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Out of Africa! (Or Letters from Uncle Dick)

Posted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 7:09 pm
by Trevor Coburn
Well that’s the end of another decade, so I thought I would share a further extract from one of “Uncle Dick’s” letters. (previous extracts can be found here: )
………………….the boiler from the KS Wren is in better shape than first thought, so because of the failure of traction motors on both the electric locos, I decided to take a chance of lighting a fire in the boiler to see if we could raise steam. The two small I.C. loco’s (Motor Rail of c1920 and O & K of 1943) are struggling with the work. Anyway steam raising was a success, and the loco has been put to work…………………….
The other day (25th Dec) I received a message from the shipping agent that there was a large crate at the docks for this site. So decided that I was due some time off site so made the trip to the docks to see for my self. Guess what! Some “bright-spark” in the London office has decided that we need some road vehicles…. What they have shipped is some second hand Bedford ‘0’ series tippers. Luckily they have been reduced to CKD kits, but even so moving and handling is going to be a “challenge”. But of course no one at H.O understands the practicality here!
After unpacking and a quick bit of measuring I found that the frames & axles would just fit on one oft the bigger flats. We fitted the wheels temporally built a couple of ramps and pushed the chassis over the flat. Then the road wheels were taken off and the Wren pulled the lot back to base workshop. Now I have two more challenges…..1 get this truck re-assembled, 2 get a crane built to handle the concrete blocks the ‘Civils’ guy is now wanting to use (he’s got a surprise when he gets back from his leave, he’ll have to start building some roads else the Bedford is just going to sit here……………………)


Uncle Dicks’ letters seem to have turned up in batches, I have had to “edit” some of the “politically incorrect” phrases from them. So here’s another extract:

………………. Yet more surprises! (but then very little here now surprises me………..the ****** work force being capable of doing anything ………)
Apparently there is a crane / excavator on it’s way, again being shipped in pieces, but that could take some months……………….. the Bedford’s assembly is going on pretty well so far we have found all the parts. But unless I get some paint on it soon (when /if it ever stops raining) it will rust like ******* and end up the colour of the ********* !
The worst surprise is that “H.O” are sending an accountant (hatchet-[person]) out here to try and understand why the project is taking so long ………… even worse it’s a woman! That means a) we will have to build some civilised accommodation for her. b) find away of keeping her safe from not only the [indigenous] work force but also the few expats here! (I hear through the grape vine that she is quite a looker!)…………………….

The rest of Uncle Dicks letter is not suitable for a family audience, just think what would be going through a young mans mind in the circumstances!!! :shock: :oops: :D
The real story is that “Santa” brought me a 1:24 Emhar Bedford kit. I have started build it (despite trying to resist). It is a long time since I built a plastic kit (in any scale) and have got to say it makes a change. The instructions are a set of exploded drawings, but this is helped by all the items being numbered on the sprues. The kit is I suggest very amenable to bashing into other things. That they lasted so long is a testimonial to the original builders. I also remember in the 1950’s and early ‘60s seeing wagon loads of crated trucks on their way to the docks marked “Export”. It also helps having some practical knowledge of trucks. The tipper body does leave a way open to animation, but whether I go that way remains to be seen.
I did drive some “Thames-Traders” (Ford) in the late 1960’s, they also had 6 cylinder petrol (gasoline) engines, vacuum brakes & screen wiper. Driving down Highgate Hill in North London, in wet rush hour with a choice of brakes or screen wiper, was pretty unnerving for a 18 y.o.!

Using skip frames didnt work :oops:

Out of Africa

Posted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 7:22 pm
by joe gilmartin
Oh how I love a good back story........
Great work on the Bedford (I lust after one)
and I love your loco and followed the story while you
were in Africa (how far to the LHS?)
your bespoke skips are also amazing
looking forward to more
(where Did you get those figures?)

steadily working on the Gnine crane
Jos Gilmartin

Re: Out of Africa

Posted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 10:17 pm
by Willow Creek Traction
joe gilmartin wrote:your bespoke skips

What does that mean? I'm not getting it.

Trevor Coburn wrote:But of course no one at H.O understands the practicality here!
Hey now, they do have their reputations to maintain. :wink: :roll:

Tervor, gotta love the imagination and creativity of Gn15 going into your story, adds to the texture and richness of this hobby. :wink: 8)

Out of Africa

Posted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 10:52 am
by Bilco
Hi Forrest - Happy New Year! Bespoke = custom built.

Posted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 4:39 pm
by Trevor Coburn
Joe ,Forest (and any one else who's intrested) The skips where based on this drawing: Image

Which is a scan of a photocopy, of a photo copy :roll: That has been in my collection from the mid 1960's. These are Robert Hudsons 'Rugga' skips. Allthough these are all 610mm gauge I know that many where built (or converted) to narrower gauges. If any ones intrested I will re-type the diamensions chart, The original is not sharp engough to scan.

I have know idea who did the figures, but picked them up last year at the local 'Box-shifter' (aka model shop) for about £8.00 ($14.00).......... They have had some surgery (scaled out at over 7 feet!) and a repaint. I am not over happy but they will do for now.

Posted: Wed Jan 06, 2010 9:33 am
by Pandy
Nice one Trevor, just catching up here after nearly a week, 7ft tall figures ? ok, wandering Dinka or Tutsi tribespeople then :) Everything at least up to your usual standards, when have you ever known a head office that knows exactly what happens at the sharp end ? :) :roll:

Posted: Wed Jan 06, 2010 10:18 am
by rockershovel
given comments about 'rubber-band' scales elsewhere, and since the rolling stock all seems to be scratch-built, why not just use a nominal scale that makes the figures the 'right' height ?

Posted: Wed Jan 06, 2010 10:40 am
by KEG
Since the Bedford Truck is in 1 : 24 it is probably easier to built / paint or buy suitable figures in that scale, than to change the Bedford kit.


Never heard of rubber-band-scales in Gn15 circles. Most people seem to choose a scale between 1 : 22 an 1 : 24 and stick to it.

I like the "Out af Africa" modelling attitude. Choose a timeframe, a geographical place and a transport purpose for the railways and start working on it.

Have Fun


Posted: Wed Jan 06, 2010 11:20 am
by Trevor Coburn
While "G" is well known a a rubber scale, all the stuff I am building is to 1:24 (within reason). But by carefully using different scales sizes (especialy with scenic items) many different ones can be used. On my 0 scale layouts (1:48 US & 1:45 European) I happily used UK 0 (1:43) stuff, as long as it wasnt side-by-side.
They have had some surgery (scaled out at over 7 feet!) and a repaint.

Both had around 1/2" (13mm) removed from their legs / waists, this reduced their heights to around a more realistic size.

And I am still not happy with the paint job.

Posted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 9:37 pm
by gfadvance

when you have a minute can you either provide a closer shot of the skip dimensions or as you offered type up the dimensions chart.


Posted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 9:46 pm
by Trevor Coburn
Gordon I'll turn it into a PDF & send you a pm.

That goes for any one else who wants it, send your email on PM & dependent on internet accsess later in week (back in Africa tommorow) :evil: will forward as & when.

Posted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 9:48 pm
by gfadvance
:D Thanks :D

Posted: Sat Jan 16, 2010 6:00 pm
by KEG
Those figures look like repainted (export models?) Bully figures

Originally they are close to 1 : 20 scale

Have Fun


Posted: Sun Apr 04, 2010 10:51 am
by Trevor Coburn
Well for those of you who haven’t got bored so far, (see also ) . Here’s another extract from one of “Uncle Dick’s letters;

……………..another of our finds (remember the Wren?) is a Ruston-Bucyrus 10RB crane, the crew recovered the remains of this iconic machine some distance away, we decided that the best way to move it would be to dismantle where it was (after we had cut all the vegetation from around & in it!) then lay some panels of portable track, and with the aid of some local semi wild life pull it back to base work shop. Here it will get ‘restored’ to working condition. This will then, stop us having to use some of the more hairy method of lifting heavy lumps of machinery!

After several month of modelling hiatus, I decided that I ought to build some thing, needing a crane for the concept layout, and with the stuff that John Garaty of this parish sent me earlier (Many thanks John) a start has been made. Having nothing more than a few basic tools and a dwindling stock of stryrene.
If I had been at “home” building would have been in brass, and it would have all the wheels and rollers turned. But cant do what cant be done! So progress so far. (By the way does any one know what size the track pads are?)



Posted: Sun Apr 04, 2010 12:12 pm
by gfadvance
Trevor, great work .... even more so considering conditions you are having to build this under.

Have sent you an e-mail with some info that might help re tracks - been trying to gather info for a bulldozer I want to build .... getting drawings appears to be impossible but starting to find some basic dimensions and this info I will send gives details of tracks/pads etc. Although not for a crane engineering principles and weight spreading requirements must be similar.

Posted: Sun Apr 04, 2010 3:08 pm
by Jon Randall
Generally, bulldozer's tracks have grippers running across the tracks and crane treads are flat.

Track sizes on cranes vary depending on the size of the crane but around 2' by 8" wouldn't be far off.

Bulldozer tracks come in a variety of widths depending on how hard the ground is but cranes don't so much as they don't tend to work on the softest or hardest ground so much.

Gnice start 8)

Posted: Sun Apr 04, 2010 3:47 pm
by chris69
Hi Trevor,
excellent lower you built.Can't wait to see the rest of the machine.

Hi John,
wanted to put my 2 cents worth in to the discussion.Crane tracks are usually wider then Excavator track,reason being is lower ground pressure per SQ inch for the crane .Thus creating a better more stable work platform and savings in cost when prepping the site for the lift.( also crane chassis generally have the ability to widen the footprint ,again to create more stability during the lift,i e being able to swing 360 degrees under load or walking the load)Width of the Excavator tracks depend largely on the work environment they will be used in.Specialty excavators working in extreme wet conditions may have extra wide tracks or even the so called floating track.
well all this goes back to my years as a construction manager Many many moons ago,before I came to my senses and went to sea......

Chris :roll: :roll: :roll: :oops: :shock: :lol: 8)

Posted: Mon Apr 05, 2010 10:11 am
by Oztrainz
Hi Trevor,
Just had a quick look at the video of the plinthed RB10 again.
Sprocket pad length - Approx 6 pads to travel the around the circumference of the end sprocket for an overal diameter of 2' across between the top and bottom of the tracks - 1/2 circumference of 2' diameter circle (measured as the distance from the ground to the top of the upper tread) gives about a 6" length/tread.
I also managed to catch some A4 sheets of paper on the tracks when I shot the video - a quick look at the paused video gives as a rough guess the tracks are just wider than the length of A4 sheet - say about 12"

Does that give you a ball park figure to work with?

Posted: Mon Apr 05, 2010 11:18 am
by Oztrainz
Hi Trevor,
among the still frames I liberated previously was this one.
showing the end sprocket and track I mentioned in the previous message.

Unfortunatrely the A4 sheets on the tracks wasn't among the other stillframes I extracted. I'll have another look at the video and see what I can "dig up" for you

Posted: Mon Apr 05, 2010 11:57 am
by Oztrainz
Hi Trevor,
Here's the best I can do fo photos showing the papers on the tracks

I hope this is good enough to get you started on the tracks.
If your plastic is short supply, how about some old jam tins for metal treads?

Posted: Mon Apr 05, 2010 6:02 pm
by Trevor Coburn
Thanks John, Just got to work out a way to make them! (and Jam here come in glass jars! :) )
Any way heres some shots as a CKD "Kit" two reasons for that; I have to get all the parts in my carry-on bag, and I will (one day) make it slew, luff & hoist. Still a mountain of detail, (some of wich I am racking my brain for. twas 4 decades ago when I last crawled inside & under one of these things, spaner & hammer in hand :shock: . )
And as partly put together using garvity!




Hopefull be some more later in the week

Posted: Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:08 pm
by foswaldy13
Trevor Coburn wrote: twas 40 decades ago when I last crawled inside & under one of these things, spaner & hammer in hand

Surely You mean 4 decades ago?? :wink:

Posted: Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:50 pm
by Trevor Coburn
:oops: :oops: :oops: It just feels like it some days! (Anyway who do you thinkg built the machines that Noah used to buildthe Ark?..........well the youngster all belive me when I tell them that! :lol: )

Posted: Mon Apr 05, 2010 8:48 pm
by foswaldy13
Trevor Coburn wrote::oops: :oops: :oops:

No need to feel bad about that, we all make typing mistakes, and I make more than my fair share.

I forgot to mention it earlier, but you have done a great job so far on the crane. Really nice modelling work :!: :!: :!:

Posted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 12:30 am
by chris69
Great job upper and lower coming together just fine.You are doing a great job.
A dumb question what are you building in the jungle world you travel to ?

Chris :lol: :lol: :lol: :shock: 8)