Tuesday 30 April 2019

Plastic waste

Long time readers will know that I had a big change of heart a few years ago. Beforehand I'd shunned Wills sheet for being too much faff. Then I was given a Craftsman kit and thought it rude not to build it. Result: I now rarely use anything else for buildings. Result 2: There are off cuts. They are thrown into an ice cream tub which is good, but not good for finding anything specific. This morning I needed some brick sheet, but couldn't find anything suitable at the top, so ended up tipping the whole lot onto a tray. Result 3: Although there aren't any full sheets, I probably have enough corrugated to make several small sheds - or at least  roofs for a lot of small sheds, and near on the same from scraps of brick. If I was really careful and was happy to freelance a few buildings there is probably at least fifty quid's worth of random plastic here. Light railway anyone?

Saturday 27 April 2019

Bullhead painting

With Exile on Main St. blasting out a little track painting to be done. Not my favourite job, I even prefer ballasting. If I can concentrate for more than 15 mins at a time I might get half the track done tonight  - well the base colour anyway.
Other news: Off to the Epsom show today ostensibly to do a little shopping which was mostly successful even though I managed not to spend the £200 on books that I'd have liked to have taken home. All of a sudden the S&D and Settle stuff looks appealing. Excellent show; even the first room would have been worth the trip with our lord Gravatt with Arun Quay leading the role call. A lengthy chat with Andy Jones who (when he wasn't getting a waggy finger from the other half) was showing the evocative Herstmonceux for the final time. It really is a high quality event and with my usual scoring gave:
Show 9.5
Catering 7
Rucksacks (a fairly high) 7

Back to the panting before a trip up to the smoke for a date with some panto. After all, there is nothing like a dame in April.

Friday 26 April 2019

I hate cream paint

Most things have gone wrong at some point this week, mainly on the paint front. Coupled with the almost circular thinking with the new layout when all that was originally planned has fallen away to be replaced by something else, then... repeat. Half the problem is that as I've always said, once you step out of the cheap and easy road of freelancing, things become much more acute as 'that looks OK' doesn't cut it. The AotC was a generic GW branch terminus - the next project has to have more weight and substance than just making it up. Areas become important, shed allocations become important, stuff has to have some sort of explainable logic.

My preference would be S Wales. No good. Branch termini are non existent, they all end in a pit of some sort, plus they are mostly double tracked. So an accidental move to the West. Then you are up against Cambrian weight restrictions and Dukedogs, Cambrian 0-6-0's and at the outside a Dean Goods and a 48XX which I don't have. Back to Stourbridge shed area which means I can use all of the RTR things that are in stock. Once again no logical branches except the much projected Kinver both pre and post the electric light railway.

So it seems that something in the Hereford/ Hay area is likely with the Golden Valley as an influence and thus frustratingly back to Clees Hay, Mr. Hill's much loved root idea.
This was supposed to be a fairly quick project. It's proving anything but.

Monday 22 April 2019

Track down

A final push this morning saw all the track down, wired and tested. Just the linking wiring to do. Looks nice and long and sinewy and will irritate all the 'you could have put another siding in there mate' merchants. After Dury's Gap it seems huge and yet still falls into the bracket of 'small' at just 7'4" long. Mrs F has named it Clatter, which was bypassed on the East-West Cambrian route. History will be conveniently re-written to suit, but here could be a couple of architectural changes. 25 weeks to go.

Sunday 21 April 2019


This has been sitting on the bench for a couple of days and in an effort to clear up... 
Bikes on layouts are good, but surprisingly absent in many cases. Seeing as the vast majority of people model pre1960s periods, and therefore pre-high car ownership this is strange. Therefore I've always tended to add at least one bike to a scene, often in a slightly obscured position; after all human nature tends to park a bike either in something, or behind something where it won't get nicked/tripped over/damaged. I'd earmarked one for Dury's Gap in the last few details. It came out of the tobacco tin marked 'barrels, drums bits' and may be a Wills product. 
It started life in bright blue - possibly OK for 1960, but the 'trusty Rudge' would more likely be black so this was all about a repaint. Handlebars and pedals were touched in metallic, the frame matt black and the tyres in German grey. I though it might need a saddle bag, so a slice of scrap strip with the corners rounded off and painted brown was added; the saddle became a red brown. There's also a dot of red on the rear mudguard for a reflector.
Tucked half behind a shed it can hardly be seen, but adds a little human existence without a human figure. More bikes please.

Saturday 20 April 2019

Great western track laying

Michael Campbell commented on his blog a couple of weeks back that I like to build layouts with an open feel. Although most have been two boards or less and fall into the 'small' bracket in the great scheme of things, I do have a reputation for a light touch with track layouts and scenic details. So it is here. The track plan went through at least three configurations before I settled on something and I'm still not 100% sure, but then who ever is. As you can probably work out, the first thing that went was the pesky fifth point. Funnily enough this did stay on Svanda though in the form of a trap (siding which is rarely used - by me anyway. Here with this plan I've returned to my old friend 'The Gammon End' after John Ahearn's small station on the Madder Valley. i.e. a loop with two opposing sidings. I've used this on a few layouts over the years, the principle benefit is that the neck for each siding (in model terms) is near on two thirds of the layout, in opposition to the sidings behind the platform in a fan shape which chucks the whole train down to the main station neck and under the scenic break for shunting which I avoid at all costs.
It also gets away from the aspect of the AotC that niggled me, that being the sidings running straight on to the running line; not prototypically impossible, but usually avoided or at lest reduced to one entry point leading into a fan rather than two separate entries. The Gammon End shape was common on the GWR notably on the Chinnor and West Somerset lines where the GWR often dumped a large goods shed over the loop. Here though it forms the run-round, not a loop siding and trap points.
What I do have is acres of spare space; which at this point in time is a little disconcerting, but then I do have a drawer or two of scenic coverings of various types to use up. Using things up is a theme these days. I have 26 weeks before Croydon... doddle.

Wednesday 17 April 2019

Talyllyn station building for 009

This took longer than I anticipated. The obvious TR shelter made from Peco 2mm walling and a couple of Wills sheets. Because it's an open box there is twice as much to do, not only the 'lining', but bringing it out to the required thickness on the two edges. Details are the usual bits of strip and 1mm micro rod for the pipes. I'm sold now on the Gordon Gravett method of gutters from sheet material with a rounded face and just a lick of black paint to suggest the groove.

Tuesday 16 April 2019

Monday 15 April 2019


A great weekend at the Crawley MRS show with Svanda. A couple of invites for further exhibitions and a lot of questions over two days. Considering that we thought Norway would be a niche railway subject, its quiet popularity continues.
Some top quality layouts attended including one of my favourites, Harton Gill  - at last a place to see the Mainline /Bachmann J72s in their natural surroundings rather than the usual excuses to put them in East Anglian settings.
The only downside was a dropping my beloved KPC handheld which now rattles and seems to have expired. Investigations are needed.

Thursday 11 April 2019

Wednesday 10 April 2019

Tuesday 9 April 2019

Svanda on google earth

A decision was taken a few days ago - now there's a novelty for once. It was noted that the little slice of Norway that is Svanda was looking quite tatty around the baseboard area after being bounced in and out of the car to a few shows. Seeing that it is appearing at the Crawley show at the weekend, a tidy up was necessary. Once again the tin of paint used to recoat the garage door frame was brought into play, and the whole carcass is now a smart satin black - waste not, want not. This small tin has now done two layouts and shows no sign of running out. Plus, as I didn't buy it in the first place, it could be said that it has been very cost effective.
While the middle board was propped on end to dry, it was observed that it was almost a google earth satellite view. I'm not sure if this is the case or that it just shows off the rough ballasting.

Sunday 7 April 2019

New layout baseboards

Not as fast as some maybe, but a couple of days has seen two new baseboards appear for the new GWR layout, as yet unnamed. The usual format of 6mm MDF, 44" long x 17" wide to fit on the Svanda trestles with the old Rhiw FY bringing the whole to about 11'. The front profile boards still need to go on once I've established the road bridge height and the track is down, which should hopefully be this week.

Saturday 6 April 2019

Saturday Ramble - is the model railway society dead?

I've been a member of the 009 Society for decades - not that I've exclusively modelled in the scale, far from it, it's just a natural home. There was a comment a week or so ago somewhere on line, 'the 009 Society will be dead in 10 years'. This got me thinking; does this apply to all model railway societies? After all the structure is generally common to all. I think that the comment comes from a root of the internet covers it all now thinking, and that similar contact can be carried out over forums. There are though gaping holes in this argument: Firstly, surprisingly there are still many people not linked to the internet (especially the older) or out of signal (those in remote bits of the country or countries). For instance, 25% of 009 Society members don't have email.

Putting photos of your model work on a forum, tends to get 'that's nice John' comments, but loses the conversational to-and-fro and detailed analysis that an area group meeting or exhibition can offer. While the various societies hold regular physical meetings and member's days, those who frequent the various forums rarely hold formal meet-ups. There is also the slightly invisible benefit: some societies offer layout insurance schemes, most have a help team of some sort, and the elephant in the room, many offer a layout disposal service for a spouse when we climb into the wooden box. I can't see Facebook groups offering this service anytime soon - nor would you really want them to.

Most of the major societies have been with us since at least the 1970s and are reasonably efficient machines. Several have become limited companies, such is the size and weight of membership and the associated legal ramifications of this, not to mention the data protection commitments. The internet on the other hand is a privacy free for all that protects no one, won't pick up the pieces when you are gone. While the society journals seem sluggish  these days in respect of news and new product reporting compared to the speedy instant internet forums and Facebook, this speed is really only a thin veneer of association, and most don't really give a toss about you, only the promotion of the self. Most people realise this and treat them as such and see that physical connection with other modellers is by far the best way. No, the society and societies are not going anywhere. They're real and deep down we know that.

Friday 5 April 2019

Thursday 4 April 2019

Art of Compromise rides again

Fact: I have a pile of GWR buildings constructed for the book
Fact: AotC was an itch that I needed to scratch, but has now been passed on to one of the gentlemen in the list to your right.
Fact: There is a raw set of stock.
Stupidity: Instead of disposing of the above stock and buildings I decide to turn it into a layout and then offer it to the Croydon club for their show on the 12/13th October this year. 
Result: Yesterday a certain son-of a-carpenter turned up with MDF which was cut and I now have half the boards done. 
Result: Two simultaneous layout builds, and the first is problematic, but not unsortable.