Tuesday 30 December 2014

7mm scale warehouse

With the big shed and small shed done I spent some time this morning positioning and cutting a thick piece of card. As can be seen this lifts the buildings up to a smidge below the rail height. The area in front will be Das'd and scribed. I said that very quickly to make it sound like a fast job - you better believe that it won't be.

Monday 29 December 2014

16mm scale Hunslet

This is all a bit weird. I honestly have not got a clue what I'm doing with this, but I'm simply making one part at a time and seeing how it goes.
Bonnet front went on in the early hours -  a piece of 60 thou 50 x 44 with a hole cut in it, then added to the back of that a piece of car body fill mesh that I must have had in the box for the best part of thirty years awaiting this sort of thing.
I did ponder on a freelancy name such as Hudslet or Rudson etc, but even though Hudson never built anything remotely close to this design it felt better. Lettering is of course from Coopercraft's station nameboard set for 4mm.
Now I might take a bit of a break from it and back to something more serious and pressing in 7mm.

Saturday 27 December 2014

16mm battery loco

Back in June I reviewed an IP Engineering basic chassis kit for 16mm.


Over the last couple of days I've played about wrapping something around it.
This is a big learning curve.
1. On say an 009 kit/build, you just need to worry about where the motor will fit. Here there is the issue of motor, power and control all on board.
2. It's heavy. Not lead-heavy, just so much bigger even with a tiny prototype

This is only a small Hudson 20hp style shape, and yet it is 5" long. I wanted to keep the cab clear so ended up mounting the battery box on the underside of the bonnet top. More thought process - you need to be able to change the batteries so there has to be an easy entry. This gives a high bonnet, but as can be seen against the Coopercraft rubbish wagon, which is a pretty small vehicle itself, not that tall at 50mm which is a bit over a scale 3'. I've sketched the cab out at around 95mm high. Next technical problem is getting the switch wired and put somewhere. Though where that somewhere is, is another question altogether.

Thursday 25 December 2014

7mm warehouse for Morton Stanley

Determined today to get the big shed painting finished. More or less done now just the adjacent hut to tidy up and that's all the buildings done. I'd lulled myself into the frame of mind that this was an 'off' day, and of course it is nothing of the sort. Still a little bit done is better than nothing.
Now to tidy the bench and get the top bleached in time for the new year.

Salutations of the season to all the regulars.

Friday 19 December 2014

7mm scale painting

For regular readers (and I note that this page has been up and running for over five years and 800 posts, where did that go?) there's no need to explain that everything slows down around now as the workload trebles while I watch gay middle-aged men handing out sweets to under tens after they have done as they have been asked with full encouragement of the parents. The irony is not wasted on me that if this assignation happened on the street or in a park the police would be called, such is the paranoia surrounding such things these days and the double standards being dished out. But I digress.

What I am doing is a spot of painting. To be precise the two remaining buildings for Morton Stanley, built over the year by Mr. Hill and passed to me a week or so ago. It's slow going with multiple washes, but I'm getting there. The above base on a building on Gold St. Saffron Walden.

Wednesday 10 December 2014

January Railway Modeller

RM dropped through the letterbox over the weekend -  bit of an 009-fest in places. I wonder why that might be? Pat Collins' Ryedown Lane is superb and with a short piece on John Thorne's loco fleet and CO'D's fresh fish hut from Compass Point, there's quite a bit for the 4mm narrow gauger. There is, should you look closely a namecheck for Mrs F. This is a bit weird and it can't be long now before she is offered a seat in the Lords.
Other bits of the mag though, leave me scratching my head. Is the hobby changing, or is it me?

Tuesday 9 December 2014

Knightwing diesel conversion for 009

Quiet here.
Regulars will have sussed out that the blog is slow this time of year due to the extra workload. Nevertheless, I have done some modelling. Again, regulars may remember the Knightwing OO conversion that was destined for Rhiw on a Tenshodo spud. For a couple of reasons (clearance and haulage) it was abandoned and all the bits put in a marge tub for a later date. This week I got them out and rebuilt the part built body onto a new plastic footplate that was in turn wrapped around a Kato 104 chassis for 009 use. This is hardly an original conversion, but a handsome beast anyway.
It's a bit bit for Tal-coed, but might just fit a future project.

Saturday 29 November 2014

Tal-coed tidy

The first show out of the traps next year is Southampton with Tal-coed. Being that the next few weeks are silly season in more ways than one, I thought it might be an idea to get it out and give it a look over. Of course it isn't large so looking didn't take long. The usual bald bits of green needed doing and on top of that I have a few odd things that I may do. Wary not to clutter like some do, this will be subtle: veg in the veg patch, a couple of Coopercraft tools by the lean-to and possibly a water butt. I pondered the fiddle yard such as it is and wondered if it could be improved. A few suggestions from others include a cassette system. Not my favourite method and then where would you store them? The beauty of Tal-coed is that it is one-lift - no bolts, no other boards, no fuss. Maybe it's best left as a pure breed.

Thursday 27 November 2014

My dog's got no nose...

I'm in empty car park mode at the moment.  Morton Stanley has come to a bit of a temporary halt and there is no other definite project to aim at. Is this a bad thing? Possibly not. Without moving my head, I can see on the bench, an EM point, a half-built Y6, a 16mm i.c. under carriage, a spud and a Fleishmann 212 chassis. Joined up thinking not a strong point at the moment. I just keep dabbing at little things and the dog is last night's. I think it is ABS, but anyway it's a well cast item hat has been in the box for a while and may appear on M Stanley. It looked sheepdog-ish so I looked at some dog-porn to check colouring... black with white bits on nose and chest. So that's what it got. What I got was something which looked like a deformed Friesian cow, so it got a wash of pale grey and brown. Well it looks sort of dog-like.
 I pondered on the 212 chassis and it dawned on me that an 009 one of these might work, so taking a few published dimensions I roughed out a pencil sketch... huge. 92mm long and physically about the size of a 4mm Terrier and would need a fair bit of adjustment. I've always admired the bigger 009 stuff, but it takes some getting used to.

Thursday 20 November 2014


Another small tidy up job. This pair of Bagwags were destined for the Edge showing at Expo-ng but were without couplings, so they've been hanging around on the bench. I tend to batch build Greenwich couplings so these received the first two.
The above from Mick Thornton's Expo-ng photo report. Worryingly the first thought that entered my head when seeing this group of well attired gents, was that with one exception, there was a certain resemblance to a Take That tribute act. I'll let you pick out who is who.

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Ks Terrier

Interesting set of reasoning over on Phil's blog with his Radial from a K's kit and parallels with here. It's important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater and assume that newer is better or finer or more suited to your needs. I could go to town and upgrade the Terrier, but why? The duck analogy comes to mind - it looks like a duck... etc. The spec is as follows: 1960s(?) K's body kit, Branchlines chassis (90's) transfers Maybex, Romford wheels on EM axles, Mashima motor, and Goden Arrow plates. There is still the huge screw on the front as a fixing, but hey, Les Darbyshire's example appears to have the same deal on his Maidstone Road in MRJ, so if it's good enough... This small side project may have some legs.

Sunday 16 November 2014

Rooter repair.

A little repair work on the K's Terrier. I quite like these older kits, there is a softness about them. No, they don't have the crispness and detail of the modern kits and RTR, but instead they have a more personal feel and character to them. This little chap has been in the wars having been left in a drawer for a while, and has injuries, notably the safeties which hang over the dome. I looked at the part in the un-touched kit I have , and soldered a pair of copies up from some 1mm rod and a scrap of waste fret from a Langley kit.
 The broken remainders were drilled out ,
and the new scrap replacements super-glued on and painted. OK, so it's a bit rough, but from the normal distances would you know it wasn't the kit part?

Saturday 15 November 2014

Saturday ramble...

...on a Saturday for a change.
For me 2014 is drawing to a close, primarily due to the intense work schedule that wipes out December, I disappear at the end of November and re-emerge caterpillar-like in the first week of the new year. 2015 will be different; things are changing. I/we have done some eight shows this year; that ain't going to happen again; it can't. There are three layouts currently on the books: Svanda, Tal-coed and the embryonic Morton Stanley. Two of those are really only one day beasts, but more than that I'm tiring of the pure public show mentality; much better are the open-day type where there are a few like minded individuals to chat to and exchange ideas with rather than those events where I feel like I am train-operator-monkey shuffling my stuff up and down for people who quite frankly a lot of the time are just keeping out of the rain and couldn't give a toss.
There are essentially two more layouts on the 'five year plan': the GWR terminus and the O gauge which could go one of two ways. These will probably stay, but being that they are pretty much set as exhibition games, there is a feeling of relaxed in-urgency about them. They'll get done when the sap rises. So where does that leave me? Well I did have an idea to pack it in for a while and go back to being a rent boy, but I'm told I'm too old now so I may build a home layout instead. But what? and why?
There are lots of possibles: 009 is the most logical, it's home base and I have a lot of it in stock, but then to some extent it's another 009 layout for me, and I've had my fill over the last couple of years. What is rising to the top is something either industrial or light in 4mm. One of my favourite things is 4mm wagon-building and I do very little of it these days despite there being an unlimited  supply of cheap available supplies. Another factor is the liking for the Kent and East Sussex Railway. The prototype is around the corner and I have bits enough to start, like the above which I built ages ago from a part-built K's kit and a Branchlines chassis. There is another kit in stock and an LSWR 0330 saddle tank - all suitable stuff. It would be possible to wrap 2/3 stations around the room that I'm sitting in. As Paul Marshal-Potter put it in a recent post of his ' ...a railway that goes somewhere.' So in order to feel my way, in the Terrier arrived on the desk -  a little worse for wear: chipped paint, no crew and the ironwork around the dome to rebuild. The transfers are rub-downs from Mabex, now long gone. Are there newer replacements?

Friday 14 November 2014

Inspirational layouts 9

 The latest in this mini series is probably the most hackneyed, and yet still fits the bill perfectly. Built in the 70s by the ubiquitous Mr. Futers when he must have been in short trousers. It's OO and you get the feeling he was still finding his feet before jumping into the finescale 4mm which for me was his best stuff. This however is one of those layouts/plans which is timeless (and more or less used by one Barry - don't touch that, little boy - Norman with his Seaton plan in MRJ).
If you want a plan to trial a new scale or gauge which contains all the elements of a station without fuss or ceremony, then this is the one for you. We used it and Glen Doran as the basis for Unnycoombe (link above) for just those very reasons with great success. It's just enough to get your eye in without wasting too much time, effort and cash if it fails to please.
I assume that the Alan Cook credited as photographer is the same Alan Cook that built Snooville which featured earlier in this series.

Thursday 13 November 2014

The yard

It's been a tracky sort of week. The last 24 hours saw the quite basic fiddle yard roads go down for Morton Stanley.Short? Well yes, but with only a 16" clear run round space on the loop trains are noticeably short: probably two coaches and a wagon or a loco a two or three wagons and a brake so there's not a lot of point in creating 4' long FY roads.
Again low cost. Not only did the MDF come out of the council tip, but the point on the left was a gift and the trackage was from a bundle of eight lengths of 'concrete' PECO bought at the Bognor show for four quid.

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Multi-gauge test track

 While the soldering iron was out and about, time for a little repair work. I put together this multi-gauge test track a few years back. It started with a length of EM which I was dabbling with at the time (probably early 90s). The strip of MDF was nabbed from the stage door of the Brighton Centre. I can't remember why I was there, but it may have been the Labour Conference, where my (not theirs) glorious leader insisted we play The Queen at the end of the job rather than The Red Flag... we got verbally lynched. Probably the same reaction as you would get playing The Flag at a Tory conference.
But I digress.
The EM went down on some 7mm sleepering. Then later on I was trialling some 14mm gauge NG, so that went down in the middle. Almost by mistake I ended up with 16mm gauge between two rails and on the outside edges 21mm gauge. Only the EM is truly accurate, but OO stuff will trundle along quite happily, as will 14mm NG and 3mm 14.2. As it's just straight track and no crossings the wheel widths cope. I even knocked up an 0-4-0 21mm gauge spud from a Wrighlines block, half a set of Terrier rods and some Sharman wheels to test the outer rails.
After 20 odd years of being thrown about it was looking a little sad, so I set to work re-sticking sleepers, and re-soldering loose bits of track on both sides, for somewhere along the way I'd added some 32mm on the reverse. For someone who jumps around gauges, it's a very useful bit of kit.

Monday 10 November 2014

Push the goods

With the ballasting basically finished time for that point where a rake of wagons is pushed through to find all the loose bits that are piled up or caught in the point flange ways.

Thursday 6 November 2014

The merry widow's ballasting class

I searched around for some suitable ballast for this layout and now I'm not so sure. This stuff is from Modeller's Mate and is marked '2mm' which I reckon is the sieve size and not the scale, as they'd be boulders in N gauge. I mixed it with some similar size stuff from Laurie Maunder's left-overs and a scattering of fine ash, but it's still a bit pinky. I think this is why I never really get along with 7mm. Even though the stuff I've done in the past always gets favourable comments, I'm never happy with it - I can't seem to make it 'blend' the way that 4mm does.
While the buildings for the LH end are being constructed in Crawley, I though I'd get the RH end all covered, or as much as I can, hence the early ballasting. The gap in the middle foreground is for a water tower (another head-scratching situation) the black patch is the light killer for the station building. the grassy knoll looks OK in reality, but shite here and just like carpet, which is not surprising as that's effectively what it is.

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Keep the Aspidistra Flying

Work continues at a startling pace on Morton Stanley. The track is now painted and all the main grassy bank bits done. What it was lacking was a scale. I've been struggling to focus on how big or small things are so after the whole lot had had a hoover run over it to remove all the bits I painted the platform black where the building will go, dumped it on, and rested a figure against it. All of a sudden the whole thing sized up much more and the 16.5 track gauge and the section of Wills sheet stopped tricking my eye into thinking that it was 4mm. Placing the figure on was the turn-around point.
What is jarringly apparent is how big the widows are and that there needs to be something inside even with the reflection killing black paint on the floor. Aspidistra in the window?

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Now trim the bush

And the bit I like. The main shift on the upswing to 7mm is the scenics. Ground foam won't do. I've not had the cash or incentive to enter into the sticky-up grass movement so beloved of the Model Rail/Hornby/BRM brigade (if I was a beginner today I'd be brow beaten into the static grass/airbrush/DCC/Photoshop model method which they all religiously promote) but being me I'll stick to the cheap bits of rubbish that I've always used. Here the rough grass low bank at the rear of M. Stanley has been covered in a mix of tea (builders and green) carpet underfelt and horse hair. Only the latter was directly paid for. This is pre-trimming and tidying with a pair of nail scissors.

Sunday 2 November 2014

Wild west coach to tram convesion

A while back, in September I think, I picked up one of those distraction projects. The Egger Wild West coaches are one of those things which look like they could be usefully employed, but in reality are good for very little. My idea was to turn one into a single unit electric car driven by a Kato 103.
The windows have been carved about, the nameplates have just about been removed and after an stupid amount of drilling and filing the Kato is a push fit into the floor. It sits a little high and to change this... well you'd be better off starting from scratch.
Why did I do all this? No idea.

Saturday 1 November 2014

7mm get your eye in

The work on Morton Stanley starts in earnest. Above the relatively small area of raised landscaping is built up using the usual CF long used paper-mache over  card former base. Shaped pieces of card are stuck on and back filled with whatever I find in the bin, then the whole lot is covered with finest industrial bog paper stuck with watered-down PVA and a little help from a sad looking Billy Idol.
The canal frontage has caused a bit of head scratching. A little research on canal quays throws up something three of four feet high off the waterline. But try as I might I can't help seeing this as eight feet of wall in 4mm. Probably compounded by me in using Wills sheet (because I had some) inspired by Dave Holman's comprehensive use of it on his 7mm Irish layout pictured below two weeks ago at Uckfield. A bit of toffee apple stick to cover the rough corner join and some acrylic paint and I'm in business. What I need now is a 7mm scale duck.

Sunday 26 October 2014

Edge at ExpoNG

 ExpoNG. Not so much an exhibition, as a day out with your mates. After a bit of a late start for yours truly, I arrived to find Edge being handled jointly by Nigel and COD. I did try to make an effort to operate it, but it's very difficult to get from one side of an aisle to the other without three people talking to you. The show, or what I saw of it, was outstanding. Edge got lots of lovely comments and at the end of the afternoon was crowbarred into a Mini and taken to Birmingham.
The photos enclosed are shamelessly lifted from Mr Campbell's picassa page which includes the whole show and can be accessed via the link to your right.
Kudos to Richard Glover who walked away with both pots this year for Pagham on it's last (?) outing.
This was a bit of a full stop in the calendar - last of the five weekend run, the showing of the non-exhibition layout at the premier NG show, but more than that, a full stop in the treadmill of getting this particular layout finished. In many ways it's been a commission, that has been commissioned by me; a single entity with no real reason except to be built. Therefore I'm glad that it has gone to a good home home and to a person I've known for many years.
The full stop now having been mounted and stuffed, it's time, with a Spitfire repeatedly flying over and Mrs F. downstairs painting the ceilings (I know how to treat a girl, I always find pointing out the bits she's missed is a popular move) to move back into gear with Morton Stanley. A return in fact to modelling for me; for fun.

Thursday 23 October 2014

The edge of reason

Edge sees it first and only public showing this weekend at Swanley. It's been a funny old piece of work, one that was built not for operation, but to take photos of the construction and nothing more. It was designed (if there was a design) to be front operated at home set against a wall and therefore is not a comfortable beast to work at a show. Post exhibition it leaves for a new life somewhere else.

I want to concentrate on other projects now, maybe slow down the making of things and do some modelling again, exhibiting is all very well, but it becomes the drive and this is very much the tail wagging the dog. This will be five weekends in a row - not exactly stressful in a workaday manner, but you do start to wonder why. Friends are more important than the public, possibly that is the way to go.

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Uckfield exhibition

 I hate to say it as the man in charge is such an irritating bastard, but the Uckfield show is probably one of the best in the South East. The quality of layouts is high and the the organisation is slick. Exhibitors are treated well and with lunches that knock most others into a cocked hat.
Operating Tim's Portskerra was a joy; with full interlocking, every move has a reason and you can't move unless things have been set properly... it's a real model railway as it should be done. And with 99% stock reliability you look to your own route set screw-ups before you'd even think of prodding a loco. A more modest builder you'd never find, and cleverer ones are rare.

It would be hard to pick a best in show from the others, but Dave Holman's new 7mm scale 5'3" Irish grabbed my attention. Pragmatically built with full use of certain 4mm bits, it's a wonderful piece of work even before any trains appear.
A damn good weekend.

Monday 20 October 2014

Platform shoes

After Nigel cut out all the bendy angles (he's good at that sort of thing) the platform facing (coffee stirrers) and the base surface (double thickness of ring binder card) is in place on Morton Stanley. Now a bit of canal basin work and paint the track.

Friday 17 October 2014

Rachel goes to town

 And done. Rachel with paint thrown at her. There are issues. I'm not happy with the red at all. A quick query on the forum suggests better undercoating, and basically a 'deal with it' response. There has to be a better way. I'm now also not sure if the plates are big enough. I was concerned that the 7mm ones would dwarf the loco as I've seen a few 7mm NG logos with so-called scale-specific plates which look like billboards.
Rachel's not a grimy industrial, she's more of your 'pride of the driver' type girl so any weathering will be very light.
Now a couple of days off riding shotgun to Tim Ticknell at the Uckfield show with a little Highland Railway magic.

Thursday 16 October 2014

Sticky gluey fingers

 The basic carcass done for Morton Stanley's FY. When it's been decided what the edging will be, the blocks will have 3/4" screws put in making the whole thing pretty bomb proof. And more than that, excluding the glue and screws... free. The entire thing from the skip rescued sheet plus the ends from a bit of scrap that was in the garage. Now I've been here a year I'm starting to develop piles of usable bits of rubbish like this that were all cleared in the house move.

Now October is mid-way through, time to look back to warm summer days and a visit to the very hands-on Sittingborne and Kemsley. Well worth a trip.

Wednesday 15 October 2014

Skip find fiddle yard

Being holed up in the house all day yesterday due to the carpet man coming, I turned toward a FY for Morton Stanley. Mr Carpet was supposed to be here in the morning, but rolled up at five to three. Well children, can you guess what sort of mood I was in?

The bit of 6mm MDF was fished out of the skip at the council tip and by the sketches on it looks like it's an off-cut from a wardrobe project. This mean that the FY will be the odd length of 29 5/8". Which with a bit of point juggling is just long enough. M. Stanley only has a possible run-round length of 16" of train plus loco, so no real problems. This was chopped down to a foot wide and uprights (or sides) added from the off-cut and a bit of gash at 3" high (deep).

Tuesday 14 October 2014

Rachel in green

Another one of the infamous window sill shots. Incidentally is it cill or sill? I thought the former, but Google say no. Anyway, a rake through the paint box threw up this apple green enamel. I moved away from enamels years ago, but not only are there a few in the box from before, but I have another boxful of Mrs F.'s dad's who passed them on when he gave up. What I don't like is the drying time and the fact that there is an extra thing to buy in the form of white spirit. With the acrylics I can just use water which is readily available in the toilet bowl next door.
So this is one thin coat of red and green and I think looks quite smart already. The Ben root is obvious, and I imagine there will be a lot who will think it's the Smallbrook kit. When it is plastic sheet and fittings from the 4mm Gibson range.

Monday 13 October 2014

Painting Rachel's insides

A dark and gloomy day to match my mood, so a bit of painting to cheer. Nigel's Ben conversion Rachel was sitting on the desk after a bit of mechanical repair work which hopefully has cured the problem. So starting with the awkward bit first, a base coat of sandy cream on the cab interior, although with the bad light reflection it looks as if I've done the outside as well.

This popped up on the forum from John Wooden, and if you can get past the little darlings singing at the top it's absolutely fab.


Saturday Ramble

Knackered. Two days on my feet at the Farnham show with not a lot of sleep left me moving through various irritable phases. Overall an excellent exhibition and we agreed that we'd be happy to do it again. Aside from the Saturday morning pre-show bacon sandwich cock-up, the whole thing went very smoothly - Svanda is a pleasure to run especially after a large dose of 009 exhibiting.

And moving on.
The first challenge is to post something every day this week, the first, and this still sort of being Sunday, is the finished 7mm wagon pictured earlier. As with most of Morton Stanley's stock the base is a simple Triang wagon chassis that can be picked up for a couple of quid on s/h stalls. The rest is mainly 40 and 60 thou plasticard with a few bits of strip and micro-rod to detail. The inspiration is the small round end wagon design of the Southwold Railway, though a few alterations have been made. I've tried to set the doors 'unsquare', bowed and loose as most dropside vehicles rarely have close-fitting and tightly latched doors. The detailed build description is in the short 7mm section of the book which should be out sometime in 2015.

Friday 10 October 2014

Farnham exhibition

A spotless Di5 pauses next to the mill siding on Svanda. For more of this fun and excitement in a far off model Norwegian place, pop into the Farnham show this weekend.

Thursday 9 October 2014

Infinity and ...

After a ridiculous amount of discussion yesterday the way forward is now a bit clearer. The swampy land of physical material, ideas, time and life balance was getting a bit mushy and a few decisions had to be taken. I had thought that the 5 year plan would have to be abandoned, but it stays... loosely. Though a new item has grow out of it: the 'side-order'.
The immediate upshot is the quick resumption of work on Morton Stanley after a brief conversation over the weekend which means it has to be ready by March. Followed by one of the choice-layouts which came quickly down to the Art of Compromise which can be built for next to nothing as everything is in stock, an important issue in these cash-strapped time. this would give Mr. Hill and I four exhibit-able pieces. Now all we need is (only) one days shows to take them to.

Tuesday 7 October 2014


Desk almost cleared. Spending a little time tweaking the couplings and fine-tuning Edge before ExpoNG. Do I not usually do this? Well yes, but this wasn't really put together to do this and I've got all out of order on the tuning part. That's not saying that it'll work on the day, but at least the preparation has been done.
Now the questions are arising of what next. Morton Stanley is still at the building stage and is an untested format so the jury is still out on whether it will work to the standard, which is tricky when you've been messing with European spec diesels which just purr along.
It maybe time for a radical change of tack.