Sunday 27 February 2011

Eurotrack model railway exhibition

Cracking weekend at Eastleigh. Garn behaved very well, which always surprises me, and was flooded with exhibition enquiries. Good company in our corner of the hall with John Thorne providing help and Red-ex, and Keith Harcourt providing entertainment and P4.Garn 009 layout Nigel was on hand through most of the weekend (as pictured here) even though he was supposed to be wearing his Scandinavian Railway Society chairman's hat.
Garn 009 layout Only purchases of the weekend were pizzas and a non-DCC Bachmann Class 25 for Rhiw. I just checked on its suitability... only just... 25 054 - withdrawn 1985. Lucky. I know if it was wrong by a couple of years some spotty little oik with a hat full of badges would make a point of telling me so.

Thursday 24 February 2011

Garn at Eurotrack

This coming weekend (26/27) Garn will be appearing at Eurotrack at Eastleigh in Hampshire. If you're in the area do come and say hello. As I'm half an operator short, you may well get the controller pressed into your hand for half an hour.

Tuesday 22 February 2011

009 Railcar fixings

Instead of doing what I should have been doing this afternoon I decided to sort out the railcar. Previously a push-fit, it had become a push-fall. Something needed to be done. I reverted to Tri-ang technology for a quick fix. The stern used the peg method. Bits of scrap plasticard were added at the sides to stop lateral movement, then a 'bridge' over the top for the GP18 footplate to tuck under.009 scale railcar The bow end used a 12BA bolt. A hole (too large) was drilled through the GP's footplate and another drilled (too small) through the floor of the cab. I didn't feel like dismantling the cab which precluded using a captive nut so the bolt is just self-tapped through the floor. It won't be taken apart too much so shouldn't be too much bother. Note that it's off-set to avoid screwing it up the driver's arse. That'll get some interesting google search results..
009 scale railcar Yeah it's a bodge... *shrugs*

Sussex Downs

A little while ago I reported the death of Alan Fall. Yesterday whilst rummaging through some photos I found this, which was the shot that I'd wanted to use - the classic over the glasses look.
The occasion (I think) is the Norwich show pre-1995 (I have hair) with the Sussex Downs 009 Group's layout. Probably early in the year by the look of it with all the Christmas jumpers on display. I think this was the Sunday morning and yours truly was feeling a little worse for wear.
L-R Messers. Wilson, Ford, Fall, Fordham and leaning over at the back a youthful Mr. Hargraves. Happy days...

Monday 21 February 2011

Lister factory tugs

And now for something completely different...Lister factory tugs
Lister factory tugs As railway-ers we tend to think of Listers as lightweight 2' gauge industrial locos, but I'll bet they sold more of these. I'm not sure how big the engine is, but it can't be more than 10hp. Pre-fork lifts, depots would have a couple of these chugging around - possibly with a trailer or two. I seem to remember them in the sorting office carrying mailbags.
This preserved example shot at Tenterden station a decade ago.

Saturday 19 February 2011


There has been a little work done on Rhiw this week. Having promised Mike Denwood that I'd attend Worthing with it, it really was time to get my finger out. There are to be 'eye stoppers' at each end: on the left an industrial building, on the right a skew girder bridge. I'd sized the latter, but the details were hazy, so I spent quite a bit of time looking through books for photos. What I worked out was that there are very few, as the photographer is standing on them. So it was off to planet internet where I found this:
The above was the initial influence: the Clarendon Road bridge at Seaford. Not a plate girder I know, but it had all the elements I wanted so armed with these photos and those from the web page work could commence.
The sharp-eyed will note that the mid-way supports bear an uncanny resemblance to Airfix footbridge parts. Don't think that this wasn't part of the plan.

Talking of which I'm now taking commissions for Airfix kits.

Friday 18 February 2011

Electrotren 0-6-0

Electrotren 0-6-0
I don't normally buy CM, but I had to waste a bit of time in Lewes waiting for the Memsahib's exhaust to be fixed (that's her car's exhaust, not her's) so picked up what may have been the tail-end of last month's run. This caught my eye.

It's made by Joueff which is now under Hornby's European wing. It's Spanish and HO. That notwithstanding it would be a cracking base for a light railway loco (or any number of O-16.5 derivatives)as it's an outside cylindered 060 - not a prolific beast in RTR terms. The wheels look similar to the Terrier/Toby so I suspect it may have the same multi-wheelbase chassis block. All I know is from this review, but for 43 quid it's worth a trial. Kerr Stuart 'Victory' anyone?

Thursday 17 February 2011

Unnycoombe in RM

Flicking through this months RM finds this near the rear. 'A small space venture in N.'
You have been warned...

Wednesday 16 February 2011


I seem to have hit a nerve with my comments on plaques and display boards. there were a record four comments, a bundle of emails and the stats for that post spiked dramatically. General consensus was one of agreement - that display info should be kept to a minimum and possibly left off altogether. We are usually asked to provide a little information for show programmes and this should be enough (I know they are notoriously badly edited and spelt). That and a few well aimed questions are enough as I don't think there are too many exhibitors who don't want to discuss their models. Barry Norman excepted who sent me away after asking very reasonable questions, with a sense of 'go away, this is for big boys'.

Phil Parker raised a point that I hadn't thought of; that exhibition managers use the plaques to see how far you will travel. Several people mentioned either keeping the plaques and not mounting or putting them on the back of the layout.

I'm thinking that a better way is one which Dave Medhurst uses; that being the triptych hand-out: list of exhibitions past and future, details of layout and stock, track plan and history. Subtle, detailed and with take-away function.

Monday 14 February 2011

Wood End, St. Albans exhibition

Wood End St Albans exhibition In the last couple of days I've been bounced some comments from one of the forums re: display boards and exhibition plaques. I've got mixed feeling about this and referred to this shot of Wood End at St. Albans in 2000. The drop down board was originally added to protect the card wall, but we soon added some info, covered with a sheet of perspex and framed it. Would I do this again? No. It ruined the visual balance as well as the physical balance (the end/corner board was cantilevered from the main two). I'm coming to the opinion that the rise in display boards can ruin a perfectly lovely layout. The above is quite subtle compared to some, but when they become bigger than the 'viewing window' of the layout then you are in danger of disappearing up your own arse.

Ditto exhibition plaques. There are a couple on the Garn fiddle yard front and one on the main board, but looking at the above photo, do they add or subtract? Looking now I think they look messy and take the eye away from what the main point of the exercise is. In fact I would possibly go as far as to say that they are are a bad idea full stop. Do we really need to wave these past 'glories'? This is like me putting my CV on a flip chart next to me when I'm working. Yes I've done TV, yes I've done West End, but does anyone give a monkeys? Of course not. And it is the same here. the fact that I've done a couple of ExpoNGs etc. is irrelevant to where I am now and the model that you are looking at - in fact it distracts.

It will be noted that while yours truly stands motionless in this photo it shows a rare chance to see Nigel showing is party-piece Frankie Howard impersonation.

Sunday 13 February 2011

Garn fitting

Garn 009
Now that is showing my age.
Since Amberley last summer I have planned to beef-up the fascia mounting on Garn. Today it got done with the help of my glamorous assistant. I sawed, he screwed. The magnetic catches were taken off and new lumps of 2x1 were fixed. Then holes were drilled through both the new timber and the gallows arms to take 6mm bolts. This makes for a slower break down, but a sturdier fascia. Now if Phil Savage waves his arms around he'll just knock the whole layout on the floor. Sorry Phil. Kiss, kiss...

Friday 11 February 2011

009 scale railcar

009 railcar In amongst all the tidy up is the railcar. It was built originally for Wood End in about 1999, but was used infrequently due to clearance problems - it would go through the bridge about one time in three and would clip the retaining walls. It featured in a couple of photos in 009 News, but other than that it's a little shy. The obvious root is the Meridian Models Ashover Light Railway coach kit which has bee shortened and altered and mounted on an N gauge GP18 chassis.

What does need doing is re-fixing the body to the Lifelike GP18 mech. A plastic clip and a number 8 wood screw should do it...

Thursday 10 February 2011


This is one of those weeks when I have to sit back and consolidate plans and clear the bench. That makes it sound like I have an extensive purpose-built workshop - I don't. What I have is a £19 formica desk from Argos with three drawers which hosts all the stuff for business, modelling and study. At the moment though it's a little crowded and I'm taking steps to work methodically through the modelling jobs. The Spitfire, which was unexpected, has now gone and the project for the Wealden Railway Group Competition is almost finished. Don't forget there is a little over a month to get your scratch-built vehicle finished/started for the 19th of March. See sidebar.

There are, in the near future, a small flurry of shows for Garn and Unnycoombe, so things need to be attended to most notably the fascia mounting which is common to both which needs to be beefed-up with some bolts. The current magnet system is OK until people start waving their arms around (Phil Savage) so bolt on would seem to be the way to go. There is also the question of lettering. I can't justify 20-30 quid's worth of self-adhesive lettering and I'm a little scared of doing it by hand, but it does miss it.

Wednesday 9 February 2011

Spitfire - The final

With some relief I can announce that the Airfix Spitfire is done and has been delivered to deepest Mid-Sussex stuffed and mounted on a piece of MDF coated with Woodland Scenics. Conclusions: Compared to your average 4mm wagon kit you get quite a bit for your six quid. Apart from the previous gripes I found that the canopy plastic was a little brittle and I'd have been better off using a razor saw rather than a craft knife to remove it from the sprue. This, like a the previous small problems, would be solved on the second kit; it's a learning curve. The transfers are comprehensive and in a lot of cases almost invisible. To the point where even the most pedantic could leave a few off. I did wonder about the squadron marks which seemed about 10% too big compared to the prototype photos I have. The box art shows them skewed off like a drunken bass-player - I followed this, though they don't look quite right to my eye.
Would I recommend? Yes. Would I build another? Probably not. The room for manoeuvre is small and there are no spare bits. The difficulty of modelling a prototype to any degree of accuracy is quite high compared to the ease of the lazy make-it-up world of the freelancer. However as a side project it has a lot to give.

Tuesday 8 February 2011

Viva.Costa Blanca tram

A noodle down to Spain to see an old mate saw a ride on this; the Costa Blanca tram. I can't find out very much about the history of the line, but it looks as if it's an old and, possibly closed, narrow gauge line that's been re-engineered and electrified. All the buildings look at least pre-war, but the platforms are newly raised in most cases to fit the modern stock.

Tuesday 1 February 2011

Airfix Spitfire - the forth part

Airfix Spitfire
It came to that time. A trip to the kitchen to get a saucer of water to float the transfers. I was back to being nine years old again. And I bet every one of you reading this smiled then.

One thing I am impressed with is the transfers. On the old kit you got about six - a couple of roundels, the squadron marks and the tail tricolours. On this newer kit there are thirty six! That's 36! All the above plus a wealth of tiny illegible (with or without glasses) instruction lettering for props, walkways etc. I started on the underside as to practice as when stuffed and mounted it won't really be seen. There are twelve separate transfers just for this as shown above.

Which brings me to a question. I understand that Airfix sell a lot of Spitfire kits, but this is a good quality kit with clear instructions and a vast sheet of transfers all for six quid. This about comparable to a 4mm wagon kit. So why can't we get even a small set of transfers with Parkside/Chivers et al? Would it be so hard? I know there are people who will say there are too many variants, but the same applies to aircraft kits and there is a mountain of specialist suppliers of add-on bits and transfers. If it were for instance a 1944 LNER box van it would only really need two basic options: one late grouping and one pre-tops BR; that would cover the vast majority of kit purchasers and would fit on a sheet the size of a large stamp. If you want other variants then you buy from the add-on merchants. It works here, why not railways?

Anyway just to do the underside took me an hour. I turned the plane over and got one roundel on when I got called down for my tea...

VEPs and BEPs

A break from the aero modelling for a minute and a return to the Hill Collection.VEP on the Brighton line The first photo is a 4 VEP heading toward leaving Wivesfield for Brighton (or possibly Eastbourne or the west coastway. 12 code anyone?) in what looks like all-over rail blue with the then new double arrows.
BEP on the Brighton line
The second is a Brighton bound service at the same location. I scratched my head a bit at this one, but came to the conclusion that it's a 4BEP not a 4CEP. My guidebooks says they worked the Victoria-Brighton until catering was stopped in 1980. Then until 1983 with empty buffets. There will be people on here still drinking weak tea and curly sandwiches as it's 1967 and this unit is still in green with lion crests. As with many SR units the back end of the designation is braking, with all these the EP = electro pneumatic. Then: vestibule,coastway and buffet. I think.
Add': 52 is Victoria-Eastbourne  and 12 is a semi fast Vic-Brighton via Redhill. According to my EMU guru with his Ian Allan 1969 spotter book it's a4CEP.