Thursday 31 May 2018

The workbench

While we're on the whole video kick, a little look around the home of the blog. Neat and tidy? Oh yes. Organised? Definitely. Errr no.

Tenterden to Northiam cab ride

With the slow TV still slightly in vogue, a gentle ride down the line from Tenterden in the 108 DMU, or DMMU as the KESR insist on calling it. It's not a smooth trip...

Wednesday 30 May 2018

Farncombe signal box

A trip to Farnham saw me caught in a road closure east of Guildford. Being of a sat-nav free generation I kept my eye on the big shiny thing in the sky, headed east, then quickly north working out that I'd bump into a recognisable road sooner or later.
New routes are fun, especially if at the end of a suburban road you find a delightful level crossing with an intact box. A quick bit of research tells me that it's an LSWR Type 4 built by that company in 1897. It appears to have been switched out this year, but still stands it's ground for now at least. These things have a habit of disappearing in the dead of night before the preservation people get wind of demolition. I have to admit to a liking for these LSWR boxes with the windows wrapped around the corners. The LBSCR boxes are pretty and fussy, but this looks like a signal box should.

Tuesday 29 May 2018

Hattons P Class

SECR P Class from Hattons
This was one of those must have items - although there's not an immediate project for it. The obvious is the late period (49-53) KESR with a Terrier and an 03/04 as the staple power. Possibly though something more rural-industrial. Though now Arun Quay is on the circuit, comparisons would be hard to avoid. A different scale/class/attitude, but the vibe would be the same. For the moment I'm quite happy just to enjoy the sheer craftsmanship of the model. We have certainly come a long way since the first of the Far East models of the early eighties and it is hard to visualise how things could improve from this.

Thursday 24 May 2018

SECR six wheeled brake van

 While waiting for the train at Bodiam  a week ago I wandered around the small yard with the tatty Olympus. Brake vans always do it for me, although they are probably the least useful bit of stock on a preserved railway. This is the 1898 SECR six wheeler which according to the KESR website has been restored twice since they've had it. I've written here before about the perils of doing this - a time consuming expensive restoration is good, but if the item in question doesn't get used and sits out in the rain... what's it all been for? This may get a reprise as it can't be long before it's available RTR from Bachmann to tie in with the birdcages and the 0-6-0 and it will be the star attraction. Until then there is a close O gauge kit from Slaters.

Wednesday 23 May 2018

Buildings worth modelling - Southborough industry

During one of the breaks at the Tunbridge Wells show on Saturday I nipped out for a paper. As the venue is only five minute walk from the High Street there was time to take in the sights. The area is mid Victorian terrace/villa housing, but dotted in between are little areas of industry. The difference between the builders of then and now, is that this 'built for the working man' housing also gave him a place to practice his craft. Now the game is to pack as much housing into a plot as possible and expect the occupants to drive somewhere else to work. There is a political question here that probably started in the 1980s. Before we built communities, now we build dwellings and then wonder why we're in a disjointed mess and no one talks to each other.

The building above is set back one block from the road down an alley and is a modellers delight with a mix on the main structure of brick and boarding. I assume that the upper floor would have originally been boarded as well. The juxtaposition of the old brick and the newer, probably post 70s brick is not something that many modellers tackle, and yet is so common. I can only speculate at the original usage, but would guess that the doors 1 & 3 were for small carts and that these were fed from the upper floor store.

This is one area where the modeller needs to try harder.
Swinging the camera (phone) around 90 deg to the right gives the rest of the setting - equally modellable.

Tuesday 22 May 2018

Art or modelling???

There is always a slightly thorny question of whether railway modelling is an art form (I tend toward yes) but how about the other way around? A recent trip to Paris took in the French equivalent of the Tate Modern - excellent choice, but you need at least a day to even do half of it. The above made me scratch my head. I can't remember who or what, but I did wonder how this was art when most of my fellow anoraks would say that it was a pre-layout build mock up built from scraps fund in the garage. One man's art...

Monday 21 May 2018

Expo EM

Expo EM
A suggestion took me to Expo EM on Sunday (a bit of a jump from Saturday's DD show which was very much geared toward young families and suffered as a result from 'other events'). The usual high quality of exhibits with only a couple of meh layouts. The above caught my eye: Surrey Arms is I suppose Minories plus and the above shot shows the whole thing. Beautifully executed though with that typical finescale 'clean' look. The thing that let it down was the operation which should have been quite slick, but wasn't. The FY is longer than the layout, which is a no, no as far as I'm concerned, but also uses cassettes, which while good for some things are clumsy and not suited to a layout with four entry/exit points where the cassettes have to be lifted over each other. I can't help thinking that a simple sector plate or ladder yard with some sort of loco release may have been a better move, especially with the given space.
Expo EM
The above shot of Black Lion Crossing shows only a tiny part of what is a large-ish layout which is just about perfect. Great scenery and stunning stock and I believe got a deserved best in show.

Show: 9.5/10 Catering: a typical leisure centre 5/10. They're just not geared up for the anorak brigade who want chips and sandwiches.

Friday 18 May 2018

Art of the Compromise at Tunbridge Wells

The art of compromise model railway layout, by Roy Link.
Testing the Art of Compromise
A quick test of the Art of Compromise before its showing at Tunbridge Wells. Not quite how Roy Link drew it, but not far off. This is in many ways the perfect one man exhibition layout - there was a reason why the plan was published in the first place. It has all the basic elements that you need for a model railway as well as the all important design element of having the platform road as the shunt neck for the two goods sidings; this alone is what makes it work.

If you are looking for the ideal small country station layout, then this is probably as good as it gets.

Thursday 17 May 2018

Painting backscenes

model railway backscene
Once upon a  I used to paint backscenes blue and add a few clouds. Now I lean the other way and start with white and add a touch of blue. Most of the back of this was already done so just the new ends and the inside of the wings which are 3" wide.

The bottom shaping will be fitted next and cut to shape. This will cover the canal section of the Morton Stanley picture and the transformation will be complete. The pros'arch will bolt to the top of the wing pieces. I pondered about making it all one piece as per the 009 Tal-coed, but remembered that it was tricky working through a hole for the scenics. This arrangement means I can have a separate pros'arch/ light rig in one using some LED strip. It also means that the edge will sit slightly out from the  front and, will possibly negate the front-in-shadow effect.

Art of Compromise temporary reprise

Art of compromise model railway

The Art of the Compromise was only supposed to be a one show layout. However, a last minute request to attend the Tunbridge Wells show this weekend as what I presume to be to replace a drop out, sees it reprised for one more time before it goes. The details are somewhat confused as the exhibition manager is obviously expecting the usual 7mm NG layout. Morton Stanley would have been the first choice in this situation, but has ceased to be. AotC to the rescue. Details here .

Wednesday 16 May 2018

Micro layout baseboard

And the boxing-in begins. I have traditionally built open ended boards with just a back board to stop the eye. This has become somewhat unsatisfactory of late, mainly because a lot of the 'display' part of the idea is now photographically via here and other web medium. When you are building just for home and occasional exhibition, the human eye quickly realises that the scene ends at the edge of the board and does not query the other factors in the room around the layout, as the viewer is standing among it all. In a photograph this becomes irritating, as the relationship has changed and the background rubbish is as important on the image as the model.
Morton Stanley 7mm scale narrow gauge layout
Take this shot of Morton Stanley by Mike Campbell - one of my favourites of the layout... except 20% of the shot is other stuff. Enclosing the scene would be better. 
Part of the reason is the finality of boxing-in. In my head there is always the possibility to extend and although it is possible to rip end boards off, it usually happens at 8.30 am on the morning of a show. This doesn't end well and neither does the properly intended action - there is always debris and it never is as clean an operation as you first wished. I realise this is fairly old hat thinking in some quarters, and I first built a fully boxed layout in 1989, so hardly new for me either, but there is a step change in thinking that needs to be taken.

Tuesday 15 May 2018

Lynton and Barnstaple wagon kit

L & B wagon kit in 009 scale from Dundas models.
The Dundas L & B wagon kit
A small amount of modelling done - hurrah! A Dundas (that still feels weird without the Parkside in front) kit for an L&B 4 ton open. Why build such a beast when there's a RTR version? Well modelling is better than buying, this is two thirds of the price and lastly, this is one of two that Dundas do - one cupboard door version like the Peco, and this top hung door version. That way if you want to expand your fleet of RTR wagons and ring the changes slightly then this could be the boy for you.

All pretty standard construction methods, though as usual I built this thing backwards starting with the chassis.
Nine quid against fifteen or so for the RTR version.

Friday 11 May 2018

Kent and East Sussex Railway

Kent and East Sussex Railway
A neat slide over to the Kent and rusty bucket yesterday; it was a nice day and there's no more pleasant a ride on a quiet sunny day. Starting at Bodiam, went up the line behind the ex Longmoor USA tank which is pretty from the front, but the ugliest MF of a loco from the back. The return was in the DMU - the empty DMU. It doesn't go chuff-chuff so no one is interested, despite the better view and a better sense of the line's gradients. The downside is that it finds every rail joint, so not a smooth ride by any means. We split the run back at Northiam and sat in the sun for an hour with a cup of tea and picked up the last steam run to Bodiam. In between we stopped for a very slow lunch (second only in slow service to the pub at Pendon), but did manage to blag a full tour of the carriage works watching the Met Rly coach being finished and the fascinating un-panelled GWR railcar at low level rebuild.
Railway: 11/10 Tenterden Catering: a low 3/10 Northiam Catering: High 9/10.

Compare the almost identical report from four years ago here.

Peco finescale track

Just to prove that I'm riding on the crest of current technology I bought these for the (micro) layout. At least they were new some twenty years ago and I've just got around to giving them a go. Don't ever say that I don't keep up to date with the latest developments.

Thursday 10 May 2018

Epsom and Ewell model railway exhibition

Epsom and Ewell model railway exhibition
 OK it's a bit late in the day. Over a week ago I wandered up to Epsom using a rather tortuous route to avoid the M23/5. The E and E is one of those dates in the year which is worth your attention. Always good quality and an excellent supply of trade. Two things caught my eye: Modbury, not only the 2mm F/S aspect, but the fact that is the rarely done GWR pre-1920s period which removes the cliché immediately. Quite beautiful in execution.

At the other end of the scale was Stackton Binge, a club offering which used to be a GWR branch in O, but now re-jigged to fit Ian Hopkins' early LSWR stock from St Georges Hill. Poorly operated and better with some sort of backscene, but it just had something about it.

Lunch got very confused. If two people ask for sausage and chips, don't dish one up and then say that it's the last available. Needs improvement.
Show: 10/10, catering: 6/10
Epsom and Ewell model railway exhibition

Monday 7 May 2018

GWR Micro layout

GWR Micro layout

Well nearly. A little late night pottering is good to open up a few plans the main components here are the partially stripped Morton Stanley board and the buildings made for the GWR book. In effect what I have is a layout kit. The only thing to purchase is a few points. The track plan is a return to the John Ahearn Gammon End structure with a loop and two opposing sidings in front. Simple, but workable,and there's not a lot more you can get into 45" with out really cramping it.
Some remedial timber work next.