Saturday 26 December 2015

Christmas coupling

Managed to get a quiet half hour yesterday before all the seasonal stuff started. This is an old Ratio Open C wagon that I built quite a while ago and is in the pile to be coupling'd for the AoC project. A stack of building sheet scrap checked against a height gauge made from the same stuff and all done. The entire thing done with UHU which seems to work well on the slippery plastic of the Bachmann coupling once its had the surface filed to provide a key.

Thursday 3 December 2015

Milky bar 2

Not much going on as it's that time of year again. Panto with a load of people I've never heard of as usual. One of these TV twirlies made the mistake of 'coming to see where you all live' and 'isn't it nice down here, like a cave.' Not the kind of thing you say to a bunch of slathering musos who are about to spend a month in a basement starved of natural daylight and living on a strict diet of bargain Fosters and Pot Noodles with only a small blue light to see by. You can only imagine the smell. The bass player offered her a chocolate finger and she soon scuttled off.
Anyway... a few bits stuck together on the shunter using epoxy which I hate, and gaps filled with Squadron. Plus a few holes drilled for handrails and the like. Quite a different project this one. Lots of possible detailing work and a bit out of the ordinary.

Friday 27 November 2015

The milky bar kid

Next up is a piece of milky bar. A Golden Arrow Maunsell  shunter. I think it's designed as a quick kit, as in less that ten parts, though as you can imagine I've been cleaning up parts for some time as there is a lot of flash. This is a bit of experiment and should drop onto Phil's Bachmann 08. How the two a fixed together is still the question. There is a lump of resin over the screw hole (just the one) though how much I trust threading in to resin is another query.

Saturday 21 November 2015

Art of compromise update

Art of compromise model railway layout

Tweaking the Art of Compromise plan
For anybody biting their nails and losing sleep over the progress on the Art of Compromise fear not, it's still going. There have been other things to do that have pushed it back slightly on the pecking order, but I do a bit to it once in a while. The basic green stuff and made up surfaces are on. There are subtle changes to the Link plan in detail, but the basic shape and size are still obvious - the main change being the long dock in place of the coal staithes. As I've mentioned before the width at this point is way too narrow to get everything in that Roy drew on the plan so 'compromises' had to be made. Therefore an open area for coal 'loading' with not too much storage is the idea. This is based on several photos of coal wagons being unloaded onto raised docks. The three bin idea for coal did exist, but I don't think it was as common as modellers often portray.
Already I think I've proved that the plan does work with a few tweaks.

Friday 20 November 2015

Hornby Terrier

Terrier done. This is all (as usual) fairly old fashioned stuff - taking a RTR item and adding a few detail bits. Unbelievably the Dapol terrier has been around since 1986; I still view it as a new model. The Hornby remake is, as far as I can see, unaltered from the original.
The one I had was numbered 636. Not that makes any difference as all the numbers would need an equal amount of work. Here the bunker is fine as is, but the upper sandboxes need to come off, which is the scary bit. Then various bits moved or taken off and lamp irons added. The pipework on top is the fiddle. There are some painty bits around the cab to do and a crew to add. Hornby give you a few extras to add including the extension ring for the smokebox. This visually the weakest bit for me as the line is impossible to disguise. Lightly weathered by airbrush... yeah right. Like I could afford one of those... Tatty No 2 brush and some Ga**s Wo**sh*p acrylic dry brushed on. Far more of a Ford technique. All of this will of course be detailed properly in the next printed volume - in case you hadn't spotted the thread of late.

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Stake and chips

Tolworth came and went. I'm not overly keen on doing two day shows, but this seemed to fly by. What continues to amaze me is the interest in Svanda. To me it's a pretty niche interest layout representing a smallish foreign state railway - a long way from the GWR branch lines that still litter the exhibitions. And yet all day people come up, comment on what we've done, and spout all sorts of information about Norwegian railways and what lines they've been on. They spot the Swedish railbus (hired by the NSB for a while) and the Dutch Mack (ditto) and have a remarkable amount of knowledge. Nigel will stand and swap stories, while I just stand slightly baffled. Also of great interest was the newly constructed rail-Unimog which sits (prototypically) on the platform with its guide wheels raised. it only got put there for a trial, but I think will possibly be a permanent fixture.

There now follows a period of reflection and maintenance. There are no more shows in the book for any of the three current layouts only a few pencilled enquiries. It's nice not to have deadlines and gives time for some repairs. Svanda has been knocked about a bit and needs freshening up with scenics and new lights perhaps.

The two wagons are an NSB chip wagon and an NSB stake wagon carrying round fence post bundles. All we need now is a pea wagon...

Thursday 12 November 2015

Ratchet woes

The Terrier detailing continues apace. Well if about one bit a day constitutes pace. The problem is research which is the time swallower. You'd think it would be easy with such a well documented class, but that is not always helpful especially when every single loco has had different modifications. I worked on the cab interior yesterday, giving the upper areas a wash of sandy brown and highlighting some of the moulded details. The lever above went well  to begin with, with a touch of red paint. When the cab went back on the attention is drawn to it. 'That looks nice' I thought until I spoted that Dapol used a standard plug-in part. This would be OK if the floor were level, but as can be seen there is a hump to accommodate the final gear wheel underneath. The lever now comes in at about 6' high so I had to trim it somewhat and even now it's a bit on the tall side.
The Westinghouse pump was another headscratch. There is an OK moulding on the loco but no feed pipes. the one going down was easy, but the one going up disappeared over the tank to who knows where, and while there are oodles of side views i couldn't find any from a high angle. Peter Bossom (also known as the wise man of East Sussex) came up trumps with an overhead shot. Now of course I realise that there's more pipework on top than I'd thought. The more you know the worse it gets. And people keep telling me freelancing is harder.... errr no.

Friday 6 November 2015

Bodge it and scarper

 Remember when you used to read things in mags like, 'the smokebox saddle was carved from Miliput...' . Well this is Squadron filler, but the principal is the same. The only way to get rid of the superfluous sand box is to hack the thing off and plug the gap with plastic and gloopy stuff. Bring back 1972.
New Hythe SB. Closed in 2006. Does anyone know if it's still standing? I don't really want to cross into the injun territory of Medway to find out. It's under a flyover so streetview isn't too helpful.

Thursday 5 November 2015

Bargain books

Where I live there are number of second hand bookshops all of which are slightly specialist and all are worth an occasional look. The two at the top of the town are slightly more upmarket, but have tables outside for 'junk' sales. This is usually piles of orange spined Penguins, though there are odd gold nuggets.  On Monday I found the above. My liking for things Western and in particular Wales meant I looked at these. Bearing in mind that this is an 'antiquarian' shop and the owner is not really interested in selling anything less that 150 years old and not bound in the skin of elephant's testicles the junk is very cheap. The Cambrian book is packed with photos and the third of  price of a cup of tea at £1.00. The AEC (RRP £25) £3.00 Bargain or what?

Wednesday 4 November 2015

LBSCR staton building

Well after quite a long time it's done. I feel it needs summing up.

Is it value for money? Depends. I've probably got approaching half the bits left over. So that would indicate not. I could have built what's above with one pack of brick, one pack of fancy tiles and one pack of plain tiles. The barge boards, gutters etc would have been no more difficult to scratch out of plastic sheet and mains cable or similar, The gents is the stand alone item with two sides left off. So assuming that you don't want the canopy and I doubt whether most would want the platform sections, your shopping list would be four packs @ around £4.50 each, which I make eighteen quid; not far short of half the RRP of the kit.

So there by hangs a bigger question: You do need a modicum of skill and tenacity to build this - it's quite a fiddle in places. Therefore if you have these skills, would you not be able to scratch-build it in the first place? The answer to some extent is that you are paying (like most things in life) for the design. In this case this is the templates/cutting list which is probably why they seal the box so tight so that these can't be nicked and copied.
The other point is that this is obviously inspired by the Mid-Sussex buildings that remain on the Bluebell. In that case (if you scroll down to the first post on this there is a photo) there are/is a lot missing: plinths, ornate chimneys, filigree ridge work and Arts and Crafts type wood work for a start.
However all that said it does capture the feel of the buildings and you could say that all those things are add-able should you desire. Then we come full circle and have to say, then why not start from scratch and not bother with the kit? Tricky to call. You pays your money...

Tuesday 3 November 2015


Saturday saw the 2015 ExpoNG at Swanley. Always a highlight of the year, not just because it's narrow gauge, but more of a social event as you tend to spend the whole day talking and catching up with people. Mr. Hill and I were attending with Morton Stanley so less time to walk around. Consequently I missed things, though there are photo galleries available via Mike Campbell's blog to your right. What did catch my eye and was a personal highlight was Tom Dauben's Isle Ornsay which after going to a few shows during its build is now finished and looks fantastic (above with Ted Polet's Atlantic perched on the turntable). What is a worry is the state of the venue which appears to be literally crumbling with huge cracks in the walls and broken floor sections among other things. Are the council letting it fall down deliberately?
Morton Stanley behaved more than adequately and there are questions around it. It was only really intended as a bit of fun to use some bits up and to tick a box. There were though several future unconfirmed invites on the day, so there are the questions of what do we want to do with it and why?

Monday 2 November 2015


 On the last lap and halfway through the painting. The brickwork is a bit of a challenge. The local stuff is an orangey brown. The goods shed below is the ex- LBSCR one at Cooksbridge. What is noticeable is what I take to be lime based mortar not only in the joints, but leaching out over the surface leaving a white-ish deposit. In theory easy, in practice, hard to get right.
I got up this morning and found it so quiet that I thought I'd gone deaf. Then I realised that half term was ended and Mrs F had returned to school.... peace, and a return to a slower pace.
Small plug and while we're on the brickwork. Scale Rail International No3 which is out now, features Roger Jenner's very small G scale layout /diorama with some stunning scenic work.

Thursday 29 October 2015

The gents

I really don't know how Mr. Robinson does this all the time. I managed to get some more painting done and the gents toilets finished and installed. This initially caused a bit of headscratching as I couldn't find the bits for them, and then realised that I didn't need some of them anyway as it's not a stand alone piece. Constructional-wise it's just the porch to go and to pop the chimney pots on.

Don't forget the new series of The Detectorists tonight at 10pm. The last series was hilarious and is the closest thing you'll get to a model railway club sitcom. The parallels are many. I sit there laughing out loud, which is unusual and Mrs. F. rolls her eyes and makes Dandy Nicholls type comments. If you've been in a club then you'll recognise everyone here.

Sunday 25 October 2015

Oakworth goods

This from the train on the Worth Valley last week. The track layout at Oakworth is fascinating me. Why, when you are only dealing with two short-ish sidings, do you wrap one across the other, kick back across to the goods shed (far left) through a diamond? This means that the siding nearest the train is only usable as a headshunt. Why not come in from the far end into a simple two siding fan with a trap point to protect the running line? Or why not site the shed at the other end with the blind wall against the running lines? Also note the trap blades half way down the leading point.
Anyone know why this seemingly over complex layout was used?

Friday 16 October 2015

Put that in your pipe...

Gutters and down pipes on... nearly. I think I've decided that some of this kit I like and some I don't. The main walling parts with the sheet material I've grown to enjoy. Though some of the add on bits are way too chunky; the ridge tile are a case in point. Although this is a bad angle and the overhang doesn't show this much with the naked eye, the fact that you have to file a 'flat' on the roof sections for the ridge strip becomes less efficient as the pitch increases and here I'm down about as far as I dare without effectively slicing into the bargeboard area. Something more subtle would be better. Ditto the down pipes which are nice in the fact that they have jointing cups moulded in, but not as being that they are moulded in two C section halves (almost) means you get an oval pipe. This isn't terribly obvious, but I know it's there.
The gents toilet is a complete mystery. The parts don't seem to match the diagram which is just a complete isometric and not exploded. That, or there are more parts missing -  tricky to tell.

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Slow details

As predicted this is becoming a bit of a grind and is progressing very slowly even though I'm at it every day. The chimneys are done and on though with lighter strapping on the smaller and a replacement cap as above from 40 thou plastic on the larger. I couldn't see the point of butting together three smaller pieces from the detail sprue as suggested, when this will look far more of a one
Today guttering...

Although I've deliberately avoided making too much of a deal of it here, the launch of a Model Trains International replacement has probably gone better than I expected. Scale Rail International No 1 is all but sold out and No2 not far behind. I can't quite believe that No3 is already at the printers with an increased print run. It would seem that there is a market for a non-boundary publication that plays outside of the rules and regulations of the mainstream boys. Not that it was designed to compete with them in any shape or form, but in that there is actually a desire for it. Time and time again over the last five months I've heard the comment 'fed up with the other magazines'. Though it's hard to pinpoint exactly why. Maybe everything has got a wee bit too complicated and expensive for the 'average modeller' now. It's not that the big boys don't feature smaller achievable projects , as they certainly do - young Mr Parker's current essay in BRM is a case in point - but maybe the perception is there.

Wednesday 7 October 2015

Ridge riding

Main roof sections on. This took all day yesterday, and I mean all day. I had to keep walking away from it in case the whole lot went out of the window into the front garden.
There were two problems: my low skill level in this sort of thing is one, and the limit of the sheet size is another. The Wills Craftsman Kits are clever in that they maximise the sheet size on parts. In other words the kit is designed so that there are no major joins. The LH ridge is exactly the length of one sheet. Theoretically this works, but human nature being what it is means that the RH gable could well be a mil lower or higher on the angle. Then you're in trouble as the LH ridge is too short or too long. Deep joy. Here I was too high so that there was a gap at the bottom of the gully that you could drive a Reliant Robin through. The fix was to file the point down and sharpen the angle somewhat, but then the gutter line and the ridge drop out of horizontal. All this while trying to juggle all the bits with masking tape and blu-tak.
The hindsight tip is: if you get one of these kits, leave cutting the chimney hole until the roof sizes fit and give yourself a line or two of tiles at the bottom extra to that on the cutting plan. The length is fixed of course, but at least you're not having to deal with gaps at the gutter line as well, and this could be trimmed at the end.

Thursday 1 October 2015

Ground floor

As predicted this is not a fast kit build. It took me a large chunk of yesterday morning just to do glazing and hang curtains at the windows. Once that was done I could start assembling the ground floor. Surprisingly this went quite well and everything fitted without too much problem. I think this may be the easy bit done - the roof looks somewhat tricky. Today though it's a bit of vertical tile hanging. The kit box indicated big arch-top windows for the first floor... unlikely in Sussex me thinks, so these are being cut down and re-framed with strip to produce square versions of about 4' across.
This is Sheffield Park on the Lewes-East Grinstead line and now the lower end of the Bluebell Railway - the LBSCR's 'cottage' style station house. The Wills kit is supposed to be representative of this, and while it gets the flavour it loses quite a lot of the Arts and Crafts type ornamentation. To some extent, if I were being true to the prototype, I wouldn't start here with this kit, but then that's not the point of the exercise.

Friday 25 September 2015

Wills you cill love me 2moro?

I'm trying to build this as closely as possible to design without repetition or deviation. The lintels are just about OK. The soldier rows however are not. For some reason  don't get the 'stick on top' game surely they should be flush. That would mean cutting in, or at the very least using a thinner material. Though the Will bits aren't really a lot thicker than the Slaters equivalent. Case for scribing the whole lot? The cills are quite puzzling too.

Thursday 24 September 2015


Chain drilling - it's an absolute joy. your heart just sings while you grind out endless 1.5mm holes in soft plastic. This is though the best way of doing this, cutting is a no no, so it's drill and file all the way... nearly there.
The  missing Wills windows have arrived in the post hotfoot from Devon. I haven't opened the pack yet, but I may have extras. This, the the news that it may be a good time to buy a secondhand diesel VW and the fact that the Bay City Rollers are re-forming means that my life is surely complete.

Wednesday 23 September 2015

Art of Compromise messy bit.

It's that time again.I haven't forgotten the Art of Compromise - it just got sidelined for a bit. Mr. Hill nudged me into doing something last week and the coal dock and the final road section were installed. The bit I love is the messy bit with the paper-mache. Usual technique of bog paper and knocked down PVA over card formers packed with what's in the waste bin. It's all delightfully lo-tech which is just how I like things. This project above all is very much rooted in the 70's, so I don't feel too guilty using techniques that would have been familiar to the modellers of the day. Though of course having said that I realise how many modern materials are included: the Peco track and bog paper are old, but MDF, Wills sheet? Surely post 70's. Talking of Wills. The phone call was made and I was assured that replacement parts would be posted. We'll see. I'm still cutting walls out so it doesn't matter that much for a day or two.

Sunday 20 September 2015

Lack of will(s)

I thought, once that I'd got a couple of walls cut out on the station kit and filed in the the mortar courses on the reveals, that I could add a few window parts in. Wrong... A fastidious search through all the sprues found nothing  - no windows save  a couple of large arched ones. Both window sprues missing. This pissed me off greatly, probably more than it should have done, as in all the years that I've been putting kits together, I've never had bits missing. Plus it was Saturday so the Wills/Ratio missing part hotline was closed. Project ground to a halt.
 Now I have got Wills window bits in the general parts box, but why should I? A phonecall Monday morning me thinks.

Friday 18 September 2015


Long term readers will recall my 'road to Damascus' moment a couple of years back with Wills sheet. I was given a cottage Craftsman Kit and built it up with a few mods for Tal coed. What that tipped up was my change of heart in using the thick Wills sheet as a modelling material, something I'd turned my nose up at before. Now having used it on book number one I'm doing the same with two. The station kit is a natural as it lends itself to a Southern-type building.
The kit instruction (ha!) state that this is their 'most complex kit yet'. I agree - and a kit it ain't. The box is broken into and you are faced with.... well think of grabbing a random selection of Wills packs off the model shop shelf and dumping the whole lot into an ice cream tub, then getting an old Vivian Thompson drawing from 1972, photocopying it and putting the two side by side on the bench. This is what I'm faced with - plastic bits... drawing... turn this into that. I reckon I'll be at this for a month. This could be another Airfix Spitfire blog session.

Wednesday 16 September 2015


 Well I did warn you. This is the last of the Southern wagonary to be built... probably. Basic Ratio ply van with a couple of tweeks, mainly on the underside. It shows the problems of using waterslide transfers clearly - a problem I've been having since I was 10 and have yet to overcome. The weathering came out OK though. I wanted something that looked like it smelt of damp wood.

A question. I need one of these. In case you didn't spot it straight away it's a Bachmann analogue 08. I'm not fussy about livery as it's to be chopped about. A while back they were piled high at shows for about thirty quid when all the kids abandoned them for DCC versions.
Now that I want one .... tumbleweed....

Tuesday 15 September 2015


The only modelling I'm getting done at the moment is shed-loads of Southern stuff. Maybe my heart's not really in it, or maybe because the project has no easy route through it, I don't know. It just seems to be taking a long time to get any momentum going. Last week I managed to get the Parkside kit for the post war CC T done. More basic than I expected and even though I didn't add all the possible brake linkages, it still needed a fair bit of extra parts to make it work visually. The window bars are a case in point. No parts are included, but without them it looks pants. A foot or so of microstrip painted grey and lashed from one end of the van to the other does the trick.
Below the real deal in it's pre-war planked version at the Bluebell a couple of weeks back.

Friday 28 August 2015

Stock boxes

One of the problems with a large number of RTR HO items for an exhibition layout is that they come in nice over-packaged boxes. Then tendency, as these are designed to fit, is to use these as show transportation packed into a single cardboard box. The downside is that when you get there these have to be individually unpacked and then you are left with empty boxes everywhere - the back of the layout looks like the Hattons waste bin.

I do the food shopping. If I'm on my metal I can be out the house, round Aldi and back in 30 minutes. Occasionally I have to take Mrs F. due to work timings. This is quite frankly a pain in the arse. Like most females she treats food shopping like a day out to the seaside and not a pure calorie gathering exercise. The upshot is it now takes over an hour while she examines all the bargains they dump in the middle of the shop for future Christmas gifts etc. Yesterday though she beat me. I was at the till after an almost record breaking 4.5 minute circuit when I saw her waving a box, a big flat tool type box. The above problem seemed to vanish. All the Svanda NSB stock would drop into these with a little bubble wrap packing and save all the multi-box game. The photo shows the deal. The NSB stuff is loooong... British stuff would pack better. £6.99 Aldi.

Thursday 27 August 2015

Art of Compromise station building

Hornby station shelter
I was going to scratch-build one of the Forest of Dean station buildings from the Wild Swan drawings for the Art of Compromise. However... in keeping with the slightly RTR attitude that the layout demands, something more ordinary.

The Hornby station shelter has been around for quite a while and is freely available in rummage boxes for next to nothing. The roof  though is a very heavy moulding and I needed something lighter and more in keeping with the SE Wales feel. So some Slaters sheet and a bit of plasticard. I just need a lamp from an Airfix engine shed to finish it.

Tuesday 25 August 2015


A question.
I'm at the point of surfacing the platform (and road) on the Art of Compromise layout. It's card construction and I have in the past used all sorts of things to surface, but never get the finish that I see on other's layouts. This is a bit of a blind spot for me and after 40 years of doing this it still eludes me; any ideas for a rough tarmac finish?

Thursday 20 August 2015

Sanding sticks

Once in a while I do a bit of tool making. Sanding sticks - the shaping and tidying of plastic for the use of. Craft shop lolly sticks, sorted for straightness, suck to cheap wet and dry paper. Simple, and will last me  six months.

Off topic rant. If you've got a minute, read this and think about it. I've watched the industry I've worked in cut down and kicked over the last few years and this is the main problem - the general devaluation of music as a skill and art form. The next time you lift music from the net for nothing or next to nothing take a couple of seconds to think where it actually came from and who you are affecting.

Saturday 15 August 2015

Saturday Ramble

I had an hour or so to spare yesterday so snuck into the Bluebell to take some photos. I don't know quite what it is - can't put my finger on it, but the line doesn't sing to me like other preserved lines do. It's no more commercial that the KESR, but feels it somehow. Anyway lots of interesting stuff that the hoi-poloi will miss whilst they rush through on their 'steam train ride'. The carriage works are doing some fantastic stuff. Of particular interest was the Stroudley 4wheel brake which is coming along in leaps and bounds.

 I quietly ignored the sign-age and wandered amongst the dump sidings at Horsted Keynes. Probably not officially allowed, but that is where all the fun stuff is. Below is a loco that I photographed on the line probably 30 years ago. It's been repainted at some point from green to blue, but is tucked away out of sight just rotting. This is criminal really, but I supposed it has no commercial use. All the spotters want to see Blackmore Vale which is parked in full view in the sunshine, but who wants to see an 1877 Manning Wardle? Me...

Finally: today sees the 50th birthday of a dear old mate, one who comments on here regularly. One of the nicest blokes you are likely to meet.
Happy Birthday Si.

Wednesday 12 August 2015

SR three plank

Most of the last few weeks has been deep in wagonary stuff with small modelling projects for the forthcoming (don't hold your breath) title. The above just finished is a SR 3 plank built at Ashford in 1949. Converted from the Ratio LMS kit by altering the end bracing and headstocks. Slightly more fiddly that I expected and un-noticeable unless you've swallowed a copy of Mike King's Southern wagons book.

Tuesday 11 August 2015

To the Fair

To the Vintage Fair last Sunday at Firle where the weather couldn't have been better and was reflected in the amount of people attending. Tucked round the back though were a brace of showman's tractors. Question is, could I get one of these out of an Airfix Matador?

Monday 10 August 2015

Wagon question

I will try to get back into the rhythm of this. Expect a daily posting this week.
First up a question for the knowledgeable readers. This photo was shuffled over to me from Mr Hill, but neither of us know what it is or what it's for. Chunnel cars maybe? Note the articulated bogie set-up. At Micheldever.

Thursday 6 August 2015


On my usual walking route into town I pass over a tunnel mouth. Unusually the railway passes directly under the centre of town and under the 12th century castle. Reckon they'd get away with that today? Peering over the parapet you get a view of an infrequently modelled piece of trackage - the welded rail expansion joint. the operation is fairly obvious - the rail end is free to slide in the two chairs, is bonded electrically with the wiring and the four linking sleepers are bolted together with old B/H rail. Nice to see that the Southern Region (it must be returning soon) still throws nothing away. Models of this anywhere?

Saturday 1 August 2015

Saturday Ramble

No I'm not dead, though I have had toothache, but that's not quite the same thing. With one thing and another it's been tickety busy here. Without really realising it I've landed myself with an editor's hat. It's surprising how much this changes the outlook even at the small scale that this is. Things have a very outward view rather than the inward view of most modelling events. Everything now has a possible publication essence - not that it didn't before apropos here on the blog, but now the focus is much greater. It didn't matter if I did or didn't post something,  now I have deadlines and have to act as cheerleader.
Extra to that is book two which I stupidly said yes to doing. The narrow gauge effort was a coast - this won't be as I'm slightly out of my comfort zone. It's surprising how little I know about a subject that I thought I was fairly familiar with, and how this turns into some quite enjoyable book and internet research. It also brings friend's collections of books and photos out of the woodwork. I'm very lucky to be surrounded by generous and helpful people who are only to glad to respond to questions, or have me rake through their book and photo collections. The upshot of this as regards the blog is that I don't get to be here as often as I'd like, and that me disciplining myself to do so will result in a a diet of Southern Region stuff.
The above is a snap of the sand line at Bude. I'm probably not the only one who's heart quickens at the site of an old set of rails half buried in something. This discovery set in motion a period of research which threw up that this 2' line, originally 4', dragged sand up from the beach (bottom left) to the canal basin (right). A full article by me will appear in SRI No2.

Friday 10 July 2015

Art of card

The Art of Compromise plan made a bit of a leap over the last couple of days. The bridge is now fitted and the roadway cut in. I'm now weaving the honeycomb of card for the platform and the bank behind out of mounting card off-cuts. this whole project is now taking a differnt significance as it by default the serial project for the magazine.

Wednesday 8 July 2015

13 ton Southern Railway wagon

13 ton Southern Railway wagon

This is what happens when you say yes instead of no. With the narrow gauge book finally done and buried amongst the Pete Waterman books on amazon (outselling PW at one point; I should be so lucky... lucky, lucky....) there came a figure on the horizon saying ' Go south my boy, go south'. As so it came to pass that my life is now swamped in the unlikely, but remarkably engrossing world of research and building of Southern Region stuff. The quick snap above is a Southern Railway 12 ton open, upgraded post war to 13 tons. This from the Cambrian kit with cast buffers added and Modelmaster transfers. Quite fun really. I do like a few wagon kits to brighten my day.

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Scale Rail International magazine

If you'd wondered why it had all gone a bit quiet here of late, then I'll tell you the reason. There were three of us munching through a post exhibition curry when someone mentioned that the publication of Model Trains International was ending. For those of you who don't know, MTI was a slim bi-monthly mag aimed primarily at those short of layout space. The subject base was quite broad, none of this us and them that all the other magazines have; British, European, American, NG, you name it, all pitched fairly low (i.e.not full of finescale) and with an almost 1940's style of good budget modelling ideas all in a subscription only mag.

Back to the curry: between mouthfulls of Gurkha's Revenge (yes really) I said that someone should pick it up and run with it. That's not quite what happened, but there followed a brace of phonecalls between self, writers, and MTI's editor Chris Ellis. The result is that a dozen weeks and a very sharp learning curve later Scale Rail International No1 was published. Unlike MTI it is is in colour and is presented in a compact package of an A5 magazine. Like MTI it is bi-monthly, full of modelling ideas and plans and with a very broad prototype base.
Email me via the profile page if you require more details

Friday 5 June 2015


Bridge building for AoC. Wills parapet walls pack and their skinny brick sheet. This is now all firmed up with some mounting card and awaiting the wing walls. As usual I'm building both sides of the bridge... just in case. Yesterday went from two parable projects to four. Busy again.

Thursday 4 June 2015


I'm firmly wedded to the ground foam and PVA method of scenic ground cover. I'll tend to use any of the major producers: Woodlands Scenics etc, but add a few home-brewed products to the mix. Mrs F. occasionally has a green tea moment and I'll quickly harvest the bags, tip the contents onto a plate and leave on a warm window sill to dry thoroughly for a week or two. This has the added wind-up factor as when Mrs F's posh friends turn up and ask, 'what's that?' Pointing at the plate. I just reply knowingly 'Special leaves...' change the subject and wait for the looks between them.

Wednesday 3 June 2015

Narrow Planet works plate

Narrow Planet works plate
Desperately trying to get all the little jobs off the workbench. Here the excellent Narrow Planet plates are superglued to the Morton Stanley locos.
Expect little else but standard gauge 4mm here for a while.

Tuesday 2 June 2015

Pill box

For some reason this took quite a while, possibly as Mrs F. was on half term and insisted on us 'going out and doing something' everyday. Not particularly conducive to getting something finished. It's a bit of a weird one in places - the solebar to floor joint is a mitre which I can't remember dealing with before. The choice of axlebox fronts is a nice touch and gives me a set of flat ones for a later project.

Sunday 31 May 2015

Friday 29 May 2015


Stepson No2 is in the RAF. We went to see him for the day. 'I'll show you round', he said. So self, Mrs F. and he piled into his Y reg Citroen Saxo - the one with the exhaust alternately hitting the road surface and the bottom of the car and drove round the base. After a while the road becomes the perimeter taxi-way. 'Are we OK to be driving on here?' asks Mrs F.  No2 Stepson produces a blue card from his pocket. 'Of course, I've got full runway clearance.'
After a minute we come round a slight curve with trees on, to be faced with a Hercules trundling straight towards us down the taxi-way - not fast, but with a certain amount of purpose. At this point I would have pulled into one of the escape lay-bys and waited. He with the 'full runway clearance card' panics and does a U-turn right across the taxi-way and drives back the way we came with the Hercules chasing the Saxo with self and Mrs F whooping and waving out of the windows.
No2 Stepson sweating slightly swings the Saxo into a maintenance yard.
 'Boy am I going to get a ring-whipping from traffic in a minute.'

Monday 25 May 2015

Saturday Ramble

Probably two of the best shows of the year have been squeezed in in the last fortnight. ExpoEM was a treat with probably only one layout that I thought was below standard. Rye Town is always worth a look and scratches the Light Railway worm that wriggles in my head. Mr Lamacraft's Hemyock is just perfect and shows that you can't cram a GWR terminus into 6'... you have to do it justice; and so he has. Everything ran, everything looked logical and no silly freelancing to make it more operable. The highlight was Leighton  Buzzard. I'd missed this up until now, but isn't it lovely? The fact that everything is hand-made gives it instant charm. It is in the purest sense a model railway, not a model of a railway. I'm occasionally accused of being a bit of a Luddite and a dinosaur in being a little down on some of the commercial operations, but this is why. If we could all just stop pissing and moaning on forums and worrying about finicky detail and just build things from near enough the raw, no matter what the quality, the world would be a better place.
Railex was just as good. An early start to make sure we could sit in Morrisons for breakfast and stand in a queue. Maybe not quite the wow-factor of ExpoEM, but again setting a target to aim for in terms of sheer modelling quality and far too many things to spend money on for upcoming projects.
The resolution for the rest of the year is to spend more time just making things.

Wednesday 20 May 2015

SR brake van

I need to get that muscle working again.

It's been quiet again here of late. Don't fret, this is not an accurate indication of what's been going on. There are two quite large projects on the horizon which have had me squirrelling away in writing and planning mode, apart from one siding, the track is down for the AoC layout, plus there's been a little kit building as above.
This is (or will be) a 15t SR brake destined for Nigel Hill's planned Souther Region essay from the Cambrian kit. Slightly odd design in places and certainly not a fall-together kit, but it's got the fingers stretching a bit.

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