Sunday 11 May 2014

"Welsh Pony" project, finally ready to shoot the pics...

Wow, been a while since I've managed an update on here, but real life and work has somewhat got in the way of building work.  However, a burst of activity to try and complete the 'proper' shoots of the
railway project (motion blur photography using a camera rig, mounted on rails, travelling at the same speed as the model train) has led to me getting these miniatures to this stage.
First step, a new camera rig.  The original got lost, probably destroyed, over the winter during a clear-out of old props etc.  The need for a new rig led to the cannibalisation of an old (antique? pah) Triang 'Big Big Train' wagon from the 60's, leftover from the Britannia Model Village project.
Some cutting and bodging later, with some MDF and plywood, gave the below image, and a rig designed to support a D90 camera (the slot being designed for the baseplate from a tripod).
And below is the rig with the camera in place; not too bad, but the weight of the camera does leave it a tad unbalanced.
One of the main problems identified in the test shoot last year was the roughness of the track (which was toy track, all plastic), and the fact that the short lengths joined together with lengths of batton and coach bolts took an age to assemble.  For the reshoot, I decided to completely redo the straight tracks, and bought some 0 gauge flexitrack for this purpose.
The tracks were built up in the same way as last time, hot glued to planks of wood, which were glued to base pieces of fibreboard, then embankments formed with mountboard, covered in hanging basket liner, and the rails ballasted with sand.  The longer lengths of track (about 2 1/2 feet long) are joined in a simpler fashion this time, through the blocks seen supporting the boards above.

Once the sand had dried, it was dusted over with grey and black spray paint.
The sleepers are a bit too close together for narrow gauge, but blurred at speed, it shouldn't show up (as the test shots proved).
One thing the test shoots proved was that the loco looked a bit odd on its own, so I quickly built up a couple of simple carriages (they will only ever be seen blurred in the background, so don't need to be very detailed).
I designed the sides on the computer, printed them out and then fixed them onto mountcard.

With the windows cut out, the sides were mounted on thin transparent plastic, which were then covered with greaseproof paper on the back (so I wouldn't need to model interiors).
The sides were then assembled with ends and simple roofs, and sat on top of two toy coaches.
And now to finishing the locomotive; a rather rough, not particularly to scale rendering of the Ffestiniog Railway "Welsh Pony"...  Didn't need much to finish it off, or at least I thought that was the case.
Buying the new track had a problem; the crude toy wheels on the loco chassis wouldn't sit on the rails any more.  So I bought a new set of wheels from the second-hand sales section of the fantastic "Rails of Sheffield" model shop last year.
Trouble was, the new wheels were also, it turned out, too coarse for the track, and the axles 5mil too wide for the rails.  I slid the plastic wheels off the metal axles, trimmed down the plastic sleeves behind the wheels, and using an electric drill and a file as a basic lathe, turned-down the wheel tread so it would ride smoothly.
I then cut down the original toy wheels to provide mountings for the coupling rods (crude as they were, I didn't want to spend time fabricating more accurate replacements from scratch for a part which wouldn't really be seen in the planned shots).  This left the whole rear-wheel assemblies too wide, so I then had to use a minidrill with a grinding-attachment to remove some of the plastic from inside the body.

Still, after a winter in storage in two different houses, the only other bits left to fix were a couple of chips to the paintwork, and the vacuum break pipe on the footplate needed mending.  Considering the loco is built around a cheapo toy engine (posed above), and made mainly from card and a gravy granules container, I'm rather pleased by how "Welsh Pony" has turned out.

So, now the whole ensemble is ready for the photographs, and as sods law would have it, the original plan to shoot the pics whilst in Wales have fallen through (as we didn't make it there this weekend), and the back-up plan to shoot the pics today here in Yorkshire also fell through because of the rain and general bad weather.  Still, I've a couple of hours free tomorrow for the day shots, and might be able to get the night shots done on Tuesday, so fingers crossed...


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