Saturday 31 May 2014

More Sittingbourne and Kemsley

 A day out begins at a gateway - you need to look hard for this one. The entrance to the S&K is under this redundant bridge at the back of Pizza Hut. And then a hard right up what look like allotment steps. This ain't your usual preserved railway.
 Our engine for the day was Kerr Stuart Leader, one of the smaller of the original 2'6" locos, here running round at Sittingbourne.
 Ex-paper carrying bogies at \Sittingbourne. As I'm in the middle of laying track for the O-16.5 project with copper-clad sleepers, I'm pleased to spot that the sleepers here are far from the same lengths.
 The main railway area is at the t'other-end at Kemsley Down where they are blessed with a huge amount of redundant stock, most of which will never run again unless millions are pumped in. Here Unique a 2-4-0 fireless sits rotting on the display line.
 Happier Hudson is still running along with a Brian Clarke look-alike. It's the hat.
Coaching stock is basic and built on ex-paper bogies. Note the end stanchions still in place.
 Modern Hunslet shuffling stock around in the yard. most were photographing the front end - here the rear view with the reservoir cylinders.
Below: the first mile or so of the line runs on this concrete viaduct. This makes the line unique, but is also it's downfall as the expense of inspection and constant repairs drains the resources.

Even though there are 4mm kits available I've never seen a model based around the S&K with the viaduct as the centrepiece. Shame, as it would make a great and different watching-the-trains-go-by scene.

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Take me to your Leader

 Off to sunny Sittingbourne, the jewel of Kent on Sunday. This had been talked about for a while; it's close enough to be local, but far enough away to need a day to do it properly. Allowing for the situation it's a cracking little line. It's never going to have the charm of the TR or the style of the IoM, but it does have originallity and lots of weeds. I'll return to this later on.
Back home saw the first of the track going down on Morton Stanley. Even though the points are pre-built it is still a slower game than throwing the PECO down, and I've yet to sort the switching out, as the throw falls somewhere between the large and small DPDT switches, to I may need to break with tradition and bend an Omega loop up to take the slack.

Monday 26 May 2014

Inspirational layouts 5 Berrow Branch

Inspirational layous 5 Berrow Branch
The second of the pre 1970s inspirationals is another home (or shed) based system in 4mm/OO, The Berrow Branch. Although it changed quite a bit shape-wise over it's lifetime (into the late 70s at least) it was nominally about 8' square in various combinations of straight, L, or U shapes and usually contained two stations - Berrow and a tiny sub-branch called East Brent. Possibly a little more scenic-ly advanced than Charford and very heavy on signals it used commercial track systems, mainly Formway which shows up well here. The inspiration with Berrow was that it demonstrated that it was possible to build a very convincing and railway-like scene using off the shelf equipment and a few basic kits. Moreover one which represented and actual place and possible line that the S&D could have built. In other words it stood out from the very freelance trainset layouts of the day.

The plans were published in RM and also in at least one of the 60 Plans' books. Though the warning was and is, that it used not only tight curvature points that would be pretty unacceptable today, but also the dodge of the underscale coaches that were produced at the time. Meaning that thinking that it would be possible to replicate Berrow now, probably wouldn't work due to the raising of RTR standards. however a lot of the stuff IS still around and an upgrade to modern running would be possible. Though whether you would want to stick a Bachmann Jinty or 3F next to Triang stock is a whole other question.

It would however be possible to get close to the ethos of Berrow now, and the appeal of a non-exhibition (although it was exhibited from time to time) is great. Though due to the points made above I can't help thinking that the way to go now would be to go 3mm and use the PECO 12mm track in the same space to counteract the short stock issue.

Friday 23 May 2014

Morning Assembly

 My old mate Nigel always says that I'm a natural 009-er as I like the tinker factor. Nah, I just like taking things apart. Case in point is this Eggerbahn No 5 O&K. On running the idler gear jumps out as the retaining clip has gone. Simple - make another one. A bit of scrap 20thou fret from Worsley Works stand at last years 3mm bash gave the material.
A hole just under 2mm, a bend and a hack away to clear the wheel.
And bolt on.
Now in theory this should now work even without the rods which are missing. No chance. There is a mesh problem between the drive axle gear and the first idler. Back in the box...

Now if you think that is so funny 5C, you can line up outside my office.

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Inspirations 4: Charford.

About 20 years ago a friend turned out all his old RMs. I devoured them. This was a not quite complete collection going back to the 1950s and although much of the material didn't hold up to modern reading, there was much in the way of classic layouts tucked in the pages. The next couple of inspirations are from the 1960s batch.

The late John Charman built Charford over half a century without wavering, starting with a tiny terminus built in a caravan and culminating in an MRJ article in 1998 (100). What is the most inspiring part of this escapade is the commitment to the style, period and scale/gauge - late 40s Southern in OO - the Biltezzi factory building is there in the original articles and still there in the re-built layout in MRJ; a style of modelling that the exhibition circuit has ruined. Charman stands in the shade of the Reverend, which is a bit of a shame as Charford has just as much style and long-term development as BGC, it's just that Charman used just enough off the shelf equipment to make it look achievable. I may well return to this at another date.

Tuesday 20 May 2014

The cinder path

Edge got its edges painted yesterday. In lucky green. Lucky as the only layout that got painted black in recent years didn't really come up to standard.
Now pointwork in 7mm...

Monday 19 May 2014

Morton Stanley shuffling.

The back end of last week saw a drive up to Crawley and the time-honoured practice of shuffling stock and buildings around. Predictably there were a few adjustments to be made not least allowing a little more clearance in the run-round loop. there's not a lot of room to start with and the wide 7mm coaches need a bit of breathing space.By drawing the end points out to the bare minimum required to fit a loco in, enough slack was gained to slew the loop out a wee bit. This is sub 4' and is, whichever way you look at, it a quart into a pint pot.

Sunday 18 May 2014


 Barely had I had time to get Tal Coed out of the car from Salisbury, then it was time to load it back for SWING at Bognor. Lovely little show, high on interest, chat, food and ample ladies.The layout was a pain in the arse for the first half an hour; probably because unlike last weekend I'd bothered to clean the wheels and track. Moral here? Layouts were very high in standard from Stewart Green's Southwold in OOn3 through to the cracking 7/8" battery locos above.
 Mike's Thakeham in O-14 is an absolute delight.
No money changed hands so I have to include this shot of Rogers elder and younger.
Home with Stig on board with two layouts stashed in the back of the car.
Did the chap who apparently reads this page whose wife brought me tea and who was hovering between 4 &7mm make a decision?

Friday 16 May 2014


First glimpse on here of the new railcar. Staunch 009-ers will recognise the root as the Bro Madog coach from Parkside Dundas; a useful kit for this as the end windows are already there. Dimensionally based on the Motor Rail item built for the DHLR, though this is planked while that used sheet material. Power is the predictable Kato tram chassis.

A couple of new links have been added at the top of the pile to your right.

Thursday 15 May 2014

On the buses

 Predictably there is a wash of WW1 stuff around at the moment, most of which goes straight past me as it falls into the brackets of overly jingoistic or bland and soapy.This caught my eye though. A photo piece in yesterday's paper on buses. The lower is the B Type converted into a loft for messenger pigeons.
The above threw up questions: captioned as 'London bus drivers taking their buses to the front'. It suggests that Indian bus drivers in London were certainly not a result of immigration post 1947 partition, but why are all the turbaned chaps inside the bus and all the pasty white boys outside? Or have they literally rounded up all the tubaned bus drivers in Belgium and stuck them on the bus as a joke?

Wednesday 14 May 2014

The first sod

The 7mm narrow gauge project is go. Basic tray baseboard complete, fascia, backboard and fiddly internal supports to go.  With the points built and 8-9 items of rolling stock already in the cupboard, this should in theory be reasonably quick to get done.
Board is 6mm MDF 45" x12", i.e. a standard unit, the same as Edge, Rhiw and Svanda.

Tuesday 13 May 2014

Salisbury show

 The Salisbury show, well Wilton. Good food, good company, lots of piss taking and four and a half cakes turned up;not to mention a load of 16mm.
Above, John Bruce's Neville Kent loco which pottered around  for much of Sunday being run in, and below, the garden railway ten minutes walk up the road. All very inspiring. Thanks to David Marshall for inviting and to Messrs Hill, Payne and Thornton for bearing cakes.

Thursday 8 May 2014

Susan and the 009 Society coach

Why does it always rain when I have stuff to move? A double kit shift and a layout to go in and out of the car -  predictably it's tipping down.
I reached a bit of a plateau yesterday, Tal-coed was all done and dusted and ready to go, and I'd run out of book projects to build. This can only mean one of two things: 1, I've forgotten something or 2, it's time to start cutting wood for the 7mm layout. This could all move swiftly onward next week... don't blink.

Wednesday 7 May 2014

Inspirations 3 Taw Vale

Way back in the 1980s I was still 'modelling' in what would have been termed then, course scale 00. In essence I still do now, it's just that the commercial operations have caught up with the finescale boys. At the time there was a short run of shows at Heathfield in Sussex. These were a bit of a gem: a middle of nowhere church hall type set up which should have been quite lowly; only it wasn't. Looking back I suppose that they were the precursor of the MRJ show in London; packed with finescale and hijacked by people associated with the early MRJ. I managed to get to two of them and if there was ever a turning-point or a lightbulb moment, then this was it. A talk by Barlow and Rice on light railways which literally shook the way I thought about modelling, and to back that up two of my favourite FS layouts.

The above is one of these, The Taw Vale Light by Phillip Hall which featured in MRJ 5 (which I searched out in the back issues piles) a fairly rambling and disorganised article on a rambling EM layout, which for me had about 25% of the track which I was accustomed to seeing in that area of board. A light touch and a softer operation. It changed everything.

Tuesday 6 May 2014

WHR Kerr Stuart

With the Salisbury show looming on the horizon it's time to clean and polish all the stock and make sure that it's at least running before we go. Here the un-lowered Kerr Stuart diesel tows the newly ready FR stock over the cattle creep on Tal-coed.

In addition: new Tal -coed video. Basically filming the stock testing.

Monday 5 May 2014

Ffestiniog slate wagon.

I've had this FR slate wagon in the drawer for ages. Built from a Parkside Dundas kit and painted in Humbrol  70 acrylic. About 2.00 this morning I had the bright idea of making a load for it...

The basic material for this is some 5 thou-ish plastic in strip form that I've also had for years. Strip form as it takes the shape of litmus testers that the mother or one of the earlier Mrs. Fs. used for a while. So while it's handy for the job in hand, it has to be remembered that my ex mother-in-law has peed on it.
Not withstanding that, it was sliced up into lengths which were glued together and then varied a bit as per a lot of the photos I have of the prototype gravity trains, with mostly one size of slate, with a few larger sizes to pack the thing tightly.

Took about three hours. A tedious job... but...

Sunday 4 May 2014

Barrow crossing

Despite being dragged around the Chalk Life festival and then on into Lewes, because Mrs F. wanted to buy an onion (probably for a Bank Holiday spell) I did manage to get an hour's modelling in on Edge. This time a little woodwork in the form of a barrow crossing which has been on the 'to do' list for quite a while.
No surprises in the construction: the thinner type of coffee stirrers for the nearer sections and the thicker Costa ones for the rear, all chopped into various widths and slightly different lengths. All stuck down with a bit of UHU and soaked in a watery wash of German grey and pale grey acrylic. I just need to touch-in the ballast with a bit of weedy growth around and about.

Saturday 3 May 2014

Inspirations 2 - Southwell

 There have been a couple of layouts which have drawn me slowly toward 3mm scale and this is the other one - John Sutton's Southwell. These shots from the MRJ 8 article, and a piece on constructing his locos from plastic in the old MR get repeated readings. The layout looks huge - it ain't. Although it's been extended in recent times the main bit here is just 6' long, but oozes heavy mainline better than any similar 4mm layout crammed with Bachmann stuff. One other thing: despite being in MRJ it's not really fine scale being basically Triang TT standards on 12mm track with hook and bar couplings... but what atmosphere!

Friday 2 May 2014

FR wagons

Miles tows the refinished GEM wagons into Edge. They will be appearing in public a week from now at the Salisbury show with Tal-coed. Note the Sunday will see my 50th, so I will expect cake from any readers of this page who may wander in looking for entertainment and insults from Mrs. F.

Mixed Traffic the house mag of the 3mm Society dropped through the box today always a good read and packed with inspiring stuff. If only I had the balls to build something in 3mm. The standard seems almost unreachable for a bodger like self.

Thursday 1 May 2014

New(old) stock for Tal-coed

I was handed a pile of stuff from the estate of Laurie Maunder, mostly 009. It included these two GEM w/m wagons already built. The problem I had was that they seemed to be reversed colours - the open was black and the van weathered red. The colour photos I've seen of these seem to suggest the opposite. So while I left the construction as it was a repaint was need to settle my mind.
Weathering and couplings to go on ready for the Salisbury show next week and SWING the week after.
Tal-coed is taking on a definite FR bias.