Friday, 27 November 2015

The milky bar kid

Next up is a piece of milky bar. A Golden Arrow Maunsell  shunter. I think it's designed as a quick kit, as in less that ten parts, though as you can imagine I've been cleaning up parts for some time as there is a lot of flash. This is a bit of experiment and should drop onto Phil's Bachmann 08. How the two a fixed together is still the question. There is a lump of resin over the screw hole (just the one) though how much I trust threading in to resin is another query.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Art of compromise update

For anybody biting their nails and losing sleep over the progress on the Art of Compromise fear not, it's still going. There have been other things to do that have pushed it back slightly on the pecking order, but I do a bit to it once in a while. The basic green stuff and made up surfaces are on. There are subtle changes to the Link plan in detail, but the basic shape and size are still obvious - the main change being the long dock in place of the coal staithes. As I've mentioned before the width at this point is way too narrow to get everything in that Roy drew on the plan so 'compromises' had to be made. Therefore an open area for coal 'loading' with not too much storage is the idea. This is based on several photos of coal wagons being unloaded onto raised docks. The three bin idea for coal did exist, but I don't think it was as common as modellers often portray.
Already I think I've proved that the plan does work with a few tweaks.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Hornby Terrier

Terrier done. This is all (as usual) fairly old fashioned stuff - taking a RTR item and adding a few detail bits. Unbelievably the Dapol terrier has been around since 1986; I still view it as a new model. The Hornby remake is, as far as I can see, unaltered from the original.
The one I had was numbered 636. Not that makes any difference as all the numbers would need an equal amount of work. Here the bunker is fine as is, but the upper sandboxes need to come off, which is the scary bit. Then various bits moved or taken off and lamp irons added. The pipework on top is the fiddle. There are some painty bits around the cab to do and a crew to add. Hornby give you a few extras to add including the extension ring for the smokebox. This visually the weakest bit for me as the line is impossible to disguise. Lightly weathered by airbrush... yeah right. Like I could afford one of those... Tatty No 2 brush and some Ga**s Wo**sh*p acrylic dry brushed on. Far more of a Ford technique. All of this will of course be detailed properly in the next printed volume - in case you hadn't spotted the thread of late.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Stake and chips

Tolworth came and went. I'm not overly keen on doing two day shows, but this seemed to fly by. What continues to amaze me is the interest in Svanda. To me it's a pretty niche interest layout representing a smallish foreign state railway - a long way from the GWR branch lines that still litter the exhibitions. And yet all day people come up, comment on what we've done, and spout all sorts of information about Norwegian railways and what lines they've been on. They spot the Swedish railbus (hired by the NSB for a while) and the Dutch Mack (ditto) and have a remarkable amount of knowledge. Nigel will stand and swap stories, while I just stand slightly baffled. Also of great interest was the newly constructed rail-Unimog which sits (prototypically) on the platform with its guide wheels raised. it only got put there for a trial, but I think will possibly be a permanent fixture.

There now follows a period of reflection and maintenance. There are no more shows in the book for any of the three current layouts only a few pencilled enquiries. It's nice not to have deadlines and gives time for some repairs. Svanda has been knocked about a bit and needs freshening up with scenics and new lights perhaps.

The two wagons are an NSB chip wagon and an NSB stake wagon carrying round fence post bundles. All we need now is a pea wagon...

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Ratchet woes

The Terrier detailing continues apace. Well if about one bit a day constitutes pace. The problem is research which is the time swallower. You'd think it would be easy with such a well documented class, but that is not always helpful especially when every single loco has had different modifications. I worked on the cab interior yesterday, giving the upper areas a wash of sandy brown and highlighting some of the moulded details. The lever above went well  to begin with, with a touch of red paint. When the cab went back on the attention is drawn to it. 'That looks nice' I thought until I spoted that Dapol used a standard plug-in part. This would be OK if the floor were level, but as can be seen there is a hump to accommodate the final gear wheel underneath. The lever now comes in at about 6' high so I had to trim it somewhat and even now it's a bit on the tall side.
The Westinghouse pump was another headscratch. There is an OK moulding on the loco but no feed pipes. the one going down was easy, but the one going up disappeared over the tank to who knows where, and while there are oodles of side views i couldn't find any from a high angle. Peter Bossom (also known as the wise man of East Sussex) came up trumps with an overhead shot. Now of course I realise that there's more pipework on top than I'd thought. The more you know the worse it gets. And people keep telling me freelancing is harder.... errr no.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Bodge it and scarper

 Remember when you used to read things in mags like, 'the smokebox saddle was carved from Miliput...' . Well this is Squadron filler, but the principal is the same. The only way to get rid of the superfluous sand box is to hack the thing off and plug the gap with plastic and gloopy stuff. Bring back 1972.
New Hythe SB. Closed in 2006. Does anyone know if it's still standing? I don't really want to cross into the injun territory of Medway to find out. It's under a flyover so streetview isn't too helpful.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Bargain books

Where I live there are number of second hand bookshops all of which are slightly specialist and all are worth an occasional look. The two at the top of the town are slightly more upmarket, but have tables outside for 'junk' sales. This is usually piles of orange spined Penguins, though there are odd gold nuggets.  On Monday I found the above. My liking for things Western and in particular Wales meant I looked at these. Bearing in mind that this is an 'antiquarian' shop and the owner is not really interested in selling anything less that 150 years old and not bound in the skin of elephant's testicles the junk is very cheap. The Cambrian book is packed with photos and the third of  price of a cup of tea at £1.00. The AEC (RRP £25) £3.00 Bargain or what?

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Station house

Well after quite a long time it's done. I feel it needs summing up.
Is it value for money? Depends. I've probably got approaching half the bits left over. So that would indicate not. I could have built what's above with one pack of brick, one pack of fancy tiles and one pack of plain tiles. The barge boards, gutters etc would have been no more difficult to scratch out of plastic sheet and mains cable or similar, The gents is the stand alone item with two sides left off. So assuming that you don't want the canopy and I doubt whether most would want the platform sections, your shopping list would be four packs @ around £4.50 each, which I make eighteen quid; not far short of half the RRP of the kit.
So there by hangs a bigger question: You do need a modicum of skill and tenacity to build this - it's quite a fiddle in places. Therefore if you have these skills, would you not be able to scratch-build it in the first place? The answer to some extent is that you are paying (like most things in life) for the design. In this case this is the templates/cutting list which is probably why they seal the box so tight so that these can't be nicked and copied.
The other point is that this is obviously inspired by the Mid-Sussex buildings that remain on the Bluebell. In that case (if you scroll down to the first post on this there is a photo) there are/is a lot missing: plinths, ornate chimneys, filigree ridge work and Arts and Crafts type wood work for a start.
However all that said it does capture the feel of the buildings and you could say that all those things are add-able should you desire. Then we come full circle and have to say, then why not start from scratch and not bother with the kit? Tricky to call. You pays your money...

Tuesday, 3 November 2015


Saturday saw the 2015 ExpoNG at Swanley. Always a highlight of the year, not just because it's narrow gauge, but more of a social event as you tend to spend the whole day talking and catching up with people. Mr. Hill and I were attending with Morton Stanley so less time to walk around. Consequently I missed things, though there are photo galleries available via Mike Campbell's blog to your right. What did catch my eye and was a personal highlight was Tom Dauben's Isle Ornsay which after going to a few shows during its build is now finished and looks fantastic (above with Ted Polet's Atlantic perched on the turntable). What is a worry is the state of the venue which appears to be literally crumbling with huge cracks in the walls and broken floor sections among other things. Are the council letting it fall down deliberately?
Morton Stanley behaved more than adequately and there are questions around it. It was only really intended as a bit of fun to use some bits up and to tick a box. There were though several future unconfirmed invites on the day, so there are the questions of what do we want to do with it and why?

Monday, 2 November 2015


 On the last lap and halfway through the painting. The brickwork is a bit of a challenge. The local stuff is an orangey brown. The goods shed below is the ex- LBSCR one at Cooksbridge. What is noticeable is what I take to be lime based mortar not only in the joints, but leaching out over the surface leaving a white-ish deposit. In theory easy, in practice, hard to get right.
I got up this morning and found it so quiet that I thought I'd gone deaf. Then I realised that half term was ended and Mrs F had returned to school.... peace, and a return to a slower pace.
Small plug and while we're on the brickwork. Scale Rail International No3 which is out now, features Roger Jenner's very small G scale layout /diorama with some stunning scenic work.