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...