Thursday 22 November 2018

Boaty Mc Boatface

What I know about boats you can write on the back of a stamp, so apologies to those that have more knowledge. What I was looking for was something akin to a semi abandoned craft left on the foreshore inspired by a couple of photos that I took at Rye Harbour. The base for this is the well used Zvesda kit for a medieval lifeboat. I'm quite pleased with the almost 'paint expired' finish, but I couldn't get the lighting right and it doesn't come across in this shot.

Tuesday 20 November 2018

Peco track mix

I'm not particularly fast at laying track and there was a bit of a break in proceedings. As indicated earlier this is all down at a basic level.. The track itself is a PECO mix: the points are yellow pack code 75 and the plain is a mix of the same with the sleepers spread out a little and a length of the new Bullhead stuff mixed in, and is what you might describe as 'tramway style'. Which is exactly what I wanted. Now it is down I can't tell the difference with the sleeper spread as the sleepers themselves are the same length and width. Regulars will have noted that the track layout is exactly the same as the 7mm NG plan that it replaces on the same board.
This is a very slow burn project, but may be ready in some form for the WRG show in March... possibly.

Non runnng P class

Back in May I raved about the quality of the Hattons P. As you can see from the shot above with it perched on some 009 track most if not all of this reaction was visual. Fast forward to now and with the track laid on Dury's Gap it was time to try a few locos out: a Terrier, an 03 and then the P....dead, nada, nothing, it just sat there looking pretty. Removal of the body via four (now three) of the tiniest screws on the planet found that all was well if you gave the motor worm a bit of a helping hand... well that's OK then, I'll just run it without the body and prod it every time. The quartering seems OK and once it's running it seems fine except odd power surges (is this connected?). This leads me to think it's the motor that's at fault. Really not impressed at all.
Update: Call to Hattons reveals a speedy no quibble replacement. Fingers crossed.

Monday 19 November 2018

GWR cattle creep

In not the best of circumstances myself and Mrs. F. snuck off to Cornwall for a few days with we me as the uncomfortable non-driver. Deliberately non railway after the Ffest-fest of a few weeks back, this was a kick back and walk along the beach type of break. Something magnetic happens though as on waking (having arrived in the dark) it became apparent that we were billeted in spitting distance from the GWR's Helston branch and faced this little beauty of a cattle creep under the old trackbed. Even when I don't do any research, the railway lines find me.

Sunday 18 November 2018

009 Festiniog Oakley wagon

Festiniog Oakley wagon
It's been a finish off day: something boaty, and this, a scratch-built effort in 009 based upon an Oakley Quarry wagon on a chopped Peco N gauge chassis

Friday 9 November 2018

BR period WR MINK van

BR period WR MINK van
A minor health issue took centre stage this week, though things are returning to some sort of normal - whatever that is. I made myself build something; something finishable in a day, and the RM giveaway Ratio grounded van body sprue landed on the mat at the right time. A scrabble about in various boxes turned up some transfers, wheels, buffers etc. and after more searching, a close to suitable chassis in the form of a Parkside BR 10' fitted version. Painted and weathered it's ideal for the foetal Dury's Gap which is now slowly at the track laying stage.

Friday 2 November 2018

Festiniog Oakley wagon build

Festiniog Oakley wagon build
Getting there - just the end strapping/hinges to do. It's a bit tippy-toes due to the commercial chassis, but will have to do.

Wednesday 31 October 2018

Oakley Quarry wagon in 009

Oakley Quarry wagon in 009
You want small? I'll give you small.
The wagon scratch build section for new tome is an Oakley wagon. Two sources of info: one from the real example in the TR museum and the drawing in the 7mmNGA's FR drawings book. They differ slightly so I'm cutting the middle ground. At just over an inch long it's a bit of a fiddle, but quite fun. Once again a chopped PECO 9' chassis and lots of strip and 30thou sheet.

Sunday 28 October 2018


Like most people I have modelling heroes. Several of who I've had the chance to meet and brains to pick.
I'd wandered off for a spot of lunch while the 009 Society used Orne as a photo backdrop for various items. On my return my friend (and modelling influence) Dutch modeller Ted Polet had appeared behind the layout.
For a view of Ted's work take a look at this:

Thursday 25 October 2018

ExpoNG test

Off to ExpoNG on Saturday with Orne so a quick plug in for power lights and run some trains to make sure it's all working.

Monday 22 October 2018

Wills sheet walling mod

One of those small but important experiments. The ongoing Welsh project requires walling similar to the above for some buildings. My preference these days is for Wills sheet (or similar; and more on that later) but the nearest item is the stone which is a little bit on the Cotswold side and definitely not as flat -faced as I wanted, with some blocks projecting out by quite a bit giving a heavy feel. Enter the trusty sanding board - usually used for shaping the mitre joints. A bit of scrap and a few minutes removes (along with some of the fingertips) about 10 thou of thickness. In other words the projecting areas and a lot of the 'cutting' marks. Much better.

Sunday 21 October 2018

1950s Talyllyn Railway layout

1950s Talyllyn Railway layout

On the return trip from Porthmadog a detour was made to take in a little Tal-y-llyn. Notwithstanding the obvious attractions, a quick look around the shop threw up the usual keyrings and books. A look upward to the top of the shelves gives you not only Gordon Gravett's Abergynolwyn in 7mm in its box, but the original roundy roundy 009 layout. This was built for the TRPS to take to events to promote the railway. and was featured in an early BRM. One train circled round through the scene powered by a motor bogie in the brake van. As can be seen it split into two for transport in a way that

I can't help but feel would not be acceptable now. Nevertheless, it has spawned at least one copy cat from yours truly and featured in the pages above.

Thursday 18 October 2018

Multi gauge test track

A bit of a grease and oil round on Mr Hill's 20 year old Terrier. Without a 16.5mm gauge layout to test it on, the late 1980s test track made a surprise appearance. Supported on 3' of 9mm MDF it originally had a length of track fitted to EM gauge during my brief dalliance with the wider gauge. Gradually two more sets of rails were added with the end result that I can run 16.5/EM/21 on it as well as  a whole different set of 32mm on the flip side. Needless to say that the 21mm hasn't had a lot of use. What I should do is take the 21mm up and lay a length of N gauge down the middle of the 32. One day...

Wednesday 17 October 2018

009 scale slab wagon

009 slate slab wagon
After slates come slabs. Essentially a few bits of plastic on a butchered Peco chassis. Based on the long version on the FR, but a couple of mill under in length. Droopy oval fixing loops as per the prototype.

Tuesday 16 October 2018

Rope rings

I'm most of the way through a semi-scratch slab wagon and needed some tiny fixing rings to attach to the solebars. Single strands of layout wire twisted around the tip of a pencil which is wound round unto the loop reaches the required size. Who said 009 was fiddly?

Monday 15 October 2018

009 slate wagons

A brace of slate. Two Dundas FR 3 ton versions in braked and unbraked mode flanking a Narrow Planet (Meridian) Penrhyn 2 ton example. The numbering on the outer two is Ratio and the smallest I could find here, but I picked up a sheet of Old Time transfers at Porthmadog which are designed for these wagons and will replace in good time. The Penrhyns had microscopic numbers on the side bars either direct or on black patches which are represented here.  The rear two will get a load when I get around to it. A scratch slab wagon is next up.

Sunday 14 October 2018

The Corris

Still on the Welsh theme. One of the mostly overlooked lines, The Corris. The problem is that it has tended to get overshadowed by the big boys so a) doesn't get the volunteer base as it's short and not so glam, and b) is short and non glam as there isn't the volunteer base and cash - vicious circle. There is a highly enthusiastic band of workers who put an enormous amount of work in and could always use a hand.

Friday 12 October 2018

009 Penrhyn slate wagon

Now in a deep channel of Welsh NG and a brace of slate wagons to build. Fiddly? Undoubtedly. At under an inch long this Penrhyn example is a fiddle, but does fit together pretty well. Still a bit to do in final cleaning and painting.

Thursday 11 October 2018

Stone tunnel mouth

One of my pet hates on layouts is the exit line into a tunnel to a rear FY with a fan of sidings in front, usually with some sort of mill or diary to disguise said FY. Tunnels start in cuttings, they don't stick out.
That said, last week Mrs. F dragged me kicking and screaming up to Caernarfon  on the Welsh Highland (the things I put up with for a quiet life). The last bit of the line from Dinas uses the old LNWR trackbed into the town. This was all a school day for me, so imagine my surprise when my unlikely model scenario slapped me straight in the face. I'm not awfully familiar with this route, but a check reveals that this end of line used to continue under the town and up to Bangor. Here we are then; sticky-out tunnel mouth hiding the storage yard with warehouse in front. All built from Wills sheet with low relief houses along the top. Prototype for everything.

Wednesday 10 October 2018

Spooner's boat

Back from a long weekend in North Wales: some R & R (research and relax) most of the research on the FR and most of the relax in Spooners at Porthmadog (which is top notch BTW). Not cheap trip by any means - we could have done Majorca for half the money, but who needs that when you can get good Welsh drizzle and stuff like the above. Spooners boat was allegedly personal transport for the above named which could be run on wind power across the Cob between Porthmadog and Boston Lodge. There was a little in the way of a helping push here, but it did seem to work.

Handkerchief and a Kato Portram chassis anyone?

Tuesday 2 October 2018

Orne fiddle yard mods

Orne wasn't really thought of as an exhibition piece hence the front loading point switches. Seeing as it's going out later this month a timetable of sorts was run through using the simple three road fiddle yard. What was spotted was that there are a couple of railcar moves possible that mean moving something else to load them up. Having two short sidings for two railcars seemed the answer.
Fast forward to Sunday and I picked up a point from Kernow Models and... well you can work he rest out yourselves. The wood glue is to fix a strip of wood along the near edge to stop stuff falling off.
How slick is this going to be?

Sunday 30 September 2018

Worthing model railway exhibition

Canute Road model railway layout
 Seeing as though it's only a little way away and Mrs F. was out with her mother (cue Jaws theme) I wandered over to the Worthing show. The only thing that had caught my eye on the listing was Graham Muspratt's Canute Road which is tiny but lovely. I'd not been to this event for a few years and in ground space terms it's grown a bit, with two extra rooms, but is still hamstrung by the long dark corridor as the centre piece, which gives the effect of the show never achieving a critical mass of people as they're all strung out in a line.

The other layout that I really liked was at the other end of the size range - Dubmill Sidings. This captures that hard to get right atmosphere of open space. Difficult in the smaller scales; harder still on O. Not one narrow gauge layout though.
Dubmill Sidings O gauge

Thursday 27 September 2018

More fence work for Orne

Not stunningly impressed with this. The fishing wire wasn't keen to be stuck into the holes. I think there's supposed to be 4-5 wires, but this was testing my patience as it was, and this from the man who has built buildings from single blocks of card in the past.
Anyway... stuck in with UHU and a three layer paint job (grey/green/brown) to try to make it visually disappear and not look like a set of gravestones. General bedding-in to do. This may get replaced.

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Ratio fencing for Orne

This stuff has been in the drawer for a goodly amount of time so probably smart to use it up. I needed a foot or so of non-specific fencing to run along the back of the layout. I think this is Ratio and that you are supposed to stick the fishing line that comes with it to the front of the posts with some solvent. These had been pre-drilled by our Mr. Hill some time back and it was just a case of threading the line through and sticking it to the posts set at 1" intervals. I can think of more entertaining jobs to do.

Tuesday 25 September 2018

1970s offices

A while back I posted a photo of a quite delightful fuel tank near Stoke Mandeville. Swinging the camera to the left brings up these 1970s offices. Still in use, but looking a little worse for wear. The concrete pad to the right is the drip area for the fuel tank - or could it have been a weighbridge at some point? Most people will now buy a ready to plonk item for this sort of thing, but a few selected and altered bits of Ratio and Wills should sort most of it out in this low-relief scenario topped with some wet and dry for the felt roofing.

Friday 21 September 2018

The boy on the bridge

This has become a bit of a signature cameo. The boy on the bridge (if there is one) has appeared on all layouts since Wood End in 1999, and Orne is no different. This is the last one in stock though. A standard Airfix/Dapol figure with a mix of acrylics. The bridge is a Wills Occupation top with a new plasticard deck, over a scratch base made from Wills brick sheet. As the setting is the South Downs the chalk bridle path with its overgrown hedges was easy to channel into model form. The path continuing into the backscene.

Thursday 20 September 2018

Shunting at Orne.

Being that Orne is pretty simple I thought I'd try running through a basic sequence of moves to see if there was enough to do. One loop, one siding, three storage roads and a mix of a two goods consists, one passenger train and a couple of railcars. Starting with just the flat car on the layout I worked through sixteen moves which took me back to where everything was in its original position. Hardly heart-stopping excitement, but then I never operate much at exhibitions anyway and its not that sort of layout - it wasn't meant to be. I scribbled the moves down as I went, all fairly obvious, and even a young strapping nuclear physicist should be able to operate it without any instruction.

Above is the final move with the flat ready to be swapped over and nosed into the siding. The flat is an FR coach chassis with a new top, the loco a Knightwing on a Kato 103 and the brake is scraps. Just another hour's work should see it ready for ExpoNG next month.

Tuesday 18 September 2018

009 platform detail

I tend to go for an open feel on layouts. For some reason that's not working here, so time for some clutter and extra bits. Like most I've got drawers full of little bits and pieces that have been bought, borrowed and nicked, and a lot of which have come from old layouts. Above is a case in point: the figure is original Airfix donated by Nigel Hill and repainted, and marks the maximum uncoupling point for the run round. The new fencing is actually off Rhiw (see pages above). Some of this ended up on the Art of Compromise and this is the rump. The sign is from a double A4 sheet of Builder Plus enamel signs that I got for 10p in a rummage box at a show and contains enough of this sort of thing for a lifetime. The fence just needs bedding in with some green stuff.

Monday 17 September 2018

Orne 009 details

A bit of work on Orne. The usual 'boy on the bridge' a platform passenger and some wood chopping.

Thursday 13 September 2018

Art of Compromise Railway Modeller

AoC on the cover. Go buy.

Baseboard painting

Out into the wilds of the garage to paint the baseboard of the new OO (old Morton Stanley) baseboard. A nice smart black this time and quite pleased that I hit the forward planning enough to do this before the track and scenery went in. Working title now is Dury's Gap; just because I don't think that COD has nabbed it yet, and with a little twist of punk heritage to change it. Apostrophe or no apostrophe?

Wednesday 12 September 2018

009 Water tower

009 scale water tower built from scrap items
Complete 009 water tower
Th water tower complete and fitted on the layout. I though I'd overdone the weathering, but here I'm thinking it could do with a few more rusty tones. Brazier and ladder yet to do.

Tuesday 11 September 2018

009 Water tower for Orne

scratch built 009 scale water tower

A scratch-built water tower for 009
Orne's scratch-built water tower is now complete.  I wanted something spindly and which looked locally-made, which ruled out any of the commercial kits. The tank is sections of Wills vari-girder, Ratio wood planking sheet makes the timber top, a spare door off a Southern brake van kit gives the access hatch and cotton buds are used for the main legs. There are various bits of plastic strip, some sprue from a Ratio signal box, necklace chain, and some donated wire. Most of this (everything except the vari-girder) came out of the scrap box; thus it didn't cost me more than a pound to make. It only needs some suitable rusty paintwork to finish.

Monday 10 September 2018

Point control switches

Fitting DPDT point control switches to Peco points

Fitting new point control switches
Part of the electrical work is to fit new bigger DPDT switches. The old layout trackwork on Morton Stanley used the slightly smaller version of the standard switch. This meant that the holes in the MDF sheet that holds them needed to be enlarged. After much filing to make the holes bigger (it would have been easier to start from scratch) all four are now in place. There are also 7mm diameter holes drilled immediately below the switches in the back of the board to thread the wiring through to link it to the points. This means that hopefully at least one end of the wiring is easy to get at during an exhibition. The wires themselves run to the stock rails and the frog so that the electrical polarity is changed by the switch while the sliding action physically changes the point.

This is all quite crude compared to some people's layouts where every effort is made to hide switching gear away from view. I take the view that is easier to fix if there is a problem if it is as visible as possible, besides the strip of batten which supports the whole lot acts a a) a stiffener for the layout and b) is somewhere to put an uncoupler and a track rubber during an exhibition.

I might paint the outside of the case now before anything else happens.

Sunday 9 September 2018

Woking show 2018

 Up to Woking yesterday fundamentally to assist a mate with a bit of operating; though that in itself is another story. Obviously I can't comment on the Sunday's proceedings , but counter to my slagging of the catering department last year, I can say that when I was in the cafĂ© area, all appeared to be going swimmingly and no 'we've go no food left' notice as before.
An excellent spread of layouts - Arun Quay (obvs) an American Fn3 gauge which just had so much presence and one I was particularly drawn to was very old personal home layout in EM. I take it was built decades ago by someone who is long deceased, but it just oozed atmosphere even though it was tatty and showing it's age. However - it ran and lots of it.
The 009 Society much in evidence with Martin Collins and Paul Davies manning the desk alongside Welshpool. And opposite us downstairs; Adrian Ponting's Aldbourne with his Society competition entry railcar.

Friday 7 September 2018

009 water tower - basic work

009 scale water tower built from scratch

The basic water tower shape
This is basically four new bits of Wills kit and a load of scrap. The new being sections of Wills vari-girder. A bit of plastic strip just inside the edge gave the tank something to sit on and the legs... ?

Well I note we've gone over to cardboard for cotton buds now, but not before I'd squirrelled away some tubes from the same item made of nasty planet destroying plastic.  I fished four of these out and set to cutting them down to 45mm  - 5mm to go inside and then stuck them on. Errr… no, I didn't. I tried to stick them on, but none of the usual solvents worked. No wonder they're not popular with turtles. I resorted to UHU and even that's not great; that, plus the obvious issues of trying to get them perpendicular and the same height.

Thursday 6 September 2018

4mm water tower

After a few weeks of no proper modelling I thought I'd better get the cutting mat out and actually do something. With the showing of Orne at Expo NG just over the horizon getting the water tower done seemed like a good (if not urgent) thing to do. 
May I present the tank bit just put together from Wills vari-girder panels. 

Tuesday 4 September 2018

DPDT switch

Point switches for the layout with no name. My usual simple set up with a slide switch to change the polarity lashed to a wire-in-tube set up to move the tie bar. 
First a 0.8mm drill through the handle as low as possible. There's a hole in the middle and the plastic is usually quite soft, so it struggles a little at first then pings out the other side when you least expect mostly into the fleshy part of your index finger.

Monday 3 September 2018

The new OO layout.

Everything old is new again.

This is quite a slow burn project. I picked up the track for this in May, but save a bit of plotting, it hasn't moved very far forward  - too much writing and GWR. Yesterday I had a hour to waste so started working on the shelf that holds the point switches which is also useful for resting uncoupling hooks, pencils and the like during a show. I'm reusing the old bits of MDF to hold the switches and just re-mounting and adjusting to suit.
I need a name for it soon.

Saturday 1 September 2018

Burgess Hill model railway exhibition

Burgess Hill model railway exhibition
A hop skip and a jump up the road found me at the Burgess Hill exhibition. The usual good spread of layouts and not too many box shifters. A lot of chat with old friends about everything from trade stands to Police pensions. Above is Giles Barnabe's Shellsea which gets better every time I see it. Also I was particularly taken with Wantage in O gauge and Matt Kean's 009. The only down side of the show is the weird lighting in the main hall which I find really uncomfortable.

Thursday 30 August 2018

Expo NG 2017

What's scary is that there are a couple of layouts here that I don't remember.

Monday 27 August 2018

A return to the narrow gauge

Life being what it is, one day leads to another and so it is with various projects. The GWR book is at the paste and proof stage with a release date of early 2019. There is still much to do like me having to do the post-paste check and scribbling an index. Aside from that there is the next mighty tome on the horizon - something  wet and Welsh. No not my ex wife, but a 55,000 word discourse on modelling the Welsh narrow gauge mostly in it's easiest form of 009. I'm fully aware that there are those more qualified that me to write about this, but it's my name on the contract. Look forward then to tales of slate and sheep, and men in funny hats blowing horns and riding on tightly packed slivers of rock.
Comfort zone.

Friday 24 August 2018

Great Western branch line modelling book

The cover proof appeared this morning. I'm never sure about covers. What's inside I have a degree of control over, but at this point onwards the dog is off the lead and all responsibility is handed over to someone else who is choosing what the thing will look like, and what they think is a strong enough cover to make someone pick it up. For the first time both these shots are from inside and not from the file of 'spares for cover'. The lower is Bob Vaughan's Condicote taken at the East Grinstead show a couple of years back - one of my favourites and just on the right side of twee in a very small space.

Monday 20 August 2018

Class 313s in BR blue livery

Into Brighton today on the usual 313. Only something odd. Not the usual GiTRail green and grubby white, but something that looks remarkably like unlettered and unbranded BR blue/grey. No company name, just the numbers. Will they get the double arrow logo? I hope so.

Saturday 18 August 2018

West Mids open day.

Off to the open day of the West Midlands Group of the 009 Society. Fab day out. Lots of chat and arm twisting for articles. And didn't buy any books. That has to be a record. Well done to Mr Webb and the team for putting on a good show.

Saturday 4 August 2018

Saturday Ramble

This week I delivered Modelling the Great Western Branchline book onto the printing conveyer belt, and on the kitchen worktop sit two copies of a contract for the next book, the forth in the series, signed, but as yet unsent.

A couple of people have questioned the wisdom of this move. I think the answer is that I enjoy the journey, enjoy the sometime hair-pulling process of stating with a blank sheet of word doc. and turning it into something readable. The detractors mention the money; lets face it you're never going to get rich quick writing toy train books; for me that's not the point. The cash earned just tips into the pot with all the other things I do. The buzz term for this is 'gig economy' as though this is something new. Well I suppose if you've worked in a 9-5 all your life it is, whereas I could have told you about the gig economy at any point in the last thirty eight years as I've worked in nothing else.

For me the whole point of getting out of bed in the morning is to have as much fun as possible and as soon as things don't give me that I'll walk away. Writing an article or book or even building a layout are the same animal as far as I'm concerned, it's the process that drives me on, and as anyone who knows me will confirm, once I've finished a layout I rapidly lose interest in it. Builder not player.

In about four weeks time I start writing Modelling the Welsh Narrow Gauge; there are problems ahead, mainly in the form of product availability - much of the stalwart end of the kit range has retired, paused or is unexplainably just missing. Never mind, finding he work-arounds will be... entertaining. The GWR book will probably hit the shops at around Christmastime by my reckoning, in the meantime something fictional until any other pre-discussed offers firm up.

Wednesday 18 July 2018

7 1/4" gauge

 Sunday afternoon and over to one of the most original and slightly quirky garden railways. 7.25" gauge and run on car batteries. Section working and signalled.