Tuesday, 22 August 2017

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:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southsea_Railway

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.

Friday, 7 April 2017


For those with the much missed Keil Kraft kit knocking about in the drawer,  a shot of the Chester Old Bill bus that tours the town. Of course the best thing to do is to turn the kit into a quasi Stephens railbus unit which is where my carefully stored side pieces are headed, but the original usage doesn't look bad.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Scale Rail International 11

Out now - details at the link to your right.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

2 Plank

Ibertren chassis and plasticard.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

009 Brake

 A new brake van for the current 009 project. Once again, built largely from scrap on an Ibertren brake chassis. The sides an inner end are spares from an SR van the rest is scrap sheet and a bit of new strip.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Goods office

....made from scraps.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Art of Compromise

The Art of Compromise (now renamed  Y Fan) gets an occasional tinker. I'd detailed up a phonebox for the 009 project and somehow it didn't fit so it ended up here where it looks much better. This is the nearest I've ever had to a 'home layout' as it sits set up permanently along one wall and is the work of a few seconds to have running. The fact that almost everything on it you could buy from the PECO agency ranges could have something to do with it. Maybe this is the game for a while; gentle tinkering.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

His name was Trigger...

A couple of issues back RM gave away a single street trader's barrow. Logically this is a hand pulled item, but a little research threw up that 'lorries or trollies' that were horse drawn could be as little as 3' wide - this is a scale 5'.
I built the chassis parts as directed and put the canopy and supports to one side. A front board was added from a scrap of 30 thou plastic and a set of simple draw-gear made up from plastic strip. A small cast horse was obtained - this is probably Matchbox and probably closer to 3mm, but fits visually against the trolley, whereas the Slaters plastic horse looks huge. After all horses come in more than one size. A bit of paint and all done.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

SRI No 10

I keep forgetting to plug this here. No 10 is out now with the usual spread of subjects: East German HO, Wantage Yard in 3mm, Kadee coupler fitting, more on battery controllers, track plans, etc, etc.
Contact me here or via the mag's page for subscription details.


Friday, 27 January 2017

Svanda at Lenham

Ex Swedish railcar runs under NSB ownership on Svanda
The weekend saw the first exhibition of the year with Svanda which hasn't been out much of late. This time to the SNCF Society's winter meeting. Norwegian layout at a French meeting? No I didn't get it either. Not that I woke up much before 2 o'clock anyway.
Svanda has built a reputation for 99% reliability and so it was here, mainly due to Nigel's unstinting tweeking beforehand and the quality of the locomotives - not my dubious tracklaying.
It's got one more show in the book, whether that will grow post it's appearance in Continental Modeller this month I don't know. We may have exhausted the South East shows now.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017


A little working up of the station end of the 009 layout with no name. Various bits of unrelated fencing and other bits of fluff.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Golden spikes

I watched all of the presidential inauguration yesterday. Aside from any political views on this there was one phrase that I thought I heard '...we're going to build more... railroads.'
Really? Now? At this point in history? By Americans?