Wednesday 28 February 2018

Cotswold Railways 2

 Toddington seems to be the central hub on the G.W.R. Although technically closed the cafĂ© was open and there was quite a lot of activity going on in the workshops as well as a spoil train parked up with a 73 at the head (all this way for a Southern loco). Everything, and I mean everything is painted in GWR stone colours and I'm guessing that most of the structures are newly built or at least moved from somewhere else giving it a clean feel. Maybe too clean.
My aim was to get as many of the small buildings on film and while the lack of tourists was very helpful, the low sun wasn't, and I spent the entire time trying to avoid too much shadow or flare.
No steam was evident, but quite a lot of medium weight diesel power in the shed. My overriding impression was one of money. Some preservation lines feel as though they are only just hanging on; this one felt like it had more money than it knew what to do with, such was the polish and the amount of work going on.

Tuesday 27 February 2018

Cotswold Railways 1

The Cotswolds is an area that I usually drive through to get to somewhere else, so last weekend I made a concerted effort and we stayed in an upmarket establishment and did a little exploring.
For some reason the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway had passed miles under my radar and it was Mrs F. (who apparently doesn't get a mention here anymore) who pointed it out. So on a trip to the Cheltenham shops we had a look. It was out of season, but this is often the best time, especially if photographing a few buildings is a primary concern.

Broadway station is the new end of the line, is due to open this year and this caught my eye. There was a short discussion a while back on this page about the siting of the phone box on the AotC - how it should face onto the public road and have a fence around it. This I duly did, and although the site is not so cramped, the box at Broadway station replicates exactly.

Friday 23 February 2018

Saturday Ramble

Dismayed to hear the news that a well respected narrow gauge modeller has had his car nicked with his exhibition layout inside. The police  seem typically disinterested.

Aside from the moral issue of nicking cars, this throws up a question. The car was parked on the driveway close enough to be watched by CCTV. A pro-job; into the car in seconds, though they weren't expecting the layout so it's probably been dumped in a hedge. The question is insurance. The car is insured, but this only covers minimal contents. The layout was outside of the house so dubious cover on home insurance as probably not listed as a high price item. The layout was not coved by the exhibition insurance as it had arrived at the owner's place of residence.

If we leave our layouts in the car prior, or post exhibition, which is not unusual - many would load the night before and leave to later and daylight to unload. In which case it's technically not covered by anything and we can all imagine the conversation with the insurance company.... 'so you had your trainset in the car and you say it's worth £1,800...?'

GWR W5 cattle van

GWR W5 cattle van
Mex B W5 done. just the painting to do and I've made a start on the W12 using the Airfix kit as a base. just need about 6 boxes of Merit cows to fill them.

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Art of Compromise - test

Art of Compromise
The AoC was set up yesterday as a quick fault finding mission - or to see what I'd forgotten. Plenty. The main issue is that this wasn't envisaged or planned as an exhibition layout. The problem here is that it is due to go to it's first and last showing at the WRG show in March.

On a basic level everything worked fine. RTR Hornby/Bachmann locos coupled with PECO track is pretty safe. What I'd missed was some sort of minimal lighting, so the post was nicked off of Morton Stanley, still warm from the weekend's outing (and visible behind). What was noticeable from the rear running as just how 1980s it all feels. This was after all the point of the exercise and running it was actually rather fun within the limits of the operation. It also dawned, not surprisingly, that a few visits to exhibitions with around £200 to spend and you could pick up all the bits for this secondhand. Not poor quality, just not fashionable anymore as they're not DCC. The newest loco on here is a Bachmann 56XX, brand new at £42 from a box shifter. The rest were around £30 including the Hornby open cab pannier which purred around the layout all afternoon.  The most expensive building was the signal box at eight quid. Expensive hobby? Not if you don't follow the crowd.

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Cooper Craft Cattle Wagon kit

GWR W5 cattle van
I'm at the foot of a brace of three cattle wagons, the first being the Cooper Craft Dia W1/5 MEX B example. These are a bit thin on the ground now as the range has all but disappeared along with the Slaters wagons that it absorbed. This is a shame as it covered a base layer of early 20th century designs at a low price. The Ratio offerings in 4mm and the Parkside kits in 7mm are generally post 30s examples.  The cattle wagon jumped out as it was the only one on the quite useful 11' chassis and the one using a standard solebar/floor assembly.

The instructions tell you that bits will break  - how honest, and how true. I had one top rail broken already and the bar will snap as soon as look at it. The secondary problem is that there is a tiny bit of flash on this so any waggling against a file finishes the job. It took me about 5 seconds to decide to replace them. The easiest option was to use 0.5mm micro rod; purely as I had some about 3' away from my hand. A small hole was drilled in each upright about halfway through, just enough to locate, and a length welded in with solvent and trimmed when set.

Monday 19 February 2018

Profit and loss

I've had several conversations recently about a certain individual who is putting on model railway exhibitions on his own and essentially running it as a small business. This has generated a fair bit of negative comment from most people I talk to and I really can't see why. I had the same conversation again yesterday.

I've been working under the basic shape entertainment model for donkeys years: the promoter books the venue, then books the band, the artists or what have you. Then puts out advance publicity and ticket prices. The show gets done, promoter pays everybody (hopefully) and takes the balance of the profit. He takes the overall risk - then takes the profit should there be any. Most people would see this as an acceptable structure. Not so the club modeller.

The basic shape of most model railway exhibitions is this: club books venue (usually the same as the previous year) books layouts (expenses to be paid for same). They book enough trade stands to cover the cost hire of the venue, and advertise in the mags with linage or possibly a display ad, plus flyers at previous shows etc. The entry ticket money is the bunce and goes to the club to pay for the club room/ modelling material etc for the year. No one personally profits - or do they?

The main negative response to the top structure is that there is personal profit - 'profiteering' was the phase used yesterday. This misses the point of a) personal financial risk and b) the fact that in the standard club show structure everyone personally profits by default, as if the show cash wasn't there, then they would have to fund clubrooms etc out of their own pockets. No they don't personally gain money, but they are saved from spending it which is the same thing - collective overall risk and collective individual profiteering.

The afore mentioned individual books the venue at his own expense (different every time) books the layouts (expenses to be paid) takes the linage ads, but promotes through local press and social media.

And here's the sucker punch: the resulting audience is mainly young- middle aged parents with under 16s in tow, exactly the demographic that the standard club exhibition structure and the hobby in general says that it is not reaching and can't attract. What he doesn't do is rely on word of mouth from the over -50s modellers.This may be the future and the conservative-thinking clubs are fighting it in every way, possibly toward their own demise.  Discuss.

Saturday 17 February 2018

Saturday Ramble

A couple of people query my love of smaller (or just small) shows. The trend in the last twenty years is to get bigger and bigger and this probably peaks with the mighty Warley.  The comment that accompanies is often that it proves how buoyant the hobby is. Maybe, maybe not. I would tend to say the opposite. I don't know what the gate numbers are for such a show, but I'd think that there is a percentage involved here. Say it is 10,000. 2,500 of this are casuals i.e. those who are interested but do no modelling. Another quarter are what might be termed 'collectors', those who will buy the latest Hornby model and put it on the shelf. Leaving half of the number who are are actually doing any modelling; from running some RTR round in circles, to the full-blown hair-shirt scratch-builders.

These numbers could also most probably be transferred in percentage terms down to any show. The difference is that at the smaller shows you get more modelling. Yes some of it isn't that high quality, but it is modelling nevertheless. What's more is that it is more representative of what actually happens, and shows the real levels of attainment. The big shows rarely do this, only picking the best of the bunch and keeping the quality high. Not to mention the fashion of 'billing', that is that there has to be a number of name layouts that have appeared in the press. The problem here is that can have an adverse effect leaving the casual/beginner with a feeling of 'I'll never be able to do that'. Conversely the small show usually hits a more basic level. There maybe a top flight layout or two, but more likely there will be varying levels of quality, and more often  - ideas. In other words some of the more left-field oddball stuff that will never get to Warley et al and has been dreamt up by a guy who has no desire to go there. That's where the magic is, that's where the modelling is, and that's where I tend to gravitate toward.

Friday 16 February 2018

GWR seating kit

coopercraft GWR seat
A quick bit of seating. Actually it's a bit of a fiddle and you have to let one join go totally firm before the next is added otherwise it goes very jelly. Research shows that there are a remarkable number of these supplied now from Metcalfe, Roxey, Severn Models CPL et al. This is a Coopercraft which seem a little thin on the ground now. Two tone paint finish and even with the photos, about half an hour to do. Batch-building would be quicker overall, but I only needed one.

Off to Reigate with Morton Stanley on Sunday for that star of Biggest Little Railway, Dakota D. Pop in and throw things.

Tuesday 13 February 2018

GWR goods shed

GWR goods shed
Shed. Wills sheet and a few bits of plasticard. Based loosely on Hemyock but with a brick base.

Sunday 11 February 2018

Hemyock goods shed.

The Moreton shed wasn't working on several levels and was bugging me, so the decision to change took took me back to Volume 1 and the W&L tin shed. This is essentially the same beast as the proto-replacement goods shed at Hemyock albeit with a different door arrangement. Therefore it was a simple shift to start to go over this ground again with the different outward decoration. Logically this is better for the beginner to scratch-building anyway as there is less cutting out to do - the door assembly is a separate piece of work added on top. Therefore the total buy for the basic structure is one pack of Wills sheet, some 30 thou and the strip of paper being added here.

Friday 9 February 2018

Late night shopping

My route home every night this week. Gaugemaster by night.

This was just before a smackhead got off the train, calmly walked across the line by squeezing through the gates, bowed to the queue, then tapped on my window and asked for a lift.

Tuesday 6 February 2018

GWR goods warehouse

And to the scratch-build. Something simple... but of course that's never how it works out does it? The base prototype is the shed at Moreton-in-Marsh which I've discussed here before. First impressions are that it is a 'play school' type structure of easy shape that can be built from Wills sheet, without any joins. So far, so good.
Then the windows appear.
It needs four, which were originally multi-pain landscape rectangular units, plus an arch window over the door. The modern building has replacement double glazed units. The Wills window pack only has one suitable item, and buying four packs to get four windows is ridiculous. So a little compromise (again) is needed. The Wills arch windows pack gives a close match in one direction and they are chop-able. This isn't pretty, but once painted and fitted may make the grade. I essentially chopped the top and bottom, removed the arch for the doorway and moved everything inward. A dab of filler and we're away. Compromises...

Thursday 1 February 2018