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.