Monday 31 January 2011

Spitfire Project Pt3

Airfix Spitfire Gripe No 2. The plastic is beautifully molded. But. What that gives you is a labyrinth of fine, deep lines indicating hatches and whatnot. This is good, but getting paint into them all is a pain. Otherwise the whole thing is covered in fine grey lines.

Gripe No 2a. Why are some paints good and some f**king awful? I use a lot of Humbrol acrylics and most are OK, this needed, for the topside, 29 for the brown, which I use a lot anyway, and 163 for the green. The 29 is good. Covers beautifully. The 163 won't stay the same shade for two minutes no matter how much it's mixed/shaken, which I don't normally do, and is translucent. I'm having to put it on like custard. Do Hornby/Arfix/Humbol have a plan to sell you the crap paint which is sub-standard?
Anyway as can be seen, basic Spit done and basic paint on... sort of. *shakes head*

Sunday 30 January 2011

The Spitfire Project 1

The last time I built an Airfix Spitfire it had about 12 parts and more flash than George Cole. This little chap is a different beast. This is not a review, but my reaction to what has to be a quite quick project.
Things have changed somewhat: this is not the Airfix kit of my youth but a high quality Indian-made plastic kit up to the standard of the Parkside et-al products that railway modellers are familiar with. There are a couple of minor gripes, but only minor. The original was designed to be bought with pocket money in the morning, quick lunch, built and painted before tea, and hung from the ceiling before bed. This kit won't be that quick. And suspect that the target market has changed from under 12 to over 50.
Airfix Spitfire Before, as I remember, there was a spigot that came from the fuselage that the pilot sat on, now you get this (out of focus) assembly consisting of eight(!) parts. Took me over an hour to put it together and paint it. Eight bits and four paint colours. AND a transfer for the panel. there's even a firing button. Wow!
Airfix Spitfire My minor gripe is that there is a tiny bit of twist in both the fuselage and the wings. The only way to remedy was bond one end, let harden and work along to the other. Not really a problem and I'm being very picky. There is zero flash and everything generally fits very well. As I mentioned earlier I had to drive to Uckfield to get paints for the kit. While I was there my curiosity got the better of me and I looked to see how much the kit cost (£5.99). That's not bad methinks. Probably still in the range of pocket money. However there are eleven paint colours listed as required. That works out at for an initial purchase as £14.30...hmmm... I bought four that I couldn't cover from existing stock. Which would have still doubled the price. But then if this is what you do, then that's a capital expense and the next kit will use a lot of the same colours.

What this has underlined is an earlier comment about one-off projects. Plastic kit boys can jump around in subject, period and scale without a second thought. We railway-ers have to couple and match which demands and more strict and long-term approach. Which is better?

I did notice while browsing that there were at least four different Spitfires from Airfix in 1:72 alone, without all the other manufacturers and 1:48 etc. Tempting ain't it?

Friday 28 January 2011


When your 75 year-old father presents you with the above and asks if it would be possible to build it for him, then it would ungracious to refuse.

I looked at the box with dread. At this moment I don't need another modelling project. I built this Airfix kit some ten years ago, the fuselage halves were stamped 'Airfix 1958' and the plastic moulding was awful. Thankfully this Indian-built modern kit is a far superior product and should go together pretty well. Dad probably picked this up in a January sale for £1.99 if past behaviour is anything to go by, but of course to finish it I will have to drive a 20 mile round trip and spend £5 on the correct paints which are not my usual colour's for my dad though.

It's easy to forget how important this sort of imagery is to his generation, To me (born 1964) it's a plastic aircraft kit, my father though as a small child had direct contact with the prototype in its working capacity during the second world war when this area was ringed with bases containing them, often piloted by Poles. These same small boy would cycle to the bases and watch the various fighters being serviced and operating. To him this is not just a plastic kit - it's a carrier of small bits of hot shrapnel to take into school and swap.

Wednesday 26 January 2011

2 BIL and Brighton Belle 1968

 Brighton Belle 1968
2 BIL  1968 Two more Cants Lane shots from 1968. This time looking north to Wivelsfield Station. The lower shot - a southbound 2 BIL (two toilets), the upper- the Brighton Belle heading home on a summer day. You can almost feel the heat on the grass banks.

Sunday 23 January 2011


I got taken to task this morning over yesterdays post. I was asked if I was being provocative. Well no. But then maybe I was – provoking a thought maybe. An anti-kit rant? No. Very tongue in cheek. Anti-exhibition? No again. However, there is a point to me made and the thought process came via an email and then a conversation with young Nigel. But it all goes back to 1977.
I’ve touched on all this before – the whys and wherefores of doing this. And the root is my serious entry into the hobby which was the purchase of the April 1977 RM in Woolies in Middlesboro of all places. This coincided with the Easter shows. There were at the time only really two big shows on the calendar: York and Central Halls (I’ve attended neither as it happens) there were ‘club’ shows as well but in the main those were very much of the village hall type; local club shows off what it’s done during the year and raises a bit of cash for the club room rent. The other thing that would spring out at you from 1977 is that in the main everything within the pages of RM is hand-built. There were RTR models and kits of course, but they are Nu-Cast and K’s and pretty basic, and this is before the explosion in cheap good quality etching. Palitoy had just come on the scene and raised the bar on RTR moulding but had yet to make a full impact. Railway Modelling meant just that. Yes a lot of it was extremely rough, but did that matter? Even with all the help that available now, there’s a lot of rubbish around.
I think what I was saying yesterday is that, a) we’ve possibly lost some of the pure pleasure of making something from card/plastic sheet etc. with the minimum of bought-in add-ons. And, b) (and this is the important bit) are we doing this just to meet deadlines for exhibitions? And if so why? I say this as there was a short conversation yesterday PM about what needed doing to Garn/Unnycoombe/Rhiw to prepare for this year’s shows. NOT for the pleasure of the modelling, but for unpaid public entertainment.
The exhibition circuit has, in the three decades since I stood at the counter in Woolworths, become a travelling circus. It’s very sad, but you see the same faces at every show. This is akin to ladies of a certain age booking to see every show all around the country of a Cliff Richard tour. It’s passive. How many questions are asked about modelling even on demo stands? We look... but there is very little exchange. We pay money... and look. Or if you are on the other side of the barrier you pay... and play. And if you don’t believe that, stop and think for a while.

Thursday 20 January 2011

Stirling Service

That is almost a Daily Mirror headine. More from the Nigel Hill reject slide box.
Variable quality again, but valuable nevertheless.
For quite a while there was a 'boat train' service to Newhaven Marine known as the Stirling Sleeper. I'm not sure whether it was a direct service - perhaps someone out there knows? Anyway, it was usually headed by a Peak as shown here on the return trip, joining the Brighton line at Keymer Junction.

Sunday 16 January 2011

North Lane Works O gauge

North Lane Works O gauge With no vans to unload our intrepid workman sits down for his sandwiches.
The end of North Lane Works. Brick and corrugated from Slaters sheet, some card and stripwood.

Thursday 13 January 2011

Wednesday 12 January 2011

HAP & Nelson

I mentioned on the last post that I'd been passed a bundle of digitised slides that Nigel Hill had found in a box. The quality is a bit variable which probably explains why they were discarded. However the historical nature of all of them warrants publication.
Most were taken at Keymer Junction in Burgess Hill in the 1968/9 period - just as rail blue was coming to the fore. Cants Lane road bridge almost straddles the junction so is a good photographic spot as everything heading North from the East and West Coastway lines and Brighton crosses these rails.
The first in the series are a Brighton-Victoria up service led by a 'Nelson' unit just scraping into the blue livery and an Eastbourne-Victoria up service led by a HAP unit curving up from Lewes.

Monday 10 January 2011

1:24 scale loco

1:24 scale loco
1:24 scale loco Quite a while ago I was asked about a Horwich style loco that ran on Pinchingfield. I explained that nice that it was it was owned and built by Steve Bagley, Haywards Heath's favourite ex-Met policeman. It was all scratch-built on a modified (check the slide-bars) Hornby mech. Unfortunately the fragile smokebox dart has been lost in these photos.

The above appears now as Nigel happened upon a box of slides - of which these were two - containing several B/W shots taken on the Brighton line around the Burgess Hill area. expect a run of these very soon.

Sunday 2 January 2011

Newhaven/Seaford New Year

It's become almost traditional to wander out on New Years Day and take a couple of photos of the Seaford Branch. I don't plan it - it just happens.
The first a three car unit heading toward Bishopstone on the embankment across the salt pans (the remains of the old river estuary) showing the full-on murky weather, the second from the East Beach footbridge toward Newhaven Harbour station box. Newhaven Marine station to the left and Harbour to the right the line resuming double track status as it drifts out of sight.
If I'm careful I can make it sound almost romantic.