Saturday, 4 August 2018

Saturday Ramble

This week I delivered Modelling the Great Western Branchline book onto the printing conveyer belt, and on the kitchen worktop sit two copies of a contract for the next book, the forth in the series, signed, but as yet unsent.

A couple of people have questioned the wisdom of this move. I think the answer is that I enjoy the journey, enjoy the sometime hair-pulling process of stating with a blank sheet of word doc. and turning it into something readable. The detractors mention the money; lets face it you're never going to get rich quick writing toy train books; for me that's not the point. The cash earned just tips into the pot with all the other things I do. The buzz term for this is 'gig economy' as though this is something new. Well I suppose if you've worked in a 9-5 all your life it is, whereas I could have told you about the gig economy at any point in the last thirty eight years as I've worked in nothing else.

For me the whole point of getting out of bed in the morning is to have as much fun as possible and as soon as things don't give me that I'll walk away. Writing an article or book or even building a layout are the same animal as far as I'm concerned, it's the process that drives me on, and as anyone who knows me will confirm, once I've finished a layout I rapidly lose interest in it. Builder not player.

In about four weeks time I start writing Modelling the Welsh Narrow Gauge; there are problems ahead, mainly in the form of product availability - much of the stalwart end of the kit range has retired, paused or is unexplainably just missing. Never mind, finding he work-arounds will be... entertaining. The GWR book will probably hit the shops at around Christmastime by my reckoning, in the meantime something fictional until any other pre-discussed offers firm up.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

7 1/4" gauge

 Sunday afternoon and over to one of the most original and slightly quirky garden railways. 7.25" gauge and run on car batteries. Section working and signalled.

Monday, 16 July 2018

16mm Garden rail track

From a dismantled 16mm line. 9 points, 3 slips, and 25+ yards of track. Free to pick up.
UPDATE: now gone. Unsurprisingly.

Friday, 13 July 2018

Southern branch

There's not been a lot of modelling going on here in recent weeks, more writing up what I'd already done for the GWR book.

However there has been a little playing with bits. The old Morton Stanley board newly stripped bare and now semi-boxed gave an almost clean slate for a one board wonder (see RM this month for my take on this). Physically it's a mix of yellow code 75 and the new bullhead - i.e. some new points and some scraps, coupled with the newly acquired P and the engine shed built for the narrow gauge book which is still unpainted.

The prototype base for all this is an SR beach branch. I've long been interested in the Newhaven West Quay line and some photos of the P at Kingston Wharf sealed it.  Plus the information that 03s and 04s were used at Kingston giving a possible four loco types to play with and still be prototypical.

A further trip to Rye Harbour a couple of weeks back formed some more visual research (see COD's blog to your right for lots more on this particular area) and some internet digging threw up all sorts of maps and inspiring stuff.

There are questions of course. The feel will be my usual 'light hand on the scenic tiller' with plenty of open space, but I'm undecided abut what to do to block the exit. A water tower seems logical, but is it likely? What I need is something about 3.5" high by about 1.5-2" wide where the box is, but what would be next to the track? The area south of the ruler would gently drop down into estuary mud.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Utility posts

Here's one that's been nagging away at me for a while. At the north east side of Heathfield in Sussex there are a batch of posts made from what looks like bullhead rail. I've never seen these anywhere else. Not until last week when I took a rarely used route to the south on a parallel road toward Battle. Once again a short section of road with similar posts. The second road must be a few miles directly south but unconnected to the first.
The questions are why are they made this way and why here on two roads near to each other, but not connected? Is it rail? And if not, why do it this way and not use the normal posts?

Monday, 9 July 2018

Ex Cambrian open

OK, I've been a bit absent from here for a month. To the point where people were asking about my health, which is sweet. This has understandably knocked the blog hit rate by about half from the usual 10k per month. The truth of the matter is that rather than doing any actual modelling, most of the time has been taken up doing research and final editing for the forthcoming GWR book, the last-to-do physical bit of which is pictured above.

A bit of a weird one. The GWR inherited a number of Cambrian Railways opens which were in the main transferred straight into departmental use. A few of these had the drop sides effectively permanently fixed by adding corner plates. I can only assume that this was to make them more robust and to carry track debris such as rail fixings, busted sleepers and anything else which didn't have the need to be shovelled over the side. Here a few general tweeks and some plastic sheet corner plates alter this Cambrian Kits model.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Gaugemaster DIN

I'm rather puzzled.
A couple of weeks back (because she was passing) Mrs F. picked up a Gaugemaster handheld controller for me from the company shop. This to act as a spare for the aging KPC. On opening I found that there is neither a DIN plug connected, nor included in the box. In these days of simple plug-and-play I thought this odd.

Fast forward to a couple of days ago I popped in (again as I was passing) to purchase a 6 pin plug to remedy this issue. ' We can't help you', was the reply from the kindly shop assistant. Hang on a minute....this is now not just odd, but downright stupid. I and many others plug a handheld into the socket on a Gaugemaster boxed controller on the 'track 2' circuit provided. It's designed to do exactly that. But the handheld controller comes without plug and they can't sell you one to fit yourself.
Does this not smack of minor incompetence on the marketing front?

They can sell you a plug/socket pack, but you don't need the socket, just the plug to go on the handheld that doesn't have one. OK, I go to a lot of shows and it won't be long before I trip over a dealer selling plugs, but what if I couldn't, was housebound, and relying on Mr Postman, and expecting a fully integrated controller system?

Sorry. Fundamental fail.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Low relief building

 This is near Whitstable station. At first glance it looks like a fairly typical Victorian industrial unit. On second glance it becomes obvious that this is the perfect low relief or corner building as it is so shallow - probably not more than 25' front to back. There have obviously been small alterations made over the years and the second word on the signage may read 'stabling'. I'm guessing a small smithy, though there is no sign of a big enough chimney.

Friday, 8 June 2018

Rhymney steel bodied van

Rhymney Railway steel van done. Pretty basic changes: horse hooks, commode handles and vents. The brakes I bottled out of. The GWR made all sorts of changes including leaving the Dean-Churchwoods on one side and adding a Morton lever on the other with just a shoe on the RH wheel. For simplicity I just left the single Morton supplied with the kit. Ideally you'd start with a Cooper Craft chassis and Ratio body, but that's just getting silly. Making numbers up from single digits is not my favourite task and the camera makes it look even worse.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Ratio Iron Mink... again

I wasn't expecting to do this. Owing to a bit of sideways planning I'm back on the GWR stock trail again. This time a fairly simple conversion from the standard MINK kit to an ex Spillers/Rhymney version. Only really three things to do: horse hooks, commode handles and a new smaller end vent, which is by far the trickiest bit with all the filing. It's not 100% accurate; the bufferstocks are still going to be slightly wrong and the brakes are a bit of a guesstimate, but the spirt is there. I'd be surprised if anyone notices any difference, so minor are the changes.

Monday, 4 June 2018

The DEMU Showcase

This was possibly a slightly left field event for me. Firstly quite a long way so a very early start. Secondly a bit of an unknown quantity; I didn't know quite what to expect, and there was no plan B if it was crap. I think I was expecting a slightly Scaleforum feel with lots of DCC and sound driven by people wearing black with Slipknot T shirts. Possibly also a very high unobtainable (for me) standard.  Here's the reality: A lot of middle aged blokes talking about freight routing and beer, a very mixed standard of modelling  and a lot of enthusiasm. And no goths.

Longcarse West (above) caught my eye as the best thing there. The backscene was a bit meh, but the feel of a rationalising railway was captured beautifully with some cracking scenics and subtle weathering; not the random 'death by airbrush' that is so prevalent now. The others were a mixed bag down to a couple of why? type layouts which only seemed to serve as a way to get as much digital operation and effects into as small space as possible. One in particular had so may locos on 'tick over' that it reminded me of the bees that swarm around a particular tree at the end of my garden in the summer. You cannot get the required bass response in a on-board sound chip - no you need a big speaker -  and in multiple it was completely wasted. Overall though it was an excellent day and worth the long drive. Exhibition 9/10.  Catering: a basic, but good 8/1.

Photos here

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Going to DEMU

Off to the DEMU showcase which is a new one for me. I've been messing around with blue diesels for decades, but this is the serious end of the game and there is a slight amount of trepidation. There is also a dress code. I asked my travelling companion if the venue was easy to find. 'No problem.' came the reply. 'Just follow the black clothing.' I understand there is a push from DEMU members to rid themselves of the subtitle of 'we are all goths'.

Friday, 1 June 2018

Saturday Ramble - you tube

After the video fest of the last few days I pondered something which has been floating around in my head for quite a while. That being the shift from print media. The son of a mate said a few years ago that 'print media is dead'. He has a point; or if it's not dead it is definitely with a heavy cold. In the context of what I do here and what I have done over the last say five years with the writing of two beginner's manuals on railway modelling and the editor's chair of 009 News, certain questions arise.

Firstly regarding the later, there is a continual stream of questions about why the 009 Society journal cannot be published online. The answer for that is fairly simple: print run to cost ratio. Secondly, I note that even though the two book titles to your right are available in e-book form, the hard copy versions outsell these by a very large margin. The reasons for these opposing stats I believe are this: the magazine format is fleeting and is (and always has been) a throw away medium, while people like to read and keep books - they are tactile objects, especially with what are in effect manuals, and which are easier to transfer to the workbench in this form.

So where does that leave us and where are we going next? I'm going to take the mainstream news programmes as a pointer: ten years ago the TV news ignored facebook, twitter, bloggers and vloggers, now a goodly proportion of the content is made up of twitter feeds, phone and  youtube footage and the like. Things have shifted. And railway modelling? Well the print numbers are dropping slowly for all magazine titles and they all have digital screen versions, bar one. There is also a small shift to video footage either within these or in cover mounted DVDs. Change is afoot. People want instant graphic-heavy information, they are not bothered about reading large swathes of text. I used to write articles of 2,000 words, now anything more than 1,500 comes back with a polite 'can you cut it down a bit?' The older generation who were brought up with the writings of Cyril Freezer and the Rev. Denny are heading toward nursing homes and the new generation of modellers are coming at it via smart phones, youtube and DCC controller screens. Graphics are king.

I've had a youtube channel for a few years. It mainly contains short footage of layouts that caught my eye at exhibitions and are shown in the varying light of same. Also there is a bit of footage of some of the layouts featured here. So I've had a toe in the water for quite some time. What is noticeable is that while the layout view counts are only in the low hundreds, the one instructional video on wiring a PECO point through a slide switch is 80,000. Quite a difference and possibly because it's international in application. The overall question is, adding all these points together, should I be shifting this page totally, or at least partially, to a video format? It's an interesting challenge and one that is not without pitfalls. If the instructional format used it throws up all sorts of operation issues, not least timing: glue going off ,paint time, and off course there is the issue of what is a very close view subject being covered by the hands that are doing it .

The youtube channel can be found here

PS. This has just be mentioned in the comments. It is aimed at marketing bods, which this isn't, but the points are valid. I think that it refers to total switching, which wasn't what I was thinking. Lots to consider.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

The workbench

While we're on the whole video kick, a little look around the home of the blog. Neat and tidy? Oh yes. Organised? Definitely. Errr no.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Tenterden to Northiam cab

With the slow TV still slightly in vogue, a gentle ride down the line from Tenterden in the 108 DMU, or DMMU as the KESR insist on calling it. It's not a smooth trip...

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Farncombe signal box

A trip to Farnham saw me caught in a road closure east of Guildford. Being of a sat-nav free generation I kept my eye on the big shiny thing in the sky, headed east, then quickly north working out that I'd bump into a recognisable road sooner or later.
New routes are fun, especially if at the end of a suburban road you find a delightful level crossing with an intact box. A quick bit of research tells me that it's an LSWR Type 4 built by that company in 1897. It appears to have been switched out this year, but still stands it's ground for now at least. These things have a habit of disappearing in the dead of night before the preservation people get wind of demolition. I have to admit to a liking for these LSWR boxes with the windows wrapped around the corners. The LBSCR boxes are pretty and fussy, but this looks like a signal box should.

Can I have a P please Bob?

This was one of those must have items - although there's not an immediate project for it. The obvious is the late period (49-53) KESR with a Terrier and an 03/04 as the staple power. Possibly though something more rural-industrial. Though now Arun Quay is on the circuit, comparisons would be hard to avoid. A different scale/class/attitude, but the vibe would be the same. For the moment I'm quite happy just to enjoy the sheer craftsmanship of the model. We have certainly come a long way since the first of the Far East models of the early eighties and it is hard to visualise how things could improve from this.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

SECR six wheeled brake van

 While waiting for the train at Bodiam  a week ago I wandered around the small yard with the tatty Olympus. Brake vans always do it for me, although they are probably the least useful bit of stock on a preserved railway. This is the 1898 SECR six wheeler which according to the KESR website has been restored twice since they've had it. I've written here before about the perils of doing this - a time consuming expensive restoration is good, but if the item in question doesn't get used and sits out in the rain... what's it all been for? This may get a reprise as it can't be long before it's available RTR from Bachmann to tie in with the birdcages and the 0-6-0 and it will be the star attraction. Until then there is a close O gauge kit from Slaters.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Southborough industry

During one of the breaks at the Tunbridge Wells show on Saturday I nipped out for a paper. As the venue is only five minute walk from the High Street there was time to take in the sights. The area is mid Victorian terrace/villa housing, but dotted in between are little areas of industry. The difference between the builders of then and now, is that this 'built for the working man' housing also gave him a place to practice his craft. Now the game is to pack as much housing into a plot as possible and expect the occupants to drive somewhere else to work. There is a political question here that probably started in the 1980s. Before we built communities, now we build dwellings and then wonder why we're in a disjointed mess and no one talks to each other.

The building above is set back one block from the road down an alley and is a modellers delight with a mix on the main structure of brick and boarding. I assume that the upper floor would have originally been boarded as well. The juxtaposition of the old brick and the newer, probably post 70s brick is not something that many modellers tackle, and yet is so common. I can only speculate at the original usage, but would guess that the doors 1 & 3 were for small carts and that these were fed from the upper floor store.

This is one area where the modeller needs to try harder.
Swinging the camera (phone) around 90 deg to the right gives the rest of the setting - equally modellable.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Art or modelling???

There is always a slightly thorny question of whether railway modelling is an art form (I tend toward yes) but how about the other way around? A recent trip to Paris took in the French equivalent of the Tate Modern - excellent choice, but you need at least a day to even do half of it. The above made me scratch my head. I can't remember who or what, but I did wonder how this was art when most of my fellow anoraks would say that it was a pre-layout build mock up built from scraps fund in the garage. One man's art...

Monday, 21 May 2018

Expo EM

A suggestion took me to Expo EM on Sunday (a bit of a jump from Saturday's DD show which was very much geared toward young families and suffered as a result from 'other events'). The usual high quality of exhibits with only a couple of meh layouts. The above caught my eye: Surrey Arms is I suppose Minories plus and the above shot shows the whole thing. Beautifully executed though with that typical finescale 'clean' look. The thing that let it down was the operation which should have been quite slick, but wasn't. The FY is longer than the layout, which is a no, no as far as I'm concerned, but also uses cassettes, which while good for some things are clumsy and not suited to a layout with four entry/exit points where the cassettes have to be lifted over each other. I can't help thinking that a simple sector plate or ladder yard with some sort of loco release may have been a better move, especially with the given space.
The above shot of Black Lion Crossing shows only a tiny part of what is a large-ish layout which is just about perfect. Great scenery and stunning stock and I believe got a deserved best in show.

Show: 9.5/10 Catering: a typical leisure centre 5/10. They're just not geared up for the anorak brigade who want chips and sandwiches.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Art of the Compromise at Tunbridge Wells

A quick test of the AotC before its showing at Tunbridge Wells tomorrow. Your alternative to the circus that is Saturday the 19th.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

A whiter shade

Once upon a  I used to paint backscenes blue and add a few clouds. Now I lean the other way and start with white and add a touch of blue. Most of the back of this was already done so just the new ends and the inside of the wings which are 3" wide.
The bottom shaping will be fitted next and cut to shape. This will cover the canal section of the Morton Stanley picture and the transformation will be complete. The pros'arch will bolt to the top of the wing pieces. I pondered about making it all one piece as per the 009 Tal-coed, but remembered that it was tricky working through a hole for the scenics. This arrangement means I can have a separate pros'arch/ light rig in one using some LED strip. It also means that the edge will sit slightly out from the  front and, will possibly negate the front-in-shadow effect.

Art of Compromise temporary reprise

The Art of the Compromise was only supposed to be a one show layout. However, a last minute request to attend the Tunbridge Wells show this weekend as what I presume to be to replace a drop out, sees it reprised for one more time before it goes. The details are somewhat confused as the exhibition manager is obviously expecting the usual 7mm NG layout. Morton Stanley would have been the first choice in this situation, but has ceased to be. AotC to the rescue. Details here .

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Micro layout board

And the boxing-in begins. I have traditionally built open ended boards with just a back board to stop the eye. This has become somewhat unsatisfactory of late, mainly because a lot of the 'display' part of the idea is now photographically via here and other web medium. When you are building just for home and occasional exhibition, the human eye quickly realises that the scene ends at the edge of the board and does not query the other factors in the room around the layout, as the viewer is standing among it all. In a photograph this becomes irritating, as the relationship has changed and the background rubbish is as important on the image as the model.
Take this shot of Morton Stanley by Mike Campbell - one of my favourites of the layout... except 20% of the shot is other stuff. Enclosing the scene would be better. 
Part of the reason is the finality of boxing-in. In my head there is always the possibility to extend and although it is possible to rip end boards off, it usually happens at 8.30 am on the morning of a show. This doesn't end well and neither does the properly intended action - there is always debris and it never is as clean an operation as you first wished. I realise this is fairly old hat thinking in some quarters, and I first built a fully boxed layout in 1989, so hardly new for me either, but there is a step change in thinking that needs to be taken.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Lynton and Barnstaple wagon

A small amount of modelling done - hurrah! A Dundas (that still feels weird without the Parkside in front) kit for an L&B 4 ton open. Why build such a beast when there's a RTR version? Well modelling is better than buying, this is two thirds of the price and lastly, this is one of two that Dundas do - one cupboard door version like the Peco, and this top hung door version. That way if you want to expand your fleet of RTR wagons and ring the changes slightly then this could be the boy for you.
All pretty standard construction methods, though as usual I built this thing backwards starting with the chassis.
Nine quid against fifteen or so for the RTR version.

Friday, 11 May 2018

Kent and East Sussex Railway

A neat slide over to the Kent and rusty bucket yesterday; it was a nice day and there's no more pleasant a ride on a quiet sunny day. Starting at Bodiam, went up the line behind the ex Longmoor USA tank which is pretty from the front, but the ugliest MF of a loco from the back. The return was in the DMU - the empty DMU. It doesn't go chuff-chuff so no one is interested, despite the better view and a better sense of the line's gradients. The downside is that it finds every rail joint, so not a smooth ride by any means. We split the run back at Northiam and sat in the sun for an hour with a cup of tea and picked up the last steam run to Bodiam. In between we stopped for a very slow lunch (second only in slow service to the pub at Pendon), but did manage to blag a full tour of the carriage works watching the Met Rly coach being finished and the fascinating un-panelled GWR railcar at low level rebuild.
Railway: 11/10 Tenterden Catering: a low 3/10 Northiam Catering: High 9/10.

Compare the almost identical report from four years ago here.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Peco finescale track

Just to prove that I'm riding on the crest of current technology I bought these for the (micro) layout. At least they were new some twenty years ago and I've just got around to giving them a go. Don't ever say that I don't keep up to date with the latest developments.

Epsom and Ewell show

 OK it's a bit late in the day. Over a week ago I wandered up to Epsom using a rather tortuous route to avoid the M23/5. The E & E is one of those dates in the year which is worth your attention. Always good quality and an excellent supply of trade. Two things caught my eye: Modbury, not only the 2mm F/S aspect, but the fact that is the rarely done GWR pre-1920s period which removes the cliché immediately. Quite beautiful in execution.
At the other end of the scale was Stackton Binge, a club offering which used to be a GWR branch in O, but now re-jigged to fit Ian Hopkins' early LSWR stock from St Georges Hill. Poorly operated and better with some sort of backscene, but it just had something about it.

Lunch got very confused. If two people ask for sausage and chips, don't dish one up and then say that it's the last available. Needs improvement.
Show: 10/10, catering: 6/10

Monday, 7 May 2018

Micro layout

Well nearly. A little late night pottering is good to open up a few plans the main components here are the partially stripped Morton Stanley board and the buildings made for the GWR book. In effect what I have is a layout kit. The only thing to purchase is a few points. The track plan is a return to the John Ahearn Gammon End structure with a loop and two opposing sidings in front. Simple, but workable,and there's not a lot more you can get into 45" with out really cramping it.
Some remedial timber work next.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Art and compromises.

New page added for the Art of the Compromise at the top of the page.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Morton Stanley is dead, long live Morton Stanley

With Morton Stanley stripped of the buildings there was a happy hour spent dumping different things on it to see how the board could be recycled into something new.
The Terrier from the Southern book, a Kirk BR van and a Bachmann ER brake were close to hand along with the freebie Metcalfe weighbridge hut given away with RM a while back. Some new track and buildings and.... Rother Wharf?

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Caribbean layout

New Caribbean layout almost finished.

Palm trees and typing

Consolidation day. Time to tidy up a few bits of text. With a small amount of push I should be able to get 4-6,000 works inserted into the main body. That and take photos of the water tower and lamp hut.

Foe some reason I plonked some plastic palm trees into some blu-tak and dumped them on Orne... madness lies that way.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Orne - 009

This is a bit of a funny one. A bastard child from the beginning and I can't make it feel right. Regulars will know that I value feel over accuracy any day. Maybe it'll sort itself out. Is it too narrow? Too simple? Or have I somehow managed to get the South Downs feel so well that it is too close to home? The problem is that it started as one thing, then became another and I've not thought it through properly. Add to that, that it has been very much a small side project with no final destination either in publication or exhibition terms.

It is basically done bar the detailing and I'm wondering whether to box it 'cameo' style rather that the open way that I would usually display. This is totally the wrong way around though and would cause no end of problems especially around the exit. Nah...

Sunday, 22 April 2018

The trouble with water towers...

... is that you can't see the top of them. I have to admit that I'd not given these things an awful lot of thought until this week. There are photographs of water towers by the thousand on the internet, but to a man they are taken from the safe position of standing with both feet firmly on the ground. I can understand this; for who in their right mind wants to  climb a ladder and perch at the top with camera in hand, thinking: this'll be useful to someone building a Ratio kit of one of these.  The net result of all this is that I still have little understanding of what's going on up there except that it is vaguely resembling a very large toilet.
Then there is the painty thing. Thinish coats of paint (so that the rivet detail stays) don't like the battleship grey plastic - four light coats later and it's just about acceptable. This is the last of the  single items to do before the gargantuan effort of jumping full belt into another layout. An attempt was made yesterday to buy some MDF as I happened to be passing Homebase, but true to form they only stock things I don't need like lawnmowers and BBQ things, not stuff to make things with. The concept of making something seems to be fading  - making things is what other people (mainly Chinese people) do. We seem to be less curious and less creative as a breed now. My childhood was full of weekend project taken on by my parents and grandparents. There was always something to make, something to fix, the garden to sort. Now we have weekend events and experiences at weekends and moan that there is no money left. The world turns slowly...

Friday, 20 April 2018

Ratio water tower

A lot of these are turning into mini reviews. Ah well.
I was told that this kit was a bit of a bitch. It doesn't fall together, but I've encountered no major problems thus far. Getting all the parts square with each other is the worst bit when you are working from the start point of a tapered post.
I elected to work backwards with the exit pipe and mount the pivot shelf last, thus avoiding the situation of having the pipe bracket dangling if the resulting gap is too wide. I also adopted the 'Tiley method' of wrapping the brace wires around the boss rather than fitting them separately.
The tank it self has been reduced in height. There are marks inside to help do this, but it would have meant making two cuts, which I thought was pushing my luck slightly. Instead I worked from the central join line on the outside, cutting on the waste side and filing back.
So far so good except I need to re-do the photo.

Monday, 16 April 2018

GWR layout

After a bit of mental push and shove yesterday it looks as if the GWR layout is go. Target point is mid October for a finish, which in theory should be no problem. The buildings are done anyway and so is the basic stock requirement. This means we are talking about two standard length baseboards, points, track and some scenery. Svanda fiddle yard and supporting woodwork, taking it to about 11' 6" total length. All pretty normal then.

On with some paper planning then and to twist a couple of arms at the Croydon club.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Horsham exhibition

At the Horsham show today operating Giles Barnabe's Peurto Paseo. Which is Our Man in Havana meets Minories. I love it. Double exit junction station with no run rounds so each train needs to be pulled in by one loco and removed by another. The railcar needs to be shuffled around the station and turned. It's got a lovely vibe and a warmth. Someone said 'you can almost smell the dust and dog shit'. It's retiring soon, to make way for more early Victorian themes.
Show: 9/10 Catering: an enthusiastic 7/10. Portion controlled baked potatoes aren't really my thing, but the apple crumble was.

Wills kit

I talk a lot about compromises here and this is another. Requirement: small GW lamp hut, plastic. What's in the kit: Four walls, a door with no lock, a weird shape window and a roof section which is about 1.5mm too short. The fix would be to take a smidge off the side length. That means that I've had to alter the window, cut down and alter the sides, take the vent off the roof  and add things to the door. At half the kit price (there are two in the pack) of about £3.00 there is a basic question now that by factoring in the extra time, I could have knocked one up out of Slaters sheet for less money with a more logical window and it wouldn't have taken any longer.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Wills lamp hut

In my world of endless sidestepping over projects, it was on to lamp huts to finish the auxiliary items section. There was no lamp hut in stock, so I had to wait to visit Gaugemaster and pay top dollar before I could move on. The roof vent and bucket shelf have come off and the landscape shape window (like no other lamp hut) has had a couple of extra bars fitted.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Wills taximans shelter

Up to London yesterday with Miss V. A couple of these along the route. It's notable how close these are in feel to the Wills kit and yet how far away in detail. Yet I've never seen one fully worked up to this working example in Kensington.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Narrow Gauge South

Wow! What a day. First I didn't really get a chance to give anything in the show much more than a cursory glance as it was difficult to move more than 20 feet without being engaged in conversation with either old mates, or people who wanted to chat about 009 Society stuff. Plus I had a layout to run. How it ran I have no idea as soon as I stood behind it another conversation began. I don't think I ran more than two trains from 10-5. Nigel Hill as ever did sterling work in covering me through all this and while I was off doing 009 Society AGM things; which is still a little bit of a new experience for me. People who have proper jobs are probably used to the slightly time-wasting political push and shove - it still feels very odd foreign thing.
I took no photos except the above of Harry Dawe's semi-scratch saddle tank on a Minitrains chassis. Harry is a bright-eyed, GCSE taking cash- strapped teenager and turns out this sort of thing on next to no budget. Better than I could do now after 40 years.
It was also great to get several people come up and say that they were readers of the blog. Thanks for making it worth writing.

Friday, 6 April 2018

New layout

There are questions. Question one is always why? But then why do anything? Question two is always what?
As I've spouted here before, the problem with having a fairly wide range of tastes, the what could be anything and not necessarily narrow gauge either. The back up question two is what do I need to clear/use up? This is probably the wrong way of going about it, but if you've been doing this a while and subject matter is not an issue, there is always rolling stock debris. This means that I could build a number of new layouts without a) spending too much, or b) doing too much work in the way of research, although this is a big part of the fun. There is always the 'Five year plan' to consider. Regulars will know that this has become a bit of a joke recently as it took eight years and didn't get completed. The original FYP was the following:
1. American HO switch yard or similar.
2. South Wales 80s OO.
3 Norwegian HO secondary line.
4. Small 0-16.5 (as a warm up to...)
5. O gauge early or light.

2, 3 and 4 got built. That's not to say there was a lazy element as there were a couple of 009 layouts along the way as well plus the AotC, so about seven layouts in under a decade. Which if you were on a numbers game is not too rough. 1,2, and 3 were originally designed to use a common FY which worked to a degree with the Rhiw yard being quickly transferred to Svanda. That's the history, but what about the future? Here's the possible new list:
1. American HO switch yard or similar.
2. Something  Southern Region (possibly Kentish) in 00.
3. Rhiw Two. The first version was abandoned after a few shows and the RM article for various reasons, but mainly the front operation which is just stupid as far as I'm concerned.
4. N gauge WR. A revisit of the Unnycoombe stock with a slight lean toward the diesels. I have a plan in my head. Although I did say never again with N.
5. Son of the AotC. The existing is on its way out of the door. However... I do like the concept (as unoriginal as it is). The problem that bugs me with the AotC is the track layout which is  unprototypical or un-typical if you like. The GWR and small stations in general don't/didn't work like that - it's  a trainset plan - I can do better, but with the same headgame.

Note there is no NG. Orne (009) still sits here, but has attracted little interest from anyone except particles of dust. There is however a thrilling deadline just the other side of the sunshine. Could I build the classic GWR terminus in seven months with the Croydon show (hello Richard) as a side bet? I sort of know the answer to that.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

The beading brake van

After an epic amount of wire went on for the beading; nearly 3' in all. It's onto the exciting stuff: duckets and handrails.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Micro baseboard kit

As a break from the brake, I put together a review sample of Stuart Hughes' micro baseboards. Aimed at the 009 market, but no reason why they shouldn't work for anything else, they measure 15" x 11" and come in several styles; this the cut out dock/basin model. Not without its fiddly/needs three hands moments it went together in under and hour and a half including letting the glue go off for a while half way through the build. Made out of 4mm MDF and very accurately laser cut, it turns out very nicely. The fixings are via 'ears' that are bolted through both back and front. The sector plate version which I have yet to build looks very interesting. £15 +p&p each or the facebook page gets you more info.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

The little brake that could

I managed to solder the W-irons in place without the bearings dropping out. So far it's been quite fun and I was pleasantly surprised when the whole thing worked straight away with all four wheels on the deck at the same time. A lull into a false sense of security however. I now find I have to add all the beading for the sides and ends from 0.5mm brass wire. See you in a week...