesting and I like it!

I am going to have to search through my figures collection in order to populate the layout but some sheep have appeared!

They were kindly given to me by a fellow modeler but I have no idea of either the maker of the sheep models or the breed they are. Given that I have no location or time period for the layout I feel safe in not annoying any experts in the field of animal husbandry! However I will as a precaution clear a file space for correspondence from annoyed sheep experts!

Overall the layout is coming to life. Still more to do but it is fun making my own World which is what all this is about especially as the real World cane sometimes be a strange place!

Monday, April 5, 2021

Easter break.

Well a somewhat different April the First and Easter again due to the current pandemic and a wild variation of weather with everything from frost and snow to T-shirt heat! 

April the First did actually see me finish the last of the end baseboards - no joke! As you can see from the picture my wood butchery required the use of several ever handy G-clamps which form an integral part of my tool kit along with mallet, hammer, lump hammer and sledge hammer.  

The arrival of Easter saw me take a bit of a break from model making although I did finish painting the end two boards and then put all four baseboards together in my Man Cave/Room of Gloom and......they actually fitted together without having to resort to any of the aforementioned hitting implements!

Sizes have slightly changed with the two end boards now being 2 foot 6 inches rather than 3 foot as originally planned. It was one of those moments at looking at things in the Man Cave with a tape measure and an inquisitive mind that led me to realise that by shortening the baseboard by a foot I could, because of the 'curved' ends, turn the whole layout round in the room and place it either along the backwall or the side wall. Made sense to me to have this versatility so that is what happened. It may have an adverse impact on my envisaged track plan but I think I will be able to get away with this change. As you can probably tell from my posts whereas any competent railway modeler would have used one of the many available track planning programmes to draw up their ideas into a fully detailed technical drawing my plans exist in my mind! Not always the best way of doing things but it usually works for me.

With some good weather other interests in my life have also been progressing. My cycling adventures saw me on the First of April complete 1005 miles this year so far. Gardening wise despite my total inabilities in this area the green house has suddenly come to life and that too needs a tidy up especially as the trays of seedlings and potted up plants are rapidly expanding. 

That together with the dreaded weeding seem to have taken a fair amount of time up this Easter but hopefully the next few days will see progress on other model based projects. As they say on TV - Normal Service will be resumed as soon as possible!

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

All about the wood!

Well here at WMD HQ its been all about the wood for the last few days! My last great project still sees me battering pieces of wood together but progress is being made. Three more pieces to put on the last of the two end boards and that is the main sub baseboard constructed to stage one. Stage two involves a lot of sander work and some filler to hide the blemishes (a nice word for my poor workmanship) and then a final coat of paint to seal the wood and hopefully keep the structure sound and free of moisture.

It was a glorious day to be outside too so it despite the war of Woody and the wood going on I did enjoy it! Several people walking by must be wondering 'What is he up to???'. Certainly looks like a strange shelving unit. Looking at the weather forecast for next week and I see predictions of temperatures of 2C - I will be heading inside then.

Dealing with wood of another sort, the narrow gauge layout need some trees. I should be making them myself but on this occasion I have splashed out on some Woodlands Scenic trees about 4 to 5 inches high. I have placed them on the layout temporarily just to get a feel for where they look best. From my enforced gardening activities I am told plants and shrubs always look best with three and to be truthful even my eye can see that. Luckily that is how many trees come in the pack - they must watch Gardener's World at Woodlands Scenic too! As the baseboard to the layout is thinnish hardboard, mounting the trees was always going to be an issue. However they do come with a base into which the trunk plugs into. The base is not exactly fashioned by someone with an eye for nature but I think I can use the base and hide it so that the trees will stand without holes in the baseboard. More of that adventure another time - possibly next week when it is 2C outside! In the meantime lets have a look at the current temporary placement.

On the T80 tank front, all I can say is that the tracks are testing! I will get there but it is not a quick job and when a kit fights you like this you have to be in the right mood to make progress.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Further wood butchery but creative times for the 009 gauge layout!

Although a bit sparse on entries over the last few days progress is being made on My Last Great Project with further battles at the WMD HQ garage/Room of Gloom between me and various bits of wood that just do not want to go together. The good news is that I have the basics of the 'trolley' that the layout will sit on in my Man Cave. The idea is that I can easily move the layout around to access all sides. As I talked about in a previous post I am not getting younger and I really do not want to have to duck down to get into a central operating well and I don't want a lifting flap with the issues that can cause so whilst it has compromises this trolley idea works for me - well at the moment at least! The trolley castors are rated for 55kg each so should be up to the job which is good as I want to put a shelf on the lowest level for storage.

Meanwhile back at the WMD HQ garage/Room of Gloom those geometry lessons all those years ago suddenly came in useful! I did not want a straight end to the baseboard, more of a curve and this is what I came up with.

The picture makes it look a little distorted but in essence there is a 2 foot radius 'curve' on each side. Lots of head scratching, lots of cutting, lots of bits of wood ending up in the firewood pile but eventually it all got there without to much in the way of force to make things join! Still more to do and probably several more days until the four sections of baseboard are complete.

Moving onto the 009 gauge layout there has been some progress made. In brief the dummy point levers and the buffer stops have been installed, the quarry siding has been 'toned' into its surroundings and a scrap pile and wood pile have appeared as well as some additional fauna.

First off the dummy point levers needed to be set into the scenery so a bit of ballast and landscaping had to be removed to reveal the baseboard surface onto which the lever was glued. Luckily the damage caused to the ballast and landscaping was minimal so little in the way of repair was needed. I must be getting good at this!

Having left some of the original plaster mix to set in the tub I mixed it in, I used this to tone down the ballast in the siding to give the effect that the quarry material had spilled onto the track over the years. The hardened mix was broken up and crushed to a powder and as the ballast is sand and is like a sandpaper, some lumps of the mix were simply rubbed along the ballast to produce a powder that adhered to the ballast and surrounding area.

After a little while the original siding turned from this

To this

To add some interest a scrap pile made up from parts from the scrap box and mainly consisting of 1/35 scale tank parts was created, sprayed black and then treated to some rust weathering powders. A srip of balsa wood was cut up into some suitable00 scale plank sized pieces, randomly glued together and then treated to a dilute wash of Vallejo black paint. Both were glued in place and then using a variety of grass tufts and vine type scenic products some further fauna was added to the area to give that 'wild' look. I think it all came out well - but I would! These photos give some detail as to what I did.

This weekend's modelling is going to suffer as we loose an hour going into summer time but hopefully progress will still be made on this layout over the following weeks. 

Just to finish off, it's always nice to 'play trains' so here are a couple of photos of a West Highland Railway Baldwin loco doing the very unlikely haulage of some Lynton and Barnstable Railway coaches. But its my railway so anything is possible!

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Testing Tracks!


In my last post I ended by saying the tracks were not playing ball. The photo above shows what I am dealing with - very small pieces that are fragile and awkward to handle. The tracks are what is termed as 'workable'. That is they should click together and be free to move just like real tracks. Whilst there is no doubt someone at MiniArt who can put these together blindfolded and then use them as some form of towrope to rescue a real tank stuck in mud, for me, the reality is that they just don't work. Might be my ineptness at putting these together but an internet search does show I am not unique in having problems with these particular tracks. You need to be very careful how you remove them from the sprue as you can end up with the hole that is supposed to receive the peg on the joining track link being compromised. Use too much force and the link snaps in two. I have reverted to my old dodge in this situation of building up short lengths of track on a strip of masking tape and then running that around the running gear on the tank itself and lightly gluing the track links once in position so that they in effect become one track. I do this in sections so that I am at least gluing a loose length of track to a solid length to give me some chance of getting it all to sit right on the tanks running gear. It takes days to do as you need to await the glue drying for each section but it does at least allow you to maintain your sanity. Certainly a testing time!

The pictures below show the progress on the rest of the tank. Note that the upper hull part does have a bit of a fit issue at the back but nothing that some elastic bands at the gluing stage can't sort out - hopefully! You might note the magnify glass in the background which has come in very handy with this kit. 

Saturday, March 20, 2021

MiniArt T80 Russian Light Tank - The build begins

 I do not know a great deal about MiniArt but they are a model kit manufacturer who are producing new models almost on a weekly basis. They have a good reputation, from what I have read, in making accurate and highly detailed kits. On the basis of this and a good price on two kits I purchased the USA Bulldozer and the T80 Light Tank - not to be confused with the current T80 Main Battle Tank. You may recall the last time the kit was seen in this blog, Sammy the cat was eyeing up the boxes as a potential food container.

Having eventually managed to distract him and some of his fellow feline friends that live at WMD HQ by putting actual food in their bowls, it was time to open the box and have a look at what was actually in it.

First impressions were that the box was certainly well made and if it actually contained cat food would most probably resist feline attack to get into it for some time. It was also nice to see the sprues bagged which means if any components have come loose they are safely contained in the bag I recall in my earlier days of modelling Airfix kits where you opened a somewhat flimsy box to find many of the parts loose and making a dash for the carpet as you struggled to keep the box upright and in one piece. Taking the contents out this is what you get plus an instruction sheet which is not shown.

The molding quality is certainly good. I can not comment on accuracy as I am no expert in Russian WW2 tanks and there are better people out there in the World of Internet Forums who will no doubt highlight their thoughts and observations on that matter if you want to search them out. Here at WMD HQ, the general rule is if it looks right it must be right! This kit looks like the photos I have seen on the internet so that's good enough for me. Anyway, by the time I throw some weathering at it no one will be able to tell if the bolt holding the shovel on is the correct shape or not.

I was keen to see whether the quality molding translated into a pleasant build. The last thing you need is a kit that fights you - modelling is supposed to be relaxing after all. The first thing that you find out once you start building this kit is that the sprues have no part numbers next to the components. This means that you have to cross reference to the sprue diagram in the instructions each time you need to identify a part. Given that there are also a number of parts that are not used in this kit, the whole process of going backwards and forwards in the instructions as you build the kit becomes a bit tiring and something that you could do without. However that is just my experience and view.

Moving onto the kit itself, there is a basic hull and turret complete including some of the etched parts. There are some etched locker fasteners on that etch which I cannot see clearly even under a magnifier so those wont' be used. Luckily the plastic molding for the locker does have the fastener molded on so that will do me. As this kit is based upon an existing kit for a similar variant of the tank you do have to make a few alterations including cutting a large hole in the hull roof and taking the side out of a louvre. Anyway here are a few photos of what I have done so far which may explain matters beter than my words.

The brass etch louvres for the engine are fitted in the hole you have to make in the hull. I had to add some plastic strip to the inside of the hull to provide a mounting point for the louvres. There is a etched grill to go over the top which still needs to be made up. I really need to get some paint on that shiny brass before putting the grill over otherwise it could end up shining through the grill.

At the moment I am struggling to make the workable track links. More on that another time but they are not playing ball!