Sunday 26 December 2010


Started with good intention over a year ago for a competition. The board has an area of three A4 sheets of paper; or put another way: 35" x 8.5". Nearly a year on from the competition date it still sits under the bed... waiting.
The problem is, what do I do with it?

Thursday 23 December 2010


After a bundle of emails - but no comments here - here are the answers to the post below. Most respondents were 90% correct only falling at the source of the photo.

The vehicles(?) are GWR Iron Minks (with wooden doors). The location is Machynlleth goods yard were they were used as buffer-stops. Note what looks like bridge rail under the bodies. The photo was lifted from the Clubs and Societies pages of an early 70s RM and credited to one Robert Fysh. I would think that the photo was fairly recent to the publication date judging by the lorry in the background. The caption states 'Note the drawhook for pulling stops back after successive shunts.' I assume the vans were a budget version of sliding buffer stops.

Thanks to those that responded.

Wednesday 8 December 2010

Golden Valley Railway

Golden Valley Railway
There has been an enormous amount of correspondence via email in the last few days (do this via profile link on your right). Conclusions seem to be that the Link plan outstrips the Rice in terms of cleanliness - the Rice tries to cram too much of the prototype in. Mr. Payne's revision has got a general thumbs up as a way of improving. It will be interesting to see if any of these get built in the near future.

There has also been a drift toward GWR welsh and 'light' lines as a related subject a taster sent to me is a part of this. It's an absolutely delightful photo and one which could be adapted to the Link/Payne plan with the loop beyond the platform (note the disused/overgrown platform on the left). this is almost the ultimate branch line scene.
There will be less here for a while due to 'other stuff' happening and I have a bridge to build.
In the meantime here's some music...

Monday 6 December 2010

Painting the track on Rhiw

Rail painting . Long job, but got to do it. Regulars will know that a pet peeve of mine is orange rails. Yes I do know that it happens - often due to Kodachrome in older photos, but a quick trip around the system tells me that most of the time the rail and sleepers are coated in a grimy grey mix of dirt, grease and brake dust. Painting the railside orange, as is often recommended, makes the track visually jump out at the viewer and tends to spoil the overall effect. One beautiful 4mm layout with stunning buildings was ruined for me in recent years due to the bright orange track.

What I've tended to do is paint the whole lot with German Grey acrylic (or in this case Games Workshop Charadon Granite). This tones the shiny nickle-silver down and reduces the height visually. The above shows the before and after.

Note the hi-tech point control. DPDT switch and paper clip. It works and it's cheap. By the time the embankment is over and around it, it will vanish.

Sunday 5 December 2010

Art of Compromise 3

This little exercise seems to have started a little discussion, so in the interests of balance and as I mentioned it in the initial post here's Iain Rices take on the same thing from Morrill.

Art of Compromise

The area is slightly bigger and the Link article is not mentioned, though the first para is sub-headed 'The art of the ordinary', and the family resemblance is clear. There were three plans presented; the last a round-the-room variation.

Art of CompromiseThis does add a certain weight to Roy Link's original idea, but are any of them build-able? Fairford is not a typical station and the plans cram an eighth of a mile of goods yard into 3 feet in 4mm scale. And more importantly if you were to build a GWR branch terminus, are any of them a good place to start?

Saturday 4 December 2010

A backscene board for Rhiw

Rhiw model railway Work progresses slowly on Rhiw, both boards getting several coats of white at the top and a smear of blue. I'm not sure that with a fascia board in front that this will be visible from most angles, but it's a damn sight easier to do it now. The black area is to kill the light reflection under the bridge which will be the first proper scenic item to go in. It's on the bench in front of me in its constituent parts and just needs assembling on the board and painting.

In the meantime it's track painting - only another five feet to go...

Friday 3 December 2010

Art of Compromise 2

Shortly after the posting of the Art of the Compromise post (below) there followed an email and then a hour long phone call from Christopher Payne on the merits or not of the plan and how it would be altered. This would be in any other situation be called time wasting (and indeed I was accused of that later on) but it did throw up a couple of possible changes.

The main problem is the lack of width in the goods yard - we questioned the ability of carts to be turned - and the fact that passenger trains, especially if they are autos only just enter the scene rather than travelling through it. Below is CP's sketch of these alterations keeping the same feel and overall dimensions: Flipped, entry from opposite end and yard now at front so to make it 'infinite'. We also questioned the relative size of the goods shed (This was to allow for the use of the Prototype Models kit) This has been reduced to something more in keeping. My suggestion would by something in the order of the New Radnor shed featured in the September RM.Art of Compromise
Art of Compromise And to compare with the original...

Thursday 2 December 2010

The power of the internet

I don't get many comments here. What I tend to get in response is emails. After my post on Scunthorpe, its mystery steelworks locos, and saddletanks, I got a mail from a chap named Bill with the info and web link below.
It's nice to be able to tie a question up with an answer and I hope Bill doesn't mind me reproducing part of his mail here.

'The train you saw was of Torpedos carrying liquid iron from the blast
furnaces to the steel plant.
They hold about 300tonnes of iron and weigh in fully loaded at 500 tonnes.
It would have been pulled by a Hunslet loco with a crew of one, He has to
change all the points and drive the train, although it is radio controlled
which helps.
We also have diesels by Janus and a pair of ex BR Class 20s

The other train is for works tours.'

Wednesday 1 December 2010

The Art of Compromise

Art of Compromise plan
Art of Compromise model layout plan Both images: Roy Link/Peco
The Art of Compromise
The above is my Nemesis. Published in RM in October 1978 when I was 14.

Roy Link produced several plans in the late 70s/early 80s some of which were reproduced in the recent Peco 60th Anniversary pull-out. They also included an up-and-over Glyn Valley idea and a plan of the Spurn Head line on the Humber. This plan titled 'The art of compromise' caught the eye of my 14 year old self, and I've been trying to build it ever since.... you can't... it's impossible.

The inspiration is the Fairford Branch on which most if not all the stations used this unusual track layout of: loop-beyond-the -platform. (Iain Rice returned to the idea in the Morril house layout Broadwell Green. Both were used to push products: Link - the then new Lima 45xx and Rice - Wills kits) The oh-so-tempting colour illustration is the workable part of the plan with single track, platform, and road rising behind. The bit that doesn't work is the cross-section through the coal yard and weighbridge hut: there's just not enough width of baseboard at a foot deep. 15-18" would be better.

The length sort of works: Link states in the text that a B-Set cannot be run-round... yes it can. Been there. But its very tight. The whole point of the plan is to use the platform road as a head-shunt for the goods yard to avoid off-board shunting. All well and good, but would it be better if the entry from the Fiddle Yard was to the left?

This is an itch that I need to scratch one day; it's the perfect exhibition animal: simple to build and making full use of the plethora of RTR items - simple things done well. Will I do it? Probably not. I've had three goes at it in this form since 1978 and for the reasons above it doesn't work. If it's adjusted and altered, then its not The Art of Compromise plan... it's something else... it's Unnycoombe and I've just done that.
I do have a 14xx and a B-Set in the loft though...

Tuesday 30 November 2010

The Frozen North

For reasons best left to the imagination Saturday saw a romantic day out in Scunthorpe. Not a natural first choice I can understand, but nevertheless...
I'd never been near the place before, but there were three small items of interest. The first seen while negotiating a roundabout, was what I think may have been slag wagons (not going near any reference to Scunthorpe and slags thank you) under the control of what looked like General Electric Bo-Bos - one at each end. Sorry no photo. Three hundred yards on, a working saddle tank (pictured) and two BR brakes. Apparently this is a site tour and not working in the strictest sense. The third? Well I'll deal with that later.

Monday 29 November 2010

Signal Box

Anyone that knows me will be aware that I'm a bit of a sucker for pre-group signal boxes. This example spotted over a bridge parapet on a trip to northern parts last weekend. And just prior to a pee in the hedge (it's the cold weather) I snapped this through the rather awkward girder bridge metalwork. As the sign states it's at Spilsby near Lincoln and according to my trusty gazetteer it's on the former GNR & GER Joint line between Lincoln and Gainsborough, though I'm not sure from which of those companies the design originates.
What I didn't realise was that most of that area is Great Central territory. Probably due to a diet of the Reverend Denny I tend to think of the GCR as a home counties company not a fish carrier.

Thursday 25 November 2010

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Unnycoombe scooter

Unnycoombe N gauge layout I spotted a couple of 2mm scale scooters on a stand at the Uckfield show. It was thought that one on Unnycoombe would really nail the early 60s timeframe. A quick coat of blue paint and all it needed was a pennant or a tiger tail hanging off the back. I knocked -up a Union Jack flag (which looks huge here) and just needed a cat's whisker or a piece of hair. Mine is too short... so .
Well, Nigel yelped a bit when I wrenched a few out with a pair of tweezers when he turned his back.
Does the job...

Monday 22 November 2010


Away from the frivolity.
I was going to do no more work in 2mm scale. However.
It was decided to add some platform furniture to Unnycoombe and some questioning at the Uckfield show pointed us in the direction of Shire Scenes and these little beasties. Nigel mail-ordered and then on discovering that they were nice shiny brass that needed soldering, threw them my way.
I started with one of the smaller sack trolleys (or 'wheels' as we used to call them) to get my eye in. I made a bit of a hash of it but moved on. Result: three trolleys, and four bench seats.
The instructions; after asking you to recite Monty Python's Parrot Sketch (I kid you not) suggests making a jig. I always think jigs are best left to the Irish, so used a bit of blu-tack and my finger, which now has a bench-end branded into it.
Remind me that I don't do 2mm...

Sunday 21 November 2010

Novington Pits

In an effort to keep things tidy and as a follow-on from the last post here's the Schoma on it's intended home. Novington Pits was very much an experiment. I'd got interested in 14mm gauge via Roy Link's Review and thought to have a go. I didn't have the cash for some of his more expensive kits, but could run to a couple of Wrightlines spuds. For the unaware these are basically a 24.5 Tenshodos cast in white metal with the motor mounted on it's edge to allow either 14 or 16.5mm gauge. This makes them taller which is OK for the 7mm industrials which they are intended.Novington Pits O-14 The photo (the only one I have from 1996) shows the unfinished layout: a mix of MDF and ply, and track soldered up from copper-clad and code 80 rail to suggest Hudson Jubilee track. The wagons are card on top of 3mm scale w/m wagon chassis. The layout was tossed at the public twice then quietly abandoned. Even with the extra weight of the casing, the spuds still have the warp-factor acceleration of the Tenshodos, sharing the same motor and direct 1:20 or less gearing. I learnt all the lesson here that I should have applied, and didn't, to Froxington a decade later. That being that spud drives and me don't get on. All the stock is still in existence except Pete Smith's battery electric kit which has disappeared.

Thursday 18 November 2010


The above is a 7mm model of a Schoma industrial pictured with a Peco 7mm NG van on the HO layout Einsford Mill (keeping up at the back?). Built c. 1995 mainly from thin card with a few plastic bits from a drawing in the 7mm NGA's house mag' Narrow Lines. It is in essence a scrap-box project and apart from the Wrightlines spud on which it sits, it cost nothing. The building was written up in an article in the same publication at the same time, a rather cheeky piece titled 'The Butlins Schoma'. Unusually for this kind of thing, it's still with me in a small box marked '7mm bits'. It did subsequently form part of a small layout of which more anon.

The scale has always bothered me; I've had a couple of stabs at it, but I can't quite make it work. I'm always very inspired by a gentleman from Crowborough who can, and who is unwavering in sticking to a theme. Perhaps this is where I'm going wrong.

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Bargoed station

Bargoed station

This is Bargoed in the early 90s, lifted from a site I found a few days ago. Ostensibly dealing with signals it contains a lot of good source photos from South Wales 83-94 which is exactly what I need.

What is very positive about this photo is that it give a lot of basic Rhiw elements: single platform, rationalised track and an odd operating pattern that I could almost replicate. What a lot of these photos show is that semaphores were still the order of the day in the area as can be seen. The boxes were new, as the 'charming' example here (school pre-fab classroom that's been left in a gro-bag) and electric operation. Note the ground(?) signal in the bracket and another one on the 'main-line' in front of the DMU. Also the cast speed limit sign rather than the circular road type.

Some trains were 'through', some terminating. In order for this arangement to work the return working reversed into the siding as shown and waited for the through service to pass.
Can anyone identify the square object below the DMU? I can't for the life of me work out what it is.
The negative aspect to all these photos is that they show a very leafy back drop which is not what I'd planned.

There is another photo of this station on the Rhiw page with a Class121 in shot.

Monday 15 November 2010

Class 03 in green my comment re: the Buffers ad' in the November RM: I note that a photo from the same shoot has been reproduced in the review/trade pages in the December issue. I say a photo, this is subtly different. No longer is the Bachmann rep' gazing down the young lady's top, but straight at the camera. Well thank goodness for that. And furthermore to my comment on the likelihood of a green liveried 03s appearance on 1980s Rhiw I include the above: taken from A. J. Booth's Ex-BR Diesels in Industry booklet. The above is a shunter captioned as in Pencoed in 1971 - right area, wrong period. But the lower is Ely 1986. This clearly shows the faded (green?) paintwork with a BR totem... in 1986!
A simple massaging of these dates and captions gives my full (modeller's) licence to include a green liveried/totem-ed Class 03 in a South Wales industrial setting.

Thursday 11 November 2010

Wood End 009

Wood End 009
Wood End 009 After a couple of years without a printer (pointless having one to print two sheets a month) I threw £40 at Currys and bought one on Sunday. What I didn't bargain on getting when I walked into the shop was a very natty built-in scanner. This has opened up a new world of not having to take prints to Crawley to scan-in... I can do it here. This has meant that, as can be seen, extra pages have appeared on the right, but I've also trawled a bit deeper into the photo pile and for those suffering a Narrow Gauge underload here's a couple of previously unreleased Wood End corner-section shots. A low angle and rather unflattering - I think I was playing around with filters on the old SLR. The prints have suffered a little; possibly due to the plastic sleeves that they are stored in, seem to be a touch grainy on reproduction.
Expect more from this batch.

Sunday 7 November 2010

Fiddle yard for Rhiw

There has been talk about boxing and lighting on Rhiw this week. Still not 100% sure what I'm going to do... if anything. Though I did look at various low-voltage light unit set-ups in B&Q last night (£15. for the transformer and £6 ea for the lights. Hmmm...). They have, apparently, stopped selling 6mm MDF in 4x2' lumps. This is quite frankly a pain in the arse as nearly all my baseboard building happens in 43/45" strips. Which leaves between 2.5" and 3" off-cut to use for bracing, making the whole thing fairly efficient. The new smallest size of 6x2 isn't, and bounces around on the car's headlining on the way home.

Anyway FY complete excepting the two switches for the isolating sections on the RH roads. (Haven't found the switches yet) I may also fit a panic on/off to the feed to the rest-of-the-world roads on the left so that I can kill the whole lot of required.
Now to fit backscenes to the main boards.Fiddle yard for Rhiw

Friday 5 November 2010

Green livery Class 03 on Rhiw

A final bit of baseboard joint testing with the Mk1 Bachmann Cl 03 that I bought from Miles some years ago when he was still in short trousers. Reason being that, as with years of experience with 009, I know that the shortest w/b loco will find the humps in the track and stall.... it didn't. Will this be used on Rhiw? Well yes. Out of period? Well no. More on this later.Bachmann Green livery Class 03 And the questions:
There have been conversations about various scenic details that may or may not be needed. The problem therein is when did these items appear historically. We are only talking 25 years ago and yet these details are blurred. I'll list below.
* Wheelie bins - when did they reach common usage to the point of being dumped everywhere?
* Self -service ticket machines - the 'permit-to-travel' variety.
* air con units strapped to the side of retail units. They weren't there when I was a child, but they are there now. When was the introduction period?
Answers on a postcard. Or leave a comment/email me with your concise answers.
Thank you.
p.s. I recommend sliding over to Phil Parker's blog (to your right) to see the video of Rod Stewart being outed as a modeller on an American chat show - we've all been there in that squirm moment.

Thursday 4 November 2010

Rhiw fiddle yard work

Little by little the work is proceeding on the Rhiw fiddle yard.

Rhiw fiddle yard work As can been seen the previously reported kick-back siding has been discounted. Instead two simple ladder yards installed. What did look like miles of spacious track length shrinks to nothing once almost two feet of sprinter unit is placed on it. The mean length is 26" on the back yard leaving only a couple of inches before the crossover mark is reached. This is quite a head turn problem: jumping from stock lengths of 1.5" in 009 to 23". All the automatic 'eye' guess-work goes out of the window. Hence that even though quite simple in track plan, Rhiw needs just short of 11' to work.
Rhiw fiddle yard work The Ro-bell is a Bachmann product that I bought a while back thinking it maybe of use as a chassis for a Drewery car in 4mm. It's sold as OO, but is actually HO. Powered by a tiny Bachmann N gauge motor it's just capable of dragging the three vans along. It may get a run on the layout once in a while even though I'm trying to avoid the engineering stock if possible. 

Tuesday 2 November 2010

Ffestiniog coach No1

There seems to be a reluctance to have a go at the WRG scratch-challenge this year. This surprises me somewhat (or is it the fact that I ducked out last year?)

I've had a couple of ideas: the first is this little beast:
 Ffestiniog coach No1The underlying purpose of the 'rules' was to build something that could run on your existing train set and not be drawn into other places. To this end, following on from the FR 'style' bugboxes that I've recently kitbashed for Garn, I fell upon this - FR No1. This photo from wikipedia, but the original inspiration from Boyd's books and the Spooner Album which lives at Nigel's.

What I don't have is a drawing; despite hunting at Expong on Saturday, just two more or less square-on photos. What this modern rebuild shot shows is the slight bow-ends which are not apparent on the vintage shots. Plus the nasty grills which aren't on the original coach and which I would be happy to omit. Yes I know there is a brass kit available from Worsley Works, but...a PECO wagon chassis and a handful of plasticard.

Not only are drawings of coach No1 scarce, the information surrounding is vague. Boyd, normally very detailed, is quite general:
‘Spooner required... (1864) one first class and two third class... Bodies were 9ft.3in. over sides (and 10ft over bowed ends)long, 6ft. 3in. wide and where roofed(?), 6ft.6 in. from rail... the floor was only 8 in. above the rail...1st class bodies had two windows per side, flanking a central door... single back-to-back seat.’ Boyd F.R. vol 2
This fits the plates 11R and 12R. The earlier in 1887 show the coach open sided, the later from 1932 with the mesh added. But at no point in the text are the corresponding numbers mentioned.
With that information, vague though it is, it should be possible to sketch out a build drawing.

Sunday 31 October 2010

Expong 2010

I'd have to say one of, if not the, best Swanley shows. The standard was very high, and I was not alone in thinking that judging by the comments around the room. Ted Polet's Rae Bridge was outstanding. I've been a big fan of Ted's work for years and I'm still completely drawn in to the scenes. At least he didn't hand me the controller as he did some years back. The reply to which has gone down in the annuls. The other high spots were a small cased On30 layout-from France I think - and the dragline in the 16mm layout. I will eat my words here as they were both I believe DCC operated. Though I will say that if you are going to use sound in a large room then you need large speakers. Not for volume, but for sound quality. Piddly 1" speakers going tss,tss,tss for steam sound doesn't cut it. If you want to do that buy an old s/h bass amp with a 15" speaker and a big space behind it and dump that behind the layout. Then your viewers will feel the sound rather than just swat it away.

Apart from a tea and a pound spent on a pair of dividers (S/H British Thompson [Houston?]) no cash left my wallet. Is there less to buy? Or despite the high standard is there a stagnation period just around the corner for narrow gauge modelling?

Friday 29 October 2010

Fiddle yard for Rhiw part 1

Fiddle yard for Rhiw model railway The Rhiw fiddle yard as it stands. Yesterday three lengths of track were purchased to finish it. (it's like being 15 again; going the to Hobby Box and buying Peco code 100).

The left hand side is obvious - the right will have a line coming in from the bottom of the photo with a dead-end kick-back into the dead space in the centre. Just enough to hold a loco, brake vans or possibly a rake of three VDAs. The l/h side represents the 'rest-of-the-world', the right the industrial park with the feed shippers and the scrap transfer site.

It did occur to me yesterday the the operation won't be a million miles from CP's Paradise Mining Company (at Expong tomorrow) with the added bonus of passenger traffic.

All this is very much a leap in the dark. I'm still not sure what the end result will look like and if it will all work as a whole. I'm leaning quite heavily on other's knowledge and loads of research, and I'm still not sure if it's right.

Tuesday 26 October 2010

More wires on Rhiw

Once I'd worked out that I'd forgotten to gap a set of copperclad sleepers, and it was this that was causing the controller to go ping, the testing of the two main boards of Rhiw could continue with this ancient ( father-in-law's) Airfix Cl 31. So worn that it actually shakes in one direction. I have to admit that the ease of running with the weight of 4mm standard gauge is refreshing.
Dead-end isolation gap to wire-up and that's the technical bit more or less done.

Monday 25 October 2010

Wealden Railway Group Sunday Afternoon

Sunday saw the gathering of Messers. Willett, Payne, Ford, Knights, Hill and Barnabe at an outdoor location in West Sussex to peruse a 7 1/4" line. Cups of tea and chat abounded, but then the wind changed and froze three of the party into a sleeping state.This allowed a kindly old gentleman to shout 'I'm free!' and have the entire line to himself on his rail adapted mobility scooter.

Sunday 24 October 2010

Wiring for Rhiw

Rhiw has been put on the back-burner for a while for various reasons, academia being one. It has been described as a bit of a millstone, but I don't regard it as such, only that it's taken a while to get it over the 'hump' to where the fun bit starts. And I have spent more than enough of my limited funds on it already; so it has to get done. I can't get the facia on until the bridge is fitted (for height reasons). I can't put the backscene board on until the wiring is done.

Wiring. Possibly not my favourite job, but needs to be done. This is the main board of Rhiw - simplicity itself: two point feeds (to switch the polarity) and two track feeds (the black and the yellow/white). I don't complicate my life with point motors and rarely section anything unless it's critical. Keep it simple has long been a motto in this and anything else.

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Alan Fall

Alan Fall


A gentleman of the hobby and an old friend who will be much missed.

Monday 18 October 2010

Scenic work on Unnycoombe

Sunday saw a little work being done on Unnycoombe. A proportion of the groundcover had left the scene and needed to be re-laid, the steps to be fitted, and the ballast touched in just to stop the nagging. Plus Nigel brought in the work so far done on re-building the shunt/starter signal.
Then off to the Uckfield show. The usual high standard, but a little short on running. I looked at Horselunges three times in an hour and a half... nothing moved. But then I suppose it's now (in it's rebuilt form) is both P4 and DCC. My point is proved yet again. All that expensive technology and nothing moves. Real shame as the modelling is exquisite.

A chat with an old friend known for his large scale NG modelling found him in thoughtful mood and hovering around the 3mm and S gauges. I'm glad it's not only me who wanders around and tries other things.

Friday 8 October 2010


I was asked at Scaleforum if I had the photos that I took of Mr. Savage setting up his HDLR layout. I have but only these as I wasn't making a point of a blow-by-blow photo montage.
Some people make clever look really easy. If he wasn't such a lovely bloke....

Wednesday 29 September 2010

N gauge steps

Due to a little push there have been some additions to Unnycoombe. I've long thought that there should be steps from the feed shed up to the cattle dock. So I built some. (plastic scrap and Humbrol acrylics) Something that the platelayer would have knocked up from time-expired sleeper and gash fencing. The shape from memory from the ones I used to climb early in the morning to the brewery loading dock when I was still in short trousers.

I find that as the majority of modellers are office dwellers and have never done any manual work, that logic goes out of the window - yards that you couldn't turn a Smart car in let, alone a horse and cart, and sheds dumped miles from their logical usage point, just because Wills make one and you've built it. Things have to have human reason in order to look convincing. Which is why I've just strained my eyes for a couple of hours...

Thursday 23 September 2010

Mobiles like housebricks

I thought a week ago that I would need to get some 'modern' figures for the platform on Rhiw, ones which don't come from the Airfix 'platform' or 'RAF crew' sets. Why is it that all 4mm figures would look OK in the fifties, but not in any other era?
Then, on Sunday these sprung out at me:
A packet of 20, £2.50, unmarked, multiples of the above. The girls are a little '70s, but OK for my mid-'80s period. The plastic is brittle and they will need repainting. However other than that... perfect. the mobile toting girl can be adapted and the over-thick walking stick replaced. What I did like was that the males are in hoodies... not a lot of those in Airfix sets.

Wednesday 22 September 2010

Till death...

'But it might come in useful.' There ended a conversation with a man of 57 years. But useful for what? Will bits of an Airfix engine shed bought in 1968 really be useful if youve not used it in 40 years? Probably not. Then I thought how much do we need, and for how long? How much more are we going to build?Here's the basic maths: if we are talking about small-ish exhibition layouts what's the time scale? I'd say about 4-5 years to plan, build, exhibit, write the article. By which time the next thing will be underway. Which is all well and good while we are living, but sooner or later we won't be. So working on our 4-5 year shape and assuming that - taking a biblical three score years and ten as a handy esimate - we can easily work out how many layouts we have left in us. At 57 it's about three. Myself at 46 may have at the outside six; more likely five.Looked at this way it does focus the mind as to what we really want and where we want to be in the future. And there does come a time when that round-the-room system is by far the best option rather than carrying great chunks of woodwork around.

Tuesday 21 September 2010


It has been mentioned of late that there are probably enough projects in the drawers to last a number of years without ever needing to spend a penny on anything but glue and solder. I suspect that this is not an uncommon scenario. Maybe we should all put the shops out of business and spend the next two years just building what we have already got and/or started. The problem there is that building for an unspecified layout project is not always the best way to get enthused. But do we really need a layout project at all? I grew up with Saturday afternoon Airfix kits - the learning curve in spending my childhood doing these is unmeasurable, but they had no end-game; they were just what they were, a stand alone project. Case in point is this 3mm/14.2 gauge Y6 tram. I built this at least a decade ago and sold it to Steve Driscoll for use on his 3mm layout. It's a Finney & Smith kit - a wind-down from a 7mm kit and was a joy to build with lots of 10 thou overlays and fully detailed interior. I have a 4mm/EM version half done in the drawer. The transfers were the let down; the best I could get at the time were these from Maybex, and I see the bell-wire has suffered a little. It was though nice to bump into it again at the summer party.

There has been a flurry of detail work carried out on Unnycoombe. I have just strained my eyes scratch-building this. Posts carved from 40 thou square and letters from Coopercraft or Slaters,
not sure which. Lining them up was a nightmare. they are very brittle and ping everywhere and as soon as a touch of solvent is added they float around. No swearing natch. It's a 1 penny piece not 2.

Monday 20 September 2010

North Kent

A trip to Bexley Heath yesterday to see the penultimate showing of John Howe's 'Dog Kennel Hill'. A strange show; I couldn't quite put my finger on it. The exhibits -with a couple of exceptions- were poor. But. There was a real buzz about the show which was in two rooms: one a community hall, the other a scout hut. The later had essence of jumble sale about it, but we found books that we didn't know existed and many s/h examples which were long out of print. Out of the dozen which I could have bought, I limited myself to a mint copy of the Oakwood Press volume on the Newhaven Branch - a subject close to home and a book I haven't seen for a long time. (I may dip into it on this page in the future). The tables in the cafe were dirty, the layouts were badly-lit, but I would recommend it for a visit. We walked away with three books between us plus three built and finished Cambrian POA/SSA scrap wagons for Rhiw at £4 apiece and a packet of figures for same. And after cycling the 26 miles to my house in the morning in an hour and forty minutes (of which he was justifiably pleased) at the door of the show Nigel was presented with a pensioner's discount ticket (he's 57).

I didn't take the piss too much...

Saturday 18 September 2010

New brake for Garn

At the Worthing show last week it was apparent that shuttling one brake van about between trains was not ideal so....Something slightly more workaday than the bugbox derivative was thought about.

Take one Peco 10' brake chassis, 50p's worth of plastic some bog-roll and a cotton bud... and...

The sheet bits are 40 thou, the framing is all 40x40 thou square. Planks are hand scribed (ha!)
Roof is 20 thou with toilet paper canvas and a couple of mil of cotton bud.
Inspiration is from three vans in the Boyd Mid-Wales book. The basic shape from the GVT, the framing from the Corris and the balcony from the Welshpool.