Saturday, 14 October 2017

Vale of Reidol coach

A break away from the GWR for a bit - well almost. A little more cut and shut this week with a Parkside (now Dundas again) VoR brake and coach bash with a few other various bits of scrap and whitemetal castings thrown in. This will make up the back of the branch rake for Orne which will be coming your way soon.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Ratio signal box - the crit'

Well it's done. Sort of. Not being able to run with anything as designed, there are obvious changes and a glaring problem that looks worse here than in real life.
The kit comes with stone steps - I thought his was a bit visually boring so diddled around with the 'extra' bits that come on the sprue. These are there as they are common with the kit for the larger box. With a bit of cutting and some 20 thou strip it's possible to knock up a narrow balcony, though this would benefit from a support or two.
The kit as bought goes together well if a bit fiddly. The fail is the guttering and down pipes. The gutter pieces are shorter than the roof by about 3mm. There must be a reason for this, but I can't quite work it out. Worse are the down pipes - beautifully made and designed to stand out from the building. The problem is that it's not enough. Any real pipe in this situation  would have a swan neck to bring the pipe into the building. When I summon up the bother I'll replace with some 1mm rod suitably curved and less jarring. The foot board is loose and would need adjusting in situ.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Warehouse Wednesday Edgebaston store

Sorry Phil.
Entering offence #2 . Just down the bank from the carpark at the ERA show last weekend was a quite attractive canal basin that looked worth a further look. So once the rain had stopped, I noodled down there. NO ENTRY EXCEPT ON BUSINESS - was what the sign said. Well after my gate vaulting escapades of the previous day, I wasn't letting a sign stop me, so I ambled nonchalantly in, camera clearly visible and working out that I was wearing a shirt and a pinstripe jacket and not a hoodie and ripped jeans, so more 'I'm taking photos' rather than 'I'm nicking your cables'. The basin was full of barges and tugs; all very freight leaning and less pretty pleasure craft. This is the first building inside the gate. I'm thinking feed and tack store in it's original usage. The location is just east of the Edgebaston reservoir.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Eardington Halt crime scene

On the way up to the ERA show a few stops were made to grice the SVR. Eardington wasn't on the list, but it was spotted as we drove past and a quick U-turn was made. The whole site was firmly padlocked up. So photography was tricky. Throwing caution to the wind and ignoring the 53 year old body, I worked out that I could bounce myself over the gate. So breaking, no. Entering yes. But all in the cause of photography as an art form.

Tel me this isn't the perfect minimum space station building.
More here:

Sunday, 1 October 2017

European Railway Association show

I had my doubts during set-up, but by the late afternoon de-rig it was fairly clear; the push for the hobby at the  moment is a) British diesels and b) continental. My slightly negative comments of late re: exhibitions were reversed - the ERA show was uncomfortably full at times and there was money being spent in large amounts from what I could see. This wouldn't normally be my sort of thing, but officially 'assisting' on Svanda meant I had time to compare and contrast. The general shows and the finescale are on a downward shift and the events like this are on the rise.

What was most evident was the chat and enthusiasm through out the day. I'd often thought that the continental modellers were a bit of a tribal bunch -it appears not. The team reported a better than expected day and we were well provided for. Halal chicken tikka sandwiches were a new item on the exhibitors lunch menu, but were eagerly snaffled up by self. 10/10

This was technically Svanda's last show; not that it is being retired, but simply that there is nothing else in the book. Time to consolidate.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

European Railways Association show

Svanda is at the ERA show in Birmingham this weekend. Drop by and say hello.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Ratio signal box roof

If not at the finish line, I'm definitely in sight of it. The roof section now done complete with a bit of paper flashing around the chimney. The footsteps next.

Sunday, 24 September 2017


Off to Scaleforum today, mainly for a bit of shopping and a general nose around. Not my usual haunt or social circle, but there's usually some good trade.
First off, the food (compared to Woking) was top notch, good basic fare and plenty of it, so that's a relief. Just shows that it's not that hard to get it right even in a leisure centre environment.

The show... hmmmm. 10 layouts (Though you had to search a bit) obviously of the P4 variety - that much is expected. The rest however... quiet. Sparse. The first time I went to the new venue, after the Society left its usual Leatherhead home, you couldn't move, couldn't park, and couldn't get near any layouts. Today? Well the picture says it all. I wonder if they are suffering with the UKIP effect of now having shouted for higher standards and got them, they are in a wilderness period.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Old photos

Quite a while ago now I realised I'd got locked out of my flickr account. I tried all the usual dodge arounds to no avail. So I just left it there. Then a series of research escapades found me lurking on other people's flickr pages and finding it all quite useful. The upshot of which is that a new page has been opened up. Most of the initial uploads are things that were closest to hand, but I'm in a steady process of loading all my Seaford branch shots from the 70s forward. Seems a shame to leave them hanging around in a cupboard when they may be of use.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Art of the Compromise on the road

Now that the AotC is semi-booked for  the WRG show in the spring a little work was needed to get it to a point where it could be shown. The basic premise is that it is front operated at home, so there was no provision for rear operation. An earlier trial on the usual trestles proved that they were too high to reach over, and the alternative would be to stand right in front of it- not ideal. As this will probably be its only show I didn't want to do too much, but a set of shorter trestles have been knocked up out of lolly sticks set at a traditional, and to my mind a better height. Wednesday saw the trial to see if that would work. Now I just need to get the stock sorted.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017


Note for younger readers, at least anyone under 30. This is an engine. Not your weedy, DCC, sound, detailed Bachmann crap, but an ENGINE. I got some of the old Rhiw stock out and this was second in the pile. Still in its box with Triang-Hornby branding. I make that the thick end of 50 years old. Plopped it on the track BRRRRRRRRR......... Flick switch, BRRRRRR....... Who needs sound chips -next door were hammering on the wall thinking I was drilling.
It doesn't say 'made in china' on the bottom, but 'Built (built!!!) in Britain'. This was something that you could thrash round for hours even after your Dad had stepped on it.

There were a couple of spare locos for Rhiw, this being one. But when it came out the grins appeared. It's basically dimensionally correct, but lacking any obvious finesse, and is everything MRJ railed against - however, have we taken a wrong turn? Cos this has presence like no Heljan Hymek ever could.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Lever frame

And more or less done. Here with the upper structure dropped on.  Once you start scratching the surface, you open up the worm can. I started asking how many of each colour? AotC has four points so that's the black ones done, and I reckoned two FPLs and at least four signals. That filled the frame with no spares. I re-read Tim Rayner's excellent article in RM from a couple of years back and now I get the feeling that I probably needed about 15 levers as opposed to 10. Too late now, I shall never sleep again. Maybe some clever person could draw up a signalling diagram for the layout.

Because AotC is a 'model' and not really drawn from real practice, it probably needs ground signals on both sidings, which in essence means three FPLs as they exit the running line . There would be a Home beyond the bridge, plus the starter and another ground at the far end. Would the crossover be worked on one lever? Questions... but then it's barely visible anyway.

Ratio signal box interior

Another stall point, so another sideways jump. The signal box has been hanging around on the bench for weeks, so I fired myself up to do the interior. This is one of those 'why are you bothering' moments. By the time the roof is on and it's all dark and gloomy, and there's a bit of reflection off the glazing, you won't be able to see anything in there. Plus its final position on the AoC will be at the front facing away from the viewer. However... with nothing in there it just looks wrong.
Regulars will know that I'm not one to splash the cash if I don't need to, no 12 quid interior kit for me, so a bit of subterfuge comes into play. What is needed is shapes, not hyper-detail. A table was knocked up out of a bit of 20 thou and some strip and the instrument bridge from lengths of square sprue  and the pips from the same. A sloppy coat of dark browns and all is done. Rough? Absolutely. But behind the glass there is just enough visual information to suggest more. A bench seat has also been done from the original doors on the pagoda. Levers next.

Lever frame done. Piece of 80 thou rounded off, a few holes and some strip. Most of the visual info will be colour - black blue and red with  touch of metallic on the tops. I did include the kick plate even though it'll be invisible. Below the basic inspiration

Monday, 11 September 2017

Ratio coach bash

W1 van done, less transfers which I have yet to source. Though would such a lowly piece of kit received a crest? There are many questions about this as there is only limited information and you tend to fall into the trap of looking at other people's models. The footboards for example: the Russell book suggests that they stopped just short of the second to last panel, but no one else has done this, so does this mean that it's wrong? It would mean that the end supports would crash through the springs so...  And don't get me started on the roof lamps. Oil to start yes, but at the end of its life? The post war photo suggests that these weren't replaced with gas, so I've gone with this.
A fiddly but quite fun project, and by using a spare set of plastic sides, much cheaper that the Shirescenes option of brass replacements.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Woking show

 A trip up to the Woking show this morning. Mainly to do a little shopping, but also because it looked rather good. One of the draws for me is Thirdly (above). I think this is a joy as it is pure 60s modelling with brickpaper, SMP track and mainly tweaked proprietary stock. I reminds me of all the black and white shots of layout in my early RMs - mainline running that felt busy and purposeful; something I've still not reached. The rest of the show was excellent. Full marks to the manager for getting two halls full of great layouts. The catering though.... shite. Council run venue, probably 1,500 plus trainspotters through the door over a weekend and a notice. 'Sorry the sandwiches ran out on Saturday lunchtime'. Err, were you not expecting us? Can you not make sandwiches? There was nothing else save a few ends of cake and nothing looking like lunch. Utterly appalling service and planning. If you go next year, take your own.
One thing that did make me smile was the first book stall inside the door.  a couple of titles by some bloke called Ford... whoever he may be.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Burgess Hill show

 The first of a couple of outings this month for Nigel's Svanda. All behaved fairly well though I started drawing up a list of repairs and improvements. Bouncing it in and out of the car has induced a few knocks, and there are odd bits of ballast missing and edges of scenery that have lifted and need sorting out. A phone discussion this morning about it's future and if any, which shows we would like to do with it in the future.
There were two small purchases, both off the club stand - I tend to home in on these more these days as the technology is older and I can't find three figure sums for the new stuff. This Airfix autocoach was on the list for AotC though I'm mentally back dating it a bit from this. Anyway... at nine quid it was two thirds of the price of the Triang clerestories on the dealer's stand (how much?). The previous has added a light via track skates on one bogie which are an easy remove. Now to find the MRJ article (30 something?) which tells me all the things that are wrong with it and how to fix them.
The other purchase was a Merit delivery cart which may be closer to HO than 4mm looking at the figure. Again a princely two quid.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Cutting and shutting

This is proving trickier and taking longer than I thought. The roof shows the amount of cutting of all the parts.

Thursday, 31 August 2017


Nigel and I are at the Burgess Hill exhibition with Svanda - the little slice of Norway - on Saturday. Do come and throw things.

Monday, 28 August 2017


I had the opportunity to wander around bits of the named air base last week. Although you obviously have to be fairly careful with cameras in such places, this did spring out at me. Now downgraded to the office for the scuba diving team it's a cracking 30s-50s piece of utility architecture that I'm instantly drawn to. I have no use for a model, but doesn't this just cry out to be done?

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Ratio 4 wheel coach side

A W1 parcels van conversion from two Ratio brake third sides. Yes it has bowed very slightly - not a problem. The painting though is. There is no easy way around this. I chose the black framing first then the brown, now onto the cream. I might go cream first next time. The only way to do it is to take a deep breath and a new brush.
It's enough to drive you back to the easy option of freelancing.


Ever so slowly managed to get one side done. If you play the 3' rule it looks OK, but I'm wowed by people who can do this well - one chap in Denmark in particular. Just a coat of varnish over this and then just touch the handles and grabs in with brass before building. I'm not looking forward to the tiny numbers. It is quite a cute little vehicle though.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Wills Pagoda

All done and perched on the loading dock on the AotC. Finished in the paint style of the Didcot Museum example which is basically in the 'official' colours; not that most examples actually ended up like this. As pointed out earlier it's five scale feet short and would need a cut and shut operation using two kits to get it perfect.

Pedants Corner:
Apparently the doors are upside down. The reference: Llangollen Railway.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Pagoda doors

In the great variation of life there are wooden doors. The Wills pagoda also has an under width doorway. I opened it up to 16mm (original drawings show 4'4"). The doors on most are wiggly tin, but I was quite taken with the wood doors on the Llangollen Railway example  - vertical boarding and chunky framing. so I thought these would be nice. 8 mil wide 25 mil tall, all 20 thou. Note the pencil marks to make sure I get the diagonals right.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Wills Pagoda variations

The Wills pagoda is a bit of a curate's egg. A shade too deep, but a scale 5' too short for the standard 'A shelter'. The doorway is also a mil under width. Sticking windows in the front therefore is awkward as it underlines the length issue. You could bash two kits together. I elected not to.
Some of the pagodas had side windows added either initially or later in their lives. In fact there are a surprising number of variants up to triple length sheds. The windows are fairly simple: a Wills small window unit has had its bars thinned and a hole has been hacked out to fit it. A small strip of 20x40 adds a shallow cill.

Monday, 21 August 2017

The trials of half writing

One of the problems of putting a book together is getting the order right and then finding that getting all the physical bits for this is a problem in the short term. As this is my third crack at this I've got used to suddenly shuffling about and moving to another section in order not to waste time. This is dangerous as it's at this point that mistakes are likely with photo numbers and the like.
This has just happened while I was researching coaches. As usual the more you know the more there is to know, and being one of those people who is happy to accept that I know nothing in the first place I keep looking. I was happy to use the buffers that I had on the next section, but a read of various tracts and forum posts made me uneasy and desirous to improve the situation. Then the question: Do I mail order the bits from Dart Castings, or wait until I probably go to Scaleforum a month away? The second question is, if the latter, what do I move onto in the mean time? And is this dangerous? It might be time for a bit of pagoda work...

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Hornby Brake Van

The obvious. RTR Hornby ex Airfix. Basically a painting exercise. The ladder is really only for S&T vans, but I quite fancied the detail.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Southsea East station

Before a job in Southsea a while back I was driving round the block looking for a parking space and tripped over this in a new-build close. The close is the site of Southsea East station of which I was completely unaware. Opened in 1885 and only lasting until 1914 the site became an engineering works and then more recently modern housing. I take it that this was the old curtain wall of the station A nice touch I thought and quite unnecessary, so someone stumped the money up. Always good to find something surprising tucked away.
More here:

Monday, 14 August 2017

Trestles new

With the possible likelihood of me taking the Art of Compromise to the Wealden 25th anniversary show in March next year, I thought I'd better start thinking about underpinnings. Regulars will realise that it was not thought of or designed for public consumption so a couple of ... compromises have to be made. The layout is normally mounted on the wall with my usual (for these sorts of things) switches along the front. A trial with the usual tall and 18" wide trestles that are used for Svanda proved that it was awkward to have it this high and far away to operate the points by reaching over. Something more compact was needed.
I actually cut the wood for these a while back and stacked it in the garage to dry.
Made from best B&Q banana pine they are some 36" long (standing around 34.5" high) and are 13" wide to take the AoC 12" wide boards. There is a further cross-piece on these first two to take a shelf (which I don't have the wood for yet) otherwise it's all very basic stuff with a pair of butt hinges and a some bog chain - again from B&Q.
This is quite a departure having a trainset down at 3' off the floor - well having it at eye-level is so 1995/last century  isn't it?

Friday, 11 August 2017

Moreton in Marsh shed 2

The previous post seems to have pricked a couple of people's interest, but has generated no definitive answer. The best guess seems to be that the building was a lock-up section adjoining the GWR timber shed, but due to all the pre GW photos being taken from the opposite direction it's hard to confirm. The newer brickwork on the end wall may be a clue or have no relevance at all.
Update: I've been sent some shots of the area from aerofilms which are positively dated 1929 and1953. Although you need to zoom in quite a bit one thing is fairly clear the shed does not appear in the former, but does in the later. I can therefore assume that, discounting it being built 39-45 that it's a GWR addition to the main shed during the 1930s, probably extra secure storage. Unless anyone knows different.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017


Up to Crawley today for a bit of a chinwag and a fairly long drawn out discussion and work around on a new layout idea which could form part of the new book project. Part of the inspiration for this is Jas Milham's Rookfield, though how interesting it would be without Jas Milham in front of it would be open to question.
Another burning question is contained below in the photo of Morton in Marsh. Most of the buildings are pretty standard GWR builds, as was the goods shed which has now gone. However the shed that remains in the photo centre looks to be older and possibly built by the original pre-GWR company. Am I right in this and is there any further info available on it?

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Not so quick

This'll only take about half an hour....
'Which one do you want?' I asked the customer. He pointed to the pub. Yuk. My least favourite and least convincing of the range. It took me  most of the day. They're very well designed, but I literally just put the bits together without any refining. If you were to double the time, paint all the edges, add drainpipes, decent chimneys etc, it would be better. But here I didn't think the extra effort would be noticed, after all the customer is only just five.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

5 plank

And so it begins. The third and final volume. Anyone guess the title? First of the blocks is this Ratio 5 plank built more or less as per the instructions. I'd not done one of these before and was a bit flummoxed for a bit with the earlier Ratio design of having the solebar and bodyside as one part meaning that you can't adjust for the (now) under length axles. A bit of jiggery pokery with the bearings simply sorts it out, but they don't say that on the paperwork. This is supposed to be an entry level kit, but if the wheels fall out...

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Didcot Railway Centre

Thursday saw a quick trip up to Didcot, specifically for research purposes. I'd never been before so only allowed a couple of hours for a walk around and a spot of lunch. That didn't quite work out and we stayed for three and only managed to wolf down a bit of cake. It's a lot bigger than I'd envisaged and in the end I mentally split the site into broad and standard gauge.
Well worth a visit. It is very clean, so if your thing is industrial grot, don't bother. This is museum quality presentation. Tip unless you want to see the choo choos running then the quiet 'exhibition' days may be best for photos, plus it's almost half the price. Five stars.

Monday, 17 July 2017

I'm still here.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Signal Box

I can't imagine that there aren't many of you losing sleep wondering what's happening with the AotC signal box build. Well possibly not as many as who are worried about Phil Parker's GWR steam railcar.
Like the rest of the AotC project it's a very slow burn build and has hanging about on the desk for months. I occasionally pluck up the courage to do a bit to it. Yesterday was one of those moments. Fitting the window units in was a minor fiddle, but painting them was going to be a nightmare. Not quite as bad as SECR loco lining or something equally MRJ worth, but still. All done now and about the best I can do with shaky hands and a paint brush.
Incidentally, what would be the equivalent colour in the acrylic Humbrol range to GWR coach brown? This is a G*mes W*rksh*p 'scorched brown' which is just about spot on but has nearly run out and is out of the range now.

Friday, 28 April 2017

For Sale.

Photo: M. Campbell
After a couple of years of small shows Morton Stanley is up for sale, either with or without stock. There are two more outings: Rye this weekend and the Beds and Bucks open day in mid-May. Enquiries via the usual channels.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Too many shows?

Late morning at an exhibition over the weekend. Almost empty rooms. Quality bad? No. Good publicity, name layouts and good parking etc. All the trade were complaining and I don't blame them. There were five shows on within a fifty mile radius of here and reports were that this was a similar occurrence on both days at all of them. Being that it wasn't Mother's Day or similar, I can only suggest that we have reached saturation point and either the interest overall is waning or there are just too many shows to choose from.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Healthy living

Never say my life isn't healthy. Lunch at the 7mm NGA Surrey Group's open day today, and later...
what constitutes dinner for a four piece band at 10pm. This was the vegetarian option.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Phone box take 2

The last time I put this up here I got howls of protest from the BT engineers about land ownership and placement. As suggested by same, phone box now re-sited and with fence around it.
Would there be a pole and how high and how many insulator arms?

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

New Southern Region book

Pre-release copy arrived yesterday. Out very soon from all the usual outlets.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

AoC Signal Box 2

Moving slowly forward with this. Due to my inability to leave stuff alone I've replaced all the stonework on the base with brick. This meant I had to continue the theme on the chimney breast as well, adding a scrap of Wills sheet.
The instructions are the usual exploded diagram and a few scrap shots to back up. There is also a list of instructions 'Add part 1 to part 2' etc. This is all well and good and each part is sensibly numbered on this sheet. However this is where the planning stops as none of the actual bits are numbered on the parts or on the sprues making the whole text instruction completely superfluous. Shame. You are therefore left to identifying the parts off the diagram only. This may have changed on later batches of the kit, but is slowing things down a little here.
Cabin basically done though, and probably time to paint before the card interiors go in and the glazing is added.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Saturday Ramble.

Up to Porthmadog for a few days a week ago. Every time I go to North Wales the trip gets longer and I find it harder to come home. Just the thought of hitting the M25 barrier is bad enough, but as there is less and less for me here the draw gets bigger. The combination of quiet and scenery is plenty, but throw a slew of NG railways into the mix and it tips the thought process over the edge. Would I miss the traffic and the drag queens though?

Thursday, 13 April 2017

'I cut the 2x1 and blew my nose'

Baseboard building. Not for a new layout and not for me, but for grandson 's trainset. He wanted something electric, so for Christmas a cheap forty quid Hornby was bought with included trackmat. His dad then reported that he was using it so much that it would be better on a board. Agreed, but who would build said board? Who do you think? His dad can strip Eurofighters and make them fly again but can't 'do carpentry' .

61" x 47" is too big for the car to get it to him so it needed to be split. It also needed to be robust enough to be dragged around, but light. I decided that a semi-traditional softwood frame would give the strength with an MDF top rather than chipboard. It's a bloody awkward size and needed three 2'x 4' sheets to complete. The softwood is best B&Q banana pine which is still deciding what sort of shape it wants to be. Thus I had to dance about a bit to pick out the best sections for the outer and  the worst for the bracing. The two boards will be bolted together with a brace of 6mm roofing bolts at their final destination. The final cost of just the materials being more than the train set...
We'll see how long this curve lasts.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Art of the Compromise signal cabin 1

I'm slowly working my way through a Ratio signal box. Bought s/h from the club stall at the Croydon show a couple of years back. S/h kits are a bit of a gamble as there have probably been parts removed or lost, but this one seems to be all there ... so far. I'm guessing that it's around 20 years old and the plastic is already brittle in places; I've had window frames snapping. This is of course for the AoC layout and I was going to go for the full Welsh and have one side wall in slate, but bottled out. What I will do though is try and add window handrails and foot steps and a balcony and wooden steps to replace the stone ones in the kit.
Which brings me to a question: Were single line tokens given in at termini, or retained by the crew for the return trip? A simple thing which I should know, but don't.