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.