Sunday, 29 November 2009

16t RIP

My old mate Simon Hargraves came over a couple of days ago armed not only with a Corris open wagon in S, but literally a bagful of modern freight books. This is an idea which is gradually starting to bite even though it is so left-field from what I usually do; the whole ‘Modern’ thing is a bit of a black hole where I’m concerned, seemingly occupied by 25 year-olds with DCC controllers. However there is a bit of history here: One of the first RMs I bought was in May 1977 (that’ll be thirty two years I have no recollection of then!). Within its pages, and now preserved in a ring file, is an article by one John Allison called Porth-y-Waen. 20’ long and in O it seemed so different to all the other layouts in the magazine: Rural, diesel and freight only, and although I’ve never built a ‘modern’ layout, I think this particular article lodged in my head.

Jump forward to this year and a Steve Flint plan in RM thinly disguised as a plug for the Bachmann 150 and PECO’s double slip. The afore mentioned biker and railway employee suggested at the time that the track layout was unlikely and would probably be mirrored. But. Even though this is probably true, the general idea of something rural, pre-privatisation, and post-rationalisation remained. Something stripped down, blue diesel and just about pre-pretty liveries.

There are two problems here: Firstly I know diddly-shit about the 1980’s (I think I was mostly sleeping). Secondly this will probably require stock that I have to buy, and not bodge out of card and bits of string. This is about me researching – with help from my old mate, and about buying things at knock down prices when I see them. The first case in point could be this: During the other night’s conversation scrap traffic was mentioned. Oh goody I thought 16 tonners! Err... no. It appears that by the notional date of 1986/7 they were gone. However. There was scrap traffic still carried in MDVs. The picture illustrating this information in the book was taken at an acute angle and the wagons looked like 16 tonners. Research led me to find that MDVs are these; what I think of as 24Ton minerals and only used for block coal trains. Traps everywhere. But these are vehicles I can spend some time with. I’m sure this is only the first step of what could be a long process and learning curve.

Photo: Paul Bartlett, from his excellent site on all things rail.

Don’t forget to check out Nigel’s Norway stuff on the link to the right. Even if Scandiwegian is not your thing there are some great photos.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Tal-y-llyn Bugbox

Components fresh from scrapbox: Sides and chassis from Meridian Models No4 coach.

Shortened by one bay each end.

Blu-tacked to check visual against Parkside FR style bugbox.

End view showing the terrible height difference.

Ends from 30 thou and strip. Two bulkheads fitted. No seats. Pointless, you wouldn't see them. Roof strut fitted but not sanded to height.

Glazing is a little off from this angle. Roof from 20 thou and a sheet of toilet paper.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009


Talk about multiple projects. I seem to have too many things on the go at the moment. Garn (over on the other page) is receiving some attention due to the fact that it's going out once or twice in 2010, so some lightweight stock-building going on there. Nigel Hill's Unnycoombe layout (of which I am cheif engineer) although basically finished is getting the stock toned down ready for a March outing, Simon Hargraves keeps nudging me into getting on with the Modern Image project Llyfordd which was started in a stock sort of way (don't hold your breath) and finally there is the back-of-the-mind push to something in 7mm. Phew!
It's a good thing I'm virtually unemployed (who said unemployable?).

These multiple projects stop boredom especially of they are one hit small work-pieces such as stock and I know I'm not alone in this wanderlust of model rail.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Kennel Club

The completed Egger conversion; well, Egger diesel with a dog kennel on the front!

Bill of fare was: One Eggerbahn works diesel, 30 thou plasticard, diabetic urine dip stick (really!) N gauge picket gate, Airfix figure, Greenwich coupling, paint. All of which was in stock so current cost nil. The Egger mechs are variable, some good, some dreadful. This is somewhere in the middle, but is only destined for a back-up role on Garn. There are in the cupboard, three Wild West locos, bought for £25 a piece I think. I may use one of these as the basis for a boxy Sentinal; I have all the info, drawings etc, so once again it’s just a little plasticard and paint.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Unnycoombe progress

Just in case you thought that nothing was happening with Unnycoombe.
A drip-drip project of 'toning down' the stock is underway. Above are before and after shot of the cattle wagons, the out of focus van and the as yet untouched railcar.

Egger Conversion

The title of this being like something out of 009 News in 1978. Well.... it probably was, for this is just one such project. Bearing in mind that Garn has 1.5 exhibition outings in 2010, I thought it wise to build-up the motive power base a little knowing how shows can quickly wipe-out 009 locos. A few years ago I started picking up Egger/Jouef stock partly for a retro-layout and partly for a continental tramway idea. Therefore there have been several (5) locos in the loft awaiting attention. Knowing full well that the first idea probably won't happen I made a decision to convert a couple to run on Garn. This is the first.
Below the footplate and the cab are the Egger 'works diesel', the rest 30thou plasticard. The roof was smoothed and a vent flap added and a bonnet put together. The grill is an N gauge gate, surplus from Unnycoombe.
To add are Greenwich couplings, glazing and, when I work out where to put it, the original exhaust pipe.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Expo NG

ExpoNG yesterday. Great show. One of the better ones of recent years, although the list published hadn’t filled me with expectation. What I went to see was Chris Peacock’s Cotehele; though in the end it sort of disappointed me and I couldn’t put my finger on why. Expong however is less about exhibits and more about talking. After you have been working in narrow gauge scales for twenty five years, it seems as though your whole social base is in this room- well mine is. I was in the hall for the best part of five hours and didn’t stop talking the entire time.

Likes and dislikes? Well apart from the above I was rather taken with Don Sibley’s Willowdale Light which, when you could see around Don, stood up better in the flesh than in photos; which is not always the case, and Tom Dauben’s Dunbracken which rightly walked away with the Hendriksen Trophy. He was smiling broadly afterwards – I know how he felt, I smiled for days after Wood End got it in 2000. What this did do was bring this back into its rightful territory of the ‘spirit’ of Reinier’s work. To my mind there have been a couple of dodgy presentations of the RH in recent years; ones which were a long way from spirit and even scale, for surely this is a 4mm scale award?

The day threw up (as it always does) a lot of what’s next? Garn was taken off its shelf a couple of days ago, due to the stalling of the DMU project, and looked at – looked at hard. What do I want to do with this? It has not grabbed the public attention the way Wood End did and I’m not sure why as it is more or less the same basic idea and techniques. It’s not going to get binned – not yet anyway, but it does need attention – re-grassing in places and the ballast in some lights looks weedy and overgrown and in others just badly done. I have on this point alone started chipping away at some of the errant lumps of magnesium chips in an effort to tidy it up.

Is 009 the direction in which I want to go? Does this fulfill the sort of modelling that I wish to do and possibly exhibit? The irony is that now I have more time to exhibit layouts, the invites do not come. Contrast this to a few years ago when I had to fend them off with a cricket bat.

I’ll return to this point no doubt.