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
norfolkheathworks@hotmail.com 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...

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

There be dragons

Another short series possibly coming up. How can you contain yourselves? This time a Dragon Models Rhymney Railway 6 ton brake. Read that again. 6 ton. Pretty is probably the best word. With a 7'6"" wheelbase it makes the iron mink based cattle van look positively huge.
I've not done a full etched kit for quite a while so it's into a finger-burning start with some nice thin overlays which needed riveting. I used a riveting tool that I bought at Scaleforum. No I didn't, I used some school compasses that I've have for 40 + years and tapped them with a pair of pliers to punch the dents through. The whole lot then curls up like a dead woodlouse and needs flattening out again before sweating onto the inner piece. It's small; 2 1/16" long. Not so much a brake as a drag.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Narrow Gauge South

Morton Stanley is due to appear at Narrow Gauge South in Eastleigh on the 7th April. This is definitely it's last showing, but it will have a price tag on it. If no one bites it'll be stripped for parts ASAP. If you're interested let me know by the 7th.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Saturday Ramble

I've been hanging around one of the forums for a couple of years. I find the whole thing fascinating on one hand and worrying on the other. The general reaction to a post swing from 'nice work Dave' to something less friendly. Recently I noodled into a couple of FB groups. It seems to be worse, with people getting upset all over the place. I had to tacitly agree with one commenter yesterday who said that experience counts for nothing. This is an online problem only it seems. People are more than happy to turn up at a show and talk to say Gordon Gravett over a demo table, nod, take any advice on modelling and leave. Online people post photos of layouts, I assume for some sort of reaction, but when they get 'improvement suggestions' the fire starts.
There are generally two types of modeller these days: the home worker and the exhibition worker. The later takes his work out and expects reaction good and bad. The former doesn't. The exhibition managers are the filter for this. The internet doesn't filter and the home worker is free to publicly display, but without the filter gets upset when the reaction isn't purely heaps of praise. The exhibitor is used to a bit of flack and being ignored at times.
The reason FB is worse (and I'm about to be a grumpy old man here) is possibly because it is inhabited by a younger modeller possibly one who is used to being told that there is no such thing as failure. The older hands know that at least 50% fails and will take the advice. I'm generalising of course, but we do seem to be less forgiving and less able to learn. Maybe it is just too easy now to get a basic layout together and say 'look at me aren't I clever' without the struggle period of learning the craft. The older hands have done this, know the pitfalls and have made the mistakes. We can all learn from experience.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Wagon weathering

And done. Well it was done last week, I just needed to tone it down a little.
The lettering is somewhat assumptive. The van had a couple of mod's done during the larger letter days, so I assumed that these may have been added in the only place you can fit them... the door. By the 1920's it may have been looking quite sorry for itself, so it was out with the new top quality airbrush, worn out Poundland 90p paint brush, and a modicum of dry brushing all over the iron bits with some Games Workshop stinky willie grey and Humbrol 62 ( I made some of that up).

To recap: Ratio iron mink kit, vents filed off, Shire Scenes sides added, painted. Would I do t again? Yes. Would I use super glue as suggested ? Not a chance.

Monday, 19 March 2018

East Grinstead Exhibition

 A trip to the East Grinstead show yesterday. One of those annual treks which is almost habit. E G is not top flight, but nor is it a village hall show either with stuff from the host club and some selections from other local clubs and lone wolves such as Peter Bossom's 3mm scale Bulverhythe above being operated by Richard Preece.
 One of the main reasons for going was to see Bob Vaughn's Tansey Bank and take some photographs for 009 News. Bob has a spread of small highly detailed layouts in 4mm scale which are full of cameos, all beautifully executed and often use commercial kits in a way that they were not originally intended. That as well as a fleet of top quality rolling stock as above.
A third lone wolf in the shape of Andrew Knights with Eastwood, which uses a brace of Airfix/Dapol buildings twisted to fit the American prototype: here a few recognisable parts from an Airfix signal box become a delightful American switch tower.

Show 7/10
Catering 10/10 mainly because of the speed, sensible menu and pricing.
Highly recommended

Friday, 16 March 2018

Saturday Ramble

I know what a sharp eyed bunch you are, so you will have noticed a few background changes on this web page. What it needed was a clean and a slight update.

This blog has been running for nearly nine years and although I'd been blogging for a while, back when there were no gadgets and no commenting facility, this was an idea to just put a few model pictures up. The title reflected a 009 layout that was built around 1999, and nine years ago I was a couple of exhibition layouts further on, hence 'Wood End and Beyond'. Now that seems completely irrelevant; not only is it the name of a layout that I no longer own that was conceived and built last century, but my approach, modelling, and to some extent life, have moved on. There are for instance a few bits of associated writing that don't really get much of a mention here, but should. The list of layouts at the top has almost doubled and the writing within the posts is more opinionated and directed. In short it's more me, much more me than Wood End. Also the page had some loose ends and I needed put the stuff that I thought was important near the top: contact, links to books and links to other blogs, both of which are easier to do now than when I started here. These links are there because I think they are the relevant ones - the ones I find inspiring, the ones who I believe represent the forward motion of railway modelling. The only loss is Penhydd which does not exist any more. Shame.

The same irreverent spiel will occur in the posts - do continue to email and comment; they do get read. Welcome to the new (old) blog.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Wealden show and the AotC

Last weekend's Wealden Railway Group show was a weird one - no real changes there. Regulars will have gathered that it was the AotC's only public outing. The WRG event is so laid back that the stress level is pretty non-existent. It's a bit like inviting all of your mates round for a tea. The layout performed just about faultlessly, and considering the lowly roots of some of the stock, you could have expected a lot worse. I operated the layout on my own all day - no I'm lying. Nigel Hill covered most of it while I talked my way though the day.

I even left early for a prior engagement leaving Nigel (again) to throw the layout into the back of Mrs F's car to take home. It sits still packed to my right awaiting its fate. The challenge complete, the Roy Link plan built and gingerly exhibited to a gushing public. The root of its story on here was back in 2010 - almost eight years from inception to endgame. Its job is done - almost.

Pics of the AotC and the rest of the show can be accessed via Mike Campbell's blog here .

Shire Scenes cattle van 4

 The sides drop over the ends as per the plastic originals. These were a little on the tight side so a bit of material needed to be removed from the leading edges of the ends. Because the new sides are less than half the thickness of the old there is a bit of 'bend'. The smart will have extended the floor with lengths of strip. Me, I just wacked a couple of blocks of scrap against the doors with some super glue and solvent. The top edge does need some support, here using a strip of Wills brick sheet. No I don't know what bond it is.
 With buffers, hooks and brake lever on I waved some Halfords primer over it which nicely accentuates all the crooked bits and finger marks.
Top coat of 67 and we're nearly there. Just some tidying to do and the questionable lettering. Did the van ever carry large GW lettering, and where did the G & W go on the side?

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Stewart Reidpath Gnat

 This passed by my nose in the last few days. I believe it's a Stewart Riedpath 'Gnat' possibly marketed by Hamblings just post WW2. Heavy does not describe it. With a whitemetal body, possibly a lead chassis, and two bits of brass strip bolted to the bottom, it weighs more than most of Hattons Bachmann stock put together. Apparently it still runs well once warmed up.
I have a feeling that John Ahern used this chassis under at least one of the Madder Valley locos. I wonder how many of todays current crop of RTR will last seventy years?
It was passed to a friend of mine for disposal and has a boxed 0-6-0 companion should you be interested in this piece of model history.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Coleford Book

I've just reviewed this for 009 News. John Wilkes' book on his Coleford layout, which is one of the most non-clichéd and eclectic 009 layouts around. Well worth a look and available from Narrow Planet's web shop at £9.95.   

Shire Scenes cattle van 3

 The modified ends need to go on very square. A little more care than normal was required here as it wasn't just a case of building a box with the adjacent side. The  ends need to be a firm and straight pair of posts to hang, what are quite a flimsy side piece from. A square is pretty much the tool of choice here.
 Both fitted. The marginally more pedantic may think it necessary to cut some 5-10 thou sheet squares to plug the holes inside - Possibly a step too far I thought.
As far as I know this is the only reference shot and is freely available on the web. It shows the van ex works (presumably 1888) with the 19th century lettering style.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Cattle van 2

 On to the chassis: The scary bit was chopping the side away. The Ratio MINK is quite an old design, with the solebar and side moulded as one. The danger being that you risk spoiling the edge where it attaches to the floor resulting in a wobbly wagon. I left the part on the sprue to give me more to hang on to. Except at this moment where I'm juggling the camera as well.
 With the detached solebars I made up a basic rolling chassis which needed a fair bit of fettling to get the wheels and solebars in the correct position. I used plain bearing for a change as tophats threw the whole thing out. This was going to get more than average handling so I left the brake lever for the time being. The Gibson wheels came with the Ratio kit, but at this point I noticed that there was an amount of flash on the back of the wheel-centres which was filed off with a flat needle file.
The rudimentary instructions that come with the Shire Scenes kit barely mention the ends. It occurred to me that the vent was superfluous so checked with the one existing photo. It's square on which is not helpful, but you can see inside. Why would you put vents on a semi-open vehicle after all? Filing off looked risky, but I carried on. It is possible, but the plastic is paper thin as you can see.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Shire Scenes cattle van 1

I haven't done a series on here fore an absolute age, so I thought this might be a good one to run. The Shire Scenes etch to go with the Ratio Iron Mink. This will be the final of the trio for the forcoming book now in the writing. This build isn't finished as yet so it could all fall over.
Above is what you get with the kit: a simple etch with two sides. Most of the projections either fold to the front excepting the lower panels which go to the rear. The instructions say to use super glue. I wasn't altogether happy with this , but ran with it for simplicities sake.

 The two flat panels folded up to the rear with a tiny smear of gel type super glue. The main problem with this is permanence and also the fact that you can scrape or brush excess solder away, dead glue is not so forgiving. Any slight bending the side caused the parts to ping away.

The strapping pieces are highly flimsy and care is needed not to bend. The same issues with the glue again - too much and it spreads, too little and it won't stick. It's fairly low tack as well so you have to stand there holding it for a while - solder would be instant. The two 'L' shaped hinges don't fold up. They're etched the wrong way around so need to be cut off flush and positioned loose. Just the tiny drop bolt is left to do here.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Fiddle yard length

Fiddle yards: Is there an acceptable (or unacceptable) length for a single fiddle yard? That is in ratio to the length of the layout. i.e. if the main scenic board was 45" long would a FY of a similar length look wrong? I've always tended to head for a lesser length before, but...

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Saturday Ramble

Like most modellers there's always one or two further plans being discussed. One that keeps coming back is Rhiw 2. Version 1 worked OK, did a handful of shows, and appeared in RM. However I personally had issues with it and it was broken up - the boards finding a use under the AotC. All the stock is still sitting here and it seems a shame not to use it.
Rhiw 1 here
One, or really the, reason for the collapse was my realisation that front operation was not for me. I don't like barriers (they get in the way) and I find the acute single view awkward for uncoupling etc.  Round the back I can wander around unhindered to get the best angle and I can dump point controls anywhere as I have full linear access. I also have a theory that front operators hold a desire for themselves to be the exhibit - the model is just a vehicle for their public ego. I've had my fill of all that crap in work; the layout is a nice barrier.

Two influential ideas for Rhiw 2 keep coming back; both South London in feel. Elm Park is one and more recently the above Croydon North Street (I can hear the gnashing of teeth from the at least two readers that I know of from Croydon who bite every time you say it's in London). There are differences: Elm Park has the platforms mostly hidden a la Rice's 'Bitsa Stations' ideas. CNS is full view, with a double exit vibe - closer to Rhiw 1. What I do like is the diamond crossing to get this.
What neither have is 'Wales' or the lifted track that was such a commented upon feature of Rhiw, and both use a far bigger space than I would prefer. Experiments may commence soon, I just need to get rid of a few layouts to create some space in here.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Wealden Railway Group exhibition

The WRG 25th Anniversary show on March the 10th Lancing Parish Hall, Lancing W. Sussex.  10.30am opening. The Art of the Compromise's first and last outing. All this and the seaside. What more could you possibly want?

Peter Bossom                    Thunders Hill
Les Coleman                       New O scale
Martin Petch                      Portuguese HO
Charlie Fox Wilson           Bear Bottom Mine Alaska Gn15
Giles Barnabe                    Salopian Railways 1850 OO
Greg Dodsworth              Felsham On16.5
Michael Campbell            Awngate OO9
John Baggely                      Southern Electric terminus OO
Ian Buck                               Japanese Trams N
Tom Lloyd                           Cornish N modern day
Chris Ellis                              US HO
Chris Ford                            AotC OO
Tim Hills                                French Brickyard On16.5
Simon Hargraves              South Bierley Sewage Works in 0-14.
Geoff Latham                    Mynis Cule N + radio control demo 4mm
Roy Hickman                      Scenic Demo
Ian Redman                        small/ultra-small N layouts
Sompting MRC                  2 portable layouts from home.
Andrew Knights                Silhouette Cutter display/demo

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Cotswold Railways 2

 Toddington seems to be the central hub on the G.W.R. Although technically closed the café was open and there was quite a lot of activity going on in the workshops as well as a spoil train parked up with a 73 at the head (all this way for a Southern loco). Everything, and I mean everything is painted in GWR stone colours and I'm guessing that most of the structures are newly built or at least moved from somewhere else giving it a clean feel. Maybe too clean.
My aim was to get as many of the small buildings on film and while the lack of tourists was very helpful, the low sun wasn't, and I spent the entire time trying to avoid too much shadow or flare.
No steam was evident, but quite a lot of medium weight diesel power in the shed. My overriding impression was one of money. Some preservation lines feel as though they are only just hanging on; this one felt like it had more money than it knew what to do with, such was the polish and the amount of work going on.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Cotswold Railways 1

The Cotswolds is an area that I usually drive through to get to somewhere else, so last weekend I made a concerted effort and we stayed in an upmarket establishment and did a little exploring.
For some reason the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway had passed miles under my radar and it was Mrs F. (who apparently doesn't get a mention here anymore) who pointed it out. So on a trip to the Cheltenham shops we had a look. It was out of season, but this is often the best time, especially if photographing a few buildings is a primary concern.

Broadway station is the new end of the line, is due to open this year and this caught my eye. There was a short discussion a while back on this page about the siting of the phone box on the AotC - how it should face onto the public road and have a fence around it. This I duly did, and although the site is not so cramped, the box at Broadway station replicates exactly.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Saturday Ramble

Dismayed to hear the news that a well respected narrow gauge modeller has had his car nicked with his exhibition layout inside. The police  seem typically disinterested.

Aside from the moral issue of nicking cars, this throws up a question. The car was parked on the driveway close enough to be watched by CCTV. A pro-job; into the car in seconds, though they weren't expecting the layout so it's probably been dumped in a hedge. The question is insurance. The car is insured, but this only covers minimal contents. The layout was outside of the house so dubious cover on home insurance as probably not listed as a high price item. The layout was not coved by the exhibition insurance as it had arrived at the owner's place of residence.

If we leave our layouts in the car prior, or post exhibition, which is not unusual - many would load the night before and leave to later and daylight to unload. In which case it's technically not covered by anything and we can all imagine the conversation with the insurance company.... 'so you had your trainset in the car and you say it's worth £1,800...?'

W5 cattle van

Mex B W5 done. just the painting to do and I've made a start on the W12 using the Airfix kit as a base. just need about 6 boxes of Merit cows to fill them.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Art of Compromise - test

The AoC was set up yesterday as a quick fault finding mission - or to see what I'd forgotten. Plenty. The main issue is that this wasn't envisaged or planned as an exhibition layout. The problem here is that it is due to go to it's first and last showing at the WRG show in March.
On a basic level everything worked fine. RTR Hornby/Bachmann locos coupled with PECO track is pretty safe. What I'd missed was some sort of minimal lighting, so the post was nicked off of Morton Stanley, still warm from the weekend's outing (and visible behind). What was noticeable from the rear running as just how 1980s it all feels. This was after all the point of the exercise and running it was actually rather fun within the limits of the operation. It also dawned, not surprisingly, that a few visits to exhibitions with around £200 to spend and you could pick up all the bits for this secondhand. Not poor quality, just not fashionable anymore as they're not DCC. The newest loco on here is a Bachmann 56XX, brand new at £42 from a box shifter. The rest were around £30 including the Hornby open cab pannier which purred around the layout all afternoon.  The most expensive building was the signal box at eight quid. Expensive hobby? Not if you don't follow the crowd.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Cooper Craft Cattle Wagon

I'm at the foot of a brace of three cattle wagons, the first being the Cooper Craft Dia W1/5 MEX B example. These are a bit thin on the ground now as the range has all but disappeared along with the Slaters wagons that it absorbed. This is a shame as it covered a base layer of early 20th century designs at a low price. The Ratio offerings in 4mm and the Parkside kits in 7mm are generally post 30s examples.  The cattle wagon jumped out as it was the only one on the quite useful 11' chassis and the one using a standard solebar/floor assembly.

The instructions tell you that bits will break  - how honest, and how true. I had one top rail broken already and the bar will snap as soon as look at it. The secondary problem is that there is a tiny bit of flash on this so any waggling against a file finishes the job. It took me about 5 seconds to decide to replace them. The easiest option was to use 0.5mm micro rod; purely as I had some about 3' away from my hand. A small hole was drilled in each upright about halfway through, just enough to locate, and a length welded in with solvent and trimmed when set.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Profit and loss

I've had several conversations recently about a certain individual who is putting on model railway exhibitions on his own and essentially running it as a small business. This has generated a fair bit of negative comment from most people I talk to and I really can't see why. I had the same conversation again yesterday.

I've been working under the basic shape entertainment model for donkeys years: the promoter books the venue, then books the band, the artists or what have you. Then puts out advance publicity and ticket prices. The show gets done, promoter pays everybody (hopefully) and takes the balance of the profit. He takes the overall risk - then takes the profit should there be any. Most people would see this as an acceptable structure. Not so the club modeller.

The basic shape of most model railway exhibitions is this: club books venue (usually the same as the previous year) books layouts (expenses to be paid for same). They book enough trade stands to cover the cost hire of the venue, and advertise in the mags with linage or possibly a display ad, plus flyers at previous shows etc. The entry ticket money is the bunce and goes to the club to pay for the club room/ modelling material etc for the year. No one personally profits - or do they?

The main negative response to the top structure is that there is personal profit - 'profiteering' was the phase used yesterday. This misses the point of a) personal financial risk and b) the fact that in the standard club show structure everyone personally profits by default, as if the show cash wasn't there, then they would have to fund clubrooms etc out of their own pockets. No they don't personally gain money, but they are saved from spending it which is the same thing - collective overall risk and collective individual profiteering.

The afore mentioned individual books the venue at his own expense (different every time) books the layouts (expenses to be paid) takes the linage ads, but promotes through local press and social media.

And here's the sucker punch: the resulting audience is mainly young- middle aged parents with under 16s in tow, exactly the demographic that the standard club exhibition structure and the hobby in general says that it is not reaching and can't attract. What he doesn't do is rely on word of mouth from the over -50s modellers.This may be the future and the conservative-thinking clubs are fighting it in every way, possibly toward their own demise.  Discuss.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Saturday Ramble

A couple of people query my love of smaller (or just small) shows. The trend in the last twenty years is to get bigger and bigger and this probably peaks with the mighty Warley.  The comment that accompanies is often that it proves how buoyant the hobby is. Maybe, maybe not. I would tend to say the opposite. I don't know what the gate numbers are for such a show, but I'd think that there is a percentage involved here. Say it is 10,000. 2,500 of this are casuals i.e. those who are interested but do no modelling. Another quarter are what might be termed 'collectors', those who will buy the latest Hornby model and put it on the shelf. Leaving half of the number who are are actually doing any modelling; from running some RTR round in circles, to the full-blown hair-shirt scratch-builders.

These numbers could also most probably be transferred in percentage terms down to any show. The difference is that at the smaller shows you get more modelling. Yes some of it isn't that high quality, but it is modelling nevertheless. What's more is that it is more representative of what actually happens, and shows the real levels of attainment. The big shows rarely do this, only picking the best of the bunch and keeping the quality high. Not to mention the fashion of 'billing', that is that there has to be a number of name layouts that have appeared in the press. The problem here is that can have an adverse effect leaving the casual/beginner with a feeling of 'I'll never be able to do that'. Conversely the small show usually hits a more basic level. There maybe a top flight layout or two, but more likely there will be varying levels of quality, and more often  - ideas. In other words some of the more left-field oddball stuff that will never get to Warley et al and has been dreamt up by a guy who has no desire to go there. That's where the magic is, that's where the modelling is, and that's where I tend to gravitate toward.

Friday, 16 February 2018

GWR seating

A quick bit of seating. Actually it's a bit of a fiddle and you have to let one join go totally firm before the next is added otherwise it goes very jelly. Research shows that there are a remarkable number of these supplied now from Metcalfe, Roxey, Severn Models CPL et al. This is a Coopercraft which seem a little thin on the ground now. Two tone paint finish and even with the photos, about half an hour to do. Batch-building would be quicker overall, but I only needed one.

Off to Reigate with Morton Stanley on Sunday for that star of Biggest Little Railway, Dakota D. Pop in and throw things.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

GWR tin shed.

Shed. Wills sheet and a few bits of plasticard. Based loosely on Hemyock but with a brick base.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Hemyock goods shed.

The Moreton shed wasn't working on several levels and was bugging me, so the decision to change took took me back to Volume 1 and the W&L tin shed. This is essentially the same beast as the proto-replacement goods shed at Hemyock albeit with a different door arrangement. Therefore it was a simple shift to start to go over this ground again with the different outward decoration. Logically this is better for the beginner to scratch-building anyway as there is less cutting out to do - the door assembly is a separate piece of work added on top. Therefore the total buy for the basic structure is one pack of Wills sheet, some 30 thou and the strip of paper being added here.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Late night shopping

My route home every night this week. Gaugemaster by night.

This was just before a smackhead got off the train, calmly walked across the line by squeezing through the gates, bowed to the queue, then tapped on my window and asked for a lift.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Never fear a change of plan

Well that didn't work very well. I don't crash and burn that often - change of plan called for.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

GWR goods warehouse

And to the scratch-build. Something simple... but of course that's never how it works out does it? The base prototype is the shed at Moreton-in-Marsh which I've discussed here before. First impressions are that it is a 'play school' type structure of easy shape that can be built from Wills sheet, without any joins. So far, so good.
Then the windows appear.
It needs four, which were originally multi-pain landscape rectangular units, plus an arch window over the door. The modern building has replacement double glazed units. The Wills window pack only has one suitable item, and buying four packs to get four windows is ridiculous. So a little compromise (again) is needed. The Wills arch windows pack gives a close match in one direction and they are chop-able. This isn't pretty, but once painted and fitted may make the grade. I essentially chopped the top and bottom, removed the arch for the doorway and moved everything inward. A dab of filler and we're away. Compromises...

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Pendon Museum 1958

Middle aged men in shorts and tank tops - how we used to do it.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Peco station building

And done. Well bar any signage etc. It goes together well, and with a bit of paint subterfuge, it's generic enough to fit almost anywhere.  The big problem is the secondary fittings and their colour as mentioned earlier. Those windows however... well in another life I'd replace with something finer. Here though that wasn't the name of the game. This is of course for the latest tome in the series of modelling for the novice, so keeping the brief as tight and non-complex as possible; I have a drawer full of Wills windows and the like, others will not and the only addition to the basic kit is paint, solvent and some strip for the finials and canopy ribbing.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Great Western station building

An in-progress shot of the GWR station building. The PECO kit is a bit of a shy one compared to the sea of Wills and Metcalfe. It's well made and falls together, the only problem are the windows which in any other circumstance I would have replaced with something finer, and the use of green plastic for these and other parts which is a bitch to paint unless you're going for the SR green. The ends have been swapped around, and there is an extra window cut in the one you can't see here. This is to make the whole thing closer to the example at Nelson in South Wales - in a general way at least.

Roof has had a base coat and is now underway with the details. If you want a generic which will work in any area this may be worth a look, though at £18 is not the cheapest option.