Thursday, 24 November 2022

Cheap platform lamps

In the box of life that formed the parts that were ripped off Rhiw Mk1 were the platform lamps. Not for me then the Bachmann or Wills products, which weren't yet available, but some fairly quick concoctions of my own. The problem was that over several years and the box being tossed about, there was a little bit of damage and one had vanished altogether. There was some repair work required and a new one to be made up. The brass rod used originally had also disappeared, but I found some slightly narrower steel that was close enough. Steel doesn't take solder particularly well, but some furious cleaning and a hot iron saw something that would pass sweated up.

A piece of 60 thou was removed from the scrapbox, shaped to match the originals and drilled to take the rod.

The new one was destined for the far left of the platform, so any slight difference wouldn't be obvious as it was well away from the others. It was first coated in enamel paint to prime it (there can't be many modellers who don't have a tin of ex-Spitfire duck egg to do this) and after leaving overnight the whole brace were finished and/or tidied with a coat of 63 grey and the platform numbers re-attached. Holes were drilled into the platform and the lamps stuck in with UHU. Probably less than an hour in total, and almost zero material cost.


Wednesday, 23 November 2022

Building the crate

... well not exactly building. The general method of packing any layout over the last decade has been equal length boards strapped together with sheet material. In this case a piece of fairly low-grade ply that may have once graced the back of a piece of furniture and a sheet of hardboard that was certainly the rear of a picture frame. These were arranged to avoid various holes and obstacles, drilled and fitted with M6 bolts.  The next job is to trim them up a little to something approaching the right size
They are a little flimsy, though quite functional. I wouldn't trust them to tour roadies but for the single show that Rhiw 2 has in the book in March next year they will do.

Incidentally, I go through what seems like hundreds of bolts and wingnuts which were always bought from Wilcos' pick and mix counter. They seem to be moving over to high price plastic bags with four bolts in each at 1,000% upward shift. Any recommendations for a replacement supplier?


Tuesday, 22 November 2022

Ashford part 2


Warning. Social commentary ahead.

The in-between-venue walk was also unplanned. The advertised shuttle bus had apparently broken down on the way out on Saturday and had been replaced by a swisher, but inadequate, 16 seat minibus…. We walked.

In hindsight this was good as the afore mentioned winter sun made for a pleasant stroll into Ashford centre past and through the site of the old loco works.  Not only that but we had local guides to explain what we were looking at.

Local history is always tied up with the now, and the recent now for Ashford has not been that great (its nickname Trashford gives a clue). I do get slightly defensive when faced with Midlanders and Northerners who routinely describe the southeast as ‘affluent’. A day in places like Ashford, Margate and most of the Medway towns would temper that opinion and recent governmental language vis-à-vis levelling up is always suffixed with ‘in the north’ and completely glosses over the deprivation in some post-industrial areas south and east of the capital. Big chunks of Kent were about shipping and coal mining (always forgotten) and show as many social problems as Mansfield or Scunthorpe. Ashford was teased: HS1 was to regenerate the area, and new infrastructure, hotels and conference places were built to welcome a business tourism from Europe, with direct trains to Paris, Brussels and beyond. Now the same governments have left the town hanging with Eurostars rushing past from the wealth of North London non-stop to Lille. Ashford is Oliver Twist watching the Bumble’s feast. The short walk showed all that in clear sunshine.

The very long engine sheds rival anything in Swindon or
Crew but are much reduced now and what is left is derelict. Possibly earmarked for TV production development they are totally collapsing and seem past anything but the bulldozer and unaffordable housing.

As we drove in earlier, the roof of this building caught my eye and was the washing house for the rags used at the works – something that would only be considered a single use item these days. Back then, worthy of a sturdy red brick structure which just screams ‘model me’. Only a few hundred yards away is the gatehouse/signing on building with its offices, belltower and clock and we were shown photos via a phone of workers streaming past it at the end of shift in more productive times. Again, a simple operation generated a highly ornate Italianate structure mirrored to the south behind housing by the company school.

As modellers we drool over such railway opulence for minor buildings and investment in industry and it plays very hard against the current thinking where Kent, and indeed the rest of the country, finds itself in 2022; basically, abandoned to fend for itself.

Monday, 21 November 2022

Ashford 180

Another slightly unexpected day out. To be honest, I'd dismissed this one as there didn't seem to be any detailed information, only a jumbled web page and a list of venues... yes venues. Three. There were more than this, but after a discrete enquiry to people on the ground, things became a little clearer though I was still sceptical. Parking at the first venue and walking into town for Nos 1 & 2, I stumbled across the overriding problem: the sun. Room one was N and O gauges but set on the lighter side of the room which on a dull day would have been fine, but with winter sunshine allowed too much glare and threw the models into deep shadow, not to mention making photos awkward.

On the sun front venue two was little better, but it did include the deal breaker. The layout that makes all 009 modellers go weak at the knees, Dick Wyatt's Dovey Valley. Still looking good despite entering its sixth decade of exhibitions though this may have been its last showing, though he has said this before. Still the ultimate narrow gauge layout.

Venue three was duller and included a sizable amount of banter from the 7mm Narrow Gauge Association stand and included this delightful and curious Japanese paper layout with what looked like Kato powered Hong Kong trams running up and down on a shuttle. There was little information and no one to ask, in fact this seemed the order of the day with most layouts unattended and just a handful of stewards floating around.

Was it worth a trip? Yes and no. Dovey Valley and COD's Much Meddling yes, but a lot of the other exhibits were on the filler end of the spectrum.
The scores:
Show 6.5
Catering, a mixed 5
Parking 8
Rucksacks 0

More on the mid-venue walk later.

Monday, 14 November 2022


This was all a little last minute. A good day, but a feeling of ... meh... at the end. Nothing wrong: some excellent modelling and a useful spread of traders, though somehow lacking a bit of zing. Points worth mentioning: Gas Lane, O gauge, compact and very buildable. Oldshaw, very nicely done, but a little under operated at times. Wandleford, now with straight bridge and less organ bass pedals, very intense and inventive as usual from AWK. Grindley Brook, O gauge as it should be done.

The cafe front of house was now turned into the exhibitor's lounge; teas and light stuff was served in the studio. OK, but not enough for lunch and despite rumours to the contrary, the cafe two doors down was open. I can't understand why people don't make the effort to walk 50 yards for this as we had it almost exclusively. For £7.50 you can get the full heart attack on a plate (see below, note this is the baseline serving). 

The scores:

Show 7.5

Rucksacks 1

Trade 7.5

Catering in 4 , out 10.

Parking  (on street) 5