Saturday 30 March 2013

The Hawk Pt 2

 Welcome to part 2 of the is it, or is it not a Cuckoo competition.
I thought I had some straw hat bearings in the loft. No. The instructions say that the kit is based on 'standard components'. This means you get dirty great top-hat bearings which are to be mounted with the lip inside and filed flush on the outside...Nah, asking for trouble. I filed them down first. Being griped in a vice to do this would crush them, so I spent the best part of an hour removing the skin off the end of my LH index finger instead. This got the lip down to the 20 thou thickness of the frame etching.
All four were soldered on with 145 using a frame jiggy thing from LRM to ensure squarishness. Note the large lump of high melt solder to reinforce the bends as there appear to be no framespacers in the design.I'm not holding out a lot of hope for this.

Saturday Ramble

 A sigh of relief and a bit of a pause in proceedings. Svanda has now left the building for the last time and is now joined together in Crawley. I'm sort of glad to see the back of it. It's funny how some things are hard to visualise, and this being based somewhere that I have no experience of made the whole project very sluggish. That's not to say it's finished; there are still odd bits of bushy stuff to go on that could only be looked at once the thing was put together, and there are probably two more batches of scrawny trees to make, plus some stock weathering. I've not been in my comfort zone for this one.

Talking of comfort zones the above may be the next small project. It's a Branchlines Hawk chassis kit that came as part of the Bevan-bundle. I dread to think how long ago that was now. I partially sorted out the modelling stuff in the loft and the marge tub that it was in got left out of the kits box. I then moved it twice to get at something else and thought I may as well take a look at it. I don't know if it's still available and it looks horrendous to build. It was hailed as a replacement for the Ibertren Cuckoo (pictured alongside) which it clearly isn't, having 4mm L&Y pug wheels, 1/8" axles and 25% more frame depth. There's no specific body project for it, but if it works it may end up as a gift to one of the 09 guys I know for which it would be perfect.
Talking of comfort zones again; something I've been apprehensive about all week; a 5 hour run-through prior to the 54 North dates later in the spring. I don't usually do 'band' things. I'm more your 'turn up-play-go home-wait for the cheque' sort of bloke, but I said yes to this which is sort of Fairport meets Keith Richards meets Shane McGowen So the tatty Gretsch got pulled out of the cupboard, and Thursday was spent in what can only be described as a squat with recording studio attached. My life is glamour all the way...

Thursday 28 March 2013

Swanage Pier

I must remember not to use Python stuff in titles, the post below gained a stupid amount of hits way beyond its interest level.
Anyway back to my return to more prototype photos. This is the Swanage Pier Tramway taken last summer. There's not much info on this apart from the usual dates and brief usage. It's 2'6" gauge and was used to transport Purbeck stone onto the purpose built pier. It had no mainline connection and was, it would seem, horse worked. The surprising thing is that there is still quite a bit of it existing. The road to the left led into a fish store -now tourist information.

Wednesday 27 March 2013


What I know about Land Rovers you can write on the back of a stamp. Notwithstanding I think this is a Series 1 (I'm sure Richard or ICR will tell me). Anyway it's a very plasticy Wiking HO model that arrived from Crawley in red with a badly thought out rear end that would have needed cutting about to get it to look right.
Those who know me know that I hate twee cameos of the 'car crash' or 'flashing light roadworks' type on layouts. What I do like is one or two things tucked away in the background that catch the eye on second viewing. This is one of those. When someone mentioned a log-cutting scene under the trees on Svanda the Land Rover was produced from the trouser pocket.
So. One Land Rover painted Humbrol 30 with a bit of white, red and earth to taste, some offcuts of Hebe and a scratch-built chainsaw tossed on top. I reckon it needs a small winch on the front... I can wait.

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Looking to score

Svanda needs about five figures to suggest a little life. I was presented with a box of 100 Prieser figures of which I picked out two sprues to take home and pick from. What's odd is that they are exactly the same poses that were used on Rhiw, difference being that they were 4mm and these are HO. I didn't know that the company made 4mm figures and yet here I am again painting the chap with the parka - or rather his little brother.
A dirty pair of jeans and a worn out coat makes him the meanest looking Norwegian you're likely to meet.

Monday 25 March 2013

Vivien Thompson

When I was very small I used to get two books out from Lewes library: Boyd's Narrow Gauge Railways in Mid Wales and the above. Part of the library burn down a few years ago and both books disappeared, but while I bought the Boyd quite quickly, the above has evaded me... that is until yesterday when due to a comment here, a young chap (usually known as 'Spitfire Goggles' on the interweb) presented me with a copy that he'd found.
The book is full of strange terminology such as 'thou' and 'plasticard' which was baffling to the 11 year old me, as were the amazing photos of model buildings that weren't Superquick. The 49 year old me sees a very dated style of working, which being written in 1971, it is. She even admits that she still uses tube poly-cement against the advice of contemporaries who are urging her to use bottle solvent. Dated it my be, but like a John Ahearn book there are words of wisdom applicable to now so I'd say worth picking up, or if you've got splendid mates like I have, they'll pick it up for you.

Sunday 24 March 2013

Happy Birthday

Someone who features regularly here reached 60 today, and a brace of Sussex modellers turned up at Mr and Mrs F's to lavish gifts of books and wagons to blow-up sheep, and to generally take the piss.
Happy Birthday mate.

Saturday 23 March 2013

Rachel's cab

Another shot from what is to be called Rachel, this time showing the cab detail 9note the lever against the cabside.
Work has shifted slightly to the final push in getting the Svanda scenics done, the ballast being half done now means that there is not far to go. Yesterday a bit of infill grassing with some of the material passed to me from the late Laurie Maunder's estate; nice to use some of that. I'm sure he would be glad to see it all put on a layout rather than binned. I wonder what happened to the 4mm railcar of his with the Branchlines gearbox?

Thursday 21 March 2013

Is it Bill...?

And next on the rank: Another of Mr. Hill's essays, a conversion of the Hornby Bill/Ben for Morton Stanley. I'd like to point out that this is not the Smallbrook kit. The saddle and chassis from Ben, the cab and backhead from plastic and the fittings - chimney, dart etc. from Alan Gibson's 4mm ranges. handrails from Roxey. All I have to do is make it look pretty.

1850's wagon

Nigel's scratchbuilt wagon exits the Ouse Valley paintshop. The base coat is Halfords grey primer topped with Humbrol acylics.
This is the first (and rather an advance guard) of the forthcoming Gauge O project. This will be a freelance epic representative of 1840s -1850s practice with a cut off of 1860, i.e. nothing that's going to get touched by the kit makers and a period when railways were buying of the peg from the likes of Bury and a slew of tiny builders. The information for this is scarce, and most of it is in the form of odd drawings and sketches. So generic designs will be the order of the day. So although this from an assumed drawing of a MR single plank open, it is more to the point a typical single brake, dumb buffered basic wagon of the period.

Tuesday 19 March 2013


I don't put nearly as many prototype photos up here as I used to, but here's a shot from last summer I think. A Class 377 unit at Lewes on a Seaford -Brighton service, but not on the usual platform for some reason.
When was the last time you saw the platform face cubby-holes modelled?

Brown sheets

The trouble with Mrs. F funding a better camera  - CF for the use of -  is that I can't now blame the bad modelling on the fuzzy focusing.

Post Haywards Heath a little bit of paint and bog paper representing a weathersheet  and Steve Fulljames' nameplate brings the Skylark project almost to a close.

Monday 18 March 2013


Does anyone know what's going on here? The first in Cambridge, the second in central London. Literal instruction following to the length of stupidity.

Sunday 17 March 2013

Sunday Spit Roast

 As mentioned a couple of days ago Tal coed hit the High St. of Haywards Heath for the Sussex Downs Open Day. First thing I had to do was pay Steve Fulljames for the plates for the last two 009 locos that had arrived in the week. More on this later.
 Mr Campbell was in attendance with his latest Skylark and coaches so it seemed churlish not to run a double header with Alf.  Same kit, Kato and Fleishmann drives, compare and contrast...
 The entire Upsands and Everleight Light Railway was running... this being my favourite cameo - Etheridge Towers gatehouse. Nigel Hill's Airfix church -rebuilt by Martin Collins with a post box by the late Alan Fall. An unlikely trio of names on a build.
 Probably by favourite 009 warren (and more on this later) Phil Savage's Talynog. Here the working (in 009!) stub points.
And finally home to prime Nigel's latest build - an 1850s Midland open in O Gauge. This is a stunning piece of work build purely from a Bob Essery drawing entirely in plasticard except the Slaters wheels. A refreshing antidote to all the RTR that is everywhere now. Proper modelling.

Friday 15 March 2013

Stroudley improved white

At long last the painting begins. Although it doesn't look like it, this is white primer - using the camera on full auto grabs the blue box, and for today only, some blue sky. I went for white instead of grey as the roof will finish up white and it seemed stupid to paint it twice. Now to head down to Halfords for some BMC brown - remember that nice Allegro colour that was so popular in 1977?

Thursday 14 March 2013

Tal Coed's last 2013 outing

Just a reminder that Tal-coed will be waved at the public at the Sussex Downs Group's Member's Day at Haywards Heath on Saturday possibly with Mrs F. in attendance again if the shops aren't too much of a pull.
Full details on Mike Campbell's blog to your right.

Wednesday 13 March 2013

Metcalfe 3

All done - well maybe.
This is the post pencil brickwork. The roof was smeared in graphite as well, in fact that's the point where I picked the pencil up in the first place for colouring in the edges. I ignored the instructions again and added the fascia boards after the roof was on - seemed sensible - and nicked V's in the canopy... and this is the weak point. The construction method suffers from the same problem as the walls and I may re-do, though it's not half as noticeable in the flesh as it is here. Set within a layout it would actually look pretty good. Finally a gutter was added from a bit of re-shaped sprue and a down pipe from microrod.

Conclusions: With a a few pence and some thought it's improvable. I am a fan of card as I've said before here and the kit is very well designed: everything fits and the printing though a little garish is clean... it's just the bloody corner folds that let it down. I note from the ad' in RM that some of the range have stone quoins printed on... with the gap. Why these can't be added as overlays is odd, perhaps they are. (BTW there are a set of 4mm railway posters included to add)

As this kit was given away with every RM there must be thousands out there... someone you know has one. Build time was about three hours and most of that was trimming the quoins. Cost: almost nothing.

Metcalfe 2

The Solution: The quoins from a sheet of Superquick stone paper. Cut out and stuck around the corners.
What you can't quite see is the bench seat against the back wall. The instructions recommend building this in-situ after the walls are folded and stuck, along with the window units... bonkers. Do it before the front walls are fixed and then you are working in an open fronted box and not poking around through the doorway like a gynaecologist. The addition of the quoins is time consuming , but changes the whole appearance. They're adjusted to fit the windows etc. and not used quite as intended. I also used some of the capping from the sheet to match the step to the quoins colour wise. Here the 'inner roof' has been added and at this point I used a 2B pencil to lightly shade the brickwork followed up with a bit of finger rubbing.

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Metcalfe station 1

 Let me point out straight away that I don't like Metcalfe kits. More than anything except maybe a Airfix engine shed, they scream 'kit!' at the viewer and for me spoil many an otherwise excellent layout. I'm not sure whether its the uniform slightly pinky brickwork or my main beef - the corners. I'm told that the cutting is part of the print process and so the corner scores have to be on the outside. All well and good, but I've yet to see brick buildings with a 2.5" gap down every corner. So after trying one when they first came out, I've avoided them, and if I were to buy card kits it would be the older, but superior Superquick.
Several months ago PECO gave away a freebie platform shelter with RM and young Craig wrote a piece inside on how to improve (hmmm). I kept the kit and following a conversation yesterday I decided to build it.
 The top photo is what you get: a card fret, an instruction sheet and some glazing. I hit this first. The 'frames' are an orangy brown so in the time honered way I coloured the bare edges with a coloured pencil and glued the gazing on.
 The problem. I'm sorry, but this is crap.These must be CAD kits, and with all the technology available there must be a better way of doing this without resorting to the sticking plaster method that follows.
The back inside wall folds down, the floor (very nice) is stuck to the back and sides, and inside 'brick' walls are stick to the sides. This works very well. Note I put the glazed units in before this assembly in opposition to the instructions - far easier to do it when the walls are flat.

Monday 11 March 2013

Railway layout for an MX5 boot

 There was a fair bit of email chat after the elderly gentleman post
culminating in what would it be possible to get in Miles' as yet un-purchased mini. I pointed out that I knew a bass player that drove one and carried a sizable Trace Elliot combo and a bass in a flight case in one, which to my mind makes it almost barn like. I did get slapped down when I suggested that a better design study would to see what could be got in the boot of a Mk 2 MX5. This being picked as it's Mrs. F's commute to work machine and I have one to play with.
It is surprisingly large, the main problem being depth which drops from 10.5"- 9" front to rear. The floor, at it's extremes, measures at 53"x 22" However it does get a bit skinny at the edges.
The other consideration is the size of the opening which comes out at 37". Taking all this together there is a possible layout footprint of either 35x14" or, because of wheel arches 12x 37" x no more than 9" high. Could a stacking folding layout be taken down to 9" o/a? Noting that there would still be room for my small toolbox and stock etc around the sides.

So dear reader here's the competition. Design an operating layout for 00 to fit the 36x12 comfortable size, not just a track plan, and with backscene, with some sort of support system to fit in the MX5's boot. My email is via the profile link. There will be a prize for the most daring.

Sunday 10 March 2013


 According to the RESOLUTION
 I have to finish the coach this year, that is amongst all the other things I have to get finished, including Nigel's layout.
Although the body is essentially done, the photo on the cover of the Haresnape Stroudley Locomotives book clearly shows  a grab handle at the foot of the nearside ducket and two on the brake end roof. These assumed four grabs are not on the drawings, but as they are so blindingly visible I had to put them on. Four pairs of holes drilled at 6.5mm spacings and the first grab soldered on.
It will be noted that there is a lot of cleaning up to do before the paint can gets waved at it.

Friday 8 March 2013


It was pointed out some time ago that I mentioned on every build post that so and so '...came from the scrapbox.' The implication was that there must be a huge crate with spare parts available.
 Well I'm afraid not. The above shows that this highly useful bit of my toolkit is no more than a standard size marge tub, the contents of which are ever changing. For the sprue spotters amongst you there is most of a Kielkraft bus (more on that at a later date) the tilt from a Merit lorry, a loco cab and a mountain of indiscernible bits.
Basically anything that is sub two inches and which may have some use as a construction item, or at the very least packing, goes in here. It's probably the first place I'll look for material during a build.
I'd advise any modeller to have a similar piece of equipment.

Wednesday 6 March 2013

Bodmin and Wadebridge O gauge

I've just added three short video clips to the youtube page: Wadebridge in 0, Wantage in 3mm and Cracklington  Quay in 7mm NG

Tuesday 5 March 2013


The mill at Granvin on which the building on the left hand end of Svanda was based had a VW Golf parked in front of it in the original photo. In fact the model was scaled using the Golf as a start point. One was needed to finish the scene. A rummage in Nigel's trouser pockets turned up the HO Wiking model. Fairly good mould, but a bit lacking in detail and colour. I dismantled and set to work with a paint brush highlighting trim, light clusters and turning the brown interior into the more likely grey and black. Half an hour turns a bland bit of plastic into something more characterful.

Monday 4 March 2013

Gold Street Saffron Walden

 Monday morning - time for reflection. I note that the stats have died down a bit since the coverage of Tal-coed at Shepton.
Here's another one to ponder. En-route back from Cambridge (does anyone know why Came.. and not Cam?) I stopped at Saffron Walden for a cuppa and the above caught my eye in Gold Street. The thing that stands out is that the chimney stack is on the street side and not side or rear. I'm guessing that it may have been a smithy - large doors for horses - the shoeing of, and the fiery bit against the front wall. But is there room for it between the doors?
Whatever, it's a nice subject for a model.