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This week I achieved a long time ambition to visit Kanchanaburi in Thailand, better known as the site of The Bridge on the River Kwai. I was taken there by local Thai friends I had made in 2015 while working there, and the chance to revisit without having to go to work was too good to miss. Thai people are the nicest, kindest and most thoughtful people you could hope to meet, and knowing that I was keen to see the bridge, they took me up there for a couple of days. Walking around the cemetery was a peaceful yet moving experience. It is beautifully tended and kept in pristine condition, even after nearly 80 years. Some 13,000 allied prisoners perished building the railway line under the most extreme conditions of brutality. It should not be forgotten that the local forced labour also suffered, with an estimated 80 - 100,000 losing their lives. It is almost beyond our comprehension in this day and age. The pictures speak for themselves. I picked 3 lads at random to remind us, and ensure they are remembered with honour. (Should this cause any upset, I will of course remove the photos). They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them.
I am new to modelling, but not new to being creative. My background, as a young lad, was diesel mechanic, welder, and avionics (RAAF). Past 20 years has been in counselling (no hand skills required). Then, out of the blue, I got roped into, by the local maritime museum, to convert an antiquated lift-span bridge console to operate a model bridge. Then I discovered that they had no model bridge and nobody to build one. Then I found out that the museum is totally run by volunteers. So I end up volunteering to build a model bridge which can be operated by the real bridge's original console (1964-1995), and have the bridge set in a diorama display of 2400 x 1200 mm (8 x 4 feet). Yes, I have to build the diorama too. I have been doing this for several months now. I am still a long way from completion. My plan here is to post photos of progress by piecemeal. Both the console and bridge lack available schematic diagrams and drawn plans. So the whole modelling aspect will have to be scratch-built. As a result, I had to extrapolate the bridge measurements from numerous photographs, reverse engineer the console, and figure out how to operate the bridge. The current bridge operator was not allowed to tell how to operate the bridge, but was able to tell me what each switch did. From this information it took me a while to figure out the operating sequence. It is not a simply matter of raising and lowering the lift-span. There is much to consider in terms of safety, and in controlling the foot, road, and vessel traffic even before raising the bridge. Anyway, the first few months was spent in compiling the information needed. Then draw up plans (bridge) and schematic diagrams (electronics) for myself to follow. Actually I still have some unfinished problems to solve. The whole bridge fits nicely within the 8 foot width using a 1/72 scale. Here is a photo of the actual bridge: The console as it arrived at the museum: Proposed display layout: Yes, there will be a model boat traversing under the raised bridge-span. It is hoped that the museum display will be interactive by the visitors (mature or not). Meaning, that the display operations need to be, as far as possible, child-proof. The last thing the museum wants is someone purposefully lowering the bridge on the traversing boat . Or any other possible out-of-sequence operations. This has become a major headache for me. Finally, as an introduction, the museum is a non-profit organisation, so it has limited funding. My task then is to build this display as cheap, yet in good quality, as possible. So please excuse my choices of materials to do the task. Both the museum curator and president as given my free rein to do this project, which is great, because I work best without a boss. Though this project seemed daunting to me, I had also found it very satisfying to see it progress along. Hope you will also enjoy watching this work in progress.
All In my youth I had the Matchbox version of this with the bridge that went up and down, so when I saw the conversion by S and S Models I had to have one http://sandsmodelsshop.com/product/172-psc-churchill-avre-sbg-conversion-offer/ and yes, I am unashamedly re-living my childhood!! The kit comes in 13 parts: 8 for the bridge (a combination of lead and resin) 1 A frame (lead) 4 for the winch (lead) My one aim above all else was to try and get it so that the PSC base model tank could carry the bridge into battle , drop it and then drive off, in the small scale battles I have with my young son. This meant I had to overcome two issues – reducing the weight of the bridge and weighting the tank enough so it didn’t tip over - and also devising a mechanism by which I could attach and detach the A frame, as the two small moulded lugs on the bottom are far too small and probably too soft for the job – the A frame was the hardest bit. On the whole the conversion was pretty straightforward but I wish I had spent time making sure the bridge parts were exactly the same length and properly square before I glued them together. Below are some photos explaining my journey. Enjoy!! Andrew ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Reducing the bridge's weight I did this by drilling and filing out some of the resin in between the struts. Stupidly, I did this after I assembled it, so got the angle wrong a couple of times. I now also wish I had spent more time with the filing out but I didn't want to risk reducing the structural integrity too much and it looks ok from a distance - you live and learn. Weighing the tank. Not having a lump of heavy metal lying around, this ended up becoming a three phase process - please try not too laugh too much but I am a newbie! 1) First I filled the base with some left over 2" pin tacks and glued the hull side on without checking if it was heavy enough - this turned out to be a bad idea! 2) After scratching my head for a while, I then hit upon the idea of filling the hull (through the small turret hole) with some left over brick mortar, as it would filter down in between the gaps between the pin tacks. Fast forward an hour of painfully slow pouring the mortar into the hull, after which I then slowly adding small amounts of water to help it set. I even did the same to the turret for good measure! 3) Step 2 was almost enough. However, the slightest nudge would tip it over, so i ended up gluing some sprue off cuts to the front just in front of the tracks. Whilst you wouldn't do this for a big display model it's unobtrusive enough for war-gaming. (Rusting pins in view) Converting the A frame This was the hardest (and scariest) bit. In the end I chopped the small lead lugs off and very carefully and very slowly drilled up inside the bottom of the lead A frame bases I then got some thick wire, bent it half and glued it up inside the hole, so that it's possible to put it through the holes on the ends of the bridge and then split the ends to hold the bridge in place. I also added a sort length of plastic tubing as a cushion on the bottom of the A frame. Again this is slightly obvious if you look closely! The finished article I've used black thread for the cables as a temporary measure for test purposes and the 'block and tackle' is a small swivel joint left over from my fishing days. I might also drill the barrel out if I'm feeling brave.
Now that I have the Typhoon completed, I can see I have enough time to do the build I REALLY wanted to do for this GB, a proper diorama. Here are some of the basic components to this dio: The Bailey Bridge kit is actually quite long - it contains 3 bridge spans plus two further spans on each side of the approach. All in all its about 600mmm long. That is way to big for a dio, so I'm only going to use about half the bridge, ie two bridge spans plus the two approach spans. This means the dio can fit on a 500x250 base. My idea is that a old stone bridge has been blown by the retreating German forces not long after the Landings somewhere on the roads around Bayeux, so a Bailey bridge has been erected to replace it. I have some ideas on how to make the scene interesting and will develop those ideas as things go along... inspiration usually hits when least expected during the build... This will be a good test of my landscaping abilities on a slightly larger scale than my usual bases. I want to concentrate on the flora and fauna as much as the vehicles, so will be pinching ideas from all over. It will also be my first attempt at water in a dio, which should be interesting. Don't know how long this will take, but the GB goes on until October it seems, so plenty of time now that I've got my initial entry out of the way, although my deadline will be early September as this can be my entry into my club's members competition in September, which this time around is Dioramas. I was originally thinking of doing a Thunderbird 2 dio but thats what most people would expect me to do, so Ill be deliberately contrary There is a strong chance that this build will fail, but if I don't have a go, I'll never have a chance of pulling it off!! Wish me luck!