I mistaken thought that I had managed to put any ideas of modelling in 7mm scale behind me. But a year on from my first experiments I find myself needing an even stronger magnifier to see what I am doing, the arthritis in my hands and fingers isn’t getting any better either. So small components are becoming even more difficult to handle and work, they are also being dropped on the floor more often, which leads to frustration at times. So having taken all things into consideration temptation got the better of me earlier this year and I ended up purchasing a Dapol / Lionheart 74XX Pannier tank. To be honest I had always wanted one since they first burst on the scene several years ago, so when they became available again at bargain prices I snapped one up. My thinking being that if a layout of sorts didn’t materialise then I could always sell it, 7mm models tending to hold, or increase in value. Dapol had also announced plans to produce examples of Collett’s 14/ 48/ 58XX family of tank engines, which more or less tipped me over the edge.
Photos of 1405 courtesy of Paul Marshall-Potter, those of 7444 by yours truly.
I also bought a three Dapol goods wagons and a few wagon kits to help me get a feel for the larger models. The Dapol wagons were purchased more as an aid to some speedy layout planning really. It is all very well plotting things out on paper, but sometimes a few items of stock come in more useful than card templates when checking clearances and accurate train lengths etc, etc. Previous planning exercises have proved that I could build a small 7mm scale layout in the space currently occupied by Llangunllo. But I needed to make doubly sure that I could build my sort of layout in its place before I thought about dismantling it. I will explain all about my sort of layout in a forthcoming post.
So I drew up a plan of action, I had already come up with a few layout plans but before getting carried away I set myself a few tasks. First of all I would build a wagon kit, followed by the shell for my intended station building, and finally I would try my hand at track construction.
I started off with this Peco kit for a GWR AA3 16T Brake van, which I prefer to the larger 20T cousins. Being slightly shorter it is ideal for the sort of layout that I have in mind. Despite the age of the kit, which dates back to the 1980’s the components are very nicely detailed and fit together extremely well. I also found the component parts easy to handle and for once I wasn’t constantly dropping things on the floor.
My first 7mm scale kit build waiting to be weathered, the transfers were purchased from Railtec-models, the Kington name being a custom job. According to my research W56010 was allocated to ‘Tondu’ and survived well into the late 1950’s. So once again I claim modellers licence, which explains how the van ended up at Kington.
So far so good, ‘Llanrhaiadr Mochnant’ station building was next on my list of projects. The actual building was situated on the Tanat Valley Railway, not that I have any plans to base my layout in that area. At this stage I just wanted to construct the shell of the building rather than a full blown model, The idea being to see what would, and what wouldn’t work in the space that I have available. This particular building was chosen for two reasons, firstly it is on the small side and secondly I feel that it is full of character. The prototype was built from corrugated iron sheet but I am thinking of modelling it as a timber building, and with a slate roof. At the moment the roof is a simple piece of thin card, which for the benefit of the photo has just been tacked in place. The proper roof will be made out of ‘Palight’ like the rest of the building.
The small extension on the left of the building is the ladies W.C, which in later years was removed and replaced with an extra office.
Finally a few thoughts on track, when my friends first became aware of my interest in 7mm scale the subject of S7 was mentioned. That was something that I quickly nipped in the bud, for I had no desire to change the wheels of locomotives and rolling stock, I had spent thirty odd doing just that whilst working in ‘EM’ gauge. So it was down to a choice of 32 mm, 31.5 mm or 31 mm gauge, I was advised to forget the former, steer clear of the latter, and to use 31.5 mm gauge seeing as would be building my own track. So I went shopping for track gauges, sleepers and crossing timbers would be 1.5 mm ply as supplied by Slater’s, I also used their rail. Rail chairs, slide chairs and fishplates were sourced from C & L Finescale.
A friend who has mastered ‘Templot’ printed out some track templates and away I went. Following my usual track building methods I glued the sleepers directly to the template, which will be glued directly to the track bed using waterproof PVA.
Despite the slightly narrower gauge, my hand built track actually looks wider than the 32 mm gauge track produced by Peco, which just goes to show how correct sleeper size and spacing affects the overall appearance. Being more than satisfied with the appearance of the plain track and turned my attention to a simple point. Once again I used my usual construction methods and started off building the crossing as a complete unit. However rather than build it up on thin copper strip as I would when working in 4mm scale, I used some 1 mm square brass.
Once the complete assembly had been soldered together it was cleaned up, rail chairs were slid in place and the crossing was glued to the sleepers using a mix of ‘Araldite’ for the brass strips, and Butanone for the rail chairs. This isn’t the place for a blow by blow account of point construction, and anyway there are plenty of tutorials on the internet. So moving on, what surprised me was how easy the job turned out to be, in fact I am convinced that it was far easier then working in 4mm scale. I believe that is down to larger components being easier to handle and work, a larger file can also be used which speeds up the removal of metal when making the crossing vee and switch blades.
After approx eight hours work, spread over a couple of days I had my first B6 point. Initial testing proved to be more than successful with both kit built and Dapol wagons gliding through the point ever so smoothly, as you can imagine I was really pleased. So what next? – well once the tie and stretcher bars have been fitted the point will be wired up with the aid of some jump leads and tested. If my Pannier negotiates it smoothly then the point and track that I have built so far will be glued down onto the track bed, and go on to form the first section of my proposed layout. A ‘Tortoise’ motor will be fitted and everything will be wired up correctly, then tested again. Ballasting will follow along with the staining of the timbers, the chairs and rail will be painted and first section of track bed will be attached to the baseboard frames.
These small projects have taught me a lot, best of all I have enjoyed myself and I think I am almost ready to let go of 4mm modelling. It is funny how my eye has now adjusted to the larger scale and now my 4mm models that look strange. I never thought I would say that but in my case it is true. As I type this the components of another wagon kit are awaiting assembly, I was warned that they could be addictive and so it has proved.