Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Conway Castle 009

Conway Castle 009
 A short return to the Conway Castle kit. In theory this should have taken about an hour in total - that's the theory. The fact is that with almost every part needing some sort of modification, either to have a grab handle fitted or altered to allow for the larger chassis than it was designed for. I keep putting it to one side and doing something else. This indicates that my heart isn't really in it although I'm sure when it's done it'll look OK trundling up and down on Orne (next outing March 2020). A rough impressionistic cab console has been knocked up from plastic, and I've pretty much decided to make new bufferbeams from the same rather than faff about altering the whitemetal ones.

In another place it has been noted that I haven't put up the Wycrail selfie. Well... you know when they used to put aging actresses into soft focus for close-ups? No, you're right, it doesn't improve these two either.

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Saturday Ramble - The ideal micro layout?

Quite some time ago I put a post up here featuring a Julian Andrews layout which featured in an issue of Scale Model Trains in nineteen-hundred and frozen to death. Fast-forward to last week and Nigel walking home from Wycrail clutching an (old) Hornby Terrier liveried for 'Bodiam'. There was some subsequent discussion and a certain level of buyer's regret, but I mooted that if nothing else it was a very sweet running mech to have as a spare for the Dury's Gap Terriers. I then remembered this layout, but couldn't initially recall the name of it. Looking at the plan again I can see that it would be perfect - indeed JA ran the thing with what were then the new Dapol Terriers subtly doctored to represent the Colonel Stephens locomotives from the WC&PR.

It would tick the box for a local one-day exhibition and here would easily bolt onto the Dury's Gap/Morton Stanley fiddle yard board. The brief would be this:
  • Direct lift of the track plan.
  • Peco small radius Code 75 points.
  • The new-ish Malton/Peco cricket pavilion kit which is an ideal base for a small light railway building if you discard the Taximan's hut roof, or even if you don't.
  • Misc. Wills buildings from the sub £6 scenic range, but would better to build from scratch to give more character.
  • An excuse to run all the odd pre-group wagons that we all have in stock PLUS some Ratio 4 wheelers or the forthcoming items from Hattons. Bogie coaches would look out of place.
  •  If you were stupid enough to try it you could even flip the entry to the right and make it double exit using the road at the back as the second one. 
As an aside the basic shape would only be 66" x 21" in O gauge, though there are traps in that you'd quickly be into building your own pointwork to directly mimic the 4mm scale plan exactly. This wouldn't necessarily be a problem and would in fact make it more attractive as an exhibition piece for not using the RTR track sections. Using ordinary Code 100 rail for this would lighten the look with dummy spike heads from plastic strip.

The more I ponder this it's starting to look like a plan of the month. *reaches across to the red phone with the hotline to the RM office*

Friday, 8 November 2019

Film Friday - Slate quarry clips

The usual slightly twee narration, but there are a couple of cracking vintage clips buried in here - look out for the quarry workers riding up the rope incline on what looks like slab wagons. H & S be damned. I've never seen this modelled even as a static. Also a few familiar faces especially for Midlands model shop customers.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

5 year plans revisited

Regulars will know that I'm running an epically long tidy up of old posts on here, relabelling some and making them easier to find and cross reference. Pointless? Maybe, but it is interesting for me in that I keep finding things that I'd forgotten (and some which I'm trying to forget and which get deleted). A case in point is here ; the possibly original five year plan devised by self with often layout building  accomplice Nigel Hill and written in 2012.

What is noticeable now having re-read this several years on from writing it is how much actually got done, and probably more pertinent; what didn't. Svanda NSB got built and is still with us, the 0-16.5 got built in the shape of Morton Stanley and isn't, and Rhiw got built and also isn't - though this has partially risen again in the shape of Hopwood courtesy of those nice people in Devon. Later in the text the Art of Compromise gets a mention and that has also been built and disposed of. And yet the first on the list: the American, has failed to become a reality despite having 90% of the materials needed. Why I'm not sure. For some reason that all important mental coming together of picture, materials and outlying plan hasn't quite got there yet.

Notable built absences are the 'Early British' this was designed to be a pastiche 1860s layout, and some bits and bobs have been gathered though it has so far failed to get the green light. Though the SR branch is now looking possible after the half built GWR.

This updated list may well now read:
  • (Finish Pen-lan)
  • GWR branch terminus
  • SR branch terminus
  • Southern Pacific Californian HO
  •  Something Germanic as Nigel has a base stock roster
  • N gauge WR
The wildcards are another 0-16.5 - again things in stock. An O gauge light railway - easy to get into that mindset much more now than before with RTR Terriers  costing barely more than OO scale locos.

All this does underline that the basic thrust of a long term plan for buying etc does work and most of the above save the O gauge could be done at negligible cost. I just need to live long enough to do it.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

009 scenic work

One of the repeated comments that I get about this page when I'm chatting at exhibitions is that it's 'real'. I'm not sure that I really know what that means, but I take it that it's warts and all and not just pretty finished models - not that there are any pretty models here. The above is a bit of a case in point.

Some things I can just breeze through without a care in the world, some things just seem like hard work as I can't see the finished product or even how to get there. This could be a matter of compromise (the most oft used word here). I'm on a deadline so I can't do what I'd like on this and build the whole thing out of individual card slabs - there simply isn't time to do that; I've done it before on Garn and Wood End and I know just how long it takes. So it's Slaters sheet walling for speed.

 The problem is the capping. I tried a sausage of DAS, but couldn't get it dainty enough - it needs to be around 3mm deep - to slice it up while still damp into what could look like upright slabs. In the end I may have to resort to individual card pieces laid on at a time - the fat end of four feet's worth....joy.

I'm at the point where taking up golf suddenly looks appealing.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Wycrail model railway exhibition

The final Svanda outing this year. Wycrail in Bucks. Split over two floors it's quite a sizable show and the quality is generally high with a few reservations. We got the staircase unload, into the upstairs sports hall which wasn't as bad as expected. Now normally we are the 'different' layout in the room as there aren't too many Norwegian layouts about, but now there are two with Norge set up a few feet away. It has to be said that this is a very different approach to Svanda with DCC, catenary, mooing cows and pecking chickens so it gains ummm…. a different  audience. We did consider putting a sign up  saying 'can you spot the SWB Land Rover' but this failed to materialise.
Two enquires flooded in and as usual I got the full panoply of people's Scandinavian holiday snaps while Nigel got questions about the rock faces. Phil Parker rocked up and chatted for a while and it has to be said that I spent most of the day talking rather than operating. 

My favourite other exhibit was this. Compact and done just right. Bigger and it wouldn't have improved, smaller and it would be cramped. Although it underlined my previous comments on front operation with a too acute angle of vision making it hard to shunt.
Loser of the day was a Bristol Goods shed layout in BG 0. Stunning stock which would have been lovely to look at if you could see it. Pure prototype situations are good, but... if the stock is either in the fiddle yard or under  a large overall roof that you have to crouch down or look around the back to see inside, then it doesn't work as an exhibition piece.. OK if you were 3'6" high or had an L shaped neck I suppose, but a complete exhibition fail which was a real shame as the modelling work was superb. Stuff that good needs to be presented in its full glory.
Exhibition 9
Lunch 9 (Chilli spuds and gateaux very nice)
Rucksacks (family audience and a fairly low 3)

Friday, 1 November 2019

Hopwood fiddle yard

Hopwood fiddle yard
With the fiddle yard roads now expanded and spread out somewhat there was a likelihood of stock falling off the edge. I'd meant to add a final finishing piece to the back of this board anyway, but had run out of time before the Peco shoot (this month's Railway Modeller) and as it wasn't exactly critical to this, it drifted away into the distance. With a return to said organisation later in the month it was time to sort out this and a couple of wiring extras.

A simple enough job. I'd calculated that the minimum height over the board top to stop a DMU tipping off was an inch or so giving an overall height of 5.5" x 900mm long (I can hear the pedants gnashing their teeth). Don't forget that the boards are White Rose metric sizes not the standard CF 45 or 43". I had some of the pva left over from White Rose which is better than the usual wood glues that I use, so a layer of this and a few pins fixed the new piece to the back of the board. A couple of coats of exterior black paint and I'm done.

The boards are very heavy. People laugh when I say that I use MDF and start shouting about weight. If this is the alternative then I'll stick with my method. These 900 x 400mm boards are 9mm ply and when the two main ones are paired up to carry they are almost un-liftable. Comparing this to the Svanda boards in similar combination which are longer and slightly wider, this doesn't make me want to rush toward plywood. Beautifully made yes, lightweight no.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Svanda at Wycrail

Skd 224 on Svanda HO scale model railway
This morning some upgrading of things on Hopwood for it's debut later next month - mostly on the woodworking front. Then across the county line post lunch for a check on Svanda which has its final showing this year at Wycrail on Saturday - we're hoping for an empty-road drive as people get up and watch the rugby before they hit the motorway. Aside for a lost wing nut, all went reasonably well and we decamped to the fixed Southern branch line in another room - running, but scenically unfinished. Wycrail is an unknown quantity either as a punter or exhibitor , but the reputation is good. All I know is that there are stairs to get up.

Wycrail website here

Monday, 28 October 2019


I went to ExpoNG very much with my Editor's hat on (no, not the red topper). For me it was much the same as recent years in that I spend the whole time talking, cajoling people into writing articles and not much viewing. The standard is high and it was described as a 'pilgrimage' by one. Whether you want to see anything or not, if you are a narrow gauge modeller based in the South, you go. It's very much a shopping show with a chance to see the makers of small ranges that tend to be mail order only and to visit the 009 Society s/h sales stand
As is traditional here the scores are:
Exhibition 9
Catering  - the usual leisure centre 4, though there were no queues even at lunchtime. People have learnt to bring a packed lunch.
Rucksacks 4
Probably for the first time ever, I bought nothing, only leaving with a couple of books gifted from Stig to add to the GWR shelf. More on this later.

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Hopwood operation

Hopwood model railway layout
 All day. That's all day. Operationally tearing Hopwood to bits. The main point of the exercise was to see how it worked with what stock. The ex-Rhiw (see here) blue livery set was the default position. The new, improved fat-shape fiddle yard was the main player - it's tight, so some stuff fitted and some only in a certain order i.e. the Cl 150 would only work out of road 3 as in road 2 the longer wheelbase meant it reduced the foul point and clouted the Cl 108  parked in road 3. Flipped around and it worked. We are talking fag paper clearances here - Sprinters... no chance.

 A green set of stock was tried, but there are massive gaps in the stud. The wildcard was an idea to use BR(S) pull-push sets (essentially DMU working style) this sort of worked on the layout proper until the obvious dawned that the locos wouldn't fit in FY roads 2 and 3. Doh! It did look nice though.

So after about 6+ hours of trying every piece of 16.5mm gauge stock in the house on it, it all came back to blue with a base stud of 150, 108, 121, 37, 25, with a Lima 40 as a spare which surprisingly fitted the headshunt… just. A brace of VDA vans and some MDV opens for a trip freight and CCT/NPV for parcels stock.