Railway Modellers

5th February 2020

Practical demonstrations from members

The meeting began with Chairman Peter Cox paying tribute to David Knight, an outstanding modeller and long-time member and Secretary of the Association, who had recently passed away.


The main business of the meeting was to show case members own skills and modelling tips.


Glazing for models

Stephen Duffell opened the batting with a fascinating insight into how he glazes 4mm models using glass. Stephen has a science background and he has developed relatively straightforward techniques for using microscope slide cover slips, although he also said 35mm glazed photographic slide mounts could also be used. The trick is to use a diamond tipped cutter or ideally a tungsten carbide stylus (which can be obtained relatively cheaply as can the slide covers) where the cutting edge is more precise. Use of the model plans (where provided) help with curves using a designers’ template. Use of a bespoke plasticard template was also suggested. There is a degree of wastage as the cover slips are extremely delicate but the modelling effect is very convincing. Stephen fixes the glass in place with tiny spots, on the corners, of PVA (Tacky Glue) and he advised against using cyano type glues (super glue) as these can cause unwanted clouding (in glass or plastic glazing). Stephen also added that where frosted glass was required this effect can be achieved with spray etch. With lots of tips and details of the tools, materials and methods, Stephen’s techniques open a number of interesting options for modellers.


Digital Command Control (DCC)

Peter Cox outlined his return to modelling in recent years and the decision to go for digital control. He went through what he saw as many of the advantages as well as the range of systems available. DCC is not always as simple as some suggest but the opportunity to have sound added to the railway experience has been a great leap forward. Other benefits include the ability to run double (and triple headers) as a ‘consist’. Peter had selected the America NCE system and outlined some of the basic features of all such systems including the structure of CVs (Configuration Variables) which contain the settings for all the different functions (which include rod clanking, bells, whistles, flange squeal and much more.) He showed how the CVs can be altered to control volume and other effects. He then went on to demonstrate two of his US sound-fitted steam locomotives, including the simple compound loco which had two different sets of sound. For the articulated locomotive, even the syncopation of the beat from the two parts of the loco proved very convincing as they faded in and out with each other. Whilst acknowledging that DCC is not essential by any means, Peter encouraged members not to be afraid to dip their toes into the world of DCC; it can add a great deal.


Using LEDs in Model Railways

David Gotliffe spoke about the principles of LEDs, what they were, how they worked, how they differed from conventional bulbs and what opportunities they offer the modeller. An essential component in an LED circuit is the inclusion of resistors, and David de-mystified (most of) the electronic principles behind resisitors and how Ohms law can be used to determine the resistance required, along with a perhaps more straightforward ‘trial and error’ approach. Reminding many in the audience of physics lessons in days past, David talked us through an introduction to basic electronics (current, potential difference, resistance) in a simple and effective way. Throughout, he stressed the low cost of simple LED lighting systems and how, once the basics were mastered, great lighting effects could be achieved. With lots of practical tips on wiring and adjusting the effects for maximum impact, the illustration (and illumination) from the example of David’s Z scale building was more than convincing.


Making Trees

The final presentation of the evening was by Andrew Vaughan who talked us though how he creates the basic structure of trees from lengths of electrical cable using the example of a redundant kettle cable, duly stripped down to the bare wires. From these strands (and a considerable length can be used up) he demonstrated how the bundle of wires are twisted from the centre (leaving the bottom to form the roots). Working up the tree smaller clusters of wires are separated from the main bunch and then themselves twisted and separated in several successive steps, forming an ever-finer network of main branches, then smaller branches up the tree. He showed how longer bundles of branch wire can be twisted then folded back on themselves, then snipped at the fold and splayed out to create the basis for the tree canopy. When a basic shape is created, the trunk and main branches can be painted. Some may choose to use a hot glue gun to stiffen and thicken the trunk. Once this is done, Andy showed how he uses a Green Scene product called ‘postiche’ (used in making toupées apparently) can be used to form the very finest branches and twigs at the outer extremities of the tree. This is then sprayed (using Deluxe Materials ‘Scenic Spray’) before foam scatters of varying shades are sprinkled over the tree, with darker shades on the underside, lighter on top. Andrew referred to the numerous YouTube clips available on this technique. As with each of the evening’s demonstrations, Andy made the formation of a very convincing tree, look remarkably straightforward and certainly very effective.

All in all, an excellent and inspiring evening which highlights the range of talent and expertise within the Association’s ‘broad church’ and growing membership.


Gordon Woods