Sunday, 21 October 2018

Talyllyn Railway layout

On the return trip from Porthmadog a detour was made to take in a little Tal-y-llyn. Notwithstanding the obvious attractions, a quick look around the shop threw up the usual keyrings and books. A look upward to the top of the shelves gives you not only Gordon Gravett's Abergynolwyn in 7mm in its box, but the original roundy roundy 009 layout. This was built for the TRPS to take to events to promote the railway. and was featured in an early BRM. One train circled round through the scene powered by a motor bogie in the brake van. As can be seen it split into two for transport in a way that I can't help but feel would not be acceptable now. Nevertheless, it has spawned at least one copy cat from yours truly and featured in the pages above.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Multi gauge test track

A bit of a grease and oil round on Mr Hill's 20 year old Terrier. Without a 16.5mm gauge layout to test it on, the late 1980s test track made a surprise appearance. Supported on 3' of 9mm MDF it originally had a length of track fitted to EM gauge during my brief dalliance with the wider gauge. Gradually two more sets of rails were added with the end result that I can run 16.5/EM/21 on it as well as  a whole different set of 32mm on the flip side. Needless to say that the 21mm hasn't had a lot of use. What I should do is take the 21mm up and lay a length of N gauge down the middle of the 32. One day...

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

009 slab wagon

After slates come slabs. Essentially a few bits of plastic on a butchered Peco chassis. Based on the long version on the FR, but a couple of mill under in length. Droopy oval fixing loops as per the prototype.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Rope rings

I'm most of the way through a semi-scratch slab wagon and needed some tiny fixing rings to attach to the solebars. Single strands of layout wire twisted around the tip of a pencil which is wound round unto the loop reaches the required size. Who said 009 was fiddly?

Monday, 15 October 2018

009 slate wagons

A brace of slate. Two Dundas FR 3 ton versions in braked and unbraked mode flanking a Narrow Planet (Meridian) Penrhyn 2 ton example. The numbering on the outer two is Ratio and the smallest I could find here, but I picked up a sheet of Old Time transfers at Porthmadog which are designed for these wagons and will replace in good time. The Penrhyns had microscopic numbers on the side bars either direct or on black patches which are represented here.  The rear two will get a load when I get around to it. A scratch slab wagon is next up.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

The Corris

Still on the Welsh theme. One of the mostly overlooked lines, The Corris. The problem is that it has tended to get overshadowed by the big boys so a) doesn't get the volunteer base as it's short and not so glam, and b) is short and non glam as there isn't the volunteer base and cash - vicious circle. There is a highly enthusiastic band of workers who put an enormous amount of work in and could always use a hand.

Friday, 12 October 2018

009 Penrhyn slate wagon

Now in a deep channel of Welsh NG and a brace of slate wagons to build. Fiddly? Undoubtedly. At under an inch long this Penrhyn example is a fiddle, but does fit together pretty well. Still a bit to do in final cleaning and painting.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Stone tunnel mouth

One of my pet hates on layouts is the exit line into a tunnel to a rear FY with a fan of sidings in front, usually with some sort of mill or diary to disguise said FY. Tunnels start in cuttings, they don't stick out.
That said, last week Mrs. F dragged me kicking and screaming up to Caernarfon  on the Welsh Highland (the things I put up with for a quiet life). The last bit of the line from Dinas uses the old LNWR trackbed into the town. This was all a school day for me, so imagine my surprise when my unlikely model scenario slapped me straight in the face. I'm not awfully familiar with this route, but a check reveals that this end of line used to continue under the town and up to Bangor. Here we are then; sticky-out tunnel mouth hiding the storage yard with warehouse in front. All built from Wills sheet with low relief houses along the top. Prototype for everything.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Spooner's boat

Back from a long weekend in North Wales: some R & R (research and relax) most of the research on the FR and most of the relax in Spooners at Porthmadog (which is top notch BTW). Not cheap trip by any means - we could have done Majorca for half the money, but who needs that when you can get good Welsh drizzle and stuff like the above. Spooners boat was allegedly personal transport for the above named which could be run on wind power across the Cob between Porthmadog and Boston Lodge. There was a little in the way of a helping push here, but it did seem to work.

Handkerchief and a Kato Portram chassis anyone?

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Orne fiddle yard mods

Orne wasn't really thought of as an exhibition piece hence the front loading point switches. Seeing as it's going out later this month a timetable of sorts was run through using the simple three road fiddle yard. What was spotted was that there are a couple of railcar moves possible that mean moving something else to load them up. Having two short sidings for two railcars seemed the answer.
Fast forward to Sunday and I picked up a point from Kernow Models and... well you can work he rest out yourselves. The wood glue is to fix a strip of wood along the near edge to stop stuff falling off.
How slick is this going to be?

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Worthing show

 Seeing as though it's only a little way away and Mrs F. was out with her mother (cue Jaws theme) I wandered over to the Worthing show. The only thing that had caught my eye on the listing was Graham Muspratt's Canute Road which is tiny but lovely. I'd not been to this event for a few years and in ground space terms it's grown a bit, with two extra rooms, but is still hamstrung by the long dark corridor as the centre piece, which gives the effect of the show never achieving a critical mass of people as they're all strung out in a line.
The other layout that I really liked was at the other end of the size range - Dubmill Sidings. This captures that hard to get right atmosphere of open space. Difficult in the smaller scales; harder still on O. Not one narrow gauge layout though.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

More fence work for Orne

Not stunningly impressed with this. The fishing wire wasn't keen to be stuck into the holes. I think there's supposed to be 4-5 wires, but this was testing my patience as it was, and this from the man who has built buildings from single blocks of card in the past.
Anyway... stuck in with UHU and a three layer paint job (grey/green/brown) to try to make it visually disappear and not look like a set of gravestones. General bedding-in to do. This may get replaced.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Fencing for Orne

This stuff has been in the drawer for a goodly amount of time so probably smart to use it up. I needed a foot or so of non-specific fencing to run along the back of the layout. I think this is Ratio and that you are supposed to stick the fishing line that comes with it to the front of the posts with some solvent. These had been pre-drilled by our Mr. Hill some time back and it was just a case of threading the line through and sticking it to the posts set at 1" intervals. I can think of more entertaining jobs to do.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

1970s offices

A while back I posted a photo of a quite delightful fuel tank near Stoke Mandeville. Swinging the camera to the left brings up these 1970s offices. Still in use, but looking a little worse for wear. The concrete pad to the right is the drip area for the fuel tank - or could it have been a weighbridge at some point? Most people will now buy a ready to plonk item for this sort of thing, but a few selected and altered bits of Ratio and Wills should sort most of it out in this low-relief scenario topped with some wet and dry for the felt roofing.

Friday, 21 September 2018

The boy on the bridge

This has become a bit of a signature cameo. The boy on the bridge (if there is one) has appeared on all layouts since Wood End in 1999, and Orne is no different. This is the last one in stock though. A standard Airfix/Dapol figure with a mix of acrylics. The bridge is a Wills Occupation top with a new plasticard deck, over a scratch base made from Wills brick sheet. As the setting is the South Downs the chalk bridle path with its overgrown hedges was easy to channel into model form. The path continuing into the backscene.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Shunting at Orne.

Being that Orne is pretty simple I thought I'd try running through a basic sequence of moves to see if there was enough to do. One loop, one siding, three storage roads and a mix of a two goods consists, one passenger train and a couple of railcars. Starting with just the flat car on the layout I worked through sixteen moves which took me back to where everything was in its original position. Hardly heart-stopping excitement, but then I never operate much at exhibitions anyway and its not that sort of layout - it wasn't meant to be. I scribbled the moves down as I went, all fairly obvious, and even a young strapping nuclear physicist should be able to operate it without any instruction.

Above is the final move with the flat ready to be swapped over and nosed into the siding. The flat is an FR coach chassis with a new top, the loco a Knightwing on a Kato 103 and the brake is scraps. Just another hour's work should see it ready for ExpoNG next month.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

009 platform detail

I tend to go for an open feel on layouts. For some reason that's not working here, so time for some clutter and extra bits. Like most I've got drawers full of little bits and pieces that have been bought, borrowed and nicked, and a lot of which have come from old layouts. Above is a case in point: the figure is original Airfix donated by Nigel Hill and repainted, and marks the maximum uncoupling point for the run round. The new fencing is actually off Rhiw (see pages above). Some of this ended up on the Art of Compromise and this is the rump. The sign is from a double A4 sheet of Builder Plus enamel signs that I got for 10p in a rummage box at a show and contains enough of this sort of thing for a lifetime. The fence just needs bedding in with some green stuff.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Orne 009 details

A bit of work on Orne. The usual 'boy on the bridge' a platform passenger and some wood chopping.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Art of Compromise Railway Modeller

AoC on the cover. Go buy.

Baseboard painting

Out into the wilds of the garage to paint the baseboard of the new OO (old Morton Stanley) baseboard. A nice smart black this time and quite pleased that I hit the forward planning enough to do this before the track and scenery went in. Working title now is Dury's Gap; just because I don't think that COD has nabbed it yet, and with a little twist of punk heritage to change it. Apostrophe or no apostrophe?

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

009 Water tower

Stuffed and mounted. I though I'd overdone the weathering, but here I'm thinking it could do with a few more rusty tones. Brazier and ladder yet to do.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Water tower for Orne

Orne's water tower build complete.  I wanted something spindly and looking locally-made which ruled out the commercial kits. Wills vari-girder tank, Ratio timber top, door off a Southern brake van, cotton bud poles, various bits of plastic strip, sprue from a Ratio signal box, chain, and some donated wire. Most of this (everything except the vari-girder) came out of he scrap box; thus under a quid to make. Now some suitable rusty paintwork to finish.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Point switches

After much filing to make the holes bigger to take the standard DPDT switches (it would have been easier to start from scratch) all four are now in place. There are also 7mm holes drilled in the back of the board just below each switch to thread the wiring through. This means that at least one end of the wiring is east to get at during an exhibition. I might paint the outside of the case now before anything else happens.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Woking show 2018

 Up to Woking yesterday fundamentally to assist a mate with a bit of operating; though that in itself is another story. Obviously I can't comment on the Sunday's proceedings , but counter to my slagging of the catering department last year, I can say that when I was in the cafĂ© area, all appeared to be going swimmingly and no 'we've go no food left' notice as before.
An excellent spread of layouts - Arun Quay (obvs) an American Fn3 gauge which just had so much presence and one I was particularly drawn to was very old personal home layout in EM. I take it was built decades ago by someone who is long deceased, but it just oozed atmosphere even though it was tatty and showing it's age. However - it ran and lots of it.
The 009 Society much in evidence with Martin Collins and Paul Davies manning the desk alongside Welshpool. And opposite us downstairs; Adrian Ponting's Aldbourne with his Society competition entry railcar.

Friday, 7 September 2018

Skinny legs

This is basically four new bits of plastic and a load of scrap. The new being the vari-girder. A bit of strip just inside the edge gave the tank something to sit on and the legs... ?
Well I note we've gone over to cardboard for cotton buds now, but not before I'd squirrelled away some tubes from same made of nasty planet destroying plastic.  I fished four of these out and set to cutting them down to 45mm  - 5mm to go inside and then stuck them on. Errr… no I didn't. I tried to stick them on, but none of the usual solvents worked. No wonder they're not popular with turtles. I resorted to UHU and even that's not great; that, plus the obvious trying to get them perpendicular and the same height.

Thursday, 6 September 2018

4mm water tower

After a few weeks of no proper modelling I thought I'd better get the cutting mat out and actually do something. With the showing of Orne at Expo NG just over the horizon getting the water tower done seemed like a good (if not urgent) thing to do. 
May I present the tank bit just put together from Wills vari-girder panels. 

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

DPDT switch

Point switches for the layout with no name. My usual simple set up with a slide switch to change the polarity lashed to a wire-in-tube set up to move the tie bar. 
First a 0.8mm drill through the handle as low as possible. There's a hole in the middle and the plastic is usually quite soft, so it struggles a little at first then pings out the other side when you least expect mostly into the fleshy part of your index finger.

Monday, 3 September 2018

The new OO layout.

Everything old is new again.

This is quite a slow burn project. I picked up the track for this in May, but save a bit of plotting, it hasn't moved very far forward  - too much writing and GWR. Yesterday I had a hour to waste so started working on the shelf that holds the point switches which is also useful for resting uncoupling hooks, pencils and the like during a show. I'm reusing the old bits of MDF to hold the switches and just re-mounting and adjusting to suit.
I need a name for it soon.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Burgess Hill exhibition

A hop skip and a jump up the road found me at the Burgess Hill exhibition. The usual good spread of layouts and not too many box shifters. A lot of chat with old friends about everything from trade stands to Police pensions. Above is Giles Barnabe's Shellsea which gets better every time I see it. Also I was particularly taken with Wantage in O gauge and Matt Kean's 009. The only down side of the show is the weird lighting in the main hall which I find really uncomfortable.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Expo NG 2017

What's scary is that there are a couple of layouts here that I don't remember.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Monday, 27 August 2018

A return to the narrow gauge

Life being what it is, one day leads to another and so it is with various projects. The GWR book is at the paste and proof stage with a release date of early 2019. There is still much to do like me having to do the post-paste check and scribbling an index. Aside from that there is the next mighty tome on the horizon - something  wet and Welsh. No not my ex wife, but a 55,000 word discourse on modelling the Welsh narrow gauge mostly in it's easiest form of 009. I'm fully aware that there are those more qualified that me to write about this, but it's my name on the contract. Look forward then to tales of slate and sheep, and men in funny hats blowing horns and riding on tightly packed slivers of rock.
Comfort zone.

Friday, 24 August 2018

Great Western branch line modelling book

The cover proof appeared this morning. I'm never sure about covers. What's inside I have a degree of control over, but at this point onwards the dog is off the lead and all responsibility is handed over to someone else who is choosing what the thing will look like, and what they think is a strong enough cover to make someone pick it up. For the first time both these shots are from inside and not from the file of 'spares for cover'. The lower is Bob Vaughan's Condicote taken at the East Grinstead show a couple of years back - one of my favourites and just on the right side of twee in a very small space.

Monday, 20 August 2018

313s in BR blue

 Into Brighton today on the usual 313. Only something odd. Not the usual GiTRail green and grubby white, but something that looks remarkably like unlettered and unbranded BR blue/grey. No company name, just the numbers. Will they get the double arrow logo? I hope so.

Saturday, 18 August 2018

West Mids open day.

Off to the open day of the West Midlands Group of the 009 Society. Fab day out. Lots of chat and arm twisting for articles. And didn't buy any books. That has to be a record. Well done to Mr Webb and the team for putting on a good show.

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.

Tuesday, 17 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'.