Sunday, 27 September 2020

Hornby Sentinel and shopping

Back from a few days in sunny Cornwall. Shopping is a rare and wonderful thing and since the demise of shows I'm buying very little. There are consumables to consider and I was down to my last three bottles of solvent and fifty one toilet rolls so something needed to be done. Under the cover of darkness and disguised as a sheep farmer I slipped over the border to Devon and Anything Narrow Gauge in Holsworthy. This is a misleading title as although there is a largish back-room operation of garden type steam, most of the shop is filled with 4mm stuff. The beauty was the old-world feel of it with rows of second hand boxes marked Airfix and Mainline etc. Try getting that in your mail order shops. 

The principal purchase of solvent was made along with a pack of couplings - because I'll always need them - then the Hornby Sentinels were pointed out. The price given matched what I had in my head that Hattons were giving so it seemed rude not to, and of course I could even run it up and down on some filthy track to test its roadworthyness. It's screaming for a new identity, some nameplates and detailing.


Friday, 11 September 2020

O gauge sector plate

O gauge sector plate

 And to return.

Due to the build of the layout being halted due to Peco closing, Warley bailing and me not exactly knowing what was going on, or if it actually had a reason to be built, I didn't get around to sorting the FY. Last weeks photoshoot with Craig didn't really matter as it was all about the pretty side of the layout and it didn't need to run. However... in order for it to move forward in any shape of form it should do. A simple two-road sector should do the trick. Here dummied up with some code 124 bullhead, it will actually consist of some copper clad sleepers and code 100 - to compensate for the sector plate thickness. Trials have proved that this should work, I just need to work the switching out. As you can see there is not a lot of room and I don't want expensive locos dangling over the edge of the board so it'll have to be simple and neat, possibly a centre off DPDT to energise one rail the other permanently live.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Hornby magazine

 I picked this up yesterday while I was killing time waiting for an eye test. I have questions, so this is my unexpected review.

Looking at the mast head I note that Key Publishing use the Hornby brand under licence - is this a commercial brainwave or just cheating? I can't make my mind up. In any case the same mast head also states that the circulation is 26k per month which I think puts it a way behind, but in second place to RM.

There are a lot of ads, more than I expected, but a lot of unusual stuff that I've not seen elsewhere. This makes me think that either this is actively encouraged, or that the ad rates are low allowing some smaller cottage industries in. Notably there are no Peco/Ratio/Wills ads, so the flip of RM where they are predictably prolific.

Here's my main beef: I may have picked a bad example, but there is just one layout article (Gresley Beat, which is a bit like a music magazine featuring Sgt Pepper) and one shows-you-how, the rest is all about Hornby. More than that, probably 85% of the mag's written content is accredited to Mike Wild the editor; not only most of the features, but most of the reviews as well. From Key Pubs' position this looks dangerous, and from my position is deadly boring as there is only one voice and point of view.

The physical feel is OK, but not quality, but the general layout though quite in-your-face is well produced. If you just want reviews then it's worth a punt, If you want layouts, hints and tips and modelling encouragement, then one of the other three main mags are a much better bet. This then is my main question: taking all this into consideration, why is it number two and if you are drawn to a more glitzy page layout, then why not pick up the superior MR or BRM?

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Saturday Ramble - O gauge lamps

O gauge lamps

 A month off. Sometimes there are other bits of life that need more attention. 

The final thing to go on the O gauge were these shorty platform lamps inspired by items at Bodiam. Nothing startling here: some roughly 4mm square rocket stick and a pair of Model Scene 4mm lamps with the posts chopped off. Tiny brackets from strip and gas pipe from layout wire. The layout has now been taken down to Devon and been snapped by young Craig. The original plan - and indeed its reason to exist  - was for it to appear on the Peco stand at Warley; it being sized to fit on the stand. Without this publishing peg point and due to the photoshoot being later than planned and becoming a little tight in the timetable, it now heads for the December RM.  What I do need to do is sort the sector plate out. This could be left off until now as it didn't need to be photographed.

Sales Department: Orne has now gone to a new home. There have been a handful of enquires about Hopwood, but no hard takers. The price is very modest - I just want it out of the way really. email me via the profile page top right. The O gauge will similarly need to be moved on at some point in the near future.

Friday, 7 August 2020

Hopwood For Sale

 Due to the situation this is now up for grabs. 

Contact me via the email link in the profile top right for further details.

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

16mm article

After a very gentle nudge from Lord Leamington I scratched out a short piece on the Houstoun Gate 16mm loco that appeared here a few months ago. Quite rightly, I'm tucked at the back like Junior Modeller. The piece describes the thinking, but doesn't detail the build - well I didn't do all of it.
A quick bit of fun and honour-bound I give it a plug here. I don't know if this is a typical issue, but it's all rather good and doesn't seem to take itself too seriously which is fine with me, but then what do you expect with a tweed wearing editor.

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Bohemian wit

[Non rail post coming up.]
Seven years ago I moved from a small house in the country to a small house in town (unless you have the thick end of £1m to spend in the South East small is what you get). There were various reasons for the move after 13 years of being surrounded by fields, a minor one was the ability to stroll into town unaided by motor vehicle and sit. Not to do anything just laze for a while over a coffee and possibly read. In my head I would be like a character in a Graham Greene novel - oozing bohemian wit and conversing with like minded souls. I tick several of the boxes required: I've always written a little, painted even less, I'm generally quite lazy and I've been a working musician for my entire adult life. All I'm lacking is a fedora and a neckerchief. As you would expect none of this has happened; other bits of life don't allow it and I've possibly not polished my credentials enough. Those that know me would say that there is a lot of polishing to do. Putting aside the current situation, even where I live, which is considered to be full of history-filled liberal arty types, suffers from the standard southern England reserve and no one talks. On the other hand perhaps adding northern friendliness and flat vowels would destroy the image even further. The closest I've got was in the early 1980's when I lived on Jersey.  A trip to St. Ouens bay could generate an endless day sitting in the surf café watching the long haired blondes turn up in VWs and wait for the big rollers to hit the beach. It feels like another life.

Yesterday having needed to post a packet for Mrs. F., I partially fulfilled the ambition: the sun shone I perched myself in the window of the trendy café at the foot of the hill and waited. Aside from the delivery of the coffee by a slightly camp waiter person I wasn't approached by any fellow bohemian types and I read my book in relative silence. The café tries to portray a slightly Latin American vibe, which you would think would greatly add to my wish, but spoils it by playing bits of Maroon 5 amongst the Afro-Cuban backing track. Maybe I just have to keep doing it, but the summer is fading and I think you need to have flies buzzing around to complete the picture. As there hadn't been any rain, the road was fairly dusty, but Nissan Micra's screeching past Boots and the charity shop don't really replace a slow-moving '57 Cadillac.
The second visit to the post office revealed a smaller queue.

Sunday, 12 July 2020

Train face masks

I suppose it had to happen. No information on purchase was given when this photo was sent to me yesterday, but I'm sure that those of you who wish to walk around with an Electrostar stuck to your nose will be able to find something on the net. I understand that there are other classes available.
If this mandatory wearing had been enforced in March we might not be in this mess.

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.