Thursday 31 October 2019

Svanda at Wycrail

Skd 224 on Svanda HO scale model railway
This morning some upgrading of things on Hopwood for it's debut later next month - mostly on the woodworking front. Then across the county line post lunch for a check on Svanda which has its final showing this year at Wycrail on Saturday - we're hoping for an empty-road drive as people get up and watch the rugby before they hit the motorway. Aside for a lost wing nut, all went reasonably well and we decamped to the fixed Southern branch line in another room - running, but scenically unfinished. Wycrail is an unknown quantity either as a punter or exhibitor , but the reputation is good. All I know is that there are stairs to get up.

Wycrail website here

Monday 28 October 2019


I went to ExpoNG very much with my Editor's hat on (no, not the red topper). For me it was much the same as recent years in that I spend the whole time talking, cajoling people into writing articles and not much viewing. The standard is high and it was described as a 'pilgrimage' by one. Whether you want to see anything or not, if you are a narrow gauge modeller based in the South, you go. It's very much a shopping show with a chance to see the makers of small ranges that tend to be mail order only and to visit the 009 Society s/h sales stand
As is traditional here the scores are:
Exhibition 9
Catering  - the usual leisure centre 4, though there were no queues even at lunchtime. People have learnt to bring a packed lunch.
Rucksacks 4
Probably for the first time ever, I bought nothing, only leaving with a couple of books gifted from Stig to add to the GWR shelf. More on this later.

Thursday 24 October 2019

Hopwood operation

Hopwood model railway layout
 All day. That's all day. Operationally tearing Hopwood to bits. The main point of the exercise was to see how it worked with what stock. The ex-Rhiw (see here) blue livery set was the default position. The new, improved fat-shape fiddle yard was the main player - it's tight, so some stuff fitted and some only in a certain order i.e. the Cl 150 would only work out of road 3 as in road 2 the longer wheelbase meant it reduced the foul point and clouted the Cl 108  parked in road 3. Flipped around and it worked. We are talking fag paper clearances here - Sprinters... no chance.

 A green set of stock was tried, but there are massive gaps in the stud. The wildcard was an idea to use BR(S) pull-push sets (essentially DMU working style) this sort of worked on the layout proper until the obvious dawned that the locos wouldn't fit in FY roads 2 and 3. Doh! It did look nice though.

So after about 6+ hours of trying every piece of 16.5mm gauge stock in the house on it, it all came back to blue with a base stud of 150, 108, 121, 37, 25, with a Lima 40 as a spare which surprisingly fitted the headshunt… just. A brace of VDA vans and some MDV opens for a trip freight and CCT/NPV for parcels stock.

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Walling for Pen-lan 009

Pen-lan 009 layout

Alternating between layouts at the moment and back to Pen-lan today for some cardboard chopping. In an ideal world I'd be laying card or plastic slabs like this . However, time is the enemy and there are deadlines to attack, so I fished out some Slaters sheet that I'd had for a long time, did a little painting of same, and cut it into two inch strips.

A base was made using packing card creating a curvy wall line along the rear of the board and the plastic sheet was stuck to it with a dab or two of UHU. All basic stuff and cost me zero to do. OK the wall is a bit on the flat side, but... The joins will be covered with some pipes or greenery.What happens now is that it starts to get a shape and looks like a layout very quickly.

Tomorrow some line testing with the new and improved Hopwood fiddle yard.

Tuesday 22 October 2019

Re-jigging the Hopwood fiddle yard

Hopwood OO gauge model railway storage yard
I spent an hour or so on Saturday trying to alter the FY on Hopwood. It didn't go well to start with.

The issue was this: the plan presented to me was for a 'home' layout with a two road FY and a 'space' for a controller (top right in the photo). This area would be open to the front. That threw up some basic problems
a) if the layout was to be used and shown beyond the build deadline (there was some discussion about where it would finally end up) then it would need to be exhibitable in some form.
b) if this was the case then a decision would need to be taken as to front/back operation. My preference is rear-op as this looks a lot more professional and theatrical. This meant that the 'space' could be closed off to the front and used for stock storage as it's just big enough for a coach length.

With that decided the layout was built. However, the two road arrangement might be fine for  home use, but was a little minimal for anything like a slick operation at an exhibition. Considering that the traffic is mainly units the FY could be opened up a little. Not super slick, but an improvement.

The length is short - too short; and the original idea of 3' boards would have been better. Dropping to 900mm squeezes it to impossible. I tried a small radius point to split the lower road. This ain't quite enough and the crossover is about 5mm too close. A rummage in the box found a small Y and some more plain track. The few mm saving in length and wider split solved it. The result is with the upper road now split electrically with a break in one rail and a switch, and the doubling of the lower road, the yard can now take two heritage two car DMUs and two single cars, or one and a loco as shown. The total hold for the whole layout using DC is now nine items. No less than you could, or would need to use with DCC.

Monday 21 October 2019

Poole model railway exhibition

NSB Di5 on Svanda
 To Poole. Which we found after a short search. I'd never been before either as an exhibitor or a punter. Fairly traditional club show aimed at a general family audience, with a mix of styles from 2mm FS to a Paul Lunn trainset plan with multiple Metcalfe kits and very tight radii in 3'x4' - guess which was my favourite out of these two? Only 3mm was missing from the roster.

Svanda (with new LED lightling) behaved well as usual with only an odd back-feed fault on the points in the FY which disappeared as quickly as it arrived. Above is yet another Di5 that's un-weathered produced from Nigel's Mary Poppins handbag. I thought I'd done them all, but they keep appearing. As suggested by a couple of people, Svanda now has a page here .

We were set up next to Matthew Keen's exquisitely finished Garreg Wen 009 layout (below) which shows everyone else's modelling up. Don't you just hate clever kids? There was a range of box -shifters, but with a lot of things that had disappeared from the market - there was a whole box of P-P fitted M7s @ £75 each, one of which found its way into Nigel's boot on the way home. Well it seemed rude not to.

The catering was a bit basic, but there was a river of tea and the team were friendly and helpful.We may return next year.

Garreg Wen 009

Saturday 19 October 2019

Uckfield model railway exhibition

Despite it being unplanned and expecting to be in a different county, I popped into the Uckfield show. The usual very high standard of layouts and the usual almost uncomfortable attendance levels. A couple of things caught my eye. The first was Daconby Town, a 3mm finescale layout which was pure 1960s in period and modelling vibe. Not quite in the Murco brickpaper way, but more in attitude. I did ponder that it may have been improved by being 12mm gauge though I suspect that's exactly what the builder was trying hard to get away from.

Uckfield model railway exhibition
 Confusing was the double Peter North's. One of his sold-on Rock Island layouts in one room and his new 4mm Southern art deco syle piece in another. A very different approach.
Uckfield model railway exhibition
 Lastly the final show for David Taylor's Charmouth. Always a favourite and probably the best one-man 7mmNG layout in existence. It's fate as yet undecided.
Charmouth Uckfield model railway exhibition

Friday 18 October 2019

Industrial steam locomotive

This popped up on FB. If you are looking for an excuse to purchase one of the plethora of small industrials on the market in 7mm or 4mm scales, then this might be the push you need. It would be hard to find anything more atmospheric. Some Wills stone sheet suitably sanded flat and some Woodlands scenic 'cinder' ballast would get you in the game along with some basket liner/carpet underlay and some short static grass. I think the loco is a Barclay and similar to the model produced by Hattons, but any of the current 0-4-0s and 0-6-0s would fit.

Although the actual clips are short they are worth viewing carefully for the very tiny details. I suppose I'm thinking along the lines of a 4mm scale micro and these little touches such as the sacking-wrapped point lever would lift a layout out of the hum-drum.

Thursday 17 October 2019


Hornby trainset
Possibly on the back of the Tri-ang post of a couple of days ago here . This was spotted at the Worthing show. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I'm always drawn to this type of layout. Not the HD 3-rail type, but the expanded and improved trainset idea. This may go back to me drooling over the 'Simply for Pleasure' layout that was mounted at Pecorama here when I was about 10. This is a bit bigger, but has the same elements in its build. As you can tell, things are belting round at a fair old lick, but that's not the attraction. I think it's the hole in the middle. Peter Bossom's Thunder Hill has the same hole and stuff doesn't belt round on that - it's much more thoughtful and intellectual (if you listen carefully you can hear Pete laughing). Maybe one day I shall build such a beast and I will have (no pun) come full circle.

Wednesday 16 October 2019

009 track wiring

Pen-lan. Small 009 layout
Tops of the rails scrubbed and polished and time for a quick check. Bzzzzzzt! Hmmmm small short. Well big short really as proportionally this is pretty simple. The controller was moved and the board flipped over, the problem was quickly traced to a point and a wandering wire on the switch. A modicum of bending sorted it out and all was well. Only I could short out a two-wire feed inglenook.
Some initial scenery profiles are in at the near end. It looks huge here, but it's only 3'7" x 10".

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Tri-ang Tuesday

I was tipped off today about this channel. Yeah OK, so he's a collector - or is he? There's a fine line between collecting, and running the stuff that you've accumulated. This guy obviously enjoys seeing the stuff run and the  range of accessories is quite impressive.
The Tria-ng/Hornby green 31 was where I came in; none of your O gauge tinplate and HD three rail, but proper plastic toy trains.
You can shut your eyes, breathe in and almost smell those warm XO4's.
When I'm old, this what I want to do.

Monday 14 October 2019

Painting 009 track

The current damp atmosphere is not ideal for painting. Into the dry, but not un-humid garage for some track spraying. Two coats: first some Halfords 'camouflage brown' from sideways angles, followed by some grey primer misted on from above. This a technique nicked from Mr. Nevard and one which I have now enthusiastically adopted; what would have taken me a couple of hours by hand with a pot of Humbrol now takes five minutes.

I got momentarily confused by the wiring, but suddenly realised that if I were to feed from Orne I'd need to run a line up to the far end where the main feed is, plus an independent feed for any independent use. It's the simplest things that trip you sometimes. This is essentially an elongated inglenook so only needs a feed from the left hand end, but hypothetically the power comes (or may come) from a separate layout on the right.

Sunday 13 October 2019

Svanda at Poole model railway exhibition

Svanda HO scale norwigian model railway

The penultimate showing for Svanda this year at the Poole MRS exhibition next SUNDAY - turn up on Saturday and you'll be on your own. It's quite surprising to me that this small slice of the NSB is still generating enough interest to go out once or twice a year especially now that it's had a total outward refurb. 

At it's first outing six years and one week ago here at Croydon (can't see that happening again) I don't think we'd have imagined that it would have a) lasted with us and b) still have a steady trickle of invites. And yet out of all the layouts built before or since it's the one that I actually enjoy operating the most. As always when there are new plans for other things, I soon wave the Svanda shape as being the ideal for operation in a sub 8' space.
Yes it's probably time that it had its own page here...

Saturday 12 October 2019

Saturday Ramble - comfort zones

laying 009 track accross baseboards
Taking a short break from getting the track down on what may be called Pen-lan. I really need to get it all down by the end of the weekend, which shouldn't be too much of a push as...

It crossed my mind that the way I work now is within small sets of comfort zones. I can't imagine that other people are any different. The above shows some just laid pinned copper-clad at the edge of the board designed to minimise damage at the rail ends. Simple enough stuff and I've done this for years and years. Is there a better way though? Am I in a rut? The next job when I step away from the keyboard is wiring the first point (slide switch, wire in tube, three wires etc.) Again I've been doing this for almost thirty years without deviation. I've used solenoids once and never returned, but now there are newer versions of these, smartswitches, relays and so on. Should I invest more cash and move with the times? Or just stay with what I know works cheaply and well for me?

These comfort zone issues are all around me and mostly go back to income, or lack of it. I can turn out a pretty good layout, but it's all budget ideas a lot of which have stayed with me since my teens. Where some people will spend what I consider to be huge amounts on scenic stuff, I'll happily stick to card and things out of skips, simply because that's what I've always done and for no other reason. Should I invest in DDC, smartswitches, ready to plonk buildings, and so on? Will that make my layouts better?

Sometimes it's good to question what you do even if it leads nowhere.

Friday 11 October 2019

Baseboard for a 009 layout

009 layout baseboard
Board for the new 009 layout basically finished and time for a little 3D planning to make sure that stuff still fits. There will be a cut-out dropped section at the front and logically I should have done this during the build. As there are a lot of buildings near the front I elected to get the final positions of these clear before I started cutting this edge. I need to get this project completed fairly swiftly so narrow gauge simplicity is the key. No Great Western branch track plans here.

Thursday 10 October 2019

Railway Modeller

Railway Modeller magazine

Out today in your local Smiths. The first part of the Hopwood saga, not to mention some grinning pictures of self.

Tuesday 8 October 2019

Festiniog Victorian Weekend

Ffestiniog Double Farlie gravity train up
I'm not a fan of repeated 'holiday' break destinations, but this is the forth year in a row that we've attended this event. I should point out that it is Mrs F. that drives the booking of it, and not me. It's up to the limit running by the preserved line with all the useable steam power brought into play. This does mean that any small problem causes delay and there was a running coal issue throughout the weekend causing some slipping of times. This actually doesn't matter in the slightest as the atmosphere surrounding the event is overwhelming with people decked in period costume and there being a general continual shifting between bar area, platforms and trains in an almost random manner. You just hop on what ever train is running and bundle into coaches the best you can. It's very much enthusiasts and not the usual family groups so nobody cares much - or not that we noticed anyway.

Mrs F spent most of the time in the bar filming and photographing to shift straight onto Facebook and will happily sit at the lineside waiting for the next up freight to point the camera at, with me shuffling my feet and wanting to move on. One or two of these may appear here later.

Saturday 5 October 2019

Spooner's Boat on the Ffestiniog Railway

Spooner's Boat Ffestiniog
Spooner's Boat. Yes it does run. Yes it is in service. Yes it does get used. Gravity worked downhill and then (hopefully) sail driven across The Cob at Porthmadog.

Thursday 3 October 2019

American railroad stock on Svanda

Svanda Norwegian model railway
'Bring the American rolling stock'
What was supposed to be a day of sorting the wheels out on Svanda turned into a series of what ifs. The American stock from Einsford Mill which all dates back to 1994 was trundled round the Norwegian layout with no problems apart form a close encounter with the goods platform. It was noted that it would take only a change to a couple of the buildings to shift the location to the US North Eastern backwoods, but then further HO stock was produced and the trials repeated and the same conclusion moved to SW Germany. What a wonderful scale/gauge combination HO is. Interchangeable continents at the click of the fingers.

We've been here before of course -  the series of layouts planed around a single overarching theme, but it always breaks down as there is always a missing part to the picture: an item of stock which would be prohibitively expensive, a lack of a certain traffic or a physical problem such as siding length. No harm in kicking the ideas around though. Sometimes something sticks.

Wednesday 2 October 2019

009 layout

009 scale model railway layout plan
The next project.
It needs to be done in fairly short order so simple is the name of the game. A narrow 10" board about 44" long to match up with Orne, purely for operational fun and to use the FY on the end if needed. A straight-through station slightly inspired by Penrhyn on the FR with an added engine shed (because I had one). Inspired only, as if I had time and it wasn't so narrow, it could include the row of cottages at the back. Sadly in the this instance there is a timetable to adhere to and the shelf mounted root precludes this. I'll save the cottages for another day.

Operationally dull on it's own - or is it? With a FY on each end it becomes an anorexic Tal-coed and that went down well with the public and worked well operationally. Shunting with 009, and especially small Welsh 009 is not to be taken lightly. Rather better is sticking to the prototype and running conveyer type trains through a scene, as opposed to the much derided '009 shaped like a Great Western branch terminus' type plan.

This will essentially be another demonstration build for publication, so safe and predictable is the name of the game: Peco track, slide switches, MDF board and the buildings pictured two of which have appeared in RM in recent months and the engine shed which was built for the NG book to your right. We shall see how things progress.

Tuesday 1 October 2019

Hornby H class

Hornby H class
Hornby H classs
I've had my eye on one of these for a while. There was a problem, then they vanished, now they are back on sale.
It took me a while to get used to the quality of new RTR when I came back to a little OO modelling a couple of years back. Like most I now take this super-fine finish and detail for granted. The above is posed on Dury's Gap straight out of the box, but there are of course extra bits to add and even without these, it's frighteningly good. One detail that I noticed, and the photos of the real thing confirm, is that the rear buffers are larger than the front. I can't remember coming across this before. More to the point I don't know why this is the case. Something to do with pull-push working? Perhaps someone more knowledgeable could enlighten me.

It will of course need some weathering. The Brooksbank photo below shows this particular engine in a pretty filthy condition - which is tricky to replicate well.

All this means that with the C, the P and now an H, I now have the nucleus of a small Eastern section layout. It will be a while coming, probably two or three projects into the future, but it is a little closer now. I have idea brewing.

Hornby H class