Saturday, 11 July 2020

Saturday Ramble - Price of model railways

It's all gone quite now the Spitfires have gone away. 
A conversation yesterday drifted to the new Bachmann 117 DMU. My opinions on Bachmann drive train engineering are a plenty, so glossing over that for a minute lets look at the price. The RRP is £314, though the dealers are all offering it for £267. To split the difference you are looking at a hundred quid a coach.  I'd like one of these in Blue Grey to go on the possible rebuild of Rhiw (see above) The 117s were solid South Wales units and a bit of a natural for this layout, but three hundred quid? 

I don't want to repeat Tim's review - pick up this months RM - but the detail is exquisite. However a huge inter-car coupling that makes the 1970s Lima tension lock look petite and there are switches to drop various electrical operations in or out. This is all very clever and may well appeal to a generation brought up on smartphones, but is this several steps to far? Operation of said DMU is thus: drive in - pause - drive out; are we into a sledgehammer and nut situation? There is also a 'special tool' required to release the inter-car couplers. Hands up the first person to mislay that at the end of an exhibition. I'm all too aware that I can sound like a luddite in these situations, but surely the very nice aesthetic mouldings driven by a quality set of gears (for experience says that this is likely to be the weak point) would please most buyers and would presumably reduce the price. Have we now got to the point where people will pay a substantial amount for stuff that goes flash-flash and chug-chug, but has the operational interest of a ping pong ball in a toilet roll?
A couple of people questioned me re the terminology used yesterday. There's not much on the net, but the initial search leads to here.

Friday, 10 July 2020

7mm scale station sign

This is another of those posts where I struggle with paint. The terrible trio of non-coverage: cream, red and white. OK so I'm not exactly doing myself any favours here and this is one of those instances, although minor, where if you want to go there, you wouldn't start here. 
The hoped for end result is the running-in boards for the O gauge. Perhaps not surprisingly, I've changed the name. Regardless of that I need to knock up a running-in board. There are no doubt special 7mm scale kits for this, but being a lifelong tightwad I'm looking at a few bits of plastic and some Slaters letters that were lurking at the bottom of the scenic stuff box. So far so good, except that the layout has a GWR/light railway vibe and every GW running-in board is white lettering on a black or dark blue back board. The later is easy enough, but the letters are made from black plastic. Black paint over white plastic is OK. White over black ain't. 

Thursday, 9 July 2020

New layouts

Apart from the fact that I'm still spluttering from the general welcome given to the Government's rescue package for the arts - it may be welcome to the (already subsidised) management teams of venues like the Royal Opera House who are employees, but the army of freelance technicians, light designers, sound engineers, actors, musos, dressers, set designers and so on won't get a penny.  These are the people who actually make it happen. If and when it all reopens, they will all have moved to other jobs. Completely misdirected.

Mr. Hill dropped by. Much chat about the current situation and how and what may happen modelling wise and the wider picture. What we agreed on is that it's hard to plan anything at the moment. Added to that there is no desire to build anything new or even revise anything old. The wholesale selling of stuff is looking more and more likely to create a clean slate and in some ways to try to kick start some forward motion. This is probably a bit drastic, but at the moment I'm unable to think of another way.
The above shows that the shed is done. The lack of detailed clutter is obvious and I need to fish around in the box to find some suitable items. The layout has now been broken down. This presented the opportunity to throw the layout that I started in 2018(!) up onto the empty trestles. Time and the building of two items for Peco now makes this look odd and I can't get my head around what I was doing and why I started it. It's strange how even such a relatively short period of time can alter the head space and oh so subtly change the perspective.

Monday, 6 July 2020

Small O gauge goods shed

Small O gauge goods shed

The 'unlikely shed' is being installed today with the steps to the platform the only thing to finish. This is the unpainted platform which has since been grotty'ed somewhat. The whole edifice jars a little, but with the obvious lack of front to back space as the controlling factor, set against the need for some sort of vertical feature to break up the plain and immediate backscene. The reality of the whole picture at this end is simply a short length of track to mask the storage area. In 4mm this could be fully developed; here in 7mm the space is only a little over an inch in front of the track and little more than three behind - compromised have to be made. That said, on modelling terms it's not been an unpleasant exercise. Essentially here and in other areas there is just some infill ground cover to do and some smaller platform items to finish off. At that point, the major questions arise.

Friday, 3 July 2020

Film Friday - Dury's Gap micro on video

I've probably put this on before, but I can't find it, so here it is... possibly again. 

Out of what remains this is probably my favourite.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Build your own shake the box kit

Southern Railway CCT

As a side project - which means it just sits on the bench for several weeks - I'm building a Parkside 4mm Southern CCT. I knocked one of these up for the book to your right. It's not a highly detailed kit, but will take as much polishing as you want, i.e. you can add a little extra peripheral brake rigging or you could go the whole hog with all the push rods. This time I've altered the build sequence. Beforehand the standard build-paint-decals routine was employed. This time I've taken the same idea as American shake-the-box kits do and I'm working the sides up with glazing and adding the decals on first before the body goes together. Whether this will be an improvement is yet to be seen.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020



The final building on Tiley Road is a very small goods lock -up. Quite frankly this is a little unlikely and in model terms is just there to fill a space and to stop the tail-end section being totally featureless. The inspiration is the shed that stood at Stratton and I found a couple of shots of it in a semi-derelict condition in a Chris Leigh book . Basic doesn't cover it. It was firmly rooted in the GWR's standard small building family with an end door and sliding side door, with a couple of small windows in the opposite wall. Where it scored in this case was that I could suggest most of this but make it more anorexic to fit the narrow space that I have at my disposal. The sides and ends are the same Will asbestos sheets, but I had to go with some Slaters material for the curved roof and side door. The rest is... scrapbox fare. Most of it has had a base coat of paint and I'm at the final coat and detailing now, though I'm leaving it deliberately vague. When done it'll sit on a low-ish brick platform as per the Stratton shed.

Monday, 29 June 2020

Some low relief building

Monday and time to crack on with the slightly low relief building for the Tiley Road tail end. Probably more on this later in the week. 
It's tough at the moment; I'm likely to be overstating as there are a lot more who are worse off than me, though while many are back at work (or haven't stopped) there is nothing on the horizon here. I last loaded the car and worked back in February. No furlough for us self employed artistic muso types, just a useless offer of nothing. So it's been savings and live of the immoral earnings of Mrs. F. ...not ideal and not good mentally. There is no likelihood of anything happening for the rest of the year. Pubs maybe opening, but if you read to the bottom of the conditions you will note that live music is banned and that applies from the Dog and Duck to the Palladium. The pubs, the weddings, the festivals, the theatre jobs that were in the book this year; all gone. Even the annual bookend of panto looks unlikely as I can't see how it could operate in any shape or form backstage with distancing, let alone the audience which is what the media keep focusing on. As you may have gathered I'm shifting to more stuff on this page and you may be able to see why. I can't afford to sit back and have to keep moving forward.
On a lighter note Mrs F. suggested a run out for a coffee to the Spa Valley here. Oddly I've never travelled on this preserved line though it seemed churlish not to spend a few quid to help them  by chucking some money into the pot for a drink on the platform. Even though they have made the effort to open up, they weren't exactly overwhelmed and my previous comments on exhibitions apply just as much to these preserved lines that many of us take for granted. A scoot back via Eridge to film the Victorian footbridge, after a tip-off from Stig that it will be removed this week. Looking at it you can see why, though this is generated by neglect not necessity. Note to self: although I took a whole series of photos here around the end of the Thumper DEMU era, I've not been back to take a closer look. Now could be the time to do this.

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Saturday Ramble

With the warm weather yesterday with its ability to get glue and paint dry in a matter of minutes I was able to get almost all the Tiley Road tail end board covered; just some tea leaving to go around the track. This puts me in a different place. I can now switch back to the small unlikely goods shed to fill the last small area and this end will be done. There's still quite a bit to do detail wise and I'm constantly reminded that the world situation has slowed this build down considerably, although you would think that it would be the reverse. 
The name is bothering me now. It was meant as a light joke, but the lack of reaction means that the gentleman concerned is either very unhappy or is suitably flattered. The problem is... I don't know which. Perhaps I just need to ask the direct question.
I mentioned video a few days ago and indeed yesterday ran such an item in place of the semi-regular unusual or period film. The reaction to this in number terms was remarkably good so I'll take that as a positive. This is something that I've become increasingly interested in: the youtube channel has been sitting there since 2012 and in the main is a few short clips of layouts that caught my eye at exhibitions and a couple of the layouts from closer to home. Most of these earlier items were shot on a fairly basic traditional Sony video camera - something which looks very clunky and outdated now. There are better options out here and when you consider that there are feature films being shot on iphone now, using something that is less punchy and is the size of a pasta box seems daft. 
The upshot of this is a perfect storm of circumstances: the current no-exhibition situation means my near future modelling will take a very different shape, my self-removal from Zuckerberg social media, at least temporarily  means I'm looking at a more package type of online presence (i.e. here and youtube). As yet I'm not sure what the final shape will be - certainly not a 'Sam's' type of box opening shape, but possibly something more like this; quirky and rambling. 

Friday, 26 June 2020

Film Friday - The Minerva Manning Wardle

While I'm not making a habit of doing box opening videos (no one sends me anything to open anyway) it was worth picking the camera up during the track testing to demonstrate yesterday's gushing report of this little beast. It does fit well with the brief of the layout, but at £255. is a little beyond my pocket at the moment.