Sunday, 17 October 2021

Uckfield show

The annual pilgrimage to the Uckfield exhibition. It was packed! I got knobbled by the manager as soon as I'd walked in. They'd decided to run it more or less as normal as it would be tricky to change it. I agreed. The usual spacings and room layout, so as you can see from above the usual sharp elbows to get round. The only consideration was sanitiser on the way in.  Because of this mask wearing was high. Notably a couple of the regular traders had been replaced, but no holes in the room.

Uckfield leans toward  a finescale vibe, but was missing the usual 3mm and S attendees. That aside, some top notch stuff on show. There is a problem with this. Adrian prides himself (surely not?) on getting debut appearance layouts from quite long distances and possibly because of this, or maybe the finescale thing there, was way too much fingerpoken and push-along going on, even by the time I left at ten to three. This ain't a good advert for higher echelon modelling despite it all looking stunning. As I've said repeatedly over the years on here - this is a show guys, not a club night.

Food was taken at the cafe at the front of the building, which as always was excellent and cheap. All in all it was a brave and worthwhile move considering that shows are still being cancelled due to drop outs (but do they bother to try to get replacements?).

Show: 8.5 (sort the running )
Catering: 11
Rucksacks: 0
Masks: 8
Covid preparations: virtually nil 


Thursday, 14 October 2021

Grassy banks

 I'm sort of happier now. There's green stuff.

Sooty and stained (nothing to do with Harry Corbett) brickwork and a blast of green. One of the reasons for the abandonment of the Mk1 N gauge plan was the lack, at the time, of static grass at Peco HQ. That is along with small radius points, Setrack and just about everything else that I needed. The abundance of Peco static grass on Squires stand at the weekend suggested that this is now not the case, and just in case it wasn't, I grabbed a bag of 2mm Winter Grass.

I'm working from the back, forward. This is good practice and this piece of dull retaining wall is about as exciting as it is going to get. I'm at the point where I have a layout kit with lots of built structures and just need to sort all the walling to tie it together.

Happier now.

Wednesday, 13 October 2021


 'A tedious job, but well worth the effort' he said quoting a thousand layout articles.

Putting ground cover onto a layout is usually quite fun and signals the transition between the engineering bit and the artistic bit. This particular bit is a fiddle. All well and good when it's strapped to a few feet of timber, but bouncing around the bench while you try to stick soggy bits of paper down in a line wore thin after about 30 seconds. I'm not quite sure why I did it this way around... oh yes I do it was so I could take piccys more easily.

I think everyone should build an N gauge layout.

Sunday, 10 October 2021

Saturday Ramble

Aldershot saw a couple of purchases. Aside from some static grass, a sheet of plasticard  and two tuna rolls, I bought a book. This is odd these days as being on the review team of RM I get plenty of new books to thumb through. This one had been advertised though hadn't come my way. The hand went into the pocket and out came the card.

It's standard Transport Treasury fare; a couple of shots per page with extended captions and all by Dr. Ian Allan.  Why is this unusual? Well back here I once again alluded to scale tarts, and book stands at exhibitions don't help. I've always had a casual interest in this area and while most books have one layout idea, this contains one on almost every page. The mix of smallish green diesels and grey wagons is such a draw and I do have enough bits in the cupboard to make a minor start should I choose to.

There have been conversations in the last couple of days tied to moving on with layout building. Unlike the many who fuelled the small radius point shortages during the lockdowns, I'm am fundamentally a builder of exhibition layouts and with no shows and no way of telling if there would be shows again, I did very little. Now that there is hope in the air, there are plans. And what do plans mean? Going round in circles working out what the best first move may be. The problems of the scale tart.

Before all of this is the Peco N gauge. This has been a cock-up from the word go. The first plan was dumped because of material shortages, then plan B back-burnered as the intended target point of Warley was cancelled. Now everything is back on stream and I could go with plan A, but plan B is already half built. So although it will work, I'm left with Frankenstein's monster, built with what I could get at the inception.  My direction here is to pile into it with (slightly forced) enthusiasm and get it done. 

Will someone please offer me a show for it so I at least have a build target...

Saturday, 9 October 2021

And we're back! Aldershot show.

Although there have been a few weeks of exhibitions I haven't been able to get to them. Today it was nice to break the duck and go to the Farnham Club show in Aldershot. I think it normally clashes with Croydon so not a usual visit though we have attended with Svanda (notably not since).

It was a little weird being back in the bustle of a show which was busy (over four rooms) but not uncomfortably packed. Mask wearing was probably only 30-40% and almost absent with exhibitors. The standard was high with some big hitters in the room. There was little that I hadn't seem before and Peter Cullen's Mannin Middle was the deal breaker on travelling. What was absent was trade which was reduced to the smaller players with no box shifters; the biggest stand being Squires. This opened the rooms up considerably and left plenty of space to move around, but I assume will have hit the show's income substantially.

The year we exhibited there was a food issue but today no such problem with a fairly swift turnaround with a basic menu and card payment which I imagine will be the norm now.

The scores - not done this for a while:

Show 9

Trade 5

Catering 8

Covid preparations 10, Covid masks and distancing 4

In the brave new world, this is probably about the best you could do, and this may be the model in the future. Great to be back and enjoying the general chat, banter and piss taking that we all love.

Well done to Farnham for sorting it out and getting something moving.


Wednesday, 6 October 2021

Wagon brakes

In answer to the query in the previous post, a quick primer on wagon brakes with diagrams nicked from 
Below is what most would consider the standard (Morton) British brake system. Three basic types: double acting with a cam on the shaft to cope with the fact that the levers are both at the RH end. Independent as per wagons with bottom doors. i.e. no connecting shaft as per the Airfix mineral wagon kit. Fitted, with the addition of a vac' cylinder. 

The above is the Dean/Churchward as fitted to the Coopercraft range of kits with a short lever on each side at the same end. These were considered non standard and were sometimes replaced with Morton types during upgrades post 1930s. As always a multitude of exceptions within all this.


Tuesday, 5 October 2021

Coopercraft van

 Modelling is slower these days but a concerted effort has produced this unlikely beast for the Dury's Gap roster.

Originally part of the AoC stock it sustained a little damage and has been repurposed. First by scratching the lettering off with a fibre brush, then repainting. The brakes were replaced with Mortons from the bits box - unlikely that it would have lasted into the 1960s let alone with the original Dean/Churchward mechanism. Like a lot of the stock it remains on the branch for semi-internal traffic. 

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Freight 1966

 1966, when we were still great and had the sense to train up our own workforce. 

There's some great stuff here if you look beyond the Graham Chapman-esque styling. I can't place the horse tramway early on. Ideas?

Friday, 24 September 2021

Rye Harbour stone

A while ago I dropped the above photo into a post here which generated a few questions to where it was on the branch. The photo below nails the position. The spot in question is toward the upper left. 

At this point is the junction for the stone works. Most of the buildings have now gone although there is some debris. The church is still extant and will position against any modern view such as google earth. The photo was taken in 1949 and previous snuffling about threw up the information that BR(S) anxious to rid themselves of all the old pre-group wagons that had hung on during the war, now used the redundant lower end of the branch as pre-disposal storage. The seemingly endless line of wagons (possibly reaching right down to the river wharf to the right) consists of older styles.

The stone works, including what looks like a ropeway, has a line which splits South from the branch and opens up into two curving sidings, one into the buildings and one toward the barges. There may also be a kick-back headshunt track below the junction point. 

While not exactly micro layout fare, the general shape would be easy to compress and re-shape for an inglenook style layout.

Sunday, 19 September 2021


 A trip out. It's good to try somewhere new and the Bressingham gala/steam rally seemed worth a punt. Without going into reams of back-history which you can get elsewhere, in a nutshell, it was a nursery with a small railway and is now a working transport museum with a garden centre tacked on the side. It doesn't take a genius to work out that for couples of a certain age, this is a damn fine combination. 

This day all the toys were out and the air was thick with steam engine output from traction engines, steam threshing machines, miniature versions of these, three (2', 15", 10 1/4") narrow gauge lines and a short section of standard gauge. All good stuff... with one small issue.

The terrier with the 2 plank and LMS brake shuffled up and down on a few hundred yards of track which was nice, but seemed a bit of a waste of a useful engine. I'm guessing that this is not the usual practice on ordinary days. It was a bit of a Hunslet-fest with two running on the 2' line either individually or coupled together. What caught my eye was the interesting VB machine which I hadn't seen before, but a quick bit of googling told me that 'it was put together from various bits and pieces'.

The site is very large and open with more or less free movement; none of the 'don't touch that sonny' that you get with standard gauge lines that appear to be much more taken with over the top health and safety than the NG lines do.  The only fly was the catering. Queue up for ages then a 45 minute (yes 45) wait for a sandwich and a cup of tea to be delivered. Yes it was busy, but isn't that the point of holding these events? Isn't busy what you are aiming for? A couple of period type outside catering type vans would have added to the vibe and taken the weight off the resident staff. If the system isn't coping, change the system.

Basically pretty good, but my tip would be to take a picnic.