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SKEW BRIDGE - Attic Layout


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A couple of posts back I referred to the 'Barry' branding and depot emblem on the side of some of the HAAs. I'd previously tried removing it using thinners, white spirit, t-cut, but all to little avail. It was easy enough to remove the unwanted bits but I also ended up removing some of the silver down to the base coat too. It also took quite a long time to do.

Today I decided to have a try with a 2mm fibreglass pencil and the results are better than I'd expected. There's a bit of scratching of the silver body but I believe it will be barely noticeable once the wagons are weathered. I'm not bothered about doing them all but just a few would be good so that they aren't all alike. And let's face it, the sides of HAAs were hardly ever pristine so any obvious marking isn't going to look out of place.

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I've ordered some small bags of scatter material and static grasses in order to try them out before deciding how I'm going to tackle the embankments. In the meantime I've been painting up some more to

A short 60 second video of 60048 and MGR wagons through the new landscape  

Things are now taking shape on the small scenic end section despite me saying that there was no rush to finish this part of the layout. I began this morning by painting the bridge that has been i

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I know you've said before its not something you particularly like, but how about using a small amount of graffiti on a couple of wagons - might help cover up the markings or where you've removed them?

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11 hours ago, ba14eagle said:

I know you've said before its not something you particularly like, but how about using a small amount of graffiti on a couple of wagons - might help cover up the markings or where you've removed them?

It's a possibility Iain, but I think the weathering will be enough to cover any marks. I don't really like graffiti even in model form as you know and if I'm honest it wasn't until the introduction of the HTA's that we really noticed graffiti on our coal wagons. I think the artists were attracted to the larger canvas on offer.

Now I'm always one for making unnecessary work for myself and this is probably another prime example, but I had to try fitting instanter couplings to a couple of MGRs just to see if it was worth it, and if they would cope with the attic curves of course. I still have some couplings left over from when I did the 16t minerals so this is how I got on.

I began by cutting off the moulded coupling hook from the bufferbeam and drilling two small holes which I shaped into a vertical slot using light action from the drill itself.

20200325_202321.thumb.jpg.0f1cd3682fcc84ff91f4d031a5fc352d.jpg

Now the first wagon I attempted took me probably 2 hours (!) to fit the pair of couplings but thankfully I did the last one in around 20 minutes. The reason for this is I began by trying to install the coupling using the spring and split-pin as per the instructions so that it would in effect be a sprung coupling. The drawback is that the spring creates such tension that the hook is unable to move anyway and in order to fit the whole package it requires a lot of plastic cutting away from the underframe of the wagon.

In the photo below, the wagon on the right is the one I attempted first and you can see that I've had to remove the NEM coupling and the plastic mounting that the NEM coupling is attached to in order to make room for the length of the drawbar and spring. The wagon on the left has the NEM coupling removed but the mounting base is left untouched. So after giving up with the idea of using the spring and split-pin to secure the coupling drawbar hook I instead cut the drawbar short and then simply bent it over behind the bufferbeam to hold it securely. I glued the first one but it doesn't seem necessary.

20200325_200408.thumb.jpg.64cb5cfeaa8890071d4ecfe3f7ab46b1.jpg

At least bending the drawbar over to secure it in place means I can leave the NEM coupling base in place and revert to the original couplings should I ever wish to do so.

20200325_203709.thumb.jpg.e17d3ebda8ea4867c5c555552fa5c803.jpg

Now is it all worth the effort? Perhaps not, in fact I think I have to be crazy for even considering it when you work out just how many wagons I might have to do. But does it make me feel better when I look at them? Yes it really does, it makes them look even more like the wagons I remember even if the instanters themselves don't look quite right. It's ever so difficult and very fiddly to try get the coupling rings closed back up properly after you've assembled them but at least it gets rid of those hideous tension locks.

20200325_182005.thumb.jpg.ed4d99e0ff269f158eabc21fd930ef7e.jpg

I don't suppose there's a pressing need to finish the entire rake in one go providing I leave a tension lock at one end of the final wagon in order to couple up to the rest of the set. And as for shunting, well I doubt they'll ever need to be uncoupled so barring any derailments oce they're coupled up they should remain so. Even with the instanter in the normal short position they appear to go round the attic curves without any problem both forward and reverse.

Maybe once I get into the swing of it I'll get the fitting down to less than 20 minutes per wagon.

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Leaving class 66s and missing axle boxes for a moment, I've made some progress with my second set of MGR wagons.

I now have 9 wagons, a mixture of canopied (HFA/HBA) and non-canopied (HAA) wagons, all fitted with instanter couplings, weathered, and fitted with moulded coal loads. I've left a tension lock on the leading wagon for coupling purposes and this will probably be changed to a Kadee in line with the other sets.

20200327_174603.thumb.jpg.c7086cd598b161e78fbb97016a7d7dd9.jpg

I still need to add the layer of real coal.

 

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Last night I had a further short session in the attic and fitted instanter couplings to another 3 wagons as well as filing down the moulded coal loads to fit. So that's 3 more that just require weathering before they can be added to the set.

I have a small number of MGRs that I obtained at a decent price due to them missing certain underframe parts. Some had even been painted with completely black interiors, the purpose of which I am still trying to understand. At least removing the black paint wasn't too difficult.  I've been sticking bits back on where possible and trying to make good ones out of several bad. In train formation many of the missing parts are not even going to be visible so they'll all find a way into this loaded set. I can always place the wagons on track so that the better sides face towards the viewer if any bother me that much, or I could even form a cripple train.

It's working on little projects like this that makes me completely understand why some members take on the task of replicating prototypical train formations. I'm thinking primarily of Iain, @ba14eagle , who has featured trains that he's portrayed comprised of the actual coaches that would have been included in a certain set. I often wondered why anyone would go to such lengths but even doing something as simple as putting these MGRs together makes me see the enjoyment and personal satisfaction that can be gained from it.

Fitting instanter couplings to a rake of 36 MGR wagons is very tedious but in a way extremely enjoyable. It's completely unnecessary of course and I know that, you probably all think I'm off my rocker, but I look at them and think wow... they're just what I wanted them to look like. I worked on these actual wagons for the best part of 26 years and it's so satisfying to be able to replicate them in model form. They're a world apart from the shiny silver 'out of the box' models standing in the sidings opposite. It's great to get rid of the plastic couplings and replace them with proper metal ones and to have real coal and coal dust on top of the wagons. Now whether I'll do any further sets like this I don't really know. 

And before anyone asks, No!, there's absolutely no way I'm going to attempt renumbering  - that is a task I'll gladly leave to Iain and his coaches. My viewers will just have to put up with a lot of duplicate numbers.

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The second MGR set continues to grow steadily and there are now 15 almost completed wagons. 10 of them require only the surplus coal load shaking off once the PVA glue has dried while 5 are awaiting 'loading' as the weathering is still drying. I've just about managed to capture them all in the following photo. The unweathered one I was going to leave more or less as it is, though looking at it perhaps a light coating of weathering would be better just to tone down that silver colour.

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Here's a closer view of one of the canopied wagons in its loaded state

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And this is one of the wagons that have recently been weathered and is awaiting loading. I've added the photo to show how the empty wagon interiors will look once they are weathered. The wagons either side of this one are two of the ones that had been painted black inside, most of which I managed to remove. It's not going to matter too much now they are forming part of a loaded set.

20200328_180455.thumb.jpg.66a0abca3dd035f90f556e7f12dee51a.jpg

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A further 4 wagons were fitted with instanter couplings last night but I might need to take a break from MGRs for a day or so now, at least with regards to fitting the couplings. It's very hard on your fingers!

I've been having difficulties with the airbrush lately in that it sometimes doesn't want to spray very well - not good for an airbrush! After use I always spray through with plenty of white spirit to clean away excess paint but clearly that's not sufficient. I decided last night to dismantle it and immediately began to worry if I could manage to put it back together again! I did manage that in the end but what I found was the needle had clogged with dry paint, proving my point that flushing through isn't enough and perhaps occasionally it's best to totally dismantle and thoroughly clean. Maybe that's what you're supposed to do anyway? Hopefully it will be working well again today now that's it's been well cleaned.

I see from advertisements in local modelling magazines that you can pay an awful lot for a 'quality' airbrush but the ones I have came as a package including 2 airbrushes and the compressor which cost me well under £100 for the lot. For my needs they are easily good enough providing I can keep them clean and operating well.

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On 3/25/2020 at 10:19 PM, mick said:

It's a possibility Iain, but I think the weathering will be enough to cover any marks. I don't really like graffiti even in model form as you know and if I'm honest it wasn't until the introduction of the HTA's that we really noticed graffiti on our coal wagons. I think the artists were attracted to the larger canvas on offer.

Now I'm always one for making unnecessary work for myself and this is probably another prime example, but I had to try fitting instanter couplings to a couple of MGRs just to see if it was worth it, and if they would cope with the attic curves of course. I still have some couplings left over from when I did the 16t minerals so this is how I got on.

I began by cutting off the moulded coupling hook from the bufferbeam and drilling two small holes which I shaped into a vertical slot using light action from the drill itself.

20200325_202321.thumb.jpg.0f1cd3682fcc84ff91f4d031a5fc352d.jpg

Now the first wagon I attempted took me probably 2 hours (!) to fit the pair of couplings but thankfully I did the last one in around 20 minutes. The reason for this is I began by trying to install the coupling using the spring and split-pin as per the instructions so that it would in effect be a sprung coupling. The drawback is that the spring creates such tension that the hook is unable to move anyway and in order to fit the whole package it requires a lot of plastic cutting away from the underframe of the wagon.

In the photo below, the wagon on the right is the one I attempted first and you can see that I've had to remove the NEM coupling and the plastic mounting that the NEM coupling is attached to in order to make room for the length of the drawbar and spring. The wagon on the left has the NEM coupling removed but the mounting base is left untouched. So after giving up with the idea of using the spring and split-pin to secure the coupling drawbar hook I instead cut the drawbar short and then simply bent it over behind the bufferbeam to hold it securely. I glued the first one but it doesn't seem necessary.

20200325_200408.thumb.jpg.64cb5cfeaa8890071d4ecfe3f7ab46b1.jpg

At least bending the drawbar over to secure it in place means I can leave the NEM coupling base in place and revert to the original couplings should I ever wish to do so.

20200325_203709.thumb.jpg.e17d3ebda8ea4867c5c555552fa5c803.jpg

Now is it all worth the effort? Perhaps not, in fact I think I have to be crazy for even considering it when you work out just how many wagons I might have to do. But does it make me feel better when I look at them? Yes it really does, it makes them look even more like the wagons I remember even if the instanters themselves don't look quite right. It's ever so difficult and very fiddly to try get the coupling rings closed back up properly after you've assembled them but at least it gets rid of those hideous tension locks.

20200325_182005.thumb.jpg.ed4d99e0ff269f158eabc21fd930ef7e.jpg

I don't suppose there's a pressing need to finish the entire rake in one go providing I leave a tension lock at one end of the final wagon in order to couple up to the rest of the set. And as for shunting, well I doubt they'll ever need to be uncoupled so barring any derailments oce they're coupled up they should remain so. Even with the instanter in the normal short position they appear to go round the attic curves without any problem both forward and reverse.

Maybe once I get into the swing of it I'll get the fitting down to less than 20 minutes per wagon.

Hi, I'm new to the site and have whiled away my Sunday going through your posts about Skew Bridge from beginning to end - very insprational, thanks. I love the couplings you're putting on the MGRs and don't think you're crazy at all, although you may be once you've finished doing all those wagons. Perc.

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39 minutes ago, Perc said:

Hi, I'm new to the site and have whiled away my Sunday going through your posts about Skew Bridge from beginning to end - very insprational, thanks. I love the couplings you're putting on the MGRs and don't think you're crazy at all, although you may be once you've finished doing all those wagons. Perc.

Hi Perc and welcome to the forum. Are you  a modeller yourself? I was just wondering if it's already an interest or whether the effects of the 'stay at home' advice is allowing people the time to look up things they would often not have the time to do. Either way it isn't a problem and you are more than welcome to stay and join in with what we have to offer.

I have got slightly better at fitting the instanter couplings now and I've found that once the old drawhook is cut off the wagon it's often possible to push the remaining part of its base out of the bufferbean meaning you don't have to drill, just enlarge the hole slightly to accept the new drawbar and coupling hook. I now don't even remove the NEM coupling mounting base.

As mentioned in my previous post the main drawback I've found to fitting the couplings is that it makes the tips of your fingers sore and there's really only so many you can do before it gets a bit too painful. The coupling rings are very fiddly to assemble and difficult to hold while you do so, even when using tweezers and other tools. I've managed to complete 19 wagons now, which, taking into account the tension lock on the first wagon, is a total of 37 couplings but never mind, only another 34 to go!

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Hi Mick, I'm not very computer literate  so not sure whether I write in 'quote' or where I am now. We'll see.

My interest in railways started in 1974 but it was my younger brother who really got into modelling at the end of the 70s with a Zero 1 system. (I did have a Hornby Dublo layout in the 60s.) When I was living in Cornwall at the end of the 80s I built a simple circuit around the living room in our rented flat, but even before it was finished we moved and it was packed away. Some years ago, when finally settled, my mind turned to building a real layout but when I saw the price of locos I put the idea aside. My brother's layout had mainly Lima locos and at the time they cost about £12!

For Christmas 2012 my brother, sister and mother got together and bought me some locos, wagons and a basic DCC controller. My brother also passed on his old track and stock. My wife's comment was, "This is going to be another of those occasions where your family's generosity is going to cost us a fortune!" And she's been proved right.

We're renovating a house in France and the only place available for a layout was the walls around the bedroom and my wife accepted that as a tempoary solution. Over a couple of years I built a double track  with station, a couple of siding and engine shed but alas, at the end of 2018 it had to be packed away as the room was to be gutted. When the roof on one of the outbuildings is re-done I'll have a large area to build a layout, but also, I'd like to build something outside.

I found this site (thanks to my wife) when trying to find out what type of track to use for an outdoor layout. However, I've really enjoyed reading about your attic layout, especially as over the years I've been picking up MGRs as my layout must have a couple of rakes, memories of my days spotting at Lichfield Trent Valley and seeing trains operating to and from Rugeley power station.

Here are a few pictures of my last effort. The circuit did get finished (although not the scenery) and I was able to operate trains. Some sections are in store waiting for the day they can be put back together.

Perc.

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2014-12-30 004.JPG

2013-03-30 002.JPG

2013-04-07 001.JPG

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Perc, you have a wife in a million there!

I've seen people make use of all kinds of spaces to build a model railway but it's the first time I've ever seen anyone running one around the walls of the marital bedroom. The idea itself is awesome!

Hopefully you can get the outbuilding roof sorted to give you a proper space for a layout and yes, I'd certainly recommend running it outdoors too if that's at all possible. I'm not sure what part of France you are located but it's bound to receive more sunshine than here in the UK. You certainly wouldn't regret incorporating an outside line or two - nothing you can do indoors can equal the results obtained outdoors with natural scenery and natural light.

It's good to see a rake of MGRs in your photos though they were generally hauled by 56s, 58s, 60s, and 66s into the Aire Valley power stations upon which my attic layout is supposed to be based.

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12 hours ago, mick said:

I've been having difficulties with the airbrush lately in that it sometimes doesn't want to spray very well - not good for an airbrush! After use I always spray through with plenty of white spirit to clean away excess paint but clearly that's not sufficient. I decided last night to dismantle it and immediately began to worry if I could manage to put it back together again! I did manage that in the end but what I found was the needle had clogged with dry paint, proving my point that flushing through isn't enough and perhaps occasionally it's best to totally dismantle and thoroughly clean. Maybe that's what you're supposed to do anyway? Hopefully it will be working well again today now that's it's been well cleaned.

I see from advertisements in local modelling magazines that you can pay an awful lot for a 'quality' airbrush but the ones I have came as a package including 2 airbrushes and the compressor which cost me well under £100 for the lot. For my needs they are easily good enough providing I can keep them clean and operating well.

I strip mine down after every use and quite often between paint batches! - probably why I don't use it as much as I could - its labourious. I just cant seem to get a perfect paint mixture (always just too thick or thin) and without somewhere I can sit down and concentrate properly, I'm not going to get the best results. Having said that, I don't get great results from a spray can - which I now tend to use for underframes. I am also very aware that airbrushing is bad for my respiratory system - even if done in a well ventilated kitchen! Guys - always wear a respirator or mask when working with an airbrush! For bodywork and roofs, I now use powders & Pigments, rather than paint, although, these tend to disappear when varnished :?.

 I bought some tiny, what look like, bottle brushes, from Squires, which help clear nozzles.

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11 hours ago, mick said:

Perc, you have a wife in a million there!

I've seen people make use of all kinds of spaces to build a model railway but it's the first time I've ever seen anyone running one around the walls of the marital bedroom. The idea itself is awesome!

Hopefully you can get the outbuilding roof sorted to give you a proper space for a layout and yes, I'd certainly recommend running it outdoors too if that's at all possible. I'm not sure what part of France you are located but it's bound to receive more sunshine than here in the UK. You certainly wouldn't regret incorporating an outside line or two - nothing you can do indoors can equal the results obtained outdoors with natural scenery and natural light.

It's good to see a rake of MGRs in your photos though they were generally hauled by 56s, 58s, 60s, and 66s into the Aire Valley power stations upon which my attic layout is supposed to be based.

I've just showed Angela your post, and pointed out to her that it is true, but it's all down to the training she's received over the past 34 years!

When I started spotting, the 56s didn't exist, let alone the 58s, 60s and 66s. MGRs were hauled by 47 3xx or class 20s, and from what I saw in Toton yard, peaks too. I lived down  in Staffordshire in those days and my observation was MGRs to Rugeley or Ironbridge. The 56s and Westerns are my two favourite classes, probably because the Westerns were being withdrawn when I started spotting and a little later the 56s were built. It was exciting going round Doncaster Works and seeing their construction and the Sunday trips seeing the new locos at Shirebrook, Westhouses and so on.

I live near Le Mans and the weather is similar to the south of England, although perhaps a few degrees higher. I'd love to get something going outside, we'll see how things pan out this year, it's a shame to have stuff packed away in boxes.

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12 hours ago, ba14eagle said:

I strip mine down after every use and quite often between paint batches! - probably why I don't use it as much as I could - its labourious.....

It's certainly a pain cleaning out after use when you're doing small batches at a time so I'm going to leave it until I have a good number to weather before doing the next ones. I actually use one of those small spray booths with filters inside which certainly helps when using it up in the attic or out in the shed. I try to do the spraying outdoors whenever possible, still using the spray booth, but you need calm conditions and it helps if it's a bit warmer too.

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1 hour ago, Perc said:

I've just showed Angela your post, and pointed out to her that it is true, but it's all down to the training she's received over the past 34 years!

When I started spotting, the 56s didn't exist, let alone the 58s, 60s and 66s. MGRs were hauled by 47 3xx or class 20s, and from what I saw in Toton yard, peaks too. I lived down  in Staffordshire in those days and my observation was MGRs to Rugeley or Ironbridge. The 56s and Westerns are my two favourite classes, probably because the Westerns were being withdrawn when I started spotting and a little later the 56s were built. It was exciting going round Doncaster Works and seeing their construction and the Sunday trips seeing the new locos at Shirebrook, Westhouses and so on.

I live near Le Mans and the weather is similar to the south of England, although perhaps a few degrees higher. I'd love to get something going outside, we'll see how things pan out this year, it's a shame to have stuff packed away in boxes.

You are clearly an excellent tutor and you have a first class student!

I was never interested in trains as a youngster but started work on the railway just as the 56s were beginning to replace the 47s on coal traffic and the HST's were displacing the Deltics on the ECML. It was all an entirely new experience for me and yes, I suppose it was exciting too at the time. I'd never been up close to a locomotive before, never been on the footplate in my life, and yet all of a sudden there I was in the cab of a new class 56 at the head of a coal train thrashing its way down the mainline passing Deltic's going in the opposite direction. Being new to me, I think the sound of the Deltics, class 56s and HSTs in those early days will live with me forever and that's the experience I am trying to recreate.

Regarding layouts, it's usually a solitary hobby, unless you're part of a model railway club, but I suspect many of us are lone modellers working in our attics, sheds, gardens, and bedrooms!, but our motivation comes from sharing what we do with others such as on a forum like this. I find that documenting progress on here, no matter how small or trivial, keeps me motivated and maintains my enthusiasm. I'm not sure I would have achieved the same had it not been for this forum and the people on it. Join in and I doubt you will have your stuff packed away in boxes for much longer, though do Angela a favour and keep it clear of the bedroom.

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On 29/03/2020 at 17:54, Perc said:

Here are a few pictures of my last effort. The circuit did get finished (although not the scenery) and I was able to operate trains. Some sections are in store waiting for the day they can be put back together.

Those are great photos, Perc.  Can't wait to see what you can do when you get the new territory.  All those diesels look great, and the cat(s) too.  I would echo Mick's comment that your new plans should include a garden section, as there's a lot of benefit from daylight and extra space, not to mention that the scenery is probably already there!

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I'd like to be able to say I've made further progress with the MGRs but alas, there's been very little for the past day or two, mainly because of the cuts to the tips of my fingers though fitting the instanter couplings. I would like to be able to complete the second MGR set by fitting the remaining couplings but I'll have to leave it for a day or so more.

What I did manage today was to remove the remaining MGR wagons from their boxes and put them on one of the storage roads, after removing the HST and 100t tanks from the layout to make the necessary room. If I can make use of them all then there should be 2x36 wagons sets, 1x35 and 1x34, but that depends on using the 4 that were destined for spares. Many of the wagons were purchased in used condition and it amazes me why some people paint the insides of the hoppers black (it hardly resembles coal), or why I have half a dozen or so with red and yellow paint in and around the tops of the hoppers. Not to worry, what can't be removed can be disguised with the weathering and what parts are missing can either be made or hidden towards the non-viewing side of the layout.

Because of my lack of progress with the wagons I really wanted to make a start on something a bit easier on the fingers and so this evening I started weathering 58048. I've only attacked the body itself so far as I prefer to airbrush the chassis and perhaps the roof as well. I'm trying not to go overboard with the weathering and have already returned to it after taking some earlier photos and considering it too heavy. It's not too bad now that some of the previously heavy areas have been lightened, in fact with the weathered wagons in tow it's beginning to look the business.

20200330_212949.thumb.jpg.10a2fa9365920ae22c64e102b0d3a53d.jpg

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3 more MGR's have now been fitted with instanter couplings which I think brings the total to 22 leaving only another 14 for me to convert. The set is currently standing on No.1 road in Skew Bridge Sidings and can be seen in the following photo. The 14 canopied wagons awaiting my attention are immediately behind the loco.

20200331_174610.thumb.jpg.2f9414734f6eaaa99b8672f6ad74e282.jpg

I've been following in  @chris footsteps today applying a small drop of oil to the axles of the HTA wagons in order to rid them of an annoying squeak. I've also been fine-tuning the couplings, some of which haven't been secured properly leading to occasional uncoupling. Most of the HTAs were purchased second hand so a little work is to be expected in order to get them running the way that suits me. I could do with a supply of spare couplings as half the HTAs are fitted with tension locks and half with Bachmann E-Z mate couplings. I much prefer the more realistic buckeye type but there seems to be several types and lengths and right now I'm not sure which is the correct one.

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This evening 56095 'Harworth Colliery' received a wash of enamel as the first step in its weathering. Unfortunately I was just a little too enthusiastic with the cleaning off and I've lost a small part of the coal sector logo, but who's to say that it wasn't like that in real life. Maybe I can touch it back in or maybe I'll just leave it as it is. 

Again, as with the class 58 yesterday, I've done just the body and will leave the chassis until I get the airbrush out later.

20200331_203838.thumb.jpg.2ff850a15da4ed897b6f674fe25e4916.jpg

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No photos today and just a quick update.

I've fitted instanter couplings to another 5 MGRs, 4 of them being ones that were destined for spares but they look okay and with a bit of weathering they should be fine. In a train it's not going to be noticeable that a few underframe parts are missing. Real coal has been added to the moulded loads on a further 8 wagons that had been most recently weathered. Before I could do that I had to go out into the garden with my box of real coal, place a quantity inside a folded cloth and, using a wooden mallet, smash it into smaller pieces. I then sieved the crushed pieces to obtain fine coal destined for the 'power station' and put the remainder through a larger sieve to obtain 'house/domestic coal' to be used in my HEA's and PFA containers. The larger pieces were returned to the box for next time.

On what will become one of my empty MGR sets I've spent the evening removing red and yellow paint that the previous owner had managed to get all over them. I had thought of using them for the loaded set so that the paint splashes wouldn't matter so much but I had some other wagons with the door detail inside the hoppers broken off so it was best to load them and keep the painted ones for the empties.

I'm already planning my next project and intend giving the MGRs a break while I set to work on the aforementioned HEA hoppers and PFA containers, both of which will be in loaded condition. I'll be getting my little box of real coal out again shortly.

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