Sunday, 29 March 2020

Wiring the Southern Region micro

One of the lock-down jobs has been to tidy the wiring on Dury's Gap here. I'm in a bit of a mess with layouts - the house is small and railways however compact, are bulky things and I've spent the last week trying to shift things around to make space for yet another one. I think I'd almost be happy for someone to buy absolutely everything except the toolbox so I could start with a blank page. Anyway...

One of the things that got noticed while moving DG was the loose wiring. To be honest the whole layout is scrapbox: regulars will know that the board is the old Morton Stanley carcass which as you can see was made from scraps of MDF from old layouts, s/h screws and timber from skips. Even on this second layout the wiring is tat: redundant layout wire, speaker cable and even odd bits of mains wire make the whole thing go.

I fired up my Woolies mini glue gun, twisted the cable sets together and blobbed most of them flat onto the underside of the board. The only things dangling now are the main feed in to the 12v and the link to the FY. The usual thing now is to use a bit of plug chocky strip to clip this to one of the corner blocks, tidy for moving, but with a layout-build looming and a limited amount of this in stock (who knows where I'll be able to get anymore soon) I just looped this around things. Not super tidy, but at least not all dangling now.

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Saturday Ramble - lock down life

Day four of the UK lock-down - though some people are taking this with a pinch of salt. Mrs F. has now decamped her office to the kitchen which is err... lovely. I have now discovered that 'work' is chatting, sending book recommendations and discussing home schooling. At least 10% of the day must be spent asking how people are on the phone. Who'd have known?

Back at the sharp end, which is basically the office, it's 7mm city and a tidy of small jobs. I'm quite enjoying it all. There's no work as such where I have to leave the house anyway so I've retreated to default of modelling, going for a 'Boris walk' to get a paper and a little early garden tidying. In other words, exactly what I'd be doing during any other late March. Aside from not being able to cross over the county line to bother Mr Hill for a day, nothing is different. For a generally anti-social bastard like me, this is a gift. Maybe it is now time to go full belt into making stuff for other people.

There are questions about the lack of exhibitions. Will they re-start and how? Will the loss of this year's show drive some clubs to the wall? It might be questionable that you base your year's income on the flip of a coin at a two day exhibition. Weirdly in all this, only this week I've had two new invites for later in the year; not to mention the promises of re-booking for next year when the cancellation call has come. Whether these new booking will happen is fairly 50/50. The cancelled shows stop in September and these are both October. Whatever happens we will be resetting the whole idea of a club show and as I have mentioned several times on here pre-Covid, the UK exhibition system is possibly due for a slim down anyway.

Lastly. What can I do with seven wooden discs, 6mm thick and 50mm across?

Friday, 27 March 2020

Film Friday - Foxfield

The embryonic preserved line. I have no idea what the loco is.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Baseboards for O gauge

Baseboards for O gauge
Well, it's deja vu all over again...
Or possibly the same meat and different gravy (that is, if you could get any meat). Three baseboards to knock together from White Rose. They fall together except fitting the top which requires a tiny bit of filing to reduce the tenons. Better that way around. This time two 900mm units and one 1200 dragging the total out to 3m - a little larger than Hopwood, but just a tad too big for the workshop. I think the best description would be 'robust'.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

O gauge track planning

O gauge track planning
Time to get serious. A rummage in the box from Devon and some track appears. Paper templates are all well and good, but it's only when you get the 3D stuff out onto the plan that you realise how big O gauge is and how tight it's all going to be. It's not as if it can't be done, and there's really nothing new here, but once again I'm playing with things for the first time (last time in the late 80s I built all my own stuff) and it takes a while to get your eye in.
Essentially it's the Ahearn Gammon End track plan which I've used more than once, so hardly ground-breaking. Nevertheless, with this little relative area to deal with even something simple can get squished very quickly.

What concerns me with this is the outside situation. In theory I have enough stuff to get about halfway though. I'd over egged the track a little - easier to give some back - but what if it doesn't work or I run short of things with everyone at home?

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

All quiet now

It suddenly dawned on me how quiet it all was. I live in a sound-free hollow half way up the South Downs so there is rarely any traffic noise. What I do get is aircraft as I'm under the landing stack circle for Gatwick. In the morning and evening there are usually at least eight planes flying round in decreasing circles waiting for a slot and littering the sky with vapour trails. Now, nothing. The last time I can remember this happening was when the Icelandic volcano blew and grounded all flights.

I am now aware of the crows and wood pigeons jumping between the blossom laden cherry and apple trees in my neighbour's garden and the hollys in mine. On a clear day like today I can normally pick out the orange easyjet tailfins as they power down. Today it's a clear silence. I have to say it's a much better world for it.

Monday, 23 March 2020

Repurposing old rolling stock

A little while ago my father-in-law passed away. He'd done a bit of railway modelling years ago, but had changed to R/C boats. In one of the drawers in his office we found his railway junk pile. Mostly pre 1980s items and quite a mixed bunch. A lot of this was probably worth a fortune to collectors, but who cares, so about 80% went in the bin or has been passed on to a couple of people. I kept a few selected pieces of interest. The Tri-ang quasi-American box cars were running on the dumb axle bogies. These were levered off and thrown. There has always been a possible US layout on the cards as I have the stock and these could be re-purposed as background scenic items if suitably doctored.

The Airfix Lowmac appears to be a very early example and is quite crude in places compared to other wagons in the range. However, with some paint and a load of sleepers it would drop onto Dury's Gap and be an awkward shunt.

This was the peach of the pack. Hard to date, but I believe the Peco Wonderful Wagons were produced from the 1960s until quite recently. The chassis is way ahead of the curve and would have put its contemporaries to shame.

The top half is a curate's egg. A mazak box with holes to 'melt' the chassis pegs into and then card overlays which extend the box upward - in this case to 7 planks. This means that the top three have begun to move inward. I recon this is worth a restoration. My only problem would be trying to get styrene and some Bachmann tension-lock couplings to stick to the slippery engineering plastic of the chassis.

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Saturday Ramble

As it is with model railway clubs, many of my friends come under the 70+ self isolating banner and are now going stir-crazy after one day. Me? Loving it. I can still do stuff within reason, but it's quiet and all of a sudden some of the pressures are off, as in as of now I don't actually need to leave the house for the next eight months. I'm all but unemployed and there are no exhibitions left to go to.

What does this mean? I feel we are about to have a global reset and with my usual Tigger attitude I see this as a good thing. Miss Turnberg must be gleeful - 'you said you couldn't afford to cut the CO2 output'. We have now. As far as the general subject of this blog is concerned, life goes on pretty much as normal in that I'm making stuff and painting baseboards, being partially restricted doesn't bother me too much as long as the paint and glue doesn't run out. This week has been tidy some things and finish off a few bits and bobs. The black paint has come out and the latest 009 has been done as well as a colour change for Orne. Without any screaming deadlines I can add a few details to Hopwood and as of April 1st I can start the O gauge. There is another book floating on the horizon and the one just done to proof read when it turns up; so busy times.

Could this be a new dawn for modelling? I was talking the other day about the splits in the hobby. Which are in crude terms: the finescalers, the faster exhibition layout builders, the long term home layout builders and last but not least the people who buy red boxes and show them on youtube. The first group are shrinking fast, through age and the fact that the RTR has caught up. The second (which is where I'd put me) will have to rethink. The third group will grow. and the forth...? Well I'm sure matron will be along shortly with some milk.

If we are to be under this partial house arrest for a while then two things may happen: group two will morph into group three as there will be no point in building quick exhibition layouts. It will become build a home layout that could be shown - in other words we will return to the 1950s. The other thing will be that the Chinese production may fade and materials may go up in price or be hard to get hold of. So essentially we will go back to the 1940s. Less buying, more pure model-making and scratch building from wood card and scavenged material. This could be good. We shall see.

Friday, 20 March 2020

Film Friday - Nant-y-glo

Nick Wright's very compact and action-filled Nant-y-glo. Standard gauge and narrow all on a 4'x2' board which if I remember fits into a sports car alongside the glamorous blonde girlfriend.

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Painting baseboards

Painting baseboards
Before the O gauge build begins in earnest I'm trying to do a few jobs that have been put off. Here the painting of the latest 009 board plus the FY for Orne; a nifty bit of small brush work around the pre-stuck battle honours. The shift to an exterior paint has been detailed earlier, basically because there was some left over from Mrs F. painting the garage door frame. As far as exhibitions (remember them?) are concerned it's more knock and scuff proof than the emulsion that I used to use.