Friday, 12 July 2019

Another fine mess

I had a bag of bits about my person that were left over from the Peco offices to station building conversion. These were the walls that would nave been used at the rear if it had been view-all-round and and the windows and doors for same. I'd earmarked it for a mess hut to drop in between the exit bridges.
The four walls fell together and the roof is simply some 40 thou with strips of 20 thou much in the style of the same company's station building toilet block.
Another highly boring utility building.

Friday, 5 July 2019


There is a train of thought that suggests that modelling (especially when working to a deadline) should be done with a certain amount of planning and forethought. This of course is bollocks and the only way to do it is to start with a basic idea, a load of bits and see what turns up. Therefore everything in to picture save the Peco track and the sheet of card is a new thing to me. In other words, to some extent,  I'm flying by the seat of my pants. Jacking a station building up in the air requires a certain amount of knowledge to get it right. I'm just playing around and some card and a set of Hornby piers that came of a second hand stall. Making a walkway out of not quite enough Ratio footbridge is another case in point. What I have so far is a set of aircraft steps and somehow this has got to be bashed into something logical. It'll work in the end.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Metcalfe kit

I'd pondered previously about the interior of the Airfix/Dapol box - it seemed a little extravagant to buy the Ratio pack at double the price of the main kit for something that can barely be seen. Box interiors are funny beasts: without looks bare and wrong and with is hardly noticeable. Phil Parker suggested that I took a look at the Metcalfe card kit. At six quid it's a cheaper option.
What you get is two card frets with bits that very gently push out. The table and chairs are delightful; I've tried scratch building a table before and believe me, this is a better bet. The stove is a fold-up with a wrapped paper pipe. I discounted this as too much faff and used a carboard cotton bud tube instead. The levers are a fiddle and are a bit chunky and there is no proper instrument bridge. That's not a problem though. What we are aiming for here is visual suggestion. These are all unpainted as yet and with a gentle selection of colour there's more than enough to fool the eye into thinking that there is more going on than there actually is. Definitely worth a look.

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Hopwood board two

Gradually moving along. with board one complete save a few packing case type details and onto the join with board two.
The bridge has been pre-built so unusually I had the foresight to ballast underneath first.  The arches unit went in. The was a slight bow (2mm) upward, but it could have been a lot worse considering the seven end-on butt joints - a little standing and holding both ends down while the glue went off was in order. The bridge slots over the end and once this had been waggled around to fit and stuck down, the facia was cut and was glued on. All seems OK at this juncture so board one can come down and board three can go up. There's not quite enough room to walk around if all three are up at once.
I feel a whole lot of ballasting coming on.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

The Airfix parcels depot.

Pre final detailing a pre sweeping up the excess static grass - but you get the idea. L-R: Wills sheet, Parkside van, Dapol ES and canopy, Peco platform, code 100 track, buffer stop, static grass and ballast. Nothing you can't pick up from a model shop. The figures are a mystery and came out of the tin (a real tobacco tin! Proper stuff.) one might be a Model Scene the other is whitemetal.
It's a bit of a contrived scene - I'm never convinced by the siding in front of the FY, but then that was the requirement.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Death by Airfix

Hopwood's parcels depot needed to be steam age - apparently. So has become an homage to Michael Andress in many ways. The main structure is an Airfix engine shed sliced down its middle and re-built end to end. The doors have been sliced and added to suggest open sliders. The lamps have been used though are barely visible now. The canopy (which is magically cantilevered at the ends) uses the Airfix platform canopy kit valancing variously chopped about - the girder pieces are behind with a piece of plasticard on top.  The whole lot sits in, and on, the remains of Peco setrack platform sections. In other words there is nothing here that couldn't have been built from the same bits in 1975 and most of it as far back as 1959. Regulars will know that this sort of ancient bodgery appeals and I can't see that it will stop here. Incidentally the cost of all this is probably around £18 and I still have bits left over.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Sunday signal box

 Ropley on the Mid Hants.

Friday, 21 June 2019

Some asbestos dust

The last of the Hopwood main buildings and possibly the simplest; a faceless industrial to stop the eye at the end of the parcels line. A shimmy into Kernow Guildford last weekend picked up some Wills asbestos sheet and this seemed like a good place to use it. A little research flagged up the often lack of guttering on these buildings and the L shaped roof edging; presumably to stop damage. These were made up from folded 5mm wide strips of 10 thou. Faceless and featureless.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Hopwood gets a facia

Moving this project on despite some misgivings with brickwork. I thought it best to concentrate on one end, so finished the FY which is a zig-zag of MDF followed up by a facia board of same. This was glued, weighted and a few small screws added at certain possible 'rip' points like corners. Note that as was suggested today that I didn't have time to collect together my rare books to use as weights to prove what a worthy railway study buff I am, and just grabbed a couple of toolboxes.
The boards are slightly smaller than I would normally go for at 900mm long. This doesn't mean that by the time all the MDF backscene material is added that they are any easier to lift  - I can happily stand on this one with all the box section engineering.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Global Rail

Up to deepest Oxfordshire for what is now a regular trip to the German Railway Society's Global Rail. Not without its drama - the organisers were informed at 3 o'clock on Friday that the venue was double booked and therefore they'd lost a third of the floor space. A few items were cancelled and the rooms re-jigged. If I didn't have some prior knowledge of this I wouldn't have noticed. The only thing missing for me (and I'm probably not the target audience) is a kits and bits trader and the required Wills sheet and point were purchased at Kernow Models on the return trip.
My downside of the day was getting a cup of hot tea thrown over me by a wind-blown curtain. Still, an excellent showing of all things non-British. If you fancy something a little different, Alan Monk and the team put on a great show with a twist. Make an effort to take a look next year.
Show: 8
Catering; a grumpy 6 even though bacon rolls were available
Rucksacks: 4

Friday, 14 June 2019

The sooty walls of Hopwood

There is a lot of Wills sheet in this so far and I'm not finished with it yet. 6' feet of arches and more at the end with a girder bridge thrown in for good measure. This is the biggest job by far and a damn sight more time consuming than throwing a layer of flock down. It needs a wash of mortar colour and all the details put on - to be honest you could spend half your life modelling all the details on urban railway arches, perhaps a CND insignia somewhere would break it up.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Tal-y-llyn gunpowder store

The TR gunpowder store build in this month's RM.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

The short tail

With the main board wired, which took longer than anticipated due to me adding stuff that wasn't asked for, a bit of track painting using the Nevard technique of 2-3 colours of Halfords spray. Conversely this is fast, especially compared to my usual hand painting which would have taken all day. On to the FY board with a short tail siding in the front. Not my favourite shape of track layout, but I'm running with it. The main issue is the multi- surface sky boards which have to be in four pieces to get to the other end. The bridge/exit is the last of the main builds and again I'm adding complication by using up the last of the Wills arches to make the first section shown, followed by 'death by vari-girder'.

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Hopwood moves centre stage

And so the week flew by. Another leapfrog project, but one which is destined for publication only. Well that's the idea anyway, though I may sneak it out to a couple of shows in the near future. The bottom line is that there is a deadline (when isn't there?) and I have to have this bastard child of Newcastle Haymarket and Minories done by late August at the latest. Names are important and it started with a working title of Cyril Square, but has now morphed into something non-specific...Hopwood. The brief is lots of RTR stuff from the catalogues suitable for the novice so insufrogs and code 100, Peco, Dapol and Wills structures and a White Rose supplied baseboard kit.

Monday, 3 June 2019

DEMU Showcase 2019

The second annual trip up to the Midlands to the DEMU Showcase and I can see this becoming a regular event. It's a longish  run, especially with a detour to Gatwick beforehand. The primary reaction was that there was a real buzzy excitement in the room (possibly what was missing last week). Highlights were Kier Hardy's Hornsey which is just epic, but could be a little more intense with the running, and the ex Futers/Nevard Dalnottar Riverside now owned by the SEG which is just about as perfect as a compact O gauge layout could be. They were muttering about extensions... don't.
The room was not ideal, but was a last minute choice as the usual Burton Town Hall isn't now big enough and their second choice pulled the plug. There was plenty of big hitting trade in the room as well as a lot of the usual smaller traders. An excellent day rounded of with the cafĂ© over the road which is err…. unique.
Show: 9
Catering 3< 9
Rucksacks a strong 5

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Bachmann Baldwin

My task yesterday was to get the Baldwin finished. Figures were the first problem as the period shots show drivers who are roughly the same height as the doorway, i.e. 5'6" so the more modern Monty's and Modelu were out and it was back to some thinned out Merit men. The rest was painting with three colours a cheap brush and a cotton bud. The missing steam pipes have been added along with a lamp and the usual bucket.
I could keep fiddling, but that'll do for now.

Friday, 31 May 2019

Platform fitting

Clees Hay had taken a backseat as other things took preference, however yesterday much carboard was cut and facings were made up from Wills random stone and painted up. Once the parts were in hand it went together quite quickly.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Engine shed

Would I recommend this piece of kit? Probably not. The brickwork is very lightly moulded - sub Slaters and halfway along the plinth it disappears altogether.
New lintels have been added from 10 thou and the shed doors chopped into lengths to make new 'open' doors. An internal platform has been added level with the foot of the doorways. The rest is light weathering. I can't do much more as the final required footprint is unknown, but a platform and a canopy will be added later.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

More Airfix jolity

'Needs a small parcels depot'. 
My first thought was to low-relief the new Wills modern factory unit. 'No, too modern.' Back to square one.
A trip to Crawley found me holding a folder with old RM's and it fell open at a Michael Andress piece from 1973 on turning the Airfix ES into factory buildings. This seemed like a way out of the conundrum. 
Fairly obvious chop: slice the back wall into three, use the two outer as new ends and glue the sides together. It's a pretty rough kit and I'm not 100% that I wouldn't have been better starting from scratch, but I'm trying to use as many of the kit parts as possible. It's sort of fun and sort of not.

Monday, 27 May 2019

Railex 19

 To Railex  yesterday. I'm not a regular visitor; there being one notable attempted trip where the M25 just stopped and the day was abandoned before it began. Yesterday a pre grockle start was made and arrival was swift and at opening.
Quality as would be expected was high, but.... it left me wanting for some reason. Too finescaley perhaps. In fact the best way to describe it would be like Scaleforum, but with punters. Highlights were Nick Salzman's 3mm mixed gauge cameo entry which was just gorgeous, and the 10 minutes spent leaning on the barrier watching Leighton Buzzard, which is only improved with Nick Freezer operating - it adds a certain amount of authenticity for some reason. Usual scoring as follows:
Exhibition 7
Food 9 (burger ,chips and beans for £4.50)
Rucksacks 3.5
I also learnt an interesting fact: the qualification for calling yourself a finescaler. You must own
a) a tweed jacket
b) a complete set of MRJs from number 0 including the compendiums
c) a Scalefour Society tape measure.
Failure to complete all three renders your claim invalid.

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Airfix signal box

For the time being an end to the Airfix week (and onto the seriously epic Wills arches week). The signal box was actually quite fun to do with swapped panels new window bars and balcony. While this doesn't exactly disguise its origins, it does make it less like all the other Airfix signal boxes out there.
I'm now at the point where I need to move on - I enjoy this sort of thing more than most, but it will be nice to get onto some track laying if only to break the several tea spoons of plastic dust that I consume every day of late.

Monday, 20 May 2019

Peco and Dapol kits

The news over the weekend is devastating. I won't add anything as so much has been said already, only that I'm as deeply upset as the rest of the modelling community. We all feel the pain.

 The requirement was for a fairly lengthy building to run along the end wall of the layout and one which was generically post-modernisation plan. The Peco office building kit seemed a likely start point and again is over looked by most modellers. Modular in design it is easy enough to move the panels around to suit. Here I've picked four to act as a front wall and put the double door wall and plain wall at the ends. The back is black plasticard and the spare units are put to one side for later. This used all the roof panels and most of the facia sections so is probably as far as you can stretch one kit.
Next on the blocks is this Dapol signal box. Panels moved, balcony removed, steps altered and new window bars added. A gentle enough set of tweeks, that change it considerably, but still manage to scream Airfix at you.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Peco Manyways

I'd not built any of the Peco kits before until I converted the station building kit a year or so back. After the Wills sheet it came as a nice surprise being quite light and delicate by comparison. Now the requirement is for a mid-late 20th century station building, something flat roofed and mod'. Enter the Peco office buildings kit.
Essentially it's a modular design and in this respect it works very well, although you have to think on your feet slightly as beyond the basic instructions for the box-art buildings there are only suggestions as to how to proceed. I needed something long and thin so laid out a selected set of walling and added bits and painted as I went along. Glazing as I went was in hindsight a bad move; yes it's easier to do it while the walls are flat, but no matter how careful I was the solvent fumes fogged bits of it in odd corners. Now a fully constructed box with a false back.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Scenic break bridge

Every GWR branch termini needs a bridge and Clees Hay is no different. This farm occupation bridge was knocked up in fairly short order and was based on one or two pictures online. The stone abutments are the obvious Wills course stone sheet and the parapet is the left overs from the AotC. The brickwork resting on the lower lip of the (just visible) RSJ. Capping is all 40 thou plastic.
Panting took longer to do than the build as I couldn't get the effect that I wanted until the German Grey came into play and toned everything down a little. There is a danger that stonework can look a little like painting by numbers.

Luckily it's too narrow for a bus, but the small boy may make an appearance again. Possibly standing on a box to see over the parapet.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Baseboard painting

There's just enough black paint left to do the Clees Hay carcass. That's the garage door frame and three layouts out of one tin - hurrah. Also some experimenting with some spray cans ala Mr Nevard. Mixed results, but I'll persevere.
Note the late 20th century cave paintings are still in place.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019


With the track down and painted, the profile boards went on. Simple rough straight lines of 6mm MDF glued and clamped. Followed by screws into the wood blocks behind. This gives a very robust 12mm front to trim to shape with a padsaw giving the usual slightly dropped front edge.

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Friday, 3 May 2019

GWR station building

More or less done. Maybe some detailing to add once it's on the layout. The base is a Wills small station building extended by about a third with some Wills clapboard sheet. The windows have been swapped with some from the box and horizontal bars removed and vertical bars added The bargeboards are from the kit, but drilled and attacked with an oval needle file. There is a small lean-to at the back from leftovers of a Wills chapel kit as is the small porch in this view. The timetable boards are very old w/m ones from Dart Castings complete with the prints from the header card.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Kernow Models

News of model shops closing is all the rage these days. I used to have three within half and hour, now none. Although this is a little out of normal travelling range it's good to have a new shop opening for a change, so a trip was taken to Guildford to see the new Kernow shop. Peco staff were in residence for the opening day, some en-route to the Lille exhibition, others on day release and the shop staff were untested, but in abundance. Bachmann bods were floating around though not particularly forthcoming, but these two from BRM wouldn't stop talking.
The 11 day wonder that is Chris Nevard's layout was gracing the shop window, though how long it will last in direct sunlight is anyone's guess
All in all well worth the trip and great to see  Kernow expanding and taking a punt on Guildford as a new venue.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Plastic waste

Long time readers will know that I had a big change of heart a few years ago. Beforehand I'd shunned Wills sheet for being too much faff. Then I was given a Craftsman kit and thought it rude not to build it. Result: I now rarely use anything else for buildings. Result 2: There are off cuts. They are thrown into an ice cream tub which is good, but not good for finding anything specific. This morning I needed some brick sheet, but couldn't find anything suitable at the top, so ended up tipping the whole lot onto a tray. Result 3: Although there aren't any full sheets, I probably have enough corrugated to make several small sheds - or at least  roofs for a lot of small sheds, and near on the same from scraps of brick. If I was really careful and was happy to freelance a few buildings there is probably at least fifty quid's worth of random plastic here. Light railway anyone?

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Bullhead painting

With Exile on Main St. blasting out a little track painting to be done. Not my favourite job, I even prefer ballasting. If I can concentrate for more than 15 mins at a time I might get half the track done tonight  - well the base colour anyway.
Other news: Off to the Epsom show today ostensibly to do a little shopping which was mostly successful even though I managed not to spend the £200 on books that I'd have liked to have taken home. All of a sudden the S&D and Settle stuff looks appealing. Excellent show; even the first room would have been worth the trip with our lord Gravatt with Arun Quay leading the role call. A lengthy chat with Andy Jones who (when he wasn't getting a waggy finger from the other half) was showing the evocative Herstmonceux for the final time. It really is a high quality event and with my usual scoring gave:
Show 9.5
Catering 7
Rucksacks (a fairly high) 7

Back to the panting before a trip up to the smoke for a date with some panto. After all, there is nothing like a dame in April.

Friday, 26 April 2019

I hate cream paint

Most things have gone wrong at some point this week, mainly on the paint front. Coupled with the almost circular thinking with the new layout when all that was originally planned has fallen away to be replaced by something else, then... repeat. Half the problem is that as I've always said, once you step out of the cheap and easy road of freelancing, things become much more acute as 'that looks OK' doesn't cut it. The AotC was a generic GW branch terminus - the next project has to have more weight and substance than just making it up. Areas become important, shed allocations become important, stuff has to have some sort of explainable logic.
My preference would be S Wales. No good. Branch termini are non existent, they all end in a pit of some sort, plus they are mostly double tracked. So an accidental move to the West. Then you are up against Cambrian weight restrictions and Dukedogs, Cambrian 0-6-0's and at the outside a Dean Goods and a 48XX which I don't have. Back to Stourbridge shed area which means I can use all of the RTR things that are in stock. Once again no logical branches except the much projected Kinver both pre and post the electric light railway.
So it seems that something in the Hereford/ Hay area is likely with the Golden Valley as an influence and thus frustratingly back to Clees Hay, Mr. Hill's much loved root idea.
This was supposed to be a fairly quick project. It's proving anything but.

Monday, 22 April 2019

Track down

A final push this morning saw all the track down, wired and tested. Just the linking wiring to do. Looks nice and long and sinewy and will irritate all the 'you could have put another siding in there mate' merchants. After Dury's Gap it seems huge and yet still falls into the bracket of 'small' at just 7'4" long. Mrs F has named it Clatter, which was bypassed on the East-West Cambrian route. History will be conveniently re-written to suit, but here could be a couple of architectural changes. 25 weeks to go.

Sunday, 21 April 2019


This has been sitting on the bench for a couple of days and in an effort to clear up... 
Bikes on layouts are good, but surprisingly absent in many cases. Seeing as the vast majority of people model pre1960s periods, and therefore pre-high car ownership this is strange. Therefore I've always tended to add at least one bike to a scene, often in a slightly obscured position; after all human nature tends to park a bike either in something, or behind something where it won't get nicked/tripped over/damaged. I'd earmarked one for Dury's Gap in the last few details. It came out of the tobacco tin marked 'barrels, drums bits' and may be a Wills product. 
It started life in bright blue - possibly OK for 1960, but the 'trusty Rudge' would more likely be black so this was all about a repaint. Handlebars and pedals were touched in metallic, the frame matt black and the tyres in German grey. I though it might need a saddle bag, so a slice of scrap strip with the corners rounded off and painted brown was added; the saddle became a red brown. There's also a dot of red on the rear mudguard for a reflector.
Tucked half behind a shed it can hardly be seen, but adds a little human existence without a human figure. More bikes please.

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Great western track laying

Michael Campbell commented on his blog a couple of weeks back that I like to build layouts with an open feel. Although most have been two boards or less and fall into the 'small' bracket in the great scheme of things, I do have a reputation for a light touch with track layouts and scenic details. So it is here. The track plan went through at least three configurations before I settled on something and I'm still not 100% sure, but then who ever is. As you can probably work out, the first thing that went was the pesky fifth point. Funnily enough this did stay on Svanda though in the form of a trap (siding which is rarely used - by me anyway. Here with this plan I've returned to my old friend 'The Gammon End' after John Ahearn's small station on the Madder Valley. i.e. a loop with two opposing sidings. I've used this on a few layouts over the years, the principle benefit is that the neck for each siding (in model terms) is near on two thirds of the layout, in opposition to the sidings behind the platform in a fan shape which chucks the whole train down to the main station neck and under the scenic break for shunting which I avoid at all costs.
It also gets away from the aspect of the AotC that niggled me, that being the sidings running straight on to the running line; not prototypically impossible, but usually avoided or at lest reduced to one entry point leading into a fan rather than two separate entries. The Gammon End shape was common on the GWR notably on the Chinnor and West Somerset lines where the GWR often dumped a large goods shed over the loop. Here though it forms the run-round, not a loop siding and trap points.
What I do have is acres of spare space; which at this point in time is a little disconcerting, but then I do have a drawer or two of scenic coverings of various types to use up. Using things up is a theme these days. I have 26 weeks before Croydon... doddle.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Talyllyn station building for 009

This took longer than I anticipated. The obvious TR shelter made from Peco 2mm walling and a couple of Wills sheets. Because it's an open box there is twice as much to do, not only the 'lining', but bringing it out to the required thickness on the two edges. Details are the usual bits of strip and 1mm micro rod for the pipes. I'm sold now on the Gordon Gravett method of gutters from sheet material with a rounded face and just a lick of black paint to suggest the groove.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

The dead KPC controller

Looks like a new switch and some deft soldering will fix it.

Monday, 15 April 2019


A great weekend at the Crawley MRS show with Svanda. A couple of invites for further exhibitions and a lot of questions over two days. Considering that we thought Norway would be a niche railway subject, its quiet popularity continues.
Some top quality layouts attended including one of my favourites, Harton Gill  - at last a place to see the Mainline /Bachmann J72s in their natural surroundings rather than the usual excuses to put them in East Anglian settings.
The only downside was a dropping my beloved KPC handheld which now rattles and seems to have expired. Investigations are needed.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Svanda at Crawley

Svanda has but two shows this year. The first is the Crawley MRS show at Horsham this weekend. Pop by for  chat.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Railway Modeller

 Altogether now: There's a tiny hut, in May's RM.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Svanda on google earth

A decision was taken a few days ago - now there's a novelty for once. It was noted that the little slice of Norway that is Svanda was looking quite tatty around the baseboard area after being bounced in and out of the car to a few shows. Seeing that it is appearing at the Crawley show at the weekend, a tidy up was necessary. Once again the tin of paint used to recoat the garage door frame was brought into play, and the whole carcass is now a smart satin black - waste not, want not. This small tin has now done two layouts and shows no sign of running out. Plus, as I didn't buy it in the first place, it could be said that it has been very cost effective.
While the middle board was propped on end to dry, it was observed that it was almost a google earth satellite view. I'm not sure if this is the case or that it just shows off the rough ballasting.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

New layout baseboards

Not as fast as some maybe, but a couple of days has seen two new baseboards appear for the new GWR layout, as yet unnamed. The usual format of 6mm MDF, 44" long x 17" wide to fit on the Svanda trestles with the old Rhiw FY bringing the whole to about 11'. The front profile boards still need to go on once I've established the road bridge height and the track is down, which should hopefully be this week.