Saturday, 4 August 2018

Saturday Ramble

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

7 1/4" gauge

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

Monday, 16 July 2018

16mm Garden rail track

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

Friday, 13 July 2018

Southern branch

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Utility posts

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

Monday, 9 July 2018

Ex Cambrian open

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

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

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Gaugemaster DIN

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

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

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

Sorry. Fundamental fail.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Low relief building

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

Friday, 8 June 2018

Rhymney steel bodied van

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

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Ratio Iron Mink... again

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