Saturday, 13 August 2022

Saturday Ramble


Yes, a flurry of activity.

To say that I'd learnt nothing in the last couple of years pushing commas around would be inaccurate. That's not really applicable here and there has been a posting drop off of late as explained earlier. The return in the last few days has thrown up questions as always: why do I do this? More to the point why do people read it? And yet they do... or, you are. An unscientific survey a while back found that I was getting roughly the same hit rate as some of the big boys. A lot of this is down to this page being included on the links of some of the major modelling types and my thanks to them for that, but the views must be largely returning readers. What am I getting from it?

The answer is that I don't really know. Ego? Of course; anyone that writes and denies that is a fool and a liar, but it's more than that. Continuing something that I started over a decade ago? A platform for opinions? To a certain extent there is a certain amount of navel gazing (as here) but it is more about entertainment for me and the reader with a touch of hints 'n' tips thrown into the mix. I know this as I have had more than a fair few people chat to me at a show and say something like  'I always read the blog.' or 'I love the Saturday Rambles.' I conclude then that this is entertainment pure and simple.

Revenue: some would say a dirty word, and yet a fair days work and all that.  There have been periods of advertising on here with little effect as the number of 'clicks' needed are greater than are generated by you the reader, and of course the system is swayed disproportionately in favour of the platform host, not the content creator. However I may try this again. The Buy-me-a coffee' route may be worth examining though. I notice that Mr. Nevard does this (link to your right) but haven't enquired to the results. Basically you drop me a couple of quid via a third party as a thanks for the entertainment... it's  a digital tip-jar-on-the-piano. I like this idea, but would you?

Onward though and there may well be significantly more happening here partly due to some not unrelated changes to life in general.

Thursday, 11 August 2022

The best freelance model railway?

Most of the books that have passed in front of me in recent times have been for professional review. However I bought this book when I realised that it had appeared. Disappointed? More on that in a mo. 

Long term appreciation

I fist tripped over Phillip Harvey’s Amberdale in MRJ and was immediately struck by the atmosphere despite the use of Peco code 100 track in what was, and still is, a rather elitist finescale publication. Built in an 11’ square room in fully cased display scenes and is by the author’s definition ‘freelance’ although the influence of the GWR and LSWR is clear, with a nod to the NER. To my knowledge it has only appeared in two articles in MRJ (though may be in RM in the future). The book is mainly photographic, and this shows the author's leaning toward two personal influences: John Ahearn’s Madder Valley for the overall style and Pendon Museum for much of the scenic techniques. Much is made of selective compression and in some cases forced perspective. The period represented a the late 19th century meaning trains are short and this adds to the ability to make the scenes appear much larger than they really are.

A design problem

The downside of the text is that there is little in the way of explanation of construction techniques, though to the trained eye much is fairly easy to guess at. There is no descriptive body text until page 123 excepting short social history paragraphs supporting captioned photos, the author preferring to explain the why, more than the how. 

The disappointment is the size of the photos which could have easily been reproduced at two per page instead of up to five tiny images per page. I’m guessing that this is partly due to a self-publish angle and the desire to include every detail of the layout rather than select certain broader aspects of interest. An A4 format with 30% fewer, but larger images would have improved matter considerably and shown the considerable detail off to advantage. Including every horse drawn vehicle, however well-built, seems a trifle wasteful.

If this design niggle can be put to one side, this is an incredibly inspiring volume for all railway modellers and if you have a liking for Ahearn-ian style traditional semi-freelance modelling it's definitely worth picking up as it's surely a contender for the title of best freelance model railway.

Tuesday, 9 August 2022

Modelling the Welsh narrow gauge

What was weird about putting the update post up was that it gave me a slight lift from my malaise and got me thinking about what I want to do here. It would be oh so easy to delete the whole thing and start again, but there has been so much  put up here since 2009 which often acts as a reference and answers questions that arise locally suggesting that it would be churlish to do so. 

On another tack entirely it was time to review the book situation. There are four as you may have noticed. All about as far from David Jenkinson in style as you could get, and written very much as an extension of this page. In other words if you like this, then you'll like the books. The first (NGMISS) appears to be at reprinting, but is available as an e-book, the middle two are ticking along nicely. The most recent got passed over by some of the major reviewers and this may have had in impact, though it's hard to tell. Although it is aimed at the classic Welsh 009 modeller, it works well as a general 009 guide as well. So if someone is just beginning it will work very well as an easy-read entry point. Waterstones are a little slow on ordering, but Amazon are quicker and a tad cheaper if you have no issues with sticking more money into Jeff Bezos' pocket. Link below.

Incidentally, if you are desperate for a paper copy of Narrow Gauge Modelling in Small Scales I have one copy left here. Ping me.

Monday, 31 January 2022

A two point model railway

Lightweight baseboard
Progress has been remarkably slow. Not sure why. I used to knock this sort of thing out in a couple of hours. It doesn't need much explanation: the 3' x 1' boards are rescued from a previous abandoned project and are a lightweight baseboard experiment with all the cross pieces drilled with a spade bit (which is brutal) and now resemble the inside of an aircraft wing. The difference is notable especially compared to the hernia inducing White Rose boards used for the N gauge. The thinner material and the holes resulting in at least 30% less weight.

The two point track plan

The track plan, if you can can call it that, echoes the original Rhiw plan of a long crossover. The line top left runs to a single passenger platform and the line lower left is the headshunt/exchange for the kickback line  at the bottom right. This means that operationally the layout is really only the turn around as the destinations are off-scene. This means that the unseen line can be anything you want, though the general idea is that the traffic is chemical/fertiliser in vans and scrap inward. This recently threw up the possibility which didn't appear on Rhiw 1 in the shape of condemned 16 ton mineral wagons working one way.

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Resolving fiddle yard issues on Rhiw Mk2

Layout testing
Rhiw Mk2 begins. There was a recurring problem with derailments on Mk1 at the mainline entry that we never did get to the bottom of.  As the same fiddle yard is used I'm taking no chances and I'm rigorously testing all the stock (pushing and pulling) through the reverse curves and over the new joint. The fiddle yard has been in use with Svanda for the 11 years since with no obvious problems, save dropping it  at Globalrail in Didcot, so any problems are new ones.

Fiddle yard

Originally 6-road with Rhiw (4 mainline roads and 2 for the yard) it's been running as the four with the NSB stock. As the MK2 will have the same track plan the yard roads will be reinstated and the isolating toggle switches rewired. Why build it again? Well it worked at a fundamental level despite the scarily anorexic track layout and proved to be popular with the run-down 1980s vibe. This time it can have updated and improved scenics and be without the stupid front operation that made it hard to work.

Onward to the first show.