Friday 18 November 2016

OO Wagon loads

I wouldn't say that it's a hate, but I don't like to see layouts full of empty wagons. I find it puzzling that many go to extreme lengths to super detail and weather using expensive bits of airbrush kit and then run the things with nothing inside. At the moment there are about ten wagons available for 'Y Fan' and about the same again in the kits box, most picked up at half or less price from rummage boxes. It was time to fill a few up.

This is a fairly standard Coopercraft five plank merchandise wagon and somewhere in the photo collection I've got a shot of rough sawn pit props stacked vertically in such a beast - can I find it? Can I hell. Anyway I can't remember ever seeing it done on a model before.  Simple enough, but not a fast job. a baseplate cut to the internal dimensions and over seventy toffee apple sticks of about 4mm square and 18mm long stuck on.

The fictional base to this is that the station is possibly a 1/4 mile up the line from the obligatory colliery. There is a facing siding into part of this so odd bits of traffic , mainly maintenance, come into Y Fan with the general goods to be dropped off on the way back. The result is that there are now two of these wagon loads to run.

Wednesday 16 November 2016

Running in board

 Something short was required. Preferably not more than four letters to make it easier to shuffle bits of plastic around. Something that said Wales without explaining. Using the prefix Y is always a winner. It translates (according to my book on such things) as the peak. Saying it will cause confusion though. A VAN as in what is a Transit? And a long A sound. The lettering was from a set of Scandinavian shop signs, and the rest is bits of plastic sheet and strip. Valleys running in boards are not known for their ornamentation - something simple and concise is what's required.

Monday 14 November 2016

OO gauge road bridge

 More signage. A Tiny Signs road bend sign was made up giving a splash of colour to the bridge: the card sign, a bit of rod and an etched triangle. The little boy looking over or through the bridge is a bit of a trade mark now with every layout this century having one if appropriate. Mind you from this angle he could be taking a piss.
And in the blue corner - the station building for the new 009 is now done. Nice and simple design for a nice and simple layout. Mostly Wills and a bit of scrap.

Friday 11 November 2016

4mm scale platform sign

Sometimes it's the simplest things that are fun. I was rummaging around for couplings when I spied this at the bottom of the drawer - or to be precise a bit of printed card. A couple of minutes with a craft knife, a length of 1mm rod and a lick of white paint and I have a sign for the end of the platform. I think it's from one of the Prototype Models card kits, and I haven't built one of those for thirty years which suggests how long it's been lying at the bottom of the drawer, and of course it fits perfectly with the late 70s vibe. The Great Tidy Up continues...

Thursday 10 November 2016


Yesterday saw quite a bit of time spent pondering the next moves. I'm not as scatter-gun as some people, but I've always got more than a couple of things on the burner. The AoC is in some ways the  main project. I mistakenly thought that it would be quite a quick game and as it was so simple in execution that it would be easily achievable. In it's base form it is - four point terminus on 6 x 1', however Roy Link is a wily old bird and he hints on the original piece in 1978 that it could be a long project should you choose. What I spotted yesterday was that should it end up in RM like most of my efforts this century, that I can't play the 'game of one' freelancing card - I'm up against all the other GWR termini. So while the wagonary is OK, the coach and loco stud is sadly lacking in detail. The layout itself is 95% done, the rolling stock for it is somewhere around 20%. There is still much to do and I have to focus on getting it done and not wander off.

Sunday 6 November 2016

Triang coaches

Triang clerestory coach
The unfinished end.
Once in a while I shuffle a few things up and down on the Art of Compromise. Here a rake of Triang coaches wait to leave. This is a strange one for me. So much has been done and yet so much remains to be done; this end still has a Metcalfe Signal box perched in the corner waiting to be replaced by a Ratio kit and the starter signal needs to be worked out. Some of this particular question lays with the 'does it exhibit or not?' point. It was only going to be a home baby, but I've pondered of late about taking it out and even offered it to a well known Southern show. It would need a fair bit of work to get it there, not least of which would be working on all the stock. There is enough of it, but much is still in a straight out of the box condition and that all takes time.

Sunday 30 October 2016

A bit of green

Gradually creeping along the board with a bit of green. Trying to pretend that I don't have to paint the track.

Wednesday 19 October 2016

SRI No 9

Unbelievably SRI has reached the toddler age of 18 months.  The issue is the usual eclectic mix of French NG, Hospital lines, US short lines and a little London 3rd rail to boot. Unfettered, and un- formatted - punk model railways.

Monday 10 October 2016

009 bridge

I got taken to task not once, but three times over the weekend about not blogging. It's not as if there's nothing going on: there's another magazine to edit and a bit of building in the shape of a small 009 layout on the old Barber Lane board. This has started well, but as usual things slow when the structures start to get done - buildings are the time thieves. I put a few things about this on the NG forum, but it's a real pain to get the photos on via photobucket. Anyway as you can see this is a narrow sheep/farm bridge from Wills components and lots of card. The track is laid and wired - now to concentrate on the station building.

Thursday 18 August 2016

Done... nearly

Gradually printing off latest volume of print wonder. For some reason the publisher needs a hard copy as well as the digital format.
This has been a bit a bit of a slog as it didn't fall into place quite as easily as the NG book. Logically the sections were the same, but the RTR market washes a lot of the actual work away and I kept finding that things that I was going to make are available in resin or something. Anyway all done and I just have to collate all the physical bits together.

Monday 15 August 2016


Reading reviews is dangerous, but this one on Amazon made me smile. If I had one aim during all the work involved, it was to make this happen.

"As an 'armchair modeller' of many years standing I have to say that this book is truly inspiring and sees me finally building something! So many 'dark arts' are explained in simple yet entertaining terms and even an experienced modeller should learn something new in these pages.

Even if your interests don't include the narrower railway gauges this book will be an invaluable addition to your layout building 'toolkit' and is thoroughly recommended!"

Friday 12 August 2016

Svanda and Morton Stanley go west

Possibly a first. Two layouts - two photographers - for two magazines - both at the same time. Our thanks to the two gentlemen who worked non stop all morning to get it all done at a beautiful location.

Saturday 30 July 2016


Dateline 2016 Crawley:
A trip down to PECO in a couple of weeks for Svanda to be snapped for CM. Quite a lot of bald patches have appeared over the last year due to exhibition handling. Time for the glue pot and some tip-off flock.

Tuesday 14 June 2016

Garden railway track laying

A bit more on the curve: The curve at the other end wanders around all over the place, here on the left was going to be simple... or so I thought, using Peco 2'6" rad setrack curves. Most of the line at this end is laid on 4" wide building blocks; slight engineering overkill, but easy to remove being let into a hole, levelled up and the track screwed to them with 25mm No4s. Any changes or new house owner will just need a small crosshead screwdriver and to lift the block out before backfilling.

All went well until I got to about 2 o'clock on the photo then the spade hit a brick. 'Building rubble' I thought. No chance, it was laid, and kept going down. As this was sheep grazed downland pre-1935 I though gate post or possibly drinking trough base. Then there was a bit of black electrical wire in it and it dawned on me that I'd hit the air raid shelter. Next door but one pulled his out last year, but that was corrugated iron and at the top of the garden. The lavs were inside when built so it's not one of those. Anyway the job suddenly tripled in time length as I set to work with a 2lb hammer and a bolster to break all the brickwork up remains of which can just be seen at 12 and 9 o'clock on the curve.

I'd decided to put a Tri-ang style tunnel over to visually break the curve so a few bricks and a paving slab went over the top with clearance to W & L loading gauge which is more than enough on this radius.

Sunday 12 June 2016

Art of Compromise and outside in the garden

 Bouncing around between different projects seems to be the order of the day and this is turning into more of a weekly report. Above and below are a couple of snaps taken in available light of the AoC. Top is an absolutely straight build of a Ratio GWR brake that was done years ago complete with squeaky plastic wheels. To its left is a Coopercraft V5 van with the firms replacement vent ends.
Below, a more overall shot of the coal dock with a mix of stuff parked up. L-R: a Cambrian Open A, a Slaters PO, both straight builds and an Arfix PO body mounted on a Parkside underframe. I like the way I've managed to get these to all have a slight prototypical dip so there visual horizontal line is imperfect. I must paint the coupling supports.
 Moving outside, the line is now just about complete. As you can see it's simply a loop - a trainset complete with short tunnel on the left. This is the only flatish part of the garden. North of the third stepping stone the ground lurches upward meaning that the lower bit of the loop is raised slightly and the upper is cut in. I was chuffed that I'd only gained an inch in height by the time the loop was complete with just a Poundland level to work with. More on this later.

Sunday 5 June 2016

4 to 16

 I'm plugging away on several fronts; all unrelated. The on-going as far as here is concerned is the Art of Compromise which now has a few lamps dotted about. Nothing remarkable, just the Ratio GWR swan neck variety. It's a nice little kit which can be built in a number of shapes. The standard above, with a straight post and single lamp. Below with a bracket, no swan, and just attached to the station shelter.
 Now that it's June,a push to get the garden railway finished. Only about 15' to go now and guess what? I'm six fishplates short. The train however needs a brake and a bit of work has been done on this. The jumping between scales is fun: from the fiddly lamps to the huge bits of 80thou sheet.

Sunday 29 May 2016

Maunsell diesel shunter in 4mm scale

A short final push this week to get the Golden Arrow Maunsell shunter done. This is really only the basic kit without too many refinements. Footstep handrails and electric lamps are  two areas which could be improved. The handrails would be simple enough, but the tiny lamps shown on the photos have eluded me.

This kit needs a lot of initial work to clean up, after that is a breeze. The only addition being the 08 chassis from Phil Parker, brass wire and some laddering from 3SMR. A nice alternative to the 08.

Friday 27 May 2016

All our yesterdays

 The art of compromise is nearly done. Not that it's been an intense process, I just fiddle once in a while. There's really only the signal box to do. Above; the left hand end with  full capacity sidings. Not that it's been asked, but do I want to take it out of the house? I thought no initially, then it seemed like a good idea, now I'm not so sure. Definitely on table height trestles I think as befits its 1978 period.

A wander around Rye a few weeks back and a wander into the junk shops on the Stand. This caught my eye and will have a resonance with many. The Bond Aston Martin - but look at the price! With box, and ejector seat included inside, unlike in the Hoover bag where most ended their days.

Wednesday 25 May 2016

Wood End 009 - again

Wood End 009
I got taken to task by a member of the Croydon club over the weekend about not posting enough on here. Guilty.

The thing is the Wood End angle - the name and layout that graces this blog. Long gone now from here, but still hanging on in Yorkshire I'm told. The conversations have kept tossing it into the limelight this week; some started by me some by others. Wherever they've come from, it has got me thinking and a couple of things have been discussed. The basic design was good, but the execution less so.

The above photo shows why: the two main boards were supported, the corner section was cantilevered from them. This worked for a while, then the display board was added which added weight, then as can be seen we super glued a two year old to this by his fingertips and the whole thing sagged, so we gave up on it. It's still my favourite. Is it worth doing again?

Monday 25 April 2016

Seven and a quarter inch gauge

Over to deepest East Sussex yesterday for some 7 1/4" fun. Simon 'Stig' Hargraves in charge, CF brings up the rear to add ballast. Rhondda the Honda is a ex- garden tractor.

Friday 22 April 2016

More loading gauge posts

 What a joy this has been. Ref Kane's comment below. This may be the S &D based post mentioned. Standard gallows post with a bar along the top - twist and lift.

On t'other side of the region on SER metals, the same game. The Ratio design is a bit of a puzzle with flat linkage and the bump bar fastened at the ends so that the ends lift and open upward rather than the usual 11 and 1 o'clock as above. I can find no SR pictures to match it.
My take was to use the post and bar and wire supplied - make up three holders from strip (handrail knobs might be nice here) and use two of the supplied links for the outriggers. The cable is the thinnest wire I could find stripped out of layout cable. A closer view at the flickr link below at Heathfield (plus a lot of other very nice shots). It's too low, but after swearing and cursing for most of yesterday I gave up with it for a while. The parts are so fragile and you are fighting the spring of the wire all the time.

The more I work though this project the more I am drawn back to the easy world of the freelance modeller where you can pick and choose your pieces. Here there are rules, you have to stick to them and do hours of detailed research. This is tricky stuff, the freelancing is a piece of cake in comparison.

Thursday 21 April 2016

Southern loading gauge

Another head scratch moment. The rule of course is don't read instructions and don't read the label. The Ratio loading gauge ( is that really the correct term?) is marked SR/BR. Err...I can't find any picture in any Southern book which shows a similar bit of kit. The post itself yes, but not the rather convoluted lifting mechanism. What they all have is a bar across the top and 'jutty-out' bits holding cable/chains which hold the bump bar.
Keep the post, keep the bar and bodge the rest seems the likely solution.

Tuesday 19 April 2016

Class 20s

A recent trip to the East Midlands throws up all sorts of conversations with Mrs F. re the North/South divide which I've discussed here before. What I am sure of is that in the allegedly rich South East we're loco poor. I can go months without seeing a locomotive down here on the main line. However as soon as the divide line of somewhere around South Mimms is passed things change. Jumping on a train at Oakham not only was I greeted by a seemingly endless line of pristine Midland signal boxes, but within half an hour one Cl 66 on a container run FOUR Cl 20s parked up under a bridge and a brace of stored Cl 56s at Leicester. Not only are we strangled by high house prices down here, but we don't get the loco-porn either.
The above looks scarily like a model at first glance, but suggests that using PECO track in a modern setting is fairly accurate. These four 20s are parked under a bridge at Melton Mowbray - why I don't know. I  presume waiting for the next hire-out.

Saturday 9 April 2016

Short advanced starter

Signals fascinate me.I can never work out why modellers leave them off and I do try to think about them fairly early on.
The above is a view of the AoC, but with a foreign visitor. A Saxby and Farmer 10' high advanced starter based on the one at Hayling station. An LBSCR signal from an LNWR Ratio kit destined for Mr Hill's round the room adventure.

Thursday 7 April 2016

Gomshall ARPsignal box

Mrs F is on holiday from Hogwarts, so days out have to be planned. Not one to pass up an opportunity and needing a photo, I suggested a trip across the razor wire into leafy Surrey where prices start at half a million and everyone is strangely the same colour. Lunch at The Compasses (note plural) and then off on another wild goose chase to find a signal box that's probably been knocked down - only this one hadn't. There's not much on Gomshall station and they appear to be building a bridge to get rid of the occupation crossing between the staggered platforms so that the nice lady looking after it has time to walk down to the UAB to sign on.

ARP boxes- completely devoid of architectural merit, but somehow quite gorgeous. This one has lost its stairs and windows and I think may have a preservation order on it. Which is good - well good for me at least You can't get a square elevation shot without warming your feet on the live rail or get around the back, but I have more shots it anyone wants them.

Friday 1 April 2016

Welsh Highland Railway Super power

One of those 'let's go now' situations where we piled into the car and went to N. Wales quite last minute. Deadly quiet just after the Easter weekend, where I though it would be heaving with children on holiday. I doesn't look like too many of us want to do this anymore.
Lots of new ideas where I'm trying to find new angles and ways to do things, so rather that riding-on the accent was on watching from different points, but making sure that any cash we spent on food etc went into the railway coffers to compensate. Likewise lunch on the return trip was taken at a deserted Llanfair station café.

I have mixed feelings about the NG16s. They are somehow too big. Very impressive, but visually out of place. I do like the compression that is forced upon the indigenous rolling stock.

Thursday 24 March 2016

Southern lineside huts

Now that the large scale buildings are done I can potter about with the smaller stuff for a while. First up was a couple of iconic pieces of SR kit. The fogman's hut came from Stig, is a Roxey w/m kit, and just needed a tidy and paint. The platelayer's hut is the Ratio plastic version and is lovely to put together bar one thing. I read the MRJ review from a few years back and agree with the criticism in that the end panels are a bit narrow. This means that the roof (which is OK) doesn't sit quite right. The pedantic could remove the central panel and replace with a wider bit of plain sheet to bring it out a bit.  I reckoned I could live with this so just tinkered with the roof by notching the bolt holes that were use for the lifting eyes. Few of these seem to exist without some modification, intended or otherwise, so I plated over three of the four windows. The example a mile from here (below) has ripped window frames, covered bolt notches and has been 'tagged' in blue aerosol so there is the opportunity to personalise which few modellers seem to do.

There are two huts in the pack and I'm tempted to have the other rail-mounted for delivery. This was done either with 15' SR flat wagons taking a hut and a tool hut, or ex LNER and LMS minerals with the bodies removed for a single hut.
I'm warming to all this SR stuff.