Saturday 28 June 2014

Inspirations 7: Simply for pleasure

 I make no apologies for the fact that this is not much more than a train set; that's the whole point. I found Simply for Pleasure in a batch of second-hand RMs, the  June 74 to be precise, but we were already old friends. That date is critical for I would have been exactly 10 years old. A little while later the layout ended up at Pecorama where I saw it probably that or the following summer. Out of all the exhibits there, this was the one that caught me. Looking back with the experience I can understand why: it was the train-set I had, but more so - a train-set on acid. It took what I had and made it real and showed me that the stuff I had could be adapted and altered to fit different surroundings. That of course is the whole thrust of Pecorama, and it must work, because I'm still doing it.
Technically it's a touch unwieldy, at 6'6" long split lengthways it's almost two single beds and moveable rather than portable. There are no fiddle yards - something else which I always lean toward - just the track break with the tunnel.
SFP has now gone, but as far as I know it's been replaced by something similar. People often go on and on about the lack of youngsters entering the hobby (which is bollocks). Maybe we should take a step back and build a few more of these.

Friday 27 June 2014

Mutley's Magic Iron

After a bit of a break it was high time to get the trackwork finished on Morton Stanley. Holes were drilled, the hole for the DPDT switch was carved out, short bits of wire and tube were found and the whole lot had the magic iron waved over it. And so far, it sort of works. As with all hand built track there is a bit of tweeking to do; the siding a the far end of this photo was for some inexplicable reason set to nearly 18mm in places - don't know what I did there. And the check rail gaps have needed a little heaving about, but generally it's good. Now a full test is required with the stock I have and on to the scenics.

Wednesday 25 June 2014


Edge  has but one show before it is retired to morph into something else, and while this is a while away in October, I know how these things can creep up on you. Plus if we get a half decent summer I rather be toasting my buttocks in the sunshine than chopping up wood.
It was decided to try the ex-Rhiw gallows units for size. The arm bits are OK, but the fascia board is an inch or two short... no matter, the Svanda ones are too long *shrug*.
So with my foot on the back to stop it tipping over, the holes were drilled to take the usual 6mm roof bolts and two gallows arms bolted on. A slap of green paint over the fascia and we're all done save the leggy bits.

Sunday 22 June 2014

Saturday Ramble

Busy, busy, busy. Work has really taken over this month - 20 days straight and another block just started -  and what with a few 'family' type things happening as well, my normal quite extensive modelling time has been squeezed. This is possibly no bad thing - at least two people (you can guess who) have suggested that I'm firing at too many targets at the moment and not concentrating on getting one thing finished... they're right. However in my defence when I only have a couple of hours in the dead of night then I can't really be sawing bits of rail and chopping up timber, I have to find alternative quiet things. Although my neighbours aren't always that considerate to me, I have no need to antagonise.
The list of possible things on the go is as follows:
1. finish Edge.
2. finish writing Edge up.
3. do the last bit of track wiring on Morton Stanley.
4. plan the garden railway.
5. put a 16mm loco together as a test piece.
And that's the immediate things. The piece in the Comment section of RM this month speaks of settling down and building a long-term project a la Buckingham and why we should resist all this serial small layout building. Of course this piece is written by me and I'm am naturally as always, shooting myself firmly in the foot. But to me that's the whole point of this bit of the mag.Not to say how clever you are, but to point out the thought patterns.

The above is something which caught my eye last Tuesday. The event was the passing out parade of Mrs Fs' youngest at RAF Halton. A 30 minute gap in the proceedings saw us wander around the Trenchard Museum. This is full of the usual military tat of past uniforms, medals and half a Hawk trainer. What caught my eye specifically was the modelling section. The students, at what was then the apprentice base, were encouraged to make models to further advance their understanding of aero design. The above being made from perspex from a German aircraft and the tools used. The complete lack of materials makes today's batch of modellers in any genre look ungrateful (which they are) and talentless (which many are).

Sunday 15 June 2014

'Here Prince....'

A new piece of motive power for Tal-coed. Built by an old friend on a Bachmann chassis that has been re-muffed (steady boys) by Ian Turner. It was all a bit grimey underneath so wheels were cleaned and a little oil added. Running was a little hesitant and what was a ten minute clean turned into an hour's fault finding as the running just got worse with it jamming and getting very warm. I eventually worked out, after the worm was thought to be the culprit, that the slide-bar cylinder assembly was loose. A little super glue and levelling seems to have cured.
It was built from photos only,is a tad overscale and could do with some more work especially on the tender which is bare. Some tentative enquiries have turned me into an FR tender expert overnight - there's a lifetimes modelling in just the variations of these.

Thursday 12 June 2014


 Like others of the modelling persuasion I tend to turn the camera away from the trains an snap away at the lineside stuff. Above is on of the pair of staff cottages which are in the goods yard at Northiam.
 The original station building at Rolvenden when it was originally named Tenterten. Probably a bit like Washington's axe in that it's been preserved with 90% new material. Anyways it's now part of the display behind Tenterten station. A better small light or NG station you would be hard pushed to find.
This shot though the cab window of the 108 shows the box at Wittersham Rd. What I noticed was the sleepering. We tend to go for the perfect and in line on models, and yet this, while straight is slewed at multiple different lengths, up to maybe 8" difference in places. Food for thought?

Wednesday 11 June 2014

Breakfast at Tiffanys

 Second day out this year and another drift over the county line into Kent.
The KESR has long been a favourite and is under an hour away. We thought being a term time Tuesday that it would be quiet... oh no. A schools party and a rush of tourists meant that it was sharp elbows all the way on the outward. I even got thrown of the four-wheel coach by Keith Harcourt (better known for his Kappa board layouts) wearing his guard hat.
The return trip, after a breakfast in Tenterten, was deliberately on the 108 DMU -  a much nicer experience all round no screaming kids wanting a 'steam train ride' (ick) a front seat so that you can see up the track and in my opinion a mode of transport much more in keeping with the line.
More later...

Tuesday 10 June 2014

A salt and battery

 Nigel wandered round last week and we spent the afternoon out in the sun throwing a few garden rail ideas around. But it was decided that I should get a loco up and running at least in basic form to see if the idea really bites.
I'll get a Roundhouse steamer I thought... err no they cost more than my entire profit for the year so off it was to the IP Engineering for a 'Budget battery chassis' for 26 quid.
I spoke to Mr. Engineering and he said he'd pop it in the post - it arrived this morning in a jiffy bag - a 16mm loco through the letter box. Fine service I thought. What do you get? Well a bit of steel U section pre drilled with nine holes, two wheelsets all nice and shiny, gears and battery holder and a motor. I have this lot together in half an hour I thought... what a prat.
First mental shift: I need a hammer to tap the wheels off - a hammer! So out came the vice and off they came. What fun I thought, and what fine value, why you can't even buy a blow up doll in Tescos for 26 quid. Remember Tescos?
This being single axle drive I put one of the wheelsets straight in. Great I thought, ten minutes and I've got half a chassis, I'll take a look at the motor. I read the instructions. Ha! instructions.... 'Fit motor with a couple of self tappers.' Now this is where it all started to unravel.I looked for self tappers in the bag... none. Then I realised it doesn't say ...'self tappers included'. This is bad on two levels. This is I assume a kit for someone like me with little or no experience of 16mm. If you said 'self tapper' to someone in the street would they know you meant a screw? First point. Second point - should this not have been mentioned before I bought the kit? After all fixing the motor is a bit of a critical part of making it run and let's face it not everyone has this sort of thing in stock. Even the size is not mentioned just 'self tappers'. Hmmm....
Luckily I'm in the habit of stripping any bit of electrical gear that goes kaput before I dump it. People think I'm stupid, but who has self tappers in a box? Moi. Clever eh? But not so clever that it took me a hour to find two that I could bodge into the motor casing without fouling the armature.
Onto gears. Plastic, nothing exciting. The worm went on the motor shaft no problem. The other bit of the set? Nah... The axle is about 1/8", the hole in the gear ain't. Instructions say 'fit and slide into centre'. Errm, the bloody hole is 1mm too small. Even with a bucket full of KY it's not going to slide.
I started by trying to ream-out with a square needle file. Not good enough. So I raked around in the toolbox for an 1/8 drill which I bought just for moments like this, and gently opened the hole up until it was a very tight fit and not in need of the instruction's recommended super glue.
 I re-fitted the motor and it all meshed beautifully. I then lashed up the batteries with blu-tack.
Second mental shift: I ain't on rails, there's no controller. If you connect it up it flies across the table entirely independent of any other being like a chicken on the end of a soldering iron. There's no knob to turn, you have to run after the bloody thing! This is definitely a work in progress.
There are also two single pole two way slide switches included. Why? Wouldn't it be better with one DPDT like a controller with a centre off-right to go forward , left to go backwards and centre to sit still and smile at you. Maybe someone can explain this bit cos guess what, the instruction don't mention wiring or switches at all.
Apart from the screw, switch and hole issue (boy is this post going to get some interesting hits) all this for what amounts to the price of about three packets of fags is a bit of a bargain. Now, what to build on it.

Sunday 8 June 2014

On the way to the forum - Saturday Ramble

I've always avoided forums like the plague. No one particular reason, just not for me. I'd always imagined that it was a home for trolls and people getting upset about what some one else said. However one or two people have, over quite a while sent me links to certain forums. The problem here of course is that you can't see the stuff unless you can sign in. I caved in.

The NGRMonline seemed like  the natural home and was where most of the afore mentioned links were taking me so I bit my knuckle and signed up. What happened? Well it was like walking into a strange new pub only to find that all your mates were already in there. Sort of warm in an incontinence way.
Does it get the thumbs up? Erm, well, maybe, sort of, possibly. I've started a couple of threads and got a fair response,answered a couple of queries that I though I had a suggestion for and been welcomed in, so all good there. But you know what? It feels too closed, too clubby. I'll give  it a while and see, but I have a funny feeling that my original opinions was right; it's not really me.

Thursday 5 June 2014

Halfway there

It's going sooooo sloooowly. Typical Ford trackbuilding of yore. There's not a straight line anywhere and it kinks and reverse-curves al over the place... lovely.
This is probably why i am wary of going down the standard gauge route - my track works, but looks bloody dreadful.

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Point control to ginger tom

 This is proving quite slow going. I was quite nervy about getting the first point linked up. Older readers will remember the points for this project being built quite a while ago and at the time I don't think I was considering what switching system to use. To go with my standard set up I needed a throw of about 2mm to match the blade movement. This more or less matches the throw on the smaller DPDT sliders that I use for PECO 9mm track... but it's tight.
I linked up in a reverse fashion to usual, putting the wire through the switch hole first and then trimming to length at the front. The wire end is bent and dropped through a hole in the tie, and a generous blob of solder added to secure.
It occurred to me how much of a recycled project this is going to be: the rail (so far) is scraps from Nigel's cupboard and the wire-in-tube is stripped out of Rhiw. Never let it be said that I waste any money.

Tuesday 3 June 2014

Inspirations 6: The Heatherfield Light.

This is another of those oddball ones that appeal to me - The Heatherfield Light. A Railway of the Month back in 1976... I can't see that happening now, no exhibition appearances and no commercial tie-ups... it was literally a jumble of ideas and failed experiments in various types of power; battery, overhead etc, and built by the delightfully named William B. Stocks who I assume is long dead now.
There was no defining link between anything save the track gauge of 32mm, just bits and pieces that the builder liked at the time. But what atmosphere. And something that we may have lost now - a railway built purely for the owners enjoyment without an eye on public scrutiny, articles, or the narcissistic needy desire for praise at an exhibition. I love it.